Creating harmony, simplicity and peace in the landscape......

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.

Gardening is an instrument of grace. "

May Sarton

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Cherokee Dogwood Clan - The Dreamers

Flowering Dogwood blossoms
The spring  flowering Dogwood is native to North America. When in the wild, they can typically be found at the forest edge and on dry ridges. 

They flower in early April in the southern part of their range, to late April or early May in northern and high altitude areas. 

Cherokee Chief Dogwood from Heritage Nursery 

Did you ever wonder why flowering Dogwood varieties refer to Cherokees? I did. 
There is: 
  • 'Cherokee Daybreak' - white bract; vigorous grower with variegated leaves.
  • 'Cherokee Chief' - red bracts; red new growth.
  • 'Cherokee Brave' - Even redder than 'Cherokee Chief', smaller bracts but dark red color; consistently resistant to powdery mildew.
  • 'Cherokee Princess' - vigorous white bracts, industry standard for white flowers.
  • 'Cherokee Sunset' - purplish-red bracts; variegated foliage.

Twin Springs Nursery - Cherokee Sunset Dogwood

The Cherokee believed that a tiny people lived amidst the Dogwoods and that this divine little race was sent to teach people to live in harmony with the woods. 
The “Dogwood People,” as they are called, are very kind;  they’re delicate, both physically & emotionally. They look only for the good and beauty of life. They are never mischievous.

Cherokee Brave Dogwood - Loma Vista Nursery 

They protect babies and take  care of the old and infirm.  The lessons of the Dogwood People are simple - if you do something for someone, do it out of goodness of your heart.

 Don't do it to have people obligated to you or for personal gain.

Those in the Dogwood Clan are the dreamers. They dream up happiness for everyone and everything. 

The  stories tell us that if the petals of the dogwood blossoms fall quickly in the Spring or all at once, the Dogwood Clan is sad, and crying for the people. But if the blossoms stay on the trees a long time and fall slowly, they are pleased with the people.
I hope the Dogwood blossoms prolifically this year and stay on the trees a long time......

order the book here 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Solitude (serenity in the garden)


I have a house where I go
When there's too many people,
I have a house where I go
Where no one can be;
I have a house where I go,
Where nobody ever says 'No';
Where no one says anything- so
There is no one but me. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NY Botanical Garden - a Springtime Delight

A wonderful class at NYBG - Jan Johnsen      
I am off to give a class on the 'Secrets of Creating Serene Outdoor Spaces' at the NY Botanical Garden this morning.  I love this class because it allows me to really go into depth on many little known aspects of garden design.

The NYBG venue is also so inspiring and I hope to take some photos of their magnificent daffodil many types of daffodils!

And if I am lucky, after class, I  can walk on some hidden paths and enjoy NYBG at its most sublime.

NYBG path

What a treasure that place is...go explore - and take a class - whenever you have a chance!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

O sweet spontaneous - e.e. cummings

O sweet spontaneous
by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

 sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched
, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
beauty, how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
to the incomparable
couch of death thy
thou answerest
them only with

Monday, April 14, 2014

Plant a Child's Vegetable Garden!

 I am reprinting this post from last is so timely!

 3 secrets to a successful 
  1. They should not be too demanding, 
  2. They should offer fairly quick results
  3.  The must not  require too much maintenance.

But how to achieve this in a garden in the short few months before school is over in June?

 Go to and then, prepare, prepare, prepare.

1First, your veggie garden site has to have full sun for over 6 hours a day. This is a must! And morning sun is preferable over 6 hours of late in the day sun.

2. It must be relatively level and have soil deep enough to sustain plant roots and facilitate adequate drainage (about 16 inches deep at least). No 6" to bedrock or placed atop asphalt.

The soil has to be prepared beforehand - not by the kids, but by adults. 

The quality of the soil decides the success of the garden. Little kids cannot be expected to amend and prepare the soil in the correct manner...

The soil preparation stage is where most kids' gardens go astray.

The grown-ups must work the soil to get the ground ready for the enthusiasm of children with trowels and a bunch of seeds.  This is no easy task -  the soil has to be friable ( I love that word) and fertile. 

Woodland soil is not suitable nor is sandy amendments will be needed (worm composting, anybody?)

3. Third, the arrangements for watering and weeding have to be addressed beforehand. Kids will lose interest after a while (summer sports are calling) and someone has to do it consistently...

If those three considerations are fulfilled then the kids' garden will be a great success! If not, it may become a short lived exercise....

What to plant?
Veggies for a kids' garden should be hardy, fun to look at and mature quickly before school is out in what can we plant?

One idea is to choose varieties in unusual colors, shapes and sizes:

"Easter egg" radish Ovals in shades of purple, lavender, pink, rose, scarlet, white. 25 days. Fast and easy to grow, radishes are best in cool weather.

Carrot Thumbelina
Round, golfball  gourmet carrots can be harvested after 60 days!

Ideal for containers or gardens with poor soils. Sweet taste and small cores make thumbelina great for salads, stews, snacks or hors d'oeuvres.

 Red Saladbowl - Oakleaf Lettuce 

Radiant burgundy, deeply lobed, delicate oak-like leaves form a rosette. Red Saladbowl matures early, holds its mild, nonbitter salad quality for a long time, and is slow to bolt.  seed with organic pelleting for fast and easy germination.

Potato - All Blue
Skin is purple and the flesh is blue.  A wonderfully flavorful potato with meaty flesh.  It is not a quick grower but the fun is in harvesting it in late summer...

one great way to grow potatoes - fill a tire with soil and plant the seed potato within this tire...add another one atop it as potato seedlngs emerge and grow about 8  inches and cover them with soil it again with a third tire as they grow toward the light...

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' Mix

This chard seed mix has stems in yellow, gold, pink and crimson.  They're best harvested young for salads. Ready to harvest in 60 days.

And what about flowers?
Plant spring pansies for color and this:

Nasturtium Alaska Mix

These colorful and edible flowers tolerate poor soils and heat or cold. They grow on compact plants with attractive variegated foliage. Flowers and tender young leaves add color and a peppery zip to salads.  Big seeds are ideal for kids' gardens.

I hope this gets everyone starting to think about planting out those veggies...I got these photos from Burpee's Seeds. This well known company is a great on-line seed source - but the time is nigh...the best seeds go quickly.....

Sunday, April 13, 2014

'Before and After' - Garden Photo of the Day

before and after 
 Everyone loves 'before and after' photos...Here is a a B & A of a flower bed....time to plan for the flowers....

Thursday, April 10, 2014

'Purple Smoke' - The best Baptisia

Photo - Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden - Puple Smoke Baptisia and Carolina Moonlight Baptisia

 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. 

Purple Smoke from Bluestone Perennials

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.

"is one of the best—if not the best—Baptisia on the market."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oh No They Didn't! Fashion Statement Garden Hose

Garden Hose in Radiant Orchid  from Boxhill
 The lowly garden hose is now a Fashion Accessory for your House! Here is the latest from Boxhill - the Reimagined Garden Hose. 

Oh NO! A garden hose in the 2014 color of the year, Radiant Orchid!

The fashionistas are trooping into the garden and accessorizing the place.  Out with that 'plain jane' green, top of the line Flexogen hose that you saved up for and in with a colorful hose complete with a gold plated metal tag.

What is next? A Haws watering can in Vivid Blue?  A garden tarp in a classic Ralph Lauren plaid?

This is a part of the Boxhill description:

"Garden hoses are not the most glamorous items in the world, but they are eye-catchers, usually placed right in the spotlight....

Let your garden hose be an exclusive detail on your house instead of hiding it away!"

That is the height of something - I am not sure what.

One question - where is the fitting at the end of the hose? I don't see any in the photo.

You want the know the name of the gold hose above? It is named Gold Digger. I am not kidding.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

THE BEST - Dwarf Calamint 'Montrose White'

The thing to do this year is PLANT FOR THE BEES.  So if you join me on that important bandwagon I suggest you plant - 

Dwarf Calamint 'Montrose White'  (Calamintha nepeta spp nepeta 'Montrose White').

Calamintha is an herb that's native to Europe and is used in cooking in Italy under the name nepitella.

This plant, I predict, will be a 'Perennial Plant of the Year'. Why? because it is a hardy (to USDA zone 4) and delightful flowering perennial plant that is deer resistant.  YAY!

Calamintha nepeta spp nepeta 'Montrose White' was named by Mike Yanny of Johnson’s Nursery in Menomonee Falls, Wis. 

Yanny’s wife purchased the calamint from Nancy Goodwin at Montrose Nursery. Yanny saw that the plant thrived under benign neglect and came back every year as strong as ever. He asked Goodwin if he could name and patent this particular calamint ‘Montrose White.’ She agreed.

‘Montrose White’ is a compact, clump-forming, 12" - 16” high plant that is covered with tiny white flowers from June until frost.  When temperatures fall in autumn the flowers turn lightly lavender. It does not get floppy and has very fragrant leaves. It can grow very wide.

'Montrose White' calamint loves full sun and well-drained soil. It will not tolerate wet soils so let it dry out between waterings.  It has no special fertilizer or pH requirements.

The best thing about this flowering plant, besides the fact that it roots from cuttings in a few weeks, is that it is sterile - this means that no seed heads are formed and no seeds are produced thus it always looks great!

Important: it does not self sow as the straight calamint species does.

'Montrose White’ is ideal for sunny shrub borders, rock gardens containers. It blooms all summer and if you plant it near a path and brush against the foliage, you will smell a scent of strong peppermint.

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are crazy for it. In bloom, Montrose white looks like a summer snow flurry. It is perfect for a white garden.

This short plant is drought tolerant and looks fabulous planted beneath taller summer flowers such as  Echinaceas, Phlox, Perovskia and shrub roses.    It also looks great in front of grasses and with any blue colored plant. Just remember it is a bee magnet.

All in all, a deer-proof plant that rewards us with flowers, scent and a long blooming season... and keeps the bees happy. Award winner, for sure.

by Bohns Farm

Friday, April 4, 2014

My one day Class Wednesday April 16 in NY - Jan Johnsen

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 designer and NYBG instructor

Jan is not only a skilled landscape designer, she is one of the best instructors you will ever have the pleasure of hearing lecture.
RR, landscape designer

I really want you to know just how successful you made our day. In fact several members thought this was the best presentation ever…You had a wonderful way of relating to the group…We attracted more people than we originally thought!
M M, - Garden Club    

photo by Jan Johnsen

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Praise for the lowly Dandelion

The dreaded Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), for which we spend tremendous amounts of weed killer money to eradicate, has been prized over the years for its medicinal and nutritious properties.

In fact, dandelion roots, flowers and "dandelion greens" (leaves) are all edible!

Dandelions are a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. And in traditional medicine, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans used dandelion decoctions (liquid made by boiling down the herb in water) to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach upset.

From a great blog: Sierra Foothills Garden 

• Dandelion roots can be roasted as a coffee-substitute, or boiled and stir-fried as a cooked vegetable.

• Dandelion flowers can be made into a wine.

• Dandelion greens can be boiled, as you would spinach, and served as a vegetable or can be inserted in sandwiches or used as a salad green (it has a little "bite.")

 Dandelion greens are high in vitamins A and C, and iron!  The French even  have a well-known soup called creme de pissenlits (cream of dandelion soup), which is easy to make.

Read more:

 from Embracing My Health blog

Harvesting the greens (the leaves)  is the most popular way to eat Dandelions. The best time to harvest the greens is in early spring, before the flowers appear, when they are the tenderest and least bitter. 

Boiling them or stir frying them will further reduce their bitterness.

So why pay pay extra to purchase foods with similar (or even inferior) nutritional value, when you have a free source of leafy greens in your neighborhood?

My musings:  It makes sense that, at the end of winter, when our ancestors were probably hungry and vitamin deficient, that Nature would see to it that they had a great source of vitamins proliferating all around them! No one had to seed them or turn over the soil...the Dandelions appeared just for the picking! 

And today we spend so much money just to make them go away....something is wrong here.

Just make sure to avoid harvesting near roads, since road salt and/or toxins may be present. Likewise, you obviously shouldn't harvest from a lawn where herbicides have been used.

From Wellness Mama

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My book is out! Thoughts on this fateful occasion...

My book has shipped from Amazon and yesterday was the first day people received it!

 I have to admit that I am ecstatic. It has taken me eight years to write this book and get it published.  I have met and surmounted all the obstacles. I am so happy. 

Chapter: The Magic of Water from Heaven is a Garden
I was told over and over by various publishers that I had no 'platform' and that my subject matter was not of interest to others. But I knew in my heart that I had something of value to share with others. St. Lynn's Press agreed with me - thank you St. Lynn's!

This morning I read Wayne Dyer's latest posting and it struck a chord. I have abridged it tremendously in the interest of brevity.

Here is a very abridged excerpt from Wayne Dyer's new book, "I Can See Clearly Now " :

click here for his website

"My agent and publisher both feel that we’d have runaway bestsellers if I authored books on money and sex, and all concerned would harvest a financial bonanza.....

immediately tell him [the agent] that there’s no way that I am interested or willing to undertake such a proposal... I explain that the talks I’ve been giving in spiritual gatherings for the past year have led to my fascination with the idea that individuals are capable of achieving a kind of God-realization if they change the way they think....

Artie is beside himself in frustration with me... 

I say I’m sorry, but I can’t let money or status or anyone else tell me what to write and speak about....

William Morrow agrees to be the publisher for my next book, but they offer no advance against royalties [I can relate] ...

I am undaunted. I know what I want to write about, and I feel the presence of something Divine whispering to me that I’ve made the right choice..."

Wayne Dyer

I heard those whispers too...there was no choice. And I am so glad that I did not give up even at the bleakest moments. This is for anyone else who feels the same way - keep doing what you believe in, those whispers are not wrong.