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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Outdoor Shower Ideas for Your Garden

The Bridge by Douches de jardins

The outdoor shower is a summer dream for many of us. Imagine waking up and going outside (in seclusion and privacy) and taking a shower 'pleine air'...

The image conjures up morning, brightness, serenity and refreshment...ahhhh....

You don't need much room but you will need some privacy fencing or dense plant screening.

Why not take the plunge?  I am trying to figure out where to put one in my little yard.  Here are a few ideas for you:


This shower envelops the body in a gush of water.. The water tap is located at the shower’s rear base and connects directly to a garden hose or to a fixed installation.   A hot water regulator allows mixing hot and cold water at the desired temperature.   Looks like a lot of fun.


Under the Tree by Conmoto

An arching spray of water from a tree-like source.  The tree's other branches are ideal for hanging towels and clothes. Designed by Michael Sieger, the Under the Tree garden shower is kept in place by a single ground spike and consists of two pieces for convenient storage and mobility.  


A beautiful old fashioned style shower.....

This shower is made of northern pine half logs and works like a conventional shower. It has a large, 1/4 turn, chromed brass faucet. A hand-held shower head can be supplied as an option and can installed on a terrace or on a lawn. The water tap at the shower’s rear base connects directly to a garden hose.


This is what I will get - an economical outdoor shower unit that comes with with or without a foot shower (to wash your feet). brass faucet body with lucite handles. Does the job and you can dress up the surroundings.

There are so many others out there.....Of course, being a landscape designer, I say that you should not forget the setting in which you place this marvelous addition.  Set it within a garden of Ornmental Grasses, Rose of Sharon, boxwood, coreopsis.....

shower garden by Jan Johnsen -

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Personal Space and Privacy - Japanese Vs. American

In my graduate Landscape Design Studio at Columbia University, I ask students to select an excerpt from the assigned book, 'The Hidden Dimension' and correlate a personal experience to describe it.
Yuji Yamazaki wrote this very enlightening piece...I had to share. (He said it was ok.)

“We learn from the study of culture that the patterning of perceptual world is a function not only of culture but of relationship, activity, and emotion. 

Therefore, people from different cultures, when interpreting each other’s behavior, often misinterpret the relationship, the activity, or the emotion. 

This leads to alienation in encounters or distorted communications.”

~ Edward T. Hall, Hidden Dimension

I have been living with my girlfriend for over 5 years now. My girlfriend, born and raised in the Long Island, NY,  sees certain things in a way that I don’t quite understand, especially things that relate to space and privacy.

Edward Hall mentions that there is no word to describe “privacy” in Japanese language.

 But I think that there is “sense” of privacy that you can develop in Japan.  A way to establish this sense of privacy is to block out other’s presence.  In densely populated cities, Japanese nuclear families are accustomed to share the most intimate space.  That is probably why we don’t have “privacy” in our vocabulary.

Growing up in Japan, I could go months without talking to my brother even though we shared a small 10’ x 10’ room, and it was not considered as being rude, it was rather respecting by mentally blocking out each other.  But my girlfriend would perceive this type of silence as a queue to ask me “Is
everything okay?

We  live in a small one-bedroom apartment, very similar size to the one with my brother. In Japanese setting, I can establish a sense of privacy by simply holding newspaper in front of my face and be silent—Japanese privacy is established.  In my girlfriend's culture, when you are in a room together, you are assumed to participate each other’s presence.  “What are you reading?”, “Wanna a cup of coffee?”, or “I’m bored” are the usual intrusion toward the silence.  You need to go to the other room and shut the door to have privacy.

Her privacy takes four walls and a shut door, which is about 100 square feet, my privacy takes 30” by 30” newspaper, which takes about 6 square feet. Growing up in a Long Island house with her own room, my girlfriend has yet to learn about my portable Japanese privacy, and I have yet to learn when and where to have that privacy.

GREAT INSIGHT!  My female advice, Yuji, politely answer her questions ......we never stop asking questions...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garden Bells - A Sonorous Addition to Your Landscape

Decorative Garden Bell from Cox and Cox

 Tintinnabulation  is one of my favorite English words.

It is a noun that refers to the ringing or sound of bells. The word sounds like what it is describing....

Edgar Allan Poe used this word in his rapturous poem about THE BELLS. It is one of my favorite poems and Phil Ochs put it to song.
Here is a snippet :

"Hear the sledges with the bells -
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells."

How can you not want a bell in your garden after that?  :)

Here are a few bells you may be interested in...or Make Your Own...My mother, when she attended Cooper Union as an art student, made a memorable sound sculpture from hanging cans and lids that I would hit with wooden kitchen spoons.  I loved that thing.

The Harmony Hollow  Gardeners Bronze Wind Bell

Gardeners Bell
From  Harmony Hollow Bellworks

This bell is hand made from brass, finished in a beautiful verdigris patina. A perfect gift for a gardener.  I particularly like this bell because each gardeners bell comes with a lovely message that says

"It is universally believed that bells have forever driven away bad spirits and called upon good ones, and this GARDENER'S BELL is no exception.

By attracting the spirits of air (a soft breeze), of fire (warm sunlight), of water (rain plus a little help from the watering can), and of earth (rich soil), its pleasant vibrations are conducive to growing healthy plants.

 Moreover; this bell's melodic ringing puts anyone aspiring to a green thumb directly in touch with the natural rhythms of Mother Nature.

May you dance in her beautiful garden, rejoice in a bountiful harvest, and in so doing, may you cultivate your soul."

I have to buy this bell after reading that! Their website lets you choose which  specific bell to attach  in the middle and lets you hear each sound that their different bells make.  I like the A6. (Click on it to hear)....

Cox and Cox  - Decorative Garden Bell

This cast iron outdoor bell is individually hand cast and can be attached to any door or wall. Beautiful and rusted - it is a euphonious way of calling one in from the garden.

This is hand wrought with flame cut details and a natural rust patina. It comes with a 7" wall mount which allows for mounting to any vertical surface. The 3" steel clapper had a Rawhide pull.

There are so many more and I will feature more in the future....

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beautiful Outdoor Benches Complete a Garden

Baseball Bench by Douglas Thayer

Benches make a garden....

After you arrange all the plants, the rocks, install the paving and whatever you choose...then you place the bench. 

The bench is what calls to us.

And the bench you place adds a special sparkle that touches the visitor directly.  After all, the bench seat is what we feel when we sit down.

So it must look great and feel good.  Here are some choices for your garden.

This plantation harvested teak bench has a clean, contemporary double vertical slat-back design.  Handcrafted with mortise-and-tenon joinery. Add on the weather-resistant Sunbrella cushion in neutral stone for extra comfort.

Lucky Beam Bench by Katch Design

The Lucky Beam bench by Brooklyn-based Katch Design is made from 100% recyclable aluminum,  features a solvent free powder coat finish and a reclaimed  Pine seat coated with an all-natural, zero-VOC oil base. The  Lucky Beam adds an urban feel to any space.

Lucky Beam Bench by Katch Design

Doug Thayer makes some great benches...Look at this one - LeBlond:

“Bountiful Bench” by sculptor, Christina Murphy, is functional art that represents  nature, country, environmental consciousness, and a return to one’s roots.  Visitors can sit on the “lap” of Mother Nature, who is, the artist says, 'the greatest artist of all'...She wears a blanket and sits with outstretched hands.   Assets of the earth are nestled in its folds: corn and vegetables, wildflowers and trees, wheat and soil, fruit and seeds, livestock and fish.

Bountiful Bench by Christina Murphy

Bountiful Bench by Christina Murphy

'Polyphony' is functional art by Cameron Van Dyke. This segmented bench is constructed of colored cast concrete. The concrete pods are polished, sealed, and mounted to aluminum plates which are bolted to the sidewalk. The pods provide durable outdoor seating Collection of the city of Coral Springs, Florida.

The firm, Kircodan, also makes some fabulous outdoor benches:

I hope this whets your interest in finding an interesting bench for your garden. Happy Hunting!