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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    How do you give a garden good bones? Plant a painterly landscape, and in late autumn and winter it will be as beautiful as at the height of summer. This week we'll show you how:

    Table of Contents: Painterly Landscapes; Gardenista

    Above: In designer Piet Oudolf's own garden in Hummelo, he planted low-growing late-season grasses and perennials. For more about the planting scheme see Required Reading: How to Recreate Piet Oudolf's Painterly Landscapes.



    Above: A classic midcentury Norman Jaffe house gets a modern garden on Long Island in this week's Landscape Architect Visit.

    Mount Washington Pottery Peace Bells in Gardenista

    Above: Coming to California next month: Remodelista Markets. Join us for our first-ever two-day holiday shopping markets in Los Angeles and San Francisco. 


    Above: Win a firecracker display of flowers for the holiday season. There's still time to enter our Gardenista Giveaway to win a set of six waxed amaryllis bulbs (and six footed plant stools) from Terrain. Enter here.


    Piet Oudolf Hummelo garden winter seed pods grasses ; Gardenista

    Above: We dissect Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf's signature style and show you how to recreate the look in this week's Garden Ideas to Steal post. 


    Fall clean up straw mulch garden beds; Gardenista

    Above: Master gardener Tim Callis shares his checklist for how to put a garden to bed for the winter in this week's Landscaping 101 post.


    Bases from Iceland ceramicist Bjarni Sigurdsson; Gardenista

    Above: Vases glazed with volcanic ash from Iceland are our new obsession. Read about them in this week's Indoor Gardening & Accessories post.


    Above: It's always summer somewhere; Brice and Helen Marsden in the West Indies offers a lesson in how to add a dash of painterly color to a landscape in this week's Garden Visit.



    Above: Brooklyn-based architects Khanna Schultz head to the Midwest to design a weaver's studio for rug maker Elizabeth Eakins (complete with grazing sheep) in this week's Outbuilding of the Week.

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    Modernist architect Norman Jaffe transformed the landscape of eastern Long Island, introducing sharp-angled, boxy versions of the classic saltbox house to a land of rolling potato fields and dunes. 

    Sought after for his ability to impose a new vernacular on the classic shingled house, Jaffe at the height of his popularity would famously agree to take on new clients only if their properties were picturesque. His houses, he believed, deserved beautiful backdrops—atop a dune, for instance, overlooking the ocean. Which is where Jaffe sited a 1969 house he designed for real estate developer Stephen Perlbinder and his wife, Sandy.

    The only problem is that weather takes a toll. Nearly three decades later, after enduring erosion, floods, angry winds, and a fire caused by a malfunctioning heater, the Perlbinders decided a a grand gesture was in order to save their home from the Atlantic Ocean. So they moved the house 400 feet away from the water, to the middle of a flat cornfield.

    In the former cornfield, the backdrop was anything beautiful. Enter Long Island-based landscape architects LaGuardia Design Group, with a bold plan. The design called for digging up 30,000 cubic yards of dirt to create a new "dune" and to create a 60,000-square-foot manmade pond to fill the cavity left behind by excavation. Today, you'd never suspect that bulldozers deserve the credit: 

    Photography via La Guardia Design Group.


    Above: To move the house to a protected site in 1998, a crew had to hoist it from its granite slab base, ease it onto greased I-beams, and move it with cranes across farmland.


    Above: Alongside the new driveway, a concrete retaining wall with a sharp edge contrasts with the untamed floppiness of the grasses planted at varying elevations.


    Above: "The landscape appears very natural, hosting a rich ecosystems of indigenous flora and fauna," say the architects. "However,  exception is taken at the entry garden, where the meadow gives way to a rectangular mowed green, set squarely against the house and natural landscape. This contrasting space serves to highlight the effect of refinement as one enters the home."


    Above: A meadow of red fescue grass creates a hazy, romantic focal point in the distance.


    Above: The pond has an irregular shape; it's impossible to view its entire perimeter from any vantage point. The result is a mystery; it's hard to tell how big the pond really is because its shoreline disappears into the horizon.


    Above: Native plants border the manmade pond (which is stocked with bass and sunfish).


    Above: Hidden behind the mown grass path and a fescue meadow lies the driveway, disguised by dips and contours.


    Above: A border of liriope edges a path, softening the transition between fence slats and a straight-and-narrow walkway.


    Above: Where deck meets dune, steel retaining walls ease the transition and gloss over changes in elevation.


    Above: Bluestem and fescue grasses look particularly painterly when covered in autumn frost.

    For more of our favorite eastern Long Island gardens, see:

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    Mark your calendars: the Gardenista and Remodelista editors and their favorite California artisans, craftspeople, and store creators will be at two-day holiday Markets at either end of the state next month. Join us:

    • Los Angeles—Saturday and Sunday, December 5-6: The Remodelista Market will be in residence at Big Daddy's Antiques at 3334 La Cienega Place near Culver City from 10 to 5 each day.
    • San Francisco—Saturday and Sunday, December 12-13: The Remodelista Market will be in the factory space at Heath Ceramics at 2900 18th Street in the Mission from 10 to 5 Saturday and from 11 to 3 Sunday.

    The assembled talents will include up-and-coming stars as well as long-time favorites who have graced the pages of Gardenista and Remodelista: a one-stop holiday shop. See you there (we'll be doing our shopping at the Markets, too).

    Here are a few of the innovators who will be on hand:

    Mount Washington Pottery Peace Bells in Gardenista

    Above: At the LA Market, meet Beth Katz, whose Mt. Washington Pottery is informed by Japanese aesthetics, Scandinavian modernism, and her 1970s childhood in Topanga Canyon (pictured: Peace Bells).

    Heritage Artifacts European garden knife on Gardenista

    Above: At the LA and SF Markets, get to know Napa-based Heritage Culinary Artifacts, created by Lisa Minucci, whose collection of vintage European cookware and furniture has wowed Remodelista and Gardenista editors for years.

    wooden Adia planters The Citizenry ; Gardenista

    Above: Design innovators Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley, creators of The Citizenry, sell their fair-trade products "with a soul and a story" online—except when the Remodelista Markets are in town. (Pictured: Adia planters, hand-carved in Uganda.)

      Mohinders shoes ; Gardenista

    Above: Michael Paratore discovered the original Mohinder, a hip, comfortable, durable crepe-soled leather sandal, on a trip to Mumbai. And then he quit his job as a corporate lawyer to track down the artisans who made the shoe—he calls it a "city slipper"—and bring it to the US. Meet Michael and your next favorite shoe in LA and SF.

    True Botanicals on Gardenista

    Above: True Nature Botanicals, created by Mill Valley-based Hillary Peterson, believes that great skin begins with what you put on it. In the case of the Pacific Face Oil, that means natural ingredients such as chia, kiwi, and rose hip seed oils. Hillary, a melanoma and thyroid cancer survivor, will be in LA and SF with her complete line.

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    If the world of gardening has rock stars, Piet Oudolf qualifies as Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and Prince rolled into one. The Dutch landscape designer—whose work is instantly recognizable for its dreamy romanticism and oft-copied for its emphasis on sustainable, sensible plantings—makes it look so easy. But is it?

    We've dog-eared Oudolf's books. Hummelo and Planting: A New Perspective are our two gardening Bibles (and we quote from both below). Reading them, you learn that signature Oudolf style calls for drifts of grasses, perfectly appropriate perennials, and garden beds that look beautiful even in the depths of winter. Here are 10 of Piet Oudolf's best ideas to steal for your own garden:

    Photography via Piet Oudolf.

    Make a Four-Season Garden

    Piet Oudolf garden in winter ; Gardenista

    Above: Winter in Oudolf's frosted Hummelo garden in the Netherlands.

    Flowers fade. Oudolf chooses plants more for shape and texture than for their blooms. Stripped bare in winter, stalks, stems, and seed pods become architectural elements in the garden. The secret: embrace decay instead of rushing into the garden with your pruners at the first sign of wilting.

    To create a four-season garden, start by planting perennials and grasses that thrive in your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone (if you don't know your zone, enter your zip code here.) The hardier the plant, the better it will withstand changes in weather. (Avoid perennials "that collapse into mush with the first hard frost," says Oudolf.)

    After flowers wither, leave the plants in place instead of cutting them back. Sturdy stalks and dried seed pods will stand up to frost and snow, coated in white, will take on an ethereal otherworldliness.


    Above: In Oudolf's garden in December, frosted echinacea and uncut grass have a mirrored glaze.

    For a similar look: Choose perennials and grasses that grow to a height of from 2 to 3 feet, so their stalks and stems will stick out of the snow in a distinctive way. By late winter, when stalks break off or start to look scraggly, sad, or deflated, cut back everything to the ground to make room for the hellebores. See 5 Favorites: Hardworking Hellebores That Bloom in the Snow for suggestions.

    Plant in Hazy Swaths


    Above: One of Oudolf's favorite grasses is Pennisetum viridescens.

    Grasses set a mood in a garden, like candlelight at a dinner party. Plant grasses in masses to create a soft, blurred background for other plants. It's a romantic, forgiving look, not unlike the effect you get from rubbing Vasoline on a lens before snapping a photo.

    Follow the 70 Percent Rule

    Piet Oudolf at home at Hummelo ; Gardenista

    Above: Oudolf at home in his garden. For more, see Hummelo: Landscape Designer Piet Oudolf's New Book.

    Oudolf says perennials fall into two categories: structure and filler plants. (The difference between the two is structure plants provide "clear visual interest until autumn at least" and filler plants are "only used for flower or foliage color, becoming formless or even untidy after mid-summer.")

    About 70 percent of a garden should be filled with structure plants; the other 30 percent can be filler. For structure, choose repeat bloomers, long-season perennials, and grasses.

    Repeat a Theme

    Piet Oudolf repetition grasses perennials ; Gardenista

    Above: In long borders he designed to flank a pathway at The Trentham Estate in England, Oudolf punctuated the landscape with several clumps of identical grasses. "Repeating plants at regular intervals adds rhythm and variation," says Oudolf. "It creates a feeling that 'this is one place, with one design and one vision.' "

    The secret to getting a similar look: "Good repeating plants need to have a distinct personality and a long season of interest, or at least disappear tidily or die back discreetly," says Oudolf.

    Some of his favorite repeating plants are Salvia pretensis 'Pink Delight' (for color, structure, and tidiness); Hosta 'Halcyon' (because it looks good from spring to fall), and Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies' (which it flowers late, in tidy mounds). 

    Matrix Planting

    Matrix planting Hummelo Piet Oudolf; Gardenista

    Above: Grasses form a matrix around colorful purple asters in Oudolf's Hummelo garden.

    Oudolf draws a comparison between matrix planting and fruitcake: both are shaped like rectangles, and studded with treats. Good fruitcake depends on good batter. A good matrix planting depends on background plants that are "visually quiet, with soft colors and without striking form," says Oudolf. Grasses are an obvious choice; they can occupy the space for a long period of time, year-round perhaps, without having to be replaced.

    Within the matrix, plant a few visual treats that will bloom in succession over the course of a year: a clump of irises to bloom in spring, perhaps, followed by poppies in summer and sedums in late summer and asters in autumn.

    Support the Locals


    Above: A garden Oudolf designed on Nantucket has a meadow of natives: Sporobolus heterolepsis grass and Echinacea purpurea.

    When appropriate, Oudolf plants native species, but never just for the sake of planting natives. "It is important that planting schemes for biodiversity combine species which really support wildlife effectively as well as those which simply look good and tick the 'native' box," he says.

    When choosing native species, ask: is this a plant that bees like? What about birds? Or butterflies?

    Plant in Layers

    Scampston Hall Oudolf garden ; Gardenista

    Above: For more of this garden at Scampston Hall, see Garden Visit: A Dutch Master in Yorkshire.

    Oudolf takes design inspiration from natural landscapes, where "plants can be thought of occupying a limited number of physical layers within a community." For instance, large trees are a layer, grasses another. Flowering perennials and low-growing plants that spill over the edge of a path form other layers.

    When designing a garden, keep it simple: two or three layers are enough, says Oudolf. The idea of layers is to help the eye "read the confusion of leaves and stems in front of you" to make sense of the garden. Evergreen shrubs in the background and perennials in the foreground, for instance, are enough to create distinct visual focal points.

    Frame the Views

    Piet Oudolf Hummelo garden swaths purple grasses hedges ; Gardenista

    Above: Oudolf uses masses plantings to create a frame around the horizon.

    Borrow landscape features—your neighbors' trees, or a distant mountain—and make them part of your garden by keeping plantings low and uniform. With that approach, the foreground can become a backdrop.

    Blur the Edges


    Above: In November, Oudolf's garden displays the late-autumn colors of harvest.

    Create depth and a feeling of mystery with plants that intermingle. Avoid separate, distinct clumps of different kinds of plants and instead allow plants to self-sow among themselves.

    Learn to Love Brown

    Hydrangea Piet Oudolf's garden ; Gardenista

    Above: In Oudolf's garden, end-of-season hydrangeas have a beauty of their own.

    Life is a cycle, the garden reminds us, and every phase of it is beautiful. "Gone are the days when brown and yellow foliage was seen as compost material to be cleared away as quickly as possible," says Oudolf.

    For more of Oudolf's gardens, see:

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    Black is a color to take seriously. It adds drama and depth, and if you paint a house black you send a message that you're not afraid to be noticed. But it's a high-maintenance color (compared with white). Is black paint the best best choice for a facade? Read on (and then tell us what you think in the comments below):


    Black is Beautiful

    There's no denying the drama and authority of a black house. It makes a strong visual statement and, like a black dress, needs minimal accessories to complete the look.


    Above: A black Victorian facade in San Francisco needs nothing more to dress it up than a single succulent, a multi-branched euphorbia next to the front stoop. For more, see 11 Traditional Houses Gone to the Dark Side

    Basic Backdrop

    Black is a good foil for green. In a garden or against natural surroundings, black will recede and focus attention instead on green foliage. This enables the eye to draw better distinctions among different shades of green. Yellow-green leaves and blue-green leaves appear more varied and layered against a black facade or fence, making plantings appear more lush.


    Above: A modular summer cottage by Danish architectural firm Lykke + Nielsen sits in a forest north of Copenhagen. See more of it at Pre-fab Perfection: An Instant Summerhouse from Denmark.

    Blank Canvas

    Black—like white and gray—is a neutral color and contrasts well with many other materials, textures, and hues. 

    Black painted trim Brooklyn facade ; Gardenista

    Above: Black trim and windows creates a dramatic contrast to a brick facade on a Brooklyn townhouse by architect Ben Herzog. For more black-painted trim and black factory windows, see Hardscaping 101: Steel Factory-Style Windows and Doors.

    Derek Jarman black seaside cottage in Dungeness, Kent ; Gardenista

    Above: The facade of filmmaker Derek Jarman's black seaside cottage in Dungeness, Kent is lightened by sunshine yellow trim. For more of this garden, see Garden Visit: Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage at Dungeness.

    Derek Jarman garden cottage Dungeness Kent ; Gardenista

    Above: Derek Jarman's cottage. Photograph by Brother G via Flickr.

    The yellow trim lightens the mood of Jarman's black facade to create a backdrop for a seaside cottage garden.


    Faded Beauty

    Sunlight fades dark colors faster. On the exterior of a house, black paint will blister and peel faster than a light color. This is because black paint heats up and cools down (expanding and contracting more than a light color) as it absorbs more rays from the sun. (One way to mitigate this problem is with conscientious preparation before painting. The biggest cause of blistering and peeling paint—of any color—is water seeping beneath the surface. Thoroughly scrape and sand a surface before painting to prevent that problem.) 

    swatches of favorite black paint recommended by architects on Gardenista

    Above: We asked architects to reveal their go-to shades of black paint. For the full list, see Paints & Palettes: Architects' 8 Top Black Paint Picks.

    Blemish Booster

    On a surface, black accentuates imperfections. Any blemish, chip, gouge, or flaw on an exterior wall will draw more attention if it's painted black.

    black house paint facade ; Gardenista

    Above: On the other hand, if you want to emphasize textures—such as the grooves in siding or the trim pieces on a facade—black paint will "outline" the layers. Photograph by Grant K. Gibson.


    Above: Black on black on a Victorian house in San Francisco with identical trim and body paint color emphasizes the architectural detail of elaborate moldings. For more, see 11 Traditional Houses Gone to the Dark Side.

    Hothouse Effect

    A black house will absorb more heat from the sun than a white house. A white or light-colored house will reflect more rays, keeping indoor temperatures cooler in hot summer months.

    white paint picks ; Gardenista

    Above: White (and other light colors) will reflect rather than absorb the sun's rays. For a list of architects' favorite shades, see 10 Easy Pieces: Architects' Favorite White Paint Picks.

    Dark Shadows

    We have strong cultural and historical associations with the color black. It reminds us of Halloween, deepest night, and the Salem witch trials. By painting a house black, you are making a strong statement (and may scare the neighborhood children).


    Above: The Black Rubber House in Kent by architects Simon Conder Associates. For more, see 10 Modern Houses Gone to the Dark Side.

    Shades of Gray

    Is gray a compromise color? Depending on whether you choose a brown-gray or a blue-gray shade of paint, you can create a warm or a cool mood. By pairing a gray body paint with black trim, you still can signal "dark" intentions while avoiding many of the drawbacks of black (for instance, gray will absorb less sunlight than black).


    Above: Painting the body gray (and the trim black) is another way to create a dramatic facade. Photograph via Addison Strong Design Studio.

    10 Best Exterior Shades of Gray Paint ; Gardenista

    Above: Our 10 Favorite Shades of Gray Paint run the gamut from warm tones to cool.


    Above: With dark gray body paint, white trim, and a glossy black door you can achieve a moody intensity. See the color palette our paints expert Stephanie Dorfman came up with in Curb Appeal: Picking a Perfect Paint Palette for a Dark Facade.

    perfect paint palette for a dark facade ; Gardenista

    Above: A shade of gray with brown undertones will look warm on a facade. Stephanie explains how to pick a warm gray in A Perfect Paint Palette for a Dark Facade.

    For more ways to use black paint to great effect on a facade, see: 

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    Not many baking books include a primer on botanical Latin. But in horticulturist-turned-baker Sarah Owens' new Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories and More (published by Roost Books)plants are an integral ingredient of the seasonal baking process; they offer inspiration and botanical fuel for recipes from Persimmon Spice Cake to Dandelion and Chive Popovers. Opulent double-page spreads of fruit and flowers introduce each seasonal section and most recipes include produce that reflects intensely the time of year.

    We're teaming up with the book's publisher, Roost Books (a division of Shambhala Publications), to give away one copy of Sourdough to a Gardenista reader. To enter the giveaway, sign up for the Gardenista newsletter here and leave a comment below. The deadline is Monday, November 23 at 11:59 pm PT and a randomly selected winner will be contacted by Monday, November 30. 

    Photography by Marie Viljoen except where noted.

    sarah-owens-author_-with-flowers-tools-ngoc minh ngo-gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo courtesy of Roost Books.

    One of Sarah's happiest memories from growing up in Clinton, Tennessee, is of following the tractor on her parents’ land when it was time to dig potatoes. Covered in mud, she collected the spuds, and was thrilled to bits.

    Sour dough hands Sarah Owens Marie Viljoen ; gardenista

    Above: Lately, it is sourdough sticking to Sarah's hands (though mud still gets a look-in). But fresh, local produce continues to motivate the woman whose career has shape-shifted from ceramicist to Big Apple rosarian, to master baker and author. 

    Cranford Rose Garden Brooklyn Marie Viljoen ; Gardenista

    Above: In Sourdough parallels are drawn between the author's experience as the steward of the Cranford Rose Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and her foray into the world of sourdough bacteria, which was spurred by her years of suffering from gastrointestinal distress. She started work at the BBG in 2009, fresh from the New York Botanic Garden's Horticulture program, at a time when rose rosette disease, caused by a mite, was decimating the roses. 

    Mixed flower border  Marie Viljoen ; Gardenista

    Above: In the plague's wake, the newly minted rosarian had to re-envision what was essentially a rose monoculture susceptible to pests, to create diverse borders of perennials and annuals as a rich companion playground for beneficial bugs. 

    Local Bees flowers nectar Marie Viljoen ; Gardenista

    Above: Creating a balanced environment where insects have cover and food (not provided by roses alone) encourages them to stay, complete their life cycles and begin new ones. Predator wasps, lady bugs, lace wings, and aphid mummifiers are among the desirable visitors which combat pests, while the added flowers are a boon to local bees. Compost tea was added to the treatment. Humming pungently with microscopic life, it was fed to the garden. The garden thrived.

    bread by Marie Viljoen ; Gardenista

    Above: After Sarah realized that she did not want to rely on pharmaceuticals to manage her relentless stomach troubles, a journey of discovery began, informed by her realization that introducing a fermented food like sourdough bread to her diet relieved her discomfort. She writes, "Converting a disease-ridden, chemically dependent rose garden into an organic oasis of insects and flower power has been a symbolic practice for doing the same with my own body." 

    Chocolate Chipotle recipe  Marie Viljoen ; Gardenista

    Above: Fortunately for us these microbes are invisible, or we'd head for the hills. In the pages of Sourdough we find no critters, but rich images for recipes as distinct as Chocolate Chipotle Kumquat Cake, Fiddlehead Pizza (there are sidebars about foraged ingredients and edible weeds), Savory Kale Scones, Parsley and Herb Donuts, Beet Bread and Sarah’s Momma’s Buttermilk Biscuits. Autobiographical and botanical background adds spice to each recipe’s introduction: love-making in an Italian vineyard in truffle season? That would be the opener for the author’s Pizza con Funghi Selvaggi (and anyone who has made dough knows that it is a sensual act).


    Above: Photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo courtesy of Roost Books.

    For home bakers new to the sourdough experience, there are trauma-free ways to ease into the process. The Autumn Upside Down cake (“best served warm with a side of maple whipped cream”) is fruity with persimmon, pears and cranberries, and requires 200 grams of starter to help it rise. No needing, no resting, no waiting. And aside from the baked treats, there are tantalizing floral extras, such as Lilac Sugar, Elderflower Cordial and Floral Honey Butter.


    Above: Photograph by Ngoc Minh Ngo courtesy of Roost Books.

    Sourdough’s pages move from a moody fall to a bright spring, from dark to light, with austerely gorgeous photos by Ngoc Minh Ngo, who, Sarah says, “has a very detailed eye that is sensitive to the slightest nuance of color.” It shows: her full-page compositions are deceptively simple, but exquisite, with scrupulous attention to how light falls on her subject.  Elaborating on her process, Ngoc explained, “I wanted the images to reflect the fact that this food comes from Sarah, who is a gardener before she became a baker, so there is an appreciation of natural ingredients first and foremost." 

    honey rose cake Sarah Owens ; Gardenista

    Above: Building good sourdough is like building a good garden. Both are processes involving layers of living organisms, a lot of patience, time, and creativity.  Both are seasonal, both are affected by the weather, both lie fallow, and come to life when fed. Both are susceptible to the occasional setback, but success is very sweet. (Especially if you start with something easy, like the Honey Rose Cake served at a recent party for the book, drizzled with syrup infused with Sarah’s signature flower.)

    In the pages of Sourdough, the author writes: "To be a successful gardener and a successful baker... is a lesson in both faith and patience for the invisible." 

    That my friends, is the book Sourdough, an eloquent ode to, and a persuasive case for, microbes. It is available for $24.70 from Amazon.

    For more of our favorite cookbooks, see:

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    Every summer Cape Cod landscape designer Tim Callis creates beautiful gardens for the Outer Cape's creative class: the writers, editors, architects, and New York designers (including decoupage artist and furniture designer John Derian) who descend on their gardens in the warm months, to revel in the flowers and harvest dinner from the herb patch.

    Every autumn, Callis stays behind to prepare for a severe New England winter. Ice storms, high winds, sleet, and blizzards all would like to obliterate his gardens. But good luck with that. Over the years, Callis has developed a foolproof plan for preventing severe winter damage. "We do a pretty serious fall cleanup," he says. That's putting it mildly.

    After the first real frost of the season—which usually occurs around Thanksgiving—he heads into the garden in case anything needs to be cut, pruned, staked, or mulched. How does he decide? Here are his seven top tips for putting a garden to bed for winter:

    Give Evergreens a Haircut

    Contemporary Designers' courtesy Wirtz International via gardenista

    Above: Cloud-pruned evergreens have a dusting of snow in Belgian garden designer Jacques Wirtz's garden. For more, see Contemporary Designers' Own Gardens.

    Callis gives evergreens an end-of-season haircut. "Now is a good time to shape your boxwood or ilex if it needs a little trim," says Callis. "Make sure yews or any hedge looks neat."

    Allow Grasses a Last Gasp

    Piet Oudolf Hummelo Winter Garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Garden designer Piet Oudolf leaves grasses standing to create structure in the fall and winter garden. For more, see Steal This Look: Piet Oudolf's Private Garden.
    Seed pods and ornamental grasses can look beautiful covered with frost. Callis leaves grasses standing until "things start looking kind of ratty after a couple of nor'easters. Then you go in and cut it down to the ground."

    Your cleanup date for grasses could be as late as February or as early as December, depending on the severity of a season's storms. "When even the prettiest ornamental grass looks tired and miserable, it's time," says Callis. "And definitely don't leave it until April, that's getting too late because you want to make room for the new growth to come in."

    Feed the Soil

    Fall clean up straw mulch garden beds; Gardenista

    Above: Callis mulches paths and garden beds with straw, which breaks down over the course of a season. "You can let that sit on top of beds for winter and then in spring it easily crumble into soil," he says.

    Autumn also is a good time add compost to garden beds after perennials are cut down and the only thing left is the crowns of plants.  "There might be a one-inch stub of, say, a peony plant and you just sprinkle the compost around the outside of the crown and let it sit there, " says Callis. "Then you don’t need to work the soil in the beds so much in the spring when there’s a lot of other stuff to do."

    Divide and Conquer


    Above: For more, see 11 Garden Ideas to Steal from Martha Stewart.
    After perennials quit blooming is the best time to divide crowded clumps. Callis splits up and transplants hostas, phlox, and daylilies in autumn. "It makes a mess but you're not hurting because you’ve cut down the plant," he says. "Plants are going dormant at this time of year, so they will adjust to having you dig them up and cut apart their roots. By spring, you won't be able to tell you did anything murderous to a plant in the fall."

    Discipline the Wisteria

    Wisteria winter vines snow Portland Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: Wisteria vines covered in snow in Portland, Maine. Photograph via Portland Daily.

    "You really should never turn your back on wisteria," says Callis. "Deep down inside it’s a thug, and it wants to conquer the world. The best thing to do is to really make a commitment to prune it after it blooms."

    Ideally, you've pruned the wisteria two or three times over the course of the growing season. So by late autumn, all you have deal with is "a lot of extraneous, long, thin stems coming off main shoots," says Callis. "You want to control that."

    Also check at the base of the plant for runners. Every 8 to 12 inches, wisteria will start to root and become another plant, which becomes a nightmare.


    Above: A wisteria standard, pruned and ready for spring. For more, see Gardening 101: How to Prune Wisteria.
    "A gorgeous wisteria trunk looks amazing even without foliage," says Callis. "Leave theh seed pods on. Let them dangle until April, like chandelier earrings."

    Wait to Prune Trees

    Fall clean up garden prune fruit trees ; Gardenista

    Above: For more, see DIY: Pruning Fruit Trees in Winter.
    The best time to prune most trees is late winter or early spring, says Callis, who likes to prune them when he can see their structure without leaves to distract the eye. "For fruit trees, after Presidents' Day, you start with grapevines and then the fruit trees."
    The exception is if something is brushing the house or hitting the roof. Remove those branches before storm season gets underway.

    Transplant Trees and Shrubs

    Contemporary Designers' by Huw Morgan via gardenista

    Above: A potted tree in British garden designer Dan Pearson's own garden. For more, see Contemporary Designers' Owner Gardens. Photograph by Huw Morgan.

    "I suggest you water a tree or shrub really well before you move it," says Callis. "That will help it get settled."

    For more autumn cleanup ideas, see:

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    Claire Basler lives and works in a former schoolhouse in Les Ormes, on the outskirts of Paris, where she creates enormous floral arrangements on a daily basis as the subject of her large-scale paintings.
    Basler, who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, spent hours in the Louvre, observing classic masterpieces, and was inspired by French 18th century painting, Watteau in particular. "In her garden, she witnesses nature's fight for life against the wind, the rain, and the sun," according to the Telegraph. "This is what Claire Basler portrays in her paintings: the strength and frailty of a flower, the reassuring nature of a tree, the metamorphosis of a simple poppy." To read more, go to Roseland Art & Decoration.
    Photography via Claire Basler


    Above: Basler's home is a former schoolhouse.


    Above: Basler at work in her studio.

    Claire Basler studio France ; Gardenista

    Above: Basler creates her daily floral arrangements from her own gardens.


    Above: Still life with hydrangeas.

    Claire Basler artist at work studio ; Gardenista

    Above: Basler at work.

    Claire Basler library shelves ; Gardenista

    Above: Basler's library, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.


    Above: Wall murals by Basler in the music room.


    Above: In the dining room, a mantel is painted an unexpected shade of green.


    Above: A row of Ikea Maskros pendants. 

    Claire Basler green dining room chairs ; Gardenista

    Above: Green dining chairs echo the palette of the garden.


    Above: Murals in a bedroom.


    Above: Above: Basler's work is inspired by the natural landscape.

     For more of our favorite artists at work, see:

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  • 11/18/15--08:00: DIY: Sage Smudge Sticks
  • Incense can be cloying and scented candles may cause allergic reactions in dinner guests (this happened!), but an herbal smudge stick?  It's just the thing to clear the air. 

    We spotted this DIY sage smudge stick tutorial via Fibers and Florals, where you can find step-by-step instructions for creating similar fragrant bundles.

    Photography via Fibers and Florals.

    DIY sage smudge sticks ; Gardenista

    Above: Materials are minimal. Start with dry sage leaves (moist ones may get moldy) and shape them into bundles.

    DIY sage smudge sticks ; Gardenista

    Above: For a foolproof wrapping technique, see the step-by-step instructions at Fibers and Florals.

    DIY sage smudge sticks ; Gardenista

    Above: Native Americans burn smudge sticks to purify the air and for medicinal purposes. All sorts of flowers and herbs can be tied up to create aromatic smudge sticks. Or, if you prefer to buy ready-made bundles, see our recent post on Smudgesticks From Botanicals Folklorica.

    For more aromatic inspiration for the holiday season, see:

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    Long-time tourists to St. Bart's who stopped going there because of the tourists, New York-based painters Brice and Helen Marden turned their attention to a quieter island about 55 miles south. On Nevis, which they noticed has "no buildings higher than a palm tree" and no celebrities more famous than, say, the Mardens, they discovered the Golden Rock Inn more than a decade ago. 

    Housed in a former sugar mill since 1958, the hotel occupied a spectacular 100-acre site with stunning views of the sea, haunting views of distant mountains, and frequent views of the resident monkeys, donkeys, and goats who freely strolled the tropical grounds.

    After the Mardens bought the hotel, they oversaw an extensive remodel and hired Miami-based landscape architect Raymond Jungles (whose surname is an apt description of his approach to garden design) to create a just-wild-enough garden where both guests and the monkeys would feel welcome to wander.

    Photography via Golden Rock except where noted.


    Above: Photograph via Garden Design.

    Bright red paint on the gate—and on trim throughout the resort—has a painterly effect of making the landscape's complementary color appear even more intensely green. Helen Marden chose the color instead of a pastel shade more typically associated with Caribbean architecture because she felt its strength stood up better to the old stone on the buildings that dot the property.

    Golden Rock Inn Marsden Nevis ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Lonny.

    Architect Ed Tuttle designed new structural elements for the hotel, which has a 50-foot freshwater pool, complete with lily pads.


    Above: Landscape architect Jungles studied the flora of the island, hiking in a nearby rainforest with a local botanist, to create a planting palette that would look entirely natural. 


    Above: The hotel sits on the slope of Nevis Peak, an inactive volcano in the center of the island.


    Above: About 50 inches of rain falls on Nevis every year, with driest season running from January to April.

    Golden Rock Inn Nevis Marden ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Golden Rock.

    The Mardens own a second hotel in upstate New York. To read more about it, see The Artists' Retreat: Brice and Helen Marden's Hotel Tivoli.


    Above: Large volcanic rocks and boulders discovered on the property during the renovation were repurposed as landscape features.


    Above: Photograph via Golden Rock.

    The inn has six bungalows with a total of 11 guest rooms (including a two-story suite inside a 19th-century sugar mill).


    Above: Landscape architect Jungles filled in bare spots in the landscape with low-growing vegetation to effectively frame the more dramatic specimen plants.


    Above: Photograph via Raymond Jungles.

    Many of the plants came from nurseries Helen Marden visited with Jungles in Miami.


    Above: Jungles designed a rill to carry water downhill; it empties into a rocky cavern at the base of a stone wall. In the foreground the burnt orange leaves of Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orange Form’ contrast in shape and color with glossy Philodendron magnifica.

    Golden Rock Inn monkey ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Trip Advisor.

    A permanent resident.


    Above:  Jungles judiciously pruned a towering weeping fig tree that borders the path. 

    For more of our favorite tropical gardens, see:

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    Whether they're the standard-issue variety from a home improvement store or an architect's custom creation, concrete pavers offer instant gratification. A patio? A path? An outdoor entertaining space? Concrete pavers make it (almost) instantly possible. 


    Above: For more of this garden, see Architect Visit: The Medieval Mist and Mystery of Big Sur.

    What is a concrete paver?

    Pavers are created from molded concrete formed into tiles to either resemble stone or brick, or proudly look like what they are: concrete. Concrete pavers generally fall into two types. The first is the thick durable interlocking paver. Resembling bricks in density, interlocking pavers are often used for driveways as they can handle the weight of a vehicle. The other variety is the thinner, and more visually pleasing, architectural paver.  Architectural pavers are commonly used for paths or patios where aesthetics are more important.  

    Brooklyn townhouse backyard garden concrete pavers ; Gardenista

    Above: In a Brooklyn backyard, concrete pavers are set in sand and bordered by a wide strip of white stones. For more of this garden, see Before & After: A Modern Backyard on a Budget by Ishka Designs

    Why use pavers instead of poured concrete?

    Pavers trump poured concrete in a number of ways. Specifically they:

    • Are less susceptible to cracking. Tree roots, shifting soil, freezing, and thawing can cause cracks to form in large slabs of poured concrete. Because pavers are smaller, and move independently, the same conditions won't cause cracking (but may cause the pavers to shift position).
    • Help eliminate runoff. The spacing between pavers enables water to permeate the area rather than run off a larger field of concrete. And, no puddles will form.
    • Offer better traction. The joints between pavers provide a built-in device for better footing.
    • Can be more visually pleasing. Pavers can offer a geometry that poured concrete can't. And, that's not even taking into account the myriad options for the plants or other organic materials that fill the spaces between pavers.


    Above: Concrete pavers for a path; for more, see Architect Visit: At Home with Bruce Bolander in a Malibu Canyon.

    Concrete pavers NYC townhouse backyard ; Gardenista

    Above: Oversized concrete pavers play tricks with the eye to visually widen a narrow, 16-foot-wide garden behind a townhouse. For more, see Rehab Diary: An Artist's NYC Kitchen Renovation on Remodelista.

    What are the best uses for concrete pavers?

    Concrete pavers can be used anywhere that demands outdoor flooring. Patios, garden paths, driveways, stepping stones, and even rooftop flooring. Heat absorbing dark pavers are not recommended in hot climates where they may come into contact with bare feet. 

    Concrete pavers hand cast ; Gardenista  

    Above: Hand cast concrete pavers of varied sizes are set in gravel to create a loose naturalistic look. For more, see Subdividing a Small City Backyard to Make it Bigger.

    Cast concrete pavers Hancock Park LA garden ; Gardenista

    Above: LA-based landscape designer Naomi Sanders replaced flagstone pavers with concrete to match an existing concrete stoop. For more, see Before & After: A Grande Dame in LA's Hancock Park.

    Arterra Landscape San Francisco Garden, Gardenista

    Above: Concrete pavers lead to the island deck of this urban garden set in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District. Created by Arterra Landscape Architects, this project includes underground rainwater collecting cisterns that supply the water for the fountain. Photograph by Thomas J. Story via Sunset Publishing. 

    What colors and textures of concrete pavers are available?

    The blessing and curse of concrete pavers is the range of options. While color variations stick to natural earth tones, the shapes and textures are virtually unlimited. Pre-cast pavers available through home improvement stores range from simple modern square tiles to stones that look like they have been plucked from a Roman street to travertine look-alikes. Custom made tiles can be colored to complement your home siding or another garden feature. The options are practically limitless, if not overwhelming.

    Concrete Pavers Atherton by Concreteworks, Gardenista

    Above: In an Atherton, California project, custom designed pavers are acid etched, making them slip resistant. Monterey sand was added as an aggregate to create a non-shimmery appearance. 

    Pre-Cast Concrete Pavers, Gardenista

    Above, L: The Cobblestone Tumbled Concrete Paver in charcoal measures 7 by 9 inches; $1.31. Above, R: A modern Pewter Concrete Step Stone measures 16 inches square and has a beveled edge; $4.62. Both at Home Depot.

    Wood Molded Concrete Pavers, Gardenista

    Above: Wet cast concrete Barn Plank Pavers by Silver Creek Stoneworks are molded to look like, you guessed it, barn planks. 

    How do you install concrete pavers?

    Installation is somewhat dependent on the use. A driveway differs from a simple garden path. Accordingly, we recommend consulting with a professional, especially for installations with structural imperatives, such as holding a vehicle upright or flanking a swimming pool. In general, installations of pavers require a sub-base which can range from concrete to crushed stone. There are requirements that most installations have in common. The ground beneath pavers needs to be compacted as much as possible. Then a base layer, usually of crushed rock, is covered with a top layer of sand onto which the pavers are placed. Gaps are left between pavers, the size of which depends on aesthetics, structure, and what is being placed in the joints. Is it grass? Plantings? Gravel? 

    JGS Landscape Architecture Concrete Pavers, Gardenista

    Above: Pavers set in gravel (see our earlier feature on the Merits of Pea Gravel) in a garden path by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture.

    Elysian Landscapes Concrete Pavers, Remodelista  

    Above: Large, cast-in-place concrete pavers set in the lawn make a graphic composition and lead to a built-in bench that faces a favorite view in a project by Elysian Landscapes

    How much do concrete pavers cost?

    Concrete pavers vary in price depending on whether they are off-the-shelf or custom-made architects' designs. A good rule of thumb is from $5 to $10 per square foot. One thing is certain: concrete pavers are a much more affordable option than stone.

    Russ Cletta Design Studio Concrete Pavers, Gardenista  

    Above: With a goal to create high style on a limited budget, landscape architect Russ Cletta included poured-in-place concrete stepping stones set in affordable gravel in this Venice Beach, CA bungalow garden. 

    Concrete Paver Recap


    • Affordable
    • More durable than poured concrete
    • Easy to install (and replace)
    • Can be custom made to fit size, style, and color requirements
    • Pre-cast pavers available in a wide variety of textures and colors


    • Porous and will stain
    • Despite best attempts, doesn't quite match the look of natural stone
    • Can crack in extreme temperature fluctuations (freezing and thawing) 

    Walker Workshop Hollywood Bungalow, Gardenista  

    Above: Concrete pavers lead to the entry of a Hollywood bungalow by Los Angeles-based design firm Walker Workshop. Photograph by Nicholas Alan Cope.

    We could be accused of being concrete obsessed. Michelle rounded up Indestructible Concrete Furniture; Meredith is coveting an Open Air Outdoor Concrete Bath; Dalilah made $30 Mini Concrete Planters; and, I fantasize about a polished Concrete Garage Floor

    See all of our Hardscaping 101 Features

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    A former banker who took an evening art class on a lark, Iceland-based ceramics designer Bjarni Sigurdsson experiments with unusual materials. A new collection of vases, for instance, is glazed in volcanic ashes.

    After the eruption in 2010 of the English Eyjafjalla Glacier, Sigurdsson collected ashes on site. Mixing the ash into his glaze, he learned, would create a wide range of colors including deep coal grays and pale icy pinks.

    We want them all:

    Bases from Iceland ceramicist Bjarni Sigurdsson; Gardenista

    Above: Sigurdsson's Ash Cloud Vases are available in ten sizes and colors at prices ranging from $45 to $150 apiece at ABC Home.

    Bases from Iceland ceramicist Bjarni Sigurdsson; Gardenista

    Above: An Ash Cloud Pink And Green Vase measures 3.35 inches high and is $75.

    Bases from Iceland ceramicist Bjarni Sigurdsson; Gardenista

    Above: The miniature version is a 3.35-inch Ash Cloud Pink Vase; $45.

    Vases from Iceland ceramicist Bjarni Sigurdsson; Gardenista

    Above: A 5.7-inch Hot Pink And White Ash Cloud vase is $150.

    For more of our favorite vases, see:

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    When rug weaver and textile designer Elizabeth Eakins and her lawyer husband, Jerry Wigglesworth, bought a farm on the Kansas prairie, he went back to school to learn to be a sheep farmer and she wanted a weaving studio.

    Brooklyn-based architects Vrinda Khanna and Robert Schultz of Khanna Schultz designed a loom house for Eakins,  a lofty studio that doubles as guest space and complements rather than competes with the property's main building, a limestone farmhouse built in the 1870s. 

    A mix of old materials and new ideas, the loom house has passive solar panels, recycled floor planks, and reclaimed bricks on the front stoop. With its steeply pitched roof and architectural details typical of the Tallgrass Prairie, the weaving studio looks as at home on the property as the sheep.

    Photography via Khanna Schultz.


    Above: The loom house is 50 feet away from main house. "Choosing a site was a big part of the process," says Schultz. "Both the winters and summer are very harsh in that part of Kansas, so we wanted it to be not too far from the main house."


    Above: Inside the loom house Eakins has a spacious weaving studio and a view of gently rolling meadows in a shallow valley that drops away from the building.


    Above: Eakins and Wigglesworth have 100 long-wooled Border Leicester sheep.

    Elizabeth Eakins Kansas weaving studio loom house ; Gardenista

    Above: The view from the main house is of the outbuilding's front porch and entryway. The loom house is covered in painted white clapboards and has a zinc-coated aluminum roof.

    Elizabeth Eakins Kansas weaving studio loom house ; Gardenista

    Above: The large limestone step was found on the property. The bricks came from a local salvage yard. "We wanted the building to reflect the small-town vernacular in Kansas, so the first time I visited, we looked around a lot of little towns," says Schultz. "This is in an unspoiled part of Kansas and we saw a lot of interesting buildings."

    Elizabeth Eakins Kansas weaving studio loom house ; Gardenista

    Above: A wood-burning stove is the studio's heat source in winter.

    The ceiling beams are recycled, as well. "There was an old barn on the property, but it blew down around the time the clients bought it," says Schultz. "They salvaged its exposed beams for the weaving studio."

    Elizabeth Eakins Kansas loom house weaving studio ; Gardenista

    Above: Behind a sliding barn door is an alcove with a Murphy bed, enabling the studio to do double duty as a guesthouse. 

    Elizabeth Eakins Kansas loom house weaving studio ; Gardenista

    Above: Throughout the house are double-hung, two-over-two Marvin windows. "The same window, in the same size, is used everywhere but in the bathroom because we wanted to keep a very controlled design vocabulary," says Schultz.

    Elizabeth Eakins Kansas loom house weaving studio ; Gardenista

    Above: Wood boards in the entry and bathroom are from the old barn that blew down.

    Elizabeth Eakins Kansas loom house weaving studio ; Gardenista

    Above: A limestone foundation, made of local stone, also references the design of the main house (visible in the distance).

    Elizabeth Eakins Kansas loom house weaving studio ; Gardenista

    Above: The loom house sits in a grove of deciduous trees. In summer, their leaves provide shade and in winter, after the leaves fall, they allow a lot of sunlight into the building to warm up the space.

    For more of our favorite farm buildings, see:

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    After hunting in vain for a simple hanging bottle vase that was as affordable as it was delicate, I took things into my own hands.

    Armed with dark annealed wire and a multipurpose tool with wire snips and needle nose pliers, I designed a simple hanger that can be adjusted to fit just about any bottle you have lying around (I used a bottle I already own).

    Follow the step-by-step instructions below for making your own hanging vase for a fraction of the cost of store-bought versions.

    Photography by Erin Boyle for Gardenista.

    Wire vase small space DIY Erin Boyle ; Gardenista

    Above: The finished hanging glass bottle vase.

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista


    • Dark Annealed Wire; 20 gauge; $20 for 50 feet from Brenda Aschweder Jewelry on Etsy
    • Needle nose pliers
    • Wire cutters (I used a multipurpose Leatherman that had both tools. The Leatherman Wave is $89.86 at Home Depot)
    • Cloth napkin
    • Glass bottle or vase of your choice

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: The secret to the understated look of the wire hangers I've admired is dark annealed steel wire. I used thin, 20-gauge wire for a delicate look. (N.B. When you shop, remember that the larger the gauge, the thinner the wire.)

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: To begin, I bent the wire into two circles—one to serve as the base and the other to support the mid-section of the vase. To make the circle that would support the vase in the middle, I wrapped my glass bottle in a cloth napkin to make sure the main circle would be slightly larger than the diameter of the vase. 

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I used the neck of my bottle to form a second circle. This circle supports the bottom of the vase, so I made sure it was a smaller than the base of my bottle. 

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I used the needle nose pliers to twist the two ends of the wire to form a circle and then slipped them off the bottle. 

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: Next, I cut four strips of wire and used the pliers to bend smell crooks at the base of each wire. (N.B. When handling the wire, try your best not to bend it in places where you'd like for it to remain straight. It can be tricky to unbend neatly.)

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I attached each straight piece to the smallest (base) circle and clamped each crook closed with the pliers.

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: Next, I placed the vase on top of the smaller base circle and spaced the four straight wires at equal distances apart from one another.

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: Holding the bottle in place over the base circle, I pulled each straight piece up around the bottle and slipped the larger circle over the top of the bottle and over each upright wire as shown. Because I had used a napkin to size this larger circle, there was enough room for the four upright wires to fit snugly.

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: Taking care to keep the top circle level, I gently bent each upright wire down over the middle circle as shown. 

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I used my pliers to twist a second crook around the middle circle and snipped off any remaining wire. I found it easiest to do this step with the bottle flipped upside down.

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: Next, I attached a simple handle using the same bent crook method. 

    hanging vase by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: Hung from my bedroom door with a Wrought Iron Wall Hook ($6 from Brook Farm General Store), the finished hanger has just the simple, elegant look that I was hoping for. 

    Not up for a DIY version? See 10 Easy Pieces: Wall Vases. For a larger take on the wire frame DIY, see Alexa's DIY: Kousi Lamp by Mark Eden Shooley on Remodelista.

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    Home is where the art is, say the Remodelista editors. They spent the week proving their theory:

    Jessica Marshall San Francisco tunic ; Gardenista

    Above: When Jessica and her family (including two teenagers) moved last year from Manhattan to San Francisco, "it was the art that made the move a success," she says. "I now think of our collection as the bulky equivalent of a nomad's rugs—wherever we hang it, we're home." Read about her adventure in Home is Where the Art Is.

    Lisbon ceramics studio Margarida M. Fernandes ; Gardenista  

    Above: Izabella visits Margarida M. Fernandes in the light-filled studio she shares with her husband, where she creates Artful Ceramics by Way of Lisbon.

    Flat screen TV artists easel bedroom; Gardenista

    Above: Trend alert: 11 Rooms with Art Easels, displaying far more than paintings in progress. Flat screen as art, anyone?

    J Corradi range used ; Gardenista

    Above: Thrifty remodelers, take note. Margot has sleuthed 8 Sources for Used High-End Appliances.

    London kitchen art painting knives countertops; Gardenista

    Above: Julie dubs the kitchen The New Art Gallery. See nine kitchens with art on display along with the knives.

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    Read on to see what we loved this week.

    Julia Child's home for sale in France | Gardenista

    Chocolate Chipotle recipe  Marie Viljoen ; Gardenista

    • Above: Win a copy of Sarah Owens' new cookbook, Sourdough, by entering our Gardenista Giveaway.

    Jenni Kayne, Rip + Tan, Persimmon Margarita | Gardenista

    Decor8's holiday table with greens | Gardenista

    Instagram and Pinterest Pick of the Week

    Gardenista Instagram Pick of the Week: @lisaminucci

    • Above: A festive shop front in London captured by food writer Lisa Minucci (@lisaminucci)

    Gardenista Pinterest Pick of the Week: Alessandra Taccia, Yule board

    • Above: Textile designer Alessandra Tuccia's Yule board on Pinterest is fueling our holiday decor plans. 

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    This week in the world of nature and gardening: GMOs score a major US victory, a Native American tribe donates water to the dry Rio Grande, and roses get electronic implants. 

    Study Suggests Foraged Food is Safe 

    Urban Foraging, The Guardian | Gardenista

    Above: Photo by Graeme Robertson via the Guardian

    The Boston-based League of Urban Canners led an inquiry to learn if urban foraged fruits and herbs contain higher levels of lead or other contaminants than store-bought produce. The study of 166 samples did contain some lead, but at levels significantly lower than the EPA's acceptable levels for tap water, and the foraged fruit had higher levels of most beneficial micronutrients than the store-bought fruit. Read it at Scientific American

    Cyborg Roses

    Yellow Rose | Gardenista

    Above: A 'Graham Thomas' rose featured in Garden Visit: A Modern CA Garden Inspired by the Classics

    Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have incorporated plant-compatible electronic material into roses, in hopes of developing tools for biologists to record or regulate the physiology of plants, akin to human-implanted medical devices. Read more at Nature

    Insecticides Make for Bumbling Bees

    Bee Hive | Gardenista

    Above: Photo via A Healthy Life for Me

    A study conducted at Royal Holloway University in London suggests that neonicotinoids—the most widely used insecticides in the world—affect bees' behavior by impairing memory and navigational abilities and reducing the foraging skills of workers, ultimately slowing the growth of existing colonies. Read the study details, including some debate on its findings, in the Atlantic

    Pueblo Tribe Donates Water

    Dry Rio Grande | Gardenista

    Above: A dry river bed of the Rio Grande in Texas. Photo via NPR

    Cited as a first-of-its-kind donation, the Pueblo of Sandia tribe in New Mexico has agreed to donate water to supplement flow into the Middle Rio Grande. The water will be managed by the Audubon Society and used to bolster flows needed by fish and wildlife when the river bed dries out in summer. Read more at Audubon

    GMO Salmon Approved in US

    GMO Salmon | Gardenista

    Above: A genetically engineered salmon in back compared to a non-GMO sibling about the same age. Photo via New York Times

    In news that may have implications for the broader US and global GMO debate, the US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved genetically engineered salmon fit for human consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be approved. The salmon, called the AquAdvantage, is an Atlantic salmon engineered to grow to market size in as little as half the time as a non-engineered salmon. The fish will not be required to be labeled genetically altered, consistent with US policy on current modified food crops. Read the story at the New York Times

    More from this week: 

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    Every year when we go around the Thanksgiving table, we say the same thing. We're grateful for the bounty from the garden. Make that extremely grateful.

    This week we make the most of it, with foraged tabletop decor, recipes straight from the vegetable patch, and leafy holiday place cards:

    Table of Contents: Homegrown Holiday; Gardenista

    Above: For Thanksgiving this year, we rummaged around the backyard to come up with a foraged tabletop arrangement. See more ideas in Thanksgiving on a Budget: 7 Tips for Tabletop Decor from Stylist Beth Kirby.


    Hudson Woods framing construction ; Gardenista

    Above: in this week's Architect Visit, Julie heads to upstate New York to visit an enclave of new houses that belong to the land.

    Foraged branches rinse in sink Thanksgiving ; Gardenista

    Above: Michelle puts together a foraged Thanksgiving floral arrangement in this week's Tabletop post.


    celeriac gratin ; Gardenista

    Above: Food blogger Laura Silverman of Glutton for Life heads to the garden for inspiration and comes up with the perfect Thanksgiving menu (including ideas for Leftovers Lunch on Friday) in this week's Garden-to-Table Recipes post.

    Thanksgiving outdoors branches and lichens centerpiece tabletop ; Gardenista

    Above: We've come up with an action plan for Thanksgiving outdoors—with tabletop details that are both elegant and unbreakable— in this week's DIY post.


    Hanukkah pumpkin chiffon cake l Gardenista

    Above: No-fail dessert: Susan Brenna's shares her mother's (formerly top secret) recipe for pumpkin chiffon cake in this week's Recipes post.

    leaf place cards Thanksgiving ; Gardenista

    Above: Enlist the kids' help in making DIY Last-Minute Leaf Place Cards for Thanksgiving.


      pear and walnut pie by beth kirby l Gardenista

    Above: Happy Thanksgiving—we'll see you on the other side of the Sweet and Salty Pear and Walnut Pie.


    forced bulbs muscari l Gardenista

    Above: For us, the day after Thanksgiving is Green Friday. We spend it in the garden, working off the mashed potatoes. Join us for seasonal Gardening 101 tips.

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    In the Hudson Valley, a two-hours' drive north of New York City, architect Drew Lang of Lang Architecture is building 26 homes designed to embrace the surrounding landscape on a wooded, 131-acre site.

    With a starting price of $765,000 (for a 2,800-square-foot, three-bedroom model with a detached garage and studio), the first 14 houses in Hudson Woods are in various stages of construction and all have buyers from Brooklyn or Manhattan.

    "The spirit is a very open, collaborative design," says Lang, who was influenced by the modernist architecture and environmentally sensitive design of Northern California's iconic midcentury enclave, The Sea Ranch.

    Relying on "the locaI vernacular vocabulary," Lang has adopted design rules to enhance the houses' connection to the land: locally sourced and sustainable materials; stone walls instead of fences; deep 60-foot setbacks, and vegetation to prevent neighbors from spoiling each others' views.

    Photography via Lang Architecture.

    Above: Each parcel in the development is an average of five acres. Common costs for road maintenance (plowing snow, etc.) will be $800 a year.

    Above: "There are only three finish choices clients need to make: tile color, metal roofing color, or exterior (stained or natural)," says Lang.

    Above: Steps are made of slabs of local bluestone as are gravel pathways, crushed-stone driveways, and dry-stacked walls.  

    Above: Custom mahogany windows are made locally by Premier Custom Woodwork, a mill shop in Western New York.

    Above: An 18-by-40-foot swimming pool has a dark plaster finish and an 800-square-foot bluestone patio costs an additional $195,000.

    Above: Each house has a standing seam metal roof. For the exterior, there are two color choices: black or natural cedar stain.

    Above: Using steel bracket to achieve a floating deck and steel beams to support window walls, Lang takes advantage of views afforded by the surrouning terrain.

    Hardware is sand-cast bronze from Sun Valley Bronze and wood for doors and trim is FSC-certified rift and quarter sawn white oak from Hickman Woods (a four-generation family run business in Pennsylvania).

    Above: A crushed bluestone driveway is a low-profile hardscape detail.

    Above: Windows are sited to maximize views.

    hudson-woods-swimming-pool-autumn ; Gardenista

    Above: Other available upgrades include a vegetable garden, a poolhouse, a greenhouse, and a fruit tree tree grove. For more information, see Hudson Woods.

    For more of our favorite upstate New York landscapes, see:

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    At my house, we always have a foraged floral arrangement for Thanksgiving. Some years, we decorate with persimmons and bay boughs, and others with herbs and berry sprigs in juice glasses. Whatever's outdoors is on the table too.

    Here are a few easy tips for making your own zero-cost holiday centerpiece, which by the way looks prettier than anything you can buy:

    Photography by Michelle Slatalla.


    Above: With a free-form arrangement of branches and berries, you can make a dramatic garland that runs the length of the table, or you can confine foraged florals to centerpiece territory (and use the space at the end of the table for serving dishes).

    The Basics


    Above: Some things never change. Every year I set the table with silverware that once belonged to my husband's grandmother; low wine goblets (because they're less tippy than tall stemware), and white plates. This year, the dishes are hand-glazed Organic Dinner Plates from Hudson Grace ($21 apiece), which look and feel as if they came straight from a local potter's studio—and yet are perfectly safe in both a dishwasher and a microwave oven.

    I love fancy china and crystal. But I've learned over the years that white dishes and unobtrusive glassware will make a beautiful backdrop to foraged florals. I want greenery and autumn colors to take center stage at the center of the table.

    Foraged Finds

    thanksgiving-table-clippers-gardenista smoke bush hydrangeas

    Above: I headed into the garden to see what still looked good enough to come indoors. From a smoke bush near my front door, I clipped some branches with moody, mottled purple leaves. In the backyard, past-their-prime hydrangeas had flowers at that bruised-pink stage that looks good with everything.


    Above: In autumn, shrubs sport all color of berries. Branches with green leaves and colorful berries make pretty garlands. In my Northern California neighborhood, there are lots of orange bittersweet berries, black privet berries, and purple privet berries. Other berries to look for: purple beautyberry and orange winterberry.

    Foraged branches rinse in sink Thanksgiving ; Gardenista

    Above: Before arranging foraged finds, rinse them—extremely well—in the kitchen sink. Bugs are not welcome at the dinner table.

    The Look


    Above: I used garden twine to tie a sprig to each napkin. You can also get fancier and make a tiny bundled bouquet for each guest's napkin. See how at Botanical Napkin Rings for Thanksgiving.


    Above: I like a big napkin, preferably made of soft linen because the fabric drapes beautifully—and absorbs spilled wine better than cotton.

    Available in nearly two dozen colors including Fog (as shown), 22-inch-square Linen Napkins from Hudson Grace are washable and can be tumbled dry (and if you pull them out of the dryer while they're still warm, you won't need to iron them—they fold beautifully). Hand-dyed in San Francisco, the napkins are $18 apiece.


    Above: To assemble the floral arrangement, I laid a linen runner down the center of the table. The fabric defines the boundaries of the floral arrangement (a helpful visual cue for when you don't use a vase or other vessel).

    Next, I laid a line of smoke branches down the middle of the table runner. Into them I tucked shorter lengths of privet, allowing the smoke bush leaves to cup clusters of privet berries. For extra drama, I tucked one hydrangea bloom into each end of the free-form garland.

    Foraged thanksgiving tabletop napkins DIY; Gardenista

    Above: I placed the napkins on top of the plates to add some height to edge of the table and offset the bulk of the foraged floral arrangement. This prevents the table from looking like it has a big, impenetrable hedge in the middle of it.


    Above: I wanted the table to contradict itself, to look glamorous and casual at the same time. So I skipped the tablecloth this year and instead relied on the runner to create a painterly frame around the florals.

    The Day After


    Above: After you disassemble the tabletop, turn the water pitcher into a vase with a sprig of long-lasting berries.

    Feel thankful with us. See:

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