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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    Native to Southern India and identifiable by its show-stopping yellow, turmeric has been a staple in cooking and medicine for thousands of years. The spice, a member of the ginger family and a key ingredient in curry, has countless health benefits.

    Turmeric is a natural alternative to chemical dyes, too: add a pinch or two to tint buttercream frosting, or pair it with red annatto to turn cheese orange. I've been experimenting with techniques for using turmeric to dye fabric, and here's my favorite. Follow this simple tutorial to create your own turmeric-tinted tablecloth in a shibori tie-dye pattern.

    Photography by Dalilah Arja.


    • Natural fabric (cotton, linen, silk,  or wool), unhemmed or hemmed and sized to cover your table (My fabric measured 4.5 by 3 feet; if you use something a lot bigger, increase the amounts of the ingredients or expect more subtle results.) N.B.: Pillowcases also work well for this project.
    • 1/4 cup turmeric
    • 4 cups vinegar
    • Rubber bands or string to secure folded fabric
    • Water


    Start by folding your fabric (or, if you want a solid color, jump to Step 4 and dye the fabric unfolded). Your folding pattern can be as random or as methodical as you like. I did a loose interpretation of a shibori fold, which is primarily used in Japanese indigo dying. See our post on Terrain's Shibori Dyed Indigo for examples. I picked this method because I like the square pattern it creates. 

    Step 1: Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and then in half again. 

    Step 2: To create the square pattern, fold the fabric into an accordion by alternating the sides of each fold. 

    Continue the accordion fold until you run out of fabric.

    Step 3: Place rubber bands horizontally and vertically to secure the fold. I used five rubber bands, but you can use as many as you want depending on the pattern you want to make. 

    Step 4: In a stockpot, add 4 cups of vinegar to 16 cups of water and immerse the folded fabric; heat on medium. This will allow the fabric to take the dye. 

    Step 5: While the stockpot heats, make the dye in a second pot by adding 1/4 cup of turmeric to 12 cups of water; heat on medium. After both pots begin boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for about an hour. 

    Step 6: Drain the vinegar mixture and pour the turmeric dye over the fabric; heat over medium-low flame. The longer you leave the fabric in the turmeric dye, the darker the color will be. I dyed my fabric for an hour, but you can dye it for as little as 15 minutes to achieve a light, washed look. 

    Step 7: After you finish dyeing the fabric, drain the turmeric dye from the pot and rinse the fabric under a running tap to remove excess dye. Warning: the dye may stain porcelain or ceramic surfaces, so it's important to rinse in a stainless steel sink or at an outdoor tap. And the first time the tablecloth goes in the washing machine, be sure it's with similar colors or on its own.

    Step 8: Let the fabric dry overnight. Here's the finished cloth, brightening my kitchen table. 

    Interested in learning more ways to create chemical-free dyes? A New York textile designer repurposes spent flowers in Shopper's Diary: Natural Floral Dyes and Silk Scarves, from Cara Marie Piazza, and colorist Deepa Natarjan creates elegant pigments from organic materials in DIY: Seasonal Vegetable Dye: Holiday Edition.

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    LA-based designer Alexis Hartman of Lake August calls her newest collection of botanical print fabrics "an ode to Southern California"—and to her mother and grandmother's gardens in particular.

    "Much of it is inspired by my childhood," says Hartman, who designs every pattern herself, starting from a drawing, painting, or hand carved block. "My mother and grandmother are both lifelong gardeners and their gardens have always been special places for me. There were trailing nasturtiums​ (and in the 80's, the requisite marigolds and pansies), and succulents, though less back then than there are now." 

    Handprinted in the US on Belgian linen, the fabrics are made to order (allow from five to seven weeks for delivery).


    Above: On Agave Americana, nasturtiums and succulents keep company. The fabric is available in two color ways, including Del Mar (shown), and is $188 a yard. "The Agave americana plant that I combined with nasturtium is something I see all over my neighborhood now," says Hartman.


    Above: Pillows are double sided with a zipper enclosure and range in price from $150 to $350 depending on size.


    Above: On Brink of Summer, clusters of aeonium flowers bloom. I'd love to make pillow cases with it. The print is available in two color ways, including Nightflower (shown) for $154 a yard.


    Above: Inspired by Hartman's grandmother's collection of ceramic and stone rabbits, Bun is $138 per yard (and would look very much at home hopping across window shades in a nursery). 


    Above: Half Moon is available in three color ways including Dunes (shown) for $138 per yard.

    For more of our favorite botanically inspired prints, see:

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    No leaking roofs, broken windows, or flooded basements here: this is a cabin for people who don't like surprises. 

    Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects designed a "virtually indestructible" cabin in the woods of Washington state's Olympic Peninsula for a couple who wanted a simple place to stay while fishing for steelhead. They required that it be a low-cost, no-maintenance cabin that could be left unattended—sometimes in harsh weather—for weeks at a time. The final product is a 350-square-foot timber box clad in unfinished mild steel standing on steel stilts. It exists in harmony with the wilderness—its small footprint is light on the land—while also functioning as a reinforced stalwart against it.

    Photography by Benjamin Benschneider.  

    Olson Kundig Modern Steel Cabin on Stilts in Washington, Gardenista

    Above: The cabin's steel stilts allow for a truly minimal footprint on the land, while protecting the cabin from occasional flooding of the nearby river. The architects had most of the cabin prefabricated offsite, reducing the disruption to the cabin site by construction.

    Olson Kundig Cabin in Washington at Night, Steel Closes to Secure Cabin, Gardenista

    Above: The cabin is "open" when a series of steel shutters are rolled back to reveal a wall of windows, operated via a hand wheel that sets into motion a mechanical system of gears and cables. When closed, the steel shutters cover the cabin's windows, effectively sealing it off from the elements.  

    Olson Kundig Cabin with Mesh Deck and Tiny Kitchen with Sleeping Loft, Gardenista

    Above: A balcony with a mesh floor juts out from the cabin on the side facing the river. Inside, the double-height cabin interior is lined with wood panels. The living, dining, kitchen, and bathroom areas are on the main floor, and a sleeping loft with storage shelving is overhead.

    In the interest of frugality—fiscal and environmental—the architects used the client's stock of leftover lumber to build the sleeping loft: they stacked, glued, and bolted 2-by-4-inch lumber together to create a nontraditional hardwood floor.

    Olson Kundig Modern Steel Cabin in Washington's Olympic Peninsula, Gardenista

    Above: The cantilevered roof hangs over the edge of the cabin to provide shade and protection from coastal storms. 

    We're fans of Olson Kundig. See more in Garage Envy: 10 Sleekly Styled Garages and on Remodelista, A Master Architect Builds a Tiny Cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

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    With spring in swing, we're liberating our outdoor furniture from storage—and noticing that it could use extra care and cleaning to get in shape for the season. This month we'll have tips for taking care of every material (in our first installment, last week we explored Wood Furniture Cleaning Basics). Here's our guide to cleaning and caring for metal furniture:

    N.B.: Stay tuned next week for cleaning tips for wicker furniture.


    Above: Weathered teak and metal outdoor furniture dusted off and ready for spring. (See more, see Michelle's 5 Favorite Outdoor Rug Picks.) Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.


    Above: Protective covers are often available for specific lines of furniture, such as Brown Jordan's Lounge Chair Cover, for an exact fit. Inexpensive generic outdoor furniture covers are also plentiful through Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's, and other furniture retailers.


    Above: Just right for a small balcony: Fermob folding chairs and bistro table. For more, see 10 Easy Pieces: Folding Outdoor Chairs. Photograph via Improvised Life.

    Considered the most durable material for outdoor furniture, metal can last a lifetime if you take care of it properly. Most metal outdoor furniture is finished with paint, varnish, or powder coating to prevent rust. And, while aluminum doesn't rust—hence its recommended use in areas near salt water—it can oxidize (which causes pitting and dulls the finish). 

    Cleaning brush cloth mild oil detergent vinegar ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Sarah Lonsdale.

    Metal furniture is best cleaned with a cloth or sponge using water and mild, non-detergent soap and wiped dry. Abrasive scrubbers or cleaners should not be used as they can scratch the finish, potentially exposing the metal to rust-inducing moisture. For ingrained dirt, use window cleaner or a non-abrasive multi-purpose cleaner. 

    When cleaning keep an eye out for scratches or any signs of rust, especially at furniture joints. Apply touch-up paint to scratches to prevent rust. If rust or mold is present, sand the area lightly using fine-grit sandpaper and apply rust-proof touch-up paint (this may be available from the manufacturer). To remove oxidization from aluminum furniture, use a solution of equal parts of white vinegar and water; avoid alkaline cleaners as they cause oxidation.  

    Gundry Ducker Slate House Metal Furniture, Gardenista

    Above: Rust is slow to corrode, so many choose to embrace the patina of the rust rather than eradicate it as seen in the metal furniture on the patio of a project by London architecture firm Gundry & Ducker. See more of this House with Slate Shingle Siding. Photograph by Hufton & Crow for Gundry & Ducker.

    Fermob Luxembourg Chairs, Gardenista

    Above: Fermob, the maker of classic French metal bistro furniture, including the venerable Luxembourg Chair, recommends tilting tables (using wedges) and chairs (resting against the table and not placed upside down on them) when not in use to prevent water from pooling. See our favorite Terence Conran for Fermob Designs.

      Tolix Marais Table and Chair, Gardenista


    Above: Made of rust-resistant galvanized steel, both the Tolix Marais A Chair and Tolix Marais Two-Seater Dining Table were designed by French metalworker Xavier Pauchard and are still manufactured in Autun, France.

    Resist the urge to protect your treated metal furniture with a plastic tablecloth. It can trap water, humidity, and heat that can damage the finish.

    Keep in mind our General Outdoor Furniture Care and Cleaning Tips:

    • Always start with a light cleaning, sweeping surfaces as needed with a soft brush or cloth. Then assess if further care and cleaning is needed.
    • When it comes to cleaning products, non-detergent liquid soap (think dish soap) is your friend. It will clean without harming your furniture and its environs. For tougher stains and mildew, use water and white vinegar.
    • Read the manual. Unless you inherit or purchase vintage pieces, outdoor furniture should come with instructions.
    • Sunscreens and bird droppings should be cleaned off as soon as possible. They can be particularly damaging and lead to permanent staining and corrosion. 
    • Consider covering your furniture when not in use for long periods of time (and during bouts of inclement weather). Even if it can stand up to the elements, this will extend its life and make cleaning easier after the outdoor season begins again. And, use breathable covers to avoid creating a mold incubator.
    • If you live in an area with especially harsh winter weather, try storing your furniture indoors if possible. 

    Are you getting your outdoor space in shape for summer? For more inspiration, see:

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    Spotted at West Elm: a pre-season sale on outdoor furniture, planters, pillows, and accessories, with prices marked down from 15 to 20 percent. (We're putting a few versatile pieces from the collection on our own wish list.)

    jardin bench west elm ; Gardenista

    Above: A Jardine Bench is made of FSC-certified tropical hardwood and has a wood plank top. Useful as a dining bench or as extra seating in the garden, it is available in two lengths, 62 inches and 74 inches; on sale for $254 or $296 depending on size. Sold separately, a Bench Cushion is on sale in three colors including white (shown) for $67 or $75 depending on size.


    Above: Easy to store in the off season, a weather resistant Jardine Folding Chair in a driftwood finish is on sale for $84.

    Pillow blue and white stripe reversible ; Gardenista

    Above: A 20-inch-square outdoor Hand Drawn Stripe Pillow does double duty, reversing from blue and white to red and white stripes; on sale for $35.


    Above: Available in two sizes (16 inches and 20 inches) and three colors, lightweight fiberstone Round Planters are on sale; from $79 to $119 depending on size.

    Outdoor umbrella wood pole ; Gardenista

    Above: With a solid wood pole (available in three wood finishes), a Round Wooden Umbrella comes in five colors including white (shown) and is on sale for from $169 to $339 depending on the wood.

    Shopping for outdoor furniture? See more of our favorites for 2015:

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    For a bookworm client, Paris-based architect Antonin Ziegler built a freestanding library annex to a country house in Senneville-sur-Fécamp on the northern coast of France.

    Sited on a cliff above the sea about two and a half hours from Paris, the views are spectacular. To take advantage of them, the architect replaced three of the library's walls with enormous windows to erase the separation between outdoors and in. On the library's fourth wall? Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, of course:

    Photography via Antonin Ziegler.

    Library France seaside garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Concealed in the base of the new 650-square-foot library is a garage. The library cube is adjacent to an old stone country house. The dark bulk of the new building "creates a relationship that tends to make the existing house disappear," the architect says.


    Above: Connected to the existing house by a glazed passageway, the new library is open on three sides—designed to look like a book that is open to the landscape.


    Above: A staircase from the kitchen in the main house leads to the library.


    Above: Ceiling pendants and strip lighting illuminate the plywood-clad interior.


    Above: The timber framing runs like ribs up the walls and across the ceiling.


    Above: Indoor and outdoor walls are clad in plywood; the exterior siding was blackened with pine tar to create a contrast to the stone walls of the existing house.


    Above: Windows frame views of a nearby village, meadows, and a green expanse of rough grassy lawn.


    Above: Pale plywood was left untreated on the interior walls and turns a warm golden color in the afternoon sun.


    Above: The staircase from the main house rises from the floor in the library.


    Above: "Inside, piles of books are stacked in every corner and recess. The rhythm of the day is marked by the turning of pages and punctuated by the comings and goings of the house cats," says the architect.

    For more of our favorite book-lined outbuildings, see:

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    There was a time when houses had names but no numbers—we're going back to the 1600s—which was good for local color but bad for tax collectors trying to keep track of who owed how much. Nowadays most houses have numbers instead of names, which makes it easy for the IRS but harder on a house's personality. If you are No. 45, what makes you different from No. 47?

    This is where house numbers come in. They are the first clue visitors get about the residents. Says UK-based sign writer Steve Blackwell, "I am often asked to paint house's usually a quick and enjoyable job that doesn’t cost a lot, but gives the home more personality or a nice touch of class."

    You can buy all kinds of house numbers—tile, metal, and enamel for instance—or you can add even more personality with one-of-a-kind painted house numbers that will never look exactly like the ones next door. Here are nine ways to add curb appeal with painted house numbers:

    Shadow Game

    Curb Appeal painted house numbers ; Gardenista

    Above: Painted house numbers in London. Photograph by Camila Román Demo via Flickr.

    Paint shadows to add depth and to create a three-dimensional effect.

    Summer Camp Stencils

    Painted House numbers The Graham & Co ; Gardenista

    Above: Stenciled room numbers at The Graham & Co. hotel in the Catskills in upstate New York. Photograph via Cereal Magazine.

    To flavor your facade with nostalgia, recreate the summer camp bunkhouse look with number stencils and spray paint from an art supplies store.

    Ornate, Updated


    Above: Photograph by Geeparee22 via Flickr.

    Add curlicues and whimsy; paint a border or outline around the numbers to evoke the look of a fancy address plaque; your freestyle brushwork will undermine the gated-community formality.

    Go Big

    Painted house numbers UK ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Signs and Painting.

    Says sign writer Steve Blackwell, "When a home owner came to me with the idea of painting a massive number 35 on the front of her house, it seemed a bit strange but after seeing the house, meeting the owner, and seeing her collection of artwork I thought it was a really good idea." 

    DIY Day


    Above: Hand-painted house numbers are an easy half-day DIY project. For step-by-step instructions, see DIY: Painted House Numbers.

    Contrasting Colors

    painted house numbers bright green paint front door ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Henry Blom via Flickr.

    Even very small painted house numbers will pop against a bright, contrasting background.

    Perfectly Imperfect

    rustic stencil painted house numbers ; Gardenista

    Above: Painted with a stencil, rustic house numbers on a wooden door. Photograph via Boligpluss.

    If your painted house numbers will look homemade, that's a feature, not a bug—so long as you accentuate the rustic look by displaying the numbers against raw wood or rough stucco surfaces.

    Long and Lean


    Above: At Hotel Les Bois Flottais on the west coast of France, an institutional font evokes boatyard, sailors, and salty air. For more, see Hotel Les Bois Flottais in France

    Exaggerated shapes—tall, skinny house numbers, for instance—are more interesting and will attract visitors' eyes.

    Carved Out

    Painted and carved house numbers in Spitalfields ; Gardenista

    Above: For more, see 5 Favorites: British Front Doors with Style.

    On a front door in London's Spitalfields neighborhood, house numbers are a two-step DIY. First carved by hand (with rough uneven edged), the numbers are painted in glossy parint for a smart finish.

    Thinking of upgrading your house numbers to add curb appeal? See more suggestions:

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    Nothing says spring like a shelf of beautifully folded sweaters. Julie and the Remodelista team spent the week cleaning out closets and organizing their lives—and discovered some surprising tips to finding serenity along the way:


    Above: Alexa re-vamps her closet with the help of a few Scandi styling tricks (and some low-cost shelves) in Steal This Look: A Well-Organized Closet on a Budget.


    Above: In Japan, stylish canvas bins and totes are commonly used to store books, magazines, and your knitting. Get inspired by these 7 Perfect Canvas Catchalls.

    effrey and Cheryl Katz Beacon Hill Home, kitchen table 2, by Justine Hand for Remodelista

    Above: Justine visits some very Improper Bostonians in their Beacon Hill townhouse and comes away with new ideas for storage, open shelving, and paint colors (who knew Benjamin Moore's Gunsmith Gray was a cure-all?).

    Michelle closet cleanout ; Gardenista

    Above: Remember when we pioneered the Minimalist Wardrobe Movement a couple of years ago? Michelle's serene closet still houses The Only 10 Pieces of Clothing You Need to Own

    West Elm Midcentury Ironing Board ; Gardenista

    Above: Meredith rounds up 10 ironing boards stylish enough to leave out in the open in this week's 10 Easy Pieces: Ironing Boards Low to High.

    Tackling a storage and organization project this weekend? For inspiration, see:

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    Here's a look at what we loved this week: 

    Desert Dwelling by Imbue Design | Gardenista

    • Above: A room with a view
    • What's your water footprint? 
    • The lowdown on Roundup.

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

    Terracotta Flower Pots by Paula Greif | Gardenista

    Instagram and Pinterest Pick of the Week

    Gardenista Instagram Pick of the Week: @pithandvigor

    Above: We're following garden writer Rochelle Greayer (@pithandvigor) on Instagram. 

    Gardenista Pinterest Pick of the Week: The Tiny Twig

    Above: We're heading outside with The Tiny Twig's Outdoor Living board on Pinterest. 

    This week, we blurred the lines between Indoor and Outdoor while the editors at Remodelista Cleaned House.

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    What did Indian gardens look like before the invaders arrived? The Mughals imposed their 16th century Persian constraints—they were all for walls and the fussy geometry of symmetry—and then came the British, to foist their water-guzzling lawns on a climate ill-prepared to keep grass green. But before all that?

    While those early gardens are mostly lost to history, they would have been refuges: designed for fragrance, cooling breezes, and privacy. "In a hot climate, people mostly didn't stir until the evenings, and their gardens would draw them out," says garden historian Eugenia Herbert, author of Flora's Empire: British Gardens in India ($45 from University of Pennsylvania Press).

    The gardens we think of today as being quintessentially Indian are those with Persian roots: with raised walkways, and intersecting water channels and quadrants (microcosm gardens, in effect) and flowers and fruit trees and high walls. 

    Wondering how to incorporate such 16th century ideas into a modern garden design? Here are 10 must-have features: 


    Water pool Indian garden ; Gardenista

    Above: A lap pool in Awas, India. Photograph via RMA Architects.

    Canals and reflecting pools remain typical features of Indian gardens, where water is perhaps the greatest luxury of all. "Most of the year is very hot and very dry, and you crave water," says Herbert.

    Floating Lotus

    Lotus plants floating in water pool ; Gardenista

    Above: Floating lotus plants. Photograph via Shutterstock.

    As the baby Buddha took his first steps, lotus flowers bloomed beneath his feet. "Lotus is the quintessential Indian plant; it grows in ponds, often muddy ponds," says Herbert.

    Will lotus grow in your pond? The plant, hardy in zones 4-10, needs fresh water. "It will not tolerate any level of salt," warns Pond Plants, which sells ten varieties (available seasonally, now through June).


    Fountain in a garden wall by Lutsko ; Gardenista

    Above: A fountain created by Lutsko Associates is set in a curving bronze garden wall.

    "They are tremendously important in gardens for obvious reasons: for the cooling effect in a hot climate," says Herbert. "If you strolled in a garden in the evening, there would be a wonderful sound of water from the fountains and highly scented shrubs, and moonlight on the flowers. It's a magical effect."

    Want to add a fountain to your garden? See some of our favorite backyard fountains in In Praise of the Water Fountain.


    Khopoli House in India by Spasm Architects ; Gardenista

    Above: Spasm Design Architects' cantilevered overhang creates a shady, sheltered outdoor space with a hanging daybed at a weekend house in Khopoli, in Maharashtra, India.

    Most of the year is hot and dry in India. To make a garden hospitable, "Brahmins choose shade to fight the heat," says Herbert.

    Boundary Walls

    Walled Garden with espalier fruit tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Fruit trees espaliered in a walled garden. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

    "The tradition goes back to very, very distant times in Persia. The Mughal gardens were always walled," says Herbert. "There were portions of the garden that were only for women, and the rule of thumb was that the walls had to be high enough so that nobody sitting on an elephant could see over."


    Humayun's Tomb walkway and canal ; Gardenista

    Above: The 16th century Mughal ruler Humayun's tomb in Delhi served as inspiration for the Taj Mahal; two acres of gardens are divided into eight squares, each bisected by canals and walkways. Photograph by ZipandZim.

    Persian gardens, separated into symmetrical quadrants designed to emulate the purported layout of Paradise, are often crisscrossed by waterways or tree-lined paths. Create a similarly pleasant visual symmetry with repetition: two identical planters flanking an entryway, for example.


    Quarried in India, sandstone is a ubiquitous hardscaping material. It's available in all sort of shades—including tan, red, pink, white, and black.


    Jasmine vine and climber  in the garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Fragrant jasmine vines in the garden. Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    "In antiquity, there weren't that many flowers—many that we associate with India, like marigolds, were imports—and there was a tremendous importance of scented shrubs. Also jasmine. It would bloom at night, and the smell heavenly in moonlight," says Herbert. "That's where the British got the idea of a white garden."

    Fresh Flowers

    Jasmine flower garlands in Madurai by Scott Norsworthy ; Gardenista

    Above: Jasmine garlands at the market in Madurai, India. Photograph by Scott Norsworthy.

    Drape a flower garland anywhere: in a door, over an entryway, on a table. "Flowers are woven profoundly into all aspects of Indian culture," says Herbert. "In India, they'll cover anything sacred in a garland. It really is striking to see, when you go to a flower market, that it's just the flower heads there, and they're being strung."

    Fruit Trees

    Banana fruit ripening on tree via India Garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Bananas ripen on a tree in Saharanpur, in Northern India. Photograph via India Garden.

    "The Mughal gardens were meant to support themselves—they planted trees that produced fruit for market," says Herbert. "A grove of orange blossoms once surrounded the Taj Mahal, and it must have smelled fantastic." 

    For more garden design tips, see:

    Looking for more Garden Inspiration from India? Browse through the images in our Gardenista Gallery.

    For modern indoor-outdoor living on India's coast, see A River Runs Through It: Brio Architects in India on Remodelista.

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    Michelle spent the weekend painting her wicker sofa (again) and Julie has been putting upholstered outdoor lounge furniture to the test. We've rounded up 17 favorite springtime DIYs that our editors are doing in their own homes. Join us for a week of garden projects:

    Table of Contents: Spring Projects ; Gardenista

    Above: For an easy DIY, see Frugal Flowers: How to Make Supermarket Ranunculus Look Like a Million Bucks.



    Above: We make a house call to a Texas mesa where a new family compound keeps company with old trees and native plants in this week's Landscape Architect Visit.


    Casamidy Altamurra Sofa | Gardenista

    Above: Intrigued by a slew of upholstered outdoor sofas that look as if they'd be just as happy in a living room, Julie rounds up her favorites of the season in 10 Easy Pieces.



    Above: Our editors share 17 DIY spring projects we're doing in our own homes in this week's DIY Roundup.


    Rattan hanging chair ; Gardenista  

    Above: See 10 Easy Pieces: Hanging Chairs for more.

    As we drag our outdoor furniture from storage, Janet is helping us spruce it up for the season. In Hardscaping 101, she tackles care and maintenance of wicker furniture. Meanwhile, don't miss her earlier installments on Wood Furniture and Metal Furniture care.


    porch-ceiling-BM-Woodlawn Blue-gardenista  

    Above: In our new Palette & Paints post, we round up nine blue paints for a porch ceiling to add Curb Appeal. Meanwhile, don't miss our recent post on spring-starved Londoners' favorite paint colors for Pink Front Doors.

    This week the Remodelista editors will be coming outdoors into the sunlight, too, with five days of posts on The Indoor-Outdoor Life.

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    The Scenario: On a Texas mesa with panoramic views, native vegetation and mature trees, the daughter of an oilman wanted a family compound to remind her of the hill country summers of her childhood. "I want my kids to get dirty and be around animals, snakes, and spiders, the way I did with my sisters," says Manhattan-based interiors designer Sara Story.

    The Challenge: To site the buildings—including a main house, guest house, swimming pool, pool pavilion, and tennis court and pavilion—on a 400-acre central Texas property in a way that would preserve the native eco-system and take advantage of views without disturbing mature live oak and juniper trees or habitats of wildlife (including wild pigs and turkeys and white-tailed deer). 

    The Solution: At the end of a half-mile-long driveway, a ranch house sits on the tabletop surrounded by drought-tolerant prairie grasses and meadows of wildflowers (90 percent of the plants are natives). In collaboration with Story, who is an interiors designer, Texas-based architects Lake|Flato worked with landscape architects Studio Outside to take advantage of the site's best features—sunlight, breezes, and postcard-perfect views of distant mountains—to connect the new buildings with the landscape and larger surrounding property (in all, Story has 400 acres):


    Above: Photograph via Studio Outside.

    Landscape architects Studio Outside sited the half-mile-long entrance road to take advantage of views, with curves and turns designed to create "an immersive experience" for visitors as they drive past the tennis and pool pavilions on their way to the main house.

    Texas hill country ranch Outside Studio ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Studio Outside.

    On the mesa's tabletop sits an L-shaped main house with rough Texas limestone walls, metal-framed windows, and black louvered jalousies.

    Studio Outside Texas hill country ranch ; Gardenista

    Above:& Photograph via Studio Outside.

    Imposing Texas limestone walls screen the six-car parking court from view from the two-story house.


    Above: Photograph via Studio Outside.

    Walls of windows frame views of mature trees.

    Texas Hill Country ranch Studio Outside Sarah Story ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Studio Outside.

    A patio of sandblasted concrete connects the children's wing to the rest of the house. Paths and patios of black gravel visually tie together distant sections of the property.


    Above: Photograph via Sara Story.

    Vintage Thonet chairs and a marble topped table sit in a breakfast alcove with a leather covered banquette and louvered windows to encourage a cross flow of breezes.


    Photograph via Studio Outside.

    Sectional seating by Gloster has a low profile to focus attention on the fire pit. A permeable black gravel patio surrounds the pit.

    Texas Hill country ranch Studio Outside Sarah Story ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Studio Outside.

    Species of opuntia cactus look like sculpture, planted in grassy strips of spiky bluesteam near the main house.


    Above: Photograph via Sara Story.

    Playing with texture, a smooth limestone staircase contrasts with a rough stone support wall.


    Above: Photograph via Sara Story.

    Born in Japan, Story grew up in Singapore and Houston and studied interior architecture at San Francisco’s Academy of Art before moving to Manhattan and working for designer Victoria Hagan. In 2003 she launched her own company, Sara Story Design.

    Sara Story Texas Hill Country ranch Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Sara Story.

    Each building in the compound is designed as a separate destination. 

    Sara Story Texas hill country ranch pool ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Sara Story.

    Inspired by the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe, the pool house xxxx; at poolside are a pair of B & B Italia chaise longues. 

    Sara Story Texas hill country ranch Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Sara Story.

    The tennis pavilion walls are stacked Texas limestone.

    For more of our favorite Texas landscapes, see:

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    French lighting company Roger Pradier has been manufacturing high-quality outdoor fixtures since 1910 when founder Edouard-Jean Pradier launched with a line of wrought iron lanterns to supply railway companies, municipalities, and the navy.

    In addition to a collection of traditional designs, the company has introduced a modern collection of pendants, lamp posts, pathway lighting, and outdoor sconces. We're particularly taken with the company's Faktory collection of pendants and wall sconces, which come with a 25-year guarantee against corrosion and are made of aluminum, zinc, or copper and available in several colors and configurations.


    Above: The Faktory Ceiling Light is available in six lacquered aluminum colors as well as in zinc or copper (shown) and has a clear glass dome (mounting hardware is included); €797 as shown.


    Above: A large wall sconce Copper Faktory Light is €771 from Terra Lumi.

    For more of our favorite outdoor lighting, see:

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    Reclaimed in style: wood sourced from pallets is painted and attached to casters for an instant and inexpensive garden bed.

    Spotted on the blog of Harvest Textiles, a Melbourne-based screen printing studio and workshop, the garden beds were built by graphic designer Lily Daley and silversmith Lucy Hearn of Peaches and Keen. The two designed the backyard with sustainability in mind: they only sourced objects already collected and began starter plants from donated succulent cuttings.

    We most admire the simplicity of the reclaimed beds; see our sources below to recreate the DIY project yourself.

    Above: Three garden beds at different heights—all on wheels for easy movement and watering. Photograph by Emma Byrnes for Harvest Workroom.

    Above: Cuttings and starter succulents ready for transplant. Photograph by Emma Byrnes for Harvest Workroom.

    Above: Source wooden boards from Home Depot; a Sure-Wood Red Oak Board is 22.09 each.

    Above: For an even quicker fix, source a classic wooden crate like this 12-inch-high Unfinished Wood Crate from Creative Merchandising Systems; contact for pricing and availability.

    Above: The 2 Inch Steel Wheel Swivel Caster is $3.98 from Home Depot.

    Above: Benjamin Moore's Britannia Blue Aura Paint is $25.99 per quart.

    For a similar project using pallets, see DIY: Garden Pallet as Instant Toolshed.

    For more ideas on wheels, see:

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    Noticed lately: upholstered couches (plus chaises, sectionals, settees, lounge chairs) that look like living room furniture but are designed to be used outdoors. Here are our top 10 high/low picks, ranging in price from $650 to $8,000.

    N.B. Most are available in several sizes and fabrics.

    Casamidy Altamurra Sofa | Gardenista

    Above: The Altamura Sofa from Casamidy is designed for covered exterior spaces and has a tubular iron frame and cushions covered in waxed cotton; available in several sizes and configurations. Contact Casamidy for pricing.

    Bliss Sofa from West Elm | Gardenista

    Above: The Bliss Outdoor Sofa from West Elm has teak legs and an aluminum frame; the flanged cushions are covered in quick-dry Textilene fabric; $1,444 (down from $1,699).

    Sundial Sofa from Serena & Lily | Gardenista

    Above: The Sundial Outdoor Sofa from Serena & Lily has an outdoor-grade birch frame and Sunbrella slipcover (available in bright white or navy); $3, 550.

    Albert and Dash Relax to the Max Denim Sofa | Remodelista

    Above: The Relax to the Max Four-Seat Outdoor Sofa in navy weather-resistant canvas is $3,030 from Dash & Albert (other sizes and colors available.)

    Palm Sofa from Room and Board | Gardenista

    Above: The Palm Sofa (several sizes available) from Room and Board is available in a range of Sunbrella canvas fabrics; $2,399.

    Outdoor LC3 Two Seater Sofa DWR | Remodelista

    Above: The Outdoor LC3 Two-Seater Sofa from Italian brand Cassina, designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand, is $7,935 from Design Within Reach (available in several colorways). The frame is made from brush-polished stainless steel and the cushions are made of self-draining polyurethane foam.

    Cloudtrack Sofa from RH | Gardenista

    Above: UK antiquarian Timothy Oulton designed the Cloudtrack Sofa line for Restoration Hardware; the Cloud Outdoor Track Arm Three-Seat Sofa is $6,925 (down from $7,695) and is available in a range of weather-resistant Perennial linen-weave fabric options.

    Casbah Loveseat from CB2 | Remodelista

    Above: The Casbah Love Seat from Italian design team for CB2 has powder-coated high-gloss white frame and water-resistant taupe poly weave cushions; $599 (down from $649).

    Malaga Scatterback Outdoor Sofa | Remodelista

    Above: The Malaga Scatterback Outdoor Sofa in Spinnaker Salt is slipcovered in Sunbrella fabric (more options available for fabrics, finishes, and accents); $3,450 from Bliss Home & Design.

    Lee Industries Cypress Sofa | Gardenista

    Above: The Cypress Sofa from Lee Industries is available in a range of outdoor fabrics; it's currently on sale for $2,706 (down from $3,866) at Teak Outdoor Living.

    Looking for inspiration for an outdoor patio or deck? See our favorite design and furniture ideas at:

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    Tomorrow when Michelle Obama and a corps of photogenic multicultural schoolchildren head out to the White House lawn to plant vegetable seedlings, they'll be kicking off the seventh growing season of a flourishing edible garden that once caused skeptics to roll their eyes. In 2009 when the First Lady first grabbed a shovel (and learned—on camera—just how hard it is to dig up grass), a New York Times reporter wondered, "What would Mrs. Obama’s impeccable outfit — thigh-length wrap sweater and patent leather boots—look like when she was done?"

    Luckily, no harm has befallen the First Lady's wardrobe. And she's learned a few things about gardening along the way. As the first permanent White House kitchen garden since World War II has grown (it now sprawls over 1,500 square feet), so have her ambitions. While the White House gardeners added fruit trees, berry bushes, and flowers to attract pollinators, the First Lady used the garden as a springboard to launch her "Let's Move" campaign to improve children's health.

    Here are 10 garden ideas to steal from Michelle Obama's White House garden:

    Photography via Obama Foodorama except where noted.

    Michelle Obama White House edible garden broccoli ; Gardenista

    Above: Michelle Obama's gardening wardrobe has evolved with her garden. For a lightweight navy hooded jacket similar to the First Lady's, a Swing Trench Coat is $228 at J. Crew. Photograph via ABC.

    "On March 20, 2009, I was like any other hopeful gardener with a pot out on the windowsill or a small plot by the back door. I was nervously watching the sky. Would it freeze? Would it snow? Would it rain?" Michelle Obama wrote in American Grown, the story of how she embarked on an adventure: planting her first garden. 

    The first step? Coming up with a good garden layout. 

    Garden Design 101


    Above: Photograph via American Grown.

    The White House kitchen garden has the good fortune to be sited in full sun. If you're laying out a garden from scratch, see Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden Design Checklist from Let's Move.

    Two helpful hints from the checklist: Put the tallest plants in the back of the
    garden so they don't steal the sun from shorter plants and lay out planting rows from north to south "to maximize the sun’s rise and fall."

    Lettuce First


    Above: Lettuce seedlings in raised beds in the White House garden in early April 2015. If you're looking for a raised-bed kit to start a garden, see 5 Favorites: Raised Garden Bed Roundup and Design Sleuth: Stacked Raised Beds for the Garden.

    If you're ready to plant, start in early spring with lettuce. If you're growing lettuce from seed, sow the cool weather crop now for a harvest in late spring and early summer.

    Succession Planting


    Above: For slate garden markers similar to the ones in the White House garden, see High/Low: Slate Garden Marker Kits. For more garden plant labels, see 10 Easy Pieces: Garden Markers.

    As you plant spring crops including lettuce, spinach, and onions, remember to leave room for summer crops such as tomatoes and corn. If you have a small garden plot, after the spring harvest enrich the soil by digging in compost and manure and then plant summer crops. For a reminder of when to plant what, see Johnny's Seeds Vegetable Succession Planting Chart


    Above: Corn is one of the summer crops in the White House garden. 

    Let's Move


    Above: The more you tend your own garden, the healthier you'll be. Gardening is good exercise; you can burn 182 calories by weeding for half an hour.



    Above: Tomatillos in the White House garden. 

    In addition to growing the usual suspects, the White House gardeners plant tomatillos, sea kale, and Lincoln oats (all of which end up on the menu at the White House). If you want to grow your own oatmeal, plant Hulless Oats; a 1-ounce packet of seeds is $4 from Baker Creek.

    Make Room for Flowers


    Above: Red flowering salvia (R) is planted alongside peanuts, pumpkins, papaya, figs, lemon grass, and squash in the White House garden. 

    Pamper the Pollinators


    Above: Plant flowers that attract bees, birds, butterflies, and moths. The White House garden has a raised bed dedicated to 34 varieties of plants that pollinators love, including butterfly weed, goldenrod, white wood aster, Coreopsis 'Moonbeam', Joe Pye weed, willow leaf 'Blue Star', Liatris 'Blazing star', purple lungwort, broom sedge, Black-eyed Susan, and little bluestem grass.

    Save the Butterflies


    Above: Last spring Michelle Obama planted two types of milkweed as host plants for endangered monarch butterflies.

    Monarch caterpillars live exclusively on milkweed plants, according to the National Wildlife Federation: "Milkweeds contain glycoside toxins that are harmless to the monarch but poisonous to its predators. Monarch caterpillars feed on all the different parts of milkweed plants and store up the toxins in their body. The toxins remain in their system even after metamorphosis, thereby making adult monarchs poisonous as well."

    Milkweed wildflowers belong to the genus Asclepias; an Asclepias Mixture of 10 plants is $14 from Breck's.

    Keep Bees


    Above: A beehive on the White House lawn next to the vegetable beds.

    To learn more about Beekeeping, see our posts The Naked Beekeepers of Hong Kong and A Simple Garden in Oakland, Chickens and Bees Included.

    Don't Give Up


    Above: A plaque in the White House garden has a quote from Thomas Jefferson to remind gardeners that the hope is "the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another" will provide a bountiful harvest.

    Gardens are at the mercy of rain, wind, hail, insects, and varmints; don't expect everything to go right all the time. If one plant fails, try another.

    "Trial and error is normal in gardening—your garden will get better over time, year after year," advises the Let's Move program. If you're looking for more advice, the federal Department of Agriculture's Cooperative Extension program offers non-formal education and gardening tips "including a local Extension Master Gardener volunteer to help with gardening challenges or lead training sessions." 

    Find your county's Cooperative Extension Office at the National Pesticide Information Center. 

    For more help planning a kitchen garden, see:

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    Katrin Scharl was not a born gardener. In fact she really had little interest until she and her husband, Moritz Bayer, began dabbling in the small plot outside their rented Vienna home. When it came time for the German couple to buy their own home, they turned from city to country in search of the perfect garden home. Well, at least one with potential.

    In 2011, their search led them to the quaint village of Brandenburg outside of Berlin. There, on the town square, Katrin and Moritz found an historic brick farmhouse with 2,500 square meters of land. Though the plot had not been touched in 50 years, it did have a walled garden area, a barn, some self-seeded fruit and nut trees, as well as a few elderberry bushes. The couple's dream of a garden that would sustain them through the winter began to take shape.

    Since then, many have enjoyed witnessing Katrin's ongoing evolution from amateur to expert, which she chronicles on her blog, Taking Notes. Despite what Katrin describes as a trial-and-error approach, she and Moritz have utterly transformed their once weedy wasteland into a bountiful landscape, complete with orchard, walled flower garden, berry patch, vegetable beds, and chickens.

    Photography by Katrin Scharl, unless otherwise noted.

    Katrin Scharl in her garden, by Nicola Holtkamp, Gardenista

    Above: Katrin Scharl among the raised beds of her vegetable garden. Photograph by Nicola Holtkamp (who featured more of Katrin and Moritz's garden and home on her site, Im Augenblick).

    Katrin and Moritz's first fall in the home was taken up by clearing 50 years' worth of untouched wilderness. "The garden was a literal wasteland," Katrin said. "There wasn't a single flower, but huge piles of rubble and rubbish." Fortunately, there were a few self-seeded fruit and nut trees as well as some berry bushes, so the couple was able to begin harvesting right away.


    Above: A view of Katrin and Moritz's garden three years after they moved in includes a walled flower garden with chicken run, an orchard, and a vegetable garden. Photograph by Nicola Holtkamp.

    With ambitious plans, the couple dug right in during their first full growing season in the home, planting the walled garden, completing a deck, clearing the vegetable patch and establishing a potato field. In addition, they expanded their orchard, adding pear, quince, and more apple trees to the existing plum, cherry, and nut trees.

    Rudbeckia, Katrin Scharls Brandenburg Garden, Gardenista

    Above: In the walled garden, cheerful Rudbeckia is complemented by the cool color of purple phlox.

    morningevening walled garden Katrin Scharl, Gardenista

    Above: Nestled between the barn and house, the couple's walled flower garden (shown here, year three) is divided into four perennial plots with walking paths in between.

    Katrin Scharl's Brandenburg Garden, Aug, Gardenista

    Above: Katrin traveled around the region photographing historic brick structures with painted doors, before settling on the perfect shade of blue for the barn door. Turns out it was "just a cheap shade form the local hardware store." The bike just happens to match.

    Katrin Scharl's Brandenburg Garden, geramiums in the window, Gardenista

    Above: Completely enclosed by the house, barn, and a brick wall, this cozy garden has a rather Secret Garden romance to it. Here a wooden gate next to the barn leads to the chicken run, vegetables and orchard beyond.

    Katrin Scharl in her Garden, Gardenista

    Above: Katrin picks lettuce from her vegetable patch. Photograph by Nicola Holtkamp.

    For Katrin and Moritz, the vegetable garden in particular was a learning process. A solid week of rain in June 2013 flooded the newly planted garden during its first year. After that the couple constructed raised beds.

    vegetable harvest, Katrin Scharl's Brandenburg Garden, by Nicola Holtkamp, Gardenista

    Above: A harvest of vegetables. Photograph by Nicola Holtkamp.

    Katrin Scharl's chickens, by Nicola Holtkamp, Gardenista

    Above: Katrin and Moritz's chickens provide fresh eggs 11 months of the year. (For some reason they seem to take the Christmas season off.) They also have the most stylish coop—a converted tool shed, painted "Labrador blue."

    blackberries ripen in Katrin Scharl's garden, Gardenista

    Above: Ripening black berries. Photograph by Nicola Holtkamp.

    Katrin Scharls Garden, apple trees, Gardenista

    Above: Katrin's apple tree bloom in spring...

    apple harvest Katrin Scharl's Brandenburg garden, Gardenista

    Above: ... and give her apples in the autumn, when the asters are in bloom.

    Katrin Scharl's Garden, Potatoes with Ludwig, Gardenista

    Above: Ever helpful, the couple's dog, Ludwig, assists with the potato harvest.

    walled garden bench, Katrin Scharls garden, Gardenista

    Above: A larger gate leads from the walled garden to the chickens, orchard, and vegetable patch.

    butterflies, Katrin Scharls Garden, Gardenista

    Above: Butterflies love Katrin's flowers.

    border garden Katrin Scharl, Gardenista

    Above: A border garden with soft pinks.

    Katrin Scharl's dill pickles, Gardenista

    Above: Provisioning themselves for the winter means a lot of canning. Here Katrin makes dill pickles. Elderberry syrup and plum butter are also among her specialties. Potatoes, apples, and squash are stored in the root cellar.

    plum harvest,Katrin Scharl's Brandenburg Garden, Gardenista

    Above: A harvest of plums. Often Katrin, who works from home as a PR writer, indulges in what she calls a "hippie lunch," fresh pickings from the garden.

    ose wall, Katrin Scharls Brandenburg garden, Gardenista

    Above: The walled garden is particularly romantic when the roses bloom in the early summer.

    Holly Hocks, Katrin Scharls walled garden, Gardenista

    Above: Hollyhocks climb the brick facade in the walled garden.

    poppies, Kartin Scharl's walled garden june, Gardenista

    Above: Pink poppies in the late spring.

    lupin, Katrin Scharl's Brandenburg Garden, Gardenista

    Above: Lupine and blooming garlic.

    Layout, Katrin Scharls Brandenburg garden, Gardenista

    Above: Katrin's hand-drawn plan shows the layout of the garden. In the future, they hope to push their garden's production even further into winter with the addition of a greenhouse.

    N.B. Continue your bucolic tour of Germany:

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    Spring sunshine gives us the DIY design bug, bad. Here are 19 easy DIY projects our editors swear by—we've done them all at least once, outdoors or in—with step-by-step instructions for each:

    DIY Indoor Outdoor Living


    Above: Meredith built her own DIY Custom Window Boxes with lumber and black stain.


    Above: After a quick trip to the hardware store to get a dropcloth and some hooks, Alexa made a rather glamorous DIY Instant Hammock.


    Above: Izabella figured out it only costs $5 to make a stylish DIY Concrete Stool.

    finished razor clam light Justine Hand, Gardenista

    Above: Justine collected shells on the shore at Cape Cod to make a DIY Razor Clam Pendant Light.

    Finished concrete planters | Gardenista

    Above: Dalilah made patio planters in DIY on a Budget: Mini Concrete Planters for $30.

    DIY Spring-Flowering Branches


    Above: Inspired by working side by side with White House florist Emily Thompson, Sophia used spring flowering branches to arrange DIY Magnolias and More, with Emily Thompson.


    Above: Justine figured out how to extend the life of woody flowering branches with an angled cut when she made her Ode to Spring DIY Bouquet.


    Above: The Magical Powers of DIY White Cherry Blossoms transformed Erin's tiny Brooklyn apartment into a fairyland of flowers.


    Above: In Flower Arranging 101, Erin experimented with a homemade flower frog to hold stems in place in a simple vase.


    Above: Fearless flower forager Louesa Roebuck taught Sarah the easy way to make a DIY: Ikebana Arrangement with Magnolias.

    DIY Quick-Fix Decor


    Above: It took the better part of two days, but Michelle is glad she lined a sideboard drawer with silvercloth to make a DIY Custom Silverware Drawer Insert.

    Wire vase small space DIY Erin Boyle ; Gardenista

    Above: With a few strands of wire and a pair of needle-nose pliers, Erin made a DIY Black Wire Hanging Vase that looks at home in every room of her apartment.

    DIY Leather Knife Rack ; GArdenista

    Above: Alexa's kitchen knives are display worthy, so she made a DIY Wall Mounted Leather Knife Rack for them.

    DIY Rope Doormat ; Gardenista

    Above: Erin learned that a DIY Woven Doormat requires 100 feet of rope (and garden gloves).

    Gardening 101 Indoor Terrarium how to ; Gardenista

    Above: Here are step-by-step instructions to make Michelle's easy DIY Succulents Terrarium.

    DIY Garden Style

    DIY waxed canvas, supplies, Gardenista

    Above: With $15 worth of supplies, Justine made her own DIY Waxed Canvas Tote.


    Above: Sarah Waldo Jagger came up with a beginner's sewing pattern so we could make our own DIY Roll-Up Gardener's Tool Aprons.

    DIY Indoor Gardens

    DIY modern bonsai plants ; Gardenista

    Above: Cheryl potted some easy modern DIY: No-Fuss Bonsai for Beginners.

    Indoor windowsill compost garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Justine and her kids grew an indoor DIY Compost Garden on the windowsill.


    Above: Erin found the perfect DIY Low Light Houseplant.

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    Remodelista editor in chief Julie Carlson loves fresh produce, and happened to have an empty spot on the patio just off her kitchen. All she had to do was move a garden bench to create enough space for a raised bed garden. 

    Raised Garden Bed from The Home Depot | Gardenista

    Above: The finished garden bed in Julie's side yard is made of two 48-Inch Square Cedar Raised Garden Beds stacked on top of each other; currently on sale for $34.88 each (down from $44.97) at The Home Depot.

    Tomato Plants from The Home Depot | Gardenista

    Above: Julie chose a variety of herbs and vegetables by Bonnie Plants from The Home Depot. Here, a Husky Cherry Tomato seedling; $4.98 each at The Home Depot. 

    Basil Plants from The Home Depot | Gardenista

    Above: She planted a flat of Sweet Basil seedlings (sold in peat pots you can plant directly into the soil); $4.98 each at The Home Depot. 

    Nasturtiums and Basil in a Raised Garden Bed from The Home Depot | Gardenista

    Above: For a summer of salads, Julie added three varieties of lettuce, nasturtiums, and pansies and planted the lot in 22 cubic feet of Nature's Care Organic Garden Soil; $7.99 per 1.5 cubic-foot bag at The Home Depot.  

    Nasturtiums and Pansies in a Raised Garden Bed from The Home Depot | Gardenista

    Above: Nasturtiums and pansies, both edible flowers, also add color to the garden. 

    Raised Garden Bed from The Home Depot | Gardenista

    Above: Julie's garden bench, in the foreground, found a good home on the other side of the garden. 


    Above: The garden bench, formerly perched in the garden's sunniest spot—perfect for tomatoes, less so for people. 

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    With more than 300 varieties of clematis to choose among, we're happy that Martha Stewart has done the legwork to help refine our wish list.

    Her favorites—all blue or purple varieties—grow in her garden in Westchester County, a few miles north of New York City. 

    "When I bought my farm in Bedford, I knew I wanted to build a long pergola and have clematis growing all over it," writes Stewart.  "Each year, the flower display gets better and better."

    Of course it does. Yours can too, with her hand-picked clematis varieties (chosen for their hardiness, long blooming seasons, and beautifully shaped flowers). Here are sources for nine of Martha Stewart's favorites:

    Photography via The Martha Blog.


    Above: Stewart designed a long pergola with stone columns for her clematis to grow up and over. It's so lovely we can't resist examining it from a few different angles before we move on to discuss the specific varieties she's growing.


    Above: She had the pergola built using antique granite posts from China (of course she did). But don't be intimidated. Any old post, column, trellis, or fence will do as a support structure. Clematis vines are natural climbers.


    Above: At Stewart's farm in Bedford, clematis vines are trained against a crisscross of steel wire wrapped around the granite poles.

    Clematis 'Parisienne'


    Above: First displayed in 2005 where it made its debut at the UK's Chelsea Flower Show, nurseryman Raymond Evison's Clematis 'Parisienne' owes its popularity both to its vividly colored single flowers and to a diminutive stature that makes it an easygoing companion in a planting sheme.  

    For UK readers, a 1.5-liter pot of Clematis 'Parisienne' is £12.99 from Raymond Evison. For US readers, a 1-quart post of Clematis 'Parisienne' is $17.95 from White Flower Farm.


    Above: At its mature height of 4 feet, Clematis 'Parisienne' is short enough to plant near the front of a border and it's an ideal candidate to train as a herbaceous shrub (prune it as a bush instead of letting it climb).

    Clematis 'Betty Corning'


    Above: Named after a bride who discovered it in her garden in upstate New York, garden, 'Betty Corning' is the only scented variety of the small-flowered viticella group. A Viticella 'Betty Corning' is $22 from Clematis Specialty Nursery, whose owner notes: "If I could only have one clematis in my garden, this would unhesitatingly be my choice."

    Clematis 'Arabella'


    Above: Shipped in a 1-quart pot, Clematis 'Arabella' is $24.95 from Wayside Gardens, which notes that the late-flowering variety will flower for as long as four months every growing season and has "more blooms per inch than most others can even dream of."

    Clematis 'Daniel Deronda'


    Above: A Clematis 'Daniel Deronda' is $10.95 from Home Clematis via Amazon.

    A deciduous climber that likes well-drained soil and a sunny spot, Clematis 'Daniel Deronda' blooms early in the season and will reach a height of 8 feet when mature (from two to five years after it arrives in your garden).

    Clematis 'Fairy Blue'


    Above: Raised in Japan by Hiroshi Hayakawa, Clematis 'Fairy Blue' has double flowers with a silvery center that resembles a fountains. A late spring bloomer, it will grow as high as 8 feet; £15 from Thorncroft Clematis.

    Clematis 'Rhapsody'


    Above: With a large, deep blue single flower as big as 6 inches in diameter, Clematis 'Rhapsody' blooms from June to September and will grow as tall as 8 feet at maturity. A Clematis 'Rhapsody' in a 1-gallon pot is $19.95 from Home of Clematis.

    Clematis 'Blue Angel' and 'Jackmanii'


    Above: To many people, dark purple Jackmanii is the quintessential clematis. The first modern hybrid with big, big blooms, Jackmanii was introduced in the early 1860s. Its profuse blooming habits and vigorous growth (it will easily achieve a height of 10 feet at maturity) are two of its best attributes. White Flower Farm calls its Clematis X Jackmanii 'Superba' "an improvement on the original," a description which fills us with longing. Shipped in a 1-quart pot, it's $16.95.

    A good pale blue backdrop for Jackmanii is Clematis 'Blue Angel'; the prolific bloomer will grow as high as 12 feet and is $16.99 from Garden Crossings.

    Clematis 'Blue Ravine'


    Above: Clematis 'Blue Ravine' will tolerate partial shade and is $22.50 from Joy Creek.

    Clematis 'Eyres Gift'


    Above: From UK plantsman Barry Fretwell, Clematis 'Eyres Gift' is distributed in the US by Florida-based Roseville Farms; $14.99. 'Eyres Gift' will reach a height of 8 feet in the garden and is a long-lasting cut flower.

    For more garden design inspiration, see:

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