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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    Today online magazine Freunde von Freunde publishes an exclusive interview (and studio visit) with Mexico City florists Alberto Arango and Ramiro Guerrero of Flores Cosmos. The two live in a house next door to their workshop, in a 1950s neighborhood where they keep the city's noise and pollution at bay with greenery:

    Photography by Pia Riverola.


    Above: When they decided to become florists eight years ago, "Alberto Arango and Ramiro Guerrero knew nothing about flowers, except that they adored them," writes Shoko Wanger in Freunde von Freunden.

    Today, the couple own and operate Flores Cosmos from a work studio next door to their house.


    Above: Potted succulents and tropical plants are clustered on the patio.


    Above: “Avenida Revolucion, where we live, is one of the noisiest and ugliest streets in the city,” says Alberto. “But we have a silent, green environment as soon as we close the door.”


    Above: A tiled fountain in the corner of a courtyard is bedecked with potted plants.


    Above: For more of the story, see Florists House, Mexico City on Freunde von Freunden.


    Above: A bouquet underway.


    Above: Dogproof. For the rest of the interview, see Freunde von Freunden.

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    One more reason to come to our markets this month in Los Angeles and San Francisco: For the first time, longstanding children's wear favorite Flora and Henri will be joining us. Known for their exquisitely detailed newborn to preteen designs—read about the company in our House Call with founder Jane Hedreen—the Seattle company has branched out. It has become a go-to online source for women's as well as kid's clothes, and is now offering an inspired capsule collection of artisan-made housewares. 

    Flora and Henri will be among the 30-plus vendors at both the LA and SF Remodelista markets. Here are the details and a small sampling of the offerings.

    • 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 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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 St. in the Mission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

    For Kids

    Above: The Flora and Henri Silk Satin Fairy Floss Dress with made-in-Italy Gold Shimmer Frances Flats

    With a mission to operate production facilities that directly benefit women and children, Flora and Henri is currently working in Madagascar, Nepal, and Bolivia. And to help revive the garment industry on the homefront, its Essentials line is made in Seattle. 

    Above: Plush Hansa Turkish White Goats have hand-trimmed coats of faux fur.

    Above L: For outdoor play and indoor display, the Flying Dutchman Ship Kite is crafted in Bali. Above R: Moon Dominos are the work of Brooklyn studio Fredericks & Mae.

    For Women

    Above: Flora and Henri's Women's Cashmere Featherweight Sweater comes in buff (shown) and dove gray, and is 100 percent cashmere with gold lurex stitching on the collar. 

    For the Home

    Above: Designed as a portable mattress for daybeds and hammocks, and for rolling out on the floor during sleepovers, Hedgehouse's down- and fiber-filled Mini Throwbeds come in a range of stripes.

    Above: Ted Muehling's now classic porcelain Egg Vases are made by Nymphenburg of Germany. See them on Flora and Henri creator Jane Hedreen's own mantel in our Housecall post An Impossibly Grand Home in Seattle—and tour her garden, A Grand Classic from an Earlier Century, on Gardenista.

    For more previews from our December Remodelista Holiday Markets in LA and SF, check out:

    See you at the markets!

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    Founded by global travelers and media veterans Dara and Dan Brewster, DARA Artisans is an online shop offering exquisitely handmade and socially conscious goods that the pair find on their travels around the globe. Textiles, ceramics, tableware, jewelry, and accessories are chosen for beauty, craftsmanship, and according to DARA's broader goal of sustaining local artistic traditions and expanding economic opportunities for craftspeople around the world. 

    DARA Artisans is giving Remodelista and Gardenista readers the chance to win a $1,000 gift card to shop the global collection. To enter, sign up for emails from DARA Artisans and Remodelista by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this post by Wednesday, December 9. The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email. See Official Rules for details. 

    For more, follow DARA Artisans on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. For more on founders Dara and Dan, see The Brewsters at Home in Little Compton, RI.

    Above: Mud Australia porcelain ceramics are made in Sydney and evoke natural forms. Shop the Porcelain Tear Vase ($49) and Four-Cup Porcelain Teapot; currently on sale for $159 (down from $220).

    Above: San Francisco designer Tina Frey casts translucent resin in handmade molds to create food-safe, shatterproof tableware and accessories. We like the white resin Champagne Bucket with hand-knotted leather handles; $190.  

    Above: NHB Knife Works was started by a former chef who found himself constantly tweaking his commercial knives to improve their performance. Each stainless steel knife has a wood handle with a unique blue-green pattern, available as a nine-inch Chef Knife ($379), a six-inch Utility Knife ($279), and a three-inch Paring Knife ($179). 

    Above: DARA Artisans helps sustain traditional weaving techniques in Laos through a line of scarves, textiles, and wall hangings such as the Sam Tai Design Textile, made of naturally dyed Lao silk; $1,440. 

    Above: Artist Rachel Concho is a member of the Roadrunner clan of the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico; her ceramics are inspired by ancient pot shards found on the land. Concho is known for her one-of-a-kind seed pots, such as the Fine Line Geometric Seed Jar; $255. 

    Above: These brilliant blue and white textiles are by master indigo dyer Aboubakar Fofana, who lives in Paris but was born in Mali and carries on the traditional indigo- and vegetable-dyeing techniques of his homeland. Among the offerings: the Guinea Hen Dots 20-Inch Pillow ($450), Arrow Stripe Lumbar Pillow ($410), and Baga Die Linen Throw (currently on sale for $399, down from $750). 

    Above: Lifestyle photographer Jim Franco became a ceramicist later in life and now divides his time between the two arts. He makes each ceramic bowl by hand in his New York studio, including the 3.5-inch Bowl 4 ($85) and six-inch Bowl 36 ($105), both in a matte white glaze. 

    Don't forget to enter for a chance to win $1,000 to shop at DARA Artisans; just enter your email address in the form below by Wednesday, December 9. 

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    Before Queen Victoria of England married a German prince, Christmas decoration was a very casual affair: A few branches of evergreen might be brought into the house and hung on the wall or placed on the window ledge, and a sprig of mistletoe might be suspended above a door. But when the young Victoria (whose mother was also German) became queen and started a family of her own, she adopted her husband's version of Christmas, and the Germans celebrated in a very big way. Famously, an engraving appeared in the Illustrated London News of the young royal family standing around a small decorated tree at Windsor Castle in 1848. The tree was lit and densely decorated with glass baubles. The British population saw it, gasped with awe, and that, as they say, was that.

    A glassworks had been established in the German town of Lauscha for about 250 years by the time Victoria married Albert. It produced flasks, bowls, and even the first artificial glass eyes prior to making glass ornaments for the Christmas tree. These were blown into clay molds and "silvered" on the inside before being painted on the outside. The earliest shapes were fruits and nuts, then pinecones, vegetables, and animals. This tradition spread further afield as the German borders changed after the Second World War, and today these ornaments are as likely to be made in Poland as they are in Germany.

    There are now such a variety of shapes available (at dramatically different prices) that we decided to focus on the garden-centric: glass flowers, glass pollinators, and even a glass gardener's tote bag ornament:

    Five to Buy

    European glass Christmas ornament gardener's tote bag ; Gardenista

    Above: The Garden Tote Ornament, made of glass and metal in Poland, is approximately 4.5 inches high from handle to base and comes with pockets stuffed with tiny glass gloves, trowel, and lettuce seeds. It's $24 at Terrain.


    Above: A 2.36-inch-high, mouth-blown and hand-painted Small Mushroom Clip Ornament is $24 from ABC Home.

    European glass Christmas ornament honey bee ; Gardenista

    Above: This shiny Gold Tone Honey Bee is suspended from a string and is a petite 2.36 inches high; £16.95 from Liberty.


    Above: The imported mercury glass Snow-Covered Pinecone Ornament is $10 from Anthropologie.


    Above: The bane of Mr. McGregor in the garden, a 3-inch tall, hand-silvered and hand-painted Peter Rabbit is made in Poland; $84 at John Derian. 

    Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and the curator of the Remodelista 100, a collection of essential everyday objects presented in the Remodelista book.

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    Some seeds we humans celebrate—we delightedly pluck them from pomegranates and crack open walnuts. Others we ignore—we flick them from lemons and cut them from apples. And still others we suppress, breeding for seedless versions of watermelons and grapes. But all deserve a second look. 

    Take, for example, the coconut: It's a "sailor seed," designed to float for many nautical miles until landing (and spreading its DNA) on faraway shores. Or the seeds of the African Tetraberlinia moreliana tree, the world record holder for catapulting its seeds as far away from itself as possible. (That would be nearly 200 feet, by the way.) 

    These are but two facts I found in Seeing Seeds: A Journey into the World of Seedheads, Pods, and Fruit, where the humble seed gets all the glory. (It, after all, has all the guts.) When I first reached for the book, I knew to expect great things from photographer Robert Llewellyn, whose past work includes series volumes Seeing Flowers and Seeing Trees, but I was delighted to find the text by Teri Dunn Chace exceptionally well-researched and informative. 

    Read on for facts about ten (of the book's more than 100) seeds at which we took a closer look: 


    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: Humans grow chives for the hollow leaves, not the seeds. That's just as well for gardeners, because chive seeds are tricky to collect and even harder to germinate. The tiny black seeds are ready to gather when formerly pink-purple chive flowers turn brown and shatter at the touch. Then they require darkness and constant moisture before producing tiny chive bulbs.


    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: Although it's a staple crop for humans, the author guesses that many people today would fail to recognize a cotton shrub before it blooms and goes to seed. It's recognizable to us by the fluffy white part, almost pure cellulose that protects up to 45 seeds per pod. If left alone, the cotton seeds would be dispersed by wind along with their attendant white pillows.


    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: "The first time I saw a split-open, segmented peony seedpod, I recoiled," says Dunn Chace, likening it to a tiny dragon protecting its valuable seeds. But its seeds are not always so valuable, it turns out. Unbeknownst to the plant, the seeds of many peonies are infertile—especially the plush-looking peonies favored as cut flowers.


    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: The author advises gardeners to keep a careful eye out for hellebores at their seed-bearing stage—devoid of flowers but showing off blue-black seeds—which she calls "beautiful in its own right."

    Chinese Lantern

    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: The bells of the Chinese lantern begin as small white five-lobed flowers in early summer before transforming into bright orange lanterns which protect the seeds nestled within.

    Southern Magnolia

    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista  

    Above: The conelike fruits of the Southern magnolia are "rather unique in the world of tree fruits." Ripe red seeds fall out of their holding cells while remaining attached via tiny "umbilical cords," allowing the seeds to dangle and be noticed.

    Castor Bean

    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: The castor bean is a fierce protector of its seeds, which contain ricin, commonly used as rat poison; one seed can kill a child and three will kill an adult. The seed has a very high oil content for which humans have managed to find uses, including motor oil and as a laxative.

    Morning Glory

    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: Each pod of a morning glory contains up to eight dark seeds, which have an especially tough seed coat to delay germination until warm weather. Morning glory seeds contain LSA, a cousin of LSD, which produces unreliable "contemplative feelings," hallucinations, and nausea.


    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: The seeds of violets have several clever tactics: Once pollinated, former flower stalks bend down and form seed capsules under or within the leaves, safely out of view of predators. When the capsules dry and eventually contract, they shoot violet seeds in all directions, sometimes several feet away.

    Screwbean Mesquite 

    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: "These pods take self-defense to a whole new level," writes Dunn Chace of the screwbean mesquite. Their hard shell is tightly coiled, deterring attempts by predators to open them along any seams. The technical word for this is indehiscent—"not going to split open on its own."

    Photo from Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: Photographer Robery Llewellyn's studio where he created the photographs using a technique called "image stacking." He takes photos from many slightly different angles, then stitches them together with software developed for miscroscopes. This allows every part of the picture to be in sharp focus.

    Book Seeing Seeds | Gardenista

    Above: Seeing Seeds from Timber Press is $20.62 on Amazon. 

    More books worth a look: 

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    We've always believed the most delightful things come in small packages. Here is a roundup of our favorite stocking stuffers for garden lovers (and everyone else on your holiday shopping list):

    Miniature bonsai plants ; Gardenista

    Above: OK, not exactly something you can stuff, but who would not want to find a baby bonsai in a Christmas stocking? Nestle it in tissue paper at the very top of the stocking, peeping out. Extremely popular in Japan, miniature bonsai plants are poised to become the next gardening rage. They take up so much less room than a fiddle leaf fig tree, after all.

    In the US, you can buy a Dwarf Juniper Bonsai Tree for $18.50 from Amazon.

    Dandelion paperweight ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Skona Hem.

    A dandelion head perfectly preserved, fluff and all, in a 2.5-inch Dandelion Paperweight is £29.50 from Hafod Grange. For US shoppers, a similar Dandelion Paperweight with a flower suspended in a resin ball, is $68.61 from Creatures of Comfort.

    Candles garden gift stocking stuffers ; Gardenista

    Above: Mix-and-match candles enable you to choose three fragrances a gardener is missing most in winter (if you're buying for me, please choose Lavender, Fern+Moss, and Rose Botanica). A set of Pick 3 Travel Candles is $30 from Brooklyn Candle Studio. 

    subscribe to garden design magazine ; Gardenista

    Above: Give a subscription to our favorite quarterly garden magazine, Garden Design.  A one-year Subscription costs $45 for four issues.


    Above: Imported from Japan, a 6-inch-long Greenhouse Bench Broom made of palm fibers tied with copper wire is $12 from Womanswork.

    Tiny gardens microgreens sprouts ; Gardenista

    Above: Sprout, founded by three MIT students who wanted to make sustainable products, has created Tiny Gardens to grow microgreens on a sunny windowsill. A set of three waterproof, recyclable cardboard boxes will sprout cress, sunflower, and broccoli sprouts; $14.95.

    Apple bird feeder gift guide ; Gardenista

    Above: Above: From Scandinavian designers Ahnlund-Karlen, an Apple Holder to feed birds has a screw-on brass ball to hold a piece of fruit in place. It is $35 NZ from Garden Objects.

    Looking for the perfect gift? See:

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    When British industrial designer Tom Lloyd of PearsonLloyd decided to build an outbuilding on his property in Hampshire on the southern coast of England to replace a dilapidated garage and an old woodshed, he told Cassion Castle Architects that all he wanted was: a studio, garden workshop, garage, and storeroom. In one building. And one other thing: "He wanted to create a simple yet beautiful building that would enhance its setting."

    The result is Long Sutton Studio, a mostly timber structure that blends so unobtrusively into the landscape you might not even notice it on the horizon. Until you get a little closer:

    Photography via Cassion Castle Architects.

    Garden studio Tom Lloyd Cassion Castle ; Gardenista

    Above: The main building on the property is a farmhouse cottage; the one-story barn sits on a red brick base that matches the original cottage, the architects told Dezeen magazine. For more details, see Dezeen.

    Long Sutton Studio Cassion Castle Architects ; Gardenista

    Above: The barn is roofed with recycled tiles.

    Garden studio Tom Lloyd Cassion Castle ; Gardenista

    Above: Six peaked timber frames support the gabled roof. Shelves, storage, and waist-high work stations are built into the building's walls.

    The unheated building is lit mostly by natural light except for a few small bulbs, resulting in what the architects describe as "a negligible carbon footprint."

    Garden studio Tom Lloyd Cassion Castle ; Gardenista

    Above: Exposed galvanized steel plates and hardware are another visual reminder of the building's skeleton. Different kinds of hardwood and softwood timbers treated differently—planed, sawn, or laminated—during the construction process.

    Garden studio Tom Lloyd Cassion Castle ; Gardenista

    Above: Firewood storage as design element.

    Garden studio Tom Lloyd Cassion Castle ; Gardenista

    Above: Skylights let in plenty of sunlight. The exterior walls are covered with green oak weatherboarding left unstained to age naturally and blend with the landscape.

    Garden studio Tom Lloyd Cassion Castle ; Gardenista

    Above: Two sets of wide oak-clad double doors open the space to the surrounding landscape.

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    In anticipation of this weekend's Remodelista Holiday Market in LA, today we're spotlighting new vendor Beth Katz of Mt. Washington Pottery, best known for her handmade bells and talismans. 

    Detect a hippie vibe? Born into a creative family, Beth grew up in Topanga Canyon, Southern Cal's bohemian central, where from an early age she learned to make things from clay. While working for years as an in-demand LA makeup artist and magazine creative director, she kept up her pottery practice. A stint studying spiritual psychology in New Mexico pointed her in a new direction, and in 2014 she set up a professional studio and decided to devote herself to ceramics full time. Beth says a longstanding love of Japanese art, Scandi simplicity, and shades of white inform her work. And though she now lives in LA's Mt. Washington neighborhood, she's still clearly a Topanga artist at heart.

    Los Angeles readers: Come see Beth's work firsthand at the Remodelista LA Holiday Market this Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6, at Big Daddy's Antiques at 3334 La Cienega Place, near Culver City. Market hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.


    Above: Beth Katz in her studio, 10 minutes from her house in a burgeoning area known as Frogtown. She says she often works with a combination of stoneware and porcelain, and both hand-builds and uses a wheel to make her pieces, including her signature bells. Photograph by Ted Catanzaro.

    Above: Studio still life: To keep track of current work, Beth pins drawings of orders in progress. Photograph by Nicole LaMotte.

    Above: Hand-formed Column Mugs come in two sizes and a range of glazes, including Cloud shown here. Photograph by Diana Koenigsberg

    Above: Inspired by good-luck strings of chiles and lemons Beth saw hanging on doors in India, she started making her own porcelain and stoneware versions that she calls Talismans. For display on a wall or door, they're intended to "keep homes and businesses safe from all evil spirits and promote happiness and prosperity."

    Above: Wabi-sabi stoneware plates. Similiar designs will be at the Remodelista Market. Photograph by Nicole LaMotte.

    Above: Tiny Simple White Bells and fluted Peace Bells hang from the rafters in Beth's Mt. Washington home in front of a wall of family portraits painted by her uncle David Rosen. Photograph by Nicole LaMotte.

    Above: Beth is currently busy making canisters especially for the Remodelista Market. Sized for holding sugar and coffee, they come with a wooden scoop carved by an architect friend. See more at Mt. Washington Pottery.

    California is calling: Take a look at an inspired Topanga Canyon Surf Shack on Gardenista.

    For more previews of our Remodelista Holiday Markets in LA and SF check out:

    Go to the Remodelista Los Angeles Market and the Remodelista San Francisco Market for the full details.

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    After spending the week exploring British design, our editors are headed to LA today to set up for this weekend's holiday Remodelista Market. Catch up with their favorite trends on both continents:


    Above: The Victorian spirit of a terraced house in North London is resurrected, gently, in A Sympathetic Renovation in Stoke Newington, London.


    Above: Julie is admiring Nostalgic Lighting Inspired by the Battersea Power Station in London.


    Above: Will you be in LA this weekend? Join us for our holiday Remodelista Market, with more than 30 of our favorite ceramists, weavers, jewelers, clothing designers, and housewares vendors. We will be in residence from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at at Big Daddy's Antiques at 3334 La Cienega Place near Culver City.


    Above: Alexa rethinks her opinion of floral needlepoint after seeing its effect on An Eclectic Bedroom in Somerset, England.

    Ilse Crawford London bedroom houseplants house plants ; Gardenista

    Above: Designer Ilse Crawford's London Flat Hits the Market, and we're wondering if the house plants are included in the asking price?

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    If you're in LA today, be sure to stop by and see us at our holiday market at Big Daddy's Antiques, 3334 La. Cienega Place near Culver City, 10 to 5. It's a one-stop holiday event with wares from up-and-coming makers, as well as Gardenista favorites.

    And here are some things that have caught our attention this week. 

    Hyacinth-Houseplant-of-the-Month-Gardenista obsessions  

    • Above: Leave it to the hyacinth to brighten up a winter's day. Image by The Flower Council of Holland via Flowerona.
    • A culinary journey we'd love to take next summer. 



    • Above: To make: matcha chocolate truffles. Photo via The Chalkboard.
    • Twenty one gift ideas for the gardener in your life. 
    • Over on Remodelista: an eclectic English bedroom.


    • Above: DARA Artisans is giving Gardenista and Remodelista readers a chance to win a $1000 gift card to shop its global collection; now through December 9.
    • Outdoor holiday decorations done right. 

    Instagram and Pinterest Picks of the Week


    Above: We vicariously go on the colorful deliveries of Farmgirl Flowers through the team's Instagram feed (@farmgirlflowers).


    For more Gardenista, take a look back at this past week's English Gardens issue. 

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    This week in the world of gardening and nature news: Christmas tree farms use helicopters to pack and ship trees, the first UN soil report is bleak, and we've used even more of the world's fresh water than we thought. 

    Tom Stuart-Smith to Head New RHS Garden 

    Tom Stuart-Smith Garden in Snow | Gardenista Garden News

    Above: Photo via 9 Garden Ideas to Steal from England's Tom Stuart-Smith.

    In an earlier edition of Garden News, we alerted you to the Royal Horticultural Society's plans to create a fifth flagship garden—"RHS Garden Bridgewater" near Manchester. The society has appointed landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith as master planner and designer of the garden, which is slated to open in 2019. Read the story at the Telegraph

    Global Soils in Poor Health

    Soil Section from National Geographic | Gardenista Garden News

    Above: Dried soil near Grand Junction, Colorado, has white marks of evaporated salts. Photo via National Geographic. 

    On World Soil Day, December 4, the UN released its first worldwide assessment of the health of soils worldwide. The report reveals sobering stats about soil health: excessive cultivation has drained soils of nutrients, urban sprawl has covered once-farmable lands with impermeable surfaces, and soils are drenched with chemical waste from human industry. Why does it matter? World soils will need to produce 70 percent more food globally by 2050, and soil holds enormous potential for containing the carbon emissions that are causing climate change. Read the story at National Geographic

    UK Landscape Institute Annual Awards

    Kinnear Landscape Architects Win | Gardenista Garden News

    Above: Brentford High Street project is the overall winner. Photo via Kinnear Landscape Architects. 

    On November 26, the UK's Landscape Institute awarded 2015's top prize to Kinnear Landscape Architects for a public project connecting the West London suburb of Brentford with the River Thames. The award comes in a good year for Kinnear, which designed the landscape of this year's Stirling Prize-winning Burntwood School in London. Other winners include James Corner Field Operations and LDA Design for the South Park Plaza at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and J&L Gibbons for London's Walpole Park. See all the winners at Horticulture Week

    We've Used Even More Fresh Water Than We Thought

    Freshwater Basin in New Zealand | Gardenista Garden News

    Above: Milford Sound, New Zealand. Photo via Trover

    A recent analysis of global water basins suggests that humans have drained more of the world's fresh water than previously thought. The study, published this week in the journal Science, suggests that human freshwater consumption is 18 percent higher than recent estimates would suggest. The reason is that efforts to divert and save water actually increase rates of evapotranspiration, the process by which water leaves the land into the atmosphere. Read it at the Washington Post

    Oregon Ships 6-7 Million Christmas Trees Each Year

    Christmas Trees in Light Snow | Gardenista Garden News

    Above: Photo via Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm

    Smithsonian magazine reports that most Christmas trees take from 7 to 12 years to reach their full height and require constant coaxing into the right shape as they grow. The bulk are grown in Oregon, where the harvest season begins at the end of summer in order to send six to seven million trees around the world by December. Large tree farms hire helicopter pilots to airlift trees into trucks for global distribution. Read it at Smithsonian

    More from this week: 

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    We're feeling festive this week. Join us for tips to add holiday curb appeal, a visit to a twinkly gardening shop (dressed for the weather), and step-by-step instructions for outdoor lights.

    Table of Contents: Holidays on Ice; Gardenista

    Above: To make a silvery holiday floral arrangement, see Justine's DIY: Winter Romance in a Silver Brunia Bouquet.


    Tiny front porch outdoors christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Add instant holiday cheer with this week's Curb Appeal tips.


    Zetas Tradgard Stockholm garden shop ; Gardenista

    Above: Christmas, Scandinavian style. We visit Stockholm to get holiday decor tips from the city's top gardening shop in today's Shopper's Diary.



    Above: Homemade (and homegrown) beauty and health products are among the offerings at our newest favorite Bay Area garden emporium, dressed for the holidays in today's Shopper's Diary post.


    outdoor holiday lights garland ; Gardenista

    Above: By all means, spend Saturday afternoon stringing holiday lights from the eaves. But do it safely, please. We've got tips in this week's Hardscaping 101 post.


    Remodelista Market Haeth Ceramics SF ; Gardenista

    Above: Are in in San Francisco? Join us this weekend for our first-ever two-day Remodelista Market at Heath Ceramics in San Francisco. We'll be there Saturday and Sunday with more than 30 of our favorite local artisans and craftspeople (including some new vendors we can't wait to introduce to you).

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    'Tis not the season to repaint the front door or replace the fence. But a well-placed garland over an entryway or the golden glow from a candle in the window can add instant curb appeal (and make guests feel welcome). Here are 11 ways to spruce up for the holiday season:

    Outdoor Ornaments

    Winter curb appeal hang apples from tree branches ; Gardenista

    Above: A tree adorned with apples as ornaments. Photograph via Vita Verandan.

    Hang baubles on a tree or shrub near the front door.

    Double Up

    Winter curb appeal wreath on gate ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Little Villa Vita.

    Twin wreaths, or any mirror-image decor, will create a pleasing symmetry.

    Light the Way

    Botanical ice lanterns curb appeal ; Gardenista

    Above: Botanical ice lanterns; for step-by-step instructions, see DIY: Botanical Ice Lanterns

    Place candles, lanterns, or luminaria lanterns on stoops or alongside paths.

    Swag Swagger

    Winter curb appeal garland porch railing ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Little Villa Vita.

    Drape a garland over a railing. For evergreen garlands or roping, see 10 Easy Pieces: Garlands and Boughs to Deck Halls.

    Tiny Tree

    Tiny front porch outdoors christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Pinterest.

    Put a miniature holiday tree on the front porch.

    White Light

      Wrought Iron Fence New Orleans, Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Brian Gille Architects.

    If your house is painted white, light the facade with floodlights to make it look snowy (even in a warm climate).

    Multiplier Effect

    Christmas wreaths window ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Armelle.

    Hang identical wreaths in the windows to match the one on the front door.

    Dress Window Boxes for the Weather

    Winter holiday window boxes ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Liesa Johannssen.

    Add evergreen boughs, small birch logs, and twinkly lights to create a woodland vignette in a window box.

    Fire Escape

    winter fire escape | gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    Garlands and a strand of little white lights goes a long way in the city.


    holiday wreath candle window ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Min Lilla Veranda.

    Put a candle in the window—or even better, several candles in several windows—to welcome guests with golden light.

    Shovel a Front Stoop

    boot scraper snow front steps ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Bob Vila.

     It makes it look like you're ready for company—and it's easier for the mail carrier to deliver holiday cards.

    For more holiday curb appeal inspiration, see:

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    Ubiquitous at this time of year, poinsettias are often dismissed as too common, or worse, too tacky. (The fact that their pots come swathed in garish foils doesn't help.) This holiday season, I set out to see if I could reimagine this common Christmas plant—and turned it into a cut flower in an exotic holiday bouquet.

    Read on for materials and step-by-step instructions:

    Photography by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, white poinsettia, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Already better: simply replanting the poinsettia from plastic into an earthy Italian pot makes it looks more warm and natural. And by removing some of the excess leaves, you can also see the more dramatic form of the plant. Each bloom looks like a firework.

    Native to Mexico and Central America, poinsettia's (Euphorbia pulcherrima) commonly come in red, pink and white. For my bouquet, I chose a white poinsettia plant from my local grocery store.


    • White poinsettia plant
    • Branches of berries or rose hips
    • Evergreen boughs (I used leucothe)
    • A footed vase or bowl
    • Floral foam (available at most craft stores)
    • Candle
    • Sturdy scissors or shears


    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, rose hips, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: To emphasize the newly discovered wild warmth of my cream colored poinsettia, I chose an unruly spray of persimmon rose hips. These are quite common. I have them in my yard.

    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, leucothoe, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Found at Winston Flowers (my favorite local florist), the lush, variegated foliage and crimson buds of Leucothe seemed the perfect complement for my Christmas arrangement. Note: if you can't find leucothe (you know, that shrub with the clusters of small, white, bell flowers that bloom in spring), then any similarly expressive green will do.

    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, non-floral supplies, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Besides flora, for this bouquet you will need: a pedestal bowl, wet floral foam (available at most craft stores), a candle, and sturdy scissors or shears.

    Step 1:

    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, constructing the base, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: When working with foaming in a shallow bowl, you want to distribute the weight of your specimens evenly on all sides. Otherwise the foam may float and your bouquet will tip.

    Cut your foam, if necessary, and place it in the bowl with water. Gently turn the foam over to make sure it's completely saturated.

    Then begin layering your longer pieces (rose hips and leucothe) on each side. First ,measure the specimen to determine the right length. Then give the stem a fresh diagonal cut, leaving about 1.5 inches excess to stick into the foam. Note that you don't want too much stem in the foam as these will get in the way of the opposite branches and can cause the foam to break apart. Continue to add plants, alternating from one side to the other until your get the desired base. 

    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, base, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: My base, constructed.

    Step 2:

    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, poinsettia sap, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: After the poinsettia is cut, a milky sap will bleed from the stem and cause the flower to die quickly. To prolong the life of a cut poinsettia flower, it is necessary to sear the stem before you place it in water. 

    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, searing a poinsettia, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: After cutting the stem to the desired length, sear it by holding the end over a flame, turning it around to scorch all sides, for about five seconds. 

    Poinsettia bouquet with rop hips, seared poinsettia stem, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: A seared poinsettia stem will prevent the sap from bleeding, and still will allow the plant to draw water. Note that it is not necessary to sear where you removed leaves. Only the main stem needs to be cauterized.

    Step 3:

    Poinsettia bouquet, adding flowers ; Gardenista

    Above: Place four or five seared poinsettia flowers toward the center of the arrangement in front and in back.

    Poinsettia bouquet with rose hips, finished arrangement 2, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: An explosion of holiday cheer. In a silver pedestal bowl, my poinsettia bouquet is both wild and formal.

    Poinsettia bouquet with rose hips, finished arrangement detail, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: A long lasting arrangement; after being seared, cut poinsettia flowers will last more than a week.

    Poinsettia bouquet with rose hips, finished arrangement, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: My bouquet graces the corner of my dining room. Next year I may try pink poinsettias with purple privet berries. Or, if I'm feeling really adventurous, I might even attempt something with the red poinsettias (perhaps pairing them with  white gooseberries and black pearl amaryllis).

    Explore more outside-the-box ways to arrange this common holiday flower in Christmas Miracle: 5 Poinsettias That Aren't Tacky. And then there's always the poinsettia cocktail, served at during A Woodland Holiday Party.

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    On a snowy day, photographer Justina Bilodeau dropped in for a visit on the old Dyer-Hutchinson farm in southern Maine (in operation since 1787) and found out where Christmas trees come from:

    Photography by Justina Bilodeau.

    The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: According to a deed dated January 1787, the farm's original acreage cost "nineteen pounds, ten shillings, lawful money of said commonwealth, well and truly paid."  

    The Dyer-Hutchinson farm been in continuous operation ever since (and remained in the possession of a Hutchinson until 1991).  Owned today by the Cox family, The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place has for the past decade been growing cut-your-own balsam fir Christmas trees.

    The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: It takes 12 years to grow a full-size Christmas tree.

    The Old Farm Christmas Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: Seedlings start life in a greenhouse; in year five, they are transplanted to farmland to mature for another seven years.

    old-farm-christmas-tree-farm-Justina-Bilodeau-gardenista-0015.jpg Above:

    Above: Smaller trees are tagged red or blue depending on whether they're meant for tabletop or a tiny living room. When it reaches a height of 7 feet, a tree graduates to a white tag; those sell for $57 apiece. 

    The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: "When a Christmas tree is cut, over half of its weight is water," note the proprietors. The more water it retains, the longer it will stay fresh.

    The Old Farm Christmas Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    A tip: "Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree."

    The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: As soon as you get a Christmas tree home, the proprietors say, you should "place the tree in water as soon as possible...Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty."

    The Old Farm Christmas Trees in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: Native to North America, a balsam fir (its Latin name is Abies Balsamea) is mainly grown nowadays as a Christmas tree. Its needles are flat, and curl up, 

    The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: Strings of cafe-style lights lend a festive air to the tree lot.

    <p The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: Cut, stacked, and ready for delivery, 7-foot balsam firs lean against a fence.

    The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: Planting them in straight rows makes it easier to mow, fertilize, and shape the trees as they grow.

    The Old Farm Christmas Tree Place in Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: Balsam firs have a strong, aromatic scent that fills a room.

    Abies balsamea Christmas tree farm Maine ; Gardenista

    Above: From its original 6.5 acres in 1787, the farm grew to nearly 50 acres by 1991, when Margaret Hutchinson died. Built in 1790, the original farmhouse still stands.

    Wondering what kind of Christmas tree to buy? See:

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    Not everybody has room for a monster Christmas tree. We've rounded up 10 tiny live or fresh-cut trees and topiaries, just right for a tabletop or front stoop (including some you can plant in the garden after the holiday season ends):

    Tabletop live Christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: A fresh-cut Tabletop Noble Fir with blue-green needles measures from 3 to 4 feet high and comes with an iron bucket for display; it is $78 from Terrain.

    Tabletop grand fir Christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Pulled from the greenhouse the day it is shipped, a 4-foot Live Grand Fir tree can be planted in the ground after the holiday season ends (if you have enough space in your landscape for a tree that at maturity will reach a height of 300 feet). It is $24.99 plus $31.64 for shipping from Jonsteen Company via Amazon.

    Tabletop live Christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: A 3-foot-high fresh-cut Tabletop Fraser Fir farmed on the Blue Ridge Mountains has soft needles and comes with a tree stand. It is $59.99 (and ships free) from Blue Ridge Christmas Trees via Amazon.

    Tabletop live Christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: A Tabletop Balsam Fir with shiny dark green needles measures from 3 to 4 feet high and comes with an iron bucket for display; $68 from Terrain.

    Tabletop Christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: A 36-inch-high fresh-cut Fraser Fir Christmas Tree grown in North Carolina comes with a stand and is $39.95 from Plow & Hearth.

    Tabletop live Christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: An aromatic Tabletop Balsam Fir Tree is 4 feet tall and is $67 from Hill Top Tree.

    Tabletop boxwood Christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Standing 20 inches tall, a Miniature Boxwood Tree topiary is $87.95 from Gardens of the Blue Ridge.

    Tabletop live miniature Christmas tree; Gardenista

    Above: A Rosemary Tree wrapped in burlap is 20 inches tall (including its pot) and would look just right draped in a string of miniature lights; $29.95 from Sur La Table.

    Tabletop live Christmas tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Potted in a birch container, a Lemon Cypress has bright chartreuse foliage and is 18 inches high. It is $39.95 from Jackson & Perkins.

    Lemon Cypress cone tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Arriving on your doorstep in a red tin pot, a Holiday Lemon Cypress Cone Tree comes in two sizes (small and large) and is from $39 to $49 depending on size from Napa Style.

    Are you in a holiday mood? See:

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    Calling all Bay Area readers: This weekend at the Remodelista Holiday Market in San Francisco, 40-plus vendors will be offering everything from small-batch furniture and tabletop designs to fashion accessories we swear by. Among the most irresistible? The kids' wear from four favorite West Coast designers. Here's a sampling.

    Saturday and Sunday, December 12-13, the Remodelista Holiday Market will be in the factory space at Heath Ceramics at 2900 18th St. in the Mission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

    Above: Les Petits Carreaux's Daisy Dress Saphire Blue of machine-washable Japanese cotton is made in San Francisco. The label is a joint venture between three mothers who work together between SF and Paris. See founder Stéphanie Ross's Grand but Understated Paris Flat—discovered when Izabella fell in love with her kid's designs at last year's holiday market.

    Above: Also stitched in SF, the Ulla Wrap Dress Abstract Shibori is by longstanding Remodelista favorite designer Dagmar Daley. Take a look at Dagmar's Disappearing Home Office and tour her kitchen and bathroom in the Remodelista book.

    Above: From Flora & Henri, an alpaca Mor Mor Nu Smocked Hat, Steiff Miniature Teddy Bear, and European Baby Zipper Boots in copper leather. The Seattle boutique has branched out to women's clothes and housewares. See more here.

    Above: Julie and Ibrahima Wagne of Petel met when she was in the Peace Corps stationed in Mauritania, West Africa, and he was teaching biology. Now based in the Bay Area, their housewares and fashion company uses Mauritanian textiles and creates the finished designs in SF. Their new children's line includes the Petel Petite Pattern Dress of hand-dyed wax-printed cotton (above left) and the Petel Petite White Dress (above right). Ten percent of proceeds from Petel Petite goes toward creating jobs for women and funding children's education in Ibrahima's village of Boghé. 

    We hope to see you this weekend! Go to Remodelista San Francisco Holiday Market for all the details.

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    Nearly everything Jennifer Lee Segale sells in her Garden Apothecary shop in Half Moon Bay, California is grown locally or made by hand. This includes her all-natural line of skin and beauty products:

    Photography by Mimi Giboin.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Segale, who grew up in Half Moon Bay and has been designing gardens for 15 years, opened the tiny shop (next door to the local feed store) last year.


    Above: Segale grows some of the plants she sells on a farm on the edge of town and also sells a selection of unusual varieties of California-cultivated tilandsias—some fuzzy, others with long branches, and still other varieties with pale, gray-blue complexions. 

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Custom-made copper trowels and hand forks "are tough, sturdy tools that also look amazing," says Segale.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Frosted glass bottles with corks are "a simple, inexpensive way to store liquids beautifully," says Segale.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Fresh mistletoe branches were gathered locally; white-and-gold porcelain bud vases are from Honeycomb Studio.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Pumpkin seeds are ready to plant.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Before there was a brick-and-mortar store, there was a line of all-natural bath and beauty products called Garden Apothecary. Horticulturalist Segale manufactures them herself with plants she grows (including citrus and herbs) and with cacao she and her husband collect on trips to Belize. "My first product was a simple rosewater mist, a face and hair fragrance," she says. Also available online, a bottle of Rose Leaf Flower Essence is $26.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Decorated for the holiday season, the shop has evergreen wreaths and a Christmas tree covered in handmade ornaments.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Segale sells a large selection of terra cotta pots from Massachusetts-based Campo de' Fiori.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Branches with clusters of eucalyptus seeds will last for months without wilting.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Suspended from a vintage wooden ladder at ceiling height are a selection of holiday wreaths in various sizes, including a square wreath adorned with lavender flowers.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: A cacao pod from Belize has two dozen seeds which, when harvested, can be dried, roasted, and ground by hand for use in beauty and health products. Segale sells bars of Raw Cacao Soap in the shop as well as online, where prices range from $4.50 to $18.50 depending on size.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: California bay leaf wreaths curl and and darken prettily after a week or two.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay, CA : Gardenista

    Above: An edible cleanser, Half Moon Bay Local Honey also is for sale online; $14.50 for an 8-ounce bottle.


    Above: Christmas ornaments for sale.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: Among the one-of-a-kind vintage items for sale are a trove of 18th-century spectacles; $60 apiece.

    Garden Apothecary Half Moon Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: The shop has no land line so don't try to phone to ask when it's open (10 am to 6 pm-ish, seven days a week). Segale answers email promptly; if you need to reach her, Contact Jenn.

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    When I set out to make a wreath that could hold its own for the whole holiday season, my first thought was to forage. I imagined twists of grapevines and tangles of bittersweet woven into an elaborate wreath to last through the New Year. But living in a city, I knew it would be hard to find these in the wild—and too expensive to buy them from florists.

    Instead, I decided to make a wreath from materials that are easy to find in farmers’ market. For less than $20, I bought enough eucalyptus and sage to make an aromatic, silvery wreath.

    Eucalyptus leaves will last indefinitely. Sage leaves will become dry and brittle over the course of a few weeks, but will retain their shape and color through the holiday season.

    Photography by Erin Boyle for Gardenista.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista


    • Dark Annealed Wire; 20 gauge; $5 for 50 feet from Brenda Aschweder Jewelry on Etsy (or use a ready-made Wreath Ring; a 6-inch ring is $2.49 from Joann Fabrics)
    • Floral wire
    • 1 large bunch eucalyptus
    • 4 or 5 bunches of sage
    • Work gloves (optional)

    While I found it easier to use bare hands to put this wreath together, eucalyptus can get sticky. You might want to use gloves when handling it.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I used thick annealed wire to make a wreath frame, and thinner floral wire to secure the greenery to the frame.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: To make the frame, I formed the annealed wire into a double circle and twisted the ends to secure the frame. If you’d like to make the project even simpler, you can use a wreath ring, like the one listed above.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I picked over the greenery and discarded tattered or yellow leaves before I attached it to the frame.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I began attaching small bundles of stems to the wreath frame. I started the process by compiling a small bundle of eucalyptus. 

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I secured the first bunch of stems to my frame using thin floral wire. 

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista  

    Above: After adding the eucalyptus, I added a bunch of sage and attached it to the wire frame an inch or two behind the top of the eucalyptus bundle so that the two overlapped. As I continued adding new bunches to the frame, I sometimes secured my bundle at two points to be sure that none of the leaves flopped too far away from the frame.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: As I added the bundles, I made sure all the stems pointed in the same direction.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: After I finished covering the frame, I found it helpful to place the wreath on my work table, where I could look at it from above and identify areas that I wanted to fill in. When a section needed more, I lay the stems flat against the back of the frame and discreetly secured the bundle by wrapping floral wire around both stem and frame, making sure to not crush too many leaves in the process. Happily, the large eucalyptus leaves are fairly forgiving and excellent at covering the places where I secured extra filler greens.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: In the end, my wreath had a loose, organic shape.

    eucalyptus and sage wreath by erin boyle | gardenista

    Above: I hung my wreath on an existing hook inside my apartment—the 4-inch Iron Hook ($6) from Brook Farm General Store. If you’re looking for something that doesn’t require screws, you might choose an over-the-door wreath hanger instead. A Large Brushed Black Wreath Hanger is $5.49 at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

    For another long-lasting holiday wreath, see DIY: A Succulent Wreath To Display All Year.

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    Belgian architect Bruno Erpicum transformed a small stone outbuilding, creating a glass-walled, one-bedroom bed and breakfast in the Belgian countryside. Maison Roly rents for $170 a night (also available is an adjacent six-bedroom farmhouse.) For more rental details, see Airbnb.

    Erpicum updated the outbuilding by adding steel sheets to the existing structure to create a mezzanine floor. He extended the steel sheets to the outdoors, to fabricate a glass-enclosed living room pavilion with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Go to Atelier d'Architecture Bruno & Partners for more details.

    Photography by Jean-Luc Laloux.

    Belgium glass box outbuilding ; Gardenista

    Above: Erpicum preserved the rustic character of the original stone cottage.

    Bruno Erpicum Belgian stone outbuilding ; Gardenista

    Above: The steel-and-glass room seems to hover in the snow, affording almost-panoramic views.

    Bruno Erpicum Belgian stone outbuilding ; Gardenista

    Above: The former outbuilding now operates as a bed and breakfast.

    Bruno Erpicum Belgian stone outbuilding ; Gardenista

    Above: The setting is bucolic in all seasons.

    Maison Roly Airbnb Belgium ; Gardenista

    Above: In warmer months, the terrace is a sunny spot to sit.

    Bruno Erpicum Belgian stone outbuilding ; Gardenista

    Above: The glass walls intentionally blur the distinction between indoors and out.

    For more garden design ideas from Belgium, see:

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