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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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Glorious Sunflower - the Fourth Sister in a Native American Garden


In one of my earlier blog posts I wrote about the Native Americans' Three Sisters Garden (corn, beans and squash ) but I neglected to tell you of the Fourth Sister...a very important member of this family!

This is from Hubpages

"Fourth Sister, didn't look anything like her other sisters, although she was as tall and as slender as First Sister (corn) . That seemed fair to all, because Third Sister and Second Sister shared similar but different features. They could climb and run, while their other two sisters were forced to stand tall and proud."

Mother Sun explained that each sister had her job and each had to benefit from and protect one another.  But Fourth Sister's job was most important of all -- for she was the guardian of the North, planted firmly, to protect others from the robbers who soon would come.



The fourth sister was the elegant sunflower.


The Sisters are known to the Native Americans as the “mothers of life”  but they all need each other to survive. 
  • Corn uses the nitrogen supplied by the nitrogen fixing roots of the beans and provides a place for the beans to climb.
  • The squash suppresses weeds and keeps the soil shaded and moist.
  • The prickly leaves of the squash provide a deterrent from four legged raiders of corn.



So what does the Sunflower do?


The sunflowers keep the birds from devouring the corn.

How? Well, true sunflowers exhibit the heliotropic habit of following the sun through the day but when they are full of sunflower seeds they stay facing the east.

Thus when sunflowers are planted to the north of the garden patch, the birds see the sunflowers first thing in the morning sun and dine on the sunflower seeds rather than the corn kernels....
 


The FOUR SISTERS celebrate the harmony of nature and bring abundance to farmers and happiness to the well fed home.

By the way, the true giant sunflower is used as an emblem of the philosophy of Spiritualism.

They see the sunflower as forever looking to the light and applaud its unique arithmetic: supposedly each sunflower has 12 sets of leaves ( months in a year) , 52 yellow petals (52 weeks in a year) and 365 seeds (365 days in a year). I cannot verify this but that is the story..... I hope it is true.

Here is a wonderful farmer talking about his sunflower field - the birds are very happy here!



 
 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zen Gardens and the Water Dividing Stone



The "Water-dividing Stone" is placed at the bottom of a Japanese garden cascade where the torrent splashes evenly. (Mizuwake-ishi)

The mizu wake stone is symbolic of the mythical carp that, through unwavering effort, climbed to the top of the waterfall to become a dragon, a regular teaching parable in the Soto Zen monastery.

This stone is essential for all wonderful cascades...the sound it makes as water hits it is reason enough to place one there!



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ideas for Quiet Outdoor Spaces

Double Cascade by Jan Johnsen


Roberta Chinsky Matuson is an expert on increasing profitability by maximizing employee contribution. Her website is www.yourhrexperts.com. She writes that quiet people are often the most productive, explaining that,

Being quiet strengthens focus and calms others.

Being quiet gives you the space to delve deeply into ideas.

She says," at the end of the day, it’s not about the noise one makes, but what one actually gets done."



So it follows that a workplace should provide quiet spaces that encourage productivity!

I hereby suggest to Google, Apple and Microsoft, among other businesses that they include Serenity Spaces for their employees to work in....(I can show you how to create them)

A few ideas:

Cascades and fountains







Shaded benches or nooks








Reflexology Paths to enhance concentration.







Zig Zag Bridges








and lots of outdoor outlets!




Monday, August 6, 2012

Design Ideas from Our National Reflecting Pool



The most well known reflecting pool in the United States is the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. This huge rectangular pool measures a little more than 2,000 feet long and is 167 feet wide and spans the length between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. 

 It reflects both facades of these structures which is a magnificent sight to behold, especially at night.  Its excellent mirroring quality is due to the fact that it is only 30 inches deep at its deepest point!

In addition, the interior finish of the pool is a dark color with hardly any lighting. This makes a dramatic contrast to the adjacent light stone buildings. At night these structures are illuminated and the light bounces off the dark, still water, creating a spectacular reflection. This also works during the day when direct sunlight strikes the buildings.

Fragrant Hosta Plantaginea 'Aphrodite'


Hosta plantaginea 'Aphtodite' at The Mount in Lenox, Ma.
photo by Jan Johnsen. 2012.

The old fashioned 'August Lily' (Hosta plataginea) is a magnificent fragrant, white flowered Hosta that deserves to be rediscovered.

First imported to England from China in 1790, Hosta plantaginea came to the United States a short time later. Since this species is from a more southern clime than other Hostas, it is more heat loving than most.



It also blooms later in the year and features a honeysuckle like fragrance!

The large white flowers of Hosta plantaginea certainly puts it in a class by itself.  They  are relatively 6+ inches long, pure white and open at 4pm in the afternoon. (Most hostas have flowers that open around 7am in the morning).


And the best feature for me is that Hosta plantaginea continues to produce new leaves all summer long.  This is a particular advantage when the original spring foliage becomes damaged or diseased. So the hosta leaves look as fresh in August as they do in spring.

Try the double-flowered selection, Hosta plantaginea 'Aphrodite'. It has large, pure white, intensely fragrant flowers that open in late summer on 2ft stems. Try it along a sheltered path where you can take in the heady fragrance.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Water in the Garden - Magic abounds



A Kyoto garden, Japan

In Japan, the act of sanctifying with water is called ‘misogi’. This practice traces its origin to a Japanese tale about a primordial god who cleansed himself of worldly ‘tarnishing’ with water.  The belief that water rids us of the impurities of the earthly world is the basis for the low, stone water basins we see in Japanese gardens.


It is also why they traditionally sprinkle water at the gate of a home in the morning and evening.
The Japanese are not alone in their tradition of using water to bless people and places. Many great religions value ‘sanctified’ water. Catholicism sees water that has been blessed as a symbol of God’s grace and as a “wellspring of all holiness...”

Thai Buddhists make ‘lustral’ water and believe that they will be blessed if they drink it or have it sprinkled on their head. At their new year, the Thai people scent bowls of water with flower petals, and sprinkle these sacred waters to cool, cleanse and bless.  Indian Sikhs prepare ‘amrit’, or holy water, for use in their baptismal ceremonies. And Muslims make a pilgrimage to the well of Zam Zam in Mecca for its holy water.

Water is indeed magical....include it in any garden you make!



Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Lovely Garden Fountain Idea



Tony Exter and Mark Bartos of the BEMdesign group in South Pasadena, California used a three-tier bubbler pump to fashion a geyser emerging from a magnificent four foot diameter flower shaped water feature.


“The idea of the flower itself came up rather spontaneously,” says Exter of the water feature.

 “We tried to develop something symbolic of the plant material in the garden.”

The pump sends a gentle spray of water into the air then it falls onto the tightly packed, vertically placed Arizona flagstone slabs and percolates into a 4 foot wide by 10 inch deep underground reservoir. Tom Poplin of Horizon Landscaping in Pasadena installed the fountain.

 This reservoir is simply an earthen basin covered with a thick rubber ‘pond liner’.  A metal grate was set within the basin as a support for the stacked stone.

Fragrant Lavender and Sage ring the bubbling fountain softening the rocky scene.

How magnificent!