Garden Design Details: Container Planting

For me, it’s the end of container season.  I only plant them for a few clients. Planter design is not a core service of my landscape design practice because I find them to take as much time to prepare for and execute as any other planting design. In reality, that’s what a container is, a planting design executed in a very small, seasonal space. I do have clients who specifically ask me to design their containers and I say yes, but I just don’t overtly offer to do it.

Turquoise Anduze pot

 

Turquoise pots and entry

Nobody ever taught me the rules of containers so I approach them in the same way I would any design. I lean towards structure planted with abandon in my garden design and my container plantings reflect that for the most part. Since the space and number of plants I can use is so limited, I am a ruthless editor.  I don’t personally love planters filled with lots of different kinds of plants. I think it makes a stronger visual statement to limit them in the same way I would any other design. The container above has four varieties in it, the one below three. In a really big planter I may use as many as five, repeated throughout the design.

Barn pots

My approach is the same as for any design–first decide on the primary structure and then build down from there. In a garden that may be a tree, a pergola, or a sculpture, in a pot, it’s the same–there has to be something anchoring it all.

Variagated willow and blue pot

When I shop for container plants,  I shop for all of  them at once, collecting special plants from a wide variety of sources. The process takes several days. If a specific request was made, such as the variegated willow standards in the pots above I will seek them out. Each season I limit the color palette which aids in later editing. This year my palette included chartreuse, deep green, salmon/apricot, white/grey and a very saturated purple.

Atelier Verkaint pots on seatwall

Most of the time I use the client’s own containers, but over the past few years I’ve been specifying them in larger designs so I know they will work within the context of the larger landscape that I have designed. Planters to scale and the right style for the larger context are details that make or break a project.

Green Gardens

Green is a thing. Right now it’s a missing thing. It’s what I miss most during winter and what makes me smile first in the spring–those small green shoots pushing up through frigid earth. I’ve been thinking about making flowerless gardens. Gardens that are mostly green. Gardens that rely  on scale and texture and subtlety of hue and maybe some skilled pruning.

Princeton garden

In New Jersey, where I practice landscape design, this may prove to be more difficult than it is in warmer climates where there are bolder choices and plants with immense architectural leaves. Many of the images here are from gardens I’ve visited in the south–Miami, Dallas, and New Orleans.  All are interesting to me and there are no flowers in them.

Dallas Conf Day 3 024

Whatever broad bold foliage we have here the deer seem to love …like hostas, so I’ll find a substitute of some sort. Broad strappy foliage is easier to find–grasses have that in abundance. Subtle transitions of green along with texture will create the primary interest beyond shape.

Vizcaya green parterre Scale and shape and texture become much more important when color is limited. Finding companions that work with each other and can stand visually on their own and help define space is challenging with flowers–without it’s crucial.

South Jersey + New Orleans Garden District 026

Finely textured plants can disappear with out something with muscle to play off of. There can still be drama, but it’s more mellow (pun intended). These gardens don’t have to be formal and clipped, they can be loose and natural or somewhere in between.

Jungles Coconut Grove

Creating a planting plan that will be interesting in four seasons yet not be totally without seasonal specific floral interest will be a challenge–most of the plants I love anyway have super cool foliage and interesting bloom. Choosing plants for foliage and texture is usually where I start a planting design, after the permanent structure of the garden has been figured out. Bloom, however beautiful is secondary and fleeting.

Winter Park Garden

So for now, while the land is frozen in white and snowy limbo, I’ll just have some green dreams and wait for opportunities to reveal themselves in the upcoming spring landscape design projects.

 

 

My Award Winning Garden Design

Last fall, I entered a garden I designed in New Jersey in 2015 APLD International Landscape Design Awards in the Planting Design category. It was awarded the highest honor, a Gold Award. To be honest, I knew the value of the design, but since it is the antithesis of current planting trends, I was really pleased. Current trends in planting design seem to require ornamental grasses and meadow-like qualities. This garden has neither, but that doesn’t make it unsustainable or unfriendly to all  but deer.

Lee Hill Farm 3

The garden’s underlying structure of boxwood hedging and pyramids gives it definition. My client specifically asked that I not use any ornamental grasses as they felt they were too ‘beachy’ looking.  The 7800 square foot garden was originally built in the 1920s when the 15 acre property had a working greenhouse and two full-time gardeners. The bones of that garden remained: stonework in disrepair, heaved brick walks, and a leaky concrete pond.

pots et al 010

pots et al 009

Lee Hill Farm 1 Before

The homeowners wanted to re-imagine the space in the spirit of the original, but with lower maintenance and an eye towards family use and deer resistance. A new stone wall was built to create a level terrace on the west slope with new gravel paths and existing brick walks that were excavated and re-laid linking to existing steps.

pots et al 011

rumson, harding, westfield, scranton 039

Lee Hill Farm 9

Planting beds were edged with recycled steel and damaged stonework was repaired. Millstones from throughout the property were inserted into the relaid brick paths to indicate transitions. The homeowner repaired the pond with salvaged parts; inexpensive off the shelf, steel arbors were added to support climbing roses; and drip irrigation installed.

Lee Hill Farm 6

Planting plans from the 1940s were available and indicated that the original garden had a color palette of deep blues and pinks punctuated with seasonal yellow and white accents. They were the inspiration for the new seasonal bloom sequence that starts out predominantly blue, white and pink; changes to white, yellow and pink; and back to blue, white, and pink. The historic property had been documented as General Lafayette’s winter headquarters at some point during the Revolution. Boxwood hedges and repeating pyramids are a nod to formal 18th century French gardens. That they are also deer resistant and provide winter interest was also considered. An organic maintenance plan was put in place–the evidence of this is the seeded areas between the natural bluestone slabs which as long as they are ‘green’ are mowed and left to their own devices.

Lee Hill Farm 5Lee Hill Farm 8Lee Hill Farm 10

The finished garden is lush and sensual with abundant bloom and textural interest.  It is a traditional garden that was never meant to be ‘naturalistic’, but it was, and is meant to be of its time and place and I’m very grateful that it has received an award as acknowledgement that it’s okay not to follow the trends.

Photography by Rich Pomerantz and Susan Cohan.  All rights reserved.

 

Balcony floor

Garden Visits: Princeton

I visited gardens yesterday in Princeton, New Jersey. The tour was arranged by the New Jersey Landscape and Nursery Association (NJNLA) and featured four very different gardens by designer Bill Kucas.

What struck me about these outdoor spaces was that their details is what really made them interesting. In each space the features beyond plants were detailed beautifully, but when I asked about what made the spaces personal, that had been left up to the clients. In each space, with the exception of the one still being built, the choice of furniture and accessories beyond what the landscape designer had envisioned is what finished them and made them useful, wonderful places for people. Is a patio or deck really a place for people if there’s nowhere to sit or gather? Too often landscape designers stop at the plants and hard surfaces and leave the finishing touches up to the homeowner when the total vision should include all of the accouterments. Our interior design peers would never leave a space unfurnished!  None of this in anyway detracted from the day…even the predicted rain held off until we were leaving the very last one.

By far, my favorite detail of the day was a balcony with thin brick or roofing tiles set on edge.  It was finished with a rectangular copper gutter above and containing Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).

Balcony floor

Additionally, there were other beautiful masonry details in each garden.  The pier below was unusual in that it combined stone, wood and concrete – each as its own detail but unified in the end product.

Garden pierWall fountain bluestone and brick paving detail

There were multiple seating areas in each space. Each had furnishings and accessories appropriate to the design and surrounding architecture.  There was contemporary furniture from Design within Reach and vintage Smith and Hawken at one site; Restoration Hardware dominated another; a third had a collection of antique and vintage pieces.  All of these ‘additions’ helped define the personality of the space and were lost opportunities for the designer to ‘finish’ the project through space and or furniture planning.  It’s true, sometimes clients want to do it themselves, but often they want to collaborate and don’t have access to the ‘To the Trade’ options that designers can provide.

DWR table and chairsFireplace Princeton

Pergola and marriage of materials

Lanterns in treeNow it’s back to work creating gardens and landscapes instead of being a ‘tourist’ in my own state on a busman’s holiday!

 

Garden Design Details: Retro Patio Umbrellas

I’m tired of market umbrellas. Patterned or plain, they all look the same.  Outdoor umbrellas used to glamorous. My shady inspiration today came from Coastal Living’s cover story a few years ago and a garden designed by A Blade of Grass near Boston that was a 2013 APLD Landscape Design Award Winner .

coastal living cover

13-136 R-Pete Cadieux-Brookline Residence #3

There are a few companies that are making beautiful retro style umbrellas – the kind you would have found in mid-century Palm Springs or Palm Beach.

 

Black and White retro patio umbrella

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Barbara Umbrella Company‘s square Regatta umbrella in black and white.

blue retro umbrella

 

California Umbrella‘s classic round patio umbrella comes in dozens of color options.

purple umbrella with fringe

Santa Barbara Umbrella’s fringed round umbrella in violet and white and has all kinds of color options.

red and white striped umbrellaCalifornia Umbrella’s peaked umbrella in red and white stripes is also available in dozens of colors.

Images via Coastal Living, Association of Professional Landscape Designers, Santa Barbara Umbrella Company, California Umbrella Company.
Andre Le Notre's Versailles Gardens

Andre le Notre: Four Hundred Years Strong

I’m taking sides with Andre le Notre.  Four hundred years ago he was practicing a type of landscape design that is still valid and revered today.  It’s handmade, skillfully practiced, and incredibly beautiful.  It is the antithesis of today’s trend towards natural gardens.  Many consider this type of garden to be unrealistic, unsustainable, and old-fashioned.  I disagree.

Andre Le Notre's Versailles Gardens

I’m tired of the so called ‘new’ perennial gardens with all of their blowsy grasses and prairie leanings.  I’m all for pollinators and habitat, but understand that there is more than one way to achieve healthy garden environments for all inhabitants. I wonder why it took the Dutch, visiting our vast waving plains, to show the world that a miniaturized, hyped up version of the same could be had at home.

The Lurie Garden in high summer

I have a profound reverence for the work of designers like Piet Ouldof and Gilles Clement, but as a designer, their naturalistic  ‘new’ style  old doesn’t make my heart sing.  I find that when I visit these gardens I love to look at them, but don’t really want to be ‘in’ them beyond a good ‘look’.  The style isn’t really all that new at all.  Ellen Biddle Shipman and Beatrice Farrand, as well as many others, were making intensive American perennial plantings throughout the last century–what’s different now is the mix of plants, the size and shape of the beds, and the tendency to want and believe it to be ‘maintenance’ free.  Is that because most of today’s gardeners don’t have the skill or time it takes for something else?  What will these gardens look like in 400 years?  Will they hold up like Le Notre’s?

Turf parterres at Versailles

Michael King argues in his recent post Never New Gardening that the so called ‘new’ has become not much more than a ‘look’.  To my eye, the ‘look’ of the turf parterres and the whimsical topiaries in the Orangerie at Versailles are contemporary…they’re just not wild.

Gardens are made things. It’s not outdated to include planted elements that require a gardener’s hand beyond cutting them down once a year, dividing drifts of plants and pulling some weeds to maintain a design. I don’t support the use of small backpack, gasoline powered trimmers of any variety, but wonder why with the current movement for all things handmade and artisinal that gardeners haven’t taken up the cause with more hand driven pruning?  Is it lack of skill or interest?

Did lopers and hedge pruners and rakes get forgotten?  Is it because it takes time to learn the methods and when to put those into practice? Or is it because any intervention is seen as an affront to the sustainability of a garden?  Andre le Notre’s gardens are 400 years old this year, what’s more sustainable than that?

There will be those who read this post who think that it takes an army of gardeners to maintain immense gardens like le Notre designed. Gardens with structure take skill and time to maintain–just like any other.   In fact, they are simpler and less labor intensive to maintain than some of the new perennial gardens.  Do the math.  Versailles has approximately 2100 acres and 80 gardeners. That’s roughly 26 acres of care per gardener.  The 6.73 acre High Line in New York has 9 gardeners and hundreds of seasonal volunteers to help with cutting back and cleaning up each year.  Just counting those on the staff roster that’s  approximately 3/4 acre per gardener.  So which is actually more labor intensive? The numbers speak for themselves.  Both can be organic.

Then there is the argument of scale and cost. Dial back Versailles to the average suburban lot and these gardens become do-able with less.  The new perennial gardens really need space to work well.  Not every town will allow an entire front yard to be taken over by a meadow, and in the eastern hardwood forest where I live and work, that meadow would soon become a forest without constant vigilance to eradicate self seeded volunteer trees.  I’m not saying that the selection of plants is what’s at issue here, it’s a design and maintenance issue.  I like the evergreen bones of structure in gardens like Le Notre’s- especially in the winter.  In truth, in high summer I love a meadow, newly mowed and or fields of wheat or wildflowers and many of the new perennial gardens have elements of evergreen structure.  In my own work I blend the two.  Create structure as a sculptural and architectural elements and and plant lushly.

Le Notre was born in the Tuileries where his father was a gardener.  He was surrounded by generations of skilled practitioners and learned by doing.  Imagine the gardens we could have if we get up from our screens, get outside and really learn our craft.  Imagine the gardens we could have if we really trained those who we hire to maintain them instead of just giving them a backpack blower and some power trimmers?  An apprenticeship program is not a bad idea.  Work and get paid to learn from a master and then work to become the master.  Le Notre, born to a gardener, learned his craft and became someone who worked for kings and whose work has survived for 400 years.  Who of us can say the same?

Garden Design Details: Letterforms and Words

Letters and words have been a long term design and decorating trend.  Think ‘Dream’ above a bed, or ‘Eat’ in the kitchen, or ‘Grow’  in gardens. What happens when letter forms and words step outside of those cliches and become something else? Not the kind of words that are carved into something, but words and letters that are freestanding graphic elements that are interesting on their own or have a deeper meaning.

Image via Vintage Marquee Lights

There are so many possibilities that I’ve only begun to crack the surface and there’s not a single ‘grow’ or ‘I’m in the garden’ among them. These letters can be personal or just cool design elements. They can be vintage marquee lights or old bits of signage. They’re not hard to find.

Garden Lettters and Graphics

 Image via Gardenista

I’m going to Las Vegas in November for the first time (and probably the last) and have carved out time to visit the Neon Boneyard which has fascinated me for years. I’d love to use one of the ghosts of the past in a landscape design.

Image via Vegas Groom

Another way to use letterforms is for messages. Not the cliched ‘I’m in the Garden’ kind of thing, but something of substance and meaning. Below at the new garden at The Barnes Foundation designed by OLIN, the graphics are taken from Dr. Barnes’ notes on hanging his art collection.

Barnes Foundation

 Image courtesy of Pentagram

A simpler version of the same design concept can be an easy DIY project. These are formed with galvanized wire and pliers with loops for screws.  Not difficult at all.

image via April and May

 

 

Aerial view design by Secret Gardens of Sydney

Garden Visit: Secret City Hideaway in Australia

I often find arresting images of gardens from Australia.  Many times they’re from Secret Gardens of Sydney.  The pure graphic quality of this interior courtyard is strong and fun and full of ideas-despite its diminutive size and simplicity.Aerial view design by Secret Gardens of Sydney

The strength of this design is in its firm editing.  Nothing is here that doesn’t add to the overall space.  Materials and color are limited, yet the courtyard has a playful feeling mostly due to the graphic wall that anchors it.  It’s not cold, it’s welcoming. This type of restraint is very hard to achieve in any garden where most would add rather than subtract.  It’s a good lesson.

Secret Garden Sydney courtyard design Secret Garden Sydney courtyard detail

 All images via Secret Gardens of Sydney

 

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!

The Lurie Garden in high summer

Garden Travel: Planting Design and Architecture in Chicago

I took a walk very early this morning to The Lurie Garden and Roy Diblick’s new garden at the Chicago Art Institute.  My first observation (actually I walked them yesterday afternoon also) is how distinctly the spatial and planting design of both sits well with and plays off the surrounding architecture.  This is not easy to do.

My second observation is that I preferred the smaller Diblick designed garden to Ouldouf designed one at The Lurie.  It was more intimate, more suited to the residential scale I work in.  It was also unfinished–a second half has been prepped for planting.

The Lurie with surrounding architecture.  I know that most will cringe that I’m not talking about Piet Ouldof’s beautiful plantings.  What I observed isn’t detail, it’s a powerful context and connection to place.

Lurie and Gehry

Chicago skyline and Lurie hedges

Gehry and LurieRoy Diblick of Northwind Perennial Farm talks eloquently about creating plant communities and creating symbiotic relationships between plants.  This small garden surprisingly isn’t dominated by the Richardson Romanesque shard of the Stock Exchange, instead both sit comfortably with each other.

Richardson Romanesque

Roy Diblick

Roy Diblick planting design

Dwell Studio 'Bungalow' for Robert Allen

Garden Design Details: Dwell Studios new Bungalow fabric

I’m always on the lookout for cool outdoor fabrics and try to add them whenever I can to customize furniture for my garden and landscape design clients. I just discovered this new, super fun fabric story ‘Bungalow’ designed by Dwell Studios for Robert Allen.

Dwell Studio 'Bungalow' for Robert Allen

 

image via Robert Allen

Yes, it’s Sunbrella fabric so it can take the heat and sun and rain, but it’s always best to have easy storage for cushions and pillows. Make sure that cushions are constructed from outdoor foam –which is much more pourous –if you live in an area where it rains.

Buntings

Garden Buntings

I have buntings on the brain.  Not those plastic ones that signal the opening of a new liquor store, deli or car wash.  Pretty ones.  Handmade ones.  Buntings that make any garden space feel happier and more festive than it was before they were hung.

Buntings

photo via So leb’ ich

Not everything needs to cost a fortune, and buntings are something easily made from a wide range of materials at hand.  Here’s some ideas on a Pinterest board.

 

Dutch concept gardens

Garden Portrait: Appeltern, The Netherlands

It’s hot.  It’s summer.  I’m indulging in a bit of armchair travel inside in the cool.

I am a fan of conceptual gardens.  Why?  They challenge our ideas of what constitutes a garden. There are trial gardens for plants, so it makes sense to me that there should also be trial design gardens. Last year, I visited  two, Cornerstone in Sonoma and Les Jardins des Metis in Quebec. Both made me think about what I do as a landscape designer in new ways. These concept gardens are usually built to last for a season or two, so their creators aren’t inhibited by issues of longevity and maintenance or client demands.

A relative newcomer to the scene, the Festival Gardens at Appletern Gardens in the Netherlands is in its fourth season this year.

Dutch concept gardens

It’s part of a much larger 22 acre garden park that includes many different types of gardens.  My favorite of the 2013 concept gardens called Balans (Balance) and was designed by Babako.  It is a linear installation reminiscent of Patrick Dougherty’s stickwork.

appletern gardens 2013

In addition to the annual concept gardens there are 17 other types of gardens loosely organized around a theme or type of outdoor space.  I’m putting it on my ever increasing list of ‘must visit’ gardens.

Appeltern Gardens

In interior design, this garden would be called ‘transitional’ as a mix between traditional and contemporary styles.  I’m loving the single pale blue, beach glass tones in the gabions.  Imagine them lit at dusk.  Dreamy.

Modern DIY Garden

This garden appeals to the DIYer in me.  I could probably put most of this together in a weekend from stuff I hoard  have in the garage, use it all summer and then switch it up the next.  Why does everything need to be so permanent?

Herb garden at Appletern

I was a little disturbed by an image of purple loostrife in full bloom in the Appletern Herb garden and I’m not sure about kidney shaped beds EVER, but I loved the trees and the color story.

All images via Appletern Gardens

 

Planting Design: A Wet Shady Meadow

I will admit to having to take some time to wrap my head around an addition to a garden that we installed last year.  Although we have improved the overall drainage on the expansive site, there is one pesky area that is still a little bit damp.  It’s walk-able and mow-able, but my client has come around to what I had originally suggested for the spot – a wet, shady meadow.

Meadow style plantings and damp shade don’t have to be mutually exclusive and here are three plants I’m considering to give it multi-season color, drama and texture.  They are all in my experience reasonably deer resistant also.

Rogersia pinnata – a plant I haven’t used in a couple of years since most of the shady spots I’ve been working in have been dry woodlands.  I’m going to try two varieties for their rough texture and difference in foliage and bloom color.  The one I’m most excited about is ‘Chocolate Wings’

Lobelia silphatica – one of my favorite self seeders.  My current client LOVES blue.  It may be the perfect plant for this area.

Juncus inflexus ‘Blue Arrows’ – another choice for color and fine threadlike foliage with a stiff vertical habit

I’m excited about this part of the project because it allows me to flex and stretch in ways that I don’t always have the opportunity to do.

 

 

 

Traditional landscape design

A Mid-Century Birthday

I have a benchmark birthday tomorrow. You know, one of those decade defining ones.  One I never expected or could even envision–back in the youth driven 1960s and 70s.  I am part of what is still the largest generation in the Western Hemisphere and we are not aging gently or easily.  Sixty is not the new forty.  It is the new sixty. Fifty isn’t the new thirty.  It’s the new fifty. And forty seems to be more angst ridden than the other two for those I know who are reaching it this year.

I strive to be current and  informed, to keep up with trends and ideas.  It is inherent in my curiosity driven personality–I’m still drawn to new ideas, yet in my own work I lean towards the classic.  I’m still evolving as a designer although I feel that I have a defined stylistic lexicon that works for me and my clients.  For the past 10 years I have  been creating landscapes that I hope will last beyond me. I plant trees and build with stone to try to insure their  longevity.

Traditional landscape design

I try and honor the land, the architecture and my client’s dreams.  I know that my work’s stylistic tendencies lean toward the traditional as a reflection of the market that I work in and as much as I love crisp, contemporary style,  I’m okay with that.

It’s ironic that the iconic style in current vogue was in its first heyday when I was in kindergarten.  Modernism screamed ‘This is the Future!”  Today,  Modernist and mid-century designs are sought after as vintage styles and are considered timeless and classic.  So I’m celebrating my benchmark by visiting what I consider to be the most iconic of them all, Phillip Johnson’s Glass House.  Come back next week for the details.  Happy Birthday to me!

Phillip Johnson's Glass House, New Canaan, CT

 

New Providence Meadow

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.

New Providence Meadow daisies and coreopsis Meadow with daisies, New Providence NJ

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.

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.

Beehive hose pot

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…

Image via ABC Carpet and Home

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

Gucci Beehive dress

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…

Honeycomb chair

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

Honeycomb wall trellis

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

Turf honecomb tiles

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

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.

Scout Regalia Raised Garden Bed

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

Raised bed garden

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.

Scout Regalia picnic table

Scout Regalia Outdoor Table Set

All photos via Scout Regalia.

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

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

Upper Pasture Litchfield Daffodils

Laurel Hill Narcissus

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

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.

 

Rock Garden

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.

Rock Garden

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.

Buck Garden Far Hills

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.

Buck Gardens Far Hills NJ

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.

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.

outdoor rug

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

Steel Life Planter

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.

Cooler tote bag

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.

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.

Stump stools

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.

On-line shopping just got a whole lot better.

Blue steel chairs

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 steel chairs

Blue steel garden chair

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

Hubert de Givenchy and Gardens

Hubert de Givenchy is better known his couture creations for Audrey Hepurn than he is as a champion of gardens.  But champion he is. Upon retirement in 1995, he was a key player in the restoration of the Potager du Roi (the King’s Vegetable Garden) at Versailles.  Since then Givenchy has created a very French yet very modern parterre at his chateau in the Loire Valley, Le Jonchet.

Givenchy, Le Jonchet Parterre

In the 16th century, parterres (which don’t have to have any flowers at all) were called referred to as gardens a la francaise. Low clipped boxwood in patterns so ornate they resembled embroidery we’re actually called parterre de broderie and reached their peak at Versailles and were, as a style, appropriated by the upper classes across Europe.  Large parterres required skilled maintenance and were labor intensive and exist today in more contemporary forms.

Parterre at Versailles

Image above via Pinterest 

Back to Monsieur du Givenchy.  The simple circular pattern of the parterre at Le Jonchet is what makes it able to exist today.  Instead of broderie the pattern looks like embroidery hoops–fitting for a retired couturier.  I don’t know if that was the intent.  Although it still requires precise clipping and care, it is totally contemporary and utterly French.  It is a garden I can enjoy, but not necessarily want.

Givenchy, Le Jonchet Parterre

Givenchy, Le Jonchet

The images of Givenchy’s Le Jonchet are from the December 2012 issue of World of Interiors…one of my favorite magazines.

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 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

Guadeloupe painting on Door

Guadeloupe, Gardens, and Prie Dieu

Have you ever visited a garden that as a whole didn’t speak to you but parts of it made you smile?  That happened to me last week.  A garden I visited incorporated an extensive and lively collection of Mexican folk art.  Colorful trinkets were everywhere and way over the top.  Throughout the garden there were multiple icons and images of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, the patron saint of Mexico.  Three of these just made me smile…one, the last one you’ll see here, made me laugh out loud.

Guadeloupe painting on Door
First, she appeared on the kitchen door
Patron Saint of Mexico Guadeloupe
Next she appeared as a mosaic inset on the back of a garden wall
Gardener's shrine to Guadeloupe
Finally, complete with a gardener’s Prie Dieu, in a brick shrine in the side yard

 

Happy Birthday Leaf Magazine!

It’s hard for me to believe that Leaf Magazine is going to be a year old.  Actually it’s way older if you count the planning stages, but our Autumn 2012 issue that will publish next week will mark a full seasonal circle for us.  It’s been a journey of discovery on so many levels and I want to thank everyone who reads it and supports the magazine.  (No I’m not preparing for an awards acceptance speech!)  Some details below the cover…

Inside this issue you are going to find our usual range of things that we find interesting such as Corn Whiskey and Foraged Beauty products along with gardens, plants, books and great furniture and accessories for all types of outdoor styles.

garden

Here Comes the Sun…Yellow is Everywhere

Here comes some bright and sunny punch for gardens.  Yellow.  I started reporting seeing it on the Leaf FB page earlier in the spring, and now I see the idea developing into a full blown color trend.

So here we go…

Designer Michael Tavano used yellow in a big way in this small New York City courtyard designed for the Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House.

garden
A yellow garden wall at the Elle Decor Showhouse

A yellow fountain makes a bold statement in a private Santa Monica courtyard.

garden courtyard
Sunny or grey, yellow punches up the color story

As part of an urban garden/art installation in France…

urban gardens
Yellow helps punctuate the Garden of Cracks…

At the Hampton Court Flower show this year…Designer Mike Harvey showed another yellow garden wall.

garden yellow
Hampton Court garden with a yellow wall

In the French design magazine Cote Maison Sud, there was an entire layout of yellow for outside…

Yellow goes outside
More yellow ideas for outside