A pair of orange planters…

Ever since Tangerine Tango was named 2012 color of the year, orange is just everywhere.  I figure it’s okay to add to that conversation…from a retro perspective.  Aren’t these fiberglass Danish 60s planters cool?

Nana Ditzel planters from the 60s

Alas, they’re in London.  They’re at Sigmar and they’re outrageously expensive.  I think I could make something similar with a little ingenuity and some orange auto body paint.

Note:  My designer blogger friends at Garden Designers Roundtable are posting on first impressions today if you’d like to take a look–all of their posts will be up by noon ET.

Print and Pattern Choices: Mansion in May

I’m trying to nail down some of the details for the show house garden and I’ve narrowed my print/pattern choices down to what I think I want to use. I’ve also experimented with some combinations. These are the details that can make a project sing or fall flat. They always make me nervous.

Initial choices...some editing will be done

Color is important, as is scale and texture just like in a garden bed. Design is design is design…it all follows the same principles. The overall look is this…

The floor will be navy blue...

I’ve been collecting outdoor fabric and trim swatches on Pinterest to make this process easier…I also have a Mansion in May board there to keep track of things.

Late Winter Plants in glorious bloom!

Earlier this week I walked around The New York Botanical Gardens with landscape designer Naomi Brooks of Verdant Landscapes.  The two of us were like kids released into the sunshine after a day too long in school.  Our walk was stop and go as we oooh’d and ahhh’d and took photos of plants in bloom.

Here’s what made me stop and think that I really need to pay more attention to the late winter garden.  I think I’ll challenge myself to make one when I finally settle on a new house.

Prunus mume 'Matsurabara Red'
The lovely native Hamamelis vernalis
Wild and wonderful Edgeworthia chrysantha
Helleborus x ericsmithii 'HGC Silvermoon' holds its blooms up!
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Primavera' was one of many varieties blooming
My favorite viburnum...V. bodnantense 'Dawn'
We all know how much I love Mahonia bealei...

Just a note…The botantical gardens are probably a full zone warmer than my 6B, but in a regular winter many of these are blooming here too.  There, though, the Jasminum nudiflorum (Winter Jasmine) and many of the winter Camellias were already largely bloomed out.



Garden Portrait: Boat’s End, Australia

Since the local bookstore with a great selection of foreign magazines closed I have missed leafing through (and buying) stacks of international design magazines.  Now, unless I’m making a trip to NYC where I now buy and browse, I look for them on the web.  So with that backstory…I was enthralled with Sarah and Roger Budarick’s drought tolerant garden, Boat’s End, in Australian House and Garden.

The garden combines Australian natives and compatible non-natives to dramatic effect.  The scale, color and vistas in this garden is what I’m attracted to.  I can’t grow most of the plants in my zone 6 climate that gets plenty of water.  I can, however, take away plenty of design inspiration!

Photo credits:  top to bottom all by Brigid Arnott.

There was a previous article about the garden in Gardening Australia that goes into much more detail.

Garden Safari!

I was looking for something really fun for a client’s garden wall.  They want something surprising, contemporary and humorous.  These safari ‘trophies’ from Bend certainly fit the bill.

Water Buffalo

Bend also makes some beautifully designed garden tables and chairs.

Drum Table/Stool
The Lucy Chair

All photos from Bend Seating.

Desert Dreams

There’s a fantastic article in today’s New York Times about Arcosanti.  What’s that you ask?  In my mind, it is/was the first eco-concious city of the future.  In other’s it’s the mad idea of architectural genius Paolo Soleri.  Before there was Masdar City (a much more commercial development), there was Arcosanti and Soleri.

I’m not going to repeat what the article has to say, but instead will say that Soleri’s books and philosophy were highly influential on me as a designer–not so much the visual, but the ideas.   I hope I will get to visit one day…it’s been on the list for years!

The Vaults with a view to the desert beyond
The bells that are more famous than the place

View the slide show with images of making the bells here.

Photo Credits top to bottom:  Wikipedia Commons, Organic Nation

Antique Cart Wheels

Last week I was scouring Michaelian and Kohlberg’s warehouse for pieces to use in the Mansion in May show house terrace  and I fell totally in love with a group of cart wheels.  They had amazing iron detail which I love on just about anything and a graphic quality that made them very contemporary even though they were very old.

Incredible detail and handmade craftsmanship

These wheels can stand on their own as sculpture, can be hung on a wall or be suspended from a pergola as a candelabra with led pillars lighting the way.

I’ve always liked millstones and thought they were fine additions to gardens in paths, as fountains or even as free standing sculpture.  I never considered cart wheels as being just as useful and beautiful though.  (I think it might be the folksy wagon wheel thing that I don’t like that kept that door closed.)

So many ideas, so little time.

Garden Color Inspiration: Navy Blue

It’s winter and so I’m thinking a lot about color.  Lately blue, specifically navy blue, looks fresh to me.  I’m thinking about how to incorporate it into a garden scheme–with paint and accessories since there are no true navy blue plants that I know about.  Not as the classic blue and white or blue and yellow but as a focal point or background in its own right.

I’ve had a tough time finding straight navy, more often there are multiple shades of blue–but no navy.

A table of blues...no navy though

Maybe my thinking is ahead of the curve…but not according to Elle Decor who sites navy as the newest interior neutral.  Notice how the green pops with navy as a background in the image below.

Navy blue as a background

A navy blue exterior house paint from Porter’s Paints.  Imagine that as a background for foundation planting.

There are navy blue mosaic sidewalks in Lisbon.  Ideas for patios, fountains and walkways…

Outside blue makes a strong statement, but it is seldom navy.  From one of my favorite fashion blogs, The Sartorialist, are blues including navy.  In an urban environment they just pop visually.

Blues outside...navy looks fresh

Other than the cement color above, here are three navy blues to try as paint or stain.

Three Navy Blue colors to try

From left to right:  Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy HC-154,  Farrow and Ball’s Drawing Room Blue No. 253 and Sherwin Williams Naval SW6244.

Photo credits top to bottom:  TheTimes-Union, Pink Wallpaper, Porter’s Paints, Flickr, The Satorialist, the author

Black and Tan–a dramatic winter palette

During the summer months, the busy corner where these grasses are on the street side of the fence is nothing special.  In midwinter, however, they made me stop, look and shoot some photos.  This bold color palette would be just as dramatic if there was snow…which there isn’t.

Charcoal fence with tan grasses

There are several colors that would be great for a dark fence like this and could make a combo just as dramatic.  Midwinter is the perfect time for some drama in the garden!

Texture and color is what makes this work

Not all greys and blacks are created equal.  Here are three dark hues that can mimic the fence color but not necessarily read as black or grey–although they are.  All are from my local paint stores, so they’re not exotic or super expensive.  Left to right: the closest to a true black is Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black SW6258, Blacktop 2135-10 from Benjamin Moore has green undertones, and another from Sherwin Williams is Bohemian Black SW6988 that has a decidedly plum cast and would be a strong design statement as a fence stain.

Any of these would make a wonderful background for a variety of plantings and would read as a color in winter and up drama quotient when we need it most.

Under the Big Top…Tuesday’s Find!

I haven’t posted a find in a few weeks.  My question this week is why wouldn’t you want this?  It’s happy, nostalgic and contemporary all at the same time.  In a garden it would be a remarkable temporary ‘building’ with lots of uses.

The 1940s circus tent is 10′ x 10′ so it needs a little bit of space, but roll up the sides add a brightly colored table and chairs, add some lighting for the evening hours and some plants and it would be so much fun.  Makes me wish I’d taught my dog some tricks…not everything in a garden has to be serious!

A small 1940s circus tent

The tent is from Unearthed in Madison, Wisconsin.

Sticks without stones in the garden…

Winter is all about branches or sticks if you will.  I like to make things out of sticks although what I construct doesn’t always stay together.  Stick projects always end up looking slightly quirky, which I like.  These aren’t the monumental structures a la Patrick Dougherty who I’ve written about before, or the slick stick offerings of Bleu Nature.  They are just things I’d like to make–some small, some big.

These are actually offered for sale at At West End. They could also hold candles for a garden party. I’d make them.

Simple enough to make and elegant too

I love stick fences and the two below are similar but one is more a screen than a fence.  I’m thinking I’ll need one at the new house (whenever that happens).  The first is from a Pinterest board I have on fences and gates and the second is in the parking lot at Terrain outside of Philadelphia.

Stick screen

A bit different…the verticals are much more permanent than the sticks.

Stick Fence

Last but certainly not least is a twig chandelier.  Lit with some excellent quality LED outdoor candles and whoa…a showstopper hanging outside or in.  The one below is from Collier West.


Color Inspiration: Mansion in May Designer Show House

I’ve been working on the Mansion in May designer showhouse concept.  I’ve titled the space The Voyager’s Lounge.  I have to have sketches in color done in about two weeks so in advance of that I developed the preliminary color story.

The terrace before photos...brown and in need of some love

Since the raw space is so many shades of brown I decided to keep the color dusky rather than slathering on the brights.

Bleached desert hues

I’ll be meeting with several collaborators on-site tomorrow morning so more about that as we progress!