Browsing Tag

city gardens

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Stone Benches – Grounding does it.

February 21, 2017

In honor of my new book, The Spirit of Stone – 101 Practical and Creative Stonescaping Ideas for Your Garden (St. Lynn’s Press, 2017) that was released last week I am sharing this post about stone benches.

Stone Bench – Dallas Arboretum – photo by Jan Johnsen

In the heat of the summer when we should be pruning what we really want to do is sit in the cool shade and drink a tall glass of iced tea.


Antique sandstone Bench from English Garden Antiques

Ah, a place to sit in the cool leafy shade!
What better contrast to the soft green lushness that surrounds you than a stone seat or bench, immutable, grounded and cool to the touch…
sitting on stone outdoors grounds you and aligns you to the earth’s electromagnetic pulse…

It is like a calming sedative that you feel almost immediately.

See some great stone benches at the Stonepost website

Stone seats in the garden have a storied history. The Druids of Northern Europe fashioned stone chairs out of boulders. It is surmised that they were used for rituals and perhaps coronations of a sort. Today, in the British Isles and in France, you can find ancient stone seats in fields, woods and near sacred springs.

Sunny Wieler, an Irish stonemason / artist, follows in his ancestors’ tradition and wrote about making stone seats in his marvelous blog, Stone Art Blog (check it out!). Stone Art is his company which serves County Cork and Dublin. Here are some of his marvelous creations.

Sunny Wieler – Stone Art Blog

You might expect all stone seats to be massive and heavy but this is not the case.

In the Chinese tradition, they fashion rounded stone seats (some are carved to look like drums) which encircle a stone table. You can see a great example in the Chinese garden at Naumkeag in Stockbridge.

Traditional Chinese stone table and stone seats

Following this idea, the wonderful designer Jinny Blom created Spore seats. Although not technically pure stone (they are made of a eco friendly moldable stone) they hark back to Chinese stone seats with a more modern flavor. I love them.

They were a commissioned design for a permanent installation at London’s Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, which won a prestigious BALI Landscape Award.

Jinny Blom’s Spore Seats

Another modern take on ancient stone benches is made by Escofet. Their Bilbao benches are also not pure stone but look how great they are.

I show more stone bench ideas in my new book, The Spirit of Stone- 101 Practical and Creative Stonescaping ideas for Your Garden

Blog

Buttercup Winterhazel – An Early Spring Fragrant tree

February 17, 2017

Winterhazel from American NurserymanMagazine


What blooms earlier than forsythia, has a delicate fragrance and is an easy-to-care for compact delight ? It is also hardy to USDA Zones 6-9 and native to Japan and Taiwan.

Buttercup winterhazel (Corylopsis pauciflora)
Toward mid April (depending where you live), the bare branches of buttercup winterhazel hang with inch-long clusters of soft yellow flowers that appear as little lanterns.

The fragrance is noticeable, making it perfect near a sitting spot. It was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1993.

This is a different species of winterhazel – Corylopsis glabrescens ‘Longwood Chimes’ has exceptional fragrance.

Winterhazel (pauciflora)is good in a small city garden or as a woodland underplanting in open shade.
It glows in front of evergreens and is a perfect pairing with purple Rhododendron mucronulatum since they flower at the exact same time.

And winterhazels look wonderful with snowdrops and hellebores!

Portland Nursery photo

As the flowers fade, the leaves unfurl to 3 inches long, bright green with red edges before darkening to rich green. In fall they turn a gold-bronze.

This species is compact and is the ideal choice for a small garden. Plant in spring, in well-drained, acid soil, in a spot with light or dappled shade. It will tolerate full sun with regular watering in the summer. It needs little pruning.

Branches of Corylopsis pauciflora are best collected in February for flowers in early March, up to two weeks before their normal bloom season.

C. pauciflora can be hard to find, but well stocked nurseries will carry it. Look for it in Spring!

Blog, Teachers/Designers/Writers

Muhammad Ali’s Peace Garden Initiative

June 4, 2016
 photo courtesy of business wire

photo courtesy of business wire

The Muhammad Ali Center of Lexington, Ky and Yum! Brands Foundation launched the global Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardens project on September 21, 2010.

This coincided with the United Nations International Day of Peace.

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Peace gardens focus on using edible plants from different cultures to teach youth about the world through culinary delights.

They also teach children how to “nurture and care for other living things” and remind them about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diets.

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Through the process of growing food students learn about nature’s processes and increase their access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

What better way to create awareness about hunger than to have them actively involved in growing a garden, taking food home to their families, and giving to the community?

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The model for this idea came from the John F. Kennedy Montessori school. Children participated in all aspects of the garden including planting, nurturing, harvesting, cooking and donating food to the hungry.

The model garden consisted of different vegetable beds representing the different countries and the diverse cultures of the school.

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  • Squash and beans were grown in the United States/Native American garden and were used to make “3 Sisters Harvest Soup”.
  • Tomatoes, peppers and onions were grown in a Salsa Garden representing Mexico.
  • Sweet potatoes and black beans were grown in the Cuban garden bed
  • Edamame was grown in the Asian bed
  • Potatoes and cucumbers represented Russia.

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“The ‘Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardens’ program will sow the seeds of cultural respect by teaching children how to build gardens with plants from different countries,” said Greg Roberts, President of the Muhammad Ali Center.

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