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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    It’s hard to miss Bleuet Coquelicot: Plants and flowers of all colors spill onto the sidewalk from a tiny storefront on a busy street in Paris's Canal St. Martin neighborhood. Most customers are neighborhood regulars. They stop by to say hello and share a cup of coffee (from Ten Belles next door, which serves the best in Paris) with the proprietor, who prefers to be known as "Tom des Fleurs."

    Is Bleuet Coquelicot the sort of shop that could only exist in Paris? We sent photographer Mimi Giboin to take a look. Here is her report:

    Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.

    Tom de Fleurs of Bleuet Coquelicot by Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

    Above: Tom des Fleurs and his daughter in the doorway at Bleuet Coquelicot.

    Florist Paris Bleuet Coquelicot by Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

    Above:  Tom says this will be his only shop. He knows his customers and they know him.

    Tom des Fleurs paris florist ; Gardenista

    Above: Tom has known some of his customers for a decade or more; he knows their children, and they leave their bags with him as they run errands in the neighborhood. Tom even has a little wooden box where he keeps spare keys for neighbors.

    Tom des Fleurs florist Paris by Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

     Above: There are no employees at Bleuet Coquelicot—Tom says that would change the ambiance of the space and the work. In the evening, people stop by to share a glass of rosé.

    Tom des Fleurs Paris florist by Mimi giboin ; Gardenista

    Above: Though he studied art curation, Tom started working for a florist in his neighborhood after finishing school. Four years later he bought the shop, keeping the name and its spirit of selling simple country flowers.

    Tome des Fleurs Paris florist by Mimi giboin ; Gardenista

    Above: When he took over the tiny 100-square-foot space, Tom designed a new look for it with help from his friend Robin, a designer and carpenter. He worked night and day for two and a half months to build the space out. 

    Tom des Fleurs paris florist by Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

     Above: During the redesign, Tom literally dreamed about the space: the running water, the walls covered with frescos, the small loft where he could live, floating above the sea of flowers. He mostly built the space from materials he had already: old doors and boards and windows. 

    Tom des Fleurs Paris Florist by Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

    Above: When Tom gets a new plant, he raises it for a year before selling it. He likes to experience each plant to know how it will react through the seasons.

    Tom des Fleurs paris Florist by Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

    Above: Tom insists on finding good homes for his plants. He won't sell a plant to someone who he knows won't take care of it.

    Tom des Fleurs Florist Paris Rose by Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

     Above: The bouquets Tom makes are beautifully simple. He uses filler leaves to allow the flowers to "breathe." Tom des Fleurs paris florist by Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

    Above: After her visit to the shop, Mimi told us, "You really feel that Tom is a poet. He expresses himself through plants and flowers, and also by creating a beautiful space for people to share."


    View Larger Map

    Above: Bleuet Coquelicot is at 10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010 Paris.

    Visiting Paris? For another of our favorite florists, see Odorantes, a Parisian Florist Where Flowers are Arranged by Scent. And see our Paris Destination Guide for more suggestions.

    More Stories from Gardenista


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  • 07/14/14--11:30: Field Guide: Lavender
  • Lavender; Lavandula: "The Practical Feminist"

    Alice Walker once wrote that “womanist is to feminist as lavender is to purple.” As the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple, Walker can be considered an expert on both. Actually, lavender has long enjoyed a connection to even radical feminism. In 1969, Betty Friedan originated the phrase “the lavender menace” to refer to the militant, “man-hating” contingent that she feared would cause the women’s movement to be taken less seriously.

    So how do we reconcile lavender’s radical stance with the fact that she loves taking part in household tasks? Ever since the Middle Ages, lavender has been a key ingredient in home medical remedies, fragrant nosegays to counter the odors of the street, perfumes and toilet waters, and countless cleaning products.

    Lavender Michael A Muller ; Gardenista

    Above: For more images of Lavender in the Garden, see our Gardenista Gallery of photos. Photograph by Michael A. Muller for Gardenista.

    To be sure, lavender is spicy and full of character. But she is also superbly helpful around the house and garden, taking pride in the spaces she calls her own. Lavender needs a room of her own. In either fall or spring, settle her into an outdoor spot that is two to three square feet. Water diligently at first, and soon enough she’ll be independent enough to impress even Friedan and Walker.

    DIY Lavender Soda ; Gardenista

    Above: One of our favorite summer recipes: DIY Lavender Soda. Photograph by Marla Aufmuth for Gardenista.

    Cheat Sheet

    • A drought-resistant and evergreen herb, lavender provides year-round interest in the garden
    • Attracts bees and butterflies while warding off deer, which hate its scent
    • Shades of violet, blue, purple, and gray blend pleasingly with other colors in the garden

    Keep It Alive

    • Lavender grows naturally in the sandy, rocky soil of the Mediterranean; bits of gravel and brick will remind it of home.
    • Perennial in US growing zones 5-9
    • Give it full sun and from 2 to 3 square feet of space to spread

    Blomsterskuret florist shop ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Blomsterskuret.

    A well-established lavender plant needs almost no attention, and performs double and triple duty. Known to help ward off incursions by deer, she is a good neighbor, happy to lend a hand to protect tender rosebuds and other pest-magnets. When summer arrives, lavender plants are festooned with bluish purple flowers that fill the garden with their sharp yet clean fragrance.

      lavender and grasses as low hedge in cao perrot garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Drifts of lavender and grasses form low hedges at the edge of a lawn in Brittany, designed by Cao-Perrot Studio.

    Lavender makes a great neighbor for other drought-resisting plants like yarrow, hens and chicks, and echinacea. Give them their own section of the garden and it will be easy to avoid overwatering them.

    Read More:

      Read More about Drought Tolerant Plants ; Gardenista

    Above: Read more about our favorite Drought-Tolerant Plants in our archives. For more about lavender, see Required Reading: The Lavender Lover's Handbook

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    When Marni Leis moved to Northern California 30 years ago, she experienced culture shock, at least when it came to the local architecture. Mill Valley, where she settled, was known for being "that hippie town." It was the former home of such artists as Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, and Jack Kerouac (who once lived in a hillside shack). At first glance, it had what someone from another coast might describe as a rundown look.

    Avoiding the cottages with peeling paint, the front-yard Buddha statues, and the rusted Volkswagen buses on cinderblocks, Marni moved into the biggest, most solid-looking brick house in town, which happened to be the former public library. And then a funny thing happened. "Four or five years later, I finally started to understand Mill Valley," she said. "And so I bought a different house."

    The old wood-sided cottage that Marni moved to next—and where she still lives—is tucked away on a winding, narrow street (it's technically two lanes, but I drive a Mini and I still wouldn't try to pass someone coming the other way). She painted the house dark green to match the leaves on the trees and set to work creating the sort of garden where shade reigns, texture and form take the place of color, and the war against the neighborhood deer has been cheerfully lost.

    And at night? Year-round, strings of tiny, starry lights outline the massive live oaks. A five-armed chandelier hangs from a branch and, glowing like the moon (if the moon dripped crystals), makes the garden feel like a party. The other night we decided to drop by:

    Photography by Tom Kubik for Gardenista.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: Marni's front walk is lit by strings of lights draped casually in the trees. The light-colored gravel paths and stairs are a recent addition. "I'm rediscovering the front yard because the light gravel lifts the dark space visually," says Marni, an interior designer.

    Before the gravel, the paths were stone. "We reused the stones to border the beds and make low retaining walls," says Marni.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: The view through a cottage window: Tasmanian tree ferns line the walkways and edge the beds. Marni found the vintage window at a salvage yard in the city and painted it the same green as the house, the garage, and the fence. ("It was a Benjamin Moore color that they discontinued, a green that had a lot of blue in it," she says.) The color creates a uniform backdrop for the garden.

    Marni Leis Mill Valley Garden adirondack chairs by Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: A pair of Adirondack chairs sit beneath the chandelier in the front yard.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: Marni and her stepson are co-owners of Joe's Taco Lounge, a Mill Valley institution she decorated years ago in a riotous style best described as Day-of-the-Dead-Meets-Thrift-Shop. On the restaurant's tables are retro fruit-pattern oilcloths. On the walls are religious statues, framed pictures, old signs, strings of colored lights, and shelves of more bottles of hot sauce than can possibly exist. And yes, there's a chandelier. "It's been like that since 1987, or maybe 1989, and we can't change a thing," she says. Regulars complain if so much as a bottle of hot sauce goes missing.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: A shady corner next to the front walkway is a good vantage from which to contemplate the rest of Marni's garden.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: In the backyard, more strings of light create a bonfire effect. "Party lights are more effective than garden lights, which always break down," says Marni. How many strings does she recommend for an average-size garden? "As many as possible."

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: Marni's tips for a successful garden: Keep your plant variety down ("Two types of ferns next to each other looks messy; one type looks intentional," she says), and plant in drifts rather than clumps.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: A dining area in the backyard. "We have microclimates in Mill Valley, and the backyard is much warmer than the front," says Marni. "So this is where we eat outdoors at night."

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: Marni collects vintage garden furniture; she found this chair at a local flea market.

    Marni Leis garden Mill Valley fuchsia Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: Fuchsia pops like firecrackers at dusk.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: In the background, a half-fence made of wooden slats separates the front yard from the street. Marni isn't a fan of high stockade fences. "I don't want to live like that," she says. "I've planted so many things the deer have eaten. Anything that survives? I buy more of it."

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: Deep purple hydrangeas in the backyard.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: Wisteria guards the side door on the garage.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: Inside the garage is the workshop of Marcy's husband, John Black.

    Garden Visit Marni Leis Starry String Lights Tom Kubik ; Gardenista

    Above: The ground-floor guest entrance leads to quiet quarters.

    For more Mill Valley gardens, see Garden Visit: The Hobbit Land Next Door and A Garden with No Obstacles in Mill Valley.

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    Spotted in Antwerp: a charming townhouse garden by Archi-verde, designed for a couple of self-avowed Francophiles. After trips to Provence, the clients dreamed of lavender, grapevines, and a Mediterranean climate. But when they asked architect Koen Aerts to design a similar garden, he refused on the grounds that "conditions are totally different here. A garden in the Provence style would be a disappointment."

    Instead, Aerts re-interpreted the ideas behind a Mediterranean garden for the local climate, keeping in mind his clients' dream of "a sunny atmosphere." Oh, and they also got their grapevines.

    Here's how to recreate the look:

    Archi-Verde Antwerp urban walled garden deck outdoor string lights; Gardenista

    Above: A pergola made of grapevines, plus folding café chairs in sturdy teak (to withstand the Belgian climate), would be at home in the French countryside. A soothing dusk-gray facade and dark green trim evoke thunderstorm skies and the rolling terrain of Provence. Photograph via Archi-Verde

    10 Best Exterior Shades of Gray Paint ; Gardenista

    Above: To come up with our list of 10 Best Shades of Gray, we polled architects to reveal their favorite shade of exterior gray paint. A close match for the paint used on the facade in Antwerp is Farrow & Ball's Down Pipe (bottom row, second from right). It's a complex mix with hints of blue-green. Photograph by Katie Newburn for Gardenista.

    Farrow & Ball Black Blue paint ; Gardenista

    Above: For the trim? We recommend Farrow & Ball's Black Blue exterior paint in an eggshell finish; $110 a gallon. Photograph (R) via My Friends House.

    teak dining table and cafe folding outdoor chair ; Gardenista

    Above: A Preserved Teak Folding Chair is $148, and a Preserved Teak Dining Table measuring a generous 94.5 inches long by 47.5 inches wide is $2,998; both are available from Terrain.

    Steel cable pergola ; Gardenista

    Above: Steel cables strung above and across the terrace create a pergola on which grapevines grow. All you need to make a similar pergola are a few inexpensive components from the hardware store, including 3.75-inch-long stainless steel Hardware Eye Bolts (Top) to attach the cable to a vertical wall ($.96 apiece at Lowe's); Steel Cable ($59.05 for a 100-foot roll at Grainger), and Stainless Steel Turnbuckles to adjust the tension ($28.99 for a packet of 10 from Sears). Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    potted live grapevines ; Gardenista

    Above: A seedless white table grape, Lakemont is disease-resistant and grows best on a south-facing wall; £25.99 for a plant in a 3-liter pot from Tree 2 My Door. For US gardeners, Lakemont is available for $8.25 per vine from Double A Vineyards. 

    outdoor LED pendant cord lighting ; Gardenista

    Above: Entwined among the grapevines are two LED pendant lights on cords. For a similar look, an Electrical Wire Frame Black Fabric Cord pendant is 15€ from Abat-Jour-Deco. For US customers, a 15-foot, 5-inch Hemma Cord Set is $5 from Ikea; add a small white shade. 

    Archi-Verde Antwerp urban walled garden deck outdoor string lights; Gardenista

    Above: In the backyard, concrete fences are painted a light, sunshine yellow to complement the gravel underfoot. Photograph via Archi-Verde

    Behr colonial yellow exterior stain ; Gardenista

    Above: For a yellow fence, we recommend Behr's Colonial Yellow semi-transparent waterproofing stain. It's one of our 8 Favorite Colorful Exterior Stains (we used two coats on the dip stick). Photograph by Meredith Swinehart.

    Boxwood sempervirens potted plant ; Gardenista

    Above: The architect arranged trimmed boxwood shrubs to look like "vast green rocks, with curves that exude softness." An economical variety of boxwood is the common Buxus 'Green Velvet' (available at your local nursery, or for $12.95 from Wayside Gardens). Photograph via Ikea.

    Would you like to recreate Provence in your backyard, too? See A Secret Garden: Beauty in the Berkshires for more ideas. And for the garden that started it all, see A Magical Garden Where Clouds Grow on a Hillside in Provence.

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    Fields of wheat and sunflowers line the road to Jean-Paul Cohen’s goat cheese farm, Pas de Blénac, in the Charente-Maritime region of France. The crumbling stone walls, sagging clay rooftops, and clinging ivy remind me of my childhood summers in the French countryside. Was it the pull of memory that prompted me to visit the other day? Or was it the amazing cheese?

    Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.

    Pas-de-Blenacs-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: My mother is American, which may explain why I get a thrill from string cheese, and why I festoon a cheese plate with fruit, nuts, jams, honey, and edible flowers. The French will have none of that. I know this because I am half French, from a father born in Cognac. My family is steeped in cheese culture—even as a child I knew how to use a cheese knife, what to eat with cheese (le pain!), and when to eat it (after the three courses of lunch and dinner).

    Pas-de-Blenacs-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

     Above: Cheesemaker John-Paul Cohen displays a proper (unadorned) French cheese platter: In this case, several varieties of goat cheese, stiff or soft, creamy or crumbling; flavored with sun-dried tomatoes and basil, paprika and ginger, lavender and herbes de Provence, cilantro and lime, or curry, mint, and pepper.

    Pas-de-Blenacs-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: As soon as I arrived, Monsieur Cohen whisked me to the barnyard, where mother goats and dozens of kids were roaming around.

    Pas-de-Blenacs-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: The kids are curious little creatures. They ran and jumped to get a look at me, sometimes taking a lick or a nibble.

    Pas-de-Blenacs-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: Feeding time is a serious affair, as 15 goats line up to be simultaneously fed and milked.

    Pas-de-Blenac-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: I was surprised to see the milking machines, but Monsieur Cohen told me that these days you would only roll up your sleeves and milk a goat by hand if you had a tiny farm.

    Pas-de-Blenac-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: Monsieur Cohen feeds his goats fermented grass, and the taste of the cheese varies by season and by the type of grass.

    Pas-de-Blenac-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista            

    Above: The milk is piped into a small adjacent room to be stored in a giant plastic bin. It sits for a few hours while the curds separate from the whey (the watery part of the milk). The curds are then transferred into cheesecloth sacks.

    Pas-de-Blenac-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: The cheesecloth bags are hung to dry for several hours. Finally, the cheese is rolled into balls, flattened into disks, and placed on racks to set.

    Pas-de-Blenacs-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: A young cheese with no spices that has aged a few days. Some of the aging cheeses are covered in herbs and other gorgeous adornments. There's nothing modern or automated in the storeroom. 

    Pas-de-Blenac-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: This Cognac-flavored cheese has aged for about a year. A cheese can go to market in a single day or a year, depending on the aging time Monsieur Cohen decides on.

    Pas-de-Blenac-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista
               
    Above: Wooden trays ready for the Pas de Blénac stand at the town market, holding a range of cheeses from young to aged. The farm's three-person staff produces an impressive 80,000 rondelettes a year.

    Pas-de-Blenac-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: The aged Cognac is my favorite. The color is an earthy, antique brown, and it crumbles delicately even under the sharpest (non-traditional) cheese knife.

    Pas-de-Blenac-cheese-france-mimi-giboin-gardenista

    Above: Alas, you cannot buy Monsieur Cohen's cheeses in the United States. But you can make your own Pas de Blénac-inspired creations by drizzling store-bought chevre with olive oil, then pressing herbes de Provence or other flavors onto the surface. And, in honor of the French, eat more cheese. 


    View Larger Map

    Above: Pas de Blénac is in Sainte-Gemme, Charente-Maritime, France.

    Ready to make your own goat cheese? Here's A Kit to Turn Your Kitchen Into a Goat Cheese Creamery. And if you happen to be in France, have dinner at The World's Most Beautiful Goat Farm.

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    A bouquet garni is simply a small "bouquet" of fresh herbs that you pop into a broth, soup, or stew for seasoning as it cooks. A staple in French dishes from boeuf bourguignon to bouillabaisse, the bouquet garni adds rich flavoring without leaving wilted herbs behind. Think of it as a savory tea bag. Here are two ways to make your own:

    Photography by Erin Boyle.

    DIY bouquet garni, gardenista

    Above: Traditionally a bouquet garni is made with Mediterranean staples like bay leaf, thyme, sage, rosemary, and parsley. But it can include whatever herbs your recipe calls for.

    DIY bouquet garni, gardenista

    Above: The first technique involves tying the herbs in a bundle. I began by making a pile with a few stems of each fresh herb I wanted to use. 

    DIY bouquet garni, gardenista

    Above: Next, I tied up the stems with kitchen string. If you're concerned about leaves coming loose, wrap your bouquet in several spots. A ball of cotton Household and Charcuterie Twine is $1.95 from Kaufmann Mercantile.

    DIY bouquet garni, gardenista

    Above: The second approach, which uses cheesecloth, is best if you're including small spices, like peppercorns or dried hot peppers. You can get 2 square yards of Unbleached Cheesecloth for $5.33 from Casa.

    DIY bouquet garni, gardenista

    Above: I cut off a small square of cheesecloth and placed my herbs in the center of it.

    DIY bouquet garni, gardenista

    Above: Then I tied together the corners of the cheesecloth and wrapped the ends with string so the bag would stay secure when plunked into the boiling liquid. 

    DIY bouquet garni, gardenista

    Above: Et voilà! After the dish has finished cooking, lift the bouquet out of the pot and squeeze it to release any extra flavor. If you need a beautiful Linen Dish Towel to dry your hands, find more like this one at Small Batch Productions on Etsy for $22.

    For advice on storing fresh herbs, see 5 Beautiful Ways to Make Fresh Herbs Last Longer. And for another way to use bundled herbs, see Modern Pot Pourri: How to Dry Your Own Scented Herbs.

    This is updated from a post originally published June 5, 2013.

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    When you hear the word boxwood, do you think Versailles? In that French feat of landscaping splendor, boxwood is clipped and pruned and trained into submission, as hedges and edging and even tapestries. But this shrub known for its obedient nature and pleasantly pungent scent can easily make itself at home in all sorts of gardens. Here's a sampling:

    Normandy Chateau, Eric Sander, boxwood, Gardenista

    Above: Let's get this out of the way: the classic French chateau, the neatly clipped boxwood hedges. Chateau d'O in Normandy dates back to 1484, but its gardens were reimagined by the French landscape designer Louis Benech (read more about him in Louis Benech: Twelve French Gardens). Photograph by Eric Sander.

    What's not to like? It's beautiful in its formal way, of course. But boxwood can do so much more.

    De Vesian garden in Provence; boxwood, cloud pruning; Gardenista

    Above: Now for something completely different. In another French garden, this time in Provence, former Hermès designer Nicole de Vésian pushed boxwood to the forefront rather than relegating it to a supporting role. And she did it by pruning her boxwood shrubs into pillowy, languorous clouds. Read more in A Magical Garden Where Clouds Grow on a Hillside in Provence. Photograph via La Dolce Vita California

    Hedge House, Netherlands, boxwood; Gardenista

    Above: When two art collectors bought a 17th-century castle in the Netherlands—with a moat, no less—they found they loved the garden most of all. Here, fancifully clipped boxwood and the moat beyond. Read about Hedge House, the modern gallery they built, in All-in-One Henhouse, Toolshed, and Art Gallery. Photograph courtesy of Wiel Arets Architects.

    David Hicks pavilion, The Grove, Oxfordshire; boxwood; Gardenista

    Above: Who needs flowers when you have 50 shades of green? The late British interior designer David Hicks planted his romantic garden at The Grove, in Oxfordshire. Here, topiarized boxwood grows in bottomless containers that reduce the need to water. "The inspiration was mainly labor-saving," says Hicks's son, designer Ashley Hicks, "but also to give a look of orange trees at Versailles, albeit on a slightly smaller scale." Read more in Brit Style: The Garden With (Almost) No Flowers. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

     

    Dan Pearson Old Rectory; Cotswolds; boxwood; Gardenista

    Above: A looser topiarized look can also work, as shown by the slightly shaggy boxwood hedges at Dan Pearson's Old Rectory, in the heart of a Cotswolds village. Elsewhere on the property, blowsy wildflower meadows attest to what the designer calls his "relaxed and naturalistic" approach.

    Greenwich, Connecticut; Architectural Digest; boxwood; Gardenista

    Above: Gardenista editors were green with envy over this garden in Greenwich, CT. Landscape designer Madison Cox conceived the rounded hedges that give it a fairytale look. Photograph via Architectural Digest.

    Montoya garden, Garrison, NY; boxwood; Gardenista

    Above: At his garden in Garrison, NY, interior designer Juan Montoya capitalized on boxwood's sculptural quality and deep green hue. Boxwood could be considered too formal for this type of landscape, but Mntoya dotted large areas in a seemingly random pattern that adds visual interest. Read more in Garden Visit: La Formentera in Garrison, NY. Photograph by Eric Piasecki.

    Brooklyn garden on a budget; boxwood; Gardenista

    Above: We love this well-proportioned townhouse garden in Brooklyn, where Susan Welti of Foras Studio clipped boxwood into balls and a cube. She added other plants that can withstand city heat: Solomon's seal, Russian sage, Mexican feather grass, and hydrangeas. For more of this garden, see Modern Brooklyn Backyard on a Budget.

    Andrea Cochran, Atherton, CA, boxwood; Gardenista

    Above: Waves of boxwood break over a garden in Atherton, CA, designed by Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, a member of the Gardenista and Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory. 

    In recent years, this beloved garden standby has become susceptible to a fungal disease called box blight, especially in England. Many gardeners are giving up and replacing their box with something hardier. Though it may seem like admitting defeat, we offer this advice in How to Eliminate Boxwood Blight: Plant a Different Shrub. But many boxwood lovers remain steadfast in their support, armed with chemical fungicide—and hope.

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    Like baseball caps for houses, window awnings block the sun's harsh rays for infinitely more pleasant summer days. They're generally made of fabric stretched on a frame, and come in a vast range of styles: stationary or retractable, dome-shaped or rectangular, open or enclosed with sides, off-the-shelf or custom-made. And then there are the valence styles: wavy, arched, serpentine, Greek key, and straight edge are a few choices.

    So how do you choose? The awnings we like best are jaunty and hopeful—they speak to us of cool breezes and lazy seaside afternoons. We've rounded up 10 of our favorite styles, in both striped and solid fabrics: 

    Spear Awnings

    10 Easy Pieces: Window Awnings; Gardenista

    Above: Cedar Baldridge, owner and principal at Baldridge Landscape, chose Spear Awnings (named for their spear-like supports) with classic peaked valences in Dickson Gray fabric for a Houston-area house. About $1,200 to $1,600 each, from Baldridge Landscape.

    Custom sunbrella solid window awning ; Gardenista

    Above: For a more tailored look, choose a solid fabric with a straight valence. Shown here, David John and Krista Schrock of DISC Interiors designed a custom purple spear awning made of Sunbrella fabric to shade a garage-turned-garden-room in West Los Angeles. For information and prices, see Van Nuys Awning.  

    10 Easy Pieces: Window Awnings; Gardenista

    Above: A 25-inch-deep Coolaroo Designer Awning has powder-coated aluminum side bars and comes in three widths. From Wayfair, starting at $148. Photograph by Eric Roth.

    Black awnings Mary Jane Gallagher ; Gardenista

    Above: A black Spear Awning with an exaggerated Greek key valence was installed above the doors of Houston designer Mary Jane Gallagher’s guest house, at a cost of about $2,200. For more information, see W.K. Hill Awnings. Photograph by Kim Etheridge.

    Slant Awnings

    10 Easy Pieces: Window Awnings; Gardenista

    Above: Open-End Awnings give a facade a breezy, modern look. For this house in Bel Air, CA, A. Hoegee & Sons fabricated custom awnings at a cost of about $600 per window. For more information, see A. Hoegee & Sons.

    Gray slant awning ; Gardenista

    Above: The Awntech Dallas Retro Window/Entry Awning has a classic valence and can be ordered in more than two dozen striped and solid fabrics, in widths from 3 feet to 50 feet. Shown in gray fabric on an aluminum frame; from $170 to $3,360 from Home Depot.

    Hotel Saint Cecilia window awning ; Gardenista

    Above: At the Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin, Texas, an open-end striped awning with a shallow wave valence shades a courtyard. For more information, see Landscape Architect Visit: The Hotel Saint Cecilia.

     

    10 Easy Pieces: Window Awnings; Gardenista

    Above: A retractable open-end slant awning can be mounted inside or outside a window frame. These SunGuard Topaz Awnings from KE Durasol Awnings Inc. are available for windows up to 16 feet wide. For more information and prices, see Durasol.

    10 Easy Pieces: Window Awnings; Gardenista  

    Above: Enclosed awnings block more sun and glare than open-end awnings. Hustead’s Canvas Creations used natural-colored Sunbrella fabric on Pull-Down Frame Awnings for this beach house in Norfolk, Virginia.


    10 Easy Pieces: Window Awnings; Gardenista

    Above: A scalloped wave valence with white piping detail edges the enclosed Coolaroo Traditional Awning, available in four colors, including ebony. They're available from Wayfair for $165 to $238, depending on width.

    Quarter-Barrel Awnings

    10 Easy Pieces: Window Awnings; Gardenista

    Above: If you prefer a rounded silhouette to a straight slant awning, a Dutch Canopy has a segmented frame that folds up when it's not needed. This one was installed on a house in Bosham, West Sussex, UK. For more information, see Richards Blinds.

    10 Easy Pieces: Window Awnings; Gardenista

    Above: Convex in shape, Awntech's Savannah Window/Entry Awning quarter-barrel awning is stretched across an aluminum frame. An 8-foot-wide version is $633 from Home Depot. 

    Looking to provide shade (or privacy) from the inside? Read Michelle's groundbreaking Domestic Dispatches: 5 Ways to Cover 50 Windows on a Budget. Find more exterior shade solutions over on Remodelista, with Julie's Design Sleuth: Shade Sails.

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    Time to weigh your choices.

    Let the voting begin: For our second annual Remodelista + Gardenista Considered Design Awards, more than 1,000 of you entered projects (twice as many as last year), ranging from characterful Brooklyn backyards to Venice Beach bungalows to London balconies. Alongside our panel of Guest Judges, our editors have reviewed more than 5,000 photos and narrowed the entries in each category to five finalists (no mean feat, considering the quality of this year's projects).

    Now it's up to you, our discerning and opinionated readers, to choose the winners. You can vote once per day in each of the categories, now through August 8. (Winners will be announced August 9.) Bookmark the following pages as the voting hub for each site: 

    Vote in the Gardenista Awards

    Vote in the Remodelista Awards

    Winners will be chosen by public vote, so please spread the word by sharing images on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, using the social media icons below each image.

    Congratulations to our finalists, and happy voting!

      Sycamore cafe Brooklyn scale Nicole Franzen ; Gardenista

    Above: Start voting now—and vote daily until August 8. Winners will be announced on August 9. For more details, go to our FAQ and Official Rules page. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

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    Ah, le jardin à la française. No need to add the word formal to that phrase, because when it comes to French gardens, formal is a given. We've all seen Versailles (in photos, if not in person), and we know that its grand sense of ceremony—all those espaliered fruit trees, symmetrical flower beds, and razor-edged paths radiating outward from fountains—reflects 17th-century taste. A king's taste, that is. Whatever Louis XIV liked in a garden, landscape architect André Le Nôtre made sure he got.

    And 400 years later? We like knot gardens, tortured topiary, and obsessively pruned boxwood as much as anybody. But when it comes to France, what interests us is its modern gardens. How do you translate such old-fashioned ideas as parterres, marble fountains, and fussily trimmed hedges into something you can live with in the 21st century?

    For the answer, we visited some of our favorite contemporary French gardens—and discovered 10 essential tips for adding a certain je ne sais quoi to your outdoor living space:

    Cecile Daladier Paris garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Ceramicist Cécile Daladier's garden in Paris has zinc window boxes and mirrors against the wall to reflect the garden and enlarge the space visually. Photograph by Natalie Weiss for Gardenista.

    1. Make outdoor features visible from indoors. If you have a chateau or two, by all means lay out formal beds best viewed from the sweeping vantage of your oversized arched windows. As for the rest of us? If you live in an apartment, install a window box at eye level to accomplish a similar goal. If you have a yard, plant a flowering tree in a spot where you'll see it every day from your favorite room.

    2. Design around the architecture instead of the landscape. Your house is the heart of your garden. Grow vines and climbers on trellises against a wall. Or plant a low hedge against the facade to anchor the house in the garden. But don't let shrubs grow up over the windows: You're the boss, not the bushes.

    Jardins de Palais Royal ; Gardenista

     Above: Strict rows of lime trees still line the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris. Photograph by Alexa Hotz.

    3. Embrace symmetry. Balance is soothing. This is why an allée of lime trees lining a path at the Jardin du Palais Royal is visually pleasing rather than intimidating. In your garden, repeat shrubs and planting schemes on opposite sides to make an outdoor space feel deliberate and restful.

    Louis Benech garden ideas to steal from france ; Gardenista

    Above: French garden designer Louis Benech created a symmetrical backdrop with stripes and bookended doors. Then he softened it with naturalistic planting—irises, climbing roses, lady's mantle—to achieve a romantic look for a garden in Normandy. For more, see A Garden at the Edge of the Sea.

    4. Use geometric patterns to define spaces. The gardens at Versailles were laid out in a series of geometric shapes: squares, polygons, and circles. If you don't have 2,000 acres of your own to divide with such strict precision, you can add grids, trellises, and arbors to create structure.

    Jardin du Palais Royal Alexa Hotz ; Gardenista

    Above: Another view of the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris. Photograph by Alexa Hotz.

    5. Impose control over nature. Add a tailored element to an otherwise messy outdoor space. A tightly clipped ball of boxwood, say, or a path that turns at a right angle will convey the deliberateness of your intentions even if you let a few plants go shaggy.

    Louis Benech ideas to steal from French gardens ; Gardenista

    Above: In Lorraine, another design by Benech: A line of Japanese cherry trees at Chateau de Pange reminds us that the wildflowers aren't out of control, after all. Photograph by Eric Sander.

    Marche aux Fleurs flower market Paris ; Gardenista

    Above: Roses allowed to riot at the flower market in Paris. Photograph by Alexa Hotz.

    6. Undercut the fussiness. The difference between 21st-century French gardens and Versailles? Modern gardeners have the confidence to relax. So let your squash plants run wild across the lawn; they'll look like necklaces against velvet.

    Steel pergola garden ideas to steal from France ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Detroit Garden Works.

    7. Add metal elements as a foil. The cold, unyielding discipline of an iron bench or pergola will make the surrounding greenery feel all the more lush. Zinc tabletops, corrugated planters, or a rusty watering can draws attention to the texture and softness of leaves and flowers.

    Topiary ideas to steal from gardens in france ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Anna Williams.

    8. Grow topiaries. It's easy to make the lollipop look feel modern with juxtaposition: Plant your fussy little rosemary tree in a mossy old pot. Then plant more at the base and let it spill over, breaching the rim of the pot.

    Espaliered fruit trees in Antwerp walled garden ; Gardenista

    Above: A row of espaliered fruit trees grows against a brick fence in an Antwerp garden. For more, see Steal This Look: A Walled Garden That Invokes the Spirit of Provence. Photograph via Archi-Verde

    9. Espalier a fruit tree. Or three. Treat fruit trees as if they were vines and train them to cover an ugly fence. They'll take up barely any space and drop far less fruit to rot on the driveway. 

    Ceramic bowl reflects sky in Cecile Daladier Paris garden ; Gardenista

    Above: A bowl of water in ceramicist Cécile Deladier's Paris garden"It's magic," says Cécile: "You don't need mirrored glass; it's too strong. The light is the only mirror you need." Photograph by Natalie Weiss for Gardenista.

    10. Reflect the sky. Versailles has its Hall of Mirrors, 240 feet long and 34 feet high. In your garden, you can create a similar effect with a fountain, pool, or bowl of water. In the right light, the surface of the water will connect the sky to the landscape and create a sense of limitless space.

    For more Paris gardens, see The Tuileries at Sunset, With Alice Gao. And read about the day that Alexa spent Getting Lost in the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris.

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    From the banks of the Nile to your backyard, gabion walls are a boon to the landscape. Used for thousands of years by military and structural engineers, gabions provide an attractive, effective, and inexpensive retaining-wall system. Read on to find out how to use this ancient technology in your garden:

    Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp Landscape with Gabion Walls, Gardenista

    Above: Landscape architects Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp, based in Evanston, Illinois, topped gabion walls with poured-concrete slabs at a family retreat on Lake Michigan.

    What are gabions?

    Derived from an old Italian word, gabbione, meaning "big cage," gabions are enclosures that can be filled with any sort of inorganic material: rock, brick, or concrete debris. The cages were originally wicker, but now are usually a welded mesh made of sturdy galvanized, coated, or stainless steel wire that won't bend when filled with rocks. In landscaping, gabion walls can support an earth wall, stabilize the soil, prevent erosion, and more. 

    Gabion Walls Platform 5 Architects, Gardenista  

    Above: In a Bedfordshire, UK, project, London architecture firm Platform 5 used gabion walls to create a transition between domestic and agricultural environments. For more, see A Smart Modern House, Meadow View Included on Remodelista.

    David Coleman Winthrop House Gabion Walls, Gardenista

    Above: Outside a house in Winthrop, Washington, by David Coleman Architecture, gabion acts as a retaining wall, a privacy screen, and a contextual link between building and landscape. Construction waste was dramatically reduced by using excavated material as filler. Photograph by Lara Swimmer, courtesy of David Coleman Architecture.

    What is the history of gabion walls?

    About 7,000 years ago, early gabion-type structures protected the banks of the Nile. In the medieval era, gabions were employed as military fortifications. Later they were used for structural purposes in architecture. Evidently, Leonardo da Vinci used gabion for the foundations of the San Marco Castle in Milan. In recent history, civil engineers have used gabions extensively to stabilize shorelines, riverbanks, highways, and slopes against erosion. 

    Gabion Wall at the Thunderbird Hotel, Gardenista  

    Above: "Using regional materials ties a new space into the culture of a place," says landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck. She and her company transformed an abandoned parking lot into the Capri Lounge, a community gathering space for the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, Texas. Photograph by David Lake.

    What are the benefits of gabion walls? 

    History has shown that gabions are a lasting solution to soil erosion. Other reasons to use them:

    • Aesthetics: Gabions look natural and can tie a house to the landscape by using filler materials excavated from the site or the local terrain.
    • Environmental friendliness: When onsite material is used as filler, transportation costs and associated fuel consumption are eliminated.
    • Sustainability: Used as shade screens in hot climates, gabion walls provide passive cooling; they allow air to move through, providing ventilation.
    • Permeability: Gabions are permeable and free-draining; they can't be washed away by moving water.
    • Easy installation and built-in strength: The stone fill settles to the contours of the ground beneath it and has such frictional strength that no foundation is required. In fact, the wall's strength and effectiveness may increase with time, as silt and vegetation fill the voids and reinforce the structure. Another advantage over more rigid structures: Gabions can conform to ground movement.
    • Long-lasting.

    Coen + Partners Gabion Wall, Gardenista

    Above: In this residential project, "Gabions provided the opportunity to use an organic material (stone) that is contextual to the site’s geological history," says Jonathan Blaseg, of Minneapolis landscape architects Coen & Partners. "The cage relates more directly to architecture and the acknowledgment of structure." Photograph via Coen & Partners, a member of the Remodelista Architect and Design Directory.

    Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp Landscape Gabion Walls, Gardenista

    Above: Gabions define an entertaining space and provide seating. Photograph via Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp.

    What material can you use to fill a gabion wall?

    Rock is the most typical filler for its durability, longevity, and stability. Often the filler is chosen for its aesthetic attributes, or by what can be recycled from a site. Some considerations depend on a wall's purpose. For a retaining wall, the rock must be dense enough to support the load. A hard rock such as basalt is typical.

    N.B.: If you're building a retaining wall, get a landscape architect or engineer to determine loads and stresses and other factors. 

    Gabion Wall Fillers, Gardenista

    Above:  Lighter, less dense rock can be used in a low decorative wall; shells, glass, brick, river rocks, or even broken ceramics are possible materials. Photograph via Studio G Blog.

      Butler Armsden gabion wall ; Gardenista

    Above: A gabion wall is part of the sustainable landscape created by Shades of Green Landscape Architecture at a house in Tiburon, California. The wall was filled with crushed concrete recycled from a building site, but decorative rocks were used in the visible areas at the front and top. Photograph by Matthew Millman.

    Any reason not to use gabion walls?

    Gabion walls may come with one warning label: possible animal habitat. "Gabions can be nice hiding places for small critters," says Ive Haugeland, principal at Shades of Green Landscape Architecture. "They're good for wildlife habitat, but that needs to be OK with the people living there, too." 

    Rhodes Archecture Gabion Walls, Gardenista

    Above: Landscaped courtyards screened by gabion walls provide private outdoor space in a four-home Seattle compound designed by Rhodes Architecture + Light. Photographs by Fred Housel via Rhodes Architecture + Light.

    Can I use gabions for more than just retaining walls?

    Absolutely. Gabions can be reinvented for many garden uses: benches, outdoor fire surrounds, fence foundations, pond surrounds, planters, even pillars for water taps.  

    Gabion Bench, Gardenista

    Above: Top a low gabion wall with wood or concrete, and voilà: instant seating. Photograph via Pinterest, Lyndal Pile

    David Coleman Architect Gabion Wall, Gardenista

    Above: Architect David Coleman's Hill House uses gabion as a stair rail and visual divider between the entry stairs and the deck. Photograph by Lara Swimmer courtesy of David Coleman Architecture.

    Gabion Garden Fencing, Gardenista

    Above: Gabion wall dividers in the garden of lighting designer Greg Yale's Southampton house. Photograph via Cottages & Gardens.

    Note: Whenever gabion construction is used for fencing or screening, it needs the rigidity of a surrounding frame. 

    How much do gabions cost?

    The price can vary widely, depending on:

    Gabions: The cages are typically made of 3-inch mesh, which is sold in a range of sizes. According to Gabion Baskets, the industry standard is 3-foot increments. To estimate cost, figure on $35 per cubic yard (a 3-foot-square cage) for standard-gauge galvanized mesh. Gabion walls can be made in virtually any size (within structural limitations) for site-specific needs. 

    Filler: Here's where you can exercise control over the price. Your filler could be expensive slate or free recycled concrete. For a large project, you often can find filler onsite.

    Installation: Gabions are extremely affordable for a retaining wall or stone fencing, since little excavation or land preparation is needed. "It looks like the clients dropped hundreds and thousands of dollars," says Kettelkamp, "but because they don't require a foundation, it’s a very economical way to build a garden wall. The cost of labor is minimal compared to a traditional New England fieldstone wall."

    Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp Landscape Gabion Walls, Gardenista

    Above: In Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp's Lake Michigan project, the gabion basket walls were built using standard stock panels of wire from Nashville Wire Products. "They sell big panels of wire and you wire them together to make baskets," says Kettelkamp. "A compacted one-foot-thick layer of gravel is spread beneath the wire frames. Then you fill the baskets with whatever you want. We knew some concrete roads were being ripped up nearby, so we recycled the crushed concrete to fill the baskets." To see more of this project, go to A Classic Lake Michigan Summer House by Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp.

    Gabion walls Herbst Architects New Zealand pool house ; Gardenista

    Above: A gabion wall borders a pool house in New Zealand. Photograph via Herbst Architects.

    Gabion Wall Recap

    Pros:

    • A structurally sound way to prevent soil erosion and build a retaining wall
    • Easy to install—no excavation or foundation required
    • Affordable
    • Attractive
    • Environmentally friendly
    • Long-lasting

    Cons:

    • Can provide a home for unwanted wildlife
    • May be too bulky for small spaces

    Love the look but don't need a wall? See Rebecca Cole's Gabion Furniture for a simple way to use it in your outdoor space.

    Attracted to wire mesh? Consider Hog Wire Fencing. For more ideas, see all of our Hardscaping 101 Features.

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    Vote for the finalists in each of 17 Considered Design Awards categories, now through August 8, on both Gardenista and Remodelista.

    In the Best Edible Garden category, our five finalists are: Britton Shepard; Deirdre Heekin; Kriste Michelini and Esther Arnold; Frances Palmer; and Green Grow. 

    Project 1

    Britton Shepard | Fall City, WA, USA | Permaculture inspired children's edible garden

    Design Statement: Our mini-homestead is situated on an exact 1/2 acre in Fall City, Washington, a small town near Seattle. Here we have a collection of ancestorial fruit trees, a flock of chickens, and four gardeners (two of the large and two of the small varieties). Our edible garden is inspired by permaculture principles and designed to welcome children as foragers and helpers. It is composed of two main areas. First, the annual vegetable garden is composed of a flexible system of semi-raised beds that rotate crops throughout the season. The annual garden is approximately 200 square feet and is enclosed by a reclaimed wood fence. The paths are lined with straw for ease of weeding and to keep small feet clean. It is ringed by cutting flowers for the kids to sell out on the road. The second section of the edible garden has been deemed “berry boulevard” as you can snack your way down the 120-foot bed. The bed is a long and narrow edible perennial border beautiful across seasons and home to birds during the winter. Plantings include berries (raspberries and blueberries above, strawberries below), fruit trees for structure and alliums, rhubarb, elderberry, angelica and herbs of all kinds. Both planting areas are edged with a hand-formed concrete curb to keep the lawn from creeping into the beds. This delineation and structure allows for the garden to feel organized, even as the garden matures into the late summer frenzy of sunflowers and tomatoes.

    Chosen By: Guest judge and garden writer Margaret Roach, who liked this project for "Pairing a permaculture ethic with strong aesthetics (love the fence!), while also packing in the produce. Who wouldn’t want to walk down that Berry Boulevard and meet all those happy beneficials?"

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Along "berry boulevard" towards the old orchard. Raspberries on the left, edible perennials on the right.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: The front gate.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: View over the garden towards the tomato house, chicken coop and compost bins in mid-summer.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Inside the garden during mid-summer. The fencing was sourced from a local mill's trash heap. Volunteer plants (like borage in the foreground) are encouraged for beneficial insect attraction.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Along the edible perennial border. Strawberries are mixed with alliums, cat mint and blueberry bushes.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: The edible annual garden in early summer. Straw keeps down weeds and promotes wandering.

     


    Project 2

    Frances Palmer | Weston, CT, USA | Tennis Court Kitchen Garden

    Design Statement: We have transformed an old tennis court on our property into a kitchen garden, taking advantage of the perfect deer fence. We have constructed 26 raised beds and filled them with vegetables, herbs and flowers. We are provided with produce the entire season. I can as well, preserving for the winter.

    Chosen By: Margaret Roach: "Talk about adaptive reuse or upcycling! A wasted space now provides food, and an unused fence guards that bounty. Bravo—and bravo for the no-pesticides commitment, too."

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: The tennis court sits next to my pottery studio. It was originally built in the 1930's. We put new fencing up 20 years ago, but never really used it to play tennis. Three years ago we transformed it into a vegetable, herb and flower garden.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: This is a view looking down the center of the garden. As the court has aged, cracks have appeared all over. These have filled with sunflowers, zinnia, amaranth, verbena bonariensis, cosmos, poppies, calendula, nasturtiums and hollyhocks.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: We grew butternut squash, kabocha squash and heirloom pumpkins. By late fall the vines draped over the court and the pumpkins loved the heat of the court surface. We made glorious soups and roasted squash for months.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: We have had a gorgeous crop of poppies that have seeded in the raspberry and blueberry boxes. I mix many kinds flowers in with the vegetables to have a steady supply of flowers for my vases. The dahlias are just starting to bloom.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Last fall we had a bumper crop of potatoes. Nothing is more delicious than digging your own potatoes and cooking them. We had enough to last through the winter and seed potatoes for this spring.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: There are about seven boxes devoted to heirloom tomatoes. Many we start from seed but the rest are from farmers nearby. The garden is organic. I have bees as well, so we are careful and do not use pesticides of any description.

     


    Project 3

    Deirdre Heekin | Barnard, VT, USA | La garagista farm + winery

    Design Statement: My husband and I have a small poly-culture hillside farm in Vermont where we grow fruits, vegetables, and some livestock for our restaurant, and cider and wine for both the restaurant and farther afield. Our philosophy concerns the integration and the aesthetic form and function of all aspects of our farm: the vineyard, the orchard, the walled garden, the apiary, the rose garden, wilderness, the kitchen and cantina and how they all relate and feed each other, with the goal of creating beautiful, healthy and delicious food and fermentations that focus on purity of taste in a landscape that inspires us every day.

    Chosen By: Gardenista editor-in-chief Michelle Slatalla, who said, "If we had our way, every garden would grow wine. La Garagista is that rare mix: a hard-working garden that is so beautifully designed that you forget you're there for anything but your pleasure."

    Above: Midsummer daydream.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Lavender in the afternoon garden.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Late summer in the tomato house. 

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: In the lower walled garden in spring. 

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Belladonna blooming on Independence Day. 

      Deirdre Heekin edible garden gardenista considered design awards 6

    Above: Dusk falls in the rose and onion garden.

     


    Project 4

    Green Grow | Mora, NM, USA | Green Grow Gardens

    Design Statement: We belong to a corner of paradise in the mountains of Northern New Mexico on a 320-acre property teaming with wildlife and medicinal herbs. We are cultivating approximately 3,000 square feet of raised beds and garden space. Our intention is to live in a balanced and sustainable way to restore balance and harmony with the planet.

    Chosen By: Margaret Roach, who said: "Kudos for acknowledging and adapting to the realities of a harsh climate with ingenious but earth-friendly (and attractive!) solutions. Loved the polyculture planting approach, too."

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: This is a view including our raised beds, solar panels, year-round greenhouse, garden shed and utility building, and our home.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: This is our tomato hoop house and "hugle" raised beds. We are practicing and learning about permaculture and biodynamic techniques.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Raised beds and protection is necessary at 7,500 feet in the mountains. We experience extreme shifts in temperature at any time in the year.  Hailstorms are also not uncommon.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: This is polyculture planting, which includes companions such as chard, cabbage, onions,  celery, beets and carrots.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: If you want to find us, we're at the end of the rainbow.

     


    Project 5

    Kriste Michelini and Esther Arnold | Alamo, CA, USA | Alamo Garden

    Design Statement: This is my personal vegetable garden which was inspired by Andrea Cochran’s gardens and the Getty museum in Los Angeles. Esther Suzuki Arnold and I collaborated on the design of this vegetable garden. I wanted to create a simple vegetable garden with raised vegetable boxes that would act as sculpture and look just as good in the winter months as well as during the summer months with everything in full bloom. The boxes are in varying heights and lengths creating energy between them by being staggered. The trellis creates height as well as functionality for growing vines. The decomposed granite with metal edges outline additional planting spaces to fill with succulents and grasses creating interesting vignettes throughout the space. The outline of this garden is edged with boxwood to create structure and it’s own garden room.

    Chosen By: Michelle Slatalla: "By playing with simple design elements—color, height, and scale—Michelini and Arnold have created an utterly original edible garden that is as much a joy to see as to harvest (and we hope to learn where they got the charming love seat)."

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: A simple garden.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Succulents for ground planting.

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Stainless strip detail. 

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Varying heights of raised beds. 

    Finalist in Best Edible Garden Category of the 2014 Considered Design Awards, Gardenista

    Above: Apple espalier with irish moss.

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    About two hours southwest of Oslo, a striking pine pavilion rises beside the recently regenerated Skien River. The building's name, Gjennomsikten, means "see-through" because it almost looks transparent from some angles. The designers are part of a small group of young artists and architects called Kollaboratoriet.

    Photography by Feileacán McCormick except where noted.

    Kollaboratoriet pavilion in Oslo. Gardenista

    Above: Kollaboratoriet was formed in 2013, but its members already have put their ingenuity to use with this structure, planned to coincide with the 2014 celebration of the Norwegian Constitution's bicentenary. It's meant to be used as a public space for meetings, theater performances, and just hanging out.

    Kollaboratoriet pavilion in Oslo. Gardenista

    Above: When viewed from some directions, the building appears to be a fairly solid mass. But its slotted construction allows for panoramic views up and down the river.

    Kollaboratoriet pavilion in Oslo. Gardenista

    Above: The three Kollaboratoriet members who built the pavilion were inspired by a former industrial wasteland along the Skien River. For many years, the site held a factory used for weatherproofing wood. The factory is gone; in its place is this untreated-wood pavilion in a wilder landscape.

    Kollaboratoriet pavilion in Oslo. Gardenista

    Above: The pavilion, slightly taller than 16 feet, has a viewing platform upstairs. Photograph by Anna Andrea Vic Aniksdal.

    Kollaboratoriet pavilion in Oslo. Gardenista

    Above: Though the year-old building is neither fenced in or locked, locals respect it. In creating this project, Kollaboratoriet aimed to inspire quality civic design in an area that's rapidly being developed.

    Kollaboratoriet pavilion in Oslo. Gardenista

    Above: The pavilion is used mainly in summer, when runners and walkers populate the river path. Photograph by Anna Andrea Vic Aniksdal.

    Kollaboratoriet pavilion in Oslo. Gardenista

    Above: What happens during the dark Scandinavian winters? Kollaboratoriet member Anna Andrea Vik Aniksdal explains: "The pavilion is fixed with light and attracts visitors in this season as well." Photograph by Anna Andrea Vic Aniksdal.

    Oslo River Pavilion ; Gardenista

    Above: Already a riverbank landmark, the pavilion has been used for this year's bicentenary celebrations. "We built it as part of the transformation of the area," says Anna.

    Kollaboratoriet pavilion in Oslo. Gardenista

    Above: An actor from PS1, an ambitious theater project involving hundreds of people in all fields of the arts. The performers have been traveling by foot and by boat along the river this year. "Gjennomsikten is more than a public pavilion," says Anna. "It works just as well as a set design."

    For another Norwegian wooden room with a view, see Outbuilding of the Week: A Norwegian "Love Shack."

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    Last weekend there were strawberries, asparagus, and sunflowers at the farmer's market. While I stuffed my goodies unceremoniously into a backpack, I couldn't help but wish I had a beautiful straw market tote like the ones my friends in Paris always carry. If you've got similar yearnings, here's a roundup of 10 French market totes, perfect for carting home bundles of fresh flowers and wedges of stinky cheese.

    french market totes, gardenista

    Above: This classic Hand Woven Palm Carryall is available with leather handles in two lengths, $59.95 at Kaufmann Mercantile.

    french market totes, gardenista

    Above: A Leather-Handled Market Tote has bright orange handles; available for $39 from Greige.

    Rolled top handles raffia French market tote; Gardenista

    Above: With rolled-top handles, a raffia French Market Tote is $38 from Barney's.

     

      french market totes, gardenista

    Above: For a more daring pop of color, here's a Shopping Basket with green handles (pink, orange, and blue are also available); £42 from French Baskets in Morocco.

    french market totes, gardenista

    Above: This French Market Basket with Two Handles can be carried in one hand or over your shoulder; available for $50 from Olive and Branch.

    french market totes, gardenista

    Above: This classic Basket Tote has narrower handles than some of the others; available for $34 from Greige.

    french market baskets, gardenista

    Above: If you like the the look but not the heft of a French market tote, you might prefer this Small French Market Basket; $32.50 from Olive and Branch.

    Agadir French market basket; Gardenista

     

    Above: The Agadir French Market Basket is woven with Moroccan materials in France, and has a cotton lining with a drawstring; $60.99 from Petite Provence.

    french market totes, gardenista

    Above: The La Vie Frances Tote is a smaller version of the classic tote, with leather trim and a buckled strap to keep things put; available for $52 from Abes Market. 

    french market totes, gardenista

    Above: The La Vie Large Tote has a larger base than the traditional size, and is also trimmed in leather; $64 from Abes Market.

    Is canvas more your style? See 10 Easy Pieces: Canvas Totes. And if you're looking for the perfect tote to use in the garden, see A Tote Worthy Garden Bag.

    Updated from a post originally published June 4, 2013.

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    Our judges have chosen the finalists; now you choose the winners. Vote for the finalists in each of 17 Considered Design Awards categories, on both Gardenista and Remodelista. You can vote once a day in each category, now through August 8.

    In the Best Overall Garden/Amateur category, our five finalists are Jane C., Sarah Neidhardt, Jane Handel, Molly Boxer, and Diani Living.

    Project 1

    Jane C. | Waban, MA, USA | A Garden Tour

    Design Statement: A garden that's evolved over 15 years from a small, mail-order shade garden to encompassing every inch of soil around our house.

    Chosen By: Gardenista editor-in-chief Michelle Slatalla, who had this to say: "Give me a minute to settle into that bench and compose my thoughts. No, give me an hour. This is a garden that begs you to relax and enjoy its play of texture and light. With a good book, I'll be asleep on that bench in under five minutes."

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: A bench in our front garden. The Sweetspire is in full bloom on the left, and one Allium is holding on to the right.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: From the front garden, the grasses and the Japanese Maple create a natural gateway and screen to the back garden.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: The shade garden. I added a planter this year to brighten up a dark corner. 

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Arborvitae create a 30-foot high backdrop for an evolving mix of shrubs and perennials.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Japanese Hollies form natural walls for the patio seating area.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: A close-up of the planter with a Begonia and Creeping Jenny.

     


    Project 2

    Sarah Neidhardt | Portland, OR, USA | Relaxed Portland Garden

    Design Statement: When I moved from California to Portland, I wanted to retain the indoor/outdoor vibe I was used to and take advantage of the wet winter and spring and the hot, dry Mediterranean Portland summers. I wanted lushness, texture, and scent (herbal and floral). My resulting garden is a blend of English cottage, Mediterranean, and California Bohemian.

    Chosen By: Guest judge Rita Konig, European editor of T Magazine. "I really like the yellow garage doors, which I know aren't strictly gardening but I think they are great fun. I love the way they have done their beds, both the raised bed and the side beds with the found branches."

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Front of house planted with Parrotia persica, Azara microphylla, Spanish lavenders, English and French lavenders, ericas, daboecias, and calluna vulgaris, succulents, native arctostaphylos, etc.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Detail of front garden planting beds bordered with found tree limbs and tomato plants in a raised wooden bed.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Fence and gate along the side of the house leading to our back garden, with a plume poppy (which has not proved invasive in my yard) peeking out and the gate arch covered in climbing rose Cecile Brunner.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Detached garage (front part is a tool shed, and back part my husband's office) with potted plants on the driveway side of house. 

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Detail of front garden sculpture on a wooden stump pedestal and blueberries in terracotta planter, with a background of grasses, creeping white thyme, white potentilla, amsonia, and a bits of the branches of a small Salix eleagnos.

     


    Project 3

    Jane Handel | Ojai, CA, USA | Jane Handel's Front Garden in Ojai

    Design Statement: A drought-tolerant garden on a minimal budget that complements the quasi-mid-century linearity of the house.

    Chosen By: Rita Konig, who says: "I love how different it is and how she has done something that really suits the climate she is in and on a budget and it really looks great. The colours are so pretty, the planting is inventive and unusual. I love the table of pots and the way the plantings sit with the house. I am really not a fan of succulents at all so I was pleased to have my head turned by this garden of cacti."

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Aloes in bloom/summer.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: California Potter collection on the porch.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Aloes in bloom/spring.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Steps to porch.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Aloe and Agave parryi.

     


    Project 4

    Molly Boxer | Richmond, MA, USA | Molly's Folly

    Design Statement: My garden is filled with texture and shape, curved paths and areas for sitting, as well as plants, objects and often people that I love. A gardener's garden, it is not about perfection but process. It has evolved over the past 31 years and is becoming simpler and cleaner as my needs and tastes change.

    Chosen By: Michelle Slatalla. "In many ways this is a modern descendant of Vita Sackville-West's original white garden. The snowy punctation of color—it's really nothing more than the reflection of light, a reminder of how green everything else is. Also, I'm a sucker for astilbe, those straight-backed soldiers that march on bravely in the heat." 

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: The tree lilac behind the pool hedge is in full glory.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Copper bird bath surrounded by hosta, rogersia, goat's beard and korean wax bells. 

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: White astilbe and ligularia edge a shady bed.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Pool house in the mist at the end of a row of persicaria, just beyond the raised vegetable bed.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Harry Lauder's walking stick abuts a non-vining clematis above geranium alba and autumn bride heuchera.


    Project 5 

    Caroline Diani | Santa Barbara, CA, USA | Canyon Garden

    Design Statement: Living in a canyon, we wanted to have our garden fit in with the surroundings, so we used a lot of the plants and shades of greens that are around us. We wanted it to all flow with our insane view. There are areas like our vegetable garden, fountain, pool and seating area that are all distinct yet complementary of each other.

    Chosen By: Rita Konig, who says: "I really like every image. I love the way they have done their beds, the pale gray gravel paths. I am also a huge fan of palms so I loved the palms and weeping bamboo; their images are generally really luscious, which I loved. Lastly the vegetable garden is lovely and that it is made by them is even better; I thought that was great."

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Mexican weeping bamboo and loosely trimmed boxwood gently frame the perimeter of the garden.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: We painted these terracotta pots to jazz up the garage wall and filled them with succulents.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: The vegetable and herb garden that my husband built. The framing was inspired by a henna garden we saw in Morocco with a similar bamboo gazebo built over it for shade.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Palms and weeping bamboo planted for their different textures and shades of green.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: A water feature surrounded by rosemary and daisies in the pea gravel courtyard.

    Best Amateur Garden Finalist in 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards | Gardenista

    Above: Shells collected on a recent trip to the West Indies and laid next to the meditation area by the pool, to remind us to breathe and take our vacation with us every day. 

    Start voting now—and vote daily through August 8 on both Gardenista and Remodelista. Winners will be announced on August 9.

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    The Remodelista team have been treating us to a week of Gallic design, including French-inspired spaces whose good looks you'll definitely want to steal. Plus: The ins and outs of French doors and a toast to the iconic Duralex bistro glass

    The Hague, Netherlands, Remy Meijers, Gardenista

    Above: French clients living in the Netherlands asked designer Remy Meijers to bring their grand dwelling into the clean-lined 21st century. Read how he created this elegant space in History and Modern Glam in The Hague.

    Villa Lena, Florence, Italy; Gardenista

    Above: A group of Parisians just finished transforming an 18th-century estate outside Florence into a center for visiting artists. Luckily, travelers (like you!) can stay there, too. Find out more at Villa Lena: A New Creative Hub (and Hotel) in Tuscany.

    Colander light fixture; Gardenista

    Above: It turns out that ingredients for homemade light fixtures are lurking in your kitchen cupboard. Check out Margot's DIY at 8 Kitchen Utensils as Light Fixtures. We throw in the light pattern for free.

    William Morris interior design; French doors; Gardenista

    Above: French doors are a prime way to expand your warm-weather living space. Janet tells all in her Remodeling 101: The Ins and Outs of French Doors (nice!).

    Net bag; Gardenista

    Above: Perfect for summer produce, the market tote's compact sibling is making a comeback. See more examples in 10 Parisian-Style Net Bags.

    Valerie Mazerat houseboat, Paris; Gardenista

    Above: How do the Remodelista editors keep finding these houseboats? This one's a converted Dutch barge, home to a Paris architect and her young daughter. In New Paris Style: A Mother and Daughter Afloat, Margot calls it "floating chic." Très bien.

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    Here's a look at what's piquing our interest lately. 

    Hyrbrid rose on Gardenista current obsessions

    Wit & Delight floral workshop on Gardenista's obsessions

    • Above: A gorgeous floral workshop in Minnesota; photograph courtesy of Wit & Delight. 
    • We're fed up; say goodbye to sugar

    art we heart on gardenista current obsessions

      italian villa by the sea Kinfolk

    • The ultimate urban escape: We're dreaming of this spartan Italian villa by the sea; photograph courtesy of Kinfolk.
    • It's time to vote, starting now, and every day through August 8. 

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    At the age of 69, Nicole de Vésian's real adventure started. Retired from a career of designing hats and linens for Hermès, she decamped to Provence to embark on her most ambitious design project: a strange and hauntingly beautiful garden that incites in anyone who sees it a sudden desire to prune shrubs into pillowy, languorous clouds.

      nicole de vesian garden luberon france cloud pruning topiary; Gardenista

    Above: A mix of textures and the play of light on carefully shaped shrubbery create a peaceful, meditative space in de Vésian's garden, La Louve (translation: "The She Wolf"). Rather than confining boxwood to a more conventional supporting role as a hedge or as edging for flower beds, she encouraged it to become the central focus. Photograph via Louisa Jones.

    de vesian terrace luberon garden france; Gardenista

    Above: De Vésian moved to the Provençal hill village of Bonnieux in 1986, after the death of her husband. When she bought her house, the garden was dilapidated, built on a series of terraces against a hillside. Photograph via Garden Design.

      upper terrace nicole de vesian garden cloud pruning boxwood topiary; Gardenista

    Above: On the upper terrace, natural elements such as stone, gravel, and wood provide a backdrop for the topiaries. Photograph via La Dolce Vita California

    de vesian swimming pool, provence; Gardenista

    Above: The swimming pool was added after de Vésian sold the property to art dealer Judith Pillsbury. Photograph via Garden Design.

    garden of nicole de vesian in the luberon france; stone bench; Gardenista

    Above: De Vésian designed benches that would take advantage of the hillside views. Photograph by Mustafa Birgi via Flickr. 

    de vesian garden provence france; Gardenista

    Above: For years, gardeners have made pilgrimages to this region, the Luberon, to see de Vésian's garden. Maria Nation is one person who returned home from France determined to rip out her perennial beds and replace them with boxwood. "Her private garden was like some cosmic thunderbolt," Nation says. 'It took my breath away." Nation's western Massachusetts garden was entirely inspired by La Louve; to read about it, see A Secret Garden: Beauty in the BerkshiresPhotograph via Garden Design.

    de vesian garden france luberon provence; Gardenista

    Above: The shrubs are as well trimmed as they were in de Vésian's day. Photograph via Garden Design.

    Interested in learning more about the technique of cloud pruning? See Topiary: Cloud Pruning as Arboreal Art. And for more boxwood inspiration, go to For Love of Boxwood.

    Updated from a post originally published June 7, 2013.

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    We're of the opinion that the best time to be in the city is when everyone else has decamped. Rooftop sunsets, twinkly balcony lights, the first ripe container tomatoes—you're ours this week. Hop on the subway and join us on our urban escape:

    Table of Contents: Urban Escape ; Gardenista

    Monday

    Brooklyn Roof Garden | Gardenista

    Above: Sophia visits a rooftop garden in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill and brings back tips for creating a meadow of flowers in the city in this week's Garden Designer Visit.

    Tuesday

    Wood pallet garden DIY ; Gardenista

    Above: Pallet magic: We'll show you how easy it is to create a trellis, screen, or temporary wall for your city terrace in this week's Steal This Look. Photograph via Uline.

    Wednesday

    Anti-fly-sphere-garden-gardenista

    Above: Sarah discovers the magic cure for keeping flies away in this week's report from the front lines of Domestic Science.

    Thursday

      shou sugi ban burnt wood siding hardscaping 101 ; Gardenista

    Above: Intrigued by shou sugi ban siding, Margot investigates the burnt-wood facade in this week's Hardscaping 101. Photograph via Materialicious.

    Friday

    Argentario by Clive Nichols ; Gardenista

    Above: Sleuthing in Tuscany, Kendra discovered an open-air pavilion that floats on the edge of a hillside. She's excited to give us a full tour of our Outbuilding of the Week. Photograph by Clive Nichols.

    And on Remodelista, the editors are just as determined to enjoy summer in the city. Follow their adventures this week as they make their own Urban Escape.

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    When she was renovating her townhouse apartment in Cobble Hill, garden designer Julie Farris also wanted a roof garden that could play a big role in her family's life. Farris, the founder of XS Space (and a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory), had big plans: for barbecues, a play area, flowerbeds, and lounge furniture. Oh, and it all had to be low-maintenance.

    Farris was impressed by New York City's High Line, the park where landscape designer Piet Oudolf's perennial beds have brought drifts of color and romance to the city. So she took a similar approach for her smaller garden. After consulting with Julia Miller of Four Gardens and Jessie LeBaron of GARDEN, she selected drought- and wind-tolerant perennials that could endure summer heat and freezing winter temperatures.

    In the end, Farris got the "beachy feel" she wanted, in Brooklyn. The other day she invited us over to take a look:

    Photography by Sophia Moreno-Bunge for Gardenista.

    Julie Farris Brooklyn Roof Garden | Gardenista

    Above: When you walk out onto Julie Farris's roof, you find yourself in a meadow edged by ipe wood ties. The expanse of grasses and flowers is layered directly onto the membrane of the roof. To improve drainage and reduce the weight, Farris added a 2-inch layer of styrofoam to the 14-inch-deep bed of soil. A J-Drain water drainage mat sits between the insulation and the filter fabric. "It all seems to work—the plants are thriving here," says Farris. 

    Julie Farris Brooklyn Roof Garden | Gardenista

    Above: Beside the door to the garden is a barbecue and a dining and lounging area.

    Julie Farris Brooklyn Roof Garden | Gardenista

    Above: The plant palette makes the garden feel airy and relaxed. A drift of hardy perennials includes (from L) Nepeta, peach-colored Agastache, and Nasella and Calamagrostis grasses. Farris's goal was for the garden to feel naturalistic and wild. The plants are allowed to do their own thing and are expected to return year after year.

    Julie Farris Brooklyn Roof Garden | Gardenista

    Above: The view from the entrance. The meadow serves as a divider between the lawn and the dining area. Julie chose artificial turf for a number of reasons: It doesn't require watering or mowing, and there's no need to replace grass damaged by heat or sun. 

    Julie Farris Roof Garden | Gardenista

    Above: To create ground cover and a nice textural combination, Farris paired fiber-optic grass with strawberries, which her kids were surprised to find "taste better than strawberries."  

    Julie Farris Brooklyn Roof Garden | Gardenista  

    Above: The dining and lounge area. When planning a roof garden, Farris says, get an engineer to make sure the roof can withstand the weight load. It may seem obvious, but the soil alone is heavy. And of top of that you'll be adding furniture, decking, a grill, people, and snow and ice, depending on your climate. 

    Julie Farris Brooklyn Roof Garden | Gardenista

    Above: A very Brooklyn view. Buildings, breezes—and no mosquitoes up here.

    Julie Farris Brooklyn Roof Garden | Gardenista

    Above: Farris designed storage space for glasses and dishes in the barbecue area to make the garden easy to use. (There's also a refrigerator.) 

    Julie Farris lavender and roses Brooklyn rooftop garden ; Gardenista  

    Above: Planters filled with lavender, grasses, and roses line the perimeter. Farris waters the garden for five minutes every morning and evening. 

    Julie Farris rooftop garden deck ; Gardenista

    Above: Building a roof garden requires logistics. "We used a cherry picker to hoist the soil bags and wood up the side of the house," says Farris. "That saved a huge amount of time and labor." The general contractor, Showcase Construction, brought all the soil to the roof.

    Proper drainage is very important on a roof garden, particularly in Brooklyn, where you need to protect both your own building and that of your neighbors. "In this project the entire roof pitches to a downspout that flows into an underground pipe," says Farris. "You have to install a filter that will keep the pipes clear of debris and let the water flow out and down." 

    Rooftop Garden | Gardenista

    Above: In the middle of the meadow, a skylight brings a little bit of the garden indoors. The hardy perennials include Calamagrostis, Monarda, Knautia, Nepeta, Yarrow, Salvia, Lavender, and Miscanthus.

    Brooklyn Rooftop Garden | Gardenista

    Above: Scabiosa (L) and climbing hydrangea.

    To see another of our favorite urban meadows, go to A Rooftop Garden for All Seasons in Rotterdam. For a primer on living roofs, see Hardscaping 101: Green Roofs. 

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