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, June 24, 2012

Incorporating The Four Qualities of the Tea Ceremony into Your Garden

         Unforgettable outdoor spaces have an atmosphere that integrates the four qualities defined in the Japanese Tea ceremony (as noted by the sixteenth century Japanese tea master and garden designer, Sen Rikyu).  These are:

Harmony or ‘Wa’ encourages us to align with nature and develop a positive relationship with all living things.  Harmony resides within a garden’s changing rhythms:  stormy or calm, sunny or cloudy.  It is found in the smallness of pebbles or the most lofty of trees.  Harmony allows us to revel in the evanescence of all things.

Respect or Kei can be described as reverence. It arises from a humble demeanor, consideration of others and an overarching sense of gratitude that extends to all in our daily life, animate and inanimate. Everything in a garden should be treated with a spirit of reverence.

Purity or Sei implies simplicity, the uncluttering of our mind and our environment. It found in the orderliness of  a swept garden path. It does not require absolute cleanliness as much as an attitude of openness.  Simple acts such as raking leaves are to be savored because it is the focus on the task that is celebrated.  

Tranquility or Jaku is the silent contentment that results from putting the ideals of harmony, respect and purity into practice.  It is the state of awareness that arises from being in a garden’s harmony, reverence and simplicity.

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 20 - upcoming NY Botanical Garden class

Secrets of Creating GARDENS OF SERENITY
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
 10:00am until 3:30pm

NYBG ADULT EDUCATION - sign up with them

Learn how to use ancient layout techniques to create harmony in a garden....

Discover the power spot of a site;

how north, south, east, and west affect the psyche;

how certain shapes impact us,

which color frequencies create a serene mood

yin / yang approach in landscape design

a rock's resonance

and more....


Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Lure of a Tea House

Tea gardens and tea houses in Japan in the 16th century represented

 "a mutual rejoicing in such spiritual bonds of comradeship, in the course of the search for Truth, Good and Beauty"
- Emori Nahiko

Nahiko further explains

"For example, if both the host and guests discover in the tea cup, brought into the tea-room by the host, some common element of beauty, the souls of those persons become united." 
(“Chashitsu [Tea-rooms], by Emori Nahiko and Asahitani Sau. Asahi Shimbun, 1949.) I got this quote from a fabulous website called The Saunterer - check it out.

This lovely quote inspired me to search out versions of Tea Houses and more:

Terunobu Fujimori's Too-High Tea House, in Nagano, Japan is perched atop a pair of tree trunks 20 feet tall: he says, “One leg is dangerous and three legs are too stable and boring.”
model for the above tea house - DWELL magazine

Is this search for truth, good and beauty  what animates us serenity garden lovers to build such frivolous buildings -

not big enough to sleep in - and just large enough to house maybe 2 people in a common quest for the ...ineffable?  (great word)

"A house and 'dewed' ground
Guest and host
Drinking together a cup of tea
In quiet contemplation
In spiritual symphony"

"The spherical shape directs your attention to the hearth, on which the tea is prepared and creates a close bondage with all who are present."  ~ David Mastalka

And this brings us to the Tea House, a work in progress so wonderfully chronicled in the great blog , Each Little World

Tea House Rises

Guest's Door.

"Traditionally the door to the tea house is very low, forcing guests to humble themselves as they enter on their knees.

 I think that there is also some folklore about Samarai swordsmen having to leave their swords outside and entering head first — a real sign of trust." ~ Mark Golbach, designer and photographer and builder of this tea house

Each Little World Blog - check it out!

This blog post was inspired by a lovely walk I took with a dear friend at Mariandale in Ossining.....walking along a wooded path we came upon their 'healing hut' :

looking out from the tea house through the entry arch to the Hudson River

By the way, drinking just half a cup of green or oolong tea daily reduces a person's risk of high blood pressure by almost 50%. Loaded with anti-oxidants, tea has been shown in study after study to inhibit many forms of cancer and to promote recovery.
so build that tea house today!

here is a great book that describes how to do it:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Stachys 'Hummelo' - my fave rave....

Japanese Varigated Iris and Stachys 'Hummelo' photo by Jan Johnsen

I must admit I develop plant infatuations..and just as in my life, the quiet hard-to-get-to-know types fascinate me....

this time it is Stachys officinalis 'Hummelo'

Iris pallida varigata, flower carpet roses,and gomphrena 'Buddy Purple' photo by Jan Johnsen

It is a Stachys cultivar (its cousin is the famous 'Lamb's ears') and it is a low growing, clumping perennial groundcover, growing no more than 20" high. It has the most wonderful glossy dark green scalloped leaves growing in a tight rosette pattern. It looks as if someone took those scalloping shears to their edges.

Hummelo has scalloped leaves - like this

Hummelo - my name for this plant -  is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun or part shade. It spreads by creeping stems (stolons) that root as they go along the ground. The leaves are evergreen in warm winter climates.

They say that Hummelo is grown primarily for its vivid flowers which can provide a spectacular display, particularly when massed .  But I also love its leaves.

Hummelo is a lovely addition to a rose / rock garden as shown below.

I added the Flower Carpet Rose 'Pink Supreme' and it has become the star of the show in this lovely rock outcrop garden:

But first I added a lot of compost and soil....its all about the soil....