Cultivating a ‘Stop-Time’ Moment in a Garden By Jan Johnsen

Photograph by Jan Hohnsen - All Rights Reserved Have you ever experienced a moment when the wafting fragrance of flower blossoms captured your attention and lifted you away? Or when the birdsong around you was louder than the chatter in your head? This exquisite moment of stillness or what I call, ‘stop time’, can occur anywhere and anytime: while you bask in the warm morning sun, while gardening or while hurrying to your car! At these times, you may have paused and looked around, drunk in the fragrant air and felt an abiding connection, for a brief instance, to everything around you.

That rare moment of ‘remembrance’ can become a more common occurrence if you take the time to notice the natural world. Just as a wine connoisseur slowly relishes that first sip on his tongue; you can learn to savor a flower, a rock or even a breeze. This is the secret most gardeners know — if you deeply appreciate the workings of the earth’s ecosystem, you can revel in ‘stop-time’ moments while puttering in the yard. In fact, wine and gardening are very similar; although not essential to life, they enrich our everyday experience, adding a soft, voluptuous fullness to normal routines.

Photography by Jan Johnsen - All Rights ReservedSavoring a garden asks that you look closely, as a child would, at the microcosm of pulsating aliveness that exists everywhere. Once you notice this amazing tapestry of life under your feet you will delight in the little things you find there: the snowdrop peaking its floral head up, the earthworm majestically working the soil, the autumn leaves resplendent in their colorful garb or the white flowers bobbing in the moonlight’s glow. Keen observation and quiet awareness will – in time – transport you to that elusive and exquisite ‘stop time’ moment.

Jan Johnsen is a professional landscape designer and principal of Johnsen Landscapes & Pools ( ) in New York.

She is also an author and speaker.

Please check out her blog ( or visit her ‘Serenity in the Garden’ on Facebook)

Ortho’s All About TreesBio continued: Ms. Johnsen was named 2003 Instructor of the Year by the New York Botanical Garden. She has also received an AICP achievement award and a Progressive Architecture (PA) award for rooftop greenhouses in NYC. Jan has several books to her credit – her book, Ortho’s All About Trees, is published by Meredith Publishing. She is an engaging speaker and gives talks and workshops throughout the U.S. on the true healing power in plants and places.

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by Jan Johnsen
Jan Johnsen is a principal of Johnsen Landscapes & Pools (, a landscape design/ build firm located in Westchester County, N.Y. She has been in the landscape design profession for over 35 years - her experience includes working in landscape architecture and planning offices in Japan, Kenya, Hawaii, New Orleans, Vermont and New York. Her current clients include President and Secretary of State Clinton. Her company’s pools and landscapes have appeared in many books, newspapers and magazines including Landscape Architecture, Wallpaper, Homestyle and Gardening, Women’s Day, and Redbook among others. She currently teaches in the graduate program of landscape design at Columbia University and at the New York Botanical Garden. (Continued below)