Category Archives: Travel

Rhododendron ponticum

Rhododendron has always been one of my favorite broad leaved evergreens.  There are so few plants that have the presence in a garden as a large specimen.  What seems like many years ago now, I lived in Yalova, Turkey working at the Karaca Arboretum. During this time I was afforded the opportunity to spend a good amount of time traveling and exploring.  One of the most beautiful areas of Turkey that is under appreciated is the north eastern coast of the Black Sea.  The people and surroundings are both captivating, as well as it is the native habitat of Rhododendron ponticum. I hadn’t gone through some of these pictures in years and just found these wonderful photos.

This is my favorite picture out of the group.  How do plants that we battle to grow, amend the soil and fertilize struggle while here this massive specimen is growing out the side of a rock wall?

The Rhododendron were amazing but this monastery clinging to the side of the cliff was equally amazing.

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Filed under Rhododendron, Travel, Turkey


Today was a beautiful day with a mix of light snow and sleet and a constant 30 degrees.  This time two years ago I was in Buenos Aires and I can’t help but think how nice it is there this time of year.  The Jacaranda tree was one of the first things I saw as I left my hotel to walk around for the first time.  I was simply amazed by the mass of color that they show off and of course a mild case of plant envy ensued when I realized it wasn’t going to grow for me.  Aahhh to be there now in the warmth with the Jacaranda in bloom….

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Looking for ideas

I always look for new ideas and applications of materials while traveling.  Observation, sketching, and copious photographs while traveling should be obligatory for any designer at all times but especially while traveling; who knows when you will be able to get back to have a look at a brickwork detail or new use of a material.  I took this first picture in Milan in front of the Armani cafe (who else to look to for design ideas than Giorgio). I had seen really low and tight boxwood massing used by Russell Page and once I saw it here I knew I had to put it to use.  It is now an application that I use often.  It is akin to using the boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) as a groundcover.  It is perfect when you want evergreen structure and formality in a design without compromising or hiding the architecture.  It is almost liking creating a pediment to frame the architecture.  I use bare root liners that I purchase from a wholesale nursery but boxwood cuttings are extremely easy to propagate and this could be accomplished by a homeowner as a great experiment in propagation.  I find it works best if you let the plants root and establish for at least a year before pruning.

This was taken as we were still installing the liners two years ago.

This is two years after the installation.  The bottom still has a little bit of filling in to do but my intention is to keep this clipped very tightly.

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Filed under Boxwood Care, Garden Design, Travel

A pool to relish

This is a near perfect example of what I think a pool should be.  I always explain to my clients that the reality of a pool is that it is looked at 90% of the time and maybe used the other 10%.  This leads to the question of what do you do with it that 90%?  My answer is that it should work as a water feature; one that you happen to be able to swim in.  This is a great example of a beautiful clean lined pool.  The turf running up to the edge instead of a pool deck takes away the sense of a pool as do the details in the coping.  This is at a resort in Italy near Florence.  All of the work done here was designed and installed by a company called Paghera.  They do absolutely amazing work with clients such as the Vatican, as well as all the plans for the Palm Resort in Dubai.

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I loved the scalloped edge on the canopy!

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Filed under Paghera, Pools, Travel

Movement in the Garden

Movement in the garden is considered by many to be on of the key features in a well developed garden.  Many people implement this through a water feature or the blowing of ornamental grasses in the wind.  One of the most unusual, effective and interesting implementations of the concept was in the lakes region of Italy on Lago Maggiore on the island garden of Isola Bella.  The sites transformation from a rocky island to a palatial estate and garden began in 1632 by the Borromeo family.  The gardens were not finished until 1671 by the third generation of the family on the site under the hands of Carlo Borromeo IV.

There are many amazing and interesting features of the garden but what caught my eye and was the most exciting was the use of Pheasants.  These beautiful and colorful birds along with white Peacocks roam the garden, meandering or dashing back and forth.  Here are some of the beautiful birds in use:

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Filed under Isola Bella, Movement in the Garden, Travel

Boston Ivy

I took this picture while I was traveling in Buenos Aires last year.  There are so many reasons people will list to keep you from growing Ivy up your home or a building.  Many of these are true; it can cause damage to mortar (English Ivy is the worst).  But, I look at this building and really feel it’s fantastic.  It adds so much depth to the park in the foreground.  This is really great.DSC_0276

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Villa Lante

This is a great video on Villa Lante in Italy.  This is an amazing garden that must truly be visited to understand its breadth; however this is a great overview of the property.

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Filed under Garden Design, Travel