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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    My neighbor Bea has persuaded her family (including her husband, Scott, her two sons and a tiny dog) to live with less stuff than the average monk—and to produce no garbage. She's a high priestess of garbage-free living who owns a single pair of jeans, takes meat jars to the butcher to prevent him from wrapping her order in paper, and avoids dental floss waste by using a brass gum stimulator with a metal tip.

    Bea, a Mill Valley, CA blogger and the author of Zero Waste Home, also simplified her garden; here are her top ten tips for zero waste gardening:

    Use Urine

    bea johnson zero waste lemon tree ; Gardenista

    Above: On Bea Johnson's deck, a thriving potted lemon tree fertilized with pee. Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    Fertilize your potted lemon trees with urine. "All you have to do is pee in the pot two or three times a year," says Bea. "I didn't realize how much of a difference it made until one of my sons stopped doing it in his tree and the leaves turned yellow. Scott peed in it, and boom, it's back." 

    Natives. Not.


    Above: French lavender thrives in the similarly hot, sunny climate of Australia. Photograph via Peter Fudge.

    Don't grow natives just because you think you should. While natives sound good in theory, your garden has a particular climate all its own. "We spent hundreds of dollars on edible, native vegetables, and it was a nightmare, because they all got eaten or died," says Bea. "I had to accept my limitations. Natives are very sensitive to their environment, and for example, it turns out the native thimbleberry raspberries I planted do well where it is quite moist in areas where there are redwoods. But our soil is 'oaky,' so they died."

    Ask for Advice

    bea aloe plant in kitchen zero waste ; Gardenista

    Above: A potted aloe plant in Bea's kitchen. See How to Propagate Aloe Vera for tips on growing your own.

    Get expert help to design a garden. It will save money in the long run. "After the natives died, I got a planting plan, for a garden that does not need much water or maintenance, and then Scott and I planted everything ourselves," says Bea, who worked with Sausalito-based Shades of Green Landscape Architecture to come up with a list of plants suited to her dry, sunny hillside garden.

    The low-water plants in Bea's garden include fruitless blackberries, Berkeley sedge, New Zealand flax ("we got it because we wanted something really tall to cover the retaining wall behind where it was planted"), and asparagus ferns.

    Organic Insecticide

    bea castile soap zero waste ; Gardenista

    Above: A bottle of Castile soap, for washing dishes, laundering clothes, and cleaning the house.

    To repel garden pests, use a natural solution of Castile soap and water. (For Bea's recipe, see DIY: The Best Insecticide, No Harmful Chemicals).

    Seek Freebies

    gardening 101 sprout a seed l Gardenista

    Above: If a friend is sprouting seeds, chances are there will be extras. Try trading. Photograph by John Merkl.

    Get plants for free. "Often the same plants you are looking for are plants that other people want to get rid of," says Bea. "Our oak tree fell and we wanted to replace it. One day I asked the friends I walk with on Wednesday mornings, 'Anybody have a sapling?' Not longer after, I was having a party and one of my friends brought a sapling to me as a hostess gift."

    Give Freely

    Slide Ranch seedlings kitchen garden Marin California l Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Katie Newburn for Gardenista.

    Give plants away for free. If you dig up something, post a notice on Craigslist—"Free Plants"—and leave it at the curb in a pot. "Someone will always come by," says Bea.

    Say No to Packaging

    bea vertical wall zero waste ; Gardenista

    Above: A vertical wall of plants in Bea's living room.

    Avoid plastic packaging.  If you are installing or adding to your drip irrigation system, buy pieces individually. Local stores will sell unpackaged irrigation pieces.

    Harvest Your Dinner

    felco no. 6 pruners pruning shears

    Keep your garden shears handy so you can harvest whatever is ready to eat. "If they're right there, in a drawer next to where you stand when you contemplate your garden, you are more likely to use them on a whim." 

    Return Plastic Pots

    Bea Johnson zero waste vertical garden ; Gardenista

    Above: A closeup view of Bea's indoor vertical garden.

    Nurseries will take back pots. After you bring home plants, return the plastic containers so they can be re-used.

    Bring Bags

    Jute sack ; Gardenista

    Above: A reusable jute sack. For sources, see Natural Jute Garden Bags.

    Take reusable bags to the store and fill them with bulk mulch to avoid plastic or paper bags.

    Make Mulch

    Christmas tree pine l Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    If you have a pine tree, sweep up fallen needles and use them as a mulch; sprinkle needles over exposed soil to control weeds.

      bea book zero waste home ; Gardenista

    Above: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson is $14.50 from Amazon.

    For more tips to simplify life, see :

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    Forget bamboo. For a green privacy wall, consider a centuries-old Mexican method: a cactus fence.

    We spotted a cactus privacy wall at El Montero, a south-of-the-border restaurant where you can dine al fresco on modern Mexican cuisine in a post-colonial setting. Here's how to recreate the look:

    Wall of Cacti, El Montero Restaurant, Saltillo, Mexico | Gardenista

    Above: Smooth and linear, it's a different look from a typical live privacy screen of bamboo. Photograph by Matthew Williams

    In northern Mexico, the 16th century city of Saltillo in the high Chihuahuan Desert is home to El Montero, a restaurant that celebrates old Mexico while with a modern menu. On the terrace of this elegant space, designed by Anagrama of Monterrey, Mexico, you will find tables surrounded by walls of tall cacti.

    For more, see Modern Mexican Kitchen Style: El Montero in Saltillo.

    Super close up Pachycereus marginatus | Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via University of Arizona.

    The Pachycereus marginatus, commonly and appropriately known as the Mexican Fence Post cactus, was used traditionally by Mexican landowners to mark property lines. This is similar to the British tradition of using privet hedges as living fences. 

      Pachycereus marginatus in landscape

    Above: Photo courtesy of Xemenendura via Wikimedia.

    This cactus can grow up to 12 feet tall, creating a formidable barrier when individual plants are placed close together.  It is extremely drought tolerant and will thrive in a xeriscape. Propagation is by cuttings and seed.  A 13- or 14-inch Mexican Fence Post Cactus is for $19.99 from Martinag via eBay.

      Aerial of El Montero cactus walls | Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Anagrama.

    If you are planning a fence, you may want to start with mature plants.  However, it is interesting to note that this cactus grows surprisingly fast, as much as 3 feet per year, if it is grown outside and is well cared for.  It likes direct sun, well-drained soil, and high humidity.

    And if you go to El Montero, take some time to explore Old Saltillo, which was built from pink marble and limestone and contains many impressive colonial buildings. The city famously produces rustic earthen ceramic tile and is said to be the birthplace of the serape. 

    For a closer look at El Montero, see Janet's Modern Mexican Kitchen Style over on Remodelista. And for more about how to create curb appeal with cactus, see Steal This Look: A Minimalist Marfa Exterior Space.

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    A drive-by garden with otherworldly succulents captured the attention of LA-based garden blogger Denise Maher one day while she was passing by a stucco house in an unfamiliar neighborhood. She caught a haunting glimpse of barrel cacti, giant agaves, and a towering euphorbia nearly as tall as the peaked roof. She had to return—luckily, with her camera:

    Photography by Denise Maher via A Growing Obsession.

    Drought tolerant succulents-garden-design-los-angeles-agaves-gardenista

    Above: Maher, who has an eye for a good drive-by garden (see others she's spotted at A Growing Obsession), discovered the four-year-old garden while taking a new route to avoid traffic during the 2012 Long Beach marathon. The garden "manages to make an impact at 25 mph," she wrote. "Up close, it completely disorders the senses." 

    She returned to take photos a few days later—and again, in 2014 (shown).  With a stucco fence and dark green gate as a backdrop for the front garden, "It certainly holds its corner like no other house I know," she says.

    Drought tolerant succulents-garden-design-los-angeles-agaves-gardenista

    Above: To the right of the gate, a 15-foot-tall Euphorbia ammak (the one that looks like a cactus) is flanked by two thin Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'.

    Drought tolerant succulents-garden-design-los-angeles-agaves-gardenista

    Above: an Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee' has variegated leaves.


    Above: The first time Maher visited with her camera, in 2012, a wonderful fragrance was coming from somewhere. Maher spotted a Colletia paradoxa (also called an Anchor Plant), an unusual leafless shrub from Uruguay, that was in bloom.

    Drought tolerant succulents-garden-design-los-angeles-agaves-gardenista

    Above: While she was taking pictures, Maher met the garden's owner, who confirmed that the heavenly scent was coming from his  Anchor Plant.

    Agave succulent dry garden LA ; Gardenista

    Above: Agave Ferdinandi Regis, known as the King of Agaves, is a native of Mexico.

    Drought tolerant succulents-garden-design-los-angeles-agaves-gardenista

    Above: The last time Maher visited, in 2014, the garden's owner told her he is going to start planting the curbside strip next to the sidewalk. We're looking forward to this.

    For more inspiration about how to add succulents to a garden, see:

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    Concern about climate change has us all looking for ways we can help. Here is our guide to 21 eco-friendly ways to make a difference when you design a landscape or hardscape project: 

    Capture Rainwater

    One of the most eco-friendly things a garden can do is decrease rainwater runoff. Consider a permeable surface if you're doing a hardscape project, and use captured rainwater or graywater in the garden.

    The Capri Marfa TX ; Gardenita

    Above: An Abandoned Parking Lot Transformed to a Wildlife Habitat by landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck in Marfa, TX.

    Surfaces that allow water to seep into the ground aid filtration and slow the flow into drains and waterways. From a design perspective, permeable surfaces introduce the satisfying crunch of gravel underfoot and add a softer element to hard surfaces.

    Decomposed granite Hardscaping 101 ; Gardenista  

    Above: Our correspondent Ellen Jenkins thinks decomposed granite (aka DG) may be the ideal hardscape material: ""After I started looking into DG, I began to notice it everywhere: The pretty little path through the local recreation field that never gets muddy? Decomposed gravel. The soft, natural-looking gravel driveway, where the gravel stays put? Also decomposed granite. The mulch at the base of trees that keeps the ground weed-free?  DG again." 

    For everything you need to know before deciding if decomposed granite is the right material for your hardscaping project, see Hardscaping 101: Decomposed Granite.

    Metal Garden Edging Barbara Chambers Garden, Gardenista

    Above: In this hardscape detail, pea gravel abuts mulch, separated by metal edging. For more of this garden, see Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley, CA. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

    Pea gravel—a small, fluid stone found near bodies of water—has an appealingly smooth texture, the result of natural weathering. Pea gravel comes in sizes from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch, about the size of a pea, and in a range of natural colors like buff, rust brown, shades of gray, white, and translucent. If you're trying to decide between decomposed granite and pea gravel, see Hardscaping 101: Pea Gravel.

    ribbon driveway by Stephen Stimson ; Gardenista  

    Above: A ribbon driveway has a strip of grass down the middle. For more of this garden, see A Very American Garden by Stephen Stimson.

    Our East Coast correspondent Jeanne Rostaing grew up with a ribbon driveway—two strips of concrete with grass in between—in Memphis: "Ribbon driveways were a natural progression from the ruts carved in the ground by the wheels of wagons and, later, automobiles," she writes. "It makes sense that if you're driving your vehicle from the street to the garage every day, you'd want to avoid wearing deep, muddy grooves into your lawn. The simplest and most economical way to do that: paving the areas where the wheels go and leaving the grass in the middle."

    Nowadays ribbon driveways are back in fashion not only because of their eco-friendly permeability, but also because they're visually pleasing. For more about designing and installing a ribbon driveway, see Hardscaping 101: Ribbon Driveways.

    Raintank water collection sustainable design ; Gardenista

    Above: Philadelphia-based Shift Design makes stylish rainwater collectors, including a Fitzwater Raintank (R). For more information, see Minimalist Garden Products with a Mission.

    Rainwater Hog Graywater catchment system ; Gardenista

    Above: The Rainwater Hog designed by Australian architect Sally Dominguez is a plastic 53-gallon tank that can store water vertically or horizontally, against the side of the house or beneath a deck, depending on where you have the space to store it.

    For more, see Ask the Expert: 7 Ways to Save Water in the Garden, from a Graywater Crusader.

    Drip irrigation system ; Gardenista

    Above: Drip (trickle, micro, or localized) irrigation benefits plants and crops by delivering water straight to their roots on a slow drip, thereby saving water and fertilizer, says Christine, who wrote our guide to everything you need to know about Hardscaping 101: Drip Irrigation.

    Lawn Alternatives

    Traditional turf is lovely to look at, but it's a water hog. We've rounded up some of our favorite alternatives, from green ground covers to wildflower meadows to sow in the front yard.

    Metal Garden Edging Barbara Chambers, Gardenista

    Above: Artificial grass by DuPont Forever Lawn. For more of this garden, see Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley, CA. Photograph by Liese Johannssen for Gardenista.

    Artificial grass has come a long way since Astro Turf, and it requires no water, weeding, mowing, or fertilizing. Is it an environmentally friendly option for you? For the pros and cons, see Hardscaping 101: Artificial Grass.

    Grass substitute wild meadow -gardenista

    Above: Replace turf with a wild meadow of native low-water wildflowers and or a hardy ground cover. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    For tips on sowing wildflowers in the garden, see our growing guides for Queen Anne's Lace, Cosmos, Foxglove, and Nasturtiums. Browse our Field Guide archives for growing tips for flowers, vegetables, and herbs,

      Sheet moss shady lawn alternative ; Gardenista

    Janet has investigated alternatives to water-guzzling turf. For more, see Fields of Green: 5 Favorite Lawn Substitutes, including Sheet Moss for shady spots; $24.99 for 5 square feet from TN Nursery.

    Birds and Bees

    Create a garden where birds and bees are welcome to help combat the rapid depletion of habitats. You can sow wildflowers, plant a pollinator garden, add native plant, or put a green roof on your house to give nature more of a chance.

    Brooklyn rooftop meadow Julie Farris ; Gardenista

    Above: In Brooklyn garden designer Julie Farris planted a rooftop meadow of hardy perennials (inspired by garden designer Piet Oudolf's plant combinations for New Yotk City's High Line Park). For more of her rooftop garden, see Garden Visit: A Rooftop Meadow in Brooklyn.


    Above: On the rooftop of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is a perennial garden planted strictly with natives that feels "almost like a wilderness, like a resting spot found during a hike on California’s coast," says our contributor Cynthia Salaysay. For more of this garden, see Garden Visit: Academy of Sciences' Living Rooftop.

    DIY seed bombs from The Rurbanite. Gardenista

    Above: Combine wildflower seeds with a soil mix to make a seed bomb that you can toss into a sunny spot in your garden—or into a sunny vacant lot as you drive past. For step-by-step instructions, see DIY: Wildflower Seed Bombs.

      Derek Jarman's Garden by Howard Sooley. Gardenista

    Above: One of England's best-loved gardens is filmmaker Derek Jarman's wildflower cottage garden in Kent. See more of it in Garden Visit: Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage at Dungeness

    For more about wildflowers, see The Woman Who Beautified America: Lady Bird Johnson's Roadside Wildflowers.


    Above: When native species of plants flourish, so do birds, bees, and wildlife. In Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, 22 acres of open grazing land were transformed into a meadow native plants. For more of this project, see Landscape Architect Visit: Nelson Byrd Woltz and a Wild Virginia Meadow.

    Heirloom Seeds

    Connect your garden to gardeners who have come before you by planting heirloom seeds that have been passed on for generations for their delicious flavor, scent or hardiness.  Unlike hybrids, heirlooms will reproduce exactly like their parents. 

    If you're designing an edible garden, see all our tips in Hardscaping 101: Design Guide for Edible Gardens.

    Here are some of our favorite sources of heirloom seeds:

    Jardin heirloom seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: Pasadena, CA- based Jardin Seed Company sells  135 different varieties of U.S.-grown vegetable and herb seeds including  unusual varieties such as Cherokee Trail of Tears Pole Beans, Sharlyn Melon ("fantastic, unbelievable, juicy flavor," says Jardin founder James Lizardi), and Crimson Forest Bunching Onion. For more information about Jardin seeds, see Growing Guide: 135 Heirloom Seeds from Jardin.

    Kitazawa Asian vegetable seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: Offering more than 225 varieties, Kitazawa is the oldest seed company in the US specializing in Asian vegetables. For more, see Seed Source: Kitazawa Seed Co.

      John Scheepers kitchen garden seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: Connecticut-based John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds sells a wide selection of heirloom vegetable and culinary herb seeds. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    For more sustainable design, see:

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    Designed by Australia's ArchiBlox, these instant Backyard Rooms—well, practically instant—create extra living or studio space, and they're small enough that no building permit is required. All you do is pick a size, configure, and place the order. Six weeks later: Your room has arrived.

    Photographs via Backyard Room.

    Backyard Room by Archiblox | Gardenista

    Above: Available in several models and sizes (including a two-story layout), the Backyard Room can be customized with various windows and doors. Prices range from $15,840 AUD ($12,335 USD) to more than $150,000 AUD ($116,809).  

    backyard room modular unit archiblox

    Above: ArchiBlox specializes in prefabricated design. The team's modular workspaces have built-in bathrooms, kitchens, desk areas, and bookshelves. Some have green roofs, too.

    The prefab Backyard Room by Archiblox of  Australia | Gardenista

    Above: The perfect place to launch your startup? 

    The prefab Backyard Room by Archiblox of  Australia | Gardenista

    Above: Backyard Rooms also work well as guest rooms and teen lairs.

    writers studio backyard room australia archiblox

    Above: An office nook with a view. Backyard Rooms are currently available in Australia only; we're hoping they make their way Stateside soon.

    For another of our favorite prefab cottages, see A Tiny Backyard Guest Studio (Sleeps One). No room for a pop-up shed? Try repurposing your garage, as in Outbuilding of the Week: The 186-Square-Foot Guest Cottage.

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    Lavender is the secret weapon of gardeners around the world. In warm, dry climates, the herb's 39 evergreen species can fill problem spots in the garden with year-round foliage and with flowers in lovely shades of purple, blue, violet, and gray. From Albuquerque to Athens, we've rounded up 11 of our favorite examples.

    Give lavender full sun and from 2 to 3 square feet of space to spread. For growing tips (and growing zones), see Field Guide: Lavender. For design inspiration, see 151 more photos of Purple Gardens in our Gardenista Gallery.


    Walled garden Devon Arne Maynard ; Gardenista

    Above: Garden designer Arne Maynard edged a Devon farmhouse path with loose lavender punctuated by tightly trimmed yew. For more, see Garden Designer Visit: A 17th Century Farmhouse in Devon.



    Above: In the Piedmontese hills, Turin-based landscape architect Cristiana Ruspa unified discrete outdoor spaces—a circular driveway, a shaded terrace, and an inner courtyard with a bleached wood pergola—with a colorful palette of  low-water perennials. For more, see Rehab Diaries: The Resurrection of an Italian Nobleman's Garden.


    Lavender garden Paul Bangay Australia ; Gardenista

    Above: On the Mornington Peninsula southeast of Melbourne, garden designer Paul Bangay designed a Mediterranean-style garden with lavender behind low boxwood hedges. Photograph via Paul Bangay Garden Design.

    Northern California

    Andrea Cochran, Atherton, CA, boxwood; Gardenista

    Above: Landscape architect Andrea Cochran designed this garden in Atherton, CA, about a half hour's drive south of San Francisco. With terraced garden beds of lavender behind low hedges, it's one of our Grande Dames: Stately Gardens from the Gardenista Gallery.



    Above: Influenced by Andrea Cochran's work, Sydney-based Garden designer Peter Fudge designed a formal garden with drought tolerant plants including drifts of lavender beneath olive trees. For more of this garden, see Garden Designer Visit: Lavender Fields in Australia.


    Lavender garden Brittany France ; Gardenista

    Above: Undulating waves of lavender and perennial grasses are a reminder of the nearby sea on the northern coast of France in a Brittany garden by landscape design firm Cao-Perrot Studio. For more, see Garden Visit: A Seaside Garden in Northern France

    New York

    Manhattan roof garden deck potted plants perennials ; Gardenista

    Above: On a Manhattan rooftop, Vanity Fair art director Julie Weiss mixes the purple shades of agastache and lavender (at right) with wild grasses, hydrangeas, and roses. For more of her garden see Garden Visit: At Home with Vanity Fair's Art Director in Manhattan.


    Malene Birger garden Mallorca ; Gardenista

    Above: A low hedge of lavender edges a pathway in the southwest Mallorcan garden of a home Danish fashion designer Malene Birger sold recently for €1.295 million. Photograph via Lucas Fox.

    Los Angeles

    Lavender garden Naomi Sanders ; Gardenista

    Above: LA-based garden designer Naomi Sanders created a water-wise courtyard garden with a plant list that includes lavender, native California irises, agaves, Iceberg roses and silvery Santolina. For more, see LA Confidential: A Private Courtyard Goes Luxe on a Budget


    Los Poblanos Inn lavender Queen Anne's Lace ; Gardenista

    Above: Lavender mingles with Queen Anne's Lace at Los Poblanos Inn, where guests can volunteer to work in the 25-acre garden—a farm, really—which produces much of the food on the menu. For more, see From Farm to Table at Los Poblanos Inn.


    Greece drought tolerant garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Agapanthus, daisies, lavender, and ornamental grasses create a seaside meadow on the island of Paros off the coast of Greece, designed by garden designer Carolyn Chadwick. For more of the house and garden, see A Greek Seaside Garden That Barely Needs Water.

    For more inspiration, see:

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    In an exclusive interview published today, our friends at Freunde von Freunden spend the day with Scotland's most passionate salad chef (she delivers them by bicycle to residents across Edinburgh) and discover the source of Joy Schlageter's organically grown lettuces:

    Photography by Gemma Lawrence via Freunde von Freunden.


    Above: Joy Schlageter, founder of Edinburgh's Bloombox Salads delivery service, forages for fresh greens and edible flowers at The Secret Herb Garden. For the full interview, see Freunde von Freunden.


    Above: Joy Schlageter's new salad startup offers Edinburgh's residents organically grown greens—foraged and assembled by Joy and delivered in her wicker bike basket. "It started because I realized that in Edinburgh you simply can’t get a good salad, or I suppose what I envision as a salad, they are always just a bit uninspiring," Schlageter told interviewer Sarah Mitchell. For the full story, see Freunde von Freunden.


    Above: Schlageter, who learned about The Secret Garden through a sustainable farming course, forages for fresh greens in the 7.5-acre garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh.


    Above: "It is about keeping in tune with the seasons and connecting people with the land and where their food truly comes from—making the supply chain as short as possible and making wholesome, locally sourced organic food accessible to people and not an impossible idea," says Schlageter.

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    Mix and match is the mantra of disciples of The New Eclecticism. The Remodelista editors spent the week exploring stylish spaces that combine old and new, rough and sleek, and romantic minimalism. Now we want the look too:

    Le Marche St George Vancouver table setting ; Gardenista

    Above: The family of artists who launched Le Marché St. George in Vancouver have just opened a shop online (featuring their own work among the offerings). Margot goes shopping and get us special gifts.

    Ikea Lerberg Trestles ; Gardenista  

    Above: Idaho-based blogger Jennifer Hagler of A Merry Mishap and her husband (parents of two) re-imagined an Ikea trestle table, to create a serene and kid-free office space in the corner of their bedroom. See how they did it in Steal This Look: An Instant Bedside Table.

    Tivoli Hotel Brice and Helen Marden upstate New York ; Gardenista  

    Above: What happens when two blue-chip artists take over an upstate New York hotel? Suddenly we're seeing life in technicolor, at Brice and Helen Marden's Tivoli Hotel.

    Kaico tea kettle enamelware white ; Gardenista

    Above: Let's February (it's a verb now, and it means "put the kettle on for another cup of tea"). Alexa has rounded up 10 Easy Pieces: Classic Teakettles to keep us warm until spring.

    herb-wall-kitchen ; Gardenista

    Above: We're so obsessed with Julie's hand-chopped pesto that we need a limitless supply; we're happy to see she took our demands seriously by sleuthing 6 Kitchens with Built-In Herb Gardens.

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    Have a look at a few things we loved this week.

    woodland tepee retreat ; Gardenista

    succulents growing guide indoors outdoors ; Gardenista

    Succulents windowsill ; Gardenista

    • Above: It's spring somewhere. Photograph by Alicia Paulson. 
    • Today is the last day you'll wait for bananas to ripen. 

    Instagram and Pinterest Pick of the Week

    fields and forest seedlings lettuce flats ; Gardenista

    Gardenista Pinterest Pick of the Week: New York Botanical Gardens

    • Above: Take a tour of Botanical Gardens Around the World in The New York Botanical Gardens's Pinterest board

    Gardens are powerful; take a look at Drought Week and then fight global warming. Curious about the week on Remodelista? Read about The New Elclecticism

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    Nominated for an Academy Award for her leading role in Still Alice, actress Julianne Moore has a townhouse garden in Manhattan's West Village that takes advantage of city shade and dampness with a wall of leafy staghorn ferns.

    That's precisely the climate in which staghorn ferns—they've been enjoying a moment as indoor houseplants for a while now—thrive. We've been admiring their strikingly sculptural look outdoors, as well, since we first spotted Moore's garden in Architectural Digest. Here's how to get the look:

    N.B.: For more photos of the garden, go to Architectural Digest.

    staghorn ferns | gardenista

    Above: Moore's staghorn ferns, mounted on boards painted black to match the trim on her townhouse, are grouped like antler trophies on the brick wall. Staghorn ferns thrive in the low filtered light that Moore's garden enjoys.

    staghorn fern on a brick wall via Gardenista

    Above: A 12-inch Staghorn Fern Plaque is $44.95 at Wind and Weather. A mounted Staghorn Fern is $39 from Paxton Gate.

    Julianne Moore Manhattan Garden Architectural Digest ; Gardenista

    Above: Julianne Moore in her garden.

    staghorn fern leaf closeup via Gardenista

    Above: Platycerium bifurcatum prefers, if left to its own devices, to grow on trees in rainforests. It can survive outdoors in temperatures ranging from 40 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In other climates, shelter it indoors when necessary. Image via Terrain.

    Julianne Moore backyard garden Manhattan ; Gardenista

    Above: Moore's backyard has a bluestone patio surrounded by a mix of shady plants, like boxwood, and a low stone retaining wall. 

    For more of Julianne Moore's house, see:

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    N.B.: This is an update of a post published May 22, 2012.

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    Coco Chanel believed that a woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future. We feel the same way about gardens.

    Join us for a week of celebrating scent, as we track down a Parisian florist's favorite fragrant flowers, stylish rose arbors, and white jasmine to perfume a jet black garden.

    Table of Contents: The Power of Scent ; Gardenista

    Above: Michelle's next door neighbor Linda has a fragrant 'Pat Austin' rose you can smell over the fence. For more of Linda's garden, see Garden Visit: The Hobbit Land Next Door.


    jet black garden London townhouse backyard ; Gardenista

    Above: We visit a jet black London townhouse garden perfumed by white jasmine in this week's Before & After post. Meanwhile, see 51 images of Dramatic Black And White Gardens in the Gardenista Gallery.



    Above: Are you ready for roses? Now is the time to put in an order for spring, and we've rounded up ten of the most fragrant—and hardy—old roses, with a little help from our favorite Parisian florist, in this week's 10 Easy Pieces.


    Miss Pickering's Flowers, Stamford, England. Gardenista

    Above: We have step-by-step instructions for  11 fragrant DIY floral arrangements to fight the February blues in this week's Bouquet of the Week post. For more ideas, see Flowers from Miss Pickering.



    Above: We're fascinated by factory windows, so Janet is investigating the pros and cons (and prices) in this week's Hardscaping 101.


    Arbor with New Dawn rose seaside cottage ; Gardenista  

    Above: Michelle finds 11 entryway arbors that add Curb Appeal (fragrant rose optional) in this week's Roundup post.

    The Remodelista editors are starting their spring cleaning early with a week devoted to Clean Living. See what they're up to at Remodelista.

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    For a fashion designer in Fulham with a small townhouse backyard about 16 feet wide and 42 feet deep, London-based garden designer Charlotte Rowe came up with a plan to connect the garden visually with the interior spaces by using a dark palette of blacks and grays—lightened by fragrant white jasmine.

    Hardscape materials include black granite, dark-stained oak decking, and gray pebbles. The plant palette is limited to black and purple with accents of cream and limey-green. Let's take a look at how Rowe created a jet black garden perfumed by white jasmine: 

    Photography via Charlotte Rowe except where noted.


    Above: The living room is at the back of the house, so Rowe extended it into the garden with a dark-stained oak deck at the same elevation as the interior room.



    Above: An interior remodel had left the backyard looking like a construction site, with overgrown vines and a falling-down fence, giving Rowe the opportunity to start from scratch.

    The Plan


    Above: Rowe relied on hardscape materials to create a black backdrop punctuated by dashes of greenery.



    Above: The view from the house. Beyond the dark oak terrace is black granite, with black polished pebbles, and a dark gray fence that surrounds the space. For a similar gray as the fence, consider Benjamin Moore's Gravel Gray, and for more inspiration see Shades of Gray: Architects' Favorite Exterior Paint Picks.

    Chinese star jasmine ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Chinese Garden.

    On the fence is Chinese star jasmine (Trachlespermum jasminoides) a strongly fragrant vine with evergreen leaves.


    Above: The formally clipped shrubbery in cubist planters contrasts with the loose perimeter plantings at the base of the fence.


    Above: In the back of the garden, a table and benches for seating draws the eye to a distant destination. Along the back fence is planted a stand of black-stemmed bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).

    Black mondo grass; Gardenista

    Above: Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens) is planted as a ground cover beneath clear-stemmed olive trees. Photograph by Brewbook via Flickr.


    Above: Outdoor lighting is another element that adds key visual interest. Rowe used a mix of subtle spotlights and dramatic up-lighting beneath the olive trees.


    Above: A hardy lime green Japanese perennial grass (L) is Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'  and perennials such as Angelica gigas, Salvia nemorosa, and bulbs including ‘Queen of the Night’ tulips and 'Purple Sensation' alliums add purple accents throughout the growing season. For more of our favorite dark purple tulips, see Priceless Tulips: Yours for $25.


    Above Pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’ is planted along the fence.  

    For more, see:

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    Flower apps and plant ID tools keep getting better. Are you an amateur botanist, a hiker confronted by an unfamiliar tree on a trail, or a gardener who snaps a photo of a mystery plant you'd like to grow? There's an app for that. Here's a roundup of 10 mobile apps to identify wildflowers, trees, and houseplants:

    Photography by Finding Species via Leafsnap.


    Leafsnap flower app ID plants and leaves ; Gardenista

    Above: From Top to Bottom are Chinese Fringetree, Chinese Toon, and Chinkapin Oak.

    Leafsnap uses visual recognition software to identify all 185 tree species in the Northeastern US from photos of their leaves. (Coincidentally, Leafsnap was developed by my friend Peter Belhumeur, a researcher at Columbia University.) The high-resolution images were created by the conservation organization. Finding Species.


    An interactive plant ID app, Pl@ntNet allows you to take photos of plant parts (such as bark, leaf, or flower) and upload them to compare with images in the app's botanical databases to find the closest matches. Developed by French researchers, the app's databases contain 3,700 species found in French.


    An app to identify Florida wildflowers, filtering them by such characteristics as number of petals and bloom color, Flowerida is 99 cents and optimized for iPhone 5.

    Says developer Eric Beard, "So far I have only visited parks and preserves within a few hours of Tampa, so the images are a good sample of what’s common in Southwest Florida.  I have 92 images in the app so far, with another dozen or so that I’ve identified but haven’t added yet. And beyond that I have about a dozen that I can’t identify, despite digging through a giant stack of wildflower books."


    Above: From Top to Bottom are Cornelian Cherry, Cucumbertree Magnolia, and Downy Serviceberry.

    SMM Wildflowers

    The Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California has 250 square miles of parks and open space preserves and is one of the most popular destinations in the state for hikers. If you're one of them, become a botanist for the day. Download the National Park Service's free SMM Wildflowers app, which has more than 7,500 photos to help you identify 1,000 rare and common plants that grow in the area.

    (Most recently updated in March 2014 to add 200 new photos and 11 new plants to the database, SMM Wildflowers is compatible with both iPhones and iPads.)

    Garden Compass Plant/Disease Identifier

    With free app Garden Compass Plant/Disease Identifier, you can take a photo of a problem plant—a yellow leaf, a troubling spot, a scaly stem—and upload it to ID the disease and get recommendations for curing it. Updated in March 2014, version 1.2 requires iOS 6.0 or later.

    Audobon Wildflowers

    A series of 23 mobile app Audobon Guides on flora and fauna includes Audobon Wildflowers, a comprehensive field guide to North American wildflowers. The app costs $4.99 (of which 8 percent of the price goes to support Audubon's conservation efforts to protect endangered birds and wildlife. 


    Above: From Top to Bottom, Edible Fig, Empress Tree, and English Elm. 

    The Ultimate Guide to House Plants

    The Ultimate Guide to House Plants is free but a $3.99 expansion pack is necessary to unlock all its features. The app has more than 1,000 photos to help you ID and care for houseplants. Updated in January 2014, it requires iOS 6.1 or later.


    Developed for Android, FlowerChecker is a plant ID service that allows you to upload a photo and have it identified by a team of humans who charge $1 per identification (one free trial per user).


    PlantSnapp's, developed by a 23-year-old UK-based amateur botanist, relies on a network of horticultural experts to identify more than 6,000 plants through photos you upload—and recommend a UK nursery that stocks it.

    leafsnap ID flower app ; Gardenista

    Above: From Top to Bottom, Sweet Bay Magnolia, Sweetgum, and Swiss Pine.


    Updated in March 2014, free NatureGate requires no Internet connection after you download a Flower Identification Tool for more than 700 species. For $2.99 apiece, you can add on bird, fish, and butterfly identification tools. For our review of the app, see DIY: ID Plants and Flowers, There's an App for That.

    For more Garden Tech, see:

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    The Scenario: A 3,140-square-foot lot in Brooklyn's Gowanus neighborhood (home to one of the country's most polluted waterways and notorious for its toxic stench) was sending tens of thousands of gallons of rainwater runoff into the city's sewer system and the nearby Gowanus Canal every year.

    The Challenge: To transform the Gil Hodges Community Garden into an eco-friendly neighborhood gathering spot that also filters and reuses storm water.

    The Solution: London-based perfume maker Jo Malone teamed up with environmentalists and NY-based landscape architect Jason Yadlovski to create a fragrant community garden that attracts butterflies—planted with daphnes, sweet bay magnolia trees, and salvia—with raised vegetable beds and hardscaping to filter and capture rainwater.

    The new garden has both a meandering fragrance walk in honor of its sponsor and an extensive rain catchment system to divert 150,000 gallons of water from the canal. Let's take a walk around:

    Photography by Rob Stephenson except where noted.

    Jo Malone Fragrance Garden in Gowanus Brooklyn on Gardenista

    Above: Overseen by the non-profit New York Restoration Project, the makeover includes raised beds, decomposed granite pavers, and a bioswale, a landscaping element that diverts rainwater. The curbside bioswale, located along Denton Place, neutralizes harmful runoff, and cultivates native species. 

    For more about bioswales, see Every Garden Needs a Wetland.



    Above: Photograph via Jason Yadlovski.

    Here's how the park looked before restoration and after contamination by Hurricane Sandy's floodwater in 2012.


    emi-permeable pavers at Jo Malone Fragrance Garden in Gowanus Brooklyn on Gardenista

    Above: During spring, volunteers coordinate the planting of squash, tomatoes, and herbs, and the harvest is shared with anyone who helps, including nearby restaurant Runner & Stone


    Above: Photograph via Jason Yadlovski.

    The garden is also an everyday urban oasis designed for yoga, reading, and relaxing. A birch reading grove and patio are tantalizing escapes.


    Above: Photograph via Jason Yadlovski.

    Stepping stones, made from the site's existing concrete, lead visitors on a fragrance walk, inspired by sponsor Jo Malone, an Estée Lauder-owned company. 


    Above: Photograph via Jason Yadlovski.

    The fragrance walk takes visitors past a strongly scented variegated daphne (L).

    salvia at jo malone fragrance garden in gowanus brooklyn on gardenista

    Above: A bed of of salvia attracts butterflies and bees.

    Above: Gil Hodges Community Garden is at 534 Carroll Street, about three blocks away from the Gowanus Canal. An art and music program will resume in spring. Events are open to the public and free of charge. Check the calendar here.   

    Interested in exploring the greener side of New York City? See:

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    We're always on the lookout for inspiring ideas, even in a restaurant bathroom. Our favorite midday LA haunt, Joan's on Third, happens to have one of our favorite restrooms anywhere: back and white, with purple flowers.

    Here are some ideas for recreating the look at home.

    Photography by Laure Joliet.


    Above: Scabiosa and white lisianthus fill an enamel pitcher.

    Scabiosa and blueberry ; Gardenista

    Above: For bouquet of scabiosa that's so easy to arrange it will look like you didn't, see DIY: Alliums Three Ways.


    Above: A study in black and white: the bathroom at Joan's on Third.

    Perfect powder room drawer pulls ; Gardenista

    <>Above: Ceramic drawer pulls on a powder-coated steel cabinet; for something similar, consider a steel cabinet from KNF Designs, available through Empiric Studio.

    Le Labo 26 Santal candle ; Gardenista

    Above: It all starts with the woodsy scent of Le Labo's Santal 26 candle, "An aristocratic scent, smoky and leathery"; $70.

    Waterworks Flyte one hole faucet ; Gardenista

    Above: The Low Profile Deck-Mounted Lavatory Faucet from Waterworks' Flyte line is $675; simple elegance worth the investment.

    Vintage porcelain cabinet knobs ; Gardenista

    Above: For similar cabinet pulls, consider the Reproduction Antique Knobs from Paxton Hardware; $1.60 each. For the ultimate porcelain cabinet pulls, go to Whitechapel Hardware.

    Sockerart Ikea enamel vase ; Gardenista

    Above: Ikea's Sockerart Vase is made of enameled steel; available in three sizes at prices starting at $9.99; also consider the Emile Henry Urban Pitcher in Nougat ($50 at Amazon) and consult 10 Easy Pieces: Classic White Ceramic Pitchers.

    Black and white pennyround bathroom tile ; Gardenista

    Above: Above: Classic Series Glazed 1.5-Inch Hex Tile is $11.95 per square foot, available in black and white, at Hex Tile.

    Ribba frames Ikea ; Gardenista

    Above: Display a trio of artwork with the black Ribba Frame; $9.99 each from Ikea.

    Brendan Ravenhill dustbin ; Gardenista

    Above: Support local artisans; consider the multi-functional Dustbin by LA-based Brendan Ravenhill; it's a trash can with a detachable lid that doubles as a dust pan; $250 from Brendan Ravenhill.

    Perfect powder room black frame mirror ; Gardenista

    Above: We'd hang it sideways: Ikea's Hemnes Mirror in black-brown for $44.99.

    For more simple floral arrangements for a powder room, see:

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    Our favorite Parisian florist in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is Odorantes, where flowers are arranged by scent. Where better to turn for a list of the 10 most fragrant roses to grow this year? 

    Many of Odorantes' favorites are old roses—thorny shrubs and stubborn climbers with blowsy blooms that look best when they're past their prime and ready to drop their petals.  Their histories can be traced across centuries, when their ancestors came from China and Persia.

    With spring a few weeks away, it's time to place orders for roses for this year's garden (many sellers start shipping in March). We've rounded up sources to buy Odorantes' favorites—plus a few of our own—to come up with a list of 10 fragrant garden roses: 

    Photography via Odorantes except where noted.


    Above: The five-petaled dog rose, or Rosa canina, is a shrubby wild rose that grows in hedgerows. There are nearly two dozens species. Eglanteria 'Sweet Briar Rose' has leaves that smell like apples; the scent was familiar to Shakespeare; $19.95 apiece from The Antique Rose Emporium.


    Above: If you are looking for the exuberant ruffly rose called Cuisse de Nymphe Emue (which translates to "Thigh of the Passionate Nymph"), it is often called Great Maiden's Blush in English.

    A disease-free 8-foot climbing rose whose history can be traced back at least to 1400, it belongs to the Alba family. "The Albas, as a group, have the most refined perfumes of just about any of the European antiques and Great Maiden's may just have the most refined fragrance of the class," says Rogue Valley Roses, which offers Great Maiden's Blush for $19.95 apiece. 

    Fragrant old rose Tango ; Gardenista

    Above: An apricot rose with a strong fragrance is The Lady Gardener ($29.95), a very hardy medium shrub From David Austin's English rose collection which will flower repeatedly during the course of a season.


    Above: Photograph via Rozarium.

    'Louise Odier' is a Bourbon bush rose with 4-inch blooms that are "blessed with exquisitely rich perfume." It's $26 from Heirloom Roses; order now to ship in March. 


    Above: Jacques Cartier is a hardy Portland shrub rose bred in 1868 that will grow to a diameter of 4 by 3 feet. It's available from David Austin Roses that has a "very strong, rich fragrance" and is $20.95 apiece.

    Old Blush rose ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Robin McKinley.

    A shrub rose that blooms repeatedly, Old Blush Rose has a sweet, fresh fragrance. A bare-root Old Blush Rose is $19.95 from Roses of Yesterday, which notes: "Many people believe it to be the rose Thomas Moore wrote of in his song, 'The Last Rose of Summer'."  

    Madame Pierre Oger rose ; Gardenista

    Above: 'Madame Pierre Ogier' is a strongly fragrant, medium size Bourbon shrub rose with silvery pink blooms; £14.50 from David Austin UK.


    Above: Introduced in 1877, Madame Gabrielle Luizet may be grown either as a shrub or a short climber (and will reach a height of up to 8 feet). It is $17.95 from Rogue Valley Roses.


    Above: Photograph via Alex Waterhouse Hayward.

    'Madame Isaac Pereire' is a shrub rose bred by Garcon in 1881 and named after the wife of a Parisian banker; $19.95 from The Antique Rose Emporium.


    Above: With a bloom color that can fluctuate from deep crimson to purple depending on growing conditions and light scent, 'Charles de Mills' is a Gallica shrub rose introduced in the late 18th century; £14.50 from David Austin UK.

    Old roses are often used in potpourri and for culinary purposes. Their petals make delicious teas, syrups, and cakes. For some of our favorite recipes and DIY ideas, see:

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    The bathtub that launched a homegrown apothecary business? It's not as far-fetched as it sounds.

    For Briar Winters, the woman behind the lower Manhattan-based online apothecary shop Marble & Milkweed, a soak in an East Village masseuse's claw foot tub inspired a search for an apartment with a tub of her own. Briar placed an ad on Craigslist, and in a twist of fate that seems reserved for life in New York City, she got a message about a tenement-style walkup—with a tub in the kitchen.

    Little did she know, this tub would become the inspiration for a career change and a homegrown business. A pastry chef by training—Briar worked at the Swedish restaurant Aquavit for years—she got in the habit of taking a nightly bath to relieve muscles sore after a long shift.

    Influenced by her background in Scandanavian pastry, Briar blended her favorite flavors from the kitchen—rose and cardamom and vanilla—into botanical-based remedies to sooth achy shoulders. What began as experiments in her own wellness led to sharing her concoctions with others. Sugar scrubs were some of her earliest products (See: Marble & Milkweed: Rose & Chamomile Facial Scrub), followed by a line of blended teas, nourishing body oils, serums and perfumes for sale today in her online shop.

    Photography by Erin Boyle.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: Briar in her studio.

    Briar's ingredients are certified organic and fair trade and heavily inspired by the garden. Briar's been in New York City for 13 years but grew up in Washington state with an apple orchard and family garden. In New York, she and her boyfriend maintain an 8-by-5-foot garden plot in the East Village where Briar's currently working on a native plants project with one of the garden's founders.

    In March of 2013, Briar moved her home operation into a studio space where she concocts and packages her line of Marble & Milkweed products. On the day I visited, the air itsmelled like the ginger and mint tea. And later? The ginger, rose, and cardamom Briar mixed for a specially blended bath salt. Make your own version with our DIY: Rose, Cardomom, and Ginger Soak.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: Briar Winters at work with her mortar and pestle.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: Bottles await sterilization.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: Samples from the Marble & Milkweed collection.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: Amber bottles of Nourishing Body Oil ($28 for a 2-ounce bottle).

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: A shade for protecting light-sensitive concoctions.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: Marble & Milkweed's hand-blended Teas. For the indecisive, consider a Tea Sampler with four blends of your choice for $8.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: Every studio needs a proper tea cart. We're especially fond of the seeded eucalyptus and succulents keeping the teapot company.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: Briar in the studio, braids tucked elegantly out of her way.

    shopper's diary: marble and milkweed | gardenista

    Above: An inspiration board of sorts with printed Instagram photos, including a shot of the bathtub that started it all (second from Left).


    Above: String lights and sheer curtains warm up Briar's industrial workspace.

    Everybody needs pampering in winter. Here are a few of our favorite scented remedies:

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    In the mood for a virtual tour? See all of our Shopper's Diary posts. 

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    We've got a plan for the wintertime flowers currently on offer from your neighborhood florist (or supermarket). We've made 11 easy DIY bouquets, each guaranteed to fill a room with the scent of spring:

    DIY bouquet floral arrangement white cherry blossoms ; Gardenista

    Above: Erin believes in The Magical Powers of White Cherry Blossoms. Her arguments are persuasive.

    James's daughter flowers DIY floral arrangement ; Gardenista

    Above: If you inherited a fussy cut-glass vase from your grandmother, Lisa Przystup of James's Daughter Flowers has a plan for rehabilitating it. See her step-by-step instructions in DIY: Reclaiming an Outmoded Vase.

    DIY bouquet sweetpeas lilacs tulip ; Gardenista

    Above: Justine tracks down the earliest lilacs of the season for this bouquet (and she couldn't resist adding a supermarket tulip for a dash of unexpected lipstick color). To recreate the look, see DIY: Ode to Early Spring Bouquet.

    DIY fragrant winter bouquet ; Gardenista

    Above: A "sweetly scented, soft and subtle" bouquet is perfumed by tuberose, says Erin, who puts together this DIY Winter Floral Arrangement using jasmine, dusty miller, and feathery grasses.

    DIY winter bouquet silver brunia ; Gardenista

    Above: For winter romance in a vase, see Justine's DIY: Silver Brunia Bouquet.

    DIY gardenia paperwhites bouquet ; Gardenista

    Above: Sophia mixes the floral perfumes of gardenias and paperwhites with the earthier herbal scent of geranium leaves in this easy DIY Winter White Arrangement.


    Above: Justine brings home an armload of flowers and figures out how to extend her floral arrangement's life to last all week. See the day-by-day progression in DIY: The Evolving Floral Arrangement.


    Above: Erin fills her tiny apartment with the haunting scent of Lily of the Valley, a flower exchanged in France to celebrate the start of May. See the easy instructions in her Bouquet of the Week: Posies of Lily of the Valley.

    Miss Pickering Flowers Stamford England ; Gardenista

    Above: Kendra visits the heart of Middle England and finds Miss Pickering in "outrageously pretty town" where her flower business thrives on word of mouth. See how Miss Pickering puts together her favorite fragrant bouquets in Shopper's Diary: Flowers from Miss Pickering.

    DIY bouquet lilacs spirea ; Gardenista

    Above: With three varieties of fragrant lilacs and some stems of bridal wreath spirea, Erin creates a Great Gatsby Floral Arrangement Inspired by Daisy Buchanan

    DIY anemones bouquet ; Gardenista

    Above: When Erin sees a bunch of late-winter black and white anemones at her local florist, she can't resist splurging. See how she arranges them to look effortless in Bouquet of the Week: Black and White Anemones.

    For more winter floral inspiration, see:

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    Spotted and admired in Ikea's new spring collection, a glass greenhouse cabinet to house your plants outdoors or in:

    Ikea Hindo greenhouse cabinet ; Gardenista

    Above: Made of powder coated galvanized steel with glass doors, a gray Hindö Greenhouse Cabinet measures 56 3/4 inches high and 24 3/4 inches wide; $99 (currently available in US stores but not online).

    Ikea Hindo greenhouse cabinet ; Gardenista

    Above: The greenhouse cabinet has five shelves, three with adjustable heights. Each shelf will hold up to 50 pounds. The cabinet's feet also adjust to enable the greenhouse to stand level on an uneven surface.

    For more of Ikea's new collection for 2015, see:

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    Last week Michelle inspired us with 11 Facades with Factory Windows. The aesthetic harkens back to the greenhouses, factories, and warehouses of the 19th century. And their elegant, narrow sightlines offer unobstructed views, blurring the lines between indoors and out. What's not to like? They're expensive, for starters.

    Read on for everything you need to know about steel factory windows:

    Steel Factory Windows and Doors, Gardenista

    Above: A steel-framed window wall and folding doors blur the boundary between indoors and out, effectively doubling the living space. A project by Design of Wonder of Melbourne, it is featured in Steal This Look: Black and White Indoor/Outdoor Terrace. Photograph via Design of Wonder

    What are the benefits of steel frame windows?

    • Due to the material's strength, steel windows have very slender sightlines. A minimal amount of framing material is needed for structural integrity, offering clean and clear views. 
    • Steel frame windows span architectural styles, working well in both traditional and modern houses. 
    • All corners and joints of steel windows are welded, galvanized, and powder coated, forming an unbroken surface around the frame.
    • Extremely durable, steel frames are resistant to decay, weather, and fire. They are galvanized (coated with a layer of zinc at very high temperatures) to prevent corrosion. 
    • Unlike wood, steel window frames do not contract and expand in response to weather conditions.
    • Require minimal upkeep compared with wood windows and doors.

      Steel Factory Windows and Doors, Gardensita

    Above: The framing around industrial style steel doors can be pencil thin (unlike wood, which requires a large beam to support a door). London portrait photographer Abi Campbell's kitchen renovation included new steel frame doors and windows with large openings to bring in as much light as possible to the north-facing room. Photograph by Matt Clayton

    To learn more about the project, see Reader Rehab: A Photographer's Kitchen in London

    Steel Factory Windows and Doors, Gardenista  

    Above:  Requiring minimal framework, steel windows are a great solution for open corner windows, such as this steel entry door and surround. Photograph via Portella Iron Doors.  

    Steel Factory Windows, Gardenista

    Above: In a Brooklyn renovation, Elizabeth Roberts Design/Ensemble Architecture opened up the back of the house with a double-height wall of windows that includes an indoor/outdoor dining room with the open feel of a greenhouse. The entire window slides open to create a double-wide opening to the garden. The windows are custom powder-coated steel from Optimum Window in Ellenville, NY. Photograph by Dustin Aksland

    For a full tour, see Indoor/Outdoor Living, Brooklyn Style.

    Are steel frame windows energy efficient? 

    Bottom line is that metal is a poor insulator, and the thin steel and single sheet steel factory windows of the past did little to keep out the cold. The good news is that 21st century technology has caught up, and you can get the same historic looks with better materials and thermal efficiency.  

    Steel windows are available with insulated glazing panels; two or more pieces of glass are spaced apart and sealed, leaving an insulating air space. Another new technology called thermal breaks (whereby a material is placed between the inside and outside window frames to prevent thermal energy loss), common in aluminum windows, is available in steel windows. Steel fabricators will point out that steel itself has good insulating properties as compared to aluminum and thermal breaks may not be necessary. In fact, there are steel frame windows that meet LEED standards. Refer to fabricators' websites for details.

    Another consideration is that many fabricators roll their steel windows from 100 percent recycled steel. And, the new product can also be recycled at the end of its long life.

    Steel Windows and Doors, Gardenista

    Above: Like any window, the glass in steel framed windows can be UV-coated to protect indoor furnishings and art from sun exposure. Steel framed windows and doors lead to an outdoor dining pavilion in a Shelter Island project by Schappacher White.

    Are there different styles of steel windows?

    Steel windows are available in a range of looks from factory-style with a floor to ceiling collection of panes, to Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired style (his Falling Water House famously used steel windows), to a modern minimalist look with large panes of glass supported by pencil-thin sleek steel frames.

    Steel windows are available in a multitude of operable variations including: casement, in-swing, out-swing, awning, horizontal pivoting, vertical pivoting, folding, and hopper.

    Steel Factory Windows, Gardenista

    Above: A wall of old-style factory windows in a Seattle studio called "The Brain" by Olson Kundig Architects.

    Steel Windows and Doors Hess Hoen Architects, Gardenista

    Above: Steel doors are not commonly offered as sliders (Euroline does offer sliding pocket steel doors). Those seeking a full open outdoor wall experience, as in this project by Sydney-based Hess Hoen Architects, often go with folding steel doors.

    Gray Steel Doors to Garden, Gardenista

    Above: Not always black, gray factory-style doors complement their adjacent gardens at Patina Farms in Ojai (L), and in a Brooklyn townhouse garden (R) by architect Steven Harris

    How much do steel frame windows cost?

    Steel frame windows are expensive. Like many aspects of a home remodeling, steel window pricing is very site specific. Is it a single window replacement? A full remodel? Custom or standard sizing? The best way to estimate cost is to get a quote from your contractor or window supplier. In general, expect prices to be at least double that of wood, more than aluminum, but less than bronze. Remember to balance the cost with the longevity (we just had to replace a full wall of 15-year-old weather-worn wood windows) and other attributes.

    Steel Windows, Gardenista  

    Above: In this Mill Valley kitchen remodel, architect Brett Terpeluk, of Studio Terpeluk, added floor-to-ceiling casement windows, which flood the kitchen with natural light. Originally, the idea was to have custom window frames made of blackened steel with a wax finish, but the clients opted for a low-maintenance—and less expensive—alternative: Bonelli Series 700 frames of anodized aluminum with a bronze finish. Photograph by Joe Fletcher.

    Where can I buy steel factory-style windows?

    Beware of cheap imitators. Suppliers of fabricated windows and doors that come highly recommended by several architects and builders include: 

    • Crittall. This venerable company founded in 1889 in the UK has provided windows and doors to Yale University, Walter Gropius, and the New York Botanical Gardens. 
    • Dynamic Architectural Windows and Doors
    • Hope's. Located in Jamestown, NY, Hope's makes top-of-the-line steel and bronze windows and doors.
    • Bliss Nor-Am. This Rochester, NY/Canada-based company makes high-quality, beautifully detailed powder-coated metal doors and windows. 

    Steel Windows and Doors, Gardenista

    Steel Factory Style Door Atelier Domingue, Gardenista  

    Above: Shown here are custom steel frame doors from the Atelier Domingue Architectural Metalcrafts line.

    Can I use reclaimed steel factory windows?

    Yes! Reclaimed steel factory windows can be found at architectural and design salvage yards. Keep in mind that the price of fabulous vintage looks may include needed repairs and re-coating.  

    Reclaimed Steel Factory Windows, Gardenista  

    Above: Reclaimed steel factory windows found architectural supply yards, such as Recycling the Past, cannot, obviously, be customized to your setting; rather, your setting may need to be customized to fit them. 

    Steel Frame Windows Recap


    • Strong
    • Slim sightlines
    • Work with a range of architectural styles
    • Durable and long lasting
    • Low maintenance


    • Expensive
    • Heavy
    • Not the best choice in climates near salt water. More protection and proper finishing is required to prevent airborne salt corrosion 

    Steel Windows and Doors, Gardenista  

    Above: A renovated San Francisco garden by Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture viewed through ceiling-height steel sash windows. "We wanted a garden form that would be harmonious with the contemporary style of the windows," says Lewis. For a better look at the garden, see Scott Lewis Turns a Small SF Backyard into an Urban Oasis.

    For more window and door inspiration, see:

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