Blog of the Week

Family Chic, the blog home of Camilla Fabbri, is one of my new favorite online haunts.  She is a woman after my own thrift-shopping, transforming, incessant small project, heart.  Except she seems to be able to get her projects completed, where as mine tend to languish for months on end in my basement ”project” area.  She is inspiring me to get it together and finish a few things.

family chic newspaper vase cover

Like perhaps these pretty valentines day projects.  The simple vase cover, crafted from crumpled FT newspapers, quickly sewn together makes this easy grocery store collection of pink roses and tulips far more special that one of those huge (and I think a bit vulgar) long-stem-baby’s breath v-day bouquets.

love stiches on a plant happy vaentines day garden craft

I would be happy to receive this heartfelt message wouldn’t you?  Happy Valentines day!!

Full instructions for each of these two DIY projects can be found at Camillas blog.

A couple month break not withstanding, I am happy to share with you the latest edition of Blogs I Like.  See you in February!

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The Gardeners Eden - Michaela writes in a lovely style about her garden (called Ferncliff), gardening, photography and living a beautiful design inspired life in Vermont.  Its worth a visit for some great photography at least.

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@ Issue Journal @ issue is a “journal of business and design, dedicated to communicating how quality design contributes to business success.”  It is a must read for inspiration, interesting design news and generally exciting design-y stuff (make sure you check out this post about the BMW commercial – so cool)

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Designers Block UK – I have been reading Designers Block for years, I am not sure why I didn’t post it earlier.  It is a rich collection of designers inspiration. Lots of stuff here, I can’t even begin to sum it all up.  It is what I love about being a designer and being around other designers….we all just like to fill our heads (and others) up with beautiful, inspiring things and ideas.

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automatism – Quite similar to Designers Block, but Canadian rather than British and therefore with a different and uniquely interesting perspective. .

tara dillard blog vanishing threshold

VANISHING THRESHOLD: Garden Life Home – This is the blog of Tara Dillard a fellow garden designer and GDRT member.  Tara’s website is full of insight on both interior and garden design and she shares it with all the richness of story that a true southern belle ought to have.

good food blog

Good Food is new to the Good (news) lineup.  I am so excited at the addition to this already great website.   Already Nichola Twilley, the food editor has lined up a excellent collection of food articles (43 to be exact) to kick off the site.  It is keeping me in thoughtful reading for at least a few days.

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Purple Area – Perhaps I am an Apartment Therapy lemming (of sorts) but when there is a blog (from Sweden) that is so full of goodness and interesting bits, I can’t help but follow the AT masses and check it out…(and then revisit again and again and again…)

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Naturliga Ting - You will need to turn on google translate to read what Swedish Annika, the preschool teacher by day and garden photographer by night, is writing about.  Or you can just look at her images, which are really beautiful and well worth a peruse all on their own.

I have never before checked the numbers to see which posts you all click on the most (shame on me for being a bad blogger!).  But now that I have, I am wondering if just because you click on it the most, does that mean that these are your favorites?

I love these, but some of my own favs are missing, so I think for tomorrow, I will make my own list of personal 2010 favorites….but here is what you said (by the numbers).

(note — much as I try to make the filter only see 2010 posts…some of these are 2009 — who has time to wrestle with google analytics? NOT ME, so I am going with it, regardless of date)

1.) All About Gabions : Cheap Retaining and Other Garden Features
(this post was hands down THE most popular — literally blowing away the competition by the thousands — who knew you all wanted to know about gabions!?!)

gabion wall post

by cuckoofarmstudios

2.)  Daily Garden: Joshua Tree Stock Tank Pool Garden (yes, I have to agree, this might have been the coolest daily garden ever)

3.)  Reviving the Ancient Art of Pebble Mosaics – Seems you are into materials and methods more than I might have guessed. (I am learning a few things here)

4.)  Bridal Garden Ideas – Really? Hmmm…..when I wrote this I distinctly remember thinking it was a weak topic…I guess I was wrong, I’ll admit it.

5.)  Blog(s) of the week (Two Europeans for you) – I love that you all also loved being introduced to two of my favorite garden design bloggers. If only there were more like them…

6.)  Daily Garden : The Modernist Fence – I would have never guessed this to be the #2 daily garden….but it is a good one.

7.)   A path Paved with Copper? – Proof positive that taking inspiration from other design fields is a good (or at least an interesting) idea…..

8.)  Pear Terrarium – So, you DO like the little indoor garden gifty ideas after all? Yea!

9 .)  Cottage Garden Inspiration from Carmel-by-the-Sea - Such a sweet place – and great photography – I can’t wait to get there and check it out for myself!

10.)   Tree Cathedral in Italy -I could have guess this….

What do you think?  Are these really your favorites or was their another post that sticks out as a star for you….if I missed your most loved or memorable, let me know in the comments, I am so curious to hear what you really liked!

I am terribly light on the posting and I am sorry for that.  I am trying to get my ducks in order for the holidays as well as organize what feels like an epic shift in my own career focus.   I have decided to pare down my work in some areas in order to ramp it up in others.  The long and short, I have recently handed off many of my clients to other designers and am not planning to take on new ones.  I am still working on the historical garden restoration project that I have mentioned so many times, but I have largely decided to not take on new residential or commercial work for the time being.  Why? because I want to write more and see what happens when I put my focus elsewhere. Like here.

there are things awry here lia purpura orion magazine

I have a huge desire to evolve this site to share more gardens and landscapes and design inspiration. But also to foster a greater enthusiasm for getting in touch with the land and nature and living in a conscientious, green, reverent and beautifully seasonal way.  What I am getting at is proving to be a lot to put into words at the moment, but I read this article today in Orion magazine called There are Things Awry Here by Lia Purpura and I found her words to be particularly resonant.

I would highly recommend taking a read (click this link) — I found the story a little gut wrenching.  I am very curious to hear what you think of it. It is really capturing what I want to talk about a bit more.  Ways for us all to look at our land, our greatest resource, a little differently, to celebrate it, its uniqueness, its history, its beauty, and it’s ability to nurture us and bring us together.   I think that is what our gardens can and should be all about.

I am struck today by the epic shift that not only am I feeling but it seems also so many around me feeling too.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to me that other designer and gardener types are moving into another gear, after all, winter is coming.  But I am feeling a bigger shift.  Perhaps it is because it is election day (here in the USA)?  Did you vote?  I for one will be glad when this vitriol is over…national politics trickled down to my quaint (normally very tolerant and polite) little town recently and I am still finding it distressing.  The head of the Republican party here officially declared a “holy war” in an email sent to half the town becasue he doesn’t like that a group of people (not even the democratic party) are trying to get a ballot issue (for next spring) on the ballot about possibly adopting the stretch energy code (i.e. maybe our town can be a leader in green building?).  Oye! “Holy War?” Let’s take this down a notch or two shall we? I mean really, we are talking about talking about an issue.  We aren’t even able to vote yet, we don’t even know what this entails yet!!…Sheesh….I think we all need a cooling off period.  So thankfully, here comes winter.

Fellow Designer Susan Cohan made a post on the APLD website about the life cycles of the gardeners seasons that I found touched a particularly familiar note.  It’s worth a quick read.  And I really love the Joni Mitchell reference….Just finished singing along with her (3 times over)  Here, you can too….

Also, have you listened to Andrew Keyes New podcast for Horticulture magazine?  It’s like This American Life for Gardeners….I love it and can’t wait to see where it goes next…I’m pretty sure he is just getting warmed up and there are great things to come… it’s another great example of what we designers are doing in our “slow” season.
For me, I am going into writing mode….There, I said it. (My writing partner has been encouraging me to say that publicly for weeks now). She thinks it will help me clear my slate and focus…she might be right….Yes, I will be here much more often, but I am also taking swipe at writing a novel – about that historical garden project that I have mentioned a few times. My perfectionist/ optimist / totally unrealistic side expects nothing less than a NY Times bestseller to come from this effort, so please excuse my melancholy in advance – once reality sets in. Nonetheless, you can’t do anything if you don’t try and I plan to have a lot of fun trying. So, happy fall to you and best wishes for whatever the autumn and winter (or spring and summer for you Aussies) brings.
What do you have planned for the changing seasons?

How did September and October go for you?  Mine — were a bit out of control — but it is November 1st and is a new day. I am ready to be refreshed and organized in a new way.  First on the list is to give October a proper close out with the return off my ‘Blogs I like’ feature.    What are you reading right now?  This is what has caught my attention lately…..

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Glamping Girl – Glamorous + Camping = Glamping….all you need can be found at Glamping Girl….I am particularly inspired by some of the featured destinations.  Like this one in by beloved Montana — the simple pole construction of these tents is perfect for the great plains and gives this beautiful but spare region of our country the opportunity to be celebrated and explored — from something other than a roadside super 8 .

sage safaris montana camping

Aunt Peaches Header

Aunt Peaches is a no fail inspiration source.  Her tag line, Making Sunshine on a Shoestring, couldn’t be more apropos.  She makes flowers out of everything (pipe-cleaners, coffee filters, scraps of anything…) and crazy retro-tastic cakes (my favorite being the The Liza Minelli of Cake: Chocolate Zucchini with Peanut Butter Cup Ganache) as well as other happy designs and charming photo collections.
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Elsa Mora’s header bar on her blog is enough to draw me in.  She is an artist whose works can be purchased on Etsy. Her book, (Blossom Buddies) will certainly be given to a few small children in my life….all it’s characters are made of flowers and natural elements and I think is a perfect inspiration for young and old to get outside and make some garden playtime magic.  Check out a few of the characters from the book….

blossom buddies book characters

gardening in heels

Gardening in Heels is a new favorite – -for a super quick jolt of something visually nice….hardly a word in site, it is simply a collection of inspirational images for the garden obsessed.

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Tending to it is really mostly about artistic and sustainable floristry.  It makes me want to get married all over again so that I can carry this bouquet and my husband can wear this boutonniere. Lots of flower inspiration here.

tending to it floral bouquet

floral bouquet airplant boutineer

la tartine gourmande

When things go crazy for me, cooking and eating together with my family is about the only thing that keeps me sane… I simply love to cook and sit and eat something special — every.single.day.  I have featured other food blogs here but I have a new favorite to share who rates right up there with the best….it is called La Tartine Gourmande and it is a heavenly mix of seasonal recipes mixed with stories of the love of cooking and sharing beautiful food.

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Frank over at Yardz serves up a good mix of plants, design interests and practical advice.  In his own words the site is “about lifestyle – using your small amount of outdoor space, be it a yard, balcony or roof garden, to reflect the lifestyle you live.”

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From Moon to Moon captures in interiors exactly the kind of vibe I love to capture in exteriors.  Chilled out lazy bohemian.   If you like this vibe too, this is place for a heavy dose of moody, warm, free spirit, groovy design.

Here is the thing. I cringed when I realized that I had inadvertently signed up to post about Healing Gardens. What do I know about “Healing gardens”? Little. Except that most I see make me wince. It’s the overworked themes, twee fiddily-ness, garden junk, and green nooks that are often tortuously carved out of places that weren’t meant to be, that bug me most.  I am ever surprised by a truly inspiring ‘official’  “Healing Garden”.

Last month, I met a man who once had a client who was the heiress to a plastic empire. He told me this story:

This client, in her later years, suffered a stroke. At around 80 years of age, she was not one to accept anything less than 100% recovery. While she had healed to be back to nearly 90% of her original function she simply was not satisfied and believed that two things would restore the final 10%. First she partook of treatments from the famed local Maharishi Ayurveda Center (famed because the likes of George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Julia Roberts and  George Hamilton have been rumored to have made visits).  And second, she must sit with her dogs in the ‘Healing Garden’ of one Clara Endicott Sears.

Never mind that in the mid eighties (at the time of this story)  Clara Endicott Sears had been dead for over 20 years and only the faintest of remnants of her garden still existed.

the cloisters at the pergolas garden of clara endicott sears

Seems the Plastics Heiress and Clara were of subsequent generations.  Clara was friends with the Plastics Heiress’s parents.  Childhood visits to the ‘Healing Garden’ stuck and in later years a firm belief persisted that a visit to this place would provide health.

All of this has me wondering ever more about Healing Gardens.  What makes them truly healing?  Is it because they are sited near a hospital, or a recovery center?  Or because they have themes about the cycles of life or religious symbolism? That they are handicap accessible? I think not.

the pergolas

A true healing garden has an indescribable sense of place.   It holds enough magic, mysticism and memory to make an 80 year old stroke victim jump a stone wall and trespass in order to sit in its ruinous state.

Now, blessedly, I have on my hands, the restoration of this particular place.  I am still trying to understand its appeal and meaning.   Yes, it has twee statuary (and some less so), it has some sort of symbolism in the layout (though I am yet to fully understand it), it has extraordinary vistas, and even an auspicious location, but I am beginning to think that the secret of its spirit is most likely found in the original purpose of Ayurveda.

It is a garden that is  not just content to improve the health of one individual, but is also designed to help create a healthy society.  It is a belief that each truly healthy individual contributes to producing a disease-free and peaceful, well-adjusted community, society and world.  I think Clara believed this deeply.  I think that true health can be had in a garden.  Which has me thinking that perhaps every garden, if looked at the right way, is a healing garden.

Make sure your check out more Garden Designers Roundtable-ers and their posts about Healing Gardens.

Naomi Sachs : Therapeutic Landscapes Network : Beacon, NY

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

Ivette Soler : The Germinatrix : Los Angeles, CA

Jenny Petersen : J Petersen Garden Design : Austin TX

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK