Showing posts from June, 2015

Sound, an Overlooked Element in Landscape Design

Sound is an overlooked element in landscape design. 

When we think of sound in a garden we think of birds singing, leaves rustling or bees buzzing.

Or we may think of wind chimes...

For some ideas we can look to ancient Japanese gardens where sound was a key consideration in the overall plan.
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 said it better.
The Japanese gardeners used sound to heighten the sense of 'near' and 'far' in a garden.

They would make a cascade seem far away by muffl…

Planting in Containers - The Sweetest Aspect

“Still, as I went about my potting on a glorious afternoon,  one small treasure after another,  the world of nature that is so terrible and so beautiful appeared  only in its sweetest aspect.”
- Henry Mitchell

Container plantings is a gardener's secret - they are easier to maintain and you can enjoy its bounty up close without bending down!  How great is that?

The fun part starts with choosing the pot, then choosing the plants...It is somewhat addictive. I just planted a pot with Lysimachia 'Walkabout Sunset' with Sedum 'Vera Jameson' and 'Irene' lantana. A plant lover's dream. 

Garden Photo of the Day - A Serene Water Feature

Water features elevate a garden.. the sound and presence of clean water enhances the atmosphere. Try a recirculating fountain like this.

Green - the Master Color

Green in a garden speaks to us on a visceral level.  The message it sends is one of ultimate calm. 
Associated with harmony and renewal, green is the 'master color' of Nature, exhibiting more shades in a garden than any other color. This is why a green-only garden can appear to have so many hues...

The Hindus say the light energy of green governs the heart chakra of our body. 

They believe that imagining green or surrounding ourselves with green will allow more love, emotional balance and empathy to enter our life. 

Gardeners, no doubt, benefit from this association -  as Russell Page, the English landscape designer, sagely noted, “Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart.”

Physiologically, green calms the nervous system and slows the production of stress hormones.

In feng shui green is the color of fresh energy and new beginnings.

Have you had your green today?

'Electric Blue Gecko' Elephant Ears, Deep Purple-Black

Want to create a bold statement in your garden this summer? Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) sport large, colorful leaves and give your garden an instant tropical effect. They like sun, moist soil and warm weather (zones 8-11). 
The Gecko series from breeder Brian Williams of the mail order nursery, Brian’s Botanicals in Louisville, KY is vigorous and change color like a true gecko. 'Electric Blue Gecko' grows 3 ft x 3 ft and has foliage that can look deep purple, black or even metallic-blue in different light.  It has maroon undersides.  It looks great against coleus and colorful annual flowers! 
Deep blue stems hold the foliage high which makes it look great in a container or in mass plantings and in the front or middle of the border. It likes moist but well drained soil - not too soggy.

A Deer Resistant Groundcover for Dry Shade! Flowers, too.....

Big root perennial geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum) is a deer resistant, dense 
groundcover that has fragrant foliage and flowers. It grows to about 12" tall and spreads.

It thrives in full to part shade conditions, even in dry shade. Hardy to zone 5. Big root flowers in late spring to summer with dainty flowers. It blooms for 4 weeks or
more with flowers that dance in the breeze. Snip off spent flowers to encourage rebloom.

Its foliage displays red and bronze tints in fall.

‘Bevan’s Variety’ big root geranium bears clusters of intensely colored dark magenta flowers.

'Ingwersen's Variety' has light pink flowers. 
Use to edge beds or under trees. Its mounding habit works well with other flowers - and with evergreens!

Trees Communicate via a Network

Professor Suzanne Simard shows that all trees in a forest ecosystem are interconnected, with the largest, oldest, "mother trees" serving as hubs. 

Dr. Suzanne Simard is a professor with the UBC Faculty of Forestry. 
 Networks of mycorrhizal fungal mycelium have recently been discovered by Professor Simard and her graduate students to connect the roots of trees and facilitate the sharing of resources in Douglas-fir forests, thereby bolstering their resilience against disturbance or stress and facilitating the establishment of new regeneration.

This research provides strong evidence that forest resilience is dependent on conserving mycorrhizal links, and that removal of hub trees could unravel the network and compromise regenerative capacity of the forests.

Graduate Leanne Philip discovered that Douglas-fir supported their birch neighbors in the spring and fall by sending back some of this carbon when the birch was leafless.  Maintaining the biological webs that stabilize forests m…

Pier One gets into Serenity Gardens ...

This is what a friend sent to me - Pier one e mailed this her.....

Serene outdoor settings are so appealing, now more than ever.

Join Me at the Newport Flower Show Saturday, June 20

I am speaking at the glorious Newport Flower Show in Rhode Island...It is a great flower show in the most unbelievable setting on the ocean. 
The display gardens this year revolve around the theme of The White City.  The World's Columbian Exposition, also known as The Chicago World's Fair, was held in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. In large part designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, the buildings and monuments were all clad in white stucco and because of the extensive use of ‘new’ electric light strings and street lighting, the central fairgrounds became known as The White City.
Six professional landscape firms have installed gardens interpreting the Beaux Arts garden design principles of neoclassicism, symmetry and opulent splendor for today’s landscape. All floral color is white.

Here is what I am speaking about: 1:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.
Serenity by Design - Simplicity, Sanctuary & Delight
Jan Joh…

'Silver Frost' Pear - A Tree for the Evening Garden

Want to create a garden that glows in the evening? Plant white and silvery plants. The 'Silver Frost' Pear is a tree that can fit in tight places and is quite a conversation starter!

The ornamental 'Silver Frost' pear (Pyrus salicifolia 'Silver Frost'), also known as the willow leaf pear, sports 3- to 4-inch long narrow, silvery leaves that look very much willow leaves. It is a small tree that is a bright silver accent in the landscape.  It grows to about 15 feet tall and  in late winter has bud tips tinged with pink. In early spring it has white, five-petaled pear blossoms. The tree's small fruits are hard and bitter to eat. It has little fall color.

The 'Silver Frost' pear tree grows in zones 4 - 7 and can tolerate pollution. Great for city gardens. But it is not tolerant of wet soil, long freezes in winteror hot, arid summers. Likes sun. In late winter, you will need to prune the tree to maintain its shape. You can also trim and shape it  as a topi…

Sacred White Sage of California

White Sage (Salvia apiana) is an elegant shrubbyCalifornia native that requires good drainage and full sun.  It is extremely pungent.

Its leaves are brilliant, silvery white and its flower spikes soar 2 - 5 feet above the foliage, with hundreds of small white-to-lavender flowers offering themselves up to pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds and small native wasps. They fly into the flower and crawl into the flower's neck and sip the nectar.   This is bee heaven, which is why White Sage is sometimes referred to as bee sage. 

Slow growing and may be difficult to establish. It often grows on rocky, south slopes.  Very little water is needed once the plant becomes established.

This plant is the Sacred White Sage that is used in medicinal teas and Native American smudge sticks for  purification rituals.  Its leaves are burned in the home to sweeten and purify the air.  This is a beautiful and powerful plant.

If you want to grow this plant indoors her eis a great link on how to do it:  h…

Garden photo of the Day


The Earth Laughs in Flowers - and So Do We!

"The earth laughs in flowers..." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

If Emerson was right, then the earth in my part of the world, the northeast United States, is starting to giggle right now ... and soon it will be guffawing with big belly laughs of coneflowers, Shasta Daisies, Daylilies and more.

Chuckling up lantana and could you not smile?
Flowers make us happy...but why?
Well, a fascinating study in the journal of   Evolutionary Psychology – ISSN 1474-7049 – Volume 3. 2005. - 121 studied this very phenomenon.
Psychological researchers from Rutgers studied the effects of flowers on people and wrote "An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers"
Within their exhaustive study the scientists wrote this (I selected these paragraphs out of the multi page report) :
"our results indicate that the simple presentation of flowers, even a single flower, will release a strong and immediate behavior reflecting positive affect...

Anecdotally, the responses ar…