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, December 29, 2010

Eye Candy from the British Association of Landscape Industries - BALI

The British have always been the leaders in Landscape Design.....Since 1972, The British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) has represented UK's landscaping sector.

Their membership comprises interior and exterior landscapers and designers, grounds maintenance contractors, and companies supplying industry-related products and services.

And they all have one thing in common: a commitment to delivering professional excellence by continually raising standards across the industry. These photos are a testament to that.

They show some wonderful photos on the website BALI (click here) and I had to share some with you. 

If you live in UK and are in the business I guess you already know about BALI....this 'eye candy' is for the rest of us. Very Inspiring, yes?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Garden Calendars for 2011 - Serene, Arty, Informative - and Best selling...

How quaint! a calendar on paper...with little boxes denoting days! 

You might think that calendars are passe due to all of our cell phone and computer schedulers....but the Gardener's calendar still lives on. 

 I looked at some calendars that go beyond the cottage gardens and beautiful flowers variety (although these are all wonderful) ....and I found a few that might be of interest to you.

The 2011 University of Massachusetts Garden Calendar is titled,  'Plants that Inspire' (click on title for info)

It showcases a collection of plant images with a brief description of each plant photo. Daily gardening tips provide information on garden pests and management strategies as well as “how-to and when” tips such as dates to plant peas, renovate lawns, prune and fertilize roses and conserve water in the landscape and many more.

A great and informative calendar.

You might prefer the Trees calendar from National Geographic. Long and narrow, it is perfect for that skinny wall that nothing fits on.... and pretty too.

Or if you are more Design oriented then try the Art Forms in Nature calendar. It is a collection of photographs by the famous Karl Blossfeldt, a 20th century photographer with an amazing eye.

Or perhaps you choose serenity and calm over all the others and gravitate toward the Zen: A Year of Reflection Calendar

And the perennial best-seller The Old Farmer's Almanac 2011 Gardening Calendar which offers gardening tips, timely advice, and an original full-color illustration.

Plus, an outdoor planting table identifies the best days and Moon phases for planting vegetables.

You can get it for a great price on Amazon:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peace on Earth


and love to all


Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Tribute to John Muir

"How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has its glorious starry firmament for a roof.

In such places, standing alone on the mountaintop, it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make --
leaves and moss like the marmots and the birds, or tents or piled stone --

 we all dwell in a house of one room --

the world with the firmament for its roof --

are all sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track."

~  John Muir

John Muir was born in Scotland in 1838 and came to the backwoods of Wisconsin when he was 11.  As a teenager, he had no time for school or formal study. He worked with his father taming nature, clearing the forest, plowing with a team of oxen and other arduous tasks. Yet he so desired knowledge that he would rise at one in the morning to read.

He wrote, “I had gained five hours, almost half a day! ‘Five hours to myself!’ ‘Five huge, solid hours!’ I can hardly think of any other event of my life, any discovery I ever made that gave birth to joy so transportingly glorious as the possession of these five frosty hours.” ( I can relate - I often write my blog posts in the early hours of morning).

He was a naturalist from the beginning. All creatures drew his sympathy and he paid close attention to the wonders of nature.  He attended the University of Wisconsin studying an eclectic course of study and left after two and a half years in 1863.

In 1867, while working, his hand slipped and a point of a file pierced one eye. He lost the use of that eye. The other went dark in sympathy. It was the bleakest time of his life.

As his sight gradually returned, over a period of months, he resolved to spend the rest of his life immersed in the sights that had been denied him in his darkened sickroom — the forests, fields, lakes and mountains of pure, unspoiled nature.

He took wilderness treks and ended up in Yosemite Valley in Calilfornia in the spring of 1868. He was 30 and Yosemite changed his world.

One of the sights in Yosemite Valley

He lived and worked in the Valley for several years and  became so knowledgeable about this magnificent natural wonder that he became a guide for some of the most famous of Yosemite’s visitors, including one of his idols, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Site of John Muir's 'Sugar Pine cabin' where he lived in Yosemite

Emerson tried to entice Muir away from Yosemite, telling him the world was waiting to hear him teach but Muir chose to stay.

Eventually, he did leave the Valley and in 1880, he married and moved to Martinez, California, 35 miles from San Francisco.  He became fairly wealthy as a grower of Pears and grapes, but realized that, unless something were done, the glorious Yosemite wilderness he had found in 1868 (and wrote about so gloriously) would soon be only a memory.

In 1889 Muir took Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of Century, one of the most prominent magazines in the country, on a camping trip to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite.  Johnson then published Muir's two articles advocating that Yosemite be made into a National Park and lobbied Congress energetically. Congress complied with this emotional and literary appeal and created the Yosemite National Park.

He went on to found the Sierra Club in 1892, the purpose which was to preserve and make accessible the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. He zealously taught and promoted preservation of the natural environment wherever he went...a foreign concept back then.

 He railed against the “...devotees of ravaging commercialism, [who] seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and, instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar."

He advised  instead to, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” 

He died in 1914 but in the years hence, his fame has grown. In 1976, the Calfiornia Historical Society voted him “The Greatest Californian.”

The most poignant tribute ever given to Muir took place in a private conversation between two great contemporary mountaineers. Galen Rowell once asked Rheinhold Messner why the Alps in Switzerland were so highly developed, with hotels and funicular railways, while in America, the mountains are relatively free of development.
Messner explained the difference in three words. He said, “You had Muir.”

This was edited and adpated from a MUIR biography in a great blog, EcoTopia.
Here is a great book of his best writings....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Solstice, The Hidden Gardens and World Peace

This Tuesday, Dec 21,  the sun will rise late, stay very low in the sky and set early. It is the shortest - and darkest - day of the year. It is the Winter Solstice ( for us in the Northern Hemisphere).

It is a time to look inward, determine what is important and start envisioning....

What makes this especially significant is that the solstice, this year, occurs on the day of the full moon.  Full Moons are times when emotions are heightened (and then some).

Further, there is a full lunar eclipse at the same time! This is when the earth's shadow totally blocks the full moon. This concurrence of events  foretells significant endings or culmination, a new awareness of a greater reality that unites our understanding into a cohesive whole. This will be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

This is an extraordinary event. When was the last time that we had a total full moon lunar eclipse on the winter solstice?  Not since Dec 22, 1703… over 300 years ago. Intense. Use the power of this time to align yourself with the dynamic new energies coming in .....  and light lots of candles because it will be the darkest day and night in three centuries.

 In California and the Pacific Time Zone, the lunar eclipse will occur just after midnight as the Moon is visible directly overhead. Plan to stay up on Monday December 20th.

So what other ways can we celebrate the solstice outdoors?  Here is a place to look to...

THE HIDDEN GARDENS in Glasgow, Scotland is a contemplative open space dedicated to peace on all levels and celebrates the universal spirit of nature. Their ethos on their website says,

"Gardens are universal and celebrated in many different ways throughout the world.

The nature of the Hidden Gardens project is to embrace different ideas, rituals and forms from different cultures merging these ideas through the designers' and artists' work in relation to the specific demands of the site both spatially and physically."

YES! Here we go! World peace through gardens. I love it.

The Hidden Gardens says that it follows the practice of many early cultures that celebrate the landscape and invest it with spiritual meaning. Like Celtic, Hindu, Native American and Aboriginal cultures, they place spiritual value on their given landscape which is a plant nursery, chimney and factory floor.

The starting point for the design program of  the Gardens is 'the celebration of diversity in nature and humanity, and the promotion of a deeper understanding of nature through international horticultural traditions'.

And so it goes without saying that they would have a FESTIVAL OF LIGHT.....and why not? a non religious celebration in a public garden that features light in many mainfestations..WHY DON"T MORE PLACES DO THIS?  I am not talking Diwali, Christmas or Hanukkah lights... I am talking about global light celebrations...

Will someone please start a Festival of Light Foundation?  A non profit group that touts light celebrations as an economic development tool for blighted areas...( I know: I go from astrology to art to economic development in a few paragraphs...that is the arc of my thinking process)...

All these photos are from The Hidden Gardens- check out their website...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cool Waters - Winter Thoughts

This blog is for those who crave serenity outdoors (preferably in a garden but not necessarily)....

now that it is winter, introspective landscapes come to the fore...
and in that vein, I would like to share photos from a wonderful photographer from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Her work takes my breath away... all I know about her is what she wrote in her website (click here)


Really good at hellos

Really bad at goodbyes


Her photos are like visual haikus

 I took these from her series called 'The Lake' on her posting on Behance. Also check out her photo documentary series:  Anything But Square (click here)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Favorite Archetypal Landscape - Denis Dutton, TED

 Denis Dutton  is a philosopher... He is the head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Dutton is from Los Angeles, California and was educated at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He taught at several US universities before emigrating to New Zealand (like my dear friend, Louisa, did...)

 In his book The Art Instinct, Dutton suggests that humans are hard-wired to seek beauty.  He gave a talk at TED on THE DARWINIAN THEORY OF BEAUTY and referred to the Atavistic Archetypes of Beauty....Here is an excerpt from his talk where Dutton describes the archetypal landscape that we all seem to prefer over any other:

“Consider briefly... the magnetic pull of beautiful landscapes.

People in very different cultures all over the world tend to like a particular kind of landscape, a landscape that just happens to be similar to the Pleistocene savannas where we evolved.

Savanna, Uganda - Ruwenzori Mountains
This landscape shows up today on calendars, on postcards, in the design of golf courses and public parks and in gold-framed pictures that hang in living rooms from New York to New Zealand.

It's a kind of Hudson River school landscape (I love this - I live in the Hudson River Valley)  featuring open spaces of low grasses interspersed with copses of trees.

Oak Savanna

The trees, by the way, are often preferred if they fork near the ground, that is to say, if they're trees you could scramble up if you were in a tight fix.

The landscape shows the presence of water directly in view, or evidence of water in a bluish distance, indications of animal or bird life as well as diverse greenery

forest near Killarney, Ireland

and finally -- get this -- a path or a road, perhaps a riverbank or a shoreline, that extends into the distance, almost inviting you to follow it.

Kenyan Highlands - North of Nanyuki

This landscape type is regarded as beautiful, even by people in countries that don't have it.

San Francisco Park

The ideal savanna landscape is one of the clearest examples where human beings everywhere find beauty in similar visual experience.”

Rift Valley, Kenya near Kaptagat

Here is a wonderful animated version of his talk. Its a little long...but a lot of fun with the animated graphics:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

what I want for the Holidays....GardenGrips

So what do I want? (and won't get but then I will buy it for myself at some point) are GardenGrips.(click here to  find source)

They are engineered like running shoes to provide a high level of comfort and support. They are good looking and tough and have a patented Grip-n-Go outsole which provides traction on wet grass and more.

The upper is made of double-stitched, water resistant, full-grain leather which easily sheds mud and clippings.

The Anti-microbial and removable sock-liner Moisture wicking Dri-Tec lining keeps feet dry and comfortable and they have a flex panel on top with cushioned insoles.

The protective steel toe keeps your toes safe while the molded rubber overcoat keeps them dry.

That is my wish - What do you Gardeners want?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Made Wijaya revisited

I have written about Made Wijaya before in this blog  (click here for other post) but I would like to revisit his Balinese work..he is a true artist in the tropical garden...

calling himself an 'aesthetic road warrior' (I love that).

Landscape architecture students take note: the roots of this profession lie in plants and our relationship to them. It is an atavistic passion that lurks in us all.