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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    You’re probably familiar with edible gardens and ornamental gardens, but how about wearable gardens? 

    My grandfather liked to surprise my grandmother with a white ginger lei every time they had guests over for dinner. In Hawaii, leis are usually given as a token of affection or congratulations for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, weddings, housewarmings, greeting visitors—but any reason to celebrate will do. 

    The art of lei making comes from the original Polynesian settlers, who incorporated shells, feathers, greenery, seeds and other foraged materials into their designs. As aromatic and colorful flowers like plumeria (frangipane), pikake (jasmine), orchids. and tuberose arrived in the islands with settlers in the 19th and 20th centuries, the composition of leis changed to accommodate these new materials. 

    The photos below show leis being made for Merrie Monarch, a hula dancing competition held each year in the spring.

    Photographs by John Chock

    DIY Hawaiian leis ; Gardenista

    Above: Pompom-like blossoms from the ʻōhiʻa lehua tree are pierced with a needle and strung into a garland. Red is the most common lehua flower color, but white, orange, and yellow versions, like the ones pictured, can be found. The endemic shrub grows throughout the islands and in a variety of climates, from sea level to rain forests, on lava flows or in bogs. The leaves, seed pods, and flowers are all used to make different styles of leis.


    DIY Hawaiian flower leis ; Gardenista

    Above: Experienced lei makers use extra long needles (from 6 to 12 inches) when stringing a lei, but a short sewing-kit type needle will also do. For the string core, dental floss or fishing line are sturdy choices. Or you can use a double strand of sewing thread (so it doesn’t break). 

    DIY Hawaiian flower leis ; Gardenista

    Above: To keep a close and ready supply of materials, some lei makers maintain a perennial “lei garden.” Almost any greenery can be used, but common homegrown plants include ferns, ti leaves, pikake (jasmine), stephanotis, and agapanthus, as well as flowering trees, such as the plumeria (Shown). The state also issues free permits for foraging for lei materials in island forests.

    flowers for DIY hawaiian leis ; Gardenista

    Above: Seed capsules from the ‘a’ali’i shrub (Dodonaea viscosa), a hardy indigenous plant that grows on lava, as well as in pastures, and rain forests, make a delicate chain.

    DIY Hawaiian flower leis ; Gardenista

    Above: The single strand sewn lei, called kui, may be the most recognizable—and easiest to make—style. Other methods of making leis include haku, in which leaves and flowers are braided into a broad flat long chain, and kipu’u, where leaf or vine stems are knotted together without the use of string. 

    DIY Hawaiian flower leis ; Gardenista

    Above: The density at which the flowers are strung together can affect the overall visual effect. For a fuller style, keep the flowers close together.

    DIY Hawaiian flower leis ; Gardenista

    Above: Wrapping the lehua and ‘a’ali’i leis around each other in a helix pattern creates a striking textural contrast.

    In a tropics-induced reverie? Spend a little more time there: see An English Gardener in the Tropics and A Tropical Paradise, Attainable by Subway.

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    The Ace Hotel team has established a tropical toehold in Central America with its new American Trade Hotel in Panama City, a five-story landmark building with a colorful history.

    Built in 1917, the American Trade Development Company building was Panama City's tallest—and only the second to have an elevator—and became the city's first luxury high rise. Starting in the 1930s, an exodus from the city's Old Quarter to the surrounding suburbs sent the neighborhood into a decline. By the 1990s, the building's owners had abandoned it to street gangs who used its height as a vantage to survey the surrounding neighborhood. Purchased in 2007 by Conservatorio SA, developers who specialize in the revitalization of the city's historic district, the building retains much of its original architectural detail.

    Collaborating with Conservatorio SA and LA-based Commune Design, the Ace team has created a 50-room hotel; rates range from $245 to $540 per night. For more information, see Ace Hotel.

    Photographs via Ace Hotel.

    Ace Hotel Panama balcony potted plants ; Gardenista

    Above: The five-story white stucco confection was built by the great great grandfather of Conservatorio SA co-founder Ramón Arias. In its original incarnation as a luxury apartment building, it had a department store and bank on the ground floor.

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: These days, twin fiddle leaf fig trees flank a seating area on the ground floor, in the hotel lobby. (Considering a fig of your own? See The Fig and I: Tips for Caring for Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree.)

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: The lobby bar.

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Commune Design's interior spaces marry a mix of styles: Spanish colonial, modern, and midcentury influences are all evident.

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Suites with separate living rooms feature views of the ocean or the Plaza Herrera.

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: The bedroom floors are made of random width planks of the tropical hardwood almendro; for more information see Taller Colonial.

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: A mix of subway tile and stone in a bathroom with an expansive view of the city.

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Marble and tile in a walk in shower.

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: The view from the hotel swimming pool.

    Ace Hotel Panama fiddle leaf fig tree ; Gardenista

    Above: The 75,000-square-foot renovation involved four buildings, including a former National City Bank of New York Building with 30-foot ceilings and a ballroom. 

    Of course you will want to pack a Panama Hat. Planning a trip? See 52 of our favorite Hotels and Lodging choices.

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    If you look into the history of the Big Island—and architect Greg Warner has—you will find that when the land that once belonged to Hawaiian royalty passed into the private ownership, much of the property was divided into large ranches, which stretched from the mountain down to the ocean. These ranches had wonderful acreage, most of it at higher elevations where there was frequent rain. But near the shore? There was sunshine, and the great ocean camps where cowboys and their families would come down to spend weekends. To try to recapture that feeling of Old Hawaii in a new house would be a romantic notion, so say the least. Turns out, Greg Warner is a romantic. 

    Asked to create a "camp-like" family compound with traditional hale buildings on the Kona coast of the Big Island, Walker-Warner Architects designed a four-building retreat (circa 2010) that invokes a casual, simpler era.

    "It's an old time-y house; the scale and the form of the buildings recalls a lot off the old classic territorial architecture of the day," says Greg Warner, who was raised in Hawaii. "This was an exercise in recreating my early memories of these great old places that were built during the transitional time when the plantations were there."

    Walker-Warner Architects, with headquarters in both San Francisco and Hawaii, is a member of the Remodelista Architects and Designers Directory. For more information, see Walker-Warner in RADD.

    Photographs by Matthew Millman.

    Walker Warner Architects Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: "My favorite feature of the house is the relaxed feeling you get when you walk through that front gate," says Warner. "There are four buildings, and having four allowed us to create an appropriateness of scale, without needing a single building to try to do everything. The fact that the project is pulled apart, and almost random in some sense, makes entering the property feel like pulling on a comfortable old jacket."

    Landscape architect David Y. Tamura created symmetry at the front gate with low, native naupaka shrubs and hau trees on each side of the walkway. The rest of the trees in the kitchen garden bear edible fruit, including mangos and papayas.

    Walker Warner Architects Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: Where the indoors ends and the outdoors begins is sort of blurry in Hawaii, as it should be. "The walls are wood and stone, and the floors are concrete; it's pretty well scrubbed," says Warner. "It can handle anything. The house just opens up."

    Walker Warner Architects Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: The house has air conditioning, "but they never use it," says Warner, who situated the compound to take advantage of the island's trade winds.

    Walker Warner Architects Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: The four buildings include: a main house with kitchen, dining, and living areas; a hale with a master bedroom and sitting room on the ocean; a four-bedroom hale with a recreation room and pool table, and a detached garage.

    Walker Warner Hawaii Kakapa Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: The recreation room, featuring a pool table, was designed as a big open playroom for the family. "This is where the cowboy bunkhouse would have been," says Warner.

    Walker Warner Hawaii Kakapa Bay ; Gardenista

    Above: A detail of the railing that runs beneath the ceiling in the recreation room; the wood is termite- and rot-resistant Western red cedar.

    Walker Warner Architects Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: The main house.

    Walker Warner Architects Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: The main house is built of local white coral.

    Walker Warner Architects Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: A detail of a white coral wall; the mortar is a historically accurate formula (no longer in use). "There are a bunch of old buildings in Kailua that were put together with a lime-putty mortar," says Warner. "We dissected a building and sent away the mortar and had some more created so we could get this sandy feeling."

    Walker Warner Architects Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: The kitchen is in the main house.

    Walker Warner Architects in Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: The master bedroom, sitting room, and bath are in a separate building. 

    Walker Warner Architects in Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: The master bath.

    Walker Warner Architects in Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: "This project was a collaboration of a lot of thought, with the owner, and we talked more about was what you shouldn't do here than what we could do," says Warner. He said that the work of Walker-Warner architects David Shutt and Tom Hendricks was integral to the success of the project:

    "We said, 'oh boy, we should just leave space here instead of filling it with buildings. The result is there's so much open space between buildings that that's where people just hang out. And that's kind of the way it should be."

    Walker Warner Architects in Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: From the swimming pool, you can look off into the distance and see the ocean; Kakapa Bay has a white coral base—a reflection of the white coral houses.

    Walker Warner Architects in Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: Tile detail at the edge of the swimming pool.

    Walker Warner swimming pool on Big Island, Hawaii ; Gardenista

    Above: A public road runs along the edge of the property, separating the swimming pool from the beach. "But by the way it's planted and bermed, you'd never know the road is there," says Warner.

    In the mood for more from Hawaii? See Love, Hawaiian Style: The Art of Lei Making.

    See 171 more Architect Visits, including Walker Warner in Sonoma.

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    Honolulu is a city of juxtaposition. Although it's a thriving metropolis just minutes from wild jungles and untamed beaches, nature seems to seep into the most concrete of areas. And perhaps nowhere in the city is this better illustrated than at Paiko, a new garden supply and design store in the up-and-coming industrial warehouse district of Kaka’ako.

    Partners Tamara Rigney and Courtney Monahan opened Paiko in late 2012 as an extension of Rigney’s floral design business, which she started in a room at her grandmother’s East Honolulu home three years earlier. Following Rigney’s goal to “distill the beauty of Hawaii into living art,” a concept that carried over from her background in landscape architecture, the pair stock the store with cut tropical flora for DIY arrangements, delicate tillandsia terrariums, locally made pottery, succulents and wall-mounted staghorn ferns—stylish ways to bring a touch of Hawaii’s abundant greenery indoors.

    Set on a once desolate strip of warehouses that now house galleries and pop-up restaurants, Paiko also hosts workshops on flower arranging and wreath making, bringing a new vitality and beauty to an area better known for auto parts stores, and helping to blur the distinction between nature and city even more. For more information, visit Paiko

    Photographs by Vincent Ricafort.

    staghorn ferns | gardenista

    Above: Staghorn ferns mounted on recycled wood created by local grower Kevin Whitton. The Paiko team likes to refer to these easy-to-care-for wall art pieces as “vegan antlers.”

    shopper's diary: paiko in honolulu | gardenista

    Above:  Cut beehive ginger and anthuriums from Hilo, Hawaii.

    shopper's diary: paiko in honolulu | gardenista

    Above: Cut leaves from the hala tree and handmade ceramic tillandsia vessels made by local artist Tricia Beaman.

    shopper's diary: paiko in honolulu | gardenista

    Above: Paiko's merchandise includes tillandsias, spray bottles, and terrarium kits.

    shopper's diary: paiko in honolulu | gardenista

    shopper's diary: paiko in honolulu | gardenista

    Above: Succulents for sale in sunny glazed pots.

    shopper's diary: paiko in honolulu | gardenista

    Above: Sunprint paper, sensitive to ultraviolet light, for craft projects.

    shopper's diary: paiko in honolulu | gardenista

    Above: The staghorn ferns are a signature item in the store.

    shopper's diary: paiko in honolulu | gardenista

    Above: Paiko partners Courtney Monahan and Tamara Rigney in the store.

    For more Hawaiian floral arrangements, see Love, Hawaiian Style: The Art of Lei Making.

    Shopping for pots, rocks, or hardscape supplies in Honolulu? See Geobunga.

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    I've debated adding a staghorn fern to my apartment for years. My reluctance stemmed largely from a fear that I'd get sick of the thing and/or manage to kill it before I had the chance. With prices for mounted ferns ranging from $85 to $150, I wasn't ready to splurge on something that I wasn't sure about (See also: Temporary Houseplants for the Commitment-Phobe).

    This week's story on Paiko in Honolulu revived my interest in the houseplant with a cartoonish resemblance to a taxidermied deer head (minus, gratefully, the beady eyes and black nose). I decided to conquer my fears and learn to mount one myself.

    Several trips to local garden shops later (to say nothing of late-night wooden crate disassembly), I came up with a system that seems to be near foolproof. Here's a tutorial:



    • A wooden board (I insisted on using the weathered end of a beaten up fruit crate, but any piece of flat wood will do)
    • Bowl or plate for tracing
    • Pencil
    • Hammer
    • 6 nails
    • Fishing line
    • 1 potted staghorn fern
    • Sheet moss
    • 2 screws and string (or a picture hanger) for hanging the finished board

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 1: Start out with a healthy staghorn fern. I had the best luck mounting a staghorn fern that had a relatively flat shield (the brown shield-like part of the plant base). The shields sometimes grow up vertically, giving less surface area to mount to the board.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 2: Use something round to trace a circle on your board that's at least an inch wider than the circumference of the plant you're hoping to mount.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 3: Hammer a minimum of 6 nails evenly spaced along the circle's edge. Leave at least 1/4 inch between the board and nail head. The more nails you use, the more opportunity you have to secure your plant, so feel free to go crazy.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 4: Add a small pile of potting soil to the board, inside the circle that you traced.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 5: Remove your staghorn fern from its pot and loosen (read: tear) the roots a bit so that you're left with only an inch or two of soil attached to the base of the plant. Place the plant on top of the soil.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 6: Tear pieces of your sheet moss and press around the base of the plant, making sure to keep the moss inside the circle of nails.

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 7: Tie one end of your monofilament fishing line around one of your nails and stretch the line across the base of the fern to a nail on the opposite side of the circle. 

    how to mount and hang a staghorn fern | gardenista

    Step 8: Wrap the line around the opposite nail several times (pulling the string taut), and repeat the process with another nail opposite the circle until the fishing line has been secured to all of the nails and the plant is secure. (I ended up going around each nail twice, for good measure.)


    Step 9: After the plant has been secured to the board, gently lift it vertically to make sure that it's been properly attached. I did this step over the sink to catch any errant bits of soil (though shockingly little fell out). I used two screws and a bit of sturdy twine to hang my finished board in a spot that gets filtered light. 


    Step 10: Care for it. Mounted ferns enjoy a good shower weekly. To do this, remove the board from the wall, soak the entire board (and plant) in the tub, and allow it to dry completely before hanging back up again. A nice mist in the interim will help keep it happy. 

    Sound too labor intensive for you? See Expert Advice: 10 Best Low-Maintenance Houseplants.

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    The team at Paiko, a garden supply and design shop in Honolulu, likes to refer to staghorn ferns as vegan antlers. If you're hoping to recreate a plant-filled homage to the mammalian bedecked lounges of yesteryear, consider this post your fodder.

    staghorn ferns | gardenista

    Above: Mounted staghorn ferns for sale at Paiko. See Shopper's Diary: Paiko in Honolulu. Photograph by Vincent Ricafort.

    staghorn ferns | gardenista

    Above: A solitary staghorn fern paired with a candy pink curtain. Photograph by Drew Beck.

    wall mounted trophy staghorn ferns post office via Gardenista

    Above: Mounted staghorn fern trophies outside the Marin County Mart. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

    staghorn ferns | gardenista

    Above: An impressive collection of mounted and hanging staghorn ferns at Martha Stewart's Bedford home. Photograph from The Martha Blog.

    staghorn ferns | gardenista

    Above: Julianne Moore takes her staghorn ferns outside. Photograph from Architectural Digest.

    Care to try your hand at hanging your own? See DIY: How to Hang a Staghorn Fern.

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    Earlier today we visited clothing designer Courtney Klein at home, in the edible backyard garden she and her husband created from scratch in San Francisco's Mission District (see Garden Visit: Fashion Designer Courtney Klein's Mission District Backyard). Courtney, whose Storq maternity clothing collection launches this week, shares tips for how to recreate the look:

    Courtney Klein SF garden in the Mission ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Jamie Beck via Ann Street Studio.

    Irrigation? "We water everything with a watering can, and we have a hose we bring out if it's been really warm," says Courtney.

    Galvanized Watering Can l Gardenista

    Above: A 3-Gallon Galvanized Watering Can is $31.99 from A.M. Leonard.

    Benjamin Moore Days End gray black paint ; Gardenista

    Above: The backyard fence and house were painted chalkboard gray before Courtney moved in. The color? Benjamin Moore Day's End Paint; a gallon ranges in price from $36.99 to $67.99 depending on type and finish.

      Asparagus Meyeri Fern ; Gardenista

    Above: Klein's potted plants include an Asparagus 'Meyeri' Foxtail Fern, a hardy low-maintenance houseplant; $4.99 for a plant in a 4-inch pot from Sandy's Nursery.

      Glass Cylinder Candle Holder Vase; Gardenista

    Above: A 12-inch-tall glass Cylinder Candle Vase is $12.99 from Candles for Less.

    Hummingbird feeder ; Gardenista

    Above: A Small 8-Oz. Hummingbird Feeder is $17.99 from Kinsman Co. The 6.5-inch round red base has eight feeding holes.


    Courtney Klein Storq SF edible garden; Gardenista

    Above: Courtney's winter edible garden has chard, kale, cabbages, and several varieties of lettuces, including: Tom Thumb ($1.50 for a packet of 100 seeds); Little Gem ($2.25 for 250 seeds), and Grandpa Admire's ($2.50 for 250 seeds). All are available from Baker Creek Seeds.

    For more views of Courtney's garden, see Garden Visit: Fashion Designer Courtney Klein's Mission District Backyard.

    10 foot redwood planks ; Gardenista

    Above: The garden's raised beds and cold frames are made from 10-foot-long redwood planks. A 2 x 4 x 10 Redwood Construction Plank is $8.18 from Lowe's.

      Twinwall polycarbonate plastic panes for cold frames ; Gardenista

    Above: The cold frame panes are made of sheets of nonbreakable plastic; a similar sheet of 4-by-8-foot Clear Twin Wall is $61.75 from Gempler's.

    Courtney Klein SF garden in the Mission ; Gardenista

    Above: A concrete dining table and a terra cotta fireplace.

      Fuze outdoor dining table concrete l Gardenista

    Above: A cement block table with a non toxic wax finish, the Fuze Dining Table measures 57 inches long. It seats six and is $999 from CB2.

    Terra cotta clay chiminea outdoor fireplace ; Gardenista


    Above: A 52-inch-high Clay Chimenea that burns wood is $139 from Lowe's.

    Addicted to Steal This Look? Us too. See 64 more Steal This Look posts.

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    Somewhere along the line, the “tropical” arrangement unfortunately acquired a bad reputation. Images of banana leaves lining a vase and oddly stiff compositions pop into mind.  The funny thing is, the jungles I’ve seen are nowhere near as orderly, contained, or vertical as some of these tropical arrangements have become. 

    The jungle certainly has its generous share of giant graphic leaves, whose shapes are almost cartoon-like, but they are also lush and overgrown, unruly, and covered with vines that droop and climb all over the place.  It’s this mix of the graphic, the looser and the wild, that I think is key to creating a more exciting tropical arrangement. 

    Photographs by Sophia Moreno-Bunge.

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    Above: I was lucky to spend a week in Costa  Rica this month, where I created a fun tropical arrangement using plants and flowers I found along the side of the road (including this pink hibiscus flower).

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    Above: A beautiful pink flowered tree whose shape I used as inspiration for the arrangement. (I'm not positive on the ID, but it looks a little bit like a robinia tree, with larger and droopier blooms. Any experts out there?)

    (Stumped on plant IDs? See our post on Plant Identification Apps.)

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    Above: Ti plants (Cordyline terminalis). There are so many different Costa Rican trees and shrubs with amazing variegated leaves. I used a similar plant with striped leaves for my final arrangement. (See Some Like it Variegated for even more striped inspiration).

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    Above: My foraged and found materials.

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    Above: Another unidentified pink flower.

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    Above: Pink and green variegated foliage and hibiscus flowers.

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    Above: To begin my arrangement, I created a base with my tropical foliage. I made sure the stems all reached the bottom of the vase and turned the vase around to create a full shape that looks good from all sides. I love the way the arrangement looked just like this; I would even have kept it this way—perhaps with a few more foliage stems—but for the sake of experimentation, I added a few other floral ingredients. When I'm back in New York shopping at the flower market (See How to Navigate the NYC Flower Market for pointers), I might experiment with creating a tropical arrangement made with crazy tropical foliage and leaves alone.

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    Next, I added four stems of the tropical foliage with pink blossoms that reminded me of jasmine blooms.

    foraged in costa rica | gardenista

    To finish: I added a few stems of hibiscus flower. Notice how the final shape mimics the tree above?

    Hoping for a taste of the tropics but finding yourself stuck in the snow? Make yourself a Hibiscus and Lime Thirst Quencher or brew a cup of Summer Goddess Tea.

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    We're always looking for ways to make Gardenista easier to use, and we've introduced a few new features we want you to know about: 

    1. Browse Back Issues of Gardenista

    New Features on Gardenista: See All Back Issues

    Above: Every week we run a new issue of Gardenista, and you can now easily browse all our back issues. Navigate to back issues via the "Inspiration" tab at the top of any page, and click "Back Issues."

    New Features on Gardenista: See All Back Issues

    Above: Alternatively, click on any issue name throughout the site—for example, "Edible Winter Garden," shown here—then choose "All Back Issues" at the top left of every issue's landing page.

    New Features on Gardenista: See All Back Issues

    Above: Gardenista issues are organized by theme and are a useful way to browse the site. See all Back Issues here.

    2. Save and Bookmark Gallery Photos

    New Features on Gardenista: See Gallery Image on Full Page

    Above: We've made it newly easy to save and bookmark photos from our vast Image Gallery. When you click to view any photo, you can now click again to "See Image on Full Page."

    New Features on Gardenista: See Image on Full Page

    Above: The image will open in a new window, allowing you to "Save As," bookmark or share the URL, or clip the image to Evernote or any other photo organizing tool you like to use. Get started in our Photo Gallery by browsing our galleries of Inspiration in Blue and Romantic Arrangements

    3. Receive Our Newsletter Daily Digest

    New Features on Gardenista: Daily Digest Version of Gardenista Newsletter

    Above: Newsletter subscribers now have the option of receiving a shorter Daily Digest version of our newsletter featuring teasers and links to each post without the entire post body pasted into your email.

    New Features on Gardenista: Receive Daily Digest Version of Newsletter

    Above: Update your preferences by scrolling to the bottom of any newsletter and clicking "Update Your Profile."

    New Features on Gardenista: Receive Daily Digest Version of Newsletter

    Above: Choose which version of the newsletter you'd like to receive—the Daily Digest, the full version, or both. Subscribe to our newsletter here. New subscribers will receive the Daily Digest version, but you can update your settings any time to receive either or all versions. 

    Have requests for future improvements? Fill us in in the comments section below.

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    "It's kind of a little postage stamp, but coming from New York I think this feels gigantic and amazing," clothing designer Courtney Klein says of the backyard garden in San Francisco's Mission District that she and her husband created from scratch over the past year.

    When Courtney and husband Zach moved to San Francisco's Mission District a year ago, the so-called garden consisted of a ratty backyard with a half-dead rosebush growing against the fence—and a bug problem. "It was hopping with fleas," she says.

    The fashion designer was in the process of launching a new business (her new Storq collection of maternity clothing launches this week) but when her husband suggested they also launch a garden revival, she signed on eagerly. "He said, 'let's turn this backyard around.' " And they did.

    We caught up with them (and their now thriving edible garden) via Ann Street Studio, whose Jamie Beck recently spent a day photographing Courtney at home:

    Photographs by Jamie Beck.

    courtney klein garden trim herbs sf storq ; Gardenista.jpg Above:

    Above: Klein's landlord painted the fence (and house) a soothing chalkboard gray, the perfect foil for the green vines that grow on it. For more information about the paint color, see Steal This Look: Courtney Klein's Edible Garden.

    Courtney's new Storq maternity collection has turned out to be of personal as well as professional interest to her. "Now I'm pregnant too, so it's kind of funny timing," she said.  "I got the idea because I have a lot of friends and family who are having kids, and one thing that kept coming up was: maternity fashion. More children are being born to women over 30 who are established in their careers, but maternity fashion hasn't adjusted."

    Storq is launching with a bundled collection of four pieces of clothing, she said: "The bundle becomes your pregnancy base layer uniform, and you can pair stuff you already own on top of it."

      Courtney Klein Storq SF edible garden; Gardenista

    Above: "My husband built all the garden boxes. I'm his assistant," says Courtney. "Being able to garden has been one of the biggest joys about moving here. Neither of us ever had a garden before."

    Courtney Klein Storq SF edible garden; Gardenista

    Above: Built of 10-foot-long redwood planks, the garden's cold frames have brass hinges and handles.

    Instead of using panes of glass, the couple went to a plastic supply shop; the panes are lightweight and virtually unbreakable.

    Courtney Klein Storq SF edible garden; Gardenista

    Above: The winter edible garden includes chard, kale, cabbages, and several varieties of lettuces, including: Tom Thumb, Little Gem romaine, and Grandpa Admire's. "We went to the Petaluma Seed Bank and bought seeds," she says.

    For more about the 1,200 varieties of rare seeds that are for sale in a renovated bank building in Petaluma, see A Bank for Rare Seeds in Petaluma.

    "We are total newbies and just experimenting with the garden; we've had some really weird successes, and some weird failures," says Courtney. "For some reason when we tried to grow broccoli, it was a total disaster. Every bug in San Francisco lived in that broccoli and we ended up have to take it out because it was creating chaos. But radicchio was a success. Radicchio grew to the point were we were trying to give it to everyone we know. Because we just couldn't eat it all."

    Courtney Klein Storq SF edible garden; Gardenista

    Above: A concrete outdoor table and wooden benches—which Courtney and her husband stained—were ordered from Amazon. "We're big Amazon Prime users," says Courtney. "For our wedding, we Amazon Primed heat lamps."

    For more information about the concrete table, see Steal This Look: Courtney Klein's Edible Garden.

    Courtney Klein Storq SF edible garden; Gardenista

    Above: Salvia (Shown R) and a butterfly bush attract hummingbirds. "It's funny, because we have this hummingbird feeder. I'm devoted to the thing, but the hummingbirds all head to the butterfly bush, and I'm like, 'come on, there's a whole thing waiting for you here,' " Courtney said. "I'm going to keep filling the feeder and someday they're going to like it."

    Courtney Klein Storq SF edible garden; Gardenista

    Above: "With the herbs, we realized that if we just let them do their thing, they suddenly start sprouting," says Courtney. "When I was trying to take control and trimming them all the time, it was a mistake. They were too manicured. I think I over-loved them."

    Courtney Klein Storq SF edible garden; Gardenista

    Above: The raised bed, built by Zach, is western red cedar. The potted plants all came from the San Francisco Flower Mart or Flowercraft Garden Center. "And a couple of things came from Flora Grubb—you can't live in San Francisco and not go there," says Courtney.

    For more Bay Area gardens, see An Urban Surf Shack in San Francisco and Steal This Look: Water Troughs as Raised Garden Beds.

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    I suppose it is a good thing that houseplants don't have hands because it means they can't type. Otherwise my fiddle leaf fig tree would be writing a post for its blog right now, begging for help: "Get me out of here, she's trying to kill me." As it is, the tree is looking at me accusingly as it drops yet another browned and dried leaf onto the floor. Can this dying plant be saved?

    Maybe I should explain how the fig and I got into this desperate situation. Last summer I fell in love with a 4-foot fiddle leaf fig tree at Green Jeans Garden Supply in Mill Valley, my favorite local plant store, brought it home on a whim, and vowed to care for it properly. I did everything I could think of to please this West African lowlands native: I found it a nice spot in indirect sun; let its soil dry out between waterings, and kept it in a tight pot so the roots wouldn't, in the words of Green Jeans owner Kevin Sadlier, "get freaked out."

    Maybe this should have been the first clue that a needy houseplant was not the best fit for a negligent household where the tillandsias have been known to resort to crawling to the sink to turn on the faucet themselves after a few weeks without water.

    But everything went well for...oh, about four months. We gave the plant a nickname, bought Precious its own rolling plant stand, and invited its little houseplant friends over for play dates so it wouldn't get lonely (or "freaked out"). On sunny afternoons I even rolled the fiddle leaf fig tree out to the covered front porch so it could wave to neighbors walking by.

    But then? One night the unthinkable happened here in Northern California. We had a freeze, and the temperature dipped below 30 degrees. The next morning, I sat up in bed and suddenly remembered: Precious was outdoors all night!

    The rest of the story is sad. I brought the fiddle leaf fig indoors, but almost immediately its leaves started to turn brown—one by one. And all the new buds that had been furled tightly at the base of mature leaves shriveled and turned crispy. Like, a black crispy. Not good. And now, a month later, the plant is looking sicker by the day. Finally in desperation, this week I went back to Green Jeans and asked, Is it too late? Or...can my dying fiddle leaf fig tree be saved? 

    Good news: read on for seven strategies for reviving a fiddle leaf fig tree:

     Photographs by Michelle Slatalla.

    DIY fiddle leaf fig care brown leaves ; Gardenista

    Secret No. 1: Don't prune the brown, bare branches unless they look moldy. If you see any brown husks, leave them alone too—the hard covers could be protecting new growth. Come spring, leaves will sprout.

    (To be fair, there's nothing prettier than a healthy fiddle leaf fig tree. See 5 Gorgeous Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees.)

    fiddle leaf fig tree growing tips and care via Gardenista

    Above: Happier days. Sigh.

    Secret No. 2: Be patient. The fiddle leaf fig tree is a slow grower; in winter it goes dormant. Don't expect to see any improvement before April (and warmer temperatures). And don't expect immediate miracles even then. It could be a year before a recovering fiddle leaf fig tree starts to look really good again.

    DIY fiddle leaf fig care brown leaves ; Gardenista

    Secret No. 3: If the stalk is shriveled, it's too far gone to save. But if it's still hard and strong, it will recover. Again, give it time.

    DIY fiddle leaf fig care brown leaves ; Gardenista

    Secret No. 4: Don't pull off leaves. But you can trim away brown outer edges without harming the plant. 

    fiddle leaf fig brown leaves help ; Gardenista

    Secret No. 5: Identify the areas on the stalk where there are damaged buds; don't pull off the hurt tips, but keep an eye on these areas. This is where you can expect to see new growth.

    Looking for a low-maintenance houseplant? See 5 Houseplants to Simplify Your Life.

    fiddle leaf fig tree in the shower ; Gardenista

    Secret No. 6: Don't let an ailing fiddle leaf fig tree dry out completely. Water it once a week or so and make sure excess water drains out the bottom of the pot. (I water mine in the shower and leave it there for a few hours to let the pot drain before returning it to its plant saucer.)

    Secret No. 7: Don't transplant it until you see new growth even if the pot is so tight that roots are visible at the surface. 

    In summary, the best thing you can do to help your fiddle leaf fig tree survive is to leave it be to recover, slowly, on its own. Give it indirect sunlight, water once a week, and warm temperatures (it will appreciate a room temperature that's from 60 to 90 degrees). And certainly—don't leave it outdoors overnight if there is any chance of the temperature dropping below freezing.

    Will my fiddle leaf fig tree survive? Stay tuned for the next installment.

    Are you trying to keep your fiddle leaf fig alive too? See more tips in The Fig and I: 10 Tips for Caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig.

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    The governor of California just declared a drought emergency; here's a low-water garden by Bonnie Bridges and Seth Boor that will survive beautifully.

    The pair comprises Boor Bridges Architecture, members of the Remodelista + Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory (and designers of Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco). After the couple collaborated with their friend and gardener extraordinaire Grubb, the three began designing a garden on a newly expanded landscape belonging to a family of four in Southern California. Soon, however, the family home began to crack, and the program grew to include a new landscape and house. 

    In the end, Boor Bridges designed both, and created a light-filled home that's private on one side and wide open on the other. When it came time to design the surrounding landscape, budget restrictions led the owners to retain ten mature trees from the existing garden, and add small and fast-growing plants everywhere else. The result? The perfect definition of California indoor/outdoor living.

    Photography by Bruce Damonte and Boor Bridges Architecture.

    Facade with purple grasses and succulents, Gardenista

    Above: A lush front garden provides texture and color against the sleek, private facade. Cordelyne renegade, a purple flax-like plant, and Senecio mandraliscae kleinia, a blue-gray spreading succulent, flourish in a container garden at the front of the house. 

    Native plants in a low maintenance, drought-tolerant garden by Boor Bridges Architecture, Gardenista

    Above: Calandrina, a pink flowering succulent, blue fescue grass, and kangaroo paw thrive in the front garden. Just behind are fast-growing shoestring acacia trees, which architect Bonnie Bridges says help to soften the edges of the house.

    Facade of native, drought-tolerant garden by Boor Bridges Architecture, Gardenista

    Above: The garden features native plants, but not exclusively. Bonnie Bridges believes that natives are a good place to start when designing a garden maximally suited to its landscape, but finds that an all-native approach is oxymoronic because plants have always migrated via natural methods. "Gardens are about growth, change, and discovery," says Bridges. "A pure native approach limits the imagination."

    Modern, private facade with black garage doors by Boor Bridges Architecture, Gardenista

    Above: The facade is a marked contrast to the backyard's full-height walls of glass. The front is totally private, but still lends design interest to the neighborhood.

    Outdoor living area with ping-pong table at night, house and garden by Boor Bridges Architecture, Gardenista

    Above: On the back of the house, dramatic full-height windows and wood paneling envelop the outdoor living space.

    Outdoor living room by Boor Bridges Architecture, Gardenista

    Above: Dymondia, a drought-tolerant ground cover, is planted as "grout" between large paver slabs. The low-maintenance garden requires only a weekly leaf pruning and annual cutting back of grasses.

    Outdoor Living Room at Night, Boor Bridges Architecture, Gardenista

    Above: The home is designed around a single great room. All the private spaces (bedrooms, offices) connect to the great room, which opens onto the generous outdoor living area.

    Outdoor dining and entertaining space by Boor Bridges Architecture, Gardenista

    Above: The homeowners like to host large parties, and a backyard concrete bar provides a perfect surface for outdoor entertaining. Cabinets built into the bar store entertaining accessories and gardening tools.

    Modern house bordering on park, and master bath with view of palm trees, Gardenista

    Above L: The house is oriented to maximize views of an adjacent park. Above R: Every room in the home benefits from natural light and ventilation, including the master bath.

    Plan for house and landscape by Boor Bridges Architecture, Gardenista

    Above: A plan of the house and surrounding garden.

    Visit other residential landscapes with native plants in Before & After: A Brooklyn Townhouse with a Double-Wide Garden and Landscape Architect Visit: A Historic Farm, Ocean Views Included

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    Long live summer—that is, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. Coinciding with the high point of the antipodean calendar is the arrival of online journal The Planthunter, brought to us by Sydney-based design studio Reid & Friends.

    The Planthunter: homepage. Gardenista

    Above: "I hope to turn my readers into planthunters," says editor and founder of The Planthunter Georgina Reid. "I want them to fall in love with plants; to see the beauty in them, to cultivate themselves through cultivating plants, to realize their importance in our continued existence."

    The Planthunter: Georgina Reid photo. Gardenista

    Above: One lavishly photographed story is a visit to a garden near Sissinghurst, nearby in locality yet so different in style. Georgina refers to it as Charlotte's Garden: "What I loved about her garden was that it was so joyful. It was so obviously a big part of her. It was eccentric, unpretentious and fun." A bit like The Planthunter. Photograph by Georgina Reid.

    Georgina is a writer and photographer as well as head of landscape design studio Reid & Friends. She is motivated by her love of plants but also the people and ideas around plants. "These were the stories I wanted to read," she says, "so I made an entire website devoted to them."

    The Planthunter: Choirgirl Hotel photo. Gardenistsa

    Above: Photograph from Birdy via The Choirgirl Hotel.

    The Planthunter is more about inspiration than instruction. Try the "Beauty and Madness" post about The Choirgirl Hotel. If Birdy's words are a little incomprehensible, the photos are not: follow @thechoirgirlhotel with few words, on Instagram.

    The Planthunter: Georgina Reid photo. Gardenista

    Above: A poignant story, 36 Edward Street. Photograph by Georgina Reid.

    Georgina spent most of 2013 "obsessing" over The Planthunter and now this obsession is shared. "It seems many people are as enamoured with plants as I am," says Georgina. "This has made my year of Planthunter building madness seem worthwhile."

    The launch issue was called "Death." The thinking behind this is a good insight into The Planthunter's ethos: "Death is such an interesting topic. Plants, in many ways, illustrate the circle of life and death with such elegance and matter-of-factness."

    The Planthunter Georgina Reid ; Gardenista

    Above: "Plants are my muse," says Georgina. "The Planthunter is my ode to plants."

    For some garden visiting with Georgina Reid, see Wendy's Secret Garden in Sydney, Australia.

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    Hidden on a pristine beach in the Oaxaca surf town of Puerto Escondido, Hotel Escondido is the latest addition to a roster of standout Mexican boutique hotels created by Grupo Habita (which also owns the Hotel Americano in New York). Escondido follows the same formula as the others: small scale, good design, and just enough luxury. That translates to guest quarters in 16 beachside palapas with air conditioning and private pools. For outdoorsy types, there are world-class surfing and birding. A hotel beach club and underground bar also await.

    Photos via Grupo Habita

    Above: Federico Rivera Río of CHK Arquitectura designed the interiors using a largely neutral palette with accents of Mexican-inspired color.

    Above: The floors of each palapa are inlaid with tropical hardwoods. We love the way the painted striped floor defines the space around the bed—it's something to try at home.

    Above: The rooms have a modern rustic look, with simple furniture and local finds on display.

    Above: Though the palapa rooftops are a nod to traditional Oaxacan design, each 375-square-foot hut is equipped with modern luxuries, including air conditioning, polished concrete baths, and private decks with plunge pools.

    Above: Set directly in the sand, a 50-meter pool and wood deck run parallel to the ocean.

    Above: Though the hotel has a restaurant and "acoustically isolated" hidden underground club, the property is tranquil and sparsely populated—at least so far.

    Above: An ideal spot for après-surf lounging.

    Above: The small town of Puerto Escondido is known for world-class surfing. Nearby are opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and birding. 

    Below: Hotel Escondido's location on Oaxaca's Pacific coast. Visitors fly into Puerto Escondido Airport or Huatulco Airport, both of which have flights from Mexico City. For rates and booking information, visit Hotel Escondido.

     Read about the other Grupo Habita hotels in Mexico in A Midcentury Classic Is Reborn in AcapulcoHotels & Lodging: Hotel Condesa DF in Mexico, and Hotels & Lodging: Hotel Azucar in Veracruz

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    Michelle spotted this otherworldly Buddha's Hand citrus fruit via White on Rice Couple and decided we had to share Todd and Diane's creative use for the wacky fruit.

    Subscribe to our newsletter to get a new Garden-to-Table Recipe every week.

    Photographs courtesy of White on Rice Couple.

    buddha's hand dressing | gardenista

    Above: Buddha's Hand citrus looks like a spooky version of a lemon, but it's actually its own distinct fruit in the citrus family. Unlike the lemon, it doesn't have juice or pulp, but what it lacks in juiciness, it makes up for in zest (and scent!).

    buddha's hand dressing | gardenista

    Above: Ignore the fact that this looks like a severed finger and admire all that tasty zest instead.

    buddha's hand dressing | gardenista

    Above: Todd and Diane served the dressing on a simple salad of peppery arugula and prosciutto. I think I'd try it on a salad of arugula and avocado with a handful of roasted almonds for an added protein kick.

    Buddha's Hand Dressing 

    Adapted from White on Rice Couple


    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 tablespoons regular old lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons zest of Buddha's Hand
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme, minced
    • 1 clove minced garlic


    Combine ingredients together in a bowl or jar and mix well. For enhanced flavor, allow the vinaigrette to marinate overnight. Enjoy.

    For more from Todd and Diane, see A New Cookbook from the White on Rice Couple.

    Subscribe to our newsletter to get a new Garden-to-Table Recipe every week.

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    If only the rest of life were as simple as growing succulents in an open terrarium. All you have to do is find a few like-minded plants, introduce them to each other, and place them in an environment they like. Then leave them alone to get to know each other. That's pretty much all there is to creating an open terrarium. Here are step-by-step, no-fail instructions:

    Photographs by John Merkl.

    Gardening 101: How to Plant an Open Terrarium ; Gardenista

    Need to know: There are two kinds of terrariums, open vessels (for succulents and cacti) and closed containers for humidity-loving plants. An open terrarium will dry out quickly; it's suitable for growing plants that love sun and don't require a moist environment.

    Keep it simple: The only materials you need in addition to a container are pebbles, charcoal, soil, small succulents, and herb snips to trim them.

    Gardening 101 How to Make an Open Terrarium ; Gardenista

    Step 1: Spread a 1- to 2-inch base of pebbles at the bottom of the container. This will aid drainage in the event that you water the terrarium (which, by the way you should not do except once a month—and then, with teaspoonfuls of water).

    Gardening 101 Indoor Terrarium how to ; Gardenista

    Step 2: Sprinkle a 1-inch layer of charcoal on top of the pebbles to filter the soil. 

    Step 3: Add a 2-inch layer of cactus potting soil (it's specially formulated for succulents and other plants that like a dry environment).

    Gardening 101 How to Plan an Open Terrarium ; Gardenista

    Step 4: Before planting them, arrange the succulents in the container with plenty of room to grow. Don't overcrowd them. Trim with herb snips, if necessary, to give them room to breathe.

    Gardening 101 How to Plant an Open Terrarium ; Gardenista

    Step 5: Hollow out a spot in the potting soil for the plants. Firmly pat soil to cover their roots. Give each plant a teaspoonful of water but don't overwater. 

      Gardening 101 How to Plant an Indoor Terrarium ; Gardenista

    Above: If your terrarium is going to house ferns or other humidity-loving plants (instead of succulents), see Gardening 101: How to Plant a Closed Terrarium.

    See 15 more Gardening 101 posts, including How to Water an Air Plant and How to Draw a Garden Plan.

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    Last weekend, while seeking a warm retreat from winter, the family and I chanced upon what turned out to be an historic and natural treasure in our own backyard. The Lyman Estate, located in Waltham, MA, just seven miles from our house, includes an elegant home and a sweeping landscape that would impress any Downton fan—and one of the most charming working greenhouses in the United States. 

    Among the oldest in America, the Lyman Estate Greenhouses were first built in 1798 as part of the summer estate of Boston shipping magnate Theodore Lyman. An avid horticulturalist, Lyman commissioned renowned 18th century gardener William Pell to design the grounds of "The Vale" in the English picturesque style, including wide open fields, copses of grand old trees (perfect for climbing), sparkling ponds, an undulating "peach wall," kitchen and formal gardens, and rare lean to-style greenhouses. Today the historic greenhouses, which contain many centuries'-old plants from the original Lyman era, are preserved as a piece of living history by Historic New England.

    Photographs by Justine Hand.

    Lyman Estate, entrance citrus house 2, Gardenista

    Above: In what is now the citrus house, trellises along the glass ceiling host vibrant bougainvillea.

    Lyman Estate, grape house tanks, Gardenista

    Above: Unlike the romanticized, filigreed conservatories of the later Victorian era, the Lyman greenhouses have a more earthy, utilitarian quality. In the grape house, support structures, pipes, and tanks necessary to maintain the optimal environment for the finicky vines are plainly visible.

    Lyman Estate, greenhouses and peach wall, Gardenista

    Above: The greenhouses are around the back of a mansion built in 1793; landscape architect William Pell created a more intimate setting, enclosing the formal gardens with a 425-foot peach wall. Here against southern facing walls, the Lyman family grew espaliered peaches and pears well past a typical New England growing season.

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, exterior, Gardenista

    Above: An avid horticulturalist, Lyman began construction of the first, lean-to style greenhouse along the peach wall in 1804. (An even earlier greenhouse was built in the woods behind in 1798.) Until the 1930s, Lyman, and later, his sons, continued to add structures along the wall to create a camellia, orchid, grape and finally, a nursery sales house, which today provides rare specimens for the visiting public.

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, lemon, Gardenista

    Above: Built to provide the Lyman family with rare tropical flowers and fruits—pineapple, citrus, figs and bananas—during the winter months, the greenhouses are still bearing fruit, like this lemon, today.

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, black petunias, Gardenista

    Above: Lyman's tradition of cultivating unusual blooms continues today with these Black Cat Petunia; (also available, three for $16.95, from Burpee).

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, Camelia House, Gardenista

    Above: Built in 1820, the Camellia House today hosts one of the oldest collections in the US, with some specimens dating back more than 100 years. 

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, pink, Gardenista

    Above: A delicate spray of Australian Tea Bush (Leptospermum), graces a seating area in the grape house.

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, old door, Gardenista

    Above: To provide ample room for the grapevines' roots, 3.5-foot raised beds were created. Here, an old door leading under the beds is an example of the rich, rustic character of these greenhouses.

    Lyman Estate, orchid, Gardenista

    Above: Frolicking putti and a sunny oncidium cebolleta greet visitors to the orchid house. 

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, Grape House vines, Gardenista

    Above: Still growing today are Black Hamburg grapes which Lyman acquired directly from the Royal greenhouses at Hampton Court in England. Also still here today are the original white grapes called Green Muscat of Alexandria. 

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, orange flowers, Gardenista

    Above: Canary Island Bellflowers (Canarina canariensis) climb the pipes in the grape house. Very much a working greenhouse, the specimens in bloom change each week, so there is always something new to see.

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, potted plants, Gardenista

    Above: Potted plants now rest on a ledge over one of the 13 original arches that led behind the peach wall, where heaters kept the tropical plants warm at night.

    Lyman Estate Waltham MA, fern, Gardenista

    Above: Acid fronds of a feathery rabbit's foot fern form a striking contrast against English Ivy.

    Lyman Estate and white pine, Gardenista

    Above: A masterpiece of landscape architecture, Pell's design considered the relationship between the house and grounds from every angle, so that from every vantage point they appear seamlessly integrated.

    The Lyman Estate Greenhouses are open to the public from 9:30 am - 4:00 pm, Wednesday - Sunday, December 15 - July 15 and Wednesday - Saturday, July 16 - December 14. They are closed on most major holidays. Admission is free; guided tours are available by appointment Monday - Friday for $6.00. 

    A map of the greenhouse location:


    Looking for more groundbreaking American gardens? Go on An Upstate Adventure at Stonecrop Gardens.

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    The polar vortex might have reared its frigid head again this week, but things have been downright tropical on Gardenista. Some members of our team have been sniffing hibiscus flowers and stringing Hawaiian leis, while others of us have been satisfied admiring much warmer gardens and beach hotels from the relative comfort of our space-heater-surrounded desks.

    Here's a collection of this week's links, inspired by the tropical garden:

    week in review | gardenista

    Bring a bit of the tropics into your apartment. Hang your own Staghorn Fern.

    Live in a place warm enough to plant the tropics in your backyard? Here are 5 Iconic Palm Trees for Home Gardens.

    week in review | gardenista

    We might need to make this Late Winter Orange and Chocolate Tart. Photograph from Happy Yolks.

    Winter feeling too bleak for you? See the 9 Best Plants for Colorful Container Gardens.

    week in review | gardenista

    Pure Green took a steamy trip to Kew Gardens. Photograph by Pauline Boldt

    Weekend craft project? DIY Seed Packets.

      week in review | gardenista

    Dreaming of warmer nights in a garden as cute as this one. Photo by Colin Price for Brick + Mortar.

    We're not the only ones with our minds on warmer temps

    week in review | gardenista

    World's simplest DIY? Cozy up this weekend with homemade Citrus Candles. Share your photos with us by tagging @Gardenista_Sourcebook on Instagram!

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    Spending an hour or two inside a steamy conservatory in the middle of winter is one of the more rejuvenating ways I can think of to pass an afternoon. The thrill of warm air on your cheeks and the concentration of things that are green and leafy can counteract the effects of even the grayest winter day. Even better, toting a camera along to the Bronx will give you endless chances to hone your Instagram skills (and to win a free class at the New York Botanical Garden).

    Photographs by Erin Boyle.

    On January 18, the New York Botanical Garden opened a reprisal of their 2013 exhibit called Tropical Paradise, which displays world class photographs alongside the real-life counterparts in the garden's collection of tropical plants.

    To encourage visitors to flex their own creative muscles, the botanical garden is running a photography contest through February 18. Contestants can visit the Tropical Paradise exhibit and try their hands at winning. There aren't any rules saying you need to use a professional camera, so even if a digital-SLR isn't in your toolbox, you can pull out a smartphone or a point-and-shoot and get started. For the full details on the 2014 contest, head to the NYBG website.

    Grand Prize winners in each of two categories will be awarded a gift certificate for use in any of the botanical garden's classes, including their photography classes. I won't say I'm not tempted to submit for that opportunity alone.

    If you're feeling a little uncertain about your photography skills, the botanical garden uploaded a terrific series of Garden Photo Tips to YouTube.

    My own training behind the camera is mostly trial and error, so when I visited, I relished the opportunity to try my hand at capturing what seemed like hundreds of different angles of as many species of plants.

    I brought along my 1.8 mm lens (an affordable option for DSLR users hoping to get up close and personal) and snapped away, using my manual settings to try to achieve the perfect capture. In setting like this, I'm particularly fond of creating images that blur out everything but the subject. To achieve the effect, I experiment with turning down my f-number. On a kit lens, you'll likely be able to get down to about f5.6, which is plenty low enough to achieve a similar look.

    The photo contest is only open to entries taken in the Tropical Paradise exhibit, but admission to the botanical garden buys you entry to all of the collections in the Haupt Conservatory. I think I like the desert rooms the best. For specific details about the contest and regular visiting hours, see NYBG. Admission to Tropical Paradise is $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, and free for members.

    Interested in more tips for taking great garden photos? See 10 Tips for Gorgeous Garden Photos.

    This is an update of a post originally published January 29, 2013 as part of our coverage of Haberdashery Week.

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    A beach home in Uruguay flaunts lofted ceilings, a wraparound deck, and a kitchen far more chic than yours or mine. This, and more, in one very tiny room.

    The design employs several space-maximizing tricks: A jute rug with only a small cushioned "sofa" makes the singular main room feel like an adaptable space. An unvarying neutral color palette keeps the hut from feeling cluttered, and lets discrete spaces "borrow" elbow room from each other. Ample use of cushions negates the need for bulky furniture, and furnishings that do exist—such as cabinets, tables, and stools—are quite petite.

    And yes, the surrounding miles of grassy beach and the ocean at its doorstep also help. (As does a wide-angle lens.)

    Photos via EspacioLiving.

    Above: Several glass doors and windows maximize light and views, even at night or in foul weather.

    Above: A perfectly rustic white ladder leans over the kitchen and up to the sleeping loft.

    Above: Scale is everything in this hut; What looks at first glance like a full bedroom is merely a sideways mattress on a small sleeping platform.

    Above: The rustic-chic kitchen stocks the essentials: a propane stove, Bialetti espresso maker, and what looks a lot like an Ikea Magasin dish rack.

    For more rustic kitchens, see 5 Favorites: Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens.

    Above: If you were beginning to wonder if the hut really has everything you'd need: Yes, there is a bathroom (L). By forgoing actual furniture, the hut can offer several distinct spaces such as a compact "living room" (R).

    Above: Replete with cushions and a hammock, the wraparound deck serves as the outdoor room. (N.B.: Find out how to make a DIY hammock in your own yard.)

    Above: The hut's small-scale furnishings include a stool, drum, and potted plants.

    Above: On one side, the rugged deck juts out, creating yet another tiny but discrete space.

    Looking for more inspiration? See more photos of Small Space Living in our Gallery.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published August 9, 2012.

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