Croton Landscaper Lectures On Good Gardens

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Jan Johnsen recently gave a talk about gardens at the Croton Library.
Jan Johnsen recently gave a talk about gardens at the Croton Library. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

CROTON-ON-Hudson, N.Y. -- Croton-On-Hudson resident and landscaper Jan Johnsen knows what makes a garden inviting and tranquil.

As part of the Croton Village Garden Club's Green Living series, Johnsen gave a talk based on her new book "Heaven is a Garden - Designing Serene Outdoor Spaces for Inspiration and Reflect".

Johnsen's talk featured a slideshow of various gardens, many of which are in Northern Westchester. 

"This is wonderful," Johnsen said at the talk. "We need gardens. We need serenity and to be unplugged. We need that outdoor space."

The characteristics of a serene garden include simplicity and sanctuary, she said. 

"There are spots that are sheltered and protected," Johnsen said. "It feels cozy. It gives you delight."

Johnsen quoted Luis Barragan who said, "A garden must combine the poetic and mysterious with the feeling of serenity and joy."

Gardens should have a power spot and something at the high point of the garden.

"It's a destination," Johnsen said. "It works all the time. Make the journey to the high point part of the fun."

Johnsen also recommended putting columns in the backyard because they are nice to look at.

"They are a nice counter punch to the softness," Johnsen said.

When it comes to gardens, direction is key. The northern part should be contemplative, while the southern part should be open and expansive with sunflowers and petunias.

The eastern part should be the most auspicious while the western part should be shaded and the place to end the day.

"People like to get together and talk here,"  Johnsen said. 

Color is also an important part of a garden. Johnsen said yellow cheers us up and stimulates while orange is the color of conversation, flamboyance and vitality.

"Red is excitement, power and luck," Johnsen said. "It really sparks up a garden. Blue induces calm. Green is the most relaxing color."

Johnsen said gardens help people return to a kinship of nature.

"We can quiet our thoughts and we can reflect, recharge, reconnect, realign and remember," Johnsen said.

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