In my Reader…my book!

This was ‘leaked’ yesterday by a friend on Facebook…it was supposed to be a surprise…

Over the winter I created a look book of built work.  It’s a hybrid between a coffee table book of garden eye candy and more serious text.  I want to do more collaborative design work with architects and interior designers, so the content and pictures are designed to peak their interest.   A soft cover version will be used as a portfolio piece for potential clients.  I’ve always had a ‘leave behind’ portfolio, but my secondary hope is that a book will hang around either office or home when brochures get recycled or filed and cd’s get lost in the shuffle.

Here’s a preview–it’s a little slow to load, but you’ll get the idea.  Let me know what you think!  I haven’t seen the finished product yet…the test print will arrive on Thursday.

Trend Watch: Belgian Beige for Garden Rooms

For the past few years, a major interior design trend has been slowly trickling down from the high end to the mass market.  ‘Belgian Beige’ is perfect for translation in garden rooms.  Upscale mass merchants like Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn have already seized on this new neutrality in a major way.

The look via Restoration Hardware

The trend is more the sum of its parts than a singular look.  It is neutral, hence the ‘beige’, and the styling has antique, industrial and rustic elements carefully juxtaposed.

Garden ornaments via Detroit Garden Works

For materials think burlap and natural wicker, zinc and weathered woods.  Think texture and patina.  Think smooth and rough.

Rusty and fresh

For specific pieces think quirky and classic simultaneously.

Antique glass cloches

Scale plays an import role–everything is oversized and dramatic which is perfect for outside spaces.

Lanterns hung via block and tackle from tree
Leafy orbs in zinc via Restoration Hardware

The trend is architectural–think salvaged building fragments and references to grand buildings.


An easy interpretation via House Beautiful

To see more of the images I collected for this idea, check out my Belgian Beige Garden  board on Pinterest.

Tuesday’s Find…a Clock

This clock has some edible garden chops…in a roundabout way.  It hung outside and over the vendors at the Los Angeles produce market for more than 80 years.  It’s for sale now and available from Off the Wall Antiques.  I would love to have it in my garden, on my patio or on top of my garage!

Beautiful patina from being outside for 80+ years
Detail with apple crates
Citrus and clock face details

If produce and edibles are your thing…visit my fellow designers on Garden Designers Roundtable today at 1 p.m. est.

In my Reader…Madagascar Trailer

I am often blown away by the way landscapes are rendered in animation.  Madagascar, carnet de voyage by Bastien Dubois took four years to make and is one of five short animated films nominated for an Oscar this year.  In the following excerpt (the entire running time is only about 12 minutes) the landscape is, in my opinion, a star.

You can watch the entire film here.

House & Garden (British)

The February 2011 issue of House & Garden almost got it right.  I’m talking about the mix of articles–not the gardens they chose to profile.  There are three features on gardens…two about designers and an additional monthly feature on products. Yea!  Not many shelter publications that center around residential design have even one feature on designed outdoor spaces–let alone three–especially in the winter.  For that alone it’s is a win.

Nothing is mentioned of any of these articles on the cover however…and there is the lose part.

Where's the mention?

Touting Choosing the Best, inside the magazine is an article titled The House and Garden guide to the Leading Garden Designers of Today–yet no mention on the cover?  What happened to the ‘garden’ in House and?

Feature on Best British Garden Designers--hooray!

There’s a wonderful feature on Dar el Hossoun, the gardens of a lodge and spa in southern Morocco designed by French garden designers Arnaud Maurieres and Eric Ossart.  The gardens manage to respect traditional Moroccan motifs using contemporary ideas about planting.

Editorial spread w/beauty shots and great content

The third feature is  a pictorial of Colonsay House in Scotland–a wild garden with a world class collection of rhododendrons.

Rhododendrons and more in the wilds of Scotland

Now why don’t more shelter/design magazines consider the designed outdoor environment?

In my Reader…Nowness

Just reading this uber-chic blog makes me feel cool.  Impossibly hip, Nowness is the daily blog from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.  Well written and beautifully documented, its exclusive content comes from a wide range of contributors and is definitely luxury based.  Covering fashion, food, art, film, music, design, travel and sport it is surprising in it depth. Nowness aims to be an interactive hub for all things luxury NOW.  It’s totally unlike any other blog I’ve ever read and that’s hard to do since I read a lot of them–the images alone are worth a look.

All of the images below have are from Nowness in the past month.  How’s that for being current?

Sophisticated color outdoors
Winter Polo in St. Moritz
Fairy Tale Illustration by fashion designer Christian LaCroix

Tents and sky

The makings of mescal

A Garden Renovation

It’s an interesting turn of events when a client calls and wants me to renovate a garden I designed for them years ago.  Several months ago, that’s exactly what happened.  One of my clients is planning a 2nd story master suite addition to their 1920s American Tudor.  The town was unsure they wanted to approve it, so I was asked to create new plans for the garden that would enclose it as well as renderings of what the finished product would look like.

Now I can draw, but I wanted something spectacular that would really impress the zoning board and my perspective drawings lack a certain je ne sais quoi so I decided to work with a landscape and architectural illustrator,  to create some renderings from my plans and photographs.

The Garden Plan

The new second story master suite creates a covered porch underneath it.  The new footprint will replace the current gardens on that side of the house which we installed six or seven years ago.  A large cedar will have to be removed and many of  the major plants will be dug and relocated prior to the start of construction.

Here are the renderings.  All too often I find clients and others have a difficult time visualizing from a plan view.  I usually resort to a lot of hand waving in the garden with the plan in front of us, but this was not an option this time.

Front view of the garden and addition

The drawings have a lovely traditional quality to them that I really love.  My drawing style is much more graphic and cartoony.

Garden rear view with addition and porch

Tuesday’s Find…Modernist planters

Modernist and geometric elements for the garden can be so clean lined that they lack visual power beyond their form.  This beautiful set of highly detailed planters found at Gordon Watson Ltd goes against that idea.  Made of  perspex, bronze and aluminum (so 70s!), the crisp and clean lined boxes are certainly hard edged, but when planted up the natural soft quality of plants would create a powerful visual counterpoint to their geometry.

Planters designed by Tobias Scarpa, Italian c1972

Monday 52 | A Year of Mondays

There was a finality to typing the number 52.  I’ll admit to feeling a bit wistful.  When I embarked on this journey of discovery, it was to explore what I might  learn about inspiration and creativity by regular and frequent visits to the same small space.  I learned more about myself than either of those two things.

I learned with even greater conviction that I don’t like the constraints of regularity…there were Mondays I wanted to skip…but didn’t.  I learned that seeing out the project no matter where it lead was important despite the regularity of it.  I learned that even in a small space that’s less than 300 square feet, there’s always something special to be discovered or celebrated…I needed to be reminded of that.

Thank you for following along.

In my Reader…Planterworx

Brooklyn based Planterworx fabricates steel planters and features for landscapes.  A friend sent me a photo via a Tweet from the New York Gift Show earlier in the week.  When they deviate from the ‘box’ planters, their work is interesting and their capabilities for custom work is a happy discovery for me as a landscape designer.


A stainless water feature in New York…

Stainless water feature

I was particularly intrigued by this installation at Boothby Square in Portland, Maine…I can think of other applications and silhouettes to use in my own work.

Stainless steel waves
Waves of grass and steel

A Chanel Inspired Garden

Rochelle from StudioG and I are having a garden inspiration throw down.  She frequently uses fashion as a muse for garden inspiration.  I am a hardcore fan of fashion, so when she posted a Hippie fashion inspired post, I challenged her to this one based in Chanel…she accepted.  It’s been a lot of fun putting this together.

Chanel, both the woman and the fashion house, have long intrigued me.  I knew I was on to something when I saw the garden inspired runway from the Spring 2011 Couture Collection shown last fall in Paris.

2011 Chanel couture collection via the New York Times

It’s ironic that Mlle. Chanel, who was a proponent of all things modern has become such an icon of classicism.  Karl Lagerfeld who has been Chanel’s designer since the 80’s has continually reinvented the look while staying within the Chanel design lexicon.   Even the logo looks would make a fabulous basis for a the oh-so-French clipped parterre.

Imagine the interlocking C's as boxwood...

There are specific motifs that have become to signify Chanel style.  I’m going to use five of  those here as inspiration for a garden.

Camellias are an easy place to start…worn first by the mademoiselle and later used as fashion details in a variety of ways.  Last summer I lusted over these flip-flops.

Chanel camellia flip flops

An easy segue…

White camelia

Chanel was influenced by the tweeds and checks found in British country clothes.  She reinterpreted the material using it in what is now considered the quintessential Chanel suit.

Tweeds interpreted by Chanel

Chanel tweeds and checks for the garden…

Dedon's Slim Line Outdoor Chair

Costume jewelry, particularly pearls and chains are another Chanel signature motif…

From the 2006 Spring collection--chains!

And in the garden…

Chanel for a rainy day in the garden...rainchains!

The quilted bag…these have come in every possible style and color…

The classic quilted bag

These ‘quilted’ cabinets would be perfect for an outdoor kitchen…

Quilted Cabinets - Perfect for an outdoor kitchen

And because it is so essentially French…I would design a boules court in my garden just so I could have a set of these.  I would invite over a group of friends, pour some excellent wine and have a party n’est pas?

Petanque (Boules) by Chanel

Tuesday’s Find…a portable greenhouse

This small portable greenhouse from The Elemental Garden struck my fancy.   I don’t have enough space or sun for something more permanent–even a cold frame.  This could also be interpreted as a somewhat easy DIY project with found casement windows and hardware store wheels.

Antique Portable Greenhouse

I can imagine wheeling this around my gardens next spring.

Greenhouse details

This is the perfect size for me.  I don’t start many seeds…just things I can’t easily find in my nursery crawls.

Hinged for warm days...