Creating harmony, simplicity and peace in the landscape......

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.

Gardening is an instrument of grace. "

May Sarton
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A NZ Church Made From Trees



Barry Cox thinks outside the box...

While touring New Zealand, Europe and America, often on a motorbike, Cox studied  the proportions, angles, heights and pitches of church roofs. 

Barry started Treelocations, a business that moves large trees using a specially designed tree spade that can scoop up a whole tree, root ball and all. 
After planting more than 4000 trees on his dairy farm in the Waikato, New Zealand, Barry found another property nearby with sandy loam and Mount Pirongia rising majestically in the distance.
"I walked out my back door one day and thought, 'That space needs a church' –" said Barry,  and so he drew on all the research he had done over the years of studying churches.


" I wanted the roof and the walls to be distinctly different, to highlight the proportions, just like masonry churches," he said.
He chose Alnus glutinosa 'Laciniata', or cut-leaf alder, for the roof.  It was important to have a deciduous tree for the roof to allow the light in, otherwise the floor of grass would die. 
The altar is made of marble from Lake Como in Italy, from where his ancestors hail. 
The walls of the church are Leptospermum macrocarpum 'Copper Sheen', an Australian tea tree whose colored foliage resembles stone. To keep it looking lush, Barry trims it every six weeks.
Now everyone wants to get married there...and why not?

For more:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/home-property/nz-gardener/69848179/the-man-who-grew-a-church-from-trees




Monday, July 6, 2015

Make a Garden Loom - Garden Photo of the Day



Take two branches. Run twine between them as shown and weave anything you want!

I cannot fine the source of this photo but it is a great idea for kids....or a kid at heart.



For some great photos of a real 'Earth Loom' project by Cheryl Corson - click on her name.










Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Canopy Stair to Climb a Tree - Genius


A great invention by Thor Ter Kulve and RobertMcintyre - Go to their website Canopy Stair .

They got the idea when they went to the Azores and found that only by climbing a tree in the garden could they watch the sunset in the ocean.

So they began to discuss ways of transforming a tree into a staircase...



What a great idea and beautiful artisan work...




Monday, June 29, 2015

Sound, an Overlooked Element in Landscape Design

glass wind chimes close up    

Sound is an overlooked element in landscape design

When we think of sound in a garden we think of birds singing, leaves rustling or bees buzzing.


Or we may think of wind chimes...

Tim Cline Wind Chimes

For some ideas we can look to ancient Japanese gardens where sound was a key consideration in the overall plan.
Stone Path - Japanese Garden at Kykuit
This is described beautifully in a text on the Japanese Garden at Rockefeller's Kykuit garden in Pocantico, NY written by Cynthia Bronson Altman:

"... The hollow tones of the shishi-odoshi (lit. 'deer-scare') – a rhythmic knock of bamboo on rock – the splash of the waterfall into a deep pool, the rustle of breezes through the bamboo, mute the rush of the world today, 

creating a space for contemplation and meditation, for a mindful walk..., transporting one to another world, another reality."

'deer scare' - shishi odoshi
Wow. I couldn't have said it better.
The Japanese gardeners used sound to heighten the sense of 'near' and 'far' in a garden.

They would make a cascade seem far away by muffling its sound with strategically placed plants or rocks.  The obstacles bounced the sound back and created the impression that the waterfall was in the distance when it was really around the corner along the garden path!

in Hyatt Hotel in Kauai- phoot by Jan Johnsen 

This is why I always plant around a waterfall with great care, placing the plants where they might muffle the sound...

Cascade by Jan Johnsen
I normally locate evergreens on one side of a waterfall to act as a visual backdrop and as a sound buffer.  These may include hemlock, juniper,  rhododendron, Manhattan euonymus, Dwarf threadleaf cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera filifera), weeping norway spruce, boxwood and leatherleaf Viburnum. 

I also use smaller plants in the front or front side of a cascade such as Persicaria affinis 'Donald Lowndes' (Knotweed or Fleeceflower), dwarf Chinese Astilbe (Astilbe chinensis pumila), Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’), Maidenhair fern, Iris, sedum and various varieties of cotoneaster.
 Japanese Garden Juniper by cascade - Jan Johnsen 
Similarly, Japanese garden designers would play with the sound of footsteps.  In old Japan, people wore wooden sandals called 'geta'. The 'clip clop' sound of the geta was part of everyday life.  

Thus, garden paths paved with stone intensified the sound of footfalls while paths of tamped earth dampened the sound considerably.  And, of course,  gravel paths provided a crunching sound.  Garden Designers would design for the varying sound of the foot falls.

Alas, our soft-soled shoes of today do not make the sound of a path as obvious but it is still audible.

Crunchy Gravel Walk

I hope the sounds of the season will grab your attention...




Sunday, June 28, 2015

Planting in Containers - The Sweetest Aspect


Foxtail Ferns in Planter  


“Still, as I went about my potting on a glorious afternoon,
 one small treasure after another,
 the world of nature that is so terrible and so beautiful appeared 
only in its sweetest aspect.”

- Henry Mitchell

Planter for Shady Conditions by Laura McKillop

Container plantings is a gardener's secret - they are easier to maintain and you can enjoy its bounty up close without bending down!  How great is that?

White Iceberg Roses in terra cotta planters

The fun part starts with choosing the pot, then choosing the plants...It is somewhat addictive. I just planted a pot with Lysimachia 'Walkabout Sunset' with Sedum 'Vera Jameson' and 'Irene' lantana. A plant lover's dream. 

Lysimachia 'Walkabout Sunset' 


Sedum Vera Jameson - photo - J. Johnsen


Irene Lantana - Magnolia Gardens photo 

And what about your combos? I would love to hear....




Saturday, June 27, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Green - the Master Color

photo by J. Johnsen   

Green in a garden speaks to us on a visceral level.  The message it sends is one of ultimate calm. 

Associated with harmony and renewal, green is the 'master color' of Nature, exhibiting more shades in a garden than any other color. This is why a green-only garden can appear to have so many hues...

cacophany of greens

The Hindus say the light energy of green governs the heart chakra of our body. 


They believe that imagining green or surrounding ourselves with green will allow more love, emotional balance and empathy to enter our life. 


Owl Rock, Innisfree, Millbrook NY  - photo J. Johnsen 

Gardeners, no doubt, benefit from this association -  as Russell Page, the English landscape designer, sagely noted, “Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart.”


Grass Garden by Jan Johnsen 


Physiologically, green calms the nervous system and slows the production of stress hormones.

In feng shui green is the color of fresh energy and new beginnings.

Have you had your green today?


ardbraccan labyrinth 













Wednesday, June 24, 2015

'Electric Blue Gecko' Elephant Ears, Deep Purple-Black

Electric Blue Gecko Elephant Ears

Want to create a bold statement in your garden this summer? Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) sport large, colorful leaves and give your garden an instant tropical effect. They like sun, moist soil and warm weather (zones 8-11)
Great in pots - source: Logees

The Gecko series from breeder Brian Williams of the mail order nursery, Brian’s Botanicals in Louisville, KY is vigorous and change color like a true gecko. 'Electric Blue Gecko' grows 3 ft x 3 ft and has foliage that can look deep purple, black or even metallic-blue in different light.  It has maroon undersides.  It looks great against coleus and colorful annual flowers! 
NYBG - Electric Blue Gecko with coleus and more 

Deep blue stems hold the foliage high which makes it look great in a container or in mass plantings and in the front or middle of the border. It likes moist but well drained soil - not too soggy.








Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Deer Resistant Groundcover for Dry Shade! Flowers, too.....

Varieties of Big Root Geranium with Spruce.  source- A Garden for All

Big root perennial geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum) is a deer resistant, dense 
groundcover that has fragrant foliage and flowers. It grows to about 12" tall and spreads.

It thrives in full to part shade conditions, even in dry shade. Hardy to zone 5.

Big root flowers in late spring to summer with dainty flowers. It blooms for 4 weeks or
more with flowers that dance in the breeze. Snip off spent flowers to encourage rebloom.

Foliage color of Geranium - source - Annie's Gardening Corner
Its foliage displays red and bronze tints in fall.


Bevan's Variety - source-  99 Roots

‘Bevan’s Variety’ big root geranium bears clusters of intensely colored dark magenta flowers.


Geranium macrorrhizum 'Ingewersen's Variety' - North Creek Nursery

'Ingwersen's Variety' has light pink flowers. 


Use to edge beds or under trees. Its mounding habit works well with other flowers -
and with evergreens!







Sunday, June 21, 2015

Some Plants for a Prairie Planting


The “prairie planting” style of the current popular Dutch horticulturists includes plants from various German breeders. 
Karl Foerster bred tall, hardy plants suited to the northern European climate.  He called grasses “Mother Nature’s hair”  and one of his best known and popular plants is Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster’ (a form of feather-reed grass).
Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass

Karl Foerster grass in background

Ernst Pagels  developed new varieties of Miscanthus sinensis.  Piet Oudolf was a friend of Pagels and uses his plants, among others.  Pagels developed Miscanthus Malepartus which blooms in midsummer so people in cooler climates can enjoy the bloom. 
Hoffman Nursery photo Miscanthus Malepartus

Piet Oudolf likes Echinacea purpurea 'Fatal Attraction’ which has bright pink flowers held on thick, dark stems.

Echinaceas, adored by butterflies and bees, thrive on cold winters. They require good soil but, once established, tolerate dry summers. They are easily raised from seed.

Summer echinacea Bressingham

A great late summer flower is Helenium 'Sahin’s Early Flowerer’.  It is one of the best native perennials for late season color! It displays a profusion of flowers which open deep red then develop orange and yellow streaks on the petals.
The tall stems are excellent for cut flowers. 3 ft tall, pinch back in spring


click here for source

And to create some interest try Eryngium 'Silver Ghost' -  Teasel-like pale green flowers, which turn to steely-blue as they mature, are surrounded silvery white bracts.  

A biennial plant, it will die after flowering in its second year, but self-seeds freely in a good spot.
source - The Teddington Gardener 

Veronicastrum virginicum 'Lavendelturm’ is used by Tom Stuart-Smith and has 6 ft, lavender-blue , upright fingers. They provide important vertical accents to contrast with fine grasses. 

Source - The Telegraph

Try some of these for a glorious summer garden!







Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trees Communicate via a Network

 Professor Suzanne Simard shows that all trees in a forest ecosystem are interconnected, with the largest, oldest, "mother trees" serving as hubs. 


Dr. Suzanne Simard is a professor with the UBC Faculty of Forestry. 

 Networks of mycorrhizal fungal mycelium have recently been discovered by Professor Simard and her graduate students to connect the roots of trees and facilitate the sharing of resources in Douglas-fir forests, thereby bolstering their resilience against disturbance or stress and facilitating the establishment of new regeneration.

This research provides strong evidence that forest resilience is dependent on conserving mycorrhizal links, and that removal of hub trees could unravel the network and compromise regenerative capacity of the forests.

Graduate Leanne Philip discovered that Douglas-fir supported their birch neighbors in the spring and fall by sending back some of this carbon when the birch was leafless.
 Maintaining the biological webs that stabilize forests may help conserve genetic resources for future tree migrations, ensure that forest carbon stocks remain intact on the landscape, and conserve species diversity.


Pier One gets into Serenity Gardens ...



This is what a friend sent to me - Pier one e mailed this her.....

Serene outdoor settings are so appealing, now more than ever.




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Join Me at the Newport Flower Show Saturday, June 20


I am speaking at the glorious Newport Flower Show in Rhode Island...It is a great flower show in the most unbelievable setting on the ocean. 

The display gardens this year revolve around the theme of The White City.  The World's Columbian Exposition, also known as The Chicago World's Fair, was held in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. In large part designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, the buildings and monuments were all clad in white stucco and because of the extensive use of ‘new’ electric light strings and street lighting, the central fairgrounds became known as The White City.

Six professional landscape firms have installed gardens interpreting the Beaux Arts garden design principles of neoclassicism, symmetry and opulent splendor for today’s landscape. All floral color is white.



Here is what I am speaking about:
1:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.
Serenity by Design - Simplicity, Sanctuary & Delight
Jan Johnsen, landscape designer, blogger and author
Why do some gardens make us feel so wonderful, relaxed and refreshed? Using ideas based on ancient and modern practices, Jan Johnsen draws on her 40 years in the landscape design profession to show how you can make a serene outdoor setting. Her engaging presentation, based on her popular book, Heaven is a Garden, uses stunning visuals and offers ways you can enhance your landscape . You will learn how to identify a power spot, create a sheltered corner and learn why the cardinal directions are more important than you think! 
Johnsen is an award-winning landscape designer and author. She has been in the profession for over 40 years and is the principal of Johnsen Landscapes a & Pools. Her firm's projects have been featured on TV and in magazines and books.