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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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  • 05/15/14--03:00: Hardscaping 101: Green Roofs
  • In our ideal world, green roofs would be ubiquitous—we're thinking Scandinavia from the time of the Vikings until the late 19th century. And no, it’s not because we are nostalgic for a more picturesque past. We’re actually looking to create a new future, one where entire town roofscapes are living and green, leaving the legacy of a healthier environment. How difficult would that be, we wanted to know? Here’s what we found. 

    Green Roof Feldman Architecture Mill Valley ; Gardenista

    Above: A green roof tops an artist's cottage, designed by Feldman Architecture. Photograph by Joe Fletcher.

    What is a green or living roof?

    A green or living roof is a specially engineered rooftop that supports vegetation and plant life to the benefit of the environment. There are three categories of green roofs; depending on how deep the planting medium is and how much maintenance they require: intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive. Intensive green roofs recreate the conditions of a traditional garden above ground and are require substantial effort to maintain. At the opposite end of the spectrum are extensive green roofs, which are self-sustaining with tough and drought-resistant plants, making them relatively maintenance-free (they're the ones we'd like to see everywhere).

    Rothschild Schwartz green roof Sausalito ; Gardenista

    Above: A living roof designed by Rothschild/Schwartz for a couple nearing ninety in Sausalito, CA keeps the house cool in summer and warm in winter. Photograph via Rothschild/Schwartz.

    How are green roofs good for the environment?

    We all know the benefits that plants and vegetation provide for the environment. Green roofs in urban environments pack an extra punch because they replace greenery lost to dense neighborhood blocks of buildings.

    Green roofs reduce air pollution through plant respiration while mitigating against heat gain as the plants absorb and retain the sun's warmth. Traditional roofing materials, on the other hand, re-emit the sun's heat and cause temperatures in cities to be higher than in surrounding rural areas.

    With their ability to absorb rainwater and act as a filter, green roofs decrease surface runoff, keeping water supplies freer of pollutants while reducing the chances of flooding. Buildings with green roofs have built in thermal insulators and do not require as much power to heat and cool. And finally, green roofs create valuable habitats for wildlife, helping to preserve and promote biodiversity for the future.  

    Fedlman Architecture green roof construction ; Gardenista

    Above: A detail of the drainage and gutter system for a green roof designed by Feldman Architecture. Photographs by Joe Fletcher.

    How are green roofs made?

    Modern green extensive roof systems are from 1 to 4 inches thick and are composed of manufactured layers that support a growing medium and vegetation. The five primary layers include a waterproof membrane, a root protection barrier, a drainage layer, a growing medium, and plants. 

    Green roof membrane layers ; Gardenista

    Above: A diagram of a green roof and its component layers. Image via Safeguard Store

    What types of plants will grow on a green roof?

    The two most important factors to consider when choosing plants are how much maintenance you want to undertake and how sunny your roof is. Remember when selecting your plants that many will have a dormant period, so if you want green color year round, add some evergreens to the mix. A general rule of thumb is that the more variety you plant, the thicker your growing medium must be, which increases the weight of your roof.

    Pallets of plants for a green roof Southhampton Alive Structures ; Gardenista

    Above: Pallets of plants ready to be installed on a 1,000-square-foot green roof designed by Alive Structures. Photograph via Marni Majorelle.

    How much maintenance does a green roof require?

    At the minimum, an extensive 4-inch green roof system planted with mixed sedums (low-maintenance plantings) in its first year requires watering and weeding every few months. In the second year, it only will need to be weeded three or four times and after that, just once a year. You will need to fertilize once a year.

    At the other end of the spectrum, depending on what you plant, maintenance requirements can increase to the point where you might want to consider an irrigation system. See Hardscaping 101: Drip Irrigation for details.

    Goode Green green roof wildflower meadow NYC; Gardenista

    Above: For a residence in downtown New York City, Goode Green designed a 6,000-square-foot green roof that includes a wildflower meadow. Photograph via Goode Green.

    Does the weight of a green roof require additional support?

    Green roofs weigh more than traditional roofing materials and if you are considering installing one, it is best to consult with a structural engineer. While new construction can easily be designed to incorporate the weight loads of a green roof, retrofitting existing buildings requires careful consideration.

      Green roof in San Francisco by Feldman Architecture ; Gardenista

    Above: A green roof in San Francisco by Feldman Architecture

    How much does a green roof cost and how long will it last?

    Standard 4-inch flat, extensive green sedum roofs are estimated at costing between $10 to $20 per square foot including materials, preparation and installation (which is significantly more expensive than the installation of a Traditional Asphalt Shingle Roof at an average of $1.20 a square foot). By protecting the roof membrane, however, a green roof can extend the life of a roof by two or three times beyond its typical lifespan. In Europe, where they have been building with green roofs since the 1960s, green roofs have been known to last for from 30 to 50 years. 

    NYC green roof wildflowers prickly pear Alive Structures ; Gardenista

    Above: Prickly pear (L) planted with blue fescue and native wildflowers on a New York City roof designed by Alive Structures.

    Green roof recap:


    • Good for the environment
    • Lower utility costs because of a green roof's thermal insulation properties
    • Low-maintenance
    • Long life


    • Significantly higher initial installation costs than traditional roofs
    • Heavier weight may mean incurring additional structural costs

    Want to see more? Remodelista Architect and Designer Directory member Jonathan Feldman and landscape architect Jori Hook design two green roofs for Cottages in the Mill Valley Forest while we take a tour of the Academy of Sciences' Rooftop Garden. For more renovation ideas, see our catalog of Remodeling 101 and Hardscaping 101 posts. 

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    In the heart of Middle England is Stamford, an outrageously pretty town. Miss Pickering's flower business is just off the High Street, in a low-ceilinged shop, serviced by a single window. It is heavenly without being twee and the business is far from provincial.

    Photography by Miss Pickering except where noted.

    Miss Pickering's Flowers, Stamford, England. Gardenista

    Above: Miss Pickering, a name not to be quibbled with, was at school in Stamford. She saw the world via London, Italy, France, and Spain before deciding to move back here. In London's Notting Hill, she got a job with legendary florist Nikki Tibbles of Wild at Heart, taking phone orders. Miss P. left seven years ago, the same week as Vic Brotherson of Scarlet and Violet, another Wild at Heart alumna (see Shopper's Diary: Scarlet & Violet).

    Miss Pickering's flowers, Stamford, UK. Gardenista

    Above: With a concrete floor and low light, Miss Pickering's shop is a perfect stopping-off point in the journey of a cut flower. Fortunately the low-level lighting is flattering as well as practical. The shop building itself was built in 1463.

    Miss Pickering flowers, Stamford, UK. Gardenista

    Above: Miss Pickering began to write a blog when she moved to Stamford from London, partly for the sake of her sanity. It was quickly picked up and is a wonderful read, not only for the afianced.

    Miss Pickering flowers, Stamford, UK. Gardenista

    Above: Having sent an experimental bouquet to the editor of Country Living when her shop opened, Miss P. has been in demand ever since.

    Miss Pickering flowers, Stamford, UK. Gardenista

    Above: Miss P.'s wedding flower business thrives on personal recommendations. Her brides have a good idea of Miss Pickering's style through the blog and through her posts on Instagram. They put their trust in her and may be persuaded to be more adventurous than they realized they could be, hitherto: "We're here to make something for someone else's day."

    Miss Pickering flowers, the Hound. Gardenista  

    Above: The only permanent member of staff is the Hound. Miss Pickering likes to do everything herself, which is difficult to conceptualize: her weddings are not small and they are all over the country, though often in London or for London-based people. The Hound has his own blog.

    Miss Pickerin's flowers, Stamford, England. Gardenista

    Above: A wedding takes about a week to prep, from conditioning the flowers to figuring out the mechanics of building a floral arch for the church. Miss P. studied biophysics at university. She approaches each wedding with a healthy mix of emotions: "I'm excited and terrified in equal proportion." 

    Miss Pickering flowers, Stamford, England. Gardenista

    Above: Being located in the middle of the country has its advantages for getting to bigger projects; the shop in Stamford is also open from Tuesday to Saturday for bunches of flowers. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

    Above: Miss Pickering flowers is at 7 St. Paul's Street, Stamford PE9 2BE.

    For more cut flowers that have a distinctly English style, see Wildflowers Delivered to Your Door. Getting married? See DIY: Secrets of Growing Your Own Wedding Flowers. How to keep your cut flowers from drooping? See DIY: How to Make a Vase of Flowers Last a Week.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    I love it when a vase does most of the floral designing work for me. Even better when it's a vase that's an objet d'art all on its own.

    I recently came across a small company called Wsake run by a father and daughter team and based in Regensburg, a town in Southern Germany. The father is an experienced silversmith and the daughter is a trained graphic designer who grew up assisting in her father's workshop. Today the two collaborate on a series of brass vases with geometric openings that assist in showing off even the smallest group of carefully chosen stems picked from the garden or on a walk home.

    Brass Flower Arranging Vase Caps from Wsake | Gardenista

    Above: Wsake makes single Vase Caps out of brass that are meant to add to any glass tumbler (they measure about 3 inches in diameter). The caps are available with two different designs: the single wave (€75), shown left, and the double wave (€85) shown right.

    Big Brass Cap Vase by Wsake | Gardenista

    Above: The full-size Big Can Vase is handmade entirely in brass and measures about five and a half inches tall by four inches in diameter. It's available with or without changeable caps; €130 for the vase alone.

    Big Brass Cap Vase by Wsake | Gardenista

    Above: The caps designed for the Big Can Vase come in three different designs: a cap with a slim rectangular opening, another with a single off-center circular hole, and one with sixteen holes total for small stems; €85 for each cap.

    Small Brass Cap Vase by Wsake | Gardenista

    Above: The Small Cap Vase measures about three and a half inches tall by two inches in diameter and can be purchased alone or with an accompanying geometrical cap. Caps come with either a round, square, or triangular opening; €120 for the vase and €65 for each cap.

    For a look at some of my favorite easy-to-design-in vases, see our previous posts: Flower Arranging a la Parisienne and 10 Easy Pieces: Ikebana Vases.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    J. Wes Yoder usually refers to the 1962 Shasta camper that sits in his leafy East Nashville backyard as "the camper," but he says that when he's feeling especially Southern, he likes to call it "the trailer." Whatever you decide to call it, I think you'll agree that the tiny aluminum outbuilding on wheels is 100 percent charming. I first read about the Yoder's backyard retreat on Megan McEwen's Daytripper and I've been drumming up reasons to head to Nashville ever since. 

    Photography by Laura Dart for J. Wes Yoder.

    shasta camper | gardenista

    Above: The recipe for a pretty perfect weekend retreat: wooden deck, hammock, bathhouse, and camper. 

    The Nashville, Tennesee novelist and author of Carry My Boneshad been wanting to make room for a garden house or writing shed in his yard when he came across a listing for a beat up camper on eBay—available immediately and ready for pickup just 45 minutes outside of town. With its canned-ham design, the camper wasn't the exact 1950s aluminum model Yoder originally had in mind for his outdoor workspace, but it was an affordable entry-level variation on the theme. Undaunted by the extensive renovations his new charge would require, he set to work gutting the camper and building an accompanying outdoor shower, bathhouse, and deck.

    By the time Yoder finished the remodel, he had decided to recoup the renovation costs by listing the camper on Airbnb the very same day he completed the project. No surprise, it's been booked almost every night since he finished the project last October.

    shasta camper | gardenista

    Above: Inside, Yoder worked wonders with a coat of fresh white paint. Cozied into one end of the camper is a double bed with built-in storage below. Clever grommeted curtains can be moved during the day to let in the light.

    shasta camper | gardenista

    Above: Originally festooned in Budweiser paraphernalia, the camper's clean lines were emphasized with the addition of simple handmade and vintage furniture.

    shasta camper | gardenista

    Above: A tiny kitchen complete with sink and hot plate provides guests a place to prepare meals.

    shasta camper | gardenista

    Above: Less than two miles from downtown Nashville, the camper sits in a quiet residential neighborhood that doesn't have many other lodging options. Yoder provides a hand-drawn walking map of the neighborhood for guests. 

    shasta camper | gardenista

    Above: Yoder built a transomed bathhouse complete with clawfoot tub with the help of his dad and uncle. He sought inspiration from garden sheds and outbuildings online and cobbled together plans for the simple outbuilding.

    shasta camper | gardenista

    Above: A peek inside the bathhouse.

    shasta camper | gardenista

    Above: For guests who prefer to shower al fresco, a simple outdoor shower above slate pavers set in gravel is hidden between the bathhouse and camper.

    To book your own stay, visit Yoder's listing on Airbnb. Rates start at $95 per night. 

    Inspired? See Wanderlust: 10 Airstream Trailers for Living Small and 5 Essentials for the Retro Camper on Remodelista or browse the rest of our Outbuildings archive.

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    Our friends at Etsy had a hunch that we've been visiting their gardening marketplace. Maybe it was that Michelle finally found the 1970s style wooden planters she'd been looking for through a seller on Etsy or maybe it was our post on wooden bead hanging planters that gave them the hint. Either way, they asked us to curate a collection of our favorite garden-related Etsy goods and share some tips for keeping plants happy indoors. Take a look at some of the handmade and vintage products we found, and head to the Etsy blog for our full post.

    Vintage Large Glass Apothecary Jar on Etsy | Gardenista

    Above: We picked this Vintage Large Glass Apothecary Jar ($40 from Kibster) because it's big enough to accommodate a hefty bouquet or just a few architectural branches.  

    Vintage Garden Shears on Etsy | Gardenista

    Above: Good gardening shears can become a close friend when tackling a pruning project. We like these Vintage Garden Shears from the 1950s; $24 from TriBecas Vintage. 

    Brass Watering Can on Etsy | Gardenista

    Above: Are you surprised to see that a Brass Watering Can from England made it on the list? Didn't think so. CostaSul, the Etsy shop that sells this beauty, is currently on vacation but we think it's worth waiting for. 

    Marbled Planter on Etsy | Gardenista

    Above: Our infatuation with marbling continues with handmade hanging Marbled Hanging Planters; $80 from Leah Ball. 

    Vitrified Studio Kitchen Storage Jar | Gardenista

    Above: We love a good multi-tasking vessel. When this porcelain vase isn't holding flowers, it can be topped with a cork stopper and used as kitchen storage. Although this larger one is no longer available, you still can pick up a smaller Simple White Vase; $40 from Vitrified Studio. 

    Herb Heirloom Seed Kit on Etsy | Gardenista

    Above: Some of us at Gardenista are apartment dwellers in SF and NYC without much outdoor space of our own. Since herbs can be the easiest plants to grow indoors, we picked an Herb Heirloom Seed Kit (tiny vials and wooden box included); $40 from Sarah Rainwater Design.

    Take a look at a string of starry outdoor lights that Michelle found on Etsy and see Remodelista's post on Colorful Tables from an Etsy Star.

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    Almost as American as apple pie, lilacs were first cultivated in this country by the founding fathers—both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington made entries in their journals about their preferred methods of lilac care. Perhaps this is why these fragrant spring blooms have a quality of old-fashioned elegance and country romance.

    Around the same time that Jefferson was busy perfecting his own lilacs, Boston merchant Benjamin Bussey planted lilac hedgerows on land that would later be donated to the Harvard University and form the foundation of what has become one of the oldest and largest collections of lilacs in North America. Today, the lilac collection at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University boasts more than 400 plants representing nearly 200 distinct species, making it one of the most comprehensive and famous in the world.

    This week, I spent a delightfully fragrant morning among the impressive display, documenting the breadth and depth of the lovely lilac.

    Photography by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

    commom lilac bloom by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Native to temperate parts of Europe and Asia, lilacs or Syringa are members of the olive family (Oleaceae). Here, a Syringa hyacithiflora 'Louvais' blooms about a week earlier than the more common Syringa vulgaris.

    Nectar lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Syringa hyacithiflora 'Necker' has lush, pale pink blooms. 

    President Lincoln Lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: With opulent bluish flowers, the striking Syringa vulgaris 'President Lincoln' was one of my favorites. (N.B.: Want your own bush? Syringa Vulgaris President Lincoln is available from White Flower Farm (ships for spring planting); for availability and price, see White Flower Farm.)

    common lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: As old and established as the Arnold Arboretum is, it only make sense that it would have its own cultivar. Syringa chinensis 'Lilac Sunday' was cultivated from a seed supplied by the Beijing Botanical Garden and named after the arboretum's annual Lilac Sunday event, held each May since 1908.

    common lilac blooms by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Another view of a lush Syringa chinensis 'Lilac Sunday'. Each year Lilac Sunday entices as many as 30,000 people to the arboretum.

    Frederick Law Olmsted lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: With abundant white blooms, Syringa vulgaris 'Frederick Law Olmsted' was named for the famous American landscape architect who designed both Central Park in New York City and the Arnold Arboretum.

    Frederick Law Olmsted lilacs by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Two Frederick Law Olmsted lilacs line a path that their namesake designed.

    hairy lilac bloom by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Syringa pubescens 'Hairy Lilac' has smaller blossoms than other cultivars and downy leaves.

    two lilacs by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Benjamin Bussey, the wealthy merchant who donated much of the land for the arboretum, planted the first lilacs here. (The oldest specimen still in existence is from 1897, but arboretum officials guess that Bussey planted his lilac hedgerows in 1806.) The arboretum's gardeners have taken cuttings of the remnants of Bussey's lilacs and recreated the hedgerows on what's now called Bussey Hill. 

    pink lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Syringa vulgaris 'Atheline Wilbur' has rosy blossoms.

    white Lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: It was the arboretum's first director and co-designer, Charles S. Sargent, who began predicting the best day to see the lilacs. After "the winter that wouldn't quit," the lilacs this year are a little late to open.

    Jean Bart Lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Syringa vulgaris 'Jean Bart' has a striking double flower in dark magenta.

    Humphrey Lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: A perfectly pruned Syringa vulagris 'Humphrey' looks pretty on a patch of lawn.

    Kabul Lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: The cut-leaf or fern-leaf Syringa protolaciniata 'Kabul' has leggy blooms and smaller leaves than other lilac varieties.

    syringa vulgaris hulda Lilac by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: No shrinking violet, the recently rediscovered Syringa vulgaris 'Hulda' displays proud, unabashedly purple blooms.

    Lilac Care:

    • Location, location, location. Much like people, lilacs thrive in the right spot: full sun with well-drained soil. If you give them this, they are a relatively low-maintenance shrub.
    • Watering: Water lilacs with at least 1 inch per week, but don't drown them. They don't like it if their roots stay wet. 
    • Pruning: According to the Arnold Arboretum, you should prune your lilac right after it blooms. Since flowers form in the summer, fall/winter pruning will effect the next season's bloom. Remove all dead blossoms and cut back flowering stem to the next set of leaves. To encourage new growth in older plants, cut 1/3 of the oldest stems back to the ground for three years. Remove excess suckers. 
    • Fertilizer: Lilac don't require much and, in fact, too much nitrogen can affect the bloom. A general fertilizer in the spring and again after blooming should do the trick.
    • Pests: Your lilacs don't mind the cold; keep lilacs clear of mulch in the winter, as mice and moles can find harbor under the cozy wood chips and eat the roots. 
    • Disease: The most common problems for lilacs are powdery mildew fungus and scale. To combat powdery mildew, The Helpful Gardener suggests a green solution of 1/2 cup milk in a gallon of water sprayed over the leaves. The resulting sour milk culture leaves no room for the mildew. (Anyone ever tried this?) For scale, prune back the most invested branches, but don't compost. Project a hard spray on the plants to remove the "crawlers."
    • Propagation: To share the lilac love, simply dig down on any suck to expose a bit of the root and separate from the mother plant. Place in the same soil you dug it from, mixed with a little organic matter and water thoroughly.

    Above: To see the lilac collection for yourself, visit the Arnold Aboretum at 125 Arborway, Boston, MA 02130.

    Want to see more lilacs? Erin conjured Gatsby glamor in Glamorous Lilacs Inspired by Daisy Buchanan. Can you spot the lilacs in A Room with a View in Upstate NY on Remodelista?

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    In an ideal world, work would be defined by the tasks of pulling weeds and turning garden beds in the great outdoors instead of pushing papers in a stuffy building. Lucky for us, the editors at Remodelista spent the week proving that the office life doesn't require fluorescent lighting or generic cubicles.Here are a few of our favorite posts from their Working It issue. 

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Above: Dalilah pays a visit to a bright and airy workplace of a fashion start-up in Office Visit: The Everlane Studio in San Francisco.

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Above: Alexa acquaints us with a plant-filled home office in A Whiter Shade of Pale: Weaver Caitlin Emeritz at Home in Seattle.

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Above: Sarah shows where some of our favorite garden planters are born in At Work in Silver Lake: Kelly Lamb's Art Studio.

    trending on remodelista | gardenista

    Above: Hunching over a garden bed can be tough on the back and knees, but it turns out that sitting up at a desk all day can be even worse for our well-being. Julie joins the standing desk revolution in 5 Favorites: Longevity-Promoting Standing Desks.

    Trending on Remodelista | Gardenista

    Above: Running a business just a few blocks away from where you live? Sarah calls it the "ultimate walk-to-work situation." Read more in House Call: Joan at Home in LA.

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    A few things we've had on our radar this week:

    Floral Arranging with Alexa Hotz from Remodelista for Food52 | Gardenista

    Adventures in Cooking Naked Almond Cake | Gardenista

    Rip + Tan by Jenni Kane Floral Arranging Lilacs | Gardenista

    Gardenista Facebook Giveaway Garden Trug from Archer Hard Goods | Gardenista

    Have a look at Outdoors In, our week of bringing the garden indoors. And for considered workspaces see Working It on Remodelista. For daily inspiration from the garden, follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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  • 05/19/14--09:30: DIY: Whitewashed Greek Walls
  • Some summer afternoons the sun beats down so relentlessly that white is the only acceptable color—to wear, to eat (hint: gelato), and to cool off the walls.

    The Greeks get that right, with whitewashed walls that reflect light and keep interior temperatures comfortable even under a hot Mediterranean sun. Here's a simple recipe we spotted for making your own whitewash that may revive limp spirits enough to get you thinking about adding a dash of blue to the color scheme. For step-by-step instructions, see Greenchicafe:

    Above: Whitewash can be used on plaster, concrete, masonry, and stone walls. Image via Travellerspoint.

    Above: Whitewash is a mix of hydrated lime and water. For proportions, see Greenchicafe. Image via Bungalow Blue.

    Above: A gallon of white wash will cover 250 square feet of concrete or 270 square feet of plaster. Image via Bungalow Blue.

    Above: For accent trim, consider Annie Sloan Greek Blue Chalk Paint; it's £18.95 for a one-liter can or £5.95 for a sample pot from Annie Sloan. Image via Finding Silver Pennies.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published July 16, 2012 during our A La Plage issue.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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  • 05/19/14--11:00: Field Guide: Rosemary
  • Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis: "The Brain Teaser"

    For a plant believed to boost memory, rosemary is hardy enough to be forgotten—that is, until there is a Mediterranean dinner to cook, or any occasion that involves roasted lamb, potatoes, or chicken. Otherwise, this low-maintenance herb plays well by itself, no surprise given that it earned its Latin name, “dew of the sea,” by surviving on nothing but water vapor carried on the breeze. 

    Field Guide: Rosemary ; Gardenista

    Above: See more images of Rosemary in our Gardenista Gallery.

    Spending time alone on a Mediterranean crag, rosemary has ample time for contemplation; from Middle Ages apothecaries to modern herbalists, centuries of healers have believed in the herb’s memory-promoting prowess. It was ground into a poultice and chewed—bitter!—and also used, as it is now, to flavor food.

    rosemary sprig l Gardenista

    Above: Rosemary has delicate blue flowers. Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    Rosemary rituals: it was thrown into graves so mourners would remember the dead, and handed to newlywed couples so they would, er, remember they were married. Appropriately, Ophelia grips a sprig at the end of Hamlet, symbolizing the forgotten promise of marriage. 

    Rosemary edges a path ; Gardenista

    Above: Rosemary, a perennial in warm climates, can be trained as a low hedge.

    Cheat Sheet:

    • Rosemary transitions easily from indoors to out and grows as happily in containers as in the ground.
    • Marries well in a windowsill garden with lemon balm, parsley, and mint.
    • Tiny blue flowers summon bees to an herb garden.

    Keep It Alive:

    • Give rosemary full sun.
    • Drought resistant; water occasionally if you keep it potted indoors.
    • Plant seeds outdoors in early spring, two months before the last frost date.

    revive your cold frame with herbs | gardenista

    Above: Rosemary seedlings can be set in a cold frame in small pots (with 2.5- to 5-inch diameters). Photograph by Erin Boyle

    Shakespeare never answered our most salient question: what kind of rosemary was it between Ophelia’s chilly fingers? The Tuscan Blue, favored for its gentle flavor and small blue flowers, or the long-leafed Gorizia, ideal for drying and pestos? In winter, it would most likely be the Rosemary Arp, which perseveres in colder climes, but our guess is the creeping Rosemary Prostrate, the most aromatic variety and the most romantic, cascading over the edge of walls and the lip of hanging pots.

    Read More:

    Read More Herb Posts ; Gardenista


    Above: For more, see our archive of posts about Herbs

    Planting your spring edible garden? We have more tips for you in Field Guide: Chives and Field Guide: Lettuce.

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    If I ever have the opportunity to stay on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea, rest assured that I'll want that vacation to include ample amounts of lounge time. A shady hammock on a balcony overlooking the crystalline waters? Perfect.

    At the San Giorgio Mykonos, the designers have gotten the look just right. Simple and understated, there's nothing to distract an eager lounger, but enough to keep her comfortable. Read on for how you can recreate the look.

    steal this look: bamboo pergola


    Above: Photograph courtesy of San Giorgio Mykonos.

    A whitewashed balcony shaded by a simple canopy of bamboo looks luxurious without necessarily costing a fortune. No vacation home on a Greek island? You can still recreate the island look with a few simple components.

    steal this look | bamboo canopy

    Above: Canopies offer welcome respites from summer sun, at the risk of feeling stuffy. But a canopy made of bamboo poles? It offers shade while also allowing a cool breeze to filter through. To recreate the look, position Bamboo Poles that are 1 inch in diameter by 6 feet long across an existing or just-built frame; $39.97 for a bundle of 25 poles at The Home Depot. Alternately, consider Bamboo Reed Garden Fence, which comes pre-attached. A 6-foot by 16-foot length of fence is $23.97 at The Home Depot.

    Steal This Look | Bamboo Canopy

    Above: To secure the bamboo to the canopy frame, it looks like the San Giorgio has used square dowels. Poplar Square Dowels that are 36 inches long by 1 inch thick are $1.77 each at Home Depot.

    steal this look | bamboo canopy

    Above: To cozy up your outdoor nook a bit, a simple throw pillow or two will do the trick. For pillows similar to the ones shown here, I found the Napoli Vintage Belgian Linen Pillow; from $75 to $110 from ABC Carpet & Home.

      Steal This Look | Bamboo Canopy

    Above: Maybe the most important element of all: a comfortable hammock. The Big Sur Hammock looks breathable and plenty roomy at 84 inches wide and 72 inches long; $179 from Yellow Leaf Hammocks. (For more hammock options, see 10 Easy Pieces: Nap-Worthy Hammocks.)

    steal this look | bamboo canopy

    Above: To complement the rustic look, the San Giorgio affixed its hammock using sturdy rope. A 1-inch thick Natural Manila Rope is $80 for a 75-foot-long crown bolt at Home Depot.

    steal this look | bamboo canopy

    Above: In the doorway to the right, a gauzy curtain blows in the sea breeze. For a similar option, try the French-Belgian White Linen Panel; it's from $49.95 to $69.95 at CB2. 

    To recreate the classically Greek whitewashed walls, see DIY: Whitewashed Greek Walls. To steal another look from the San Giorgio, see Steal This Look: San Giorgio Mykonos Hotel Bathroom on Remodelista.

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    We all have an idea about Greece and there is bound to be something ancient in it. Yet visiting can be so different from imagining. In landscape architect Thomas Doxiadis' version of Greece, new angles combine with ancient contours. The 40 acres of landscape and habitat he helped design on the island of Antiparos is what you would hope to find after dreaming about these islands in the Aegean Sea:

    Photography by Clive Nichols.

    Thomas Doxiadis design, Clive Nichols photo. Gardenista

    Above: When the Greek developer Iasson Tsakonas bought this section of Antiparos, he had a singular vision: minimum impact on the existing landscape, while making room for eight houses, each with pool and sea view. Though the local vegetation is ground-hugging, it was important that one building did not interrupt the view from another. Tsakonas called in landscape architect Thomas Doxiadis, which was a good move.

    Thomas Doxiadis design, Clive Nichols photo. Gardenista

    Above: Doxiadis teamed up with architect Terpsi Kremali for this project, and they brought in a group of talented young architects and designers, who worked on the 40-acre project as a whole. The local vernacular in housing is one-story dwellings made of local stone. Even though the scale and size is so much bigger here, the houses still seem to rise out of the earth.

    Thomas Doxiadis landscape, Clive Nichols photo. Gardenista

    Above: To avoid destroying the local order of stone walls and vegetation in the buiding process, it was only permissable for machinery to move around on the footprint of the actual dwellings. Earth from the foundations was used to shore up and restore the terraces which had supported farming over the ages.

    In her book Mediterranean Landscape Design, Louisa Jones (with photographer Clive Nichols) brilliantly describes a movement, across southern Europe, of new visionaries who have been able to re-purpose land which has moved out of its traditional use. Particularly vulnerable are agricultural areas which just happen to have a marvelous view.

    Thomas Doxiadis landscape, Clive Nichols photo. Gardenista

    Above: "We were all in love with the landscape," says Thomas Doxiadis in Mediterranean Landscape Design. This is the Greek phrygana, the natural state of these islands after millennia of grazing, forest clearance, and fires. The land is productive for growing lower down the slopes; higher up it is well-suited for grazing. The vegetation here is made up of the prickly Centaurea spinosa, Sarcopoterium spinosum, and pot marigold Calendula arvensis.

    Thomas Doxiadis landscape, Clive Nichols photo. Gardenista

    Above: Stone is integral to the terracing of this terrain and for enclosure. Individual roads leading to each house are actually new, though they blend in perfectly with the curves of the countryside. They remind us of how lovely roads can be.

    Thomas Doxiadis design, Clive Nichols photo. Gardenista

    Above: The development is called Oliaris. Much stonework was called for, carried out by mainly Albanian craftsmen.

    Thomas Doxiadis design, Clive Nichols photo. Gardenista

    Above: Planting around the house is naturalistic in the most deliberate sense. The pattern of vegetation on the hilly slopes has been examined by Doxiadis' team: groupings, drifts, and plant density seen in the surrounding landscape have been mimicked around Oliaris. "Nothing is arbitrary," Thomas says. His studio has been propogating its own selected plant varieties for the site as they are not the kind of thing you'd pick up in the local garden center.

    Thomas Doxiadis design, Clive Nichols photo. Gardenista

    Above: The houses here shimmer into the background, whether that is of land or sea. Limestone complements the lines of the infinity pool shown here; the sea blue is the color of the shutters which are so often chosen around Greece, on white houses. This landscaping is as elemental as it gets.

    Fancy a walk through prickly bushes of the Mediterranean? See Hike of the Week: Camino de Cavalls, Menorca.

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    Nothing concludes a satisfying stint in the yard like neatly wrapping up the hose. But a tranquil afternoon of gardening can deteriorate into a sweaty wrestling match if you have to manhandle 100 feet of synthetic rubber onto a hose holder. With a manually rewinding hose reel, a few turns of the crank zips the hose back into place like Lady (or the Tramp) sucking in a spaghetti strand. For durability and style, choose a metal version, like the ten fine specimens below.

    Above: Liberty Garden Products’ Multi-Purpose Stainless Steel Hose Reel can be mounted on a wall or in the ground. It is 19 inches tall, can hold up to 200 feet of 5/8-inch hose, and costs $408.73 from Sustainable Supply.

    Above: The Model 1041 Wall-Mount Hose Reel can be mounted in either a parallel or perpendicular configuration on a wall or fence. It wraps up to 150 feet of 5/8-inch garden hose onto its aluminum-alloy body. A braking system stops the reel from unspooling more hose than you want; $139 by Eley.

      Steel Hose Trolley on Wheels ; Gardenista

    Above: For a portable version, consider a hose reel on wheels. A Swiss-made Large Galvanised Steel Hose Trolley has a steel frame, rubber wheels, and a comfortably sized hand crank. The Cadillac of hose reels, it is designed to be "the last one you'll purchase." It is 514€ from Manufactum.

    Above: Designer-inventor Sean Weatherill makes the 35-inch-tall Axiom Razor of finely machined, premium-grade stainless steel. Can be freestanding or mounted to a stone base; handles 125 feet of 5/8-inch hose. Custom order from Blade Inc. for $985.

    Yard Butler Swing Arm Hose Reel ; Gardenista

    Above: A swing arm allows the Yard Butler Wall Mount Swivel Hose Reel to turn 180 degrees so the hose can be unwound at any angle from the wall. All-steel construction; holds up to 100 feet of 5/8” hose. Available from Lewis Tools for $132.25.

    Above: The 3-in-1 Hose Reel by Liberty Garden Products handles 200 feet of 5/8-inch hose. Made of 13-gauge steel with a powder-coated tan finish and all brass/galvanized fixtures; $135.80 from Rittenhouse.

    Above: Delight your inner firefighter with this oversized post-mounted number that holds 400 feet of hose on a powder-coated steel frame. Special order HRG-400FT-FIT from Valley Industries in Minnesota (1-800-864-1649); $157.45 with an extra fitting for garden hoses.

      Swiss made metal hose reel with crank ; Gardenista

    Above: A steel Swiss-made Alba Krapf Metal Hose Reel holds a hose up to 60 meters long and is £197.95 from Amazon UK.


      Manual rewind hose reel ; Gardenista

    Above: A Manual Rewind Hose Reel can be customized to fit several diameters and lengths of garden hose. Made of aluminum, it can be ordered with or without wheels; for more information and pricing, visit Perth, Australia-based dealer Real Ezy.


    Above: The 19-inch-wide stainless steel RollX from Atelier Tradewinds in Belgium has a telescopic handle and wheels for easy mobility. Contact Jean-Pierre Galyn for pricing with delivery.

    Screw Fix Wall Mount Hose Reel ; Gardenista

    Above: A swiveling Wall-Mounted Hose Reel has a capacity to spool a 60-meter hose and is £24.99 from Screw Fix.

    Griots Wall Mounted Hose Reel ; Gardenista

    Above: A Wall Mounted Hose Reel made of die-cast aluminum is painted a dark bronze color and can be mounted for either left- or right-handed operation; $145 from Griot's Garage.

    Above: Honeycomb-inspired cutouts detail the Hexy SS, made in the US of stainless steel by Blade Inc. Can be ordered with either 3/4-inch or 5/8-inch hose connections; $1,195.

    Don't need a crank? See other tricks for detangling garden hoses in 5 Quick Fixes: Garden Hose Management. Sturdy and stylish is a pleasure in the garden. Outfit your hose as well; see 5 Favorites: Garden Hose Taps

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    The ancient Greeks loved symmetry for a good reason. As do Ken and Jean Victor Linsteadt—for the same reason. By adding stone walls and a staircase to bisect and subdivide their sloped backyard into a series of mirror-image garden beds, the Mill Valley, CA couple have created a calming sense of balance.

    Both the house and the garden were wrecks when the Linsteadts, who lived around the corner at the time, bought the property and overhauled it in 2007. Perhaps it's no wonder the Linsteadts share a penchant for proportion—he's an architect and she's a writer—or that their first impulse for the garden was to establish an overall organizing principle. "The original garden, when we first saw it, was overgrown and had one falling-down wall somewhere in the middle or it," says Jean. "It needed the structure of terraces." 

    What is surprising—and makes the garden particularly charming—is how cheerfully the couple also chose to undermine the visual effect of that perfect symmetry. This is a garden where the plants are encouraged to be messy. Beans are taking over an arbor in the kitchen garden. A hedge of lavender is creeping over a wall. Climbing roses are running amok and threatening to overthrow the back fence. "I like the contrast between the way the stone walls create an overall organizing structure while within them the garden can loosen up and grow a little wild." says Jean. So do we. 

    One morning last week Jean gave us a tour:

    Photography by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: The backyard. Four pencil-thin cypress trees line a central staircase that bisects the terraces, reinforcing the impression of a grid layout. The stone, hand-picked for color by architect Ken, is Elk Mountain

    But first....the front yard.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: From the street, the house and most of the front garden are hidden, but a welcoming path invites visitors in. Here the stone is bluestone, hand-selected to match the brown and gray hues of the stone in the backyard.

    For more of Ken Linsteadt's work, see Architect Visit: Ken Linsteadt in Mill Valley.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: Santa Barbara daisies—their Latin name is Erigeron karvinskianus—are planted as a low-growing ground cover to edge the front path. The tiny pink and white flower glow at dusk. A drought-tolerant perennial, Santa Barbara daisies thrive in partial shade in a Mediterranean climate.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: King of the castle. The Linsteadts' springer spaniel, Louis, greets visitors.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: "We're hidden from the street, and my husband sits in front and smokes a pipe a lot," Jean says. "It's amazing the conversations he's overheard from people passing by.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: Twin olive trees flank the front yard bench.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: A path runs alongside the house to connect front garden to back. Blowsy and billowing, a 'Sally Holmes' climbing rose covers the arbor that opens into the backyard.

    "I especially love it at the height of summer when the roses and vines get all floppy and start to breach the bounds of the walls," says Jean. "At the same time, I feel like the walls root the house and garden in the earth in a way that feels solid and timeless, even though the house is only seven years old."

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: In the backyard, the railing (and improvised dog gate) are weathered steel, allowed to rust naturally.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: The back fence, built by Ken Linsteadt and his son over the course of about six months, is constructed of 2-by-2-inch lengths of wood. In spring, the fences are covered by the prolific blooms of climbing 'Cecile Brunner' and 'Sombreuil' roses.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: Lavender is planted as a low hedge at the edge of the top terrace. Like many of the other plants in this garden, lavender is drought-tolerant and happy in a Mediterranean climate.


    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: Below the lavender, two beds on either side of the path are planted with herb and roses and edged with boxwood. In the distance, on the upper terrace (L), is an iron arbor from Cottage Gardens in nearby Petaluma. Beans grow on the arbor in spring and summer. "Even in the winter, when nothing is going on, the iron arbor and the fence are enough to be interesting," says Linsteadt.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: Potted plants are trained on metal tuteurs that echo the vertical shape of the cypress trees.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: Stepping stones and herbs lead to fragrance: Jean's favorite roses.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: A yellow 'Graham Thomas' rose bush is trained as a shrub.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: As ruffled as a peony, 'Abraham Darby' is also trained as a shrub (rather than as a climber). 

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: At the top level of the garden is a patch of lawn ringed by boxwood.

      Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen garden Calfornia ; Gardenista

    Above: Louis on the patio waits patiently (more or less) to be let indoors.

      Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen garden Calfornia ; Gardenista

    Above: The view from indoors; this is a garden that brings the outdoors in year-round.

    Are you in the throes of designing your own Mediterranean garden? Get more ideas from Rehab Diaries: Rescuing a 100-Year-Old Garden.  And for more of architect Linsteadt's work, see Steal This Look: Belgian-Inspired Kitchen by Ken Linsteadt Architects.

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    Fêted French chef Raymond Blanc introduces this fascinating book, and his garden at Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons in Oxfordshire concludes Kitchen Garden Experts. Quite right, as Blanc's insistence on reviving the relationship between growing and cooking has changed the landscape of British food.

    Photography by Jason Ingram.

    Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons, Kitchen Garden Experts book. Photo Jason Ingram, Gardenista

    Above: Beauty in straight lines, the productive plot made by head gardener Anne-Marie Owens at Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons. Neither an ethical-sustainable diatribe nor a coffee table tome, this book is really very practical. Food lovers share their experiences and tips while the photographs from Jason Ingram are reliably fresh. Although the word "expert" is not misleading, you sense that everyone is on a learning curve and there is no reason why you shouldn't join in.

    Le Manoir opened 30 years ago when the idea of flown-in and out-of-season produce was still new and exciting. Blanc struggled with this and established his kitchen garden alongside the restaurant. It doesn't provide all, by any means, but the kitchen garden is integral to a Manoir visit.

    Le Manoir Tip: Plant flowers with vegetables. Pelargoniums for instance attract beneficial insects.

    Kitchen Garden Experts, photo Jason Ingram. Gardenista

    Above: Vallum Farm, Northumberland. Chef David Kennedy and grower Ken Holland sit outside "The Pod," a wooden shed on wheels with three essentials: garden, kitchen, long table. Ken grows for various chefs around the North-East and they do guest spots at The Pod, using produce which has traveled yards, in minutes. The resident chef (above) also runs a more conventional restaurant 100 yards away called David Kennedy at Vallum.

    Vallum Farm Tip: Do not overwater young vegetables; they need to build a strong root structure.

    Kitchen Garden Experts, photo Jason Ingram. Gardenista

    Above: Swathes of nasturtium at the Scottish Kitchen Garden. Chef Carina Contini grows produce at home with her gardener Erica Randall. It goes some way to supplying her two restaurants in Edinburgh. Nasturtium flowers are used by the chefs in salads while the leaves, which have a stronger flavor, are used in pesto.

    Scottish Kitchen Garden Tip: Grow weeds (and flowers) to increase the biodiversity of your garden.

    Kitchen Garden Experts, photo Jason Ingram. Gardenista

    Above: Goats at The Wellington Arms, Hampshire. Not shown: chickens, sheep, and a pig. Keen gardeners Jason King (chef) and Simon Page (grower) were attracted to the large, untended plot when they bought the pub. Besides building four raised beds and creating a small orchard, they are mindful of food waste and its disposal. To this end they have eight biological digesters dotted around the garden, which convert waste into nutrients, which seep into the ground. Food scraps are fed to the animals, who provide a good source of manure. It's a virtuous circle.

    Kitchen Garden Experts, photo Jason Ingram. Gardenista

    Above: The housekeeper at The Wellington Arms wraps useful but not-so-attractive plastic pots in hessian. Plastic posts do a good job of retaining moisture (this pot contains strawberries), if you can bear to live with them. Also grown in pots of oak, zinc, and terra cotta by the back door are essential herbs: rosemary, thyme, tarragon, mint, and parsley.

    Wellington Arms Tip: Save space by growing tomatoes with zucchini and pumpkins. Remove the first leaves of tomatoes to a height of 12 inches, to allow light to reach the ground-dwelling cucurbits.

    Kitchen Garden Experts, photo Jason Ingram. Gardenista

    Above: Skye Gyngell made her reputation as a garden-to-plate chef at Petersham Nurseries, where she was awarded a Michelin star. Here at Heckfield Place in Hampshire, she is culinary director for a hotel with three restaurants and a further restaurant in central London. Heckfield Place is on an estate of 400 acres so it does provide, though Gyngell does not feel obliged to use only food with a Hampshire provenance. Paul Goacher is Heckfield's grower, with 20 years of experience at the Royal Horticultural Society's headquarters, Wisley. He makes use of the walled garden, newly planted orchard, herb garden plus a five-acre field with rows of crops grown on a rotation system. At what point, we ask, does a kitchen garden become a small farm?

    Heckfield Place Tip: Apply bone meal to fruit trees in autumn; it is a slow-release fertilizer that will show its benefits in spring.

    Kitchen Garden Experts book cover. Gardenista

    Kitchen Garden Experts: Twenty Celebrated Chefs and Their Head Gardeners is £20 from Frances Lincoln. For an early summer recipe from the book, come back later today for Peas, Ham and Cheese. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

    The Ethicurean walled garden, also photographed by Jason Ingrams, is included in this book. See Required Reading: The Ethicurean Cookbook.

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    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage restaurant is just one of the restaurants featured in Cinead McTernan's Kitchen Garden Experts: Twenty Celebrated Chefs and Their Head GardenersMcTernan writes, "At River Cottage, [Head Chef Gill Meller] likes to place bowls of peas in the pod down the supper tables, carefully arranged next to bowls of salty pork crackling. This is more of an assembly than a recipe."

    Call it an assembly or a recipe, here's a simple way to celebrate the sweetness of the homegrown pea:

    Photography by Jason Ingram.

    Kitchen Garden Experts book, River Cottage HQ, photo Jason Ingram. Gardenista

    Above: River Cottage is so much more than a television program, many cookbooks, and a restaurant (although it is all of the above). The original rented cottage in Dorset (by the river), has been supplanted by River Cottage HQ, in nearby Devon. The message of its founder, food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, was and still is: stop depending on the supermarket.

    Kitchen Garden Experts book, photo Jason Ingram. Gardenista

    Above: Enter, freshly picked and podded garden peas.

    Kitchen Garden Experts book. Jason Ingram photo, Gardenista

    Peas with Ham and Cheese

    Serves 2-3 as a starter


    For the labneh:
    1 3/4 pints plain, whole milk yogurt
    1 tsp fine sea salt

    To serve:
    Handfuls of podded garden peas
    8 slices of good quality, air-dried ham
    Handful of tender pea tops, plus any with nice flowers
    12-16 small mint leaves
    A few small nasturtium leaves
    Extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper
    Toasted sourdough bread


    For the labneh, put the yogurt in a bowl, add the salt and mix well. Line a sieve with a thin cotton cloth and place it over the bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the muslin, then flip the sides over the yogurt to enclose. Leave in the refrigerator for from 24 to 48 hours. Turn over every now and then so the liquid drains evenly. The yogurt should resemble a soft cheese.

    To serve, add peas to slightly salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain and refresh in iced water to stop the cooking process and retain the fresh green color. Divide the slices of ham between four plates, followed by a spoonful of labneh. Scatter over the peas, their tops and flowers, the mint, and nasturtium leaves. Trickle with good olive oil. Season and serve with toasted sourdough bread.

    For more plot to plate ideas, see Required Reading: Kitchen Garden Experts.

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    What Greek gardeners know: a Mediterranean climate requires you to embrace extremes. Dry summers. Wet winters. Hot sun. Oh, and little surprises from the sea (here's some salt spray and wind for you).

    It's no wonder the classic Greek garden is designed, first and foremost, to stand up to the elements. Hardy plants, protective walls, and shaded patios are ubiquitous. These are scrappy gardens, designed to make do.

    "In smaller villages, there was no tradition for a home to have a backyard, there was no soil even," says architect Eleni Psyllaki, a native of Crete and founder of the design blog My Paradissi. "The place that people had when they went outside was the street. They had to put pots with plants in the street. That's a typical garden."

    Psyllaki, whose garden comprises a cluster of terra cotta pots outside her window, has made a study of the modern Greek garden—and understands that it's not necessary to compromise style to achieve sturdiness. Here are her ten essential elements of a typical Mediterranean garden (some of which you may do well to borrow, come July):

    Photography by Eleni Psyllaki except where noted.

    !0 Garden Ideas to Steal from Greece ; Gardenista

    Above: Stone walls, archways, and a pale backdrop are typical features of a Greek garden.

    1. A neutral backdrop. If you have hot summers, whitewashed walls and light-colored stone facades function as effective scrims to reflect the sun's heat and create a serene structure for a garden. 

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: A non-fruiting olive tree. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

    2. Olive trees. The goddess Athena got a whole city named for her after she jammed her spear into the earth and turned it into an olive tree. Or so the myth goes. If true, she deserved the honor. Olive trees, in addition to being one of the most beautiful and graceful plants you can introduce to a garden, are endlessly useful. They're drought-resistant; they're long-lived, and their wood is prized for its beauty and durability. And then there's the oil.

    Non-fruiting varieties (as seen Above) are descendants of the Mediterranean Olea europaea. Useful foils in a garden, their gray-green leaves and bark complement most other colors. Warning: if you live in a cold climate, you should grow yours in a pot and bring it indoors to enjoy a sunny southern exposure during the winter months.

    Drought tolerant native plants Crete Greece garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Succulents and drought-tolerant perennials are in the foreground; cypress trees are trained against the wall in the background.

    3. An accent of bright color. Against a gray-green backdrop of herbs and drought-tolerant perennials, a pink or red flowering plant makes a dramatic statement. Pelargoniums, poppies, and perennial herbs are hardy choices. All it takes to pop is one.

    !0 Garden Ideas to Steal from Greece ; Gardenista

    4. Drought-tolerant natives. Check with local nurseries to find what qualifies as a drought-tolerant native in your growing zone. Whenever possible, opt for perennial herbs. They'll do double duty as ground cover and as a lure for pollinators. In a Mediterranean climate, rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, and parsley will run rampant. 

    Rosemary as a hedge? See Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley.

    5. Potted plants. Archaeologists know this is what the ancient Greeks had at home (rather than private gardens). Be sure to water them well. "Clay pots are a help," says Psyllaki. Clay retains moisture to keep roots hydrated longer in a hot climate. "We have a lot of pottery, and craftsman make such pots as a tradition."

    6. Terra cotta. When you think of ancient Greece, you think of .... pottery. (OK, Doric columns too; but not everyone has room for one). Much of what we know about how the inhabitants of ancient Greek civilizations lived can be attributed to the shards they left behind for modern archaeologists to mull.

    The benefits of clay pots are many. There's pretty much nothing that looks bad sitting next to one in the garden. And they make container gardening foolproof. Their porous nature makes it nearly impossible to over water a plant. Our favorites have the soft, aged coloring of antiques. We like these Aged Terra Cotta Flower Pots.

      Greek garden Crete lemon citrus tree stone wall ; Gardenista

    7. Citrus trees. Lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines. These are fruits you want to grow if at all possible. If you live in a Mediterranean climate, plant a tree in your garden immediately. If you have a small garden, you can espalier it against a fence or prune it to keep it contained. In a colder climate, get two or more of the same variety and keep them in pots so you can bring them indoors in the winter and pollinate them by hand (a paintbrush is involved). There are crazier hobbies. For detailed instructions, see DIY: Potted Indoor Citrus Trees.

    8. Symmetry. Remember the mythological Minotaur in the maze? The maze had a a perfectly pruned, symmetrical layout. Symmetry is a concept the ancient Greeks invented. In a modern garden, mirror-image beds create the same effect. See Garden Visit: A Modern CA Garden Inspired by the Classics.

    Bougainvillea over whitewashed archway Crete, Greece ; Gardenista

    9. Must-have plant: bougainvillea. Perennial in zones where temperatures don't drop below 30 degrees, bougainvillea behaves like that friend-of-a-friend who comes to your party and eats all the appetizers. The only way to neutralize it is with sharp pruners. But you're still grateful it showed up.

    10. A shaded patio. "It is typical to have a shaded terrace, covered in ivy or jasmine, to protect you from the sun," says Psyllaki. "We have a lot of winds here, and if you are protected from the sun, the wind will cool you down and make it comfortable to spend time outdoors in the hottest months."

    Awnings, canopies, and pergolas constructed of natural materials such as wood and bamboo are popular weather-resistant choices to support the weight of vines. For inspiration, see Steal This Look: A Greek Bamboo Canopy.

    For more inspiration, see our other Garden Secrets to Steal posts.

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  • 05/22/14--06:30: Hardscaping 101: Front Paths
  • Nothing creates curb appeal faster than a well-designed front path. It's the first impression your house makes to visitors—and to you every time you come home.

    The choices can be daunting. But through careful consideration of materials, dimensions, and landscaping, the improvement to your home's entrance will be well worth the effort. Here's everything you need to know to design a welcoming front path:

    Naomi Sanders Landscape Design ; Gardenista

    Above: A front path in Los Angeles by Naomi Sanders Landscape Design, made of pre-cast concrete stepping stones set in crushed stone gravel. "It's a totally budget friendly choice," says Sanders.

    Are there design rules for a front path?

    Wondering how to begin? Start with a design to complement your home's general style. A front path should speak to the architecture of your house or blend in with existing landscaping:

    • Straight or curving? Either can work so long as the design makes it clear that a meandering walkway is headed straight to the front door.
    • Material? Choose a material that echoes one used elsewhere in your yard. For instance, if you have a bluestone patio, a bluestone front path will marry well. Or choose concrete pavers that match the connecting sidewalk.
    • Solid path?  If your primary goal is comfortable walking, you may opt for a solid path. For example, if you need to drag garbage cans once a week, as I do, a gravel path can make this task unwieldy. 
    • Stepping stones? If your front path is primarily an an entry point (rather than doing double duty as a runway for the garbage cans), you may choose stepping stones. Stepping stones can make a small yard look more spacious (grass, moss or thyme grown between the stones will add to the effect). Set concrete or fieldstone pavers no more than 6 inches apart to avoid a tripping hazard. 
    • Lighting? Path lighting should be staggered to right and left of path to avoid a runway effect.

    A front path of concrete pavers ; Gardenista

    Above: Concrete pavers set to match visitors' strides: the steps run 18 inches from center to center of each slab. Photograph by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.

    If you wish to soften a formal facade and prefer a straight path, you can edge a gravel or decomposed granite path with low-growing perennials. This is an inexpensive as well as an attractive choice. Keep in mind you probably will need to replace the plants after eight or ten years.

    A note on materials: decomposed granite is firmer than gravel, but needs to be separated from the front door by another material to keep it from being tracked in to your house. For more, see Hardscaping 101: Decomposed Granite.

    Linsteadt Mediterranean edible kitchen rose garden California ; Gardenista

    Above: A mortar-set bluestone front path at architect Ken Linsteadt's home in SF's North Bay. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

    How wide should a front path be?

    While site constraints often determine the width of your front walkway, ideally a front path should be no less than 4 feet wide at its narrowest and no wider than 6 feet. At 4 feet, two people can walk abreast. A path as wide as 6 feet will give the entry a more substantive feeling, but needs to be in proportion with your entry, porch or front door.

      Hardscaping 101: The Front Path | Gardenista

    Above: Granite fieldstone found on site was used for this sublime path to Chanticleer Farm, designed by Ann Kearsley Design

    What are the most commonly used materials for a front path and what are their relative costs?

    Pathway materials vary with respect to cost, ease of installation, and longevity. In order from least expensive and labor intensive to most, the commonly used pathway materials are: gravel; decomposed granite; concrete slabs; concrete pavers; naturally set fieldstone (for example bluestone, sandstone, granite, or limestone), brick, and mortar-set fieldstone.

    Hardscaping 101: The Front Path | Gardenista  

     Above: A mortar-set fieldstone, flanked by boxwood, connects the original concrete steps to wooden porch steps. Boxwood is a good choice to frame a walkway if you have a wide front yard. Photograph by Ellen Jenkins.

    Mortar-set fieldstone may be more costly than other choices, but assuming the stones are thick enough, will require little to no maintenance. Decomposed granite and gravel are inexpensive, but need to be replenished every eight to ten years. 

    steal this look | slate house | gardenista

    Above: Bluestone slabs for use as pavers or stepping stones. For everything you need to know about sourcing bluestone, See Hardscaping 101: Pennsylvania Bluestone. Photograph by Ellen Jenkins.

    Front path recap:

    • Design your path to complement your home's architecture.
    • Walkways should be between 4 and 6 feet wide.
    • A solid path is easiest for walking. Spaced flagstones or concrete pavers will make a yard look larger.
    • Common materials for paths include gravel, decomposed granite, concrete slabs, concrete pavers, naturally set fieldstone, mortar-set fieldstone, and brick.

    Planning a hardscaping project? For inspiration, see Hardscaping 101: Brick Patios and Hardscaping 101: Front Stoops.

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    After dinnertime prep, there's no need to let your vegetable trimmings go to waste. Save seeds from citrus fruit or sprout seeds from legumes and watch them grow before your eyes. Save your vegetable trimmings—from carrots, beets, and garlic—and grow them into your very own "compost garden."

    Gardenista editor-in-chief Michelle Slatalla shows us how easy it is to make more efficient use of your dinnertime scraps:

    Sprouting Seeds

    • Paper towels
    • Seeds from citrus fruit (or use lentils, raw nuts, chickpeas, or mung beans)
    • Plant mister or spray bottle

    1. Using a spray bottle or plant mister, dampen a double layer of paper towels.

    2. Sprinkle seeds on top of the paper towel, on one side only. Fold the paper towel onto itself so your seeds are covered, then moisten the paper towel again.

    3. Place the moistened paper towel in a sunny, warm spot. Check back in a few days to see if your seeds have sprouted.

    Compost Garden 

    • Shallow tray with divided compartments (such as a cutlery tray)
    • Leftover scraps from dinner prep, such as beet stalks, carrot tops, and cloves of garlic
    • Gravel or small rocks
    • Potting soil

    1. Fill the tray with a layer of soil, plus rocks or gravel for drainage.

    2. Gently tuck your vegetable scraps into the soil; use a different compartment for each kind of vegetable. You can even plant your sprouted seeds into one compartment. 

    3. Add water to the top of the gravel, being careful not to soak them in the shallow tray. Keep them moist.

    4. Check back in a week or so for growth from your plants. When you see hardy sprouts from each of them, transplant into your vegetable garden. 

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    We love a house designed first with its landscape in mind. This one, in the south of Greece, takes pains to both live with the landscape—and hide from it.

    The single-family house was designed by Workshop Dionisis+Kirki, a collaboration between Greek architect Dionisis Sotovikis and French-born architect Kirki Mariolopoulou. The house is built into a hillside cut by a series of stairs. Climb the first set from the street to the ground floor, and you'll find a fortress: an introverted concrete box only open to nature when the residents choose. Climb the next set and find an open, airy living space with sweeping views of the world around it. Climb the last set, and arrive in heaven: an all-glass swimming pool that hides from nothing.

    Photography by Vangelis Paterakis courtesy of Europaconcorsi

    Modern Architecture Project in Greece, Concrete House with Grassy Landscape, Gardenista

    Above: The structure is divided into two volumes with two distinct identities: the extroverted top floor is open to the landscape, while the ground floor is private, open to the outdoors only when residents choose.

    Modern Architecture Concrete House in Greece with Outdoor Staircase, Gardenista

    Above: The lower level contains the house's private spaces, such as the bedrooms. Via heavy concrete doors, residents can choose to interact with the landscape or to be completely shut off.

    Entryway with Path of Modern Concrete House in Greece with Red Stained Glass Window, Gardenista

    Above: The top floor of the house—the extroverted portion—has an artistic presence at nightfall with a wall of stained glass windows.

    Modern Architecture Project in Greece with Glass Wall to Living Room and Pool on Hillside, Gardenista

    Above: The top floor's rooms, including the living room shown here, feature full-height glass walls to maximize views of the landscape. To the left of the house, perched on the hillside, is a swimming pool. 

    Uber Modern Clear Glass Swimming Pool with Concrete Base, Modern Architecture in Greece, Gardenista

    Above: A staircase leads from the top floor of the house to a planted terrace, from which a bridge connects to the swimming pool, half-suspended over the hillside.

    Modern Interior in Greece with Glass Floor and Glass Walls to Landscape, Gardenista

    Above: The kitchen, dining, and living spaces are on the top floor of the house; full-height glass walls bring the outdoors in.

    Modern Architecture Interior with Glass Floor and Glass Wall onto Landscape, Gardenista

    Above: The ground floor is not completely isolated; partial glass flooring allows for some shared interaction and light between the two.

    Bathroom in Modern Architecture House in Greece with Concrete Door to Landscape, Gardenista

    Above: With its concrete door tightly shut, a washroom on the ground floor is completely closed off from the outdoors. When the door is opened, light and fresh air fill the space.

    Dramatic Modern Concrete Staircase in Greece, Gardenista

    Above: The entrance from the street is dramatic: a staircase suspended between two high concrete walls leads to the ground level of the house. (An alternate entry from the street, albeit a much longer one, leads directly to the top floor.) 

    Modern Architecture Stairway in Greece, Gardenista

    Above: The view of the Greek countryside from behind the staircase. 

    For more of our favorite Greek spaces, see Landscape Architect Visit: Thomas Doxiadis on Antiparos; Steal This Look: Greek Bamboo Canopy, and on Remodelista, A Greek Taverna on the Beach, Breeze Included

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