Child’s Play…Tuesday’s Find

This probably wouldn’t pass any safety test.  It comes from the age when hanging by your knees upside down on monkey bars without an adult in sight was the norm.

As a child I used to love to go to the school playground across the street from my grandparents’ home. There were seesaws, a merry-go-round, monkey bars and swings.  I had to cross a busy road to get there.  I don’t have any recollection of an adult ever supervising the crossing or the play.  Our playmates and siblings solved their issues with each other and learned in the process how to deal with the world at large.  We went home (across that busy street) when we scraped a knee…often coming right back to spin, swing and climb again.

This might not be the safest choice, but it sure looks like it created a ton of fun and could again.  By the way…I’m not a proponent of hanging by your knees.


It’s at Tom Gibbs Studio in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Spring Brights in the Garden

Early spring is coming early here this year.  Gardens are bursting with unseasonably warm weather.  Here are two stars of the early spring garden (blooming this week) that are much more interesting and super substitutes for the ubiquitous forsythia.

Cornus mas is a small flowering tree, hardy to Z5 with beautiful exfoliating bark and foliage that makes it a great choice for small gardens.  Here it’s paired with Jasminum nudiflorum (Winter Jasmine), a semi-evergreen low growing shrub that is hardy to Z6.  I love to use it draping over walls.


DIY inspiration…Tuesday’s Find

Many of the objects I post on Tuesdays are impossible to duplicate, but here is one that’s not.

Conservatory Plant Stand

Every spring as I purchase more plants than I have places for, many go on a plantstand that I made out deck stair stringers and posts from my local home improvement store.  It’s not pretty even with the lovely blue stain.  This one is so much more elegant and relatively easy to interpret as a DIY project although it would take years to get the same patina.  I’d put on on my patio for sure.

If you want to take the short cut and just buy one…they’re from English Accent Antiques in  Atlanta.

Elevating Twig Furniture to an Art Form

Connecticut based Laura Spector works with natural materials using traditional rustic/twig furniture techniques and manages to create something totally contemporary and new.  Her work has been published in numerous places yet I must have missed it every time.  As a huge fan of rustic furniture, I’m happy to have found it now.

Balinese Chair
Romantic 18th Century Bench
Arbor with benches
All photos via Laura Spector Rustic Design


Field Trip: Urban Jungle

When I went to Philadlephia last weekend, I made a side trip to Urban Jungle with fellow garden bloggers Robin Horton and Laura Matthews.

Urban Jungle's open garage door entry

Located in the Passyunk section of South Philly, the three year old organic garden center has embraced its creative neighborhood and its limited footprint.  The storefront features two vertical gardens that even in early March were beautiful in the winter foliage colors.

A display of fun containers art and books
Painted concrete floor
A recycled display table

Using the industrial street level space as for pots, accessories and books, the actual nursery is on the roof.

Rooftop nursery getting set up for spring

As someone used to large country gardens, one of things that struck me was that everything was on smaller scale…perfect for a city garden.  Go to Urban Jungle next time you’re in Philadelphia…it’s worth a visit.

A Re-emerging Trend…Tuesday’s Find

Things are in flux.  The economy looks a little bit brighter and that is creating some impetus for collecting again.  Art Deco looks exciting again.  Funny that it was the high style of the Great Depression, but many of my interior design and architecture friends are looking to the clean lines of this pre-cursor to Mid-century Modern so let’s explore some outdoor finds…click on each photo to be taken to the dealer’s site.

A semi circular garden bench circa 1930
Industrial styling in steel and leather circa 1930
A limestone sundial circa 1930


A copper architectural fragment
A concrete and steel planter/water basin circa 1930s
A pair of Deco cool would these be in a courtyard?


Flower Shows vs. Garden Shows

There is an important distinction other than age (183 years) for the Philadelphia International Flower Show and most others…it’s a flower show…not a flower and garden show.  Floral designers, event planners, amateur and professional horticulturalists show and compete alongside landscape designers and nurseries.  This mix all happens inside a vacuous convention center with an industrial roof instead of sky and a concrete floor instead of soil.

I make the distinction because so many cry ‘fake’– ‘just theater’–‘unrealistic’ when it is supposed to be exactly that.  A show of flowers out of season and all jumbled up in new and exciting ways that can lead us to think about them differently.

One of my favorite parts of the show are the evening bags and jewelry made out of seeds, leaves, twigs and other plant parts.  They are super creative.  The one below was as glamorous as any Judith Leiber evening bag.

Gingko leaves, arborvitae foliage, cantaloupe seeds and more make this 'bag'

Another favorite (I’ve written about them in another year here) was Moda Botanica’s (a Philadelphia based floral and event design company) kinetic display of foliage that every viewer could change by manipulating the panels via large hand cranks.  It was super creative.

Foliage, bird netting , bicycle chain and plexiglass were used here

Since the real reason for my trip this year was to cover a display garden we’re featuring in the next issue of  Leaf Magazine you’ll have to wait until April 1st for that and the one major new trend I spotted!

Solar Panel Sense

I have been struggling with the visual impact that alternative energy sources have on the landscape.  I’m conflicted.  I know we need to seriously decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, but often the windmill and solar farms that are increasingly visible…mar the vistas and take up valuable open space that to me is just as valuable as the energy they create.

So there I was, driving (those fossil fuels again) by a local corporate park and Voila! a thoughtful solution that’s a win-win for solar panel installation.  Solar panels are being installed  in the parking lot creating energy for use, shade and shelter for the cars beneath them. They’re being built in every island in a parking lot on land that’s already been paved over…not green space.  They even look good in a retro kind of car park way.

Solar panels installed in a parking lot