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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    Whether your potted plants live indoors year round or have sought temporary shelter from freezing temperatures, they may be looking a little sad these days. Are you doing something wrong? Or have they just gone dormant? We asked horticulturalist David Clark (who is coddling his own houseplants through a severe winter in upstate New York) for advice about how to perk up winter-frazzled houseplants.

    Clark, an instructor at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, likes a challenge: he has managed to keep a 4-foot gardenia topiary alive for four years and has collected more than 300 different orchids. But whether you're nursing something finicky like an African violet or a hardy Mother in Law's tongue, your houseplants are going to have a harder time in winter. Here are his top 10 tips (plus one of our own): 


      How to keep a houseplant happy in winter cut back on water l Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Mieke Verbijlen.

    Put houseplants in the sunniest spot you have; move them to follow the sun if necessary. "Most plants will not thrive in a north-facing window because they need more sun," says Clark. The best? A window facing east; you will get sun from 7 am to 11 am and "it's not harsh, like what you'll get in a western facing window," he says.

    To move big, heavy pots, put them on rolling plant stands. See 5 Favorites: Rolling Plant Stands.

    Less Water

    how to keep houseplants happy in winter l Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    "Most plants only need water once a week in winter," says Clark. "They will kind of go dormant, especially if they're plants that grow outdoors in summer and they've come from that bright light into a home with lower lighting and lower temperatures."

    A watering can with a long spout will direct a controlled stream of water to a houseplant—without dribbles. For our favorite, see The Most Beautiful Watering Can Ever.

    Mist Them

    How to keep houseplants happy in winter l Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by John Merkl.

    Outdoor plants experience fog, rain, and mist. Indoors? The air is dry from your heating system. Give them a little spritz from a mister every few days to keep houseplants happy.

    Here's our favorite Brass Plant Mister.


    Polished Marble Tray, Gardenista

    Above: Make a humidity tray for plants to add moisture to the air. In a low-sided tray, place a shallow layer of pebbles. Add water to the height of the pebbles. Set plant pots on pebbles and put the tray in a warm sunny spot (or on top of a radiator).

    Or get a desktop humidifier to direct moist air toward plants. For our favorites, see 10 Easy Pieces: Desktop Humidifiers.

    Most plants thrive with levels of from 50 to 60 percent humidity; in a house the humidity level can go below 35 percent. "In a situation like that, make them a little miniature greenhouse by tenting them under a big plastic bag," says Clark. "Or take a shallow tray, fill it with 2 inches of water and gravel, and set your potted plant in it." As the water evaporates, it will create humidity around the plant.


      Dwarf mandarin orange tree yellow spots leaves ; Gardenista

    Above: A potted dwarf mandarin orange tree with yellow spots on its leaves. Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    The most common disease that plagues houseplants is leaf spot—yellow or brown spots that develop on an outer leaf and move inward. If your plants are suffering, mix a tonic and spray it on their leaves: Dissolve 4 teaspoons baking soda in a gallon of water and add a few drops of Murphy's oil to make a suspension.

    Dust Them

    How to keep houseplants happy in winter on a radiator l Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Electronomo via Flickr. 

    Keep plants clean. "When they get dusty, that causes plants not to breathe. It plugs their leaves, which have little pores called stomata," says Clark. "If you cover a leaf surface with dirt, it won't get the full effect of sunlight and photosynthesis will be slowed."

    Bathe Them

    How to keep houseplants happy in winter l Gardenista

    Above: For smaller plants, give them a bath in a sink with a sprayer. Larger plants can go into the shower. Wipe leaves with a damp sponge. Then off their leaves so they don't drip all over the floor.

    Stop Fertilizing


    Above: Photograph by Cheryl Locke.

    Many plants go dormant in the winter. Don't fertilize—and don't give up on them. Come spring, set dormant plants outdoors in warm sunshine and feed them a superfood such as sea kelp. For more, see Gardening 101: Sea Kelp for Healthy Houseplants.

    Crank Up the Heat

    Pelargoniums houseplant Sweden ; Gardenista

    Above: A pelargonium on the windowsill, a common sight in Scandinavia. For more, see Field Guide: Pelargoniums.

    Above: Turn the heat up high during the day, then way down at night. The temperature variance feels familiar to plants because it mimics the conditions they would experience outdoors in the course of a 24-hour period.

    Get Rid of Bugs


    Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    Make your own sticky traps to catch those tiny black bugs—they're fungus gnats—that buzz in the air above houseplants. For step-by-step instructions, see DIY: Sticky Traps for Fungus Gnats.

    Other solutions are to bury a garlic clove in the soil, make an apple cider vinegar trap, or repot plants. For more, see DIY: Pest-Free Potting Soil.

    Play Music

    fiddle leaf fig tree in kitchen via Gardenista

    Above: Plants prefer classical to rock and roll. But sometimes we think we see the fiddle leaf fig tree swaying to the beat.

    Need houseplant help? See:

    See More Houseplants posts ; Gardenista

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    In an old printing factory in the center of Paris, garden designer Jacques Leseur created a secret courtyard garden where feathery plants soften a dark industrial backdrop. Here's how to recreate the look:

    Steal This Look: Paris Patio with Wisteria and Japanese Maples | Gardenista

    Above: The patio sits directly off the kitchen. Potted plants on rolling stands are mobile and can move indoors and out. Photograph via Marie Claire Maison.

    Atelier Vierkant black Belgian planters ; Gardenista

    Above: Handmade clay planters from Belgium-based Atelier Vierkant have as much beauty as utility. Coming this spring, a new A Planter will be available in six sizes, from diminutive ($81) to massive ($2,665).

    For more of Atelier Vierkant's line (and US retailers), see Artful Planters from Belgium.

    rolling plant stands ; Gardenista

    Above: Put plants on rolling stands to make them easy to move (and to prevent damage to flooring). One of our favorites (at top R) is the galvanized Socker Rolling Plant Stand from Ikea; $5.99. See the rest of our picks in 5 Favorites: Rolling Plant Stands.

    cut leaf japanese maple tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Photography by Andreas Trauttmansdorff for Gardenista.

    You can purchase Japanese maples online, but shipping dates will depend on your region. Two varieties we like are the Shaina Japanese Maple with dark maroon leaves, with prices starting at $89 for a 1.6-gallon size at Monrovia, and the Osakazuki Japanese Maple that varies from green to red to orange ($139 for a 3.6-gallon plant at Monrovia). For more inspiration, see 5 Favorites: Colorful Japanese Maples.

    Metal Frame window ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Atelier Domingue.

    Check your local architectural salvage yard for vintage steel factory windows and doors to find something that approximates the look in the patio above. Or consider a custom set to fit your space exactly. Shown here are custom steel frame doors' from the Atelier Domingue Architectural Metalcrafts line.  

    For more sourcing ideas for steel windows and doors, see Walls, Windows & Floors: Steel Window and Door Fabricators on Remodelista. 


    Above: Visit your local lumber yard for cedar decking boards—they're naturally resistant to insects and rot. Eastern White Cedar Boards are $1.59 per linear foot at Northampton Lumber in Virginia. 

    dwarf topiary potted kumquat citrus tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Citrus trees can thrive in pots, with lots of sunshine and patience. A potted semi-dwarf Nagami Kumquat Tree is $24.99 from Grow Organic. 

    Galvanized metal hoop handle watering can ; Gardenista

    Above: A galvanized steel Hoop Handle Watering Can with a corrosion-resistant zinc finish and a screw-on spout is $48 from Terrain.

    Wisteria flowers in bloom ; Gardenista

    Above: Wisteria is a beautiful and fragrant perennial vine—but invasive. Read before planting: Wisteria: A Dangerous Beauty (Are You Tempted?) and DIY: Train a Wisteria Vine Not to Eat the House.

    Among our favorite varieties of wisteria are Wisteria Frutescens Amethyst Falls ($24.95) and Wisteria Lavender Falls ($28.95); both from White Flower Farm.

    Steal This Look: Paris Patio with Wisteria and Japanese Maples | Gardenista

    Above: Crate & Barrel's Delta 30 Inch Aluminum Bar Stool has an anodized finished on aluminum base; $149 each. 

    For more ways to make a small space feel luxe, see:

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    A traditional long-necked metal watering can with a sprinkler head to gently shower plants is the first thing you should buy for a first garden. Get a good one, and it will last a lifetime. Here are 10 of our favorite watering cans, generously sized and designed with handles that make them comfortable to carry:

    Haws traditional watering can; Gardenista

    Above: How can we pick just one style of Haw's watering can to recommend? Ever since company founder John Haws came up with the idea of a perfectly balanced watering vessel in the 19th century, the English manufacturer has dominated the market. Today Haw's makes oval cans, long-spouted cans, metal cans, plastic cans, indoor cans, outdoor cans, metal cans—in a variety of sizes, colors, and finishes.

    But if you own just one watering can, it should be the versatile 4.5-liter Haw's Traditional Metal Watering Can, available for £39.99 from Garden Gifts Direct. In the US, a smaller 1.1-gallon capacity Haw's Traditional Watering Can is $69.95 from Williams-Sonoma.

    Galvanized metal hoop handle watering can ; Gardenista

    Above: A large 3.1-gallon galvanized steel Hoop Handle Watering Can has a corrosion-resistant zinc finish and a screw-on spout; $48 from Terrain.

    Stainless steel watering can ; Gardenista

    Above: Inspired by an antique from the 1800s, a 3-gallon Stainless Steel Watering Can is 122.50€ from Botanique Editions.

    Stainless steel watering can  ; Gardenista

    Above: A Traditional Stainless Steel Watering Can with brass accents is corrosion resistant and holds 1.5 gallons; $53.95 from Signature Hardware.

    Esschert Designs white watering can ; Gardenista  

    Above: From Dutch studio Esschert Designs, a White Watering Can with a large removable head is $44.99 from Hayneedle.

    Vintage galvanized watering can ; Gardenista

    Above: Sourced in Hungary, a limited supply of Vintage Galvanized Watering Cans with double handles have cone-shaped removable roes to allow you to adjust the force of the flow. They're $69.95 apiece from Williams-Sonoma.

    metal watering cans ; Gardenista

    Above: Available in two sizes, a Watering Can In Gooseberry made from powder coated steel is £25 (for a 5-liter capacity) or £32 (10 liters) from Garden Trading.

    Oval zinc watering can ; Gardenista

    Above: The shape of an oval Zinc Coated Watering Can makes it easy to carry close to the body. A detachable sprinkler head has a removable rubber ring to create a tight seal. The can holds eight liters (approximately 2.5 gallons) of water and is 41€ from Manufactum.

    burgon and ball watering can ; Gardenista

    Above: A 5-liter Burgon & Ball Waterfall Watering Can in racing green is powder coated in a glossy finish over galvanized steel; £24.95.

    Metal watering can wooden handle grips ; Gardenista

    Above: A 2.1-gallon Stainless Steel Watering Can by Esschert Design has double handles, each with a wooden grip for comfort; $58.45 from Hayneedle.

    For more stylish watering cans, see:

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    Winter is the season of hope: for the most beautiful spring garden ever. And you can have that. You also can lay the most charming front path in the history of hardscaping projects. And create the most welcoming outdoor living space that mankind has known. But first, you must avoid 11 common landscape design mistakes. Here's how:

    Buying Big

    Cloud pruning boxwood Niwaki ladder ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

    It's tempting to buy the biggest plants available to make a garden look more mature, especially if you are getting a tree or plants for a privacy hedge. But the price of impatience is high. A plant in a 1-gallon pot costs approximately $5, whereas a 5-gallon pot may be $15. After two or three years, you won't see a difference.


    Mediterranean backyard garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen. For more of this classic Mediterranean garden, see A Modern California Garden Inspired by the Classics.

    Plants grow. Repeat that until you believe it. We all want to ignore spacing recommendations to avoid bare spots when planting a garden. But if you do, your garden beds will soon be too crowded, forcing you to pull out plants you paid for not so long ago. It's OK to see bare spots, especially in early spring.

    Forgetting the Four Seasons

    Piet Oudolf Hummelo Winter Garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Garden designer Piet Outdolf's winter garden at Hummelo. For more, see Steal This Look: Piet Oudolf's Private Garden.
    Every garden looks beautiful the last week in May and the first week in June. But you also must look at yours the other 50 weeks of the year. Don't make the mistake of limiting your plant choices to spring and early summer bloomers. Roses, irises, and peonies are wonderful garden companions, but you can't rely solely on them. Consider plants that look good year-round such as evergreen shrubs and trees with interesting bark and perennial grasses, which can turn into lovely straw-colored feathers in winter.

    Outdoor Overkill

    Brick patio outdoor furniture ; Gardenista

    Above: Julie's mossy patio looks perfect just the way it is. Wonder how a rug would look? See Domestic Dispatches: 5 Outdoor Rugs for Julie.

    Above: While it's nice to blur indoor and outdoor boundaries to increase your usable space, don't try to turn your garden into just another living room. Remember you came outdoors because you want to experience nature.

    Do you really need indoor furnishings such as rugs and reading lamps in an outdoor space? Mossy brick underfoot (as shown) makes a lovelier carpet than any woven material. 

    Curb Repel

    Gray house paint Edwardian Facade house numbers ; Gardenista  

    Above: Does your house have this much curb appeal? If not, see 11 Ways to Add Curb Appeal for Under $100.

    The opposite of curb appeal is a house with a cracked concrete path, peeling paint, and a dented mailbox. Go stand in the street, face your house, and look at it with a critical eye. Do you need new house numbers? A glossy coat of paint on the front door? A new gate latch? Those are easy fixes that make a big impact.

    Uncomfortable Furniture

    Garden Visit with Los Angeles Jeweler Kathleen Whitaker in Echo Park, Garden Seating Area | Gardenista

    Above: LA jewelry designer Kathleen Whitaker has an inviting seating arrangement in her backyard. For more of her garden, see At Home with Jeweler Kathleen Whitaker in LA.

    Just because outdoor furniture needs to be durable doesn't mean it should be uncomfortable. Weather resistant doesn't have to be hard, scratchy, splintery, or cold. Choose chairs with wide seats and sofas deep enough to sink into with a good book. Be generous about adding padding: cushions and pillows add comfort. 

    Arrange an outdoor seating area as if it were a living room. Make sure there are tables on which to set glasses and armrests on chairs.

    Color Chaos


    Above: When you're designing a planting scheme, pick a limited palette and stick to it. Silver, blue, and purple plants (shown) harmonize beautifully, for instance. While rainbow colors in full bloom look utterly tempting at the nursery, they can be as jarring as a slash of too-red lipstick after you get them home.

    A good rule is to pick a three-color palette (plus white-flowering plants as an accent). For more of our favorite plant color schemes, see Garden Visit: Vita's Sunset Garden and Color Theory: 10 Perfect Plant Combinations.

    A Blind Eye

    London city garden tree ferns ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Guardman Tillman Pollack.

    What's the view through your window? It should frame the garden. Don't pass up the opportunity to design a garden to be enjoyed from indoors. Place focal points in strategic spots and create garden vignettes for each window.

    Hardscape Hash

    Scott Lewis San Francisco bluestone patio ; Gardenista

    Above: SF-based landscape architect Scott Lewis created a spacious feeling in a small city backyard through the judicious use of hardscape materials. For more of this garden, see Scott Lewis Turns a Small SF Backyard into an Urban Oasis.

    Don't make the mistake of installing hardscape materials that clash. The color of your deck and front path should complement the color of your roof and your front door. Limit the number of materials you use and when laying brick or stone in a pattern, remember that quieter is almost always better. For example, bluestone pavers laid in a simple running bond pattern (shown) create a soothing backdrop to allow plants to steal the show.

    Potted Pandemonium

    Boxwood planters curb appeal black front door ; Gardenista  

    Above: Photograph via Woonstijl.

    Potted plants are accessories and, as with jewelry, less can be more. You wouldn't wear diamond earrings, a turquoise necklace, an emerald flower brooch, and a jangling charm bracelet together. Nor should you group together mismatched pots of different styles and random sizes. 

    Create a group of two or three pots of similar colors, materials, and size (in general, the bigger the better) for harmony. When choosing container plants, redundancy is good. If you repeat a particular plant in each pot, you will create a visual refrain to make containers look purposeful. When in doubt, plant an evergreen shrub such as boxwood (shown) to give containers a strong silhouette.

    Forgetting Foliage

    Hellebores Brooklyn townhouse garden ; Gardenista

    Above: A hellebore in a shady Brooklyn backyard. For more of this magical garden, see The Magicians: An English Professor and a Novelist Conjure a Garden in Brooklyn.

    Don't buy plants for their flowers. Buy plants for their leaves—texture, shape, color—because their leaves are what you are going to see most of the year.

    For more landscape tips and garden design trends, see:

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    A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down? Make that honey.

    For flu prevention, here's a natural remedy that actually works. I've been making elderberry syrup every fall for the past few years, and I swear it's magic. Widely used in herbalism as a flu preventative, elderberry syrup is filled with immune-boosting properties—not to mention antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. 

    Best of all: making your own is truly simple. This is a DIY that won't try your patience. 

    Photography by Erin Boyle.

    elderberry syrup | gardenista

    Above: Dried elderberries ready to be turned into medicine. I purchased dried berries from Mountain Rose Herbal; a 4-ounce package is $4.25.

    elderberry syrup | gardenista

    Above: Use a sieve to smash all the juice out of the berries after boiling.

    elderberry syrup | gardenista

    Above: Allow the liquid to cool completely before adding the honey so heat doesn't damage the raw honey.

    elderberry syrup | gardenista

    Above: Bottle the syrup in dark apothecary bottles. A 2 Oz. Amber Bottle is $1.50 from Mountain Rose Herbal.

    Elderberry Syrup for Flu Prevention

    Adapted from Mountain Rose Herbal


    • 1/2 cup dried elderberries (or 1 cup fresh)
    • 3 cups water
    • 1 cup raw honey
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 3 to 5 cloves


    Place berries, spices, and water in a saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for from 30 to 40 minutes until the syrup begins to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and strain liquid through a sieve, smashing the berries with a wooden spoon to release extra juice. Discard the berries and spices. Allow the liquid to cool completely and mix in raw honey. Divide into glass bottles and label. Keep the syrup refrigerated and take a teaspoon daily to ward off germs.

    Elderberry Syrup is just one elixir that comes from the elderberry tree (remember Christine's post about Elderflower Cordial?).

    For more DIY natural remedies, see:

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    N.B.: This is an update of a post published on October 3, 2013 as part of Tree Huggers week.

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    A new outfit in February perks up anybody. That goes double for houseplants. If your little potted friends are looking droopy, pop them (pots and all) into a basket. We especially like what these natural-color bamboo baskets from Danish design studio House Doctor do for greenery:

    Woven bamboo plant baskets House Doctor ; Gardenista

    Above: From Denmark with love. House Doctor's set of two woven black-and-natural bamboo Helene Baskets are available in two sizes at prices that range from 19€ to 33€ from Accessorize Your Home.

    House Doctor woven bamboo baskets ; Gardenista

    Above: House Doctor's baskets also have woven bamboo handles. 

    Baskets and houseplants are natural partners. For more ideas, see:

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    Tom Stuart-Smith likes high drama. (He did not become England's garden designer of the moment by accident, after all.) This explains the giant tree ferns. "You almost expect a triceratops or an iguanodon to poke its head out from between the fronds," he says of the London garden he created for a couple with a new baby who had asked for a low-maintenance backyard.

    The couple's townhouse, newly remodeled by architects Guard Tillman Pollock, had a two-story glass wall overlooking a long, narrow backyard. Stuart-Smith planted strategically Dicksonia antarctica, hairy-trunked tree ferns from Australia with canopies as big as 20 feet in diameter. It was a bold move, and a brilliant one:

    Photography via Guard Tillman Pollock except where noted.

    London garden tree ferns Tom Stuart Smith ; Gardenista

    Above: The setting called for "some sort of primitive wildness in the city," Stuart-Smith said. Visible from the kitchen is a garden where texture and form triumph, and where the mood is, as Stuart-Smith wished, otherworldly.

    London garden tree ferns Tom Stuart Smith ; Gardenista

    Above: Stuart-Smith's pared-down plant palette was limited to six. In addition to the giant tree ferns, he planted boxwood; a Japanese woodland grass called Hakonechloa macra, and three climbing plants: Pileostegia viburnoides, fragrant Trachelospermum jasminoides, and Hydrangea petiolaris. 

    London garden tree ferns Tom Stuart Smith ; Gardenista

    Above: The tree ferns with hairy trunks and parasol fronds grow among clumps of rounded boxwood, creating a juxtaposition of textures and silhouettes. Horizontal hardwood slats cover brick walls that are lined "like a cigar box," Stuart-Smith says.

    London garden tree ferns Tom Stuart Smith ; Gardenista

    Above: From the second floor landing (L), the garden is a tempting mystery. The terrace (R) is cast concrete, edged with cloud-pruned boxwoods.


    Above: Stuart-Smith's design for the garden, which measures approximately 65 feet long by 30 feet wide, takes into account an elevation change from the terrace to the back of the garden, where he designed a small sandpit.

    In every garden, a visitor should be able to go on a journey, Stuart-Smith believes. In this one, a traveler walks past feathery grasses and boulders of boxwood to reach a distant destination. "The idea of the place is that even within a relatively small space there can be a liberating sense of other worldliness," says Stuart-Smith. "The moment you cross the threshold you are in a different world."

    London garden tree ferns Tom Stuart Smith ; Gardenista

    Above: From the street, the garden is a hidden oasis, its privacy guarded by a high brick wall.

    For more of Tom Stuart-Smith's inimitable way with plants, see:

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    There's a reason more than half of all gardeners plan to grow edibles this year. Food you grow tastes better, is healthier for you, and fills you with a quiet feeling of pioneer satisfaction. Actually, that's a lot of reasons. Our Design Guide for Edible Gardens includes 40 of our most popular posts to make yours easy to plant, a pleasure to cultivate, beautiful to look at—and delicious to eat:

    Garden Design and Layout

    pea gravel paths edible garden beds ; Gardenista

    Above: Pea gravel paths keep weeds down and feel pleasant underfoot in a garden by Susan Cohan Designs. For more, see Hardscaping 101: Pea Gravel.

    An edible garden should be as beautiful as it is useful. A pleasing design will lure you to spend time more time in the garden, where you'll discover that weeding, staking, and fertilizing will only make it lovelier. For inspiration, see 136 images of our favorite Edible Gardens in the Gardenista Photo Gallery.

    mix ornamental and edible plants in kitchen garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Garlic and echinacea are both blooming in A Cook's Garden in Upstate New York. Photograph by Laura Silverman.

    Whether your edible garden is tiny or vast, choose a design that mixes ornamental and edible plants. Lay out paths that are a comfortable width and use material that feels good underfoot. Garden beds should be generously sized but narrow enough for you to weed without stepping into them. For edible garden design tips, see Hardscaping 101: Raised Garden Beds.

    Edible garden bed layout design ; Gardenista

    Above: Raised beds allow you to control the quality of soil. Uniformity in shape, size, and height creates a pleasing layout. For more of this garden, see The Ultimate Edible Garden, Courtesy of a California Master.

    Drip irrigation on water trough raised beds ; Gardenista

    Above: If space is tight, even a single raised bed is enough for an edible garden. We like the technique of turning a water trough into an edible garden. For tips, see Steal This Look: Water Troughs as Raised Beds.

    Elegant deer proof fencing edible kitchen garden Hamptons ; Gardenista

    Above: An elegant deer proof fence for an edible garden on Long Island's East End. For more about how this garden was designed, see The Landscape Designer Is In: Elegant Deer Fencing, Hamptons Edition.

    Don't tell the deer we said this, but deer proofing is an essential part of the design process. For tips, see The Garden Designer is In: Deer Proofing an Edible Garden.

    Drip irrigation system at The French Laundry in Yountville ; Gardenista

    Above: The drip irrigation system at the French Laundry in Yountville, CA.

    When you design an edible garden bed, lay out a drip irrigation system before you plant. For the basics, see Hardscaping 101: Drip Irrigation.

    Sheila Bonnell Orleans Cape Cod Kitchen Garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Architect Sheila Bonnell waters her edible garden the old-fashioned way on Cape Cod. For more of her garden, see Architect Visit: A Kitchen Garden on Cape Cod. Photograph by Matthew Williams.

    Choosing Plants and Seeds

    cilantro seeds John Merkl ; Gardenista

    Above: In winter you can sprout seeds indoors to transplant into the spring garden. Early crops, such as lettuces, can be sown directly into the ground in March when the dirt soft enough to work with a trowel.

    Some of our favorite sources for seeds are Jardin Seed Co. (which sells 135 varieties of heirloom seeds); Kitazawa Seed Co. (which sells more than 250 varieties of traditional heirloom vegetables from Japan), and family-owned Homestead Seeds (with more than 200 varieties of heirloom squash, pumpkin, and gourd seeds).

    Jardin heirloom seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: If you have a small space (or are growing edibles indoors, consider growing microgreens for salad. For tips, see Ask the Expert: 9 Tips to Grow Edible Microgreens.

    artichoke in garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Star Apple Gardens.

    What companions are you going to plant—and where? It's important that the plants in your edible garden be friends. It's a little bit like drawing up a classroom seating chart for middle school students. For ideas, see DIY: Plants Have Best Friends Too.

    For tips about which plants are friendly (and which need their space), see our Field Guides. We have dozens of growing guides for herbs such as Rosemary and Basil; for vegetables like Brussels Sprouts and Kale, and for fruits including Apples and Persimmons. And we've given them all nicknames. Guess which plant we (affectionately) call "Better Bletted?"

    Edible salad nasturtium pansy pansies petals Kendra Wilson ; Gardenista

    Above: Kendra eats flowers in her salad. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

    Make room for edible flowers in your vegetable garden. Not only are they delicious, they'll also add a little color to the kale's cheeks. For tips on growing and eating edible flowers, see DIY: Add Edible Flowers to Your Salad and Laura Silverman's recipe for Flower-Flavored Butter.

    revive your cold frame with herbs | gardenista

    Above: Looking for the basics? For tips on growing Lettuces, Tomatoes, Carrots, and Chives, see our Field Guide archives.

    Seed Starting and Cold Frames

    Old Farmers' Almanac ; Gardenista

    Above: Know your climate. Before we try to grow anything, we like to consult The Old Farmers' Almanac (and not just because it's a "hoot," in Jeanne's opinion). This little book's format hasn't changed much since it was first published in 1792 (when George Washington was president). And it's still chock full of useful weather and climate information. If we're in a hurry, we might skip over the pages of astrological advice and go right to the section on crop rotation. 

    gardening 101 sprout a seed l Gardenista

    Above: In winter or early spring, sprout seeds in homemade newspaper pots. Because the paper is biodegradable, you can transplant the pots directly into the garden. For more, see Gardening 101: How to Sprout a Seed and DIY: How to Make Newspaper Pots.

    cold frame in winter with lettuces ; Gardenista  

    Above: A cold frame in fashion designer Courtney Klein's San Francisco backyard is built of 10-foot-long redwood planks. For more of her garden, see Courtney Klein's Mission District Backyard.

    To get a jump on the spring growing season, start seeds and keep seedlings warm in a cold frame. It's essentially a warming hut for plants; see Janet's comprehensive Hardscaping 101: Cold Frames for everything you need to know to get going.

    If you've got an old cold frame you haven't used in a while, Erin figured out that it's easy to DIY: Revive a Cold Frame.

    What to Eat

    First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House edible vegetable herb garden ; Gardenista

    Above: First Lady Michelle Obama dug up the grass on the White House lawn for the first time since World War II to plant herbs and vegetables. See more of her edible garden at Steal This Look: Michelle Obama's White House Garden.

    Marie Viljoen fennel paste ; Gardenista

    Above: Cookbook author Marie Viljoen harvests year-round from an edible garden planted on her Harlem terrace. Try her Fennel Pesto and Mushrooms á la Greque. And browse through more of our 234 Garden-to-Table Recipes for more ideas.

    Guides and Handbooks

    Edible kitchen garden England UK ; Gardenista  

    Above: Photograph by Jason Ingram.

    Whether your edible garden is grand or humble, it helps to have a guidebook. We've dogeared quite a few pages of advice (and inspiration) about how to design, plant, and grow an edible garden. Some of our favorite books on the subject are The Beautiful Edible Garden, The Edible Balcony, Kitchen Garden Experts, and The Old Farmers' Almanac.

    For more edible gardening, see:

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    When friends invited my husband and me to join them for a weekend at Steep Ravine cabins, we had no idea what to expect. What we knew: the ten cabins are an hour north of San Francisco, it's really hard to get reservations, and we should bring all of our regular camping gear minus the tent. What we didn't know: we were about to be completely blown away.

    Planning a trip? Pick a Destination from our Gardenista Travel Guide.

    Steep Ravine | Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Julie Chai.

    Having lived up and down the Pacific coast and driven the length of it a number of times, I thought I'd experienced the most beautiful parts of the coastline. But this was before we arrived at Steep Ravine in Mount Tamalpais State Park—and the views there quickly ranked among the most gorgeous I'd ever seen. We had warm weather and clear skies on the day we arrived, and could see across Bolinas Bay to Stinson Beach, Bolinas, and beyond. Just below us, waves crashed against the beach which was a short walk away.

    The magic of this place comes not only from the landscape, but also from the fact that it feels like it's blissfully remote. Though just outside a big city, the campsite is surrounded by plenty of open space. And the entrance is gated; only guests with reservations have the code to get in, and it's never crowded with people who just want to take a peek.

    An added bonus: a cabin is only $100 a night—a steal for oceanfront views with beach access.

    Looking for another cost-effect campground cabin? See another of our West Coast favorites at Little Cargo Container in the Big Woods.

    Steep Ravine | Gardenista | via JetKat Photo

    Above: Photograph via JetKat Photo.

    You'll see spectacular views of, and from, each of the cabins perched on a rugged slope. On the beach below, you'll find sea life like baby barnacles, right. 

    Steep Ravine | Gardenista | photo by Ricky Brown via Flickr

    Above: Photograph by Ricky Brown via Flickr.

    Cabin interiors are beautifully spare and well cared for. Each one includes a built-in table and benches, sleeping platforms (the equivalent of two doubles, one twin, and one child), a counter area, a wood-burning stove, and a small closet. Firewood is sold on site; you'll need to bring your own sleeping bag, air mattress, camping stove, cooking gear, lantern, and other supplies. The windows have no coverings, but have clips to hang a curtain or sheet if you want privacy. While there's no running water or electricity inside, there are spigots nearby each cabin. And clean, developed bathrooms (no shower) are a short walk away. 

    Steep Ravine | Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Julie Chai.

    Grasses with fuzzy seedheads and blooming flowers dot the landscape in summer.

    Steep Ravine | Gardenista | photo via JetKat Photo

    Above: Photograph via JetKat Photo.

    No need to bring toys from home for the kids. 

    Steep Ravine | Gardenista | photo via JetKat Photo

    Above: Photograph via JetKat Photo.

    Each of the cabins has a small entry patio with a grill out front (bring your own charcoal.) You can make reservations up to seven months in advance of the date you want to book, and cabins fill up fast, so it's a good idea to plan as far ahead as possible. 

    Steep Ravine | Gardenista | image via Google maps

    Above: Map via Google.

    If you feel like hiking (and of course you will), From the campground entrance on Highway 1, it's less than two miles to Stinson Beach via the Steep Ravine and Dipsea trails. If you're looking for a longer local hike, try this one.

    Looking for Great Getaways? See more of our favorites:


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    A tiny 191-square-foot cabin with one room and an outdoor shower is Seattle-based architect Tom Kundig's ode to the wild woods of the Pacific Northwest.

    On a site previously occupied by another cabin, Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects designed a tiny rustic retreat with a facade sheathed in metal to stand up to the weather. Indoors is another story: the walls are wrapped in cedar panels.

    Photography by Tim Bies for Olson Kundig Architects.


    Above: Designed to look like an intimate, protected retreat against a wilderness backdrop, the cabin has a wood-burning stove indoors (and a built-in spot to stack logs on the porch).


    Above: An unfinished steel panel slides manually over the cabin windows, securing the building when the owners are away.


    Above: The original lettering on the weathered steel panel is a memento from its former life.

    Above: Cedar panels cover the floor and ceiling of the cabin. 

    Above: Living in one room: a tiny kitchen, a wood-burning stove, and an exposed toilet.

    Above: A propane tank provides hot water for the outdoor shower and simple wood benches double as deck furniture.

    Above: See more Tiny Rustic Cabins in our Gardenista Photo Gallery.

    For more of our favorite tiny hideaways, see:

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    Steel factory windows and doors frame the views in some of our favorite gardens. New or salvaged, their industrial style mingles well with both modern and traditional architecture to add free-spirit informality to even the grandest garden. Here are 11 of our favorites:

    Elizabeth Roberts steel window wall Brooklyn townhouse garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Architect Elizabeth Roberts replaced the back wall of a townhouse in Fort Greene, Brooklyn with two floors of full-height windows. On the ground floor, the entire window wall swings open to the garden. For more of this project, see Indoor/Outdoor Living, Brooklyn Style on Remodelista. 

      Steel windows NYC townhouse garden courtyard patio ; Gardenista

    Above: During a recent remodel, a 16-foot-wide townhouse in New York City got a wall of factory windows made of hot rolled steel (sourced from A & S Window Associates). For more of this project, see Rehab Diaries: An Artist's NYC Kitchen Renovation.

    Factory metal windows Brooklyn backyard garden ; Gardenista  

    Above: A wall of steel windows frames the view from a Brooklyn townhouse with a small backyard terrace and gravel court. For more, see Steal This Look: Midcentury Mod Townhouse Garden in Brooklyn.

    factory windows amsterdam garden maurius haverkamp ; Gardenista

    Above: In Amsterdam, designer Maurius Haverkamp's home in a former warehouse is designed around a patio with walls of glass and steel that send sunlight into all areas of the house. Photograph via Kikette Interiors.

    Steal This Look: Paris Patio with Wisteria and Japanese Maples | Gardenista

    Above: In a former printing factory in Paris, garden designer Jacques Leseur softened the industrial backdrop with flowering wisteria vines and cut leaf Japanese maple trees. For more, see Steal This Look: An Industrial Chic Parisian Courtyard.

    Factory metal windows front porch Domaine de Larbeou France ; Gardenista

    Above: At Domaine de Larbeou in Bayonne, France, a former holiday house has a front porch with glazed metal windows shaded by plane trees. Photograph via Marie Claire Maison.


    Above: Two-story factory windows and French doors bring sunlight into a kitchen by Brazil-based Estudio Vitor Penha.

    Australia garden factory metal windows l Gardenista

    Above: A brick floor indoors and stone pavers on the terrace; the factory metal windows barely interrupt the flow between indoors and out. Photographs by Derek Swalwell.

    Susan Wisniewski NYC Townhouse Garden ; Gardenista

    Above:  Landscape architect Susan Wisniewski's garden for a Manhattan townhouse has layers of texture—stone, wood, and greenery—to create an illusion of greater space. For more of her work, see Landscape Architect Visit: A Hudson Valley Farm, Pond Included.

    Factory windows doors Brooklyn Heights townhouse garden ; Gardenista

    Above: A wall of factory windows and doors connects a Brooklyn Heights townhouse to a backyard garden designed by Robin Key Landscape Architecture. For more of landscape architect Robin Key's work, see Lush Life: A Townhouse Garden in Manhattan.

    Larritt Evans steel windows walls ; Gardenista

    Above: In Australia, a wall of steel windows and doors lures sunlight into a townhouse living room. For more photos, see Design Sleuth: Vertical Garden of Terra Cotta Pots.

    Larritt Evans Steel Windows walls door handle ; Gardenista

    Above: Interior designer Claire Larritt-Evans created a vertical garden wall on a small balcony.

    For more window strategies, see:

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    This week, the Remodelista editors just said no—to giant, exploding, oversized houses. Taking matters into their own hands, they're thinking small with compact kitchens, simple marble tables, and a genius new collection coming from Ikea:

    Carl Trenfield London flat ; Gardenista

    Above: In a 639-square-foot flat in a Victorian row house in Hermon Hill, London, the architects channel (and re-interpret) William Morris.


    Above: Do you love your kitchen tools enough to display them? Julie discovers 13 Kitchens with Artful Utensil Rails.


    Above: Julie put Ikea's new collection to the test and came up with her list of 10 Favorites: Best of Ikea 2015. (We're particularly partial to this $7.99 curtain rod set.)

    Tobias Tostesen Ethical Kitchen ; Gardenista

    Above: Meredith asks: Why are contemporary kitchens so big? She found one one that isn't, hidden in plain sight. See it?

    Marble top coffee table Dean Edmonds ; Gardenista

    Above: The world's most beautiful coffee table, made to order, has a marble top.

    What else did you miss this week on Remodelista? Read all the posts from this week's issue at The Humble Abode.

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    Here's a look at a few things we loved this week. 

    Ikea and Ilse Crawford | Gardenista

    101Cookbook's Pomelo Noodle Salad | Gardenista

    Shrub House | Gardenista

    • Above: Treehouse or shrub-house? Photograph Courtesy of Design Sponge.  
    • We love nature

    Greenbank Park House By Hyla Architects | Gardenista

    Instagram and Pinterest Pick of the Week

    Gardenista Instagram Pick of the Week: @llruth

    • Above: "Cute little house and a cute little car"—@llruth

    Gardenista Pinterest Pick of the Week: Hannah Messinger

    • Above: Pastoral inspiration in Hannah Messinger's Agrarian board, adorable sheep included.

     For more from this week, take a look at our Small Living issue—and Remodelista's week of The Humble Abode

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    Tom Stuart-Smith is the giant of British landscape design. These days, he is too big for Chelsea (it helped him find his voice, he says, while winning three Best in Show medals). We visit his private garden in Hertfordshire near London to learn his nine top secrets for garden design:

    Photography via Tom Stuart-Smith except where noted.


    Tom Stuart-Smith Hertfordshire garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Creating a mood is the most important thing; not themes, not even plants. If a well-loved plant doesn't fit in with the overall mood: ditch it. To create the mood, search for the language of a place and listen to it. Look at the landscape around and incorporate elements of that into the garden, whether that is through a rusted water tank or an oak tree.


    Tom Stuart-Smith Hertfordshire garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Tight hedges and loose hedges; the bare and the lyrical; purple and green, naturalism and modernity. "Modernism is so often connected with minimalism in garden design," Tom Stuart-Smith writes in The Barn Garden, a slim and very readable volume co-authored with his wife Sue. He likes to make garden plans that are so simple as to be "almost mundane," but with an opposite approach to the rich planting.


    Tom Stuart-Smith garden, Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

    Texture and form are always more important than flower and color, an instinct shared by Beth Chatto (though they are both masters of color).

    N.B.: See Required Reading: Beth Chatto's 5 Favorite Flowers for a Gravel Garden if you'd like more texture and form over color.

    A Graceful Goodbye

    Tom Stuart-Smith Hertfordshire garden; Gardenista

    Above: Use plants that also look good out of season, which die down well. The flowers might not be as showy but the plant always looks elegant. Euphorbia (in the foreground) is such a plant as its companion here, epimedium, with its hovering heart-shaped leaves and very small flowers in spring.


    Tom Stuart-Smith Hertfordshire garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Making up about a quarter of the planting in Tom Stuart-Smith's garden, grasses are repeated throughout for "a bold rhythm and simplicity." They also lend support to herbaceous perennials during the growing season. Grasses have a strong presence in the garden during the winter months, lending an air of the "heroically decrepit."

    A Journey

    Tom Stuart-Smith Hertfordshire garden ; Gardenista

    Above: "From hearth to heath" or even, re-enacting life's trajectory, if you will. A large garden should lead you, ideally, from an ornamental foreground toward the infinite. Also in a large garden, vistas are key. Don't hide them with tall hedges. Place a statue in the center of an avenue, and the vista will bounce back at you.

    Tall Plants

    Tom Stuart-Smith Hertfordshire garden ; Gardenista

    Above: At 6-foot-5, Tom Stuart-Smith favors tall plants so he can be "in amongst it all." He also knows that using tall plants makes a garden look wider and longer.

    Think of your garden space as an old map of a town or city, its mass of low buildings punctuated with spires. Give your tall plants plenty of elbow room; use low-growing, shade tolerant plants around them. Says Tom: "Every star needs its understudy."

    Tom Stuart-Smith ; Gardenista

    Above: Tom Stuart-Smith (and assistant) in the garden.


    Tom Stuart-Smith Hertfordshire garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Value the accumulation of years, This is more precious than an instant makeover. Get the structure right and then slowly fill up the spaces with flowers. Buy a few flowers that propagate easily so that soon you'll have plenty, cheaply.

    Breathing Space

    Tom Stuart-Smith Hertfordshire garden ; Gardenista

    Above: A meadow of wildflowers stretches as far as the eye can see, or at least as far as the eye would like to see.

    For more Garden Ideas to Steal, see:

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    As Valentine's Day approaches, this week we'll have a list of the best online sources for flowers. We'll also be peeking at private Parisian gardens, and spotting spring's most romantic garden trends (headed our way from France). Join us:

    Table of Contents: The French Connection; Gardenista  

    Above: Join us as we peek at nine private Parisian gardens in this week's Garden Visit.


    Valentine's Day bouquet order online ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Farm Girl Flowers.

    True love on the Internet: for Valentine's Day we've visited more than a dozen florists to come up with a list of the Best Flowers to order online.


    red outdoor cafe chair ; Gardenista

    Above: For year round romance in the garden, all you need is two red café style chairs. See our favorites in this week's 10 Easy Pieces.


    Cyclamen houseplants Valentine's Day ; Gardenista

    Above: Victorian lovers sent coded messages via houseplants (sending a cyclamen meant "Au revoir, my love"). We've rounded up 10 romantic Houseplants to send for Valentine's Day in our Plant of the Week post.


    Bluestone paver metal edging gravel pathway lawn ; Gardenista

    Above: Janet learns all about the advanced geometry of metal edging for garden beds in this week's Hardscaping 101.


    Outbuilding backyard hideaway cottage London ; Gardenista

    Above: A romantic backyard hideaway is our Outbuilding of the Week.

    In honor of Valentine's Day, the Remodelista editors will explore the power of pink, visit a romantic Parisian loft (available for rent), and spend the week making The French Connection.

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    On any fashionable street in Paris you can catch a glimpse of greenery through iron filigree gates. Here's a closer look at nine of the private garden courtyards and apartment terraces hidden behind Beaux Arts facades: Secret courtyard garden Paris  ; Gardenista

    Above: Tucked behind a building on the Rue de Verneuil in the 7th arrondissement is a private courtyard garden with a small shade tree and potted topiaries. Photograph via A+B Kasha.

    Secret Paris courtyard garden Left Bank ; Gardenista

    Above: Available to rent, a two-bedroom Left Bank apartment two blocks from the Seine overlooks a private courtyard garden. For more information, see Trip Advisor.

    Parisian courtyard garden ; Gardenista

    Above: In central Paris, a former printing factory is home to garden designer Jacques Leseur and his secret courtyard garden. For more, see Steal This Look: An Industrial Chic Courtyard.

    Secret Paris courtyard private garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Discovered behind a 19th century building in St. Germain des Pres, a small freestanding house has a courtyard garden and entryway flanked by twin boxwood balls. Photograph via A+B Kasha

    Paris Loft garden terrace ; Gardenista

    Above: Not far from the Eiffel Tower, a fashion industry insider's loft has a sunny terrace garden on the other side of the original metal factory windows. Photograph via One Fine Stay

    Cecile Daladier Paris garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Ceramicist Cécile Deladier mounts zinc windows boxes and mirrors on the facade of her house. For more of her garden, see In the Garden and Atelier with Cécile Deladier in Paris.

    hidden paris garden potted topiaries and palms ; Gardenista

    Above: On the top two floors of a 19th century building in the 6th arrondissement, two bedrooms on the lower level share a secret courtyard garden of potted topiaries and palms. Photograph via A+B Kasha

    Private courtyard garden Paris; Gardenista

    Above: Available for rent, a studio apartment in the Latin Quarter is in a stone building behind a wooden door that opens into a courtyard garden. For more information, see VRBO.

    Paris apartment courtyard garden ; Gardenista

    Above: In Montmartre, an apartment on rue d'Orsel has a small courtyard garden. Photograph via Perfectly Paris.

    Planning a trip to France? Stop in at some of our favorite spots:

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    Nothing is more romantic than giving flowers you grow yourself. But a close second is Valentine's Day flowers that someone nearby grew. Thanks to the Slow Flowers movement, it's becoming easier to find local cut-flower growers who sell heirloom bouquets and seasonal flowers. 

    “Fifty-eight percent of consumers would rather purchase domestic flowers if given the choice," says Slow Flowers founder Debra Prinzing. Although 80 percent of cut flowers in the US are imported, the number of local growers is on the rise. To find cut flowers that were grown near you, consult Slow Flowers' Retail Florists directory. To order online, here are 11 of our favorite florists who sell local and seasonal flowers:


    Valentine's Day local flowers Baltimore order online ; Gardenista

    Above: Local flowers on the East Coast during winter? Mid-Atlantic farmers have willows, flowering branches, evergreens, tulips, snapdragons, paperwhites, calla lilies, anemones, sweet William, lilies, and carnations. To order Valentine's flowers, from a small Wrapped Bouquet ($35) to a Large Arrangement ($75), go to Local Color Flowers (delivery in Baltimore city area only).


    order Valentine's Flowers online Brooklyn delivery ; Gardenista  

    Above: Good Eggs is delivering Special Valentine's Bouquets from Pretty Street Botanicals in East Williamsburg; $49.49 apiece.

    Fox Fodder Farm Valentine's Day Order Online Flowers ; Gardenista

    Above: Order online a Valentine's Bouquet of magnolia branches and roses for $85 from Fox Fodder Farm; pick it up on Valentine's Day at Poppy's Catering in Brooklyn.


    Valentine's Flowers bouquet roses order online ; Gardenista

    Above: Sprout Home (with locations in both Chicago and Brooklyn) is taking Valentine's Day Pre-Orders for both locations. For more information and pricing, see Sprout Home.

    Oakland, CA

    Valentine's bouquet local flowers ; Gardenista

    Above: FloraCultural Society owner Anna Campbell grows flowers in an Oakland parking lot. For Valentine's Day, a medium-size Rose Bouquet  in shades of soft pink is $50 (plus $10 delivery to Oakland and Berkeley only). FloraCultural's bouquets are also available in the greater Bay Area through Good Eggs, at prices ranging from $24.99 to $64.99 depending on size.

    San Francisco Bay Area

    Valentine's Day bouquet order online ; Gardenista

    Above: Farmgirl Flowers will deliver burlap-wrapped Valentine's Bouquets, available in two sizes for prices ranging from $45 to $85, to San Francisco Bay area customers.

    Valentine's bouquet flowers order online ; Gardenista

    Above: Pre-order an Adrift Bouquet ($65) for pickup only on Valentine's Day from Studio Choo's pop-up shop (open from 1 to 4 pm) in San Francisco's Mission District, at 557 Valencia. 

    New Orleans

    Valentine's Day flowers bouquet order online ; Gardenista

    Above: Good Eggs is offering a Mandeville Street Garden Bouquet, a mix of garden flowers in a quart-size Mason jar, for $15.99 to New Orleans customers.

    Bellingham, Washington

    Valentine's Bouquet locally sourced flowers ; Gardenista

    Above: Flower farm Triple Wren Farms is offering a seasonal fresh Valentine's Bouquet in a vase for $35 (delivery within the county only).


    Valentine's Day local flowers order Portland Oregon ; Gardenista

    Above: Roses, tulips, and ranunculus are available locally in February. The Pacific Northwest's temperate climate makes all this possible. Arrangements of Valentine's Flowers, $40 minimum (order by Feb. 13), are available from Espe Floral.


    Winston Flowers in Boston ; Gardenista

    Above: Justine's favorite florist is Winston Flowers, with several locations in the Boston area. Many of the flowers are grown on small family farms. For Valentine's Day, Winston is offering a choice of 17 different arrangements online, at prices ranging from $95 to $750. 

    To see how Winston Flowers prepares for Valentine's Day, see Shopper's Diary: Behind the Scenes at Winston Flowers in Boston.

    Washington D.C.

    Valentine's Day flowers bouquet roses ; Gardenista

    Above: A Valentine's week Hand Tied Bouquet of red, pink, and white locally sourced flowers from farms in the mid-Atlantic region will arrive wrapped in a repurposed burlap coffee sack; available in three sizes at prices ranging from $50 to $100 from Little Acres Flowers.

    For more of our favorite florists, see:

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    Although "the best restaurant in the world" is closed for a remodel, The French Laundry's edible garden still will be working hard to supply chef Thomas Keller's pop-up restaurant (named Ad Lib) at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, CA.

    Keller, who closed the restaurant in December to build a new kitchen, plans to reopen The French Laundry later this year (good news for fellow chef Anthony Bourdain, who describes The French Laundry as the best restaurant in the world).

    Photographer Mitch Maher visited the three-acre culinary garden last summer during peak season, as the influential restaurant was celebrating its 20th anniversary. Here's a glimpse of the organic vegetables, herbs, and berries Keller likes to grow for his garden-to-table menus:

    Photography by MB Maher via A Growing Obsession.

    french-laundry-edible-kitche-garden-yountville-6-gardenista.jpg Above:

    Above: The French Laundry Culinary Garden, located across the street from the restaurant, grows 30 percent of the vegetables that Keller serves at the restaurant. 

    The French Laundry Edible Garden Yountville CA ; Gardenista

    Above: Keller uses the garden, which is open to the public, as a test site to try new varieties of herbs, vegetables, and berries.

    The French Laundry Edible Garden Yountville CA ; Gardenista

    Above: The hoop house protects tender seedlings from wind and birds.

    The French Laundry Edible Garden Yountville CA ; Gardenista

    Above: The garden may have up to 200 products available to use in the restaurant on a typical day. Many of the chef's favorite varieties are those whose flavor peaks when they're very young.

    The French Laundry Edible Garden Yountville CA ; Gardenista

    Above: More than a dozen varieties of lettuce seedlings grow in flats in the humid warmth of the greenhouse.

    The French Laundry Edible Garden Yountville CA ; Gardenista

    Above: Lettuces are harvested in the early morning, when it's still cool.

    The French Laundry Edible Garden Yountville CA ; Gardenista

    Above: More than 25 varieties of heirloom tomatoes grow in the garden. 

    french-laundry-edible-kitche-garden-yountville-6-gardenista.jpg Above:

    Above: The garden's bee hives produce honey for the restaurant.

    The French Laundry Edible Garden Yountville CA ; Gardenista

    Above: More than 50 garden beds are laid out in a checkerboard pattern, separated by grass walkways.

    Above: The French Laundry Culinary Garden is across the street from the restaurant at 6640 Washington St., Yountville, CA. For more information, see The French Laundry.

    Planning a trip to California's Napa Valley? Stop in at our favorite spots, including:

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    Make a romantic gesture in the garden. Here are 10 of our favorite red café chairs (suitable for use outdoors and in):

    Ikea red cafe chairs Malaro ; Gardenista

    Above: A small, folding choice for a balcony, Ikea's Malaro Chair has a steel frame and a solid acacia wood seat and back; $29 per chair.

    red outdoor cafe chair ; Gardenista

    Above: Fermob's classic French bistro chair, a 19th century European design, is made of powder coated lacquered steel and has curved slats for comfort. A pair of French Bistro Folding Chairs in Poppy Red is $216 from Horne.

    red outdoor cafe chair ; Gardenista

    Above: Created in the 1930s by French metal worker Xavier Pauchard, galvanized steel Tolix chairs have been ubiquitous since. A low-back style, the Tolix a97 Armchair has a high-gloss Rouge varnish; $275 apiece from ABC Home.

    red outdoor cafe chair ; Gardenista

    Above: Heavily inspired by the design of the Tolix chair, a set of two metal Carlisle Dining Chairs have rubber tips to prevent scratches on the floor; they require assembly and a set is $99.99 from Target.

    red outdoor cafe chair ; Gardenista

    Above: The iconic original: a stackable Tolix Marais A Chair is available in red. For more information and prices, see Tolix.

    Red cafe bistro chair ; Gardenista

    Above: From Fermob, the Luxembourg Armchair is stackable and has an aluminum frame. A red Garden Seat With Aluminum Armrest is 249€ from Manufactum.

    stackable Spark side chair by Knoll ; Gardenista

    Above: A stackable Spark Side Chair by Knoll has a metal frame and rubber glides to protect floors and is $184 from All Modern.

    Red perforated metal folding chair ; Gardenista

    Above: Evoking your grandmother's backyard, vintage red Perforated Metal Folding Chair (from the 1940s) are $100 apiece from Rejuvenation (while quantities last).

    red stackable cafe stye bistro dining chair ; Gardenista

    Above: Suitable for use on a covered porch, a stackable red Suzy Dining Chair is made of metal and beechwood; £69 from John Lewis.

    Red wooden stacking chair ; Gardenista

    Above: A wooden stacking chair with a design that evokes a classroom chair, a Decode Hatcham Stacking Chair is £350 from Nest.

    For more outdoor dining furniture, see:

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    The Bouqs Company, a new online floral delivery company based in Venice Beach, California may be the way of the future. We can only hope, as it's pretty slim pickings when it comes to finding quality and responsibly grown flowers online.

    John Tabis and JP Montufar are co-founders who met at college. After a variety of work experiences on their own, they reconnected with the idea of the The Bouqs Company, launched only 14 months ago. JP grew up in South America surrounded by the floral business, and John in the US with an interest in marketing and business. Together they saw a need in the online floral market for a business with a conscience and simpler more modern style. In their words, an online flower company that didn't "suck." 

    They're offering a Valentine's collection of 40 different bouquets—from snapdragons to $50 bouquets of roses—and will ship to all 50 US states. (Place Valentine's Day order this week to ensure delivery.)

    I had to check them out, so I had them send me some early Valentine's Day flowers so I could see the quality for myself:

    Photographs by Stephen Johnson except where noted.

    the bouqs eco-friendly rose delivery | gardenista

    Above: The Bouqs flowers unpacked and being conditioned in tepid water with the provided floral food.

    There are a lot of reasons to love The Bouqs Company (the name is short for bouquets). The website is easy to navigate and well-designed and the flowers are cut and delivered the same day, which means the flowers you receive are only two to four days old, versus the majority of flowers from online services, which are closer to ten to 14 days old. 

    the bouqs eco-friendly rose delivery | gardenista

    Above: Detail shot of the roses, three days after arrival. 

    The flowers were strong and healthy when they arrived; in fact they are so fresh that after three days the roses were just starting to open. The lighter pink roses got a little hit by the cold, but all I needed to do was remove the outer bruised petals. I'll be tracking how long they last, but I'm guessing at least a couple weeks if I change the water regularly and keep them away from the heat. 

    the bouqs eco-friendly rose delivery | gardenista

    Above: Using The Bouqs flowers, I created a few different arrangements, adding in a little spirea I had on hand with the soft pink roses. In the foreground is Speedy the cat (he's checking for fragrance).

    The Bouqs flowers arrive in great packaging: it's tasteful and not embarrassing. The company specializes in well-curated, simple, modern bouquets created by a seasoned floral designer, Eric Buterbaugh, who has a simple classic style with no more than two to three different flowers in one bouquet.

    the bouqs eco-friendly rose delivery | gardenista

    Above: Detail of the arrangements in my own vintage vessels. I cut the red spray roses down to a low, loose mound using a floral frog for structure. See Vintage-Style Flower Frogs.

    the bouqs eco-friendly rose delivery | gardenista

    Above: A view of The Bouqs hoop houses where some of the flowers are grown. Photograph courtesy of The Bouqs.

    The Bouqs currently has 13 farm partners in Ecuador and California that have been diligently inspected to meet all company's standards—quality of blooms from size, color, to vase life and respect and care for the environment and their employees. "We end up turning down more farms then we work with," says Tabis. 

    The majority of their farms can be found on the sunny side of a volcano, 10,000 feet above sea level in Ecuador. Recently The Bouqs started to add flower farms more locally in California with the same standards but with the added bonus of overnight delivery anywhere in the US for a $50 flat fee. There are plans in the works to explore farm partners farther afield in Europe and Asia.  

    the bouqs eco-friendly rose delivery | gardenista

    Above: A worker on one of the farms in Ecuador. Photograph courtesy of The Bouqs.

    Beyond sustainability, The Bouqs Company believes in honesty and fair prices. For instance, prices don't increase  at the holidays, a classic trick of most florists. The $40 bouquets will always be that price, and there are no annoying add ons.

    The Bouqs co-founders also have devised some apps they call their "Concierge Service." The service offers a program to "Never Forget," for birthdays or special occasions with flower deliveries prescheduled for the year; "Just Because" randomly selects days throughout the year to send to loved ones for no particular reason, and an option to track of the receivers' floral preferences.

    I've been looking online for a responsibly grown and tastefully curated flower company that is reliable and well priced, and I think I've found it in The Bouqs. If you're thinking of sending a bouquet for Valentine's Day, place your order this week to ensure delivery.

    Interested in other delivery options? See Shopper's Diary: Weekly Flowers to Your Doorstep from Wildfolk Studio.

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