Browsing Tag



The Garden Lady chats about Heaven is a Garden

December 3, 2016

C.L.Fornari photo of flower ice cubes in a serene garden in Cape Cod

C.L. Fornari, aka The Garden Lady, has a wonderful garden radio show that airs every Saturday on the Cape Cod station WRKO from 12-2 p.m. You can hear it as a podcast online.

Her show covers many gardening and landscaping topics and she discusses her favorite plants and answers listeners’ gardening questions.

C.L. is also the author of the inspiring book, The Cocktail Hour Garden: Creating Evening Landscapes for Relaxation and Entertaining

The Cocktail Hour Garden shows how to enjoy that special evening hour in the garden

I was especially thrilled a week ago to be interviewed by C.L. about my book, Heaven is a Garden. She asked some great questions about what is music for the eye in a garden and how to make your garden in tune with the four directions. C.L. is an insightful interviewer and I wanted to share our short and fun chat with you!

Click below to hear our conversation or even read the transcript:

The Garden Lady radio chat with Jan Johnsen about Heaven is a Garden, 2016


The Rolling Crabapples – smile

September 21, 2016

This is funny.

Glenn Eichler wrote an open letter to the New York Botanical Garden in 2014 in the New Yorker regarding his love of their rock garden. He felt it deserved more attention:

“…rocks—dragged by glaciers, striped and striated by, I guess, also glaciers—deserve better.

Not sexy? Compared to what, the Donald J. Bruckmann Crabapple Collection?

No disrespect to Mr. Bruckmann, but Mick Jagger and Keith Richards haven’t spent fifty years playing to sold-out crowds as the Rolling Crabapples, the world’s greatest crabapple-and-roll band.”

Glenn has a point, don’t you think?

Mick Jagger in garden

Mick Jagger in garden

Garden & Plant History, Garden Photo of the Day, Musings, Uncategorized

Landscape Design – A High Calling

October 1, 2015

cascade – Jan Johnsen design

“The world is moving into a phase when landscape design may well be recognized as the most comprehensive of the arts.” 

 Geoffrey Jellicoe,

‘The Landscape of Man: Shaping the Environment from Prehistory to the Present Day’ 

Creative ideas don’t just come out of thin air – they are an amalgam of what we have learned and used in the past. By looking at other cultures’ traditions and their approach to the natural elements you can enhance your garden immeasurably.

by Bill Bensley, Thailand

A garden maker should look to landscape designers of the past and present and learn their design philosophies. Never stop learning.

The English garden designers such as Russell Page, Arabella Lennox Boyd, and Gertrude Jekyll stand side by side with their counterparts in the United States, Canada,  Japan, South America, Thailand, Indonesia, Hawaii, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy,  Holland, Germany,  France and India in my world.

blue moon bridge at les quatre veints, Canada

I borrow from new and old unabashedly and thank them all for their inspiration, guidance and insight.

To co-create with Nature and walk ‘the beauty way’ is a high calling, indeed.

dorset settle by Arabella Lennox Boyd


Garden Photo of the Day

10 Great Garden Photos of 2014….

January 24, 2015
Allium ‘Millenium’ by Laura McKillop

What makes a great garden photo? Anything that delights you.

But if I had to put my finger on it – salient aspects would be the quality of the light and the richness of color. And composition figures prominently.

That said, here are some memorable photographs that have been featured in this year’s ‘Serenity in the Garden’ blog posts.

My criteria? Whatever grabbed my eye as I perused the photos..


moongate by Richard Hartlage


Andy Goldsworthy Spire, San Francisco






Blue Moon Bridge by Virginia Small



Meadow flowers



Baptisia Purple Smoke, Bluestone Perennials



Jan Johnsen, landscape design



From the film, Being There


Art in the Garden, Blog, Musings

Trompe l’oeil for 21st Century Landscapes

January 21, 2015
Michael Krondl – waterworks in Katonah, NY

One day in 2007 I was driving along a road in my area when I saw a long wall of falling water that wasn’t there before. The water was gushing over the wall but I saw no evidence of any water beyond that . Hmmm…..

Photo by Jan Johnsen

I had to stop the car and take a picture. Then I had to walk up there and see what was going on….

It was an art installation using photo-derived imagery of a waterfall.

A digital print on vinyl  – trompe l’oeil for the 21st century!

The artist is the talented and inventive Michael Krondl.

The 200-foot long waterfall called ‘Rising Water/Falling Water’ was in front of the Katonah Museum of Art.

I was struck by this vinyl wall of water..I had to see how he attached it to the existing wall…ah yes, grommets!

photo by Jan Johnsen

The possibilities of this trompe l’oeil in a landscape or public setting are vast-

Walls of water on subway platforms, sides of buildings, billboards, gas stations…

why not? As they say, views of nature help us relax. Serenity in the Garden goes viral…..

Mr. Krondl’s other projects include ‘Waterwalk’ he did for the Center for Contemporary Art in Prague. It was created to commemorate the anniversary of flooding that had devastated Prague in 2002 .

Mr Krondl explains on his website that he made the digital print on vinyl in 2003,by taking a series of photographs of the nearby river.

He digitally “seamed“ these together to make one large image and this was printed by a commercial billboard printer. It was then installed on the floor of the Palmovka Synagogue, a spot heavily affected by the floods. People walking on the surface of the ‘water’ felt they were literally afloat.

Someday I will place a trompe l’oeil ‘water wall’ somewhere…..or this! (look carefully):






Blog, Musings, Serenity Gardens

Spring Colors 2015 – Serenity Rules

December 29, 2014

Pantone says that an eclectic mix of understated brights, pale pastels and nature-like neutral colors will take center stage in 2015.

click here for photo source












They say designers of all kinds will draw from daydreams of simpler times and  will look to folkloric and floral art to restore a sense of well-being:

“…There is a growing movement to step out and create ‘quiet zones’ to disconnect from technology and unwind, giving ourselves time to stop and be still…Soft, cool hues blend with subtle warm tones to create a soothing escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.

Leatrice Eiseman,  Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute®

I concur! That is why I wrote a book about Creating Serene Outdoor Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection this year.

and one more thing: white works with everything:

Deer resistant, Garden Tips, Musings

Most popular post of all: Angelonia, a flower that keeps on giving

December 21, 2014

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’.

(from Nature Hills Nursery)

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.