Articles on this Page
- 02/26/14--09:00: _Dry Garden Roundup:...
- 02/26/14--11:30: _DIY: Indigo Dye wit...
- 02/27/14--03:00: _Ask the Expert: 7 W...
- 02/27/14--06:30: _Shopper's Diary: Ca...
- 02/27/14--09:00: _Hardscaping 101: Ra...
- 02/27/14--11:30: _5 Quick Fixes: Gard...
- 02/28/14--03:00: _Outbuilding of the ...
- 02/28/14--06:00: _Fields of Green: 5 ...
- 02/28/14--09:00: _5 Favorites: Rain G...
- 02/28/14--11:30: _Week in Review: The...
- 03/01/14--16:00: _A Garden You Water ...
- 03/02/14--03:00: _Architect Visit: A ...
- 03/03/14--03:00: _Table of Contents: ...
- 03/03/14--06:30: _Landscape Architect...
- 03/03/14--09:30: _Field Guide: Crocus
- 03/03/14--11:30: _Shopper's Diary: Od...
- 03/04/14--03:00: _A Verdant Garden in...
- 03/04/14--06:30: _Steal This Look: El...
- 03/04/14--09:00: _Trend Alert: Black ...
- 03/04/14--11:35: _5 Favorites: Polish...
- 02/26/14--11:30: DIY: Indigo Dye with Cara Marie Piazza
- 1 part natural indigo in powder form (100 grams of Organic Indigo is $19.50 from Botanical Colors)
- 2 parts calcium hydroxide, also known as pickling lime, cal, calx. (250 grams of Calcium Hydroxide is $7 from Botanical Colors)
- 3 parts fructose crystals (250 grams of Fruit Sugar Fructose Powder is $8 from Botanical Colors)
- 2-quart Mason jar or heat safe container (or larger if you are making a larger vat)
- A non-reactive cooking pot for your vat
- Natural fabric (wool, silk, cotton, etc. work best)
- Rubber bands
- 02/27/14--06:30: Shopper's Diary: Caffé Spina in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
- 02/27/14--09:00: Hardscaping 101: Rain Gutters
- Galvanized steel
- Protect home’s foundation, crawlspace, basement
- Protect landscaping and prevent soil erosion
- Protect siding from water damage
- Maintenance chore
- Can break or bend in heavy snow country
- Can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, if improperly maintained or installed
- Can be aesthetically limited
- 02/27/14--11:30: 5 Quick Fixes: Garden Hose Management
- 02/28/14--06:00: Fields of Green: 5 Favorite Lawn Substitutes
- 02/28/14--09:00: 5 Favorites: Rain Gauges
- 02/28/14--11:30: Week in Review: The Rain Dance
- Above: Blossoms + Coffee = No Brainer. Photo courtesy of Nicole Franzen.
- On a recent trip to New York, Michelle spotted unexpected blooms on the Upper East Side and shared with everyone via Instagram.
- Landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck knows a thing or two about drought-friendly gardens.
- Above: Practicing an ancient art: textile edition.
- Hot pink food, naturally. Spotted on Pinterest.
- Sunset's 11 Eco-friendly Tips for Indoor/Outdoor Living.
- Where spent flowers go to get recycled.
- Above: A no water, no-fuss bouquet that will last for weeks.
- A shadow house in the middle of the desert.
- Want to live waste-free? Pee on your plants.
- Above: A Swedish sauna like you've never seen. Photo courtesy of Windgardhs.
- A calendar inspired by eating local.
- 12 Easy Snacks for Kids. Picky kiddos? See Fruit Roll-Ups for Happy Kids (and Moms).
- Above: Stylish Storage Solutions from a Brooklyn Designer on Remodelista.
- Dress your herb garden up with these.
- 03/01/14--16:00: A Garden You Water Four Times a Year
- 03/02/14--03:00: Architect Visit: A Private Sauna on a Swedish Fjord
- 03/03/14--03:00: Table of Contents: Issue Number 9 • Grand Gardens
- 03/03/14--09:30: Field Guide: Crocus
- Perennial: Grows from bulb-like corms
- Hardy: Zones 6-8 (and 9 in the West)
- Pair it with plants that can live in snow, such as winter jasmine or snowdrops
- If over-eager buds appear in January, cover with milk cartons to protect from cold
- Partial to full sun
- Water in fall if beds are very dry
- 03/04/14--03:00: A Verdant Garden in Seattle
- 03/04/14--06:30: Steal This Look: Elegant French Country Compost Bins
- 03/04/14--09:00: Trend Alert: Black Fences
- 03/04/14--11:35: 5 Favorites: Polished Metal Plant Pots
The water crisis here in California has us thinking about gardens and plants that can thrive with minimal water needs. We browsed our Image Gallery—a collection of more than 3,800 photos—for inspiration and found some of our favorite dry gardens.
Above: Lambley Nursery outside of Melbourne, Australia offers several acres of drought-tolerant gardens to visitors year-round. Some plants are Australian natives, but hundreds of varieties are imported from dry climates around the world. Learn more in A Garden You Water Four Times a Year and browse our galleries of Xeriscape & Desert Gardens and Succulents.
Above: Beth Mullins of Growsgreen Landscape Design used buff-colored gravel as a permeable substrate to allow rainfall to linger in this drought-tolerant San Francisco garden. Learn more about the project in A City Garden with a Spectacular View and view all of our gardens in San Francisco.
Above: Drought-tolerant plants Cordyline 'Renegade' and Senecio mandraliscae 'Kleinia' flourish in a container garden in a Southern California residential landscape by Boor Bridges Architecture. See the rest of the garden in Garden Visit: Drought-Tolerant in Southern California and view all examples of Container Gardening in our gallery.
Above: Garden designer Janet Hankinson chose drought-tolerant Muhlenbergia grass to join existing rosemary and baccarus in stabilizing a Berkeley, California hillside garden. Read more about the project in The Landscape Designer Is In: Drought-Tolerant, Deer Resistant—and on a Budget—In Berkeley and browse our gallery of Grasses.
Above: Green carpet rupturewort is a thick groundcover plant suitable as a lawn substitute. It has one long tap root rather than many surface roots, aiding in water conservation. Read about this and other low-water lawn alternatives in Fields of Green: 5 Favorite Lawn Substitutes and browse our gallery of Lawn Gardens.
Indigo is an ancient color, a natural dye extracted from a plant of the same name, and the only true blue dye in nature. It's been found in ancient Egyptian mummy wrappings and was so valued by the Romans as a luxury product, the story goes, that the only people who knew how to dye with indigo were hidden away in the forest.
Because of its weighty history, I always imagined that indigo was too hard to work with at home. But after a studio visit with textile artist Cara Marie Piazza, I think it seems well worth tackling and not as complicated as I once thought.
Cara shared with us her recipe for creating an easy indigo vat, a recipe passed down to her by Kathy Hattori, whose website Botanical Colors is an excellent resource for natural dyeing.
Photographs by Sophia Moreno-Bunge.
Above: A vat of indigo dye in Cara's studio.
Now for a bit of a science lesson: In order for indigo to release its dye molecule, and attach itself to fibers and bond, excess oxygen must be removed from the molecule; this particular vat uses the chemical reaction between a mineral alkali and a natural reducing agent to do so (a process called reduction). Based on recipes used in Morocco, India, and Provence, this vat recipe uses natural agents such as dried and fresh fruits, minerals, and flavonoids (the natural pigments in plants).
Above: Indigo dyed wool by Cara Marie Piazza.
Above: An indigo vat ready to be rebalanced.
Above: A textile that's just been taken out of the vat looks teal green.
Above: Slowly, the textile turns a deeper shade of indigo as it reacts with the air.
Above: The finished product in a deep shade of indigo.
DIY Indigo Dye
(If you're interested in one-stop shopping, an Indigo Shibori Kit with all of the necessary ingredients to get started on your own indigo vat is $49.95 from Botanical Colors.)
Part I: Mixing an Indigo Stock
Decide how much indigo to use based on the shade of color you want to achieve. For reference: 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of powdered indigo will make a vat that will dye around 2 pounds of fabric a light to medium shade of blue; 4 tablespoons (50 grams) of powdered indigo will make a vat that dyes the same amount of fabric a medium to dark shade of blue; 8 tablespoons (100 grams) yields a dark blue, with enough leftover indigo to dye a few other pieces of fabric a lighter shade. After you've decided on the amount of indigo, you can calculate how much you'll need of the calcium hydroxide and fructose crystals.
Next, create a stock in your Mason jar. Pour your indigo powder into the jar (we used 8 tablespoons), and add a bit of warm water to create a gritty paste. Add about 2 cups of hot water (heated to about 120 degrees) and stir; the solution should be dark blue. Add the fructose crystals and stir well. Slowly add the calcium hydroxide and stir so it is well incorporated. You want to get out the lumps without beating too fast, to avoid adding air to the solution.
Top off the jar with additional hot water after the calcium hydroxide is incorporated. The mixture should look greenish and murky. Let it settle for an hour, giving it a stir every 15 minutes. The chemical reaction works best if the solution is warm, so feel free to place the glass jar in a pot of hot water. The stock at the top might look yellow-green or brownish red—this is normal. After 45 minutes, give the solution one more stir and let it settle for 15 minutes.
When a layer of copper colored scum develops at the surface, you know your stock is ready. At this stage, you'll notice the liquid in the jar has divided into two sections: a layer of sludge at the bottom and a thin liquid layer on top (similar to when you mix oil and vinegar). Your stock will look yellowish green or brown.
Part II: Preparing an Indigo Vat
After you've got your stock, you are ready to make your indigo vat. Fill a non-reactive dye pot about 2/3 full of hot water (heated to approximately 120 degrees). Carefully pour all the stock (including sludge) into the pot and stir gently. Allow the vat to turn a yellowish green color (this takes usually from 15 to 30 minutes). After the vat has a yellowish and coppery scum on top, it is balanced and ready for dipping. Keep it over a low heat to maintain the temperature.
Part III: Preparing and Dyeing Fabric
Meanwhile, prepare the fabric. Fabric should be thoroughly soaked in warm water before folding and dipping. There are many different techniques to create different patterns. One we like: fold fabric like a paper fan into 1- or 2-inch increments, and then tie it with a rubber band or string. You can dip fibers for from 30 seconds to three minutes; after you remove the fabric, let it drip into a container (later you'll pour the liquid back into the vat). Continue to dip until the fabric is two shades darker than you want it to be—after you rinse it, it will lose some of its color.
This next step is where the magic begins. When you take your fabric out of the vat, dip it in cold water. Then, undo the folds and the ties. Let it air for at least 30 minutes. You will want to rinse your fabric out a few times with cold water; you should wash it separately, so that its color does not stain other garments.
After the vat turns from yellowish-green to blue, you will need to reheat and add a generous spoonful of fructose crystals. This is called rebalancing the vat. Wait for from 15 to 30 minutes for the vat to turn greenish yellow again; if it doesn't, add a level spoonful of calcium hydroxide and wait. You may need to repeat this process.
You can keep an indigo vat active for up to six months, as long as you rebalance each time you reheat it (always to 120 degrees). You may also need to replenish the vat when you're ready to use it again, if it's lost a lot of its color potency. To replenish the vat, create a new jar of stock and add it to existing vat. Store your vat in an airtight container with a lid.
To learn about Cara's natural dye studio, see Shopper's Diary: Natural Flower Dyes and Silk Scarves, From Cara Marie Piazza.
I don't know anybody who's not worried about water. There's either too much of it or too little. In California, where I live, we're experiencing the worst drought in a century. In New York, where my friends live, sea levels are rising so fast that LaGuardia Airport may become a modern version of the lost city of Atlantis by 2100.
Can one person with one garden—you, for instance, or me—help? Yes, says graywater crusader Sally Dominguez. An Australian architect transplanted five years ago to Northern California, Dominguez says every little bit helps. Dominguez, who invented a rainwater catchment tank called the Rainwater Hog, says the biggest step we Americans can take is to change our attitudes. We should recycle more, re-using laundry and shower water known as graywater in the garden to water plants.
In Australia, where drought is a way of life, using graywater is second nature. "In Sydney, where we could get fined $200 for watering the lawn or washing a car, I had friends who wanted something sleek and discreet to capture and store rainwater," says Dominguez, who designed the Rainwater Hog tank in 2004 at the height of drought-induced water restrictions in Australia.
Remodeling? This is a grand opportunity. You can have your water plumbed so laundry and shower water drains into a holding tank for garden use. Studies show that from 50 to 80 percent of household water could be recycled as graywater, creating huge savings. But even if you're not planning major construction, there are other simple ways to collect enough graywater to make a difference. Here are Dominguez' top tips:
Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.
1. Collect water in the shower. Before you turn on the faucet to heat up water to take a shower, place a bucket or pail on the floor to catch running water. Use that bucket to water garden plants.
2. Put a bowl in your kitchen sink to catch clean water. (But don't save dirty dishwater: grease and animal fats from food can cause problems in the garden, by attracting vermin or breeding germs.) "It's unbelievable how often the faucet is running—it's a reality check," says Dominguez. "You can use the water in the bowl to water your plants a little."
3. Use drip irrigation in the garden. It's more environmentally friendly than sprinklers or sprayers—and better for most plants. "You use less water, and you deliver it more efficiently to the root system by dripping," Dominguez says.
Above: Photograph via Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture.
4. Keep your lawn, but water it with graywater. Drain water from the clothes washer and the shower into a holding tank and recycle it by using it on the lawn.
"Don't give up your lawn—my take on it is this: when we moved here from Australia, we went to a house for a cocktail party and saw this lush lawn. My kids and I couldn't believe it. It looked so rich and inviting we all immediately took off our shoes and walked in it. A lawn is a beautiful, emotional thing, like a pool, and it has an emotional value. It makes a garden look beautiful and serene," says Dominguez.
Above: Photograph via LiD Architecture.
5. Collect rainwater—but don't use it in the garden. "Bring rainwater into the house and use it to wash clothes. Then use the graywater from the laundry in the garden," says Dominguez. "That way you cut down on your use of city water, too."
Above: The Rainwater Hog designed by Dominguez is a plastic 53-gallon tank that can store water vertically or horizontally, against the side of the house or beneath a deck, depending on where you have the space to store it. "It's modular—think of each tank as a building block of Lego—and you can create a system using multiple tanks," she says. For pricing and information, see Rainwater Hog.
6. One exception: use rainwater on the vegetable garden. "Anything you're going to eat gets rainwater; the rest of your trees and plants can be watered with graywater," she says.
Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.
7. Use a biodegradable laundry detergent. This will ensure the gray water from your washing machine won't harm plants.
Interested in using a rainwater butt to collect water? See Remodelista's stylish find, a Galvanized Rainwater Butt from Garden Trading.
For more ways to conserve water, see 11 Tips for Designing a Water-Conscious Garden.
Before opening Caffé Spina in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Vanessa Chinga-Haven was busy crunching numbers behind the scenes as financial adviser to floral designer and event planner Paul Diaz of Spina NYC. When Vanessa felt an itch to start an endeavor that would get her hands dirty, she floated the idea of opening a flower shop that wasn't just a flower shop—and Paul was immediately on board. He provided the funding to get the new business off the ground and gave Vanessa the freedom to run with it.
But there was a minor issue: Vanessa wanted to open a combination flower and coffee shop, but she'd never so much as steamed milk behind a coffee bar. None of that mattered to Paul and, as Vanessa explains, spurred on by Paul's refrain of "let's just make it happen" and the support of her husband, Scott Haven, she forged ahead.
Photographs by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.
Above: The shop window.
When Vanessa stumbled upon the gem of a retail space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, last February, she was halfway through her first pregnancy and her approaching due date inspired her to get the shop up and running by May, before the baby was expected to arrive.
As it turns out, the shop required a bit of handiwork to make it customer-ready. The floor had been painted black and a funky recessed portion of it had to be removed. Vanessa and Scott, who now works full time on the business, had some differences of opinion about making shop repairs. Vanessa was budget-conscious and wanted to try to do everything herself, while Scott encouraged hiring professionals to improve the raw space.
Above: A quiet seating area across from the coffee bar.
Together they decided on a group of plumbers, carpenters, and electricians to transform the Greenpoint storefront into a bright, welcoming spot for the neighborhood. In contrast to nearby shops, Vanessa wanted her space to look modern and fresh. She started by painting the entire space white and adding a new hardwood floor. But despite her efforts to modernize, she took care to leave the pressed tin and brick elements exposed as vestiges of the shop's past. Flowers and plants serve as the pops of color against a neutral white and natural wood backdrop.
Above: The full-to-brimming flower counter.
Vanessa never wanted the shop to have the feel of a traditional florist's shop, and so she opted against a cooler for keeping flowers fresh. She heads to the flower market several times a week for fresh blossoms instead. The day-to-day running of the shop is left in the capable hands of Vince Cross, a longtime family friend and someone who Vanessa descibes as the "unofficial face of the store."
Above: Cut flowers in glass vases replenished with fresh water and sold flower-stand-style.
Above: At $15 apiece, pre-arranged bouquets are among the best sellers in the shop.
Above: An assortment of houseplants for sale.
Houseplants are handpicked by Vanessa from nurseries on Long Island and brought into the shop with an eye toward providing neighborhood residents with plants that have a chance of surviving in city apartments that might not have optimal light conditions or caretakers able to spend a lot of time caring for their charges. Vanessa explains: "Hardy, low-light plants keep our customers happy."
Above: The coffee bar, which serves Blue Bottle Coffee and Bellocq Tea.
Vanessa decided to contract with Blue Bottle coffee for the coffee portion of the business. And, she exclaims, the partnership has been amazing. Blue Bottle has been hands-on from everything to training baristas to suggesting a builder to construct the coffee bar.
Above: A latte to go.
Vanessa didn't want the coffee to be secondary to the rest of the shop: "I wanted people to come because they liked our lattes…".
Above: Home goods and housewares for sale.
In addition to offering customers coffee, flowers, and plants, Spina keeps an inventory of home goods made by local Brooklyn designers. Scott works with Gardenista favorites like Light + Ladder, Helen Levi, Chen Chen Works, Mast Brothers Chocolates, and Lite + Cycle Candles.
Above: Pre-potted houseplants in planters made by local Brooklyn ceramacists.
Above: Staghorn ferns, plants, and planters at Caffé Spina.
The shop is open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 7 pm, and from 9 am to 7 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Above: To visit the shop for yourself, head to 107 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222.
Curious to see more from Brooklyn designers like Light + Ladder? See Julie's post Stylish Storage Solutions from a Brooklyn Designer on Remodelista.
Often little noticed, rain gutters occupy a prominent place on many homes. They're frequently perched at the end of a slanted roof, where they are not only a critical part of a building's infrastructure, they also create a visual outline of a house's architecture. When it comes time to select new gutters, there is a lot to keep in mind: style, color, material type, cost, and longevity are factors to consider. We've put together a cheat sheet to help with the selection process:
Above: Gutters over a porch, half-round style; photograph via Steven Harris Architects.
Does your house need rain gutters?
Most houses do, but not all. Their primary function is to channel rain that falls onto a roof toward a surface drainage system (or catchment system) and away from the foundation, basement, or crawlspace. Whether you need gutters depends on the size of your roof's surface area, the slope of the land and surrounding landscaping, and how much precipitation falls on your house. In some climates, gutters are not advised. In heavy snowfall territory, for instance, ice buildup can tear them off. And in regions with little rainfall, they may be unnecessary or only necessary on a portion of your house (above exterior doors, for example). You may wish to consult an experienced builder or architect in your area if you're unsure if you need rain gutters. If most homes in your area have them, chances are you'll need them also.
What materials are used for gutters?
Gutters come in a variety of materials:
Most expensive: Copper, zinc, and wood gutters are at the high end of the price spectrum, ranging from $20 to $32 per linear foot including installation (depending on area and metal gauge). Though expensive, they last longer; copper and zinc gutters have the added benefit of requiring no paint and little maintenance.
Above: Weathered copper gutters; photograph via Euro Gutter USA.
Copper weathers from a bright finish to an understated brown and verdigris that blends well with stone, wood, and Mediterranean style homes. Zinc has a soft, understated, uniform gray finish that works well with a variety of styles.
Above: Brand new copper gutters (L) in half-round style are held in place with copper brackets. A copper downspout flange (R) is soldered in place. Photographs via Ferret & Hound.
Above: Zinc gutters, half-round style. Photograph via Gutter Supply.
Wood gutters made of cedar, redwood, and fir are used mostly in renovation work on historic homes. Allen Buschert, an experienced contractor in the Bay Area, says he often sees redwood gutters that still look great after 100 years of use.
Above: Hand-carved curved redwood gutters made by Blue Ox Mill in Eureka, California. The cost of redwood gutters is from $22 to $32 per linear foot.
Mid-price range: Galvanized steel; “galvalume” (steel with a zinc and aluminum coating), and aluminum are in the medium price range of from $6 to $10 per linear foot, including installation.
Aluminum is the most commonly used material and has the benefit of being corrosion-resistant (although aluminum does not perform well in salt air). Its main drawback is that it dents easily.
Above: Galvanized steel gutters and downspout; photograph via Fitzgerald Timber Frames.
Where I live, north of San Francisco, most contractors prefer to use high-gauge galvanized steel, soldered in place, then painted. Though it can rust, high-gauge steel is strong and durable.
“Galvalume” is a relatively new product made of steel with a zinc and aluminum coating to guard against corrosion.
(A word about joints: Pre-painted galvanized steel and aluminum gutters are an economical choice, but need to be caulked, rather than soldered at the joints, because solder cannot be used on a pre-painted metal. Caulked joints need to be maintained at regular intervals to prevent leaks.)
Least expensive: Easy to install and corrosion-resistant, vinyl gutters cost as little as $3 per linear foot (plus installation), but have a tendency to expand and contract during warm or cold weather, causing them to crack and break. It's best to avoid vinyl if you live in an area with extreme temperature changes.
What profile/shapes are available?
Different styles predominate in different parts of the country. In the eastern United States, many homes use half-round gutters, while in the west the K-style, or Ogee gutter is more common. A third style, also common in the west, is the fascia style, in which the gutter acts as a fascia board.
Above: An example of K-style or ogee gutters painted in trim color.
What are some design considerations?
Perhaps the first factor to consider is color. If unpainted copper or zinc would work with your exterior, you may want to invest in one of these long-lasting materials. Or if you'd prefer to have the gutters blend in with your home's body or trim color, steel or aluminum gutters (both of which can be painted) may be your best choice.
The second factor is shape, and once again you may want the gutter to blend in as trim or stand alone as its own architectural statement.
Rain Gutter Recap
Are you remodeling the interior of your house as well as the exterior? See Remodelista's archive of Remodeliing 101 posts.
Beyond the standard issue hose hanger; five practical and innovative ideas to detangle the garden hose and keep it off the ground.
Above: The galvanized Steel Hose Hanger from Swiss company Alba Krapf hangs on to any existing tap wall mounting, neatly solving the problem of where to stow the garden hose; €19 at Manufactum.
Above: Old wooden textile spools (found at antique shops and flea markets) bolted to a backyard fence create a hose hangar. Via Sunset.
Above: An industrial-strength steel bracket is bolted to a deck support beam for instant hose storage. Via Modern Cottage. A comparable steel Handrail Bracket could serve the same function; $16.76 from RB Wagner.
Above: This Galvanized Bucket bolted to the wall not only serves as a hose hanger, but also as a caddy for the sprinkler (or other gardening implements); $13.99 at Amazon. Go to Martha Stewart for instructions.
N.B. This is an update of a post that originally published on May 23, 2012.
At night, an old barn glows like a full moon, thanks to its new translucent skin.
Architects Carver + Schicketanz transformed the hand hewn oak skeleton, transporting it from New Hampshire to become an energy-efficient guesthouse for three generations of a family in central California's Santa Ynez mountains.
The 100-year-old barn was disassembled in New Hampshire and then transported to the West Coast, where the frame was rebuilt and covered with light-filtering Kalwall panels. Like traditional windows, the panels let in sunlight. But they provide more privacy than transparent glass and reduce energy costs; the panels, made of a composite that includes 20 percent recycled material, are filled with translucent insulation at custom densities to keep the building warm in winter and cool in summer.
Photographs via Carver + Schicketanz.
Above: Sited on a 20-acre parcel, the 2,600-square-foot guest house has a solar hot water system, radiant heat—and enormous barn doors that slide open to take advantage of the climate and the views.
Above: The guesthouse is an example of environmentally sustainable design. In additional to the solar water and radiant heat systems, it has a 2,500-gallon cistern to hold captured rainwater for re-use.
Above: Interior walls are clad in a variety of materials, including recycled corrugated metal. To raise the first-floor ceiling level, the architects placed 4-foot-high steel columns beneath each of the barn's timber posts.
Above: A soft glow emanates from the barn, reducing light pollution emissions.
Above: No air conditioning necessary; thanks to a temperate climate and commodious double-height doors, a fan is the only mechanism necessary to cool it.
Above: The client sourced many of the furnishings at local flea markets. Kitchen drawers are made of recycled produce crates.
Above: A water bucket, recycled for use as a bathroom sink.
Above: Interior sliding barn doors complement the building's exterior finishes.
Above: Set against a backdrop of oak trees on the client's horse ranch near Santa Barbara, the barn gleams in twilight.
Intrigued by new possibilities for an old barn? Get more ideas from Remodelista's Architect Visit: Barn Conversions.
Another of our favorite stories about how an old barn got a new life is A Stone Barn Saved from Subdivision.
Ah, the scent of freshly mowed grass. And... lawn mower noise, grass allergies, proliferation of chemical fertilizers, obscene water consumption, and continual war with lawn intruders (of the "weed" variety). The suburban romance with groomed grass turf is over.
The good news for those who still want a field of green is the abundance of lawn substitutes that can accommodate foot traffic, pet traffic, and rounds of lawn games.
Have you ventured into this new turf? Do tell (in the comments section below).
Above: What's better than lying on a fresh green carpet on a spring day and searching for shapes in the clouds? Consider ground covers or eco-lawn varieties that reduce or eliminate mowing, irrigation, and chemicals (keeping the important people and animals in your life healthy). Photograph by Pietro Bellini via Flickr.
Above: Surprisingly nearly as rugged as ordinary grass, Blue Star Creeper (Isotoma fluviatillis) ground cover is fast growing and can take heavy foot traffic. It creates a floral meadow in the spring and summer. Hardy in zones 5 to 9; $9.95 for a 1-quart pot at Great Garden Plants.
Above: Green Carpet Rupturewort (Herniaria glabra) is so-called for its abundance of tiny leaves that grow in a very low flat manner to create a dense evergreen carpet. It turns a reddish color in winter. Hardy in zones 5 to 9; $4.95 for a 3-inch pot at Mountain Valley Growers.
Above: Have an abundance of shade? Consider replacing your lawn with moss. (Yes, this may require a shift in thinking if you've been fighting to keep moss out of your lawn.) Sheet Moss (Hypnum) is easy to cultivate and stands up to foot traffic. It forms a low dense mat, making it a favored lawn alternative; $24.95 for five pounds (covers 5 square feet) at TN Native Tree & Plant Nursery. Image via Safe Lawns.
Above: For sunny spots, consider Kidney Weed (Dichondra micrantha). It thrives in warmer climates (zones 8-10), spreads easily and grows to 1 or 2 inches in height; $5.60 for a 1/2-ounce seed packet (about 6,000 seeds) at Park Seed. Image via Randy McManus Designs.
Above: Very drought tolerant, low-growing Elfin Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) forms a tight solid mat of green foliage that blooms with light pink flowers in summer. The sun-loving plant is a vigorous creeper that stands up to foot traffic. And, did I mention the scent? A set of three 4-inch pots is $19.95 at Greenwood Nursery.
Above: Rather than scrap grass altogether, consider an eco-lawn mix of grasses and flowering plants. A variety of mixes is available and their "ingredients" vary. They all offer a low-water, low-maintenance meadow-like lawn that can be left to grow or can be mowed (albeit far less frequently) to keep it low.
Fleur de Lawn is a flowering eco-lawn mix with low growing perennial flowers that change color and texture through the seasons. It was developed at Oregon State University through research on eco-friendly landscapes; $29.95 for a 1-pound bag at Pro Time Lawn Seed. Photograph via Oregon State University Department of Horticulture.
Above: Not ready to abandoned your lawn entirely? There is a middle ground that falls under the category of "wanted weeds." Transform your existing lawn into a low-maintenance, less-thirsty, self fertilizing lawn by over-seeding it with clover seed. Clover absorbs nitrogen from the air and deposits it into the ground, providing a constant stream of nutrition for the lawn (so you can forget fertilizers). It also has deep roots, making it less thirsty and more drought tolerant. The best clover varieties to introduce to lawns are micro clovers that are small and blend in well with grass. A 2-pound bag of Earth Turf Clover Overseed (covers 500 square feet) is $29.
We realize not everyone is ready to give up grass. See what happened when Remodelista's editors spent a whole week On the Lawn.
By the way, you can keep your lawn without guilt; here are 7 Ways to Save Water in the Garden.
N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published on March 21, 2013.
Growing up in Seattle, I was always looking for ways to turn rainy weather into entertainment. Rain gauges might not be the first thing to jump to mind. But, at the risk of sounding like my elementary school science teacher, measuring is fun (not to mention a good tool for the practical gardener). We've rounded up five favorite rain gauges - all of the low-tech variety.
NB: Fans of high tech (and those who prefer to stay indoors), should explore Oregon Scientific's Rain Gauge offerings.
Above: New England master craftsman Steve Conant makes rain gauges using the same custom techniques developed in the 19th century. The Conant Custom Estate Brass Rain Gauge is available in brass for $61.71 at Amazon.
Above: A smaller version of the Conant Rain Gauge measures 6.5 inches tall and mounts to a post or a wall; $15.99 at Brookstone.
Above: The Conant Grande View Rain Gauge uses a twisting brass stake to support the measuring tube and to mount the gauge into soft ground (a post-mounting option is also available); $40.99 at Van Dykes Restorers.
Above: Styled like an ice cube tray, LaCrosse Cascading Ice Cube Rain Gauge catches rain that filters through each canal, distributing it evenly up for a measurement capacity of six inches; $11.08 at Amazon.
Above: The LaCrosse Cascading Ice Cube Rain Gauge can sit on a table, railing, or patio for easy reading and emptying; a great rain gauge for curious kids.
Above: For the modernist, consider the Blomus Calla Rain Gauge. Made with a stainless steel rim and stake with an acrylic body; $70.19 at Amazon.
N.B. This is an update of a post that originally ran on September 19, 2012.
Finding your rain gauge a little low? Perhaps you need to read 11 Tips for Designing a Water-Conscious Garden or 7 Ways to Save Water in the Garden, from a Graywater Crusader
This week has been a watery one on Gardenista. We've measured water, stored water, and stopped ourselves from diving straight off the deep end. Maybe our rain dances have helped, because it poured in California on Wednesday. While we wait for more rain, here are a few things we've loved recently:
Australia is the driest inhabited continent, a fact that might scare off some gardeners. Not David Glenn.
Two decades ago Glenn, a nurseryman from England for whom the word "garden" conjured images of the herbaceous perennial borders of his childhood, moved with his wife, still-life painter Criss Canning, to a windswept plain two hours away from Melbourne. Their original hope was for a modest garden, based on Glenn's knowledge of plants and Canning's design skills. Then they bought several acres of land—in a drought-plagued region—and a 19th century farmhouse with a 130-foot-long driveway. Says Glenn: "A modest garden wasn't possible."
Nowadays, Lambley Nursery and its spectacular dry gardens—which get watered deeply no more than four times a year—are open to the public every day. Visitors see hundreds of varieties of flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, and other unusual plants imported from climates with hot dry summers and relatively cold winters. (Glenn's plants thrive in a climate where annual temperatures range from a high of 115 degrees F. to a low of 20 degrees F.) "I do grow some Australian native plants, but I don't like the rather intolerant horticultural chauvinism that has become popular," he says. "I choose plants because of their beauty, and because I want to make a beautiful garden. I don't want to make a political statement."
Photographs by Iza Bartosiewicz, except where noted.
Above: The dry gardens at Lambley are planted in large swaths of complementary colors and textures. Photograph via Lambley Nursery.
Above: A drift of Sedum spectabile 'Meteor'; it's $9 when in stock (Lambley doesn't not ship internationally, but for US gardeners, Sedum spectabile 'Brilliant' is available; three bulbs for $7.95 from Bulbs Direct). Succulents need relatively little water. Image via Lambley Nursery.
Above: "Vita Sackville-West once wrote that she didn't want her garden to be an infirmary for ailing plants," says Glenn. "I agree with her, and I'm ruthless. If they don't grow and flower well, they are replaced by others that will."
Above: Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' (L) gets cut down to the ground in winter; it's $9 for gardeners who live in Australia. Cotyledon orbiculata 'Tall Flowered Form' (R) has powdery gray leaves with maroon edges.
Above: Good soil preparation is the key to getting plants like Salvia sclarea to flourish with little supplementary watering, says Glenn. To prepare a bed for plants, he digs deeply and then mixes in from four to five inches of compost, to aerate the soil and help hold moisture. Image via Lambley Nursery.
Above: "When I do water, I water well," Glenn says. "I use an overhead sprinkler during a cool summer spell and give each area about an inch and a half." (He uses a rain gauge to measure.) Image via Eat Dig Play.
Above: Yucca elata, known as Soaptree Yucca, thrives in high desert climates, including the southwestern US and northern Mexico.
Above: "We choose plants for the ability to enjoy our climate, but they must be beautiful, too," Glenn says. Flowering plants play against the bold foliage of such evergreens as Yucca, Beschorneria, frost-hardy Echium and silver-leaved Phlomis.
Above: Glenn's favorite plant is Agastache 'Sweet Lili,' a hybrid he discovered in a flower bed. "So much better than all the other Humming Bird Mint varieties we grow," he says. Image via Lambley Nursery.
Above: Pelargonium sidoides is frost resistant and makes a superb ground cover; Glenn plants it in drifts that are two or three yards long by a yard wide. Every third year or so, when they get scruffy, he cuts them back to the ground. Image via Lambley Nursery.
Above: Glenn loves to grow plants from wild, collected seed: "I've started a garden of small plants grown from seed collected from dry mountain ranges, a sort of dry climate alpine garden—a whole new adventure." Image via Eat Dig Play. (N.B.: To read about more things to do in Melbourne, visit the Melbourne City Guide.)
N.B.: This is an update of a post published May 30, 2012.
Sitting quietly along the Stockholm archipelago, this private sauna by General Architecture is the ultimate space for those seeking some covert relaxation.
Clad in larch wood paneling and heavy glass window panes, the minimalist dry sauna was built with patination in mind as the materials age with wear and weather. For more information, visit General Architecture.
Above: Reachable by boat, the sauna sits on a dock made of the same larch wood.
Above: The sauna, built as a uniform volume, appears as a small summer house when closed but opens to reveal its serene, spa-like interior.
Above: Minimalist decor starts with the Stelton Oil Lamp ($689) from Danish designer Erik Magnussen.
Above: When the sauna is not in use, windows and doors are shut to give the appearance of a house.
N.B.: Table of Contents is a new Monday column to fill you in on what's coming up every week on Gardenista.
Above: Erin visits a London townhouse garden that proves grand doesn't have to be a synonym for grandiose. Wondering how they trimmed the boxwood so precisely? Read our post later today: Landscape Architect Visit: A London Townhouse Gets a Grownup Update.
Above: We've discovered what may be the world's grandest three-bin compost system. Coming tomorrow, Meredith deconstructs the elements in Steal This Look: A Grand 3-Bin Compost System.
Above: Trust Janet to find an elegant garden urn that doesn't look the least bit fussy or pretentious. (Planting it with potato vine helps.) In fact, she found ten like that. Check back on Wednesday, when Janet will unveil 10 Easy Pieces: Elegant Garden Urns.
Above: In the latest installment of our new Hardscaping 101 feature, Ellen learned everything you ever wanted to know about Pennsylvania bluestone. She'll be sharing her secrets in Hardscaping 101: Pennsylvania Bluestone.
Above: Don't think of it as an outhouse. Think of it as a wilderness adventure; Michelle certainly does. She'll be taking us on a tour Friday of Outbuilding of the Week, a stylish Swedish privy clad in burnt wood siding.
When I think of grand gardens, I tend to envision something that Louis XIV might have considered strolling about. But grand doesn't have to mean grandiose, and in the case of this garden designed behind a London townhouse, a grand garden can be scaled to complement a much more modest residence.
Del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architects designed this modern garden for a couple who have lived in their St. John's Wood house for years and who found themselves one day without any children left at home and a garden that had become "tired and overgrown."
The firm explains that "with a keen interest in modern architecture, [the clients] wanted something simple and timeless, a space to entertain and relax and which would also act as the link between the house and a new, modern pavilion at the very rear."
Photographs by Marianne Majerus, courtesy of del Buono Gazerwitz.
Above: A view looking down from the residence above. Exisitng mature wistera vines add violet accents to the garden in springtime.
The result was a design that included a terrace made of Italian travertine overlooking a rectangular lawn. The lawn is edged by a row of white flowering Amelanchiers set within clipped boxwood squares: "Rather than on color, the whole composition relies on the contrast between the different greens and textures of the restrained palette of plants selected," the landscape architects said.
Above: Seven Amelanchier arborea ‘Robin Hill’ trees line the garden lawn. The trees were chosen for their beauty in multiple seasons: "small pretty apple green leaves, beautiful spring flowers, and spectacular autumn leaf color." Between each tree, a neat cube of boxwood (Buxus semervirens). Behind the trees, a thick Hornbeam hedge (Carpinus betulus) stands 1.8 meters tall. The hedge is clipped once a year to create a clean backdrop to the garden plantings.
Above: A stately custom seating area made of travertine to match the terrace. Above the bench, an Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis) provides a lush border. An existing mature Silver birch (Betula pendula) bends gracefully, complementing the straight lines of the bench and garden walll. Behind the tree, a slatted fence was built to provide privacy without blocking natural light.
Above: The lawn and garden path. The garden paths are lined with Pearly Quartz Gravel "which complements the travertine used on the terrace and bench, but is slightly lighter in color and contrasts well with the dark green foliage used within the garden," the landscape architects said. The gravel also functions as a transition between the hardscaping of the terrace and the softer garden plantings.
Above: (L) Another view of the seven Amelanchier arborea. (R) The travertine terrace and sitting area connecting the house and garden.
Taken by travertine? See it put to use inside in The Best of Both: Open Plan and Intimate on Remodelista.
Unruly wisteria at your house? See Train a Wisteria Vine Not to Eat the House.
For more modern garden designs, see all of our Landscape Architect Visits.
Crocus: "The Early Riser"
What will heaven look like when we get there? Emily Dickinson predicted a springtime Resurrection, with “the feet of people walking home” amid clumps of crocuses. We'll be in sandals.
Above: For now we thank those tiny cup shaped flowers for making late February and early March bearable. We love the autumn version—Crocus sativus—too. Named for the ancient Hebrew word for “saffron,” Crocus sativus produces the spice; each flower has the red threadlike stigmas you pay for so dearly at the market (it takes nearly 4,000 flowers to produce an ounce of saffron).
KEEP IT ALIVE:
If you want to harvest your own saffron, pick Crocus sativus flowers on a sunny day and then let the stigmas dry before using them in recipes. Most other crocuses bloom in spring; plant their corms in the autumn in clumps of 12 or more. If they like your soil, crocuses will naturalize and, as the years pass, spread across your early lawn like a pond of purple and yellow and white.
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It's no wonder this discreet little florist in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a favorite of Sofia Coppola. Walk inside the doorway, and prepare to be engulfed by a cloud storm of Paris' prettiest cut flowers:
Inside the Odorantes shop, chalkboard gray walls are a perfect foil for the riot of color that fills vases, covers tabletops, and overwhelms you in the best possible way:
Above: Photograph by Liza Bliss via Flickr.
The shop's owners Christophe Hervé and Emmanuel Sammartino opened Odorantes, located near the Luxembourg Gardens, in 2003.
Above: Photograph by Liza Bliss via Flickr.
A black awning hints at the color scheme that waits for you inside.
Above: Photograph via Odorantes.
A mass of roses and freesias, arranged together to heighten their complementary fragrances.
Above: Photograph by Liza Bliss via Flickr.
Above: Photograph by Liza Bliss via Flickr.
Black furniture, black urns, black lampshades, black paper to wrap bouquets—the perfect foil for the flowers.
Above: Photograph by Liza Bliss via Flickr.
Scented roses and ridiculously irresistible pom pom peonies.
Above: Photographs via Paris Atelier.
Under glass (L), a porcelain flower in a dome. On a table (R), violets, roses, and peonies.
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Above: Odorantes is located at 9 Rue Madame.
Craving a Parisian bouquet? See A Walk Through One of Paris' Last Flower (and Bird) Markets.
Jane Hedreen and David Thyer live in Seattle’s Capitol Hill in a grand 1910 house that takes up six city lots and was once occupied by a US senator. Join us on a tour of their atmospheric gardens, which speak of another century.
Photographs courtesy of Kate Bratz.
Above: A pair of blue atlas cedars, planted when the house was built, form a towering, moving screen over the front walk.
Above: The house came complete with a dreamy if neglected walled garden. Jane added an irrigation system as well as trimmed box and yew hedges for privacy. On her wish list: a lap pool down the middle.
(For more neatly trimmed boxwood, see Brit Style: The Garden With (Almost) No Flowers.)
Above: The south side of the house has an orangerie, a leaded glass plant bay, off the dining room. The exterior is flanked by Japanese maples.
Above: Unearthly looking Podophyllum by the kitchen door.
Above: The garage/carriage house is thick with Boston ivy and other greenery, including a bed of Gunnera and Podophyllum in the sunken garden's old fountain.
Above: Jungly rice paper plants and variegated foliage.
Above: An indoor view of the orangerie planted with small olive trees, which have borne some fruit (Jane tried orange trees, but they succumbed to scales). It has a Tiffany tiled floor in bright blues and golds.
Above: Jane's youngest daughter, Frances, 11, mans the front steps in a Flora and Henri silk Fancy Dress made in Spain (the line's sizes go from newborn to 12). The house's Italianate details, such as the stuccoed arched entry, Juliet balcony, and colonnaded French doors, are courtesy of a remodeling that took place in the 1920s for a senator who wanted a Palladian villa.
N.B. This is an update of a post that originally ran on September 13, 2012 as part of our Stealth Glamour issue.
To see the interiors of this house, go to An Impossibly Grand House in Seattle on Remodelista.
Ojai, California-based Paul Hendershot designed this elegant three-bin compost system as part of a French-inspired vegetable garden for a Santa Barbara couple. The pair do all their own gardening—and composting (Hendershot calls them his idols). We spoke with the designer about the materials that comprise his design.
Project photos by Alicia Cattoni.
Above: The bins sit at the back of a tidy vegetable garden wtih order imposed via hedges, pathways, and a fountain. Hendershot notes that kitchen gardens can sometimes look chaotic, but careful organization keeps chaos at bay. No matter what's going on in the garden, he notes, "it still looks nice because of the order designed around it."
Above: A three-bin compost system produces rich black soil faster than a single or two-bin system. The front wood panels are removable for churning and collecting soil. (Since the bins are raised the owners don't need to stoop too low to churn them.)
To the left of the bins is a stone tool shed that Hendershot says was cost-comparable to "those ugly plastic tool sheds" that can cost as much as $3,000.
Above: For the compost bins, Hendershot used a naturally rot-resistant wood like the cedar decking shown here. [Redwood, cypress, Pacific yew, and ipe are all naturally rot-resitant as well. I used redwood when making my own Custom-Fit Window Boxes.] Photo via Aim Cedar Works.
Above: For framing and ground paving, Hendershot used local Santa Barbara Stone.
Above: Complete the look with pea gravel—whose name refers to the size of the stone—sourced from a local rock and gravel supply.
Above: The tool shed will eventually be completely covered in Boston ivy. (Hendershot intends for only the stone corners to show.) Image via American Gardening.
Above: "Cecil Brunner" rose—a large climbing rose with small pink flowers—grows alongside the ivy on the shed. Image via WorldRose.org.
Offering privacy where it's needed and an impressive backdrop for bright spring greens and wintry goldens as the seasons shift, black fences in the garden seem to be enjoying a special moment in the spotlight.
We've rounded up ten recent favorites that have us itching to pull out our paint brushes and give our tired garden fences a modern update:
Above: Maria of the gardening blog, Almbacken, installed a black fence to serve as backdrop to her Swedish garden and a clever cache for her garbage and recycling units. Photograph by Maria Dremo Sundstrom.
Above: In this Chetwynd Road garden in Highgate, North London, Adam Shepherd of The Landscape Architect Garden Design Consultancy installed a slatted softwood fence stained black atop a brick garden wall. To complete the look, Adam recommends planting a trailing star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). Photograph courtesy of Adam Shepherd.
Above: To recreate the slatted look, Silva Timber Products sells Western Red Cedar Primed Trim Board; £1.33 per linear meter. Photograph courtesy of Silva Timber.
Above: Dutch landscape architect Martin Veltkamp uses black fencing in many of his garden designs. This simple wall he designed for his Moderne Villatuin project is one of our favorites. Photograph courtesy of Martin Veltkamp.
Above: Susan Cohan of Susan Cohan Gardens notes that a black garden fence can make for winter garden drama as golden grasses pop against the dark background. Photograph by Susan Cohan.
Above: In Sydney, Australia, landscape designer Anthony Wyer built scaffolding against a black fence and trained bougainvillea to grow on it. To learn how to recreate the look, see Design Sleuth: Espaliered Vines. Photograph courtesy of Anthony Wyer + Associates.
Above: Gundry & Ducker Architecture used black stained larch boards in the siding, decking, and fencing of their modern expansion project at Dove House in London. Photograph by Joe Clark.
Above: In this Medina Residence project, landscape architect Randy Allworth of Allworth Design included an impressive black wall and pergola to delineate the space between home and garden. Photograph courtesy of Allworth Designs.
Above: Landscape designer Debora Carl installed a black privacy wall to create an intimate sitting area in an Encinitas, CA garden. Photograph courtesy of Debora Carl Landscape Design.
Above: Brooklyn garden blogger James Golden planted his backyard garden just 15 months before this shot was taken. The plantings themselves are impressive—but we're especially drawn to his simple black fence. You can read more about his paint color decisions on the archived version of his blog. Photograph by James Golden.
Not ready to go whole hog with black paint? Take baby steps with a Black Planter instead.
Just because they grow in the dirt, that doesn't mean that your houseplants should get short shrift when it comes to their ability to play dress up. Indeed, plunk an ordinary houseplant into one of our five favorite metallic planters and your windowsill garden might just become the most glamorous corner of your home.
Above: Made of thin sheets of metal spun into the shape of traditional terra cotta pots, designer Monica Förster's Flower Pots come in two sizes with diameters of from 15 to 21 centimeters; prices range from €72 to €192 per pot at Skultuna. Photograph via Fantastic Frank.
Above: Manufactured in Germany, a stainless steel Blomus Greens Round Planter is available in five sizes at prices ranging from $106.19 to $171 at All Modern.
Above: These polished Brass Pots from Artilleriet will develop a patina overtime, and offer a slightly more understated look while staying firmly in the metallic family. The pots are available in two sizes, 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters for 349 SEK, or 14 centimeters by 14 centimeters for 499 SEK from Artilleriet.
Above: Made of recycled aluminum, a 3-inch-high Mariposa Small Flower Pot And Spade set is $44 from Silver Impressions.
Above: The happy result of a manufacturing mishap, the Spun Metal Planter from Brendan Ravenhill began life as a wastebasket, but morphed into a beautiful fluted vase instead. The vase is 12.5 inches wide by 11 inches tall; $80 from Brendan Ravenhill.
Hoping to make a DIY version? Stay tuned for our roundup of Metallic Paint Colors later this week.
Experience the beauty of metallic details in Remodelista's Steal This Look: A Glamorous London Kitchen (Brass Accents Included).
Need a plant to pot? Browse all of our posts on Houseplants.