If there is a prettier word than “twilight,” I don’t know what it is. The word carries with it mystery and delicacy. Maybe it’s because transitional periods are among nature’s loveliest: night to morning, bud to bloom, girl to woman. So I was taken by the title The Twilight Garden by Lia Leendertz (Ball Publishing, 2011), subtitled “ Creating a garden that entrances by day and comes alive at night.”
A gardening columnist for the Guardian’s Weekend magazine, she also writes a garden blog abloom with garden hints, oddments of observation, and gentle self-deprecation. Like me she is a fan of Ray Bradbury, in her case for the evocation of the atmosphere of “high summer childhood” in Dandelion Wine. In The Twilight Garden, she herself evokes atmosphere in ways both poetic and practical, telling readers how to enjoy evenings in their gardens whether it’s smelling “the sultry fragrances of night blooming flowers,” “throwing memorable, candlelit parties warmed by wafts of gentle breezes, with the only decoration needed being the pale blooms of borders filled with plants chosen for their ability to glow in low light,” or using the twilight garden as a “a softly lit outdoor dining room, where the fresh air acts as a digestif, sharpening the appetite and making all the food taste delicious.”
The book discusses how to establish gentle mood lighting, water features and cozy enclosures, as well as how to use color and sound to attract wildlife (at least the kind you want.) To attract moths, she advises, plant nicotinia, evening primrose, honeysuckle, and sweet rocket. I love this hint and can hardly wait to try it out some summer evening with my grandchildren while they are still easily thrilled : Hang a white sheet on the washing line and shine a bright torch on it; in minutes it will be covered in moths.
She also tells what plants are evening-friendly, for instance moon flower (I’d buy it for its name), petunias, lavender, sage and peonies. You can order it here for about $24.
Beautiful saturated colors, arresting fabrics, and a style that blends California dreamin’ with European sensibility characterize the rooms in the new book Kathryn M. Ireland Timeless Interiors (Gibbs-Smith, 2012).
(All of the photographs shown here are by Tim Beddow from Kathryn M. Ireland Timeless Interiors by Kathryn Ireland, reprint permission by Gibbs Smith Publisher).
Kathryn, an interior designer and fabric designer whose work has graced our pages, starred in Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorator in 2011.
As a fan of playwright David Mamet, I was glad to get a glimpse at the good-looking, easygoing style Kathryn gave his home in Santa Monica. It was designed by John Byers in the thirties, who was known for his Spanish Colonial Revival and Monterrey-style homes. Here’s a closeup of a bookshelf with memorabilia from plays of Mamet’s that have been made into movies.
“What I love about the Southern California houses built between the First and Second World Wars is that the architects of that period, Byers among them, understood that exterior living spaces were as important as the interiors,” Kathryn writes in the book. “So they created lovely interior fluidity through clear, distinct rooms and plenty of garden and patio space for outdoor living.”
Here’s an example from the grounds of a Santa Barbara horse ranch: ahhhh.
As a bibliophile, I always think of home as a form of autobiography, and Kathryn is expert at letting her clients’ lives tell stories in their homes. I especially love the screening room she designed in the home of film director Robert Zemeckis. Kathryn says, “I merely had to camouflage the projection port with a large painting that could rise mechanically for screenings.” (The painting itself, charmingly, is of film watchers.)
In the Brentwood estate of an artistic couple, Kathryn — who believes you can never have too much counter space — designed this conservatory-like kitchen.
While they were designing this home, Kathryn says, she and the client were so in sync they could finish each other’s sentences. It shows.
Categories: Antiques, Architectural materials, Art, ceiling, color, Design, fabric, fabrics, floors, gardens, Home, Interior designers, makeovers, shopping, textures | Tags: bookshelves, David Mamet, hammock, Kathryn Ireland, Kathryn Ireland Timeless Interiors, kitchen, Robert Zemeckis, screening room, study
What a pleasure it is to be reminded of the grace and warmth of Lady Bird Johnson—the centennial of her birth, December 22, 1912, is being celebrated with events throughout the year. Not only did she soften the edges of her husband, LBJ (the big galoot!), but her hospitality and kindness is also credited for steadying the nation after JFK was assassinated and LBJ took office. Her passion was wildlife and conservation in general, and flowers in particular, which is why the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was founded in Austin, Texas, with gardens you can tour. In honor of the centennial, A Bouquet for Mrs. J, new eight-foot tall metal sculptures of Lady Bird’s beloved bluebonnets and other flowers, dot the grounds.
The camera loved the First Lady; her vitality shines in this and other images in this post, all from the Lady Bird Johnson Centennial Website.
Born Claudia Taylor, the future First Lady was deemed “purty as a lady bird” by a nursemaid. The nickname stuck. Today she is remembered chiefly as the steel magnolia behind LBJ and for her First Lady’s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital, which she expanded into the entire nation, with special attention to roadsides. Less known is that she was a very successful businesswoman, who in her early 30s bought a failing radio station with an inheritance from mother, revived it, and spun it into television and cable television business.
She once said, “Some may wonder why I chose wildflowers when there are hunger and unemployment and the big bomb in the world. Well, I, for one, think we will survive, and I hope that along the way we can keep alive our experience with the flowering earth. For the bounty of nature is also one of the deep needs of man.”
Lady Bird was also a champion of using native plants: “I have always been a natural tourist. Lyndon used to say I kept ‘one foot in the middle of the big road.’ Wherever I go in America, I like it when the land speaks its own language in its own regional accent.”
This pretty scarf, $69.95, is a tribute to Lady Bird. Virginia artist Joan Griffin created it in hand painted silk with a bouquet that includes the Indian paintbrushes, black-eyed Susans and bluebonnets the late First Lady Loved. No two are exactly alike, and each scarf measures 30” square and may be gently washed by hand.
Here are some upcoming events:
November 15, 2012 – First Ladies Symposium and Evening Program. Laura Bush and Barbara Bush discuss their experiences following two panel discussions that feature historians and staff of present and former first ladies at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library & Museum.
December 2012 – The U.S. Postal Service begins to sell a souvenir sheet of a new Lady Bird Johnson stamp and the five Beautify America stamps she unveiled in the 1960s.
December 16, 2012 – Come join the Texas Hill Country community for the 43rd Annual LBJ Tree Lighting at the LBJ State Park, which will bring in the holiday season and celebrate Mrs. Johnson’s life and legacy.
December 22, 2012 – In celebration of Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday, the LBJ Library will open newly redesigned exhibits on Saturday, December 22. On that day, visitors are invited to tour the new exhibits and enjoy birthday cake, music, and discounts at The Store at LBJ.
It’s always a pleasure to work with garden writer Tovah Martin, whose work graced our magazine’s pages last May.
Author Tovah Martin, whose sparkle is contagious both in person and in print
She not only has a passion for gardening, but also a witty, creative voice that warms her new book, The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot In Your Home (Timber Press, 2012), with photographs by Tovah’s frequent collaborator, the keen-eyed Kindra Clineff.
The book’s premise is that if you approach keeping houseplants as creating an indoor garden — rather than keeping a few languishing philodendrons around for the sake of something green — you’ll boost your decor overall. She promises, “You can accelerate from total non-greenness to an extremely adroit houseplant grower in a blink. With the right botanical someone, decent potting soil on hand (that’s important), the proper light, and an appropriate container, Eden can be yours.” She shows how to grow brilliant spring bulbs at your bedside, lush perennials brought in from the garden, quirky succulents in the kitchen, even flowering vines and small trees growing beside an easy chair.
Tovah proves that stately trees can blur the lines between indoors and out with Cupressus arizonica ‘Blue Ice’ and Juniperus squamata Chinese Silver flanking Kalanchoe thyrisflora ‘Flapjack’
Tovah confesses that in her own New England home, “I didn’t bother doing much with decorator colors on the walls; I didn’t sweat the window treatments of the framed family portraits—the plants are my decor…In winter, the amaryllis and other holiday cheerfuls hold forth. In spring, the accumulation swells with seedlings that are destined for the outdoors…”
Einstein, Tovah’s Maine Coon kitten and research assistant, who did all the stress and bounce testing of the plants in the book, duking it out with a fern.
The book is available for about $16.
People can tell you how fabulous The Newport Flower Show is, but you have to be there to understand how beautifully all of its elements come together: the setting of oceanside mansions, the people in fabulous costumes strolling the manicured grounds; the verve of the floral displays; the expertise of the nation’s top gardeners, the allure of Newport’s beautiful and ubiquitous blue hydrangeas, the sartorial splendor of behatted ladies and gents in the sounds-weird-but-looks-dashing get-up of blazer, dress shirt, bermudas, and loafers with no socks; wonderful oceanside boutiques; and tempting morsels and libations. I’ve already marked my calendar for June 22-24 next year, when the theme will be Jade:Eastern Obsessions. http://www.newportmansions.org/events/newport-flower-show
Here are a few scenes I snapped:
Oh, say can you plant? Proven Winners has come up with a fun concept: “recipes” for plantings, in this case patriotic ones. The recipe tells you how many and what size pots of different flowers to use to get the looks they show on their website.
Plymouth Plantation Arrangement
14 inch pot
1 plant each (4.5″ each):
Laguna Sky Blue (lobelia erinus)
Susatia Cranberry (nemesia hybrid)
Babylon White (verbena hybrid)
Here are some others we think are pretty. Go to provenwinners.com for the recipes for these patriotic plantings and more.
Spirit of ’76
Born on the 4th of July
My fellow garden editors tell me that the Newport Flower Show has the Wow Factor in spades (couldn’t resist — I’ll try to make that the only garden pun in this post). So I am really pleased to go to the show that ushers summer into Rhode Island this year June 22-24, staged on and in the grounds, reception rooms, oceanfront terrace and emerald lawns of the opulent Rosecliff Mansion. Rosecliff is one of several mansions Newport is known for. This year the theme is Salsa—A Celebration of Latin Cultures. A fusion of hot colors, passionate designers, exotic plants, cultural adventures and dancing under the stars is promised; I’ll settle for tangos and tapas at the opening night party.
The Rosecliff Mansion
The Rosecliff mansion has particular cache because it was designed by Stanford White, the architect famous not only for breathtaking Beaux Arts buildings designed for the ridiculously rich (Rosecliff is modeled after Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles), but also for being murdered by the millionaire husband of an actress he dallied with, Evelyn Nesbit.
(you can see why Stanford White was smitten)
Dubbed “The Murder of the Century,” White’s murder was immortalized in E.L. Doctorow’s wildly original novel Ragtime (which later became a musical) and which I devoured in a weekend when it came out in 1975.
During the show, the grounds will be vibrant with Oceanside Boutiques and a Gardener’s Marketplace. Here are some scenes from previous shows.
The show has tons of programming, including lectures and displays of winners in contests such as garden photography and retail window displays. I’m intrigued by contests tied to this year’s theme — for example, interpretive headpieces that capture the color and drama of Rio’s Carnaval in the form of fresh plant material. Speakers at the flower show include rock stars of the garden world, including Mario Fernadez of Belle Fleur, who has designed stunning arragements for the homes and soirees of Oprah, Gloria Estefan, and Will Smith, and whose arrangements graced the runway of Carolina Herrera’s bridal show. Donna Lane, diva of dahlias (watch out, dahlias with their gratifying dinner-plate sized blooms are as addictive as oxycodone) will be on hand, as will garden writer Derek Fell, talking about the hot new trend of vertical gardening.
The Garden at The Elms Mansion
(The Elms, along with Chepstow, are on a Tree Tour during the Flower Show.)
Going to the flower show also affords a chance to explore the rest of Newport, an island city fabled as a New England summer resort in the Gilded Age (I’m picturing behatted Edith Wharton heroines) and the epitome of classic Americana for its Summer White Houses during Ike and JFK’s administrations. Don’t forget your parasol! http://www.newportmansions.org/events/newport-flower-show
Categories: Architectural materials, Art, color, Design, Food, gardens, shopping, travel | Tags: Carolina Herrera, Derek Fell, Donna Lane, Elms Mansion, gardening, Mario Fernandez, Newport Flower Show, Oprah, Rhode island, Rosecliff Mansion, shopping
Many garden books come across my desk, and while I can easily resist how-tos on propagation, I don’t stand a chance when a book has a cover that draws me into its world; somehow it feels like glimpsing a scene, powerful and intact, if fleeting, from a train window. Such was the case with the luminous jacket of Stacy Bass’s new book, In The Garden (Melcher Media). Bass shoots at dawn when possible. “That sweet and gentle light,” she writes in the book’s introduction, “coupled often with a morning mist or fog, has proven so seductive that it’s hard to resist.”
I want to step away from my desk, into that garden, and under that arbor, with that dog at my heels. The garden on the cover is in Greenfield Hill, and consists of a series of outdoor “rooms.” The book, with photos by Bass and essays by Suzanne Gannon, tells how the 18 New England gardens featured were brought to life by gardeners inspired by a landscape, a single flower, or a garden seen on travels. The gardens range from orderly, with geometric parterres, to rambling, with wild grasses.
The Greenwich garden above, with its sprays of pretty pink peonies, was designed by horticulturalist and garden designer Phillip Watson.
The book’s photographer, Stacy Bass, says, “I love going to a new place, usually before the sun rises, and being taken by surprise about what will be before me as the sun comes up. Unless it is necessary for an assignment, I prefer not to look at scouting shots so that I can react, in real time, to what I see without any preconceived notions about what to shoot and from what angles.”
Here at another Greenwich garden, the roses — ballerina hybrid musk — are so dense and beautiful they keep the white picket fence from looking clichéd.
This garden at Greenfield Hill echoes the gardens of Europe with an array of classic features within — armillaries, benches, tuteurs, and spheres.
The owner of this formal garden in New Canaan once made her living in the theatre. A formal sunken garden (Act I, perhaps?) is ready to steal the scene just inside the gate.
In The Garden releases April 24; you can order it for $31.50 at amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/In-The-Garden-Stacy-Bass/dp/1595910735
Photos Courtesy of Walters Gardens
In the world of flowers, the Perennial Plant of the Year Award is the equivalent of an Oscar. The Perennial Plant Association this year conferred its highest honor upon Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ because it’s easy to grow, works in a wide range of climate types, thrives on benign neglect, and “exhibits multi-season interest.” I like it because from mid to late spring it blooms blue, a coveted color in the garden because many blue plants, like the aristocratic delphinium, tend to be fickle. (Father, forgive me, for I know thy flora is resplendent without my paltry human assistance, but I cannot keep myself from doctoring my hydrangeas to bloom blue with aluminum sulfate and, following ancient wisdom, burying rusty nails in thy good earth which surrounds them.)
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost,’ 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year
Brunnera macrophylla has several fancy names, including Siberian bugloss and heartleaf brunnera (because of the heart-shaped leaves), but grandmothers like me call it false forget-me-not. Jack Frost thrives in shade but can abide morning sun if the soil is moist. Even when it stops blooming, it has pretty silvery leaves with emerald green veins (below). Their cool look is refreshing on a blistering day.
Jack Frost is a versatile fellow who performs equally well along the front of a shade border, solo in a container, or as part of an ensemble with other ground cover perennials, such as hostas, ferns, and epimediums (which sound distressingly anatomical, so I call them by their common name, bishop’s hat.) Below, Jack is shown playing courteously with others.
Finally, Jack Frost has leaves that are rough in texture, which discourages (though does not eliminate) nibblage by deer. It grows about 12 to 15 inches high and spreads to 20 wide. It does not do well in places that are very hot and dry. The popular plant is easy to find on the internet and in stores.
Last week I chatted with Larry Spada of Outdoor Living Brands about trends. With everybody suffering from frugality fatigue, people are investing in their outdoor spaces again for one of two reasons: making their home more enjoyable if they plan to stay in it, or making it more attractive to sell. (In sales shorthand, that’s the “love it or list it” phenomenon.) Spada sees landscaping on the most wanted list of homeowner improvements, with lighting a high priority. “We are illuminating a lot of facades for night drivebys of houses that are on the market,” he says. Here’s a Before & After.
People are also getting rid of their antiquated coachlights with flame bulbs (which are to the exteriors world what shag rugs and avocado appliances are to the world of interiors). They’re also converting to LED and choosing looks that are soft, warm, and low voltage. Homeowners are uplighting trees to add drama, too. Doesn’t this look cozy?
It’s all part of the trend of seeing the outdoors as bona fide living space—outdoor rooms as opposed to a yard that has to be mowed. That might mean adding a propane heater on a rod so you can use your patio longer when the weather cools, or putting a retractable awning over the postage stamp of lawn outside your townhome, so you can be comfortable when the sun is brightest. The awning addition could cost as little as a thousand bucks, while a big dramatic outdoor room could cost $135,000 (more than many homes are worth). How’s this for posh? (It shows the outdoor room with and without lighting).
Among Spada’s tips on staging for sale are updating exterior fixtures near doors and walkways and showcasing architectural or landscape features.The Cleavers would be right at home in this All-American scene.
Another trend is that of hardscapes becoming more popular than decks. Natural stone and pavers are growing in popularity for their durability and low-maintenance, especially stacked stone. Tranquil, Zen-like water features are sought after too, with many a koi-stocked pond in the south. Here’s a particularly pretty pool.
Of course, part of living more outdoors includes cooking and eating; hence the popularity of outdoor kitchens with pizza ovens, refrigerators, trash bins, recycling centers, and multi-use sinks. Fireplaces and fire pits are still hot and smokers, especially, are smokin’.
For more information, go to outdoorlights.com and archadeck.com.