Friday, October 28, 2011

The Architecture of Death

In the spirit of Halloween....

Carlo Scarpa's Italian Brion Cemetery is breathtaking. The memorial was meant to be not only the ultimate resting place for the Brion family but also pose as a green oasis for it's visitors to enjoy.
His keen attention to detail is evidenced in every aspect of the design. On my visit, highlights were abound. Cleverly, the height of the perimeter concrete walls are level with the corn fields beyond as a means to stitch the site into it's surrounding landscape. I loved the inaccessible island of land he positioned center in a pool of water as an allegory to the afterlife. He truly used every opportunity to design each centimeter of the space which took him 10 years to complete. His affinity for the project was deeply rooted. Tucked away in a remote area, Scarpa himself is buried here, vertically.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A painting initiative looking to upgrade negative outdoor spaces has been underway at the Santa Marta favela in Rio de Janeiro. Like a giant piece of Fruit Stripe gum, the cheerful colors breathe life into the depleted urban fabric of the existing neighborhood. The potential power of this installation is amazing.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gothic is Revived

No need to winter this line of "unidoor" furniture. Studio Job specifically designed these plastic chairs to be used in either an indoor or outdoor setting. Inspired by 19th century Gothic side chairs, they are available in a kaleidoscope of colors. I would arrange them on a modern terrace and plant nearby "bombs" of flowers that perfectly replicate the chair's color. These little jewels would definitely illuminate any patio blues.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Grateful Dead

Perennials are deeply discounted at this time of year because they are falling out of season and look "tired". Now is a great time to snatch them up. I look for the varieties that I could potentially prefer "grateful dead" rather than mid-summer exhuberant. Huh? Cone flower, grasses and some hydrangea all donate fabulous texture and dimension to the Fall and Winter landscape while in their dormant state. Why not invest in plantings that look great year round?

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Saving the Season

Recently, I stumbled upon a website that I think is "culinarily" intriguing; Dedicated to prolonging the enjoyment of our potagers (or trip to Whole Foods), the site gives instruction on canning foods with complimentary recipes too. I love how it fills a void.... this gives service to the foods that didn't make the initial farm to table feast. The jam recipes look delish and I would love to try her West Sweet Preserves Scotch Marmalade. Sweet or savory, it's bound to be an inspiration if you're in a pickle.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Kelly's Courtyard

Chic, savvy and widely known for her edgy interiors, Kelly Wearstler is one of my fav designers. Her beautiful coffee table book, HUE is a testament to her fearless command of all color combinations. With great delight she shares photos of her Orangerie within her California Hillcrest Estate. Found under the cover of Peridot are stunning shots of her little oasis. From within the home, the Orangerie is a marvelous backdrop to highlight her individual vignettes.

Outside, it is an unexpected and thrilling maze of terra cotta pots filled with a collection of simple box, poodle box and standard fruit trees. I would die to find a client with this as their inspiration (and believe me, I've tried peddling it)!

The concept itself is cinch. Paint a clutch of all weather pots white and stud with box and standards. The true take away is in the arrangement. The room can constantly change depending on the pot configuration. Line them in an artful allee parallel to a dining table for a dinner party. Pinch them all at the end of a terrace and play with scale as you would a flower arrangement. Or, create a shade garden, an outdoor shower sleeve, pop up children's maze, makeshift scrim or an aisle to a backyard party. The possibilities are endless.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the beginning...

Long before NYC's High Line became the poster child for the field of landscape architecture, urban renewal and brownfields around the world... there was Gas Works Park. As an abandoned gas processing plant along the shores of Lake Union, it was rehabilitated to become one of Seattle's best public open spaces. The chemically compromised soil was remediated and the dangerous and toxic "guts" of the plant were removed. Fresh, green grass was sown and the plant's body was impregnated with a colorful and fun children's playground.
The awesome scale of the remaining shell of the plant is absurdly fantastic as any grown adult standing by it feels instantly minute. If only more public open spaces had the ability to make us all feel like kids again.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

FRESH 365 is a great website for recipes sourcing seasonal produce. The menus are broken down by season (very clever) or category and each dish features beautiful photographs of the finished product(always appreciated). My favs were the delicious veggie taco salad and the warm carrot & quinoa muffins. Whether the produce is coming from your potager or Whole Foods, the meal is bound to be a fresh success.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Rock Stars and Heavy Metal

....and now for the other stylish fish in the sea. Whether it's Chinese Foo Dog statuary or salvaged iron gates, garden ornament is a great way to add dimension and introduce focal points into your garden. The wire mesh urn is my fav. I'd camouflage it's silhouette with evergreen climbers and plant simple box within. Two of the giant iron obelisk's flanking a prominent entrance would be fun when planted with runner beans, gourds or tomatoes in matching Annabelle hydrangea bombs. Visit the Marvin Gardens website in my opinion, they traffic the best of the gritty good goods.

If you are near NYC, check out the emerging garden decor mecca along Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side. This is a good area to suss out stone statuary and those Foos that you and Rachel Zoe love. Bunny William's shop Treilage should be your headliner and end with Mecox Gardens, an awesome finale. If your feeling an encore (or if I were accompanying you), circle back to Roberta Roller Rabbit to stock up on outdoor table accoutrement.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Zoe's Digs

I'll confess, I just happen to love Rachel Zoe's Bravo television show; The Rachel Zoe Project. Sure the exceptional fashion, over the top drama and the arrival of a new baby keep us all tuned in but the other night, I found another layer of appreciation....her new Hollywood house. I think the front gates are "bananas" and the pool is "gorg" too. I'd change a couple of things in the outdoor dining room but overall, high marks.

The far more attainable and apparently unpublished detail I truly adored were the two over sized Chinese Foo Dog statues flanking the front entry court. They were stylish, all weather and acted as perfect transition markers to the home. Such an easier option than seasonal urns, these are a true time and headache saver.

Asian inspired stone memorabilia may not be your particular aesthetic (or your cape/Spanish revival or ranch's) but there are many more stylish fish in the sea that are equal to the task.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Standard Grill

The Standard Grill is a fun spot to grab a bite after a walk along NYC's High Line. I particularly loved the garden inspired accents they use to make their restaurant unique with gritty charm.
Above the bar, they have lined the shelving with long-forgotten white swan porcelain planters (ubiquitous in the 80's) and planted them with ivy (of course). The overhead lighting is indoor/outdoor industrial chic- an appropriate nod to the area's recent urban rehab. The bar itself looks like an apothecary or a medicine man's supermarket. Rows of glass jars brimming with herbs co-mingle with liquor and ice which radiates the suggestion of "roof top garden fresh". After lunch, try the ping pong next door.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Tree Room

Town & Country had a great piece in this month's magazine featuring interior designer Muriel Brandolini. The opening photo sequence of the story displayed a bamboo laced blue stone terrace that was fantastic. The garden looked intimate and private- a fun spot to read the paper or share a meal.
These little outdoor pockets are not too difficult to achieve. Last year I designed a tea room for a client using nothing more than hedge and grass. While Muriel's bamboo curtain is pretty, it is invasive and I don't recommend it at all. I'm currently working on a pocket of my own using standard fencing and ivy. The look and feel of the room can be defined in so many interesting ways. Have fun with it!

Ya Dig?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sculpture Garden

I love these sculptures! I imagine them on a large property, climbing toward the house in fixed ambush. Clearly, they would be a hit with the kids.
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The High Line

The High Line is a relatively new addition to New York City's park system. Crafted from an abandoned elevated rail line it winds through the urban fabric of Lower Manhattan with the grace of a steel snake. Fantastic views, beautiful native plantings and interesting programs are found along this urban safari. Some of my fav were the lawn chairs that are attached to the defunct railway, the splash area and the amphitheatre whose stage is the street below. Genius.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shopping for Trees

There are so many factors that lead us in tree selection. I love the London Plane Tree because of it's bark detail. If you are looking for interesting branch structure, try a dogwood. Red Maples have the best Fall color and Redbud has amazing Spring flowers. Pear trees grow quickly and crap apples remain small.
Assess the needs of your site and pick a tree that is not only practical but also reads to your individual aesthetic. This London Plane Tree would look fabulous by a grey stucco home due to it's muted color range. From a distance, the bark would blend in with the house and the branches would appear to be floating. Love it.
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Located in New York City,Eataly is Mario Batali's emporium of Italian edibles. Brimming with just about any conceivable kind of food you can imagine, the fresh produce section is not to be missed. For a delicious and tasty dish, why not augment your harvest with magnificent selections from Batali's seasonal display?
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Monday, October 3, 2011


There are so many choices beyond standard issue fencing these days. Here are a couple of my current favs. From the beginning, determine what needs you have in mind for your fence; privacy, edging, zoning issues, noise control. If you have a pool or are considering one....check with your local zoning codes before making your decision.
I included the final photo for the paint color. I just stained my fence a light pickled grey and it looks great behind the green foliage of the yard. Walpole makes a great product for most of your needs.
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