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Showing posts from April, 2012

RED and more in the garden

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(Red Poppies in Jim's Garden, photo by Jan Johnsen)
Bold. Bright. Pop.

This is what RED adds to a garden.

RED, an eye catching hue, stands up to the summer sun's withering glare in the afternoon.

When all pastels fade away, red, orange and yellow sing their hearts out....and RED always steals the show.

RED has a vivid history - Check it out on the sensational color website. It is the color of the root chakra (this means 'energy point) of the body:
"Thischakra is located at the base of the spine and allows us to be grounded and connect to the universal energies. Groundedness, belonging...."

(sounds perfect for all us grounded gardeners)


In Japan RED is associated with certain deities. Their “Shinkyo” (Sacred Bridge) in Nikko, Japan is a wonderful example of the contrast REDmakes with greenin a natural setting.

You can also see how effective RED is in the modern Chinese Red Ribbon in Tanghe River Park, designed by Turenscape :



This use of RED has always been popula…

Re-Inventing May Day - Our Springtime Celebrations and their Roman Origin

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I just took my morning walk and enjoyed the light green leaves unfurling on the trees .... The trees come alive here in the first weeks of May where I live.

This is why May Day and the Maypole celebration are so appealing to me. The tradition of Dancing around the Maypole  is a true Springtime ritual and has its roots in ancient history.


The ancient Romans honored their god, Attis, on March 22  by wrapping a sacred pine tree in linen and violets. They then carried it in a procession to the hilltop temple of Cybele, and, after solemn observance, celebrated merrily and placed bits of wool on the tree. 
Sale Elementary School and their Maypole
When the Romans occupied the British Isles. they brought this Springtime festival with them.

According to E. O. James' description, the Attis ceremony was recreated by the youths in old Europe who cut down a tree, lopped off the branches leaving a few at the top, wrapped it with violets like the ancient Romans did, and at sunrise, carried it b…

Wattles and Coppicing for Modern Gardens

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Andrea Cochran's fabulous garden shown here would not be the same without the wattle fence on top of the hill....


What is a wattle fence?

It is essentially fencing woven from green branches of Hazel and Willow trees (oak, elder, hornbeam and ash too ).  This technique has been used for centuries in Great Britain and makes an ideal windbreak and screen.

Wattle also provides a unique and attractive rustic appearance...


Wattle as hand railing - Andrea Cochran Design
But how to get braches for this?


Coppicing is a way to renew trees rapidly.



Coppicing a tree is an efficient way to  provide small banches for wattles.

In historic Britain, much of the economic value of a medieval woodland was in the so-called “small wood,” or coppiced trees rather than in large timber trees.  Although the practice fell into disuse in the first half of the twentieth century, it has been revived in contemporary Great Britain, where there is interest in the conservation of woodlands and in the ecological ben…

Loren Eiseley, Star Thrower

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"Man would not be man if his dreams did not exceed his grasp...

 If I remember the sunflower forest it is because from its hidden reaches man arose. The green world is his sacred center. In moments of sanity he must still seek refuge there..."
- Loren Eiseley, The Invisible Pyramid



When Loren Eiseley, the famous naturalist, was alive no one looked at him as a mystic but he was indeed mystical.
 He was born in 1907 in Nebraska. In 1910 a very young Loren watched the passage of Halley’s Comet with his father. That spectacle contributed to Eiseley's profound sense of time and space that is so inspiring.

Eiseley became one of the most widely read and highly regarded nature writers of the twentieth century. "There has never been another writer like him," wrote a reviewer for the Library of Science, "and there never will be".  His admirers and correspondents included the science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, the poet W.H. Auden, and the cultural critic Lewi…

The Amazing Dandelion - Harvesting and Cooking Nutritious Greens in Spring

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The dreaded Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), for which we spend tremendous amounts of weed killer money to eradicate, has been prized over the years for its medicinal and nutritious properties. In fact, dandelion roots, flowers and "dandelion greens" (leaves) are all edible!

• Dandelion roots can be roasted as a coffee-substitute, or boiled and stir-fried as a cooked vegetable.

• Dandelion flowers can be made into a wine.



• Dandelion greens can be boiled, as you would spinach, and served as a vegetable or can be inserted in sandwiches or used as a salad green (it has a little "bite.")
 Dandelion greens are high in vitamins A and C, and iron!  The French even  have a well-known soup called creme de pissenlits (cream of dandelion soup), which is easy to make. Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/eating-dandelions.html

 from Embracing My Health blog
Harvesting the greens (the leaves)  is the most popular way to eat Dandelions. The best time to harvest the gr…

Tiptoe through the Tulips

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My dear client, Mark, has been overcome with Tulipmania.
It is a wonderful malady that encourages someone to plant thousands of bulbs in the fall.


It started out gently for Mark - we had just finished the total site design around a magnificent house he had built. This included viewing gardens, a terrace and outdoor kitchen for entertaining, entry drive and parking area, walls and steps and more.

I planted some tulip bulbs around a newly planted Kwanzan cherry tree to give him a quick burst of spring color.


Mark was very appreciative the next spring when he saw the deep red tulips encircling the tree at the entry to his house.  He just wished I had planted a 'few' more.....



Well, that was about 5 years ago.  Today Mark plants tens of thousands of tulips on his lovely property.  And the effect is overwhelmingly delicious!


The tulips are planted with abandon - color blends dominate and it looks, to me,  like an ice cream social! Those sherbet colors meld together in a sweet conc…