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, December 21, 2014

My most popular post of all time:'Blue Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving'

(Angelonia with Helichrysum, petunia, Johnsen Landscapes)

Blue is everyone's "favorite color."

 It is, hands down, the most popular color worldwide and is the least "gender specific" color, having equal appeal to both men and women. Now Purple is giving blue a run for its money as the second favorite color....

Blue is the favored color for toothbrushes, so that says it all!  (this info is from a great website: Sensation Color) but can purple be far behind?

Scientists have found that the color blue causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming. This may be why we all like to be around blue....stare at this square and see if it calms you.

In fact, over the past decade, scientists have reported the successful use of blue light in the treatment of psychological problems such as addictions, eating disorders, impotence, and depression.

Moreover, a deep blue/purple such as Indigo or Deep Violet symbolizes mystical wisdom and spiritual insight. It increases contemplation and quiet moments of introspection. Think: chakra colors...
So it follows that if you have blue and purple flowers in your garden you will be calmer and more insightful!  Ha!

Which of course leads us to Angelface Blue Angelonia (and Angelface Dark Violet Angelonia) .... purple/blue and deep violet flowers abound on these two varieties of the 2 ft. tall  'summer snapdragon'.

Angelonias love the heat and will flower all summer. No deadheading required, easy and rewarding, just keep up regular fertilizing and watering. This plant can be a perennial in Florida.   People, Places and Plants Magazine listed Angelface Dark Violet as one of the 12 Hot Annuals for 2008.

The Angelonia Angelface Dark Violet and Angelface Blue ( it is hard to tell the difference in color ) is a standout plant in a garden. They bloom well into the fall and also make a great cut flower that will last up to 10 days indoors! I plant masses of these for my clients.

And guess what? Proven Winners says they are DEER RESISTANT. So go plant Blue or Dark Violet Angelonia with Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' for a luscious, deer resistant combination.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Carl Sagan's Insightful Quote - Garden Wisdom

“What a marvelous cooperative arrangement - 

plants and animals each inhaling each other's exhalations, 

a kind of planet-wide mutual mouth-to-stoma resuscitation, 

the entire elegant cycle powered by a star 150 million kilometers away.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Three Requirements for a 'Healing Garden'

Robert Ulrich was in the hospital with a badly broken leg.

Forced to lie flat on his back, Ulrich, an environmental psychologist, stared for hours at a too-bright ceiling light surrounded by acoustic ceiling tile.

 “I much I wished I had an attractive image on the ceiling,” Ulrich recalls.

Coleus - Jan Johnsen

Now the director of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University, Ulrich produced groundbreaking research that found that viewing natural scenes in a hospital aids stress recovery by evoking positive feelings, reducing negative emotions and blocking or reducing stressful thoughts.

When test subjects viewed gardens as opposed to urban scenes, they exhibited lower alpha rates which are associated with being wakefully relaxed.

Garden by Jan Johnsen

 Ulrich also found that surgical patients who had views of nature from their hospital beds had shorter post-operative stays, fewer negative comments from nurses, took less pain medication and experienced fewer minor post-operative complications than those with a view of a brick wall!

Healing begins in a garden.  

All hospitals should have healing landscapes for patients to visit.

Landscape by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

But what should a healing landscape contain?

In the United Kingdom, Maggie Keswick,  a well-known English garden writer, was dying of breast cancer. Her wish was for her partner, noted landscape designer, Charles Jencks, to set up a series of cancer centers which provided a sanctuary away from clinical hospital environments. 

Thereafter, a number of MAGGIE gardens were established in Scotland, Keswick’s country of birth.

A recent Maggie garden was developed by English designer, Dan Pearson, at Charing Cross Hospital, London. It was widely heralded but the photos show a rather uninspiring outdoor space...

so what does a healing garden need to be, specifically? Bridget Rosewell wrote about the Pearson garden in the great website, Thinkin Gardens:

"Looking round rather wild eyed and frankly astonished, I reflected on what was wrong here.  I concluded that there were three things lacking.  They are green, seating and a place to cry

Garden -  Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

Greenery carries huge symbolism of hope and in a winter garden gives structure and density.  It is no accident that so many successful gardens have yew hedges [this is in England]. 

 Seats give the opportunity to meditate, to doze and to absorb the reality of growth and renewal. 

A place to cry is denied by the busyness of hospitals and the necessity of treatment.  But recovery requires it and it in turn requires privacy and hidden corners."

I must admit I never thought about the 'place to cry' and hidden corners but you know it makes sense....

A great post about healing gardens is from University of Minnesota (click here) 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

'100 Years of Design on the Land' opens through March 6, 2015

This show tells the stories of ten important American places. Contemporary landscape photographs evoke  the original spirit of a site and capture the change that has occurred since the site was first designed. 
It opens December 15 at 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery in New York City. (between 51st and 52d Sts) with a free public reception. 6 - 8 pm.  
The show runs through Friday, March 6, 2015.
See more at:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

In praise of Rose Hips! A Garden Tip

rose hips - photo by Jan Johnsen

 Allow your roses to form hips. Did you know that, like many plants that produce fruit, the formation of rose hips is a signal to the rose to go dormant for the season?

Rose hips provide wonderful color in the garden and are a good source of vitamin C for birds in the fall and winter. 
They are one of the highest plant sources of Vitamin C. 'Cherry Pie' Rose makes great rose hips:

Oso Easy Cherry Pie Rose -from May Dreams Garden Blog 

You can eat them too. Rose hips are used for jam, jelly, syrup, soup, beverages, pies, bread, and wine. They can also be eaten raw if care is used to avoid the hairs inside the fruit.  The redder they are, the softer and sweeter.  

source: live by the sun blog 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Two more gift ideas for the gardener in your life....

I suggested some fun gift ideas a few days ago and forgot to mention 2 other gifts that gardeners love.

Garden Design Magazine Subscription

The new rendition of the famous Garden Design magazine is better than ever!  A great gift for anyone who loves gardens and plants.

get a gift subscription here 

And a heavy duty lopping shears

Fiskars 32-Inch PowerGear Bypass Lopper 

We all need this and try to use our pruning shears instead...and then we ruin a great pair of pruning shears (I know - I have done it).

So this is a gift that gardeners all want but never buy for themselves....great for roses and small trees and is built for tough jobs.

Fiskars Lopping Shears

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tabletop Moss Ideas for You

Moss and serenity go together......

Many gardeners have become interested in using moss in their landscapes. 

Now imagine capturing the lush serenity of a moss garden and shrinking it down in a miniature tabletop moss garden. 

The deep colors and textures of moss can create a container garden that is soothing to look at and fun to touch! 

this is from \- Outdoor Entertaining Ideas and Recipes

How to do this? Well, the Martha Stewart people suggest filling a galvanized-metal planter (available at garden centers) with fresh potting soil and two kinds of Irish moss (the dark-green Sagina subulata and the chartreuse S. subulata 'Aurea') to create a checkerboard pattern.

 After a few days, they say you plant the moss in your garden. What a great idea!


The Moss Acres website also sells a Tabletop Zen Garden in a Japanese-style ceramic bowl that features an assortment of Mosses, Christmas Fern, and river stones. You put it together yourself....
Water your new indoor garden once a week and mist it frequently to enjoy rich contrasts of tranquil greens.

There are many kinds of mosses you can use - take lift them from the outdoors (that is what I do) or order them on line at moss

Sunset magazine suggests a table top moss garden set atop a cookie sheet:

This info comes from sunset magazine website and is by Sharon Cohoon and Kathleen N. Brenzel

Pasadena landscape architect Heather Lenkin created the centerpiece below.

Buy floral moss and soak it in water to make it easier to work with, tear off chunks, squeeze out excess water, then place moss atop a table.

 Black reindeer moss with a blue-gray tillandsia

Green reindeer moss with tiny violas

simple moss bowl shown in 'whoneedsthegrass' blogspot.:

I love this one above - great gift idea  for your gardening friends..

Go out now and collect the moss and rocks and ferns, find some inexpensive bowls, grow it on and give the best gift ever at holiday time....

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Feel Good Garden

jewels in the Garden 

In 2010 Husqvarna and Gardena released a Global Garden Report and identified the FEEL GOOD GARDEN as one of the top gardening trends in the world...

They wrote:

"...individualism in the garden is on the rise, replacing conformity. 

Gone is the obsession with keeping up with the neighbors’ ... 

it’s now about expressing yourself using your outdoor space, encouraged by on-line friends."

That's me - your on-line friend! And I encourage you to keep expressing yourself in your 'feel good' (FG) garden. 

Here is what the Global Garden Report said specifically about FG gardens:

The Feel Good Garden

"As we continue to live stressful lives, there is an ever increasing need for a safe haven at home. 

Globally more of us are turning to our gardens for the peace and tranquility that nature is perfectly suited to deliver.

Suriname woman in her garden

...We will be looking to our garden spaces to unwind after work, relax and ‘recharge the batteries’ and most importantly reconnect with nature which traditionally has a calming influence of our lives."

Jan Johnsen - a feel good garden 

I couldn't have said it better myself....that is what my blog (and my book) is all about - 

Inspiring others to create garden spaces that help us unwind and 'recharge the batteries".  

It also answers another garden trend that has been identified in a different analysis 

'info lust'.

coleus, double impatiens and more

People want knowledge - plant info, on line how-to videos, classes, lists and special events. And I share  items that can help to create a Feel Good Garden...

So what makes you feel good?

Lush vs. Controlled? overflowing vs. spare? Boxwood vs. Rhody? Palm vs. Plumeria? Colorful vs. monochromatic...or all of the above? 

In summary, to paraphrase something from my 'hippie' adolescence  : 

'if it feels good, garden it...'

swedish? Tibetan? californian? a feel good garden for sure...

Sunday, December 7, 2014



  • Soft-sided fabric aeration container that has the rigidity to hold its shape
  • Provides aeration, enhancing root structure, resulting in a vigorous plant with more flowers and fruits and increased insect and disease resistance
  • Allows excess heat to escape
  • Developed for, and used by commercial tree growers
  • 7 Gallon capacity; 14 inch diameter x 9.5 inch height

Mushroom Kit 

You will love being able to grow their own edible mushrooms with this do-it-yourself kit.

 In as little as 10 days, kids can grow up to 1-1/2 lbs. of gourmet oyster mushrooms, right out of the milk carton-shaped box. It only takes three easy steps - just open, mist and harvest. 

The soil inside is 100% recycled coffee grounds, which are safe and sustainable.

Pine Cone Bell 

Enjoy the gentle sounds brought by the wind - brought to you by SPI, 
valued by prominent interior designers and home d├ęcor specialists.

My fave - Tulsi Tea

The treasured tea of India - Certified Organic Tea 
Stress Relieving, Rejuvenating and Abundant in antioxidants 
Powerful adaptogen 

The famous Haws watering can 

Haws watering cans have been a fixture in English gardens since 1886, the year that Londoner John Haws patented his unique design for a “watering pot” with perfect balance. 

This is a well-designed, lightweight plastic watering can made with 2 handles for balance and effortless watering. Handy parking points store the rose or downspout when not in use. 

Maine Weather Stick

Ready to tell you the what the weather is doing? This weather stick is all natural and if you would ever decide to discard it, its biodegradable also. 

Brand new, ready to install outside in the weather. Put it where you can see it. No batteries needed - ever.

aqua farm

The AquaFarm combines a 3-gallon fish tank with a vegetable and herb grow bed into one closed-loop system that fits easily on any kitchen counter. 

The waste from the fish provides nutrients for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish!


wide brim gardener's hat

Friday, December 5, 2014

Grace is everywhere

droplets in a garden

"When we talk about grace we think of it as a blessing from God and that it’s a holy and special thing. 

But grace is an ordinary, everyday thing. 

It’s part of the flow of energy that we are part of, it is present in the beauty we notice, and the things we take for granted. 

We are in a state of grace when we notice the beauty of a flower, a sunset, the stillness of a moonlit night, or a peaceful nature setting. ...

Grace is present everywhere, all of the time, whether we notice it or not."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Digging Deep with Fran Sorin: 10th Anniversary Edition Cyber Book Party and Giveaways

The just-released, 10th Anniversary Edition of “Digging Deep.” 

 I am celebrating the publication of Fran Sorin’s 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep - Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening  a one-of-a-kind garden book that talks about developing a creative spirit through gardening.
I am writing this as part of a “virtual book party” and am doing this because this wonderful book deserves all the attention it can get!
Fran Sorin, author of 'Digging Deep, 10th Anniversary edition'
In honor of Digging Deep’s Cyber Book Party, Fran has priced the e-book at .99 while the giveaway is live.  99-cents - what a great deal!  But this is good only through December 8th so act fast.

In addition there are some great prizes for you! But first let me share why this book is such a treasure. The best way I can think of is to show you what other people have said about it :

"Digging Deep teaches the art of living creatively—from envisioning and creating the garden of your dreams to cultivating and embodying more imagination, passion, and play in your daily life. A profound and inspiring book.” ~ Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Spontaneous Healing

Fran Sorin quote

“This book has heaven’s kiss of inspiration upon it! Fran Sorin is a muse, revealing how the art of gardening powerfully activates the creative force within, invigorating and unifying us in body, mind, and spirit.” ~ Michael Bernard Beckwith, author of Life Visioning


“Anyone lucky enough to dig into this deep book will learn a great deal about opening the book of nature and experiencing creative awakening. Fran Sorin’s seven-step process can help anyone cultivate a happier, more fulfilled and joyful life. Like Fran, I like to think globally and act locally, cultivating my own spiritual and interpersonal garden and the sacredness in every single living thing. Much wisdom and genuine delight is to be found in these pages.” ~ Lama Surya Das, author of Buddha Standard Time


I must add my 2 cents to this praise: 

Digging Deep introduces us to the act of gardening as a creative and spiritual pursuit. In this gem of a book, Fran Sorin shows how to cultivate creativity as we cultivate the earth! 

Her book is full of practical garden ideas as well as delightful exercises. I especially love her seven-step process that she offers to help you embark on the ‘gardening way’.                                 

Now, as part of Fran's Cyber party I have the pleasure of offering  several giveaways for you to win.  Giveaways end on Dec. 8. 

Winners will be announced on Dec. 9.

BTW, In addition to entering to win on this blog , you actually have eight chances to win these incredible prizes by visiting all the participating bloggers. Click on any below for more chances to win:

Here are the rules:
1. Post a comment here on this blog, any quote or memory that tells of your connection with your garden. My memory is my first visit to a garden with my father at the Brooklyn Botanic garden. I realized then how a beautiful garden can lift your spirits and take you way!  

 Share your memory in the comment section below and you will be entered into the random drawing, to be announced on December 9th in this blog.  
2. By making a comment here on , you will be entered into each of two drawings for the prizes described below:

 Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds — 19 handpicked varieties of veggies and flowers- valued at over $50. PLUS, a 3-pack selection of Authentic Haven Brand Teaa premium soil conditioner  that’s safe for all garden, indoor plants and soil types. Makes an excellent foliage spray.



Prize #2 - Nature Innovations

4 planters/containers -
 (retail $149)
1 small 4" vertical oak planter
1 11" long horizontal planter
1 medium 8" vertical birch plante
1 medium 13" horizontal oak planter.

Displaying FullSizeRender[1].jpg - Nature Innovations - all 4 planters.jpg