Departures and Debuts

May is (as they say) busting out all over and it’s not even really here yet.

Today I’m travelling to Little Rock to visit P. Allen Smith’s real Garden Home.

Garden designed by P. Allen Smith
Photograph via  The New York Times

Smith invited 20 bloggers to visit and see the farm, participate in workshops and generally be guests for what I expect will be genuine southern hospitality, great gardens and some cool product pitches.  It will also be great to see people that I don’t get to see often!

While I’m away, The Mansion in May opens and we’re ready…finally!  The house and gardens are absolutely spectacular…the best I’ve seen in the many years I’ve been privileged to participate.  This year I created a small rooftop terrace that is colorful, eclectic and fun.

The Voyager's Terrace

Please come and visit if you can, it’s open for the entire month of May and benefits the new hospice at Morristown Medical Center.

Garden Designers Roundtable: Garden Visits and Lessons

I find that the best way to understand a space is to be in it, to move through it in three dimensions, so I visit gardens every year–sometimes as many as twenty or thirty in a given season.  I have visited great country gardens, pocket gardens, newly planted gardens, abandoned gardens, personal gardens, and public gardens.  Each one that I have spent time in has taught me something about space.

Even a narrow patio can seat 16

The patio (in private garden in Bucks County, PA) above was just an expansive ‘hallway’, but with careful planning and a custom built table it became a functional entertaining area for a large party.  Creating enough space for people to comfortably gather in is important in any garden.

Complex spatial relationships on a small patio

On the covered patio above, the relationship between the seating area, the garage to the left and the garden on the other two sides is human scale.  Portland, Oregon based landscape architect Michael Schultz manipulated the space further by adding a funhouse mirror.   (I would never think to do that…but loved it when I saw it.)

Not set up for conversation!

A lovely perennial border above in Chester, NJ is flanked by two benches.  People sitting on these benches can’t have a conversation – they’d have to yell across the lawn.  A spatial solution could have been found that would have allowed for a similar vignette of two benches but would have taken people’s use of the gardens into consideration.

There are those who come to design from a planting perspective, I don’t.  I know plants and revel in their beauty, but I make gardens for people, not for plants.  Some gardens are designed to be viewed rather than experienced.  Experience trumps a pretty picture for me every time.  Books and magazines can be inspiring, but they don’t really give a sense of space.  For me, as a designer, that’s what it’s really about – how people interact with and move through a space.  To understand that I have to physically be in a space.

To read what other designers think about gardens they’ve visited,  click on the links below…

Fern Richardson : Life on the Balcony : Orange County CA

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque NM




I haven’t been here very much in the past few weeks…this April has been unusual in more ways than just the weather.   It’s been busy…way beyond what is usual.  March was warm so  my super active design season started early…so actually April is more like May–which is always my busiest month.

Here’s what’s been doing…

We moved a big tree.  This sugar maple was 18,000 lbs. and moved about 40′ to its new home.

The tree, just dug, on the move

I’ve been working on a designer show house space…that will open on May 1 with previews next week.  Here’s a link to the Pinterest board, but this week I’ve been running around getting all sorts of details taken care of for that (like ordering the beautiful piece below for the feature wall)…it’s not done yet by the way!


Made in Haiti from a 55 gallon oil drum

I’ve been working on designs for several clients…


A Family Party Space…


And last but not least there’s Leaf.  The spring issue published on April 2nd and we’re already hard at work on the summer issue.


A Raj inspired Patio Umbrella…Tuesday’s Find

Over at the magazine we didn’t end up using this umbrella in our Bollywood Mood piece.  I still think it’s pretty and would love to have it on a patio or deck.

So fun and vibrant!

Here’s the garden inspiration from pages 68-69 of the spring edition of Leaf.

Bollywood inspiration for your garden

If you want the vintage umbrella, it’s available from Mary Ann Jones Antiques.