Thursday, April 30, 2009

Check It Out: Edible Floral Cake

Garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes is building a show garden at the Malvern Spring Flower Show in the UK. Working with celebrity chef Felice Tocchini, says Paul, "we are having a scale model edible cake of the garden made which will be auctioned for charity at the Gala Preview Evening."

"The garden as a whole is based on the classical painting 'Il Ballo Della Vita Humana' in which four people representing different stages in life, such as wealth or poverty dance in an continued circle to the music played by Father Time."

Paul was delighted to learn that Felice had chosen his garden for the edible cake creation as they are both passionate about gardens being an extension of the home, "not only as a sanctuary and place of refuge from increasingly busy lives but also as a source of seasonal healthy produce from vegetables, herbs and flowers."

Do It! Go to Louisville

I am en route to Louisville, Kentucky, to see the gardens and parks I’ve been hearing about from my friend, Kentucky native and garden designer Jon Carloftis. First stop? 21-C Museum Hotel, for which Jon designed the rooftop garden. Huge vegetable and herb beds supply the hotel’s restaurant Proof on Main with fresh produce. I’ll be posting about my Kentucky experiences all week; come back for more!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Love This: Olympian line from Haddonstone

Haddonstone, the manufacturer of fine cast stone landscape features, has partnered with top architect Robert A.M. Stern to create a gorgeous new collection of ornamental planters. The first two ranges in the collection, Olympian (shown) and Athenian, will be introduced by Haddonstone this spring. Says Stern about the lines: "These classically-inspired, yet wholly contemporary ornamental planters, operating at the intersection of nature and artifice, are designed to help define outdoor rooms in an architectural way." True!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kids' Stuff: Storybook Playhouse

Maybe it's because I have kids, but I definitely think of my garden as playground central. Barbara Butler thinks that way too--you can tell by the elaborate play structures she creates. This one, for Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith's children, is called the Storybook Playhouse. It is elaborately hand-carved with a menagerie of delightful creatures that frolic and play on all four walls, and you can choose your own color palette and one of three sizes. On Barbara's web site you can also buy plans for garden play houses--but you need a carpenter or carpentry skills to build them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Check It Out: Rites of Spring

The LongHouse Reserve in in East Hampton, NY, opened their Spring Season on Saturday, April 25th. Their Rites of Spring opening featured new sculptures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Eric Fischl, Gonzalo Fonseca, George Rickey and Johnny Swing. There was also a site specific water sculpture by Mia Westerlund Roosen.

Among the new pieces is East Ender Eric Fischl’s Tumbling Woman, which was commissioned to commemorate those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center on 9/11. It was deemed controversial and withdrawn after being installed along a Rockefeller Center concourse. Visitors discovered four of Gonzalo Fonseca’s sculptures which are developed from marble, travertine, limestone and brownstone. LongHouse reinstalled Magdalena Abakanwicz’s two figures which once again graze Peter’s Pond. Celebrated kinetic sculpture and contemporary artist George Rickey’s sculptures enticed visitors to study the simplicity and scale of their moving parts. This season Johnny Swing’s most recent work (he has other pieces at LongHouse) Finally Mia Westerlund Roosen’s water feature of stucco and running water invited viewers to inside to sit and listen as water cascades through the sculpture from above.

Shown above: Newly installed sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz: Rabdomante (Black Standing Figure), 1998-1999

Check It Out: Balloon Flower Study

The Chicago Botanic Garden is releasing results of a long-term study of balloon flower, Platycodon grandiflorus, in its 32nd issue of Plant Evaluation Notes: “A Comparative Study of Platycodon grandiflorus Cultivars.” Between 2001 and 2005, the Chicago Botanic Garden evaluated Platycodon grandiflorus and 19 cultivars in full-sun trials. The goal of the comparative trial was to recommend exceptional balloon flowers for northern gardens. Twelve balloon flower cultivars received high ratings for their strong habits, generally upright stems and good floral displays.

Balloon flower is a bushy, clump-forming perennial, growing to 3 feet tall, but often troubled by floppy stems. Throughout July and August, the buds burst open to blue, pink or white starry flowers streaked with prominent veins. Bluish green leaves, generally oval with toothed margins, are arranged in whorls on the lower portion of the stems but positioned alternately at the tips. In autumn, leaf color changes to dark purple or a mix of light purple and yellow, depending on the cultivar.

Hardy balloon flowers grow best in well-drained soils in full sun to light shade and are long-lived under normal conditions. They have few pest problems, though deer enjoy the stems and flower buds, and staking may be required. Balloon flowers perpetuate themselves in the garden through self-seeding, which sometimes results in subtle new color forms.

In the border or cottage garden, balloon flowers are good companions to other summer-blooming perennials such as Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum sp.), yarrows (Achillea sp.), sages (Salvia sp.) and ornamental grasses. The dwarf cultivars are well suited to rock gardens and seasonal containers.

One drawback to balloon flowers is their often lax stems, which is particularly troublesome for taller plants. Shorter cultivars have been introduced to remedy this problem; however, some short cultivars in the trial grew larger than expected. A compactness of habit was especially notable on 'Astra Blue', 'Baby Blue', 'Misato Purple', 'Sentimental Blue', and 'Zwerg'. These robust cultivars remained mostly upright during the bloom period but occasionally had relaxed or floppy stems by September.

Among the taller balloon flowers that remained fairly upright during the bloom period were Platycodon grandiflorus, 'Blaue Glocke', 'Double Blue', 'Fuji Blue', 'Fuji Pink', 'Fuji White', 'Hakone Blue', 'Hakone White', 'Komachi' and 'Perlmutterschale'.

The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plant Evaluation Notes provide the latest information on plants suited to the Midwestern climate and growing conditions. To download a PDF of Issue 32, “A Comparative Study of Platycodon grandiflorus Cultivars,” click here.

Photos by Carol Freeman.

Friday, April 24, 2009

In Progress: Naples Botanical Garden

Raymond Jungles, who has designed the Brazilian Garden at Naples Botanical Garden, just e-mailed these photos of the installation. More updates soon!

Check It Out: Green Expansion at Atlanta Botanical Garden

Just received a note from Danny Flanders at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. They have embarked on a "green expansion" that emphasizes sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The project will be complete in 2010. During the first phase, trees removed as a result of construction were all recycled; and, by planting of hundreds of young trees throughout the garden, the tree canopy will be rejuvenated, becoming healthier than before.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Check It Out: Oh, Silvia!

Phil Maddux, landscape architect at Sanchez & Maddux, Inc. in Palm Beach, Florida, and his wife Silvia have a fantastically overgrown (in the best possible way) garden that they call "The Jungle". This note just came from Phil via e-mail:

"I have been collecting Sansevierias (snake plants) for years. Silvia has not appreciated that part of our collections at all...especially when I come home with another one. The article in Garden Design has given me new creditability at home in the jungle. Thank you."

Green Things: Eco-Friendly Garden at Maitland Art Center

Garden Design is partnering with Project EverGreen to install an eco-friendly landscape at the Maitland Art Center in Maitland, Florida. The goals of the project are to beautify this beloved promoter of the arts and to educate the public on the importance of gardens that have a minimal impact on the environment. Landscape architect Raymond Jungles of Miami, FL, is providing the design pro bono, and the installation will take place in 2009. Two of Jungle’s recent projects are the design for The Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden (shown, left) and the Cisneros residence rooftop garden, which will appear in our July/August 2009 issue.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Check It Out: Walt Disney Signature collection

Our friends at Veneman are releasing a new line of outdoor furniture in collaboration with Disney Consumer Products as they announce their expansion of the Walt Disney Signature collection.

The line from Veneman incorporates memorable Disney moments in film, animation and more into four collections: Lumiere, Griffith, Imperial and Script Writer, and will debut at High Point Market at the International Home Furnishings Center, Suite M126 on April 23, 2009.

The Imperial collection, shown here, in inspired by The China Plate, one of Walt Disney’s early Silly Symphonies. The film brought the characters on a porcelain dish to life through groundbreaking animation and this collection features an Asian motif with strong, refined angles and structural symmetry that would please any modern-day emperor.

This Just In: New Garden

My friend Heather Lenkin, a Pasadena landscape architect, just sent me this shot of a project in her hometown, just above the Rose Bowl. A mid-century modern house with incredible views of downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains, the space was a great opportunity for adventurous design that includes sculpture from all over the world.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Do It! More from l’Île-de-France

Last week I blogged about a June event outside Paris, the Jardin Secret de l’Île-de-France. If you will be in France betwee June 6th and 28th, this leaflet will help you find your way to parks at their bloomin' best, like that at The Courson Estate. The estate dates back from the 17th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Estate fell into the hands of the Duke of Padua, who was one of Napoleon’s cousins. He transformed the park into an English style garden. In 1860, the Bühler brothers intervened by planting new essences and had the pond dug. In the 1980s, Hélène Fustier, with the help of the English landscape gardener Timothy Vaughan, restored the park. At that same time, the famous planting days at Courson were started and they gathered amateurs, botanists, nurserymen and visitors. What makes the Courson Estate special is that every one of its owners has been inspired by the passion of gardening and botany.

In Progress: Kips Bay 2009 Decorator Show House

Our Style Columnist Damaris Colhoun toured the almost-completed terrace and conservatory spaces at the Kips Bay Show House with Daniel Richards of Plant Specialists last week. Damaris, who is working on a story about Daniel's design, has this to say: "He toured me around his two spaces. On the terrace he's showing some furniture that's never been available before in the states (Qui est Paul). He's doing some cool stuff with materials to transform the terrace, too. In the conservatory, he's got a whimsical thing going on, with a wall of silk butterflies and living moss panels, and it is furnished with the Duval line by McKinnon and Harris."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Do It! Jardin Secret de l’Île-de-France

Just outside Paris, almost 90 parks and gardens are ripe for the seeing this spring. From June 6th to 28th, Paris-area parks dress up in their finest for Jardin Secret de l’Île-de-France. The gardens at castles listed as historical monuments, the contemporary gardens, the legendary arboretums, the botanical conservatories, the amazing vegetable gardens, the gardens of amateur collectors, the gardens of artists and writers, the family gardens and shared gardens, the parks and gardens and the protected natural sites--all of these provide a range of diverse and outstanding quality gardens in the Île-de-France region.

One example is Saint-Jean de Beauregard, where you will find everything that made the buildings of the past charming, balanced and diverse. The 17th century vegetable garden with its rare vegetables and successive flowerings of narcissus, irises, peonies, ancient roses and summer flowers reveal a harmony of shapes and colors that change with the seasons. In the garden, you can also see an amazing collection of fragrant plants.

For more highlights, come back to the blog, where I'll be calling out other fabulous gardens in Île-de-France.

Check It Out: New Showroom

It was great to hear from Los Angeles-based garden designer Judy Kameon of Elysian Landscapes today. Having just seen her in Los Angeles two weeks ago, I knew that she and her husband and partner, the photographer Eric Otsea, recently opened a new showroom for their line of modern outdoor furniture, Plain Air.

When a 10-ton dumptruck crashed into the offices of Elysian Landscapes last year, no one knew what a happy accident it would turn out to be. Formerly available only to garden clients and the trade, the Plain Air partners have now decided to open their doors to the public in their new space at 2340 West Third Street, Los Angeles, where the Elysian Landscapes offices are now also housed.

“Making a showroom for Plain Air might never have happened if that truck had not crashed into us. Now we’ll be offering our newly expanded line, custom pieces and built-ins, outdoor upholstery, garden accessories and full exterior design services to the public as well as the trade,” says Kameon.

The building at West Third has a great story, Judy tells me. It was designed by Harwell Hamilton Harris in 1950 for a graphic/industrial designer and his illustrator wife, Charles and Kay Cruz. Cruz and Harris were colleagues at Chouinard, an art school of renown that was founding in 1921, which was right around the corner from our building on Third Street. It was built as a live/work space, and so was truly modern in every sense
of the word.

Judy describes the building as the ideal place for Plain Air: “The building has tons of glass and is perfectly sited on a south/north axis, so there is never any direct sunlight coming into the space, all year long. We have a lovely courtyard entrance and will soon be starting on the garden in the back and our roofterrace, all which features Plain Air furniture.”

For more information, please contact Judy Kameon at or phone 213.380.3185.

Kids’ Stuff: Hamilton Children's Garden

Our senior editor Megan Padilla was at Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas, CA, in September for their annual Gala in the Gardens, chaired by Rene van Rems. The big push at the gala was to raise money for the Hamilton Children’s Garden, for which she saw the model (see photo at above).

One of the most anticipated areas of the new Children’s Garden, which opens in June, is “Toni’s Tree House”, a one-of-a-kind “climbable” tree designed by Deneen Powell Atelier, Inc., rising more than 20 feet high and blending manmade materials with living plants. Here children can crawl in the roots to unearth worms, snails and bugs, then take a rope ladder and walkways to a crow's nest where they discover nodes which illustrate the relationship between trees, plants and animals. Hamilton Children’s Garden will also include The Spell and Smell Garden, The Quiet Escape, A Mountain Stream and Meander, Birds and Butterflies and much more.

If you're in the area, check out the grand opening celebrations on June 13th.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In Progress: Kips Bay 2009 Decorator Show House

After a long trip to Australia where he checked in on gardens he designed there, Daniel Richards of Plant Specialists is back in New York and has sent me photos of this morning's visit to the Kips Bay Show House. Here you can see that the 5th floor terrace is coming together and is almost done. Our Style columnist Damaris Colhoun will be stopping by soon to see it all in person.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On The Road: Winston Flowers

Our art director Donna Reiss spent a few days in and around Boston last week. She was there for a photo shoot with David Winston of Winston Flowers. While at the atelier on Florence Street in Newton, MA, Donna kept admiring these enormous red containers, and finally climbed inside one. "Isn't it funny how they're planting blonds these days?" she said.
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