Gardens traditionally have been said to be a piece of paradise for their owners but have you ever tried to create such a paradise for yourself? It is not easy to create a private place that provides an opportunity to restore a sense of well-being. Jan Johnsen’s book, Heaven is a Garden, provides advice on how make a beautiful garden and that will also meet the needs for serenity, calmness and inner peace. Drawing from both historical and contemporary sources, Johnsen provides guidelines rather than prescriptions that encourage readers to develop an individual unique garden based on their own needs and taste.
Heaven is a Garden explores the key elements that make a landscape feel balanced and harmonious. When exploring the power of place Johnsen considers the ways the landscape can be managed to produce a serene, beautiful setting and she proposes and explains three basic design features: simplicity, sanctuary, and delight. Elsewhere, Johnson explains the therapeutic effect of color, how shape, line and proportion can unify a garden, and how the many uses of trees, water, and rocks can enhance the landscape.
All through the book the author’s sensitivity towards nature and the environment comes through. The text is written in an almost poetic way and is filled with the authors personal response’s to the beauty of her surroundings where ever she is. The photographs of gardens are intermingled with the text so as to be an unobtrusive and both enhance the written word or tell a story of their own. Inserts, highlighted in color, give all sorts of additional information such as a list of plants for a rock crevice garden, the suggestions for a spiral garden, and guidelines for rock placement in a garden. Reading the text and looking at the pictures can open the yes to the many wonders all around us that we don’t really see. The result is a new look at our environment, an new appreciation for what we have, and a garden that makes us feel as though we have our own little piece of paradise.
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