Hip isn’t a description usually used for garden centers. Jungle, in Brooklyn, is hip. Owner and landscape designer, Amanda Mitchell has created a smart and compelling space in trendy Williamsburg that blends vintage and contemporary, urban and bucolic, rustic and sleek, cutting edge and ancient near the East River.
A brick wall with a bird mural painted by naturalistic street artist Roa, dominates one side of the nursery.
The opposite side has a bluish theme. A baby blue pergola hung with vintage style railroad lamps, a blue structure of unknown use, and in the rear behind a beautifully built pergola that spans the space and next to the diminutive design studio, a patio continued the baby blue theme.
I visited Jungle for a party thrown by Dutch Tub. There were several of them as well as their portable and very clever multipurpose wood stove/pizza oven Outdooroven which was being put to good use making pizzas for the guests.
Spiritual journeys often reveal themselves over time. I am not one for those that are organized. For many years I have found mine in the company of trees. They are a cathedral that moves me to tears each and every time with their beauty and bounty. They give back to the earth like no other; a perfect life cycle.
This spring as I drive all over my Garden State chasing after work, clients, and plants the devastation of our hardwood forests and my most sacred places again brings me to tears. My eyes fill up as I write this. Upended roots and downed trees are everywhere. Broken limbs torn from the hearts of their trunks are wounds that won’t easily mend. Our forests may take hundreds of years (if ever) to recover from two autumns of extreme weather. Yet Mother Nature has a way of fixing herself and providing solutions where there are seemingly none. The dead and dying become part of the perfect circle as hosts and nesting places. So I stop whenever I can and offer whatever constitutes as prayer that the cathedrals will rise again and offer some other soul solace and joy.
Some other landscape and garden designers are celebrating trees in their own way today as part of the Garden Designers Roundtable monthly thematic posts:
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ
Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN
As part of my design crawl in New York the past two weeks, I visited ABC Home and Carpet for some inspiration. The store never disappoints in its merchandise selections or displays. A designer I know says ‘This is where the awesome happens’. As usual I took a ton of photos (with permission) and some of those are on my Instagram feed.
On the second floor, as part of a storewide ‘Slow Design’ story, I saw this chaise designed by Marc Sadler that was constructed from recycled wine barrel staves.
It’s part of a larger group of furniture and accessories being fabricated by Barrique as part of their ‘Third Life of Wood’ program that supports recovering addicts in an Italian rehab facility. They make the furniture and the profits go back to the center. Wow. Here’s some more…
Antonio Citterio’s ‘Poltrona Lounge’ is both classic and contemporary.
Angela Missoni’s ‘Miss Dondola’ swing echos the same color and style that are found in her clothing lines.
Aldo Spinelli’s ‘Sardinia’ chair riffs on early twentieth century furniture design while being completely modern.
The furniture and its message are currently touring the U.S. Here’s a schedule.
Top photo by the author, bottom three photos via Barrique
I’m a fan of contemporary design. Because I work in a very traditional market, I don’t get to use it much in my landscape and garden design work. San Francisco based Scout Regalia has created two sleek products that would be at home on many patios and in many gardens–even traditional ones.
The first is really two products, both raised garden beds. One is available as a kit, the other pre-assembled. Both have a simple, elegant design that would be at home in a traditional or a contemporary garden. I’d love to see other colors added beyond the green used for the braces.
The Raised Garden Kit is essentially brackets and braces and comes with everything except the wood, soil and plants.
The Patio Garden Assembled is a smaller version that is shipped completed and ready to plant.
The team’s second product (and you’ll see what I mean about color in a minute) is also two.
Both take a modern twist on the classic picnic table and bench. Both have coated aluminum parts that are available in 210 colors. The difference is in the wood. The White Oak Table Set (turquoise) is the pricier of the two and is constructed from white oak. The Outdoor Table Set (orange) is constructed of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) redwood.
All photos via Scout Regalia.
Never have I seen so much done with so little. A garden center under the railroad tracks with no running water and no electricity? That’s Urban Garden Center in Spanish Harlem.
Plants, seeds and tools happily co-exist with dumpster dive finds and new merchandise that is used with aplomb, humor and an a sense of style that typifies its can-do attitude.
It’s totally wacky and fantastic. I loved it.
Spanning two blocks under the elevated railroad tracks from 116th to 118th Street, Urban Garden Center is a multi-generational family business with a big heart. They not only serve the immediate community, they work in the retail shop and are committed to and passionate about what they are trying to achieve and against all odds. Water is carted in several times a day in 250 gallon tanks from across the street. Electricity is via generator.
While I was there with my friend Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery of Shop Boxhill, I saw a young couple buying a pot of geraniums for their fire escape (a New York garden space) and a well-heeled Park Avenue type who tried to buy everything he saw…even if it wasn’t for sale! Three of my favorite vignettes are below.
Last year, one of the few things I liked at the Kips Bay Showhouse was Robert Canon’s planters.
This year I at ICFF I liked them even more. When I saw them again this past weekend, these planters were in my mind, one of the most original and creative outdoor products at the fair. They had a original and quirky point of view that would be at home in so many gardens.
Opiary, Canon’s Princeton based studio is creating organic looking, well priced beautiful containers and garden accessories from recycled materials. I’m going to try and arrange a studio visit.
All photos via Opiary.
No pictures for this one…
Do you know anyone who is willing to work for a 25% of the week for free? Many in the landscape design industry do. Here’s how: they do not charge for the initial consultation or other visits to existing clients. During the busiest months, April-May-June, when the phone is ringing with new clients, designers often meet with new potential project key holders 3, 5, sometimes even 10 times in a week. Let’s do the math…
Assume a 30 minute trip each way (this will also for the sake of argument include the time spent on the phone, emailing and prepping for the initial meeting and following up with a design proposal). Let’s also assume a 1 hour meeting – very few I’ve ever done have been less than 1 hour.
Here’s the math for 5 consults a week:
5 meetings = 5 hours + 5 hours travel/prep = 10 hours per week
Now consider that most of those meetings will be after hours or on a weekend which puts them into the overtime category and takes away from the designer’s family and necessary ‘off’ time.
What other professional do you know who would work for 10 hours or 25% of their standard 40 hour work week for free? Why do we?
Last Saturday, after talking about garden design at White Flower Farm, I met up with an old friend and we spent the afternoon in Litchfield, CT touring about and catching up. Our final stop of the day was Laurel Ridge.
There were tens of thousands of narcissus in bloom on fifteen acres of hillside deemed too rocky for farming.
The pasture was first planted in 1941 and is now supported by the Laurel Ridge Foundation. It was a lovely spring afternoon ramble!
I’ve been a member of Pinterest almost since its inception. I use it as place to store ideas both useful and random. I also explore other designer’s boards to see what inspires them and maybe understand a little bit about their creative process. Garden designer, Luciano Giubblei‘s, ideas for parterres blew me away.
The possibilities for these parterres skew the traditional idea and point towards a contemporary evolution of the form.Herringbone patterns, color field painting, Bauhaus textiles, rolling hills of vineyards and traditional parterres all exist as ideas and jumping off points. What’s more, to my eye they make perfect sense and I can visualize every last bit of it.