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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    Bring your gardening to new heights with an elevated planter box. "Why," you ask, "a garden box on legs?" 

    There are several benefits to an elevated planter:

    • Offers "no-bend" gardening, reducing strain on the gardener's knees and back.
    • Great for gardens where dirt space is scarce.
    • Puts your garden within close reach.
    • Enables urban dwellers without a dirt patch a way to get garden bounty on a balcony or any spot where four legs and a box will fit.
    • Gets delicate crops off the ground and out of reach of pets and pests (take that, slugs).
    • Gives more control over soil and water conditions for edible gardens.
    • Portability enables you to chase the seasonal sun or move the planter to various light conditions depending on what you are growing.

    Here's a roundup of ten of our favorites:

    Elevated Teak Garden Planter from Terrain, Gardenista

    Above: The Raised Teak Trough Planter is 36 inches long and 22.5 inches tall with a 6.5-inch deep bed, and is good for growing herb, lettuces and other plants that don't need deep root space. Made of weather-resistant teak and with slatted base for drainage, it is $348 at Terrain.

    Farmer D Cedar Bed on Legs, Gardenista

    Above: Made in the USA of FSC-certified untreated Western Red Cedar, the Farmer D Cedar Bed-on-Legs Kit (2 by 4 feet) is $299.95. A smaller and shorter Farmer D Cedar Bed-on-Legs Kit (2 by 2 feet) is $199.95. Both are at Williams-Sonoma.

    Elevated Larch Wood Garden Bed from Manufactum, Gardenista

    Above: The Elevated Larch Wood Garden Box is lined with air- and water-permeable foil to keep soil from drying too quickly, and also from getting water logged. Standing at counter height at 37 inches, it is 53 inches wide and a generous 18 inches deep (roomy enough to grow carrots) and has hooks at the end to hold garden tools; €454 at Manufactum.

    VegTrug Elevated Planter in Charcoal, Gardenista

    Above: Add an instant vegetable garden on your patio or balcony with the VegTrug Elevated Planter. A generous 70 inches long, 30 inches wide, and 30.5 inches tall, it has a V-shape base that enables planting of deep root plants (tomatoes, carrots, etc.) in the center and shallow-rooted growers on the sides. It includes a fitted fabric liner to keep soil contained while letting excess water drain. Shown in charcoal, it is $249 at Gardener's Supply. Have limited space? Consider the Compact VegTrug Elevated Planter, which is 39.4 inches long for $189.

    VegTrug Walltrug Elevated Planter, Gardenista

    Above: Made of FSC-certified fir, the VegTrug Wall Hugger Planter is flat on one side to fit snugly against walls, fences, and other vertical surfaces. Like the original, it provides a range of soil depths to suit the preferences of both deep- and shallow-rooted edibles. It stands 31 inches tall and is $149.95 for the small (40 inches long as shown) and 199.95 for the medium (72 inches long) at Williams-Sonoma. It comes with a fitted, breathable liner for drainage.

    Gronomics Rustic Elevated Garden Bed, Gardenista

    Above: Made in the USA of rot-resistant unfinished Western red cedar, the Gronomics Rustic Elevated Garden Bed is 9 inches deep and measures 48 inches long, 24 inches wide and 30 inches high. It has a slatted bottom to accommodate drainage and includes filter fabric to keep soil in while allowing water out; $199 at Williams-Sonoma. 

    Elevated Cedar Garden Planter, Gardenista

    Above: Here's a garden with built-in storage. The Long Elevated Planter is made in the USA of premium-grade Western red cedar. Crafted with tongue-and-groove walls set into mortised corner posts for added strength, it measures 45 inches long and 32 inches high and includes a slatted storage shelf underneath; $125.95 at  Jackson & Perkins.

    The Garden Wedge Planter, Gardenista

    Above: The red cedar Garden Wedge Planter is 18 inches deep in the center for large plants and shallower on the sides for smaller greens and herbs. It is finished with flat boards that act as convenient shelves for resting tools, supplies, and seeds. It includes a soil containing liner and is $299 at Gardener's Supply.

    Elevated Herb Garden Table, Gardenista  

    Above: The Elevated Herb Garden Table has a bed depth of 6-5/8 inches, which is appropriate for shallow-root plants such as herbs and greens. Made of cedar, it is 50 inches long, 23.75 inches wide, and 33 inches tall and has a storage shelf; $269.95 at Raised Beds. 

    Elevated Manger-Style Garden Bed, Gardenista  

    Above: The Large Vegetable Bed Planter is made of pressure treated wood and measures 31.5 inches tall and 78 inches long. Its manger-style construction gives roots ample room; £124.99 at Garden Site in the UK. 

    Standing Garden Planters, Gardenista

    Above: Naturalyards in Ashland, Oregon offers Standing Garden Planter Kits in a variety of size configurations. Choose from three depths, two heights and five lengths (the width is fixed at 2 feet) starting at $109.75 for the smallest. 

    Do you favor wooden planters? See our Favorite Square Wooden Planters and A Planter with Pedigree. We also have a soft spot for Galvanized Planters. And over on Remodelista, Julie spotted Colorful Concrete Planters and found a source.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    When it comes to creating seasonal arrangements, New York City floral designer Emily Thompson knows a thing or two. As a member of her team, I have seen her shop brimming with bails and buckets of local materials—wild sweet peas that look as if they've been tie-dyed with color, giant brambles of smilax vine, a very large tree stump that caused a dent in the truck that hauled it, crates of pine cones from the forest floors of the North East Kingdom. She once took a day off, only to come back to the studio with a load of wild thistle from the shore. Working for Emily is a true adventure in learning about seasonal and local materials. 

    Emily's arrangements—whether strictly made of local materials or not—evoke landscapes that are of a particular area and time, something I hear her say often. What better season to capitalize on the local bounty than in spring, when local materials are just starting to pour in? With spring comes an abundance of blooms, and and array of flowering branches that we've all been waiting to see and smell. To me, these materials are the quintessential ingredients for an Emily Thompson arrangement—clouds of dogwood, spirea and magnolia, bowlfuls of hellebores, a pitcher of daffodils.  

    Photographs by Sophia Moreno-Bunge for Gardenista.

    Seasonal Arrangement DIY Emily Thompson | Gardenista

    Above: Hellebores, magnolias, and crocuses, among other ingredients for a seasonal spring arrangement.

    For this arrangement, Emily chose magnolia, a variety of hellebores and ranunculus from a local grower Hautau and Sons, strawberry leaves from her own garden, and, of course, crocus blooms, with the bulbs attached.

    seasonal arrangement | gardenista

    Above: Crocus bulbs and strawberry leaves ready to be arranged.


    Above: A brambled vase. Emily chose a vase by Frances Palmer, made specifically for Emily Thompson's new shop. This vase is perfect for arranging because of its tapered shape. A collection of Frances Palmer vases is available at Emily's South Street Seaport shop in downtown Manhattan. For information, email

    Emily often starts her arrangements by creating a nest or bramble of branches in the vase. The bramble helps keep stems in the right place. When starting your own arrangement, make sure you strip a branch of its leaves before creating the nest, so the leaves do not rot in the water. Next, create a tape grid across the top of the vase. You'll want to tape along the entire outer edge of the vase as well, to keep the edges of the tape grid from coming off with water that might slosh over the lip.

    Seasonal Arrangement by Emily Thompson | Gardenista

    Above: Building a base of branches.

    Next, think of a shape you wish to create with your arrangement—in this case, Emily decided on a crescent—and then arrange a base with branches to reflect that shape. Try using branches of different heights, and use the branches' natural shape to create the desired shape. Think not only about the shape that the branches themselves create, but also about the negative space around the branches.

    Seasonal Arrangement by Emily Thompson | Gardenista

    Above: The finished magnolia base.

    Make sure you cut stems at a diagonal, and make sure they reach the bottom of the vase whenever possible (this way they'll be fully submerged as the water levels go down). Turn the vase as you go, making sure it looks good from every angle, adding branches where necessary.


    Above: The next step is to add a second element. Emily loves for her arrangements to have concentrated areas of singular materials. Here, a cascade of dark hellebores creates depth and contrast.

    Seasonal Arrangement by Emily Thompson | Gardenista

    Above: These two-toned hellebores extend the shape of the crescent a bit. Hellebores love to drink water, so cut their stems at a diagonal, and give them a second cut, splitting the bottom inch of the stem into two.

    Emily Thompson Seasonal Arrangement | Gardenista

    Above: A river of ranunculus that runs from the back to spill over the front lip grounds the arrangement, and adds a rich contrast in color.

    Seasonal Arrangement DIY Emily Thompson | Gardenista

    Above: Next come the finishing touches—patches of crocus and strawberry leaves. Spray the crocus roots with water to keep them hydrated, and place them where they'll rest comfortably. Emily prefers that the roots be as visible as possible. The crocus's spiky leaves create a nice contrast to the rest of the textures that are much softer and more dense.

    Seasonal Arrangement by Emily Thompson | Gardenista

    Above: A patch of green, and crocus bloom. 

    Emily's arrangements often have patches where your eye can take a rest from flower and color. These areas of foliage make her arrangements feel as if they are alive. Emily says she likes for "the proportion of flora to foliage to be like it is in nature."  Seasonal Arrangement DIY Emily Thompson | Gardenista

    Above: The finished arrangement.

    For more floral inspiration, see all of our Spring Floral Arrangements posts. For more from Frances Palmer, see For Valentine's Day: Frances Palmer's Bud Vases.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    Barring unforeseen advancements in time travel, collaborative studies between 19th and 21st century intellectuals aren’t something that we’re likely to see. But thanks to extensive record-keeping by the environmentally minded Henry David Thoreau, climate researchers at Boston University have come to regard the 19th century naturalist as a colleague. And according to Thoreau's notes, plants are blooming and leafing out much earlier now than during his lifetime.

    Photographs by Caroline Polgar.

    tracking climate change using thoreau's notebooks | gardenista

    Above: Lilac leaf buds photographed in Concord.

    Most people are familiar with the idea that Thoreau took off for the woods around Walden Pond with the intention to “live deliberately.” And it’s not a secret that his subsequent book, Walden, has earned him the title of America’s first environmentalist. But if you’re like me, you might be unaware that Thoreau also spent considerable time on a more precisely scientific mission.

    tracking climate change using thoreau's notebooks | gardenista

    Above: Pink apple blossoms at Walden Pond. 

    Spurred by a desire to write a book about the seasons, beginning in 1851 Thoreau kept extensive records of the flowering and leafing out dates of plants around Concord, Massachusetts. On daily walks he scribbled notes about nearby plant life before returning home in the evening to transcribe his findings into ledgers and to press botanical specimens. Today, many of these records remain. Since 2003, Boston University biologist Richard Primack and his crew of graduate students have been using Thoreau’s 19th century data, coupled with their own observations, to draw 21st century conclusions about climate change and its effect on plant life.

    After transcribing Thoreau’s extensive notes into spreadsheets, Primack and his graduate students replicated Thoreau's on-the-ground work: walking around Concord and looking for the first flower that was open for each species of plant. They wanted to look at the timing around such springtime activities as plant flowering (that's phenology for you science buffs) to see if there's been a change. Temperatures around Concord have risen around 5 degrees in the past 160 years from a combination of climate change and the phenomenon known as urban heat island effect. Because plants are extremely responsive to temperature, they’re the perfect subject for this kind of study (though Primack and his lab also have looked into bird and insect behavior in Concord).

    tracking climate change using thoreau's notebooks | gardenista

    Above: Highbush blueberry bushes in bloom in Concord. On May 11, 1853, Thoreau recorded this early-blooming species flowering for the first time that season, but observant visitors to the area will find it blooming an average of three weeks earlier today.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Primack discovered that plants are blooming and leaves are coming out much earlier now than they did in Thoreau’s time. Of the 43 different species of plants whose leaf out dates Thoreau recorded, for instance, all leaf out earlier today than in Thoreau’s time. Sadly, scientists weren't able to find evidence of some other specimens—especially varieties of native wildflowers—that used to grow in and around Concord in Thoreau's day.

    tracking climate change using thoreau's notebooks | gardenista

    Above: Another view of lilac buds.

    Primack believes citizen scientists can help by taking Thoreau-like notes in their own communities. Stay tuned for our upcoming roundup of science apps that you can use to collect valuable data for researchers.

    For more on the subject, see the online version of last spring's exhibit at the Concord Museum: Early Spring: Henry David Thoreau and Climate Change and head to the Primack Lab Blog.

    Can’t wait to get your hands on those citizen science apps? Amuse yourself in the meantime with our favorite app to Identify Leaves and Flowers.

    Prefer to make like Thoreau and keep your records the old-fashioned way? See DIY: Pressing Violets to Make Botanical Art and Dear Diary: A Gardener’s Journal.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    Most of us want the entrance to our homes to let visitors know we're glad to see them. But how do we achieve that? One way is by paying close attention to the design of the front stoop.

    The word stoop refers to the steps and landing before an entry door. Stoops came to America by way of New Amsterdam's Dutch settlers, who insisted on building row houses that pressed against each other, because that was what they were used to back home. The iconic city stoop has over the past centuries spawned country and suburban imitators, from stone slab thresholds to wide, gracious landings that feel more like front porches. No matter what the design, all stoops have one thing in common: they make the first impression.

    A stoop sets the stage for a home's interior, and also helps keep out rain, dirt and pests. Whether it's wide or narrow, tall or low, the design should complement the style of your home. And the stoop should feel welcoming. I've learned a lot about that from Ivy, my Australian sheep dog who's getting on in years. The front stoop at my present rental has steep stairs, and Ivy much prefers the back stairs. So that's what we use, of course.

    Wondering where to start? Here's everything you need to know about designing a front stoop:

    Hardscaping 101: The Front Stoop | Gardenista

    Above: Before O'Neill Rose Architects restored this 19th-century townhouse in New York City, the front stoop had been removed. They built a new one to connect the parlor floor to the street. Photograph by Michael Moran.

    What is the history of the front stoop?

    American stoops were first built in New Amsterdam (now New York City) and the Hudson River Valley. The word comes from the Dutch stoep, and buildings in New Amsterdam were based on Dutch architecture: tall, narrow, and close together. New Amsterdam had no alleyways to make buildings accessible from the rear, so separate staircases were built for the servants' quarters and kitchens, below street level. The owner's living quarters started a half story above—conveniently removed from the horse manure typically scattered about the street.

    As houses sprang up in New York and in other cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago, the streets became lined with ordered rows of urban stoops. These created a common space for neighbors to trade gossip, play games, and keep an eye on what the kids next door were up to. The style soon spread to small towns and the rest of the country.

    Front stoop and railing Brooklyn NY ; Gardenista

    Above: A classic Brooklyn brownstone stoop. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    How do you design a stoop?

    If you're starting from scratch, an architect's advice can be invaluable. The style of your house will impact your decisions, as will the character of the neighborhood. If you live in a historic building, you'll want a stoop that's consistent in design with the original structure. For example, wooden steps and landings wouldn't fit with a stucco house, but painted wood may be just right for a wood-sided Victorian. 

    The best choice for a stoop's surface material is often a hardscape material that also appears elsewhere outside your home. If you have a limestone, bluestone, or concrete patio out back, for example, you might want to repeat the same material in front. Even though the two areas are far apart, using the same material creates a feeling of cohesion. For the front steps of my new house, we chose 6-inch-thick bluestone slabs that match the bluestone patio in back. (They were pretty expensive at $400 a slab, but luckily we only needed two.) 

    Depending on site conditions, you'll want the landing and steps to be wider than your door by at least six inches on both sides. Twelve inches on both sides seems to be a good rule of thumb, since you want the landing to have room for several people to stand comfortably.

    Hardscaping 101: The Front Stoop | Gardenista

    Above: The front stoop of a Park Slope townhouse restored by Drew Lang of Lang Architecture.

    What materials are good for a front stoop?

    Brick, stone, wood, and concrete are the most common choices for stoops. Here are some things to consider for each type of material:

    • Wood: The best choices are ipe (also called Brazilian walnut), redwood, or Alaskan yellow cedar. Ipe is excellent, because it's long-lasting and rot-resistant, but it does not take paint. If you're using painted wood, scatter some sand called Skid-Tex onto the wet paint, then paint over it; that makes the surface less slippery when wet. Ground walnut shells do the same thing; both are available at the paint store. Be aware that spreading salt to prevent people from slipping on snow and ice will do damage to wood and masonry.
    • Stone: Bluestone, limestone, granite, and slate are good stoop materials, though they're pricier than brick, wood, or concrete.
    • Concrete or brick: Both are economical and-long lasting.

    Tip: Make sure your contractor compacts the area well before installing a heavy new stoop to prevent it from settling and pulling away from the house.

      Hardscaping 101: The Front Stoop | Gardenista

    Above: At this house in Philadelphia's Powelton neighborhood, the stoop is bordered by an elevated garden. Photograph courtesy of Jamie Montgomery. 

    When designing stairs, what dimensions work best for risers and treads?

    Stair design can be a mathematical puzzle. You have to take into account the area available for the staircase, and the change in elevation between the start and end point. And then there's the building code, which stipulates that exterior stairs must be of uniform height and depth (to avoid tripping) and that each tread (that's the horizontal part) may be no less than 4 inches deep. While the most common height for the riser (the vertical part) is 7 inches, I've found the ideal to be 6 inches. (I know this because the stairs my dog Ivy doesn't like are 7 inches, and the ones she prefers are 6.)

      Front stoop stair dimensions riser tread ; Gardenista

    Above: Graphic by Dalilah Arja.

    As far as tread is concerned, the minimum depth for front steps is 11 inches. The maximum is 18 inches, which obviously provides more room for people to sit. Usually, the deeper the treads, the lower the risers (it's a question of walking cadence); for a more gradual incline, you'll need plenty of space. 

    A word about railings:

    If you're wondering whether you need a railing, the answer is yes—if you have more than three steps or if the top of the landing is 30 inches higher than the finished grade. But I recommend a railing even if there are only two steps. The front stairs at my former house, which was more than a century old, had an ineffective low wall in place of a railing. I found myself constantly warning visitors, especially the elderly, to be careful. Halloween was especially nerve-wracking. 

    Stoop Recap:

    • Best if wider than the door.
    • Ideal riser height is 6 inches, ideal tread depth is 12 inches or more.
    • Stone or concrete are lowest-maintenance materials.

    Hardscaping 101: The Front Stoop | Gardenista

    Above: A granite kitchen stoop is flanked by boxwood and myrtle. Photograph courtesy of Michael Leva. For more of this garden, see Spring Comes to Connecticut.

    Planning an indoor project? See Remodeling 101 posts on Remodelista. And if you're in the throes of picking a stoop material, see our Hardscaping 101 posts on Bluestone and Limestone.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    A family-run farm in Australia's New South Wales is a blueprint for sustainable pig farming: rare breed Berkshires roam around 100 acres of pasture, eating—among other things—grass and dirt. In return they fertilize and rotovate, repairing the earth as they go.

    Photographs by Gary Radler, except where noted.

    Bundarra Berkshires pig farm, Australa. Gardenista

    Above: The Berkshire pig is an English rare breed, noted for flavor. It is a gentle and hardy breed. Supporting rare breeds helps to keep them relevant: eat them and they will survive, strange as that may sound.

    Lauren and Lachlan Mather, the couple behind Bundarra Berkshires, are keen on the idea of choosing meat more carefully. Their motto? Eat a little less; pay a little more.

    Bundarra Berkshires pig farm, Australa. Gardenista

    Above: Waste not, want not, is part of the appeal of pigs and their diet is supplemented from outside sources including a vegetable farm, wholesale market, foodbank, citrus plants and, rather glamorously, with seconds from a local avocado grower.

    Pigs naturally improve the land, fertilizing it in their own way and lightly turning it over through rooting. While aiming to improve the soil structure, the Mathers keep the pigs on the move, never staying in one paddock for too long. While they feed on grass and grains, the nutrients gleaned from munching pasture are an important part of their diet. This in turn impacts their own flavor, as the clay-based soil is high in minerals.

    Bundarra Berkshires pig farm, Australa. Gardenista

    Above: The Bundarra Berkshires live in a low-stress environment. Expectant mothers are given requisite shots but otherwise drugs are avoided. Antibiotics have not been administered for several years, a record of which the Mathers are proud. Photograph by Cassandra Jade.

    Bundarra Berkshires pig farm, Australa. Gardenista

    Above: Pork is sent out vacuum-packed and boxed, with a myriad of options. For most of us, ignorant of butcher's cuts, a photo gallery on the online shop eases the decision-making process. Bundarra is particularly well-known for its nitrate-free dry cured bacon and pork and fennel sausages. Both are available in the Spring Pig Pack, which also includes a roast and a surprise cut for $80 AU. A quarter, half, or whole pig can also be ordered by filling out the online Order Form. Photograph by Jayme Collins.

    Bundarra Berkshires pig farm, Australa. Gardenista

    Above: Bundarra Berkshires also sells direct from the farm, at local farmers' markets and at a retail outlet in Melbourne, Pope Joan. As there are no preservatives used, Lauren advises quick consumption after a vacuum pack is opened to prevent spoiling, "because real food is meant to spoil." Photograph by Cassandra Jade.

    Bundarra Berkshires pig farm, Australa. Gardenista

    Above: When it comes to dealing with food waste, pigs are a very sensible idea. A high proportion of our leftovers go to the landfill, increasing the emission of methane into the atmosphere. And yet it is not unheard of in some countries including the UK to import pig food from overseas. Start small: get a pig.

    Or chickens, especially if you live in town. See Are You the Only Person Not Raising Chickens in the City?

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    The footprints were there, waiting for architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. There were two small buildings sitting—in disrepair and despair—on the banks of Dry Creek in Sonoma, California. The structures were rickety, their design inefficient, and their future uncertain. The solution? Two tiny glass cottages were built as replacements to welcome visitors to the property.

    Sited at the edge of the property, the new cottages—which serve as office and guest quarters—are go-betweens that connect "the public world of the entry drive and the secluded forested creek," the architects say.

    Photographs via Architizer.

    Bohlin Cywinski Jackson outbuildings ; Gardenista

    Above: With walls of windows overlooking the creek, the cabins were sided in western red cedar "with the precision and thoughtfulness of a cabinet," the architects say.

      Dry Creek Outbuilding by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson ; Gardenista

    Above: Ribbon windows offer selective views while maintaining privacy on the driveway side of the cottages.

    Bohlin Cywinski Jackson cottages ; Gardenista

    Above: Glass walls open the indoor space to nature, and Douglas fir siding reinforces the connection.

    Bohlin Cywinski Jackson cottages on Dry Creek ; Gardenista

    Above: The architects' rendering. The glass walls face "tangled oaks and moss-covered rocks" in the creek.

    Bohlin Cywinski Jackson outbuildings ; Gardenista

    Above: "In the evening hours, the spaces glow," the architects say.

    Dry Creek Outbuilding by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson ; Gardenista

    Above: A small grove of fruit trees flowers in early spring.

    For more from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, see A Historic Farm, Ocean Views Included. And on Remodelista, see our post Required Reading: Wood Architecture Now!  

    For more of our favorite tiny spaces, browse our Outbuilding of the Week archives.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    By now the staff at the Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham, MA, is pretty familiar with that lady from Gardenista, who keeps showing up to photograph their botanicals. Luckily Lynne, Julie, and Francesca share my passion for plants, and are happy to humor me as I pepper them with endless questions about all their rare varieties. The latest Lyman specimen that I'm geeking out over? Scented geraniums. 

    I first noticed several lush scented geraniums, or Pelargoniums as they are more accurately called, during my initial visit to the historic Lyman Greenhouses (you can see my tour at Living History: One of America's Oldest Greenhouses), and I was surprised to learn just how varied and exotic their fragrances could be. After hearing that their uses went beyond the garden, I was hooked. "You should come back for our annual herb sale in May," Lynne remarked. "We'll have many more then." Yes, please!

    Photographs by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

    orange scented geranium blossom, gardenista

    Above: Flanked by the small, variegated leaves of a French lace (Back) and a velvety peppermint (Fore), the demure lilac bloom of an orange-scented geranium welcomes spring at the Lyman Estate. Similar Pelargonium "Orange" is available through Goodwin Creek Gardens; $5.50.

    scented geranium varieties on sale at Lyman Greenhouse, gardenista

    Above: Available at the Lyman Estate's upcoming annual herb sale (May 2-4), this assortment of scented geraniums includes (clockwise from top L): citronella, skeleton rose, variegated nutmeg, lemon, finger bowl lemon, lemon balm, French lace, rose, lime, citrosa, and apple. If you can't make the Lyman Estate annual herb sale to choose your own assortment, Goodwin Creek Gardens will assemble a Scented Pelargonium Collection of six; $23.95.

    More correctly identified as Pelargoniums, "geraniums" are a species of flowering plants in the family Geraniaceae. (Confusingly, Geranium is actually the correct botanical name for cranesbill, also a member of the family Geraniaceae.) Since they were first brought from South Africa in the 1600s, pelargoniums have been prized not only for their blooms, but also for the fragrance of their oil-rich leaves. There are five general classifications of scented pelargoniums: rose, mint, fruit—which includes citrus, spice—including pepper, apple cider and others, and finally pungent (encompassing all woody smells like pine and oak). Centuries of hybridization within these categories have produced literally hundreds of cultivars, which have been used in perfumes, as folk medicine, and in cooking. 

    lavendar with citrosa and mint scented geraniums, gardenista

    Above: A container planting at the Lyman Greenhouse includes Goodwin Creek Lavender and a citrosa-scented geranium. Scented geraniums do very well in containers, especially when grouped with other semi-drought tolerant plants and herbs such as sage, rosemary, and lavender.

    Pelargonium Citrosa Scented Geranium is available at Mountain Valley Growers; $5.50 for a 3-inch pot.

    inronella scented geranium and bougainvillea blossom at Lyman Estate, Gardenista

    Above: Low and lush, some pelargoniums such as this citronella-scented geranium (which is surrounded by fallen bougainvillea blooms) look charming when placed along a pathway or garden border. N.B.: It is a myth that citronella-scented geraniums repel mosquitoes. But they do have a lovely citrus scent.

    Hardy to zone 10, scented geraniums can be a perennial or an annual, depending on where you live. In-ground plants prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH of from 6 to 6.8. Some prefer moist while others dry soil, so check with your nursery before you plant.

    Those who live in colder climes may prefer to keep their scented geraniums in pots, so they can be moved indoors as soon as night-time temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Indoor plants are best placed in the south-facing window which receives at least four hours of sun per day. You can also use an in-gound planter in the garden during the summer and move it inside before the first frost.

    Whether in-ground or in a container, most varieties of pelargonium require full sun to thrive, but be careful of scorching by too much afternoon sun. When watering, less is more. Too much water or fertilizer will compromise the bloom and scent of your plant, so be sure to let it dry out in between waterings.

    mint scented geranium blossom, gardenista

    Above: Unlike their "Zonal" and "Fancy-Leaf" cousins cultivated for their colorful leaves and/or vibrant blooms, scented geraniums have more understated flowers. But on some, such as this mint, the blooms can be quite prolific. In colder climes, geraniums can be moved indoors, where they will continue to bloom in the winter.

    coconut scented geranium, gardenista

    Above: A hanging coconut-scented geranium at Lyman lends a tropical air. Similar Coconut Scented Geraniums are available through Colonial Creek Farm; $4.50.

    peppermint scented geranium, Lyman Estate, Gardenista

    Above: One of my favorite specimens at the Lyman Greenhouses was a lush peppermint-scented geranium with soft, velvety leafs. Note that in the right conditions, geraniums can get quite large. 

    leaves of mixed scented geraniums, Lyman Estate, Gardenista

    Above: A mixed planting of French lace, variegated nutmeg, and peppermint, illustrates the variety of pelargonium leaf structures,—from deeply cut lacy leaves to a more rounded grape-leaf shapes—hues, and sizes. These wide variations makes them ideal for adding texture in the garden.

    Rose Lemon Rose scented geranium standard, gardensita

    Above: Scented Geraniums, such as this Rober's Lemon Rose, can easily be trained into Standard forms. Similar Rober's Lemon-Rose Scented Pelargornium available at Pernell Gerver; $12 for a 3-inch pot.

    scented geraniums at Lyman Estate Greenhouse, Gardenista

    Above: Though many scented geraniums are low and bushy, other varieties have a more vertical growth habit. Among its smaller cousins, this tall skeleton rose, resplendent with pink blossoms, provides a striking backdrop.

    skeleton rose, varigated nutmeg and french lace scented geranium at Lyman Estate, Gardenista

    Above: Part of any complete herb garden, French lace, variegated nutmeg, and peppermint pelargoniums grow next to sage at Lyman Greenhouses. Buy similar Pelargonium Snowy Nutmeg and Pelargonium Staghorn Peppermint at Goodwin Creek Gardens; $5.50.

    Besides adding scents and texture to the garden, there are many other uses for your scented geraniums. The Fingerbowl Lemon Pelargonium got its name because it was used by ladies at elegant lunches to clean their hands. In the more modern era, Erin likes to conjure the scent of summer with her Rose Geranium Salt Rub, while Sarah uses rose geranium oil in her Homemade Eau de Cologne.

    For the same reasons that scented pelargonium are desired in the garden, they are also great for adding texture and aroma to bouquets. See how with Sophia's Office Flowers with a Scent The Even Co-Workers will Love.

    In the kitchen, Stacy uses geranium oil in boiling water to dispel unpleasant cooking smells in The Power of Fragrance: 10 Secrets for Banishing Kitchen Odors. Stay tuned later today for my recipe of olive oil, lemon cake with rose geranium leaves.

    scented geraniums and amaryllis at Lyman Greenhouses, gardenista

    Above: A surprising combination with pelargonium and amaryllis, demonstrates how well scented geraniums mix with more ornamental, flowering plants.

    True species are hard to propagate from seed, so the preferred method of cultivating pelargoniums is from cuttings. To do this, take a 4-to-6-inch cutting right below the leaf node. Remove any lower leaves and place the node 2 inches deep in a small, sterile pot filled with planting medium. Water thoroughly and place in indirect sun while the roots form, which may take from four to six weeks, keeping them moist the whole time. After roots are established, move to a sunny spot and water only when the soil is dry. Repot in a larger container as necessary.

    N.B.: Take a garden tour of another outstanding Lyman collection in Cult of the Wild Camellia. Read more about how the Swedes take pelargoniums to dramatic proportions in Please Don't Call Them Geraniums. Over at Remodelista, one of Julie's 10 Favorites, The Best of Black Soap includes an enticing mix of peppermint, geranium, rose and cedar.

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    Nutmeg, apple, peppermint, and French vanilla. Inspired by the delectable aroma of the scented geraniums at the historic Lyman Estate, I decided to create a Victorian tea cake of my own using my new rose-scented geranium to add an old fashioned twist to a modern lemon cake.

    See below for ingredients and step-by-step instructions.

    Photographs by Justine Hand.


    Above: The taste of the Mediterranean and Victorian England all in one: rose geranium, olive oil, and Meyer lemons were the key ingredients in my cake. Buy a similar Pelargonium Attar of Rose Scented Geranium at Mountain Valley Growers; $5.50.


    Above: A few rose geraniums leaves, washed and dried, is all you need. I opted for rose, but it would be fun to experiment with other flavors as well.


    Above: Fully edible, rose geranium leaves arranged at the bottom of my cake pan made a pretty pattern after the cake was baked.


    Above: Zest and minced geranium leaves mixed with sugar bring out even more of the flavorful oils.


    Above: Compared to standard lemons, the juice of the Meyer variety is sweeter.


    Above: Minced rose geranium leaves. My kitchen was starting to smell really good at this stage.


    Above: I added olive oil, then eggs, to moisten the cake.


    Above: Dry ingredients.


    Above: More Mediterranean flavors: Greek yogurt and lemon juice.


    Above: I mixed the batter with a wooden spoon until it was smooth.


    Above: Pouring the batter over the leaves so they did not move required a gentle hand.


    Above: Golden brown and freshly baked from the oven. (The chick is my daughter Solvi's contribution to the styling.)

    finished rose geranium cake, Gardenista

    Above: To avoid obscuring the pretty geranium leaves on top, I left my decoration simple: just a few more leaves and some powdered sugar.


    Above: "Hey, there's plants in here!" Though initially skeptical, my son liked the edible geranium leaves. I thought that the subtle rose flavor gave the cake a layer of complexity that was surprisingly sophisticated. 

    Meyer Lemon, Olive Oil Cake with Rose-Scented Geraniums

    Adapted from The Noshery.

    (Note: I omitted an additional glaze called for in the original recipe because I thought it would overpower the rose flavor.)



    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 5 Meyer lemons
    • 7 or 8 leaves from a rose scented geranium (pelargonium)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup mild olive oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
    • powdered sugar


    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 1/3 cup juice from Meyer lemons



    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a heavy metal cake pan. Wash and dry your rose geranium leaves, and arrange them on the bottom of your cake pan with the top side facing you. Zest two lemons, then juice all lemons.

    In a large bowl use your fingers to combine 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 3 minced rose geranium leaves with sugar. (This releases the oils in both the zest and leaves.) Whisk in olive oil and then eggs, one at a time.

    In another bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

    In a third bowl combine yogurt with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Add this mixture, along with the olive oil and sugar mix to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth and carefully pour over the leaves in the cake pan.

    Bake for 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn onto a cookie sheet to finish cooling.


    In a small pan, combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice, and cook over low until the sugar dissolves. Poke holes in your cake (I avoided the geranium leaves) and brush the entire cake with syrup. Finish with a light dusting of powdered sugar, transfer to a pretty plate, and garnish.

    N.B.: To experience the vast array of exotic scented geraniums, see my tour of the Lyman Estate Scented Geranium Collection earlier this week. Want more clever uses for scented pelargoniums? Sarah uses Rose Geranium oil in her Homemade Eau de Cologne. And in the kitchen, Stacy uses geranium oil in boiling water to dispel unpleasant cooking smells in The Power of Fragrance: 10 Secrets for Banishing Kitchen Odors.

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    Fancying ourselves friends of the environment, we admit to going googly-eyed over interior design that takes a minimal toll on our precious resources. This week on Remodelista, the editors proved that high style can be achieved with a low impact on the world around us. Here are a few of our favorite stories from this week:

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Above: As gardeners, we're always thinking about the effect of our cleaning supplies on our local watersheds. Thanks to Alexa's 12 Natural Garment Washes and Detergents, we now have a slew of eco-friendly options. 

    trending on remodelista | gardenista


    Above: Plastic soda bottles turned into pendant lights? We'll take two for the patio. Read the full story in Fantastic Plastic: Lamps Made from Recycled Soda Bottles.

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Above: We read Meredith's Remodeling 101: All You You Need to Know About VOCs in Paint with our breath held. Especially considering all the black paint we've been admiring lately.

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Above: Finding it hard to get into the recycling groove? Perhaps a snappy looking recycling system is the encouragement you need. We admired the selection in Margot's 10 Easy Pieces: Recycling Bins.


    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Above: 10 Shops and Restaurants Made From Shipping Containers? Sounds like our kind of re-use. We especially love the the bright green container at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto (an organization founded in part by our very own Lindsey Taylor). Stay tuned for more from Canada next week.

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    We celebrated Mother Nature this week with our Going Green issue. We got an exclusive tour of the living rooftop at The Academy of Sciences and worked with magnolias and crocuses for a seasonal bouquet.

    Join us next week while we explore Canada's gardens and landscapes and until then take a look at a few links we've loved.

    Hither and Thither Backyard | Gardenista

    Going Strawberries with 66 Square Feet | Gardenista

    Food52 + Terrain Collaboration Window Box | Gardenista

    Le Maraché in Vancouver | Gardenista

    Asparagus & Feta | Gardenista

    • Above: A good reason to hit the farmers' market. Photograph by Joy the Baker. 
    • Go wild.

    Did you miss this week on Gardenista? Don't fret, check out all of our posts here. And take a look at Remodelista's Going Green issue. 

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    Arranging a wedding for more than 150 guests is never easy, but Brooklyn gardener and floral designer Tara Douglass, owner of Brooklyn Plant Studio, raised the bar when she decided to grow her own wedding flowers. The wedding will be in Columbia, Missouri in the historic home where three previous generations of her family also got married. Last November she traveled there to plant 4,325 bulbs. (You can read about that trip in Tara Getting Married: DIY Wedding Flowers.) Will they bloom on schedule?

    Now the wedding is just a week away—scheduled for May 3. Recently Tara went home to see what sort of progress her bulbs had made through the long, hard winter and the delayed spring. Her dad and aunt had been giving her reassuring updates, but she still didn't know exactly what she would find. Imagine her relief when she got to the old vegetable garden where she had planted 500 tulip bulbs and found them standing tall and on the verge of blooming.

    Photographs by Scott Patrick Myers.

    Wedding flowers, Tara Getting Married ; Gardenista

    Above: Tara inspects her tulips, which she interplanted with garlic to discourage deer.

    To keep the tulips from coming into bloom too soon, Tara's Aunt Tina will work with Tim, who works at the farm, to move the tulips (cleverly planted in pots) into the shelter of a tobacco barn on the property. 

    Wedding flowers, Tara Douglass Getting Married ; Gardenista

    A "woodsy romantic feel" is how Tara describes her plan for her wedding flowers. Beside the tulips, other bulbs that were emerging and may be in bloom are Spanish bluebells and Actaea (Pheasant's Eye daffodil).  

    Wedding flowers, Tara Douglass getting married ; Gardenista

    Above: Frittilaria and muscari are already in bloom, Tara says she will use their seed pods if the flowers are finished before the wedding.

    Tara plans to arrive in Missouri five days before the wedding and says she is comfortable waiting to finalize her designs until she knows exactly what materials she will have to work with. Her friend Kelli Galloway, a floral designer, will come along to help as will various friends and family members.

    Wedding flowers, Tara Douglass Getting Married ; Gardenista

    Above: Daffodils greeted Tara when she went home recently.

    Wedding flowers , Tara Douglass getting married ; Gardenista

    Above: Arrangements will be filled out with fronds of wild ferns, cedar branches, iris foliage, and perhaps even antique lilacs, all to be foraged from the property.  


    Above: Tara's dad is having the family home repainted for the wedding.

    Tara and her fiance, Wells Crandall, a lawyer and physics researcher who sometimes moonlights as a weekend wedding DJ, will be married outside on a brick path in front of the house.  Guests will be seated during the traditional ceremony, which will be conducted by an Episcopal priest. Cocktails on the patio will follow, with dinner served in a tent. Of course Mother Nature has been misbehaving lately and there is the matter of a not-so-great forecast in the Farmer's Almanac, so Tara has reluctantly come up with a rain plan.

      tara-getting-married-magnolias-scott-patrick-myers for gardenista

    Above: Magnolias in bloom at the house where Tara will be married on Saturday.

    Wedding flowers, Tara Douglass getting married ; Gardenista  

    Above: The planned location of Tara's wedding ceremony.

    Wedding flowers, Tara Douglass getting married ; Gardenista

    Will it rain?  Will the bulbs bloom in time? Check back in May for a full report.  In the meantime, if you are curious about what bulbs Tara planted and who her suppliers were, here's her list:


    • 200 Tulip 'Queen of the Night'
    • 300 Tulip 'Maureen'
    • 200 Allium Azureum caruleum 
    • 300 Nectaroscodum siculum

    Color Blends:

    • 200 Winter Aconite ("This is a winter teaser for my father and aunt, winter aconite is a cheery yellow in the doldrums of winter," says Tara) 
    • 500 Spanish Bluebells
    • 225 Actaea
    • 200 Allium Christophii
    • 800 Muscari
    • 600 Fritillaria megalis 

    Brent and Becky's

    • 300 Frittilaria uva vulpus 
    • 500 Tritelia hyacinthia 

    You can read about another springtime outdoor celebration in Remodelista's In the Garden with Diane Keaton. For tips on following in Tara's footsteps, see Secrets of Growing Your Own Wedding Flowers.

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  • 04/28/14--03:00: Table of Contents: O Canada
  • We're heading north this week to welcome spring. Join us:

    We'll tour a Toronto garden where panels of light make a deck glow like an architectural lantern. We've discovered new sources for stylish hanging planters and outdoor furniture impervious to the worst winter weather. And even if your property doesn't suffer from Great Lakes Effect, you'll want to hear the surprising things we've learned about how to keep your basement dry (two words: sump pump).

    Table of Contents: O Canada Week ; Gardenista


    landscape architect visit: joel loblaw | gardenista

    Above: Toronto-based landscape designer Joel Loblaw's passion is making sure that in a four-season climate you embrace each season, ensuring there is something of interest at all times. In this week's Architect Visit, he explains how to use lighting to accomplish that goal.


      Steal This Look: Cocktail Floral Arrangement | Gardenista

    Above: Alexa spotted an unusual floral arrangement from this year's Salone del Mobile by Milan-based shop owner and designer Rossana Orlandi and decided to recreate it (with a little help from Julie's cat, JoJo) for this week's Steal This Look. Warning: Cocktail glasses are involved. Photograph by Aya Brackett.


      zinc directoire x planters ; Gardenista

    Above: "X" marks the spot in this week's 10 Easy Pieces; our sleuthing has turned up ten stylish pairs of Directoire Style planters for your patio, porch, or garden.


    Rain Hitting the Ground, Gardenista  

    Above: Soggy basement? Janet to the rescue in this week's Hardscaping 101.


    school house electric spring collection | gardenista

    Above: Jess Chamberlain gives a sneak preview of Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Company's spring collection in this week's Shopper's Diary.

    And head over to Remodelista for a week of North Country style.

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    Joel Loblaw, a landscape designer in Toronto, Canada is bringing outdoor living to the great white north.

    Loblaw opened his own firm only two years ago and is already getting a lot of attention. Loblaw, who is also an accomplished painter, has a deep knowledge of plants and construction, having worked for years for construction and landscape companies which serves him well.

    In a four-season climate, gardeners have to embrace each season to ensure there is something of interest at all times. As Loblaw says, "I'm against plants that die back to the ground, and high-maintenance gardens. In our climate you need plants that look good in winter and that doesn't mean just evergreens." Loblaw suggests using ornamental grasses and plants with interesting sead-heads like echinacea, and oakleaf hydrangeas. He explains that these kinds of plants "just need a to be cut back in early spring and then you're up and running again."

    His style is more modern than traditional, and you can see the influences of some of the designers he admires in his work. The bold drifts of mass plantings remind one of Belgium designer and plantsman Piet Oudolf, and his minimalist and elegant approach to design both in laying out the garden and in his hardscaping takes some cues from another favorite of Loblaw, Italian landscape designer Lucian Giubbilei. Loblaw also has a love of lighting, evident in most of his projects. For Loblaw good illumination in a garden is what will draw the clients out into their spaces in the evening. He designed his own garden with an eye toward entertaining and it includes a sunken area with built-in outdoor seating.

    For his garden "Lighting the Way," he created a 12-by-12-foot light box out of frosted tempered glass panels and cedar timbers, used for dining on an existing deck.  When not in use, it acts like an art installation or architectural lantern, looking good through all seasons. 

    Photographs via Joel Loblaw.

    landscape architect visit: joel loblaw | gardenista

    Above: Green and red resin columns lead the way to the dining area. 

    landscape architect visit: joel loblaw | gardenista

    Above: The play of light and reflections from the tress and plants on the glass was no accident. Loblaw saw this as adding to the intrigue of the intimate space.

    landscape architect visit: joel loblaw | gardenista

    Above: Ornamental grasses and four season perennials are used often in Loblaw's projects.

    landscape architect visit: joel loblaw | gardenista

    Above: At night the space glows like a light box. Its a much-used space by the owners and when not in use doesn't look lonely and forgotten like some outdoor dining areas, it takes on a new meaning as an installation or sculpture in the garden.  

    Looking for ways to light up your garden? Browse our collection of Outdoor Lighting posts.

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  • 04/28/14--09:30: Field Guide: Boxwood
  • Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens: "The Lovable Rogue"

    Though we should know better, we still love box despite the risky reputation it has gained in the 21st century. A historical lynchpin through the ages of gardening, box has been valued by Romans, Elizabethans, the various Louis' at Versailles and the creatives behind the Arts and Crafts movement. And everything in between. It is synomymous with cottage garden style and is a byword in formality. It will happily grow into any shape you decide to clip it into.

    But. The cheerful "doer'"has taken quite a knock in recent years and Buxus sempervirens is approached, in its native England at least, with caution if not fear because of its susceptibility to a fungal disease called box blight. Many gardeners are giving up and replacing their box with something hardier. Others are steadfast in their support. Here's everything you need to know about box to make your own decision:

    Gardenista Field Guide: Boxwood

    Above: For more photos, see Boxwood in our Gardenista Gallery.

    Box blight travels in warm, damp conditions so it is a peculiar punishment that England, the home of box, offers the perfect setting for its destruction.

    Yew edging as boxwood replacement ; Gardenista

    Above: Some head gardeners continue to work with schemes that appear to depend on box, spraying with chemical fungicide every few weeks during the growing season. Others have done away with it altogether and have had a re-think (note the use of clipped yew at the front of these borders). For more ideas, see How to Eliminate Boxwood Blight: Plant a Different Shrub

    Regular old Buxus sempervirens is a better investment than the dwarf variety Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa', which is more prone to disease.

      Boxwood in Brooklyn by Foras Studio ; Gardenista

    Above: In a townhouse garden in Brooklyn, Susan Welti of Foras Studio chose plants that would stand up to heat, including boxwood clipped into balls, Solomon's seal, Russian sage, Mexican feather grass, and hydrangeas. For more of this garden, see Modern Brooklyn Backyard on a Budget.

    Cheat Sheet:

    • Best suited for: a low-level boundary, decorative edging, or as topiary.
    • Will tolerate deep shade so is ideal under trees. (Box grows well in containers but must be watered regularly: leaf growth is dense so rainwater does not find its way down into the roots.)
    • Hardy in growing zones 6, 7, and 8.

    Keep It Alive:

    • Shaggy box is more disease-resistant: hard clipping causes stress and cut leaves are an invitation to fungal spores.
    • Ideally, box should be cut twice a year when there is no danger of frost and no rain on the horizon. (Those in northern climes will find themselves clipping in June and maybe again in September.)
    • Plant box as bare root whips in winter, the smaller the better. It will establish best if planted small, like all hedging.

      Old Rectory boxwood hedges Dan Pearson ; Gardenista

    Above: A looser topiarized look is no bad thing, as with the boxwood hedges at Dan Pearson's Old Rectory.

    It could be that the very perpendicular, machine cut box has had its day. The preference for naturalistic planting has meant a turning away from right angles in the garden. Increasingly we are seeing wavy mounds, a domesticated version of what box would be doing in the wild. Cloud pruning, either loosely undulating or forming Japanese spheres, is more relevant to the way we live now. Of course cube shapes are still called for but they are shaggier, clipped once a year: an informal take on formality. 
    Cloud pruning boxwood Niwaki ladder ; Gardenista
    Above: Cloud pruning boxwood. Photograph via Niwaki.

    Box goes well with everything which is partly why it is so highly prized. It flatters flowers and vegetables in a potager, it hides a straggly undercarriage in a parterre so that flowers like alliums and foxtail lilies can float over the top of it, while their leaves shrivel away out of site. Even an empty box parterre looks good.

    Read More:

    Boxwood posts on Gardenista

     For more about boxwood, see When Is a Hedge Not a Hedge? Looking for alternatives to box? See Field Guide: Hornbeam.

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    Clare Day is living many a florist's dream; imagine the luxury of walking out to your farm garden to pick flowers for your arrangements, while being just 15 minutes away from downtown Victoria, Canada. After  a career in planning, sustainability and business development, in 2007 Clare moved to her native British Columbia to live on the 12-acre farm where her partner and his son live. At the time, Red Damsel Farm was a 30-year-old organic produce and vegetable farm with three farmers working the land. Now, thanks to Clare, Red Damsel Farm has added organic flower farm to its repertoire. 

    Spurred by a lifelong passion for gardening and a concern about declining bee populations, Clare began planting flowers. Her desire to create a habitat for pollinator bees gave her the raw materials to open a business—Clare Day Flowers—where she creates luscious, garden-style arrangements with the organic flowers she grows. Clare realized early on that Victoria was lacking this sort of floristry and so she began focusing on flowers that she could not find at her local market but that do well in the area—peonies, dahlias, daffodils, fritillaries—and began offering local brides something unique.

    Clare's work in her home garden inspired Shellie, one of the three farmers who work Red Damsel Farm, to start growing flowers for Clare and another floral designer in the area. Flower farming has since provided Shellie with a new business and a new source of income (in addition to growing vegetables). Clare's close communication with Shellie at the beginning of each season ensures that the farm will be able to sell its flowers and that Clare and her clients will get exactly what they want. While Clare focuses on growing perennials, including hellebores, and akebia, Shellie focuses on annuals: dahlias, zinnias, celosia, etc. In 2014, Red Damsel Farm will provide from 60 to 80 percent of the flowers and botanical materials used by Clare Day Flowers

    Photographs by Clare Day unless otherwise noted.

    Red Damsel Farm | Gardenista

    Above: The farm stand at the entrance of Red Damsel Farm is open year round. Clare and the farmers sell flowers, produce, eggs, baked goods, preserves, and more at the stand. The farm is divided into three sections: the upper field (between the market and the road); the lower field, which includes the house and outbuildings, and the seasonal flood plains which Clare plans to use for permaculture planting in the near future. A view of the lower field can be seen behind the stand. 

    Clare Day Flowers | Gardenista

    Above: Sweet peas blooming in July.

    Red Damsel Farm | Gardenista

    Above: A mixed bed of seedlings in the upper field at the beginning of the season. 

    Red Damsel Farms

    Above: One of the views from Clare's house onto part of the lower field.

    Red Damsel Farm | Gardenista

    Above: Scabiosa. Photograph by Red Leaf Studios.

    Red Damsel Farm | Gardenista

    Above: A dahlia bed in July in the upper field. Photograph by Red Leaf Studios.

    Clare Day Flowers| Gardenista

    Above: Clare picking dahlias. Photograph by Red Leaf Studios.

    Red Damsel Farm & Clare Day Flowers | Gardenista

    Above: A basket of dahlias and scabiosa. Photograph by Red Leaf Studios.

    Clare Day Flowers | Gardenista

    Above: A finished Clare Day arrangement, including dahlias and blackberries. 

    Clare Day Flowers | Gardenista

    Above: Clare's cosmos, which Shellie—a farmer at Red Damsel—now grows for Clare.

    Red Damsel Farm | Gardenista

    Above: Garlic from the produce farmers at Red Damsel.

    Red Damsel Farm | Gardenista

    Above: Fruit trees line the perimeter of the upper field. Photograph by Red Leaf Studios.

    Clare Day Flowers

    Above: Another beautiful arrangement from Clare, this one with apple blossom, cherry branches (the dark purple foliage), hellebores, akebia, spirea and foraged branches.

    Did Clare pique your interest in the local flower movement? Read more in Field to Vase: A Friend to Local Flower Farms and DIY Floral Arrangement: Magnolias and More, with Emily Thompson. See more from British Columbia in Remodelista's travel archive. 

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    We recently spotted an arrangement from this year's Salone del Mobile by Milan-based shop owner and designer Rossana Orlandi, and I immediately sought to replicate it.

    Orlandi arranged six different jars and glasses on a glass serving tray and filled each with different flowers. The result is an appealing color clash with an artful Italian feel. It's a look that feels very off-the-cuff and easily replicable with props from around the house and out in the garden.

    Photography by Aya Brackett for Gardenista, unless otherwise noted.

    The Inspiration

    Rossana Orlandi Salone del Mobile Photographed by Catherine Dash for Lonny Magazine | Gardenista

    Above: Orlandi's composition showcases each individual flower and is the perfect centerpiece for an impromptu party. Photograph by Catherine Dash for Lonny Magazine.

    Steal This Look: Cocktail Floral Arrangement | Gardenista

    Above: I started with a Heath Ceramics Coupe Serving Platter in Onyx ($87) and set a circular marble trivet just off center on the tray, to create different heights. A similar trivet is Fort Standard's White Trivet for $84. Next I added water to five different glasses and placed them around the tray.

    Steal This Look: Cocktail Floral Arrangement | Gardenista

    Above: I used two of my favorite tools I had available: Pallarès Solsona's Professional Kitchen Shears ($155) and their Navaja Folding Knife ($82); I use them both constantly in and out of the kitchen. I prefer a knife for cutting soft stems, but you can use just about any garden tools or kitchen scissors that you have on hand. I cut a few wild roses from the garden: two in a deep orange tone (with red rose buds) and two white roses edged in pink. I also used a trio of poppies from the local San Francisco flower market and a group of just-bloomed green hellebores.

    Steal This Look: Cocktail Floral Arrangement | Gardenista

    Above: I topped the composition off with a bearded iris in white and peach.

    Steal This Look: Cocktail Floral Arrangement | Gardenista

    Above: The key to the arrangement was not to over think it: keep it simple, group flowers together, and move them around until you find something pleasing.

    Steal This Look: Cocktail Floral Arrangement | Gardenista

    Above: Drinks are served.

    For more inspiration, sift through all our favorite Floral Arrangements. To get the look of other spaces and table settings see our previous posts: a Dry Garden Tablescape from Local Milk, A Simple House Plan Vignette, and a Late Spring Picnic.

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    There’s just something cool about X’s: X-rays, X-Men, X Prizes, the heroic X-wing fighter. Is it the subliminal guarantee of structural integrity? The titillating mark of a missive-ending kiss? Whatever the association, an X motif looks as good in a modest backyard as in the cross-bracing of the Eiffel Tower. Following are ten of our favorite garden containers that put the “X” in “planter box.”

    Above: Deborah Silver designed her Branch Jackie Boxes with oversized buttons, an homage to Oleg Cassini’s suits for Jacqueline Kennedy. Shown at 21 inches square, in cold rolled steel with squashed ball feet, they're $1,500 each from Detroit Garden Works.

    Pomo Cube X planter ; Gardenista
    Above: Ore Inc. produces the X Pomo Cube in a variety of materials and finishes. This one is oxidized zinc on aluminum; it is 27 inches square and $1,295. For more information, see Ore Inc.

    Napoli cube X planter ; Gardenista

    Above: The Napoli Cube Planter looks like weathered clay but is made of fiberglass resin and crushed terra cotta. In three sizes starting at 14 inches square, $59 and up from Home Decorators Collection; limited availabililty.


    Above: From Treillage on New York’s Upper East Side, the Directoire Statement Planter Box is 26 inches square, comes in ten powder coated colors, and costs $2,600.


    Above: The solid Paris Planter is 20 inches square and is available in either black or white. Galvanized steel; $645 at Thos. Baker.

    Above: Made of iron and teak, the 19-inch-square Directoire Planter is $395 at Tinnin Imports. Though teakwood is famed for its water-repellent qualities, a liner is recommended—or drop a terra cotta pot inside to hold soil and plants.

    Modern industrial zinc Versailles X planter ; Gardenista

    Above: Made in Pennsylvania by Amish craftspeople, these Versailles Boxes are 24 inches square with a zinc liner. All take about eight weeks (minimum order of two at $850 each), through Groundwork.

    Restoration Hardware X planter ; Gardenista

    Above: Restoration Hardware’s Azobe Salvaged Wood & Rope Planters are hand-built in Poland from wood that once supported drying bricks at a Belgian factory. Available in several sizes starting at 18 inches square, currently on sale for $430 (liners sold separately).

    Sea Green X planter ; Gardenista

    Above: Custom sea green paint glosses up a 20-inch-square Wood Planter, which starts at $534 (liner and customization extra) from Accents of France.
    Zinc industrial X planters ; Gardenista

    Above: Modern Industrial Versailles Boxes ($1,500 for the pair) in zinc by R.T. Facts, which operates out of the old Town Hall of Kent, Connecticut. These are 22 inches square, and custom sizes are available.

    Sprucing up your deck or front entry? See all of our favorite Planters, including 10 Easy Pieces: Square Wooden Garden Planters and 10 Easy Pieces: Bronze Garden Planters.

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    We love the simple formula for a farmhouse landscape: wide open pasture surrounded by towering, mature trees. Most of these ten gardens from members of the Remodelista + Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory were once working farms—though a few are actually brand new. Either way, we still find the bucolic country landscapes inspiring. 

    Above: NYC-based Robin Key Landscape Architecture designed the landscape surrounding this year-round hillside retreat in the Connecticut countryside. Stone retaining walls and bluestone pathways wind through the sprawling fields. Photograph by Francine Fleischer. For more from Robin Key, see Let Twilight Linger: 10 Early Evening Gardens from the Gardenista Gallery.

    Above: Boston-area landscape architects Stephen Stimson Associates designed the garden surrounding this farmhouse in North Salem, New York, in the Hudson Valley. As a nod to regional farms, Stimson left long plantings of grasses alongside more manicured lawns. He also preserved existing stands of woodlands around the fifty-acre property to provide shade in summer and protection from winds in winter. Photograph by Charles Mayer. For more from Stimson, see Architects' Roundup: 10 Emerald Green Gardens

    Above: Beacon, NY-based Susan Wisniewski Landscape added a stone wall and terrace to define the outdoor living space on this old farm property in the Hudson Valley. For more from the designer, see The Grandes Dames: 10 Stately Gardens from the Gardenista Gallery

    Above: Stephen Stimson Associates designed the landscape on this former dairy farm, now retirement community, in North Andover, Massachusetts. From the historic structures, residents admire onetime pastures and old stone walls, surrounded by a garden planted with native grasses and shrubs. Photograph by Charles Mayer. For more of Stimson's work, see Required Reading: Ten Landscapes by Stephen Stimson Associates.

    Above: Though traditional-looking at first glance, this farmhouse is both modern and new. The owners commissioned Kansas City-based design-build firm Hufft Projects to build the 6,000 square foot farmhouse in the countryside near Springfield, Missouri. Photograph by Mike Sinclair. See the rest of the house on Remodelista in Home for the Holidays: A Modern Farmhouse in Missouri.

    Above: Minneapolis-based Albertsson-Hansen Architecture condensed a compound of old storage barns located on 250 acres in rural Minnesota; the simple landscape is covered in grasses and surrounded by a grove of trees. Photograph by Peter Bastianelli-Kerze. Read more about the project in The Architect Is In: A Utility Barn as Architectural Moment.

    Above: An old barn remodeled by Chatham, New York-based architect James Dixon, perched on a rolling lawn. See more from the architect in Remodeling 101: Standing Seam Metal Roofs.

    Above: The landscape surrounding this old Dutch colonial farmhouse (also remodeled by James Dixon) will shift dramatically through the year as the deciduous trees behind the house change with the seasons. For more from James Dixon, see Shades of Gray: Architects' Top 10 Paint Picks

    Above: San Francisco-based Walker Warner Architects added onto this 1886 stone winery building in Napa; the new buildings take their inspiration from the agricultural architecture of Napa Valley. See more from Walker Warner in Architect Visit: Recreating Old Hawaii on Kakapa Bay

    Above: Stephen Stimson designed the landscape on this contemporary farmhouse-style waterfront property on Prince Edward Island in Canada. The fifty-acre estate mimics nearby farmland that grows potatoes, blueberries, and cranberries. Photograph by Warren Jagger

    Looking for more inspiration? Browse 73 images of Farm Gardens in the Gardenista Gallery.

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    Many a child would prefer avoiding greens, but gardens have a gentle way of convincing children otherwise. Have them pick their own greens, and eating them becomes a pleasure. This Green Goddess Smoothie, lemony and sweet, goes down especially easy.

    Photography by Liesa Johannssen.

    Cutting Garden Greens for Green Goddess Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie, Gardenista

    Above: For a child, picking greens isn’t a chore, but a delicious excuse to play. During a walk in the garden, we picked what was on hand—sorrel and Italian parsley—but arugula, chard, kale, spinach, and lettuce would all work beautifully. We harvested a handful for each serving.

    Sorrel and Parsley on Paper Towels for Green Goddess Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie, Gardenista

    Above: We washed our greens thoroughly, then rolled them in paper towels to remove excess water.

    Ingredients for Green Goddess Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie, Gardenista

    Above: Kiwi and avocado make up the bulk of our smoothie, but pineapple or berries are good additions. Kids can help by using a spoon or dull knife to cut the fruit into chunks. 

    Apple and Lemon Juice in Green Goddess Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie, Gardenista

    Above: In goes the sorrel and parsley. Ensure a silky consistency by blending the greens with a generous splash of apple juice and a squeeze of lemon. Add more apple juice to taste.

    Kiwi in Green Goddess Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie, Gardenista

    Above: Add the kiwi and avocado, plus a little ice.

    Green Goddess Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie, Gardenista

    Above: The smoothie is as green as nature and surprisingly mild-tasting. You can make it sweeter if you like—just add a little honey.

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    In an art gallery in a little seaside town on Whidbey Island near Seattle, stylish aluminum planters hang next to the paintings.

    Museo Gallery’s annual April garden show this year featured work of Vancouver-based designer Todd Holloway of Pot Inc., whose aluminum Hover pots are fabricated in British Columbia. The shallow Hover pots, available in six colors, are designed to accommodate hanging indoor gardens of sedums and grasses (but look just as stylish in a kitchen, holding bananas or oranges). 

    Holloway created the pots as an alternative to  old-fashioned moss baskets. “I saw a need for a new solution for hanging plants in the air,” says Holloway. Seeking inspiration for contemporary hanging planters, he became obsessed with various dish and bowl shapes. He quickly hit on aluminum as a versatile, lightweight material sturdy enough to ship with minimal packaging. And aluminum is recyclable, making the hover dishes suited for LEED certified projects. The Dolga and the Flango style dishes are made of galvanized steel, so are less expensive and slightly heavier than the aluminum dishes. Each style varies slightly in depth, width and shape, but all are double powder coated for durability, and come with stainless steel cables and a swivel hook for hanging. 

    Photographs by Aaron Simpson, courtesy of Museo Gallery.

    Hover Pot hanging planter ; Gardenista

    Above:  Hover pots, complete with hardware, cost between $105 for the galvanized steel dishes to $195 for the largest aluminum ones at Pot Inc. 

    Museo Gallery on Whidbey Island Seattle ; Gardenista

    “We sold all four hover dishes right off; I could easily have sold a dozen more,” says gallery owner Sandra Jarvis of the sleek, modern container gardens that were the hit of the show. The pots come in colors ranging from a cool blue “iceberg” to hot orange “chili.” The grass and chartreuse green shades were the hits at the Museo show.

    Hover pot planters by Todd Holloway ; Gardenista

    Above: Holloway recommends planting hover pots with shallow-rooted succulents, dwarf perennials, and small grasses.

    At 8 inches deep, the “Bosa” style has the most root room and can accommodate annuals and trailers. The hover dishes at the Museo show were planted in drought-tolerant sun lovers. Each pot was centered in a showy succulent like Kalanchoe thyrisiflora ‘Desert Rose’, or dark-leafed Aeonium arboreum var. atropurpureum ‘Schwarzkopf’. Creeping thyme; hens and chicks (Sempervivum); different sedums; and tufts of carex, fescue, and mondo grass filled in and tumbled down the sides of the pots. 

    For more of our favorite hanging planters, see The Hanging Kitchen Garden by Boskke. Planning a trip to Seattle? See our Seattle Design Travel Guide on Remodelista.

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