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Showing posts from June, 2011

New York's Bryant Park - What Makes a Great Urban Park

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N.Y. City's Bryant Park in Summer
This is a revised and enlarged version of a previous post I wrote.....Jan

Bryant Park is one of the most successful outdoor spaces in New York. But why?
Well, it is open on all four sides to the public.  You can enter it easily although there is a distinct separation from the street and a more formal entrance off 6th Avenue.
It is also a mix of overhead trees and open level green space. (I guess each comprises 50 percent of the whole). This is an important and salient design point.
from the website : www.soulofthegarden.com/dailymuse0703.html
It offers many different active and passive recreational pursuits. Chess tables and sculptures share the park with ice skaters, a carousel and bird watchers.
Chess players in Bryant Park
Ice Skating in Bryant Park

One of the most obvious features of Bryant Park is the perimeter planting of tall Plane Trees. These stately trees were planted years ago and have been pruned to a high canopy which offers filtered shad…

Flowers, Deepak and Peace Gardens

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“Music is continuous. It is the listening that is intermittent...” 
~ my paraphrase of a John Cage quote
The above Tibetan Mandala is a print by the Tibetan artist, Rabkar Wangchuk. It is called 'Flower Mandala' and can be bought from the TIBET HOUSE (click here).
If you look closely you will see that this lovely artwork is like a compass: North is white, East is Yellow, South is Red and West is Green......yellow denotes intellect and thinking and this is what the direction, East, represents and encourages..
The Tibetan mandala speaks to us of a greater reality. It illustrates the flow of all life radially outward from the center.. Flowers do this too. Flowers are Nature's Mandalas.

Coreopsis at Jim's by Jan Johnsen
You can be surrounded by Nature's mandalas if we choose -  round, radial wheels that are colorful celebrations of Life and continuity...Flowers uplift our awareness and well being.  Flowers remind us of the true nature of the world.


Photo by Divine Natu…

Keith Albarn - Principles in the Game of LIfe

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photo by Keith Albarn :   Rhododendron - Almost forms a dodecahedron of pentagonal florets.

Keith Albarn says his Game of Life has a set of essentially simple rules. These rules generate the richness and diversity that we experience in our lives.  Albarn notes that we all seek insight and are all potential see-ers and visionaries.


by Keith Albarn
Albarn is a genius brain...works with numbers, harmonics, art, pattern.



Life has some key principles according to Keith Albarn :

Metaphor and analogy are aids to insight

From simple rules emerge complex consequences



Constraint encourages creativity

Everything is interdependent



Things are determined by relationships

Relationships depend on communication

We live on the Edge of Chaos


willow spheres - Garden Beet







My Powerpoint Talk - June 23, 7 p.m. Mt Kisco Library - NY

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garden by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

This Thursday, June 23, at 7 pm, I am presenting a captivating Powerpoint on 'Secrets of Creating Gardens of Serenity' which illustrates little known tips on how to make aBeautiful and Serene Outdoor Space.


Are you one of those people who respond to their surroundings more deeply than others?


garden by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

Then this talk will appeal to you greatly. If you are inextricably drawn to bring forth the highest vision of the natural environment around you, you will enjoy the images and ideas I present in this talk.


Innisfree, Millbrook, NY

I share with you fascinating insights on how we can order a space that optimizes a feeling of harmony and renewal. For example do you know why East is considered the most beneficial direction by all cultures? You should conisder this in placing benches, garden gates, etc.

Did you know that the octagon is a powerful shape? Perhaps this is why Thomas Jefferson designed his home at P…

Flower Power - A Story about NYC and flowers by George Reis

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George Reis is a student of mine at Columbia University and he also works for NYU as their LandscapeSupervisor (he prefers 'Head Gardener')....our latest assignment required that he choose an excerpt from Edward Hall's 'The Hidden Dimension' and write a personal anecdote relating to the concept cited.

George wrote a touching essay on the power of flowers that I would like to share with you. Here the vibrant and beneficial energy of flowers soothes even the toughest of NY city psyches.....



“Our urban spaces provide little excitement or visual variation and virtually no opportunity to build a kinesthetic repertoire of spatial experiences…Man can be viewed as having visual, kinesthetic, tactile, and thermal aspects of his self which may be either inhibited or encouraged to develop by his environment."

Edward T. Hall,   'The Hidden Dimension'

I’ve heard Pete Hamill, the great New York writer, reminisce about the days when New York was a city of working class…

What is Your True Garden Personality and Style? A Questionnaire

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Every year you go out in Spring, determined that this will be when you get your yard all put together. One beautiful Saturday morning you go to the garden center and buy whatever looks good at the moment.  You plant it all up and  - tired but happy - you say 'this will be great'.

But the moment passes and it doesn't quite do the trick.. Maybe it is because you should first find YOUR TRUE GARDEN PERSONALITY....

Landscape architect, Shelley Sparks, of Harmony Gardens (check out her great website - click here ) in California has this wonderful questionnaire on her website. It helps you determine what will resonate with you in your garden.  She has synthesized so much, its impressive.
Shelley's stated mission on her website is also illuminating. She writes, 'through garden design I want to entice people into their gardens so that they can experience the delight and positive emanations from their garden.'I like that.
Harmony Gardens' Questionnaire


1. How much priv…

What is a Water Butt? A Beautiful Way to Collect Rainwater

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from simply waterbutts
What is a water butt?

This is what I thought when I looked at Hermes' posting in his marvelous 'Gardens of a Golden Afternoon' blog....

If you live in an area where the summer months are dry you may want to collect rainwater from your roof to keep your garden watered. This can be done in a rain barrel or as the people in the UK call it, a water butt.

Plastic rain barrels (in various sizes and styles) can be connected to a downspout of a house to collect rainwater from the gutters. They can collect water through the top lid or through the side through a pipe diverter. If you use a diverter then the rain fills the barrel (or water butt) first then,  once it's full, flows down the drainpipe as usual. A gutter filter can be used to will keep out unwanted debris.

I found several water butt sites and want to share a few fun items with you:



The Cascatia Decorative 245 Litre Waterbutt
is made of plastic, but looks like a terra cotta pot. At the top is a pl…