Start With the Leaves and All Else Will Follow

“The closer we live to the ground that we live from, the more we will know about our economic life; the more we know about our economic life, the more able we will be to take responsibility for it.”   -  Wendell Berry Leaves are vital to our gardens - and environment. They are a natural resource full of nutrients.
When leaves decompose they nourish and enrich the soil. They feed its microbes and organisms. Fallen leaves are life giving aids for the soil. Saving our leaves can reduce soil infertility and lessen our dependence on synthetic fertilizer.
In traditional cultures, fallen leaves were looked upon as a precious material. They did not stuff leaves in plastic bags and ship the away on trucks. Why do we despise leaves that have fallen to the ground? Manicured lawns and gardens do not have areas for leaves to be stored and composted. We should mulch leaves, not banish them. Soil tilth is the only way. Returning leaves to their natural cycle helps lessen unnecessary costs. Localization …

TEXTURE in the Garden - a Guest Post by Yuliya Bellinger

 One of my assignments to my graduate students in the landscape design program at Columbia University was to take a paragraph from the book, 'The Hidden Dimension' by Edward T. Hall and share a personal experience related to the topic of the selected excerpt. 'The Hidden Dimension' is a time honored classic on the role of spatial understanding in culture.
The following is an essay that the talented designer, Yuliya Bellinger, wrote. I think it is so lovely and wanted to share it with you. Simple is beautiful.  

TEXTURE in the Garden By Yuliya Bellinger

“Texture, about which I have said very little, is appraised and appreciated almost entirely by touch, even when it is visually presented. With few exceptions …it is the memory of tactile experiences that enable us to appreciate texture. So far, only a few designers have paid much attention to the importance of texture and its use in architecture is largely haphazard and informal. In other worlds, textures on and in building…

Gardening to Uplift, Heal and Keep Alert

Are you feeling a little down? depressed? Well here is a way to fix that -  go out and plant something...
Studies have found that an hour of gardening a day reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke and increases bone density more efficiently than aerobics or swimming!

In fact, even looking at nature can result in a drop in blood pressure within five minutes and lower our stress hormones.

One 16-year study in Australia revealed that those who did daily gardening even cut their risk of getting dementia in later life.

(Gardening boosts endorphins, the body’s good-mood chemicals. Personally, my theory is that we need the sunlight on our pineal gland and this can delay dementia, but I have no proof, its just a 'knowing')

Here is a lovely story from Timesonline United Kingdom, dated March 27, 2010

"...Jane Robertson was earning a small fortune in the pressured world of derivatives markets when she had a breakdown at the age of 27.

A spell in a psychiatric hospital followed, then ma…

Ten Things I Have Learned by Milton Glaser- a Classic!

This has nothing to do with garden design and everything to do with garden design. (said the Cheshire Cat)

It is one of my favorite 'how to live well' articles. I agree with everything he says!

Milton Glaser is a giant in the graphic design art world. And now, after reading this,  I know he is a very wise man. I must share. 

His designs include the I ♥ NY logo, the psychedelic Bob Dylan poster, the Brooklyn Brewery logo. He founded New York Magazine with Clay Felker in 1968. And he went to my high school, High School of Music and Art. The artwork shown here was done by Milton Glaser.

Go to the Milton Glaser website for more essays and insights . 

Ten Things I Have Learned by Milton Glaser
Part of AIGA Talk in London     November 22, 2001 1
This is a curious rule and it took me a long time to learn because in fact at the beginning of my practice I felt the opposite. Professionalism required that you didn’t particularly like the people that y…

Beautiful Foolishness of Things - The Book of Tea

'Too little tea' is a Japanese expression that refers to a person too busy to stop and smell the roses. 
From ‘The Book of Tea’:The heaven of modern humanity is indeed shattered in the Cyclopean struggle for wealth and power. The world is groping in the shadow of egotism and vulgarity. Knowledge is bought through a bad conscience, benevolence practiced for the sake of utility.

The East and the West, like two dragons tossed in a sea of ferment, in vain strive to regain the jewel of life. We need a Niuka again to repair the grand devastation; we await the great Avatar.Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the sighing of the pines is heard in our kettle.

Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things. Kakuzo Okakura

American Burnet - One of the last native flowers to bloom

Do you have a slightly wet piece of ground? American Burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis) is an under-appreciated native perennial plant that might work for you! It is a fall bloomer that is still sporting its spikes of white fuzzy flowers in mid-October. 
Also called Canadian Burnet, it is common in the Eastern US and it is a large, graceful plant that is native to swamps and bogs but has a high degree of drought tolerance. It begins to bloom in August and continues through the fall. It grows between 3 ft and 4 ft tall and is hardy from Zone 3 - 7. 
This plant is clump-forming and spreads through rhizomes. The abundant spikes of bottlebrush-like flowers attract bees and looks especially lovely on the edges of ponds and banks of streams.  It looks great next to other tall autumn performers such as Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'.  

For a great post on other late fall bloomers go to A Garden For All - click here.
And if you would like to  order Sanguisorba click here: Prairie Moon Nursery