A Month of Sundays – Cold Beet Salad

A few months back I stated that I would be adding other content to Miss R–exploring things outside of gardens and landscapes. I love food, so this may turn into a once a month seasonal series.  For those of you who follow my Instagram feed, you know that I go to a local Farmer’s Market almost every Sunday morning from May to November.  The image below is a collage of what I bought in June.

month of sundays 1 1024x1024 A Month of Sundays   Cold Beet Salad

I’m a huge supporter of these local, weekly markets and have been going regularly, in season, since they started almost 20 years ago.  I don’t grow my own.  What you may not know is that I also love to cook.  I’m not a recipe follower beyond the first time for something completely new and foreign.  After that I riff and local, organic, fresh ingredients add to that spontaneity.  I started cooking this way when I lived in France where local markets were plentiful and had ingredients that weren’t at that time available in American grocery stores. Here’s what I made from the beets pictured…

Cold Lemony Beet Salad

This is my interpretation of a classic cold beet salad that won out over the cold borscht I was channeling from my great Aunt Julie. This salad is super easy and would make a great addition of ‘red’ to a Fourth of July red, white and blue buffet.

Ingredients

4 medium fresh beets – yellow, red or Chiogga (these are the heirloom ones that are candy striped when you slice them–they are super pretty!)

1 large shallot 2 cloves of garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp of balsamic glaze

1 T lemon zest

1 T best quality extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Boil the beets in about 3″ of water until easily pierced with a fork–about 15 minutes.   (Save the tops to saute later if you want–they’re delicious). Drain and set aside to cool and peel. Slice shallots very thinly. Cut cooled and peeled beets into 3/8″ x 2″ logs (don’t be fussy about this, but this is the best size–trust me). Combine lemon zest, beet logs and shallots in a large bowl. Mince and smash garlic and whisk with lemon juice, balsamic glaze and oil to make the salad dressing–adjust to taste if too tart, but remember the beets are super sweet.  Toss with beet salad and chill.  Makes 4 large servings.

beets in a bowl 1024x1024 A Month of Sundays   Cold Beet Salad

I also post what I make to Instagram, so in a way the series has already started–without the recipes.  This what the beet salad looked like…now you can riff on your own.  Enjoy!

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LABELS: Farmer's Market Leave a comment

A Garden Unexpected…Field of Dreams Redeux

Foxgloves were blooming everywhere when I last visited what I call A Garden Unexpected in New Providence. I wasn’t just driving by this time, but deliberately went to see what was blooming in early summer.  What I found was no less delightful than the first time I stumbled across this field.  I expected coreopsis (there was some mixed in), but the big show was daisies.  Hundreds of thousands of them spread over the five to six acre meadow tucked behind soccer fields and in between corporate headquarters winding around the woodland edge.

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The walk through the meadow is an abandoned fitness trail that was probably built in the 90s by Lucent who is the biggest of the corporate neighbors to this space.  It was a totally enjoyable stop that made my day slow down and much, much better than it had been.  The field near the corner of off Mountain Avenue and Diamond Hill Road in New Providence if you’re local and want to visit.

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LABELS: Gardens, New Jersey Leave a comment

Trendspotting: Honeycomb

Bees are in the news, so it’s totally understandable that bees and bee things should emerge as a garden trend. Recently I saw a wonderful hose pot in a garden I was visiting and have tried to no avail to find it.

wisteria+bee Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Image via  Miss Trixies Favorite Things

So that leads to honeycomb.  Artist Laura Kramer’s crystal encrusted wasp combs were on display when I was last at ABC Carpet and Home. Once I saw them, I started seeing honeycomb patterns everywhere.  I don’t think it’s just the power of suggestion…

HC 1249041 C de Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Image via ABC Carpet and Home

Honeycomb patterns have been happening in fashion and interior design for a while so why not gardens?

Gucci hive dress Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

pod 1 Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Top image via Gucci , bottom image  via CamPierce

It’s a small idea that can add nature’s geometry to traditional or contemporary garden styles. The pattern can apply to tiles, trellises, fabric and rugs, and even furniture.  A few ideas…

 Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Honeycomb wire chair above via Terrain.  Honeycomb modular wall trellis via Flora below. (These are available at  Jungle, BTW)

COMBINATION %C3%BCbersicht 1 Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

Old is new, and honeycomb hexagonal terracotta tiles are right on trend.  The yellow outdoor fabric sports a variation on the theme.  And the turf tiles in the very bottom image of a small Paris garden via (translated)  The Yellow House on the Beach are an original take on honeycomb.

terra cotta honeycomb tiles Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

honeycombyellow 500x500 Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

rue vignon outdoor patio Trendspotting:  Honeycomb

If you want more ideas, I’ve assembled a Pinterest board just for honeycomb inspiration.

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LABELS: Design, Garden Design, Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories, trellises 4 Comments

Garden Designers Roundtable: Maintaining a Grand Plan

I had the privilege last week of free and unfettered access to one of America’s great country estates, Nemours. Happy for a working day out in a grand garden I had only heard about, I went.  Nemours, in Delaware, was built by a duPont and the gardens and mansion have just re-opened after a $40 million renovation.

The grand axis at Nemours Mansion 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable: Maintaining a Grand Plan

Built as a love letter to his second wife (who did not love him back)  in 1907, A. I. duPont had the money and the means to build a European style pleasure garden complete with grand vistas, follies, fountains and enough formality and gold leaf to awe just about any visitor.  The most impressive golden object (they’re 24K gold leaf) at Nemours is a garden sculpture titled ‘Achievement’ in the grand allee.  Self aggrandized irony in that choice?

Formal Parterre at Nemours 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable: Maintaining a Grand Plan

There are 4.5 miles of clipped hedging including boxwood, privet and barberry in the gardens.  Less invasive and lower maintenance choices were not made as part of the renovation.  There are acres of annuals.  A.I. duPont  had a staff of more than 300 to prune, pinch back, weed and maintain the formal gardens as well as the estate’s farm.  Today the staff is much, much, smaller and reliant on chemical solutions rather than the inexpensive labor-centric, mostly organic practices of 1907.  When labor became too expensive, chemicals became the cheap solution.

greenhouse at Nemours 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable: Maintaining a Grand Plan

In its heyday, there were orchards and a formal potager, and there were greenhouses, now in a state of abandon, not far from the house.  It was self-sustaining in a way that few large properties are even now.  The original vision for the property included these details – food, cut flowers for arrangements, and homegrown bedding plants.  It was a working integrated estate.  Now, as a garden museum, it’s working core isn’t evident.  The grape arbor from the original potager is being replanted with table grapes, but the rest of it has been paved over for parking.  The pumphouse and root cellar are still there.  The only other remnants of Nemour’s farm are a few old pieces of machinery that were left in a forgotten corner of a barn and are set quaintly out in a field as if they didn’t matter much.  Most of the producing farmland was sold and  is now part of a state park.

These bygone estate gardens, which we should consider museums of our own garden history, are unsustainable without huge, well-trained staffs of gardeners and the working parts that served them.  Their pristine (if somewhat skewed in their reverence) ideal is expensive to maintain.  The pleasure gardens were never meant to be natural to begin with.  I’m sure there are ways to include more sustainable practices, the types employed when the estate was first built, but it takes imagination and not a little bit of knowledge to get them there without legions of low paid workers.  But wait!  Isn’t that who we employ to cut our own lawns and mulch our own beds? Few of them have training or practice organic gardening either.  What’s wrong with us?  Why do we seek to maintain (outside of a garden museum) the pristine yet false ideals of a world long gone when cheap labor needs to be replaced with chemicals who do our earth such great harm?  A little bit of mess is a good thing for all of us and the planet we live on.

For more  thoughts about maintaining gardens from designer/bloggers,just click the links below.

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Mary Gallagher Gray : Black Walnut Dispatch : Washington, D.C.

 

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LABELS: American Architecture, Gardens, Landscape Preservation, romantic ideal, sustainable landscapes 18 Comments

The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the Street

I live in a densely populated fairly urban-suburban area.  Houses, most built in the 1920s, are close together on 50′ x 100′ lots.  New York City is 25 miles east.  My street starts on our town’s Main Street.  There used to be a gas station there whose ancient tanks sprung a leak and the site was shut down and  ‘cleaned up’ to the tune of millions of dollars.  Now there is a Dunkin’ Donuts where the gas station used to be.

Hedges Ave Lot 768x1024 The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the StreetBehind and adjacent that misspelled testament to obesity in America is an abandoned, contaminated lot. Collateral damage.  It used to have a house on it.  Now it has wildflowers (most will call them weeds) and wildlife among the 10+ testing stations for subterranean pollution.  I hope they don’t mow it and allow it to start to heal itself.

Wildflowers and grasses empty lot 768x1024 The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the Street

Feverfew 768x1024 The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the Street

Achillea 768x1024 The Abandoned and Contaminated Lot Up the Street

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LABELS: Gardens, New Jersey, sustainability 6 Comments

New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

I’ve been commissioned to design an outdoor entertaining area for one of the oldest farmhouses around that will also incorporate a new barn/woodshop. We are at the very beginning of a complex project, so I thought I’d share that part of the process.  After meeting with the homeowners I made an Ideabook to help them visualize the project.

My client, who is a passionate and active gardener with a talented woodworking partner, also wants a family entertaining area, easy access to her garden shed and details like stone walls and a possible meadow beyond for grandchildren to explore and play in.

karpinski base copy New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

The first step is to create the placement of a new 16 x 20 barn that will replace and enlarge the old one that was destroyed by a tree falling on it during Hurricane Sandy.  The current garden areas are a patchwork of projects that haven’t had a master plan as you can see from the basemap above.  Existing elements have been connected out of necessity without much thought to the overall scheme of things.

Concept number one creates an outdoor courtyard that has easy access to ground level doors and blocks a view of a subdivision on the street beyond.  It separates the garden shed from the barn and also incorporates a bosc which is a design element I’ve always wanted to try.  Both designs have fire features which will allow the new area’s use to be extended into colder weather on both ends of the season.

Barn Courtyard 1 1024x538 New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

Concept number two requires less work and renovation and keeps the existing wonky brick walk in place.  It also keeps the work areas ie. the barn and shed together creating a casual barnyard effect.

Barn Courtyard 2 New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

Usually, I post color plans, but this is the work that goes on way before I get to that point.  These are where the designs begin–with concepts fleshed out to see if they work spatially and to think about how people will move through a space and use it before a single plant is envisioned.  The concept that we decide on will be refined further after  the and are budgets set, materials for hardscape are chosen and then, at the end, the planting plan will be developed.

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LABELS: Gardens 1 Comment

Art in the Garden : Manolo Valdes

There was an unexpected pleasure added to my visit to NYBG last week – the monumental, garden inspired sculptures of Mario Valdes.  They were supposed to be gone by then and weren’t, so I was thrilled to see them.  Here’s why.  For me, these heads (created specifically for this exhibit) surrounded and sometimes engulfed with leaves, butterflies and garden elements perfectly symbolized exactly what goes on in mine sometimes. Whether that was the artists intent or not it was totally delightful to see them. Enjoy.

palm head 768x1024 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

rusty ferns 1024x768 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

IMG 6064 1024x768 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

Alhambra 1024x768 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

swirling leaves 768x1024 Art in the Garden :  Manolo Valdes

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LABELS: Gardens, Manolo Valdes 2 Comments

Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBG

When a new garden destination opens, I always like to wait a bit and let the crowds simmer down so I can explore it in peace. I need that space to process my ideas and to really see a place. The Oehme, van Sweden designed Native Plant Garden at The New York Botanical Gardens opened in May to gushing and effusive reviews.

Ferns and grasses 1024x768 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBG

The hand of ‘The New American’ garden style attributed to OvS is evident throughout the 3.5 acre site that comprises more than 100,000 plants native to the Eastern Seaboard.  It is contemporary and has flashes of genius.  It is, to my eye, a clearly designed space that wants to also be natural. Vignettes abound that never occur so frequently in the wild. Some are painterly and others are dramatic. This is a garden after all and a teaching one at that.  It covers a lot of regional and geographic botanical territory and includes mature and new plantings.  Some areas are so densely planted that they have little room to grow and the maintenance will have to be intensive for garden crews or they’ll look awful in very little time. My favorite places were those in and bordering the woodlands that combined structural punctuation points with soft underplanting.

spent foarm flowers in the woodland 1024x768 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBG

penstemon and grasses 768x1024 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBG

The garden’s central water feature is contemporary and at first I thought it looked too jarring. After exploring the garden and giving it some thought, I understand the design philosophy that clearly places our collective responsibility for these native and wild places in a contemporary context. Sustainable materials, storm water recycling and bio filters are all unseen yet declared parts of this feature. Other areas provide shelter and food for wildlife. Signage indicates and explains natural communities in an engaging way.

central water feature at NYBG native plant garden 1024x768 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBGwater feature NYBG Native garden 1024x768 Field Trip: Native Plant Garden at NYBGAs a designer, I appreciate the subtlety of another designer’s hand, but wonder how many visitors will notice the details.  In some ways the garden is too natural and I suspect some won’t get it at all.  They’ll think that this is just what’s out there in the real world, when in reality it’s not.  If the garden is to be a success, people have to stop and read and listen and look carefully to see the details.  When viewed as a whole, it could be perceived as just another messy, unmanicured space that so many find threatening because they are so far removed from the wild.

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LABELS: Design, Gardens, Landscape Design, native plants, Planting Design, sustainability 2 Comments

Planting Design: Wave Hedges

As always, I’m primarily interested in how people move through a three dimensional outdoor garden space.  I’m also interested in how to guide the experience–whether it’s an arrival sequence or just a meandering walk.  Lately I’ve been experimenting with what I call wave hedges.  They are short curved hedges of boxwood or other dense evergreen that from one view appear to be continuous, but from another are actually low waves of curved green ‘walls.’

Below are two examples for gardens that are being built this season or early next.

Perennail garden with wave hedge copy Planting Design:  Wave Hedges

 

brubaker wave hedge copy 1024x528 Planting Design:  Wave Hedges

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LABELS: Gardens, Landscape Design, Planting Design Leave a comment

Garden Details: Stan Bitter Path Tiles

I’ll start by saying I don’t know much about this except that the image of these ceramic tiles for a  garden path has stuck with me for over a week.  I keep going back to it and still liking it a lot! They strike just the right amount of craft and whimsy for me.

Stan Bitters Path Detail Garden Details:  Stan Bitter Path Tiles

Image via Lost in the Landscape

What I do know.  I first saw an image of the tiles on Pinterest.  They were designed by Fresno based sculptor Stan Bitters and were included in an auction of 20th Century pieces a few years ago in Los Angeles.  There’s more about that  and the history of the tiles on James Soe Nyun’s wonderful blog Lost in the Landscape that I traced the image back to.  Boy would I love to have this path!

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LABELS: Art, craftsmanship, Gardens Leave a comment

Native Plants: Cladrastis kentukea – Kentucky Yellowwood

My little town has an unusual collection of street trees.  On my block alone there are red maples, dogwoods, redbuds, oaks, and two native beauties – Cladrastis kentukea all planted in the hell strips.  1′ to 2′ abundant clusters of fragrant white blooms on two side by side trees made me screech the tires on the way home the other day.  This isn’t a common tree around here and it is a stunner in every way.  I have to remember to us this beauty in more landscape designs!

yellowwood bloom up close 768x1024 Native Plants:  Cladrastis kentukea   Kentucky Yellowwood

Yellowwood on hedges avenue 768x1024 Native Plants:  Cladrastis kentukea   Kentucky Yellowwood

Cladrastis kentukea has a loose informal shape suitable to casual settings or as a feature tree in a large landscape.  Its native range is further south – hence the name.  Yellowwood is hardy from zones 4-8, with brilliant yellow fall foliage. It is a large shade tree that can reach 30-50 feet, likes full sun, and has a long taproot so make sure it’s planted where it can stay.

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LABELS: Cladrastis kentuea, Garden Design, Gardens, Landscape Design, Planting Design, plants 8 Comments

Field Trip: Jungle

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.

jungle sidewalk 1024x768 Field Trip:  Jungle

A brick wall with a bird mural painted by naturalistic street artist Roa, dominates one side of the nursery.

Roa bird Jungle2 768x1024 Field Trip:  Jungle

roa bird at Jungle Design Brooklyn 1024x768 Field Trip:  Jungle

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.

blue pergola 1024x681 Field Trip:  Jungle

patio 768x1024 Field Trip:  Jungle

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.

oven in use1 768x1024 Field Trip:  Jungle

Jungle party at night 1024x768 Field Trip:  Jungle

 

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LABELS: Design, Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories 2 Comments

Garden Designers Roundtable | My Cathedral

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.

muir woods 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable | My Cathedralflag irises in swamp 1024x768 Garden Designers Roundtable | My CathedralDancing Trees 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable | My Cathedral

Basking Ridge Oak 1024x768 Garden Designers Roundtable | My Cathedral

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.

Salmon River redwoods 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable | My CathedralHeron nests 768x1024 Garden Designers Roundtable | My Cathedral

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

 

 

 

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LABELS: Gardens, Trees 11 Comments

Barrique’s Recycled Barrel Stave Furniture

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.

Barrel Stave lounge chair 1024x768 Barriques Recycled Barrel Stave Furniture

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…

foto grande Barriques Recycled Barrel Stave Furniture

Antonio Citterio’s ‘Poltrona Lounge’ is both classic and contemporary.

foto grande Barriques Recycled Barrel Stave Furniture

Angela Missoni’s ‘Miss Dondola’ swing echos the same color and style that are found in her clothing lines.

foto grande Barriques Recycled Barrel Stave Furniture

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

 

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LABELS: Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories Leave a comment

Scout Regalia’s Contemporary Outdoor Style

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.

RAISED GARDEN KIT 01 Scout Regalias Contemporary Outdoor Style

The Patio Garden Assembled is a smaller version that is shipped completed and ready to plant.

Scout Regalia patio bed Scout Regalias Contemporary Outdoor Style

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.

OUTDOOR OAK TABLE 02 Scout Regalias Contemporary Outdoor Style

OUTDOOR TABLE 02 Scout Regalias Contemporary Outdoor Style

All photos via Scout Regalia.

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LABELS: Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories Leave a comment

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 under the tracks 1024x768 Field Trip:  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 1024x768 Field Trip:  Urban Garden Center NYC

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

Urban Garden Center chairs on chainlink 768x1024 Field Trip:  Urban Garden Center 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 tank at Urban Garden Center 768x1024 Field Trip:  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.

hand painted chair Urban Garden Center 768x1024 Field Trip:  Urban Garden Center NYC

wheel barrow at Urban Garden Center 768x1024 Field Trip:  Urban Garden Center NYCSticks and rivets at Urban Garden Center 768x1024 Field Trip:  Urban Garden Center NYC

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LABELS: architectural salvage, folk art, Gardens, inspiration, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories, vintage Leave a comment

Opiary: Garden Pots from Princeton

Last year, one of the few things I liked at the Kips Bay Showhouse was Robert Canon’s planters.

cityTerrace Opiary: Garden Pots from Princeton

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.

opiaryStudio3 Opiary: Garden Pots from Princeton

 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.

studio3 Opiary: Garden Pots from Princeton

 All photos via Opiary.
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LABELS: Garden Design, Gardens, New Jersey, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories, sculpture 1 Comment

An Addition-al Rant

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?

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LABELS: business 2 Comments

Field Trip: The Litchfield Daffodils

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.

Litchfield Daffodils Laurel Hill 1024x768 Field Trip:  The Litchfield Daffodils

 There were tens of thousands of narcissus in bloom on fifteen acres of hillside deemed too rocky for farming.

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 The pasture was first planted in 1941 and is now supported by the Laurel Ridge Foundation.  It was a lovely spring afternoon ramble!

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LABELS: Gardens, spring Leave a comment

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.

luciano parteres 1024x620 Garden Inspiration:  Luciano Giubbleis Parterre Ideas

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.

 

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LABELS: Creative Process, Design, Gardens, inspiration, Landscape Design 2 Comments

Garden Shop: Vintage Sculpture

I’m switching out Tuesday’s Find to Garden Shop.  I scout objects and products of all types for my landscape design clients from small accessories to large sculpture.  I also love the hunt.  So my inaugural post for this semi-regular theme starts where Tuesday’s Find lived…a vintage folk art sculpture found at 1st Dibs.

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How much fun would this found object piece of folk art be in a garden?  A clever DIYer  with the ability to weld (or by taking the pieces to a local welder) could create something similar–but without the patina.  This piece is available via Linda and Howard Stein on 1st Dibs or at their shop in Pennsylvania, Bridgehampton Antiques (open by appointment)

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LABELS: Antiques, folk art, Gardens, sculpture, vintage Leave a comment

Reeves-Reed Arboretum: 2013 Art in the Garden

This year they got it right.  The 2013 installment of Art in the Garden at Reeves-Reed Arboretum features the work of sculptor Tom Holmes.  The dozen or so works are placed throughout the gardens and to see them all is to also see the garden in a new way.

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An early morning walk revealed thoughtful placement of sometimes monumental work that had a direct relationship to nature. Mr. Holmes’ work and the individual placement throughout the arboretum challenges the viewer to think not only about the power of art in the landscape, but how relationships between art and nature can be formed.

sculpture in the bowl at reeves reed 1024x764 Reeves Reed Arboretum:  2013 Art in the Garden

 

stone crescent reeves reed 1024x764 Reeves Reed Arboretum:  2013 Art in the Garden

hanging twig sculpture 768x1024 Reeves Reed Arboretum:  2013 Art in the Garden

The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is located on Hobart Avenue in Summit, NJ and is open dawn till dusk.  A post on a previous year’s installation can be found here.

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LABELS: Art, Gardens, New Jersey 2 Comments

Field Trip: Leonard J. Buck Garden

Tens of thousands of years ago, a glacial lake drained leaving behind basalt outcroppings now known as Moggy Hollow in its wake.  Flash forward to the 1930s, when Leonard Buck planted them and established what would become a world class rock garden in a wooded glade on his estate in Far Hills.

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Inch forward a few seconds in the earth’s history and you have the sunny and cool 21st century spring afternoon when I visited what is now a county park.

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I am not a rock  or alpine garden officiando, but the Leonard J. Buck Garden does something else very well.  It seamlessly (for the most part) blends the gardeners hand within the broader context of the natural world.  Even with the contemporary interest in natural planting schemes, this garden stands out.

There are large swaths of woodland, but they are augmented with pathways, viewing ledges, plants and rustic structures. There is evidence of slope conservation and reintroduction of native plants, and there also are the eccentric plants, such as the dwarf boxwoods (Buxus ‘Kingsville Dwarf’) that mound up hillsides and on rock formations here and there.

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Other groups of spring bulbs on a slope of hardwoods seem more natural.  There are many varieties of ferns and Solomon’s Seal.  There are Trilliums (thanks to the electrified perimeter deer fence) and Aquilegia and Epimediums and flowering trees.  The thoughtful placement and planning of paths and bridges over the park’s meandering stream allows an easy ramble of  discovery.

Directions to the garden can be found here.

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LABELS: garden visits, Gardens, New Jersey 2 Comments

A Perfect Spring Week

There are about two perfect spring weeks every year and last week was one of those. Light was bright and unfiltered by the still bare deciduous canopy. Gardens burst into bloom, the sky was the bluest of blues, and the air was cool yet also warm after the winter chill.

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Windows opened and children’s laughter filled the air inside and out. Birdsong started before dawn. Yet spring is also poignant. Last week is over and petals dance and drift to the ground feeding the roots below, beginning the cycle of renewal all over again. So it goes.

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LABELS: Gardens, Seasons, spring Leave a comment

Online Garden Shop: Shop Boxhill

Shop Boxhill is a new online shopping site for all things outdoors.  I would be remiss if I didn’t note that it was created by my friend and fellow landscape designer Elizabeth Pryzgoda-Montgomery.  Shop Boxhill has a cool contemporary vibe with products in every price range from under $20 to over $3000.

I did a little virtual power shopping and here’s what I found–there are hundreds of other choices there, with more to come.

A super fun outdoor rug for $55.00.

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Steel Life’s Matchstick Planter, $159.00 comes in great colors and there are other planters to choose from as well.

Tall and Short Matchstick  03153.1364307743.1280.1280 Online Garden Shop:  Shop Boxhill

An insulated ‘cooler’ tote bag that is stylish and practical for $32.49.  Warm water on the job and in the truck will be a thing of the past with this.

728Insulated Cooler Tote Medium  87529.1363454926.1280.1280 Online Garden Shop:  Shop Boxhill

And just because I’m agave obsessed…this blue agave sculpture will allow me to have one that won’t wither and die in the winter.  It’s $270.

blue agave with flower stem torch1  87219.1362974752.1280.1280 Online Garden Shop:  Shop Boxhill

I probably won’t buy these, but with the damage from super storm Sandy making so many chunks of trunks available for free, these Knotty Stools have given me inspiration.  They’re $756.

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And last but not least, because nobody in my traditional and conservative market carries these…a turqoise Concha chair for my newly renovated side garden when it’s done.  It’s $450.

3  45422.1364619864.1280.1280 Online Garden Shop:  Shop Boxhill

On-line shopping just got a whole lot better.

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LABELS: Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories Leave a comment

My Wee Spring Plant Nursery

Here I go getting all plant-y again…

In January I offered to share a snippet of  my favorite  Heuchera ‘Molly Bush’ which I’ve grown for almost 20 years back to Allen Bush who bred it to begin with.  He graciously sent me a care package in return.  I’m excited to see how these gifts fare in my home garden after its makeover this year.

I’m giving them all spots in pots before I set them out into the garden since I’ve just started a major renovation and the clean-up is yet to be finished in my holding areas.  I will also pay attention to them since they’re on a table right outside my back door.

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 What was in both packages:

Stachys ‘Silky Fleece’ (back right) – From Jelitto where Allen works now. I know the deer won’t like that and I have just the spot for it– in the front border opposite a big and hopefully divided super easy to grow Stachys byzantium that a client gave me years ago and thrives in all kinds of neglect.

Arum ‘Tiny’ (back left) – I’m super excited about this one –a dwarf variety that originally came from Monksilver in the UK.  I’ve always wanted to grow Arums and just haven’t gotten around to it, so now I have no excuse.  Let’s hope I don’t kill it.

Chrysogonum ‘Norman Singer’- (front right)  The one you can’t see behind the tag…this is a totally new plant for me.  I’ve never grown it.  It’s a native shade lover and I have dry shade so we’ll see if it can duke it out!  I’m thrilled to have it.

Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchelus ‘Lynnhaven Carpet’–(front left) Another eastern/mid-Atlantic native.  I have a soft spot for Erigerons so I have to find a special partially shady place for it. (Why do I always think of swans and teddy bears when I type the workd Erigerons?)

Heuchera ‘Molly Bush’ -In the center of it all from the original plant I bought from Allen all those years ago.  It’s been in both of my gardens since then.  And no, the few available in the trade aren’t the same…they’re just not.

This isn’t an eye candy type of post…I have to wait for these babies to grow up a bit for their glamour shots!

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LABELS: Gardens, Heuchera 'Molly Bush', native plants, plants 1 Comment

A Facelift for a Tudor Grand Dame

Some of my favorite landscape design projects involve American Tudors.  I love the romance of these houses, their quirky details, their materials and how often they survive the wrecking ball.  Many of these homes were built in the 1920s and family needs change with the times.  I am currently working on a design for a circa 1929 home and re-imagining the landscape for a young, 21st century family.  This will be the first of several irregular posts on the project which won’t be completed until the fall.

American Tudor A Facelift for a Tudor Grand Dame

The current landscape has outgrown its space and usefulness so much of it will be replaced.  Things have been ignored for too long to be simply pruned.  Entries and exits, steps and useful areas front and back will be part of an architectural and landscape renovation that will make this grand dame young again.

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LABELS: American Architecture, Garden Design, Landscape Design 2 Comments

In Praise of Pieris

Every March I am enchanted with Pieris japonica and then I promptly forget about it as other more intriguing options catch my attention and it fades into the background. I found three varieties worth planting during a hunt for spring at The Farm, and some that had been planted for at least 40 years at an apartment complex.

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Pieris japonica ‘Browers Beauty’

Deer resistant and happy in shade, Pieris japonica can have ivory, pale yellow or pale or deep pink bell shaped blooms that hang in nodding clusters or fans.

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Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wyckoff’

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Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’

 Some varieties have boldly colored new foliage, and still others are variegated.  All, when mature, have twisting textured trunks that can add structural interest to older, more mature plants.

Pieris japonica Mountain Fire foliage In Praise of Pieris

Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’

 

image via Mahoney’s

This year I’m going to plant some for both my clients and myself.  This evergreen shrub (commonly called Andromeda) is old fashioned and about 50 years ago was overused as an  foundation plant, but now there aren’t so many around and the big ‘ole mature ones are super awesome when not much else is happening.  They also make a great winter or early spring container plant that can  be transplanted into the garden.  For cultivation info…click here.

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LABELS: Gardens, Pieris japonica 2 Comments

Tuesday’s Find: A set of 10 blue chairs

It’s spring and I’m scouting furniture and accessories for clients’ gardens and patios so I’m reviving Tuesday’s Find.  These blue steel Pascal Mourgue chairs from the mid-80s stopped my virtual browsing.  I love the color and the styling.  They can work as contemporary or in a 1930s Art Deco environment that I’m actually thinking about.  Do you like them too?

blue chairs Tuesdays Find:  A set of 10 blue chairs

blue chair single Tuesdays Find:  A set of 10 blue chairs

They’re in London if you want them…at Christopher Jones Antiques  or on 1st Dibs.

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LABELS: American Architecture, Gardens, Outdoor Furniture and Accessories, patios Leave a comment

Design Inspiration: Black and White Stripes

I’ve become slightly obsessed with black and white stripes.  The bold and graphic quality combined with what can be a vibrating optical illusion is energetic and brash…two things that I always like anyway.  The really interesting thing about stripey black and white is that it’s occurring simultaneously as a trend across disciplines. I’ve never used them in a design specifically, but would love to.

So here’s to stripes! (There are many more ideas here,,,)

black+door Design Inspiration: Black and White Stripes

image via Greige: Interior Design Ideas

Tavern+Outside Design Inspiration: Black and White Stripes

 image via House of Hydrangeas

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photo via Que Bueno es  Vivir!! 

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via Traditional Home

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photo via  KROnPRINSESSENE

 

 

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LABELS: color, Gardens, Landscape Design 2 Comments