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
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Hidden Dimension in Landscape Design

photo of Gomphrena Buddy Purple and Brunnera Jack Frost by Jan Johnsen


When Westerners think and talk about space, they mean the distance between objects.

 In the West, we are taught to perceive and to react to the arrangement of objects and to think of space as "empty".

The meaning becomes clear only when it is contrasted with the Japanese, who are trained to give meaning to spaces – to perceive the shape and arrangement of spaces – for this they have a word, 'ma.’

~ Edward T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension

I am starting another studio class on landscape design at Columbia University. It is their first studio so I focus on...what else?....space.  The space between flower blossoms ( as shown above)  is the same as the space between sofa and chair, big building and little building. It is all proportion and scale, creating dynamic tension - or not.

The book I assign is the old classic, 'The Hidden Dimension' by Edward T Hall.  Guess what the hidden dimension is......(hint:  it is not time) .



















Sunday, May 22, 2011


We are the children of our landscape; it dictates behavior and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it.

Lawrence Durrell

If this is true, and I think it is, then we are children of strip malls, power lines and asphalt paving.

The yellow double lines confine our minds as we travel the landscape of modern life in a numbing cavalcade. No footsteps do we hear. No grassy breezy plants do we admire. Our thoughts are responsive to squat office parks and bright colored signs.


Dali


Children of the landscape must change the view and remember that we choose to live among the functional detritus of the everyday. We tell ourselves we love high tech but inwardly we cry for the soft vine, pregnant with fragrance.

It follows then that if you create a garden -and dwell in it - it will dictate your behavior. And all for the better. You can't be in a bad mood when surrounded by wondrous sounds and effervescent greens

Garden by Jan Johnsen







.

Mud-Luscious - A Child's Joy in Spring - e e cummings



It is a rainy spring where I live. Rain and more rain. Days of rain with intermittent breaks of sun.

So when life gives you raindrops....

You make...

Mud Pies.



Learn to love the mud and you will be a happier person, I assure you....

My stepmother once chided me for playing in the dirt and mud, saying this wasn't proper for a young lady (I was 11)...

She didn't understand that this was ( and is) my greatest joy. 

Perhaps I should have showed her one of my favorite poems. It is called 'In Just' by e e cummings. 

 
Annual Mud Day Celebration in Westland, Michigan


a poem in praise of spring, mud, childhood and more by e e cummings:


 
in just-


in Just-
spring       when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles     far      and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring
when the world is puddle-wonderful



the queer
old balloonman whistles
far    and    wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and


it's
spring
       and
            the
                
                  goat-footed
balloonMan        whistles
far
and
wee.


Rainy Day Idea : make a mud house with fern roofing......








Friday, May 20, 2011

Reclaiming Simple Garden Pleasures - Sunflowers, Roses, Hollyhocks and more


Krista Tippett, on her radio show blog, 'ON BEING', writes:

 " the transcendent food memory of my childhood remains the enormous, red, delicious tomatoes that were available at a ramshackle store on Main Street for a couple of months each summer. .... Dan Barber.... would have us ask this: Why did we abandon that pleasure, and how can we reclaim it as part of our ordinary food lives? "

I must follow this compelling question with one of my own about transcendent garden memories:

"Why did we abandon the simple pleasures of growing carrots in milk cartons, hollyhocks along old fences or lilacs at the corner of a house and how can we reclaim this as part of our ordinary waking life?"

milk carton gardening


Hollyhocks


Honeysuckle

We all have such memories - even city kids like me...

it might be the 'weed' that smelled like licorice ( anise hyssop), the buttercups that you put under your chin, the honeysuckle that you could suck a teeny drop of 'honey' from, the sweet smell of roses as you walked past a certain house, the bright yellow daffodils in early spring that sprang up overnight it seemed....



Dan Barber of Stone Barns ( a fabulous place near where I live) is on a mission to revive 'good food'...and I  guess I feel similarly about bringing flowers, plants and gardens back into our lives....this kind of knowledge has been cast aside in favor of math and physics but I say children can learn those disciplines better through understanding the phenomenal natural world around them.

So plant those sunflower seeds, install that Elephant Ear and cut up those milk cartons....transcendent garden memories await you.

Rainbow Knock Out Roses




Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Bubble Armchair - A Great Chair for Outdoor Fun



Do you watch Boston Legal?

Nearly every episode ends with  a “trademark” scene between Denny Crane (William Shatner) and Alan Shore (James Spader). The two sit on the balcony off Crane’s office, reclining in BUBBLE arm chairs, smoking cigars and sipping glasses of Scotch.


photo from a fun website: thebunnybungalow.com

Their friendship is highly celebrated but the real reasons these scenes are so compelling are the armchairs!!!!

The Bubble Club Armchair by Kartell and Design Within Reach (and designed by Philippe Starck) offers irony and comfort with an air of versatile sophistication. It can the center piece of any outdoor space.

Made entirely of polyethylene, the very comfortable Bubble Club Armchair owes its cartoonlike appearance to the contrast between traditional lines and exaggerated contours. The water resistance of the plastic makes this chair (and its sofa) a fun choice for pool furniture as well.

And the light weight construction makes it easy to carry it back and forth from patio to poolside.

And they light up at night - if you opt for the interior lights.



from designawards.files.wordpress


Of course you may want something a little less modern..in which case this chair might appeal to you:

Kimber modern B & B from Myranchburger

 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Making Hydrangeas bloom BLUE



It has always been said that the acidity of the soil determines the color of the standard blue hydrangea...

but horticulturalists say it is the aluminium in the soil that makes blooms blue...acidity just makes this more available to the plant. To make the aluminum available to the plant, the pH of the soil should be low (5.2-5.5).


from one of my gardens - Jan Johnsen

If you want blue blooms - ensure that the soil is ACIDIC...supplement the fertilizer with any of the following:

aluminium sulphate (1 tablespoon per gallon of water ),
eggshells,
grass clippings
coffee grounds
ground up orange or grapefruit peels.

from another of my gardens, needs some 'bluing'  - Jan Johnsen

If you use fast acting aluminum sulphate, apply it as soon as flower buds are evident in the new shoots in the spring, about 6 weeks before flower maturity. Important: Water plants well in advance of application and put solution on cautiously, as too much can burn the roots. You can apply this every so often throughout the growing season


Also you may choose to use a fertilizer low in phosphorus and high in potassium to help produce a good blue color (25/5/30 is good. Potassium is the last number). Avoid Bone meal when trying to produce blue.


If you live in areas with very alkaline soil or if the hydrangeas are planted next to a concrete wall or if you have alkaline water then you may not get blue hydrangeas even with all your ministrations....

note: WHITE HYDRANGEAS can NOT be changed to pink or blue.

Gloster furniture and Hydrangeas