Showing posts from October, 2012

Quiet - the Power of Introverts and Gardens

Do you feel a pang of guilt when you are asked to go out but you would rather stay home and read, garden, draw, quilt or simply drink a cup of tea?

 You are not alone.

You are an introvert - given to pondering, creating and being. Many gardeners and garden lovers are, at heart, introverts.

 In 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking' Susan Cain looks at where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum...She explores how “closeted introverts” like Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates have expended enormous energy on trying to pass as extroverts in a culture that rewards extroversion.

Wow - I can relate!

Most garden lovers, I think, are, by their nature, introverts. We adjust and work hard to pass as extroverts but deep down, we just like to create and putter and appreciate music, art, plants, and more.

We work hard to meet the extrovert standard but, truly, we just want to be alone.

 Cain  spent the past seven years researching this b…

Garden Design - 'Lifting' a Tree's Canopy

Poets Walk, Central Park , NY

Removing the lower limbs of a tree is known as 'lifting' its canopy. Jefferson extolled the virtues of 'lifting a canopy' when he wrote:

'Let your ground be covered with trees of the loftiest stature.Trim up their bodies as high as the constitution & form of the tree will bear, so as that their tops shall still unite and yield dense shade.A wood, so open below, will nearly have the appearance of open grounds…"   Thomas Jefferson

Removing lower limbs allows air and light into a space without forsaking the tree.The shade cast by a tree with a high canopy is more like 'filtered' light, making the area more hospitable to 'understory' plants.This is a time honored practice. 

The NY Botanical Garden has Tulip trees that have been 'lifted' to great effect. See below:

Bryant Park, NYC, too, has its Plane Trees lifted as well.

Playing with Sound in the Garden - Doug Hollis

As a child, when I went to the beach, the first thing I would do was try to find a shell that I could put my ear to and 'listen to the ocean'....

We can do something like that too in a garden....and why not? Gardens are meant to delight...

The exploratorium in San Francisco offers a unique feature in their on line catalog that can be recreated in a garden  :
A Hole In A Rock

Thehole in this rock invites you to put your head in it.

The acoustic effect is similar to listening to a seashell although, in this case, it is much more encompassing.  The rock amplifies the natural frequencies for the visitor to explore and enjoy.

I can imagine someone doing this with varying size rocks and varying size holes....wouldn't that be fun? You can arrange them around a garden.. I might do that if I can figure out how to chisel into a rock.

Here is an ancient hole in a rock at Dunadd is in Argyllshire, Scotland. High atop a hill, this is where the first Kings of Scotland were coronated. N…

Design with Sound in a Garden

close up of glass wind chimes
Sound is an overlooked element in landscape design.

When you think of sounds in a garden you most likely conjure up images of birds singing, leaves rustling or bees buzzing but there are many more subtle auditory effects you can use - and I am not just talking about wind chimes. 

For some ideas we can look to ancient Japanese gardens where sound was a key consideration in the overall plan.

Stone Path - Japanese Garden at Kykuit
This is described beautifully in a text on the Japanese Garden at Rockefeller's Kykuit garden in Pocantico, NY written by Cynthia Bronson Altman:
"... The hollow tones of the shishi-odoshi (lit. 'deer-scare') – a rhythmic knock of bamboo on rock – the splash of the waterfall into a deep pool, the rustle of breezes through the bamboo, mute the rush of the world today, creating a space for contemplation and meditation, for a mindful walk..., transporting one to another world, another reality."
Wow. I couldn't have…

Autumn Gardens - Inspiring Images and Quotes

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky..."

Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."
Emily Bronte

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
Elizabeth Lawrence

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it...."
George Eliot "Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."
Samuel Butler Photos by Jan Johnsen

"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, Croton on Hudson

Its almost Halloween...and you plan to carve the old Jack O'Lantern again...triangle eyes, triangle nose.....yawn.....
What you need is some inspiration!
You can find it at the Van Cortlandt Manor located in  my little village of Croton-on-Hudson because we have what must be the world's largest display of carved Jack O' is called the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze.

Why do we have such a thing?

Well, Croton is in 'Sleepy Hollow Country' and Sleepy Hollow is the home of the Headless Horseman. It is right down the road from us.

 (And he rides through the countryside every Halloween)....thus, we are a natural for Jack O'Lanterns.....

That is my opinion as to the reason why we hold it although the website Things You Should Do says this:

"Blaze’s creative director, Michael Natiello, said the true inspiration for Blaze is the landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor itself. The event is really a land art installation informed by artists such as Michael Heizer…

Mark's Magic Garden - Plant tulip bulbs now...

It is now time to plant those spring flowering bulbs in the colder regions of the northern half of the world.
So in the spirit of arousing enthusiasm for what may appear to be a job with no pay-off... keep these images in mind while you labor away planting daffodils, tulips, allium, hyacinths, scilla and more in cool earth....
The photos here are of Mark Egener's garden. I worked with him to transform his property into a sweeping landscape complete with deer fence, gate, new drive, terrace, walls, grass steps, etc. I then planted some bulbs for him and his family to enjoy in spring was a small gesture of gratitude for such a wonderful project.

Well, the next spring,  when Mark saw tulips blooming around a lovely Kwanzan Cherry tree that I planted by his new drive he flipped. He really liked them....I thought, 'Great! I am so glad he likes them...have to do more next fall..."
I forgot to do it, however. But Mark remembered. And he called me up me this past spring and…

Ideas for a Fall Garden - a Very Short Video Tour

Crabapples in Autumn - Jan Johnsen
Fall gardens can be extraordinarily lovely.
The subtle color changes and the hush that falls on an autumn landscape makes it special for many of us.

Come take a short (I promise) tour of a Fall garden and allow me to share some wonderful 'fall interest' plants with you...