As the landscape designer, artist, and author, Jan Johnsen quotes in her latest book, Floratopia, “More than anything, I must have flowers, always, always.” And who am I to argue with that master of extraordinary flower paintings, Claude Monet?
In fact, I couldn’t agree more. Flowers are our muses, too.
I think it’s safe to say that flowers are the reason why we garden in the first place. We are irresistibly drawn to the color, the scent, the texture.
Never mind that all that beauty is meant to attract pollinators!
The fact is, flowers inspire so many artful craftspeople: jewelry designers, musicians, chef and cooks, painters, textile and fashion designers, interior designers, lighting designers, poets, writers, and of course, gardeners.
No matter who is doing the rendering, flowers symbolize beauty, and love…
Speaking of love, in reviewing Jan’s Floratopia, I couldn’t help but feel the love of her craft and her passion for designing landscapes featuring the allure of flowers ~ that connection to their seductive charm but also the respect for their role in “sustainable and eco-friendly gardens” that jumps off every page.
So it should come as no surprise that I, in turn, love this book! It’s so very inspiring.
The only difficult part was not re-reading the tips and looking at the great color photos from Jan’s portfolio of landscape designs that are featured on every page while I was writing this post! Ha. Like flowers, the book lures you; tempts you with its creativity, design compositions, and practical advice.
Recently, Jan was an honored guest on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations Facebook event ~ thank you so very much Jan! We learned so much about your fascinating journey to becoming a leading landscape designer and garden author of so many successful books.
With regard to Floratopia, I commented how I especially loved that you use the first-person in the book. You seemed a wee bit surprised saying that no one else had noted that. I find this especially 5-star worthy, because when reading the tips and your “Green Thoughts” musings, your voice is authoritative; reassuring. It adds a level of intimacy and trust that so many other garden books lack. Thank you for that important detail.
Win a Free Floratopia book! A Floratopia Book Giveaway
For Garden Glamour readers and viewers of Ladies Who Lunch, Jan and her publisher, The Countryman Press, have generously and graciously agreed to gift a Floratopia book ~ autographed by Jan ~ to a lucky flower and garden enthusiast.
Please email me your answer to the questions:
- What is your favorite flower?
- What is the flower combination you can’t live without? (e.g.: Dusty Miller soft grey, purple Angelonia, and pink Vinca or Siberian Bugloss and Purple Pansies; as Jan shows in Floratopia. The colors and textures are fabulous!)
- Where do you garden? Planters? Window Boxes, Borders? Community Garden?
Email to: Leeann@Duchess-Designs.com
I’ll review the entries and let you all know who the lucky flower-lover is! So exciting…
If you can’t wait for the Giveaway ~ and who could blame you ~ please order from the above link and share the good news about your Floratopia purchase. Whether looking for that hands-on, voice of experience or if you just want to pursue an aspirational garden lifestyle, you will embrace the artful looks and prose in Floratopia. It might not surprise you that, as Jan revealed on our Ladies Who Lunch Conversation, she was a painter and architectural student and enthusiast early in her career. Her artful approach to landscape design is evident throughout her book.
There’s another inspiring quote that touched my garden soul that Jan features as the head note on her Flowers are Living Things: “Flowers are the music of the ground from earth’s lips spoken without a sound.” Edwin Curran. She expresses the point that “artistic expression and growing healthy flowers are not mutually exclusive. They are one together. That is the essence of great flower garden design.” Indeed…
Floratopia is brimming with ideas and techniques. I can see these pretty cut flowers and more in a pretty cachepot.You can learn from the master about the importance of soil to become as she coins it, a “Rake Master'' in the Art of Raking; the need to weed, designing and working with Nature and your zone to achieve Drought-Resistant Gardens, or letting the lawn go and getting the flowers to come back (hello, clover, dandelions and wild violets. Oh, and I just read a great recipe for dandelion wine!)
Jan even includes tips on planting annuals which I’ve rarely seen in horticultural or garden design books. Most “serious” garden experts pooh-pooh any mention of this leaving it the local nursery or … We love that pop of summer color and so appreciate Jan’s wise garden suggestions to using these “floral workhorses'' as she describes them in the chapter devoted to annual.
An entire chapter!
Floratopia is that rare combination of a garden book: serious and grounded in its advice yet a fun, joyful read ~ a real garden tour. Whether you have a green thumb or are all-thumbs.
We in the horticultural, garden design world revere Jan. You can see why…
As if you needed more convincing about Jan’s bonafides (what, you can’t take my word alone? ha), here is Jan’s bio, flush with her special garden design and plant pedigree.
Jan Johnsen began her professional life in Japan in a landscape architecture office. She has been a principal in a landscape design-and-build firm, Johnsen Landscapes & Pools, based in Westchester, New York, for more than 40 years.
Her natural design approach is evident in the landscapes that she shares in her books: Heaven Is a Garden, The Spirit of Stone, Floratopia and Gardentopia.
Jan Johnsen’s latest book, Floratopia: 110 Flower Garden Ideas for Your Yard, Patio, or Balcony showcases beautiful flower varieties and offers illustrated design ideas that will have you seeing the potential for colorful flowers, both annual and perennial, in all kinds of outdoor spaces, large or small.
Essential advice―such as "Hot Weather Flower Garden Tips," "Tiny Space, Tiny Garden," and "Tips for Layering with Flowers"―is accompanied by lush photos and informative captions. Selected growing tips―such as "Become a Rake Master" and "Should I Cut Back in Winter?"―answer common questions and ensure success for gardeners of all skill levels.
Floratopia both inspires and enlightens; it underscores the role of flowers as pollinator magnets and encourages the appreciation of flowers throughout their entire lifecycle.
Choice tips for butterfly gardens, combining grasses and flowers, and deer-resistant combinations also include recommended cultivars and suggested soil conditions. This engaging book is divided into six chapters:
- Flowers in Pots and Planters
- Flower Garden Planting Tips
- Flower Garden Design Tips and Green Thoughts
- Themes for Flower Gardens
- A Few Choice Perennial Flowers to Try
- A Selection of Favorite Annual Flowers.
I recommend Floratopia as a true Garden Glamour guide to beautiful, flower-filled gardens.