Turf parterres at Versailles

Riding in the Backseat around a Curve

Miss R has been in the backseat all summer. Pretend you are on a roadtrip and listening to a story on the radio…the pictures will come after we reach our destination.

In a twist of weather related events and wonder, my landscape design business and my commitment to being the national President of APLD has taken all of my time, leaving little extra for regular blog posts.  Although I feel a nagging sense of ‘it’s been too long’, I’m happy to have my priorities straight and to be able to see my garden and landscape design work come alive. I always feel that the work I do has the power to create profound changes in people’s lives so I put that work before all else.

As a designer I’ve always worked in series, exploring ideas until I feel they’ve come to some kind of satisfactory conclusion for me intellectually.  The thing is though, is that I’m not always aware that a series is developing.  I experiment with ideas and some prove to be fleeting, while others stick around for further clarification. So on to part two of the backseat story.

I had planned a blog post based on some images I had been collecting on my iPhone when POOF! all were lost in a technological glitch.  No, I didn’t back up regularly then, I do now. So in going through what’s left via downloads from Instagram and Facebook, I noticed a thread of thought that’s been percolating into a full fledged idea.  It’s one I want to explore more fully when the opportunities present themselves.  Not all ideas work for all solutions.

I extol my students with the made up commandment ‘Thou shall curve with purpose and grace, thou shall not wiggle all over the place” when explaining how best to design using arcs and curves.  I tend to design with a hard straight edge and soften that with abundant  plantings marrying the geometry with the natural. It works on suburban lots of limited size and is simpler to maintain than lots of curved edges which become obscured overtime.  I didn’t realize I was having a love affair with curves until I started looking back through my images this year.  Here is the progression…

Turf parterres at Versailles

The Orangerie at Versailles in January while I was there just charmed me with its curved geometry and ease of maintenance–other than the topiaries just mow the lawn and cut back the hedge.

Then I was in New York and this long shadow caught my eye.

Sprial ShadowWhile shopping for plants for clients in a green house I whooped with excitement when I found a whole bunch of escargot begonias.

escargot begoniaThat lead to the design for a showhouse garden…

Blairsden Brocade progress shot and completed…

Blairsden completedAnd still yet a project that is currently being built distills those curves into a much simpler form.

Landscape plan curved hedges

These are ideas I want to explore further and evolve.  I guess with all of my time dedicated to straight lines that I really I don’t have any trouble with the curve. I just a bit of trouble finding time to post!

 

 

 

Travel Inspiration for gardens in The Designer

The summer issue of The Designer, APLD’s quarterly design magazine is out.  In the editorial is a piece I wrote about my trip to Morocco last winter and how the patterned surfaces found everywhere there have continued to influence my landscape design work.


What isn’t included there are some of the detail images of that still come to mind when I start to design a garden or, specifically a planting plan, so I decided to share them here. I take dozens of detail images for future reference where ever I go, but seldom share them. They’re my reference material and often don’t make much sense to anyone else out of context–these do I think.

Brick wall with windows Fes

Iron window detail Marakesh

Tile fountain museum of Fes

La Mamoumia Hotel tile detail

 

Art as Inspiration in Philadelphia

I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show last Friday.  It was a fragrant, blooming balm for my winter starved soul.  There was, as always, inspiration everywhere.  This year’s theme was ‘Articulture’ and display and garden makers interpreted the theme broadly.

As I’ve said before, there’s a big difference between flower shows and garden and landscape shows that call themselves flower shows.  Philadelphia is a FLOWER power show and this year, in my mind, the floral designers trumped everything and everyone else.

Not a review per se, these are just a few examples of what I was inspired by this year…and why.

Korean Letter Forms Philadlephia Flower ShowThe sheer size and bold graphic quality of this floral display just wowed me.  Floral designer, Michael O’Neil, AIFD was inspired by ancient Korean letter forms and created a contemporary mediation using bamboo and bloom.  I am inspired to be more fearless in my design choices just by seeing this.

Philadelphia Flower ShowAnother floral design company, Pure Design, inspired by Noguchi, made me think about the poetic quality of plants.  There was a FB discussion about how this chilled those who believe a plant has a soul, but I thought it spoke to simplicity and certain aspects of human’s harnessing of plants for their own desires.

Moda Botanica

In past years, I have been really enthusiastic about Moda Botanica‘s displays.  Except for this soft and super romantic floral sculpture I didn’t love their ode to Storm King this year.  With that said I went back and looked at this twice. It distilled the essence of what I do as a landscape designer down to some very basic ideas. The combination of texture and color as well as natural and artificial was visually powerful for me.

Miniature floral display Philadelphia Flower Show

The current trend for all things gardening in miniature was elevated to an art with this blue ribbon winning display inspired by Grounds for Sculpture by Margareta M. Warlick.  Less then one foot across, its geometric simplicity and attention to detail is a great reminder about how important editing is to the design process.

These are personal picks.  For a more general overview, Garden Design has started to post some images I took for them while at the show on their Facebook page.

 

Jardin Majorelle

Garden Visit: Jardin Majorelle

I first read about Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh, Morocco in the early 1980s in a fashion magazine story about Yves St. Laurent.

Jardin Majorelle

YSL and his partner Pierre Berge had bought the property, saved it from demolition, and set about restoring it. From the first brilliant blue photo I saw, I knew I wanted to stand in and experience this garden, not just look at it in pictures.

Noon shadows Jardin Majorelle

Originally designed and built in the 1920s by artist Jacques Majorelle who painted its walls blue and its details brilliant shades of yellow, green, orange and red off set by chalky tones of turquoise and green.

Shade house Jardin Majorelle

He collected plants in his travels and opened his garden to the public.  By the end of his life, however, he had to sell it and it deteriorated to the point that it was going to be leveled for a new Marrakesh hotel.

fountain and garden Jardin Majorelle

For me, Majorelle is about the interplay of color, water and light. It is less about its collection of 300 plants.  Their grey Mediterranean tones are counterpoints for bursts of bold, sun kissed color.

Jardin Majorelle Marrakesh

St. Laurent was born and raised in North Africa. He didn’t move to Paris until he was 18.  The light, color and texture of this place was as much a part of who he was as the rarefied world of the couture in Paris.  He often lived and worked at here until his death in 2008.  There is a simple memorial dedicated to his memory.

YSL memorial Majorelle

Having been warned, I went very early, before the tour buses arrived, and the garden got crowded.  I stayed for several hours watching the light and shadows.  I was transported by Majorelle’s joyful interplay of art, gardens, and fashion. Go if you can.

Pergola Jardin Majorelle Colored pots and reflecting pool Jardin Majorelle Jardin Majorelle

 

Concrete porch

Garden Design Details: Stenciled Concrete

I’m working with a landscape design client who has a limited budget and a concrete patio that will be re-furbished.  Although she opted for paint and a fun outdoor rug, we discussed the option of stenciling an ornamental (read not stone or brick) pattern on the pad instead.

It’s not often that there’s a technique so transformative that it can be a  simple DIY project or an elaborate professionally done detail.  To start–a Before and After from Grace Reed a professional faux painter from Dallas.  Why not set the bar high?

Concrete porch

And after.

Stenciled Front Porch

The same pattern was used by artist Ray Redondo as a detail.

Stenciled concrete

These patterns can be complex or simple, rustic or sophisticated. Some ideas can be easily achieved.  The concrete has to be cleaned and prepped before any stenciling is done, otherwise it won’t last.  There is a great breakdown of the process on Concrete Network and there are YouTube tutorial videos there also.

Road and parking lot symbols are stenciled.  Here’s a take on a word stencil.  A simple hello..

Simple and elegant organic floral motifs that peak out from the sides of a space…

Stenciled concrete patio

…or take the same idea and create an allover pattern.  The one below is from Royal Design Studio.

Concrete stenciled patio

Get inspired by street art stencils and graphic patterns.  Banksy uses stencils.  Polish street artist Nespoon uses doilies as inspiration and stencils.

Nespoon doily stencil

A further interpretation of this idea is a single color stenciled rug.  The one below found on Pinterest and the one above are stenciled on top of concrete paving.

stenciled rug

Small medallions can be used to break up a solid block of color or again, used as an all over pattern.  This is probably the simplest of all the stenciling techniques.  The two below are from Design Sponge and the Los Angeles Times Blog.

Stenciled medallions on concrete patio

Concrete stenciled patio

I really wish that I’d had the opportunity to explore these first hand on a project, but I will with another client on another project!

Terra cotta floor tiles

Garden Inspiration: Tile Medalions

After a trip, sometimes I don’t see nuggets of ideas until I look at my images.  I chose the shots after all, so there is some vague through line.  So here goes.

When I was in Chicago two weeks ago (was it that long?) some friends and I visited the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens.  The landscape or what’s left of it, is very formal and was designed by Jens Jensen early in his career and didn’t really have his signature prairie style imprint.  What interested me more than that, if you view my images were two flooring patterns.  One inside the house on the second floor and the second on a small balcony off a bedroom.

Terra cotta floor tiles

The second floor pattern in the house incorporated varying squares of granite, terra cotta and glazed squares.  It was worn and beautiful.

Balcony tiles

A small balcony- in disrepair and shot through the locked screen door–off a guest room  incorporated the same patterned glazed squares and bluestone.  Getting closer to my outside design inspiration.

 A small central medallion or an entire pathway could be created using these tiles…but finding frostproof ones?  That didn’t happen until a few days later in Detroit when I visited Penwabic Pottery.  I bought two stoneware house numbers that are frostproof and meant for outside use to experiment with.

Stoneware numbers from Pewabic Pottery, Detroit

I’m going to make an address stepping stone or wall piece that combines those numbers with a previous and different trip’s inspiration – the inlayed street markers in New Orleans.  They fascinated me when I was there and have stuck with me in the inspiration memory banks.

New Orleans Street sidewalk number

I’m not sure yet  if what I make will be brick (a sub for terra cotta) and bluestone or bluestone and granite–both will go with my early 20th century cottage. Somehow all of this inspiration adds up if I let myself be free enough to connect the dots.  I’m sure there will be a pathway or a medallion in a client’s future garden once I get the technique down in mine.

Urban Garden Center NYc

Field Trip: Urban Garden Center NYC

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.

Urban Garden Center NYc

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.

Display at Urban Garden Center NYC

 It’s totally wacky and fantastic.  I loved it.

Chairs on a chain link fence NYC

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.

Water at Urban Garden Center NYC

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.

Art Chair NYC

Display at Urban Garden Center NYC116th street Urban Garden Center NYC

contemporary parterres

Garden Inspiration: Luciano Giubblei’s Parterre Ideas

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.

contemporary parterres

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.

 

Garden Design Magazine

Wake Up! American Garden Design Enthusiasts

Many of you know that Garden Design magazine has sadly folded.  That in itself isn’t surprising given the economic climate for print publications.  Print magazines have huge overhead, cumbersome lead times and ever increasing competition from the marketplace.  What I found shocking was how small its circulation was- 189,741.

Garden Design MagazineSome will moan about its elitist slant.  What is it about our exterior design community that it can’t find inspiration in, celebrate and aspire to the very top levels of design?  I doubt if all of Architectural Digest’s 800k regular readers can afford or even want what is in that publication yet they obviously see enough value in it to buy a copy.

If we, as a design discipline and community, want to be taken seriously, then we need to support publications at all levels of the marketplace, not just those that cater to the weekend warriors who relegate us to the DIY sector.  Landscape design and landscape architecture are serious, complex disciplines that can inspire within and without.  We need American publications that reflect our diverse economy, interests and regions and we need to embrace those that show us the best of design outside at every level.

 

 

Paint Can planter

Garden Trends: Dumpster Style

If you haven’t figured it out from previous posts, I’m having a visceral and negative reaction to quaint upcycling. Please do not show me something else made out of pallets.  Yuck. A good dumpster dive involves a deep understanding of Wabi-sabi and the beauty of objects just as they are, not as we would like to pretend them to be. Dumpster Style uses objects just as they are found, with minimal intervention.

Paint Can planter
Tape is the only designer additive here
 image via Thea’s Mania

Of course Dumpster Style’s found objects (treasures?) can be used for another purpose, but the difference is, is that they maintain their original integrity. There is a romanticism in the purity of  these objects.  They don’t need to be masked, they can be used with minimal ‘design’ interference from well meaning and overly industrious upcyclers.

Tin Can shingles
Can bottom shingles
image via Pinterest

Somewhat nutty, the roof garden below clearly has respect for what the objects were in a thoughtful and stylized way.  Originally from Apartment Therapy, I shared this one on Leaflets back in July and it spurred a lot of discussion.

Dumpster Style Garden
Rooftop Dumpster Style Edible Garden
Image via Apartment Therapy

As for the Wabi-sabi, a quote from the very first page of Leonard Koren’s wonderful book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers sums it up:

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of things unconventional.

And sometimes it’s just all about the dumpster.  Artist Oliver Bishop-Young hasn’t changed much about this dumpster…or has he?

Dumpster planter Oliver-Bishop Young
Planted Dumpster Style
recycled-urban-guerrilla-garden
Dumpster Planter from artist Oliver Bishop-Young
 images via Oliver Bishop-Young

Click for more Dumpster Style on Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

Winter Gardens

Garden Designers Roundtable: Winter Inspiration

I’m totally obsessed with winter gardens.  The thing is though, by spring, just like everyone else I get caught up in the sexier spring and summer seasons and completely forget to plant for winter.  This year I’m going to try and change that.

Winter Gardens
Seed Pods
Winter Gardens
Winter Grasses

Most hope that permanent structures and some evergreens will be enough in winter, but I’m more interested in other elements that are unique to the season that will be as interesting and visually satisfying as other seasons.   There are plants beyond evergreens that add to the winter garden, but they require skill and maintenance to look good throughout the season.  Evergreens create bones and a backdrop and help to make things work in March and early April when just about everything else looks really crappy.  They, along with interesting and exfoliating bark, sing when there is snow.

Winter Gardens
Heptacodium miconiodes and evergreens in snow

As a designer, what I’m really excited about is creating a neutral and textural  garden story for winter that combines plants with structural elements and shadows to create a complex and interesting space.  I don’t need a lot of color in January like I do in June.  For me, winter is fairly neutral. The flat, blue quality of our eastern winter light with its long shadows lends itself to thoughtful color and texture juxtaposed with shadow play.

Winter Gardens
Winter Grasses and Stone Wall

Although the climate and light are different there, a visit to the Denver Botantic Gardens  spurred my interest in pursuing winter garden design even further.  Above, the neutral color palette makes this swath of mixed grasses have even more drama than it would have at the height of the summer. Too many people cut grasses down too early.  Wait until the end of February for that chore and reap the rewards.  Snow can make them look a bit untidy, but white and tan is an beautiful color combination.

Winter Garden Interest
Shadow play on Stone
Winter inspiration at NYBG
Shadow ‘allee’ at New York Botanical Gardens

Two ways to consider structure in the winter garden are as a canvas for shadows created by the long low light (above) and as as structural focal points (below).

Winter Garden Inspiration
Columns providing structure

A third, more fleeting way to add cold weather structure is to actually incorporate opportunities for ice to form, or to use it in big chopped up chunks as a winter feature where there was water in warmer weather.  When I lived closer, I used to make a pilgrimage to see the huge and jewel-like ice crystals on the Delaware River in mid and late winter, but I never actually considered this idea for a garden until I saw the two examples below, both at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Water Feature with Ice
Monumental ice formations on a water feature
Winter garden inspiration
Ice ‘boulders’

Inspiration is everywhere…even in January.

For more inspiration, try these ideas from the other Garden Designers Roundtable blogging designers:

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Jenny Peterson : J Petersen Garden Design : Austin, TX
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN
Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Gilded Garden

Trend Watch: The Gilded Garden

Opulence isn’t a dirty word.  After years of frugal garden and DIY design options ie. the pallet craze and other recycled madness, many (including me) are ready for a sense of luxury.  Small and large, these indulgences give hope to dreams and aspirations inside and out.  An emerging trend points in that direction for outdoor details and can be realized by those who prefer  DIY options as well as those who don’t.

Gilded Garden

The Gilded Garden is about gold surface treatments.  Aged with the patina of use and slightly rustic, its roots are in other design disciplines, notably architecture, fashion and furniture.

Gilded Garden Inspiration 2Natural elements take on a completely different look when gilding is applied.  They are jewelry for the table or garden.  This can be done with paint, gold leaf, or other products such as Rub and Buff which are readily available online and in craft stores with easy to follow instructions.Gilded Garden Pots

Pots and other vessels are the easiest thing to give the Midas touch.  Fences, statuary and other garden accessories become more than supporting players when given a bit of gilding. The difference in this look is its restraint.  Even when a large element is a glittering focal point, the Gilded Garden has accents of gold that delight, rather than taking it over the top.

Gilded Garden Inspiration 3

If you are looking for some more inspiration, try my Pinterest board, Gilt Complex.  I’ll see you after the holidays. Enjoy them with friends and family!

Image Credits (top to bottom/left to right) Givenchy –Trek Earth
 –
Florizel/
Neiman Marcus –
Martha Stewart Weddings-
Abbey & Morton/
Gardenista-
Ellen Johnston, APLD-
Design Sponge/
VXLA via Flickr-Red Online-Ethnically Chic

 

 

Garden to Table DIY

Garden to Table- Simplfy the Holiday DIY

I have so little time this year for holiday DIY projects that I’ve been looking for super simple ideas.  I always lean to those that can use seeds pods, cones and whatever else I already have on hand.

Here’s one that could be done with a huge variety of berries and napkins…I have some handwoven ones a friend made and some berries just outside the window…

Garden to Table DIY

This also makes me think I need to plant more things just for this season…things with berries and seed heads that will persist into the winter. The berries above are Charming Fantasy Snowberries from Monrovia.  The napkin image is from Pinterest.

Nectaroscordum siculum

Garden Designers Roundtable: Plants, Memory and Dance

I have reached an age when I am able to stitch together seemingly disparate memories into a fluid life’s story. The ability to see, the kind of sight gained through years of training, observation and memory, is what leads me to connect plants to memory. They are visual cues to the young girl whose book Let’s Imagine took dancing feet to far off and exotic places just by closing my eyes. Since a very young age I have had a fascination with Fred Astaire’s dance and style. Like so many young girls I wanted to be a ballerina. I still tap my gypsy feet to the slightest beat and have spent many, many solo hours on a crowded club dance floor lost in a my own world of sound and movement. My lifelong mantra has been “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” (Thank-you Kurt Vonnegut.)

This dancing, swirling memory trail leads me back to plants. When I see maple samara twirling down from branches above, I think corps de ballet. When I see a grove of  leaning, gnarled trees I think of dancers and want to be among them. It’s a palpable, visceral feeling of memory and imagination. So, indulge me and let’s play Let’s Imagine.

Read the clue in each image’s caption and then close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful dancers you’ve ever seen.  Yes, plants even rooted in the ground as they are, do dance…

Nectaroscordum siculum
Ballerina
Edgeworthia
Pas de deux
Cercis canadensis 'The Rising Sun'
Tap
Blue Agave
Sway
American Beech
Arabesque
Ferns
Pirouette

For more memorable dance partners, try these Garden Designer’s Roundtable posts:

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA
Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA
Rochelle Greayer:  Studio ‘g’ : Harvard, MA
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA
Thomas Rainer : Grounded Design : Washington, D.C.

Garden in New Orleans

Postcard from New Orleans

I’m in New Orleans for the first time.  I’m representing APLD as well as speaking at the International Pool, Spa and Patio Expo.  I took the morning to walk around the Garden District for a few hours before setting up shop in the convention center.

The Uptown neighborhood is served by trolley and has varying architecture, mostly dating from the 19th century. Greek Revival and a regional Victorian style, the Raised Center Hall Villa, are the predominant architectural styles. There is a specific regional style to the gardens in the district.  One of the most obvious is the layering of clipped dwarf shrubs.  Foliage texture is used to great advantage.  It’s fall and just before winter Camellia season so not much was in bloom.  It was surprising to see camellias used as hedges.

Garden in New Orleans
Clipped and layered foliage texture
Layered planting in New Orleans
Layered and clipped

Iron work, one of the icons of New Orleans’ architectural details, is everywhere, with cast iron trumping forged work.  There are balconies, gates, fences and decorative grates punctuating just about every building and street.

Iron balcony New Orleans
Cast iron balcony
Ironwork Garden District in New Orleans
Cast and forged elements in a fence and gate

Houses have deep porches or shady courtyards to offer cooler places to be outside.  I’m sure that’s the respite from the heat and humidity is matter of degree in August and September.

Layered planting and ferns on a front porch
Front Porch with massive ferns
Shades on a front porch in New Orleans
Shades on a front porch in New Orleans

Perhaps the thing that was the most fascinating from a plant point of view was the Resurrection Ferns (Polypodium polypodioides) growing wild and freely on the live oaks.   Talk about vertical planting and urban greening…

Resurrection Ferns
Resurrection Ferns on a live oak

Virtual Wanderlust…Le Pavillion de Galon

Every now and then I get sucked in.  I wander off my intended path and Voila! I find something wonderful, better yet when the possibility exists to stay there.  I love the gardens at Le Pavillon de Galon, a bed and breakfast in the south of France.  The balance between formal structure and wild plantings is something I try to achieve in my own designs.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

le pavillion de galon gardens
View through the garden to the chateau

The gardens have been recognized by the French Ministry of Culture and Environment as ‘remarkable’.  I agree.

Garden at Le Pavillion de Galon
Wild and clipped juxtaposed
the gardens at Le Pavillion de Galon
A planted spiral interspersed with olive trees
The long low light

Let’s go and have lunch!

Lunch in the garden
Holy Schist stone at Chanticleer

Carved in Stone

There’s a current and rather annoying trend to share words of wisdom in graphic form on Pinterest and Facebook.  I’ve been known to share said same on the former as the link proves. These are careless, superficial toss-offs pearls of wisdom or observation that resonate for a few seconds and then we move on. It’s the short attention span, instant gratification world we live in. But what if we believe in something enough to memorialize it in stone? Here are three who did.

If you decide you have something to say that deserves to be carved in stone, some stoneyards offer the service, but if not, then just visit your local headstone (aka gravestone) fabricator…they’ll do it for you.

Benzinger Winery Insectary Trellises

Barrel Stave Garden Trellis

Before I start dashing around this morning I wanted to share this with you.  While in California two weeks ago with APLD, I visited Benzinger Family Winery in Sonoma.  They have an incredible biodynamic operation that among many other things includes an insectary.

Benzinger Winery Insectary Trellises

I keep on thinking about these beautiful, sculptural trellis structures in the insectary that were in part made from re-purposed barrel staves and wondering how I can interpret the idea in a client’s design.

Black shade sail Bedessono Hotel and Spa

Garden Designers’ Roundtable: Details make the Design

I’m a collector of details.  Often when visiting gardens, as I did in Northern California last week, it’s the details that stick in my mind’s eye.  I muse on how I’d use them in a garden design.

Attention to the details in a design is what makes it sing.  When you add the details up and they are layered and nuanced, they make a beautiful whole.  Generally, I find places for details as well their ability to unify a design idea and to make visual relationships work are overlooked. Either there are too few details or they haven’t been edited well enough. Or, maybe I’m just cynical and jaded from visiting too many gardens (can one do that?), but in most of them the details are -in my opinion- more interesting than the whole.

Black shade sail Bedessono Hotel and Spa
Jaunty black shade sail at the Bardessono in Yountville

So, here, in no particular order (mostly because I’m jet-lagged and swamped with work) are some lovely details from the last part of my trip.  I haven’t been able to completely digest all that I saw, so enjoy my un-edited brain dump and use them for your own inspiration!

If you’d like to read my previous post on the courtyards at the Bardessono Hotel OR if you’d like to read what other designers think about the details, try these:

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

 

Garden Color Inspiration: Black

A few years ago, when Paul Bonine’s book Black Plants was released everyone went gaga over the drama of black foliage and flowers, it’s taken a while for everything else to catch up.

Black Plants

Black has long been part of the garden via ironwork, but now I’m seeing, in my real and virtual travels black walls, accessories, and all other uses outside.  If navy blue was surfacing as a trend earlier this year, black certainly is now.  Here are the ideas.

Small patio wall and black chairs
image via The Guardian

Black decking and walls for a contemporary home.

Black decking and walls
Image via Design Milk.

A similar theme in a more rustic setting.

Black house wall as a patio foil
Image via femina

Black planters…the green just pops!

Black planters
Image via the author

Black cushions draw focus to the otherwise neutral space.

Black cushions
Image via la bisuiterie

Beehive Structures

Wayward paths are a curious thing.  My post last week about dovecotes and a quick look at some things I had pinned led me down this particular road.  I’ve become totally intrigued with beehive shaped structures and thinking about how to adapt them in my garden design work.

Ireland
Clochans, monastic cells in Ireland
Beehive structures
Shade and storage built by women in the Sudan
Syrian beehive structures
Earthen beehive houses in northern Syria

Beehive ovens called horno are tradtional in the Southwest United States and Mexico and were used by both Native Americans and settlers.  There are also traditional variations on that theme in Eastern Europe and South America.

Traditional adobe horno
Pizza oven via House Beautiful

As a side note, (and I realize the connection is random) I also find it interesting that many of these structures are in areas of the world that are in extreme political and social upheaval including Syria and Sudan. Ireland is in economic turmoil. Incidentally, and not shown here there are beehive dovecotes–pigeon houses actually–in Egypt.

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!

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.

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.

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!

Zip Tie Garden Inspiration

Before the mad rush of holiday preparation began I spent a leisurely afternoon walking in New York. I wasn’t looking for garden inspiration, but I found it.

Flaming Cactus from The Animus Arts Collective was still up in Astor Place. I’ve used zip ties for a variety of garden projects, but this transcended those. Similar to the yarn bombs in Pioneer Square in Seattle, Flaming Cactus transformed Astor Place into more than a walk through…I wanted to explore a place I’d been to and through thousands of times.

The cube and cactus at Astor Place
Looking across Astor Place from Cooper Union
The old Cooper Union building and a cactus
Cactus on 4th Avenue
Detail of a Flaming Cactus

I can think of a hundred things I now want to cover in zip ties…dead trees and lone fence posts being the first ones. You?

Leaf…a sneak peek at the cover

It’s finally here.  All of the hard work, steep learning curve and sleepless nights will culminate the launch of the preview issue of Leaf Magazine on Monday at 3 pm ET.

Because I can, as one of the founders and editors of the mag, I’ll give you a preview.  The cover below is a garden designed by Topher Delaney and photographed by Saxon Holt.

Inside the magazine you’ll find an eclectic mix of all things related to design outside from gardens, to furniture, to art installations, videos,  and even fashion.  If you’re not a subscriber yet, it’s not too late, click here or pick up the links on Monday at 3 pm ET on our Facebook page or Twitter account @leafmag.  Speaking of Twitter…if you want to share ideas and comments with us and generally celebrate our launch, we’re having a Twitter launch party the same day at #leaflaunch at 6 pm ET.  Hope to see you there!

Fashion in the Garden…Plaid!

The fashionista in me goes into full swing in late August.  The big fall magazines are released and I’m all in.  My work as a co-founder of Leaf magazine has made this annual ritual of mine have broader meaning, but that doesn’t mean I don’t focus on what I think is fun either.  So without delay, one of the single biggest trends for fall is Plaid…the resurgence of Red is a secondary story.  Most of the time they play well together.

Here’s how I interpret them from a garden-y perspective…

In the beginning there was the big outdoors where plaid has always been a player…

Flyfishing from a vintage issue of Life Magazine

Then there was the plaid we took to school that could easily go out in to the garden today.  Remember the ubiquitous plaid thermos?

Plaid lunch box

Now things have been slightly updated. The fall cover of Wool People magazine.

Cover of Wool People Magazine

But plaid is still plaid and can work while we work in the garden.  Pruners and plaid can play together…

Woolrich Acorn Hill Vest
Vintage Plaid Shirts from Urban Outfitters
Plaid Welllies

And just in case you have to pick up a call…

Plaid iPhone case from Abercrombie

And if you’re like me…you need your glasses to see who’s calling…

Vintage plaid eyeglass frames

So put on some plaid and head out into the cool morning and enjoy the coming fall!

Leaf Magazine…Design Outside

I have a HUGE announcement!  Rochelle Greayer of StudioG, Lynn Felici-Gallant of Indigo Gardens and I have been hard at work getting ready to launch a new digital magazine this fall!

LEAF will cover everything related to design outside and how we live our lives beyond our back (and front) doors.  Subscriptions are free and easy…just click the logo above and complete the two line subscription form on our homepage.

You’ll get an announcement in your emailbox with a link every time we publish…no spam–you have our promise on that!

You can also follow LEAF on Facebook and Twitter.