Spring SteelChairs

I usually post on Wednesdays, but we had technical problems yesterday…so here it is on Thursday!

I’m so ready for spring to be sprung!  It’s been unusually cold for the past two weeks.  Since spring hasn’t really made an appearance yet, I thought I’d get the ball rolling with some garden chairs.  As soon as it warms up–even a little bit–I sit outside with my morning coffee and plan my day.  Some days it’s the only time I get to spend in my garden.

I’ve always wanted some classic pinwheel chairs.  I like the way they look although I suspect they might not be as comfortable as I would like them to be.

New Jersey based Chris Smith of Craft Fabricators (who I first saw at the AD Home Design show) took the classic spring chair and made it fun and contemporary.  It comes in just about any color you can imagine and would look fantastic on a patio or in a garden!  It was comfortable by the way…I sat in it for a bit on the show floor.


Fresh take on a spring chair!

P.S. I know the photo is slightly out of focus…I took it with my phone instead of my camera…lesson learned!

Tuesday’s Find…cement table

Sometimes I just see something and say YES!  This garden table was one of those.  Funky and modern, this table would not be easy to use on just any patio or in any garden.  What a statement it makes.  Objects that take a visual stand aren’t for everyone, they have to speak to you in some way–and they have to work with the site they are placed it.  You have to love it.  I’m at a point in my life where I have to really, really love something to actually acquire it.  If this table speaks to you it’s at Wyeth in New York.  I’m going to stop in there when I’m in the neighborhood next week and see if I really, really love it in person!

In my Reader…Perspectives from an Italian Garden

Just when spring was warming up–it snowed this week on gardens in the  NY/NJ metropolitan area…twice.  I started dreaming about being someplace else…anywhere really.   I let Gervais de Bedee take me to his corner of Italy and on his travels throughout Europe via his beautiful blog Perspectives from an Italian Garden.  Always elegant and classic in its point of view, Bedee’s blog also reflects the broad range of his interests from gardens to food to art to interiors.  Here’s a quick tour of some European (plus one from Morocco) gardens…

Villa d'Este, Lake Cuomo


Private garden, Taroudant, Morocco


Potager at Arabella Lenox-Boyd's garden 'Gresgarth'


Townhouse Entry, London


Small garden, El Escorial, Spain


Garden Trend Watch: Rough Refinement

Last Thursday I scouted the Architectural Digest Home Design Show for outdoor furniture and accessories.  I wasn’t just looking for pieces, I was shopping the market for trends and innovations as well.  I found all three–great pieces, emerging trends and technical innovations that will ultimately result in new pieces and trends.  I will post what I found in all three categories over the next week or two, but today I’ll start with a trend forecast.

The most obvious of the emerging trends is something I’m going to call Rough Refinement.  It is the juxtaposition of rough hewn elements with sophisticated design and often other more industrial materials.  These pieces would be at home in a naturalistic garden as well as one that is cool and contemporary.

Douglas Thayer makes benches and other furniture from reclaimed materials and concrete.  The two shown here use ipe reclaimed from Coney Island’s boardwalk.

Reclaimed Ipe and Concrete

Board by Design had some beautiful rocking chairs, but I liked these Japanese inspired lanterns fabricated from blocks of elm and powder coated steel the best.

Japanese Lantern

In a similar vein, architect Eugene Stoltzfus’ Hercules IV table would be at home on a patio or in a secret woodland garden.

Hercules IV table

Last in this trend is the continuation of recycled fragments and industrial parts that are turned into furniture.  Although this has been popular for several years, Arms and Barnes twisted the Rough Refinement idea adding the natural after the industrial with tables made specifically for growing moss that incorporated found pieces and new concrete.

Moss tables

The NY Times alluded to this as a fashion trend this week which I read after I wrote this piece.  Next up will be some furniture and object picks…



Tuesday’s Find…a pair of garden helpers

I have always loved tools–especially garden tools.   Even more than new tools, I love old tools.  Tools that have felt the touch and respect of others and that have the patina of many years of jobs well done.  In celebration of the first official week of spring in the garden I have a duo of antique tools to make the job easier.  First, for all those loads of compost…a wheel barrow from the 1920s.  It has remnants of red paint left on the wheel and an industrial quality.  It’s from Ma(i)snonry in Napa Valley.

Wheel Barrow

The second in my duet of garden tools is a water trolley that is functional and designed to bring water to places where a hose and irrigation don’t reach.  Its from b grover limited home in Dallas.

Water Trolley



March Magazine Madness

March has been particularly good to me and I’m tooting my own horn here.  As a hard core magazine lover, I’m thrilled to be featured in three this month!  This type of press coverage is not a common occurrence around the studio and it couldn’t come at a better time…early spring.  I’m so fortunate to have great clients with great projects who trust me with their property and their dreams.  Bring on Spring!

First, NY Spaces not only mentioned my garden on their cover, but a beautiful editorial was inside…

On the cover and inside!
A Potager

Then, at a dinner party, the hostess showed me a more local publication….love being included as a ‘Great Garden’

Great Gardens!
A nice local plug...

And of course…Horticulture, where I write the east coast half of Design Perspectives.

Suburban Solutions

You can click and enlarge to read any of the articles here.

Design Perspectives
A monthly column by Rebecca Sweet and I
Two designers on a single topic...

If this embaressment of riches wasn’t enough, one of my favorite blogs, Paradis Express gave Miss R a shout out.  It’s going to be a great season.

Tuesday’s Find…an iron horse

Usually I don’t love this kind of 60’s sculpture, but I can envision this steel horse prancing in a meadow garden.  At over 4′ tall and 6′ long, I think it would be just fantastic, don’t you?   It’s from Dixon Lane Antiques in Tarrytown, NY.

Steel Horse
Such a great face!


Tail detail


In my Reader…Earthly Delights

This is probably more a save the date than anything else.  If you live and work in the New York metropolitan region, plan on attending this event on May 21st!  Earthly Delights promises to be an exceptional garden event filled with great speakers, cool garden antiques and rare plants.  It will be worth the drive from Philadelphia or Connecticut too.  You might remember the review of the garden it’s being held in that I posted last spring…

Philadelphia Flower Show 2011

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later.  The 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show was disappointing.  With a theme like Springtime in Paris it should have been filled with romantic, eccentric, fashionable gardens.  I go for the show gardens.  Sure they’re more theater than garden, but these mostly lacked the theater.  There was little originality, less vision and plenty of blooming azaleas.

Being a hardcore Francophile–I speak French, have lived there and have visited Paris on more than one occasion–all I saw were so many missed opportunities.  Did we really need a fake Eiffel Tower or a press board Boulangerie?  Only one garden ‘got’ it completely, two others partially and the rest well…Je m’ennuyais à mort.

What was fabulous was Groundswell’s Allee of Pleached ‘Trees’.  Imaginative, over the top, timely and original.

Parts of Michael Petrie’s Monet inspired garden were fabulous too, especially the ironwork by Greg Leavitt and the shimmery backdrops that gave a nod to the artist’s obsession with light.

A floral designer, Susan Krabill,  paid homage to the underground ghoulish Paris…

and two of the obsessive types who make jewelry (Hollis Bauer) and objects (Mary Pressly) out of seed pods were pretty great.

So was this edible window box from the students at the Barnes Foundation Arboretum.

The rest well, I’ve already said my piece.

Tuesday’s Find…Croquet and cocktails anyone?

I have one of these in my garage.  My lawn isn’t really level enough to play on–we still try–and it’s missing some wickets.  Croquet anyone?

I love croquet parties.  It’s very old fashioned, but fun and competitive.  Add a tall classic summer cocktail like a Tom Collins, great friends and you have a great garden party.

The croquet set is from Marsh Garden Decor…the Tom Collins photo from Mad Men (a recipe is here)


In my Reader…Tokyo DIY Gardening

You know I’m not a huge DIY person.  If everyone did that, I’d be out of business.  BUT, I love Tokyo DIY Gardening.  An open source site for anyone who gardens in overcrowded Tokyo. It is also chock full of inspiration for anyone who believes that plants and gardens of all kinds make our world a more livable place.

Founded by Jared Braterman and Chris Berthelsen the site consists of images of real and imagined green spaces and has interactive maps, participant uploads, photos of private and public gardens and articles about urban greening and gardening.


Garden Design Details: Rustic Wood Gates

One of the most neglected ideas in garden design is that of entry and exit in a garden.  Too often gardens are islands in a sea of turf, shoved against a building or relegated to the property’s edge.  There is an anticipation of delight and surprise when you unlatch a gate or open a door to enter a garden.  These portals are a signal that something’s going to happen–that you are now entering someplace different.

Here are some ideas for rustic wooden garden gates.  These can give a garden a sense of place and age.  Not everything has to be new–the plants are new each spring! All of the gates have great designs.  Some didn’t start out as rustic, but became that way over time.

Rustic stickwork gate
Reclaimed lumber gate
Gate with worn patina
Farm gate
Gate with field stone pier and cupola
Junk gate
Gate to a garden that's no longer there...


Tuesday’s Find…Deck Chair

Okay, so this chair is an sold as an art piece created by infamous British artist Damien Hirst.  Other artists have created some too.  Although I think the originals could be really fun to have, they are also  something to knock off –at a bit less than the $425 price tag for the Hirst original or $325 for the others.

I have a set of folding deck chair frames in the garage that I procured from the side of the road.  So with a few yards of some happy fabric and about an hour’s worth of work, I can have my very own ‘art’ chairs…maybe I’ll sign the legs with a Sharpie.

Chairs by artists (top row) Sir Peter Blake, Gary Hume, Marc Quinn, Sam McEwan; (bottom row) Keith Tyson, Rob & Nicky Carter, Damien Hirst.

If you want to buy an original…the chairs are available from Artware Editions.