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Showing posts from October, 2010

An October Flower Border - Fall Garden Inspiration

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Pennisetum Hameln, Montauk Daisies, Canna Lilies and Lamb's Ears ' Helene on Stein' - Jan Johnsen
In my part of the world - New York State - October is when Mother Nature shines.The days are shorter, the sun is low in the sky, but the weather stays warm enough for the flowering plants to hang on.
 I always design and install gardens with October in mind because it is now when people have time to appreciate their grounds - it is too cold for the beach and graduations and summer parties are a memory. This is when people can stop and savor a garden. 
The design of Fall gardens is something I urge my students to master because these gardens prolong our enjoyment of Nature's gracious gifts.  And, more importantly, they quietly trumpet the siren call of the garden muse who is about to take her leave...but not just yet.....she sticks around to give it one last show....
Spirea Goldmound, Montauk Daisies,lantana, canna lilies
So in that vein, I am sharing and describing a little of…

Candlelight in October ....Cool Outdoor Lights

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(from Ubud Hanging Gardens site)
Its October!
The nights are getting dark but with an extra layer and some cool outdoor lights you can enjoy a magical early evening outdoors. Add some white mums, montauk daisies and white Japanese Wind Anemones ( Honorine Jobert) and - in the full moonlight - you have a captivating moonlight garden.
Montauk Daisies in October
White Mums look great next to dark green boxwood
Japanese Wind Anemone - Honorine Jobert
But if you have some extra money....consider the following lights for your garden:
The cool new OXO Candela Luau is a wonderful light that you can use on a leisurely nighttime stroll, place on an outdoor table or use indoors.....it is part table lamp, part emergency light, part night light, part flashlight, part candle and part lantern.

This rechargeable light stays lit for up to 10 hours and uses a dimmable, 50-Watt-equivalent LED light source inside. It features a durable, water-resistant polycarbonate housing with a stainless steel handle. Contr…

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

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In March 2009, The City of Sydney opened the magnificent Paddington Reservoir Gardens.  It was a hit from the beginning, being described as a combination of the Baths of Caracalla and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  'Adaptive Re Use' does it again!


In August 2009, TZG Architects, Sydney and Paddington Reservoir Gardens were awarded Australia's most prestigious urban design award for excellence. Judges commended them for creating a unique, surprising, functional and totally engaging public park that has captured the imagination of residents and visitors.
And JMD Designs won the 2010 Australian Medal for Landscape Architecture from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture.

When the city decided to transform the defunct, roofed over Reservoir (it was Sydney's original water reserve) into an urban park, it was expected that the underground site would be capped and a new park be built on top. But the architects decided to expose and highlight the 19th century struc…

The Glory of Fall Colors - BRAVO!

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Sugar Maple Leaves - The New York State Tree
"I can see clearly now, that the rain is gone
...its gonna be a bright sunshiney day"
~ Johnny Nash

There is no more glorious time than a sunshiney day in Autumn in the Northeast deciduous woodlands of the United States (and in Japan, the coast of East Asia and in parts of Europe).

Native Dogwood (Cornus florida) against a native Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
The native trees put on their cloaks of color and literally take your breath away... I walk along public trails near my house and exult in Nature's show.
Sleepy Hollow Maple Tree
Sometimes I want to literally stop and applaud, crying'BRAVO!' to a particular tree or scene.
near Mt Kisco, NY
Wouldn't that be wonderful if we had crowds of people standing in front of a particular colorful sugar maple on a street applauding? Man, that would be outstanding....


In Japan, there is something like that in their Autumn tradition of viewing the changing color of maples. Called&q…

The Magnificent Purslane - Edible Landscaping at its best!

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What was one of Mahatma Gandhi's favorite foods?  and what did Henry Thoreau eat while residing at Walden Pond?  PURSLANE.



Purslane, long considered an obnoxious weed in the U.S., is, in fact, full of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids!  And now this overlooked gem - considered 'oneof the most nutritious greens in the world'-  is receiving the attention it is due.
Usha Palaniswamy of the Department of Plant Science, University of Connecticut, reports that,
"Purslane is receiving much attention for cultivation by the United States Department of Agriculture as part of their effort to bring about a modification in the western diet with increased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables."
Purslane contains a high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the highly sought-after Omega-3 fatty acids. It has several times the concentration of ALA than is found in spinach.  So throw away those fish oil capsules and grow your own Omega-3 fatty acids! It literally gr…

'Flowers became his Cure' - A Healing Garden

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photo by Jan Johnsen
In 2006, the National Gardening Association in South Burlington, Vermont (I used to be a garden design consultant for them in the early 80s) decided to celebrate National Garden Month by inviting readers to share their garden tales for a "This is My Garden" Sweepstakes.
Here is one of the poignant and inspiring stories that they received:

Deciding to Cure by Joanne B.
Darryl, my husband, lived in what is now our home for 9 years before we married. Each fall I planted daffodil bulbs. He had no interest in planting anything. 
During the winter of 2004-2005 Darryl suffered a bad bout of depression. So that spring and summer flowers became his cure.
 Petunias in planter - created by Jan Johnsen

He built a planter at the front edge of the lawn, planted perennials and lots of petunias in hanging baskets and scattered large pots about the yard. During the autumn we planted tulip bulbs and pansies in the planter. Darryl also planted hyacinths, daffodils and Asiatic…