Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mowing Heights Matter

What's your 1st thought about the mowing, below?
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Not fair, asking from a photo's view.  Best to ask in real life, being there.  Aside from that, what is your gut instinct about the mowing, below?
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First time in a garden with this mowing, England of course, almost 30 years ago, from my DNA, I knew the mowing was 'correct'.  American mowing, just a bill of goods being sold.  Amazingly, that was enough, I never ventured further intellectually about why to mow at mixed heights, aside from less maintenance.
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Recently, about 4 years ago, I realized 'why' the mowing was correct.
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It's all about stewardship.  Mowing low- medium- tall, allows Nature to 'work'.  Pollinator habitat, healthier ornamental plants, and higher agricultural production.  Less monoculture of lawn, insects, mammals, reptiles.  Stewardship of ground water, soil microbes, ourselves.
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Since first awareness, I've called it Tara Turf.  Unique to each zone/micro-climate.
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If it's good enough for the Queen, below, good enough for me.

Royals: The Queen and Prince Philip spent their wedding night at Broadlands in Hampshire, the former home of Prince Philip's uncle, Earl Mountbatten in 1947:

Pic, above, Daily Mail.  Interesting story, I think you'll like it, history writ personal
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Garden & Be Well,  XOT

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tess: Best Employee

My best employee, is my little white van, Tess.  Built for work, and adventure, which live the same, not speed.  Uglier than a mini-van, her boot opens the same as, below, with 4 more doors pulling their duty, daily.  So ugly, she's cute.
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This week Tess hauled several huge Tea Olive, groundcovers, irrigation tubing, and a box of irrigation supplies.  Tea Olive foliage wrapped the top of my seat, embracing my neck lightly for a quick hour until I could meet the guys, and they unloaded.
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Tess carried home a beautiful pair of vintage Brown Jordan patio chairs, ca.1950, this week.  Finally, my turn to own Brown Jordan.  No worries, they were at the curb on garbage day.
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Later in the week, I got Tess into a pickle, which she's still in today.  Meeting with our stone mason at a jobsite, just before leaving, he asked if I wanted a large fieldstone he had leftover from another client.  "Show it to me.", I said.  Walking to the back of his truck, it was instantaneous, That Stone, perfect to use as a step into my shed in the Orchard.  How quick the greedy brain works.
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Here's the pickle.  No manly help at home for a few days.  The stone weighs close to 300lbs.  How to get the stone out, without hurting Tess?  After today's appointment I'll try a piece of particle board at the bumper, pushed under a lip of the stone, hop into Tess, and push the stone onto the particle board, and hopefully 'out', without denting/scratching the bumper.  That's the game plan.  Until then, the stone will continue riding shotgun for a couple more appointments.  Yes, I'm brazen enough to think I can do this at the door to the shed, and the stone is 'mostly' positioned.  Already graveled at the shed, I may be able to sit on the gravel, and push the stone into perfect position with my feet.
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At the front end, totally aware of the humor, knowing the end of this story may include waiting for manly help.  Oh, the dread of that.  More than getting the stone out, I want to have created an easy way to get it out, on my own.  Plan B, my neighbor has a wench.        

Impromptu farm stand:

Pic, above, here.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Tess is always loaded with work baskets, measuring wheel, drawing board, folding table/chair too, my mobile office.
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Tess?  Never drove a car with a name before.  Driving her off the lot, overwhelmed with all the 'new', I took a pause at the dealership, to study my new surroundings.  My saleslady came over to see if everything was ok.  Told her I felt awkward, she offered to drive me home in the van, with another employee following, she knew I lived 45 hard traffic minutes away.  Wasn't about to let that happen, but totally appreciated the gesture.  Driving slowly away, unbidden, a 'voice' came to mind, "Tess will get you home."
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Blue Hill Farm

Blue Hill Farm, below.
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What a pic.  Full monty, sustainable agriculture & ornamental horticulture.  Can you label what you're looking at, below?  Can you discuss, cocktail chatter, what it takes to put this garden together, how it lives as part of your life, how it is sustainable, what the ornamental horticulture does to the agriculture, why it has a civic duty component, how it can lower HVAC expenses, how it can raise residential property value?
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In USA, colleges have 2 degree tracks.  Horticulture vs. Agriculture.
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Enough, won't go full monty now.  Just enough for your cocktail chatter.
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Maximum pollinator habitat is high density next to low density, meadow beside woodland.  Another validation, as if needed, life happens most richly in the margins.
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But why?  What am I nattering about?
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When crops are grown with maximum pollinator habitat, production yields rise by 80%.  Do the math.  Instead of getting 1,000 pounds of produce, you're getting 1,800 pounds with the same amount of effort.
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There is more, but for now, a little cocktail chatter is fine.  Pic, below, is an entire class, about living within an agricultural landscape married to its ornamental horticulture.  


lincoln-blue-hill-stone-barns-habituallychic-008

Pic, above, here.
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This pic has a great story, it's not from a 'gardener', but a fashion/luxury branding personality, Habitually Chic.
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Think you can't have, above, don't own farmland?  Happily you're wrong.  My 30 year garden had every layer, above, and clocked in at less than 8,500sf, in a subdivision.
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If you have time, take the Blue Hill Farm link, scroll to the bottom, enjoy their month/month listing of their crops, livestock, cellar & more.  Exactly the type of stuff I'm wanting to know for my own ca. 1900 American farmhouse.  And that information does not exist yet.  Within the realm of how I'm wanting it.  Life is good, a well trod learning curve.  Personalized.  For me to discover.
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Garden & Be Well,    XOT

Monday, July 18, 2016

How Chickens Came to be Garden Designers

Notice the small evergreen hedging, below, along the gravel?  Thought low hedging was done as a garden design element, in the beginning, as in at least before the era of Christ, literally.  Then, I had a client with a cutting garden.  I did the classic potager shapes, large boxwoods at all the corners, brick edging, gravel paths, but no low hedging, wanted it easy to walk into for cutting flowers.  Unfortunately, it was easy for the chickens to walk into also.  Where was the best place on the chickens 300 acre farm to scratch & kick & toss dirt onto gravel paths?  The decision to hedge-in the cutting garden beds was made and planted.  It worked, chickens don't walk into the cutting garden beds anymore.  And, we had a good laugh, realizing where the garden design conceit came from, boxing-in plantings with low hedges.

vignette design:

Pic, above, here.
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An odd thing about chickens and old gardens, are old garden books.  In all my years collecting old garden books, none write about chickens in the garden.  Interesting.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Terra Cotta Inside

Bringing in a live plant in a terra cotta pot, is exactly that, bringing in life.  More, it's an interior design concept centuries old.
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Planted pots brought from my previous garden are not an option, they are gorgeous but several hundred pounds each with their soil/plant.
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For months I've been on the prowl for suitable plants for staging at least 20 terra cotta pots.  Of course the prowl has been one of convenience, already going into L, H, W, for other items.
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Aside from knowing it's time for Susanne Hudson & I to split another order of various ivy topiaries, I suppose it's my past, those 5 years at 2 nurseries with incredibly fascinating selection.  Nope, don't want anything less.  When I bring my terra cotta pots inside, a rotating selection, I want to have fun making the next round of choice, and once inside, the terra cotta pots must make me smile.
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One of the nurseries sold out, the other still hanging on, it has an FTD side too.
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I'm still in Atlanta most weeks with design work, or a job installation.  I must stop at my old nursery, and buy enough 'interesting' for me & Susanne.  She has a stunning, most unusual, angel wing begonia that belonged to her grandmother, I'll take cuttings this fall.
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Glad of my terra cotta pot collection in various sizes.  Have you noticed it's become more difficult to find a range of good terra cotta pots?  Whenever I see them at thrift stores, junk shops, Ace hardware, I buy.
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Ahead of having the terra cotta pots, ready to go inside, it's a joy perusing the house for which tables, desks, side tables, buffets, to set one.  Then there's the old ironstone plate to choose to set each terra cotta pot on.
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Most fun, is having enough, to give some away.
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image:

Pic, above, here.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Not having a garden yet, it's been a year in the new house, each day the imperative grows, bringing terra cotta inside.  Upfront it seemed a simple mission.  amusing the time & paths to success.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Happy Daisies

In the early 80's a girlfriend, recent college grad like all of us, was on a motorcycle and hit head-on.  I was living in a garage apartment, working full time at a bank, paying for starter husband's masters degree, not eating dinner many nites, to save money.
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Talking with the local florist on the phone, trying to choose the perfect flowers, was tedious.  Hydrangeas were out of season said the florist.  My imagination blanked with that information.  She gave a stream of ideas.  No, no, no.  Finally, I thought how happy daisies are.  Plain daisies with their brite white petals and a plain solid yellow center, not any of the new fancy spooner daisies or etc.  Plain daisies.
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As little money as I had, it was still embarrassing to send only a pot of daisies.  But they were so happy, and spending more money for something 'appropriate' felt too depressing, compared to the happy daisies.
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Walking into her viewing, at the funeral home, the next day, well, still, I can feel it, even now typing.  But there was a brite spot.  Dozens of large expensive floral arrangements, in big wicker baskets, some on tall wire stands were arrayed as in a floral fantasy.  Yet there was 1 pot of flowers, so happy, like she always was.  The single pot of daisies I sent had been put on an antique wood plant stand, next to the coffin inches from her head.  
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Glad I listened to my heart, and not lizard brain.
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This week, talking with a friend, her 90 year old mom with Alzheimers is in a care home, probably within the past 6 months, she said, there is nothing behind her mother's eyes, no one is there.  Then she started talking about the kind of woman her mom was,  and she seemed so much like my friend, above.  I asked what her name is.  Daisy, she said.
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Immediately remembering, a few days ago, below, another amazing photograph matched to poetry, from Enclos*ure Take Refuge, by Cindy Goodson.



"See, the grass is full of stars,
Fallen in their brightness. . ."
— Marjorie Pickthall, from “Daisy Time

Pic, Floe Sallows Saunders, Floe Sallows, Emma Combs Fillman, Lottie Green Langell in a field of flowers in Bayfield, Ontario, date unknown, by Reuben R. Sallowsvia Huron County Museum & Historic Gaol Commons on flickr.
Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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Finishing college, Engineering degree, Jimmy Carter had just left office, interest rates 21%, jobs hard to find.  Worked at a bank, knew I had to leave, bored beyond measure and thought my head would explode, brains flying to the wall, dribbling slowly down.  Within a month a nursery along the 30 minute drive to work had a 'Help Wanted' sign.  Hired, gave notice, started 5 years of nursery work.  Gained another degree, Horticulture, by the time those 5 years were done, and started my own Garden Design business.  A terrible economy created my career/life path.  I would have eaten dirt off the sidewalk instead of living at home again, it was the era.  During leave taking, after 30 years with starter husband, I thought back to the several years of not eating dinner, to save money.  They added up to about a year.  A year without dinner.  Worth every meal missed, getting here.
    

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Color & Architecture's Relationship

It's outrageous what color can do, good & bad, for architecture.
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Painting or staining a fence coming off the front sides of a home, widens its architecture.  Enlarges the footprint of welcome, to the home.
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An easy concept, and wildly affordable relative to the huge impact gained.

Dark Blue Front Entrance A new metal-framed door matches the new windows.:

Pic, above, here.
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Great example, above, about purchasing a properly scaled doormat.  This poor mat, above, looks like it came from a Pin the Tail on the Donkey store.  Dinky is Stinky, is this doormat's trinity fail.  The doors are way too fabulous to be wearing this doormat.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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Dinky is Stinky is a great save, protecting you from hunting/gathering the wrong things.  Another great save, 'We're not to that layer yet.'  Both from Susanne Hudson.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Taking Historic into the Modern Realm

Clearly a master's touch, below, playing with history, cunningly modern.
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Sint-Job-In't-Goor Sleutel-op-de-deur

Whimsy, below, in the metaphor of sanctity.  What?  Taking the choice, below, to walk into the garden, you must bow your head, at the shrine of espaliered trees.
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Soon, hedging will shield the house from the outer world, flying buttresses, arc-boutant, to the nave within.
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Is your life worth anything less?
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Stewardship of self.  In all its layers.

Sint-Job-In't-Goor Pastorij


Sint-Job-In't-Goor landelijke woning

For good measure, several ball rooms planted into the back yard, above.

Sint-Job-In't-Goor achtertuin

The long hallway, above at right, a promenade, lit in the manner of le jardin rustique.  With hedging at the backyard too, another nave, a double cathedral built,
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Someone, at the top of their game, above.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T
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We are still tending structural  outdoor necessities at our ca. 1900 American farmhouse garden.  Pouring more gravel, putting in paths, lighting, plantings, must wait.  One of those 'necessities' a well.  Beloved has worked with the well diggers many times during his construction career, he trusts them.  Good, fine.  My concern is flagrantly obvious.  Where will they find water?  How will it affect designing the garden?  
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We chose similar lights, above, for a renovated shed.  Once installed, I knew those lights would be perfect for the rest of the garden, on posts along pathways.  Imagine my surprise seeing the pic, above.
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What a day I had on the old Kubota tractor yesterday.  Wounded pride, newbie mistakes.  Hilarious being an 'expert' and embarking upon a new learning curve in the garden.  Details sketchy, pride still ruffled.
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Pics from here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Vertical Lawn

Vertical lawn, below.

 :

Pic, above, here.
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Note the tiny planting pockets, above, for the vertical lawn.
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My favorite vertical lawn, residential, are espaliered woody shrubs.  No wire, no trellis, merely simple pruning once a year.
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Garden & Be Well,   XOT

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ready for Outdoor Games

What to add to your patio/deck zone?  Space for games.  In less than 5 years it is amazing how wide-spread Corn Toss has become.  What other games can you add?  It's fun having friends relax & revert to age 8, even rough housing with each other, and they're all past age 50, then the young ones, who really are age 8, pile on!


Outdoor Patio Games.:

Pic, above, here.

 Best Yard Games for Your Next Outdoor Party - Yardzee, Giant Jenga, Connect Four, Scrabble, Corn Hole, Bocce, Giant Pong and more!:

Pic, above, here.

 Backyard Horseshoes - traditional - landscape - minneapolis - by Southview Design:

Pic, above, here.

 DIY Yard Games- I love this! I've seen Jenga but it's so much fun to have options... like yahtzee!:

Pic, above, here.



Pic, above, here.
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Plastic Corn Toss, above, no worries about dragging it in/out.
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Pic, above, here.
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Twister.  Exactly.  Why don't I own Twister?  On my buy list now.
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I'm not a game playing kind of person, yet the right garden, evening, dinner, friends, kindred spirits. We PLAY.
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Garden & Be Well,   XO T

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pleasure in the Ruins

‘To delight in the aspects of sentient ruin might appear a heartless pastime, and the pleasure, I confess, shows the note of perversity.’ From Italian Hours (1873) by Henry James.

Foggy Day On Old Farm House:

Pic, above, here.
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When I was a small girl traveling to Georgia, from Texas, before I-20 was completed I never tired of seeing an old rotting farmhouse, still inhabited.  In summer, windows & doors open.  Intuitively knowing this was great poverty, the type that kills.  In particular a single worn out farmhouse remains vivid, tattered cloth spilling from an open window, and thru the open front door I could see the main room wallpapered with newsprint, a few strips hanging down and dozens of loose corners, behind them, more newsprint.  A tall gaunt man, stooped but not old, walking to the front porch, sitting in a chair.  Nothing human in his eyes excepting misery.
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I was safely in the backseat of our late model 4-door Buick Electra 225, 401 V-8 Wildcat 445, white body, white-wall tires, blue brocade seats, air-conditioning, sister/mom/dad, Argyle our standard poodle, and Puppet our toy poodle.  Dad pushing 80mph, getting us to grandma's house.  His driving, and passing, on those 2 lane roads thrilling, and terrifying.
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Looking at abandoned farmhouses now, I like to imagine the original family, and how the house & land provided a good living.  Not the last inhabitants.
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Garden & Be Well,  XOT

Friday, July 8, 2016

Picture: Garden Design Course

Pulling the gate/columns forward, below, welcomes you from the wide world into their private world, elongates the entry, and adds a foyer to the front door.  Painting the columns same as the house adds them to the footprint of the home, enlarging the home's territory.
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Painting the columns a different color, or if they were stone, still adds good features, excepting they become part of the garden, not the house.
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Great wisdom leaving the tops of the columns empty.
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Front door & light fixtures chosen well, they make the house seem taller.
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Note the gutters, below.  Copper color, not the brick color.  Well done.
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Roof, below, is like jewelry for the house.
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Repetition of square shapes, below, highlights the fabulousity of the tall round urns at the windows.  Super contrast.
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This garden design has been done for centuries.  Have seen it on several continents, and at all price points.  Done it myself, more than once.  Looks fresh & new with each reincarnation.
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Even the front door handle was chosen with care.  Drapes vs. blinds, again, well done.

/\ /\ . D. Keeley:

Pic, above, here.
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Copy, enfilade, axis, cross-axis, color, contrast, repetition, flow, welcome, focal points, ceiling, walls, floor, simplicity, has all the right Garden Design rules checked.
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I have a weakness for Garden- Design- Course in a single picture.
Garden & Be Well,   XOT