Showing posts from May, 2012


Sunset website - photo by Andrea Gómez Romero.
'Serenity in the Garden Blog' is the name of my Facebook Page.
Each day I post a photo of something that is garden is an eclectic assortment indeed: Flowers, chairs,people,  gardens, artwork, planters....

I post whatever  I think might appeal to other kindred spirits out there. You can click here to go to the site: Serenity in the Garden on Facebook.

I have decided to make a post of whatever I post on FB on a weekly basis here in my blog...that way it will be available to all the non-Facebook users out there.

I will number the posts ( this is number 1) and will go back in the archive on some posts because I have alot to catch up on.

I hope you enjoy these photos and ideas. If you do, please let me know - Thanks!

This flagstone walkway at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, California (a very special valley!) features a Bermuda grass double helix. To create the decorative effect, the designer framed the rectangular…


(terrace by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools)
Glorious gardens of color, light, shape and fragrance help our hearts to sing. They can be like a little piece of heaven in our backyard. Toward that end, I have devoted my professional life to transforming nondescript settings into enchanting, romantic landscapes. My aim for the past 40 years has been to create beautiful outdoor spaces that induce sweet reverie through inspired design. Now I am anxious to share my knowledge with others and show how to create gardens of serenity and delight just as I have done for my clients throughout the years.

On Wednesday June 20 I will give a 5 hour class on 'Secrets of Creating Gardens of Serenity'(click here) at the NY Botanical Garden in the Bronx.  I will share ideas on the power of shape, how the four cardinal directions affect us, how to use certain colors to elevate mood in a garden, how to locate a 'power spot' on a property, how to design an outdoor sitting space so that it enhanc…

'Smoke Bush' Steals the Show

photo courtesy of Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab The Smoke Bush rules in June and July!
 I planted a red-purple leaved variety of Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) in my small front yard years ago and it has been a stalwart eye catcher from the beginning. It makes the front of my house extra-ordinary in early summer.
'Royal Purple' Cotinus
As a result, I use the oval purple foliage of cotinus in many of my landscapes - it makes a great backdrop and can also be a sturdy specimen shrub...and it is DEER RESISTANT.

The Cotinus species is a rounded, bushy shrub that is happy and hardy wherever you plant it.  Known as Smoke Bush due to the 'smoke-like' appearance of its delicate flower clusters in summer,  it can even be adapted to a planter.
Both the varieties of smoke bush - green with flowers and the red leaved variety  - are in this planter
The burgundy leaves of the 'Royal Purple' Smokebush deepen through the summer, turning a vibrant purple-red in fall, esp…

Labyrinths - Idea for Your Circular Garden

Circles intrigue us and the most compelling form of circular garden is a labyrinth. The term "labyrinth" conjures up something convoluted or maze-like but these circular walkways are relatively easy to navigate and are thought to hold great spiritual potential.

These outdoor features have been in existence for over 3,500 years and were used as solar and lunar calendars, meditative walkways and symbolic religious elements.The labyrinth tradition has been revived in recent years and labyrinths can be seen nearly everywhere. Their presence offers us the chance to rediscover this meditative walking tradition. You can find them in open fields, parks, college campuses, and botanical gardens.
When you come upon a labyrinth, you cannot help but walk along the looping stone or gravel path. A labyrinth contains a single pathway leading round and round to a center point. Once you reach it, you simply reverse direction to go back to the beginning. This spiraling walk requires many changes…

Learning from Gardens - outdoor science

"Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe... As we penetrate into matter, nature ...appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole.”
~ Fritjof Capra,  The Tao of Physics
Such musings on the nature of the universe sound like what an ecological minded gardener might say.

All you have to do is look at a backyard garden and see the microcosm of the interdependent web of animals, plants and microbes that has evolved over eons. Just as Capra was describing.

So it makes sense then, as we gear up for commercial space travel and life,
that NASA scientists call our world "a self contained....microcosm..."

(photo by Jan Johnsen, Johnsen Landscapes & Pools)
Sounds like a garden to me…..
But there is so much of our interwoven tapestry that the NASA  ‘Bioregenerative Life Support Project’ misses.  They use machines to replicate our world.

Perhaps if a science minded person spent an hour in a garden, away from a lab, they could exchang…

The Great Tao in a Garden

The idea that we are living within a world swirling with unseen energies is not a new one...
The Chinese idea of Tao comes closest to what mystics, tribal peoples and modern day physicists explain as the basis of all life.
(white plumeria, Kauai )
The Tao, as Alan Watts writes, is not God “in the sense of ruler, monarch, commander, architect and maker of the universe,” but an “intelligent rhythm” (Watts, “Tao: the Watercourse Way”P 40):
(from The Living Centre)
“The great Tao flows [also “floats” and “drifts”] everywhere
to the left and to the right,
All things depend upon it to exist,
And it does not abandon them.
To its accomplishments it lays no claim.
It loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them.
(Jim's Golden Laceleaf Elderberry)

A flourishing garden spotlights this intelligent rhythm.
It is our everyday “repository of life …….with no claim to its accomplishments”.
(NY Botanical Garden Cascade)
Alan Watts uses a stream as his principal metaphor for the Tao.A stream, he …

The Sublime Color of Hazelnut

Yesterday I was on a job and the tree pollen, which normally does not affect me, was intense...coughing, sneezing, etc. I began to think about tree pollen and what good things we could create from something so bothersome...

I believe that everything in Nature has some use if only we can determine what it is. You know, like penicillin being developed from bread mold or something like that...(I am not sure about that example..)

So in the interest of learning to love tree pollen I found this unusual and interesting item in 'In Living Color' . It was written by Kate Smith and details the artistic use of tree pollen by Wolfgang Laib. 

Laib uses natural materials to create his works of art.  As Smith notes,

he is an artist who is "awed by nature and inspired by ritual...".

His gallery Sean Kelly Gallery writes that, " During the spring and summer months he collects pollen, including dandelion, hazelnut, pine, buttercup, and moss varieties, from the fields surrounding…

Willow Palaces, Cathedrals and Domes - Sanfte Strukturen

(from sanfte strukturen website)
Sanfte Strukturen builds willow palaces, cathedrals and domes. Marcel Kalberer, the head of the group, says he does this because he believes in developing socially-sustainable building processes and encouraging human co-existence with the natural world..... and what a magnificent co-existence it is!

The building techniques he uses are based on the ancient Sumerian reed houses of Mesopotamia and the traditional European small outbuildings constructed of woven plants and trees. Yet while both these were built of tightly bound reeds and green branches, Kalberer's structures uses the whole tree which is woven in place to form a living structure.

Arena Salix, Schlepzig 2004

Sanfte Strukturen built its first public willow structure in 1998, The Auerworld Palace in Auerstedt, Germany.

It was built by a diverse group of 300 people - children, seniors, men and women and students from many different nations and started with a party on the first full moon …