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On today’s show, I welcome award-winning designer Jan Johnsen to the show to discuss her book - The Spirit of Stone - in which she presents a beautifully photographed, inspiring guide to 101 Practical & Creative Stonescaping Ideas for Your Garden: from practical steps, paths, and garden walls, to naturalistic dry streams, inspired rock gardens, and Jan’s personal favorite - reflexology paths.
Jan has 30+ years of experience in landscaping and this comes in quite handy because she’s worked with quite a bit of stone during countless installations over the years. Designer, author and teacher, Jan Johnsen, is particularly interested in the relationship between outdoor space and its effect upon our peace of mind. The Spirit of Stone examines stone from both the aesthetic and functional perspective. Jan’s e early experience with stone began during her college years, working for a landscape firm in Kyoto, Japan. In fact, Jan's carried that experience with her through life - showing a loving appreciation and sensitivity to Japanese influences in gardening. It’s something I especially admire about her. Awarded a 2014 Association of Professional Landscape Designers award, Jan studied landscape architecture at the University of Hawaii and got her horticultural training from a Versailles-trained French gardener at Mohonk Mountain House in NY. Her design firm is Johnsen Landscapes & Pools. Jan taught at Columbia University and currently teaches at the NY Botanical Garden, where she won ‘Instructor of the Year’.
Jan loves to share her insights in the beneficial effects of gardens and gardening with others. Her new book, The Spirit of Stone celebrates this ancient material and its use in our landscapes.
It’s a beautiful book - Jan took all of the photos - and that gives you an idea of the number of installations she does with her Landscape business. As Jan likes to say, "Natural stone, that most ancient of materials, adds an authentic touch to an outdoor space that nothing else can match. While plants may temporarily steal the show, a low stonewall, solitary standing stone or dry stream remains unwavering through the years."
Isamu Noguchi, the designer and artist, summed it up best, "Any gardener will tell you that it is the rocks that make a garden. They call them the 'bones' of the garden.”The Spirit of Stone is an essential idea book for anyone looking to add dimension and resilience to their landscape - the tips and photos will inspire designers, homeowners, gardeners,and stonemasons alike.Miriam Goldberger, the author of Taming Wildflowers, said this about The Spirit of Stone: "Celebrated garden author and landscape designer, Jan Johnsen has sifted her sophisticated natural stone expertise into a clearly written and companionable guide to stone gardening success." And here’s this great compliment from Fran Sorin, the author of Digging Deeper:
"The Spirit of Stone is overflowing with both inspiration and instruction on how to use stone creatively in the landscape. Jan focuses in on the soulfulness, authenticity, beauty, and practicality of stonework in an outdoor setting. Filled with practical tips and outstanding photos, The Spirit of Stone is a delightful celebration of the versatility of this solid, durable rock." - As a speaker for botanical garden show audiences, Jan loves to share her insights on the beneficial effects of informed garden design. Her unique approach — incorporating ancient practices with contemporary ideas — is entertaining, inspiring and informative. Jan presents her popular illustrated slide talks at major flower and garden shows across the U.S.Jan is also the author of Heaven is a Garden - now in it’s third printing. She has a blog titled Serenity in the Garden. Jan’s landscapes have been featured in This Old House, Landscape Architecture, NY Cottages & Gardens, Wallpaper, East Coast Home, Westchester Home, Westchester Journal News, Westchester Magazine, Woman’s Day, Redbook, and many more.With that, it’s time rock and roll - with The Spirit of Stone’s Jan Johnsen.
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Jan, I would love for us to start out by having you read the introduction to your book.
What was the experience like when you were studying in Japan?
What inspired you to write this book?
Can you please read page 15 describing ‘the spirit of stone’?
One of the things I love about what you did in the first chapter is you give us some very unique and innovative ideas for incorporating stone into our landscapes.
What are you thoughts on dolmens and standing stones?
Why should gardeners use local stones?
What is cairn exactly?
What are Chinese scholar stones?
Native Americans have a tradition with stones as well, what is their significance to them?
My husband and I don’t fight often, but we did have a huge fight years ago over rocks! Moving rock is difficult and in your book you show us how it can be done.
What kind of considerations do you need to think about when making a rock garden?
What is a crevice garden?
You really opened my eyes to all the possibilities of what you can do with gravel.
What are your thoughts on dry streams?
How can you effectively use stone mulch?
What are the benefits of rip rap?
You actually have a stone walk coming up, don’t you?
How should gardeners attempt to install a stone path?
You discuss the benefits of reflexology paths on page 103, tell us more about this.
You discuss grass-covered stone steps in chapter five. These are highly sought after among gardeners.
How can we use sheltering walls into our gardens?
In chapter 7, you share tips and tricks on how to add stone accents into the garden. I think this is every gardener’s favorite part!
What kind of elements do you look for when selecting stone statuary?
Chapter 8 is simply called ‘Plants and Stone’. In it, you discuss something I’m very passionate about - growing plants in cracks and crevices.
The ending to your book is so touching, before you go, can you please read it for all of us?
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