In the past I have written about the mothership company Urban Outfitters (UO) and their deep ties and interest in gardens. Anthropologie which is probably their best know store uses gardens extensively in their shoots and they are so enamored with gardens and ‘garden style’ UO has opened Terrain. Well the namesake store Urban Outfitters is following the trend. Their latest catalog makes full use of an amazing estate both inside and out (if you know what property it used in the shoot please let me know). I think this shines a lot of hope on our future in the garden. Were you ever hit with images in a popular, hip and trendy way when you were a teenager? Is this helping the current teenage generation develop an intrinsic love for gardens and quality design? Lets hope so!!
Richard Cameron founded Ariel in 2004 and has done nothing but push forward since. I discovered the firm through the Institute of Classical Architecture where he is the director of their education program during his free time. The presentations they are putting together for their clients stand in stark contrast to the flashy computer generated graphics that have seemingly become the only relevant way to illustrate. Ariel’s hand drawn and watercolor graphics prove to me that sleek and modern computer graphics are not the only option out there. I have always been fascinated by and jealous of those that have the ability to convey their ideas on paper in this fashion and these are some of the best. You’ve got to visit their portfolio on their webpage to really see what they are doing. I have also attached a quote that I pulled off of Ariel’s blog by Renzo Mongiardino that is the perfect encapsulation of a large project that so many people don’t understand.
“Occassionally the model intimidates the client. Then faith must be stronger than understanding, and only a vague intuition allows the work to begin favorably. But it is difficult for the client to understand the vision of the artist. Envisioning the finished work is not always easy for the architect, and it is almost always impossible for the client. Unlike the painting to be bought, or clothing, food, and the many other choices available to people – choices made on the basis of finished materials – the decision about the new house lies in the future, is based on credit, on the model (drawings), on agreements. The finished product is a surprise. Only faith can reward the client. After that critical moment is overcome, sometimes what emerges is the satisfaction of finding smooth solutions and natural resolutions to every uncertainty. The room responds to the client’s way of life.”
Renzo Mongiardino, Roomscapes
Aside from my job and passion for garden design cooking and food plays a very close second. I have been watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution as he works with the town of Huntington, WV to help change there perceptions of what is good for us to eat. He is truly inspiring to watch and has me all the more motivated to keep up with producing my own food and eating well (with a busy schedule I slip for fast food way more than I would like). If you haven’t seen any of these programs check them out HERE on Hulu. If you know what he is up to and support it follow this link to sign his petition to show that you care about what is going into our kids food. As he points out, “this is the first generation that is expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parent’s”. ????? Is this something we are even going to consider let happen? So lets combine the two, plant a vegetable and herb garden with your kids so they understand the process of food. Buy your meats local and fresh and keep the crap out of their diets.
I can’t believe its almost been a month since my last post. Thankfully work is what has kept me away from here with some great projects going on and we are busier with design work than we have ever been. I have gotten a little bit of time away from the office; most notably I spent the last weekend with Daniel and Charlotte Ward of Classic Garden Ornaments who produce the Longshadow line of containers and garden ornament. Their production facilities are some of the most impressive I have ever seen and their gardens they have been developing over the last twenty years fit the site perfectly. I am especially excited to be working on a new formal garden around their house where they are just starting to add a new kitchen and conference room.
If you aren’t familiar with this company you need to be. These are truly some of the finest made containers being made. Everything is hand packed vs. poured and the difference shows upon close inspection. Here are some pictures from their property to expand on what I last posted.
When I’m looking for outdoor furniture most of what I find is complete junk! Whether it’s poorly designed or poorly constructed cheap (and I don’t just mean inexpensive, some of this crap is really pricey)furniture is a temporary fix. When I look at outdoor accessories, be it furniture, containers or garden ornament I always try to push my clients towards something that will last. Anything well designed and well built will last, I call these ‘generational’ pieces. I don’t know if I made this up or picked it up somewhere but I think it’s a perfect description for the point I am trying to convey.
When it comes to furniture there is no finer company that I have come across than McKinnon and Harris. This wonderful furniture company was founded by brother and sister William McKinnon Massie jr. and Annie Harris Massie. They have stayed true to their heritage and kept all of the production here in the US outside of Richmond, Virginia. All of the furniture is constructed of hand welded and hand shaped aluminum in their on site workshop. With a myriad of colored powder coatings to chose from and a lifetime guarantee this amazing furniture is well worth the extra expense.
I love the line in their catalog, ‘We have been dismayed at the prevalence of throw-away things in out disposable culture, and like to think back to a time when things were built to last without exception.’ To see more of their work than shown below visit their website.
Spring is here for sure. Thankfully my design firm is busier than we know what to do with, hence the great distance between my posts lately (that and all day Sunday was spent in online traffic school). Aside from myself we are all busy this time of year; hopefully in your gardens getting things ready in your perennial beds, planning new sections of your garden and getting your vegetable gardens going. No matter what you are doing don’t forget to pay attention to the details. These are the things that I always find the most enchanting about a well planned garden and it is easy to let a lot of these things slip through the cracks.
Fortunately I have found a wonderful garden photographer and blogger that is equally as obsessed with details. Nanna Byland is from Sweden and I have yet to decide, and I don’t think she has either, whether she is more interested in taking the pictures or the gardens she is photographing. She has been so kind to let me steal photos from her that I will be using off and on here to help illustrate ideas and concepts. You must visit her work HERE at funderagront.
What I have stolen from her in this instance are examples of the simple task of labeling your plants. Many people have taken this to a new level beyond the everyday plastic label and sharpie. Other than the last picture these are all Nanna’s pictures.
So many great plants coming into bloom for spring. One of the most under used and under appreciated flowering shrubs coming into bloom right now are the Chaenomeles species. These Quince are native to Japan, China and Korea. These plants are unbelievably popular in asia and especially Japan where there are whole nurseries that are devoted to nothing but hybridizing these wonderful spring bloomers (Japanese nurserymen seem to have a nursery singularly devoted to every plant). Ironically as underused as Chaenomeles are now they were widely used during the 19th century and as many plants do went out of favor over time. Left to their own accord they will reach an average height and width of 3-4′, however I keep mine trimmed on a yearly basis and maintain them at 18″.
Chaenomoles do fruit but are not the same type of Quince that are commonly used throughout the Mediterranean that is Cydonia oblonga. The fruit of Chaenomoles smells sweet but is quite bitter to taste. It can however be used as many bitter fruits to make marmalades and liquors. Here are some of my favorite cultivars.