Articles on this Page
- 12/10/13--12:00: _Garden Visit: The G...
- 12/11/13--03:00: _A Beautiful Mess: E...
- 12/11/13--06:00: _Baby, It's Cold Out...
- 12/11/13--08:00: _Tiny Trees: Window ...
- 12/11/13--10:00: _Jewels by JAR, Insp...
- 12/11/13--12:00: _Holiday Aphrodisiac...
- 12/12/13--03:00: _DIY: Snowballs for ...
- 12/12/13--06:00: _The Perks of Being ...
- 12/12/13--08:00: _DIY Patio Planter: ...
- 12/12/13--10:00: _DIY: Botanical Wall...
- 12/12/13--12:00: _A Very Chartreuse C...
- 12/13/13--03:00: _DIY: A 5 Ingredient...
- 12/13/13--06:00: _Gift Guide: For the...
- 12/13/13--08:00: _Rose Hip Wreaths Fr...
- 12/13/13--10:00: _DIY: Gilded Holiday...
- 12/13/13--12:00: _Christmas Tree in a...
- 12/15/13--03:00: _An English Gardener...
- 12/16/13--03:00: _Landscape Architect...
- 12/16/13--08:00: _Shopper's Diary: Li...
- 12/16/13--08:30: _Christmas Miracle: ...
- 12/10/13--12:00: Garden Visit: The Glow of Anglesey Abbey
- 12/11/13--03:00: A Beautiful Mess: Effortless String Lights
- 12/11/13--06:00: Baby, It's Cold Outside: Gifts for the Winter Gardener
- 12/11/13--08:00: Tiny Trees: Window Boxes to Last All Winter
- 12/11/13--10:00: Jewels by JAR, Inspired by the Garden
- 12/11/13--12:00: Holiday Aphrodisiac: Why Mistletoe is Welcome at Parties
- 12/12/13--03:00: DIY: Snowballs for the Christmas Tree
- 2.5-inch glass balls, such as Clear Glass Ornament Balls With Silver Tops; six for $12 at Save on Crafts.
- Tallow Berries; 20 stems for $12 from Save on Crafts.
- 3/8-inch Gray Velvet Ribbon; 2.50 for three yards from Talksite via Etsy.
- Metallic gray paint, such as Martha Stewart Living Thundercloud; $5.48 for a 10-ounce can from Home Depot.
- 12/12/13--06:00: The Perks of Being a Pale Blue Wallpaper
- 12/12/13--08:00: DIY Patio Planter: Frosty Winter Whites
- 12/12/13--10:00: DIY: Botanical Wallpaper to Greet Holiday Guests
- 12/12/13--12:00: A Very Chartreuse Christmas in a Tiny Apartment
- 12/13/13--03:00: DIY: A 5 Ingredient Holiday Cocktail Party
A bottle of bubbly (Champagne, Prosecco, Cremant de Bourgogne...anything that you like)
A slab of fresh Greek feta
A hearty loaf of fresh bread
A bunch of fresh rosemary
- 12/13/13--06:00: Gift Guide: For the Armchair Gardener
- 12/13/13--08:00: Rose Hip Wreaths From The Hedgerow
- 12/13/13--10:00: DIY: Gilded Holiday Decor
- 12/13/13--12:00: Christmas Tree in a Bottle?
- 12/16/13--03:00: Landscape Architect Visit: A Historic Farm, Ocean Views Included
- 12/16/13--08:00: Shopper's Diary: Liberty of London's Floral Fabrics
- 12/16/13--08:30: Christmas Miracle: 5 Poinsettias That Aren't Tacky
For impact, a few winter trees and shrubs are the equivalent of a double border in summer. Winter gardens require more imagination than effort. A glowing group of stems, slowly stripped of leaves, followed by snowdrops: that's a third of the gardening year taken care of. We go to Cambridge in England to learn from The Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey.
Photographs by Kendra Wilson. Photography shot with the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 digital SLR camera. Small in size, enormous in performance.
Above: A trio of Mahonia, Cornu,s and Acer palmatum glow against a dark backdrop of yew.
Above: Cornus sanguinea 'Winter Orange' against the "ghost bramble" Rubus cockburnianus. In the UK, Bluebell Nursery has Cornus sanguinea 'Anny's Winter Orange' for £15 per 3-liter pot.
Above: Choose a rose with excellent spikes and pretty yellowing leaves which do the whole genus credit, like this 'Mount Emei' rose. An easier-to-find variety, with more pronounced, red "winged" thorns is Rosa pteracantha, available in the UK from Burncoose Nurseries: £10.50 per 3-liter pot. Rosa pteracantha is available seasonally in the US at Annie's Annuals; $19.95 for a 1-gallon pot.
Above: Banks of Cornus, a winter monoculture which can be as effective as a trio of different species.
Above: The amazing box elder (Acer negundo), with warm-hued willow (Salix alba) nearby. Almost everything is pollarded in this garden including these trees, as the young growth reacts to cold. The more frost, the more a winter garden glows. Acer negundo 'Kelly's Gold' is available in the UK for £55.74, from Weasdale Nursery.
Above: Not convinced about Mahonia? The flowers are scented for one, and on closer inspection the flowers are rather lovely. They are a good yellow for dismal days. Mahonia x media 'Lionel Fortescue' is available from Burncoose, as above: £14 per 3-liter pot. In the US, the similar Soft Caress Mahonia is available at Michigan Bulb Company for $16.95.
Above: Eye level berries are one of the best things about autumn and winter, usually shining out from dark hedgerows. Cotoneaster lacteus is dripping with berries and would dominate the holly were it not variegated. Variegated plants are a must in dark areas. For UK readers, Cotoneaster lacteus is £4.99 per 9-centimeter pot at Crocus. In the US, a packet of Cotoneaster lacteus seeds is available from Plant World Seeds; $3.59.
Above: This Tibetan cherry looks especially brilliant against a backdrop of yellow cornus. Its bark is stroked frequently by passersby, keeping it shiny and taut. Left untouched, the bark would curl up like wood shavings. A multi-stemmed Prunus serrula like this one gives you more bark to stroke and has a similar effect to a pollarded tree: you can see through it and around it. Prunus serrula is available in the UK from Bluebell Nursery as above, £28 per 5-liter pot. In the US, Prunus serrula is available for $15.95 from Forestfarm.
For more winter color see 5 Favorites: Add Color to the Winter Garden.
There is no such thing as an ugly string of lights. Open the box, unfurl (or not), and let them drape themselves for once. Why should you do all the work?
Above: A 20-foot length of Starry String Lights on copper wire meandered across the back of the sofa and then flung themselves on some tiny trees to nice effect; on sale, a string is $40 from Restoration Hardware. Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.
Above: You know how annoying it used to be when you laboriously wound a string of 300 Holiday Wonderland Christmas Mini Lights ($12.99 from True Value) through a length of garland only to find, at the end of the evergreens, that you were left with a tangle? Solution: leave the leftovers where they fall. Photograph by John Merkl.
Above: Did you open the holiday ornaments box recently to find a tangled clump of lights you forgot to put away neatly last year? Rejoice. Photograph via Curry's Trumpet.
Above: Rope in some rope to hold a strand of lights in place. Pile the results in a corner, and you're done. Photograph via A Merry Mishap.
Above: Practically weightless, Starry String Lights on copper wire will stay wherever you place them. Photograph by John Merkl.
Above: Every year my husband campaigns for colored lights. Captured in a cloche with the air plants, a strand of Martha Stewart LED String Lights (from $7.48 to $14.98) will hold his attention for hours.
Want to get a glow? For inspiration, see our Photo Gallery of Holiday Lights.
Even those who seem impervious to the elements can use a little pampering. Here's our roundup of gifts to help protect, prepare, and insulate the all-weather gardener in your life.
Above: Anything but drab, the Le Chameau Tall Rain Boot in a cheery red is $179 at Terrain. Pair with the luxurious Scott Nichol Soft Merino Knee Socks to keep your gardener's feet warm. Socks available in red or sage and in his or hers sizing; $30 a pair at Ancient Industries.
Above: The practical and luxurious Llama Wool Knit Beanie Hat will keep your gardener warm and stylish in and out of the garden; $89 at Kaufmann Mercantile.
Above: Send your gardener out with a warm drink to ward off the cold. The Snow Peak Insulated Kanpai 500 Bottle is a double-walled vacuum sealed stainless steel bottle that keeps drinks hot for up to six hours. It's $79.95 through Snow Peak. Image by George Chen via Flickr.
Above: The West County Waterproof Garden Glove with ski glove construction and waterproof membrane offers hand protection in wet and cold weather; $32. See 10 Easy Pieces: Garden Gloves for more options.
Above: Give your outdoor gardener a classic vest for layering. The diamond quilted women's Barbour Fleeced Betty Gilet has a fully lined fleece inner and is available in olive, navy, brown, and juniper for $129. The similar men's Barbour Lowerdale Gilet is $179 and offered in dark green and navy, both at Orvis.
Above: Bring the garden to-do list outdoors with an All-Weather Pocket Memo Notebook from Rite in the Rain. It features a soft, flexible cover and all-weather paper that sheds water, letting you write in any weather conditions with a pencil or all-weather pen. It measures a compact 3.5 by 5 inches and is $4.95. The Black Metal All-Weather Pen is $10.95.
Above: Gauge the weather before heading outdoors. Made of unlacquered brass that will darken over time, the Brass Outdoor Weather Station is 4.5 inches in diameter and projects 6 inches from the wall; it's $74 from Rejuvenation.
Still hunting for the perfect something? See all of our holiday Gift Guides.
Sometimes I think it's really the hot cider that I like most at Christmas tree farms. But there's also the chance of thin gingerbread cookies being offered from inside a woodshed with an electric heater and a dusty braided rug. And then, of course, there are the trees themselves and the hunting for the perfect one, bucksaw in hand, being ready at any moment to fell the exemplar.
But living in New York City without an apartment that's big enough to accommodate even the smallest cut specimen, I haven't visited a tree farm in a few years. This year, instead of filling my winter window boxes with wintry cuttings, I decided to create a kind of Christmas tree farm in miniature, right on my Brooklyn windowsill.
Photographs by Erin Boyle. Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.
Above: My tree of choice? Tiny Eurocypress trees. Two-inch potted Eurocypress were available for just $2.50 each on 28th Street and I scooped up a half dozen. I haven't found a great online source, but check with your local florist; chances are you'll find them near the poinsettia.
Above: To get the spacing right, I lay my tiny trees sideways in the window box before digging holes.
Above: To ensure the young plants last through the season, I loosened the roots before planting.
Above: In my larger box, I placed three slightly larger trees, among them a Mediterranean Blue Cypress I found at the flower market (a similar tree is available in 4.5-inch and 6-inch pots for from $7.99 to $19.99 at Hirt's Garden) and a beautiful wispy cypress that I found at GRDN.
Above: To add a floral touch to all that greenery, I added a cold-hardy helleborus. Rather than squeeze the plant into a too-small window box, I potted one up in White Clay Pot from Ben Wolff and propped it nearby. A whole slew of hellebore options are available online from Plant Delights Nursery; the similar Helleborus niger 'HGC Josef Lemperer' is $16.
Above: A tiny but noble cypress next to my white helleborus.
Above: Five tiny trees make one tiny forest.
Above: The view from one window ledge to the other.
Above: My miniature forest, braving sleet and snow and wintry gusts of cold air.
Above: And what else are you supposed to but bedeck a tiny forest with tiny lights? Mine, a string of Starry String Lights from Restoration Hardware; 15 feet for $35.
Joel A. Rosenthal, or JAR as he is known, has built a reputation over the the last 35 years in Paris as one of the world's most exclusive and innovative living jewelers. From now through March 9, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is exhibiting more than 400 of his one-of-a-kind pieces—and it's a truly awe inspiring show.
An American born in New York and educated at Harvard University, JAR moved to Paris following graduation and never left. After trying his hand in a number of ventures, his passion for making jewelry took hold. In 1977, he set up shop in a tiny boutique on the Place Vendome (and later expanded to a larger space down the road) where he continues to make original pieces for collectors and clients, each one beautifully packaged in his famous pink leather boxes with JAR imprinted on the interior silk lining.
High-end jewelry is not something always covered on Gardenista, but this show we felt was worth sharing since most of JAR's work is deeply inspired by the natural world and more specifically flowers and parts of plants. What moves me is the variety of plants he chooses to model, whether in full bloom or bud. He is less interested in straightforward blooms and more in capturing "the role of chance in nature," says Adrian Sassoon, who wrote the essay in the show's catalog.
Lilacs, camellias, cyclamens, pansies, poppies, tulips, roses, hellebores, lily-of the-valley, geranium, even a necklace of carved wood with acorns, mushrooms, chestnut, and oak leaves (which I've dubbed the forager's necklace) are all there. Reading the catalog that accompanies the show is more like reading a quirky nurseries plant list—from pansy and violet garland bracelet to cypress tree brooch. His color sense is truly unique and every piece is an original and very modern. Butterflies, flowers, fruit, vegetables, and animals are recurring themes in his work and are created by the use of traditional and nontraditional materials: aluminum, titanium, steel, wood, silver manipulated with alchemy, beetle wings, coral, shells— and of course a dazzling array of gemstones and pearls.
Above: Raspberry Brooch, 2011.
Above: Poppy Brooch, 1982.
Above: Geranium Brooch, 2007.
Above: Camellia Brooch, 2010.
Above: Lilac Brooches, 2001.
Mistletoe has a pagan mystique which has made it unwelcome in churches but popular at parties. Long considered an aphrodisiac (though the berries are toxic), the kissing bunch pre-dates by millennia the Victorians and their rituals.
The appeal of bringing mistletoe indoors during the winter solstice lies in its evergreen nature. Like spruce and holly, its living greenery reminds us that spring will come. During the colder months outdoors, its parasitic growing habit gives the impression of blithe green globes decorating dark, dormant trees. The Druids and Vikings considered mistletoe to be sacred.
Above: The name "mistletoe" is a Celt translation meaning "dung twig." Seeds are passed from birds and will germinate on the branches of a host tree come spring: They are very sticky.
Above: At Burghley House near Stamford, Lincolnshire, the ancient beeches in the deer park are host to happy colonies of parasitic mistletoe. The spheres, scores of feet in the air, have a decorative effect around the imposing Elizabethan palace. Burghley House was built by William Cecil, chief adviser to Elizabeth I.
Above: The evergreen baubles around the park in winter are complemented by hundreds of deer.
Above: The vibrant green colonies are a far cry from the tiny bunches of mistletoe we often see indoors.
Above: Four years pass between germination and the first berries, and each shoot puts out two new leaves a year. It is a slow business, making these Dr. Seuss-like specimens all the more impressive.
Above: The park around Burghley is one of more than 170 designed by 18th century landscape architect Capability Brown. The ha-ha in the distance is a ditch that provides a seamless barrier between the house and the park, keeping animals and children at bay without obstructing the view.
N.B. This is an update of a post that originally published on December 22, 2012.
Maybe your family's favorite holiday ritual involves grandma's fruitcake, or wacky stocking stuffers, or football on the lawn (what are you, Kennedys?). At my house, we make ornaments: every year since 1972, in fact, when my mother was calling the shots and I was one of many elfin minions with glitter-glue hair and eyes crossed from sequin work.
We still cherish the Disco Era ornaments, of course: Sequined Baby Jesus in an Eggshell gets pride of place at eye level on the Christmas tree every year. But is it any wonder that this holiday season my three daughters and I decided it was time to make some quieter ornaments to play backup to our extensive collection of glitzier baubles?
Inspired the other day by white tallow berries from the winter garden, we made DIY Snowballs for the Christmas tree. As ornaments go, it's a super easy project. Glass balls, velvet ribbon, metallic paint: what's not to love? And miraculously, no one got glitter glue in her hair.
For step-by-step instructions and materials, see below:
Photographs by Ella Quittner except where noted. Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.
Above: Basically, all you have to do is pick tallow berries from their stems, drop them into glass balls (think "snowglobe effect") and tie on a ribbon to hang the ornaments. Here's what you need to get started:
Above: The glass balls came with shiny silver fittings that we wanted to tone down. Martha, Martha, Martha: you've done it again with your line of metallic craft paints. One coat of Thundercloud turns shiny into subdued.
Above: My elfin minions (from L): Zoe, Clem, and Ella.
Above: We opted for gray velvet ribbon to complement Martha's gray paint.
Above: Picking off the tallow berries was easy; they pop right off the stems.
Above: You can fill the glass balls with as many (or few) berries as you want; we experimented with adding a bit of stem for architectural interest.
Above: You can theoretically shake them like real snowglobes, but we were a little scared of shattering the glass.
Above: We cut an 8-inch length of ribbon for each ornament...
Above: ... and tied a bow.
Above: You must have carols playing while you work. Our recommended background music is James Taylor at Christmas ($6.99 from Amazon).
Above: Next year we decided we might add just a touch of glitter to the berries...or a few silver sequins. We all inherited my mother's genes, after all.
Looking for more DIY garden-to-ornament ideas? See Gilded Tree, Inspired by Nature.
For months I anguished over how to pick the perfect wallpaper for a small guest bathroom with no windows. And guess what? I finally found it (well, actually, my friend Stephanie found it—she finds almost everything that looks good in my house) and screwed up the courage to cover the walls. It was perhaps the most difficult decorating challenge I've faced:
Photographs by John Merkl except where noted.
Above: I knew from the beginning I wanted a botanical pattern to bring the garden indoors to a room with no natural light. But a lot of the patterns I considered I rejected because I feared they would feel too claustrophobic on the walls of a room that measures 6 feet by 4 feet (with a 9-foot ceiling).
Above: Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Last spring I narrowed the choices to five patterns I thought were the finalists, and I asked readers to help me pick by voting for No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, or No. 5. Guess what? Readers' votes were split—and everybody had a strong opinion.
"Too country for my taste," a reader named Sonja wrote of a pale blue floral pattern.
Another reader named Cynna advised that "the turquoise Wisteria will make your ceilings look higher."
"You have likely already realized that #1 and #4 suck for many reasons," wrote Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media. "#5 is an easy choice, but better left to model home designers, though it does look good with your hardware."
At that point, I figured I needed to broaden my search for wallpaper (and possibly replace my bathroom hardware).
Many months went by (if this were a movie, we'd see the calendar pages flipping) with me finding a candidate, writing away for a sample, holding it against the wall in the bathroom and ... hating it.
Finally, one day last month my friend Stephanie stumbled across the most beautiful paper—Cole & Son's Egerton, with wisteria vines twined across a pale blue background. She saw Egerton Wallpaper for sale at Anthropologie ($248 a roll). Anthropologie's photos were fantastic; you could really see the painterly texture of the paper.
So I ordered a sample.
Above: And I loved it. There is something at once old-fashioned about the pattern ("it was originally taken from a block print design dating back to sometime between 1910 and 1925," Cole & Son spokeswoman Laura Sage told me) and refreshingly modern.
One thing I really love is that the pattern manages not to look too geometric; of course it has a repeat, but you're not really aware of that. The wisteria looks as if it's meandering haphazardly across the walls.
Above: What do you think? Did I make the right decision? Tell me in the comments section below.
Considering a DIY wallpaper project? See DIY: Botanical Wallpaper to Greet Holiday Guests.
As someone who always seems to feel colder than everyone else, I'll never complain about sunny skies and daytime temps that are reliably in the high 50s. But with our relatively warm, snowless Bay Area winters, it's sometimes hard to get into the spirit of the season. So, as soon as December arrives, I love dressing my porch and patio in plants that show off shades of blue and white to create a look of frost even if we don't actually get a dusting of snow.
Photographs by Meredith Swinehart. Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.
Above: Clockwise from top left, a simple trio of Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety', Juniperus procumbens 'Nana,' and 'Silver Dragon' liriope is all I need to fill my pot with cool hues.
Above: If plant roots look matted when you ease the plant out of its container, use your fingers to scratch loose the surface roots.
Above: 'Emerald Gaiety' Euonymus has showy deep green-and-white leaves on spreading branches that will eventually reach from 2 to 3 feet tall and about as wide. You can buy a 3-gallon plant for $23 from Sooner Plant Farm.
Above: Juniper gets a bad rap, and it's partly because people love shearing juniper into blocky hedges or other oddball shapes—just walk down your block and you're sure to see one of these offenders. But when left to grow in their natural forms, many are quite beautiful. Juniperus procumbens 'Nana' stays low but has a far reach, topping out at just a foot high but spreading as much as 6 feet. Left untrimmed, its branches have a dense, layered look. I always find this one a bit tricky to work with because it's super prickly—when planting it, I wear gloves (usually the extra-thick rose pruning type that cover my forearms) to protect myself from getting too scratched up. Find retailers for this juniper here.
Above: Thin leaves in creamy white painted with long green stripes makes Liriope 'Silver Dragon' extra dramatic, and can instantly brighten shadier spots in the garden. At 10 inches tall and up to twice as wide, it's ideal for pots. Plants are available from Digging Dog Nursery for $7.
Above: I grew this trio in a low, wide bowl and placed the plants close to the edge so they could spill over.
Above: When set close together, the blue juniper is a gorgeous contrast to the other white-edged plants while picking up their green markings. All are evergreen, so will look good year round, though the juniper and euonymus will eventually outrow the pot and will want to be planted elsewhere in your garden, or each given its own pot.
Above: The container looks like real concrete but is actually made of a lightweight polyresin. A similarly shaped pot, the Orinoco Bowl, is available from Potted for $329.
And for more container ideas, check out our Container of the Month gallery.
Gardenista's editor in chief Michelle has been obsessing over botanical wallpaper and trying to Pick the Perfect Wallpaper for a guest bathroom since March. (She even asked readers to weigh in on some flowery patterns she was considering.) With the holidays—and holiday house guests—just around the corner, we persuaded her now is the perfect time to bring the garden indoors.
With help from our partner The Home Depot, we took her shopping for all the equipment and supplies she needed for a DIY wallpaper project.
Photographs by John Merkl.
Above: After we encouraged Michelle gently ("Just pick a wallpaper already!"), she chose a particularly lovely wisteria pattern: Cole & Son's Egerton.
Above: Here's a collection of some of the DIY wallpaper supplies she bought at The Home Depot, including a canvas drop cloth; a wood level; a paint roller and tray; a sponge, and a paintbrush.
Step 1: Prepare for some messiness. Back home and ready to start wallpapering, Michelle unfurled a Canvas Drop Cloth ($11.98) to protect the floor and fixtures in the bathroom.
Step 2: Prepare the walls. The day before she wallpapered, she rolled on a coat of Zinsser Gardz Clear Water-Based Sealer ($109.85 for five gallons at The Home Depot) to provide a water-resistant foundation to the wallpaper adhesive. The sealer dries to a film in two hours; she let it cure overnight before proceeding.
Above: To apply sealer around the edges of electrical outlets, towel bars, and the bases of wall hooks, Michelle used a 1-Inch Economy Chip Brush with a natural wood handle; it's 97 cents.
Above: A Crick 36-Inch Wood Level is $84.99
Step 3: Michelle measured the height of the walls and then cut all the strips of wallpaper. After cutting a strip, she unfurled the roll and lined up the pattern before cutting the next strip. On each strip, she left an excess of 4 inches (so she could trim the top and bottom after hanging).
Step 4: She picked an unobtrusive corner of the room to hang the first strip in case she was not able to match the pattern perfectly on the last piece of paper she hung.
Above: A Martha Stewart Living Natural Sea Sponge is $8.97.
Step 5: Michelle used a sponge to wipe off excess wallpaper paste that seeped through the seams between strips of paper.
Above: Using a razor blade, she trimmed around electrical outlets, towel bar bases, and other wall fixtures. A five-pack of Stanley Heavy-Duty Blades is $1.34.
Above: A wood-handled Finishing Trowel is $7.97.
She held a straight-edged trowel along the top and bottom edges of the paper so she could trim off the excess paper with a razor blade.
Above: Finished—in time for holiday house guests.
Considering a botanical wallpaper to bring the outdoors in? See How to Pick the Perfect Wallpaper.
Holiday decorations take some some tweaking, especially when you're hankering for a change. This year, I started off by going big. I decided that I wasn't going to be wimp out and make a small wall display. No, I was going to go all out. I envisioned garlands with multiple layers of fruit and greens and berries draping from the loft where my husband and I sleep. The staircase leading up to the loft would be swathed in more of the same, no matter if they utterly interfered with the nightly scramble in and out of bed. In my head it was wintry fairyland or bust.
So I trekked to 28th Street, and came home with a Kraft paper torch filled with greens in a palette of chartreuse and lime and something that my 10-year-old self would have called "forest green." For fruit, I bought a bundle of kumquat branches. For a pop of brightness, I chose something that I would normally just call cedar, but Lindsey has taught me it's more likely Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Special Variegated.' For a bit of classic wintry greenery, I had branches of the same dark green pine with cones still attached that I used in my fire starters.
I set to work on garlands and quickly discovered that I wouldn't have materials enough to create quite the look I'd intended—a blessing in disguise. Instead I made swags. Except instead of being tiny, these were robust affairs of a scale better fit for a castle than a studio apartment with a loft. Still, I pressed on. I strung up lights. (This year I had sense enough to use tiny lights instead of the string of inch-long beacons I'd set up last year, nearly blinding myself and the entire block of neighbors.)
When I was finally finished, my husband James came home and smiled. "A little claustrophobic in here, don't you think?" he asked.
Miserably, I agreed. So I started again, with a tempered plan:
Photographs by Erin Boyle. Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.
Above: The remains of my well-intentioned, but entirely too large swags.
Above: I dismantled one of the swags and made iteration number two: tiny wreaths that also proved too much in such a small apartment. Try, try again.
Above: The reckoning. I laid out my materials to take account of what I had to work with and what I could make. Among the loot: washi tape in two shades of green (mine from a Japanese Washi Tape 12-Pack in Rainbow Colors, $30 from Cute Tape); Foil Tape in Brass ($5.49 from Ranger Ink); 24-gauge Gold Floral Wire ($2.55 from Mardi Gras Outlet), and all of my greens.
Above: And then I started taping. Taping and snipping and generally trying to make a little something out of entirely too much.
Above: I settled on a making a kind of two-dimensional wreath, a variation on last year's design in a whole new color scheme.
Above: On the table below, a tiny Christmas tree and tapers because this time of year calls for both.
Above: Over the mirror that hangs above the couch, a simple garland and a view of the wreath wall in the "distance."
Above: Looking down from the top of the stairs, the wreath looks festive, but doesn't make me want to retreat.
Above: On the ledge, I compromised with a much more delicate garland made only of pine and tiny lights. I used 22-Gauge Copper Wire ($5.29 at Home Depot) to fashion makeshift hooks to hold the garland and lights in place. (I used a 15-foot string of Starry String Lights; $40 from Restoration Hardware.) N.B. The lights glow a touch on the green side, a combination of the golden mixing with the blue tint of the LED, I think. In this year's color scheme the color worked well, but I might consider the silver strand in the future.
Above: And there you have it, the finished piece and a reminder that bigger is sometimes not at all better.
'Tis the season for last minute shopping, frantic card writing, and launching headlong into ambitious holiday DIYs. Feeling like you'd rather hole up in your coziest pajamas and watch Love Actually on repeat while munching absent-mindedly on bon bons? I get it. But don't let the busyness of the season overwhelm you. Here, a recipe for a wintry cocktail party that requires only five ingredients (plus a pantry staple or two). Our faithful friend and photographer Olivia Rae James recently captured such a party on camera. As far as we're concerned, it's proof that miracles really do exist.
Photographs by Olivia Rae James. Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker's camera.
A 5-Ingredient Cocktail Party
Above: One of Olivia's friends kicks off the party by popping a bottle of Champagne.
Above: Olivia made what's become a true Gardenista favorite: roasted feta. The process is simple: Slather a block of Greek feta with olive oil, cover and bake at 400 degrees for eight minutes. Drizzle with honey and rosemary and put under the broiler until the cheese begins to brown and bubble. It's a crowd pleaser every single time. For the original recipe, see Roasted Feta with Thyme Honey on Food 52.
Above: Roasted marcona almonds with sea salt and rosemary. Olivia roasted raw marcona almonds in a 350-degree oven with olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary for from ten to 15 minutes, turning with a spatula every five minutes or so to make sure they don't burn. The result is the perfect salty snackable for mitigating the effects of too much Champagne.
Above: The spread, with festive greenery peppered throughout by Lily Peterson.
Above: The sixth ingredient for any good cocktail party: a delicious baby for nibbling...I mean, cuddling.
Above: Cheers to creating at least one holiday event sans stress.
Want to throw a last-minute party? For inspiration, see From Garden to Party: The 7 Best Holiday Cocktails.
Of course every gardener you know is going to spend the winter pruning shrubs, raking leaves, and sharpening tools. But this is also the season for curling up indoors and planning ahead for spring. Is there an armchair gardener on your gift list who's getting ready to settle into a comfortable chair?
Above: The armchair gardener needs something interesting to read. Bound in calfskin and printed on acid-free paper, a National Parks Atlas has maps, travel tips, and offers information on national forests and state parks, as well; $59 from Orvis.
Above: The armchair gardener should be warmed while napping. Hand knit in Peru, Eileen Fisher's Baby Alpaca Knit Throw measures 70 inches by 40 inches and is $348 from Garnet Hill.
Above: Everyone likes a nice hot cup of tea on a cold afternoon. A Kaico Kettle designed by Makoto Koizumi and made of enamel-coated steel with a beechwood handle and maple knob is $150 from Emmo Home. Photograph from Rakuten.
Above: Help the armchair gardener feel productive with a book that will inspire a new planting plan for spring: garden designer Piet Oudolf's Planting: A New Perspective was one of my favorite books of 2013. It's $26.45 from Amazon. Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.
Wreath suppliers can be talked into selling just the basic spruce or—be prepared to fight—moss, wired on to a metal frame. With a circle of willow, anything can be added. All the better to add what you find along the wayside.
This year we've been admiring rose hips:
Above: A monoculture wreath works brilliantly. The clever people at the The Blue Carrot in Devon have chosen dog rose hips and wired them on to a circle of Virgina creeper vine.
Hips are formed on single-flowered roses: wild roses fall into this category. Cultivated roses like Rosa moyesii have festoons of flagon-shaped hips following on from crimson flowers.
Above: Moss is a pretty base and rather wasted at the back of a wreath. Add extra to rough it up, as well as this season's rose hips, larch twigs, pine cones large and small, and what looks like the lining of a bird's nest. This wreath is from The Blue Carrot's "Sleepy Hollow" series, created by Susanne Hatwood.
Wreaths, garlands, and all manner of arrangements made from British cut flowers: by order from The Blue Carrot.
Above: Feathers, twigs, desiccated berries—it's your celebration and there are no rules. Photograph by Sally Mitchell.
Above: A whatever-comes-to-hand wreath by The Garden Gate Flower Company, based in Cornwall. In the warmer southwest, hydrangea is still permissible and mingles happily with pine needles. If it works in the garden, it will work on your wreath. Hips used here include those from the cultivated rose 'Kiftsgate'. The larger orange hips are 'James Galway'; both available from David Austin in the UK.
Any kind of arrangement featuring British cut flowers are made to order at The Garden Gate Flower Company.
Above: An English hedgerow, rearranged and tied together by The Garden Gate Flower Company. The fine needles are from the Bottle Brush plant (Callistemon citrinus). Becca and Maz, the people behind Garden Gate, would like it to be known that they put out large quantities of bird seed in exchange for delving into the birds' winter larder.
Above: A home-decorated but not exactly homemade wreath. Lights for wreaths in soft white or brilliant red are available from Sarah Raven in the UK: £6.95.
Cut to the chase with lights only: A Beautiful Mess: Effortless String Lights.
Creating holiday greenery with foraged plants and a little gold paint is easy and fun. The true beauty of this project lies not only in the results, but in the fact that the outcome—depending on where you live and what's available to you—will always be uniquely your own.
My passion for working with foraged greens (and not-so-greens) is twofold. First, operating within the confines of what I can find in my own yard forces me get creative. Rather than simply copying a DIY project, I have to dispel preconceived notions about the desired results, and open my mind to new opportunities presented by the materials at hand. Second, in doing so, I learn to see the plants in my withered yard in a whole new light.
Photographs by Justine Hand.
Above: Let the materials guide you. Find the intrinsic beauty of each specimen and seek to enhance it. Here, a humble weed in its desiccated state becomes a thing of rare beauty with a bit of gold paint.
Above: This project is about what you already have: paint brushes and whatever twigs and greens you can get your hands on. All you may need to buy is a little gold and silver paint. I used Martha Stewart's Multi-Surface Metallic Acrylic Craft Paint and Liquid Gilding, both available at Michaels.
Above: Remember to think outside the box. I happen to have holly in my yard, but eschewed it in favor of non-traditional greens such as thorns and dried oak leaves.
Above: Be extemporaneous. I didn't want this project to be fussy (OK, let's call it what it is: I didn't have time to painstakingly paint each leaf). But I actually found that quick brushstrokes often had a more desirous effect than more deliberate applications.
Above: Mix and Match. My little holiday "boutonniere" of beech, oak, and dried Black-Eyed-Susan is waiting for a package or a lapel to adorn.
Above: Use your gilded greens on packages, mantels, as a centerpiece for the holiday table, or to enhance wreaths and garlands. (Note that any leaves that are not already dried will wither indoors, unless you put them in a bit of water.)
Above: I have to admit that I've never really been a fan of the summer flowers and foliage of either azaleas or bar berry. But this holiday vignette has made a convert out of me.
Above: Another little boutonniere includes azalea leaves, rose hips, and dried red leaves of burning bush.
Above: So much fun, I got a little carried away. My bureau received a little holiday bouquet as well.
Above: Not holly berries. Withered rose hips complement the plum-tinted azalea leaves.
Above: I'm just going to leave this little guy right where he is next to the ink drawing by my aunt.
Above: One of my first attempts resulted in a more "obvious" holiday assemblage. But it's still very pretty.
Above: The ridges and tiny buds of this burning bush cried out for a little silver paint.
Above: Life beyond its dramatic scarlet leaves: the green stems and aubergine flowers of burning bush are lovely next to silver paint.
N.B. Looking for more ideas? See 85 more Holiday DIY projects in our Photo Gallery.
I love the fresh smell of a Christmas tree as much as Amanda, but I have to admit that her mention of dousing a fake Christmas tree with a spritz of artificial Christmas tree fragrance didn't have me convinced that would do the trick. Until I remembered a natural alternative that might be just right freshening any space, especially one too tiny to host a proper tree.
Distilled from wildcrafted plants and trees, Juniper Ridge fragrances capture the essence of real mountain air in a process that's every bit as precious as it sounds: scrambling along mountain passes, sniffing tree bark, and distilling the natural booty in converted bourbon stills. Follow their instagram feed for a sense of the shenanigans and adventures involved in being "the world's only wild fragrance company."
True: Juniper Ridge isn't exactly marketing their cabin sprays as "Christmas tree-scented," but with ingredients that include "tree pitch, plant sap/juice and steam-distilled essential oils," I'm making the leap that it would make a pretty good substitute for the artificial stuff that might otherwise tempt faux tree keepers.
Above: Bring a little bit of the outdoors in with a room spray made entirely without the use of synthetic fragrance. Big Sur Cabin Spray; $65.00 from Juniper Ridge and Makers Workshop. (Photograph from Maker's Workshop.)
Above: Siskiyou Cabin Spray has scent notes of "mountains and rivers without end, conifer country and spicy cedar, sparkly clear summer swimming holes and massive boulders down deep in the water." They had me at spicy cedar; $65 from Juniper Ridge.
Above: Cascade Glacier Cabin Spray captures the scent of "the Timberline Trail on Oregon's Mt Hood, where fir and pine give way to summer wildflower meadows and ice glaciers." I pine for you, Cascade Glacier Cabin Spray; $65 from Juniper Ridge.
Above: In addition to cabin sprays, colognes, and soaps, Juniper Ridge captures their fragrance in incense. Don't be surprised if you find me sitting in front of the Netflix Yule Log, stick of White Sage Campfire Incense burning ($10.00 from Makers Workshop).
The story so far: A few weeks ago, I upended everyone, took the children out of school, put the dog in a crate, packed up all our t-shirts, shorts, and swimmers, rented out my house, and rented another one in the Bahamas. For six months. And now the children want Christmas.
Here are a few things that I have discovered about living on an island: You are constantly panic buying. The ephemeral boat comes in on a Wednesday. However, sometimes the boat does not come due to high winds or other mysterious forces. So sometimes the boat comes at a different time or not at all. So, you wander into Captain Bob’s to buy a pint of milk and lo, there are organic eggs. You don’t know when they will be in again so let's pop a couple of trays in the trolley.
And look, he has those nice cookies in. He hasn’t had those for a while, so let's take them while we can. And that broccoli still looks half alive, let's take that and oh, some strawberries— do you think he will have strawberries next week? No? OK, let's grab them now in case we have a desperate need. Cheerios? We only have seven boxes in the cupboard. What if we run out because the boat doesn’t come? What if we starve?
Before you know it, you have a trolley full of stuff you never know if you might need, half the stuff you do need, and another half of stuff you never knew you needed and a bill of $300. Conversely, you become microscopically, fanatically, obsessively aware of rubbish. When you are living on a postage stamp in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, your awareness that all this "stuff" having absolutely nowhere to go becomes acute.
There is no recycling, no sorting, and no education on the topic. Nothing. Just lots of waste. I have become the crazy lady who refuses to take a plastic bag despite having 36 items at the checkout (see panic buying above). But feeling Christmassy? Not so much.
Above: Photograph by Clemmie Hambro.
Christmas means that it is very, very cold outside, with lots of re-runs on the telly, and often, the flu. It does not mean padding around in flip-flops looking at the beach, no matter how many blow-up snowmen are on top of the Piggly Wiggly. No matter how many gardens I look at stuffed with illuminated reindeer and dinosaurs (no, I am not kidding), I have found it difficult to "get in the mood." I don’t even feel nostalgic. I just don’t feel it.
But the children. Oh, pity the poor children— I had to get a grip and get decorating. But with what, exactly? Our luggage was overweight just with the swimsuits. I wasn’t going to ship over the decorations; I was too busy shipping my dog. So what with the panicking about trash all the time, and in the spirit of adventure and wanting to do something different… I decided to set us a few rules.
1. Nothing was to be bought that was not going to come home with us; i.e.: I had to like it enough to want to pay even more excess luggage. Except lights. No one can get through Christmas without fairy lights (US electricals do not work well in the UK).
2. Everything else had to be either sourced from the environment or be biodegradable.
Above: Photograph by Clemmie Hambro.
And the results have been surprisingly Christmassy. Pared back compared to my usual festive explosion of garlands, fruit, candles, lanterns, and an overwhelming excess of baubles collected over the years, but definitely Christmassy and relevant to where we are and what we are doing. So, instead of baubles, on the advice of a friend we went shelling and then during the course of a happy morning, these were doused in glue and glitter and are now hanging on the tree, twinkling.
I have spray painted coconuts and dead bits of palm that look pleasingly like coral. We seem to have gone back to the days of ancient man, when evergreen branches were bought in to give shelter to the spirits of nature, who were believed to have scarpered during the hard winter. There is no icy snow here, but I kept a pair of snippers in my golf buggy and have been darting out here and there, trimming bits of plants that look, well, festive.
Like the pepper berry, which kindly has green leaves and red berries and remind one of vaguely of holly (if you close your eyes and squint). I found a lovely lady who is making the girls Christmas stockings out of straw-work, with their names woven through. This Christmas is different in its simplicity, but exciting for it and will I hope be one they remember forever. I love it. It feels light and easy and calm. And creating its look was fun, and something that we did all together as a family, which of course is what Christmas is all about.
Did you miss the first installment of Clemmie Hambro's adventures abroad? See 6 Months, 3 Kids, 1 Dog on a Tropical Island.
On the coast of Rhode Island, 70-acre Goosewing Farm in Little Compton has been farmed for 200 years, bounded by three bodies of water: Quicksand Pond, Tunipus Pond, and the Atlantic Ocean. For Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, the challenge was to preserve habitats for endangered shorebirds, marsh plants, and wildlife.
The landscape plan, which received an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects two years ago, integrates the farms' buildings with a windswept landscape of meadow and beachfront while creating sanctuaries for both freshwater and oceanfront flora and fauna.
Photographs via Michael Vergason Landscape Architects except where noted.
Above: "Farmer stack" dry-laid stone walls, hedgerows, and sloping fields. A house, stone barn, and silo are on a knoll 50 feet above sea level, the farm's highest elevation.
At the edge of the property, Quicksand Pond is one of Rhode Island's most important naturally flowing salt pond ecosystems. The brackish water is a habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, and worms.
Above: Image via ASLA. Little Compton's buildings include a caretaker's house and barn, a guest house, and a main house.
Above: Photograph via Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.
Native plants—including ferns, blueberries, and cutleaf sumac—were chosen for their hardiness. Near buildings, woody plants provide protection from wind. Lawn was limited to small areas near buildings.
Above: Large swaths of grasses cover much of the property.
Above: Photograph via Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.
When the 18th-century Sisson Cottage was renovated, French doors replaced windows in the living room. A new deck the overlooks the ocean. Through the property, historic walls were preserved, as were an old stone well and cistern.
Above: Rainchains convey water to beds of ferns along the house's foundation.
Working with architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the landscape architects created views—of hay fields, stone walls, a silo covered in lichen, and the ocean—from the windows.
Above: The open space between the Head House and the barn create comfortable outdoor rooms.
For more modern interpretations of the classic America farm vernacular, see An Ode to Landscape Architect Dan Kiley and Stone Edge Farm: A Peaceful Retreat in Northern California.
Liberty fabric is easy to spot. Dissecting this is less easy, but you know it when you see it. With colors that are joyous even when somber and designs that always sing, the quality of the weave is also a Liberty watermark. Most impressive, though, is the archive-looting: designs are fresh because of the way they reference the past.
Above: Liberty, in London's West End. The haberdashery department is found in this central light well, on the third floor. It is home to Liberty Art Fabrics, including Tana Lawn.
What is Tana Lawn? The name began to appear in the 1930s and "Tana" is named after Lake Tana in Sudan, the source of the cotton plant. "Lawn" refers to the quality of the weave, which is very fine. Photograph via Liberty.
Above: The Liberty florist is found at the Great Marlborough Street entrance. This side of the building is the full length of the ship HMS HIndustan, one of two ships which lent its timbers to the Tudor revival building. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.
Clockwise from top left: Kindle C Dufour; Bestseller Susanna B, originally designed by Emma Mawston, head designer of Liberty Art Fabrics and given a new colorway for this season; Rosa A, featuring a rock rose with scattered peppercorns. Tatum G is from the LIberty Classics collection: it was designed as a Tana Lawn fabric in 1955, a re-working of a design from the '30s. Tana Lawn fabric is £22 per meter.
"The thing underneath it all is: Liberty fabric is printed on Tana Lawn," says Emma. All that needs to be added to this fabric quality is "Our colors, our eyes, our palette."
Plus of course, Emma's creativity. She comes up with a theme, then sends her designers out on field trips. For "Botanicals" they went to Tresco in the Scilly Isles, known for its high density of flora. For the current collection, they took their sketchpads to Iceland. William Morris was the jumping-off point and he was fond of Iceland. Emma's fine art approach is a lively mix of abstract ideas with commercial nous.
Above: Rich colors for the December display outdoors. A hint of what will be found on the third floor. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.
British TV audiences have been treated to an ongoing documentary about Liberty, mainly focusing on the Christmas Shop. Emma Mawston declared on television: "I was born to work at Liberty." While many members of staff share this loyalty, one can't help feeling, after talking to her, that Liberty was waiting for her to come along.
Above, from top left: Manuela, inspired by a Liberty scarf designed in the '70s (which drew on the '30s). Jack and Charlie B; Joyce B (in collaboration with a tattoo artist); Sweet Cherries, a collaboration with British chef Jamie Oliver. The design is made from stamping the marks of sliced cherries and star anise onto fabric.
You may wonder what all this has to do with William Morris, but his poem "Iceland First Seen" inspired Emma Mawston to explore the senses. So we have among these fabric samples: sound, scent, touch and taste but we'll leave it to you to guess which fabric was inspired by which sense.
Above: The rambling half-timbered landmark in London's West End.
If you love Liberty, you may love Fortnum's too: The Bees of Buckingham Palace.
Pity the poinsettia. After becoming the butt of so many jokes that the jokes themselves are the cliché, this hard-working holiday plant deserves better. Look at these pale beauties and then tell me you don't want one in your house this Christmas:
Indigenous to Mexico, the poinsettia originally had an Aztec name: "Cuetlaxochitl." Thank you, Joel Roberts Poinsett, for bring the plant to the United States in the early 1800s—and for having a surname that simplified matters for us non-native Náhuatl speakers.
A big reason for the poinsettia's 20th century surge was a breakthrough in breeding: small, compact, red bushes captured the Christmas market. But let us not forget that the poinsettia comes in other calmer colors. We love those shades: pink, salmon, cream, blush, white. Here's what we mean:
Above: Blush-colored poinsettias are also a lovely foil to other flowers in an arrangement. For a step-by-step tutorial, see Coco and Kelley.
Above: A potted poinsettia from The Home Depot in its nursery pot (painted gold). Photograph by John Merkl.
Above: A white poinsettia in a 4€ basket from the flea market. Photograph via My Secondhand Life.
Above: A white poinsettia in a Skurar bowl ($9.99) from Ikea.