how to make a stick fort www.studiogblog.comToys that leave something to the imagination are hard to come by.   Even harder are those that actually aim to encourage your kids to go outside and make something original.  So when I stumbled across stick-lets I immediately pre-ordered a couple sets (they are already sold out and so you will have to wait until april to get your delivery).  I am pretty sure that my spring prunings will be put to good use with the aid of these clever do-dads.

how to make a stick fort

All you have to do is twist and thread found sticks and twigs into the rubber grips – even child can do it  (oh yeah – they are for kids) to fashion whatever fort you can imagine.

how to make a stick fort

But am I the only one who is wondering what other garden function I might be able to use these for?  Maybe espalier-ing trees?  Or making growing frames?  Got any other ideas?  When I get mine I plan to play a little too — If I come up with some good ideas, I will let you know.

how to make a stick fort

images from stick-lets. 



Hundertwasser house in vienna austriaCatching a glimpse of this picture on Pinterest, I was immediately inspired to learn more about the building and artist who created it.  What a find to learn about architect -artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and the Hundertwasser House in Vienna, Austria.

As a child Hundertwasser and his mother (who was Jewish) posed as Christians to avoid persecution in the time leading up to WW2.   As a result he later developed an anti-totalitarian position and art historians postulate that an early fear of square marching battalions may have led him to oppose any “geometrization” of people and their architecture.

I find this kind of influence on an artist fascinating.

underground highway
Some of his designs (like this one for an underground highway that’s aesthetically pleasing in addition to being quiet, maximizing land use, and providing trees to filter out noxious chemicals) are remarkably thoughtful and inventive in a modern context.

hundertwasser house plan

But what inspires me most about him is his environmental activism and creative conviction. His Mould Manifesto laid out two things:  “Your window right — your tree duty.”  He believed that planting trees in an urban environment was to become obligatory: “If man walks in nature’s midst, then he is nature’s guest and must learn to behave as a well-brought-up guest.”   The Window Right stated that : ‘A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm’s reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm’s reach. So that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardised man who lives next door.'”  (he is man after my own HOA-hatin heart)

I also find it both heartening and dis-heartening to realize that greener buildings, vertical gardens and vegitecture, and the ideas behind them are not all that new or trendy.  I sometimes have such optimism that as designers we are beginning to address environmental challenges, but then when I realize that colleagues from 40 or 50 years ago were also doing the same (in this case, planting trees in buildings!) I wonder if we are making actual progress or if it just feels like it?  What do you think?

- Rochelle

Images from wikipedia, Tinas blog, and exchange connect.




garvan garden chapel

Completed and dedicated in 2006, the Anthony Chapel, designed by Jennings + McKee is the new star of the Garvan Gardens.   Garvan Gardens is located on the shores of Lake Hamilton and is the creation and gift of Verna Cook Garvan.

From the Garvan Gardens website:

“The site for Garvan Woodland Gardens was purchased in the 1920’s after a clear-cut in about 1915. Mrs. Garvan loved this beautiful place so much that she never allowed it to be cut again. In 1956 she began to develop it as a garden and possible future residence. She was intimately familiar with the land and laid out each path, marking every tree to be removed. Verna also personally chose each new plant and selected its location.

Over the next forty years, Mrs. Garvan planted thousands of specimens which now form an impressive collection. There are hundreds of rare shrubs and trees, some over 40 years old.”

The Anthony Chapel is an extraordinary work of art that highlights the beauty of the natural elements and the dense woods that surround it. The soaring 57-foot, open-rafter ceiling, supported by massive pine columns and crossbeams and provides beautiful views of Lake Hamilton.  It reminded me immediately of the Wayfarers Chapel (built by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son) near where my in laws live in Palos Verdes, CA.  It is unsurprising since both have an FLW connection.

Upon her death, Mrs. Garvan left the property to the Department of Landscape Architecture through the University of Arkansas Foundation. ,

It was Mrs. Garvan’s wish that the Gardens be used to educate and serve the people of Arkansas, providing them the joy and repose it had offered her. She noted the devastation of the environment that had taken place in her lifetime and wished to preserve a remnant of the twentieth century’s natural grandeur for generations to come.

image from the becker

design mom french tree house garden

Envy is almost getting the best of me.  One of my favorite regular bloggers has recently gone on an adventure that I long to embark upon (again) myself.  In February, Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom moved her family to France for a year.  In addition to her regular posts, she is also now sharing the adventure.  The whole story sparks my ingrained wanderlust and makes me long to do the same.  It’s almost too much.  And then I saw this.

tree house window covers

This tree-house is an ‘unexpected discovery’ that until they arrived at their new house in France, they didn’t know existed.  Talk about a perk on top of pretty present. I just don’t think I can take it!!

cressonnier treehouse france scallopped trim

The owners of the house (the Blairs are renting) built the little house without buying anything.  Everything was found on-site, scavenger for or picked from nearby woods.  I love that it came with a key collection and a tea set already in side.  And a ‘frame’ for the view.
frame hanging near the treehouse to frame the view

If these images aren’t enough make you envious too, Gabrielle has even more treehouse images over on Design Mom.  And if you long for this sort of thing too, you can make yourself sick with envy as well by reading about the whole France adventure.

I am drooling over the Yestermorrow Design Build School and though it is almost the end of January, I have a new, new years resolution.

I will attend a class of some sort (at the yestermorrow school or likewise) and learn a new hands on do it myself building technique.

the yestermorrow school vermont design build course

image from the cleaner plate club.

As I peruse the course offerings of the Yestermorrow school (in the Mad River Valley of Vermont), I am intrigued by the Earthen Oven building course, the art of  stone working course (with my new crush Thea Alvin), or maybe I will learn to make a willow canoe, or participate in the yurt design/build class.  My head is swimming with the excitement of possibilities.

yestermorrow school treehouse

Tree house built by in a past class my yestermorrow students. Image from Blushing Pretty.

Care to get your hands dirty and learn something exciting? Check out Yestermorrow and let us know in the comments if and when you decide to attend.

yestermorrow armadillo houseThe armadillo house built by past yestermorrow students. Image from Tiny House Talk.

Which should be the before and which should the the after? I decided, finally, to go with the more encouraging version. While it is snowy and beautiful now, it will turn green and just as beautiful again soon.

before and after winter summer treehouse

before and after winter summer treehouse

Tree house belongs to, and was photographed by stocksundgarden.

treehouse inspiration

I found it!! ….This is the inspiration shot that is helping me get my head around the upgrades we plan to make to our tree house this year.   Until I saw this, I didn’t realize how much ‘foundation’ plantings could add to a tree house — a place with no true foundation.  Also, in the spirit of cost effective and simple solutions, I love that this house really doesn’t have walls — just bamboo shades and breezy curtains that can be brought in for the winter.   We are discussing our roof architecture but I am so excited that we all agree that this is just what we want and that is a huge achievement for this family of four with widely differing opinions.