SG588: How to Creatively Use Stone in the Landscape with Jan Johnsen


Manage episode 214736101 series 2417357
By Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio streamed directly from their servers.

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.


Serenityinthegarden on Facebook

Thespiritofstone on Facebook

Jan on Twitter

Jan on Instagram

Still Growing Hotline:



Listener Community on Facebook:

Still Growing Podcast Group

The Still Growing Facebook Group Welcomes These New Members to the Listener Community:

Franklin De Jesus

Connie Bowers

Jillian Toppari-Moench

Mary Jennings Pearson

Sara White

Deb Grant-Howard

Kristiina Piibe

Sule Power

Ruth Campion

Claire Campion-Erickson

Giuliana Peterson

Maria Hartin

Deena B. Parham

Joy Buslaff

Georgia Brennan

Judy Maxwell

Still Growing Listener Advisory Board:

Beth Engle

Denise Pugh

Amy Von Achen

Patricia Chandler-Newport

Debbie Gibson

Peggy Anne Montgomery

The Garden News Roundup for October 6th, 2017:

Guest Update

A landscape-history lesson in the 'little house' books, with marta mcdowell


Bugging me

Continuing Ed

Bring Those Herbs in from the Cold!

A Beginner's Guide to Tree Identification

My Vegetable Garden Looks Messy

How To/DIY

This is the Best-Kept Plant Lady Secret

Make the Most of Autumn Colors This Fall

Plant Spotlight

Tulsi Holy Basil Tea

In the News

This Tiny Country Feeds the World

Get on Board with Pinterest's Most Popular Plant Trend

This Is the Most Underrated Flower More Brides Should Consider For Their Weddings

Dream Guest

Alice Bowe - English Landscape Garden Design


Why do leaves have such different shapes?


Required Reading: The Mid-Century Modern Garden by Ethne Clarke

6 Stunning Works Of Indoor Plant Art You Can Snag For Cheap On Etsy


Photo of the Week – September 29, 2017

Return to the Garden: Asters Save the Day

Before & After: From Scraggly Old Yard to Beautiful Oasis

Houseplant Humor


Roast Broccoli for a Creamy Soup Filled With Fall Flavors

Don't Make the Mistakes I Made When Roasting a Pumpkin

What to Do With Leftover Roasted Vegetables


Link to this week's quotables

Helpful Timestamps

The Garden News Roundup

Timestamp 8:05


Timestamp: 27:45

Jan, I would love for us to start out by having you read the introduction to your book.

Timestamp 33:35

What was the experience like when you were studying in Japan?

Timestamp 35:55

What inspired you to write this book?

Timestamp 36:25

Can you please read page 15 describing ‘the spirit of stone’?

Timestamp 37:45

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.

Timestamp 39:45

What are you thoughts on dolmens and standing stones?

Timestamp 41:40

Why should gardeners use local stones?

Timestamp 44:55

What is cairn exactly?

Timestamp 47:25

What are Chinese scholar stones?

Timestamp 49:15

Native Americans have a tradition with stones as well, what is their significance to them?

Timestamp 51:55

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.

Timestamp 57:05

What kind of considerations do you need to think about when making a rock garden?

Timestamp 59:35

What is a crevice garden?

Timestamp 1:06:30

You really opened my eyes to all the possibilities of what you can do with gravel.

Timestamp 1:12:40

What are your thoughts on dry streams?

Timestamp 1:15:00

How can you effectively use stone mulch?

Timestamp 1:19:30

What are the benefits of rip rap?

Timestamp 1:22:00

You actually have a stone walk coming up, don’t you?

Timestamp 1:23:05

How should gardeners attempt to install a stone path?

Timestamp 1:24:05

You discuss the benefits of reflexology paths on page 103, tell us more about this.

Timestamp 1:26:20

You discuss grass-covered stone steps in chapter five. These are highly sought after among gardeners.

Timestamp 1:30:35

How can we use sheltering walls into our gardens?

Timestamp 1:33:00

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!

Timestamp 1:35:45

What kind of elements do you look for when selecting stone statuary?

Timestamp 1:36:45

Chapter 8 is simply called ‘Plants and Stone’. In it, you discuss something I’m very passionate about - growing plants in cracks and crevices.

Timestamp 1:40:10

The ending to your book is so touching, before you go, can you please read it for all of us?

Timestamp 1:42:55

85 episodes available. A new episode about every 9 days averaging 115 mins duration .