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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Decorating Your Garden, Summer Style

Summer is here...the magazines tell us to lay back, relax, go to the beach....

well, some of us have to work and for us, the back yard garden is our summer retreat.

so in honor of those who are home, puttering away, here are a few ideas to Decorate Summer Style..

Flikr - joyeux artiste - a bird cage with herbs within..try this as a decorative deer protector for susceptible plants!

Cox and Cox - Ice White LED Tree Lights

Transform your garden into a fairytale in the evening with 250 pinlights.  These are on the lovely Willowleaf Pear. Also ideal for using indoors to decorate an entire room. Love the gate.

Plow and Hearth

Hang curftains on simple tension roads around your patio or deck...Use sheers for a luminous effect.

Candle Lanterns Cox and Cox

These fire-retardant paper bags are punched with a star shaped graphic to create a soft romantic glow. Place battery tea lightsinside (weigh down with a bit of gravel in case of breeze) and line them along borders and paths or dot them all over the garden.
Find a tree stump and use as a stool or side table..You can also buy one from West Elm (above)  

Use clear glass ornaments and hang them on your tree or branches in a vase.

Glass Lantern - Cox and Cox

This handsome glass lantern  is a stunner -  Why not hang it from your porch or place atop a wall or table? It will look great day or night.

Candle Wall Sconce -  Cox and Cox

Use roof tiles to make a wall sconce! The one offered by Cox and Cox is made from ancient hand-made Pyrenean roof tiles with rusted fittings and glass. The hurricane glass offers both wind protection and prevents wax from dripping onto the ground.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Knock Out Roses - Still the Best

The members of the rose clan are an intriguing bunch. These prickly prima donnas lure us with their beauty, enchant us with their aroma and then ....spear us with their thorns. With a 'come hither' look but a 'stay away' barbed body, roses definitely want to be admired but not touched.

Sunny Knock Out Rose
So it is with that admonition that I urge you to admire - and even plant - one of the seven  members of Conard-Pyle's Knock Out® Family of Roses. Why?  Because they bloom from Spring until frost, are easy to grow, are low maintenance and display great disease resistance.

Double Knock Out Rose and Pink Knock Out Roses in one of my Landscapes

My favorite is the double Knock Out rose. Its multiple petals give it a luscious look and it can fit into any landscape. Plant them individually among shrubs, annuals and perennials in mixed beds.  Or plant them in large groups to create an eye popping hedge.

Double Knock Out Rose - A fantastic display in one of my landscapes - Jan Johnsen

Rose Breeder, Bill Radler, created the original Knock Out rose in the late 1990s which then went on to win the prestigious 2000 AARS award and broke all records for sales of a new rose. Today the Knock Out® Rose is the most widely sold rose in North America.

The Knock Out® Family of Roses have a generous bloom cycle (about every 5-6 weeks) and will continue to bloom until the first hard frost. Additionally, all of the Knock Out® Roses are self-cleaning so there is no need to deadhead.

If unpruned, The Knock Out® Family of Roses can easily grow to be more than 3-4' wide x 3-4' tall. Periodic trims will keep them maintained at a smaller size. A once a year cut (to about 12-18" above the ground) in early spring (after the last hard frost) is recommended for maximum performance)

Want some more ideas? Check out the Knock Out® Family on Facebook to see many more photos.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

EMILIO AMBASZ - a 21st century architect/designer you should know

Green roofs are now being touted as the future but back in 1995 it was pretty radical when Emilio Ambasz and Associates extended Fukuoka's Tenjin Central Park with a terraced building covered in gardens.

Ambasz successfully reconciled two opposing aims: maintaining the green space of the existing park while providing the city of Fukuoka with a multi-use, iconic building.

The builder referred to it as a "a step-shaped rooftop garden... the image of a mountain as the view from the park."


Go to Treehugger for more on this Project

And here we are - 15 years later trying to catch up with Emilio Ambasz...

I love his stated philosophy which says, in part:

"Man should not see himself as a separate entity, detached from nature, but should accept his existence as part of it. Similarly, the artifacts we create should not be proud aliens, but rather should be designed as carefully and intricately woven extensions of the larger natural and man-made domains surrounding us." - Emilio Ambasz

Amen, 'nuff said.

Here are a few more photos of his work, as an architect and industrial designer:

Museum of Modern Art and Cinema,Buenos Aires, Argentina

This research facility in Austin, Texas was divided into a series of above ground buildings partially surrounded by built-up earth berms to integrate it into the landscape and reduce energy costs.

Neighbors see only a beautiful landscape as the research laboratories and recreational facilities are arranged casually around a man-made lake in the manner of an English landscape garden.

Salamanca's Plaza Mayor is,  the center of the city's commercial and cultural activity as well as a place of repose. The plaza itself, however, is a flat, barren place, unsuitable for sitting or gathering.
This design uses concentric squares stepping down toward the center of the plaza to create a sheltered, tree-shaded space which does not screen views of the magnificent surrounding fa├žade.  The new plaza offers a quiet, shaded retreat, while maintaining the integrity of the historic surrounding architecture.

Born in Chaco, a subtropical province of Argentina, Ambasz says he knew he wanted to be an architect from the time he was 11. By the time he was 16, Ambasz found a job in the Buenos Aires office of architect Amancio Williams. He attended high school classes at night in order to work for Williams during the day.

Ambasz entered Princeton (he taught himself English) with a rare intelligence and a passion for architecture. After two years there, he was awarded both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree.

Virtually overnight, Ambasz advanced from student to teacher at Princeton. But it wasn’t long before he caught the eye of Arthur Drexler, director of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA. At age 25, Ambasz joined the museum’s staff as a curator.

From there he went on to become a luminary architect... and he sees what I see : a melding of architecture with the landscape in a way we never imagined!

his website begins with 'Green Over The Gray'

An aside - As a young 20 year old (and an aspiring architect), I was sent from a Japanese architecture office to a landscape architecture office because I tried to place a museum into a hillside (1971)..."you are a landscape architect" I was told...perhaps I was just a little ahead of them?

So please look to EMILIO AMBASZ...the Frank Lloyd Wright of our time....Slide Show of Emilio Ambasz

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Healing Spaces / Healing Gardens

There is a lot out there on healing spaces....

When architects and sociologists and others look at what it takes to create healing environments (what I term 'Hospital Makeovers') they end up describing a garden. Not really in those words, of course....

Actually they call it 'Healthcare without the Institution'

Photo: Blender Nation - Espoo Hospital, Finland

It is an exciting development to see architects list the physical criteria required for healing spaces and it sure sounds like a garden to me.

Jack Lenor Larsen's Long House Reserve

In a pdf of a slide show given to public health architects, (Public Health Group of the International Union of Architects, November 2009) Zdravko Trivic & Dr Ruzica Bozovic‐Stamenovic & Dr Limin Hee say hospitals should look to shopping centers for inspiration...(click below to see slide show)

but after looking at the slide show (click above) I say they should skip the shopping mall model and go directly to the Serenity Garden model. It certainly fits their stated maxim which is:

 'Space is inseparable from people, and vice versa.'

Here is the physical attribute list necessary for healing spaces that they list in the show - I added my photos...

Yellow Coreopsis

��Textures and Touch

Chicago City Hall green roof


��Nature and Vistas

One of my projects - Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

��Quality of Lighting

��Sounds and Music

Making Headway Foundation Party for Kids afflicted with brain and spinal cord tumors


Art Piece in one of my landscapes - Johnsen Landscapes & Pools
So when you put these Together you get a wonderful Healing Environment which is also a Serenity Garden!

 Serenity Gardens for Health, Well Being and Long Life

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vote Now for 'Blackberry Punch' - New Superbell Flower Variety

Help Proven Winners win the Medal of Excellence Award for its 'Blackberry Punch' Superbell!

Proven Winners - one of my favorite plant companies -  learned recently that their new annual flowers, Superbells® Blackberry Punch and Superbells Coralberry Punch Calibrachoa was up to win the prestigious Medal of Excellence Award.

And no wonder! Look at that unique color -  its tricolor flowers are deep purple (almost black!) with a yellow center and pink edges. Superbells is Proven Winners' newest variety of Calibrachoa (which are often described as mini petunias).  In 1988 wild samples of Callibrachoa were collected from South America, grown here and then released in 1992 as the 'Million Bells® ' cultivar. They were an instant hit.

Superbells® is an improved series that is disease tolerant, self-cleaning and stays compact and bushy even when stressed. This means the compact plant blooms profusely without deadheading and doesn't need to be pinched back to keep it from becoming leggy. They are literally covered with hundreds of flowers from early spring all the way through the first light frosts.

Just 6 - 10 inches tall, their trailing branches cascade over the sides of walls, hanging baskets and other pots, and spread over flower beds. Hummingbirds love them!

Superbells is a "Real Simple' magazine – Top 10 Goofproof Plant"...

You cannot go wrong with these flowers as long as you have sun. Water only when the top of the soil feels dry - they require less water than other annuals -  and do not fertilize more than once a month, if that.  How simple is that?

Both Blackberry Punch and Coralberry Punch will be widely available next spring. Until then, they are out there in limited quantities this summer, so be on the lookout!

In the  meantime, click on this link and vote for Blackberry Punch and while you are at that website look at the past winners to get some flowerful ideas.......

Friday, June 18, 2010

..a Matter of Baobabs...

"It is a question of discipline," the little prince said to me later on. "When you've finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care.  - 'The Little Prince', Antoine St. Exupery

On the planet of the Little Prince, the timeless book by the great Antoine St. Exupery, the baobab seedlings must be pulled up, otherwise they take over the planet: 

 "You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rosebushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth. It is very tedious work," the little prince added, "but very easy.... 

"Sometimes," he added, "there is no harm in putting off a piece of work until another day. But when it is a matter of baobabs, that always means a catastrophe. I knew a planet that was inhabited by a lazy man. He neglected three little bushes . . ."

and so it is: while we rush off in pursuit of the latest Wii game and hot movie, we have neglected to pull out the baobab seedlings. And now their roots are slowly breaking apart the planet as the Little Prince warned. 

We did not 'attend to the toilet' of our planet and we are slowly being swamped in its oil. Just as the Masai burn cow dung - a waste product -  for their energy,  so we burn oil - nature's waste of a million years ago - for our energy.  

And now we are slowly drowning in it... a terrible end, don't you think?

In the late 1800's, Nikola Tesla set about to create free energy for the world. Many think he succeeded only to be undone by powerful, profit minded individuals. We will never know. But it is time to review his amazing discoveries...