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Showing posts from June, 2019

Touch the Divine in a Garden

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The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Being in a garden elevates us and inspires many of us...

That is the why I write this blog.  I want to share my lifelong landscape work and experience with others so that you, too, will ‘touch the earth’.



And I want to promote a reverent way of looking at the green world which sees the piece of ground outside our door as an ‘everyday conduit’ to the energy of life that flows within plants, water, trees, sunlight, rocks, birds and assorted creatures.


a place, as George Bernard Shaw declared, where we can touch the divine.
Looking at the natural world in this way is nothing new. The idea of sanctified outdoor space was the genesis for the sacred groves of the Egyptians, Indians and Greeks. 

It birthed the medieval labyrinths and Native Americans’ 'medicine wheels'. 


And of course, ancient Chinese geomancy, ‘Feng Shui’, and Indian ‘Vaastu’, which see the earth and her directions as vibrant forces.

Little Bluestem - A Grass for All Seasons

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courtesy of Proven Winners
When the American Horticultural Society decided to create a large meadow at their headquarters, River Farm, in Virginia the first plant they seeded was Little Bluestem.( I wrote about this earlier but have added to it. )
Photo Courtesy of Lazy S'S Farm
 They applied 100 pounds of Bluestem seed. The Latin name is Schizachyrium scoparium or skiz-ah-KEER-ee-um sko-PAR-ee-um.
Why was this the first plant they seeded? Because Little Bluestem is a NATIVE, wonderful, durable, upright,clump forming grass that is eminently suitable for 'meadow making'. 'The Blues' courtesy of the Battery Database
Little Bluestem is native to almost all of the United States and parts of Canada. It is found in  45 of the 50 states, making it the most abundant of all native grasses.

It is drought and flood-tolerant, can grow in light shade and thrives in relatively poor, sharply drained soil. It is found in woodland glades and both upland and lowland prairies.
The most th…

White in the Garden

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Here's a tip:  white flowers are a STAND OUT!

Who would think that simple white flowers would be so remarkable?

Amidst green foliage and gray skies white petalled flowers sparkle and shine to such a degree that you have to smile

...and I am not the first to discover white's compelling brilliance.


Vita Sackville West, the English garden writer(who became famous for her White Garden in her estate, Sissinghurst),  said it best,

"White flowers are anathema to all but the oldest and most sophisticated of gardeners."

This is a very sly way of saying that if you like white flowers you are are so cultured and discriminating.

...so there you go! I must be very classy because I fancy white pansies,white gardenias, white euphorbia, white lilies and white roses.

Euphorbia Diamond Frost ( deer resistant) courtesy: Proven Winners
(BTW, the above quote was the impetus for the name 'White Flower Farm'...which is an outstanding mail order nursery..check them out. )

So to share…

Lovely Mullein - Garden Photo of the Day

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“A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”  -   Ralph Waldo Emerson 
The long-maligned Mullein (Verbascum bombyciferum) is considered a weed by some but here its wooly, whitish leaves, rising four feet high, show off its yellow flowers amidst a glorious flower display at NY Botanical Garden... It was NYBG's homage to the great Beatrix Farrand, landscape designer of the Eyrie and Dumbarton Oaks. This is from several years ago.


Roberto Burle Marx and his Wave Pattern

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On June 8, 2019 the NY Botanical Garden will open their new exhibit dedicated to Roberto Burle Marx! I visited it this week in a preview and it is spectacular!  You have to see it - #plantlove

I wrote this a few years ago and feel it is the perfect time to share this post again:

Roberto Burle Marx
Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994) was my idol when I studied landscape architecture at the University of Hawaii in the 1970s: he worked with tropical plants and was trained in painting.

I loved that Burle Marx painted every morning before attending to his design practice and that he said he 'painted his gardens'.

tablecloth design by Burle Marx


 He also asserted that the creation of a garden was 'an attempt to regain a lost paradise'. I could not agree more!

Flamengo park
Burle Marx's grasp of pattern was one of his signature features.  His bold use of color and shape captured the Brazilian culture masterfully and made them pertinent to the twentieth century.

Burle Marx's de…

My Class Today at NYBG - Learning from Before & After

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I am teaching a landscape design class today at the New York Botanical Garden.  It is called Learning from Before & After 
I share photos and use them to teach landscape Design Principles - it is a great visual way to learn. I give out handouts and even have a quiz.... Come join us! starts at 10 am.
Here is one example that I use - 
Modifying a Deck - How to make an outdoor space a little more Serene 

When this family asked me to make their backyard more serene and usable they never imagined I would tell them to alter their architect-designed deck!
But when I arrived and saw their property I quickly realized that the 'grand staircase' that led from their deck was more 'show' than anything else. It was perfect as a 'Gone with the Wind' stairway, allowing Vivien Leigh to descend in her long hoop skirt, but it did not fit a modern 21st century family. 
My suggestion? Remove the staircase entirely and build one on the side of the deck.  The husband was a little tak…