Showing posts from December, 2014

Gardening - Nature's Anti-Depressant (Repeat of a Popular Post)

Are you feeling a little down? depressed? Well here is a way to fix that -  go out and plant something...
Studies have found that an hour of gardening a day reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke and increases bone density more efficiently than aerobics or swimming!

In fact, even looking at nature can result in a drop in blood pressure within five minutes and lower our stress hormones.

One 16-year study in Australia revealed that those who did daily gardening even cut their risk of getting dementia in later life.

(Gardening boosts endorphins, the body’s good-mood chemicals. Personally, my theory is that we need the sunlight on our pineal gland and this can delay dementia, but I have no proof, its just a 'knowing')

Here is a lovely story from Timesonline United Kingdom, dated March 27, 2010

"...Jane Robertson was earning a small fortune in the pressured world of derivatives markets when she had a breakdown at the age of 27.

A spell in a psychiatric hospital followed, t…

Simplicity - a design imperative..?

"... The further you go into the past or the future, the simpler the design of everything becomes...

The funny thing about simplicity is that somewhere along the way it got tangled up with philosophy, took on moral significance, and ....became a prescriptive design imperative. "
Noguchi Museum Notes

2014 Round-Up: A Deeper Place of Being - An Interview

Now that 2014 is closing, I chose the blog post that I think captured the year best. This interview was conducted in March 2014, upon the publication of my book, 'Heaven is a Garden'. It is from a wonderful blog called Open Voices which is part of the Nature Sacred website. I am honored that this wonderful group chose to spotlight my new book. I urge you to check them out - there is always something inspiring in their blog.
A Deeper Place of Being: An Interview with Jan Johnsen Posted on 03/06/14 Jan Johnsen’s forty years of practice in landscape architecture has taught her that gardens not only inspire and delight but also impart a sense of well-being, offer respite, and induce feelings of renewal to those who visit and simply sit awhile.

Drawing on historical precedents from many cultures as well as design techniques honed through recent practice, her gardens are deeply nuanced, no matter the size. In anticipation of the upcoming release of her latest book, Heaven Is a Gard…

Merry Christmas and Happy Winter Solstice everyone!


Colors for 2015 - Serenity Abounds

Pantone says that an eclectic mix of understated brights, pale pastels and nature-like neutral colors will take center stage in 2015.
They say designers of all kinds will draw from daydreams of simpler times and  will look to folkloric and floral art to restore a sense of well-being:
“...There is a growing movement to step out and create ‘quiet zones’ to disconnect from technology and unwind, giving ourselves time to stop and be still...Soft, cool hues blend with subtle warm tones to create a soothing escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.” Leatrice Eiseman,  Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute®

I concur! That is why I wrote a book about Creating Serene Outdoor Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection this year.
and one more thing: white works with everything:

My most popular post of all time:'Blue Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving'

(Angelonia with Helichrysum, petunia, Johnsen Landscapes)
Blue is everyone's "favorite color."

 It is, hands down, the most popular color worldwide and is the least "gender specific" color, having equal appeal to both men and women. Now Purple is giving blue a run for its money as the second favorite color....
Blue is the favored color for toothbrushes, so that says it all!  (this info is from a great website: Sensation Color) but can purple be far behind?

Scientists have found that the color blue causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming. This may be why we all like to be around blue....stare at this square and see if it calms you.
In fact, over the past decade, scientists have reported the successful use of blue light in the treatment of psychological problems such as addictions, eating disorders, impotence, and depression.

Moreover, a deep blue/purple such as Indigo or Deep Violet symbolizes mystical wisdom and spiritual insight. It increases con…

Carl Sagan's Insightful Quote - Garden Wisdom

“What a marvelous cooperative arrangement - 
plants and animals each inhaling each other's exhalations, 

a kind of planet-wide mutual mouth-to-stoma resuscitation, 
the entire elegant cycle powered by a star 150 million kilometers away.”

-- Carl Sagan, "Cosmos"

Three Requirements for a 'Healing Garden'

Robert Ulrich was in the hospital with a badly broken leg.
Forced to lie flat on his back, Ulrich, an environmental psychologist, stared for hours at a too-bright ceiling light surrounded by acoustic ceiling tile.
 “I much I wished I had an attractive image on the ceiling,” Ulrich recalls.

Now the director of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University, Ulrich produced groundbreaking research that found that viewing natural scenes in a hospital aids stress recovery by evoking positive feelings, reducing negative emotions and blocking or reducing stressful thoughts.
When test subjects viewed gardens as opposed to urban scenes, they exhibited lower alpha rates which are associated with being wakefully relaxed.
Garden by Jan Johnsen
 Ulrich also found that surgical patients who had views of nature from their hospital beds had shorter post-operative stays, fewer negative comments from nurses, took less pain medication and experienced fewer minor p…

'100 Years of Design on the Land' opens through March 6, 2015

This show tells the stories of ten important American places. Contemporary landscape photographs evoke  the original spirit of a site and capture the change that has occurred since the site was first designed.  It opens December 15 at 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery in New York City. (between 51st and 52d Sts) with a free public reception. 6 - 8 pm.  The show runs through Friday, March 6, 2015. See more at:

In praise of Rose Hips! A Garden Tip

Allow your roses to form hips. Did you know that, like many plants that produce fruit, the formation of rose hips is a signal to the rose to go dormant for the season?

Rose hips provide wonderful color in the garden and are a good source of vitamin C for birds in the fall and winter. They are one of the highest plant sources of Vitamin C. 'Cherry Pie' Rose makes great rose hips:

You can eat them too. Rose hips are used for jam, jelly, syrup, soup, beverages, pies, bread, and wine. They can also be eaten raw if care is used to avoid the hairs inside the fruit.  The redder they are, the softer and sweeter.  

for more info on roses go to Chris Van Cleave - click here

Two more gift ideas for the gardener in your life....

I suggested some fun gift ideas a few days ago and forgot to mention 2 other gifts that gardeners love.

Garden Design Magazine Subscription

The new rendition of the famous Garden Design magazine is better than ever!  A great gift for anyone who loves gardens and plants.

And a heavy duty lopping shears

Fiskars 32-Inch PowerGear Bypass Lopper  We all need this and try to use our pruning shears instead...and then we ruin a great pair of pruning shears (I know - I have done it).

So this is a gift that gardeners all want but never buy for themselves....great for roses and small trees and is built for tough jobs.

The Grotto at Powerscourt- Garden Photo of the Day

Powerscourt Estate in Ireland. 20 minutes from Dublin, 
has been named the #3 Garden in the World by National Geographic.

Tabletop Moss Ideas for You

Moss and serenity go together......

Many gardeners have become interested in using moss in their landscapes. 

Now imagine capturing the lush serenity of a moss garden and shrinking it down in a miniature tabletop moss garden. 

The deep colors and textures of moss can create a container garden that is soothing to look at and fun to touch! 

this is from \- Outdoor Entertaining Ideas and Recipes
How to do this? Well, the Martha Stewart people suggest filling a galvanized-metal planter (available at garden centers) with fresh potting soil and two kinds of Irish moss (the dark-green Sagina subulata and the chartreuse S. subulata 'Aurea') to create a checkerboard pattern.

 After a few days, they say you plant the moss in your garden. What a great idea!

The Moss Acres website also sells a Tabletop Zen Garden in a Japanese-style ceramic bowl that features an assortment of Mosses, Christmas Fern, and river stones. You put it together yourself.... Water your new indoor ga…