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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    A mountainous region in northern New York State, the Adirondacks were the final frontier for American explorers and vacationers. It wasn't until a popular guidebook called Adventures in the Wilderness; or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks was published in 1869 that people decided to go and have a look en masse. And though the book was intended for fishermen and deer hunters (who were advised to bring "stout pantaloons, vest, and coat"), the area soon became popular with the extremely wealthy. Their rustic Great Camps, with bowling alleys and cable lines to the New York Stock Exchange, made fanciful use of the local spruce, stone, and birch—and created an architectural style that was the unlikely offspring of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, William Morris, and the Swiss chalet.

    The Adirondack chair came next, and went on to have surprising staying power. In 1903, Thomas Lee, who had a summer house in Westport, New York, in the Lake Champlain area of the Adirondacks, was in want of a comfortable perch that, when positioned on the side of a mountain, would keep the body somewhat upright. He fancied a chair that would allow him to enjoy the view while balancing a drink or a book on the armrest. After some trial and error, he came up with a design made from 11 planks of hemlock and detailed with a sloping back, an upward tilting seat, and enormously wide armrests. Anticipating Bauhaus in its simplicity, the Adirondack chair went on to be modified over the years, including by Lee's ersatz friend Harry Bunnell, who borrowed the original, added his own touch, and obtained a patent on the sly, calling the design the Westport Plank Chair. The chairs now come in a multitude of styles, all recognized as Adirondack. Here are some examples:

    Above: Various styles of Adirondack chairs on Cream Hill Lake in Connecticut. Photograph by Megan Wilson.

    Above: When Middlebury College was looking for sturdy, accommodating perches for readers, artists, and writers attending their summer Bread Loaf program, they commissioned a special edition Westport Adirondack Chair from Jardinique.

    Above: Mill Valley-based Guideboat Co. owner Stephen Williamson (the founder of Restoration Hardware) is a fan of the Westport Adirondack chair; see more at Shopper's Diary: Merchant Marine (he tells us he is going to offer the chairs in the near future; fingers crossed).

    Five to Buy

    Above: The Spruce Point Inn in Maine offers the hotel's cypress Westport Adirondack Chairs in a ready-to-assemble kit for $495. A child-sized version is available for $349.

    Above: Loll Design's modification of the original Adirondack Chair is made of 100 percent recycled plastic. The two-slat Emmet Lounge Chair was designed for Room and Board and is available for $399. A three-slat version is available in a variety of colors for $488.75 at Design Within Reach.

    Above: What we now consider the classic Adirondack Chair is constructed with many slats and a rounded top. This version, $199 at L.L. Bean, is foldable for off-season storage.

    red Adirondack chair Royal Botania ; Gardenista

    Above: From Belgium-based Royal Botania, a New England Arm Chair is available in white or red; for information and prices see Royal Botania.

    Above: Adirondack Chairs cope admirably on sloping land at the Driftwood Hotel in Cornwall, England; £275 at Adirondack Outdoors. Photograph by Crick & Co.

    For more options, browse our Outdoor Furniture gallery, and see our roundup of Modern Adirondack Chairs.

    Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and curator of the Remodelista 100 presented in the Remodelista Book. Have a look at her past lessons on the Butterfly Chair, the Eames Lounge, and the Nautical Hammock.

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    Birgitta and Anders were happy living in a suburb of Stockholm—until they stumbled across an idyllic 19th century farmhouse on a peninsula on the southeast coast of Gotland, Sweden's largest island. The couple, who had been looking for a summer house, promptly changed their plans and moved in permanently. We can see why.

    N.B.: The couple rent out two apartments in their barn, adjacent to the garden. For more information, see Airbnb.

    Photography via Lantliv, except where noted.

    Gotland summer house garden Scandinavia ; Gardenista

    Above: On the house, the red clay tiles come from Visby, a medieval seaside town on the island.

    In the kitchen garden, straw mulch keeps crops tidy, separating rows of strawberries from clumps of nasturtiums.

    Gotland summer house garden Scandinavia ; Gardenista

    Above: David Austin roses and lavender came with the owners; Birgitta couldn't bear to part with them so she transplanted them from her previous garden. Many of the other plants at the farm are from Verdus Veranda, a nursery and gardening store in nearby Hablingbo.

    Gotland summer house garden Scandinavia ; Gardenista

    Above: The Orangery, with its glorious walls and ceiling of glass, is the result of serendipity: a friend in Stockholm was getting rid of 12 full-height glass windows. Fitted together, they created a lean-to greenhouse.

    Gotland orangery outdoor dining shade canopy ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Airbnb.

    Draped canvas panels overhead create a shade canopy in the Orangery, where most meals are eaten during warm months.

    Gotland garden Burganland farm ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via AirBnB.

    Green lawn and old trees surround the house and barn.

    Gotland summer house garden Scandinavia ; Gardenista

    Above: Colorful paper lanterns, souvenirs from a trip to Vietnam, hang suspended from plum trees in the orchard.

    Gotland summer house garden Scandinavia ; Gardenista

    Above: The marble porch floor is paved with local Gotland stone, with radiant heating underfoot.

    Gotland summer house garden Scandinavia ; Gardenista

    Above: Surrounded by meadows and headlands, the old farm is an excellent spot for birdwatching.  "The area is exciting during the nesting season, and under the right days of the end of May, you can experience 'Gåssträcket,' when thousands of divers arrive on the cape," say Birgitta and Anders.

    Gotland summer house garden Scandinavia ; Gardenista

    Above: The garden comes indoors; floral Manchurian wallpaper from Zoffany provides a backdrop for a sheepskin chair (upholstered in Gotland) in the first floor family room.

    Gotland summer house garden Scandinavia ; Gardenista

    Above: Birgitta and Anders at home.

    For more of our favorite Scandi summer gardens, see:

    Enter the Gardenista Considered Design Awards 2015; Gardenista

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    Suddenly surfacing all over: camp-style enameled flatware in graceful, ghostly white. The latest addition to the raging enamelware revival, the cutlery is as versatile as a T-shirt, and equally at home on a picnic and at the dinner table. 

    Above: Ideal for eating cereal and doling out jam—no campfire required. Variopinte's bowl and spoons are part of Italian designer Stefania di Petrillo's large enamelware collection. Spoons are €14.95 ($15.95) and Bowls in Green Almond start at €12 ($12.81) from Variopinte. Photograph via DESIGNality.

    Above: Variopinte Enameled Cutlery is sold by the piece: Forks and Spoons, €14.95 ($15.95). Knives, €24 ($25.63), Dessert Spoons, €12.50 ($13.35), Salad Server Fork and Spoon, €22 ($23.50) each. Inquire about salt spoons. Photograph via Design Crush.

    Above: West Elm Enamel Server Sets, sized for serving, are on sale for $14.99 in navy and $10.99 in gray (marked down from $39).

    Above: For serving salt: Small Enamel Spoons come in five colors: $32 AUD ($24.57) from Dot & Co. in Australia.

    Above: A three-piece Enamel Flatware Set is on sale for $9.95 from Williams-Sonoma.

    Above: The Quartet Flatware Set from Terrain, $68 for a four-piece place setting, comes in three finishes: enamel (shown here), copper, and stainless steel.

    Above: From Kaico of Japan, makers of one of our favorite tea kettles, enamel cutlery that's been creating a global splash. It's available at a number of retailers, including Poketo, which sells a Four-Piece Flatware Set for $78.&Cachette in France offers the pieces individually and in sets, as does The Mint List in the UK. Photograph via the Mint List.

    Above: Kaico's cutlery can be hung on a wall or strung as wind chimes. Nest sells a range of the pieces individually: White Enamel Forks and Dessert Spoons are $12; Knives are $15; Enamel Salad Spoons are $14.50 each-and there's more. Brook Farm General Store also offers much of the collection. Photograph via Nest.

    Dining outdoors? Take a look at:

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    We think crushed seashells should be on the short list for topping paths and driveways. After all, they're natural, beautiful, functional, and remind us of the sea. Read on to find out if crushed seashell is the best hardscaping material for you. 

    Seashell Path Sweden ; Gardenista

    Above: For more of this garden, see From Sweden with Love: A Romantic Captain's Villa.

    Shells are used as a paving material all over the world. In the US, seashell paths originated in Colonial times as a result of early-American recycling efforts. Oysters and other shellfish were a primary source of food, and thrifty settlers put their discarded shells to use as a paving material. Later, this practice became common in New England as a way to recycle waste from the seafood industry.

    Oyster Shell Garden Path, Gardenista

    Above: hardworking hardscape material, it's stood the test of time, as seen in this crushed-shell walkway in an herb garden at Virginia's Norfolk Botanical Garden. Image via Urban Sacred Garden.

    Why use seashells to cover paths and driveways?

    A great alternative to gravel, crushed shells can be used on paths, patios, courtyards, driveways, and even bocce ball courts (the shells don't hold water or imprints from shoes and balls). As the shells are walked on or driven over, they break into smaller pieces that disperse evenly, creating a stable surface that's not prone to the ruts and holes you get with crushed stone toppings.

    Another benefit is that, as long as they come from a sustainable harvesting operation, shells are environmentally friendly. They provide excellent drainage, since rainwater runs through them to percolate into the ground. And shells are a natural material that benefits the ground below as they decompose. 

    Jonathan Adler Garden Crushed Shell Driveway, Gardenista  

    Above: The crushed-shell driveway of Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan's Shelter Island home. Edging the driveway are a pair of autumn olives and tufts of drought-tolerant prairie dropseed grass. Image by Vickie Cardaro.

    Crushed Shell Driveway, Gardenista

    Above: A crushed-shell ribbon driveway in Nantucket. Image via Elizabeth Boyer on Pinterest.

    How do you install a crushed-shell path or driveway?

    Coverage is key. The experts at Emerald Landscape Supply in Massachusetts recommend a 3-inch-deep application. Some installers suggest starting with a gravel base, but it must be compacted and leveled (preferably by a professional) so the surface doesn't become soft. You want to ensure that tires drive over—not through—it. The shells will compact and become more stable over time. 

    The general rule of thumb is that one cubic yard of seashell will provide a 3-inch-deep cover for a 100-square-foot space.  Another tip: Shell hardscaping is best for level surfaces. A steep drive is not a good application, as the shells are likely to collect at the bottom.

    Seashell Path, Gardenista

    Above: Livingscapes in South Africa converted a steep walk into a series of flat grades covered with shells, putting wooden risers in between. Image via LIvingscapes.

    What are the best shells to use?

    The most common shells used for hardscaping are oyster, clam, and scallop. Their differences are subtle: mostly in color and how they break down. Oyster shells, primarily off-white and gray, break down in a way that makes them more compact and, subsequently, more stable over time. Clam shells, mostly off-white or yellow-white, are slightly more fragile and will break down faster than oyster shells. They also compact nicely for vehicle traffic. Scallop shells add brown coloration to the mix. Despite initial variations in color, all the shells bleach under the sun and become lighter over time. Your choice will most likely depend on what's readily available in your area.

    Jonathan Adler Garden Crushed Shell Path, Gardenista

    Above: Mahogany quahog clam shells from Massachusetts cover the sand in this Shelter Island garden. A band of Elijah Blue fescue near the house blends into blue dune grass in the distance. For more glimpses of this garden, see Garden Visit: Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan on Shelter Island. Image by Vickie Cardaro.

    Don't seashells smell?

    Shells that are sold in bulk for hardscaping purposes are left over from seafood harvesting, so the shellfish have been removed. Typically, the shells have been thoroughly washed, so there should be little left to generate stink. That said, they may arrive with some natural aroma, but that should dissipate within a day or two. (To one homeowner, they smelled like the beach, not dead seafood.)

    Stelle Architects Dune Residence, Gardenista

    Above: Crushed shell hardscaping isn't limited to Cape Cod-style settings. It works well at this oceanfront house in Bridgehampton, NY, by Stelle Lomont Architects, a member of the Remodelista Design Directory. Image by Francesca Giovanelli, Kay Wettstein von Westersheimb.

    How much do crushed seashell paths and driveways cost?

    When bought in bulk, seashells are on the more affordable end of the spectrum: comparable to crushed gravel; less than asphalt, concrete, or stone. Clam shells seem to be the least expensive, offered at about $40 per cubic yard, or $50 per ton. We priced crushed oyster shell at $385 per ton. The Atlantic coast is the primary source of shells; if you live elsewhere, shipping may be the most expensive part of the project. Contact your local landscape supplier for availability. Alternatively, suppliers like Myco ship crushed shell all over North America.

    Buyers tip: Buy in bulk for the lowest price. Unless you're covering a very small area, avoid purchasing small bags at a feed store or the like. 

    Seashell Driveway, Gardenista

    Above: Shells mix well with other materials, such as brick masonry, stone, and grass. 

    What about maintenance? 

    The good news: Shell paths and driveways can't crack, so repairs aren't part of the package. Cold and heat won't damage the shells, and they don't develop ruts and holes. Assuming a generous layer was applied at the outset, the material will last a long time. Because of compacting it will eventually need replenishing, but not every year (or even every other year). And unlike gravel, crushed shell hardscaping rarely encounters issues with weeds or pests: The shells' sharp edges act as a natural deterrent (but they're not so sharp as to be an issue for tires or shoes).

    Tabby Oyster Shell Concrete, Gardenista  

    Above: Like something more sure-footed? Tabby, a concrete made of oyster shells with lime and sand, is an alternative to 100 percent crushed shell. Image via Ellen George.

    Seashell Path and Driveway Recap:


    • Natural product
    • Durable
    • Affordable
    • Low maintenance
    • Light colors mean cooler surface in hot climates
    • Provides excellent drainage and prevents runoff
    • Visually appealing
    • Won't crack or break, requiring repairs


    • Rough surface that is not barefoot friendly or conducive to bikes, trikes, and other smooth-surface toys and activities
    • Not a good covering for steep drives or paths
    • Snow removal difficult
    • Not readily available in all areas, and shipping may be expensive 

      Oyster Shell Garden Path, Gardenista

    Above: Oyster shells line the paths of a kitchen garden at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Image via Figs Flower Food.

    Oyster shells are also a great boon to the garden. See Gift From the Sea: Oyster Shells in the Garden for tips on putting their nutrients to use. And for more hardscaping ideas, see all of our Hardscaping 101 Features

    In a Cape Cod state of mind? Remodelista found a great stay in Provincetown: the Salt House Inn.

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    High in the hills above Barcelona, floral designer Manuela Sosa works in a tiny glass greenhouse, with the sky for a ceiling and expansive views of the city below. A story about Manuela's unusual workspace on Freunde von Freunden piqued our interest, so our friend Mimi Giboin took her camera to Spain to investigate further. Serendipitously, she arrived in Barcelona on the day Manuela planned to host a dinner party for friends and colleagues. Here's the report from Mimi:

    Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista except where noted.

    Gang and the Wool Floral Studio Greenhouse Barcelona ; Gardenista

    Above: It turns out that a tiny glass work studio can be easily transformed into an open-air dining room—emphasis on open—with a few stylish and simple accessories. Here's how the studio looked before Manuela began setting it up for the party. Photograph by Silva Conde via Freunde von Freunden

    Gang and the Wool Barcelona greenhouse work studio Mimi Giboin ; Gardenista

    Above: When Mimi arrived, Manuela was preparing for a "Welcome Summer" dinner party. The guests would be some of her favorite wedding planners, florists, and friends. 

    Gang and the Wool florist Manuela Sosa Barcelona ; Gardenista

    Above: Manuela is a former furniture designer who went to florists' school in Uruguay, where she grew up. She came to Spain out of curiosity, liked it, and stayed. 

    Gang and the Wool Barcelona florist ; Gardenista

    Above: In Barcelona, Manuela decided to start working with flowers and plants, but she kept the name of her furniture design business—Gang and the Wool—for her new venture.

      Gang and the Wool Mimi Giboin Barcelona ; Gardenista

    Above: To reach Manuela's place, you take a train ride from Barcelona followed by a bus ride on a small winding road with the most beautiful views of Barcelona's hills and houses. The bus drops you right in front of her little bungalow.

    Gang and the Wool Barcelona view by Mimi Giboin; Gardenista

    Above: Manuela's view is outrageous.

      Gang and the Wool greenhouse in Barcelona ; Gardenista

    Above: Manuela grew up with greenhouses, since they're common in Uruguay, and always wanted one. One day a friend called from England to tell her about a company that made greenhouses; Manuela bought one a week later. (Unfortunately, the company is no longer in business.) 

    Gang and the Wool greenhouse design detail ; Gardenista

    Above: Manuela assembled the greenhouse herself. "That's why the door doesn't close properly!" she says.

      Gang and the Wool Barcelona carpenter's work table ; Gardenista

    Above: Manuela's grandfather was a carpenter, and this carpenter's work table, bought from a local antique store, reminds her of him every day.

      Gang and the Wool Barcelona florist ; Gardenista

    Above: This is Manuela's workplace; you don't pop by here to pick up a bouquet of flowers. But she does welcome visitors who call ahead.

      Gang and the Wool greenhouse shelving ; Gardenista

    Above: Manuela stockpiles dishes and crockery to use at the frequent events—from dinners to weddings—she holds at the greenhouse.  

    Gang and the wool florist Barcelona supplies tool drawer ; Gardenista

    Above: To organize and store her tools, Manuela uses glass jars, wooden fruit crates, and old drawers.

    Gang and the Wool Barcelona floral arrangement ; Gardenista

    Above: Mimi watched Manuela make table arrangements for the dinner, putting moss and sea holly on slabs of tree trunk, then covering them with glass domes. "I love the little drops," she said when condensation formed on the glass.

      Gang and the Wool dead flowers ; Gardenista

    Above: Manuela loves the whole life of a flower: from its young start to the days the petals fall off.

    Gang and the Wool greenhouse florist Barcelona ; Gardenista

    Above: Manuela's next big project will be to landscape the yard the greenhouse overlooks, adding English pathways and lots of flowing water.

    For more of our favorite Outbuildings, see Artemis Russell's Tiny Garden Backyard Studio and A Garden Workshop in Cambridge.

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    The word "eccentric" has a lot of currency at Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire. Though the head gardener uses it to describe Sir George Sitwell (the garden's turn-of-the-century mastermind), the word is normally associated with Sitwell's children, Edith, Osbert, and Sacheverell. At Renishaw, the iconoclastic siblings who grew up to be well-known authors (Edith was the poet) are known mainly as the Literary Trio. 

    It is said that at Renishaw Hall one of the spare bedrooms—and possibly a corridor—is haunted. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, it is clear that the spirit of its more recent inhabitants fills this gothic pile in the Midlands with a special atmosphere.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: A gothic gate in the woods, put up by the felicitously named Sir Sitwell Sitwell.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: The estate office, bearing a plaque with the legend: "George Sitwell, Baronet, Renishaw Hall." The estate color is a sublime sea green, taken up at the suggestion of Sir Edwin Lutyens.

    Derbyshire, also known as the Peak District, is about three hours from London and has a dramatic landscape, compared with its flatter neighbors in the Midlands. It was also at the heart of the Industrial Revolution. The views from Renishaw are far-reaching: gloriously green and pleasant, with the odd pylon thrown in, for ruggedness.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: The ballroom garden, its box spires a visual nod to the finials on the roof. Renishaw has this year won the Best Garden award from the Historic Houses Association.

    The ballroom and billiard room were both remodeled by Lutyens, though he grew tired of being asked for free advice about the garden from Sir George. The baronet had strong ideas of his own, having written the authoritative On the Making of Gardens, based on travels around Italy (other books include Introduction of the Peacock into Western Gardens and A Short History of the Fork)One of his many inventions included a small revolver for killing wasps.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: Closed shutters of the ballroom. The Literary Trio rebelled against their parents' version of eccentricity by seeking out the new, the strange, the avant-garde. Edith in particular was a proto-punk of the 1920s, who relished performance art, her singular looks adding to the experience.

    When the family was painted by John Singer Sargent (the spectacular result hangs in the Drawing Room), Sir George tried to have the artist accentuate the irregularities of his daughter's nose. Sargent decided to give a crooked nose to Sir George instead.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: The entrance to the garden is shady and any attempt at grass has been laid aside in favor of foxgloves, euphorbia, and for later months, nicotiana and varieties of hydrangea.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: A temple in the bluebell wood. Dame Edith excused herself from visiting it frequently because, according to head gardener David Kevesten, she claimed to fear "that her senses would overwhelm her." 

    Above: An area of the garden known as The Second Candle. The First Candle is on the other side of the Middle Lawn. The south-facing gardens are of a formal Italianate style, painstakingly researched and put together by Sir George, sparking a craze in England for Renaissance-influenced Italian design.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: Some of the ruins on the estate are souvenirs from the travels of Sir George, who eventually retired to Italy, leaving the cold, unelectrified house in the hands of his son Osbert. Sister Edith sought refuge here from Paris during World War II, writing and knitting for the war effort. The ruinous state of the house was addressed by his nephew Sir Reresby Sitwell in the 1960s.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: The garden layout which Sir George created was a strike against Capability Brown's landscape movement which had swept away the original garden. Sir George's intention was to re-introduce a style to suit the house: big garden rooms surrounded by walls of yew.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: A battered lead planter with authentic detailing (SS 1803). "SS" stands for Sitwell Sitwell, first baronet. It is possible that he might not have been christened 'Sitwell' had his parents known that he would inherit two Sitwell estates from distant relations. He then took the decision to change his surname from Hurt to Sitwell.

    Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire. Kendra Wilson for Gardenista

    Above: Renishaw from the winding drive. The family motto: "Ne Cede Malis" (Do Not Yield to Misfortune) is found on several outbuildings. Before coal was discovered on the estate, the family's fortune had had its ups and downs which then went down again after the gilded youth of the Literary Trio. In escaping the misfortune of many old family "seats" during the '50s and '60s (demolition), Renishaw's motto still holds.

    Neighboring Chatsworth was one of the first to become a model modern estate. See: A Dowager Duchess' Glorious Masterpiece.

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    It's official: Remodelista world headquarters has moved outdoors for the season. Contact the editors in their hammocks.

    This week, Julie and team made clip-on lights to use in their weekend shares, filled drinks dispensers with lemonade, etc., and took up residence in America's oldest artist colony. Join them:

    Blu Dot mirrors ; Gardenista

    Above: Remodelista and Blu Dot are teaming up to give away a $1,000 gift card. Enter here (deadline July 14).

    summer drinks dispenser metal ; Gardenista

    Above: For nonstop outdoor dining (and lawn parties), Alexa rounded up her 10 Favorite Summer Drinks Dispensers, from High to Low.

    DIY painted clip lamp ; Gardenista

    Above: A $15 DIY clamp lamp sounds about right for a summer house. For step-by-step instructions, see DIY: The Hardware Store Clip Light, Improved.

    Old Homestead Provincetown porch ; Gardenista

    Above: Escape to America's oldest art colony, on Cape Cod. Julie has found Low-Key Luxury: The New Old Homestead in Provincetown.

    LL Bean canvas tote bag ; Gardenista

    Above: Packing light for a weekend away? Megan has some suggestions in Object Lessons: The Classic Canvas Tote.

    Wondering what else you missed this week on Remodelista? Catch up here.

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

    Eco Nursery and Elementary School | Gardenista

    Roasted asparagus salad by Dolly & Oatmeal | Gardenista

    LovinSummer Tent | Gardenista

    Instagram and Pinterest Picks of the Week

    Gardenista Instagram Pick of the Week: @gardenapothecary

    • Above: Our new favorite flower shop to follow is Garden Apothecary (@gardenapothecary). 

    Gardenista Pinterest Pick of the Week: Jessica Zimmer

    • Above: For outdoor inspiration, we're turning to designer Jessica Zimmer's Alfresco board

    Catch up on our latest issue, Vacation House, and head to Remodelista to see their week of Vacation Houses, too. 

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    Hydrangea season is officially underway. Join us this week as we celebrate summer with raspberry sparkler cocktails, planters for a balcony, and tips for rearranging the furniture on the front porch:

    Table of Contents: Independence Day ; Gardenista

    Above: Raspberry sparkler cocktails are a tradition around these parts. See Olivia Rae James' recipe at DIY: Raspberry Sparkler for the Fourth of July.


    Jersey ice cream screened porch makeover ; Gardenista

    Above: A nondescript and unloved screened porch turns magical in the Catskills, thanks to designer Jersey Ice Cream Co. In this week's Before & After post.


    blue white stripe tablecloth ian mankin ; Gardenista

    Above: We've rounded up all the essentials you need to celebrate Independence Day, whether you're planning a neighborhood block party or a lazy afternoon in the hammock, in this week's 10 Easy Pieces.

    asters The High Line Park ; Gardenista

    Above: Alexa reveals 10 no-fail landscape design tips, culled from Manhattan's High Line Park in this week's Garden Ideas to Steal post.



    Above: Meredith makes a breakthrough, discovering the ultimate wood-burning outdoor grill. And for a moveable feast, see our 10 Favorite Portable Fire Pits.


    Black balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: We're ready for flowers. Lots of them. To make window boxes easy, we've narrowed our list to 10 black balcony boxes you can hang from a railing or use on a deck. For more ideas, see 10 Easy Pieces: Basic Wooden Window Boxes and Hardscaping 101: Best Window Boxes.


    Modern storage barn Minnesota ; Gardenista

    Above: Dalilah discovers the classic Midwestern barn made modern, in this week's Outbuilding of the Week post.

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    What room matters most in a summer house? The screened porch, of course.

    Design team Tara Mangini and Percy Bright take on the hard cases. Last year they rescued a nondescript and unloved screened porch in the Catskills—and made it magical.

    When Tara and Percy commit to a rehab project, they really commit—moving into a space until they're done remodeling it. The two founders of Jersey Ice Cream Co. (I know, it's a confusing name) work on one project at a time, have no qualms about sticking to a tight budget, and in between clients head off on restorative yoga retreats and hiking expeditions. I would say they have it all figured it out.

    Recently, the couple spent eight months working on an 18th century summer house in the Catskills, living in it while owners Rachael Bedard and Gideon Friedman decamped for NYC. When they first saw the place it was, in Tara's words, "the pits." If we hadn't seen the "before" pictures, we'd find that hard to believe now:

    Photography via Jersey Ice Cream Co. except where noted.

    Jersey ice cream screened porch makeover ; Gardenista

    Above: A narrow 7-foot-wide space, the screened porch is on the back of the house, accessible through both a mudroom and the living room.

    The designers rearranged vintage wicker and rattan furniture. Shifting the position of the long sofa to place it against the short wall creates an optical illusion: it makes the space feel both wider and shorter.


    Jersey Ice Cream screened porch makeover before photo ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Design Sponge.

    Before the remodel, the long, narrow screened porch felt more like a bowling lane than a place to gather. Too many paint colors—red, white, and gray—made the space feel chopped up and chaotic.

    Jersey Ice Cream screened porch makeover before photo ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Design Sponge.

    A too-big table made the porch feel like a furniture warehouse.


    Jersey Ice Cream screened porch makeover after photo ; Gardenista

    Above: A round rug anchors a second seating area and distracts the eye from the narrow length of the porch.

    The round, patterned Whirlwind Jute Rug was the result of a design collaboration between Santa Fe's Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and West Elm, which sadly no longer sells it. For a similar rug, consider a Round Braided Jute Rug (available in three neutral colors and in two diameters), at prices ranging from $149 to $299 from Ballard Designs.

    Jersey Ice Cream screened porch makeover after photo ; Gardenista

    Above: Strings of outdoor café-style lights look just as good indoors. These lights are from Target; for more choices, see 10 Easy Pieces: Café-Style Outdoor String Lights.

    Potted plants screened porch Underwater blue paint color ; Gardenista

    Above: Siding, floorboards, and shingles—every surface in the porch got the same color of paint—Underwater by Behr—to unify the space. Available in both interior and exterior finishes, an 8-ounce sample size can of Underwater is $1.94 from Home Depot.

    Jersey ice cream screened porch mud room transformation ;Gardenista

    Above: A mudroom connects the screened porch to the kitchen. When Tara and Percy first saw it, the mudroom was painted four different colors. They unified the space by painting it a soft gray and made sure it was outfitted with what Tara describes as "excessive hooks."

    Jersey Ice Cream mudroom makeover ; Gardenista

    Above: The sink and built-in cabinet with beadboard were already in place when Tara and Percy arrived—but were painted yellow. The designers also hung the BB gun and built simple wood frames for the vintage targets they bought.

    Jersey Ice Cream Co. screened porch makeover ; Gardenista

    Above: French doors in the living room connect indoor space to the screened porch, where the watery blue surfaces lure visitors into the shady space on even the hottest afternoon.

    Curious to see the rest of the interior? Go to Remodelista for a full tour.


    Above: Photograph via Country Living.

    "This is one of our favorites by far," Tara and Percy say. "It feels like it's the home it was meant to be."

    For more of our favorite summer rehabs, see:

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    Since we moved into our tiny apartment in Brooklyn Heights two years ago, I've been enjoying a love affair with my neighbors' roses. Beginning in early June and cropping up again in September, this neighborhood has the most glorious display of roses I've seen anywhere.

    What's blooming in your neighborhood? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

    Photography by Erin Boyle.

    roses in brooklyn heights, gardenista

    Above: Last Saturday, I took a walk around the neighborhood in the evening as the sun was setting and snapped photographs of some of my favorites. 

    If you're looking for a classic blush-pink climber, New Dawn is hardy and a fast grower that can reach heights of 12 feet. It ships for fall planting from White Flower Farm, where it is $25.95 apiece.

    See Justine's step-by-step directions for arranging roses in a vase in DIY Climbing Roses: From Trellis to Vase on Cape Cod.

    roses in brooklyn heights, gardenista

    Above: I started out on my street where this bright pink pair climbs the brick walls of a home on the corner.

    One of our favorite deep pink climbers is Zepherine Drouhin, which is thornless and a hardy double bloomer; its fragrance is to die for. It is $21.95 from David Austin.

    roses in brooklyn heights, gardenista

    Above: A few houses down I found these pale white garden roses with loose, soft petals.

     White Iceberg Climbing Rose will produce more flowers every year; $21.95 apiece from Jackson and Perkins.

    roses in brooklyn heights, gardenista

    Above: And around the corner, I spotted this sweet pink variety with yellow centers. They remind me of a land-lubbing version of pink beach roses.

    If you love the combination of shell-pink petals and lemony yellow centers, an old-fashioned hybrid musk shrub rose called Rose Penelope is a longtime favorite of ours; $19.95 from Antique Rose Emporium.

    roses in brooklyn heights, gardenista

    Above: Just a few more blocks and I found these bright yellow roses popping through a wrought iron fence.

    If you're craving a yellow rose, a Graham Thomas Climber has a strong perfume; it's $27.95 from David Austin.

    roses in brooklyn heights, gardenista

    Above: Pale pink roses are my very favorite. This large variety was practically covering the stoop of a particularly impressive brownstone near my house. What's your favorite rose?

    Many varieties of rose have been "lost" over the years; rose historians are dedicated to tracking them down. Read more about the mystery at Endangered Roses: Are Any Hiding in Your Garden?


    roses in brooklyn heights, gardenista

    Above: And finally, I found my way to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, where the sun setting on the East River illuminated a garden that is full to brimming with bright red roses.

    One of our favorite deep-red flowering climbers is Don Juan; it's available seasonally for $19.95 apiece from the Antique Rose Emporium.

    A beautiful evening in the neighborhood, don't you think?

    For more ways to use roses in a garden, see:

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    A New York itinerary essential is an afternoon walking the High Line, a public park on Manhattan’s West Side built around a defunct elevated railway.

    Under James Corner Field Operations, landscape architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Dutch planting designer Piet Oudolf created a dynamic and painterly park inspired by a larger aerial greenway, the 3-mile-long Promenade Plantée in Paris. Here’s what our frequent visits to the High Line have taught us for our own gardens:

    Revitalize a Post-Industrial Landscape

    Juan Valentin High Line Before Photo | Gardenista

    Above: Photograph of the old High Line by Juan Valentin via Friends of the High Line.

    From 1934 to 1980, the West Side Improvement Project of New York City brought an elevated train for industrial use running from 34th to Spring Streets. Twenty-four years later, the empty train tracks were revived by Friends of the High Line. Abandoned industrial areas are plentiful in urban environments, but there are notes to take for the residential gardener: replant an overgrown side yard, opt for raised beds in a backyard of toxic soil, or integrate hard-to-remove hardscape with new, feathery perennials.

    Use Less Water

    Piet Oudolf Design at the High Line | Gardenista

    The structure underlying the High Line is the greatest contributor to reducing stormwater runoff and keeping drainage healthy. Layers of topsoil, clay-based subsoil, filter fabric, and crushed gravel all create a clean, low-maintenance system. The takeaway? For shadier and wetter parts of the garden, consider a layer cake of drainage mats with fine and coarse gravel. The park also sees a complex drip irrigation with the option for automatic and manual watering that is turned off and on depending on the season.

    Close the Loop: Erosion Control with Mulch

    Erosion Control at the High Line in NYC | Gardenista

    Above: Soil erosion on an elevated walkway at the High Line.

    The High Line’s many perennials, grasses, and shrubs turn out plenty of waste material that is reused through Fresh Kills in Staten Island and an on-site compost system. Always working toward a closed-loop recycling system, the park recently implemented the use of homemade mulch from fallen leaves and clipped winter stalks; the mulch can be seen in areas of the park where erosion has taken hold. Reusing plant cuttings and discarded material is not only sustainable, but a smart financial investment for a garden of any size.

    Design From Big to Small

    Piet Oudolf High Line Plan | Gardenista

    Above: Oudolf's landscape design specs for the High Line garden.

    When parsing out the entirety of a large landscape, Oudolf works from big to small. Designing a base of trees while considering a host of conditions for each variety and the right location for it in the garden. Next are the hardier shrubs, and sometimes flowering perennials followed by a peppering of grass layers for a delicate, organic effect.

    Select Plants for Hardiness and Purpose

    Autumn Moor Grasses at the High Line | Gardenista

    Above: Autumn Moore Grass (Sesleria autumnalis) adapts for heat and drought in midsummer, blooming green in early fall.

    Of the 100,000 plants across 300 species at the park, each botanical has a purpose and a story. Take Wild White Indigo (Baptisia alba), a deer-proof plant that acts as a natural fertilizer by increasing nitrogen levels in the soil. Or Blond Ambition (Bouteloua gracilis), a grass used in erosion control that tolerates shallow soil and air pollution (an adapted urban dweller). The majority of the plant species at the park are American natives, but all are selected for their hardworking attributes in equal measure to their beauty. For a list of all the species see the High Line Plant List.

    Create a Pathless Landscape

    Pavers at the High Line in NYC | Gardenista

    Landscape architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed what they call a “pathless landscape” with pre-cast concrete pavers whose tapered ends organically diffuse into plant beds. The open joints between the pavers encourage growth, “like wild grass through cracks in the sidewalk.” Consider the architects’ approach when designing or shopping for hardscaping elements: Does the color of the stone compliment surrounding foliage? Is there a section of the garden where clumped plant life could be integrated into an structural element? These considerations help integrate architecture with agriculture for a softly blended landscape.

    Consider Foliage in the Context of a Space

    Photograph by Dan Tsai via Friends of the High Line | Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Dan Tsai via Friends of the High Line.

    When Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Piet Oudolf set out to revive the High Line track, hardscaping and planting was directly inspired by the self-seeded, overgrown landscape that appeared on the defunct rail tracks in the 1980s. Some tracks were filled in with loose gravel by Diller Scofidio + Renfro while others, particularly points of railroad switch, where used as planters by Oudolf.

    Paint with Texture and Variety

    Terracotta Yarrow at the High Line | Gardenista

    A modern Dutch painter, Oudolf is a master of color design but he also considers the texture of every wisp of grass, composite bloom, and structural branch. Pink Muhly Grass is a favorite seen at the High Line. It’s bright green in the summer and turns to pink or bronze in the fall with a cloud-like texture. Then there are terra-cotta Yarrow blooms in summer tones of dark orange and yellow with silvery foliage in the winter. A painter’s palette of 300 some materials allows for accidental color and pleasing patterns across a long landscape.

    Plant According to Microclimates of the Garden

    Piet Oudolf Design at the High Line | Gardenista

    The 1.5-mile garden that runs parallel to the Hudson River sees different levels of wind exposure, light conditions affected by neighboring buildings, and soil depths predetermined by the High Line’s train tracks. These factors are all major considerations in the planting of each section. For example, in an area with low soil depth and naturally poor drainage, gardeners planted a crop of Graceful Cattail (Typha laxmannii), for its ability to cope with a plugged drainage system. It’s rare that the home gardener is working on the same scale to a public park, but even the smallest garden has different microclimates to consider for successful planting and plant relationships.

    Accept the Beauty of Decay: The Four-Season Garden

    The High Line in Winter by Marie Viljoen of 66 Square Feet | Gardenista

    Above: Photograph of the High Line in the winter by Marie Viljoen of 66 Square Feet.

    At the core of Oudolf’s design approach is seasonal planting and a primarily uninterrupted process of decomposition. As the designer told The New York Times in 2008, “You accept death. You don’t take the plants out, because they still look good. And brown is also a color.” Shifting the focus away from purely flowering varieties connects the gardener to the heart of the plant and the garden as an evolving ecosystem. Rather than deadheading everything in sight, stems and dried blooms become structural elements that hold interest through the winter months. “You want a moment in the garden to be quiet,” Oudolf reminds us.

    For more garden inspiration see our posts:

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    Whether you're planning a block party for the whole neighborhood or a lazy afternoon in a hammock (followed by fireworks), we've rounded up essentials for a Fourth of July celebration:

    blue white stripe tablecloth ian mankin ; Gardenista

    Above: Stripes just feel right. From British upholstery fabrics designer Ian Mankin, Devon Stripe in Indigo or Peony is £24.50 per meter from Curtains Made Simple.

    For more stripes, see Ticking Goes Luxe at Ian Mankin.

    July fourth party outdoor picnic enamelware ; Gardenista

    Above: A set of two Enamel Servers in either white or navy is on sale for $10.99 (white) or $14.99 (navy) from West Elm.



    American flag USA July Fourth 4th outdoor decor; Gardenista

    Above: From Annin, America's oldest flagmaker, an Old Glory American Flag made of cotton bunting with sewn stripes and embroidered stars measures 3 by 5 feet. It's available for $46 from Bestmadeco.

    Red adirondack chair LL Bean ; Gardenista

    Above: A red wooden Folding Adirondack Chair is made of solid ash and has rust-resistant hardware; $199 from L.L. Bean.

    Variopinte red enamelware outdoor dining plates ; Gardenista

    Above: Made in Australia, Variopinte's Red Enamel Plates are lightweight and unbreakable. "This enamel dinner plate's vibrant red cinnabar colour was created by crushing natural pigments mixed with glass powder, then applied by hand," says March SF, where prices range from $24 to $32 per plate depending on diameter.

    Red leather fly swatter ; Gardenista

    Above: Made of red English leather and with a white ash handle, a Leather Fly Swatter "harkens to a pre-plastic era"; it's $15.95 from Kaufmann-Mercantile.

    Red Feuerhand lantern ; Gardenista

    Above: Walking home from the beach in the dark? A German-made Feuerhand Lantern is available in red or black, for $39.95 from Portland’s Hand-Eye Supply. See more favorites in 5 Favorites: Classic Oil Lanterns.

    Woolrich red white blue backpack ; Gardenista

    Above: Made in Colorado, a woolen Rover Pack is the result of a collaboration between Topo and Woolrich. Its compact design belies its multipurpose capabilities: it has two exterior zipper pockets, a laptop sleeve and two side pockets (to carry bottles) and is $189 from Bridge & Burn.

    Tina Frey blue resin tree swing ; Gardenista

    Above: A cobalt blue Tree Swing from San Francisco-based designer Tina Frey is made of hand-sculpted resin that looks like sea glass when the sun hits it. It comes with a 12-foot length of white rope and is $300 from the Dwell Store.

    Above: A red metal tube bird feeder with a plastic perch and cover has a transparent panel so you can monitor seed levels. A Seed Dispenser is 139 SEK from Garden Home.

    Red steel Coleman cooler ; Gardenista

    Above: A party-sized red Coleman Steel Cooler won't leak, won't rust, and won't disappoint the guest who reaches for the 84th can of beer (the cooler's capacity is 85 cans); $100 from Amazon.

    July Fourth 4 outdoor decor American flag bunting ; Gardenista

    Above: A 4th Of July Flag Burlap Banner, hand-painted on burlap and sealed to withstand rain, measures 30 inches long; $16 from Lyladee via Etsy.

    Outdoor garden tiki torch wooden stake ; Gardenista  

    Above: Made by Germany-based designer Blomus, a stainless steel Palos Outdoor Torch on a wooden stake will burn for eight hours. It is 5 feet high and is $57.59 apiece from Lekker.

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  • 06/30/15--08:00: Field Guide: Poppies
  • Poppy, Papaver: "The Plant of Joy"

    A symbol of gods and nations, of sleep and death, of peace and rebirth—poppies have captured the popular imagination and fancy of humans since the earliest days of civilization, and perhaps before. Used by the ancients as a powerful remedy for malaise and pain, the poppy's medical applications remain vital to this day. And of course, we loved those charming little seeds in our cakes and muffins. But for more than any of these reasons, humans worship those bold, bodacious blooms for the color and drama they lend to our gardens.

    field guide poppies, Gardenista

    Above: Poppy images clockwise from the top: field poppies by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii via Wikipedia Commons; white poppy by Hans Splinter via Flickr; yellow poppies by Erin Boyle; High Mowing organic poppy seeds by Justine Hand; Papaver 'Black Peony' via Annie's Annuals; 'Wasp on Poppy' by Hefin Owen via Flickr; California Poppy by Santosh Namby Chandran via Wikipedia Commons, opium poppy seed capsule via Wikipedia Commons.

    A wildflower, poppies come in virtually every color, from the scarlet red to the pink blush, and the range in height from 6 inches to a few feet tall. Some have giant blooms, such as the Iceland Poppy P. nudicaulewith flowers that measure 7 inches across. Their petal structures range from relatively simple—four to six petals in a single layer—to double and even more elaborate peony forms.

    Field of common poppies with cottages via Communication Science, Gardenista

    Above: Common poppies Papaver rhoeas blanket a field in England. Image via Communication Science: Plant Watch.

    Common or "Corn" (from the Greek "korn" meaning "grain") poppies Papaver rhoeas are so named because this crimson wildflower often appears in fields throughout Europe. In fact in ancient Greece poppies became a symbol of Demeter, Goddess of the Fertility and the Harvest.

    The association of Corn poppies as a symbol of peace and remembrance dates to WWI, when self-sewn poppies were the only life that seemed to thrive in the battle scarred landscape around the trenches. John McCrae, a Canadian soldier, was so moved by the sight of this plucky red flower blooming against a scene of death that he wrote a poem, In Flanders Field," in honor of the dead. For this reason Corn poppies are also known as Flanders Poppies. To this day poppy buttons are still worn as a memorial to honor fallen war heroes.

    Coquelicots_-_Parc_floral, via Wikicommons, Gardenista

    Above: Although all poppy seeds contain trace amounts of narcotics, Opium is derived only from the seed pods of the opium poppy or Papaver somniferous, which has the highest concentration of the drug. Image via Flickr.

    Though archeological evidence suggests that people have been using poppy seeds to alleviate pain and grief since the Stone Ages, the first written record of poppies dates to ancient Sumeria in 4000 BC. The ancient Sumerians called it "hul gil" plant of joy. Since then ancient civilizations such as the Persians, Egyptitans, Greeks, and Romans cultivated the opium poppy for medicinal purposes and for use in religious ceremonies and to induce sleep. (Remember the enchanted field of poppies in The Wizard of Oz?) Its use spread to Arabia and China via the Silk Road.

    Today opium derived pain relievers are still used in the form of morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. Of course opium is also a powerfully addictive drug, so the mass cultivation of opium poppies is highly regulated in the U.S. 

    Most poppy seeds used in cooking are also from Papaver somniferous. But the amounts are so small as to render them harmless.


    Above: Eschscholzia californica California poppy by Doug Dolde via Wikipedia Commons.

    The iconic poppy has been adopted as a symbol not only of the Gods and heroes, but also of nations and states. Eschscholzia californica California poppy, shown here, is the official state flower of Califonia. Native to the southwestern US and Mexico, this hardly wildflower is perfect for dry soil conditions such as container and rock gardens. It's an annual, but self sows so easily that it acts like a perennial.


    Above: Lisa Przystup of James's Daughter Flowers recently showed Erin how to use poppies in an arrangement in DIY: Reclaiming an Outmoded Cut Glass Vase with James's Daughter Flower. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    Of course the bold blooms of poppies are a perfect complement to any dramatic arrangement. When cutting directly from the garden, pick buds (not open flowers—let them open in a vase). Select buds that stand straight and show a bit of color. Cut poppies produce a milky sap, which contains some latex, so those who are allergic may want to wear gloves. Seal the stems with a burning match to prolong the cut flower's shelf life.


    Above: In Brittany, Cao-Perrot designers Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot are known for creating dreamy, romantic landscapes using grass and poppies. See Garden Visit: A Seaside Landscape in Northern France.

    Cheat Sheet:

    • Herbaceous wildflowers that blooms in late spring and early summer, poppies can be either annual—such as the Corn or Flander's poppy Papaverrhoeas—or perennial, such as the Alpine poppy P. alpinum, Iceland Poppy P. nudicaule, or Oriental poppy P. orientale.
    • Poppy seeds germinate in cool weather. Sow seeds in early spring in colder climes (in fall for zone 7 and above).
    • Mix seeds with sand and spread on top to the dirt. Do not bury, but cover with a fine layer of soil. After seeds germinate, thin to 6 to 10 inches apart.
    • For bouquets, cut buds before they open and singe the stem with a flame.


    Above: Papaver 'Black Peony.' Photograph by Annie's Annuals. See Black Beauties: 10 Film Noir Flowers for the Glamorous Garden.

    Keeping it Alive:

    • Poppies require full sun—at least six to eight hours a day—to bloom well.
    • Soil should be well-drained and neutral with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0.
    • Established plants are fairly drought resistant. Water 1 inch per week when budding and blooming. Do not over water as this can rot the roots.
    • To fertilize, side dress with compose or manure in spring. 
    • In winter, evergreen boughs will keep the crowns from being pulled out of the soil.

    For more poppy inspiration, see:

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    Some of the grandest gardens on the East Coast are the work of landscape architects Edmund Hollander and Maryanne Connelly, who specialize in projects that call out for allées, stone terraces, and pastoral sweeps of lawn. 

    These are not gardens we get invited to wander in very often. But this week The Monacelli Press is publishing a new book, The Good Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Edmund Hollander Design. Written by New York Times garden columnist Anne Raver, the book has more than 300 color photographs of estate gardens with advice to home gardeners about how to get the same effect using similar plants and hardscape materials.

    In partnership with the publisher, we are giving away five copies of the book to Gardenista readers. Here's how to enter the giveaway:

    Subscribe to the Gardenista Daily newsletter and leave a comment below describing your most recent garden project, whatever it may be. (If you are already a Gardenista Daily newsletter subscriber, mention that in the comments field.)

    The contest ends on July 8 at 11:59 pm. Five winners will be selected in a random drawing and contacted through email by July 10. 

    Photography by Charles Mayer via The Monacelli Press.

    The Good Garden ; Gardenista  

    Above: Garden rehab 101: a scraggly, untended privet hedge was gently pruned and reshaped to create a leafy canopy to cover a gravel path. 

    The Good Gardener book Edmund Hollander ; Gardenista  

    Above: Lacy Sophora japonica trees sit at each corner of a pool, underplanted with Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii,’ spireas, and hydrangeas.

    The Good Garden by Edmund Hollander ; Gardenista

    Above: A boardwalk made of hardwood ipe planks cuts across a dune, the path edged with cape beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata ‘Cape’) and wind- and salt-tolerant perennial flowers including Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), catmint (Nepeta ‘Dropmore’), and sage (Salvia x sylvestris ‘Rhapsody in Blue’). 

      The Good Garden by Edmund Hollander ; Gardenista

    Above: Liberated from overgrown vines, native black cherry trees (Prunus serotina) at the edge of the ocean endured years of strong winds (which contorted their trunks and branches into dancers' poses). Native Amelanchier canadensis trees provide shade next to a guesthouse.

    The Good Garden book Edmund Hollander ; Gardenista

    Above: Plant pairings that work exceptionally well, purple anise (Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’), white phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘David’), and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’) add bursts of color to a garden in late summer. 


    Above: Three sets of steps of solid stone pavers descend gently through terraced beds. To soften the formality, plants include loose shrubs—white Hibiscus syriacus ‘Diana’ and blue Vitex agnus-castus—and meadow flowers such as Echinacea, Nepeta, Kalimeris, and Phlox paniculata ‘David.’

    The Good Garden book cover ; Gardenista  

    Above: The Good Garden is $37.18 from Amazon. 

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    Spotted on ArchiExpo: a Corten steel barbecue that's part weeknight stove, part art object. 

    Modern Corten Barbecue from Tole K60 | Gardenista

    Above: The K60 Garden Fire & Barbecue from TOLE (The Outdoor Living Experience) was designed by iol Strategic Design, a Belgian firm typically working in specialty fields like education and health care. The team wanted to create a locally made consumer product.  

    Modern Corten Barbecue from Tole K60 | Gardenista

    Above: The barbecue is made in Belgium of naval-grade Corten steel on the outside and stainless steel (for easy cleaning and heat resistance) on the inside. The Corten will quickly oxidize outdoors, allowing it to safely stay outside all year long.

    Modern Corten Barbecue from Tole K60 | Gardenista

    Above: The barbecue has five cooking accessories for five different cooking methods: a grill (shown here), smoker, wok, teppanyaki (a Japanese style of flat iron grill, similar to a Spanish plancha), and raclette (a grilling device used to melt cheese; in this case, on a wooden board). The barbecue was meant to be a weeknight workhorse—fire is intended to build quickly and last for a long time.

    Modern Corten Barbecue from Tole K60 | Gardenista

    Above: The K60 has its own firewood storage compartment at the bottom, but iol Strategic Design managing director François Royen designed a separate log storage unit of equal height. 

    Modern Corten Barbecue from Tole K60 | Gardenista

    Above: The Garden Fire & Barbecue is available in Belgium for €1,900 (about $2,130) and the log storage unit for €1,300 (about $1,460). We'll keep tabs on expanding global availability. 

    For more on the subject, see:

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    I'm a romantic, and so at the risk of facing commenter-wrath, I'm going to say it: The season's first mosquito bite isn't such a bad thing. It's how you earn your summertime stripes, don't you think?

    No? Romantic notions about insects aside, by the time the first bite has turned into 40 even I'm ready for relief.

    In case you haven't gotten around to making a batch of DIY: Bug Repellent Balm—and we suggest you do—we present you with some natural remedies for mosquito bites to banish chalky pink Calamine lotion forever.

    Photography by Erin Boyle.

    natural mosquito bite remedies | gardenista

    Above: My arsenal of natural mosquito-bite remedies. We're sharing seven of our favorite remedies here, but if you've had good luck with others, please let us know in the comments section below.

    Ice Cubes

    natural mosquito bite remedies | gardenista

    Above: An ice cube or cold pack can be a surprisingly effective remedy for mosquito bites. The ice numbs the area and helps control swelling. Wrap cubes in a towel and press against bites for 10 minutes (or for as long as you can tolerate).

    Tea Bags

    natural mosquito bite remedies | gardenista

    Above: Natural tannins in tea act as an astringent, drawing toxins out of the skin and helping to lessen your discomfort. Press a used tea bag against your bites until the itching subsides.

    Tea Tree Essential Oil

    natural mosquito bite remedies | gardenista

    Above: Antiseptic properties in tea tree oil help it treat a variety of skin-related symptoms, including mosquito bites. Dab a little essential oil onto a cotton swab and rub it on the affected area. Lavender and peppermint oils also work well. A caveat: Some people are sensitive to having essential oils applied directly to the skin. If that's the case for you, try diluting the oil or choose a different remedy. (You can buy a 1-ounce bottle of Tea Tree Oil from for $6.87.)

    Baking Soda Paste

    natural mosquito bite remedies | gardenista

    Above: Add a few drops of water to some baking soda, mix it into a paste, apply it directly onto bug bites, and allow to dry. The alkalinity of baking soda can help neutralize the pH of an infected area and reduce itching.

    Apple Cider Vinegar

    natural mosquito bite remedies | gardenista

    Above: In the same way that baking soda can neutralize a bug bite, a swab of apple cider vinegar (or a few cupfuls diluted in a bath) can help balance the pH of an infected area. Apple cider vinegar is less acidic than other vinegars and a good choice for restoring natural pH.

    Aloe Vera

    natural mosquito bite remedies | gardenista

    Above: Often associated with relieving painful sunburns, aloe vera is also helpful for mosquito bites. Make your own at DIY: A Soothing Sunburn Cure with a Secret Ingredient.

    Or buy it. Look for fresh aloe vera in the produce aisle, or buy gel at the pharmacy. If you go the fresh route, peel away the tough skin from the inner gel with a sharp knife. You can then pulverize the gel or just rub it on any offending bites. (A 6-ounce bottle of Aloe Vera Gel is $5.76 from

    Peppermint Poultice

    natural mosquito bite remedies | gardenista

    Above: Mash peppermint leaves into a paste and apply it to especially bothersome bites for a cooling sensation. If you're an adept forager, you can also make a soothing poultice from jewelweed, plantain, or chickweed. And if you don't happen to have a mortar and pestle handy, you can just chew the herbs to mash them—bonus points for using your very Gardenista wilderness survival skills.

    Don't go, we've got more summer bug stories:

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    Black goes with everything. Here are 10 of our favorite black balcony planter boxes to hang over a railing, sit on a ledge, or tuck into a corner. For summer color, just add plants:

    Black balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: With a tapered shap, a plastic Tidore Rectangular Rail Planter ($49.95) and metal Rail Planter Hook ($16.95) are available from Crate & Barrel.

    Black balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: Made of a lightweight blend of crushed stone and fiberglass, black Terrazzolite Window Boxes come in three size—with lengths of 34.5, 39.25, and 75 inches—at prices ranging from 78 to $205 depending on size, from Jayson Home.

    black balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: From Dutch designer Elho, an Urban Loft Balcony Planter is available in 10 colors including Anthracite and comes with a suspension rack to hang over a balcony railing;  14.95€ from Vtwonen.

    Black balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: A weatherproof galvanized metal Gräset plant box has a soil depth of 15 inches (to accommodate deep-rooted plants such as tomatoes) and is $34.99 from Ikea.

    Black zinc balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: A black Zinc Rectangular Rail Planter ($29.95 from Crate & Barrel) is made of galvanized iron and designed to stand alone or hang from a balcony railing, suspended from a Rail Planter Hook ($16.95).

      Black balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: For a minimalist look, a Metal Window Box Liner comes in eight lengths, from 24 to 72 inches, and is available at prices from $72 to $192 depending on size, from Windowbox.

    Black balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: The Eternit Balcony Box in dark gray (31€) can be customized with Galvanized Steel Balcony Box Brackets with screw holes (15.50€); available at Manufactum.

    Dark zinc window box balcony planter ; Gardenista

    Above: From Habit & Form, a narrow Dark Zinc Trough suitable for covered outdoor use measures only 5 inches wide and is available in three lengths (from 18 to 48 inches) and is from $38 to $88, depending on size, from Terrain.

    Self watering black balcony box planter ; Gardenista

    Above: A Self-Watering Balcony Railing Planter hooks over a railing and has a 2-quart water reservoir; made of UV-stabilized plastic, it is $39.95 from Gardeners.

    Black balcony planter window box ; Gardenista

    Above: A black 36-inch Nantucket Window Box is warp- and rot-resistant. It has a bowed front and is $119.99 from Amazon.

    For more of our favorite balcony planters and window boxes, see:

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    When I was growing up in Memphis, we lived for a while in a little brick 1920s bungalow. A very prolific pecan tree grew beside the garage, and each fall we would gather the nuts from the spot where my dad parked the car—two strips of concrete with grass in between. Little did we know that we were harvesting pecans from a "ribbon" driveway.   


    Above: A classic ribbon driveway, like that of my childhood, harmonizes beautifully with this Craftsman-style bungalow. Photograph courtesy of johndallas via Flickr.

    What is a ribbon driveway?

    Ribbon driveways, sometimes called Hollywood driveways, usually consist of two parallel tracks paved with a hard material and separated by an unpaved area. The tracks, or ribbons, are normally a couple of feet wide with a three-foot strip between them, though the proportions can vary to accommodate the sizes of different vehicles.

    Stone and Grass Ribbon Driveway, Gardenista

    Above: A stone and grass ribbon driveway in a project by San Diego-based Greg Hebert Landscape Architect.

    What is the history of ribbon driveways?

    Apparently our family driveway was the height of fashion when our house was built. Ribbon driveways became popular in the 1920s. They were a natural progression from the ruts carved in the ground by the wheels of wagons and, later, automobiles. It makes sense that if you're driving your vehicle from the street to the garage every day, you'd want to avoid wearing deep, muddy grooves into your lawn. The simplest and most economical way to do that: paving the areas where the wheels go and leaving the grass in the middle.  


    Above: This country driveway near Port Hope, Ontario, is essentially two tire tracks worn into the ground—the archetype of the ribbon driveway. Photograph by Chris Smart via Flickr.

    Stelle Dune Residence Ribbon Driveway, Gardenista

    Above: Ribbon driveways aren't limited to vintage-style residences, as evidenced by this oceanfront house in Bridgehampton, NY, by Stelle Lomont Architects, a member of the Remodelista Design Directory. Photograph by Francesca Giovanelli, Kay Wettstein von Westersheimb.

    Why use a ribbon driveway?

    • Ribbon driveways can easily be curved to fit the contours of the property where they're being installed.
    • Because they use less paving material, they usually cost less than a fully paved driveway.
    • They offer a range of landscaping options: They can be constructed from a variety of paving materials, and the strip in the middle can be planted with any number of low-growing ground covers.
    • They are a "green" solution, because they're more permeable than solid driveways, allowing rainwater to be absorbed into the ground instead of draining into an overloaded sewer system.  
    • Ribbon driveways with planted centers are cooler in summer than concrete slabs and more pleasant to walk on.

    Arcadia Studios Ribbon Driveway, Gardenista

    Above: Alternating ribbons of grass and stone help extend the verdant look of this property in Montecito, CA, by Santa Barbara's Arcadia Studio. Photograph by Arcadia Studio.

    Pavers and Grass Ribbon Driveway, Gardenista

    Above: Irregular pavers set in grass form an unobtrusive drive to a garage on the far side of a garden. Photograph via Martin Hoffman Landscape Architect.

    What materials can be used for a ribbon driveway?

    For the driving surface, the classic choice is concrete, which goes well with vintage Craftsman-style architecture. But crushed gravel, mortar-set brick or stone, cobblestones, oyster shells, or more modern interlocking pavers work well. Really, you could use any material that can withstand the weight of a moving vehicle and that complements the style of your house.

    For the center strip, grass is typical. But you can also use a contrasting hard-surface material that requires less maintenance, such as stones or gravel. For a softer, more landscaped look, use mulch or any low-growing ground cover that will thrive in the light conditions. Old reliables like vinca minor, ajuga, or creeping phlox are good choices, as are herbs such as creeping thyme or rosemary. We've even seen succulents planted in the middle of a ribbon driveway. 


    Above: A ribbon driveway in Canton, OH, is made of chunks of local Cherokee marble. Photograph by johnnyurban via Flickr.


    Above: Old stone pavers make a good driving surface: They're permeable and have a pleasingly weathered patina. Image by Nils Freyermuth via Flickr.

    Ribbon Driveway with Garden, Gardenista

    Above: A low-maintenance garden integrated into a ribbon driveway by Natural Bridges Landscaping. Image via Natural Bridges Landscaping.

    What about ribbon driveway maintenance?

    A major advantage of ribbon driveways is that, if correctly installed, they're more flexible than a fully paved driveway in their response to the freeze-and-thaw cycle, and less prone to cracking from weather extremes. Of course, different materials have different requirements. Crushed gravel tends to scatter and may need to be topped up periodically. Center-strip plantings may require weeding, mowing, and/or watering. Snow removal can damage the plants, so you may find yourself replanting after a particularly harsh winter.

    Seashell and Brick Ribbon Driveway, Gardensita

    Above: Brick and oyster shells meet in a ribbon driveway. (For more on crushed shells, see our Hardscaping 101 post on Seashell Paths and Driveways.) 

    Ribbon Driveway Recap


    • Environmentally friendly. Allows for greater water absorption after downpours, which helps avoid overloading sewer systems.
    • Attractive. Gives your property a greener, more landscaped look than a giant slab of concrete or blacktop.
    • Flexible as far as placement goes—easily contoured to fit an irregular space.
    • Low cost.
    • Easily maintained; durable.


    • Can be difficult to maneuver. It's hard to drive a long ribbon driveway in reverse.
    • Plantings can be damaged by the wheels of vehicles that are wider than the paved strips.
    • Mowing the grass in the middle can be problematic.

    Interested in more driveway ideas? See Permeable Concrete Paver Driveways. Then there are Garage Flooring Options to consider.

    Explore more ideas for patios, roofs, and fences in our Hardscaping 101 archive.

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    Outdoors or in, rope lends a jaunty, Gilligan's Island air to the premises. We've rounded up nine castaway-cool DIY rope projects. Give one a try this weekend, Lovey:

    DIY Rope Hammock

    DIY Rope Hammock ; Gardenista

    Above: After an afternoon spent braiding a hammock, you'll deserve a nap in it. For step-by-stop instructions, see Kinfolk.

    For a simpler DIY hammock requiring no rope (painter's drop cloth to the rescue), see our recent post DIY: Instant Summer Hammock.

    Snake Charmer Planter

    diy rope wrapped planter ; Gardenista

    Above: Transform a plastic plant pot with a length of rope, hot glue, and patience. For more, see An LA Mom-and-Pop: Ostrich Farm in Echo Park.

    Wrapped Pendant Light

    DIY mason jar wrapped pendant light ; Gardenista

    Above: From blogger Geneva Vanderzeil of A Pair & a Spare, roped-wrapped Mason jars cast a golden glow. See more at DIY Project: Rope-Wrapped Mason Jar Lights.

    Recycled Tire Ottoman

    DIY rope ottoman recycled tire ; Gardenista

    Above: Is this the ultimate eco-friendly way to recycle an old tire? Wrap it in rope to turn it into an ottoman. For step-by-step instructions, see Casa.

    $10 Towel Bar

    DIY knotted rope towel bar ; Gardenista  

    Above: A knotted rope towel bar by On My Honor costs less than $10 and takes almost no time to make. For details, see DIY: An Instant $10 Towel Bar.

    DIY Camp Cot

    DIY Rope Camp Cot ; Gardenista

    Above: In addition to the rope, you'll also need a drill and 4-by-4 lengths of lumber to make a DIY Camp Cot by Nox Lady.

    Basketweave Vase

    DIY woven rope vase ; Gardenista

    Above: If you can braid hair, you can braid a rope vase. For step-by-step instructions, see Style Me Pretty.

    Rope Doorstop

    DIY rope doorstop ; Gardenista

    Above: From Rutland Country Designs, a DIY woven rope doorstop. See more at Rutland Country Designs.

    Woven Rope Doormat

    DIY Rope Doormat ; Gardenista

    Above: Erin simplifies the wrapped rope doormat.

    DIY: Woven Rope Doormat by Erin Boyle

    Above: Follow Erin's step-by-step instructions in DIY: Woven Rope Doormat.

    Learning the ropes? For more ideas, see:

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