Showing posts with label Design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Design. Show all posts

Friday, October 13, 2017

Landscape Choices

Choices from the heart, below.  Why so rare?

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Pic, above, here.
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"Honesty has a power that very few people can handle."  Anon.
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 Basic Crone Attitude: "...I no longer put things in my stomach to please other people..." "By the time one reaches a certain age, one should be able, as Marianne Moore said, 'to have the courage of one's peculiarities'." in "Against Wind and Tide" - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Don't Wish Me Happiness. I Don't Expect to be Happy All The Time... It's Gotten Beyond That Somehow. Wish Me Courage and Strength and a Good Sense of Humor. I Will Need Them All

Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Truth--I always feel like I need to apologize or make up some fiction to cover the fact that I'm not actually doing anything they might consider "important", but which is actually crucially important for my sanity.

#INTJ #Capricorn #Female                                                                                                                                                                                 More
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Make the choices for the garden in your heart.  Manifest.  Live.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mastering the Art of Garden Design: Not What You Think

At the front end of planning your garden, from personal experience, if there is a problem with the outcome, those problems reside in you, not the garden.
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Assumptions about where to begin, "What plants will I have?", wildly, achingly, charmingly, sweetly, misplaced.  Going a step further, I did, decades ago, realized my initial assumptions beyond arrogant.  Worse, arrogance aimed at Nature.  There for me to wield.  Ha.
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Before we have language, we see Nature.  For most that unspoken language, remains throughout life.  Seeing through a glass darkly, thinking as a child type of stuff.
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Getting the horticulture degree, still, did not unlock the door to creating a beautiful garden, understanding Nature's language.  Off to Europe for decades studying historic gardens.  Designing/installing gardens all the while as vocation.  Dots on the Garden Design map emerged, some connected.  Map is not territory. 
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Having lunch at a client's farm, decades from my starting dot, standing inside her kitchen, looking through to the potager, a dot, outside the realm of Garden Design, appeared, and connected all the  dots.  The master dot.  Epiphanies are a drug of choice.  This one simple, seen since birth, yet zero comprehension for decades. 
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Providence never separated ornamental horticulture from agriculture.  Man's folly, made the separation.  Separation dot date?  Onset of the Industrial Revolution, late 19th century.  Until then we  lived with Nature.  The dot was clear.  Without it, death.
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"The eighteenth century was the culmination of thousands of years of agrarian society.  The nineteenth century would bring in the Industrial Revolution to America.  Until then, most societies based their economies on the raising and trading of crops, so nature was always in control.  People measured the work day by the rising and setting of the sun, and one hailstorm or flood could ruin a year's work.  Everyday life was an ongoing struggle against nature.
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Historically when people have been able to raise enough crops and food to sustain a comfortable life, they have challenged nature even further by turning their outdoor environment into a living art form, a pleasure garden.  Most societies have even given the garden religious significance.
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A garden is a balance between measured, human control on one hand and wild, mystical nature on the other.  It is the place where humans attempt to create their particular vision of an idealized order of nature and culture.  A garden is not just the opposition of unpredictable nature and organized society; it is the mediating space between them.  Human intellect, intuition, nurture, and spirit meld together in a garden.  Since culture shapes both the form and meaning of a garden at a particular place and time....."  Barbara Sarudy, Gardens and Gardening in the Chesapeake, 1700-1805.     

Bernard Hickie Garden & Landscape Design
Pic, above, here.

How little can you have in your Garden Design?  When I design a garden, the last question I ask myself, "What can I take away, and it holds together?"
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Inside a garden, above.  Outside a garden, below.
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Ironically, at every price point client, I'm told, "I don't want to spend a lot of money.  It must be easy to take care of."  These gardens, above/below.  Get it right.  Macro and micro.  Master dot.  Maximum pollinator habitat exists where hi density meets low density.  No, this garden isn't agriculture for man, it is agriculture for Nature.  Hence, us.
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Feed the bees. Without them we perish.  Basic.  Simple.  Nature knows, we forgot.  More to this Nature 'stuff', Barbara Saludy alluded to it richly, above.  Cadence.  Will get to that another day. 

 http://kum.dk/Documents/Publikationer/2009/Bygningsbevaring%20-%20HTML/images/s38.jpg
Pic, above, here.
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One of the most potent Garden Designs you'll see, above.  Tara Turf, meadow mowed at differing heights, with a mix of plantings suitable to the zone, attracting myriad insects, attracting myriad mammals, (reptiles too, love my lizards), in turn attracting different genres of insects, mammals to the hedging and wild wood beyond.  Nature in full cycle, master dot included, high density mixed with low density.  While providing for property value increases, HVAC expense decreases, less maintenance, no chemicals, no irrigation.  Easily maintained with unskilled labor.  Of course the goal is to maintain as much as you can yourself, placing mind/body/soul into Nature's realm, Nature's cadence.  As long as you can.   
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Designing gardens, I design simple.  As requested.  After the concept plan, it's normal to receive requests for more 'stuff'.  Here's the negotiation.  Put this plan in first, if you want more later, easy.  Of course the final plan always includes a few of those extras.  If I don't put them in, the client will liberally dose the garden themselves.  Better to be like Barney Fife, Nip It.
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With a proper garden design, epiphanies daily.  Epiphanies that will change your life.  How could Nature not do that for you?  Example?  It's almost fall, when the trees drop their leaves, baring themselves naked ahead of winter, they are being fed by what they let go of.
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Meditate on that.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Garden Narrative: 20's vs 50's

Layers of narrative, below.  At the front end of learning Garden Design professionally, mid-20's,  this type of garden, below, equaled the type of home it fronted.    At that front end, this garden was also too simple, too rigid, too formal, too boring, too lacking.  Oh my what 3 decades have wrought.

French. Gravel courtyard. Symmetry. Exterior.
Pic, above, here.
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Now I see the narrative of this garden as pure joy, wisdom and a proscenium for your life.  Infinite scope for the imagination.  Importantly, easy to maintain.  No drama, your life, fully, enough. 
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More, a Garden Design for any era, any architecture.   
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"The best of life is life lived quietly where nothing happens but our calm journey thru' the day, where change is imperceptible and the precious life is everything.
-John McGahern".
Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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We are back from 10 days in Maine with a bit of Boston.  Portland, Freeport, Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor and more.
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One particular morning, staying at a B&B, still a private home built ca. 1880, on the shore in Bar Harbor, I arose early in excitement, knowing the coffee was awaiting, and exactly where I was going to sit and fully live.  The owner was awake and about, and as I carried my coffee to the porch, an older gentleman, already sitting and fully living, with a great deep voice said, "Good morning."  I replied in kind.  We two continued our full living in the greatest of silence, that symphony of Nature and ocean.
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An hour passed, the owner came outside to ask if we were ok.  The gentleman replied, "We are sharing a deep companionable silence."  She left.  We continued that deep companionable silence.  A few minutes later Beloved arrived, soon breakfast would be served and the day had begun its new threads.  "Take joy", Tasha Tudor signed off with.  Yes, indeed.
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   Image may contain: sky, tree, ocean, outdoor, nature and water
Early morning view, Bar Harbor, Shore Path Cottage.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Playgrounds & Microbiomes

Too many times I'm told, "We must have a lawn for the children."
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'Poppycock' my grandfather would say.
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Chose his word in mission to the front porch/yard, below.
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He was a doctor, he served in WWII.  Member of the greatest generation.
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How many of the greatest generation had the ubiquitous lawn-to-play-on ?  Few.  Instead, it was their generation bringing that lawn into ubiquity once they returned from war.
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Fun, below.  Makes me want to play seesaw too, a doll, and a dog in a wheelbarrow, plenty of running around space.  Scope for the imagination as Anne of Green Gables said in earnest.
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Today, will site my oldest wheelbarrow near the fig & meadow.  Laskett always follows me to the fig bush.  Up he goes, into the wheelbarrow, camera click.
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Better, I'll put a vintage Christening gown on him, to wear in that wheelbarrow.
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Play.  It's contagious.
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Remember well, playing quite hard growing up.  Designing gardens with children, I know to give them 'flow' around entire house.  Solid fence at a side of the house?  Up and over they go.  I did.  No professor in college for horticulture mentioned 'flow' for children in Garden Design.  It is intuitive.
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Twenty years in to my Garden Design career I went to a Feng Shui lecture.  She, the expert, can't remember her name, certainly put 'flow' around a home into her lecture.  With slides to back it up.  Sweet.
 

Pic, above, here.
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Now, this photo reads as a scene from a movie.  We traded for foundation plantings, monoculture tidy lawn, homeowner association rules, deed restrictions, and out the window went this scene, above.
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Complaints about lack of outdoor childhood play have been written about for decades now.  More, scientific studies are arriving showing our bodies need many layers of microbiomes found, yes, outside.  When will the study arrive proving the 'play' construct of childhood is Nature's way of getting us those Microbiomes.
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Swath of lands my childhood play included ranged from our yard, friend's yards, empty lots, the saltwater lake, a street over, behind our house, and a peninsula of land in Galveston Bay 2 blocks away.  Bless that era.  The peninsula, which I considered mine, is now fenced & gated, a sign-in sheet for entry, which the police check, and warnings of all types.  Warnings.  Seriously?  It was my playground, no fear, pure fun.  Different world now.  More important than ever to include play spaces.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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More than making sure children have play spaces, make sure you have play spaces.  A conservatory with vintage furnishings, invite girlfriends for lunch or in the evening for wine/canapes, best 'tea party' ever.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Relandscape vs. Delandscape

Ok, I get the house statement, below.  Well done.
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Landscape?  As my dear friend Susanne Hudson will say, dinky-is-stinky.
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Two approaches, below.  First approach, quite common, decades of experience with this 'issue'.  Build a fine home, there goes the landscape budget.  This home, below, can handle a lower landscape budget.  I would go much lower with this landscape budget.
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How?

mid-century modern house renovation by Cuppett Architects - exterior
Pic, above, here.
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Remove every foundation shrub, above, tuck lawn all-the-way to the house.  Done.
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If I had the chance to live in this home, very nice, lawn to the house, and a dense evergreen hedge at the curb.  More, slant the hedge higher at the right to lower at the left, copying the roof pitch in reverse.
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At present I 'see', "No budget for landscape."
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Merely removing the foundation plantings says, "Architectural choice, bold.  Nothing dinky-is-stinky here."
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This home a good example, removing-ugly frees the house to breath and show its beauty.  TV garden shows are always about adding landscape to make the house better.  It's not uncommon, with older homes especially, removing landscape makes the house better.  Perhaps this should be a named genre, Delandscaping.
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Take it away.
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Hope Delandscaping is a new arrow for your quiver.  Another way to 'see' landscape.
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Garden & Be Well,    XOT
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Lovely tree pruning, above.  
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It's not often I take out an entire foundation planting, perhaps 5-6 times in 3 decades.  Yet, 100% of those 'husbands' said, "I would have ripped it out first day we moved in if I knew my house looked this good."  And they all had waited years.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Penelope Bianchi: Garden Template

Concise architecture, verdant vining vertical lawn, primitive shutters, hi Victorian crenelated benches, potted plantings, no foundation plantings, gravel to the house, diminutive light above the door, the pair of poodles in welcome, no lions here, rich restraint, you have me at first glance.
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At a jobsite yesterday, this garden, below, in my head.  A more formal vernacular French, yet it will be lapping gravel to the house, potted plants, benches against the home, and vine on the home.  

TG interiors: A Day with Penelope Bianchi....
Pic, above, here.
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Client hired me in an emergency.  Angst in her voice at the first phone call.  She had purchased a new smokehouse made to historic templates, and it was arriving in 2 weeks.  Where to place it?  Going full French, by request, I knew exactly where to place it.  Bless & grace in historic Garden Design 'rules'.  Zero fear siting her new 'toy'.  More, she wanted it sited at the edge of their new potager and orchard.  Delightful, the more constraints a garden has, the easier to design.
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Her husband is a garden zealot also, but the poor dear man travels like the wind across the globe for his career.  He had to trust what we were doing with the smokehouse.  Cannot imagine what that felt like for him.  We knew to get the smokehouse right, it must also make him beyond happy when he returned.
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Better than siting the smokehouse correctly, we got something larger.  A garden will inform you when it's pleased.  Their garden said something quite nice, a huge double check.  Approaching their home, from the main approach to the front door, and from a slight angle, as above, it's a Money Shot.
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Wildly excited at this discovery, I told the client right away.  When she saw it, she called her husband right away.  Once he got home, it was obvious to him too.  Three garden nerds in a pod.  High-fiving our Money Shot.
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Meeting with the grading contractor at their site today.  They've got grading, and oodles of other necessities ahead of photography.  You can be sure, their before/after, will include this photo, above.
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Why?  Once you get the memo about Historic Garden Design Rules, you'll be using them too, they're for every site.  Promise.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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I love Penelope Bianchi's garden.  Heart-on-my-sleeve, LOVE.  More pics of her garden here.  Penelope Bianchi's website, here.  Somehow, before internet, social media, love for Penelope Bianchi's garden arrived in a magazine article.  Years pass, blogging etc arrives, and now I love Penelope too, the person, and her garden.  Penelope's interior design and gardens must be imprinted onto your skillset templates.  Consider this your best homework assignment ever.    

Thursday, September 14, 2017

House & Garden Well Matched

Perhaps not your cup of tea, below, but a perfect cup of tea nonetheless.  Deer proof boxwood, evergreen, punctuated topiaried forms amongst the green meatballs.  Low maintenance, drought proof, no bugs.  Amusing, the slight stone dry stack retaining wall.  Great thought went into needing/not needing it.  We see which won.
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Trees lovingly pruned, small space, several rooms & hallways & walls.
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Huge invitation to enter with the pair of urns, graced with stone steps.
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Have a seat in the parlor, chairs/fence using black makes the small spaces 'larger'.
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House used wisely as the backdrop focal point.  Incredible restraint with the house, great simplicity, dozens of choices made, each with the answer, 'No'.  Modesty of the entire package, house & garden, displays a wise heart.

"A garden is not a picture, but a language.", Henry Mitchell.

.I love the yard and the home beyond it makes me curious to see the inside of it!
Pic, above, here.
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As time passes, above, I would prune the meatball hedges into simple hedges, no rounding, letting the rounded topiary shapes 'pop' more.  Better than my thoughts, it would be more fun being friends with this gardener, above, and enjoying it unfold through their head/heart/hands.
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Great joy in getting the call from a gardening friend, "I'm going to move that hedge by the house, and put a gate in the fence near ......"
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Irma update.  Hope it's the last.  Power came on last nite, att phone service came on while we slept, over 3 days without.  Beloved's team cleared, chain-sawed, raked, blew, etc. all yesterday.  We're back to a new normal.  Sunlight has changed with many large lost limbs, new scope for the imagination.  A Georgia Power team & a Tennessee Power team got our power restored, we're on the main drive in the historic district.  Side roads will get power today/tomorrow.  They had greater storm damage.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Plantswoman Into Garden Designer

After acquiring an  American degree in horticulture, educated to be a guy in a truck mowing grass, blowing clippings, siting plants in outcurves/incurves to grow oversized for extra monetizing pruning, needful of fertilizer, chemicals to kill Nature, and a real nice irrigation system, let's not forget the yearly replenishment of mulch, and twice yearly exchange of colorful annuals, all bundled into a tidy yearly contract, $$$.  Hey, who needs more?  Me.
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Late 20's when I began decades of European travel, studying historic gardens, I didn't have words to describe what I was seeking, only words describing what I didn't want about gardens, a few above.  In lieu of words, I was listening to my heart.  Traipsing off, sure of discovery, unaware a pupil of E.M.Forster for sure.
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Blessedly, the first study tour, England & mostly Scotland, I got the memo.  More, the memo arrived, narrated by General Patton, aka George C. Scott.

French houses, French charm and Roses. The stonework has rustic wonder!
Pic, above, here.
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When I hosted my own garden show on CBS-TV their mantra was, don't-tell-me-SHOW-me.
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Exactly how I learned across Europe.  Their historic gardens full of show, and loaded with delightfully intuitive conversation, 'tell', from all the gardeners & owners the sites had the privilege of working with across centuries.
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Quite the example, SHOW, above.  About lost all my knee strength seeing this, decades ago.  Understanding ALL.  Immediately, understanding all.  Where that comes from, intuitive understanding, aka epiphany or koan, I metaphor to my Muse.  Like it was said toward the end of Dr. Zhivago, 'A gift'.
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In hindsight I went to Europe a horticulturist/plantswoman, returned a Garden Designer.  If I was told this would happen, zero chance I would have believed it.  None.
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What did I hear General Patton say from all those years ago?  "Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!"  Quite the proper image popping into mind.  Bombs exploding, Patton winning, he spoke like a warrior, the type I knew.  Age 10, seeing the film when it came out at the theater with my family.  Dad the NASA engineer made it obvious Patton had nothing on him with language or results.  Though, sister/me were deeply impressed at the dinner table one evening, while Chris Craft was director at JSC, dad said, "Chris Craft has the foulest mouth of any man I've met."  We silently made knowing eye contact, "We must hear this Chris Craft."   Ha, never did.  But the awe remains.  Amusing, now, when Beloved says, "You can dog cuss."  A skill I don't use often, perhaps when the little toe on the right foot is broken standing on the bow of a boat trying to hitch the hook from the hoist inside the boathouse.
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Patton's bombs exploding, from the clip, are pure Joseph Campbell, Power of Myth, slaying the dragon, every scale of its hide a metaphor of "Thou Shalt."
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Why tell these stories, above?  These stories are the people hiring me, for decades.  People who've intuited their rabbit hole, gone in a little, maybe a great distance, yet for the Thou Shalt's of their lives, not the full distance.  Job, children, health, many Thou Shalt's, yet intuiting all, without words, just able to still hear a bit of their distant heart.  My life, needing to work for filthy lucre yet a heart unable to stay in the dire depths of Thou Shalt, instead, creating my own job, and taking it.  Collateral with infertility, a great wealth of time granted, honoring that gift, jumping into the rabbit hole, seeking & finding what the heart spoke without words.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT
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JOSEPH CAMPBELL (words of Chief Seattle, 1852): “The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky, the land? The idea is strange to us. Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, all are holy in the memory and experience of my people. We’re part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. Each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father; the rivers are our brothers. They carry our canoes and feed our children.
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If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. This we know: the earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the earth. All things are connected, like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
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“Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? What will happen when the secret comers of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? The end of living and the beginning of survival. When the last red man has vanished with his wilderness and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any spirit of my people left? We love this earth as the newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it; care for it as we’ve cared for it, hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. 
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Preserve the land for all children and love it, as God loves us all. One thing we know, there is only one God; no man be he red man or white man can be apart. We are brothers, after all.” 
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Bold letters mine.  The 'dire' I had to run from, choosing to live, not merely survive.  Beware of choosing to live, it rocks the boat for others in your life.  Bigly.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stone & Flow Garden Design

Macro: Islands in the gravel, no edges.  Meandering flow, as if the gravel were water.
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Micro: Small space, high function, drifts of plantings make the space 'larger' axis views into beauty from the home.
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Crazy: Using green-meatballs and I like them.

Australian Landscape Conference 2013  -  (Honestly, I detest topiary balls....but for some reason, I like this space.  Well done!)
Pic, above, here.
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Garden Design Class, above, in a single pic.  Color echoes a delight, furniture choices/materials perfect.
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Garden & Be Well,    XOT
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Thank you for continued calls, texts, emails about Harvey in Houston.  Mom is dry, kept her power, worst damage are fronds from her palm trees fell.  She said they needed pruning anyway.  Many homes in her neighborhood flooded.  Sister still evacuated, home is dry, and a scare this morning with new mandatory evacuations placed on her neighborhood.  Put her address into the interactive map, she's 4 blocks away.  Hundreds of homes already flooded in her neighborhood, ahead of this new mandatory evacuation.  Keeping hope, she too stays dry.  Prayers for all, people/pets/wildlife/livestock, affected by Harvey.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Layers of Nuance in a Stone Wall

Perhaps for a party, below, the pair of potted hydrangeas?  Love of hydrangeas, past president of the American Hydrangea Society, here, the beauty of meadow, woodland, and sloping hills are too great, to me, to stop the eye with potted hydrangeas.
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Well before these thoughts, there was conversation, deeper, about how to cap the stone wall at entry to meadow-woodland-sloping hills.  Did you already notice that delightful, well constructed, expert nuance?  More, the strong choice made.  Beyond subtle, yet their minds didn't stop with the cap on the wall.
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Did you see that too?  I'll go slow.  Wanting your eyes/brain/heart to see, on its own.

Content in a Cottage
Pic, above, here.
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Hope it sails a thousand ships.
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Quite a sure hand with stone capping, all at the same height.  Yet the crescendo accelerates.  Imperceptibly, the pair of hydrangeas rest upon stone 'columns'.  Notice their slight corners blending into the wall?
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Well done.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT
  

Monday, August 14, 2017

Side Yard Real Estate

Commonly, side yard real estate is ignored.  Perhaps a nod to creating a 'nice' pass-through, at most.
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They got the memo, below.  An entire garden room in their 'side yard'.
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More, they completed every layer of the memo.  Gravel to the house, no foundation planting, and a wall, evergreen shrubs, for privacy.  Pure architecture.  

southwood4.jpg
Pic, above, here.
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Off topic, a sign of the current era of nursery plants, above.  Since the debacle of 2008, commercial nursery contraction, retail nursery contraction, wholesale grower contraction, decent plants are rare.  Plantings at the edge of the graveled garden room, above, are the new normal.  Prior to 2008, my team would have returned those plants as culls.  Worse, guessing from the photo, in addition to fertilized spindly growth, they're probably loosely rooted, perhaps a season or 2 from being bumped up into larger containers.  In the era prior to 2008 it was considered unethical to sell plants newly bumped up/not rooted in.  Now, normal.  It gets worse.  The new normal costs much more.  Labor a huge cost burden to growers, then, again, labor a huge cost burden to crews planting.  Patented plants add another layer of cost.
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A new generation of labor crew leaders has arrived since 2008, how are they to know the new plants at the edge of the gravel garden room, above, are culls?
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For decades, new plantings had to be turned for their best 'front' at planting.  Humorous concept, now, when plants have no 'front' at all. See the gravel, above, thru the foliage of plantings along the concrete?  In the past, plants were so full of vigorous lush foliage, zero gravel would be visible thru them.
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A recent job, we indeed received gorgeous thick lush plants, heavy in their pots & well rooted.  Good timing.  The wholesaler is probably weeks from bumping up plants that haven't sold, into larger pots.  
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Of course Home Depot, Lowe's, and Wal-Mart each forced consolidation of the retail nursery sector prior to 2008.  Most of their current plant purchases are on contract, with the plant wholesaler agreeing to unload/stock shelves with their employees, and take back plants that die or look poorly.  Another layer of cost to you, the retail plant buyer.
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Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.  Could not have imagined these industry changes when I began working it ca. 1985.  Of course back in those days, it gave me my Garden Design career.  The family nursery I worked for did not offer Garden Design, nor keep any employees who did Garden Design.  Why?  Their attitude was an employee doing Garden Design, on their own time, would steal plants.  Why didn't they think an employee doing Garden Design would be buying plants from them?  A customer, not thief.  Their thinking proved detrimental, they bankrupted & had to sell.  Our nursery team mentioned more than once, 'wish they would give us a pay/purchase option in company stock'.  Ironically, the company owning that nursery now, is employee owned.  Go team !  
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Garden & Be Well,    XOT

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Serendipitous Focal Point

Approach, below.

Weeks of endless Summer - Ben Pentreath Inspiration

Obvious, below, pair of urns as back drop to the bench.  But wait. there is more.

Weeks of endless Summer - Ben Pentreath Inspiration

Look what happens, below, with one of those urns from above.

Weeks of endless Summer - Ben Pentreath Inspiration

When I'm designing gardens on site or in my office, this 'game' always happens.  Designing historically, and receiving serendipities, above.
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Makes me laugh out loud, every time.
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The serendipities are sign posts, "You're doing this right."  More, knowing my Muse is in league with the same Providence as, above.  They're all having a party while I'm working.  This 'work' my party ticket.
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Work a poor word for my livelihood.  One meaning includes, "...the absence of pleasure."
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Anyway.  All of the above merely letting you know when you get it right, you'll receive party tickets too.  Along with a gorgeous garden.
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Garden & Be Well,  XO T
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Pics from Ben Pentreath.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Double Axis: Focal Point Technique

Double Axis.  A focal point must have a focal point at both ends of its axis..
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Amazing, the things they do not teach you in school.
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Focal point bench, below.  Sitting in the bench, you must create a focal point in the opposite direction, bottom.

Weeks of endless Summer - Ben Pentreath Inspiration

Weeks of endless Summer - Ben Pentreath Inspiration
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Got it?
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Do it.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Pics from Ben Bentreath.
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And most think Garden Design is some sort of voodoo, its practitioners thinking up la-ti-da maybe this/maybe that a bit here a bit there.  Nope.  Garden Design is pure templated known geography zero recreating the wheel its mechanics laid bare for all the world to see.  See.  Therein lies the problem.  Pure seeing.  My best epiphanies about garden design came years after looking, not seeing.  The map is not the territory.  Gardens that do not satisfy are exactly drawn from the known map.  Beautiful gardens expose the territory here, and other realms.  Want that?  Get you some.  Bemused I am about how befuddled I was before seeing the territory, trying to follow the map.
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Best compliment ever, recently.  A Canadian client said I was PECULIAR.  Ok, thank you.  In truth it's peculiar to me, trying to live by the map.  Been there done that.  Once you hop off the map, into the territory of your life, there is no going back.  Why would you?  Got it?  Do it.  Want it?  Get it.
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Warning.  Not for the faint of heart.  Leaving the map, for your territory, is exactly where the ancient mapmakers, before knowing the world was round, foretold at map's edge, Beyond this point there be dragons.  Remember the dragon, breathing fire at all who would take his virgin girl.  Every scale of his hide a 'Thou shalt not'.  That fact is living according to your life's map.  Killing that dragon is living in your life's territory.  Got that?
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From, In the Field,

"The privelege of a lifetime is being who you are.

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What you have to do, you do with play.

Life is without meaning.
You bring the meaning to it.

The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.

Being alive is the meaning.

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The warrior's approach is to say "yes" to life: "yea" to it all.

Participate joyfully is the sorrows of the world.

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.

When we talk about settling the world's problems, we're barking up the wrong tree.
The world is perfect. It's a mess. It has always been a mess.
We are not going to change it.
Our job is to straighten out our own lives.

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We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.
Hell is life drying up.
The Hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed.
If we are hanging onto the form now, we're not going to have the form next.
You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.

Destruction before creation.

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Out of perfection nothing can be made.
Every process involves breaking something up.
The earth must be broken to bring forth life.
If the seed does not die, there is no plant.
Bread results from the death of wheat.

Life lives on lives.

Our own life lives on the acts of other people.
If you are lifeworthy, you can take it.
What we are really living for is the experience of life, both the pain and the pleasure.
The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.

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Opportunities to find deeper powers with ourselves come when life seems most challenging.
Negativism to the pain and ferocity of life is negativism to life.
We are not there until we can say "yea" to it all.
To take a righteous attitude toward anything is to denigrate it.
Awe is what moves us forward.
As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don't bother to brush it off.
Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance. Having a sense of humor saves you.

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Eternity is a dimension of here and now.
The divine lives within you.

Live from your own center.

Your real duty is to go away from the community to find your bliss.

The society is the enemy when it imposes its structures on the individual.
On the dragon there are many scales. Every one of them says "Thou Shalt."
Kill the dragon "Thou Shalt."
When one has killed that dragon, one has become The Child.

Breaking out is following your bliss pattern, quitting the old place, starting your hero journey, following your bliss.
You throw off yesterday as the snake sheds its skin.

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Follow your bliss.
The heroic life is living the individual adventure.

There is no security in following the call to adventure.

Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be.

To refuse the call means stagnation.
What you don't experience positively you will experience negatively.

You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path.
Where there is a way or path, it is someone else's path. You are not on your own path.
If you follow someone else's way, you are not going to realize your potential.
(note: this is what the Holy Grail is all about... not some cup --dv)
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The goal of the hero trip down to the jewel point is to find those levels in the psyche that open, open, open, and finally open to the mystery of your Self being Buddha consciousness or the Christ.
That's the journey.

It is all about finding that still point in your mind where commitment drops away.

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It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life.
Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.
THe very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damned thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center.

You find the jewel, and it draws you off.

In loving the spiritual, you cannot despise the earthly.

The purpose of the journey is compassion.
When you have come past the pairs of opposites, you have reached compassion.

The goal is to bring the jewel back to the world, to join the two things together.

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The seperateness apparent in the world is secondary.
Beyond that world of opposites is an unseen, but experienced, unity and identity in us all.

Today, the planet is the only proper "in group."

You must return with the bliss and integrate it.

THe return is seeing the radiance everywhere.

Sri Ramakrishna said: "Do not seek illumination unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond."

If you want the whole thing, the gods will give it to you. But you must be ready for it.

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The goal is to live with godlike composure on the full rush of energy, like Dionysus riding the leopard, without being torn to pieces.


A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation:
"As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm.
Jump.
It is not as wide as you think."
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Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers, "JOSEPH CAMPBELL AND THE POWER OF MYTH

Ep. 4: Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth — ‘Sacrifice and Bliss’

In the fourth episode of The Power of Myth, Bill Moyers and mythologist Joseph Campbell discuss the role of sacrifice in myth — including a mother’s sacrifice for her child — and the need for all of us to find our sacred places in the midst of today’s fast-paced world. In this clip, the two discuss where heroism can be witnessed in modern society.
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Watch, or read the transcript, here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Landscape Design: Squares & Rectangles

Plain, below, functional, cubist, calm.  Oddly, playful.  More than a style for gardeners, a style for anyone not 'wanting' a garden too, content with the foundation plantings/lawn/annuals miasma.


Concrete stepping stones in a contemporary setting                                                                                                                                                                                 More
Pic, above, here .

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Pic, above, here.
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Gardens of squares & rectangles. Myriad materials, stone, gravel, lawn, bushes, trees, decks.
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Peter Fudge created the garden at top, at their website, enjoy clicking thru the playfulness of squares & rectangles.
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Fudge owns Squares & Rectangles.  So much so, he gives it away to all.  Sign of a master.  Copy, first rule of Historic Garden Design.  No confidence for that?  No worries.  Copy Fudge exactly, each site is unique upon this Earth, creating each garden one-of-a-kind.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Miasma.  Nice day being able to write miasma, I must be sure to use it in conversation today too.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What Simplicity Provides

Extreme simplicity in a garden creates the best focal point.
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jardim natural
Pic, above, here.
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YOUR LIFE.
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Myriad layers of simplicity allow for the depths & heights of your life.
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Oh my the well fought battle, above, for simplicity.
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"A woman with a closet full of clothes, and nothing to wear, doesn't know herself very well." , Bill Blass.
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What you choose to have, keep, allow in your garden, says so much about you.  Whether you think so, or not.
Garden & Be Well,  XOT

Monday, July 17, 2017

Binding House to Site: Focal Point & Enfilade

A current client, 14 acres, and well tucked into their property, built a new home to look like a historic home.  At the first visit I fell for the ruse, thought they had renovated an antebellum home.
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The lane leading to their gravel drive is a single lane gravel road along an active train track.  Open & wooded their land has all the right drama including level and a few slopes.
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First salvo with their property is the approach at the train track, flow for cars & feet from entry to house, barn, dependencies, orchard & potager.  More importantly, currently past age 50, no detailing care with maintenance, ever.  Not a consideration & won't be tolerated.  Staring down age 80 makes simplicity, simple.
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All of the above is 'easy'.  They're all necessities, and historic templates are well trod as guides.  What bothered me most is the house not being tied to its site, well sited, it has no strings attached to the garden.
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Walking the grounds about the house, with their pack of older rescue dogs, her specialty, the tie that binds house to garden appeared.  Better, it's within an enfilade, travels past the entrance court, past the entry lane, up a slope, lands upon a pasture flat, and continues up another slope finally ending at the orchard+meadow.  What are the chances of this great gift?  Woo-woo.
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The focal point within this perfect enfilade, at present, has a single florescent pink flag staking it.  More, it can be a stone slab on a tree trunk table, a statue or urn on plinth or etc.  Whatever, the focal point must be within a dias, level with the ground, of stone or brick.  Hope you already know why.  Answer is above.  
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The tractor must be able to easily whiz around the focal point.  At speed.

Petersham nurseries another love of mine, garden fresh food, mixed with antique finds and gardening delights
Pic, above, here.

 COTE DE TEXAS
Pic, above, here.
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She will love getting the focal point right.  He will love whatever she does, eventually.
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He will be the one installing dias and topper.  You know there will be some grumbling.  Her at the front door of their home, one terminus of the enfilade, yards away, cell phone in hand, "Move it 6 inches to the right, get it level."
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His grumbling will include me, sad for the day he ever heard my name.  This phase doesn't last long.  Glad I know that ahead of time.  Men are predictable.  It takes that first party, after the garden is installed and suddenly they knew how to do their garden from the beginning.  Fine with me, I get to be the Mary Poppins Gardener, arriving when the wind changes, leaving as the wind changes again.  In my carpet bag, knowing where to site focal points & enfilades, hedges, etc....
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sighting A Hedge for Screening

Hiding a view, the closer your plantings the faster the hiding.
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Neighbor's house, below, is quite close already, the design/placement of planting close, an automatic.
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If the neighbor's house were 100' away, still site the evergreen hedge where it is.  Not near the property line.  Especially if you want to have early morning coffee on the terrace, in your gown.

Habitually Chic® » Sag Harbor Secret Revealed
Pic, above, here.
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The closer the hedge, the faster the screening.
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Put that in your memory bank.
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You may not need it, but a friend might.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT
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Placing large evergreens for screening recently, 'husband' wanted them in a certain spot, near the property line.  I mentioned a spot closer to his home, providing much faster privacy for his screened/roofed porch. Which was his focus.  He paused long, "That's where my wife said to put them."  Sweet moment, she loved it when I told her.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tiny Garden Respite


Probably slapdash, below.  Yet fine tuned, inherent.  Barrel & half barrel collateral from their Vins & Liqueurs.  Even the colors echo from building to barrel.  Sited in equal asymmetry as the architecture, and function.  Finally, the trinity of pots/plants on the table, each a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, yet matched disparateness.

La rue des Ursins à l'angle de la rue des Chantres, Paris (IVe arr.), France, juillet 1914, (Autochrome, 9 x 12 cm), Stéphane Passet, Département des Hauts-de-Seine, musée Albert-Kahn, Archives de la Planète, A 13 657
Pic, above, here.

Adore how little the 'garden', how great its statement.
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Furniture in-the-garden maximized to function, yet warm invitation to comfort & hospitality.  Table/chairs echoed just inside the door, repetition.  And those fonts.
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A sliver between building and road, yet a respite from those worlds.
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An odd affliction, adoring  little-giving-much.  Especially potent when it's woven into a livelihood.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Before-After: Grave Site Garden Design

Hardest job I've done.  He hired me, the 1st time, about 4 years ago.  Now, he's under the black frames, below.
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He & his wife became the fun couple on Facebook.  Always together, mostly in the Caribbean during winter, home a few days, perhaps a quick trip to France, perhaps etc.  The clothes, the food, the conveyances, myriad events, their precious dogs, smiles, fun times, fun bearing witness.  Glad someone is 'living the life'.  More to it of course.  His hard work at a company he built over decades, and his earnest stewardship of more than 200 employees.  His funeral at the largest church in town, standing room only.  Graveside service, below, filled the cemetery curbs with cars.
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For too many weeks after the funeral, she's had to come to this barren patch.  Alone.  Nothing.
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She asked for their cemetery plot, 6 spaces total, rectangular shaped, to look like their backyard.  I designed/installed it, but hadn't been back recently.  Made an appointment to see her, at home.  Terrible appointment, both crying throughout.  Thru the tears, I got what I needed to exactly design their grave site.  On the upper deck, from their kitchen/family room, she said, "This was his favorite spot in the world to be."  In addition, "We love the Caribbean and want it to look like that."      

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Leaving a lot of the story out, he was murdered, by his grown son.  She was home when it happened.

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More than wanting to design their cemetery plot to remind her of their backyard & Caribbean, I know she has the murder trial ahead of her.  His grave site must step up to the plate & nurture her during darker days to come.
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Designing their backyard, they had asked for a Caribbean theme too.  And we put in a pool.  A portion, from the outdoor shower to the pool, thru a patch of lawn, has a checkerboard square.  Travertine surrounds the pool.  In addition I spent several sessions vision questing Caribbean cemeteries online.  She wanted the same travertine at the grave.

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Our mason poured concrete, above, for the travertine.  I knew the grave site must have her palm trees, and his beloved red Japanese maples.  Turf for the checkerboard, and the small amount of groundcover, Big Blue liriope.  His eyes were the color of the Caribbean, stunning.  Sourcing  plants, below.

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Studying Caribbean cemeteries it's obvious the pair of colors to use, green-white.

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Ok, next, the seriousness of designing a garden for a nationally owned cemetery.  Layers of rules, and constraints.  I was given the name/number for the manager of the cemetery.   In addition, I wanted the garden design for the grave site to be malleable to input from her sister & brother.  No children, she's being supported emotionally by her siblings.
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A few days after giving her the garden design, she called & said it was good.  That's when I called and introduced myself to the manager of the cemetery.  Told him the constraints she had given me for the garden design, and more importantly, I was a team player.  Whatever the cemetery needed, I could abide by.  Happy to make changes.
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Sent the plan to him as an attachment, and a couple of weeks later, received approval.  Total approval.   Amazing, the plan went to their national headquarters, and passed, zero changes.
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During construction, met with the cemetery manager on site.  Graveyards are not what they used to be.  The section we worked in has irrigation for each grave.  You want, you pay.
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More, he said the room with casket display was being remodeled as a party room, with space for caterers.  And, more people are choosing cremation, causing his industry to change.

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Cemetery allowed us to make a cut into the curb for entry, above.  Pair of red Japanese maples will be pruned into a bower arching over the entry.  Boxwood edging will be pruned to knee height.  A bench is on order, and soon, annuals will be planted at the entry.
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She will augment cemetery maintenance for the grave site with private.
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As hard as this grave site remains for her, cannot imagine the days she has yet to unfold, in the court room with his murderer.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Friday, July 7, 2017

Muse Answers the Right Questions Not Only those Asked

An interesting project is on my vintage portable wallpapering 'desk'.  Hired for their swimming pool, it has entirely too many plants.  The pool is rocking an outdoor kitchen, dining room, living room, huge Las Vegas style fire ring table, waterfalls, and other such things money can stuff into a small space.  My clients are the 2nd owners of the home.
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Knowing what to do with plantings directly at the pool didn't matter, Muse put the brakes on.  Client, a bonafide plant freak, has been pestering me, politely, about pool planting plan now-now-now.   Muse did not budge.  Finally, a few days ago, not thinking in the least about this pool/garden, Muse spoke and poured visuals into my realm.  Oh gosh.
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I sourced pics to print, and too wildly, discovered a couple of quotes directly related to this job.  Muse, for sure.  Made me laugh out loud in my office.
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Above the pool, built into a slope, is a lovely meadowed pasture rimmed with trees of our Piedmont.  Muse decided upon an orchard with summer house, exactly there.  I rather knew this at the 1st visit, but kept my mouth shut, I was hired for plantings at the pool.
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Muse decided upon simple Dutch styled gardens with heavy influences of Sir Edwin Lutyens & Frank Lloyd Wright.  If you know anything about both men, you know Frank baby stole shamelessly from Lutyens.  Bless his greedy heart, and his Muse for paying attention.  




Muse strayed provacatively throughout my clients entire property.  Their sloped front yard, must have a dry stack stone wall, and existing plantings streamlined into a nice Dutch/Lutyens/FLW.



This sloped property, above/below, owned by Matt Lauer & for sale, was Garden Designed by Miranda Brooks, it has 25 acres.  Seems like a lot of property to design, yet once started upon farmesque property even 300 acres isn't so much.  Crazy but true.






What a hoot, Muse.  Met with my client yesterday, she thought I had the completed pool planting plan, I did.  But that was the least of it.  Spilled the beans with her about Muse and why the pool plantings, in the scheme of things, are minor, compared to where her garden wants to go.
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More, client is a bit past age 50, Muse has spoken for her 80 year old self.
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Simple hedging, above, exactly the Dutch/Lutyens/FLW inspired work Muse vision quested into my head.
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At this point in the game husbands are very afraid of me.  If they brave it out, most do, they begin in later years to ask their wives, "What does Tara's Muse say about.......?"
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Muse is shocking in the most delightful of ways.  Finished, finally, a plan in Canada several weeks ago.  Muse was obdurate with it too.  I know to trust Muse, but it does begin to feel like life on a banana peel, awaiting the magic.  Back to Canada, a tiny minuscule garden.  Knew what to do, but Muse wouldn't let loose.  Finally.  Muse fixed their problematic deck.  Levels and size were involved which meant zoning issues.  Whew, Muse pushed it but all was approved.  Needed a Facetime appointment with owner of their construction team.  Loved him.  Loved.  Like the men on my team, taking what is designed and adding their magic/Muse too.
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Built gardens are a team effort.
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Don't have a garden Muse?  Read the best garden books written from across centuries, and tour gardens that are the best in the world.  Garden Muse adores that type of sustenance most.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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All pics, here.