Browsing Tag

flowers

Blog

The Glorious Sunflower – The Fourth Sister

September 8, 2016

I have written 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!

web-sunflower-jan-johnsen

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.

web-jan-johnsen-sunflowers-2010

The fourth sister was the elegant sunflower.

van-gogh

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.
  • sunflowerisraeli082401

    So what does the Sunflower do?

    Taiyo Sunflower (click here)

    Taiyo Sunflower (click here)

    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….

    from Rainy Side Gardens

    from Rainy Side Gardens

    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)
    • 365 seeds (365 days in a year).
    • I cannot verify this but that is the story….. I hope it is true.

Blog

Verbena Bonariensis – Verbena on a Stick

September 4, 2016

Verbena Bonariensis is tall and airy and one of my fave flowers.

It blooms like crazy all summer into fall. I plant it next to walls and fences for a stunning effect. Here I mixed it with white cosmos – purple and white is such a great garden combination.

The lavender clusters are held high on wiry stems that wave in the breeze from mid summer to frost.

Called “verbena on a stick”, it is a hummingbird magnet and is an easy flower to grow.

It prefers full sun in well-drained soil. Remove top 1/4 of plant periodically to force new buds.

verbena-jan-johnsen-web

Blog

Cottage Garden Primer

July 30, 2016

I once worked with a lovely client ( now a dear friend!) who wanted a cottage-style flower garden.

Now there are cottage gardens and then there are cottage gardens…know what I mean?

In Great Britain, it seems everyone has the most magnificent flower garden, each more spectacular than the next…

their lushness sets a standard of perfection for cottage gardens that makes me want to say to someone here in the Northeast U.S., ‘Would you like to consider an ornamental grass garden instead?”

Designed and installed by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

Designed and installed by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

But of course, the call of a cottage garden, filled with a profusion of flowers and smelling of roses, peonies and lilacs, makes one dizzy with anticipation.

All you need in my part of the world is a deer fence, deep fertile soil, constant watering and someone to tend it lovingly… a tall order indeed.

But it can be done. And that is what we did – installed a deer fence, brought in great topsoil and carefully amended it and added irrigation. My client followed through and tended it with a loving hand and added wonderful flowers whenever she saw the need.

The result? A sumptuous garden filled with a riot of colors, lurid with intoxicating scents.

a028

I planned the garden to be a 10 foot wide curved plant bed bordering a level lawn. The only problem – there was no level lawn.

The rear property sloped steeply downhill and in order to make it level I needed to bring in soil and retain it with a wall. This is a big proposition in any situation but here it was especially dicey because I didn’t want to disturb the roots of the native hemlock trees growing near where the wall was to be located.

To accomplish this, I used the stacking, concrete units that are part of a wall system called Alpenstein. This is a great solution because no footings are required and Alpenstein allows you to plant within each unit!

It is a versatile, plantable wall system. Once planted with vines and spreading groundcovers, an Alpenstein wall blends with the natural setting.

Designed and installed by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

Designed and installed by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

After the site was perfect, I set about planting perennial and annual flowers. Perennials come back every year and form the backbone of the cottage garden. For that I set out large drifts or groups of medium tall, durable flowers in the mid-zone of the bed to add height and variety.

These included ‘Sunny Border Blue’ Speedwell (Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’), the PPA Plant of the Year 1993, and ‘Caesar’s Brother’ Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’), a reliable and graceful flower with pansy blue coloring….

Veronica photo from Bluestone Perennials

Veronica photo from Bluestone Perennials

Additionally, I planted the graceful Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis gracillimus) and other ‘foolproof” perennials like dwarf Gayfeather, (Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’), the tall ‘Magnus’ Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’).

Below is the list of the dependable flower varieities I used for this garden. No unusual cultivars here – just a cottage garden full of faithful staples that work together in cozy harmony..

Copy of a030


My Flower List for This Cottage Garden

Jan Johnsen

Perennials

Botanical Name Common Name
Artemesia ‘Silver King’ ‘Silver King’ Wormwood
Astilbe chinensis pumila Dwarf Chinese Astilbe
Coreopsis vert. ‘Moonbeam’ ‘Moonbeam’ Coreopsis
Dianthus ‘Bath’s Pink’ ‘Bath’s Pink’ Dianthus
Echinacea purp. ‘Magnus’ Magnus Coneflower
Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ ‘Palace Purple’ Coralbells
Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’ ‘Caesar’s Brother’ Siberian Iris
Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ Dwarf Gayfeather
Lilium orientale ‘Stargazer’ ‘Stargazer’ Oriental Lily
Peonies Peonies
Persicaria ‘Donald Lowndes’ Don. Lowndes Fleeceflower
Phlox pan. ‘Bright Eyes’ ‘Bright Eyes’ Garden Phlox
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ Dwarf Black eyed Susan
Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’ ‘Sunny Border Blue’ Speedwell

Annuals

Botanical Name Common Name
Senecio cineraria Dusty Miller
Cosmos sulphureus Cosmos ‘Klondyke mix’
Ageratum ‘Blue Hawaii’ Blue Hawaii Ageratum
Catharanthus roseus Annual Vinca
Heliotropium arb..Marine ‘Marine’ Heliotrope
Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’ Salvia ‘Victoria Blue’
Salvia ‘Sparkler Purple’ ‘Sparkler Purple’ annual Salvia
Blog, Garden Tips

Beautify Your Vegetable Garden with These Ideas…..

July 1, 2016

The French have long understood that vegetable gardens can be places of beauty. They located their traditional potagers, or kitchen gardens, outside their kitchen windows and included vertical structures, flowers, and artistic plant groupings designed for aesthetic appeal.

Flowers look beautiful and attract the all important pollinators to your garden. Read the wonderful article I have linked here for learning how to include beautiful flowers and more in your veggie garden.

Infographic - go here for more

Infographic – go here for more

Blog, Garden Tips

Add a Lively Red Accent in Your Landscape

June 1, 2016

Bold. Bright. Pop.

This is what RED adds to a garden.

RED, an eye catching hue, stands up to the summer sun’s withering glare in the afternoon.

When all pastels fade away, red, orange and yellow sing their hearts out….and RED always steals the show.

chakras-redRED has a vivid history – Check it out on the sensational color website. It is the color of the root chakra (this means ‘energy point) of the body:

“This chakra is located at the base of the spine and allows us to be grounded and connect to the universal energies. Groundedness, belonging….”

(sounds perfect for all us grounded gardeners)

p171551-nikko-shinkyo_bridge

In Japan RED is associated with certain deities. Their “Shinkyo” (Sacred Bridge) in Nikko, Japan is a wonderful example of the contrast RED makes with green in a natural setting.

You can also see how effective RED is in the modern Chinese Red Ribbon in Tanghe River Park, designed by Turenscape :

red ribbon park turen landscape

This use of RED has always been popular in Chinese gardens…Here is another example showing a red Tori or gate…what great proportions too.

bigstock_Winter_Chinese_Garden_983499

I was first introduced to the power of red by the French artist, Matisse…I loved his ‘Red Studio’ when I first saw it as a child in a NY museum:

redstudio

And of course Red furniture outdoors attracts the eye:

hotel-saint-celia

Here is a landscape I designed – the red bench definitely dominates the scene:

garden by Jan Johnsen  2011 02

(Jan Johnsen)

superbells redI often plant RED Callibrachoa in my clients’ gardens. It is a eye catcher for sure!

 

 

 

I also plant a mass of red begonias next to dark green leucothoe to make a statement. This is what I did along an entry walk:

Jan Johnsen -leucothoe and red begonia

Of course the spilling over of Superbena Royale Red Verbena in a pot is unmatched:

SUPERBENA ROYALE RED VERBENA

(courtesy of Proven Winners)

And Nemesia, a cool season annual flower, is also a knock out in red, Sunsatia Cranberry Nemesia :

SUNSATIA CRANBERRY NEMESIA

(courtesy of Proven Winners)

Did you know that Bees can’t see the color red, but they can see all other bright colors. Red flowers are usually pollinated by birds, butterflies, bats, and wind, rather than bees.

I love red tulips against a white fence so I planted these Parade tulips:

PARADE TULIPS garden and photo by jan johnsen

(Jan Johnsen)

And of course the traditional Red Geranium always signifies ‘welcome’ in so many languages:

the-color-red-800px

So please consider ‘spicing up’ your outdoor surroundings with some RED today – you won’t regret it!

Silas Mountsier garden - photo by Jan Johnsen

(Silas Mountsier Garden, photo by Jan Johnsen)

Blog, Garden Tips

Beautiful Foolishness of Things – The Book of Tea

May 30, 2016

‘Too little tea’ is a Japanese expression that refers to a person too busy to stop and smell the roses.
From ‘The Book of Tea’:
The heaven of modern humanity is indeed shattered in the Cyclopean struggle for wealth and power.

The world is groping in the shadow of egotism and vulgarity. Knowledge is bought through a bad conscience, benevolence practiced for the sake of utility.

The East and the West, like two dragons tossed in a sea of ferment, in vain strive to regain the jewel of life. We need a Niuka again to repair the grand devastation; we await the great Avatar.
Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea.

The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the sighing of the pines is heard in our kettle.

Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.

Kakuzo Okakura