2010 Top 5 Posts–Yours!

I’ve never done a “top”  list before.  I was interested in what everyone was here was reading so I took a look at the numbers.  As a landscape designer I’m interested in trends–self generated as well as user generated. The list below is a nod to the best of list tradition–not mine–yours.  Click each the first few words of each description to go to that post.

An exploration of India’s potential influence on garden styles.  The Raj ruled this post.

5 things that influenced me as a landscape designer in 2010.

Ideas on color in garden design…no I wasn’t talking to myself.

Thoughts and ideas about sustainability in garden and landscape design.

A love song to the amazing architecture in Buffalo.

Monday 45 | A Year of Mondays

It was bound to happen.  A new member of a carefully adamantly warned lawn and clean-up crew went nuts with his string trimmer.  I didn’t catch him totally on time.  I abhor string trimmers and gas powered garden tools in general.  I really dislike when my instructions aren’t followed.  I like the mess.  I don’t want my gardens to look like a nuclear winter in winter.  DAMN.  At least I didn’t take it out on the foreman who apologized and reconfirmed that I didn’t want anything cut back–I can do that myself thank you very much.

No. 45

In my Reader…a winter list

As a landscape designer in the northeast United States, winter is a relief.  I can read for pleasure without feeling the nagging sense that I should be doing something else.  Here are some of the books I want to read this winter–some work related, some not.  Unlike other lists at this time of year, I haven’t read these yet…I just want to.

Patrick Dougherty’s new book Stickwork.


Andrew Moore‘s photo essay of Detroit.  Readers here know of my interest in abandoned landscapes and industrial sites as well as what becomes of them.

Detroit Disassembled

Wendy Goodman’s book on Tony Duquette was a book to lust after, so I’m putting her latest on Gloria Vanderbilt on my list as well.

Gloria Vanderbilt

Of the many garden books offered this season, I am intrigued by two.  (That doesn’t mean I won’t take the rest out of the library and give them a gander.)

Paula Deitz’s essays and books on gardens have always been high on my list.

On Gardens

And last…since I’m a self avowed tree lover and hugger, Hugh Johnson’s The World of Trees.

The World of Trees

Garden Inspiration | Garden Designers Roundtable

I graze across disciplines, media and firsthand experience to feed my ever growing habit. Here are five (of the many more) ideas from the past year that have inspired me.  Some have been included in previous posts, others on my FB page, and still others are new to this post.  All have contributed to the whole that is my constantly evolving design aesthetic that needs feeding, feeding, feeding.  After all, I’m a self proclaimed inspiration junkie omnivore.

French fashion icon Jean Paul Gaultier teamed up with green wall whiz, Patric Blanc to create a runway statement.  No longer flat, the idea of designing a garden for vertical, undulating and moving surfaces intrigues me.

Fashion and garden synergy

Great and inspiring retail was the subject of a post entitled They Give Great Shop after a trip to Berkley last winter.  I still find myself thinking about objects and textures I saw at Artefact.


Industrial and natural textures collide

Gardens don’t have to be a static thing or relegated to traditional containers.  Taking a garden along with you rather than going to your garden is a new way of thinking for me.  Here are two that inspired that idea.

Movable gardens from Urban Buds


French company Bacsac on the move

I have always loved the movies.  Inception was a visual feast and made me think harder and look harder to see beyond what I think I’m really looking at.   Oh, that spinning top.

Inception challenged perception

Travel feeds my inspiration appetite. The 1st was reviewed in Artiface and Artifacts.  The 2nd is from a trip to Dallas.  Right now I am inspired by juxtaposing traditional and contemporary with artifice and naturalistic design.



There is so much more…architecture, industrial design, interior design, graphic design, just about anything Dutch, plants, pop music, performing arts, museum shows, books, people, current events, pop culture…and then there’s augmented reality…but that would be a book instead of a blog post–wouldn’t it?

Want to be inspired by the other Roundtable contributors?  You can pick up their links…

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA

Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Ivette Soler : The Germinatrix : Los Angeles, CA

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA

Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA



In my Reader…Fernando Caruncho

I was reminded of  Spanish landscape architect Fernando Caruncho‘s work late last spring while on a garden crawl with fellow designer Jane Derickson.  Several years ago I had read and article about Caruncho’s work in New Jersey by Anne Raver in the New York Times.  Before that time I hadn’t been aware of his work.  I have since bought Mirrors of Paradise:  The Gardens of Fernando Caruncho.

So, if you don’t know his work, here’s a short introduction.  Please click the images to view the source.

Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’

If you are looking for a festive evergreen that looks like it has come pre-decorated with snow and ornaments…try Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’ (also known as Horstmann’s Silberlocke and Silver Snow).  When I first saw this small evergreen tree (15-20′ at maturity), in a conifer garden it mystified me–I didn’t know what it was and I thought it was very interesting and beautiful–it stood out among all of the other evergreens.

In high summer it looked cool as a snowy winter day.  It is  hardy to USDA Zone 5.  Add super cool purple cones that are held upright on its irregular branching structure to the interesting curling needles with their shimmering undersides and you have a knockout small evergreen.  I think it’s the perfect holiday tree for any small garden–full of structural and textural interest.

Shimmering curling needles

Ornament like cones


I apologize for the look of the sidebar.  Some times a little knowledge and a lot of bravado isn’t a good thing.  …I was messing with it and can’t fix it until Monday when I get some more experienced technical help.  Oh well!  Enjoy the content anyway.  Have a great weekend!

In My Reader…The Style Saloniste

In my reader this week is The Style Saloniste by well known interior design and architecture author Diane Dorrans Saeks.  As you’ve probably figured out by now, I read a wide range of things.  This week is all about passion.  Passion for ideas.  Passion for design.  Passion for a life well lived on many levels.  My choice this week may seem from a landscape and garden designer–but it’s really not.    Saeks is a well respected author of more than 20 eclectic design books  as well a contributing editor to several magazines, her blog is  a beautiful, sumptuous feast of images and high style journalism.  There are long and in-depth pieces on personalities and places that influence lifestyle and design.  It is a as good a read as the Sunday newspaper…and demands the same amount of time!

Here’s a look at The Style Saloniste.   Click each image to link back to the original post.

If I had chickens this is what I’d look like…

From a piece on The Duchess of Devonshire

If I was twenty and in Paris, this is how I’d feel…

Suzy Parker in Paris by Richard Avedon

If I needed to escape for a bit, I’d go here…

Amangiri Resort in Arizona

If I was in San Francisco, I’d shop here…

Shopping in San Francisco

If I went to India (and who doesn’t want to go) I’d stay here…even for a night.

Holiday Hayracks

I usually do something far more simple for holiday decoration for the hayracks that hang on the front of my studio.  This year, however, the cocoa fiber liners were really nasty and needed to be removed.  So I was faced with truly empty containers to fill.  I live on a busy corner so this is also an opportunity for a subtle shout out for my landscape design business,  I had a designer moment.

Here’s what did and how I did it.

Holiday Hayrack

I have three of these across the front of the studio, but before I could get a photo of all three it started raining.  The total cost was about $35 per hayrack, but could be much less if you harvest your own evergreen branches and make your own bows.  Just remember that texture and scale is important.

Materials (all purchased from a local garden center where I have an account)

You will need a pair of garden clippers (I used my trusty Felco #2s) and a wire cutter if the bunches of branches are wired together.

For each hayrack:

1 bunch southern magnolia branches (5-7 branches per bunch)

1 bunch juniper branches (with berries) (4-5 branches per bunch)

4 plastic silver ornaments

1  bag sheet moss

1 black contractor bag

2 premade ribbons for wreathes already wired (cause I’m lazy that way)

1 long strand of plastic pearl garlands (these were left over from previous years)

1  funky stretchy silver garland coil

I took the contractor bag, rolled it up and shoved it into the back of each hay rack to take up some space.  Then, working  each side towards the middle, I placed the magnolia branches in the back and the juniper in the front.  Since sheet moss was used to cover up the bottom of the rack, I concentrated on the look of the top.  I randomly placed the silver balls to hide branches that wouldn’t be covered by the sheet moss.  I then carefully wedged the sheet moss in the bottom of the hayrack by pulling back the branches and ensuring that no plastic bag showed and that all the branches were hidden.  Add the bows, pearl swags and the curlicue garland and done!   It took about 30-40 minutes start to finish and hung.

The Holiday season has begun!