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Showing posts from March, 2016

Oak Trees and Einstein

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Why do certain tree species evoke the same response from all people?  The Oak, for example, was considered  by the Celtic Druids to be the 'King of the Greenwood' . To them, oaks represented mighty and enduring power.   The ancient Greeks also revered oaks - groves of them were deemed sacred territory.   And Native Americans viewed the oak tree as a symbol of strength with supernatural powers.  In fact, the tradition of “knocking on wood” is said to be of Native American origin  - they would knock on an oak tree in order to avert the failing of a hopeful prediction. Katsura Tree This similarity is true for many other trees from Ash trees to katsura trees to maples.... So why do disparate cultures see tree 'personas' similarly?   I think Albert Einstein figured it out.   In  1905, Einstein, a young patent inspector in Switzerland,  came up with a simple equation that challenged the way we in Western society saw the  physical world:  

Hanami - Annual Cherry Blossom Viewing Time in Japan

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Weeping Cherry blossoms at NY Botanical Garden - photo by Jan Johnsen     The Tradition of  Hanami When I lived in Kyoto, Japan I was lucky to see  Hanami  in action.  In Japan, the seasonal blooming of cherry trees is celebrated nationally in an event known as  hanami   (flower-viewing).  The practice of  hanami  is centuries old; it began  during the 8th century, when it referred to the viewing of the  ume , or plum tree.  But  later  hanami  was synonymous with ' sakura' -  cherry  -  and the  blossoming of the cherry trees was used to predict the next year's harvest. H anami  was a time to perform rituals marking the start of the planting season. These rituals ended with a feast under the cherry trees, and this persists to today.     Starting in late March, television weather reporters give the public daily blossom forecasts, tracking the "cherry blossom front" as it progresses from the south to the north.   Families, coworkers, and

Spirit of Stone - My talk at Tower HiIl Botanic Garden April 2

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Spirit of Stone - Jan Johnsen  Stone is so often overlooked but it is an integral part of our landscape.   I will be presenting my popular powerpoint talk, Spirit of Stone, at Tower Hill Botanic Garden next  Saturday, April 2. 10:00 am - 12:00 pm During the informative and captivationg class, I will share the secrets of stone placement in the garden and talk about how to use stone in innovative ways. Register for a  chance to learn how to create sublime gardens that feature both plants and  stone! Click here: https://towerhillbg.thankyou4caring.org/pages/event-registration-form---the-spirit-of-stone

O sweet spontaneous - by e.e. cummings (an ode to spring)

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 O sweet spontaneous by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)  sweet spontaneous earth how often have the doting   fingers of prurient philosophers pinched and poked thee ,   has the naughty thumb of science prodded thy   beauty, how often have religions taken thee upon their scraggy knees squeezing and   buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive gods (but true   to the incomparable couch of death thy rhythmic lover   thou answerest   them only with   spring)

wordless wednesday

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no words allowed 

'Ivory Silk' Japanese Tree Lilac - A Tree for All Seasons

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Ivory Silk Tree Lilac photo from Arbor Hill Tree Nursery  Years ago I moved to Northern Vermont  (Montpelier) and worked as a landscape designer for a design / build firm there.  I soon discovered that my 'plant palette' was greatly altered due to the colder climate.  I had to learn about cold hardy plants - and fast. One of my favorite cold hardy discoveries that has remained a favorite of mine is the ornamental tree,    'Ivory Silk' Tree Lilac   ( Syringa reticulata "Ivory Silk"  ).   This small flowering tree, which grows no taller than 25 feet, was selected by Sheridan Nursery of Ontario, Canada in 1975 as a compact cultivar of Japanese Tree Lilac.  It needs full sun and is hardy to USDA Zone 3! I love 'Ivory Silk' because it flowers later than other flowering trees and has spectacular  creamy white, fragrant flowers borne in abundance in 6" - 12" long clusters .   In my part of the world it

Vivid Awareness in the Garden

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The idea that we are living within a world swirling with unseen energies is not a new one...   The Chinese idea of Tao comes closest to what mystics, tribal peoples and modern day physicists explain as the basis of all life. (white plumeria, Kauai )   The Tao, as Alan Watts writes, is not God “in the sense of ruler, monarch, commander, architect and maker of the universe,” but an “intelligent rhythm” ( Watts,  “Tao: the Watercourse Way”   P 40 ): “The great Tao flows [also “floats” and “drifts”] everywhere to the left and to the right, All things depend upon it to exist, And it does not abandon them. To its accomplishments it lays no claim. It loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them. (Jim's Golden Laceleaf Elderberry - Jan Johnsen)           A flourishing garden spotlights this intelligent rhythm. It is our everyday “repository of life …….with no claim to its accomplishments”.   NY Botanic

New Jersey Springfest - My Upcoming Talk

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  The New Jersey Springfest is coming!  The show is held at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ,  March 17-20, 2016 .   http://www. springfestgardenshow.org   Touted as "NJ's finest flower & garden show" , the  Springfest Conservatory and 20,000 square feet of exhibition space will be packed with  vendors of garden related products - from displays to edibles to flowers to great garden tools. The proceeds of the non-profit, i nspiring event , produced for garden-lovers, benefit the promotion of excellence in horticulture.       Premier garden designers and landscape companies will  feature displays of natural stone, waterfalls and patios, and garden plants in all forms.   I'll be speaking on   Friday - March 18, 2016 at 12:30 : My Powerpoint talk is  Serenity by Design:  Secrets for Creating Outdoor Spaces that Renew and Refresh   The description reads: "Why do some gardens make us feel