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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    It was on a Kenyan safari that the owners of Cresto Ranch in Cresto, a tiny town in southwestern Colorado, figured out a new use for their historic property: they'd pitch African-style canvas tents in an alpine clearing and introduce full-frills resort camping to the Rockies.

    A year later, the original 19th century log farmhouse has been turned into a base lodge and dining room. And eight canvas tents have been fitted with cast-iron gas stoves, writing desks, teak lounge chairs, en-suite bathrooms, and, most notably, king-sized beds made up with glam-rustic linens. Days at the ranch are spent horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, doing yoga and pilates—and recovering in the spa tent. As Vogue put it, "At Cresto Ranch the only survival skill one needs is the ability to book a massage."

    Above: Each of the eight tents comes with views of 14,000-foot Wilson Peak or the rushing Dolores River. They rest on 16-by-40-foot wooden platforms and consist of a steel framework hung with heavy cotton duck that is water repellent and mildew resistant. Inspired by four-star African safari accommodations, they were custom designed by Reliable Tent & Tipi of Billings, Montana. The resort is open in the summer only; off season the canvas is removed and stored within each tent's weatherproof bathroom. 

    Above: The tents sleep two in king-size beds or two twins. Laura Aviva of l'aviva home masterminded the linens: she cloaked the beds in crisp white cotton duck that echoes the tent fabric and is squared off to fit crisply over the sheets and blankets. These slipcovers were designed to work well in a rugged setting and to provide a clean backdrop for l'aviva home's frazadas, vibrant traditional blankets handwoven in Bolivia. Frazadas were also repurposed as pillows backed with Belgian linen. Yes, the tents are electrified and have hot and cold running water.

    Above: The tent platforms extend 10 feet to form a covered deck. The teak steamer chairs were sourced from Golden Teak.


    Above: L'aviva home's frazada throws are reimagined versions of age-old Andean designs. They're made of alpaca, a miracle fiber that's hypoallergenic and as soft and luxurious as the best heavy-weight cashmere.

    Above: The bathrooms are shed-like structures within each tent. They're built from Zipsystem's weatherproof roofing and wall sheathing and are clad in corrugated tin with beadboard ceilings and slate floors. Each has twin vanities (with towel warmers), as well as 6-foot-long, extra-deep bath tubs that double as showers.

    Above: Cresto Ranch's owners, businessman Christoph Henkel of Canyon Equity and old master art dealer Katrin Bellinger, are German and love biergarten tables and benches for outdoor dining. The ones on Cresto's farmhouse deck are made by Roost from pine and steel and are available from Scarlett Alley.

    Above: The farmhouse tables are surrounded by foldable canvas and wood safari chairs imported from Kenya. The tin ceiling panels were purchased from an antiques dealer in Pennsylvania for $5 a sheet—a bargain until it was discovered that they came with lead paint and had to be stripped and repainted.

    Above: Cresto Ranch's sister resort, the equally luxe Dunton Hot Springs, is just four miles down the river. A restored 1885 mining town that's open year round, it consists of 12 handhewn log cabins, no two alike, in a spectacular mountain valley. Elevation: just under 9,000 feet.

    Above: The cabin furnishings are far ranging. Forge, shown here, has Mexican antiques and a low arched doorway that leads to an expansive bathroom.

    Above: Dunton was built around hot springs and retains its original, now fully restored bath house, which offers indoor and outdoor dips. The resort is so picturesque that Ralph Lauren and the Sundance Catalog recently staged holiday shoots on the premises. And the food and wine (from Dunton's own vineyard down valley) are first-rate, too: Bon Appetit magazine ranks it the No. 4 getaway in the country for food lovers. All of this, of course, comes at a cost: both Dunton and Cresto operate as all-inclusive resorts priced comparably to the best hotels. For the full details on each, see Dunton Hot Springs.

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    When writer Calvin Rutstrum's Wilderness Route Finder was published in 1967, it was described in the New York Times, rather drily, as "a camping guide." That was putting it mildly.

    Chapter One of the wilderness classic was called "Getting Rid of Delusions," and in it, Mr. Rutstrum wrote, "Man cannot walk in a straight line or otherwise maintain a directional course without relying on some tangible clue wholly apart from his own instincts." Fifty years later, Mr. Rutstrum's sound advice for navigating unfamiliar terrain remains in print:


    Above: A 224-page softcover copy of Wilderness Route Finder is $18 from Best Made.

    Above: Mr. Rutstrum, the author of 15 books (mostly about camping, canoeing, or generally navigating the wilds), died in 1986.

    Above: Graphic illustrations to describe and explain such topics as how to use a compass.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published Aug. 3, 2012.

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    When the sun comes out, UK natives tend to lose the plot. They dress inappropriately and look for somewhere, anywhere, to cool off. The heat wave we've been hoping for has finally happened this summer, and a wild swimming craze has taken hold. Helpfully, Daniel Start has written a series of wild swimming guides (details below), telling us of the most beautiful—and most safe—places to swim. Here Daniel talks us through his favorite swimming holes in the UK and France.

    All images via Wild Swimming Britain and Wild Swimming France.

    Wild swimming, UK. Gardenista

    Daniel Start's Top 10 Best Swimming Holes: UK & France

    1. Pamphill, Dorset Stour (UK) The Stour is one of England’s iconic rural rivers. At Pamphill the river opens up in wonderful, wide meanders with a deep ford and a bridge. Float downstream for miles on the sun-dappled current as mayflies dance and fronds of water buttercup tickle your toes. Follow path upstream from small carpark outside Pamphill village, near Wimbourne Minster. 

    Wild swimming, UK. Gardenista

    2. Faerie Pools, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland (UK). Famous "Allt Coir a Mhadaidh" pools and waterfalls, tinged with pink and blue hues, set under the mystical peaks of the Black Cuillins. Crystal clear water and underwater arch to swim between pools. Shown above.

    Wild swimming, UK. Gardenista

    3. Grantchester Meadows, Cambridge (UK). Take tea in Grantchester and enjoy a length of river that has changed little since Edwardian times. It was here that Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf, and other brilliant minds gathered to camp, picnic, and swim naked. Anywhere along the meadows is good for swimming, particularly on the outside of the bends where the river deepens, often to more than 6 foot, so just lay down your picnic blanket, pour cream on your strawberries, and soak up the by-gone atmosphere. Shown above.

    Wild swimming, UK. Gardenista

    4. River Dart at Newbridge (UK). River pools and sandy bays, oak gorges, and towering tors. The River Dart is the setting for Charles Kingsley’s The Waterbabies and one of the most beautiful wild-swimming rivers in the UK. Dense woodland tumbles down the side of the moor, a light spray lifts off the water and the forest twitters with birdsong. 

    Wild swimming, UK. Gardenista

    5. Tongue Pot, Eskdale, Lake District (UK).The Esk is a delightful mountain stream that tumbles down from England's highest mountain peak, Scafell Pike. "Tongue Pot" is the most beautiful of the many pools. Just beneath a packhorse bridge in a rocky cleft, about an hour’s walk from the road, a long emerald pool has formed beneath a waterfall at the meeting of two rivers. A white pebble beach shelves down on one side and an oak tree overhangs. Shown above.

    6. Waterfall Woods, Brecon Beacons (UK). The "Waterfall Woods" abound with natural pools and the sound of falling water. Sgwd Gwladys, or Lady Falls, occupies a giant amphitheater rimmed with a lip of dark black gritstone. Moss and fern grow in profusion in this misty microclimate, and many say this is the most beautiful waterfall in Wales. 

    Wild swimming, France. Gardenista

    7. The river Loue (France) is one of many rivers that emerge from huge underground springs. At Mouthier-Haute-Pierre, it still glows luminous with minerals, and is still very cold. Shown above.

    8. Lac d’Ilay (France) is in the Jura region, a remote and empty land with countless lakes and waterfalls.

    Wild swimming, France. Gardenista

    9. The Célé (France) is a tributary of the Lot, and with shallows and beaches it is perfect for families. This is a wooded bay near Marcilhac, a beautiful village with ruined monastery. Shown above.

    10. The Lac de St Croix in Provence (France) is one of its largest. The limestone geology of the area gives the lakes an azure hue and it remains warm for swimming until late October.

    11. Quieter than the Dordogne, the Lot (France) also enjoys many impressive châteaux and fine villages. Once a working river, at Chemin de Halage the old tow path, cut from the cliff, is an excellent place to access the river, with good jumps for the brave. 

    12. In the Massif Central, source of many of France’s greatest rivers, the landscape is characterized by basalt from ancient lava flows. At the Pont du Diable, near Thuyets (France), deep green pools have formed, perfect for swimming and snorkelling.

    For more must-see spots, see Wild Swimming: 300 Hidden Dips in the Rivers, Lakes and Waterfalls of Britain by Daniel Start (May 2013); £16.99 and Wild Swimming France: Discover the Most Beautiful Rivers, Lakes and Waterfalls of France (May 2012); £14.99.

    Don't think you'll make it across the pond anytime soon? Wild Swimming California will be published in June 2014. Visit the Facebook Page for updates. 

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    In western Montana, on the southern shore of the biggest freshwater water lake west of the Mississippi River are 200-foot-tall Ponderosa pine trees, osprey nests, and a cabin sitting atop a sheer granite cliff that locals call "the Matterhorn." Can you imagine the views?

    The Flathead Lake cabin by Texas-based architects Andersson-Wise is built on top of six steel piers anchored in concrete blocks on the cliff is the definition of a rustic retreat: no heat, no air conditioning, and water is pumped in from the lake.

    Photographs via Andersson-Wise.

    Cabin on Flathead Lake, Montana by Andersson-Wise via Gardenista

    Above: Grasses, Ponderosa pine, and a crushed stone driveway help the cabin blend seamlessly into a quintessential American West landscape.

    Cabin on Flathead Lake in Montana, Andersson-Wise  l Gardenista

    Above: Sited to take advantage of the lake views, the 600-square-foot cabin sits atop six steel piers.

    Deck and view from cain on Flathead Lake in Montana by Andersson-Wise via Gardenista

    Above: The wood slat floor on the deck (R) are an extension of the interior wood floors. 

    Room with a view at cabin on Flathead Lake in Montana by Andersson-Wise via Gardenista

    Above: The living room has screened walls and a view of Flathead Lake. The cabin "is a protected porch, made like a piece of furniture," says architect Arthur Andersson.

    Cain on Flathead Lake wood siding by Andersson-Wise via Gardenista

    Above: Rough wood beams and paneling bring the outdoors in.

    Facade of cabin on Flathead Lake by Andersson-Wise via Gardenista

    Above: The cabin has a small kitchen, a bathroom, and a shower.

    Twilight at cabin on Flatbead Lake by Andersson-Wise via Gardenista

    Above: Osprey and eagles nest in the area.

    For more of the architects' work, see Architect's Visit: Andersson-Wise Architects in Texas.


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    If you haven't felt the solid weight of an axe in your hands recently, we suggest a visit to Best Made Co.'s new shop in downtown Manhattan.

    Designer Peter Buchanan-Smith founded Best Made Company in 2009 because he saw the need for a better axe. In 2010, Best Made partnered with one of oldest axe makers in the United States to develop the American Felling Axe. Today, the company sells three distinct axe types with handles in a variety of striking designs. At Best Made Co., the axe is seen foremost as "a tool for survival and productivity," but beyond being a mere wilderness tool, the axe is seen as a symbol of other admirable virtues. Namely, the four the company cherishes most: courage, compassion, grace, and fortitude. 

    In addition to crafting singularly impressive axes, Best Made Co. continues to add carefully wrought products to its catalog of goods, including bags, camp supplies, first aid kits, wearable goods, and a series of limited edition silk screened maps.

    Best Made Company has already duly impressed online shoppers with crisp photos of products with compelling back stories. For shoppers who like to touch things before buying, the new storefront at 36 White Street is an opportunity to interact with the goods in person.  The space also functions as design headquarters for the company and a space for classes: axe restoration, field medicine, and foraged cocktails have all made the lineup recently.

    Photographs by Erin Boyle.

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: Inside the shop, a charcoal gray pegboard displays shop wares and cherished artifacts, alike.

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: The impressive wall of the Best Made Co. Axe Collection.

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: Colorful handles make for a compelling design element on the axe handles, but the folks at Best Made remind us that an eye-catching axe handle is practical too: good for spotting axes in the wood at the woodpile. 

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: An axe and leather cover emblazoned with C.C.G.F.; the acronym for the company's four favorite virtues.

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: The Best Made Ditty Bag; $124.

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: Shelving features Best Made goods, including the First Aid Kit ($89) and "Big Jug" of Organic Maple Syrup ($72).

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: Neatly arranged in a prototype of an oversized tool box, Best Made includes the Audubon Field Guide Series ($375) among goods the company carries to complement proprietary designs.

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: A stack of Seamless and Steadfast Enamelware Plates ($35), Bowls ($35 for a set of two) and Utility Pots ($32).

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: On the pegboard: The Davy Lamp; $180.

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: An inspiration wall of sorts in the back of the shop.

    best made co. | gardenista

    Above: Colorful pendant lights cheer up the communal space in the rear of the shop; designed by Brooklyn-based Rich Brilliant Willing. A similar Bluff City 8-inch fixture is available at Roll and Hill; $550.

    best made co. | gardenista

    For more details about the shop, visit Best Made Co. or head there in person; open Wednesday to Sunday, from noon to 7 pm.

    For more wilderness equipment, see 7 Emergency Kit Essentials.

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    It was bound to happen: a California events company takes camping to the next level, with European canvas tents, Pendleton blankets, leather butterfly chairs—sommelier optional.

    Husband and wife team Kelsey and Mike Sheofsky are the duo behind Shelter Co., which they call "a pop-up luxury camping service." The couple has partnered with properties in wine country, Big Sur, Santa Ynez, and Joshua Tree (more venues are on the way) to provide "curated outdoor experiences"; recent happenings have included a backyard birthday party in Brentwood, a wine tasting at Scribe Winery, and a campout at Leonard Lake Reserve.

    Tents start at $750 per weekend; go to Shelter Co. for more information.

    Above: A campsite at Leonard Lake Reserve in Mendocino County.

    Above: Dining in the wild.

    Above: Dining involves proper glassware, china, and table linens.

    Above: When evening falls, bonfires are lit.

    Above: Tents are outfitted with Pendleton blankets, 400-thread-count cotton sheets, and down pillows and comforters.

    Above: An emergency kit.

    Above: Board games are provided.

    Above: A chef at work.

    Above: A backyard bonfire in Brentwood.

    Above: A mix of rustic outdoor seating at a Brentwood fete.

    Above: Cofounders Kelsey and Mike Sheofsky.

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    "Sleeping bag tech has made its way into the space age," say our friends at Gear Patrol, camping aficionados and world's most discerning judges of outdoor equipment. "Your 20-year-old sleeping bag from summer camp is no longer up to snuff."

    10 Best Sleeping Bags  - photo from A Restless Transplant

    Photo by Foster Huntington for A Restless Transplant

    After an exhaustive Gear Patrol investigation of everything there is to know about water-resistant breathable fabrics and synthetic insulation and temperature ratings and 800-fill down, and warmth-to-weight ratings and about a zillion other variables, the editors came up with the 10 Top Sleeping Bags to take backpacking. Here's the list (go to Gear Patrol to get the full scoop):


    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    1. REI Igneo: Best All-Around Sleeping Bag; $339. Thanks to its 800-fill down and superlight shell, the Igneo is one of the lighter bags on our list. Sporting a new waterproofing coat developed by Toyota and a performance cut, it does away with some of the frills but none of the comfort.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    2. Marmot Cloudbreak: Best New Tech Sleeping Bag; $199. Marmot's body-mapping technology puts their Thermal R Micro insulation in all the right places to keep you warm without overheating. Their dual-hood closure is also a novel feature: different shaped shock cords around the head and neck keep you comfortable rather than tightening the hood like a noose.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    3. Stoic Somnus 15: Best Mountaineering Bag; $350. The Stoic features a center zip rather than the side zip seen elsewhere, a design element originally developed so climbers could stay in their bag while roped up on a big wall. ...Weighing in at under two pounds, it's easily one of the lightest bags in our line-up.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    4. Sierra Designs Pyro Maniac 15/30: Most Versatile Sleeping Bag; $227. The Pyro Maniac splits the difference between ultra warm and lightweight. It's got an optional down comforter that buttons into the main bag for added warmth down to 15° during spring and fall camping.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    5. Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Down: Best Budget Sleeping Bag; $100. Bottom line: If you're an ultralight hiker planning a week-long trek, this probably isn't your bag. If you're looking for a car camping bag, you're good to go.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    6. Eddie Bauer First Ascent Karakoram +20°: Most Comfortable Sleeping Bag; $349. One of the most feature-rich bags on the list. A roomy foot box, interior pocket for essential gear, and full-length draft collar and baffles round out a nearly perfect bag.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    7. Sierra Designs DriDown Zissou 15 Degree: Gear Patrol Editor's Pick; $271. If you're worried about getting wet and willing to pay a little premium, the Zissou is your best bet to stay warm and happy.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    8. Feathered Friends Hummingbird Nano: Best Ultralight Sleeping Bag; $389. It may be the most expensive bag on the list, but ounce for ounce, the Hummingbird is one of the warmest around. A 1 lb. 10 oz, this bag can be compressed down to the size of a Nalgene bottle.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    9. Sea to Summit TkII: Best Recreational Travel Sleeping Bag; $249. The TkII is no slouch when it comes to repelling water, but what really sets it apart is the attention paid to the fill patter: none of the 650-fill down is wasted in unnecessary baffles or quilting.

    10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking | Gardenista

    10. L.L. Bean Katahdin 20: Best Updated Sleeping Bag; $169. L.L. Bean recently updated the insulation in the Katahdin to PrimaLoft Synergy, which is the only insulation on the market that is inherently water repellent. A Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment is woven into the insulation and lining to ensure you stay dry no matter the conditions.

    Wondering where to go with that new sleeping bag? Check out our favorite Hike of the Week destinations, from Ireland's Diamond Hill to the Cliffs of Menorca to Colorado Gold Rush Territory.

    Prefer to sleep off the ground? See Remodelista's 7 Classic Canvas Cots for Summer Slumber.

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    Not for the faint of heart: the Canvas Hotel, featuring extreme cycling in Norway. Founded by a Norwegian mountain bike enthusiast, the resort offers guided biking (for all levels) throughout the neighboring granite hills and forests. After a day of biking, guests can enjoy one of the portable soaking tubs or take a quick dip in the lake before retiring to the comfort of a yurt. Bare bones luxe, duly earned. For more, go to Canvas Hotel.

    Above: One of several portable hot tubs for soaking at the end of the day.

    Above: Mountain bikes at the ready.

    Above: The interior of one of the wool-lined yurts that sit on wooden platforms covered in rugs.

    Above: Each yurt comes with its own wood burning stove.

    Above: The communal dining yurt.

    Above: The table set for dinner.

    Above: The surrounding granite terrain.

    See Earn Your Wildnerness Stripes at the Minam River Lodge if wildness adventure and a wood-fired hot tub strike your fancy.

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    As an urban gardener with two measly window boxes to my name, my most vivid daydreams involve waltzing out to a vegetable garden to find tomatoes and salad greens going gangbusters. There'd be a peach tree, too. With more fruit than I could possibly eat myself. 

    One day.

    Until then, my sister Laura's impressive garden allows me to live vicariously. In the middle of the Wallowa Mountain in Eastern Oregon, Laura's learned a few tricks for managing a garden that needs more than your average tender, loving care. 

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    This is what Laura has to say:

    "For the past two seasons, I have been gardening at the Minam River Lodge, in remote Eastern Oregon. Without the option of popping over to a garden center, and with a short season that includes late frosts, droughts, wildlife, temperature extremes, and limited daylight, I've come up with some crazy gardening schemes."

    Here's her advice for the wilderness gardener:

    1. Break the Rules.

    You know that teasing line on seed packets that tells you how many days to harvest? Ignore it. In most remote locations, the gardening books and blogs just don't apply.  Heck, most gardens have their own micro-climate anyhow. Rather than compare your plants to the schedule they "should" follow, notice what they are telling you from their size and stature. For me, this means embracing green tomato recipes and worrying less over the petiteness of my plants in August.

    2. Use What You Have.

    Call on your inner eco-nerd! Rather than ship in supplies over the mountains, I use what we have on hand as much as possible.  We use recycled milk and orange juice jugs for potting up seed starts and have been known to plant herbs in old coffee cans.  Eggshells from our ladies [the chickens] and coffee grounds make a great mid-season fertilizer. We use the horse manure and hay from the property for our compost and rocks from near the river to line the beds. We also use our weeds—comfrey, mint, and lamb's quarter grow on their own out here. Comfrey conditions the soil and makes compost break down faster, so our compost piles co-exist with a huge swath that we let go wild.

    3. Extend Your Season.

    Advice about using your local resources notwithstanding, we do bring in the supplies that will make a difference. Our indispensable asset, Agribon Row Covers—$119 from Grow Organic—protect our spring and fall crops from frost. Lightweight and sturdy, the magic blankets are also useful for insect control and as a makeshift barrier against hungry deer. In line with rules No. 1 and No. 2, we made our own version of mini hoop houses (deviating from the standard PVC recommendation).  We used scrap wood on site to make A-frame style houses. Their sides can be fully rolled open during the hot days, perfect for our heat-loving summer plants. 

    4. Buy Seeds or Plants Specific to Your Region.

    Most gardeners I know, myself included, just cannot resist growing tomatoes, or melons, or some other "reach plant" for their area. Within reason, I don't fight this impulse. I do make sure to buy varieties that suit my climate. Using local seed companies can help, as their varieties often list where the parent plants originally grew. I bought seeds from Wild Garden Seed and Seed Savers Exchange.  Whenever I saw the words "Russian steppe" or "Nebraskan winter" in the description, I knew I was headed in the right direction.

    5. Go Perennial.

    Learning the land takes time, so I was reluctant to put in long-lasting herbs and vegetables. But as I observed from our beautiful rhubarb, sorrel, and mint patches, the land can do just fine without my worrying. In remote locations, especially, perennial plantings save time, money, and effort. Most perennial plants are hardier and require less water, frost protection, and fertilizer. Make sure you protect the plants from deer pressure and you're good to go. An old-timer's gardening tip I learned from the local pilot's wife: Hang dryer sheets on the fruit trees and berry bushes you want to protect…less muss and fuss than packets of soap shavings, and the deer will be just as befuddled by the fresh laundry scent.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Makeshift containers for potting up seed starts and transplants.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Laura planted orach—a salad green that's native to the Alps and sometimes called Mountain Spinach. Organic 'Aurora' and 'Mountain Magic' orach varieties are available at Wild Garden Seed for $3 a packet.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Laura's partner, Adam, watering the kale and chard crops. 

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Plans are in the works for a greenhouse built of locally sourced lumber; in the meantime, Laura and Adam have built a serviceable temporary solution from lightweight materials. In the foreground, comfrey by the compost pile.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Summer squash in the A-frame-style hoop houses designed and built on site.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Pea plants get wrangled with stakes made from fallen branches and string.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Cut-up aluminum cans will deter deer.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Chicken coop for the Lodge's three happy chickens.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Meet Sassy, Felicity, and Jumper.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Laura's impressive stand of wilderness sunflowers.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: A recent harvest of beets and carrots.

    growing vegetables in the wilderness | gardenista

    Above: Laura Boyle; wilderness farmer extraordinaire. If you have questions for Laura, feel free to ask them in the comments section below (yes—there's wi-fi in the wilderness, too!). 

    Read more about the Minam River Lodge where Laura's growing food.

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    An entertaining essential for post-sunset affairs: here are our top five oil lanterns for the stylish camper.

    Above: Toast's Storm Lantern is made in Germany from blue powdercoated steel with a glass hurricane; fueled by paraffin for £29.

    Above: The Skagerak Bollard Oil Lamp is currently on sale $190 from Fjorn Scandinavian.

    Above: The Stelton Lamp, created in 1990 by Copenhagen-born designer Erik Magnussen for Stelton, is $689 for the 17-inch lamp from Horne.

    Above: The Feuerhand Lantern is completely crafted in Germany (since 1902) with a heat-resistant globe and special sealing for no risk of leakage. The lamp provides 20 hours of light on a full tank and packs well for the campsite; $42 from Old Faithful Shop.

    Above: The W.T. Kirkman No. 1 Cold Blast Lamp is made from galvanized steel and is $18.95 from W.T. Kirkman Oil and Electric Lanterns.

    Shop our 115 Outdoor Lighting Picks in our Best Products section.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on July 30, 2012.

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    Yesterday on Remodelista we featured an Antwerp bed-and-breakfast establishment that unapologetically celebrates a style we think of as faded glory meets Wes Anderson. Essential to the Boulevard Leopold look: soaring ceilings and attention-grabbing potted plants allowed to run amok in a manner not encouraged since the Victorian Age:

    Photography by Ben Lambers and Tatjana Quax of Studio Aandacht for Design Tripper.

    Above: The plant on the left is a philodendron—what else?—but not just any philodendron. There are 900 species; to create a jungle in the breakfast room, Boulevard Leopold's owners chose a philodendron with a lacy bifurcated leaf.

    Above: For a similar look of a plant with deeply cut leaves, consider a Philodendron Selloum, native to South America; a two- to three-year-old plant is $39.95 from Palm Trees Online. In Brazil, the split-leaf philodendron grows in rain forests and prefers partial shade and quick-draining soil. Photograph via Exotic Rain Forest.

    N.B.: For more, see "Boulevard Leopold: Forgotten Glory in Antwerp."

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  • 08/29/13--08:00: The New Superfood?
  • A new ancient grain is edging out quinoa as a life-extending superfood (at least in my house): amaranth.

    Amaranth and quinoa both are high in protein, can be milled into flour (a complex carbohydrate alternative to white white flour), and produce beautiful feathery plumes of seeds that look dramatic in a floral arrangement. So what makes amaranth superior?

    Purple Amaranth leaves in the garden via Gardenista

    Photograph by Kristen Taylor via Flickr.

    Answer: amaranth leaves are as delicious as amaranth grains. In a different way, of course.

    Amaranth leaves add a slightly sour kick—think kombucha-meets-lettuce—to a salad. (Yes, quinoa apologists, I know you can also eat quinoa leaves. But they're a little too leathery for me.)

    Amaranth is easy to grow; last year I planted some in a sunny spot and noticed that its growth and vigor quickly outpaced the other leafy greens in the vegetable bed.

    Power user tip: pick amaranth leaves when they're young and still tender (as Above) and toss them into the salad mix.

    amaranth in the garden at slide ranch via Gardenista

    Above: Photographs by Katie Newburn for Gardenista.

    About 60 different species of amaranth have been identified; there are purple varieties, as well as yellow, green, red, and orange.

    Purple amaranth leaves in bowl via Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Shanti, shanti via Flickr.

    A favorite grain of the ancient Aztecs, amaranth mysteriously fell out of widespread use after the fall of that civilization for reasons that remain unclear. Researchers at the National Academy of Sciences have speculated the reason was that a small-seeded plant like amaranth needs to be babied and is harder to grow than a large-seeded plant like corn.

    Amaranth seedlings in pot via Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Kelli Campbell via Flickr.

    Milled into flour, amaranth has a distinctive taste that reminds me of grass. In a good way. Check back: tomorrow we'll be posting my favorite recipe for banana bread made with amaranth flour.

    For more ways to use amaranth micro-greens, see A Chef's Secret Rooftop Garden.

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    What do you get when a blacksmith from Montana discovers a passion in gardening? A line of gorgeous, hand-forged, heirloom-quality garden tools.

    Above: Made in Bozeman, Montana, by Tuli Fisher (Fisher Blacksmithing), each tool is individually built using traditional blacksmithing techniques. Steel is heated to a red glow in the forge and then shaped over the anvil with a hammer. All joinery is done using solid steel rivets. Then, each tool is set into its own hand-turned durable American black walnut handle creating a long-lasting garden tool with no welds.

    Above: The Fisher Blacksmithing Three Tined Garden Rake (or cultivator) digs in and removes debris and loosens soils. It is also good for catching runners and grass roots under the surface; $50.

    Above: The Fisher Blacksmithing Large Garden Trowel is $50.

    Above: This narrow hand-forged 13-inch long Fisher Blacksmithing Perennial Trowel is strong enough to use as a weeder and also has serrated edges along one side for cutting twine and separating roots; $50.

    Above: The Fisher Blacksmithing Square Blade Hoe is great for weeding against the edges of raised beds, edging, and rockery; $50.

    Above: The ultimate gift (hint, hint), the Fisher Blacksmithing Set of Five Hand Forged Garden Tools includes (top to bottom) a large trowel, perennial trowel, three tine rake, pointed hoe, and square hoe; $250.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published on October 1, 2012.

    Read more of Gardenista's Garden Tool Features.

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    Our friend Jason Heaton over at Gear Patrol has rounded up a list of the five best American peaks to climb. He writes, "Moutaineering can be an intimidating sport to get into: all that gear, the dizzying heights, and tales of frostbite-blackened digits aren't necessarily warm and fuzzy things."

    We'd agree.

    "But, " he continues, "if you have the urge to sample the rarified air up high, there are still some peaks that are accessible to the novice alpinist right here in the United States."

    Now we're listening. In the spirit of wilderness adventures, here's Jason's list. Full details on Gear Patrol.

    5 Best American Peaks | Gardenista

    1. Mount Washington, New Hampshire (6,288') Photograph by An Orchard Away.

    5 Best American Peaks | Gardenista

    2. Longs Peak, Colorado (14,259') Photograph by Bo Insogna.

    5 Best American Peaks | Gardenista

    3. Mount Shasta, California (14,179') Photograph by Matt Dirden.

    5 Best American Peaks | Gardenista

    4. Grand Teton, Wyoming (13, 775') Photograph by Jo Munday.

    5 Best American Peaks | Gardenista

    5. Mount McKinley, Alaska (20,320'). Photograph by Denali Interactive.

    For a gentler selection of hikes, browse all of our Hike of the Week posts.

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  • 08/30/13--03:00: DIY: Amaranth Banana Bread
  • The only problem with my grandmother's banana bread—perhaps the most delicious thing I ever tasted, by the way—is that a more accurate description of it would have been banana cake. With white flour, butter, and enough sugar to make your teeth ache, it was impossible in in good conscience to call it anything but dessert.

    Nowadays I make a healthier amaranth flour version that I can slice, toast, and eat for breakfast without a twinge of guilt. Here's the recipe:

    (N.B.: For more about the health benefits of amaranth, see Amaranth: The New Superfood.)

    DIY Amaranth Banana Bread Recipe via Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Gnom Gnom.

    I like Whole Foods' recipe for Amaranth Banana Bread. In addition to being delicious, it's a forgiving recipe you can't really mess up—and it takes under five minutes to mix the batter. And if you don't have any bananas? Substitute 1 cup of shredded zucchini (I know you have a zucchini or 20 you'd like to get rid of) to make Amaranth Zucchini Bread instead.

    Whole Foods' Amaranth Banana Bread


    • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 3/4 cup amaranth flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/3 cup fat-free plain yogurt
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil, more for the pan
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, divided


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a standard size loaf pan.

    In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat and amaranth flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, yogurt, oil, and sugar. Add banana mixture to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in 1/2 cup walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan and top with remaining 1/4 cup walnuts.

    Bake one hour or until bread is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly on a rack and then loosen the edges of the loaf with a knife before removing it from the pan.

    Feel like cooking this weekend? See 68 more Garden-to-Table Recipes, including 5 Delicious Ways to Eat Flowers .


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    In Rock the Shack: The Architecture of Cabins, Cocoons, and Hide-Outs, Sofia Borges and Sven Ehmann describe how for the first time, city dwellers outnumber people living in rural areas. The antidote to urban chaos? Rural retreats (cabins, shacks, cottages, tree houses, even cocoons).

    Photography via Dwell.


    Above: Rock the Shack is available from Amazon for $38.48.


    Above: This beach hut is completely mobile. Located in Waikato, New Zealand, and designed by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects (see more of the project at A Portable Beach Cabin, Sled Included). 

    Above: A studio located in Newfoundland and designed by Saunders Architecture (see more at The Northernmost House: Fogo Island Artist Studios).

    Above: The interior of one of the Fogo Island Artist Studios by Saunders Architecture. 

    Above: This home was prefabricated prior to reaching its final destination: Easter Island in Chile. The home was designed by AATA Arquitectos. 

    Above: A cabin by German-based Atelier st Gesellschaft von Architekten merges with nature by its large glass window. 


    Above: This home is located in the woods nearby Tokyo, Chucu, Japan, and built by Koji Tsutsui & Associates.


    Above: The interior of the home shown in the above photo. Located in Tokyo, Chucu, Japan, and built by Koji Tsutsui & Associates.

    Above: An A-framed home with panoramic views in Catalonia, Spain, designed by Cadaval & Sola-Morales. 

    Stock your end of the summer library with books from our list of Required Reading.


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    On a steep, wooded lot in Mill Valley, California, the challenge was to add two studio spaces—one for an artist, one for yoga—without disturbing the soaring redwood trees surrounding an existing main house.

    "We definitely wanted to make this project as 'green' as possible, and to have it be visually integrated into the land," said architect Jonathan Feldman. The solution was two separate buildings, nestled on flat sites against the hillside. The lower studio, visible from the windows above, got live plants on the roof, mimicking a common style in environmentally conscious European cities. (In Stuttgart, for example, green roofs cover 25 percent of the real estate, the result of public policy originating with Europe's "green party" movements in the 1970s.) Here's how Europe's modern vernacular translates to Northern California:

    Photography by Joe Fletcher.

    Above: "The view from the upper house looks down on the other studio, and we didn't want the client to be looking out at a metal roof," Feldman said.

    Above: The cedar-sided studios have a pre-weathered stain, to give them a patina that requires no further maintenance.

    Above: Landscape architect Jori Hook and the client, an avid gardener, worked together to choose plants for the roof. "The property is landscaped in a very natural and sensitive way, with native plants," said Feldman.

    Above: "We thought it would be very fun for the client to have a roof garden to take care of," Feldman said. "You don't need a ladder or special rock climbing skills. You just have to hop on."

    Above: "Green roofs are heavier than normal roofs, so you have to build a structure more stoutly," Feldman said. "We don't take our green roofs lightly in earthquake country."

    Above: The view from the Lower Studio, used for yoga.

    Above: "We had hundreds of trees that we were dealing with, and protecting them was a challenge," Feldman said. "The only two we took out were unhealthy trees that were ready to go anyway."

    Above: In the Upper Studio. "The lot is in a forest, so it's not super sunny, but it faces east and does get good morning light," said Feldman.

    For another of our favorite forest gardens, see The Ultimate Creekside Cabin.

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    This handsome reprint of Bradford Angiers' 1965 classic How to Stay Alive in the Woods has been popping up on shop shelves lately and it's caught our eye, too. The guide is full of straightforward, earnest, and practical advice for folks who might just find themselves lost in the woods.

    In case you think he's talking about someone else, he isn't.

    The tone and language in the book is at times charmingly out of date, but the advice has stood the test of time. Angiers is encouraging:  "The wilderness is too big to fight. Yet for those of us who'll take advantage of the offerings, nature will furnish every necessity." 

    How to Stay Alive in the Woods | Gardenista

    Above: How to Stay Alive in the Woods is available for $19.95 from Terrain.

    How to Stay Alive in the Woods | Gardenista

    Among those necessities, food. Above: colorful illustrations of edible vegetation.

    For another wilderness classic, see Required Reading: Wilderness Route Finder.

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    Snoop Dogg is a gardener (who knew?), Picasso's house and garden are for sale, and we almost missed it all because we spent the week in The Wilderness:

    Lake Como, Montana via Gardenista

    Camping this weekend? Bundle up and eat well.

    Rhythm and beets: Meredith clued us in to Snoop Dogg's adoption plans

    round outdoor mirrors hang in trees via Gardenista

    Mirror, mirror. Who's the fairest?

    Seaweed madness.

    Tongue Pot, Eskdale, Lake District

    Tongue Pot, the new "it" destination. 

    Thank you, Daniel Start, for divulging hidden secrets.

    Bets on whether Michelle can keep her fiddle leaf fig alive for another week?

    Destination: Dim Sum.

    picasso's house in provence via Gardenista

    Above: Photo via Corcoran.

    A Belgian art dealer is asking $220 million for a Provençal manor house with a special provenance. (And have you seen those painterly views?).

    Foolproof weekend menu.

    Andersson-Wise cabin

    Above photo via Andersson-Wise.

    We're nomophobics. But can make an exception

    If Heidi is excited about Punch, count us in too.

    Carmon Almon's Bordeaux apartment.

    Laura Boyle by Erin Boyle, via Gardenista

    Erin has a very, very talented little sister.

    There's a softer side to kale.

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    Last lazy weekend of summer? Here are five books good enough to keep you awake even while you're lying in a hammock:

    the drunken botanist via Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    Here are cocktail-friendly plants from the garden from author Amy Stewart, whose The Drunken Botanist offers amusing facts about history, horticulture, and mixology. The Gin and Tonic recipe is a real keeper, by the way.

    Piet Oudolf planting bood via Gardenista

    Above: Are you starting to think about planning the spring garden? In Planting: A New Perspective, superstar garden designer Piet Oudolf offers detailed planting plans for how to get his unstudied "layered look."

    potted herbs houseplants windowsill urban garden via Gardenista

    Above: In The Edible Balcony, British author Alex Mitchell offers urban gardeners tips on how to turn even the tiniest space into a thriving kitchen garden.

    Bring the Outdoors In DIY book via Gardenista

    Above: Itching to break out the glue gun? Bring the Outdoors In by Shane Powers offers step-by-step instructions for 20 DIY projects featuring live and dried plants.

    The Best of Christopher Lloyd book via Gardenista

    Above: British gardener Christopher Lloyd was the champion of the modern cottage garden—and champion of the cozy, rambling essay that exalts same. In The Adventurous Gardener, you can pick up tips on the basics: pruning hydrangeas ("delay until spring"); growing violets from seed ("sow in a pot or box in autumn"), and paving a path ("square blocks look unbearably monotonous"). Take him with a cup of tea.

    Browse through 47 more of our favorite Cookbooks, Landscape Design Books, and Required Reading reviews.

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