5 favorite things for your garden.

There are some things I come across as a landscape designer that I just love, that are tried and true, and that I always come back to. Things like this tend to be well-made, and if they are plants, they are regenerating and sustaining ones. As a person who isn't particularly fussy, I am pretty bad at maintaining a garden and worse at replacing things in it, so low-maintenance gardens that are built to last are key for me. Below are some things that fit the category of low-maintenance, lasting, and gorgeous:

Nasella, or Mexican feather grass, is a gorgeous perennial grass that is hard not to like for a few reasons: it is low maintenance, drought tolerant, has a great all year round look,  and is particularly beautiful in a breeze.  View Product website

Nasella, or Mexican feather grass, is a gorgeous perennial grass that is hard not to like for a few reasons: it is low maintenance, drought tolerant, has a great all year round look,  and is particularly beautiful in a breeze.  View Product website

This lighter weight fiberstone planter by Stone Yard Inc. combines an organic and relic-like look with a geometric modern shape. View Product Here  

This lighter weight fiberstone planter by Stone Yard Inc. combines an organic and relic-like look with a geometric modern shape. View Product Here
 

I kind of am in love with this chair: cultural, simple, refined and comfortable. Made of a sustainable wood harvested in Mexico, called Tabebuia rosa. View Product here

I kind of am in love with this chair: cultural, simple, refined and comfortable. Made of a sustainable wood harvested in Mexico, called Tabebuia rosa. View Product here

And who doesn't swoon over lavender? Maybe a few out there, but not many...View Product here

And who doesn't swoon over lavender? Maybe a few out there, but not many...View Product here

Splurge item: The 'Em' line by Atelier Vierkant might actually be one of the most collections of all time. View Product here

Splurge item: The 'Em' line by Atelier Vierkant might actually be one of the most collections of all time. View Product here

(Seriously) easy garden style

Most people--and I am not saying everyone, but most, want a garden to be easy. If you are not one of these people, and like to work at it, consider yourself a part of the minority garden party. The majority party however, wants something beautiful to look, at but not a lot of work and yes, not a lot of money either...oh and preferably green and with color, please. Ok, so for both parties, here's an easy combination - a lawn that does not need work, chairs that are quite stunning, and a surface that is a classic and lasting complement to these elements, and yes all on a budget that is really reasonable and actually do-able. 

A lawn for shade: Carex Pennsylvanica is a a graceful, shade-loving perennial sedge that is a great alternative to lawn grass-- if you don't need to run on it. It doesn't even need that much water, and you only need to mow it 2x per year tops. View Product Website

A lawn for shade: Carex Pennsylvanica is a a graceful, shade-loving perennial sedge that is a great alternative to lawn grass-- if you don't need to run on it. It doesn't even need that much water, and you only need to mow it 2x per year tops. View Product Website

The Maya Wood Outdoor Chair by CB2 is a timeless design, made in Mexico from a tree called the Tabebuia rosea, which is a sustainable wood. It also is a folding chair, which makes for easy storage for that garden party that always gets one extra person. View Product Website

The Maya Wood Outdoor Chair by CB2 is a timeless design, made in Mexico from a tree called the Tabebuia rosea, which is a sustainable wood. It also is a folding chair, which makes for easy storage for that garden party that always gets one extra person. View Product Website

I love this chair. It's called the Black Egg Chair from CB2. Lightweight, and super comfortable...came across it in Costa Rica last Spring and could have sat in it all day. Oh wait, maybe i did. View Product Website

I love this chair. It's called the Black Egg Chair from CB2. Lightweight, and super comfortable...came across it in Costa Rica last Spring and could have sat in it all day. Oh wait, maybe i did. View Product Website

The Egg Chair chair in Costa Rica--comes in multiple colors...and remarkably comfortable. View Product Website

The Egg Chair chair in Costa Rica--comes in multiple colors...and remarkably comfortable. View Product Website

Slate is a beautiful natural surface as long as it is a non-slick finish and used in shade, since it tends to get quite hot in the sun. View Product Website

Slate is a beautiful natural surface as long as it is a non-slick finish and used in shade, since it tends to get quite hot in the sun.
View Product Website

Decomposed Granite (DG) is finer than gravel, and a beautiful and natural way to surface any garden. When you are walking on it, you almost don't even perceive it is a material--it fuses with any garden environment seamlessly, and it's permeable, relatively inexpensive, and prevents weeds from poking through. Cost ranges from about $40-$50 per cubic yard.  View Product Website

GREEN, UNLIMITED

Ok so maybe photosynthesis isn't possible right now, but you are craving just a little bit of green in your life?  Here are a few creative, stylish, inexpensive and low-maintenance ways to incorporate just a little bit of green during these grey winter months:

Boxwood is a tried and true evergreen. It can be clipped to any form, and is incredibly low maintenance. I absolutely love this plant and have it outside our house in Brooklyn--it looks incredible and tolerates quite a bit of crazy. A small caveat though: there is a blight in the Northeast region of the US effecting this plant so check with your local nursery about which species they recommend. View Product Website

Boxwood is a tried and true evergreen. It can be clipped to any form, and is incredibly low maintenance. I absolutely love this plant and have it outside our house in Brooklyn--it looks incredible and tolerates quite a bit of crazy. A small caveat though: there is a blight in the Northeast region of the US effecting this plant so check with your local nursery about which species they recommend. View Product Website

Here is boxwood used in a Corten-planter at a townhouse in Manhattan. The Client wanted low maintenance, green, and sculptural. Boxwood can be clipped to any form. Here I used the Korean type, and it is clipped to be slightly flat on top, almost like an object.

Here is boxwood used in a Corten-planter at a townhouse in Manhattan. The Client wanted low maintenance, green, and sculptural. Boxwood can be clipped to any form. Here I used the Korean type, and it is clipped to be slightly flat on top, almost like an object.

MOSS: moss is a favorite of mine and I try to use it wherever and whenever possible. So simple, minimal and it's low profile is great if you just want a mat of green and nothing else. Loves shade, so excellent as an indoor plant too. Keep it hydrated and consider investing in a spray bottle. These planters are hard to figure out what plant to use--couldn't be too vertical. Went through a few and moss seemed to work well. View Product Website

MOSS: moss is a favorite of mine and I try to use it wherever and whenever possible. So simple, minimal and it's low profile is great if you just want a mat of green and nothing else. Loves shade, so excellent as an indoor plant too. Keep it hydrated and consider investing in a spray bottle. These planters are hard to figure out what plant to use--couldn't be too vertical. Went through a few and moss seemed to work well. View Product Website

Fake News, No/ Fake Lawn, Yes: I always feel like a bit of a loony landscape designer recommending synthetic lawn, but my clients love it and I have to say, i love it too. If you edge it, it can look quite modern, and well, edgy. I have it on our roof and it is edged with Ipe wood...no watering, no mowing, no nothing, and always green. Clients with kids and dogs have raved about it to me too--completely hose-able, so always clean. I have seen it used vertically in a similar way (edged with a metal) and it gave a really blah wall a much needed boost in texture and color. View Product Website

Fake News, No/ Fake Lawn, Yes: I always feel like a bit of a loony landscape designer recommending synthetic lawn, but my clients love it and I have to say, i love it too. If you edge it, it can look quite modern, and well, edgy. I have it on our roof and it is edged with Ipe wood...no watering, no mowing, no nothing, and always green. Clients with kids and dogs have raved about it to me too--completely hose-able, so always clean. I have seen it used vertically in a similar way (edged with a metal) and it gave a really blah wall a much needed boost in texture and color. View Product Website

AWESOME CONCEPT:PRESERVED MOSS  Its concept re-interprets the 'green wall' by using essentially what are naturally preserved (eh hem, 'dead)' plants. This is a pretty great idea, considering vertical green walls are costly, and the opposite of 'green' in that they need a lot of water, maintenance, time, and money. They use naturally preserved plants, guaranteed for up to five years, and this system does not require water, soil, or sun. View Product Website

AWESOME CONCEPT:PRESERVED MOSS  Its concept re-interprets the 'green wall' by using essentially what are naturally preserved (eh hem, 'dead)' plants. This is a pretty great idea, considering vertical green walls are costly, and the opposite of 'green' in that they need a lot of water, maintenance, time, and money. They use naturally preserved plants, guaranteed for up to five years, and this system does not require water, soil, or sun.
View Product Website

Dried Grasses: Are you looking for green inside, but don't like houseplants?? I included this element in this section because Nettleton Hollow is a great place to keep in mind for great looking dried plants that look great in interior or exterior settings. Dried grasses,  branches, and flowers can not only breathe life into a space but also a splash of color and an unusual and unpredictable form. And of course, the benefit of no watering needs, which is nice.  View Product Website

Dried Grasses: Are you looking for green inside, but don't like houseplants?? I included this element in this section because Nettleton Hollow is a great place to keep in mind for great looking dried plants that look great in interior or exterior settings. Dried grasses,  branches, and flowers can not only breathe life into a space but also a splash of color and an unusual and unpredictable form. And of course, the benefit of no watering needs, which is nice.  View Product Website

WAVE TILES: Scott Daniel Design, a brooklyn- based studio headed by Scott Daniel Strickstein, has a a beautiful collection  of lighting, furniture and wall art, and is known for his highly textural surfaces. I came across this work at the ICFF show in NYC. He invented a material called Cmesh, a ceramic-coated metal mesh that can be sculpted and draped, and is in mesh form so it is able to emit light. View Product Website

WAVE TILES: Scott Daniel Design, a brooklyn- based studio headed by Scott Daniel Strickstein, has a a beautiful collection  of lighting, furniture and wall art, and is known for his highly textural surfaces. I came across this work at the ICFF show in NYC. He invented a material called Cmesh, a ceramic-coated metal mesh that can be sculpted and draped, and is in mesh form so it is able to emit light.
View Product Website

The Maidenhair Fern: one of the most delicate and lovely of houseplants. Loves shade, moist, rich and acidic soil. Be careful not to overwater.

The Maidenhair Fern: one of the most delicate and lovely of houseplants. Loves shade, moist, rich and acidic soil. Be careful not to overwater.

The Asparagus Fern: I love this plant and have a few of my own. They seriously demand so little and give so much. I put miracle grow sticks in the planter and find it infuses them with much needed boost every few months. Keep a spray bottle handy, and prune when needed.

The Asparagus Fern: I love this plant and have a few of my own. They seriously demand so little and give so much. I put miracle grow sticks in the planter and find it infuses them with much needed boost every few months. Keep a spray bottle handy, and prune when needed.

Textur-ing

Texture can come in all sizes, and go in all directions whether it's vertical or horizontal. It can be found in plants (shapes and forms that are spikey, soft, buttons, plumes), furniture,  and  surfaces. Texture adds visual interest an warmth to landscapes and gardens, which is what your eye registers and is drawn to. So whether you are thinking of purchasing a packet of seeds or something more substantial, texture is an important component to consider for your outdoor space.

Here are 9 unusually awesome materials to think of for your garden, if i do say so myself:

P_Wall By Matsys Design: Ok this is the coolest thing to come by my desk this week. It's a panel installation of concrete re-inforced composite panels that look soft but are hard as well, concrete. Sculptural, and beyond gorgeous, they provide what is actually a vertical landscape, or kidneys cape, or a lot of faces depending on what drug you are on. Seriously, I love them.

P_Wall By Matsys Design: Ok this is the coolest thing to come by my desk this week. It's a panel installation of concrete re-inforced composite panels that look soft but are hard as well, concrete. Sculptural, and beyond gorgeous, they provide what is actually a vertical landscape, or kidneys cape, or a lot of faces depending on what drug you are on. Seriously, I love them.

Pea Gravel can be a great source of warmth and texture, and it is eco friendly because it drains, and it is inexpensive too.

Pea Gravel can be a great source of warmth and texture, and it is eco friendly because it drains, and it is inexpensive too.

River stones are a beautiful hard but soft texture, great for hiding things on the ground if you have an area that is uneven or unattractive that you want to hide. also great for drainage. Their appeal is both aesthetic and practical.

River stones are a beautiful hard but soft texture, great for hiding things on the ground if you have an area that is uneven or unattractive that you want to hide. also great for drainage. Their appeal is both aesthetic and practical.

Willow Panels: The Willow Farm is located about 1 hour south of San Francisco, and there they make an incredible assortment of panels from willow trees in all different styles of weave, with curly willows, rustic willows, and different framing techniques. They also make panels for shade, which allow a dappled light to come through and are good should you require a shady spot in a protected part of your garden. They say "good fences make good neighbors" , which could not be more true of this kind of fence...it's warm and natural ,and fits into an outdoor context well.

Willow Panels: The Willow Farm is located about 1 hour south of San Francisco, and there they make an incredible assortment of panels from willow trees in all different styles of weave, with curly willows, rustic willows, and different framing techniques. They also make panels for shade, which allow a dappled light to come through and are good should you require a shady spot in a protected part of your garden. They say "good fences make good neighbors" , which could not be more true of this kind of fence...it's warm and natural ,and fits into an outdoor context well.

Flower Box Vertical Gardens  are actually making green walls 'green', meaning using less energy and resources by using preserved plants instead of ones that require tons of water, maintenance and money.

Flower Box Vertical Gardens  are actually making green walls 'green', meaning using less energy and resources by using preserved plants instead of ones that require tons of water, maintenance and money.

Matthias Pleissing's Pinch Bench is divine. Clearly inspired by ability as a boat builder, this is art -functioning- as- bench.

Matthias Pleissing's Pinch Bench is divine. Clearly inspired by ability as a boat builder, this is art -functioning- as- bench.

I have become slightly obsessed with Seslaria (Autumn MoorGrass) because it is an evergreen perennial grass that is solid, tough, enduring and needs very little to keep it going. It can deal with sun or shade and acid soil no problem. Goes from bright green  to silvery to golden over a season. It grows in clumps plant larger areas with it otherwise it can look too skimpy.

I have become slightly obsessed with Seslaria (Autumn MoorGrass) because it is an evergreen perennial grass that is solid, tough, enduring and needs very little to keep it going. It can deal with sun or shade and acid soil no problem. Goes from bright green  to silvery to golden over a season. It grows in clumps plant larger areas with it otherwise it can look too skimpy.

Mark Thomann, a contributor on Landstylist, says I like Pennisetum too much. I'll try not to read into that statement, and just say that it really is one of the most gorgeous grasses out there, period.

Thinking Inside The Box, Outside

As a landscape designer, I can honestly say that window boxes are no small challenge. You have to think seasonality, light, water, and it's such a small space. It's like maximizing the design of very, very, very small apartment. So here is what happened: I was in the process of considering the planting of our window boxes for the upcoming season in Brooklyn, and came upon a window box composition that I thought was among the most elegant I had seen for a while.

I contacted my talented, knowledgable, trusted garden guru and friend Julia Miller of Fourgardens, who quickly identified the plants and headed over to Gowanus Nursery in Brooklyn and had a chat with the owner, Michelle Palladino. Her Nursery is beyond incredible, and Michelle's extensive horticultural knowledge and aesthetic eye is a rare combination. 

I contacted my talented, knowledgable, trusted garden guru and friend Julia Miller of Fourgardens, who quickly identified the plants and headed over to Gowanus Nursery in Brooklyn and had a chat with the owner, Michelle Palladino. Her Nursery is beyond incredible, and Michelle's extensive horticultural knowledge and aesthetic eye is a rare combination. 

Heuchera is an incredibly adaptable perennial and you can find ones suited for sun or shade. Green and lighter ones do well in shade, and the darker hues better in sun.

Heuchera is an incredibly adaptable perennial and you can find ones suited for sun or shade. Green and lighter ones do well in shade, and the darker hues better in sun.

Alteranthera is not a name that flows off the tongue easily, granted, (also known as joyweeds or Joeseph's coat... easier) but it makes for a pretty vibrant filler perennial to be knowing about. If you can remember it's name you will wow the nerdiest of the plants nerds, I assure you.

Alteranthera is not a name that flows off the tongue easily, granted, (also known as joyweeds or Joeseph's coat... easier) but it makes for a pretty vibrant filler perennial to be knowing about. If you can remember it's name you will wow the nerdiest of the plants nerds, I assure you.

Seslaria or Autumn Moor Grass is a hearty, and beautiful grass that has a rugged and naturalistic look. Looks fantastic in a window box, and is tolerant of a variety of light and water conditions.

Seslaria or Autumn Moor Grass is a hearty, and beautiful grass that has a rugged and naturalistic look. Looks fantastic in a window box, and is tolerant of a variety of light and water conditions.

Andromeda, or Pieris Japonica, actually looks great in a window box. I say actually because I am not usually a fan (slightly suburban associations) , but it's evergreen, not fussy, and has small bayberry -like leaves that are reddish with new growth giving it a subtle variation in color..

Andromeda, or Pieris Japonica, actually looks great in a window box. I say actually because I am not usually a fan (slightly suburban associations) , but it's evergreen, not fussy, and has small bayberry -like leaves that are reddish with new growth giving it a subtle variation in color..

Blue Wood Aster is a perennial that is is practically indestructible, and Fall-flowering in September-October months. It likes full sun but will tolerate shade, is drought tolerant and lovely in a window box.

Blue Wood Aster is a perennial that is is practically indestructible, and Fall-flowering in September-October months. It likes full sun but will tolerate shade, is drought tolerant and lovely in a window box.

Calamintha Nepeta "Summer Cloud" is a light, airy mint variety that blooms late summer and early fall, likes sun and well drained soil. I love it's small, delicate white flowers. Lends a kind of sparkle or haze effect.

Calamintha Nepeta "Summer Cloud" is a light, airy mint variety that blooms late summer and early fall, likes sun and well drained soil. I love it's small, delicate white flowers. Lends a kind of sparkle or haze effect.

Salvia is also a really vibrant, lovely addition to a window box. Beautiful summer-bloomer and likes sun.

Salvia is also a really vibrant, lovely addition to a window box. Beautiful summer-bloomer and likes sun.

So we have in our window planters from Planter Resource, which are lightweight (fiberglass) and pretty sturdy. They do the trick. 

So we have in our window planters from Planter Resource, which are lightweight (fiberglass) and pretty sturdy. They do the trick. 

My window boxes now....a  slice of woodland, maybe? Something like that. Anyway, I like the composition. It looks haphazard but seems to have a just the right amount of color to green, is low-maintenance, and sun and shade tolerant. Checks a lot of boxes...oh wait a pun. Ew., I hate puns. Sorry.

My window boxes now....a  slice of woodland, maybe? Something like that. Anyway, I like the composition. It looks haphazard but seems to have a just the right amount of color to green, is low-maintenance, and sun and shade tolerant. Checks a lot of boxes...oh wait a pun. Ew., I hate puns. Sorry.

Backyard Beach

Yahoo- Landstylist was featured on page 110 of the new comeback issue for Ladies' Home Journal this summer (Maya Rudolph graces the cover--go pick up a copy!) The theme--backyard beach--is aimed towards anyone and everyone who may not have a trip to seaside in their future, but love that seaside look and feel. Here are some quick and easy additions that can transform your outdoor space, and create that relaxing getaway feel you crave this summer right in your backyard.

Keeping it Clean, Elegant, and Simple

The key to outdoor design is, in a way, making the right decisions at the very beginning. Easier said than done, I know, but that is why this site has been created: to help you make the right decisions with a few key elements that are simple, elegant, and enduring when planning your garden. Some are maybe more known, but there are others that you may not have seen before but are excellent things to know about that are maybe more out-of -the-ordinary .

Below are five distinct, cheerful and  enduring elements that are standout selections for your garden that can stand on their own or used in combination:

 

The Blossomed Deck Chair
Gallant & Jones/$249
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Outdoor Gregg Light/$461 View Product Website

Outdoor Gregg Light/$461
View Product Website

Bistro Table
Fermob/$255
View Product Website

Brooklyn Concrete Pots Teak Warehouse/ Prices range $149-$249 View Product Website

Brooklyn Concrete Pots
Teak Warehouse/ Prices range $149-$249
View Product Website

Astrantia Major/ Masterwort View Product Website

Astrantia Major/ Masterwort
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Thinking Spring?

We are. We are craving it big time, and guess what... it's here! So we thought we would take a moment to look at some options for you for summer that are simple, stylish and easy additions to any outdoor space. We are coupling these selections with some bright, hardy, and low-maintenance perennials that will do well in most any setting.  So think about these combinations for your garden this summer...ideas that will brighten your mood, oh, and your garden!

Brommo chair/Ikea
Price: $59.99
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Leaf Chair with Sled Base/Hive Modern Price: $940 View Product Website

Leaf Chair with Sled Base/Hive Modern
Price: $940
View Product Website

Paulistano Chair Price: $1062 View Product Website

Paulistano Chair
Price: $1062
View Product Website

Gallant & Jones Deck Chair
Price: $384
View Product Website

Rope Swing from LOLL Price: $259 View Product Website  

Rope Swing from LOLL
Price: $259
View Product Website
 

Yellow Leaf Hammock Chair/CB2 Price: $199.00 View Product Website    

Yellow Leaf Hammock Chair/CB2
Price: $199.00
View Product Website
 

 

Knautia is a long-blooming, hardy, sun loving perennial that looks like small red pincushions. These are great in small window boxes, containers, or even in and among other grasses and perennials for an accent. 
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Nepeta is a gorgeous hardy perennial. Known as catmint, it has a dusty purple flower and does well in partial shade to full sun. Works well with so many others that are similarly low maintenance, like achillea, liatris, coreopsis, salvia and rudibeckia. View Product Website

Nepeta is a gorgeous hardy perennial. Known as catmint, it has a dusty purple flower and does well in partial shade to full sun. Works well with so many others that are similarly low maintenance, like achillea, liatris, coreopsis, salvia and rudibeckia.
View Product Website

Liatris is a striking, easy to grow prarie perennial that you can grown in planting beds, borders, or containers. They are easy to grow, require very little other than sun and can grow in very rocky terrain with little water, are deer resistant, salt resistant, and butterflies love them. They are very vertical so tend to take very little room in a planting bed. Great in combination with phlox, solidago, and rudibeckia among others.

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A Wintery Mix that Works

So did you know--gardens are not just to for summer anymore? Yes it is true. Sophisticated design people like yourself can have and appreciate winter interest year round with perennials, shrubs and trees with cool branching and bark color. Browns, greys and whites can actually be quite stunning, and grasses are good for this effect because they lend structure to the appearance of a garden through the winter months with their stiffness. The drier the Fall, the more upright the grasses will be throughout the winter...so actually this season we should have more upright looking gardens in the Northeast. Seedheads on tall grasses, like Monarda, Rudbeckia, and Verbena literally can also lend interest to a winter composition.

And then there are some elements that are just simple and sculptural like the Sled lounge leaf chair, that look great all year round and complement the bones revealed of a garden in winter. A fireplace can also help to warm a garden, physically, but also function as a dramatic focal point from inside to outside.

Sled Lounge/Leaf Chair All Modern Price: $959.55

Sled Lounge/Leaf Chair
All Modern
Price: $959.55

Fire table  Restoration Hardware $3750.00


Fire table 
Restoration Hardware
$3750.00

Winter Grass: Calamagrostis 'karl foerster'

Winter Grass: Calamagrostis 'karl foerster'

Detail of Calamagrostis

Detail of Calamagrostis

Verbena Hastata

Verbena Hastata

Hellebores

Hellebores

Five basic, but seriously important, questions to ask yourself when designing your outdoor space

So i know we are going into the winter months now, but it is never too late, or too early to be preparing for your outdoor design. Thought maybe it might be helpful to back up and offer something so basic but so important this week.

Here are the five most basic but critical questions you need to ask yourself when designing your own outdoor space:

ONE: How well do I know my site?

Like choosing a husband or wife, the more you actually know about the existing physical nature of your site beforehand, the better off you will be.  Is it sunny maybe its partially shady? Are you in a dry climate or maybe its very wet? Maybe you have pain in the ass neighbors that require some major screening? Or maybe even a giant puddle of water in your backyard when it rains because there is a lowpoint and so you’ll need to re-grade. The more you know at the outset, the more it will help inform your design process.

 

TWO: What’s my Budget?

Alright, so I know this is not everyone’s favorite aspect of a project, but having a budget at the beginning is in fact a good idea.  Lots of people will whine and say, “ Well I don’t know what things cost. So how can I have a budget?”  What you need to do is prioritize. Price the critical things first, then if the cost seems overwhelming, either scale back, or phase the project over time.  As a quick note to self, materials like natural woods and stone cost more, but they also look better and last way longer.

 

THREE: How am I ACTUALLY going to be using my garden?

Ok so most people get very excited thinking about all of the outdoor parties, floppy hats, sundresses and Sancerre, and the fresh veggies on the table which is all quite fabulous, but you need to ask yourself: what does is my life, really? Do I have kids? Do I have dogs? Do I have kids that act like dogs? Thinking about how messy your life actually is can make for a cleaner and more efficient design because you are considering the reality of your ways up front and designing to accommodate that messy reality.

 

FOUR: What style should my garden be? 

As much as you possibly can, your garden should be thought of an extension of your home. Not literally an extension—but stylistically. So if you have a home that is built in a certain architectural style, maybe modern or maybe it’s more traditional, it can actually serve to inform the style of the garden. You can bring materials, like stone or wood from the inside out into your garden for a blurred transition between inside to the outside.

 

FIVE: is just plain old Editing.  

So maybe a tree is in the wrong spot and it needs to go. Or maybe it’s a fence or even a driveway? Figuring out what existing elements are getting in the way of your intent or aesthetic can be tricky, but if you have a clear idea of what your design goals are it makes for an easier process and more successful design in the end.

 

Week 25: Martha Baker's Exquisite Shelter Island Garden

Very fortunately, down the street from our house on Shelter Island is the home of the talented garden designer Martha Baker. Martha is a force of style in nature. She is funny, chic, glamorous, beautiful, creative, humble and TALL all at the same time. Martha does all kinds of residential projects, but generally her work has been focused on creating outdoor environments for large -scale residential estates in the US and abroad, with many high profile clients and books to her name. Her home and garden is a work of art, with each corner casually, yet artfully composed and seemingly magazine -ready.  Her landscape has so much dimension to it that you really need days to absorb it all. Martha was kind enough to spend some time with me, which I have been dying to do for the longest time, both to learn from an expert in the field and also to try to document some of the highlights. With my 'island brain' and her impeccable standards as a respected designer in the field, I can only hope I am doing her justice here. You can see more here at Martha Baker Landscape Design.

A small arched side entry is carved out of a dense hedgerow of Privet.

A small arched side entry is carved out of a dense hedgerow of Privet.

Martha is into creating outdoor living rooms, considering comfort, longevity, beauty, and views. Her veranda faces the Bay and feels like a gracious and perfectly proportioned natural extension of the house out onto the landscape. The pergola has a hearty planting of Wisteria, which she has a love/ hate relationship with..."Wisteria is great" she says, but hard to maintain and grows so fast that it needs to be tamed regularly. A planting of boxwood and hydrangeas surround the terrace, softening the edge.

Martha is into creating outdoor living rooms, considering comfort, longevity, beauty, and views. Her veranda faces the Bay and feels like a gracious and perfectly proportioned natural extension of the house out onto the landscape. The pergola has a hearty planting of Wisteria, which she has a love/ hate relationship with..."Wisteria is great" she says, but hard to maintain and grows so fast that it needs to be tamed regularly. A planting of boxwood and hydrangeas surround the terrace, softening the edge.

Across the street on the bay side is the entrance to Martha's walled garden. The entry is exquisitely marked with two statuaries from Unique Stone. Martha's entire garden is punctuated with these small treasures and amazing stone pieces she has come across over the years, adding a personal feel to the garden. The fence is tied to a more elaborate arbor structure, which is made out of locust wood by her son who is a sculptor/fabricator. His name is Charlie Baker, and you can see more of his work at Baker Structures.

Across the street on the bay side is the entrance to Martha's walled garden. The entry is exquisitely marked with two statuaries from Unique Stone. Martha's entire garden is punctuated with these small treasures and amazing stone pieces she has come across over the years, adding a personal feel to the garden. The fence is tied to a more elaborate arbor structure, which is made out of locust wood by her son who is a sculptor/fabricator. His name is Charlie Baker, and you can see more of his work at Baker Structures.

The Clematis has just started to bloom, lending an element of grace to the entry.

The Clematis has just started to bloom, lending an element of grace to the entry.

Once through the gate, the long view out the dock to the boat. The arbor is an extension of the main axis to the dock and also is a sculptural element in the garden, now partially covered with the flowing Trumpet vine, and also Akebia (or Chocolate vine) which both provides some shade and also softens the structure. 

Once through the gate, the long view out the dock to the boat. The arbor is an extension of the main axis to the dock and also is a sculptural element in the garden, now partially covered with the flowing Trumpet vine, and also Akebia (or Chocolate vine) which both provides some shade and also softens the structure. 

Akebia (Chocolate Vine) is one of Martha's favorite vines because it grows tightly to structure and does not get too out of control so that the arbor still retains its architectural definition. Akebia is a twining woody deciduous vine, and is also shade, salt and deer tolerant with  fragrant, dark purple flowers in March-April. It supposedly smells like chocolate although don't get your hopes up, this was is not my experience and frankly who needs that anyway.  Martha's sensibility is keenly attuned to seasonality, and each part of her garden has been considered to provide interest during all seasons, which is no small feat, especially located right on the water where wind shear and salt are major issues.

Akebia (Chocolate Vine) is one of Martha's favorite vines because it grows tightly to structure and does not get too out of control so that the arbor still retains its architectural definition. Akebia is a twining woody deciduous vine, and is also shade, salt and deer tolerant with  fragrant, dark purple flowers in March-April. It supposedly smells like chocolate although don't get your hopes up, this was is not my experience and frankly who needs that anyway.  Martha's sensibility is keenly attuned to seasonality, and each part of her garden has been considered to provide interest during all seasons, which is no small feat, especially located right on the water where wind shear and salt are major issues.

Off to the right side of the arbor is a small seating area that Martha arranged in a sort of casual island chic way. The patio is surrounded by large drifts of Miscanthus Sinensis 'Morning light', Hydrangeas, and Pennisetum. The plastic thatched umbrellas are hilarious, and oddly stylish at the same time and move with the breeze along with the grasses. The grey planters are from Campania and are planted with Plumbago,  a tropical plant also commonly known as 'Leadwort'.

Off to the right side of the arbor is a small seating area that Martha arranged in a sort of casual island chic way. The patio is surrounded by large drifts of Miscanthus Sinensis 'Morning light', Hydrangeas, and Pennisetum. The plastic thatched umbrellas are hilarious, and oddly stylish at the same time and move with the breeze along with the grasses. The grey planters are from Campania and are planted with Plumbago,  a tropical plant also commonly known as 'Leadwort'.

The patio is a mix of bluestone in a running bond pattern, mixed with strips of brick at the edges. A fire pit provides warmth at night along the water's edge, and many opportunities for evening s'mores making (and drinking, of course).

The patio is a mix of bluestone in a running bond pattern, mixed with strips of brick at the edges. A fire pit provides warmth at night along the water's edge, and many opportunities for evening s'mores making (and drinking, of course).

A view looking back to the seating area and arbor beyond.

A view looking back to the seating area and arbor beyond.

On the other side of the arbor is Martha's wild side: A mix of Hydrangea, Sedum, Casablanca Lillies, Hibiscus, Joe Pye Weed and Nepeta all growing in a gorgeous romantic tangle together. Martha mentioned that Hurricane Sandy took out over 50% of her garden, but you would never know that now--the garden is overflowing, and full of flowers in bloom even in late August.

On the other side of the arbor is Martha's wild side: A mix of Hydrangea, Sedum, Casablanca Lillies, Hibiscus, Joe Pye Weed and Nepeta all growing in a gorgeous romantic tangle together. Martha mentioned that Hurricane Sandy took out over 50% of her garden, but you would never know that now--the garden is overflowing, and full of flowers in bloom even in late August.

The Sedum 'Autumn Joy' were in full effect, a great late summer perennial to remember for that late color that often is hard to find.

The Sedum 'Autumn Joy' were in full effect, a great late summer perennial to remember for that late color that often is hard to find.

All corners of the property are considered, with blooming flowers and vines abound. Martha is a huge proponent of planting in pots: this terra cotta pot is planted with Torenia and Scaevola, two gorgeous purple annuals that are not too fussy, are pretty drought tolerant,  and their flowers just so bright.

All corners of the property are considered, with blooming flowers and vines abound. Martha is a huge proponent of planting in pots: this terra cotta pot is planted with Torenia and Scaevola, two gorgeous purple annuals that are not too fussy, are pretty drought tolerant,  and their flowers just so bright.

The lovely Martha at home. (I made her take this photo.:)

The lovely Martha at home. (I made her take this photo.:)

 Willy never leaves her side. Note Martha's dress, a boxwood print, blending way too perfectly with this landscape.  Thank you, Martha.

 Willy never leaves her side. Note Martha's dress, a boxwood print, blending way too perfectly with this landscape. 

Thank you, Martha.

Week 16: texture gone wild

Texture can be brought into a garden in very unexpected ways. This week, we pulled a few examples that just go together so well, not only because of their cool grey hues, but their textures are complementary and balanced.  But then I expanded our selection to include more to choose from, including some unusual planters, and more plants to consider in the plants gone wild direction.

Grey Huron Chair from West Elm provides a graceful, light silhouette/$699 View Product Website

Grey Huron Chair from West Elm provides a graceful, light silhouette/$699
View Product Website

  Stunning new tables made from aggregate and concrete by MMaterial/$4800 View Product Website

 

Stunning new tables made from aggregate and concrete by MMaterial/$4800
View Product Website

  Also by MMaterial, made with metal (silver and brass) bb's. YEs bb's. How cool is that? These are for indoors but I could not resist/$6500 View Product Website

 

Also by MMaterial, made with metal (silver and brass) bb's. YEs bb's. How cool is that? These are for indoors but I could not resist/$6500
View Product Website

Babylon Planter from Dedon/$1121 View Product Website

Babylon Planter from Dedon/$1121
View Product Website

Rectangular Corten Steel Planter from AllModern/$311 View Product Website

Rectangular Corten Steel Planter from AllModern/$311
View Product Website

Doolin Trough Planter from AllModern/$169.99 View Product Website  

Doolin Trough Planter from AllModern/$169.99
View Product Website

 

  Nasella/Mexican Feather Grass View Product Website

 

Nasella/Mexican Feather Grass
View Product Website

Week 15: Insider Information

 

This site is essentially all "insider" information about the best ideas and elements that landscape design has to offer. So in a way, this weeks' post should be called 'inside' the insider's information. Because I am always learning, and so many things are happening in the field, it's a process. This week is basically a grab bag of new information and happenings: I took a walk with a fellow designer and she dowloaded some very cool ideas about new plants. I also visited the BBG, and ICFF May 16-19 (more on those visits next week).  Additionally, I discovered some new companies making beautiful things that hopefully can help you assemble your garden quickly if you are in need of inspiration. 

 

Julia Miller, a fellow landscape designer and very knowledgeable plant person of Four Gardens Design, based in Carroll Gardens, kindly introduced me to  Dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’). This is  a fantastic plant to know about because unlike the Common Lilac, which forgive me but despite its gorgeous fragrance is also tall, gangly and scrubby-looking. This variety, however, has a dense, compact, rounded shape and resistant to powdery mildew, which are two characteristics that set it apart from other lilacs. Dwarf Korean lilac fits small gardens, tight spaces and can be used as a deciduous hedge.  It's a deciduous shrub with a rounded shape. growing 4 to 5 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide, making it much smaller and denser than other lilac bushes, such as the common lilac, which can grow over 15 feet tall and become gangly. Dwarf Korean lilac can also be purchased grafted to a tree trunk, in which case it tops out at about 8 feet tall with a rounded head of foliage and spring flowers.  Dwarf Korean lilac flowers heavily in mid- to late spring, with dense clusters of tiny tubular pink flowers. The flowers buds are a handsome purple, making this lilac bush attractive just before it blooms, too. Lilac is very fragrant. Grow dwarf Korean lilac in full sun or part shade and average soil. It likes regular watering but will tolerate drought once established. Prune gently and during flowering season and it will bloom longer. 

 

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There is an extraordinary display of Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica 'Excelsior') happening as we speak at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  Photo by Ruiyan Xu. See Brooklyn Botanic Garden Website for details.

Atelier Vierkant is showing at the ICFF at the Javitz Center May 16-19th, which is now... View Website for Details

Atelier Vierkant is showing at the ICFF at the Javitz Center May 16-19th, which is now...
View Website for Details

Gallant & Jones is a resource to know about as you pull together your garden look. Based in Vancouver, they have a particularly excellent line of sling back chairs, which are not only great for flexibility in a garden , but many a beach visit in your future. Price: $389

Gallant & Jones is a resource to know about as you pull together your garden look. Based in Vancouver, they have a particularly excellent line of sling back chairs, which are not only great for flexibility in a garden , but many a beach visit in your future. Price: $389

This is my favorite new addition to our roof. They are so comfortable, that my husband turned into a lobster sitting on it this weekend. Sorry babe. Price: $815.00 View Product Website

This is my favorite new addition to our roof. They are so comfortable, that my husband turned into a lobster sitting on it this weekend. Sorry babe. Price: $815.00
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The thing I love about Pennoyer and Newman is their variety: modern, traditional, and then they have pieces like this that look like ancient found relics. This is their concrete cast Japanese Rainbarrel that is made from a hand carved mold. Price: $1,800.

The thing I love about Pennoyer and Newman is their variety: modern, traditional, and then they have pieces like this that look like ancient found relics. This is their concrete cast Japanese Rainbarrel that is made from a hand carved mold. Price: $1,800.

Terrain is a garden resource that carries many styles of stone and fiberglass planters, as well as trellises, structures for grow vines, and unusual finds like terrariums and seed kits:   View Product Website