If you haven't yet taken Jan Johnsen's class at the NY Botanical Garden on "Serene Gardens," or read her blog, Serenity in the Garden, then you'll likely want to read her latest book, Heaven is a Garden: Designing Serene Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection (St. Lynn's Press, 2014).
In this book, Johnsen, a landscape designer in Croton on Hudson, NY, teaches us how to pause and connect with the world around us. As she explains in the introduction, "I have found that mixing contemporary taste with historic design approaches makes a garden more relaxing and encourages that magical "stop time" we all desire. It allows us to enter into an unhurried state of mind, no matter what is going on beyond our garden gate. "
In the chapters that follow, Johnsen explores key landscaping elements that can help anyone find serenity.
"The Power of Place" explains how landscapes can be shaped to create "sanctuary and meaning."
"Creating Music for the Eye" guides us through the major elements that designers use to unify a garden.
"Calling on Trees" is one of my favorite chapters ... Johnsen points out that that trees are considered by many as "energy," and I certainly agree. It's nice to know, too, that trees have "essential qualities." Hawthorns signify proper alignment and "being in the present." Magnolias enhance clarity, love and self-awareness, and Oaks promote endurance and bravery.
You'll also learn about the magical qualities of water; the power of stone; and the therapeutic effects of color in the landscape.
Lovely photos throughout the book (most taken by Johnsen herself) beautifully illustrate the author's major ideas, and sometimes an image says everything best.
It's a book that every designer will want as a reference ... and a great gift for any client or anyone you know who loves landscapes and gardens.