Image by St. Lynn's Press

Q & A with Jan Johnsen, author of 'Spirit of Stone'

by Shelley Pierce July 16, 2017

Q & A with Jan Johnsen, author of ‘Spirit of Stone’

Share Article

Jan Johnsen is a well-regarded landscape designer, author and teacher with a passion for plants, rocks and beautiful gardens. She is an award-winning instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and writes the garden blog, “Serenity in the Garden.” Trained in landscape architecture, planning and professional horticulture, Jan is a co-principal of the design firm, Johnsen Landscapes & Pools, in Westchester County, New York.  Her firm received a merit award in 2014 from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD).

Her landscapes have appeared in many magazine and books. Jan’s book, Heaven is a Garden, (published by St Lynn’s Press, 2014)  is now in its third printing. In her new book, “The Spirit of Stone: 101 Practical & Creative Stonescaping Ideas for Your Garden’, (St Lynn’s Press, 2017) she celebrates this natural material and highlights its many uses in the landscape.  Read on to learn more about ‘The Spirit of Stone’ and enter to win a copy!


1.      Why do you have a soft spot for hard rock?
Rocks are plentiful where I live in the Northeast. Growing up here, we kids would paint rocks, stack them, climb them, and dig them up.  So it is a natural progression to use rocks as an adult in the garden! We have a lot of  them so we might as well learn to cherish them. J

2.      Why is stone often an overlooked player in a landscape?

So many of us just see the plants in a landscape. But the walks, walls, and steps are often fashioned from stone. Many times, the details of the stonework is just as lovely as the plants. I am calling attention to the rocks so that they take center stage along with the plants.

3.      How does your book help us add personality to our landscape with stone?

In The Spirit of Stone I offer many ideas for adding rocks into the landscape. For example, a single standing stone in a plant bed can add some drama and contrast to luxuriant foliage and flowers. Or you might add a stepping stone path through a wide  plant bed to lead the eye and also help with getting in there to maintain.  These additions can indeed add personality to an outdoor space.

4.      How many styles of rock gardens are there and which style is your personal favorite – any why?

There are so many styles of rock gardens these days: Modern sculptural rock gardens, ‘hill and crest’ rock gardens that are set into a slope, Japanese-inspired rock gardens that have a ‘zen’ feeling, and cottage rock gardens that feature a blooming field of color.  It seems there are as many styles as there are gardeners! My fave is the Japanese-inspired rock garden. I love the peace and minimalist approach.

5.      What is one of the best examples of stonescaping you have ever seen?

Great question! I think Innisfree in Millbrook, NY –a public garden- has many  fascinating natural rock features. Some incorporate water too. I always tell people to visit Innisfree and to bring a picnic!

6.      What advice do you have for wannabe stonescapers?
Try it! Start small and work from there. And wear gloves and use a tree cart or similar to move rocks around. Do not lift rocks by yourself – that is the best advice.

WIN A COPY OF ‘The Spirit of Stone‘!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, July 23, 201 7 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Which spot in your yard or garden could benefit from stonescaping?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

Did you find this helpful?
Share it with your friends!
Print This Post
This article was last updated on
Tell us what you think: Leave a comment
19 person already talking about this.
    natasha ott
    Answered on July 18, 2017Reply

    I would love to create a space that feels cozy and safe and my small yard. A border or circle of sorts. Thank you for the generous giveaway!!

    Catherine McCarthy
    Answered on July 17, 2017Reply

    My backyard!! :)

    Valerie Phillips
    Answered on July 17, 2017Reply

    I would love to do some stone scaping around my pond, as well as have stone/ gravel pathqays throughout my garden

    Debra
    Answered on July 17, 2017Reply

    It has been a dream of mine to make a walking reflexology path for healing. Healing gardens have been what I would love to learn how to plan and grow. Many small stones to walk on through a garden or laberenth sounds lovely. Your posts inspire me.

    Vickie Ann McCoy
    Answered on July 17, 2017Reply

    I think our front bed under the windows could greatly benefit from stonescaping. A neat appearance is key to curb appeal, and we have weed problems there because the bed is much larger than the small plants. Thank you.

    JESSE JOHNSON
    Answered on July 17, 2017Reply

    I have a big front yard and I would love a small flower garden surrounded by rock

    Joanna
    Answered on July 17, 2017Reply

    Rock collection has been a hobby of our family for years. It started with my Dad. He would collect some from every where he traveled. We inherited quite a collection. We are blessed and sometimes cursed with many rocks on our place. I plan to make some paths in the garden using some sort of rock. I hope this book will give me some ideas. Thank for the offering!

    Margaret Roots
    Answered on July 17, 2017Reply

    I love rocks..i give this credit to my 3rd grade teacher.
    He brought a collection of many types of rocks and my favimatiom bloomed..i still will look for stones on a walk and bring home those that intrigue me.
    I have 5 rock gardens and I would love to learn how to make these stand out more.

    Liz
    Answered on July 17, 2017Reply

    We have been collecting stone in one place for almost 20 years. So far we have utilized stone to create walls and a patio. Next up is bocce court, paths, second patio, etc. While digging out to make space for the substrate of our first homemade, or should I say stonemade patio, we uncovered a hunk of granite two feet wide x eighteen inches tall and fourteen inches deep - had to use a winch to remove it to where it now sits in a perennial bed. We may never get enough of natural stone!

    rmcs
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    We have tons of rock on our land. My husband used it to build the foundation for our house and has also built several stone landscaping walls. I need ideas for incorporating rocks into my flower gardens, besides just the outer perimeters.

    Scott McCranie
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    Awesome and inspiring ideas.

    Ann Marie Mones
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    There are so many spots in my yard tha could benefi from stonescaping! But the first project would be making a boring gravel walkway between raised perennial gardens more interesting!

    Gail Arnn
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    The spots in my backyard that would benefit most from stonescaping would be the areas that are close to the house and the dirt path from my backyard gate to my garden area. Need new ideas to improve my landscaping in these areas.

    PATRICK JONES
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    i like some of the ideas to make your home look nicer!

    BONNIE ELLIS
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    I would love to incorporate stone edging in my garden beds, would love to win, thank you!

    Karen Martin
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    Stone pathways in both front and back yard, a stone backyard patio, stone retaining wall and stone terracing.

    Vipul
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    Stones placed for walkway

    kim Bakos
    Answered on July 16, 2017Reply

    We would love to have stone pathways in our yard and garden.

    Jan Johnsen
    Answered on July 21, 2017Reply

    I hope my book helps you add a stone path...

Leave a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 
STAY IN THE KNOW!
Sign up for our Newsletter
Submit
INSPIRATION DAILY
Follow Us On Instagram
1
Something is wrong. Response takes too long or there is JS error. Press Ctrl+Shift+J or Cmd+Shift+J on a Mac.