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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    Until I stumbled upon Green Heron Tools, I thought all gardening tools were created equal. Gardening tools marketed to women just meant shades of pink and mint and plenty of florals. Not so, say Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger, the founders of Green Heron Tools, the first company dedicated to providing gardening tools and equipment specially designed for women. According to Adams and Bresinger, most gardening tools are made with men, or at least with man-sized bodies and man-sized strength, in mind. These two farmers set out to change that. The result? The HERShovel, a tool designed for women, by women.

    The basic tenet behind Green Heron Tools is that because women's bodies are different from men's, their tools should be too. They explain that in general women have 40- to 75-percent less upper body strength than men. As a result, women rely on their lower body strength to power tools. With narrower shoulders, wider hips, and smaller grips, women's bodies have different ergonomic needs. Equipped with a USDA grant, Adams and Brensinger curated a collection of female-body-friendly tools—available for purchase through the Green Heron Tool Online Store—and designed their own shovel specifically engineered to capture the strength of a woman's body. 

    The Her Shovel by Green Heron, Gardenista

    Above: The HERShovel is $64.99 through Green Heron Tools.

    How does the HERShovel differ from the run-of-the-mill garden shovel? It isn't just about downsizing. Designed as a hybrid of a shovel and a spade for versatility, the HERShovel weighs in at light 4.5 pounds and features an angled blade to complement a woman's digging style. Its D-shaped handle accommodates two hands and is tilted for added leverage. The smaller grip is textured for secure handling.

    Her Shovel in Three Sizes, Gardenista

    Above: For the most ergonomic fit, the ash shaft of the HERShovel comes in three sizes according to the user's height. The small is for women 5 feet 2 inches and under, the medium for women 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 7 inches, and the large is designed for women who are 5 feet 7 inches and taller.  

    Her Shovel by Green Heron, Gardenista

    Above: Made to be used with female leg-power in mind, the HERShovel features a larger than normal foot tread.

    Green Heron Tools D-Grip, Gardenista

    Above: Green Heron offers ergonomic grips to enhance the usability of tools you already own. The Motus D-Grip mounts mid-way down the garden tool handle and gives more lifting leverage; $13.

      Lightweight Bahco Lopper at Green Heron Tools, Gardenista

    Above: The lightweight BAHCO Expert Telescoping Bypass Lopper is an example of the female-friendly garden tools on offer in the Green Heron Online Store. Made in France, they weigh in at only 2.5 pounds. According to the Green Heron site, the loppers are well-balanced and feature comfortable grips, a fully-hardened blade made of high-grade steel, and a special locking system that locks or unlocks with just a quarter-turn, allowing the user to easily adjust the handle length; $85.

    Korean Hand Plow at Green Heron Tools, Gardenista

    Above: The Korean Handplow (also known as EZ Digger or Ho-Mi) is another mainstay in their collection; $17.99.

    Michelle found the Perfect Stylish Storage Garden Tool Rack for your shovel. Looking for more? See our featured Garden Tools ranging from spades to secateurs. 

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    Inside a tiny shed studio at the back of a sprawling artists’ compound in East Austin, Texas, Tamara Becerra Valdez is surrounded by nature. Dried and drying herbs and wildflowers are everywhere—stacked on shelves, arrayed in baskets, and hanging from the ceiling. Other works in progress are drying on the floor—a series of delicate, hand-formed ceramic roses, created by Valdez for an upcoming art show.

    Inspired by folk legend, tradition and the expansive Texas landscape, Valdez has created her own line of apothecary products, Botanicals Folklorica. And she's pouring her art into this project—even the packaging.

     Photography by Leigh Patterson for Gardenista.

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Botanicals Folklorica is a line of tonics, tinctures, and other herbal remedies that Valdez makes herself using all-natural ingredients and traditional recipes. But Valdez isn't operating a quirky, one-woman apothecary: In everything she does, she's exploring the natural world, art, and the intrinsic relationship between the two.

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: Valdez's products include incense sticks called Palo Santo Bundles (at left; $16) and medicinal honeys. She starts with raw herbal honeys sourced from independent Central Texas beekeepers, then infuses them with such unexpected ingredients as cardamom seeds, dandelion blossoms, ginger, turmeric, and Texas wildflowers. A jar of her Medicinal Mushroom Honey, made with reishi and maitake mushrooms and rosehips, sells for $24.

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: A shelf of Botanicals Folklorica oils and herbal tinctures. 

    Valdez's background is varied and far-reaching. Over the years she has studied studio art and anthropology, and worked at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington, DC. When she attended Austin’s Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine, she learned about the healing properties of the native flora around her. 

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: A jar of leaves from the spiny bush called agarita, believed to help heal digestive disorders. “I collect native plants that can be used for first aid,” Valdez says. “This spring I've been keeping my eyes peeled for agarita and for Indian paintbrush, the wildflower. I'm also looking for chaparral [Larrea tridentata], which grows in West Texas. You know when you’re near it because the air smells like rain.”

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: One of Valdez's products, Four Storms Fire Water ($13). A tincture based on an ancient recipe for boosting the immune system, it contains 12 ingredients, including burdock and turmeric root, ginger, garlic, thyme, and elderberries. 

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: Local wildflowers and herbs make up Valdez's beautiful Smudge Bundles ($22), meant to be burned so their smoke will purify a space. “I'm lucky to have friends and farms that can supply me with large amounts of the plants I use,” she says. “When I'm gathering them myself, I carry a notebook so I can jot down the locations, time of year, and descriptions of the plants I find. This season, I’m collecting native grasses that I'll braid and use to tie up packages.” 

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: A tea for spring, made from violet, nettles, horsetail, dandelion, and clover. 

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: A packaging idea germinates. “I'm always interested in the act of opening up a parcel or a present,” Valdez says. “Lately, I've been working with translucent papers, rope, and ceramic vessels. I like the way gracefully layered elements can create a lovely package.” 

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: Items at the workstation—some ready for shipping, others still at the experimentation stage. 

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: Valdez takes down medicinal plants that were hung to dry. 

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: Some of the many dried herbs and other plants that go into Botanicals Folklorica products.

    botanicals folklorica | gardenista

    Above: Valdez finds inspiration for her remedies everywhere: in traditional crafts, folklore stories, and the heritage of a community. “I read a lot and take note of what intrigues me," she says. "Most often, I find the beauty in necessity and ritual.”

    Looking for other herbal remedies? Browse our archive of Health & Beauty posts. Prefer to explore Austin a bit more? See In Austin, a Woodworker Takes Affordable Creativity to New Heights on Remodelista.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    We learned this early: When the third little pig chose brick, he knew what he was doing. As a building material, brick has stood the test of time. It's hardworking, aesthetically versatile, easily maintained, and affordable. Although it's sometimes considered a formal look for a patio, that depends on the type of bricks, the color, the pattern, and the application.

    Here's everything you need to know if you're designing a brick patio.  

    Julie Carlson's mossy brick patio ; Gardenista

    Above: Remodelista editor-in-chief Julie Carlson likes a mossy look; here's her brick patio in Mill Valley, CA. Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    What types of bricks are good for a patio?

    Most bricks are composed of clay soil combined with lime and sand. Although red bricks are the most common, bricks come in many colors, including cream, grey, tan, buff, pink, brown, and black.

    Clay brick colors ; Gardenista

    Above: The color varies according to several factors: the relative proportion of lime, the color of the sand, and the temperature and duration of the firing. One strong attribute is that brick color doesn't fade with age or wear.  

    Hardscaping 101: Brick Patios | Gardenista

    Above: In this Connecticut garden designed by Doyle Herman Design Associates, the herringbone brick patio is bordered by a soldier pattern.

    If you're looking for a weathered look and don't want to wait years to get it, you can buy tumbled bricks. Used bricks are another option—try searching under "building materials" on Craigslist. But don't buy unless you're assured that any residual mortar has been cleaned off. Whatever you choose, make sure they're bricks that will work well for a patio—they're not too porous, for example, or prone to flaking in freezing temperatures. If in doubt, check with a stonemason or stoneyard worker.

    What are some patterns for laying a brick patio?

    Your choice of pattern will be largely determined by how much space you have and how much money you want to invest. Here are the most common patterns, from the least expensive/labor-intensive to the most:

    • Running bond just means bricks laid in simple rows. Concentric squares (shown above) or rectangles are variations on running bond; these are appealing if you have enough space to show them off. In smaller spaces, a concentric pattern can look busy.
    • Basketweave is a classic pattern that's slightly more labor-intensive than running bond. It comes in many variations. To make the pattern work, you'll need bricks that are twice as long as they are wide (plus any mortar joint). That also reduces the number of bricks that will need to be cut.
    • Herringbone is a timeless look that works well for both pathways and patios. A herringbone set at 45 degrees is somewhat more expensive because the bricks on the edges all need to be cut. Herringbone set at 90 degrees involves less cutting.

    Common paving patterns for brick ; Gardenista

    Above: Common brick patterns, courtesy of Rubio's Masonry and Construction.

    Should my brick patio be set in sand or mortar?

    There are two schools of thought on this, and both ways achieve different looks. The sand-set patio is less expensive, flexible (which is good if you live in a frost-prone area), and easily repaired. However, it's likely to shift over time and get bumpy. The mortar-set patio is not flexible, but will remain flat in any climate. Also, the mortar discourages weeds and ants.

    If you choose sand, make sure you look for a type of sand, gravel, or grit that won't shift too much, and will repel ants. If you choose mortar, ask your contractor not to make the mortar joints any wider than half an inch.

    Choose sand-set if you love the look of moss between bricks. It is possible to get moss to grow between mortar-set bricks, but it won't do so as readily.

    Hardscaping 101: Brick Patios | Gardenista

     Above: Another view of the Connecticut patio designed by Doyle Herman Design Associates. The brick color was carefully selected to blend with the stone fireplace.

    How do I maintain my brick patio?

    The easiest way to get rid of any weeds sprouting up between the bricks is simply to pour boiling water directly on the plants. If your patio is in a heavily shaded area, algae and mold may appear on the brick. This causes no harm but can be unsightly. To remove the growth, use diluted vinegar and a scrub brush. Tougher stains might respond to hydrogen peroxide. The easiest way to clean a brick patio is by power washing, but the pressure should be no higher than 3,000 pounds per square inch.

    Brick path basketweave pattern ; Gardenista

    Above: Brick in a herringbone pattern. Photograph via The Glass Factory

    How much does a brick patio cost?

    A mortar-set brick patio costs about the same as bluestone: around $20 per square foot, installed. (Most bricks cost from $1 to $1.20 each; you need about four and a half bricks per square foot.) A sand-set patio will cost you less: from $12 to $15 per square foot.  

    Hardscaping 101: Brick Patios | Gardenista

    Above: This handsome brick patio in Belgium is laid in a classic herringbone pattern, with a "soldier" border. Photograph from Exceptional Gardens by Wim Pauwels.

    Brick Patios Recap:

    • After deciding on a color, consider talking to a specialist about the best type of brick for your area.
    • Choose your paving pattern, such as running bond, basketweave, or herringbone, with spatial and financial constraints in mind.
    • Sand-set brick is less expensive, flexible, and easy to repair, but may become uneven over time.
    • Mortar-set brick is more expensive, but remains flat, repels ants, and is less prone to weeds.
    • Brick is relatively easy to maintain. Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or power-washing will keep it looking good. 
    • Mortar-set brick costs $20 per square foot, installed, while sand-set is around $12-$15.  

    Considering other materials for a patio? See our Hardscaping 101 archives for Ellen's take on Bluestone, Limestone, and Decomposed Granite.

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    Ever since writing about the impact that Thoreau's carefully curated notebooks have made on modern day phenology research, I've been preoccupied with the idea of folks putting their general enthusiasm for spring's first buds to better use. Instead of only cooing over the first redbud blossoms popping up in Brooklyn, could we all be making like Thoreau and documenting the phenomenon? Given the likely scenario that scribbles in private notebooks won't one day line the shelves of world-class libraries like Thoreau's do, I was curious about ways that plant enthusiasts could share their finds publicly.

    No surprise, it's easier than ever to do your part as a citizen scientist. Here are four free apps—and one web-based site—that can help turn an otherwise passive walk in the woods into an exercise in scientific documentation. Nature nerds, unite.

    Photography by Erin Boyle.

    citizen scientist apps | gardenista

    1. iNaturalist

    This was my favorite app. A simple interface makes it easy to use and the developers seem to have taken an especially social approach to data sharing. They say: "From hikers to hunters, birders to beach-combers, the world is filled with naturalists, and many of us record what we find. What if all those observations could be shared online? You might discover someone who finds beautiful wildflowers at your favorite birding spot, or learn about the birds you see on the way to work. If enough people recorded their observations, it would be like a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers could use to monitor changes in biodiversity, and that anyone could use to learn more about nature..." Sign me up. I used it to record my first sighting of highbush blueberry in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

    citizen scientist apps | gardenista

    2. Project Noah

    Like most of these apps, you need to sign up to use Project Noah through their website first. The app was launched out of NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program as an experiment to mobilize citizen scientists. Users choose specific "missions" to which they can contribute their observations. The compiled research is then made accessible to participating researchers. My personal favorite mission? The "Flowers of North America," which currently boasts over 24,000 wildflower spottings from close to 9,000 particpants. Users are encouraged to document wildlife and organisms in their natural environment—so, yes to documenting wild garlic, no to documenting your favorite houseplant, lovely though it might be. From the developers: Project Noah is "a tool that nature lovers can use to explore and document local wildlife and a common technology platform that research groups can use to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere." 

    citizen scientist apps | gardenista

    3. Nature's Notebook 

    This app requires a bit more buy-in from the average user. Users select a specific research site to which they're expected to return on a regular basis. The developers encourage users to choose a site that's convenient, representative of typical environmental conditions in your area, and of a manageable size (no larger than 15 acres). After site selection, users can add their local plant or animal observations. For each plant observation, a simple Yes/No chart within the app prompts users to record whether there are breaking leaf buds, young leaves, flowers or flower buds, open flowers, etc. While I'm not sure I have the time to commit to regular observation of a specific site, the simple format of this app appealed to my affinity for checking off boxes. Buds? Check.

    citizen scientist apps | gardenista

    4. What's Invasive

    Have plans to do some traveling this summer? This might be the app for you. Users can download lists of invasive species from a selection of participating parks and can help root out invasive species that have been idenitified in the region. Traveling to Acadia National Park, for instance? Download a sortable list of invasives and update the app with your own observation of any of these species. The list can be sorted by common and scientific names and each listing comes with a photograph, which users can also update, to help with identification.

    citizen scientist apps | gardenista

    5. Project Budburst 

    This web-based site doesn't have a robust platform for allowing you to update on-the-go, but what it lacks in mobility it makes up for in robustness. Users can sign up to contribute regular or single reports. Users who contribute regular reports commit to recording their observations of a specific species throughout the year. Users hoping for a smaller time commitment can select a plant to observe just once, noting the leafing, flowering, or fruiting stage of the plant on one particular date. The project tracks plants in five different plant groups: wildflowers and herbs, deciduous trees and shrubs, conifers, evergreen trees and shrubs, and grasses. Project Budburst encourages active particpation of users ranging from botanist newbies to experts in the field.

    Enthusiastic about what's growing, but not sure what it is you're looking at? See DIY: Identify Leaves and Flowers (There's an App for That). Prefer to focus on your own garden? See 10 Best Garden Design Apps for Your Ipad.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    Until I convince my landlord to let me to install a tiny workshop on the roof of my building in Brooklyn, I'm satisfied to ogle photographs of other people's garden work spaces and cultivate a perfect vision for my someday space. 

    Artemis Russell is the collector behind the blog and online shop Junkaholique and the designer at Rust, the London-based jewelry company she runs with her husband, Nao. Her tiny garden shed is one of the best I've seen. The endlessly talented Artemis not only designs jewelry, she also keeps busy sewing and knitting in her workshop, which she's furnished with a sewing table, chair, and shelves to store her tools and treasures. 

    The modest 4-by-6-foot wooden shed has been rebuilt three times (you can see an earlier iteration of the shed here). That's because it has moved from one rental home garden to the next, to finally land behind the house Artemis and Nao recently purchased on the Isle of Wight as a home for them and their young daughter, Pehr.

    Photography by Artemis Russell.

    outbuilding of the week | gardenista

    Above: In the new garden, Artemis and her husband, Nao, have matching sheds. See photos of Nao's shed here.

    artemis russell's tiny garden shed | gardenista  

    Above: A garden bench outside Artemis's shed, and planters waiting to be filled.

    outbuilding of the week | gardenista

    Above: The shed's interior is painted a bright white, and filled with tools and equipment for Artemis's sewing and craft projects. 

    outbuilding of the week | gardenista

    Above: A shelf stocked with tools and vintage finds.

    outbuilding of the week | gardenista

    Above: Hanging from the door is a pint-sized ironing board that Artemis devised so she can give fabrics a quick press without having to traipse back to the house.

    outbuilding of the week | gardenista

    Above: A self-proclaimed neat freak, Artemis keeps cleaning supplies close at hand.

    outbuilding of the week | gardenista

    Above: Artemis at work in her shed.

    outbuilding of the week | gardenista

    Above: A selection of sewing supplies. 

    outbuilding of the week | gardenista

    Above: Artemis installed this rim lock to secure the shed when she's not inside.

    For another garden workshop we've been eying, see Outbuilding of the Week: A Backyard Writer's Shed by Weston Surman & Deane. For more from the Isle of Wight, see Pottery With a Sense of Place on Remodelista.

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    It may seem old-fashioned to use onion skins to dye a hand-stitched quilt that's meant to be handed down for generations. But Texas-based quilter Maura Grace Ambrose wouldn't agree. Ambrose makes modern heirloom quilts for her line Folk Fibers, working from her home studio on a country road in Bastrop (30 miles southeast of Austin). Her specialty: patchworks that combine fabrics colored with natural dyes and vintage textiles. 

    Photographs by Maura Ambrose/Folk Fibers unless otherwise noted.

    Folk Fibers | Gardenista

    Above: Quilter Maura Ambrose with one of her completed works. Photograph by Theron Humphry.

    “My goal is to share the craft and folklore related to natural dyes and quilting,” Ambrose says. Her love of timeless textiles and her sharp designer's eye have earned Ambrose worthy recognition: She won the 2013 Martha Stewart American Made Award and recently collaborated with Levi’s to create custom denim quilts. Last fall she took part in the Levi's-sponsored "Station to Station" event, a public art project in which artists, musicians, filmmakers and artisans traveled for a month by vintage train, stopping in nine cities and towns for exhibitions and performances. 

    folk fibers | gardenista

    Above: Ambrose's quilts are stitched entirely by hand, which adds "one-of-a-kind beauty," she says. Women in her community pitch in to help with large orders. Photo by Theron Humphry.

    Ambrose has a degree in Textile Design and Fiber Arts from the Savannah College of Art & Design. But it was the time she spent working on organic farms that inspired her to start using the bounty of the natural world to create heirloom textiles. “I learned to appreciate the way farmers struggle against the odds to make something they believe in,” she says. "Farming is hard, tedious work, and they're really incredible entrepreneurs."

    folk fibers | gardenista

    Above: A fall harvest of dye ingredients. Ambrose uses plants from her own garden and from friends in the community to make colors for dyeing her quilt fabrics. The Hill Country around Bastrop offers a range of wild dye elements, from persimmons to prickly pear, Mexican plum to xochitl flowers.

    folk fibers | gardenista

    Above: Pomegranates grow in abundance near Ambrose’s Bastrop home. Here, a basketful awaits soaking. “When I'm making dye, I go whole hog," Ambrose says. "I use the entire fruit, and crush or break the skin either before or after I soak them in water.” 

    folk fibers | gardenista

    Above: Ambrose with wood harvested from an Osage orange tree, used to create yellows, golds, and a mossy green. “It takes trial and error," she says, "since each plant is different."

    folk fibers | gardenista

    Above: Wild mushrooms soaking in jars. “Sometimes a plant isn't ready when you need it," Ambrose says. "Nature doesn't always cooperate with your schedule."

      folk fibers | gardenista

    Above: Straining onion skins that have been boiled and soaked. "Basically, you heat the plant material to slowly break it down. But nothing is guaranteed, so you have to experiment with each batch.”

    folk fibers | gardenista

    Above: The earthy color range of yellow onion skins. “Onion skins give you a combination of red, yellow, orange, and ocher shades," Ambrose says. "For deep colors you need a concentrated dye bath and plenty of time for the fibers to soak." The same dye will produce different colors in different fabrics. Ambrose sticks with 100-percent natural textiles, using cotton, wool and silk.

    folk fibers | gardenista

    Above: The quilter with five of her labors of love, made for the online housewares shop Terrain. Photograph by Wynn Myers.

    Ambrose is writing a book about her experiences making plant-based dyes. Meanwhile, she suggests that would-be dyemakers consult two of her favorite works, Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles, by India Flint, and Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes, by Rebecca Burgess. "I also encourage people to experiment," she says. "There are no secret formulas or tricks; it just takes experience to learn and perfect."

    Dying to know more about natural dyes? Read our Shopper's Diary post about a New York City designer whose silk scarves are colored with dyes made from discarded flowers. For lots more on plant-based dyes, consult our section on Natural Dyes. And don't miss this Remodelista post about making dyes from, yes, sawdust.


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    While we've been admiring resourceful women in the gardening and outdoor world, the team at Remodelista has been featuring women contributing to the world of architecture and interiors (while also flexing their own handywomen DIY muscles). 

    Here are a few of our favorite Remodelista posts from this past week:

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    A Shopable Austin Bungalow, Outdoor Teepee Included (And in case you're were curious, here's How to Know When You're Garden Needs a Teepee).

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    On the search for a tool box of your own? Take your pick from 10 Easy Pieces: Stylish Tool Boxes

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Ever handy, Meredith gives step-by-step instructions for resurrecting unused picture frames in DIY: Repurposing a Vintage Frame. (Looks like we've found another solution for preserving those pressed violas.)

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    What's in your tool box? Izabella rounded up her essentials in 13 Favorites: Best of Household Tools. (Which reminds us: Erin showed us some of her own in Tool Box for a City Gardener last spring).

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Next week we're taking on the subject of bringing the outdoors in. Sarah's piece The Olli Lounger: Slow Design for the Modern World has gotten us in just the spirit.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    We're wrapping up a week dedicated to the women in our lives with a few things that recently caught our eye: 

    Restored Garden in NYC by Bette Midler | Gardenista

    • Above: A Hollywood actress restores eight NYC gardens. Photograph courtesy of New York Restoration Project. 
    • 26 ideas for deck remodeling
    • Defining boundaries with greenery. 

    Michelle Obama Plants Pollinator Garden | Gardenista

    • Above: The White House's new pollinator garden. Photograph by Amanda Lucidon. 
    • The newest issue of the reimagined, advert-free Garden Design ships May 15. 
    • 7 ways gardening can save (and make) you money.

    Cherry Blossom | Gardenista

    Japanese Maple with tiny cat | Gardenista

    • Above: Small cat, big plant (Japanese Maple to be exact). Photograph by Christine Swinehart. 
    • A mobile rooftop garden
    • Gardenista in good company

    Did you miss this week on Gardenista? No problem; check out the The Handywoman issue. And take a look at this week's Handywoman issue on Remodelista, too. 

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    Eudora Welty's parents built a house in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1925, when she was a girl, and until her death in 2001 she wrote there, sitting at a bedroom window with a view of life on Pinehurst Street. Now open for tours, the house and garden—where flowers planted by both her and her mother still grow—are reminders that ''a sheltered life can be a daring life as well,'' as she once said, ''for all serious daring starts from within.''

    Above: Eudora Welty's backyard trellis, covered with roses. Photograph via Eudora Welty Foundation.

    Above: It was never a grand garden, but a gracious one, with a design typical of the early part of the 1900s—my grandparents' backyard had a nearly identical layout, in fact, with a rose arbor and perennial beds bissecting the property to create separate "rooms." Welty's property extends, in the distance, to the gray shed. Photograph by Langdon Clay.

    Eudora Welty Garden Mississippi ; Gardenista

    Above: Fragrant pink nicotiana. Photograph by Aimee Howell.

    Nicotiana Eudora Welty Garden Mississippi ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Aimee Howell.

    Camellia Japonica Eudora Welty Garden Mississippi ; Gardenista

    Above: A Camellia japonica in Welty's garden. Camellias figured prominently in The Optimist's Daughter, as "Laurel's eye travelled among the urngs that marked the graves of the McKelvas and saw the favorite camellia of her father's, the old-fashioned Chandlerii Elegans, that he had planted on her mother's grave—big now as a pony, saddled with unplucked bloom living and dead, standing on a fading carpet of its own flowers." Photograph via Eudora Welty Foundation.

    Above: The house Welty's parents built, in a style she described affectionately as "Tudor style with some timbering, you know, à la Shakespeare." A Rhododendron austrinum blooms against the wall. Photograph by Aimee Howell.

    Above: Greenwood Cemetery in downtown Jackson, where Welty is buried, is home to more than 40 different named varieties of antique and modern shrub roses. For more photos, see "Eudora Welty House and Garden in Jackson, MS."

    Above: "The memory is a living thing—it too is in transit, but during its moment all that is remembered joins and lives—the old and the young, the past and the present, the living and the dead."

    Cold frame Eudora Welty Garden Mississippi ; Gardenista

    Above: A cold frame in Welty's garden. Photograph by Aimee Howell. For more writers' gardens, see "The Poet and His Garden: Ian Hamilton Finlay in Scotland" and "A Gothic Garden Visit, Courtesy of the Mitfords."

    Above: Eudora Welty in the garden, weeding, in the 1940s. Photograph via Eudora Welty Foundation.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published January 22, 2013 during our In the Library issue.

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    Now that the weather has finally warmed up, we've thrown open our doors and are spending as many hours outside as we possibly can. If we have go indoors, we still want to feel like we're living in a garden. So this week, we're showing some of our favorite ways to bring the outdoors in.

    Of course, a profusion of cut flowers can always add a little nature to our indoor lives. Even a single, sophisticated potted plant can lift the spirits—such as the fiddle leaf fig, featured in this week's Field Guide (and appearing in many a stylish photo shoot these days). Then there's the trick of large-scale nature photographs that can turn a blank wall into a window to the outdoors. See which ideas work for you.

    Outdoors In; potted plants; maidenhair fern; Gardenista


    Indoor outdoor living Napa ; Gardenista

    Above: Sarah visits her friend Renee in Napa and discovers the secrets to creating a year-round indoor/outdoor garden. See more indoor/outdoor gardens in our Architect Visit archives.


    The Red Chair antiques shop in Hudson, New York; Gardenista

    Above: The courtyards of Southern France are a perfect example of habitats that blur the line between indoors and out. During this week's Garden Visit we browse through The Red Chair, an antiques shop in Hudson, NY, whose courtyard garden could have been air-lifted direct from Europe.


    Steal This Look: Photographer Emily Nathan's kitchen; Gardenista

    Above: The photograph that hangs in Emily Nathan's kitchen looks just like a window that offers a glimpse into a greenhouse. We'll show you how to Steal This Look, sourcing the same large-scale photo ("La Banane," shot by Nathan herself) and other tasteful accessories.


    Shopper's Diary: Miss Pickering's Flower Shop in Stamford, England; Gardenista

    Above: In the heart of Middle England, in the pretty town of Stamford, Miss Pickering runs her thriving flower business in a low-ceilinged shop built in 1463. This week's Shopper's Diary pays a visit to this heavenly spot.


    Overnight stay in a 60s Shasta camper in Nashville, Tennessee; Gardenista

    Above: Nashville novelist J. Wes Yoder became an innkeeper after he bought a 1962 Shasta camper on eBay, renovated it from top to bottom, and turned a garden shed into a bathhouse. It's listed on Airbnb, so yes, you can book a stay in this week's cozy Outbuilding of the Week.

    Finding yourself stuck inside the office too much lately? Take solace in a week full of beautifully designed work spaces in Remodelista's current issue, Working It.

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    I had admired my friend Renee's Napa Valley house from afar long before I got to know her. Hidden behind a wooden gate, the house itself was hard to see, but the low front fence and graveled outer garden gave the setup the appearance of being open yet private at the same time.

    When Renee bought the land several years ago, there was nothing on it except a small vineyard and a well in the middle of the lot. She knew she wanted to design a structure that embraced indoor/outdoor living, and ultimately the well ended up dictating the plan: it became the central courtyard that the house is built around. Renee tells us, "I have the doors open all day for a lot of the year, and the courtyard has become an extension of the living room. The outdoor space feels very much part of the house." Her indoor/outdoor mission duly accomplished. 

    Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.

    Above: The house is set behind a low fence; the graveled patio is used for bike parking.

    Above: Wooden gates open onto an inner courtyard at the entry. Renee says, "I wanted to create something peaceful, so I could spend time on the front porch reading. It's a great spot to catch the afternoon sun."

    Above: The view from the living room to the front gate through ivy that trails off the front of the house.

    Above: The ivy carries over into the courtyard. " We usually have wine and cocktails outside and if it's cool out, we sit by the fire. When the kids were younger, they would paint and draw with chalk out here all the time."

    For another typical California patio, see Garden Visit: A Tropical Paradise in LA's Echo Park.

    Above: A bull's head above the stone fireplace.

    Above: The outdoor Montego Seating came from Room & Board and the red Adirondack chairs were picked up at a local farmer's market.

    Above: The children's collection of stones and bottle caps.

    Above: "I have a lot of greenery in pots—Euphorbia, flax, and succulents, low maintenance sorts of things. The pots are good for adding height."

    Above: The view from the courtyard through to the front of the house.

    Above: An Ikea Doksta Table in the corner of the courtyard with two Eames Chairs from DWR.

     Above: Galvanized planters in a secluded area at the rear of the house. See more ideas for troughs at Steal This Look: Galvanized Troughs as Raised Beds.

    Above: A small seating area in the inner garden at the front of the house.

    Above: The garage with sliding barn doors.

    Looking to spruce up your outdoor living space? See our gallery of Outdoor Furniture. And, for eco-chic garden furnishings, don't miss this post.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published August 2, 2013.

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    For Dutch designer Debbie Wijskamp, creating handmade peices begins with the material itself. Taking her cue from artisans worldwide who use found matter for making everyday objects, as well as from contemporary environmental designers such as Victor Papanek, William McDonough, and Tony Fry, Debbie began experimenting with making paper pulp from old newspapers, shortly after graduating from the Institute of the Arts in Arnhem.

    Today she uses paper from a recycling plant to create earthy, textured vases and furniture, and because the entire process—from material, to mold, to finish—is completed by hand, each piece is truly one-of-a-kind.

    Serax Paper Pulp Vases by Debbie Wijskamp, collection in gray, Gardenista

    Above: Debbie's designs, which are distributed through Serax, resemble heavy materials such as clay or concrete, but in reality are much more lightweight. And even though they are paper, they are waterproof.

    Serax Paper Pulp Vases by Debbie Wijskamp, chartreuse, Gardenista

    Above: Occasionally Debbie also adds color, like tomato red or this vibrant chartreuse.

    Serax Paper Pulp Vases by Debbie Wijskamp, gray, Gardenista

    Above: Debbie's Large Paper Pulp Urns are available online through Klevering; 35.

    Serax Paper Pulp Vases by Debbie Wijskamp, Gardenista

    Above: in addition to earthy hues, the paper pulp vessels also come in black and white. A small Black Paper Pulp Vase is available through Between the Dog and The Wolf; £13.

    Serax Paper Pulp Vases by Debbie Wijskamp, round, white, Gardenista

    Above: The French shop Colonel carries three sizes of Debbie's Paper Pulp Vases both online and at its Paris store; 15-35.

    Serax Paper Pulp Vases by Debbie Wijskamp, tall gray, Gardenista

    Above: Weighted by water, this tall urn is sturdy enough for the large branches of a blooming magnolia.

    Want to explore more creative uses for old print? Artist Cecelia Levy recycles old books as art in Garden Stories, Told in Paper.

    Looking for more recycled designs? See all of our eco-friendly favorites at Remodelista.

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  • 05/12/14--11:30: Field Guide: Fiddle Leaf Fig
  • Fiddle Leaf Fig, Ficus lyrata: "Fiddler Under the Roof"

    Fiddle leaf fig plants have little to do with fiddles—or figs, for that matter. Unlike their cousins in the fig, or ficus, family, fiddle leaf figs do not produce fruit. And you will not hear them playing Mendelssohn’s concerto in E minor on the violin. However, fiddle leaf fig plants speak to a refined aesthetic palate and are a testament to good taste on the part of their owners. Interior design bloggers are enamored with the fiddle leaf fig; in the background of many a stylish photo shoot, you will spot its rounded, dinner-plate leaves flopping in many directions.

    Field Guide Fiddle Leaf Fig ; Gardenista

    Above: For more images, see Fiddle Leaf Figs in our Gardenista Gallery.

    In the U.S., the fiddle leaf fig usually grows indoors, in living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms where filtered sunlight is available. It looks dashing in an all-white space, where it provides a focal point for visual interest. The fiddle leaf fig is equally at home in a Persian-carpeted den of antiquities as in the spare pad of an Ikea lover. With its blunt-edged, guitar-pick shaped leaves lilting at all angles, the fiddle leaf fig resembles the blue plants in a collage by Matisse, or else a wonkily off-balance Calder mobile sculpture. (Be careful: the fiddle leaf fig has been known to induce name-dropping.)

    Fiddle leaf fig on Michelle's porch; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by John Merkl for Gardenista.

    Cheat Sheet:

    • If you have humid summers, bring a fiddle leaf fig outdoors in warm weather to remind it of its native jungle climate.
    • Evergreen; hardy in growing zones 9-11.
    • Good companion to: your furniture.

    Keep It Alive:

    • When its soil feels dry, give a fiddle leaf fig tepid water and make sure it drains well.
    • Prefers bright, indirect sunlight.
    • The best time to re-pot is in the spring, when a fiddle leaf fig naturally enjoys a growth spurt.

      Fiddle leaf fig in Manhattan ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Daniel Kanter of Manhattan Nest.

    Though of course they are not actually fiddlers, fiddle leaf fig plants have an artistic temperament. They require just the right amount of filtered sunlight: not too much or the leaves will burn, and not too little, or they will shrivel up and leave you in a costly lurch, as the plants are often priced around $50. At such an exorbitant rate, your fiddle leaf fig deserves a beautiful planter—not too large though, or your plant is liable to get stage fright and die. As far as water, the fiddle leaf fig is closer to a starving artist. It is able to subsist on watering only once a week when the soil feels dry. If you can put up with the diva behavior, you'll have screen-worthy results.

    The world's most famous fiddle leaf figs? You've seen them on Pinterest; here's Where They Live.

    Read More:

    Fiddle leaf fig stories ; Gardenista

    For more, see 10 Tips for Caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig. Looking for the right houseplant? See 250 images of our favorite Houseplants in our Gardenista Gallery. Browse the rest of our favorite plants in our Field Guide archive.

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    The Red Chair in Hudson, New York is an antique shop that transports shoppers to another time and place. The place? A melting pot of Southern France and Scandinavia. The time? A mélange of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The goods? A highly edited palette of white and soft brown furnishings, lighting, and linens. Owner Jocie Sinauer's combination of romance with an eye for good design mean there's nothing cloying about this store. The shop was recently featured in stylist Hilary Robertson's The Stuff of Life, photographed by Anna Williams and published by Ryland and Peters. 

    No surprise, it's the tiny courtyard garden that caught our eye. Sinauer has a thing for the Medieval courtyards of Southern France and fortunately for her (and for us), her shop spills out the back into a charming outdoor space where a revolving collection of objects are for sale. Pieces gathered on buying trips to Europe range from architectural salvage to antique urns and cloches, to seating and tables. Her most recent haul will be available to shoppers in late May. Shoppers: be on the look out for Sinauer's exciting score of large 19th century handblown glass cloches from France, or the perfect specimens of large handkerchief planters that she found lightly covered in moss and lichens. Also not to be missed: stone troughs, iron urns, and a collection of English conservatory planters. 

    Sinauer explains the European influence of her courtyard design: "It's the way they utilize their spaces in Europe, no matter how small—layering plants on walls like climbing roses, nestling in seating for alfresco dining," says Sinauer. Topiary and a shifting palette of greens with interesting textures are her go-to plants.

    Photography by Anna Williams.

    the red chair courtyard garden | gardenista

    Above: Cafe-style tables and chairs are a staple at The Red Chair. Romantic hits of architectural salvage, like the statue shown here, getting paired with more modern stone spheres is very much what The Red Chair and Jocie Sinauer are known for.

    the red chair courtyard garden | gardenista

    Above: Topiary is a favorite of Sinauer's and adds charm to the courtyard.

    the red chair courtyard garden | gardenista

    Above: Large oyster shells, unique terra cotta pieces, and a mix of plants fill the tiny garden space.

    the red chair courtyard garden | gardenista

    Above: The walls of the courtyard were left in their natural patina and give the garden that European vibe, transporting shoppers to another time and place. Stone troughs, concrete containers, and ladders for displaying small potted plants are all part of the mix at The Red Chair.

    the red chair courtyard garden | gardenista

    Above:  Jocie Sinauer is always on the hunt for interesting terra cotta pots, which she displays beautifully on old wooden step ladders.

    Above: Curious to see more? Visit the shop for yourself at 606 Warren Street, Hudson NY, 12534 or read more about it in Required Reading: The Stuff of Life on Remodelista. For more from Hilary Roberston, see Marrying Pots and Plants at Mrs. Robertson in Fort Greene.

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    We're happy to see more fans out there for ceramic artist Frances Palmer, because we love visiting her country garden in Weston, Connecticut (which we wrote about here), and seeing the hand-thrown pottery she creates in her studio (you can read about that on Remodelista). The May issue of Martha Stewart Living features an article about the kitchen garden Palmer has set up in an unusual spot: an unused tennis court. Much like the way an exercise bicycle that has become a coat tree can prey on your mind, a neglected tennis court sprouting weeds can also induce guilt. Here's how Frances Palmer got the upper hand—and how you can Steal This Look.

    Frances Palmer kitchen garden on tennis court, Gardenista

    Above: Frances Palmer's backyard tennis court had languished ever since her three grown children had left home. Rather than sit and watch the weeds grow, Palmer decided to install raised beds to grow vegetables and flowers. "It was flat, sunny, and already fenced in,” she says. Photograph by Peden + Munk, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.

    Frances Palmer kitchen garden on tennis court, Gardenista

    Above: Palmer playfully planted flowers in crevices in the tennis court's surface. The vegetable crop, however, grows in raised beds whose soil can be carefully nurtured. Photograph by Peden + Munk, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.

    Green chainlink fence; Gardenista

    Above: Palmer's tennis court was already surrounded by chain-link fence, to help keep the balls inside. The same fence now keeps deer out. A roll of green Yardgard 9-Gauge Green Chain Link Fabric is 4 feet by 50 feet; $117 from Home Depot. (If marauding deer are a problem in your area, you may need to go higher. A 5-foot-high roll of Yardgard 14-Gauge Vinyl Galvanized Welded Wire is $62.

      Metal fence posts for chain link fence ; Gardenista

    Above: Heavy-duty 13-gauge metal fence posts are notched to secure the fencing fabric. A 7-foot-high Yardgard Metal U Channel Fence Post is $7.98 from Home Depot.

    Steel Fiskars post hole digger ; Gardenista

    Above: If you install your own fence, you will need to dig 2-foot-deep holes for the fence posts (set them in a concrete and gravel bed). Save your back by using a post hole digger designed to dig straight down into the ground. A steel Fiskars Post Hole Digger with a 6-inch blade spread is $59.99 from Grow Organic.

    Mini farm box, raised bed; Gardenista

    Above: You can make your own raised beds from scratch if you have the carpentry skills. If not, order some Minifarmbox Raised Bed Kits, available in two sizes. A 4-foot-square kit and a 4-by-8-foot rectangular kit are made of FSC-certified cedar; $158 and $378 respectively at Grow Organic.

    Red dahlias Frances Palmer ; Gardenista

    Above: Palmer, who has a passion for dahlias (she grows more than 100 varieties in her cutting garden), doesn't hesitate to mix flowers with vegetables. See her tips for How to Grow Dahlias at Garden Design. Photograph by Frances Palmer. Some of our favorite varieties include Skipley Spot (available seasonally from Clearview Dahlias), Hollyhill Chloe ($7 from Corralitos Gardens), and Atropurpurea ($6.38 from Old House Gardens).

    Bamboo garden tuteurs ; Gardenista

    Above: Bamboo tuteurs will support tall dahlia stalks and climbing beans. Palmer makes her own; to do the same, start with a set of 25 Bamboo Poles available in three heights at prices ranging from $15.95 to $79.95 per set from Gardener's Supply. Lash them together with Nutscene Garden Twine; a 500-foot roll is $15.95 from Kaufmann-Mercantile.

    Charisma pumpkin seeds; Gardenista

    Above: When garden space is limited, look for pumpkins with reduced-length vines, like this Charisma Pumpkin. The pumpkins are light orange in color and resistant to powdery mildew. Seeds are $3.65 per seed packet from Johnny's Selected Seeds.

    Nasturtium seeds, Jewel mix; Gardenista

    Above: Nasturtiums contribute sunny colors to a vegetable-bed border. Palmer and her husband like to entertain friends at a table set up right on the repurposed tennis court. She's been known to place nasturtium leaves under the cheeses on a wooden board. A packet of Whirlybird Mix nasturtium seeds is $2.15 per packet from Stokes Seeds.

    Frances Palmer kitchen garden on tennis court, Gardenista

    Above: Palmer's studio is in this barn that overlooks the vegetable garden. It's a quick stroll to harvest the greens for a salad lunch. Photograph by Peden + Munk, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. 

    Martha Stewart magazine May 2014 ; Gardenista

    Above: Palmer's garden is featured in the May issue of Martha Stewart Living.

    Choosing dahlias? We have more thoughts on that subject; see Dahlia Fever in San Francisco. And if you're wondering how to arrange your spring flowers, see our recent post about Frances Palmer's Bud Vases.

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    We recently spotted these woven leather chairs made by Long Beach, California designer, Eric Trine. While their simple, laid-back beach vibe reminds us of spending a day outside lounging, we think they look sophisticated enough to belong inside too.

    Available in a range of custom frame and seat options, each chair is made to order by Trine, who graduated with a BFA in fine arts in Interdisciplinary Studio Art from Biola University in 2007 and an MFA in Applied Craft and Design via Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2013. That same year, he was named to Sight Unseen’s American Design Hot List: "a totally unscientific, unapologetically subjective portfolio of the 25 emerging and semi-emerging furniture and product designers we think you should know now."

    Suffice to say, we're glad to be acquainted—with Eric Trine and with his Rod + Weave Chair, especially.

    rod + weave chair by eric trine | gardenista

    Above: A custom Rod + Weave with an ombré leather seat and back, white power coated steel frame, and wooden arm rests.

    rod + weave chair by eric trine | gardenista

    Above: The classic  Rod + Weave Chairs with Powder-Coated Steel Frame is made with a natural vegetable oil tanned leather woven seat and back and a powder coated steel frame that comes in either white or black; $1,200.

    rod + weave chair by eric trine | gardenista

    Above: Each chair is made to order by Eric and can be shipped or made available for local pickup in from six to eight weeks. 

    rod + weave chair by eric trine | gardenista

    Above: For a slightly elevated look, the Rod + Weave Chair with Copper Frame has a subtle elegance. The steel hex rod frame is copper plated and available for $1,950.

    rod + weave chair by eric trine | gardenista

    Above: A cheerful rainbow-colored version with white powder-coated steel frame was custom-made for Poketo in 2012.

    rod + weave chair by eric trine | gardenista

    Above: Another custom option; a mint-colored powder coated steel frame was designed for the East, Meet West exhibition in 2013. New versions of the chair will be on display at the Sight Unseen OFFSITE during New York Design week, May 16-20.

    For another elegant redesign of a classic shape, see The Adirondack Chair Reimagined and browse all of our Furniture posts. On Remodelista, get lost in our archive of Beach Style posts.

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    Living in New York City, I'm a sucker for anything that adds a little green to my life. Though live plants absolutely do the trick, I also cannot live without the large landscape photographs that adorn my apartment and provide a visual escape from the concrete jungle.

      Emily Nathan Home Photo by Melissa Kaseman | Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Melissa Kasemann. 

    The photograph that hangs above the stove in photographer Emily Nathan's kitchen looks as if it were a window looking into a greenhouse. Paired with her white vases and flowers, her kitchen looks like the perfect place to cook or relax with a cup of tea.  Here's how to create a similar look in your kitchen: 

      Emily Nathan Photography | Gardenista

    Above: Emily Nathan's "La Banane" is $700 from the Tiny Atlas Quarterly shop.

    Ikea White Fram | Gardenista

    Above: My go-to places for frames are A.I. Friedman's in Manhattan or Ikea. This Virserum Frame from Ikea is $22.99, and has a thick white edge, like Emily's. 

    Frances Palmer Hand Pitchers | Gardenista

    Above: To recreate the collection of white vessels on Emily's counter, I'd be tempted to choose a set of Frances Palmer Hand Pitchers; $125 each. Each could double as a vase for flowers.

    Carafe Vase West Elm | Gardenista

    Above: For a more affordable option, the Carafe Vase by West Elm is $23 and would go well with Frances's small pitchers. 

    Food 52 Serving Bowl | Gardenista

     Above: For a similar white bowl, I love the Footed Mixing Bowl from Food52; $36.

      Fog Shop Linen Dish Towels | Gardenista  

    Above: Draped from Emily's oven is a rumply kitchen towel. The Washed Waffle Towel in Natural ($19 from Fog Linen) is an absorbent option and would be perfect to use as a kitchen tea towel.

    Food 52 Offwhite Spoon Rest | Gardenista

    Above: Instead of the bright yellow spoon rest on Emily's stove, I opted for a subtler off-white option. The porcelain Spoon Rest from Food 52 is $20.

    steal this look | bisque bowls | gardenista

    Above: Also spotted on the stove, a collection of tiny bowls. For a touch of color, I might choose one of these Shell Bisque Handmade Bowls; $6.50 each from Canvas.

    Copper Tea Kettle Kaufmann Mercantile | Gardenisa

    Above: If you're like me, the kettle is always in use, and always on the stove top, so a beautiful kettle goes a long way. Emily's copper tea kettle takes center stage in her kitchen. For a similar look, I like the Handmade Copper Tea Kettle; $395 from Kaufmann Mercantile. 

      steal this look | gardenista

    Above: Next to the stove, Emily has a handy workstation with a stainless steel top. The similar Fisher Kitchen Island is $1,819 and comes in a range of colors. For a more affordable option, the Crosely Furniture Stainless Steel Top Kitchen Cart/Island w/Optional Stool Storage is $328. To personalize it, sand it and then stain it with your preferred color, and replace the handles with something unique. 

    Find more kitchen island inspiration in 10 Easy Pieces: Instant Kitchen Islands on Remodelista. Or to steal more good ideas, see our archive of Steal This Look posts.

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    Some flowers were never meant to be cut, withering to nothing as soon as they are plucked. Others, it seems, are oblivious to being severed from their original stem. Want to know which spring flowers create the longest lasting bouquets? I put this season's favorites to the test, to see which blooms fared best as cut flowers.

    Photography by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

    DAY 1

    Longest Lastest Spring Blooms, all flowers long, day 1, Gardenista

    Above: My lab, set up in a cool, dark corner of the house, included the following fresh flowers from Winston Flowers and Garden (L to R): hyacinth, narcissus, sweet pea, grape hyacinth, lilac, ranunculus, and a cherry branch.

    longest lasting spring blooms day 1, Gardenista

    Above: After giving my flowers a fresh cut, I placed each in its own water, where it could enjoy its favored temperature. For example, woody stems such as lilacs prefer slightly warmer water, while most others prefer cool. Note that woody stems also benefit from being cut or shaved at a very long angle. Some people swear by smashing or scoring woody stems to allow for maximum water intake. I chose a cherry branch whose buds were still tight.

    Longest Lasting Spring Blooms-sweet-pea-day-1-Gardenista

    Above: A close up on fresh sweetpeas.

    Longest Lasting Spring Blooms-narcissus-day-1-Gardenista

    Above: I bought two narcissus stems, one in full bloom and one that was just coming out.

    longest lasting spring blooms, ranunculus, Gardenista

    Above: I started with a ranunculus in almost full bloom, because it has been my experience that unlike a tulip or a rose, after being cut a ranunculus will open only slightly. Buds like the ones shown here will not open in water.


    Above: I'd heard that tulips last longest when placed in ice water so I decided to put this theory to the test by dividing my tulips into regular cool water (L) and ice water (R).

    DAY 2


    Above: For the purposes of my experiment, I changed the water every day to keep my blooms as fresh as possible. Here on day two, everything's still looking good.

    DAY 4


    Above: By day four, I began to lose some of my more delicate specimens. Here, my sweet peas are beginning to wilt.


    Above: I particularly enjoy the sweet scent of lilacs in the home, but even when cut from the branches in my very own yard, they never seem to last more than a few days. By diligently shaving the stems and replacing the water each day, I was hoping to extend their shelf life. Alas, by day four, these were also starting to fade.


    Above: My fully open narcissus also started to wither, but the tight bud was just starting to open.

    Longest Lastest Spring Blooms, Cherry, Day 4, gardenista

    Above: Tight on day one, my cherry blossoms were opening quite nicely by day four.

    Longest Lastest Spring Blooms, tulips, day 4

    Above: By day four, I noticed only a slight difference between ones in the ice versus the regular water. Perhaps they are a bit brighter?

    Longest Lastest Spring Blooms, Hyacinths, Day 4, Gardenista

    Above: Still going strong, the hyacinths on day four are drooping only due to the weight of their blooms. If you don't like this look, you can simply cut the stems a bit shorter.

    DAYS 5-8


    Above: Though the ranunculus gave out on day five, on day seven the two different hyacinths, tulips, and the cherry were still hanging in there. The tulips and grape hyacinths were gone by day six. The regular hyacinths lasted two days longer, but I tossed them by day eight.

    DAY 10


    Above: The winner! Here is my cherry branch on day ten. It actually hung around another four days. At two weeks, this guy was definitely the longest lasting bloom in the bunch. 

    Obviously results may vary. In a bouquet I bought a couple of weeks ago, my sweet peas lasted almost a week. A cherry branch that I bought for a friend last week is already starting to fade (but she did not change the water). 

    My takeaway is that freshness is key.

    • If you can't harvest flowers from your own garden, try to buy them as locally as possible. Ask your florist or grocer where the flowers came from or try to buy what is in season in your area right now.
    • Find a florist you really trust. Though I have had some success with less reputable flower shops and grocery stores, it's really luck of the draw. For the most consistent results, I opt for florists whom I know take great pride in the quality of their product.
    • Fresh, cool water (except for woody stems) changed often also seems to help. 

    N.B.: Want more tips for extending the life of your flowers? Erin experimented with popular preservatives in the water in Tried and Tested: How to Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer, while I recently explored How to Make A Vase of Flowers Last a Week

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    What is better than a hardworking tray that actually looks better as it ages? Galvanized metal trays are rust resistant, strong, and can take on a number of outdoor (and indoor) entertaining roles: drink carrier, food server, candle holder, and potted plant perch. They also can handle tougher jobs like gardening supplies carrier and vegetable harvest collector. Here are ten favorites:

    Vintage Wood and Galvanized Metal Tray WS, Gardenista  

    Above: The Vintage Galvanized Caddy has a base of salvaged wood and sides of galvanized metal. It is 20 inches in diameter with 4-inch-high sides perfect for corralling drinks; $89.99 at Williams-Sonoma.

    Galvanized Tray with Jute Handles, Gardenista

    Above: The oval Summer Oasis Galvanized Tray has jute-wrapped handles. It measures 19.7 by 12.4 inches and is $28 at Dillard's.

    Nesting Galvanized Trays with Iron Handles, Gardenista

    Above: These Galvanized Oval Iron Trays have twisted iron handles. The trays range in length from 16.25 (small) to 26 inches (medium) to 33.75 inches (large) and are priced individually (but work great as a set). They are $54, $76, and $104 respectively at Iron Accents.

    Sur La Table Galvanized Tray, Gardenista

    Above: This round Galvanized Serving Tray is 18 inches in diameter and has wooden carrying handles; $39.95 at Sur La Table.

    Rectangular Galvanized Serving Trays, Gardenista

    Above: Woodland Imports Two-Piece Serving Tray Set is made with a galvanized iron base and 4-inch-high wire net sides. The trays measure 19 by 8 inches and 20 by 10 inches respectively; $68 for the set at Wayfair.


    Round Galvanized Trays, Gardenista  

    Above: A Set of Three Round Galvanized Trays has bent metal handles and round stamping around the perimeter. The trays measure 13, 15, and 18 inches in diameter and are $45 through Amazon.

    Cheungs Oval Galvanized Trays with Rope Handles, Gardenista

    Above: Chunky rope handles adorn Cheungs Galvanized Oval Trays. The set of three can be used as planters or serving pieces and range in size from 11 inches to 15.75 inches in length; $39 at Wayfair.

    Biergarten Galvanized Steel Serving Trays, Gardenista  

    Above: Galvanized steel Biergarten Serving Trays have an antiqued finish. A set of two (18 by 12 inches and 22 by 16 inches) is $100 at Iron Accents.

    Galvanized Oval Tray, Gardenista  

    Above: A Galvanized Oval Tin Tray measures 19 by 14.5 inches and has metal handles and ribbing; $31 through Amazon.

    Round Galvanized Tray, Gardenista

    Above: Low sides and a large surface area maximize the food-serving capabilities of the 24-Inch Round Galvanized Metal Serving Tray with curved metal handles; $61.94 at Lights for All Occasions.

    Galvanized Tray with Rope Handle, Gardenista

    Above: A Round Galvanized Tray measures 15 inches in diameter and has jute rope handles; $14.99 at World Market. 

    Pottery Barn Galvanized Tray, Gardenista

    Above: A generously sized Rectangular Galvanized Metal Tray from Pottery Barn measures 27 by 15 inches and has a traditional wooden handle (serving buckets not included); $39.50.

    We think Galvanized Metal Troughs are great for holding plants. And, on Remodelista, we've rounded up an appealing collection of Galvanized Containers to hold flowers and cool drinks.

    Thinking about spring window boxes? See our favorites at 10 Easy Pieces: Wooden Window Boxes and 10 Easy Pieces: Metal Window Boxes.

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    In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly visited the jewelry store on bad days. She admired “its quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there."

    And if Ms. Golightly were a nature girl? She’d have gone to The Gardener—just as quiet and proud, and capable of reassuring visitors that nothing bad could ever happen there. Bedecked with enormous, handmade wooden bowls, lusciously dyed textiles, and exotic rare orchids, the stores in Berkeley and San Francisco are well-known in the Bay Area. 

    But comparatively few beat a path to The Gardener's quietest location in Healdsburg, deep in wine country, off the main tourist drag. The Healdsburg shop has a garden which is responsible for the stores’ flower arrangements, handmade sachets, and gift decorations. It also feeds the store’s owner, Alta Tingle, and provides inspiration and rest for employees and visitors alike.

    Photography by Liesa Johannssen for Gardenista.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    The garden, open to customers, feels personal because the store’s owner, Alta Tingle, lives next to the shop. The garden grows many uncommon varieties of tree and flower. “We want the stores to have things that are not like everything else. The garden helps us do that,” says Alta’s daughter, Donna Tingle, who handles The Gardener’s operations and curates the Healdsburg shop.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: Hammocks and lawn chairs in the shade of a giant tree outside the shop’s entrance. It’s a favorite hangout spot for Alta and for kids.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: A colorful hammock dares customers to take a nap.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: Originally, the garden was three-quarters of an acre of weeds, with two cars abandoned on the property; Alta's house was originally a biker bar. There's now a cutting garden, currently filled with poppies, and intermediate euphorbia. Artichoke forms a border behind the cutting garden. To the right, a lane of persimmon trees—three varieties each of Fuyu and Hachiya—produce swags for the stores. To the left, a path of decomposed granite leads to the open-air ramada.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: The garden path is lined with furry Roman chamomile, creeping thyme, and low-growing sedum.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: “We tell stories with our merchandise. They're not just things—they are part of a lifestyle,” said Donna. A sculptural chair by local artisans gives visitors reason for pause on the garden path.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: The ramada, where visitors have been known to linger after the store has closed. The clean, well-defined lines of the chairs balance the softer texture of the poplars in the background. In the summer, the field behind is covered with nodding red dahlias. 

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: A patch of collards and other edibles skirts the perimeter of the store, feeding Alta and the store’s employees. Beyond the edible garden, a collection of locally made topiary frames and trellises.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: Classic Fermob French bistro tables in bright colors. 

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: A collection of three plants at the shop's entrance. Mixing woods is a signature look at The Gardener.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: A rear view of the garden. The shop is housed in a converted barn, and contains the handmade and the hard-to-find. “We try to approach retail like you approach a garden—you edit,” says head gardener Cindy Pugh.

    the gardener in healdsburg | gardenista

    Above: Inside, a hanging sculpture of wire mesh and tillandsia anchors the room. Gray-green serrated leaves from a garden cardoon fill a planter. 

    Above: The Gardener is at 516 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448.

    Looking for an excuse to plan a trip to wine country? See MIX Garden, Healdsburg's Well Considered Shop with a Mission and A Modern Grange Opens in Healdsburg, Kombucha Bar Included on Remodelista.

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