Monday, December 21, 2009

Rolling Greens opening in L.A.

Contributor Debra Prinzing attended the recent opening of Rolling Greens, Hollywood’s latest nursery and garden emporium that opened in a former tire garage.

Says Debra, Rolling Greens looks and feels like one of those elegant places you feel giddy to discover in Paris or London – part mossy-scented flower shop, part eclectic antique shop. Over-sized bird cages hang at different levels from a floor-to-ceiling branch installation. Large-scale lighting made from found objects – semi-industrial materials like metal mesh and salvaged wire baskets with linen shades – fill the high ceilings. One wall display is made with cross-sections of twigs and branches, installed as a woody mosaic. There are even a few vintage chandeliers to add sparkle to the rustic interior. Expect home and garden items that please the eye, and displays that emulate room-like settings in some corners and artful tableaux in other areas.

Read about the party and see photos of the store.

Photo courtesy of Rolling Greens

Friday, December 18, 2009

Presidential Treatment

We like to call Jon Carloftis "our own." May we brag? On behalf of Better Homes and Gardens and Traditional Home, the Kentucky-born garden designer just completed the holiday decor of the courtyard at the 19th century Blair House — the official guesthouse of the President of the United States. (See the slideshow by clicking on the link below.)

Jon says they gave the traditional a new twist by hanging silver balls that looked like snow from the trees and used two different sizes of stainless steel balls in the containers and on the huge floor to make the space connected visually. They also reflected the light and could be used in a modern situation for an outstanding result. Jon added: "All the branches are from nature, including winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) while the evergreen roping was common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens). All of these items could be used in a less traditional way with great effect. Plus, the winterberry provides food for birds later in the winter."

The garden will be seen only by White House Guests and for the many seasonal parties such as the one last Friday for the past Secretaries of State. There is an event nearly every day during December. Says Jon, "What a fun time to take a week off and do once in a lifetime!"

See a slideshow of the entire courtyard garden by clicking here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gift idea? EasyBloom Plant Sensor

You may think that we Garden Design editors wouldn’t need a technological chip to help us place our plants in the garden or to remember to water indoors. But seriously, we’re busy and can use all the help we can get (ok, I’m speaking for myself).

So I am really excited about this EasyBloom Plant Sensor. Place it anywhere you want to grow a flower, plant, vegetable, herb or tree and it will collect information including light, humidity, temperature and soil conditions. Then it synchs with the Web to tell you exactly what kind of plants will thrive in that location. EasyBloom will also diagnose ailing plants to help you bring them back to life and will give you an instant “chirp” if your plant needs more water.

It retails for $39.95, works with both PC and Mac and is easy to purchase. Find it at,, and

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ask a gardener and more from the High Line

Well this caught my attention (alas, I mean the photo, though the topic is good, too). The High Line gardeners (Maeve, Andi, Kaspar, Kyla and Johnny) will answer your planting-related questions. Send them to and if selected, the answer will be posted on the Ask a Gardener page on the High Line’s website. Be sure to include your name and city along with your question.

’Tis the season: See the High Line in every season. Winter is a great time to visit and to experience the changing landscape. Beginning on Monday, December 14, the High Line will be open daily from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Check for updates about park conditions and hours of operation during inclement weather.

Thursday, December 17, at 5:30 PM: Free Outdoor Concert by the NYC Lab School High School Chorus. They’ll perform seasonal and Broadway selections during two sets at 5:30 PM and 6:00 PM on the High Line in the Chelsea Market Passage, near 15th Street. No RSVP is necessary. Hot cocoa and gingerbread by Tom Colicchio's Craft Sweets will be available for purchase at the event for $3.

Photo by David Kimelman

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fab holiday floral décor

Each day Venice, California climbs up our radar of design hot spots. If you’re on Abbot Kenney Blvd, don't miss Floral Art, a 3,500-square-foot flower emporium that is both boutique and design studio. Or, browse online. The founder, Jennifer McGarigle, has been in the business for 17 years and has gained notable recognition through her loyal celebrity clientele and is well regarded for her distinctive style – fashion forward, sexy and immediately recognizable. As for designing for the holidays, Jennifer feels strongly about creating something that will last much longer than a traditional arrangement. For instance, paper whites in a lucite trough lined with moss (pictured, $250), or a collection of antique mirrored boxes filled with dried hydrangeas or even miniature cypress trees. (Note, select floral arrangements can be shipped anywhere in the U.S.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shop terrain online

Can't make it to Glen Mills, Pennsylvania for the shopping experience that is Terrain at Styer's — the home, garden and lifestyle store brought to us by the folks from Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters? Now you can shop online. Terrain recently launched their e-commerce site and it is loaded with unique garden goodies from containers to bird houses and a lot of in between. And, they are offering free shipping on orders over $100 until Dec. 24. Want some winter-time garden inspiration? When you go to the website, I suggest you click on "terrain at styer's" on the bottom for a preview of the garden center at the actual store.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bags woven from plant materials take reusable up a notch

Gift idea? Who said that reusable totes couldn't be stylish? These lightweight and sturdy woven bags are handmade in Morocco from all-natural and sustainable materials including palm leafs, water reeds and wild grasses. They're distributed by a company called Ecobags that is committed to helping create a sustainable environment. There are half-a-dozen styles of woven bags to choose from (priced from $40-$42. Each is handmade. And currently has a deal - free shipping on orders over $75.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Win TWO orchid and bromeliad arrangements

Five lucky people will each win two wrapped orchid and bromeliad double-planted mixed containers from innovative Florida grower, Silver Vase, Inc. Winners may choose to receive both or keep one and have the second one shipped to a friend.

Silver Vase, Inc. is an innovative orchid and bromeliad producer that is based in Homestead, Fla. Since 1988, Silver Vase, Inc. has dedicated itself to growing and expanding consumer demand for high-quality, exotic plants. In its environmentally controlled greenhouses and through its now 10-year-old Clean & Green Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, the operation guarantees its customers quality, proven varieties of Phalaenopsis orchids and a wide array of bromeliads in a spectrum of color. Their plants are sold through retailers as well as through several e-commerce sites. Enter until November 11.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Greenhouse specimens at Montreal Botanic Garden

Montreal Botanical Garden’s greenhouses are bursting with rare blooms. On October 6 I’d posted about the agave plant, Mauritius hemp (Furcraea foetida) that was about to bloom. Now it has (pictured at left). The many star-shaped flowers, about 5 to 7 cm across, are blooming for the first and last time, over a period of several weeks. Once it has finished flowering, the plant will gradually die back, as is the case for most members of this family. On display in the Arid Regions Greenhouse.

What else can you see right now? A tree dahlia (Dahlia imperialis), on display for just a few more days, reached 3.5 metres in a single season; unique bromeliads in bloom in the Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse; the enormous parts of the elephant foot yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius var. campanulatus) in the Orchids and Aroids Greenhouse; the iridescence of the blue strap fern (Microsorum thailandicum), a member of the Polypodiaceae family, thought to be due to the presence inside the leaves of thin layers of cells whose thickness or shape reflects certain wavelengths of light (in the Ferns Greenhouse); and False holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus), with leaves almost identical to those of a real holly plant, but with highly scented flowers, on display in the Garden of Weedlessness (penjing) Greenhouse. More at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gorgeous Bamboos!

Bamboo has kind of been growing on me lately. Probably my scouting trip to Hawaii last year didn't hurt. But recently I received a press kit from Greentop, LLC, a company known for its planter systems and who had recently acquired New England Bamboo. Inside the kit was a catalogue that kind of blew my mind. Forty-eight pages of bamboo showing shapes, textures and colors -- just the kick I'd needed to become a full-on bamboo-loving convert. I asked the owner Chris DeRosa to send me a gallery of images that show how bamboo can be used in garden design. Honestly, I think you might be rather astonished. See it online at (click on the story on the homepage). You can also view the catalogue as a pdf at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Naples Botanic Garden opens major new gardens by renowned landscape architects

I wish I could tell you that I’d been there myself, and when you see the pictures of the new Naples Botanic Garden, you’ll wish you were there too. Featuring gardens representing cultures and landscapes found between the 26th Latitude north (the latitude of Naples, Florida) and the 26th Latitude south, the Garden re-opened last week, showcasing three major garden installations by a dream team of renowned landscape architects: Herb Schaal (Children’s Garden), Raymond Jungles (Brazilian Gardens) and Robert Truskowski (Caribbean Garden). Plus, a stunning transitional area called River of Grasses that mimics the Florida Everglades and was created by the overall design team headed up by Ellin Goetz. Plan a visit now! See more

Photo: Brazilian Garden designed by Raymond Jungles

Friday, November 13, 2009

Designing Peace Gardens in India and Nepal

Next Saturday the Bay Area designers Tim O’Shea of Greenworks Design and Davis Dalbok of Living Green are headed for Bodhgaya — the famous site in India where The Buddha attained Enlightenment — where they will begin work on the first of Eight Mandala Peace Gardens dedicated to the Eight Sacred Sites of The Buddha. The duo will be working under the auspices of The Light of The Buddhadharma Foundation International, which works to beautify the ancient places where the Buddha walked and taught, and that still echo with his teachings and blessings. To date, Eight World Peace Bells have been donated and installed in Sarnath, Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Vaishali, Kushinagar, Shravasti, Tso Pema and Sankasya. All Eight Bells will eventually be surrounded by beautiful gardens designed by O’Shea and Dalbok, which will reflect the awakening and flowering of the Buddhaharma throughout India and Nepal.

The Bodhgaya garden plans were developed to revitalize a disused area of the Mahabodhi Temple grounds to the south of Mucalinda Lake. This Peace Park will facilitate walking meditation by creating greater connection to the adjacent areas. The Scripture Garden will display plant species both mentioned in Buddhist scriptures and known to be growing in the Buddha's lifetime. Shade trees and the Meditation Houses/ Veranda allow for restful contemplation and mindful awareness. This plan was designed by Tim O'Shea of Greenworks Design and Davis Dalbok of Living Green with direction from Wangmo and Richard Dixey of the Light of the Buddhadharma Foundation International. See the complete plans on Dalbok's blog

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last chance to WIN a copy of Amy Stewart's Wicked Plants

Beware! The sordid lives of plants behaving badly. A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. Amy Stewart, bestselling author of Flower Confidential, takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature's most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. Menacing botanical illustrations render a ghastly portrait of evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, enlighten, and alarm even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.
10 lucky winners will receive a copy of Amy Stewart's Wicked Plants. Go to Contest ends tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seed Bank Exchange

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, visited Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanic Garden this past Saturday, presenting a small but valuable packet to the garden’s director Harry Jongerden. In it were six varieties of seed of native British Columbia plant species from the vaults of The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. In return, Mr. Jongerden presented The Duchess with wild-collected B.C. native plant seed for Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, which are not currently in its collection.

The seeds received by VanDusen Botanical Garden are:

* Gaillardia aristata
* Helianthus maximiliani
* Penstemon procerus
* Nothochelone nemorosa
* Hydrophyllum tenuipes
* Brodiaea coronaria

The seeds sent by VanDusen to RBG Kew are:

* Arbutus menziesii
* Aquilegia formosa
* Bidens amplissima
* Lilium columbianum
* Dicentra formosa
* Erythronium oregonum

Kew's Millenium Seed Bank recently celebrated its success in banking 10 percent of the world's wild plant species.

For more information on VanDusen Botanical Garden:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Recyled bottles never looked so good

Last April we covered a line of indoor-outdoor pillows by San Diego interior designer and colorist Kathleen Roarty that found their inspiration in Roarty’s family’s worldwide travels. Her company, Mint Pillows, has just launched a new collection, Elements: Water, Earth, Fire and Air — each an individual series with six slightly different patterned pillows. I’m digging Water, which mimics an alluring shallow patch of sun-dappled ocean in the Bahamas.

Each collection is a limited edition, and each pillow is hand-crafted, numbered and dated. The insert is a cushy faux-down that is soft and dense but also durable for the outdoors. Now, Mint Pillows has switched all of their pillows to a soft new fabric that is made from 100% recycled water bottles. The results are luxurious feeling, nap-inducing pillows. I’m a believer. More at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I want this i-Phone app

I don’t have an i-Phone, yet. But I learned about a new app (is that really a word?) that makes me want one. The Botany Buddy tree & shrub finder is an interactive database of 1,300 native and ornamental trees and shrubs that helps you identify plants in the field or — because you can create collections of plants — to use as a tool when planning landscapes and gardens. You can actually create custom plant collections and share them with other users. For every plant listed, there are enough images to see its shape, leaf, flower, bark and seed and the advanced search engine allows you to search by common or botanical name, growth habit and requirements, size, usage, color and more. Co-developer Charlie Hopper has spent 25 years as a landscape designer. He told me that the first time he took it out for a test run at a weekend tailgate fruit and veggie market in Ashville, NC, “it felt like a pair of Felco pruners.” This, I have to see. A preview and direct link to the iTunes store is available at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SFBG announces design competition winner

I was delighted to hear from Michael McKechnie, Executive Director of the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society, that they have successfully completed the five-month-long juried design competition for Gondwana Circle. The competition was an open call to artists and designers interested in gardens and public art to create a design exploring the historical significance of Gondwana as it relates to today’s horticultural communities of the Southern Hemisphere.

What or where is Gondwana, you ask? I wondered the same. Basically, it was a continent 200 million years ago that contained most of the landmasses found in the Southern Hemisphere before tectonic movement rearranged the map to the formation we know now.

Says McKechnie, “The geological story of Gondwana plays out significantly at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. We’re one of a handful of public gardens worldwide to have such a significant collection of Southern Hemisphere plants with our extraordinary Chilean, New Zealand, Australian, and South African gardens. These plants tell the story of plant evolution and migration.” The winning design will stand at the intersection where these Southern Hemisphere gardens meet.

And The Winner Is….

“Roving Mass” by Michael Overby and Emma Fuller of New York City, who beat out more than 90 designs submitted from around the world. Click here for the full story.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Garden Conservancy/Margarido House party

Submitted by Garden Design Contributor, Debra Prinzing:

At "Sip, Graze, and Be Green," Garden Conservancy's party on Oct. 1 to fete Margarido House's Green Award from Garden Design magazine, more than 100 guests arrived to join owner/developer Mike McDonald of McDonald Construction and Design and his terrific wife Jill Martenson for the event. In the spirit of "thinking green," many people carpooled or took public transportation to arrive at the Oakland home, a model of sustainable construction and landscaping.

While touring the LEED-H Platinum project, supporters of Garden Conservancy mingled with architects, landscape designers, garden professionals and sustainable vendors including Mark Rogero of Concreteworks, David and Susie Gardcia of Paver Pro, and others. Margarido House is an excellent demonstration of how to design integrated interior and exterior spaces to maximize square footage, sightlines, natural light and passive cooling/heating -- plus, be a beautiful living environment.

Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores donated organic wine to the event, which netted $1,200 for Garden Conservancy programs.

Garden Conservancy president Antonia Adezio welcomed the group and thanked them for supporting garden preservation efforts, including the gardens at Alcatraz (which we could see across the SF Bay from the spectacular vantage point of Margarido House's roof garden). Mike McDonald shared his enthusiasm for collaborative and sustainable building projects and answered a short Q&A with Garden Design writer Debra Prinzing. Designer Lauren Schneider of Wonderland Garden and Landscape discussed creating a dramatic and sustainable landscape of California native plants and low-water Mediterranean varieties. Guests went home with copies of Garden Design's September -October issue, which features an article about Margarido House.
Learn more about the home and garden at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Prestigious Landscape Design Award Finalist

We’re excited to see the news that Rios Clementi Hale Studios is a finalist in the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s 2009 National Design Awards, in the category of Landscape Design. While we don’t know the outcome of the awards yet (winner to be announced this week in New York City during National Design Week), we are looking forward to featuring a Los Angeles garden by the firm’s founding principal Mark Rios, FAIA, FASLA, in the April 2010 issue. Stay tuned.

(Baroda Garden, Beverly Hills; Photo: Tom Bonner)

The prestigious Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards celebrate design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world. National Design Award nominations are solicited from more than 800 leading designers, educators, journalists, cultural figures, and corporate leaders from every state in the nation.

To see more of the firm’s work, go to

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Do it! San Diego Fall Plant Sale

Learn to incorporate gorgeous drought-tolerant plants into your garden at the 27th Annual Fall Plant Sale, this weekend at the San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly Quail Botanic Garden). See many examples of how low-water-use plants can brighten your garden and help protect against wildfires.

Plant donations from more than 100 local growers, wholesalers, retail nurseries and individuals make this one of the most interesting and diverse plant sales of San Diego County. Plant selections include California natives, cacti, succulents, bromeliads, fruit trees, and sub-tropicals. Also for sale are garden related items, used books, and homemade goodies such as specialty jellies. Enjoy an opportunity drawing and the popular sit-down Bakery Shoppe, which serves cakes, cookies, pies, and coffee.

Cost: Free with admission or membership (Admission: Adults, $12; seniors, active military, students $8; children ages 3-12, $6; and children age 2 and under are free.)

Photo credit: From Designing with Succulents by Debra Lee Baldwin.

27th Annual Fall Plant Sale
October 17 and 18, 11 am – 4 pm
(Members Only Pre-Sale: October 17, 9 – 11 am)

Location: San Diego Botanic Garden, Quail Botanical Gardens, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024, <> , 760-436-3036 x. 206

About San Diego Botanic Garden
Set on 35 acres in north coastal San Diego County, San Diego Botanic Garden’s, formerly Quail Botanical Gardens, mission is to inspire people of all ages to connect with plants and nature. The Gardens includes nearly 3,500 kinds of plants representing three general plant habitat types: desert collections, Mediterranean collections and subtropical/tropical collections. Demonstration gardens such as the children’s garden, “Seeds of Wonder,” as well as the Hamilton Children’s Garden which opened in the Summer of 2009, encourage conservation education, focusing on horticultural themes and traditional uses of plants. San Diego Botanic Garden is opening daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission prices are as follows: Adults, $12; seniors, active military, students $8; children ages 3-12, $6; and children age 2 and under are free. For more information, visit <> .

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do it! Mums in NC

This weekend, October 17-18, marks the annual North Carolina Chrysanthemum Society’s Annual Show at The North Carolina Arboretum. This year, the local chapter is hosting the national society’s show. The popular annual show showcases hundreds of chrysanthemum blooms in vibrant and varied colors. Expect to see tree and cascade exhibits as well as displays of chrysanthemums, bonsai, educational exhibits, and a special section on Photography, all from more than 200 exhibitors from across the country.

The exhibits will be judged by National Standards by expert Accredited National Chrysanthemum judges from all over the United States and Canada, by strict NCS standards and highlights the exceptional variety in size, shape and color of these popular fall flowers.

The show is a perfect opportunity to learn more about how to grow display- or show- quality chrysanthemums. Guests to The NC Arboretum will be able to enjoy the shows and flower sales as well as trail walks, family activities, and exhibits. The Chrysanthemum Show is free for Arboretum Society members or with the standard parking fee ($6 per personal motor vehicle). Visitors are encouraged to explore the Arboretum’s 65 acres of cultivated gardens, 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, engaging exhibits, and bountiful opportunities to connect with nature.

For information, call 828.665.2492 or visit

Friday, October 9, 2009

Do It! Rare Texts on Display

From October 17 through January 10, the New York Botanical Garden grants a once-in-a-lifetime peek at select books from the T. Mertz Library, considered to be one of the world’s greatest repositories of botanical and horticultural literature. The library houses a treasury of published and archival documents that trace the development of botany and horticulture from the 12th century to the present day. Drawing from this wealth of materials, Ex Libris: Treasures from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library highlights some rarely seen items that demonstrate the extraordinary beauty and depth of the collections. Eighty per cent of the items displayed in Ex Libris have never before been exhibited to the public.

Ex Libris: Treasures from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library is in the Rondina and LoFaro Gallery. Here is the link to the exhibition’s checklist:

While there, don’t miss the Garden’s fall offerings, including Kiku The Art of the Japanese Chrysanthemum.

The Blue Egyptian Water-Lily
Temple of Flora
London: T. Bensley, 1807

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rare blooming about to occur at Montreal Botanic Garden

A rare blooming at the Montreal Botanic Garden is about to occur. The flowers of this 25-year-old agave plant, a Mauritius hemp (Furcraea foetida), will open in the next few days – for the first, and last, time. The agave will produce thousands of bulbils on the flower stalk or offsets at its base, which will allow it to reproduce vegetatively. As the plant’s Latin name suggests, while these blooms may be extraordinary, not everyone will necessarily be very fond of the flowers’ fragrance! Once it has finished flowering, the plant will gradually die back, as is the case for most members of this family. For the time being, the Mauritius hemp flower stalk is growing several centimetres a day, and is already nearly 9 metres tall! Part of the glass in the greenhouse roof has had to be removed for it, in fact.

Denis Barabé, a botanist at the Botanical Garden, brought this Mauritius hemp to the Botanical Garden in 1986, after collecting a plantlet in the wild, on Mount Bourda, in Cayenne, French Guyana. It was entered in the Garden’s records on December 3 of that year, becoming the 2,182nd plant entered in the 1986 collection records. Mr. Barabé has worked at the Montréal Botanical Garden since 1976 and is also a researcher at the plant biology research institute (IRBV).

For more, go to

Monday, October 5, 2009

Start your holiday shopping AND save the bees.

Start your holiday shopping and contribute to research to find the cause of the mysterious disappearance of honey bees due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

This beautiful 2010 calendar ($20) just came across my desk: A Bee Lover’s Garden: 12 Plants That Bees Love. Working Together to Create a Healthier World for Our Bees, and for Ourselves. The illustrations, printed on fine quality, green-seal-certified paper are by North Carolina artist Jay Pfeil and are truly frameable. The calendar is designed to educate people about the importance of bees, and inspire and empower them to plant these bee-nurturing plants in their gardens. A portion of the sales will go to The Eastern Apicultural Society's Foundation for Honey Bee Research.

Says the group’s founder, Mel Hughes, “Even if our first year's donation is small, we have still educated, inspired, and empowered thousands of people to rethink the higher purpose of their gardens.” The 2011 calendar is already in the works and will feature trees that nurture bees.

Photo credit: Illustration by Jay Pfeil.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's on garden designers' minds?

I’ve just returned from Los Angeles where I moderated a panel of design experts at the Brown Jordan showroom during Fall Market at the Pacific Design Center. Selena Souders of Big Red Sun (the photo is from her Venice store), designer Kimberlee Keswick and Stephen Block of Inner Gardens took time out from their demanding schedules for what turned out to be a lively discussion about the “outdoor room.” 

Sure, we explored the outdoor room at length. But two issues arose that really got me thinking that these are the areas where designers really need to educate their clients as well as the architects and interior designers involved in the project.

BUDGET and FEES: The designer is tasked from the beginning to help the client understand the perceived value of transforming the exterior spaces into an extension of the indoors – often doubling the livable square footage of their homes. The next step then is creating an appropriate budget and bringing the client on board to see beyond the need for hardscaping and plants. A healthy percentage of the budget also needs to be allocated to line items such as lighting, furnishings, appropriate components of an outdoor kitchen and fire and/or water features.  Last but definitely not least, there is that other tricky area: getting paid — ideally, up front — for the actual design. That these fees are customarily paid up front for architectural drawings was not lost on anyone. Kimberlee stressed the importance of creating a master plan from which everything flows, from the budget to the workflow. Each panelist discussed how he or she approaches this issue with clients and how much time and work they are, or are not, willing to invest upfront.

TIMING TO ENTER A PROJECT: When I asked the designers at what stage they are typically brought into a project vs. when they should ideally enter it, they all agreed that it is too often too late. It became clear that there is a real need to educate homeowners and architects of the importance of establishing a design team up front to comprise not only an architect and possibly an interior designer, but also the landscape architect or garden designer.

            I thought it interesting that yesterday I spoke by telephone with Palm Beach, Florida designer Jorge Sanchez of Sanchez & Maddux who had this to say: “There have been clients who have come to us after they have chosen an architect and contractor, and have finished the pool and driveway. We tell them they just need a plant installer. It is extremely important for the landscape architect to work from the beginning with the whole group. Otherwise, there is nothing cohesive or creative about it.”  

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Upcoming Garden Design Event!

On September 24th at 12:30 p.m. at the Brown Jordan Showroom in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, CA, check in with GD for the following event:

INSIDE OUT: A revealing look into the ever-changing world of exterior design Join Garden Design magazine's Senior Editor Megan Padilla in the Brown Jordan showroom as she moderates a panel of design experts during an insightful discussion of the hottest room in the house--the outdoor room.

Experts on hand will include:
*Selena Souders of Big Red Sun, recently brought her brand of bold, modern and environmentally conscious design from Austin, Texas to Venice, California.
*Kimberlee Keswick, formerly of KeswickRobbins, melds her love of design with spirit and nature to create harmonious spaces.
*Stephen Block of Inner Gardens is a passionate plantsman with a highly developed sense for garden ornamentation.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Check it Out: Golden Gate Express

The Golden Gate Express™ The Conservatory of Flowers’ popular garden railway exhibit will steam back into town for the holidays this year. Last year, visitors were overwhelmingly delighted by the model trains, miniature gardens and especially to the scaled down SF landmark buildings made so cleverly from recycled materials. People were enthralled with the humorous and inventive designs of these and in response we are debuting 6 new additions for a total of 18 wonderfully eco-creative icons of the San Francisco landscape. From Ghirardelli Square to the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower to Chinatown’s dragon gate, replicas of San Francisco’s most famous places have been creatively crafted from recycled and repurposed materials. Corks, wine boxes, cheese graters, cutlery and more come together to make San Francisco’s gourmet haven, the Ferry Building, and the towering Transamerica Pyramid is studded with over 600 computer keys. Debuting this year are six new landmarks including City Hall and Alamo Square’s famous Victorian Painted Ladies -- all set amongst miniature gardens and parks to create a magical setting for this special holiday eco-attraction. So, gather the family and get on track. The Conservatory of Flowers’ Golden Gate Express is a must see destination for the holidays! Click here for visitors' information.

Vote for our cover!

Garden Design's March cover is a finalist in the 2009 Best Cover contest by the American Society of Magazine Editors. The new and exciting part of the cover contest this year is that for the first time the general public will help to decide the winners. All finalists are being posted on so that regular folks including you can choose their favorites. Vote here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Do It! Chicago Orchid Show

Here's a show that reminds us that fall color is no less exotic that summer. On Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11, the Illinois Orchid Society presents their annual fall show, in which individual orchids in 128 classes vie for red, white and blue ribbons. Twenty-five entries will receive "best of class" green ribbons and the best appointed plant in the show will receive the Chicago Horticultural Society Award from American Orchid Society judges. Exquisite tabletop displays, from the rarest of species to cultivated hybrids, will be artistically arranged in the Greenhouse Galleries. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 10 and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 11.

More than 20 orchid vendors will sell many orchid varieties. Supplies and equipment, books, pins, clothing and the society's custom bark mix and fertilizer will also be for sale. The Illinois Orchid Society will provide repotting services for $5.

The Illinois Orchid Society holds its meetings, which are open to the public, on the second Sunday of the month. Meeting dates are subject to change. For more information on plant society meetings, call (847) 835-8284. Visit for more information.

Admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden is free; select event fees apply. Parking is $20; free for Garden members. For more information about any of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s programs and events, call (847) 835-5440, or visit

Do It: San Diego Orchid Fair

OrchidThe splendidly colorful and intriguing San Diego International Orchid Fair will again be hosted by Quail Botanical Gardens amidst the natural horticultural setting October 2, 3 and 4, 2009. Visitors can expect to see thousands of species and hybrids, exhibits, sales, as well as lectures and official American Orchid Society (AOS) judging and ribbon judging. This is the once-a-year orchid event held in Southern California with a focus on international vendors such as those from Japan, Brazil, and other countries. General admission fees apply and are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and active military and $6 for children ages 3-12. Children age 2 and under are free. Membership admission cost is free. $2 discount coupons are available at the Quail Botanical Gardens web site.

Photo by: Loren Batchman

Do It! The Late Show Gardens

Sonoma, California's "The Late Show Gardens" is just around the corner. Taking place September 18, 19 and 20, the show is sure to please the most discriminating garden enthusiasts, as top Bay Area designers and carefully-vetted vendors will set the bar high. Get a sneak peek in advance by attending the Preview Party, Thursday, September 17th.

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
4:30 pm – 8:30 pm
at Cornerstone Sonoma

Meet leading designers and get a special preview of our unique gardens in a beautiful landmark Sonoma setting. Beat the crowds and shop our selection of fine garden related items. Enjoy Gourmet Hors d’Oeuvres, a Hosted Wine Bar and Music, plus a Speaker Presentation at 6:30 pm. Net proceeds benefit The Trust for Public Land & The Garden Conservancy.

Do It! Naples Secret Garden

Garden Lovers of South Florida, if you haven't been out to see The Naples Secret Garden, this fall is the time. It is open every weekend from 1-4 pm, or a private showing is available upon request.

Do It: Dahlia Show

This weekend at The North Carolina Arboretum:
Saturday and Sunday September 12-13; Dahlia Show

Hundreds of dahlia blossoms in rainbow colors and multi-bloom variety bouquets are on display. Flowers are available for purchase, and Dahlia Society members offer advice and resources. Show opens on Saturday at noon (after all judging has been completed). Show runs Noon to 5:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, at the Education Center. Admission is free.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Do It! Support the High Line

If you are in New York, support of the High Line at tomorrow night's important public meeting. As the next step in the City's public review process for the Western Rail Yards rezoning, the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to get input.

This is a CRITICAL hearing. The rezoning will have a significant effect on the High Line, and changes can still be made which will have a positive impact on the High Line. There will be only one more public meeting prior to a final vote on this rezoning, so it is very important that we make a strong show of support at this point in the process.

Wednesday, September 9, 10:30 AM
22 Reade Street (Department of City Planning), Spector Hall
Subway: 1,2,3,A,C to Chambers Street, R,W to City Hall, 4,5,6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall

Do It: Congress of Horticulture

As if a visit to Portugal's season city Lisbon isn't enough of a draw, 2010's 28th International Congress of Horticulture will bring 2,000 participants from 80 countries to discuss the theme 'Science and Horticulture for People'. Colloquia, symposia, seminars, workshops and thematic sessions focus on the scientific component of horticulture but also the interaction between scientists, producers, consumers and society-at-large.

Monday, August 31, 2009

G-20 at Phipps

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome the G-20 leaders and their spouses to Pittsburgh at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on Thursday, September 24, 2009. Afterward, President Obama and the G-20 leaders will remain at the conservatory for a working dinner.

“Phipps is proud to be the site of this historic event,” says Richard V. Piacentini, the conservatory’s Executive Director. “The G-20 Summit is an opportunity for us to showcase the story of green innovation in Pittsburgh and at Phipps.”

The White House cites Phipps’ distinction as one of the world’s greenest public gardens in its announcement. The Victorian glasshouse that opened in 1893 is known today as “the Green Heart of Pittsburgh,” and is a national model for environmental leadership.

“Over the past decade, Phipps has made advanced green building practices, sustainable development and environmental awareness a focus at every level of operation,” says Piacentini.

Eco-friendly achievements include:

First LEED Certified Building in a Public Garden—Phipps’ earth-sheltered Welcome Center was awarded LEED Silver certification upon its completion in 2005.

World’s Most Energy-Efficient Conservatory—Phipps’ newest addition, the Tropical Forest Conservatory, is passively cooled, has no “greenhouse effect,” is very efficient for heating and is the only conservatory in the world powered by a solid oxide fuel cell.

Project Green Heart—All life depends on plants. Phipps’ commitment to environmental leadership includes sharing discoveries and providing resources on leading-edge practices in sustainable living, gardening and landscaping. Its “Botany in Action” program supports science and field research around the world and highlights the essential connection between
people and plants.

A Living Building—Plans are in place for construction of Phipps’ most innovative and ambitious green venture to date: a Living Building, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes which will be one of the greenest buildings in the world. This new Research, Education and Administration Center will exceed LEED Platinum certification and function at zero-net energy and water.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Check It Out: Floating Garden

The Chicago Park District and Moore Landscapes partnered together to launch a Floating Garden in Lincoln Park. From now and until mid-October, weather dependent, catch a glimpse of this unique floating tropical garden in the Lincoln Park south rowing lagoon.

Located east of the Lincoln Park Zoo and west of Lake Shore Drive in the south end of Lincoln Park’s rowing lagoon between Fullerton and North avenues, the floating tropical oasis was planted in a retired lifeguard boat, that is a seventeen inch Boston Whaler and secured by three concrete block anchors.

Designed by Kathleen Mullaney of Moore Landscapes Inc., the tropical oasis themed Floating Garden provides an element of surprise and delight to those who pass it. Bright red bamboo poles were added to compliment the bright plant palette and acts as a trellis for the vining flowers.

The plants in the Floating Garden were selected for their bright colors, texture and bold foliage such as annual vines (potato vine and Algerian ivy), annual flowers and ornamental grass (star flower, lantana, petunias, Brazilian verbena and purple fountain grass.) The tropical selections include croton, mandevilla vine, shrimp flower, annual hibiscus, canna, cordyline, and bamboo. For variety, fall ornamental grasses (millet and Juncus) were added, as well as ornamental cabbage.

From a distance, the Floating Garden displays a vibrancy of red, orange and yellow flowers with green and burgundy foliage. Vines and flowers drape over the top deck of the boat into the water.

All of the plants used in this visual display came from local suppliers. Pots and containers from all plant material are collected, sorted and picked up by area growers who will reuse or recycle the plastic materials. All landscape debris (including the soil) will be composted. The bamboo will be reused in future special projects.

After mid-October when the Floating Garden is dismantled, the appropriate plant material will be recycled and used in next year’s annual garden displays in parks throughout Chicago. Moore Landscapes Inc. works closely with the Lincoln Park Conservatory staff to reuse the tropical plants each year.
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