Showing posts from August, 2012

Zen Gardens and the Water Dividing Stone

The "Water-dividing Stone" is placed at the bottom of a Japanese garden cascade where the torrent splashes evenly. (Mizuwake-ishi) The mizu wake stone is symbolic of the mythical carp that, through unwavering effort, climbed to the top of the waterfall to become a dragon, a regular teaching parable in the Soto Zen monastery. This stone is essential for all wonderful cascades...the sound it makes as water hits it is reason enough to place one there!

Ideas for Quiet Outdoor Spaces

Double Cascade by Jan Johnsen Roberta Chinsky Matuson is an expert on increasing profitability by maximizing employee contribution. Her website is . She writes that quiet people are often the most productive, explaining that, Being quiet strengthens focus and calms others. Being quiet gives you the space to delve deeply into ideas. She says,"  at the end of the day, it’s not about the noise one makes, but what one actually gets done." So it follows that a workplace should provide quiet spaces that encourage productivity! I hereby suggest to Google, Apple and Microsoft, among other businesses that they include Serenity Spaces for their employees to work in.... ( I can show you how to create them) A few ideas: Cascades and fountains Shaded benches or nooks Reflexology Paths to enhance concentration. Zig Zag Bridges and lots of outdoor outlets!

Design Ideas from Our National Reflecting Pool

The most well known reflecting pool in the United States is the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. This huge rectangular pool measures a little more than 2,000 feet long and is 167 feet wide and spans the length between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.     It reflects both facades of these structures which is a magnificent sight to behold, especially at night.   Its excellent mirroring quality is due to the fact that it is only 30 inches deep at its deepest point! In addition, the interior finish of the pool is a dark color with hardly any lighting. This makes a dramatic contrast to the adjacent light stone buildings. At night these structures are illuminated and the light bounces off the dark, still water, creating a spectacular reflection. This also works during the day when direct sunlight strikes the buildings.

Fragrant Hosta Plantaginea 'Aphrodite'

Hosta plantaginea 'Aphtodite' at The Mount in Lenox, Ma. photo by Jan Johnsen. 2012. The old fashioned 'August Lily' (Hosta plataginea) is a magnificent fragrant, white flowered Hosta that deserves to be rediscovered. First imported to England from China in 1790, Hosta plantaginea came to the United States a short time later. Since this species is from a more southern clime than other Hostas, it is more heat loving than most. It also blooms later in the year and features a honeysuckle like fragrance! The large white flowers of Hosta plantaginea certainly puts it in a class by itself.  They  are relatively 6+ inches long, pure white and open at 4pm in the afternoon. (Most hostas have flowers that open around 7am in the morning). And the best feature for me is that Hosta plantaginea continues to produce new leaves all summer long.   This is a particular advantage when the original spring foliage becomes damaged or diseased. So the hosta leaves l

Water in the Garden - Magic abounds

A Kyoto garden, Japan In Japan, the act of sanctifying with water is called ‘misogi’ . This practice traces its origin to a Japanese tale about a primordial god who cleansed himself of worldly ‘tarnishing’ with water.   The belief that water rids us of the impurities of the earthly world is the basis for the low, stone water basins we see in Japanese gardens. It is also why they traditionally sprinkle water at the gate of a home in the morning and evening. The Japanese are not alone in their tradition of using water to bless people and places. Many great religions value ‘sanctified’ water. Catholicism sees water that has been blessed as a symbol of God’s grace and as a “wellspring of all holiness...” Thai Buddhists make ‘lustral’ water and believe that they will be blessed if they drink it or have it sprinkled on their head. At their new year, the Thai people scent bowls of water with flower petals, and sprinkle these sacred waters to cool, cleanse and ble

A Lovely Garden Fountain Idea

Tony Exter and Mark Bartos of the BEMdesign gro up in South Pasadena, California used a three-tier bubbler pump to fashion a geyser emerging from a magnificent four foot diameter flower shaped water feature. “The idea of the flower itself came up rather spontaneously,” says Exter of the water feature.   “We tried to develop something symbolic of the plant material in the garden.” The pump sends a gentle spray of water into the air then it falls onto the tightly packed, vertically placed Arizona flagstone slabs and percolates into a 4 foot wide by 10 inch deep underground reservoir. Tom Poplin of Horizon Landscaping in Pasadena installed the fountain.  This reservoir is simply an earthen basin covered with a thick rubber ‘pond liner’.   A metal grate was set within the basin as a support for the stacked stone. Fragrant Lavender and Sage ring the bubbling fountain softening the rocky scene. How magnificent!