Visionary Landscapes: Japanese Garden Design in North America

December 3rd, 2017 § Comments Off on Visionary Landscapes: Japanese Garden Design in North America § permalink

A curving, dry stream at the Hoeschler Garden. Design: David Slawson. Photography: David M. Cobb, courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.

The calming nature of Zen gardens and the allure of Japanese-style has been enchanting and seducing landscape designers and gardeners throughout the wider world for well over 150 years. Stepping into a Japanese-inspired courtyard is the perfect antidote to a day spent in crowded subways, noisy streets and stressful work environments. We crave quiet and order —two areas where traditional Japanese garden designs excel— as a counter balance to our increasingly chaotic lives. But how can a North American gardener successfully integrate elements of the Japanese design aesthetic without feeling forced or veering toward kitsch?

Visionary Landscapes: Japanese Garden Design in North America, Kendall Brown’s latest book —featuring the work of five contemporary garden designers; Hōichi Kurisu, Takeo Uesugi, David Slawson, Shin Abe and Marc Peter Keane— addresses this question. Filled with beautiful and inspirational photographs by David M. Cobb, Brown’s book highlights Japans’s design influence upon North American public and private gardens in settings ranging from urban corporations and penthouse rooftops to community hospital gardens and secluded forest clearings.

Sculptural ranges and serene expanses: a garden of stone at the Education First Building in Cambridge, MA. Design: Shin Abe. Photography: David Cobb, courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.

Shin Abe’s work (pictured above), which may be seen in many public spaces, including The United Nations’ Peace Bell Courtyard in Manhattan and the Education First building in Cambridge, MA, is striking in its natural, calming-effect within urban hardscape. The designer’s sculptural use of natural stone shapes and textures, paired with disciplined plant selections, creates a sense of serenity in noisy, chaotic, city environments. It is within these urban spaces where the Japanese design aesthetic often works so well; bridging the hard-edged and the man-made to the balancing, grounding forces of nature.

Although all five designers push Japanese-inspired garden design forward —distilling and fusing Asian inspiration into the North American landscape— the work of David Slawson (top image), and Marc Peter Keane (image below), seems most successful in the more natural environment.

From a design perspective, I often find it more difficult to successfully introduce man-made elements to nature, than to introduce natural elements to man-made environments. Knowing which aspects of Japanese garden design will translate to natural, North American environments demands a solid understanding of both. Marble chips, clipped azalea and lanterns? Risky. Moss-covered paths, local stone, artfully-pruned, native trees and reflective water bowls? Right on. Lawson and Keane have found a contemporary balance.

The sensation of movement, captured in stone. Bridge view: Tiger Glen Garden, Ithaca, New York. Design: Marc Keane. Photography: David M. Cobb, courtesy of Tuttle Publishing

Visionary Landscapes: Japanese Garden Design in North America is an excellent introduction to the history and art of blending Japanese-inspired design ideas into urban and rural gardens on this continent; a beautiful book and a great gift for the gardener on your list who is looking for a bit of contemporary, Japanese-style landscape inspiration.

Visionary Landscapes: Japanese Garden Design in North America. Kendall H. Brown, with Photography by David M. Cobb

A copy of this book was provided by Tuttle Publishing in exchange for independent, un-biased review. No other compensation was received. The Gardener’s Eden is not an affiliate of Tuttle Publishing, but is an affiliate of Amazon.com.

Article copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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Late Autumn Hues in the Garden

December 2nd, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Late Autumn Hues in the November Garden

December may have arrived, but as usual, I’m not quite ready to let go of autumn. Apparently, I’m also not quite ready to let go of blogging. Hello, friends. It’s been a long while.

Outside in my garden, it’s a world filled with rust-gold remnants and brilliant-colored berries. Some mornings, frost and snow cap the stonewalls, but by afternoon the water bowl has melted. Inside, I have been catching up on a bit of garden reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow with a new book review. It’s nice to be here again. How have you been?Dancing Light and Color in the Icy Water Bowl

Article and photographs are copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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Welcome Spring

March 20th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Crocus-Petals-Unfolding ©-Michaela @ TGE Crocus Unfolds a New Season

Welcome Spring Equinox!

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

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Mid-March Awakenings

March 16th, 2016 § Comments Off on Mid-March Awakenings § permalink

Raindrops on Acer palmatum,2016 Michaela Harlow, The Gardener's Eden Sunlit Raindrops Dangle from Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’

The switch to Daylight Saving Time always rattles my schedule. I’m a morning person so I’ve just lost an hour in the early part of my day. This week, I feel like I’m constantly falling behind, but I know it’s only temporary. Soon the horizon will light up at 6 a.m. again.

pussywillow_michaela_medina_harlow Delight of Spring: Gathering Pussy Willow

I’ve cut back the ornamental grasses and started pruning deadwood from shrubs. Time to the great thicket of Red Osier Dogwood and encourage new, bright red shoots. As temperatures warm, I’m even dragging a few frost-hardy pots back outside. Nice to have the extra space in my garden room! My favorite harbinger of springtime —Salix discolor, the Pussy Willow— has made an early appearance. Such soft, pearl-like beauty on a grey day.

Article and photographs are copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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Sweet Reward of Early Springtime: Hamamelis vernalis, Ozark Witch Hazel

March 13th, 2016 § Comments Off on Sweet Reward of Early Springtime: Hamamelis vernalis, Ozark Witch Hazel § permalink

Hamamelis vernalis, Ozark witch hazel in bloom, Michaela Harlow, thegardenerseden.com The Sweet Scent of Ozark Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), Fills the Air

Out pruning and raking in the garden —lingering late in the garden on these long, warm days— the delightful scent of North American native, Ozark Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), fills the air. When warm weather arrives early in Vermont —as it has this year— the bloom of Ozark Witch Hazel sometimes coincides with, or even precedes the spring equinox. Flowering nearly a month before most other shrubs, the tiny, golden tassels dangle in late afternoon sun, heady with with honeysuckle-like sweetness. Such a rich reward for getting a jump on my springtime chores.

 Fragrant, Gold Droplets in Late-Day Sunshine

Many of my favorite garden plants have two stellar seasons: spring and fall. And among my favorites, the family of Hamamelidaceae (the witch hazels) ranks very high indeed. Hamamelis vernalis —commonly called Ozark or Spring Witch Hazel— is native to the south-central regions of the United States and is hardy in USDA zones 4-8. This is a tough, colonizing shrub; tolerant of poor, scrappy soil and a wide range of moisture levels. Vernal witch hazel is a great native plant for informal hedging, naturalizing along a woodland boundary or even for something as mundane as stabilizing a steep bank. Although her flowers aren’t nearly as large and showy as those of her more flamboyant Asian and hybrid cousins (read my post on Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ here), the perfume of her early, coppery-orange blossoms is so sweet and delightful that the petite size is easy to overlook. She’s also a glorious sight in autumn, when her softly mounded form turns brilliant gold; shimmering against the blue autumn sky.

Hello again, my bewitching, springtime friend!

Article and photographs are copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

Plow & Hearth

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Back to the Garden

March 12th, 2016 § Comments Off on Back to the Garden § permalink

Betula papyrifera at sunrise - Michaela Harlow Betula papyrifera on the Hillside at Sunrise

After a light and lovely winter, spring has come early to Vermont this year. I went on two site visits this week and have begun work on my first garden design plans of 2016. Hard to believe it’s still early March.

Hello again. It’s been a long while since my last blog post and even longer since I set foot in my own garden. I’ve been busy, and quite happily so, with my painting career. But my sabbatical has ended and this year, I plan to return to garden and landscape design on a part-time basis. Just a few projects and maybe a couple of workshops here and there. A little writing. A little picture making. Hopefully, somewhere along the line, I will find a good balance between art and design.

Tonight, it’s time to reset the clocks. Daylight Saving Time begins. Soon we’ll be springing forward to a fresh new season. Are you ready?

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold's Promise' - Michaela Harlow Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold’s Promise’ in the Garden this Week 

 Phalaenopsis Orchid on the Windowsill

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Welcome December

December 1st, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

IMG_4262.JPG  Frosted Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) in Morning Light

Welcome, December, with your sparkling, festive ways!

IMG_4264.JPG Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) Sparkle like Stars

IMG_4250-0.jpgBlushing, Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Bathed in Rose-Gold Light

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Late Autumn’s Lingering Beauty

November 29th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Viburnum setigerum in the foggy garden with Miscanthus sinensis Tea Viburnum (Viburnum setigerum) paired with Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’) on a Foggy Morn

When nature is generous with her warmth, November is one of my favorite months of the year. We’ve had a long, luxurious autumn; warm days, clear nights and foggy mornings. Blissful days for a gardener.

Two of my late-season favorites at this time of year —Viburnum setigerum and Cornus sericea— have proven particularly lovely this fall. Well worth adding to your garden design plan, I promise (once again).


Cornus sericea in the foggy gardenRed Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) lights up a moody day

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Welcome Autumn!

September 23rd, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Aerial-View-of-Autumn-Above-Lake-Whitingham-Vermont-Michaela-Medina-Harlow-thegardenerseden.com_Above Lake Whitingham, Vermont 

A warm welcome to the Autumnal Equinox & the glorious season of fall.

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Celebrating August’s Sturgeon Moon 

August 29th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

IMG_2564.JPG In the Moonlit Garden 

There’s a full moon tonight, and if last night’s show was any indication, this one should be spectacular. August’s Sturgeon Moon —also known as the Green Corn or Blueberry Moon— is at perigee, making this another one of those fabulous ‘super moons’ (you read more about that here on the earthsky website).

If you’re on the east coast, moonrise tonight, August 29th, is at 7:23PM and moonset is on August 30th at 5:54AM. I’m not sure if I’ll be in the garden or on the water this evening, do you have a spot picked out?  Wherever you choose to take in this celestial event, it’s bound to be a great show. Enjoy the August Moondance!

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’: Lovely, Late Summer Leopard Plant

August 28th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

IMG_2549.JPGLigularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’ in the Secret Garden

Well hello again, Secret Garden. It’s nice to see you. I’ve been away so much this summer, I hardly recognize you. You’re a bit wild and unkempt, it’s true, but still, you look so lovely. Plentiful rain has done wonders for the garden this growing season. Just look at Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’! Divided last season, she’s already twice her original size.

Leopard Plant is a lovely perennial for late-season drama in part to full shade. A statuesque beauty —2-3′ tall and wide with large, leathery, deep maroon leaves— Ligularia dentata is grown primarily as a foliage plant in my Secret Garden. But in the late summer —August through mid-September here in Vermont— she bursts into glorious, golden bloom. I love to combine this plant with other dramatic foliage; Lamium maculatum, Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’, and Hakonechloa macra, to name a few. Hardy in USDA zones 4-8, Ligularia dentata prefers moist to wet soil and protection from scorching afternoon sun and desiccating wind. Given the right conditions and room to grow, this beautiful leopard will add a touch of drama to last throughout the growing season.

IMG_2551.JPGDaisy Rays, Gold as the Late Summer Sun

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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A Moment of Verdant Bliss

July 16th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

IMG_5596.JPG Cool, lush, verdant: a moment of mid-summer bliss in the Secret Garden

It’s been an incredibly rewarding, but also a busy and stressful week at my studio. I bite my nails when anxiety rises and I know that worrying about tomorrow robs me of today. Gardening has taught me to slow down and stay in the moment. After an hour or two of weeding therapy, I realize that I’m exactly where I need to be, right now.

  IMG_1924.JPGJapanese Painted Fern (Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’) & Astilbe ‘Europa’ (A. arendesii), beside the Secret Garden water bowl

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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