Showing posts with label Doorstep Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doorstep Gardening. Show all posts

Friday, November 17, 2017

Beyond the Obvious: This Gate's Full Mission

Born a Garden Whisperer, holes were left in that primordial gift.  Holes created before birth, when thousands of years of Gardening transitioned from pastoral to industrial, less than 200 years ago. 
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Decades of my life passed before I knew anything was missing.  True to form, lacking knowledge about gardening never stopped me from knowing what it was all about.  The grand gift of Providence to all.  We are set on this garden of Earth, soil, plants, sun/moon, livestock, pastures, weather, poof, we're each an expert.  It's just dirt, right?
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For the few choosing to seriously Garden, realization arrives, in our industrialized era, we have no vocabulary to describe gardening.
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Little time to go deeper, instead, will give you a huge hint about what our era has lost.  Providence never separated horticulture from agriculture.  Still doesn't.  We separate it at our own peril, and do.  Mostly without realization.  No judgment.  How could I?  Lived decades, seriously Gardening, before awakening.
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All of the, above, is about the gate, below.  Secondarily about its brick wall.

Walled garden
Pic, above, here.
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So, the gate, above.
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Pretty, is obvious.  It's form chosen with love, care, purpose.
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Go further, to its function, look past its form.
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Can you tell me the gate's diligent purpose in function?  Beyond the macro, to the micro.
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Seriously, why is the gate formed to function exactly as it is?  Beyond pretty, there is serious business taking place with this gate.
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How did I discover the purpose of this gate's function?  Working for a client, on a farm.  As Providence intended, discovery working from a pastoral life.  Not that industrialization is bad, but the lifestyle of stewardship pastoral living conveys into us has been lost, in the macro, and too much of the micro, with industrialization.
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Getting to the understanding of this gate, and its function, was deeply humbling.  What else am I not
seeing?  If I didn't get-it about this type of gate for so many decades.
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Wildly tempted to not tell you, here, the purpose of this gate's function.  Wanting you to think for yourself.  Not a bit of arrogance, more, sharing in how I adore to learn.
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My grandmother would have known exactly why this gate has its form for its function.  Born early 20th century, raised on a farm, pastoral.  She was living fully in the industrialized era by the time I was born.
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No.  You figure it out.  The gate's full purpose.  My gift to you, figuring it out.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Would not have figured it out myself, without having clients on farms.  Once discovered, OBVIOUS, basic.  Simplicity of answer, a life epiphany.  Pastorally, the answer is 1st order thinking.  Industrialized, I could not have answered it, without dipping into pastoral.  What more have we lost, living industrialized?
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Remember your math book from high school?  It would have a few of the answers at the back of the book, so you could check your work, but not all.  Ha, this is one of those.  The answer is not down here, it's for you to own and enjoy.
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TARA DILLARD: Focal Points in the Landscape
Pic, above, a gate in my garden.
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This gate, above, would be no good, for a potager walled garden.  Chickens can get thru.  Lose an entire crop of seedlings?  Damage beyond repair dozens of crop plants?  Not an option, when the food you grow is mostly the only food you have.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Edward Slingerland: Wu-Wei in the Garden

Most requested by clients/students?  "I don't want to spend a lot of money, it must have little maintenance."  This is what I know for sure.  Replying in detailed response to that pair of demands, via Gardenese language, no one accepts, no one.  From those who have asked, of course.
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"Wonder, and its expression in poetry and the arts, are among the most important things which seem to distinguish men from other animals, and intelligent and sensitive people from morons."  Alan Watts, The Way of Zen.
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"Things become complicated only when we think about them."  Alan Watts.


Shanks House in Cucklington - Somerset, England
Pic, above, here.
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"Trying to force a lock bends the key.  For which reason a truly intelligent man never forces an issue."  Alan Watts.  (I must try harder to prevent bent-key-thinking.  Better, when bent-key-thinking intrudes into my life, from another, "I'm not listening to your bent-key-thinking.")
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"To have faith is to trust yourself to the water.  When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown.  Instead you relax and float."  Alan Watts.
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Wielding this style Garden Design, above, rich, humorous, humbling.  Further along the Garden Design archetype than whence begun.  Few immune to the Garden Design archetypes path.  Nothing new, existed well before cuneiform records.
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Humorous?  Simplicity, above, gives you, you.  Richest construct in your life, you.
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"We have allowed brain thinking to develop and dominate our lives.  As a consequence, we are at war within ourselves.  The brain desiring things which the body does not want, and the body desiring things which the brain does not allow; the brain giving directions which the body will not follow, and the body giving impulses which the brain cannot "  Alan Watts.
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Funny?  In my garden, there is no 'me'.  In my garden, my body hears what my brain cannot.  In my garden, I am gone, with the body remaining present.  Follow your bliss, find where you experience eternity here, Joseph Campbell truths.  In my garden there is no me, no time, no hunger, no tiredness, no awareness of bruising/bleeding, no sense of want, no fear, expansive joy.  Deeper, at the conclusion of being in my garden, answers arrived to questions known, and unknown, ahead of being in my garden.  Epiphanies from spirit, without fear.
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Seek presence over productivity.  Gaining maximum productivity, though not sought.  .
"All to easily, we confuse the world as we symbolize it with the world as it is."  Alan Watts. 
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Before I had a language describing being in my garden I labeled it, "The best selfishness ever."  After a few years realized it is grace.  How could it not be grace?  Epiphanies too many, too potent, life changing.  Bounty of resources, from garden epiphanies, beyond measure.  Into the realm of E.M.Forster describing a multi-millionaire woman, one of his characters, as having no 'resources'.  Interesting.  Letting go, giving up control, is a resource. 
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"The brainy modern loves not matter but measures, no solids but surfaces."  Alan Watts. 
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There are places to "Transcend our futile strategies for controlling life and surrender to its living essence."  In the garden, merely one. 
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"We have been taught to believe that the best way to achieve our goals is to reason about them carefully and strive consciously to reach them. Unfortunately, in many areas of life this is terrible advice. Many desirable states — happiness, attractiveness, spontaneity — are best pursued indirectly, and conscious thought and effortful striving can actually interfere with their attainment."  Edward Slingerland
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Your act of choice, is my Garden Design writing.  Write an article about how to dig a hole?  No longer do I confuse the map for the territory, noise for signal.  Though I'm wicked good about digging a hole with a shovel or auger attached to a Caterpillar.  Pure noise, how to dig a hole if you're wanting a good garden, you in your Garden is signal territory.
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For the early Chinese thinkers … the culmination of knowledge is understood, not in terms of grasping a set of abstract principles, but rather as entering a state of wu-wei. The goal is to acquire the ability to move through the physical and social world in a manner that is completely spontaneous and yet fully in harmony with the proper order of the natural and human worlds (the Dao or “Way”). Because of this focus on knowing how rather than knowing this or that, the Chinese tradition has spent a great deal of energy over the past two thousand years exploring the interior, psychological feel of wu-wei, worrying about the paradox at the heart of it, and developing a variety of behavioral techniques to get around it. The ideal person in early China is more like a well-trained athlete or cultivated artist than a dispassionate cost-benefit analyzer."  Edward Slinglerland     
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"Our excessive focus in the modern world on the power of conscious thought and the benefits of willpower and self-control causes us to overlook the pervasive importance of what might be called “body thinking”: tacit, fast, and semiautomatic behavior that flows from the unconscious with little or no conscious interference. The result is that we too often devote ourselves to pushing harder or moving faster in areas of our life where effort and striving are, in fact, profoundly counterproductive."  Edward Slingerland. 
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Clients with gardens getting-there the fastest?  All women, ages 40+, and a gay couple who travel the globe for their work, and are 30+/50+. 
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"Some of the most elusive objects of our incessant pursuits are happiness and spontaneity, both of which are strikingly resistant to conscious pursuit."  Maria Popova
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Wu-wei literally translates as “no trying” or “no doing,” but it’s not at all about dull inaction. In fact, it refers to the dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person who is optimally active and effective. People in wu-wei feel as if they are doing nothing, while at the same time they might be creating a brilliant work of art, smoothly negotiating a complex social situation, or even bringing the entire world into harmonious order. For a person in wu-wei, proper and effective conduct follows as automatically as the body gives in to the seductive rhythm of a song. This state of harmony is both complex and holistic, involving as it does the integration of the body, the emotions, and the mind. If we have to translate it, wu-wei is probably best rendered as something like “effortless action” or “spontaneous action.” Being in wu-wei is relaxing and enjoyable, but in a deeply rewarding way that distinguishes it from cruder or more mundane pleasures."  Edward Slingerland.
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"We’re drawn to people with wu-wei, Slingerland argues, because we inherently trust the automatic, unconscious mind due to a simple fact from the psychology of trust — because spontaneity is hard to fake, we intuit that spontaneous people are authentic and thus trustworthy. But Western thought has suffered from centuries of oppressive dualism, treating intuition and the intellect as separate and often conflicting faculties — a toxic myth that limits us as a culture and as individuals. Fortunately, Slingerland points out, recent decades have brought a more embodied view of cognition acknowledging the inextricable link between thought and feeling and debunking, as Ray Bradbury so eloquently did, the false divide between emotion and rationality. (We’ve seen, too, that metaphorical thinking is central to our cognitive development, and metaphor is itself rooted in emotion.) The Chinese tradition, on the other hand, has a millennia-long history of cultivating a more integrated model of the human experience...Maria Popova .
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If you haven't discovered Maria Popova yet, you're going to be glad you have now.
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Letting go, and finding eternity, in the garden, has made my life.  Those in my tribe, share this joy.  This is your garden.  Not me writing about when to deadhead your peonies. 
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Within each Garden Design, from a historic template, wu-wei/grace/abiding, is the bonus.  Guaranteed. 
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Color: Counterintuitive Paint Trim

Happy charmer, below.  Makes me want to go inside. 
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See a change, an easy change too, making the roof higher and house taller?
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Once I tell you the change, you won't believe me.
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But, true nonetheless.
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Know?

Front door paint colour in green. Curb appeal with blue siding #colorhunters #curbappeal
Pic, above, here.
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Paint the trim at roof line, a tone darker than the siding or a darker tone from the roofing material.  Seems counterintuitive.
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White jumps forward, and pulls down, at roof line.  Darker tones heighten a home by a 1', or more.  Promise.
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Can't finish without mentioning the 'Welcome' sign.  Banal.  Dinky is Stinky.
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Especially here.  The front door is screaming 'Welcome !' with incredible class & elegance.  Why diminish that impact?
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Be wary putting words into your garden.  Can be done well, but with care.
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Favorite sign in a garden?  Tea Room & Toilets .
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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More rabbit holes in this photo.  Those delicious lights, too perfect.  But, that is gardening.  Layers of delight here.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Color: Use as A Tool

Color, as a magical force, below.
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Fence, below, extends architecture of the house.
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Don't know any of their constraints, below.  Simply a charming garden.
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If the garden, below, is tiny, staining the fence a green/black, instantly enlarges the space.  Pop.  And, makes the fence disappear.
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Merely using color as a tool.
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If the house has shutters, below, often that is the color for the fence.

Clôtures, Maisons de campagne and Piquets de clôtures blanches on ...
Pic, above, here .
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Leave no layer of your Garden Design without thoughts/consequences.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Accidental Garden

Moving into our ca. 1900 home 2 years ago this month, I remember vividly a moving truck backed into the drive, below, unloading these potted plants, near midnight, temp hi 80's, humidity hi 90's, and it was the 3rd trip unloaded that day.
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I dug no plants to move, the only plants moved are in these pots, below.  Pots not moved since arrival.  Have not gardened yet.  Beloved has spent 2 years removing invasives, clearing for roads, reconditioning pond/dam, grading, renovating sheds, house, painting, irrigation,  etc.
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Late spring/early summer Beloved was beyond himself wanting tomatoes.  No potager yet, we walked the garden picking a spot, temporary, for his tomatoes.  On his own, he decided the chosen spot was too far away, and he brought a dozen large black plastic pots to the drive, below.

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

Yes, this was a drive, above/below.  What had been a single-car-garage in the real estate ad began life as a single carriage barn, a 2-seat sport model carriage at most, with a long rotted away wood floor by the time we 1st looked at the property.  Seller, realtor, inspector, us, were quite mum's-the-word-on-that-'garage'. Beloved put in the stone wall, stopping the flow of water into the 'garage', which is now a shed.  

Image may contain: people sitting, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Tree & pots, below, are on the property line.  Typically historic, house near the road, facing east, at a property line, allowing space for an orchard on the other side of the house.

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature


Image may contain: people sitting, plant and outdoor

Chairs, above, still painted the same green from my previous garden.

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

From the deck, Beloved's tomatoes, below.  Close to the house, they've earned a permanent spot.  Will prepare potager beds before fall planting, below, trimmed with bricks from our chimneys, alas, removed for safety.  Granite gravel, #89, best with the color of our house, quarry no more than a mile away.

Image may contain: plant, tree, house, outdoor and nature

See the chairs in front of the shed, above?  Nice trick, and an even better place to have lunch or sit late evening with my cats.
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Having the potager this close to the house, pure accident.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT
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Pics shot yesterday/today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Prune an Arch Into It


Prune an arch into it, below.
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Pruned arches were a take away from all my historic garden design study tours across Europe for decades.  Especially nice is using the 'pruned arch', not only 'saving' an existing 'bad' landscape, but saving the plant too.
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Often, mid-century, & newer, subdivision homes are completed with a front foundation planting of green meatballs, and a larger 'something' at left/right corners.  Those corner 'somethings' lend themselves for pruning an arch into.  Not always, but often enough.
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Whether designing on site, or long distance, the moment pruning an arch is mentioned, the light bulb moment with my client is pure joy to experience.  What had been a problem, gains an easy, pretty, functional solution, and likely saving the plant/s from execution.  

By pastures green - Ben Pentreath Inspiration:
Pic,above, here.
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More than the pruned arch, above, this lone garden pic is a Garden Design class.
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Ceiling, walls, floor, stone set into gravel, furniture in the garden, contrasting foliage color/texture, pot cluster subsidiary focal point at the focal point of the door, pruning, flow, mystery. scale, timelessness, invitation, simplicity,
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Am designing a family cemetery plot now.  At its entry a pair of Japanese maples 'Bloodgood', pruned into an arch.    'Pruning', a layer of the design.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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First putting pencil to paper with the cemetery plot, tougher than expected.  I know the family, designed their backyard.  Surviving spouse wants the plot to look like their backyard.  Much.  Tougher.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Southern Living Magazine: A Garden

For 20 years of my career, Southern Living magazine was 'the' resource for clients.  Most had pages dog-eared or torn out ready to show the garden of their dreams.  In return, equally, it was gratifying to reproduce those beautiful images.  Aside from reading Southern Living myself, for pleasure, I 'had' to read it because it was an expectation of clients.  
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Then came John Floyd's retirement in 2008, the editor for those glory years my clients adored.
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After John Floyd, Southern Living became a magazine for Southerners written through the prism of those outside the South.  Dropped my subscription after an article that can only be described as snarky & demeaning, lacking in inspiration, choosing the trite & hackneyed, without intellect or stewardship, time enriched became time wasted.  How could they.  Get John back.
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Oddly, another magazine had just been founded a year prior to John Floyd's retirement, Garden & Gun.  What a title.  It sputtered, as all businesses did during the debacle of 2008.  Time passed, about 5 years ago clients would start a sentence, "Did you see the latest Garden & Gun"?  Never was it about a garden, but someplace to eat, travel, or an article richly configured splaying open an epiphany, or two.  Three years ago, after buying a few copies on news stands, knew I had to get a subscription.  Zero disappointment.  However, the 'garden' part of Garden & Gun seems shallowly formulated, still in its infancy.  Don't care.  The rest of the magazine gives more than enough.
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Saw a garden picture, below, recently and love it.  Enough love, had to discover its source.  Well, go team, Southern Living magazine.  Hope this spark turns into a fire and I get 2-3 clients saying, "I saw this in Southern Living...."


Front Porch with Green Rocking Chairs

Just wow, above/below, simple, comfortable, easy to maintain, leveraging life, not sucking the life out of you trying to keep it up, and historically accurate.
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Monteagle, Tennessee Cottage

The story gets better with this garden, above.  The Southern Living article includes the interior.  This is a second home for the owners, and part of their joy in this home is sharing it with others, whether they are there, or not.
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Yeah, Southern Living magazine is back on the radar.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Oh irony.  Garden & Gun hired a lot of staff from NYCity, relocating them to the South at its founding.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What's Missing from this Front Porch?

Sitting on the front porch swing, below, yesterday before dinner.
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Furnishings are functional, still not 'permanent' after moving here 2 years ago.  Awaiting back deck staining & building a conservatory, both may pull furniture from front porch.  Until then, no worries, I like using the front porch.    Floor, below, still needs staining.
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Chair, at front door, below, leverages me coming/going from my car for work and grocery, always something to set down.  Better, that chair has the best packages delivered upon it.  Moving in, a friend told me, because I was now in middle of nowhere, You've got to get amazon prime.  Never considered that a need.  Now rural, it's a need.
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3 ceiling fans are a need.  Rural insects dine upon livestock patties, growing to impressive sizes, while having a higher IQ than their city counterparts.  They're born knowing my name, where I live, and adoring my hide.  Worse, they love going for car rides.  
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Notice what is missing below?
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Huge.
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Ironic for a Garden Designer, yet a point of particular pride.

Image may contain: outdoor and indoor

Posted this pic, above, on my facebook yesterday.  Asking same question, What's Missing?  Got a quick answer from hilarious source.
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Surprisingly got answers that I wasn't looking for, but were true answers.  People are rarely a component of my Garden Design photos.  During my formative era, Garden Design photos rarely had people in them.  But there was a stronger reason for having no people.  Money.  With a roll of slide film, I could only afford usable pics that would last decades.  People & cars date a garden pic.
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Still life pulls me greatly.  Interior/exterior.  An invitation to enter.  Someone noticed that too.  A+ to him, he left me a bit stunned, as if he'd found a 'secret' !
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That friend knowing immediately what's missing, above, was the daughter-in-law of my former boss.  Her father-in-law owned the nursery/florist I worked for doing propagation work for 2.5 years.  Learned much from her father-in-law, and always enjoyed seeing him at industry events for decades.  A good man, gone many years.  Now, she & her husband own that nursery.  It's obvious what's missing right?  Plants.
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Not to that layer yet, excitedly anticipating growing small topiaries in terra cotta pots, a Bunny Mellon layer, and in a funny twist, interesting begonias.  A particular begonia from a friend's grandmother's plant, and here's the twist, that nursery I worked at as a propagator has an outstanding variety of old fashioned begonias.
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Until the plant layer arrives, I'm enjoying the anticipation.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Front Yard: Simple, More Simple

Seems so simple, below.

tuinontwerp Maastricht Zuid-Limburg:
Pic, above, here.

More simple, below.

 Ooohhhh yes please...I'll take it ❤️ @decorpad:
Pic, above, here.
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Austerity of great depth.
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Richness in choosing 'no'.
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A garden must say who you are from the curb.  A garden must say you really do want to come inside.
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Amazing array of good choices, that list is not short, made for both houses & gardens.
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How simple can you make your landscape while giving it, and your home, deep riches ?
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Garden Design: Beautiful, Accessible, Sustainable

Past client called for their new home.  This is a copy of the Garden Design the sellers gave them at closing, below.  Sellers had done a gut renovation with the interior, and it's wildly fabulous.  The garden shows where the budget went !  Common lament every Garden Designer lives with.

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I always ask a few questions about what clients want/need, and received a nice list from them.  Amazingly, for their mission statement, they produced a trinity of words.  One of those words, Accessible, quite unusual and deeply appropriate.
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Before, above.  After, below.  See the obvious?  I learn this way, best.  Thought you might too.
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Their trinity of words: Beautiful, Accessible, Sustainable.

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Their front porch is deep, long and redolent of how a porch should be, yet rarely is.
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Clients knew their garden was 'fenced' in all the wrong places and not welcoming in the right places.
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Hope you 'see' the solution.
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Garden & Be Well,     XO T
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I designed a lot of entries into the garden, yet the most important 'accessibility' is opening the front porch, taking out that line of shrubs between walkway/porch.  Their driveway is cobblestone edged, so it will edge the new flagstone terrace too.  Copy, one of the 1st rules of Garden Design.
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French doors were also designed from the house to the front porch instead of the existing windows.  Flow, accessibility.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Front Door: Choosing Color

Thirty years I lived in this architecture, below.  Looming driveway/garage, wall with large windows, finally, a teeny tiny sliver, and voila, the front door.
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Garden Design's focus, at the front of the home, is the front door.  More than knowing you by your front door, I should know you from the curb.
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Fun opportunities ahead for this home, below.
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A few changes to make in the coming years, below.
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Move the flag holder from the column to a corner of the house.  No need to crowd the front door more, and zero design sense having 2 focal points side/side.  Garden Design rule, one focal point per area.
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Add stone, left/right of the sidewalk at the front door.  Take out the shrub, below, to the right of the front door, place stone, and to the left of the front door, remove the shrub, add stone.  Finally, breathing space.  And the front door 'stoop' opens to the left, and to the front.  Place a classic iron urn on plinth on the stone, to the right of the front door, at the brick wall.  Plant it seasonally, never more put a wreath on the front door.  Nor, have a cluster of pots at the base of the column.  They're crowding the space, shortening the column, and hiding a portion of the zone's best feature, a proper round column.
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Shutters, at right, below, need to be replaced with properly scaled shutters, with an arc at top.  Yes, very nice.
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Let's spend more money.  In addition to the stone already added, stone the front walk, and the front porch step.  Replace the light fixture.  Theirs is nice and more than acceptable.  Light fixtures are jewelry for the house, go for it.  More money?  Replace shutters at left with custom shutters too.
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Brick exterior with black shutters, greige trim and Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue front door. Kylie M Interiors E-design, Edecor and online color consulting

These pics are from a color consultation by Kylie M. Interiors.  I've done exterior color choices for 30 years with my Garden Designs.  Along with patio/deck furnishings, views into windows with window treatments/furniture arrangement, lighting, urns, all in an effort to get clients OUTSIDE.  Never as an extra profit center, what a quaint world my career began in.
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Black front doors are hard to get right, when they are, wow, shazaaaam.  Mostly, black front doors look like a void, as if the door is open, not there.
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In addition to choosing a front door color to coordinate with house siding, roof, trim it must also, for me, pop from the interior art & textiles.
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Blue, below, is excellent.  However, I would need to go inside this home, see their art, and other color choices, before a final 'blue' choice.
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Choosing color this way is too fun, "Oh I love that color."  Well, I know, you've chosen it in your art.  A zone that makes you HAPPY.

Brick exterior with black shutters, greige trim, Wythe Blue painted front door. Kylie M Interiors Edesign and E-decor color consulting online
Pic, above, here.
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Garden Design choices for, above, I see 'instantly'.  Having a brain 'fixing everything' is tiresome while driving thru neighborhoods.  How many times has Beloved heard, "Gosh I want this whole neighborhood." ?
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A past client posted a pic on Facebook yesterday, she's bought a new home out of state.  Many comments congratulating her.  Me?  It's obvious my comment to her, "You need me !!!!!"
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Garden & Be Well, XO T
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Client needing me, above, a lot like me, no kids, doesn't cook.  I designed/maintained her townhome garden for several years, decades ago, every Friday.  Chose that day wickedly.  Her townhome was in the hi-rent zip code of Atlanta, and Fridays were the best estate sales.  And I drive a truck,  A nice match, still living with many of those pickings.  One Friday, she was cleaning out her fridge.  She had left a large tin of lasagna in her fridge so long it had eaten thru the tin.  More stories with her but they cannot be written in this forum.  So, what kind of forum?  A lunch with me in the Conservatory, just a few of us gals, wine, laughter, everyone's stories.  There is my gold, for writing.  Wish I had been taking notes all these decades.  There is a safety in women's sharing.  All share, none will tell or they'll be exposed too.  Yes.  Total safety.  You men should be worried what is shared.
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No worries, I know the reverse is true with men !

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Front Door: Vanishing Threshold

Vanishing threshold, below, garden light pouring inside.

THE GARDEN HALLS:
Pic, above, here.

Our ca. 1900 house, below, is getting plenty of attention, but the list has its priorities.  Pic, above, gave me an idea for the Sheraton sideboard, below, plinth for potted plants.

 

Heart of pine floors, above/below, are original to the house.  Painting the central hall walls, on the list.
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Front door, original to the house, its bell still works.  Walls in the room, right, below, will remain their palest pink.  Would have never, ever, painted the room this color, which taught me something.  I love, adore, want to be in this room all the time.  It's a happy, happy, happier room.  More, the palest pink is warm in winter & cool in summer.  Pure magic.
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Painting in previous post, is exactly the painting I would like above the sideboard, below.



This is the fateful front door, above, 1st step over its threshold, I heard, "You have her way of walking around the house."  E.M. Forster, Howard's End.  More lines, and clear visuals, yet, how to appear calm, when every cell in my body lurched onto this house.  Events & feelings like this only occur in books or movies.  Irony, before 1st stepping foot into the house, I was angry with myself as the drive to see the house became longer & longer & longer, so long we were off any known map.  Who could ever live beyond the beyond?  Beloved was in his own truck, we had separate appointments, the smiling realtor awaiting at the front steps with her hand extended, the homeowner had arranged her schedule too.  How could I have made such a mistake?  Wasting my time, and theirs.
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We made an offer within 24 hours.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Front Door: Changing a Few Things

'There you go again', said during a much earlier debate.  Architecture, below, with a big fat garage, teensy front door, and a room at the end to finish the story.  I lived in one of these homes for 30 years, the entire neighborhood stuffed with them.  Built in the 80's a few newer neighborhoods outlawed the style in their deed restrictions.  Why?  Not street friendly, not conducive to neighbors knowing their neighbors, hulking garages with their landing strips dominate the entire neighborhood, front doors entered from their service court, not thru the 'garden'.  Very little, friendly.
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No worries, all easy fixes.  Remember, I had 30 years of this particular game.
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First, bravo the style, below, of front door.  Using a ubiquitous 6 panel door would lower the roof height. The long bottom panel, below, heightens the space, then the windows add a warm welcome with a bit more height, wonderful.  Have changed many front doors this way thru the years.
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Beyond this point there be dragons, early map makers wrote at the edges of their maps.
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First dragon I will completely ignore, it is so obvious, the huge conifer.  If you say it must be kept, ok.  Move it closer to the house, and keep it a bonsai espalier against the wall.  Learn how to do it properly, and it will be a pleasant few minutes each year.
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Next dragon, faux stone pavers are designed much too narrowly.  Total function, zero form.  Add more faux stone pavers.  Left of the front path, between drive/front walk, add stone pavers entirely where there is now mulch and those ornamental grass looking things, from house to front step.  Add more faux stone pavers to the right of the path, from the second front step, to the front door.  Why?  Creates a wider foyer, instead of this pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey front door & path.  In addition, instead of a narrow rigid walking path to the front door you've opened up a large landing.  Incredibly affordable too, most big box stores sell these faux stone pavers, and unskilled labor, aka you, can install them nicely.  Hint, if you are doing faux stone pavers yourself, always pull a string.  Always.
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Dragon- of- flat is next.  How to 3-D the walls at the front door?  Add a bell to the wall, preferably to the right of the door.  Either historic or artisan, and scaled properly.  Example, at bottom.
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Dragon downspout, another common issue.  But whoa, the white downspout at left corner.  This situation a bit of an exception.  Normally, paint downspouts copper color.  Here, the white house trim, tight space is all encompassing.  A lot going on with horizontal and vertical white trim, a mosh pit.  Boldly creating an exception, I would only paint the section of downspout, copper color, fronting the brick wall.  Why?  The rest of that downspout is blending with white eve and white vertical trim.  Will include the electrical socket with this dragon, at the left of the front door in the brick, paint it copper color too.
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Dragons on the wall to left of the front door, below.  I cannot see clearly what the 2 white rectangle squares are.  Paint them same color as shakes, they recede, instead of jump forward, look-at-me-look-at-me.
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Dragon, lighting.  Cannot see a light for the front door.  To keep the space feeling large, perhaps a simple recessed lite, in the eve, above the front door or a matching light on the wall, to the left of the front door, matching the light, below, to the right of the garage door.
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Dragon, dead brown mulch.  And it must be replenished yearly.  Plant an evergreen groundcover, done.  Warm & lush vs. dead & brown.
    

blue door | Highland Custom Homes:
Pic, above, here.
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Your turn.  What dragons, above, did you see, that I missed?  How would you change the dragons I did mention?  Please note, I've used affordable changes.  Of course I have changes for a different price point.  This home is lovely, I would truly like to see a stone path/steps.  And, I would add another bonsai espalier conifer, a dwarf conifer, to the left of the front path too.  A tighter espalier than the conifer at right of the path.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Image result for bell at the front door
Pic, above, here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Most Common Mistake at a Front Door

Garden rooms, you must create garden rooms.  That's the mantra, across centuries of Garden Design, but what does it mean, below, in the present era ?
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Most common fail I see at front doors?  Below.
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Best part of this 'fail' ?  Easily remedied.
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What to do, below, to create a garden room?
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Rules abound, below, this neighorhood reeks of Home-Owners-Association.  Must stay within the rules, no one likes that Nasty Gram in their mailbox.
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Reaching the front door, below at left, there is no here, here.  Create a garden room, voila, you are in their world, plenty of scope for the imagination and an elegant welcome/departure.
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Your turn, Garden Design the fix, below, creating a garden room for the front door at left.
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Giving you more time, notice the white downspout, below, house at right.  Really?  Paint the downspout copper color, voila, downspout no longer behaves as a 'column' almost disappears.  Paint the gutters copper color and the house grows taller, copper gutters reach up into the roof.  But this gutter/downspout exercise is merely to give you more time, figuring out how to create a garden room, below, at the front door to the house at left.  While your designing that garden room, lets take out a few bushes at the base of the arched window, below, and place a custom stone step.  Very nice.  It's never a good thing when I'm hearing Cole Porter, Don't Fence Me In, at a garden.
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Done?  Designed your garden room?

Classical Garden Design:
Pic, above, here.

Grow the existing short hedge, at the far right property line, to 7'.  If budget allows, take out the existing hedge, plant a 7' evergreen hedge.  Done.
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You've created a garden room, and private world at the front door, no visible axis into the neighbor's world.
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Must mention, I love this garden design, above, house at left.  Lean, green, serene.  Easy to maintain with unskilled labor.  Green all year, no down time.  Well done.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Garden Design Class in a Pair of Pics

Attracted to the marvelous sliding doors, below, the wood stoop and small planters had me send this fabulous home & garden to my Pinterest Changes board.  Lastly, a 3rd issue from garden to kitchen for the Changes board.  Especially a home with young'ish children and these gorgeous interior wood floors.  
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A mini Garden Design course in 2 photos.
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Do you see all 3 changes immediately?
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I'll give you a moment to look at both pics carefully.  There is an easy inexpensive solution for the stoop, and a better, not inexpensive solution for the stoop.  At the open sliding door threshold is a minor 4th issue.  See the easy fix for issue 4?
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Classic mistakes, below.  Human nature !  At the front end, before getting a Horticulture degree, then traipsing Europe for 2+ decades studying historic gardens I made the same mistakes too.  Once you know what the Garden Design mistakes are, your eye is trained to see them, correct them, easily, every time.
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Of course there may be zero mistakes, below, solutions could already be designed, just not installed.  A likely scenario if you take a tour of the interior, here.
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Look at the pair of pics, below, again.  Got your Garden Design solutions?

Custom double sliding doors


Beautiful 1920s House Tour 00004
Pics, above, here.
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Change #4, the door mats inside & outside should match.  The tight space will enlarge, flow, and become more of a 'foyer' between inside/outside instead of the current abrupt divide.  My choice would be a pair of door mats, large, similar in looks to the existing mat inside the home already.
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Change #3, transition from beautiful stone terrace to gravel to wood stoop to interior of home.  This change makes me smile, I made the same mistake as a garden designer in my 20's.  Matching stone from the terrace should be installed into the gravel transitioning to the wood stoop.  Why?  Significantly reduces amount of gravel stuck in shoes, or paws, to be tracked inside, and gouging/scratching that beautiful wood floor.
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Change #2, Dinky is Stinky, need much larger pots at those sliding doors, and wider apart, setting them left/right off the wood stoop.  Remove 2 bushes at right of wood stoop, replace their planting bed with more gravel.
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Change #1, will start with cheap/easy do it today.  Stain the wood stoop same color as sliding doors.  The house is much too elegant for this wood stoop left over from the set of F Troop.  A more expensive change to the wood stoop, replace it with a single slab of stone, custom cut the same or a bit deeper.  Wood stoop vs. stone landing.  Already the verbage is a nicer story.
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Again, seeing the interior of this home, I think the 'Change' layers I've mentioned are already on their to-do list.  Their attention to detail quite wonderful.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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Put that green extension cord under the gravel.  I know you already thought that.  A funny thing about gardening, the small victories.  Just getting the cord buried is a big deal, having the door mats match.....

Monday, June 20, 2016

Design: House Meets Patio

Commercial, mostly interiors shop, March, below, better at garden design than most garden centers.
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Not a lot here, excepting there is a lot.  Each layer, perfect.
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Color, flow, plants, staging, texture, contrast, plants, still life, heights, focal points, axis, seasonal, lighting, vanishing threshold, multi-functional, over-dose-theme, easy maintenance.
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At this phase, below, personally.  Have purchased a harvest table made from wood of a century old tobacco barn.  What's the phase?  Choosing chairs.  Looking at galvanized metal.  Time is a luxury, the table won't fit in my van, Beloved's trucks are at a jobsite for another few weeks.  Need 10 chairs.  Don't want all of them to match, perhaps they will.  That is the fun of the hunt.
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march-1

Pic, above, here.
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Color trinity, above, great for my zone, tail end of Piedmont swallowed by Coastal Plain, in depths of summer's miseries heat-humidity-bugs, gives the illusion of 'cool' viewed from interiors.
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Alone, this pic is a, Design: House Meets Patio, course.
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Ironically, my horticulture degree included zero about this zone.  Zero
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Notice the stone at the open door?  Very nice.

Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Go into the typical box store garden center, and be greeted by zillions of colorful greenhouse annuals, chemicals to annihilate bees-butterflies-man, finish off with fertilizers to poison groundwater, and kill earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.  With zero irony the same garden centers sell annual flowers to attract butterflies, planted in soil with systemic insecticides, all with banner marketing.  Aka, killing the same butterflies you're trying to attract.
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Made a mistake at the seed store early this month, bought a small bag of 'organic' fertilizer for our lone tomato plant.  Reading the label at home, after opening, it's N-P-K, ugh, kills earthworms/fungi.  At least the tomato is in a pot.    

Friday, February 5, 2016

Dowager Duchess at Edensor House: Gravel Paths

Dinner tonight in honor of a friend's beloved grandmother.  She would have been 99.  Grandma's chocolate pie will be the star, and focused conversation for all, about grandmothers.  
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A dinner ritual for many years, I was unaware & suppose my continual mention of my grandma earned me an invitation.
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Days a bit longer and  will be able to see my host's garden before last light.  Designed her garden about 2 years ago, and they are totally DIY.
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Snakes are a problem at their home, and they have 2 young daughters.  
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Gravel is designed up to the house, and stones within the gravel, as needed for easier main paths.
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Gravel with pathway stones has been done for thousands of years.
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Another benediction for gravel with stones, below, Debo, Duchess of Devonshire, if Debo does it, case closed.



Duchess of Devonshire, below, at her dowager house, above, Edensor House, an old vicarage, she called, Old Vic.  Note, exquisite pruning, below, to the right of the door?




Centuries old, below, the backdrop landscape behind the Duchess is no accident.  None.  

The Duchess of Devonshire, photographed in 2010 by Emma Hardy

Old Vic, below, rendering to be sold at Sotheby's.

Painting by Catriona Hall, Old Vicarage, signed with artist's monogram, £600 - 800

The Duchess, below, was keen on many outdoor activities, in one of her books, can't remember which, she mentioned how cold/wet/mucky some pursuits were but the game was on for all included, Show No Discomfort.  




Before pie, we'll walk the new gravel paths.  Today, temps are freezing, winds gusting to 20mph, and we will do our best to show-no-discomfort.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
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Pics from Sotheby's .  The Style Saloniste has a bit more about the Duchess, here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Proper Placement: Pots by the Front Door

Perfect, below.  Placement of the pots, their size, and materials.

Custom Home by E.C.Trethewey

Most often pots are placed too close to the front door, hugging too tight.  A major design flaw.
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The fix, proper placement, is free.
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Proper pots?  Pots at your front door label your interior, and you, within the first 6 seconds.  I must know who you are at your front door.  Worth saving your pennies, for proper pots, and you take them with you if you move.
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Choosing pots?  Ask yourself, "Are these pots so wonderful they will be fought over at my estate sale?"
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Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
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Pic via Ect Builders.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Front Door: Before & After


Lovely home, below, builder-special landscaping.


Page Duke: Before the landscape design

What, below, happened?

Page Duke: A Strong Landscape Focal Point

Adjusting eyeballs back into sockets, the before/after leave only questions.  Did new owners move in?  How much property for the site, for the front yard?  What does the backyard look like, too small, slope, etc?  Who's brilliant idea to treat the front yard as a back yard?  Painting the brick, yes.
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Every penny of this hardscape goes into house value.  Wooooowzzzzzza.
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Views from inside the home changed.  Lifestyle of the home changed.
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Historic garden design, nothing new.  However, totally new here.
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Garden & Be Well,     XO Tara
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Pics Page/Duke.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vision Quest: Landscape for a Barn

Vision questing a barn this month.  Construction was completed recently, and without intervention it is already perfect.  Anything done must appear not-done.
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Large, it will be used for family events, and professional.  Cars, people, caterers, ease of use for all, without hindrance to views..
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Maintenance must be insignificant.
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Knowns include, hiding hvac/septic/trash, gravel, stone, meadow, ease of flow for cars/walking, large groups/small groups, social events/educational events, exterior lighting, meals en plein air, an impromptu lair for the owners,

House in Blacksod Bay by  Tierney Haines Architects, Three sandstone wings protect an inner courtyard from fierce coastal winds at this seaside house in Ireland by Tierney Haines Architects.

An Irish landscape, above.  Stark, beautiful.

Historic Old Barn | Historic Barns

Simplicity, above, to the bone.  A bit of slope, perhaps add 'jewelry' with a stone wall, similar to the above using stones found on site.

Oxfordshire Barn Conversion by John Minshaw photo© Lucas Allen

At the doors, stone terraces, above, will keep most of the gravel off shoes, and interior vintage wood floors.
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Ina Garten uses hedges, below, at her barn.  I need to site the hedges to obscure the necessities, and allow 'flow'.  Must be deer proof & evergreen.



Need shade at the barn for outdoor meals.  Martha Stewart, used pin oaks at her barn, below.  Perhaps 2-4 oaks sited, just right, for a harvest table, and the tractor.


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Once the necessities are sited, gravel, stone, trees, hedge, flow, the barn is 'done'.  However, at that point, I'm open to adding a flourish, maybe a single espalier heirloom fruit tree, in the vein of Arne Maynard, below,
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 Image result for arne maynard
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Along with knowing lavender will be planted, and several types of self-seeding flowers into the meadows at the barn.
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This is the 1st salvo vision questing, next will be on site, alone for a couple of hours, then on site with the owner.  After that, we set it aside, let the left/right brain magic play.  Decisions made, then taken to the 'men' creating the literal landscape.  Their input, from a base of decades experience, filling out the full breadth of the team.  More changes.  Finally, a garden beyond measure, exceeding expectations.  Yes, exactly why I like working with a team.
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Garden & Be Well,     XO Tara
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All pics from my Pinterest board, here.