Showing posts from October, 2013

Norm Magnusson - Decorating Nature

(Zig Zag Leaves - Norm Magnusson)
Artist Norm Magnusson lives near Woodstock, New York.   Yes, that Woodstock...

Magnusson (see his website, Funism) is an artist that uses all media to get his ideas across.

In his 'Decorating Nature' series of art photos (giclee prints - they're for sale) Magnusson paints on or colors pieces of nature, like adding stripes to a fallen leaf, painting a pine cone blue or drawing concentric rings on a stone. He says,

(Blue Cone - Norm Magnusson)
"We use nature to how we see fit: we strive to bring order to it,
 we seek to explain it in a language that doesn’t belong to it, 
we try to make it prettier, 
we try to make it better, 
we try to make it more profitable. 
Some efforts succeed, some don’t."    

(amen to that - Jan)
(Tree Rock - Norm Magnusson)
But Magnusson also says that his art photos are all about beauty, saying,

"Beauty is the best friend of consideration."
(Eastern Hemlock - Norm Magnusson)
Some of you may want to replicat…

Garden Gnomes, Anyone?

Garden Gnome, anyone?

This year the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK declared that the banned garden gnome was now allowed to be part of the Chelsea Flower Show.

Tackiness be damned! Garden gnomes for all! 

This may seem to be a funny little discussion but it actually has great portent.  Garden gnomes, those funny little white-bearded creatures, are associated in England with the landscapes of the not-so-rich and the unfamous.  According to English gardening maven, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, “Gnomes are very symbolic in English gardens as an anti-class statement."

Born to be Wild Gnome
Anti-class? anti- posh? These happy little garden sprites (or small and creepy men, depending on your point of view) are reminders that we are all free to fashion our gardens, our little bits of heaven, in our own way.  I remember, growing up in Brooklyn, walking by many a 'bathtub Mary' in the chainlink bordered front yards of those lucky enough to have a front yard.  They would take a cast…

Photo of the Day - Butchart Gardens

The Japanese Garden at the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada. Gentle paths (dotted with Himalayan Blue Poppies in the late spring) lead you to streams, ponds and bridges. Japanese maples and beech trees rustle softly. Jennie Butchart, with Isaburo Kishida, an expert Japanese landscaper, completed this garden in 1906.

David Leaser - Flower Photographer Extraordinaire

Blue Moon by  David  Leaser
This is the time of year to savor beautiful flower photos....They bring us back to the blossoms that thrilled us in the garden in the warmer months.  In the winter, I often  have photos of flowers on my desk or on my wall to greet me and remind me of Nature's glories.

In this regard, I have to share with you the photo work of David Leaser. I met him last year at the Architectural Digest show in NY. He had an entire wall of phenomenal flower photos that stopped me in my tracks. The quality and imagery took my breath away.

It was in late winter and I stood there soaking in the extraordinary pictures.

These are not ordinary photos - Leaser uses NASA technology to create botanical images that have such detail that you can literally see the pollen grains on the flower stamens!  The photo above is a photo he took of a Jade Vine - a tropical plant - native to Philippine islands. David says that the iridescent turquoise coloring is unique in the plant world. Cl…

The Crown Sky Garden at Lurie Children's Hospital - Serenity in the Hospital

photo from world landscape
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has a wonderful  healing space known as the Crown Sky Garden. 

It was designed by the famed landscape architect Mikyoung Kim and features bamboo trees, trickling water, mosaic planters, an interactive translucent light wall that weaves through the garden ( it changes colors as people walk by) and carved wooden benches.
photo from world landscape
Lurie Children’s Hospital has partnered with the Center for Health Design to examine the impact of hospital design on stress levels in hospitalized children. “There has been little work on understanding the role of respite spaces in children’s hospitals,” said Paula Crown who helped fund this unique garden.

photo from world landscape
The hospital will share its findings with the Pebble Project, a group of 50 hospitals that is studying  innovations in hospital design. In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before all ho…

Bravo to October's Trees!

Sugar Maple Leaves - The New York State Tree - photo by Jan Johnsen

"I can see clearly now, that the rain is gone
...its gonna be a bright sunshiney day"
~ Johnny Nash

There is no more glorious time than a sunshiney day in Autumn in the Northeast. The coloration of deciduous woodlands of the United States take my breath away on certain weeks in October. And you can see this natural  phenomenon in parts of California and the Northwest, in Japan, on the coast of East Asia and in parts of Europe).

Native Dogwood (Cornus florida) against a native Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) photo by Jan Johnsen
The native trees put on their cloaks of color and are ablaze in the sunshine... I walk along public trails near my house and exult in Nature's show. 
in Sleepy Hollow, NY  -  Maple Tree photo by Jan Johnsen
Sometimes I want to literally stop and applaud, crying'BRAVO!' to a particular tree or scene. Wouldn't that be wonderful if we had crowds of people standing in front of a p…

Street Art at its Finest - Mobstr

Street Art is the highest form of collective public communication.  It is not fine art or advertising nor is it for commercial gain.

It may be protest, opinion or just an observation.  It may make us think about the nature of things which is what the street artist Mobstr did in Newcastle in the UK.  There the municipality would paint over graffitti with a buff colored paint.

So he would return and write cheeky questions to the 'Buff Man' which, of course, would be 'buffed over'.

This piece is called, "Playing with Buff Man".  He thanks the city council of Newcastle for their obedient collaboration.


The 5th Best Toy of all Time:

According to Wired magazine DIRT is the The 5th best toy of all time. It comes behind STICK, BOX, STRING, and CARDBOARD TUBE. Of course, as a grown up, you may not agree but kids definitely are into the DIRT thing. Yesterday in my town of Croton on Hudson, NY we had the 12th annual Daffodil Bulb Planting Day. I organized this to make the village beautiful but who loves it? the Kids. And why do they love it? Because they can play with DIRT! Kept in its proper place, Dirt can be loads of fun.  It's great for digging, making piles and moving around.  Use it with Stick to create mounds and grooves. Dirt also makes a great road surface for toy trucks and cars.  And best yet,  playing with Dirt is actually good for you.Some studies have shown that kids who play with Dirt have stronger immune systems than those who don’t. 
One type of bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae),  is especially abundant in soils rich in moist, organic matter. When we work in the soil, we breath it in. M. vacc…

Photo of the Day - Bottle Tree at Luna Parc, Sandyston, NJ

A green bottle tree festooned with holiday lights... I took this at the home of Ricky Boscarino which is called Luna Parc. He is an extremely creative artist whose home is an art piece! It is open 2 times a year.

White - The 'Beacon' Color in the Fall Garden

White elevates a garden. It soothes us.  Uplifts us.  It adds sparkle to any outdoor space. This clear and crisp color shines brightly on a misty October morning like a beacon to offer us sweet tidings. 
Because white flowers 'glow' in dark autumn evenings, I place white mums in pots by my door to greet people. I also plant them in the ground to light up dark corners.

white mums - photo by Jan Johnsen
I also enjoy how white Angelonia flowers (an annual here)  keep blooming in the coolness.

And of course, Montauk Daisies are the stars of October...shining ever so freshly on cool afternoons...they are perennial and come back every year.

And don't forget those plants that have variegated leaves! Outside my window in the northwest section of my little yard is a variegated dogwood shrub. I prune it back in early spring and then the green and white leaves grow in to cover the compact bush with a cloak of brightness, which I especially admire in autumn.

Variegated iris ensata is…