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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    You just got engaged (congratulations!). Now to plan. Is the thought of setting dates, booking venues, creating guest lists, and hiring vendors while remaining in sync with your significant other making your head spin? Don't fret: 21st century brides and grooms have it made.

    Here are 10 apps that make wedding planning a piece of cake.  

    Bridal Party

    Wedding Party App, Organize Wedding Party | Gardenista

    Above: Manage key dates (dress fittings, rehearsal dinners, bridal and bachelorette parties) and communicate regularly with your bridal party when they download the Bridal Party app. Photograph by Krista A. Jones via Style Me Pretty.

    The Knot

    The Knot, Wedding App | Gardenista

    Above: The Knot Wedding Planner app organizes brides and grooms by enabling them to keep a checklist of to-dos, countdown to the big day, and gather inspiration for decor, bridesmaid dresses, table arrangements, and more. Available for iPhone and Android

    Brides Wedding Planner

    bride on iphone wedding planning app ; Gardenista

    For more wedding ideas and a catalog of vendors and honeymoon spots, download the Brides Wedding Planner

    Couple App

    cherry branches computer ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    And don't forget to keep your better half up to date on everything related to your union with the Couple App. 

    Zola

    Zola gift registry wedding ; Gardenista

    Above: A customizable gift registry, Zola enables brides and grooms to schedule package delivery on a particular date (or exchange items before they are delivered). A group gifting feature makes it easy for friends and family to contribute money toward an item that may be too expensive for one guest to purchase.

    WedPics

    wedding-pics-diy-gardenista

    Above: Photograph via A Beautiful Mess.

    See all the photos from your wedding in one place with WedPics. Your guests and photographers can use the platform to share pictures they've captured from your nuptials. The service features include ordering prints, creating slideshows, as well as basic wedding planning tools like a countdown and guestlist. Photograph courtesy of WedPics. 

    Appy Couple

    Appy Couple, Wedding Planner App | Gardenista

    Above: Create a personalized wedding app and wesbite with Appy Couple. Use the app to monitor your wedding timeline and budget, send invitations, manage RSVPS, and register for gifts. 

    Wedding Countdown App

    Martha Stewart Wedding iPad App | Gardenista

    Above: While you're using the Wedding Countdown App to gear up for final wedding preparations, keep the latest issue of Martha Stewart Weddings handy with the iPad app. 

    Wedding Cake Designer

    Photograph: Cakebloom SF, Wedding Cake Planner App | Gardneista

    Above: Have an idea of what your perfect wedding cake looks like but can't quite verbalize it to your baker? Use the Wedding Cake Designer to visualize every tier and decoration. Photograph courtesy of Cakebloom

    Bouqs App

    Wedding Planner App, the Bouqs | Gardenista

    Above: Ordering fresh flowers for a bouquet or table arrangement couldn't be easier with the Bouqs App. The service delivers flowers to you straight from the farm within 2-4 days of being cut. 

    Pinterest

    glass bottle on tabletop-erin boyle for gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    The ultimate wedding planning app? Since its debut in 2010, Pinterest has helped brides brainstorm every last detail. From engagement photos to cocktail bars, the virtual moodboard is a handbook for DIY too. Browse Pinterest Wedding Ideas boards to start.

    For the tech-savvy: 

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    On a swelteringly hot summer day we asked Louesa Roebuck, a Renaissance woman and renegade floral designer, to create summer bouquets for us. The perennial rule breaker (whose clients have included Chez Panisse) raided her friend Lauren McIntosh's lush Berkeley garden and some nearby trees to create two offerings: one fuzzy, wild, and green; the other fresh and floral.

    While all the components were sourced in Northern California, substituting similar elements from your own locale will work just as well. For Louesa, it's all about creating a mood in the moment with whatever is on hand.

    Photography by Matthew Williams.

    The Edible Bouquet

    The Components: Branches laden with quince, grapes, and pears; oregano stems, and grape leaves.

    Above: Branches of quince and oregano stems. To these Louesa added branches of pears, grapes, and grape vines. "I found the quince in a tree in an abandoned empty lot where the Oakland fire was. Someone never rebuilt, but the tree survived," Louesa says. "Quince's fragrance is one of my favorites, and it will stay in the house. The leaves will drop, but you can mist them. I wanted this whole bouquet to be edible, which is why I used the oregano and grapes." 

    The Finished Look

    Above: "I am very taken with the fuzziness and shape of the quince, and the color is so beautiful with the dark grapes and the oregano that has gone to seed," Louesa says. "Part of the appeal is the way the dark grape leaf comes through and the oregano that's tall and leggy—it's an unexpected element. Herbs are really good at adding a note of wispiness. They're not tameable and have their own form, so they make things wild. And it's the wildness that makes it work—that and the fact that it's only one herb. If it had been three, the arrangement would have been too busy." The vase is by Kelly Farley of Pope Valley Pottery.

    The Bloomsbury Bouquet

    The Components: Dahlias, oakleaf and viburnum hydrangea, white and yellow roses, and white magnolias.

    Above: "I am not a dahlia fan, but these are pretty," Louesa says. "I don't use hot or yellow dahlias—I think they're ugly—I like them creamy, creamy; bloody red, or deep and moody purple. I also used a big, white magnolia, and oakleaf and viburnum hydrangeas from Lauren's garden. They're one of my favorite things to use. They do well even if you don't put them in water—they look a little sad and dead for a while, but then they dry out. The white roses are Sally Holmes, very scented and beautiful and old-fashioned; the yellow roses are David Austin, which hold up really well."

    The Finished Look

    Above: Flowers displayed in industrial medical glass vessels from Ohmega Salvage. Louesa notes, "The components in this arrangement are much more conventional and pretty than the quince display. Hydrangeas and dahlias in glass is very English and dear and feminine…it's sort of bridal and romantic and Bloomsbury. It's my take on an English arrangement. I used three vases—I only do odds. I like it when they look like one organism—it's three vessels but it's one piece; they have a language together."

    To see Lauren's garden, the source of much of this bounty, read our post on the Renegade Florist; also check out Louesa's Foraged Ikebana Florals and Not Your Mother's Rose Bouquet.

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    Don't think of it as a backyard. Behind your house lies a wild meadow, a night-sky dining room, a mysterious path, or even an open-air art gallery. Potentially.

    With summer 2015 just around the corner, think big (without breaking your budget) with these 11 backyard landscaping ideas:

    Perimeter of Perennials

    Grace Kennedy perennial beds in autumn l Gardenista

    Above: A perennial border planted with white Phlox paniculata 'David'; Echinacea 'Coconut Lime'; Platycodon; Aster 'Bluebird' and Digitalis ferruginea. For more of this garden, see It's High Season in Grace Kennedy's Garden.

    Create a buffer between your yard and the neighbors' (or the road) with a wide garden bed planted with tall summer-flowering perennials. Joe Pye weed, anyone?

    Serene Symmetry

    Cypress trees backyard landscaping ; Gardenista

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

    Nothing is more cooling in summer heat than serene symmetry. Create a mirror-image garden with a walkway or (or staircase if your hard is steep) that bisects the space, then add side-by-side plantings to create repetition and rhythm.

    Family Fire Pit

    Backyard landscaping idea fire pit ; Gardenista

    Above: For more of this garden, see Garden Designer Visit: A Burst of Color in the Green Mountains.

    Create a destination with a fire pit. It will draw marshmallow-bearing family members out of the house and into garden. Pick a site at the edge of the property so it feels like a journey to reach the fire pit (this will make the backyard feel more spacious).

    Add an Edible Garden

    Backyard-landscaping-edible-garden-gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Janice Parker.

    Fence in the food, plant your edibles in raised beds, and declare victory: there will be salad all summer.

    A Mysterious Path

    backyard landscaping ideas perennials garden beds ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Miranda Brooks.

    No matter how small your backyard is, you can create mystery and a sense of depth with a path whose end you cannot see. Plant perennials alongside the walkway to obscure the destination.

    Night Lights

    Backyard landscaping ideas cafe lights ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Brick + Mortar.

    Dine en plein air all summer under a night sky. Nothing feels more festive than a string or three of cafe lights. See our favorites in 10 Easy Pieces: Outdoor String Lights.

    Create a Nap Destination

    backyard-landscaping-ideas-hammocks-gardenista

    Above: For more of this garden, see At Home in LA: Jeweler Kathleen Whitaker's Secret Garden.

    Two trees plus one hammock equals lazy summer afternoons.

    Wild Meadow

    Wild meadow backyard landscaping ideas ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle. For more, see Hardscaping 101: Guide to Sustainable Landscape Design.

    Stop the mowing. It's a waste of your time (and water). Tear up the lawn and replace it with a wildflower meadow of hardy natives.

    Artificial Grass

    architect-visit-barbara-chambers-garden-mill-valley-23-gardenista

    Above: For more of this garden, see Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley.

    Not ready to say goodbye to turf? Install artificial grass to save water and time (needs no mowing). Are you on the fence? Read more in Pros and Cons: Artificial Grass Versus a Live Lawn.

    Art in the Grass

    Grace_Knowlton_2_Maria_Robledo_Gardenista

    Above: For more of this garden, see Grace Knowlton in the Garden.

    The midcentury artist Isamu Noguchi once said, "I like to think of gardens as a sculpturing of space." Add a focal point to the landscape with an abstract sculpture. For more ideas, see 10 Easy Pieces: Noguchi Style Sculpture and Rocks.

    Deer-proof Design

    Deer fencing Hamptons garden ; Gardenista

    Above: For more of this garden, see Elegant Deer Fencing, Hamptons Edition.

    Do not fear deer. They just look smarter than us. They can be thwarted—and the roses saved—without making your garden look like a prison yard. For stylish deer-proof fencing ideas, see Hardscaping 101: Design Guide for Fences

    For more landscaping ideas, see:

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    Eight years ago, when real estate developer Jacques Massachi bought the former Lombardi estate on Hollywood Boulevard, his plan was to tear it down and put up an apartment complex. Built in 1904, the Victorian farmhouse had most recently been owned by vocal coaches and vaudeville entertainers Philip and Sylvia Lombardi, but it had fallen into disrepair, and salvaging it seemed like a futile exercise. At the urging of local preservation mavens, however, Massachi changed course and decided to turn the property into a guest house/event space. Working with architects Project M+ and interior designer Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors, Massachi has created Lombardi House, a cheery, urban oasis that can accommodate up to 28 guests in four apartments.

    Lombardi Estate Victorian farmhouse stoop ; GArdenista

    Above: The camera-ready exterior (already a favorite photo location for wedding parties).

    Lombardi House Los Angeles weddings ; Gardenista

    Above: Mature trees were preserved during the remodel.

    Lombardi House events barn LA ; Gardenista

    Above: An exterior view of the events barn.

    Lombardi house barn Los Angeles wedding space ; Gardenista

    Above: Project M+ architects converted the 1,700-square-foot barn into a party space.

    Lombardi house living room ; Gardenista

    Above: A living room in one of the apartments with green curtains that bring the garden indoors.

    Lombardi house original detail staircase newel ; Gardenista

    Above: Massachi was careful to preserve the house's original detailing.

    Lombardi House kitchen apartment hotel LA ; Gardenista

    Above: Above: The kitchen and dining area in the two-bedroom Suite 1715. The banana leaf palm fabric is a salute to the famous wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel coffee shop.

    Lombardi house LA succulents potted plants ; Gardenista

    Above: Potted plants are a reminder of LA's tropical weather.

    Lombardi house LA wedding venue ; Gardenista

    Above: The reliably sunny climate in LA encourages an outdoor wedding.

    Lombardi house antique car wedding barn ; Gardenista

    Above: A wedding getaway vehicle at the ready. For more information and reservations, go to Lombardi House.

    Headed to LA? See more of our favorite southern California destinations:

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    Today online magazine Freunde von Freunden publishes an exclusive interview with San Francisco woodworker Jay Nelson, a Facebook artist-in-residence whose "slightly subversive" projects worry the facilities team ("they're all about making sure no one even gets a scratch"). His hanging sphere meeting room, for instance, now has a steel frame to hold it steady.

    This does not deter Nelson from pushing the limits. Nelson told interviewer Zachary Slobig that he also builds tree houses, converts cars to campers, makes surfboards, and is in the process of adding to his Outer Sunset house a dining room addition built of scavenged wood:

    Photography by Kenny Hurtado via Freunde von Freunden except where noted.

    Jay Nelson woodworker SF artist surfer ; Gardenista

    Above: At home on the foggy western edge of San Francisco, Nelson shares a flat with his wife, painter Rachel Kaye, and their one-year-old daughter, Romy.

    Jay Nelson woodworker SF artist surfer ; Gardenista

    Above: In Nelson's backyard, succulents reach for the sun.

    For more photos and the complete story, see Freunde von Freunden.

    Jay Nelson woodworker SF artist surfer ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Facebook.

    At Facebook, "I was the first person to do an artist residency there. I feel like in San Francisco there’s a lot of tension between the tech community and everyone else," says Nelson. "I think it’s really cool that they’re bringing two different groups of people together that don’t necessarily understand each other. The other great thing about Facebook is they pay you what an artist should make and they have no problem with it."

    jay-nelson-facebook-artist-wood-gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Facebook.

    The first thing Nelson ever built was a treehouse (of sorts) when he was 9. "I would nail found pieces of wood on the tree and just keep doing that until there was thick layer of wood on top of everything," he says. "It got so crazy and the tree was so mangled that my dad was like, 'Listen, I’ll buy you all the material to build a skate ramp if you take all that wood out of the tree.' "

    jay-nelson-facebook-artist-wood-gardenista

    Above: A spiral staircase leads to a tree house loft.

    jay-nelson-facebook-artist-wood-gardenista

    Above: Inside the tree house, the walls are paneled in wood.

    jay-nelson-facebook-artist-wood-gardenista

    Above: "I definitely love surfing and it’s a huge part of my life, but if you want to dedicate your whole time to it you have to live a life revolving around what the waves are doing. Sometimes that feels like a curse," says Nelson. 

    For more of our favorite surf shacks, see:

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    Why do some houses seem friendlier than others? Look no further than the roof for an answer. A house with a generous roof overhang provides an extra layer of shelter and protection—no wonder it looks more welcoming.

    No only does a roof overhang protect a facade from the ravages of weather, it also can act like an awning to shade a patio or deck. And a wide overhang will divert rainwater away from the foundation, which helps keep a basement dry.

    Here are 10 ideas to add curb appeal to a house with a roof overhang:

    Eichler Rethink

    Roof overhang Eichler remodel ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Ana Williamson.

    Architect Ana Williamson added a 21st century family room to the back of a classic 1960s Eichler house in Menlo Park, California, disguising the addition with a wide roof overhang typical of midcentury modern design.

    Eichler Original

    Eichler remodel roof overhang patio San Mateo, California ; Gardenista  

    Above: SF-based landscape designer Beth Mullins of Growsgreen created a new garden in San Mateo, California to complement a restored midcentury Eichler gem that has a roof overhang to shelter a wall of windows.

    Stay tuned for our upcoming post, The Landscape Designer Is In, when Mullins will be available this weekend to answer any and all questions about the project.

    Retractable Roof 

    Roof overhang retractable shed ; Gardenista

    Above: For more, see A Norwegian Shed with a Retractable Roof and Walls.

    Oslo-based architects Rever & Drage designed a trio of garden sheds on the coast of Norway to disappear. When doors on front and back walls roll open, the see-through sheds reveal a shoreline view. On the largest shed (R), a retractable roof creates an awning to shade a patio.

    Roof overhang retractable shed ; Gardenista

    Above: Powered by an electric motor, the retractable roof slides back and disappears.

    Winged Victory

    Roof overhang Montana cabin ; Gardenista

    Above: In western Montana, Texas-based architects Andersson-Wise designed a cabin with a butterfly roof and overhangs. For more of this project, see Into the Woods: A Cabin on Flathead Lake.

    Roof overhang Montana cabin deck ; Gardenista

    Above: In addition to protecting the facade from rain and snow, the roof overhang provides shade and shelter for a narrow elevated deck.

    Czech Mate

    Roof overhang teahouse Czech Republic ; Gardenista

    Above: In the Czech Republic, A1Architects built a lakeside charred-timber teahouse with a substantial roof overhang to ensure that the outbuilding would be a modern "micro-space, beautiful and cozy and comfortable to stay in for hours."

    For more of this project, see A Teahouse Charred and Blackened on Purpose.

    Roof overhang teahouse Czech Republic ; Gardenista

    Above: Large sliding doors reminiscent of Japanese paper shoji can be adjusted to enclose interior spaces or to create expansive views.

    On Golden Pond

    Kugel Gips House roof overhang ; Gardenista

    Above: On Cape Cod, architect Charles Zehnder's Kugel 1970 Gips House overlooks Northeast Pond; a series of cantilevered decks and roof overhangs connect indoor spaces to spectacular natural surroundings. For more of the house, see The Pond-Front Rental: The Cape Cod Modern Trust House.

    Sunscreen

    Roof Overhang steep slope modern house ; Gardenista

    Above: On a steep slope in California's Santa Lucia Mountains, Feldman Architecture designed a house with a generous roof overhang to shade interiors as well as to protect the facade from the effects of weather.

    An eco-friendly roof garden cuts energy costs and creates an inviting habitat for butterflies and bees.

    Roof garden green roof Feldman Architecture ; Gardenista

    Above: On the green roof are perennial grasses and wildflowers including California native poppies. 

    En Plein Air

    Roof overhang cabin with outdoor shower ; Gardenista

    Above: For a 191-square-foot cabin in the Pacific Northwest, architect Tom Kundig designed an outdoor shower protected beneath a deep roof overhang. For more of this project, see Into the Wild: A Tiny Cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

    South by Southwest

    Roof overhang deck patio Texas house ; Gardenista

    Above: For a Texas home that overlooks a busy thoroughfare, Austin-based Alterstudio Architects designed a roof overhang for a protected backyard deck to create a private oasis that feels far from traffic.

    For more of Alterstudio's work, see Steal This Look: A Silvery Blue Palette in Austin, TX.

    Marfa Minimalism

    Roof overhang Marfa Texas shaded porch deck patio ; Gardenista

    Above: In Marfa, Texas a former dance hall converted to a vacation house has a generous roof overhang to create a shaded patio. For more of this project, see Steal This Look: A Minimalist Marfa Exterior Space.

    For more ways to make a difference with a roof, see:

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    In my family, foraging for DIY wedding flowers has become a tradition. It started when my mom had the idea to grow potted centerpieces for her big day. Great idea, but when the flowers arrived nothing was in bloom—hardly the "explosive fiesta of colors" my mother was after.

    To save the day, Aunt Sheila and I headed to the local grocery store and bought as many sunflowers and dahlias as we could. Then, to give the arrangements more texture and a bit of local flavor, we headed into the woods to gather feathery goldenrod and stems of purple pokeberries. The results were bright, bold, and utterly unique. The cost of 14 centerpieces? A mere $100. But the best part was how much fun we had.

    Today the foraged look is so popular that even the best professional floral designers are cultivating it. With outside-the-box greens such as grasses and vines or local and seasonal elements (fruit and berries), they conjure expressive, wild arrangements, evocative of both time and place. 

    To make your own foraged (or semi-foraged) wedding bouquet or centerpiece is easier than you think. Just follow some of these lessons from the experts.

    Keep It Simple

    Gardenista, Expert Advice, Foraged Wedding Florals, ferns and roses, by Oh My Hand via FLy Away Bride

    Above: Oh My Hand conjured a simply stunning bouquet with generous bunches of maidenhair ferns, roses, and a single vine. Photograph by We Are Wildwood via Fly Away Bride.

    In this piece I will present a number of ways to create individual botanicals. But before you get carried away, I must stress one overriding principle. Edit, edit, edit. The reason professional florists are so adept at creating wild and woolly arrangements that don't seem overgrown is because they set limits. It might be that they use a lot of texture, but a single shade, or maybe they create jewel-toned abundance with almost no greenery.

    When in doubt as to the direction you want to take, it's okay to gather many things. But after you get to the arranging table, cull.

    Start With What's In...

    Gardenista, Expert Advice, Foraged Wedding Florals, lilacs by Leaf anf Honey via Magnolia Rouge

    Above: New Zealand-based designers at Natalia from Leaf and Honey, created a cascading homage to spring with seasonal lilacs and wisteria, as well as with a bit of grass and vine. Photograph by Greta Kenyon via Magnolia Rouge.

    In season, that is. If lilacs are your thing but your wedding is in the fall, consider a centerpiece of crab apples instead. Winter weddings? Evergreens, pinecones, privet, or winter berries are lovely.

    Of course, you don't have to forage your whole bouquet. Specimens from the local florist or garden paired with wild greens mean you can still use your favorite blooms to wild effect.

    And remember: don't stress. Even if you carry nothing more than a single apple branch or a dewy bunch of ferns down the aisle, it will make a statement.

    Tara-Douglas-wedding#11-hand-gardenista

    Above: Brooklyn floral designer Tara Douglas grew her own bulbs for her Missouri wedding (See Tara Getting married: DIY Wedding Flowers...and the Big Day.) To these she added foraged elements from her grandmother's farm, including dogwood and may apple (the big leaves).

    ...And Add An Element Of Surprise

    Gardenista, Expert Advice, Foraged Wedding Florals, dill and grass by The Blue Carrot via The Natural Wedding Co

    Above: From Cornwall, England, Susanne of The Blue Carrot employed wild flowering dill, grasses, and lamb's ear to create a surprisingly textured bouquet.

    Be adventurous. Foraging for wedding florals is not just picking wild flowers. There's a whole range of design elements outside your door. Consider the gnarled branch, the pine cone, feather, the reed, bunch of grass—even a piece of moss. If it fits the theme, it's a go. Leafy branches, evergreens, vines, and berries, as we shall see, are great too. But remember, just one element of surprise. Too many will take your bouquet from unusual to unruly.

    Below are some favorite surprising elements.

    Splendor in the Grass

    Gardenista, Expert Advice Foraged Wedding Florals, photo by Birgit Hart via Magnolia Rouge

    Above: In this stunning arrangement, designer Petra Müller Blumen employed simple, wild grasses to dramatic effect. Note how the arrangement responds to the blustery Bavarian setting. Photograph by Birgit Hart via Magnolia Rouge.

    Dutch garden designer Piet Oudulf has more than demonstrated the expressive splendor of grass. Abundant grasses are also easy and affecting in a foraged bouquet. They add texture and movement as well as a soft, airy quality that is perfect for weddings.

    Gardenista, Expert Advice, Foraged Weddings Florals, phragmites by Sarah Windward via Ruffled

    Above: Sarah Winward of Honey of a Thousand Flowers is a master of employing simple, foraged greens to create a dramatic effect. Here, by pairing feathery phragmites and other grasses with a simple ribbon, she created a soft complement to the bride's dress. Photograph by Jessica Peterson via Ruffled.

    Merry Berries

    Foraged Wedding Florals of Gardenista, Cozy Portland Wedding by Emily G. Photography via Ruffled Blog

    Above: A bouquet from a Portland wedding employs several of the principles we've been talking about here, including the use of an unexpected element (succulents), as well as berries. Photograph by Emily G Photography via Ruffled Blog.

    Berries, like the purple privet and juniper shown here, are a wonderful way to add texture and a sense of place to your arrangement. Other favorites include raspberries (thorns removed); winter berry; honeysuckle (like privet, its shades range from bright green to aubergine); bittersweet (embrace an old enemy); rose hips, poke berries—even bay berries.

    Gardenista, Expert Advice, Foraged Wedding Florals, Honey-of-a-Thousand-Flowers

    Above: Sarah Winward used both apples and raspberries in this bouquet. Photograph by Jessica Peterson.

    Branch Out

    Gardenista, Expert Advice, Foraged Wedding Florals, snowberries, by Sarah Winward

    Above: Designer Sarah Winward was so taken with some snowberries she discovered one fall day that she designed a whole floral scheme around them (see A Whisper and a Breath). Here, she paired the berry branches with roses and Queen Anne's Lace.

    Whether you use an abundance of saplings to create a forested feel or unloose your inner-ikebana with just one, solitary stick, branches really can make a statement at a wedding. Lash long cuttings together to create a wedding arbor. Lay them flat to create a centerpiece that runs the length of the table. Or add them to a bouquet to give it a dramatic, fresh-from-the-forest feel. 

    glass bottle on tabletop-erin boyle for gardenista

    Above: Erin Boyle used foraged apple branches and Queen Anne's Lace from a nearby field to form a sweet, simple centerpiece.

    The Flavor of Fruit

    Louesa-Roebuck-quince-and thyme-flower-display

    Above: Bay Area floral designer Louesa Roebuck is a champion of the foraged arrangement (see Louesa Roebuck's Wild (and Edible) Bouquets). Here she uses no flowers at all, instead employing branches laden with wild apples, grapevines, and thyme to give her composition color and texture. 

    Nothing says seasonal like fruit still on the branches. For outdoor weddings, they're also perfect for weighing down anything that might blow away.

    Savor the Moment

    Gardenista, Foraged Edding Florals herbweddingbouquet Wedding Chicks

    Above: Designer Cynthia Meza-Jaquez created an entire herbed themed wedding for the Wedding Chicks, including this rustic bouquet with wild flowers, apples and sage. Photograph by Johnny Jaquez.

    Herbs from the garden not only add a savory element to your arrangement, they also have symbolic meaning. Rosemary represents remembrance, fidelity, and love. Sage: wisdom, virtue, and long life. Thyme stands for courage, while parsley symbolizes joy. Other favorites include lavender, dill, mustard flowers, mint, basiel, and feverfew.

    Gardenista, Expert Advice, Foraged Wedding Florals, herb bouquet by Asako Hana

    Above: Designer Asako Hana used mint and dill to add texture and a savory smell to this monochromatic arrangement. Photograph by Meg Smith via Snippet and Ink

    Vine and Dine

    Gardenista, Expert Advice, Foraged Wedding Florals, Tuscany tabletop by Sposiamovi

    Above: Tuscan wedding planners SposiamoVi conjured the region's bounty with a simple centerpiece of grapevines, olive branches, and lemons. Photograph by Lisa Poggi via Ruffled.

    My Aunt Sheila's October wedding featured long tables laid together in a U-shape. For an easy, autumnal centerpiece that ran the entire length, we used winding, yellowing vines and purple honeysuckle berries, all foraged from the groom's ancestral home by the sea. The takeaway: vines are just about the easiest, most versatile, and most economical wedding decoration there is. Not only can you lay them across the table, you also can drape them as easy garlands, encircle them to make a bridal wreath, even wind them around the cake. 

    wedding-cake-with-garland Sarah Winward

    Above: What could be more simple than Sarah Winward's vine-entwined cake?

    Want more easy and foraged DIYs? See:

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    On Instagram summer is on steroids—a season of endless backyard lawn parties, with a slant of sunlight at just the right angle to showcase the flowers, grass, and mojitos. Because, really, who takes photos of chapped lips and mosquito bites?

    But summer has a downside too. The season can feel like a slog if you have allergies or have to slather moisturizer over a nasty sunburn.

    Fortunately, your own garden can help you return to happy-photo land. My experiences as a farmer (I'm the co-owner of Bossy Acres in Minnesota) who leads workshops on herbs and grows organic seasonal produce led me to write my latest book, Backyard Pharmacy, which explains how to grow natural home remedies.

    Here are five of my favorite healing plants—the basic ingredients in an all-natural First Aid kit:

    Calendula

    Calendula flashback flower; Gardenista

    Above: For more, see 5 Veg Plot Must-Haves. Photograph by Howard Sooley.

     One of the most-used medicinal herbs in history, calendula has been the stuff of legend, and not just for ailments. In the Middle Ages, it was rumored that if a girl walked barefoot on calendula petals, she would be able to understand the songs of birds. (Put that on your to-do list?) 

    Obercreek Farm herbs Meredith Heuer ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Meredith Heuer

    Even if you're not interested in conversing with sparrows, calendula is a standout choice to cure summer-related ailments such as chapped lips and dry skin. To make a salve, place some slightly wilted calendula flowers in a jar with olive oil and put in a warm, sunny location; shake once a day to speed the infusion process. After a few weeks, strain the oil and use for bruises, sore muscles, and dry skin. For an excellent lip balm, combine the infused oil with some grated beeswax and melt in a pot you don't plan to use much, or microwave briefly in a glass container.

    For step-by-step instructions, see DIY Natural Remedy: Calendula Oil from Obercreek Farm.

    Plantains

    Plantain natural remedy plant ; Gardenista  

    Above: Often dismissed as a weed, plantain is likely growing within a short walking distance of where you're sitting. This is a bold claim, but the plant is magnificently ubiquitous, even in the cracks of city sidewalks. 

    Use it to take the itch out of insect bites quickly by picking a few leaves (make sure they're clean), and then popping them in your mouth to chew them into a mush. Really. Chewing helps to release the plant's anti-inflammatory properties, and although it tastes slightly bitter, this is the easiest method of preparation. Then simply press it onto an insect bite or any other summer irritant like poison ivy or minor rashes.

    Stinging Nettles

    Field Guide: Nettles ; Gardenista

    Above: For more, see Field Guide: Nettles. Photograph by Jim Powell for Gardenista.

    Above: Another foraged find, nettles should absolutely not be popped into your mouth, or even handled without gloves. They earned that "stinging" name for a reason. Although not as prevalent as plantain, it's still fairly easy to find nettles in many parts of the country, and they're easy to spot thanks to their sawtooth-type leaves.

    Nettles by Aran Goyoaga ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Aran Goyoaga.

    Nettles are very effective for seasonal allergies, and are usually used in tea form or can be lightly steamed or blanched to throw into culinary dishes. To create an allergy-busting tea, pick the leaves and set out to dry for a few days. Then simply crumble them and put them in a teabag, or pour hot water over them and strain after a few minutes of steeping.

    Raspberries

    raspberry bushes in Harlem ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

    Sometimes described as "the woman's herb"—even though that sounds like a cheesy 1970s filmstrip—raspberry is a potent tonic for ailments such as menstrual cramps. But a tea made from the leaves can address a range of other troubles as well, including leg cramps and nausea.

    After making a particularly strong summer brew, which means pouring just-boiled water over dried or fresh raspberry leaves and allowing it to steep for 15 minutes, you also can create a sunburn remedy by soaking a clean cloth in the liquid and placing that over burns. 

    Raspberries are easy to grow, and are suited for both cooler and warmer climates. A quick note on varieties: There are two types of raspberries, the summer-bearing kind best known for bearing a single, luscious crop in midsummer, and a second type with two growing periods (one in early summer and another in fall). Planting a couple of different types can keep you awash in raspberries as well as medicinal leaves, which can be dried and stored to be used throughout the year.

     Catnip

    Catnip flower garden ; Gardenista  

    Above: Photograph via Coneflower Tarot.

    Although most people think of catnip as the equivalent of kitty marijuana, the herb has been valued as a medicinal for humans since it was cultivated in Roman times. The dried leaves were once smoked to relieve stress, and fresh leaves used to reduce fevers, calm headaches, and soothe upset stomachs. Plus, it has a nicely minty taste when you make it into tea.

    To combat summer ailments, though, this is one plant that you may want to consider planting near your deck instead of ingesting. The essential oil in catnip (called nepetalactone) gives the plant the distinctive aroma that attracts cats—and also repels mosquitos. In a presentation at the American Chemical Society, researchers noted that catnip is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, the controversial compound used in most commercial insect repellants. 

    You also can use the plant as a quick-fix mosquito remedy by picking a few leaves, crushing them slightly, and rubbing them on your skin. Do a test patch first, however, because plants sometimes can cause minor allergic reactions; the last thing you want is to find yourself running toward the raspberry leaves or calendula for relief from a catnip rash.

    Backyard Pharmacy book cover ; Gardenista

    Above: Backyard Pharmacy is $18.88 from Amazon.

    For more natural remedies, see:

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    Yet another contribution to the "Only in Europe" file: an architect-designed family cabin sited in the middle of a public park.

    Spotted on Desire to Inspire: The Poplar Garden House is a small cabin in Groningen, the Netherlands, designed by Onix architect Haiko Meijer for his family. The cabin sits in the Meijers' allotment in a garden park in the center of the city, where plots are rented to anyone wishing for space to garden. Small structures are allowed on the plots, but are limited in size to about 200 square feet.

    The Meijers' structure is a tiny story of split personalities. Because their sunny plot rests between an irrigation ditch and a playground, the architect designed the home accordingly, oriented toward an "introvert" garden to the north, and an "extrovert" to the south.

    Poplar-Garden-House-Allotment-Garden-cabin-gardenista

    Above: The extroverted side of the house faces the playground and features a "creek garden."

    Above: The building's design belies its modest purpose as a family garden headquarters and shed.

    Above: The entire house is constructed of poplar planks of identical width. The space requires no electricity, and at first glance the skylight could pass for a recessed incandescent can.

    Above: In a playful gesture, the architect meant for the planks to be easily removed, allowing art, flowers, or toys to dwell in their stead.

    Above: From the concrete kitchen, a view of the introverted side of the garden.

    Above: The park has sewers and running water, and an internal gas tank serves the kitchen stove.

    Above: The kitchen's gray concrete adds a color counterpoint to the poplar boards.

    Above: On both sides, the structure points its inhabitants in the direction of the garden.

    Above: The cabin's introverted side abuts an irrigation ditch, shaded by an apple tree, a conifer, and rhododendron bushes.

    Above: The garden's boulder clay soil was the reason for the "creek" landscaping, intended to help drain water into the nearby ditch.

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    We've been celebrating Wedding Season all week —and on Remodelista the wedding party continues. The editors have discovered modern monograms, the ultimate honeymoon suite on Mykonos, and Moroccan wedding blankets—and rounded up their favorite under-the-radar wedding registries. 

    DIY-Inverness-Wedding-Boathouse-cake-gardenista

    Above: The best wedding cake we've seen in ages. Margot had a slice at The DIY Wedding: An LA Designer's Boathouse Nuptials.

    march-monogram-tableware-remodelista

    Above: What makes a monogram modern? Alexa explores the subtleties (and her favorite fonts) in 10 Easy Pieces: The Modern Monogram.

    hotel-san-giorgio-mykonos-greece-gardenista

    Above: Izabella, determining that you don't need to be a newlywed to crave a honeymoon suite, figures out how to recreate the world's best master bedroom (and covered porch) in Steal This Look: A Bridal Suite in Mykonos.

    Malle trousseau wedding registry ; Gardenista

    Above: Julie goes beyond the big-box stores to round up Editors' Picks: 10 Best Wedding Registries.

    Roy Choi Commissary restaurant LA ; Gardenista

    Above: Shopping break. Cheryl recommends stopping for lunch at a greenhouse in A Rooftop Oasis in Downtown LA.

    Planning a wedding? Congratulations! Add Remodelista to the to-do list; catch up on all of this week's posts at The Wedding Party.

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    To live in “an Eichler”—a home by Joseph Eichler, a midcentury housing developer and proponent of modern architecture—is not a rarity in Northern California. It’s special, to be sure, but Eichler was so prodigious that he’s estimated to have built 11,000 homes in the region from 1956 to 1965.

    But to live in a thoughtfully remodeled Eichler that remains true to the original design is rarer. As Beth Mullins, owner of San Francisco-based landscape design firm Growsgreen notes, Eichler renovations run the gamut, some “honoring the Eichler intent” more than others. Says Mullins, an Eichler fan herself, "It is a nice challenge to update but still stay true to the origins of the house.”

    Here, Mullins had the chance to honor the Eichler intent in a family garden in San Mateo belonging to Mark, a web producer and all-around creative type; May, an artist; and their 9-year-old daughter. They wanted a garden they could use in three ways: entertaining, relaxing, and as studio space for May. They set the budget between $75,000 and $95,000, and Mullins set out to create a low-water, low-maintenance landscape that would do justice to the master developer of California style.

    Mullins will be joining us for the next 48 hours on Saturday and Sunday to answer any and all questions about the project. In the comments section below, please ask away! 

    For more from Mullins, visit Growsgreen in the Remodelista + Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory

    Photography by Beth Mullins and Margo Tomaszewska-Richter.

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: A crucial piece of Eichler (and all California Modern) style is how outdoor and indoor spaces relate to each other. Mullins’ clients, who had just completed an indoor renovation, were thrilled that a garden would make the living space feel complete. They wanted the indoor-outdoor flow restored, and for individual outdoor spaces to reflect the aesthetic of the house.

    Before

    Before Photo: California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: Mullins notes that before the garden renovation, if you were indoors you were “looking out onto a flat space with no visual interest. I wanted for the client to look out and feel good about the garden while being inside, even on crummy-weather days.”

    Though they kept as many plants as they could, Mullins knew that "a lot of plants would become compost," citing specifically a host of dark-foliaged phormiums that were too large for the space.

    Before Photo: California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: According to Mullins, the landscape as they found it was not likely original to the house. “It was all Versa-loc retaining and terracotta pavers,” she says—more contemporary materials than what would have been used then.

    After

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: Homeowner Mark collects vintage planters from Gainey Ceramics. Many of the succulents were saved from the previous garden and repotted. 

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: Mullins chose colors for the house exterior and the fence: “I wanted the garden to feel cohesive and enveloped,” she said. “The dark colors do that.” The house is painted in Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron, and the fence is stained in Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Solid Black.

    For the benefit of all gardens, Mullins emphasizes the importance of choosing the right paint colors: “Since walls in your garden are hard to ignore, it’s important to incorporate them into the space,” she says. By using a rich color like charcoal, “you set off the greens of the plants” while making the space feel cozy. 

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: All large trees and shrubs were retained, including fig trees, a palm, and a plum tree in the middle of the lawn that the family relies on to make their “amazing” plum jam every year. Says Mullins, “I’m growing to like the twisted trunk on it and it is thriving now with consistent care."

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: Mark, who builds furniture as a hobby, made the single ipe bench on the side of the lawn. At Mullins’ suggestion of a low-profile floating bench, Mark added his own twist with metal legs. Says Mullins: "I love what he did to make it his own." Miscanthus junceus grass lines the fencing. 

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: Mullins and Mark designed two concrete built-in benches that provide generous seating for parties and help define the garden without blocking access to any one area. “By having the benches backless, you can see through the space and the space stays connected.”

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: Mark and May had been collecting the white Heath tile with the intention of using it in the house or garden. (Once their kitchen remodel was complete and the tile still hadn’t been used, into the garden it went.) Mullins points out that the scale of the concrete highlights the tile without overwhelming it. It was Mark’s idea to split the two benches to make an entrance to the rock garden (described below).  

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: A custom ipe planter (matching the bench) holds Stachys byzantina 'big ears' and Chondropetalum, along with gentle uplighting. 

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: Mark proposed the rock garden and chose the individual rocks himself. The rock concept, says Mullins, “ties into a lot of the Asian influences on midcentury design,” noting that it was “fun to think about what Eichler might have been inspired by in this decade.” Behind the rock is a landscaping uplight, which illuminates the garden at night and lends a festive atmosphere during parties. 

    California Eichler Garden Remodel by Growsgreen | Gardenista

    Above: An art studio for May, built by Eric Enns of Modern Spaces—“one of the most artistic contractors I have ever met,” says Mullins. Enns specializes in small sheds customized to the needs and style of each client.  

    Landscape architect Beth Mullins is available to answer questions for the next 48 hours. Using the Disqus commenting tool below, please ask away! 

    Explore more California gardens:

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    Read on to see what we obsessed over this week:

    Open Eichler Home, Klopf Architecture | Gardenista

    • Above: Eichler update in Palo Alto. Photograph by Mariko Reed. 
    • This could be the prettiest bug repellent in the world. 
    • An exhibition dedicated to Frida Kahlo opens today at the New York Botanical Gardens. 

    Shark Tooth Installation, Natural Dye Plants | Gardenista

    • Above: Natural dye and the plants they're made of as window installation at Brooklyn shop Shark Tooth. 
    • A woman's answer to the man cave

    Six Walls House Boo, Sweden, Indoor Plants | Gardenista

    Instagram and Pinterest Pick of the Week

    Gardenista Instagram Pick of the Week: @hannah.legg

    • Above: We love this curb appeal moment from Hannah Legg (@hannah.legg). 

    Gradients Pinterest of the Week: Martha Stewart Living

    Want more? Read our latest issue: Wedding Season. Don't miss Remodelista's dedicated week to The Wedding Party

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    Do you hear the crack of a starting pistol? The season of landscaping projects is officially underway. What's on your wish list?

    We're devoting this week to Landscaping 101, with ways to add a quick burst of color to a flower bed, budget-friendly backyard updates, and garden ideas to steal from Wolf Hall (Medieval knot garden, anyone?). Join us:

    Table of Contents: Landscaping 101 ; Gardenista

    Above: Precocious landscape designer Luciano Guibbilei recently took a crash course in old-fashioned English cottage gardens. See more of Great Dixter's garden in I Spent the Night in Christopher Lloyd's Bed.

    Monday

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: In this week's Landscape Architect Visit, we dissect a pared-down landscaping project where a minimal plant palette made it possible to paint with large swaths of color.

    Water rills shallow steps London garden design Chelsea 2014 ; Gardenista

    Above: Some of Europe's most innovative garden designers will unveil their newest ideas when the Chelsea Flower Show opens to the public tomorrow—so let's get in ahead of the crowds. Kendra spent last week behind the scenes to give us an insider's sneak peek today. Meanwhile, catch up on our previous Chelsea Flower Show coverage and our roundup of 11 Garden Ideas to Steal from London.

    Tuesday

    outdoor globe string lighting ; Gardenista

    Above: Is there anything that transforms a garden into a magical destination faster than a string or three of outdoor lights? We round up the best of 2015 in this week's 10 Easy Pieces.

    medieval-garden-alfriston-clergy-house-sundial-gardenista

    Above: Sun dial, check. Knot garden, check. Backyard maze, check. Inspired by Wolf Hall, Kendra deconstructs the 12 best Garden Ideas to Steal from Medieval England.

    Wednesday

    Larkspur artemesia flowers garden bed meadow  Gardenista

    Above: In this week's Garden Design post, we round up our favorite 10 ways to add a jolt of color to a flagging flower garden. Hint: peonies, verbena, and a color burst of annuals are involved. (No, we didn't forget about roses!)

    Thursday

    How to get rid of poison ivy ; Gardenista

    Above: Poison ivy is Public Enemy No. 1 in the garden. Michelle puts on a pair of gloves and figures out how to get rid of it for once and for all in this week's Gardening 101 post. Photograph by Karolus F via Flickr.

    Friday

    eco-sustainable-house-garden-paris-patio-deck-gardenista

    Above: We visit an eco-sustainable garden (and house) in Paris in this week's Architect Visit.

    Planning a garden design project? If you're landscaping, get more inspiration:

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    After 54-year-old plantswoman Dirkje Boer died of cancer in 2002, her garden sank into grief along with her husband and three sons. The two and a half acres of flowers she had cultivated against the backdrop of surrounding dairy farms in the village of Dijkerhoek (about an hour and a half east of Amsterdam by car) quickly got overtaken by weeds. By the time Dutch-born landscape architect Ronald van der Hilst saw the property, its condition mirrored her surviving family members': "It was like a bomb had exploded," he told Architectural Digest.

    Touring the property with widower Willem Boer, Antwerp-based Van der Hilst saw the challenge: "He cared deeply about gardens, but this place was her world." Van der Hilst realized the project would need to honor Dirkje Boer's memory by resurrecting the idea of her garden—but with a low-maintenance landscape that could largely take care of itself.

    The result is a dreamy green landscape that manages to simultaneously evoke nostalgia and hope. Even without Dirkje's beloved roses and delphiniums, the garden changes color dramatically with every season. Here's how:

    Photography by Menno Boer via Ronald van der Hilst.

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: For van der Hilst, the most exciting challenge of any landscaping project is to create the unexpected. Seeking inspiration after meeting Willem Boer, he returned to Antwerp and started to draw ideas while listening to music.

    Listening to Mahler's Sixth Symphony, with its "strong rhythmic structure," inspired the landscape architect to create a two-tiered reflecting pool shaped like a cross to anchor the center of the garden.

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: Van der Hilst interplanted deep pink echinacea with a drift of frothy perennial grasses to add color to a low, undulating hedge of cloud-pruned boxwood.

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: Nearly 100 feet long, the reflecting pool is a mirror for the sky overhead.

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: Waves of low box (L) once defined the boundaries of Dirkje's rose parterre. Transplanted and clipped, they reinforce the gentle swaying motion of the perennial grasses and coneflowers. The reflecting pool (R) has sloping banks and 

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: Tightly clipped beech stand sentinel. Van der Hilst removed discrete portions of the high hedges that enclosed the garden to open up views and create a relationship to the pastures of neighboring dairy farms.

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: Dirkje's son Menno became a garden designer after helping van der Hilst on the project. 

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: Pruned into the shape of two enormous cubes, beech trees provide vertical interest against a distant horizon. 

    landscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Above: Willem Boer, who purchased 2.5 acres of land abutting his property in 2007 to effectively double the size of the garden, was soon after struck suddenly with a crippling disease.

    andscaping-Dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-gardenista

    Friends pitched in to help Dirkje and Willem's son, Menno, care for the property. When Willem Boer died in 2013 at age 65, his neighbors were among the pallbearers.

    landscaping-dijkerhoek-ronald-van-der-hilst-12-gardenista

    Above: Sometimes when Menno Boer is working on the property, he notices bicyclists stopping alongside the road so they can peer through a hedge into the garden. "They always say how beautiful it is," he told Architectural Digest. "Everyone is surprised to discover what’s hidden here."

    For more romantic Dutch gardens, see:

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    Prince Harry got in early today ahead of the 165,000 others expected to attend the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London after it opens to the public tomorrow. So can we. 

    I have been living at the Chelsea Flower Show for a week, decorating the gabled oak building in landscape designer Jo Thompson's garden. The weather hasn't been cooperating but as the storm clouds gather it has become a secret haven; everyone wants to move in.

    Here's a behind-the-scenes look at what is happening outdoors at Chelsea this year:

    Photography by Kendra Wilson, except where noted.

    Chelsea Flower Show Prince Harry; Gardenista

    Above: A royal visitation. Prince Harry toured the flower show earlier today. Photograph via Telegraph.

    Synchronized swimmers Chelsea flower show ; Gardenista

    Above: Synchronized swimmers wear caps with 800 chrysanthemums at the M&G Retreat garden. Photograph via Telegraph.

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: Flashback to last week's set-up. Adam Frost's garden with vertical decking is an  "urban retreat," designed as a takeaway garden. Its simplicity communicates design ideas about water and hard landscaping. The wildflower roof of the cedar building softens the effect.

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: The Telegraph always sponsors a garden, and being the most horticulturally minded newspaper paper the editors are no strangers to gold medals. This year's design is a departure from the tight-corseted tastefulness of last year's Del Buono Gazerwitz gold-winner. The young brothers Rich have made a modular Mondrian garden. Like a quilt, each section engages, as an entity in itself. Subtle white and gray plant combinations come together next to shout-y yellow, which could be controversial and very welcome for that.

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: A clear favorite is the Occitane garden, designed by James Basson (Above) and inspired by the landscape of Provence. While examining issues of land mismanagement in connection with the perfume industry, the garden is a joyful vision of what could be: industry and the natural landscape working together. Like Dan Pearson's garden (of which more in a minute), this is a highly primped space which looks un-gardened, as though it has floated intact onto the Chelsea show ground.

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: The Trugmaker's Garden is nestled round the back among the Artisan gardens, the quieter, shadier area in which smaller gardens thrive. Serena Fremantle and Tina Vallis have created the most inviting setpiece here, with plantings which traditional trug makers might have used to attract the attention of potential customers. The trugs on display, made from shaved willow and steamed chestnut, have multiple uses, from a cucumber trug (long and narrow), to the above specimen, a two-egg trug.

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: Dan Pearson's corner of Derbyshire sits on what is literally a roundabout near the press office (it is actually triangular). Pearson's great challenge was to create an autonomous space despite the signage and hoardings of an international flower show. Trees and giant boulders from the Chatsworth estate surround the outside, and a stream and trodden path take the eye on a journey through the middle (the gardens are not pedestrian-accessible). 

    The garden at Chelsea is part of a rejuvenation plan for the trout stream at Chatsworth; it will be taken back to Derbyshire after the show. Chelsea is often fantastically wasteful: "That's why I didn't do Chelsea for a long time, because of the waste," says Dan Pearson. "I couldn't handle it." When his sponsors Laurent-Perrier came along to tempt him, he accepted on the strict condition that the garden would have another life afterwards.

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: Martagon lilies for damp woodland. During the set-up, Pearson's garden was clearly identifiable by giant racks of wildflower turf which his team would pull down individually and roll up like carpets, before unfurling them on the ground. Some of the turf has mainly red campion in it while the other half has a wider mix including daisies. The plants in his garden do not look as though they are in shock at all; on the contrary. "The turf is still growing," says Dan. "The juxtapositions you hadn't planned are part of the joy of doing this."

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: Jo Thompson's luxurious English planting surrounds a natural swimming pond in the M&G garden. It is the kind of garden which the show visitors will warm to as A) it looks like a flower garden, and B) it is unashamedly pretty. For those who want to take a Chelsea garden home with them, this is it. As Colin Crosbie, curator of the Royal Horticultural Society headquarters at Wisley says: "It's perfect."

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: The sunken garden in Jo Thompson's space, far enough from the other elements to feel separate and peaceful while somehow avoiding the feeling that there is too much going on. The seats are made from polished and rough Purbeck stone.

    Chelsea, Jo Thompson garden by Jim Powell. Gardenista

    Above: The "writer's retreat" which sits on a deck, above a pond almost 5 feet deep. Emphasising the cohesive nature of this garden, Jo Thompson asked Ancient Industries (my twin sister, Megan Wilson, and me) to bring life to the interior, so that every aspect is lived in and alive. There has been some surprise that the upstairs is not actually open to the public but neither are any of the gardens. It is photographable and film-able and to Jo Thompson it is important that it is a living space. Photograph by Jim Powell.

    Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: We commissioned and collected items for a quiet room inhabited by a semi-fictional writer-gardener, who probably lives in a castle in Kent and definitely wears canvas and leather bespoke lace-ups. Makers and contributors have included Felicity Irons (who wove us a hat from rush) and Horace Batten Bootmakers. Vita Sackville-West ordered a pair from them in the 1930s which became part of her iconography in every photo of her for the next 30 years.

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    Tudor gardens were a mix of medieval and modern; monastic utility giving way to horticultural displays of wealth and status. And yet, peeping past the characters in Wolf Hall, the PBS show's historically on-message gardens have a very modern appeal.

    Here are 12 garden ideas to steal from Henry VIII's England:

    Knot Gardens

    medieval-knot-garden-hampton-court-gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Hampton Court.

    Patterns of low hedges were designed as mazes or knot gardens before developing into parterres. A traditional knot was made with ribbons of contrasting evergreens which seemed to pass over and across each other (see below); box, rosemary, and santolina were useful.

    An enclosed grid, either a knot or parterre (which is more about outlines than optical illusions) is a clever way to grow flowers which have a straggly undercarriage or which are very late to flower. All is well as long as it is enclosed.

    Sun Dials

    medieval-garden-alfriston-clergy-house-sundial-gardenista

    Above: A sun dial in the garden at Alfriston Clergy House. Photograph via National Trust.

    Like many ancient inventions, the sun dial still works and its function continues to be relevant. Its position in the 16th century would have been more crucial but it was not above being lavishly decorated. Today a sun dial looks most at home in a herb garden or as a focal point in a traditional garden. Despite its infallible science, the presence of a sundial is a signifier for atmosphere.

    Wattle Fencing

    Woven wattle fencing landscaping garden design ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Renaissance Garden.

    Medieval style translates brilliantly into our gardens now. Handmade, charming and designed for efficiency, a wattle fence was built for security first but also gave a vital sense of enclosure. Even at waist height, barriers against the uncertain world beyond were and are psychologically important.

    For more, see Woven Willow Fences and Trellises.

    Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight

    medieval-garden-geometric-layout-landscaping-gardenista

    Above: Landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith's modern interpretation of medieval geometry at Broughton Grange.

    Tudor designs are so now. We love a bit of formality but especially when it is roughed up. Over-efficient head gardeners in the intervening centuries, who ran their acres like small empires, introduced the idea of immaculate husbandry. Very efficient. But part of the enjoyment of examining the backdrop of Wolf Hall is seeing an overflow of flowers spilling over paths and cimbing over walls. The Arts and Crafts movement owed much to medieval aesthetics and both eras are sympathetic with what we are doing now.

    Symmetry

    medieval-garden-potager-gardenista.

    Above: A medieval-style potager, bordered with box and planted with leek, cabbage, spinach, carrot, lettuce, and day lilies has the advantage of being edible as well as decorative. The same can be said for cordoned apples and a tunnel of beans. Photograph by Nicola Stocken Tomkins via Flickr.

    Old drawings of formal pleasure gardens and kitchen gardens showed quadrants of symmetrical beds. Raised beds (left over from the kitchen and physic gardens of the monasteries) were another growing approach which we can relate to now. The English landscape movement swept away most of these compartments in favor of open views but a few survived.

    Eat Your Skirret

    skirret-medieval-tudor-vegetable-gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Telegraph.

    An average salad in Tudor times (though salads were hardly eaten by average people) consisted of dozens of different leaf varieties in one dish. A wider selection of root vegetables was also more familiar, including salsify and skirret. Part of the problem seems to be that they are tricky to clean and prepare, compared with pre-scrubbed and trimmed vegetables. Like the autumn raspberry, unusual heritage vegetables are worth considering when your ideas do not concur with those of the local supermarket.

    Cottage Garden Borders

    Hollyhocks English cottage garden Ben Pentreath ; Gardenista

    Above: Hollyhocks in bloom in antiquarian Ben Pentreath's garden. For more, see A Garden in Full Bloom in Dorset.

    When Gertrude Jekyll wrote about cottage gardens, she was talking about an informal style of growing that had gone on for centuries. Flowers mixed with herbs; decorative, medicinal, and edible mixed happily enough together. The Tudors used many plants which we would be happy with, including dianthus (garden pinks, carnations, or Sweet Williams), the madonna lily, Iris germanica, hollyhock, lilac, opium poppy, violet, lily-of-the-valley, meadow cranesbill, sweet rocket, honeysuckle and ox-eye daisy.

    Hortus Conclusus

    medieval-herb-garden-hortus-conclusus-ypres-tower-rye-sussex-england-gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Jim Linwood via Flickr.

    An enclosed garden full of earthly delights would include scented flowers and trickling water. Dividing spaces into rooms kept the big unknown farther away: it enclosed pleasant scents and kept "contagion" at arm's length.

    Old-Fashioned Roses

    Climbing roses at Sissinghurst Castle garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Climbing roses at Sissinghurst Castle. Photograph by Bastl F. via Flickr. For more, see Required Reading: Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst.

    Arbours and pergolas covered in roses and vines fulfilled the need for scent as well as disguise and intrigue. These covered areas were also known as "roosting places" for walkers to sit, hidden yet able to see out. The word gazebo comes from "gaze about."

    Moats

    Helmingham Hall garden moat ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Kendra Wilson. For more, see: Helmingham Hall in Suffolk: Shouldn't Every Garden Have a Moat?

    Shady walks under trees were given appropriate consideration, as they should be now. Fear of sun on the complexion was rooted in fashion as opposed to health concerns but it was considered important enough to affect garden design. Walkways lined with pollarded trees or topiary kept the sun off, and moats (after the need for defense lessened) were used for leisure activities such as boating. A channel of water (or a glorified ditch) can be fantastic for wildlife and semi-overgrown, a moat or ditch or bog can be a real advantage if you plant moisture lovers.

    For more moat life, see: Garden Visit: Lucy Boston's Storybook English Home.

    A Bird's-Eye View

    Aerial view knot garden ; Gardenista

    Above: A modern interpretation of a knot garden. Photograph via Luxe Crush.

    A garden was often glimpsed from indoors, during winter walks in upstairs galleries. Strong evergreen patterns provided focus and their popularity endured for several more centuries. Cardinal Wolsey had a much-copied knot garden made under his private rooms at Hampton Court.

    Trained Trees

    medieval-garden-pleached-trees-arne-maynard-gardenista.

    Above: A line of pleached crabapple trees by designer Arne Maynard.

    Just as now, domestic trees had to be multi-functional and multi-seasonal. No monastery garden was complete without an orchard with beehives, with food as the goal. Small trees were pressed into service also for pleaching or pollarding in the name of privacy and shade. Fruit and blossom an obvious advantage.

    For more of our favorite Tudor-inspired gardens, see:

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    If one of your jobs as a child was to follow your mother through the backyard, slowly unfurling garlands of glowing bulbs for her to wrap around the trunk of the crabapple tree and drape across the yews, you have most likely inherited a tendency toward twinkly, golden light. I speak from experience.

    We are now solidly immersed in the festive months, fellow outdoor-string-light addicts. This is our season. If you haven't gotten to it already, let's commence now with the draping and festooning, so we can move on to the important things: warm evenings, clinking wineglasses, and fireflies at dusk.

    Here are 10 garlands of outdoor string lights at a variety of prices that can give those fireflies competition:

    string-lights-matthew-williams-gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista.

    The Table in a Bag Outdoor Commercial 15-Light String Light Set Up is $47.09 for the 48-foot-long strand from Amazon.

    ed-industrial-outdoor-string-lights-gardenista

    Above:An 11-foot-long cord of 10 Industrial String Lights is available in three colors including red for $49 from West Elm.

    pleated indoor outdoor string lights

    Above: A perennial favorite, an 11-foot-long strand holds 10 lights with unglazed, ultra-thin ceramic shades that give off a translucent glow. Pleated String Lights are suitable for outdoor or indoor use; $224 from Pigeon Toe.

      outdoor string lights from etsy

    Above: A 20-light Hanging String of Light Balls is made of rattan wrapped with cotton. Suitable for both outdoor and indoor use, it's $12 from Cottonlight via Etsy.

    white festoon outdoor string of globe lights

     Above: This garland of 20 White Festoon Lights uses low-energy-consuming LED bulbs and is suitable for indoor or outdoor use. The starter kit is £45 from Cox & Cox; extension sets also available.

      Tarrazzo Outdoor String Lights

     Above: A 54-foot-long string of Terrazzo Outdoor Lights holds 24 bulbs. It is $199 from NapaStyle.

      outdoor party globe light string from restoration hardware

    Above: A Party Globe Light String, with choice of two sizes of bulb, is currently on sale for $38 (marked down from $45) at Restoration Hardware. The string comes with either 10 large globes or 20 small.

     

    ikea-solar-outdoor-lighting-string-chain-gardenista

     Above: A Sardal LED Lighting Chain with 24 lights is $7.99 from Ikea. A pack of 12 white Solvinden Light Covers is $5.

    mercury glass globe outdoor string lights

    Above: A strand of Mercury Glass Globe String Lights comes in two lengths, with either 10 or 20 lights; the price is $29.99 or $59.99 at Pottery Barn.

    smith and hawken outdoor string lights

    Above: With 10 filament bulbs per strand, a 10-foot length of Smith & Hawken String Lights is $18.74 from Target.

     

    vintage style string lights from restoration hardware  

    Above: A 50-foot-long Vintage Light String with 24 bulbs and all-weather wiring is $146 at Restoration Hardware.

    For more of our favorite ways to dress up a deck or patio, see:

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    A lot of people bemoan their incompetence at growing orchids. I have the opposite problem—an inability to kill my scraggly supermarket-variety species after they stop blooming.

    Here's my secret: I ignore them. My orchids sit unmolested on a windowsill with a western exposure for as long as they can stand it—months, usually—and then, finally, they bloom again in a desperate bid to get attention.

    There are of course other days to care for an orchid. Here are our top tips for more attentive gardeners:

    Photography via Orchids Info except where noted.

    Pick a Hardy Variety

    DIY How to Care for an Orchid ; Gardenista

    Above: There are more than 30,000 species of orchids; to maximize your chances of success, narrow your choice. Eliminate finicky species and instead grow an orchid that falls into the category of easy going. For instance, varieties that will tolerate low indoor lighting are oncidiums, phalaenopsis, and paphiopedilums.

    Orchid flower ; Gardenista

    Above: The orchid may look fragile. But remember, "In their natural habitat many orchids are extreme plants, attaching themselves to trees in order to survive,” says Marc Hachadourian, the NY Botanical Garden's resident orchid exper.

    Already potted, a yellow Moth Orchid in a 7-inch white ceramic urn is $99.95 from White Flower Farm.

    Bright, Indirect Light

    orchid-show-yellow-phalaenopsis-marie-viljoen-gardenista

    Above: A yellow phalaenopsis at this year's orchid show at the NYBG. For more, see Opening Ceremony: The World's Best Orchid Show. Photograph by Marie Viljoen for Gardenista.

    Put an orchid in a bright room, but away from direct sunlight. And remember that these tropical plants do not like drafts.

    Proper Potting

    waterfall orchid flower ; Gardenista

    Above: In the wild, orchids grow attached to other plants. They are not designed to grow in potting soil; please don't try to force them. Instead, plant them in a nice loose bark they can clutch happily. 

    A bag of Orchid Bark is $10 from Terrain.

    Drainage, Please

    Phalaenopsis-orchid-gardenista

    Above: Phalaenopsis on a windowsill. For a vivid pink phalaenopsis, a Dor. Pulcherrima X DTPS. Siam Treasure is $15 from Odom's Orchids.

    Orchids hate to have wet roots; choose a pot with good drainage and spread a layer of pebbles in the bottom of the pot.

    Feed Me

    Orchids on the windowsill ; Gardenista

    Above: Allow orchids' bark to dry out between waterings. Use a liquid fertilizer every third time you water.

    A 1.25-pound jug of Organic Orchid Food is $8.75 from Amazon.

    For more orchid inspiration, see:

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    For gardeners who crave color—and really, who among us is immune?—the sudden decline from a giddy, glorious springtime into the dusty doldrums of summer can be a terrible shock to the system. So fight back.

    The secret? A little color can go a long way. If you add a pop of blue against a chartreuse backdrop or a clump of hollyhocks at eye level, it can be enough to create the illusion that the whole garden is in bloom. Here are nine of our favorite ideas to add color to a flower garden:

    Something Blue

    english-garden-great-dixter-luciano-guibbilei-gardenista.

    Above: Better known for his modernist green-on-green landscapes, garden designer Luciano Giubbilei recently took a crash course on cottage garden design at Great Dixter—and got his own garden border on which to conduct experiments on color theory.

    Exulting in "the looseness of the English garden, the dense entanglements of the traditional herbaceous borders, the informality and irregularity of cottage gardens," Giubbilei created a late springtime backdrop for blue—one of the rarest colors in the garden—with plantings of chartreuse Euphorbia wulfenii and feathery Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing’.

    blue-camassia-flower-border-garden-gardenista.

    Above: Photograph via Rose Cottage Plants.

    Because true blue is an unusual flower hue, it draws the eye and creates an overall impression of color. At the front of the border, Giubbilei planted low-growing Myosotis sylvatica (blue forget-me-nots). More blue: "I have also chosen Camassia leichtlinii to weave through the planting," says Giubbilei. "The intensely blue, small starry flowers on vertical spires give the border a final spring whoosh before the summer perennials take center stage." 

    Color Wheel Cousins

    Tiger lilies garden bed Irish flower garden ; Gardenista

    Above: For more of this garden, see At Home with June Blake in Ireland's County Wicklow.

    Picture a color wheel. Purple, orange, and green are the three secondary colors, each made up of a equal parts of two primary colors, and balance one other well in a garden bed. For a similar tall, orange trumpet lily in the summer garden, Lilium Orange Marmalade is $19.95 and ships in the fall from White Flower Farm.

    Front and Center

    virginia-woolf-monks-house-garden-path-gardenista

    Above: A brick path hemmed in at Monk's House where Virginia Woolf's husband, Leonard, became a fine gardener. For more, see Required Reading: Virginia Woolf's Garden.

    Plant long-stemmed flowering perennials on either side of a path, and if they succumb to the heat let them flop over onto the walkway to call attention to themselves. For a wine-red flower similar to the one shown above (R), consider Penstemon 'Ruby Candle'; $9.99 from Dutch Gardens.

    Make Eye Contact

    Hollyhocks in bloom against garden wall at Walnuts Farm England ; Gardenista

    Above: Hollyhocks grow against at wall. For more of this garden, see Camera Ready in the English Countryside at Walnuts Farm.

    A 4-to-6-foot-high stem with a flower at eye level will focus attention on what's blooming. Start hollyhocks from seed with a packet of Summer Carnival Mixed Hollyhock Colors; $2 from Baker Creek Seeds.

    Big and Blowsy

    martha-stewart-peonies-gardenista

    Above: Plant a big clump of a showstopper—such as peonies—and you won't need any other color while they're in bloom. In a temperate climate, for instance, peonies will take you through May and into June, when roses will come into their own. After roses are over, hydrangeas will keep blooming into August. Photograph via The Martha Blog.

    coral charm peony and mint, gardenista

    Above: An early blooming semi-double Paeonia Coral Charm ships bareroot with from three to five eyes and is $14.95 from White Flower Farm (ships in October). Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    Verbena Verve

    arkspur-english-cottage-garden-gardenista

    Above: Long-stemmed verbena boniarensis explodes like a firecracker in the air, with a pop of purple hovering above the rest of the garden. It's a good companion in a perennials garden because the long, delicate stem doesn't get in the way of anything else. No wonder it's currently the most fashionable secret weapon for London's top garden designers.

    Verbena boniarensis ; Gardenista

    Above: Verbena boniarensis in bloom. For more, see 11 Garden Ideas to Steal from London.

    Gentle Giants

    Marie Viljoen, Cape Town, Constantia, South Africa; sunflower; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

    Nothing says summer like a sunflower towering above a garden bed. Easy to grow from seed, a sunflower looks friendly in nearly any setting. 

    With a long season (from early spring to late fall), a packet of Vincents Choice Sunflower Seeds will see a garden through those difficult weeks in August when it feels like nothing else is in bloom; $3.95 from Johnny's Seeds.

    Larkspur Flowers

    Larkspur artemesia flowers garden bed meadow  Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Whatcomflowers.

    Delphinium's more delicate cousins, larkspur flowers come in all the loveliest shades of purple and blue. With their shorter stems and fewer blossoms per branch than delphinium, larkspur is less like to become top heavy or succumb to the first rain shower. It's an annual, but will self-sow freely—expect it to pop up somewhere in the garden next year, too.

    A quarter-pound packet of purple Delphinium Consolida Seeds is $10.95 from High Country Gardens.

    Extend the Season

    10 Perfect Plant Combinations Central Park Conservatory Garden Marie Viljoen ; Gardenista

    Above: Above: Elephant-eared Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’, Solenostemon ‘Redhead’, and Agastache cana ‘Heather Queen’ create a burst of color in September and October.

    Pair late-season bloomers such as agastache with bright-leafed plants. For more color combinations, see Color Theory: 10 Perfect Plant Combinations for Autumn.

    For more of our favorite colorful flower gardens, see:

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    In today's atmosphere of increasing environmental awareness, one can find any number of manuals for the would-be eco-MacGyver looking to whip up natural alternatives to harsh chemicals. One of the most popular: homemade weed killer.

    Often touted as the "natural" answer to Roundup, DIY herbicides appeal to those of us who are looking for a quick and easy alternative to commercial weed killers, which can contaminate our soil or groundwater—and harm wildlife, beneficial insects and pollinators, and even ourselves.

    But are at-home alternatives necessarily better for Mother Earth? Today we take a critical look at pros and cons of homemade weed killers—and how they stack up against Roundup.

    What is Homemade Weed Killer?

    Image via althealthworks

    Above: Image via ATL Healthworks.

    Because it's the Internet, folks, there are about as many variations of homemade weed killer recipes out there as there are varieties of weeds to kill. Most involve some combination of vinegar, salt, and/or soap—ingredients you're likely to have on hand (is your inner MacGyver beginning to get excited?) and relatively cheap. But are they as effective as commercial weeds killers and are they more environmentally safe? Let's take a closer look.

    Vinegar (Acetic Acid)

    Gardenista, homemade weed killer, vinegar

    Above: The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid. Household vinegar has an acetic acid concentration of about 5 percent.

    How it works: Acetic acid is a desiccant, meaning that when sprayed on the surface of a plant, it draws moisture out of the leaves, killing the top growth. 

    Effectiveness: Household vinegar has been demonstrated to effectively kill some invasive plants such as Canada thistle, as well as other weeds, particularly young weeds. Because it kills only the top of the plant, vinegar is less effective on perennials and more mature weeds, which have a more robust and developed root system. In other words, your dandelions, with their hardy taproots, may be back next year.

    Multiple applications can work on tougher weeds. Stronger concentrations of vinegar are also available, especially at garden centers where they are shelved along with other "organic" herbicides. Note, however that the more concentrated the acetic acid, the more toxic it is if accidentally ingested or if it gets in your eyes. Wear protective gear and make sure you don't mix these up with your kitchen vinegar! See Pesticides for a comprehensive article on using vinegar as an herbicide.

    Environmental impact: Acetic acid will effect the pH balance of your soil, which could be good or bad depending on the plant. (Evergreens, dogwoods, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas love acidic soil, for example.) But because acetic acid breaks down easily in water, this effect is brief (a few days to months depending on the concentration).

    Salt (Sodium Chloride)

    mage via Bakery and Snacks, Consultant-Mineral-salts-are-an-elegant-choice-for-sodium-reduction-in-bakery

    Above: Table salt is sodium chloride. Photograph via Bakery and Snacks.

    How it works: Like vinegar, salt is a desiccant.

    Effectiveness: Salt is often added to homemade herbicide recipes because it kills some plants that vinegar doesn't.

    Environmental impact: The Garden Counselor has a lengthy article comparing the efficacy of various home made recipes. This online resource cautions against using salt, because, unlike vinegar, it negatively effects your soil for longer and can effect the roots of other nearby plants.

    Soap

    common-good-dish-soap-glass-2

    Above: Dish soap is a common ingredient in homemade weed killers.

    How it works:  Soap is a "surfactant," meaning it increases the spread of vinegar or salt onto a weed's leaves. It also can increase the absorption of desiccants because it can break down any waxy surfaces that many protect leaves.

    Effectiveness: Again according to The Garden Counselor, a small amount, 1 ounce per gallon, of the most effective soap, liquid dish detergent, is sufficient.

    Now Let's Compare These to Roundup

    Roundup-via GMO Evidence

    Above: The active killer in Roundup and many commercial herbicides is glyphosate. Photograph via GMO Evidence.

    How it works: Unlike vinegar or salt, which are topical, glyphosate is systemic. That means it is absorbed into, and travels throughout, the whole plant, even down to the roots.

    Effectiveness: It is often more effective on mature and perennial weeds with robust root systems. But beware, because it is systemic, if a little drop gets onto another plant, Roundup will kill this too. (A stray drop of vinegar on a desirable neighboring plant will cause some browning, but probably not kill it.)

    Environmental impact: Now here's where it gets interesting. An informative article by Weed Control Freaks, a self-described group of "Wyoming Weed Scientists," analyzed the relative toxicity of vinegar, salt, and glyphosate. Their research showed that the concentration of the potentially harmful chemicals in a bottle of Roundup (glyphosate) is actually less than the concentration of acetic acid or sodium chloride used in a homemade weed killer recipe that includes 1/2 gallon of vinegar, 1/2 cup of salt, and 2 tablespoons of dish soap. The study also determined that in large quantities the "mammalian toxicity values" of glyphosate was less than either acetic acid or salt. Their main point was that in large doses almost any chemical can be considered toxic, while in the small amounts (like you might use in your garden) the toxicity is negligible.

    Furthermore, The Weed Control Freaks study pointed out that if you are trying not to use Roundup because it is owned by Monsanto, you should be aware that many commercial vinegars are made from corn which has been genetically modified and treated with, you guessed it, glyphosate. In other words, if you want to your DIY herbicide to be truly good for Mother Earth, you need to use an organic, non-GMO-verified vinegar in your recipe.

    However, the Weed Control Freaks article did not address the potential toxicity of glyphosate on insects, particularly bees. According to a study published by The National Company of Biotechnology Information, "field-realistic" doses of glyphosate, "has longterm negative consequences on [honeybee] colony performances." Another study by Environmental Health Perspectives determined that glyphosate is "toxic to human placental cells." The EPA is currently conducting studies that test the toxicity and efficacy of highly concentrated vinegar as an agricultural herbicide.

    The Take Away

    Gardenista, Truth About Homemade Weed Killer, image by Michelle Gervais via Fine Gardening

    Above: Making your own "natural" weed killer is not as simple as grabbing a few items from your kitchen. Take your time and do the research.

    In the end it boils down to your own priorities. If time is most important to you, then using vinegar or salt in small doses seems to be relatively safe, particularly in areas such as a driveway where you are never going to plant anything and there is no risk of affecting nearby plants. Personally, though some studies show that glyphosate in small doses is safe, I still don't feel comfortable using herbicides that, when used in wide-scale agriculture, are toxic. If I had to choose, I would opt for an organic, non-GMO vinegar and soap solution over glyphosate.

    But, if you really want to be 100 percent environmentally safe, nothing beats good old-fashioned, hands-on labor. Invest in the right tools, get down on your knees, and dig up your weeds—roots and all. Afterward, apply a smothering layer of mulch in between your desirable plants. Then thank your weeds for affording you the opportunity for some good, meditative exercise, or at least just plain exercise, and relish the chance to be outdoors.

    Gardenista, Homemade weed killer, dandelions via Simple Life Corp.

    Above: This dandelion path was tackled using another quick all-natural weed killer: boiling water. Photograph via Simple Life Corp.

    Looking for more weed-tackling strategies? See:

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    Or you could consume your weeds: DIY: Weeds you Can Eat

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