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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    Joel and Diane Schatz have photos (circa 1927) of their Mill Valley, California, house that show a garden party in progress under a great canopy of wisteria, with guests in party hats posed against a backdrop of pampered rhododendrons, camellias, and holly. This is not how the place looked the first time the Schatzes saw it 75 years later.

    "It was a wreck," Mr. Schatz recalled the other day. The "lawn" consisted of hard-packed clay covered in cat droppings, the rhododendrons were strangled by overgrown vines, and the redwood house—subdivided into five apartments after World War II—was a mess. The Schatzes took one look and bought the place on the spot.

    Photography by Marla Aufmuth.

    Above: The Schatzes rebuilt the house—and the garden, with the help of San Anselmo, California-based garden designer Jan Gross of Heritage Landscapes.

    Above: The effect of mixing different textures and leaf colors is to create a serene retreat. Photographer Marla Aufmuth got stuck in traffic and rushed through the gate 30 minutes late; her first words were, "Well, at least I arrived in paradise."

    For a sprawling kitchen garden designed to accommodate gardeners in wheelchairs, see A Garden With No Obstacles.

    Above: What prompted the Schatzes to take on such a huge project? The 5,000-square-foot house did have a few things going for it. Like many of the earliest homes built in Mill Valley, which got its start as a summer retreat for San Franciscans, it is situated on a gentle ridge a few hundred feet above a picturesque downtown square. The house has dead-on views of Mt. Tamalpais, in whose shadow the town was built. And underneath the tangle of undergrowth, the Schatzes suspected, there might lie the bones of a magnificent garden.

    Above: They were right. The property is ringed by towering redwood trees; as the sun moves overhead, a mix of light and shadow create vignettes of color and texture throughout the garden.

    The first steps Ms. Gross took were to amend and enrich the soil, which also aided drainage, and to rescue through judicious pruning established plants, including century-old rhododendrons (above), camellias, and wisteria vines. Shaping the old shrubs into "trees," she created "trunks" and culled the branches to allow air and light to circulate.

    Above: All the windows, doors, and shingles on the house are from a single reclaimed redwood tree from Mendocino County. On a slope near the house, Ms. Gross planted mondo grass, baby tears, and one of many Japanese maple trees whose leaves punctuate the garden with a dramatic burst of color.

    Above: A weeping cedar grows against the house. The one-acre private garden, open to visitors last month during a convention of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, is on the largest lot in downtown Mill Valley. The original owner, a congregational minister, dubbed the property "Crown Point," a name the Schatzes still use.

    Above: A hundred-year-old holly true was pruned from within to retain its shape while allowing air and light to circulate. For a shade garden planting scheme, see Design Sleuth: The Ultimate Shade Garden.

    Above: A patio area gets mid-day sun.

    Above: A creek runs through the property.

    Above: Ms. Gross routed the stream to lead to a fish pond and lined the path with ferns and plants with tropical foliage to enhance the property's natural feeling of being in a jungle.

    For more Rehab Diaries, see:

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    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published October 15, 2012 as part of our coverage of West Marin and Beyond.

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    French design collective Compagnie has figured out a way for you to have a window box even if you don't have a window. Founded 12 years ago by architect Jean-François Bellemère, Compagnie makes clever indoor garden accessories for small spaces and urban dwellers.

    We're admiring this stylish three-tier hanging window box:


    Above: Made of varnished beechwood and steel, the Window Box holds up to nine plants and measures up to 118 inches high (with an adjustable cable) and 33.5 inches wide; it's £135 from Made in Design.

    Compagnie French hanging houseplant shelves ; Gardenista

    Above: The hanging planter has six rods and comes with 14 cable clamps; it can be suspended from a wall or ceiling.

    hanging houseplant planter shelves; Gardenista

    Above: The hanging planter is made to hold pots with a 9-inch diameter (pots and plants are not included).

    For more of our favorite pots and planters, see:

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    Can you fit an entire weekend into 150 square feet? Helsinki-based firm Verstas Architects figured out a way.

    Verstas designed a modern interpretation of a traditional Scandinavian getaway hut, sited on an island about 3 kilometers from the city center in Helsinki, Finland. The tiny cabin includes a kitchen, living room, and a sleeping loft. Feels like going to camp, in the best possible way:

    Photography via Verstas Architects.


    Above: Located on the island of Lauttasaari, the summer hut can be reached by car via a causeway or bridge. The island is heavily forested and feels distant from the city.


    Above: Front stoop, foraged.


    Above: Windows replace solid walls wherever possible to bring the surrounding forest indoors.


    Above: Two burners, and a view.


    Above: Sofas can be turned into beds to sleep three; a fourth bed is in the sleeping loft.

    For more of Scandinavian style cottages and cabins, see:

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    The New York Botanical Garden’s annual Orchid Show could not have come at a better time for snow-blind New Yorkers living at the cutting edge of the Siberian Express. When the exhibit opens tomorrow, they can catch another train—to the Bronx—to spend some hours thawing out in a fogged-up greenhouse paradise.

    Yesterday I got a preview as final preparations were underway for "Chandeliers," the theme of this year's show which features colorful hanging baskets of orchids:

    Photography by Marie Viljoen for Gardenista. 


    Above: An avenue of orchids, inside the botanical garden's Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.


    Above: Outdoors, the scene was less tropical.


    Above: Francisca Coelho designed this show, and is NYBG’s Vice President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions.

    The inspiration for “Chandeliers” was Floridian. In a private home there last year, Gregory Long, NYBG's President and CEO showed Ms. Coelho “a living chandelier.”  

    Canopy-dwelling orchids can be observed from below naturally, and the grand structure of the conservatory provides iron trees from which to suspend dozens of displays, conveniently lowered to within human height.


    Above: The tropical orchids cascading from the glass ceilings are members of the largest flowering family on earth, more than 30,000 species strong. The central chandelier holds 500 plants, including luminous white Phalaenopsis and electric yellow Oncidium tucked among lush ferns and moss.


    Above: Smaller hanging baskets of 35 plants each are suspended all over the conservatory. Despite their tropical origins, all the orchids in the exhibit are New York-grown, said Ms. Coelho. 


    Above: Many of the thousands of long orchid stems in the “Chandeliers” exhibit are individually staked for support, giving a sense of the intense labor and preparation required to mount a show of this scale.

    While these flamboyant flowers are often considered delicate and difficult to grow, “in their natural habitat many orchids are extreme plants, attaching themselves to trees in order to survive,” said Marc Hachadourian, the NYBG’s resident orchid expert and Director of the Nolan Greenhouses for Living Collections.  And the orchids on display here represent the familiar genera by now well-accustomed to humans and their habits.


    Above: For hopeful first-time orchid owners, the “Chandeliers” show is very encouraging: The interactive exhibit offers good advice for growing your own at home, highlighting what is necessary for their successful care and explaining the difference between Dendrobium and Cymbidium, Phalaenopsis and Epidendrum.


    Above: Oncidiums, tree dwellers known commonly as dancing ladies because of their ruffled skirt-like petals, are often perfumed. In the conservatory pockets of scent catch the snow-stunned visitor by surprise.


    Above: For success at home, most tropical orchids require less, rather than more water;  tepid water, not cold; good drainage and air circulation; a 50 percent diluted liquid fertilizer every three waterings, and a distinct fluctuation between day and night temperatures to produce flowers successfully.


    Above: A poster of the poem "Orchids" by Roethke stands in the snow at the show’s entrance: "They lean over the path / Adder mouthed..." Inside the humid conservatory the sinister beauty of Brassidium orchids bring these lines to life.


    Above: You can buy an orchid now—usually Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids—at big box stores for under $10 (orchids have overtaken poinsettias as Americans’ most popular potted plant). But the commercially grown orchid travels a long way in dollar terms.  

    In 1978 an orchid named Golden Emperor Sweet—a Phalaenopsis—sold for $100,000 at auction. It was a rare true yellow, and collectors with their eyes on its commercial potential went berserk. But “the orchid turned out to be a dud,” said Hachadourian. In orchid terms, it was shooting blanks. No offspring. Breeders turned elsewhere.


    Above: In Taiwan, the commercial heart of the international orchid trade, new orchid cultivars are kept jealously in locked and alarmed greenhouses, and fetch thousands of dollars because of their breeding prospects. And in commercial horticultural terms, last year’s orchid is as unsexy as an ancient iPhone. You must have the newest model. 


    Above: What effect will thousands of visitors have on thousands of orchids? In answer, Ms. Coelho presented the structure of a perfect Cymbidium. Its pollen is held not in individual grains but in a compact sac. If that is touched, the flower is stimulated into the consequences of pollination: the petals fold inwards, and it dies. Don’t touch the orchids.


    Above: The bright and transitory orchids are shown within the context of a permanent collection of plants. In the warmth of the glasshouse a climber in full bloom envelops a slender pillar: Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Madison' rockets up towards the icy light, oblivious of the true season. 


    Above: And if bromeliads—cousins of pineapples—are your thing, you will not leave disappointed. They are well represented beside the flagstone paths, along with ferns and baby’s tears and everything else that has nothing to do with winter.  

    “Chandeliers” opens to the public on Saturday 28th and runs until April 19. 

    By the time the show has ended, 7,000 orchid plants will have been on display.

    Above: For directions and hours, see NYBG.

    For more reasons to love orchids, see:

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    Pare down, clean out, de-clutter—and let in a blast of fresh air. Looking ahead to spring, the Remodelista editors spent a week picking white paint, comparing fold-out ironing boards, and writing love letters to the (not-so) humble cotton cleaning cloth: 

    Ikea wall mount hidden ironing board ; Gardenista

    Above: If Herman Melville were alive today, Moby Dick's plot would have revolved around a search for the elusive—perhaps mythical—perfect white fold-out ironing board. Julie harpoons six in Design Sleuth: 6 Sources for Built-In Ironing Boards

    White Dove paint swatch; Gardenista

    Above: Janet pinpoints the best shades of white paint in 10 Easy Pieces: Architects' White Paint Picks. (For us, it's White Dove all day long.)

      10 Best Architects' Favorite White Exterior Paints l Gardenista

    Above: And while we're on the subject, see our picks for exterior whites in 10 Easy Pieces: Architects' White Exterior Paint Picks

    erlin-house-remodel-by-Jacek-Kolasinski-Loft-via-Gessato ; Gardenista

    Above: In Berlin, Margot finds A Sexy, Minimalist Remodel that feels just right as we head toward springtime.

    paperwhite-bulbs-in-the-window ; Gardenista

    Above: Inspired by the Remodelista editors, Erin put away her printed tablecloths in favor of a neutral palette. See her winter windowsill in DIY: Bottle-Fed Paperwhites.

    Simple frame hang botanical art ; Gardenista

    Above: If your walls are ready for a mini makeover, Julie knows 6 Simple Ways to Hang Art.

    cloth coffee filters chemex ; Gardenista

    Above: The great debate: cloth coffee filters or no? Janet enters the fray with a well-considered opinion in Cloth Coffee Filters: Less Waste and Better Taste?

    If you're getting ready to air out the place for spring, the Remodelista editors have a week's worth of inspiration at Clean Living.

    Sign up for Gardenista Daily newsletter


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    Aside from exploring The Power of Scent, here are a few things we obsessed over this week. 

    Domup Treehouse | Gardenista

    Camille Styles Cardamon and Kumquat Mini Loaf | Gardenista

    • Above: Kumquat and Cardamon mini loaf is on the menu for weekend brunch. Photograph by Julia Gartland. 
    • Aspiring food stylists, take note. 

    King's Road Apothecary | Gardenista

    Carolyn Mullet 2015 Garden Tours | Gardenista

    Instagram and Pinterest Pick of the Week

    Gardenista Instagram Hashtag Project: #GardenistaTravels

    • Above: Gardenista is dedicating next week to inspiration we've gathered from our Instagram feed—and we're asking our reader to use the hashtag #GardenistaTravels to show us gardens from around the world. We'll publish our favorites next week. 

    Gardenista Pinterest Pick of the Week: Of A Kind

    Read more from this week in our Power of Scent issue—and head to Remodelista to see a slew of posts about Clean Living.  

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    Buell Steelman and Rebecca Sams are alums of Gardens, the groundbreaking landscape architecture design/build firm in Austin, Texas. A decade ago, they traded the heat of the Southwest for the cooler climes of the Pacific Northwest, moving to Eugene, Oregon, where they began their own landscape design/build company, Mosaic Gardens.

    The couple bought a ranch-style house (for its affordability, not charm) with a garden that was mostly concrete, located on a steep, sloping, narrow lot. Their own outdoor space promptly became Mosaic Gardens' first major project; read on to learn their secrets.

    Photography via Mosaic Gardens.


    Above: A Vietnamese urn filled with water flowers sits at the end of a straight pea gravel path flanked by stone.

    Steelman and Sams began with the hardscape before tackling the landscape, mapping out pathways and flow with emphasis on focal points seen from the house and other viewpoints on the property. They used a simple palette of materials, including basalt for the retaining walls, pea gravel for the paths, and galvanized corrugated metal for the fence.


    Above: A galvanized steel stock tank has been recycled to become a circular pond.


    Above: The stock tank is filled with water flowers such as lotus and water lilies in the summer months.



    Above: "When we purchased this former rental house, in South Eugene, Oregon, its neglected yard was a sloping, weed and concrete covered mess with little connection to the house," say Steelman and Sams.


    Above: The plan was to create a number of distinct garden "rooms" in the small space and to connect the garden to the house to improve indoor-outdoor flow. 



    Above: The entry to the home has foliage to create a backdrop to the garden and plants chosen for seasonal color and contrast.


    Above: Steelman and Sams note the importance of taking the house into consideration when designing a garden. The two should be connected and work together in the design.


    Above: One third of the garden is dedicated to food production. Edibles include artichokes (R).


    Above: The galvanized stock tank provides a focal point on a circular pea gravel path terrace. In the distance is the Vietnamese urn highlighted against the metal fence.


    Above: In the foreground is Eucomus 'Sparkling Burgundy'. Foliage is the foundation of the garden's color palette. Contrasting textures are also incorporated.


    Above: In a shaded bed, a Chinese dogwood with variegated leaves is a focal point.


    Above: A fruit orchard with a stone sphere built by Steelman. The austerity of the orchard sits in contrast to the rest of the garden. Corrugated roofing panels were used to build the fence, and its surface also serves as a great reflector of light.


    Above: A dry-stack basalt stone wall and stone staircase create a garden bed for a sculptural tree, underplanted with black mondo grass.

    Above; A collection of different sized containers is united visually because all are brown, planted with succulents including aloes and agave. The cluster of gradating heights provides a focal point at the entryway.

    For more of our favorite gardens in the Pacific Northwest, see:

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    There's a lot to be said for living vicariously in winter. Thanks to our Instagram feed, this week we're visiting Belgium's most beautiful edible garden, eating pop-up sushi in New York City, and reserving a charming Airbnb rental in Portugal. 

    Travel with us this week by tagging your own Instagram inspiration #GardenistaTravels to be included in our reader roundup on Friday.


    Above: Photograph by Pancho Tolchinksky for Gardenista. For more, see The Best Secret Garden in Barcelona.


    VegTrug Elevated Planter in Charcoal, Gardenista

    Above: This week we launch The Gardenista 100, a guide to the 100 most useful, beautiful products for the garden and outdoor living. We'll kick off the series with a Roundup of the best raised beds and accessories for Edible Gardens.



    Above: Discovered via Instagram, this week's Garden Visit takes us to a castle with a kitchen garden often called "Belgium's most beautiful garden." 


    white clematis curb appeal flowering vine ; Gardenista

    In this week's Curb Appeal post, we offer suggestions for nine ways to add curb appeal with flowering vines.



    Above: With springtime on its way, you may feel a familiar urge—to spruce up a facade with fresh paint, gutters, shutters, a new roof, or a stoop. Start with our Guide to Facades and Paint in this week's Hardscaping 101 post. Meanwhile, check out all our favorite paint colors in our Paints & Palettes archive.


    Above: We discover a new underground dining destination in NYC thanks to a tip from Instagram in this week's Restaurant Visit post.



    Above: You'd never know from the facade that this 200-year-old stone house in the mountains of Switzerland got a remodel. We visit it in our Outbuilding of the Week post.

    The Remodelista editors are traveling around the world—on Instagram. See all the destinations they've discovered on Instagram Getaways.

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    The most generous gardener we know is British landscape designer Arne Maynard. He keeps a diary and shares intimate snapshots of his Wales garden via his Instagram feed @arnemaynardgardendesign and online garden journal (where many of the photos are shot by the talented Britt Willoughby Dyer). 

    The result? A look at a year in the life of Allt-y-Bela, a very special garden: 

    Photography via @arnemaynardgardendesign except where noted. 



    Above: Photograph via Arne Maynard.

    Maynard lives at Allt-y-Bela, a restored 15th century tower house whose name means "high wooded hillside of the wolf." Approaching the house, a first tantalizing glimpse of Allt-y-Bela is framed by trees and yew topiaries.


    Above: Photograph via Arne Maynard.

    Maynard discovered the house in 2006, after he and his partner, dental surgeon William Collinson, decided to look for a new home near their parents. '"We came to look at it on one of those milky sunny days in late summer, and fell in love immediately," Maynard told the Telegraph.



    Above: A hedge of pleached crabapple trees (Malus 'Evereste') grows near the house, which Maynard painted a dramatic shade of ochre after finding the color on the facade beneath a layer of off-white paint that "looked harsh, like an envelope," he said.


    Above: In the kitchen garden, Maynard has a mix of edible and ornamental plants including corn (L), chives and lettuces (R), and potted primroses that line the path.

    arne-maynard-Primula_auricula_lining_borders_Britt_Willoughby_Dyer ; Gardenista

    Above: The pots of Primula auricula will spend winter on shelves sheltered from the weather.

    Designer Visit Arne Maynard's Kitchen Garden at Allt-y-Bela gardenista

    Above: "Heavy rain showers today" Maynard noted on October 9.


    Above: "I've had a busy afternoon tidying the kitchen garden for the start of our organic gardening course which starts tomorrow," Maynard wrote.


    Above: Photograph via Arne Maynard.

    First frost: December 1.



    Above: Photograph via Arne Maynard.

    In winter the structure of the kitchen garden is revealed. A hazel archway and woven fence have a pleasing symmetry even when nothing is growing.


    Above: Mid-January.


    Above: "Afternoon flurry of snow at Allt-y-Bela."


    Above: Hazel branches collected from nearby hedgerows are shaped into sturdy domes to support roses. Photograph via Arne Maynard.


    Above: "I've started chitting our seed potatoes today. Spring is just around the corner!" Maynard wrote February 20.


    Above: Sunrise promises spring.



    Above: Photograph via Arne Maynard.

    Drifts of snowdrops signal the arrival of spring.


    Above: Photograph via Arne Maynard.

    Witch hazel and snowdrops frame Allt-y-Bela.

    To see more of how the light in Wales plays off a garden, see:

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    Garden in a box. To kick off our new Gardenista 100 guide to the hundred best garden and outdoor products for 2015, we've rounded up our favorite elevated box planters.

    An elevated planter box is a solution for both big and small gardens. Put a single planter box on a small deck—or five in a row in a sunny backyard with lots of space but terrible soil:

    Tradewinds Planter | Gardenista

    Above: We spotted the elevated Cult Vege-tainer Planter from Belgian designer Tradewinds at this year's Maison de Objet show in Paris, where we fell for its ergonomic (and stylishly modern) design. Made of weather-resistant wood and galvanized steel, the raised bed planter is generously sized (it accommodates a 16-inch-deep bed of soil) and in a small space, it enables you to grow a salad on a balcony.

    The planter's 27.5-inch height makes it comfortable to tend a crop without stooping; for more information and prices see Tradewinds.

    VegTrug Elevated Planter in Charcoal, Gardenista

    Above: A solid wood VegTrug Patio Garden stained charcoal gray is $279 from Gardener's Supply.

    The planter's V-shape allows you to grow plants with deep roots (such as tomatoes) in the center, and shallow-rooted herbs and lettuces along the perimeter. The planter comes with plastic feet to protect the wood legs from wet surfaces.


    Above: From Belgian company Les Potagers De Thomas, a Table Garden (€210) made of hardwood and a fitted Wrought Iron Conservatory (€650) are sold separately. Both measure 19.6 inches square and are suitable for either outdoor or indoor use.


    Above: An Elevated Table Garden from MiniFarm Box made of untreated cedar has a lower storage shelf and is resistant to termites and rot. It measures 48 inches long by 24 inches wide by 36 inches tall; $229.

    Would you like to grow microgreens for salad? MiniFarm Box founder Conor Fitzpatrick offered 9 Tips to Grow Edible Microgreens in our Ask the Expert series.

    Farmer D raised bed cedar planter ; Gardenista

    Above: From Farmer D, a cedar Bed on Legs arrives with pre-drilled wood pieces ready for assembly (hardware included). It measures 48 inches long by 24 inches wide (other sizes are also available); $299.95.

    Babylone consold compagnie indoor planter raised bed garden ; Gardenista

    Above: From French design firm Compagnie, a Babylone Indoor Planter is the ultimate window planter. Made of lacquered steel, it has a removable aluminum plant tray and a fixed lower shelf. The planter is available in two colors including white and chocolate for £974 from Made in Design.

    Edible garden raised bed on wheels FoodMap ; Gardenista

    Above: Here's our favorite edible garden on wheels. A FoodMap Container is made of recycled milk jugs and sits atop a weather-resitant frame made of metal tubing. With heavy duty rubber casters, it's easy to push around; $128.

    For more about the FoodMap container, see our earlier post, An Edible Garden on Wheels.

    Are you planning to plant a portable kitchen garden this spring? For more on edible gardens, see:

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    It's been called the most beautiful vegetable garden in Belgium. We think this is an understatement.

    Kasteel van Heks' edible garden was created 240 years ago, on a gentle slope in Heers (about 70 miles southeast of Antwerp), and has been under cultivation ever since. We discovered it via the Instagram feed of talented UK-based photographer Jason Ingram:

    Photography via Kasteel van Heks except where noted.


    Above: "Kitchen garden perfection," @jasoningram wrote of this September view.

    Built in the late 18th century for the Prince-Bishop of Liège, Kasteel van Heks is currently owned by Count and Countess Stéphanie Ghislain d'Ursel. 


    Above: The original layout of the vegetable garden (at Left) was in the shape of a cross, inspired by the gardens at Versailles. In the 19th century, boxwood hedges and fancifully shaped borders gave way to a boxier shape to maximize the size of planting beds. In the 20th century, paths were widened to accommodate tractor wheels.

    "Despite these interventions, the garden's authenticity over the centuries has preserved; it is one of the few examples that, without interruption, for almost 250 years has been cultivated," the owners note.


    Above: The garden in early springtime (late in March).


    Above: Philippe Van den Bulck, the castle's vegetables chef, harvests mid-summer crops in July.


    Above: Spring seedlings.


    Above: Under cultivation are many varieties of "historical table fruit," including Doyonnnée and Comtesse de Paris pears.


    Above: Last October's harvest yielded carrots, rosemary, dill, cauliflower, and lettuce.


    Above: April's crops include white asparagus, parsley, and curly purple lettuce.


    Above: Inside the greenhouse last week, seedlings waited for spring. The gardens and grounds at Kasteel van Heks will be open to the public from June 12 to June 14. For more information, see Hex.

    For more edible garden inspiration, see:

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    The writer Michael Pollan advises: "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." To that, we would like to add: Don't grow anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as a seed. Here are 10 sources for our favorite organic and heirloom vegetable, flower, and herb seeds to plant this spring:

    Mix Gardens Healdsburg seeds on display

    Above: Photograph by Mimi Giboin. Seeds on display at MIX Garden; for the whole story, see MIX Garden, Healdsburg's Well-Considered Shop on a Mission.

    organic seeds Franchi of Italy ; Gardenista

    Above: From Italy, family-based Franchi Seeds are favorites of renowned London restaurant The River Café, which grows a year-round garden to supply menu ingredients. For more, see Kendra's report from The River Café, Sow Now for Winter Salad.

    Known for its winter-hardy chicories, chards, and spinaches, Franchi Seeds are available from Seeds of Italy for European gardeners and from Grow Italian for US gardeners. Our favorites include Chicory Grumelo Verde ($3.60 per packet) and Lettuce Leaf Basil ("large leaves and mild taste") for $3.25 per packet.

    Comstock Ferre & Co seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Janet Hall

    Said to be the oldest seed company in the US, Connecticut-based Comstock Ferre & Co is one of Janet's favorites: "An admitted weakness of mine is falling for gorgeous seed packets, and Comstock Ferre doesn't disappoint," she writes. Her spring list includes Antigua Eggplant ($3 per packet), White Cosmic Purple Carrots ($3 for 300 seeds), and Purple Top White Globe Turnips ($1.75 for 600 seeds). 

    For more, see Shopper's Diary: Comstock Ferre & Co.

    Kitazawa Asian vegetable seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Janet Hall.

    Started in a San Jose, California warehouse in 1917, Kitazawa Seed specializes in offering seeds of 250 traditional heirloom vegetables of Japan. In addition, "Kitazawa sells curated chef specialty garden seed collections, such as the Kitazawa Asian Herb Garden Seed Collection and the Kitazawa Thai Garden Seed Collection, that offer selected combinations of the most popular Asian vegetables and herbs," says Janet. Each collection includes seven different seed packets and is $23.

    For more, see Seed Source: Kitazawa's Asian Vegetables.


    Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    Erin buys flower seeds from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds "in my native Connecticut. It's a terrific small seed company," she writes. Among her favorites: Blue Color Cascading Lobelia ($3.15 for 1,500 seeds), Marine Heliotrope ($3.25 for 200 seeds), and Picante Salvia Splendens Mixture ($3.45 for 25 seeds).

    Baker Creek seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: Seeds from Baker Creek. For more, see Gardening 101: How to Sprout a Seed.

    Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which started as a mail order seed catalog in 1998 sent by 17-year-old Jere Gettle, is on a mission to find and preserve rare seeds. Among this year's offerings are Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon, "thought to have been developed in Georgia in the 1830s" ($2.50 for a packet); Dixie Speckled Butterpea Lima Beans ($2 for 40 seeds), and Gelber Englischer Custard Squash—"fruits are oddly flattened—impossible to describe"—($2.75 for 10 seeds).


    Above: Photograph via Seed Library.

    Hudson Valley Seed Library founder Ken Greene was working as a librarian in upstate New York more than a decade ago when he developed an interest in saving heirloom varieties. After adding seeds to the library's catalog for patrons to "borrow" to grow in their gardens (and to return collected seeds from their harvests to the library), he and co-founder Doug Muller started a small company.

    Today Hudson Valley Seed Company sells its own seeds and also seeds from other small, local farmers. On offer are vegetables, flowers, and herbs such as Cinnamon Basil ($2.95 for a package of 250 seeds), Pixie Delight Dwarf Mixed Lupine ($2.95 for 75 seeds), and Dino Kale ($2.95 for 100 seeds). 

    Renee's Garden seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Chiot's Run.

    Renee's Garden seeds are favorites of Seattle-based flower farmer Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm, who grows Long-Stemmed Zinnia "Blue Point" in shades of pink, white, yellow, red, and orange ($2.79 per packet). 

    For more, see Ask the Expert: 7 Tips Floret Farm for Growing Cut Flowers at Home.

    Jardin heirloom seeds ; Gardenista

    Above: I recently purchased Jardin Seed Co.'s Chef's Garden Collection ($29.95), in which there are packets of 12 varieties of seeds with names like Imperial Star Artichoke, Red Express Cabbage, Sweet Marketmore Cucumber, and Rouge d'Hiver Lettuce (Shown).

    For more, see Growing Guide: 135 Rare Heirlooms from Jardin Seed Co.

    Fedco Seeds; Gardenista  

    Above: Photograph by Diane via Flickr.

    Waterville, Maine-based Fedco Seeds specializes in cold-hardy varieties that thrive in the Northeast. The company conducts field tests at multiple locations to determine which varieties will grow best in a cold climate.

    This year's catalog lists 333 organic varieties including 45 different tomatoes, such as Black Prince ($1.40 for .2 grams) and Aunt Ruby's German Green ($1.30 for .2 grams).

    Seeds of Change organic vegetable seeds ; gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Coupon Karma.

    Founded in 1989 and sold to Mars eight years later, Seeds of Change sells "100 percent certified organic vegetable, herb, and flower seeds," ranging from Mahogany Nasturtium ($3.49 for 20 seeds) to Wheatgrass ($3.49 for 1,000 seeds).

    For more of our favorite seed sources, see:

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    Prince Charles' book about his Gloucestershire home at Highgrove met with mixed reactions when it was published last spring in the UK, where reviewers either gushed that the gardens are "stunning" and "gorgeous" (The Daily Mail) or sniffed that the grandiose sprawl represents "a small part of Britain that will, forever, be in the 17th century" (The Guardian). 

    Both descriptions are true, it turns out, as we Americans can see for ourselves in Rizzoli's new US edition of Highgrove: An English Country Garden.

    Photography via Rizzoli.

    Highgrove gardens Prince Charles mown meadow path; Gardenista

    Above: Highgrove House overlooks a wildflower meadow where camassias and buttercups flourish in season. 

    Prince Charles bought the estate in 1980 from the family of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who asked £730,000 for what the sales listing described as 347 acres with a "distinguished Georgian house standing in superb parkland."  Since then, the environmentally conscious prince has overhauled the property: he installed solar panels, planted heritage varieties in the kitchen garden, adopted organic gardening practices, and created wildflower meadows.

    Highgrove gardens Prince Charles espalier apple trees; Gardenista

    Above: Espaliered apple trees grow over an arch to create a tunnel effect.

    Landscape architect Bunny Guinness, known for fanciful plantings of boxwood and romantic cottage gardens, collaborated with Prince Charles on the book and is credited with "writing the text."  It is bland, at best. Guinness notes, for instance, that "in September, the Kitchen Garden is teeming with an abundance of fruit and vegetables that have ripened." It's a sentence that makes you wonder what sets Highgrove's apart form every other kitchen garden in the world. Then you flip a page and see—the apple tunnel. No further explanation necessary.

    This is, in other words, a picture book. Do not expect prescriptive advice, useful suggestions to steal for your own garden, or anything less than reverence for the prince who arrived at Highgrove "quite a novice, but he was extremely keen to learn."

    In this case the photos will suffice. Deeply saturated, the images look as richly colored as any that have been put through an Instagram filter or two. Taken together, the photos create a remarkable four-season record of one of the most lavish organic gardens created in any century.

    Highgrove gardens Prince Charles sundial delphiniums; Gardenista

    Above: The Sundial Garden in summer, when delphiniums (a notoriously finicky flower) flourish in soil "improved over the years with the addition of lashings of home-grown compost."


    Above: Highgrove: An English Country Garden is $32.72 from Amazon.

    For more royal gardens, see:

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    Short of standing in front of the house with a plate of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven, there is no more welcoming way to greet visitors than with a bower of flowers. Here are nine ways to use vines and climbers to create curb appeal:

    Frame a Fence


    Above: If you have a high fence or gate that screams Keep Out, you can lower your voice without sacrificing privacy by planting a flowering climber. A billowy, fragrant rose such as Sally Holmes ($21.95 from David Austin) is a repeat bloomer that will grow as tall as 10 feet. Plant one of each side of the gate to make your fortress look charming instead of reclusive. 

    Mix-and-Match on a Wall

    Mix and match climbing roses curb appeal ; Gardenista

    Above: A rambler and a climber mingle in Brooklyn Heights. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    To extend bloom time, plant two different varieties of climbing roses against one wall and let them mingle. For more ideas for curb appeal with roses in Brooklyn, see Design Sleuth: 7 Sources for Brooklyn's Most Beautiful Roses.

    Shelter a Stoop


    Above: Photograph by Justine Hand. For more, see 10 Easy Perennnials for the Seaside Garden.

    Justine inherited a New Dawn climbing rose when she bought her summer cottage on Cape Cod. It serves the same purpose as a covered porch (and is better looking); it shelters visitors and adds visual interest to the facade.

    "I wanted a rose-covered cottage, and I got one," Justine says. "All I do to achieve the profusion shown here is to fertilize my New Dawn once in the spring, and water only in the worst droughts."

    A New Dawn climbing rose is a hardy repeat bloomer that will reach a height of 15 feet; $21.95 from David Austin.

    New Dawn climbing rose ; Gardenista

    Above: New Dawn also made Janet's list of 7 Best Climbing Roses because it's a profuse bloomer that puts on a big show. Another pest-resistant rose that loves bad soil and almost no water is the rambler Dorothy Perkins (ramblers are distinguished from climbing roses by the fact that most aren't repeat bloomers). Dorothy Perkins, popular in the UK, reaches a height of 12 feet and has sprays of pink flowers;  £18.50 from David Austin UK.

    Dress Up a Facade

    white clematis curb appeal flowering vine ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via A Country Farmhouse.

    A well-behaved flowering vine such as a clematis (Shown) will add add interest to a plain vanilla facade without overwhelming it.

    white clematis curb appeal flowering vine ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via A Country Farmhouse.

    One of our favorite varieties, a white Clematis 'Henryi' will bloom all summer and will reach a height of up to 14 feet on a trellis or against a fence; $16.95 from Burpee.

    Cloak a Railing

    Brooklyn stoop wisteria ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista. For more of this Brooklyn garden, see The Magicians: An English Professor and a Novelist Conjure a Garden.

    A vigorous vine such as wisteria will grow fast enough to blanket a railing in a single season. (Keep it in check by keeping it away from the house.) The scent is glorious, but wisteria is headstrong. Choose a compact, non-invasive variety such as Wisteria 'Amethyst Falls' which can be kept happy in a container and you should have no trouble with it; $24.95 from White Flower Farm.

    Fill a Crack

    Bleeding heart vine Charleston curb appeal ; Gardenista

    Above: A bleeding heart vine pokes out between two walls—and unites them visually—in Charleston, South Carolina during A Walk in the Neighborhood in Charleston. Photograph by Olivia Rae James for Gardenista.

    Named for its red, heart-shaped petals at the center of each white flower, a Bleeding Heart Vine is $12.50 from Amazon.

    Perfume the Air

    Jasmine vine Charleston SC ; Gardenista

    Above: Antebellum mansions and iron fences wear fragrant jasmine in Charleston, South Carolina during A Walk in the Neighborhood. Photograph by Olivia Rae James for Gardenista.

    Hardy in the South and other warm climates, Jasminum Officianale 'Fiona Sunrise' will reach a height of 20 feet; $14.95 from Brushwood Nursery.

    Create a Color Story


    Above: Photograph via Domino.

    In a warm climate, plant a red bougainvillea vine next to a door painted a bright, clear color to create a pleasing contrast. A Red Bougainvillea in a 1-gallon pot is $25 from Amazon.

    Hide a Problem


    Above: Photograph by Meagan via Flickr.

    If you have an ugly utility pole blocking your view, a fast-growing vine like a White Morning Glory will mask it quickly; a packet of 10 seeds is $1.99 from Everwilde.

    For more of our favorite facades with flowering vines and climbers, see:

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    We've been following the adventures of interiors stylist (and current world traveler) Chelsea Fuss via her @frolicblog Instagram feed as she explores Europe. The other day we caught up with her a couple of hours south of Lisbon in Portugal, where with the aid of inexpensive props she transformed a $46-a-night Airbnb apartment into stylish quarters that feel like home. Here are seven simple strategies to use next time you travel:

    Photography by Chelsea Fuss except where noted.

    Decorate with Flowers


    Above: Get an inexpensive bouquet from a corner florist to add personality to even the most neutral room: "My ballerina tulips," Fuss says.

    Add Local Color


    Above: Fuss found a brightly patterned tablecloth to focus attention on a sunshine-yellow ceiling.

    Rearrange the Furniture


    Above: Don't be afraid to move chairs, tables, and rugs around to create an inviting layout.



    Above: Photograph via Airbnb.

    A red sofa and empty shelves look less welcoming than the seating arrangement Fuss created.


    Above: In one of the apartment's two bedrooms, red on the bed is standard issue.




    Above: White bed linens and a simple floral arrangement on a bedside table connect a bedroom visually to the outdoor patio on the other side of the wall of windows. Says Fuss, "The bedroom is my favorite place I've slept on this journey. So peaceful and minimal."

    Find Fresh Air


    Above: Look for accommodations with an outdoor patio, deck, or garden to increase the size of your living space.

    Cook for Yourself


    Above: Buy groceries and prepare food to make the space feel like home.

    Play House


    Above: Wash dishes, sweep the floors, and keep the space tidy so it seems like a sanctuary when you return after a day of sightseeing.

    Get Creative


    Above: Using the space in clever ways will make it feel more special.

    Recreate Rituals


    Above: Stock up on familiar favorites that you keep around when you're home—snacks, soap, scissors—to prevent anxiety in a faraway place.

    For more tips from Chelsea Fuss, see:

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    I've debated hanging a staghorn fern in my apartment for years. But with prices ranging from $85 to $150 for a mounted fern, I was afraid I'd get sick of the thing—unless I killed it first.

    But our recent post on Paiko in Honolulu revived my interest in the houseplant with a cartoonish resemblance to a taxidermied deer (minus, gratefully, the beady eyes and black nose). I decided to conquer my fears and mount one myself.

    Several trips to local garden shops later (to say nothing of late-night wooden crate disassembly), I came up with a foolproof system. Here's a tutorial:



    • A wooden board (I used part of an old fruit crate, but any piece of flat wood will do)
    • Bowl or plate for tracing
    • Pencil
    • Hammer
    • 6 nails
    • Fishing line
    • 1 potted staghorn fern
    • Sheet moss
    • 2 screws and string (or a picture hanger) for hanging the finished board

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 1: Start out with a healthy staghorn fern. I had the best luck mounting a staghorn fern that had a relatively flat shield (the brown shield-like part of the plant base). The shields sometimes grow vertically, creating less surface area to mount to a board.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 2: Use something round to trace a circle on your board that's at least an inch wider than the circumference of the plant you're hoping to mount.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 3: Hammer a minimum of 6 nails evenly spaced along the circle's edge. Leave at least 1/4 inch between the board and nail head. The more nails you use, the more opportunity you have to secure your plant, so feel free to go crazy.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 4: Add a small pile of potting soil to the board, inside the circle that  you traced.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 5: Remove the staghorn fern from its pot and loosen (read: tear) the roots a bit so that you're left with only an inch or so of dirt attached to the base of the plant. Place the plant on top of the soil.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 6: Tear pieces of sheet moss and press around the base of the plant, making sure to keep the moss inside the circle of nails.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 7: Tie one end of the monofilament fishing line around one of the nails and stretch the line across the base of the fern to a nail on the opposite side of the circle. 

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 8: Wrap the line around the opposite nail several times (pulling the string taut), and repeat the process with another nail opposite the circle until the fishing line has been secured to all of the nails and the plant is secure. (I ended up going around each nail twice, for good measure.)


    Step 9: After the plant has been secured to the board, gently lift it vertically to make sure that it's been properly attached. I did this step over the sink to catch errant bits of soil (though shockingly little fell out). I used two screws and a bit of sturdy twine to hang the finished board in a spot that gets filtered light. 


    Step 10: Care for it. Mounted ferns enjoy a good shower weekly. To do this, remove the board from the wall, soak the entire board (and plant) in the tub, and allow it to dry completely before hanging up again. A nice mist in the interim will help keep it happy. 

    For more ideas for staghorn ferns, see:

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    As the last copy of the final edition of The New York Times Home Section rolls off the presses today, I will lose an old friend. You too? Let's reminisce.

    There was a time when Thursday was the best morning of the week, thanks to the Home Section. Before the Internet and stylist-prepped Instagram feeds, it felt like a gift to get any reliable news about interior and garden design. Reading the Home Section was the only way to confirm a hunch that, say, ceiling pot racks were gaining ground as acceptable kitchen storage ("it's the Let-It-All-Hang-Out approach—literally").

    If there were weeks when the report was less than electric (an exhibit of quilts seemed always to be on the verge of opening at some crafts museum or another in the tri-state region), it did not matter. The paper had wonderful writers. There was Mary Cantwell's "Close to Home" column, and Jean Kerr doing a guest turn in the Living Section (yes, there used to be a Living Section too). And there was Anna Quindlen, channeling Kerr to describe domestic drama: "The painters are going into their fifth week at our house, which is right on schedule, according to painter time, because they said they would be done in two."

    From those writers, I learned to love the domestic life. And more. I learned: 

    NY Times Home section circa 2009; Gardenista

    Above: Circa 2009. Photograph via Shannon Rose Design.

    It's OK to Be Late to a Trend

    One thing you could not count on the Home Section for was actual coverage of new home design trends—like, say, shag carpeting or avocado-colored appliances (neither of which were mentioned in the 1970s). Only if a trend had the staying power to become a classic would we hear about it. Eventually. This blackout on fads saved me from sponge-painted apricot walls in the '80s, and for that I will always be grateful.

    Garden Writing Doesn't Have to Be Boring

    In 1991, when gardening writer Anne Raver introduced herself to readers with a story about double digging, she wrote, "Double digging is not for the fainthearted, the wimps who use rototillers to churn up a mere six inches or so of soil." Then she described—in fewer than 200 words—how deep to go ("feels like you're digging to China...or perhaps your own grave"); the nickname the English gave double digging ("bastard trenching"), and garden history from 3000 B.C. to modern times, when "the Californians made it a religion: Zen in the Art of Double Digging."

    I think I have read every one of her subsequent 1,097 articles and no, I was not happy when she decided it was time to say goodbye to the family farm.


    Above: Circa 1994. Photograph via Gill & Lagodich.

    Lie About Your Age

    If you prefer not to tell how old you are, fib. This is preferable to being described in the newspaper as "a Camay soap user who declined to give her age," which sounds like you have something to hide. The Times' stylebook instructs reporters and editors to reveal people's ages if they are "useful or relevant." So the next time a reporter asks, I recommend you say "21," which is young enough to be useful or relevant but still old enough to drink.


    Above: Circa 1991. Photograph via Sonoran Permaculture.

    Never Look at Yourself in a Full-Length Mirror

    In the 1970s—with the nation still reeling from Vietnam, China conducting nuclear tests, and the Sex Pistols swearing on TV—Jean Kerr went to Bloomingdale's to buy an omelet pan. Her subsequent shock at catching sight of herself in an unexpected full-length mirror "in what I considered the total safety of pots and pans" led to a list of New Year's resolutions, No. 1 of which was never to go to  Bloomingdale's without first getting her hair done. The last was to "remember that there are no foolproof ways of reforming yourself."

    Some people fault Kerr for making life sound like too much of a lark. What I've always wondered was how the omelet turned out.

    Look at Yourself in a Full-Length Mirror

    When Mary Cantwell died in 2000, the obituary noted that she "wrote essays, books, and editorials for The New York Times, many about the changing public and private lives of women in America."

    She also wrote, in her "Close to Home" column, about her annual ritual of going to a New England antiques show where the imagined past lives of objects made her love them. "What I wanted was a small lamp that cost $2,450. What I bought were six hand-crocheted potholders at $2 apiece. No matter. I was as content with the second as I would have been with the first."

    The purchase was the point, she realized. "They are crocheted in the 'wrong' colors—poison greens and pinks; various violations of purple—but the workmanship! Truly, I wish you could see them."

    I can.

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    We enjoyed the reusable floral centerpieces—and the pop-up sushi—vicariously after we spotted a recent underground dining brunch on NYC-based florist Yatoshi Satamoto's Instagram feed:

    Photographs via Melting Butter except where noted.

    Underground Dining NYC sushi popup Green Fingers Melting Pot ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via @satie_san.

    "Sosharu" is the Japanese word for "social." The city guide site Melting Butter threw the private party in collaboration with personal concierge app Sosh in a NoMad loft which florist Satamoto transformed into a harbinger of spring.


    Above: The February 2 event kicked off a series of lunches that Melting Butter says will "artfully celebrate contemporary Japanese food, drinks, design, music, and culture."


    Above: Potted ferns and orchids are portable—and reusable—centerpieces.


    Above: Photograph via @satie_san.

    Simple place settings.


    Above: Communal seating.


    Above: Chefs from the Midtown restaurant Sushi Yasada prepared "an elaborate, bespoke omakase experience" for diners.


    Above: For more information or to buy tickets ($75 apiece) to the next pop-up sushi lunch, go to Melting Butter

    Looking for somewhere to eat in New York City that doesn't pop up or down? See Remodelsta's posts about:

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    A facade facelift can be accomplished with a strategy as simple as new house numbers or as ambitious as a paint job. With spring on the horizon, here's a design guide with our best advice about paint and color palettes (plus a few suggestions in case you're considering shutters, gutters, a new stoop, a Dutch door, rain chains, or new house numbers). Read on: 

    Paints and Stains


    Above: Photograph via Marston Langinger.

    For facades and other outdoor surfaces, use an exterior paint instead of interior paint, because exterior paint is formulated to withstand rain, wind, hot sun, and mildew. In general, exterior paints have more pigment and resin (which hardens into a tougher surface). Different sheens of exterior paint are available, including flat (recommended for stucco), low gloss (for trim), and semi-gloss (for floors and other areas where an abrasion-resistant surface is preferable).

    We are admirers of a specialized line of 84 exterior paint colors from London-based Marston-Langinger (makers of bespoke greenhouses and conservatories). For more, see Paints & Palettes: 84 Luxe Colors for Exteriors and Facades.

    Dark Black House Stain | Gardenista

    Above: Wondering whether paint or stain is a better choice for your facade? It depends on the look you're after: stain generally will be semi-transparent (allowing you to see a wood surface beneath the color) or opaque (allowing you to see the texture of the surface. 

    8 Favorite Exterior Stain Colors, Gardenista

    Above: For more, see Meredith's list of our 8 Favorite Exterior Stain Colors.

    Gray house paint Edwardian Facade house numbers ; Gardenista

    Above: When choosing a paint or stain color for a facade, consider the style of your house and the color of other existing hardscaping elements including pavers, the roof, and awnings. For tips on how to pull a look together on a budget, see 11 Ways to Add Curb Appeal for Under $100.

    10 Best Exterior Shades of Gray Paint ; Gardenista


    Above: Meredith asked architects for their go-to colors of exterior paint; they revealed their top paint picks for Gray, White, Black, Green, and Red.

    Entryways and Doors

    Swedish Country Home Back Entry Lighting, Gardenista

    Above: See The Ins and Outs of Dutch Doors.

    perfect paint palette for a dark facade ; Gardenista

    Above: Pull a facade's look together by coordinating wall, trim, and door colors. Interior designer Stephanie Dorfman, our paint expert, has tips for How to Pick a Perfect Paint Palette.

    House Numbers

    Neutra House Numbers | Gardenista

    Above: Updating your house numbers is a quick fix that adds instant curb appeal. For inspiration and guidelines, see our favorite Tile, Enamel, Metal, and Modern house numbers.


    Stoop brownstone townhouse Brooklyn roses ; Gardenista

    Above: Does your house have a stoop (or need one)? For design guidelines, see Hardscaping 101: Front Stoops.


    Hardscaping 101 Exterior Shutter Styles ; Gardenista

    Above: Another design element to consider is exterior shutters. Are they right for your facade? Janet explains the pros and cons in Hardscaping 101: Exterior Wooden Shutters.

    Window Boxes


    Above: Window boxes can curb appeal to your facade if you choose a style that complements your house. For everything you need to know about styles and installation, see Hardscaping 101: Window Boxes.


    Above: With window boxes, there are many materials to choose among. If you're considering wood, metal, terra cotta, or composite PVC, explore the pros and cons of each with Jeanne in Hardscaping 101: Window Box Materials.

    Gutters and Rain Chains

    Rees Roberts Boxwood Farm gutters ; Gardenista

    Above: Does your house need rain gutters? If so, how do you choose a material (wood, galvanized steel, galvalume aluminum, or vinyl)? Ellen explains the options and prices for different materials in Hardscaping 101: Rain Gutters.


    Above: For more, see 10 Easy Pieces: Rain Chains.

    "Downspouts are one of those items that homeowners like to ignore. And who can blame us? Downspouts are not very attractive," writes Janet. "They can be loud when they are effective, and troublesome when they aren't (think leaf clogs)."  As an alternative, Janet rounded up her Favorite Rain Chains.

    LiD Architecture rain chains ; Gardenista

    Above: Julie's a convert. See Rain Chains: The Genius Alternative to Gutters.

    For more ideas to increase curb appeal, see:

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    At first glance, we thought that this meticulously detailed and carefully crafted building standing alone on a hill in the landscape might be a bijoux guesthouse or even a small chapel. Imagine our surprise when we discovered it to be nothing more than a prosaic utility shed—and a pre-fabricated one at that.

    With a passion for quality craftsmanship, Kansas City-based design/build firm Hufft Projects conceived The Shed to store maintenance equipment for the property of clients for whom Hufft had previously designed a house. To save construction time while ensuring a high level of quality and precision, the firm decided to build the shed from a series of prefabricated elements. Hufft designed a system of modular frames, wall panels and roof trusses to be built by the company's studio. The galvanized steel frames were welded in Hufft's shop and transported to the site where they were bolted together.

    Wrapped with a white oak rain-screen with translucent walls at either end, this is no ordinary utility shed. In fact, we’re wondering, “Could this be the world’s most beautiful pre-fabricated utility shed?”

    Photography by Mike Sinclair

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: The Shed sits on a repurposed cul-de-sac sited to the west of the house on a winding entry drive in Springfield, MO. 

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: The Shed is composed of a system of modular frames, wall panels, and roof trusses. Frosted polycarbonate sheets (Polygal) on a steel frame on both ends of the building bring in natural daylight.

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: In the front, large operable doors with a built-in steel mechanism span the whole width of the structure allowing room for large scale machinery.

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: Hufft Projects also designed and built a custom workbench for the Shed.

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: Linear tubes of fluorescent lighting are seamlessly integrated into the structure.

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: The view isn't half bad either.

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: "With natural materials and simple construction methods, The Shed doesn't draw attention to itself but appears to be almost a sculptural element in the landscape," the architects say. 

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: At night, the strong rhythm of the structure is visible through the frosted polycarbonate sheets. 

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: On the exterior, the white oak for the rain-screen was taken from trees on the property. The facade is varied and richly textured because the wood was allowed to weather and gray over time.

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: The galvanized steel elements were delivered to the site pre-welded.

    Hufft Projects, Pre Fab Shed in Kansas City, MO | Gardenista

    Above: The pre-welded galvanized steel elements were bolted on site. 

    Considering building a beautiful utility shed? See Utility Barn as Architectural Moment for more inspiration. Or forget utility because actually, most of us just want to live in a shed. Off the Grid: A Shed for Living will help to keep that fantasy going. 

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