Showing posts from 2015

Listening for a Deeper State of Calm

Roger Ulrich (of Texas A & M University) found that viewing natural scenes in a hospital aided in recovery by evoking positive feelings and reducing stressful thoughts.

Now, Matilda Annerstedt of the Swedish University of Agricultural Science discovered that we recover faster from stress and our body returns to a normal, harmonious state after exposure to nature and nature sounds as compared to an ordinary indoor setting.

It seems the nature sounds triggered a significantly higher activity in the parasympathetic nerve system which, in turn, calms us. 
The active effect of natural sounds on our wellbeing indicates that we need to add sounds to a hospital setting, right?
Little research has been done in the field of sounds but I think birdsong will do a lot in helping our bio-physiological recovery from the stress of urban life.  

Red Obelisk European Beech - a Winner!

Red Obelisk European Beech is a 2015 Cary Award winner and for good reason!

It is a narrow, columnar tree with wavy, lustrous, burgundy-black foliage all spring and summer.

 Ideal for tight planting areas, it can grow 40 ft. high and no more than 10 ft. wide after several decades. Tolerant of urban pollution so it is good for city landscapes. 

It is a pest-free cultivar, shows good tolerance to road salt, compacted soils and a little light shade (which reduces the intensity of foliage color).

In fall its foliage turns coppery-bronze, holding for weeks, eventually dropping to display a distinct winter-branching outline against the sky.

Plant it  for a strong vertical accent. Or use several trees to form a hedge.

Red Obelisk is quite tolerant of soil conditions - it needs adequate drainage but other than that, fares well in almost all soil types. It  prefer lots of sunlight.

Red Obelisks are able to handle temperatures down to about -30 degrees F. 

Serenity in the Garden - Photos to Enjoy

Here is an eclectic batch of serenity in the garden photos...Enjoy!

Plant An Aromatic Garden


A November Morning in the Garden - Eleanor Perenyi

My favorite garden writer, Eleanor Perenyi, wrote one garden book, Green Thoughts, and it affected me immeasurably when I first read it in 1982.  I thought how marvelous that she could combine great writing with the mundane joys of a Northeast garden. 

She refers to chestnuts and it makes me wonder if she had a tree because  the once plentiful native chestnut trees are gone, killed by the devastating fungal disease, chestnut blight. (Although they have a foundation, go here: The American Chestnut Foundation.) 

Here is a paragraph from her essay, Autumn. It catches that early morning moment in a late November garden:  

"Heavier dews presage the morning when the moisture will have turned to ice, glazing the shriveled dahlias and lima beans, and the annuals will be blasted beyond recall. These deaths are stingless. I wouldn't want it otherwise. 

I gardened one year in a tropical country and found that eternal bloom led to ennui. Up here I bury my bulbs in the same spirit that the sq…

Speaking with Earth Spirits in a November Garden

Deep down, in the warmth of the fecund earth, the spirits sing songs of life.

Hoping we hear, they inhale and exhale along with the seasons.

Now, in the cool days of November, they sing to us of rest, replenishment and they ask us to be calm.

The time has come to listen and of course, to rake the leaves...
the leaves...

-  Jan Johnsen

Musings - The Sole Prescription

Let it be admitted that the world’s problems are many and wearing, 
and that the whirlpool runs fast. 

If we are to build a stable cultural structure above that 
which threatens to engulf us 
by changing our lives more rapidly than we can adjust our habits, 
it will only be by flinging over the torrent 
a structure as taut and flexible as a spider’s web, 

a human society deeply self-conscious and undeceived 
by the waters that race beneath it, 
a society more literate, more appreciative of human worth than any society that has previously existed. 

That is the sole prescription, not for survival — which is meaningless — 
but for a society worthy to survive.

- Loren Eiseley, from 'A Firmament of Time'

A Reverence for Age and Antiquity

"We want also, somewhat more of reverence for age and antiquity. 
One of the great characteristics of the present generation is a fondness for novelty and unquestionably this is often a useful stimulus; but in grasping after and adopting everything that is new, let us not on that account, affect to despise everything that is old.

....we must nevertheless acknowledge, that human affairs move very much in circles; what, years ago, was at the bottom of the wheel and almost forgotten, again comes to the top and with a new dress and a different name, is eagerly run after as something entirely new. 

..... make us sensible of the fact, that every thing before and around us, is not our own work, and due to our own exertions, and did not all at once start into perfection, but was the slow growth of ages, and only attained after much toil and suffering."

'Lost' - A Poem by David Wagoner

Lost  by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

photo by Jan Johnsen (one of my gardens)

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.

photo by Blondieb

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

from Collected Poems 1956-1976 © Indiana University Press

Gardening With Soul - An Award winning Film to Inspire You

Gardening With Soul won Best Documentary Award at the New Zealand Film Festival. It is an inspiring story about an elderly nun, Sister Loyola, who tends her cloister’s gardens with a marked passion for her task.

 The opening starts with a storm and shows her inventive protective makeshift “covers” (old milk jugs) that saves the tender plants. Cane in hand, Sister Loyola walks to the church’s on-site shed and surveying the scene says, “I spend a lot of time out here.”

Sister Loyola opines, "The garden is saying to me all the time, ‘life is evolving, life is evolving’—So if you’re going to spend the last few years of your life worrying about how to survive, you’re wasting your time”. 

Gardening With Soul is available for  fundraiser screenings for community gardening groups, churches, and other organizations across the United States. More info can be found here.

Plant Drumstick Allium Now

I must admit I first discovered Drumstick Allium when I could not find any other allium bulb to was late fall and I had waited too long to buy the popular Globemaster Alliums...

What to DO? I bought the Drumstick bulbs and was thrilled at the result.
These purplish - red blooms are small - 1" -and oval shaped.  They bloom in my part of the world in June atop wiry 24" - 30" tall stems and wave in the breeze...and they make a superb cut flower (which you can dry to be an 'everlasting').     THEY ARE DEER RESISTANT.

Drumstick Allium bouquet - Martha Stewart Photo

Drumstick Alliums look fantastic tucked in the early summer flower border...You can add these small bulbs easily in the fall around clumps of established perennials such as Artemesia, Yarrow, Nepeta and Agastache. They peek out around these plants and are a delightful addition that come back every year!
Artemesia Powis Castle - Great with Drumstick Alliums - Great deer resistant Combo!

White Flower…

Autumn, the Year's Last Loveliest Smile

Autumn, the year's last loveliest smile. 
~ William Cullen Bryant

It is November and here, in the Northeast of the U.S., the breezes are blowing, the rain is finally here and the leaves are falling, falling....
So we must content ourselves with the sweet leftovers - the berries, the cabbages, the mums and some lovely remaining leaves.
The ones on the Japanese Maples are brilliant this year:
photo by Jan Johnsen

The berries on the winterberry - Ilex verticillata - are in their glory. All ready to be made into a Thansgiving wreath.

The planters are filled with mums,pansies and more.

 The crabapples are studded with their finest jewelry:

photo by Jan Johnsen

 And even the puddles don't look so bad at this time of year.

photo by Jan Johnsen

Garden Quote of the Day

“Perfection is everywhere if we only choose to recognize it.” 

― Okakura KakuzōThe Book of Tea