Browsing Tag

garden history

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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

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.