A garden blog about plants, gardens, landscape design ideas and more.
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Christopher Alexander - A Pattern Language
illustration of Christopher Alexander's 'Positive Outdoor Space' by Matt Noiseux
One of the books I used in my Landscape Design Studio class in Columbia University is the classic, 'A Pattern Language' Towns- Buildings- Construction by Christopher Alexander and others.
It offers 'patterns' as basic design templates for you to follow.
These are principles of design that are founded on common sense as much as anything else. Alexander says his design language is based on human and natural considerations. Adding to the delight it that they are numbered for easy reference in the book: 'Accessible Green' is # 60. 'Quiet Backs' is #59.
One of the more elusive patterns is #106 Positive Outdoor Space.It is a favorite of mine. It talks about manipulating outdoor space and refers to space as being 'negative' and 'positive'.
Yin / Yang anyone?
The gist of this pattern says that there are two fundamentally different kinds of outdoor space: negative space and positive space.
Negative outdoor space is shapeless, the formless residue that surrounds buildings ....
aka 'empty space'...
Positive outdoor space has a distinct and definite shape - its form is as important as the shapes of the buildings which surround it.
Just as the universal Yin / Yang symbol illustrates the interrelation of positive and negative, so does great site design.
Make all the outdoor spaces which surround and lie between buildings positive.
Give each one some degree of enclosure; surround each space with wings of buildings, walls, trees, hedges, fences, arcades, and trellised walks,
until it becomes an entity with apositive quality and does not spill out indefinitely around corners.
(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 cont…
This year I am planting Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'. A deer resistant, native, drought tolerant, purple, long lived perennial! Wow! It is a hybrid of B. australis and B. alba and is a vigorous grower. Discovered by Rob Gardener of the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, it has charcoal-gray stems and is purple. Baptisia is a native perennial that has a long taproot, loves sunny sites with lean or poor soil. Average to dry soil is best. Its deep tap root allows it to survive long dry periods, making it a challenge to move once it is established.
The flowers resemble lupines and are smoky violet. Numerous flowers open first at the base of the flower stalk in May and ascend upwards, topping out at 4.5' tall. It has fine textured, blue-green foliage. The flower spikes rise above the foliage for easy viewing. I love its unique flower color and strong vertical form. A Niche Gardens introduction. Steve Foltz, director of horticulture at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, says …
"How do adults recapture that feeling of joy that children get from play?" This is what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wanted to know. He is a Croation-born professor of American psychology at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA and has spent years studying the state of being that he calls "flow."
Flow is what we feel when we are totally absorbed in an activity for its own sake.
This does not refer to a game where you win or lose or to watching a game. "You don't get much out of the passive consumption of pleasure," Csikszentmihalyi* says, "compared to enjoyment which is much more active and creative and self-directive."
Gardening is a great example of an activity that is creative, self directed and gets you into the flow.
You lose yourself when outdoors, planting, deadheading, weeding, edging watering or even raking the gravel (!?)...well, maybe you don't actually rake gravel but you get the idea.
I had a book signing at NY Botanical Garden (NYBG) on April 25 - and as I walked in to the Conservatory, I snapped this photo of the weeping cherry trees in all their spring glory. Good timing - it poured rain the following evening.
(photographer - unknown) Everyone wants Blue Hydrangeas. The rarity of naturally blue flowers is an irresistible draw to gardeners.
How to Turn Your Hydrangeas Blue? Here are a few tips from Proven Winners:
Nikko Blue Hydrangea from Missouri Botanical garden 1. Be sure you’re working with the right kind of hydrangea. You must have a Hydrangea macrophylla or H. serrata to have pink or blue flowers.
(photographer -unknown) 2. Aluminum availability determines flower color. The availability of aluminum makes the flowers turn blue. Without aluminum the blooms will be pink.
Soil pH must be low or acid (5.2-5.5) for the plant to absorb the aluminum.
from nely.bluehortensia blogspot.com
3. Color changes need time to take effect. Consistent treatment is necessary to turn your hydrangeas blue:
Plant your hydrangeas in a phosphorous-free medium, and use a phosphorus-free fertilizer with lots of potassium (i.e. 25-5-30). PHOTO BY DEBORAH SILVER - CHECK OUT HER GREAT WEBSITE- http://deborahsilver.co…
Nothing like piano keys to liven up a garden space....(above photo from Stone Art Blog) Recycling can be many things to many people...
or, in other words, "One man's trash is another's man treasure"
from Stone Art Blog
This piano was placed here in the garden. Here is what Sunny Wieler of Stone Art Blog wrote about this: "Besides being a passionate gardener, my dad is also a passionate piano player, so a few years back we got him a new piano for his birthday. So the old piano spent a while in the shed before he had the great idea to put it out in the garden..."
Little did Sunny's dad know that he was at the forefront of the conceptual art movement:...they would say something like this is a testament to the natural decomposing processes, a statement of the fragility of life, the impermanence of existence...
his dad would say, 'Hey, why not put it in the garden?" photos of broken concrete from Bourget Bros website
I am teaching a one day class on Wednesday April 16 at the NY Botanical Garden It is a fun, eye opening and fun class! (class size is limited.) I share my insights into landscape design and how to use various cultural and ancient traditions in a garden. I discuss how to use the compelling duality of Yin and Yang in a setting, explain how each of the four cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) affects us differently, which proportions create a more harmonious setting. I also show how to place rocks in the landscape according to the Japanese understanding. Everyone loves this. and of course, I discuss Color and its effects on our wellbeing... I show 2 beautiful powerpoint to illustrate my talk.. Handouts reinforce the information I provide. Here is what students have written: No
wonder you were instructor of the year! Your talk was delightful, Jan. You gave
us all a thoughtful, colorful start to planting season. I have some great new
ideas. Much thanks!AP, garden design…