Slow Home Living…a garden design

It started with a tweet.  My Twitter buddy @slowhomeliving aka Gloria asked a question about her pool’s renovation.  I answered.  For the next two months we worked together developing a master plan for her lifestyle/flower/blogging business to flourish in.  More important than that…it had to work for her family.

Great bones–the centerpiece is the early 19c farmhouse– helped get this project off to a wonderful start.  Like all old houses…nothing was square, things had been added willy-nilly and it had fantastic character.  My job was to unite all of the disparate pieces into a cohesive whole.

The finished pool and back view of the house

I start most landscape designs exploring specific uses and their relationships to each other.  I explore the possibilities for re-imagining the existing space.  In this case there were outbuildings, a raised patio, a pool and an existing vegetable garden.  In keeping with her slow home living philosophy, Gloria wanted to make sure as many of the existing plants and materials were re-purposed as possible.

Re-designed potager

An avid gardener, fantastic chef and professional flower arranger all three needed to be incorporated into the garden spaces.  A 19c feeling needed to work for a very 21c family.

New patio space for entertaining and family dining

Gloria made a trip to the Brimfield Antiques Market and returned with gates, pots and other pieces which were incorporated into the design.

Recycled and repurposed garden ornaments

An entry courtyard was redesigned to create a welcoming stopping point with stronger link between the driveway, house, shed and pool areas.  The existing arbor was left in place and new garden beds were added.

The entry courtyard

There is still much more to be completed…a custom gate for an old stone pilar, woodland plantings, a new front garden and a rose garden are among them.  The beautiful old farmhouse is getting the garden it deserves and Gloria and her family are using their space, swimming in a renovated pool and eating fresh from the garden every night.  They’re slow home living.

Beach towels in the sunroom
Birdfeeder on an out building





My lowly daylilies…

One of the first perennials I bought more than 40 years ago with allowance money was a daylily.  It was probably plowed under when new owners renovated my parents’ house.

I take cast off daylilies (I have no idea what they are) and plant them in my garden with the hope that the deer won’t eat them before they bloom.  This year is the first time it’s happened.  So I’m celebrating my lowly lilies.

Triple twins (these came with the house)
Love the stripe!



Tuesday’s Find…backyard chickens

The current craze for backyard chickens is not something I participate in, but I would love to have these garden chairs!  From the 1940s they say farm yet are simple enough to fit with many garden styles.  If they were mine, I might paint them a different color though.The chairs are from Blitheworld Home in Mt. Kisco, NY in case you’d like to bring them home to roost!

Field Trip: Mariani Gardens

Enroute to Connecticut for a party two weeks ago, I stopped for a second look at Mariani Gardens, an upscale garden/design center in Armonk, NY.  My first visit was four years ago just after it had opened.

At the entrance

Their specific specialty is large B & B (balled and burlaped) trees.  That hasn’t changed in four years.  They have beautiful specimens in very large sizes with very large pricetags.

Large b & b trees in the garden center
Fastigiate copper beeches

When I visited the first time, the parking lot was full, the cafe hopping and all of the design areas well stocked.  When I visited two weeks ago–45 minutes before closing on a Saturday–I was the only customer.

Plant display

Despite the lack of clientele…a closed cafe and and merchandising that looked much the same as it did four years prior, there were some interesting ideas and products to be found.  Mariani has high end furnishings for outdoor rooms from companies like Janus et Cie and Brown Jordan among others.  These were merchandised beautifully–I actually bought a small lantern shown on the side table below as a hostess gift.


The most unusual thing I saw was a Betula jacqemontii (Himalayan Birch) trained as a sort of umbrella.  I’ve never seen a tree trained that way before.


Betula umbrella
Canopy detail

Would I go again?  If I was driving by, certainly.  Would I make a special trip?  Probably not.







Tuesday’s Find…a Gehry gazebo

No I’m not kidding.  No I don’t like it and I’m I hardcore Frank Gehry fan.  I love the corrugated furniture produced for Vitra in the 70s.  The Bilbao and other buildings are incredible and inspiring in so many ways. But this, nope.  No love here, but I thought I’d share it anyway. For a mere $250,000 it can be yours from Modern One in Los Angeles.

Frank Gehry's gazebo???


Back view

To be fair, it wasn’t originally designed for outside, but…just because someone is a great designer/architect doesn’t make everything they do great.