Tuesday, March 31, 2009

COMING HOME: VANISHING THRESHOLD

Often when I'm hired, during the initial phone conversation, a client will say, I hate coming home. A sentiment understood. I, too, used to hate coming home. What changed? Jung, Life is about getting our outside to match our inside.
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It's literal & metaphorical.
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CHOOSE TO LIVE A CERTAIN WAY. Garden & home flowing in a Vanishing Threshold of beauty-energy-grace with life.
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Above, so rare. A magazine shot of an interior in vanishing threshold with its landscape. Peek out windows & doors of interior magazine shoots. Closely. You'll notice they've airbrushed the outside view.
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Vanishing Threshold begins in thought, then inside your home, then outside in the landscape. In that order.
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Landscapes begin inside the home. Not outside.
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Photo, above, is a masters class in Vanishing Threshold. It didn't happen by accident. The owner CHOSE to make it happen. Why don't you?
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara
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Thank you La Dolce Vita for posting this pic from Traditional Home.

Monday, March 30, 2009

LANDSCAPE PHARMACOLOGY: TREES

A Scottish study concluded, living in eyesight of a landscape extends life. Not gardening. Seeing. How much better seeing a beautiful landscape? Landscape pharmacology? If musical pharmacology exists, so does landscape pharmacology.
When beautifully landscaped gardens surpass their owner, what survives? Trees.

Creating a landscape? Begin with what it will end with. Trees.
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How the French do trees: a large variegated leaf tree, a weeping tree, a large cone shaped evergreen tree, a burgundy foliaged tree. At the minimum.
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In my garden today, above, cherry tree (pink) & Chinese snowball.
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For a couple of weeks I'll be living, in a subdivision, amongst beauty dating past centuries of Chinese scrolls. And the beauty is alive. Not a scroll painting.
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Without modesty, I'm hearing in my head, Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, I DID IT.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Sunday, March 29, 2009

FETE IN THE GARDEN

Unbeknownst to me, while designing en plein air, CORPORATE WOMAN, was preparing a fete. Several salads, cheeses & breads served on antique blue/white platter with antique sterling. Enjoyed in the garden swinging on her daybed from the ancient oak.
My hat landing in the the meadow at our feet. Violets blooming at the brim. Appreciating the sublime. When life is a still life.

Appreciating her DEAR HUSBAND who lovingly takes the cushions in/out for her. Without being asked.


Choosing carefully where to place the bacchanalia. Laughter, sun, soft spring air, life, fragrance, timelessness, discussing the garden plan, sharing life stories.



A gift CORPORATE WOMAN shared with me, her joy. Her love of family, home, food, books, antiques, travel, art, story telling, and her garden.
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Humbling.
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Am I fully realizing the joys in my life, and sharing them?
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Saturday, March 28, 2009

DON'T PLANT THE POTS

EXTERIOR WALLS SHOULD BE 3-D IN AREAS. A wall fountain, a birdhouse, exquisite shutters, espaliered plants, a vine, art. Whatever ties in with your interior design. Low maintenance, above, means don't plant the pots.
..............HOW?
* In the 1/2 face use an artful arrangement of pine cones + Spanish moss.
* Put a bonnet on the woman with an arrangement of dried hydrangeas + spike of dried
butterfly bush blossom.
* Give the bearded man a circa 1960's NASA crew cut of clipped twigs from a nearby tree.
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You get the idea. I'm curious what you've come up with.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara



Friday, March 27, 2009

WHY DO MEN STOP WOMEN FROM GARDENING?

More than a handful of women have 'SECRETLY' hired me to design their landscape. WHY? Why do men stop women from gardening? Mostly they don't want their lawn changed. What is the most harmful feature of American landscapes? THE LAWN. Fertilizer, chemicals, water, gas powered lawn-mower. What are the other reasons? Change. Not wanting change.
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LOVELY called for a design and explained she & PRICKLES, her husband, were retired. PRICKLES is always home. How could she hide me? We covertly planned lunch. PRICKLES, LOVELY & I had a delightful lunch, and as expected, PRICKLES went to the basement to play on his computer. LOVELY & I walked her garden and I did her landscape design. With feverish searching eyes LOVELY scanned her kitchen & family room for signs of PRICKLES before paying me in cash.
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PEONY wanted a landscape design & told me up front her husband, GOLFER, must never know. Could I come during a very specific time? PEONY had a lovely landscape but wanted a good tweaking. Knowing his golf schedule she timed my landscape design to the minute. With feverish searching eyes, and paying cash, PEONY made sure I was out of her driveway 1/2 hour before GOLFER was due home.
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CHEF recently bought a circa 1960's home on acreage. The previous owner's landscape crew, TESTOSTERONE ON WHEELS, showed up. CHEF told them how she wanted it done. No ma'am that's not how it's really done, they said. CHEF said, Well, there's a new sheriff in town. Weeks later, CHEF asked TESTOSTERONE ON WHEELS, again, to mow according to her tastes on her property. You know where this is going don't you? TESTOSTERONE ON WHEELS was summarily fired.
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When I began to garden COLLEGE BOY said, You can't do that. Like an idiot I listened. After 3 years of 'partially' gardening, with fabulous results, I began to garden in earnest. Without telling COLLEGE BOY anything I began to garden from my soul. In exchange I do all the gardening myself and pay for it myself.
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More stories but this post is already too long.
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What have we done, as a society, to let anyone (male or female) think they can stop another person from gardening?
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Thursday, March 26, 2009

AND THEY LOOK THIS GOOD? FREE DESIGN

Look closely. A pair of picnic tables create this dining room. Design for any budget.
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Why is this garden room inviting?
* Timeless
* Speaks, Welcome, without words
* A shady respite
* Seating
* Complete room: (ceiling) canopy & understory trees, (walls) of shrubs in contrasting foliage
colors/sizes, (flooring) of gravel
* Works for one or a group
* Outdoor ceiling fans on 6"x6" posts can be added to keep mosquitoes away
* Copied, it will be unique at each site
* Not too big, not too small
* Low maintenance
* Can't find matching tables or chairs? Copy the French: paint or stain everything the same color

Pic from Velvet & Linen

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AKEBIA VINE & SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT

Akebia vine is blooming. Pretty but not showy. It's FRAGRANT. With akebia blooming, I feel like a dear friend has returned. A once a year fragrance, akebia flowers aren't sold during the rest of the year, that I know of.
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Is this what the SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT is about? Creating a sense of drama, desire, appreciation. Skip the eco, carbon, sustainability, la-ti-da.
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Savoring smells, tastes, textures.
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Giving up the world of choice and gaining the world within the fragrance of akebia.
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Akebia quinata - 5 leaf akebia, zone (4)5-8. Plant only 1. They like to have SEX.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A GATE IN THE FENCE

A 15' span of fence received a gate. Instead of the woodland path dead-ending into the fence it continues thru a new entryway. Above & below, with my back to the new gate the camera shoots along the woodland path.
Below, turning my back toward the chair (above) while feet stay in the same spot, looking thru the new gate into my backyard.


Below, viewed from upstairs the chair is a focal point from many axis.

Larger leafed azaleas are tougher than small leafed azaleas.


Above, azaleas following the focal point rule, Just Let It Touch.
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Garden Goal: standing still shoot a garden picture to the left, then shoot a garden picture to the right. Your garden must be both directions beautiful.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Monday, March 23, 2009

TUB: A PREDILECTION

Found online this pic has seared itself into my brain. Seared with further design. In my mind's eye there are 5 claw foot tubs under the tree. A small table, with dinner-wine, at each tub. I'm in one of the tubs & girlfriends are in the rest.
We are talking-sharing-savoring: the tree, the art, night, fireflies, fragrance, sound of bats, each other, floating, comfort, nurturing, laughter, ideas, joys, lessening of sorrows, epiphanies, being silly, gathering strength, being tender, knowing we will leave the evening enriched-changed-more completely ourselves.
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Top pic anonymous at the moment. Anyone know? Send it to me.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Sunday, March 22, 2009

CREATING MYSTERY

The average landscape is seen at a glance. BORING. Fabulous landscapes share a trait: MYSTERY.
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Fabulous landscapes delight the eye and tease the intellect.
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With eye & intellect engaged feet follow. Is your landscape doing this?
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Above, through my camellias a hint of the terrace. Beckoning, Come see me.
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Once at the terrace, Where will you be beckoned next?
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And you know you will be, don't you?
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Saturday, March 21, 2009

FRAGRANCE OUTSIDE MY WINDOW

Outside my office window, top left, viburnum x burkwoodii are arraigned in white glory. Faithful friend each year. Hearkening spring, honoring winter. Their fragrance seductive, evocative, redolent. My birthday is very soon, ha. When the viburnum blooms I know I've made it another year. Throughout the year, many birthdays as various plants come into peak. My 'real' birthday pales in comparison.
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Blue blossoms near the viburnum? Hydrangea 'Anna Belle' with leftover spray paint. Sometimes being silly in the garden works.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Friday, March 20, 2009

PLANT CONTORTED FILBERT INTO YOUR LIFE

Catkins are hanging gold now. Backlit by the morning sun. CONTORTED FILBERT is winter's focal point in the landscape. My Contorted Filbert is the best on the North American Continent. Truly. But more important, my Contorted Filbert is an old soul in my life.

If I've done one thing right in my life it's having Open Garden in Winter, passing along Contorted Filbert.


Planted without knowledge, simply a Plant Crush, my Contorted Filbert quickly outgrew its space. With no heart to move a vigorously happy plant I pruned Contorted Filbert up from the bottom.
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Its contorted trunks are naked for 5'. Capping at 15' in a bower of curly branches overhead as you walk my woodland path.
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This tree makes me understand the DRUIDS.
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Contorted Filbert is something you should do for yourself. It's zone 4-8, (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'.)
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Thursday, March 19, 2009

TEA & PEE or PEE & TEA?

Always, but always, take the tea&scones option when touring European landscapes. You'll experience more axis in the landscape. Life is good when the sign, below, greets you. Your biggest decision of the day will be, Do I tea first or pee first? Really good days include this decision 2-3 times. Did you know scones on a garden tour in Europe have ZERO calories?


Stopping in quaint villages, for lunch, en route to more gardens requires an action plan. Choose food you can eat from your hands while walking. This will get you into every junk shop, thrift store and antiques purveyor in a tiny village.
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If you're really serious about lunchtime shopping stash food & napkins in your pockets. All of your time will be spent traipsing junk shops and getting pics.
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But of course darlings, I took the pic, above, in England last January while lecturing. Eating & walking in this Cotswolds village I came away empty from the shops but did get some pics.
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Frivolous? No, it's part of wringing every moment from a study tour of landscapes in Europe.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

POTTING SHED? POTTING COTTAGE!

CAREER WOMAN had a Potting Shed vision. I think she created a Potting Cottage. Field gathering old windows & doors give the new Potting Cottage sweet charm. And it's not even complete.

Particular, CAREER WOMAN, wanted a chalkboard wall & she left directions for shelving.

A gorgeous, fit, fabulous & about to be 60 this year, CAREER WOMAN, set the brick flooring herself. Alone.



The sink, above, will drain into the garden. Yes, a garden hose instead of plumbing.


I wonder how many plates will be hung in the Potting Cottage.

And she served an impromptu lunch. Mushroom & arugula soup, salad with incredible tomatoes for March, tofu and fresh vinaigrette. A delightful Merlot.............
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I'm designing landscape bones, placing misc. focal points & 9 incredible urns.
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Driven? CAREER WOMAN is possessed!
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Once the Potting Cottage is complete you will get the pics. And I'll get you the specs.
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Just in case.........you want one.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DOUBLE AXIS: SINGLE SHOT

DOUBLE AXIS: if you have a focal point bench, below, you must have a focal point to view while sitting on the bench. If you have a focal point folly, below, you must have a focal point to view while in the folly. DOUBLE AXIS is a Tara Landscape Design Rule. It's also my invention. I shot this DOUBLE AXIS at Bodnant Garden in North Wales.
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The DOUBLE AXIS, above, is also an ENFILADE. A view thru to a view. From the bench, or folly, your view is across lawn, over pond, thru a double flowering shrub/perennial border.
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Studying historical landscapes gave me the DOUBLE AXIS epiphany. Also, my mentor, Margaret Moseley. She's now 92 years old. Wherever you go in her garden it's a double axis.
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Spanning 2 decades of symposia + college degree I've never heard anyone lecture about creating the DOUBLE AXIS or ENFILADE.
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Yes, I am this nerdy. DOUBLE AXIS + ENFILADE have been in plain view for centuries. It is incredibly satisfying to isolate them as important functions of landscape design. And don't give me the, I-don't-have-money-for-it, routine. Visit my landscape or scroll backward in this blog to see pics of my garden. I do my own gardening and my budget, ah well that's a laugh. An important laugh. If I can do DOUBLE AXIS + ENFILADES on my minuscule budget,

YOU CAN.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Monday, March 16, 2009

DESCRIBING LANDSCAPE DESIGN ELEMENTS

Winter's landscape in England last January. Why does it look good in the depths of winter? Thoughts on this tiny space:
* Mostly evergreen. Serene landscapes use evergreens as a chief element.
* Repetition: color, line, evergreens, hardscape brick.
* Overdosing a theme: faded green wood topiaries.
* Drawing the eye to the sky with the focal point topiaries enlarges the space.
* Repetition of balls on topiaries to match ball on brick column.
* Vertical lawn on backdrop brick wall adds lushness & feeling of more space.
* Contrasting textures of foliage.
* House provides canopy layer.
* Plants on the house provide understory layer.
* Low maintenance allows good maintenance.
* A sense of who the owner is.
* Element of control, Man over Nature.
* Element of wild nature with some plants spilling over the brick wall.
* Element of mystery. What will be blooming later?
* Clean visual line of house, low wall, column.
* No stupid sign saying, Welcome. (Thank God.)
* Nothing cute.
* Sense of timelessness.

A little garden. Did you know it held so much DESIGN?
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Sunday, March 15, 2009

MENTORING: LUNCH

Mentors & lunch have been a pair in my life for decades. Lunches at their homes, inside and in the garden. Paying it forward is so rich it feels selfish. Last Friday I invited CLOWN to lunch. A stressful career explains her hobby donning a clown outfit and visiting local children's hospitals. She asked for a circus theme.

CLOWN has a swimming pool she uses in her backyard but she's not interacting with her landscape. CLOWN plays drums & clarinet too. Yet her personality and lifestyle aren't stamped into her landscape.


CLOWN commented about the 'drama' I bring to the smallest details. Laughing because she said it came out wrong. Meaning it is happy drama I've touched things with.



Tara Landscape Design Rule: Overdose on a Theme.
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Each of my mentors had overdosed on a theme. I'm shameless about taking ideas where I can get them.
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What's your passion. Is it strange, weird? That's what your theme is. Don't hide your passions.
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That's what mentors gave me, PERMISSION, to be me.

Cooking for CLOWN, a pleasure. Lemons, above, in the antique pitcher before heading outside to the compost pile. Wanting my compost pitcher to be as pretty as the Spode dishes on my table, the camellias blooming outside and more.


CLOWN did laugh at my happy little dramas. She got it. I can't wait to be invited to lunch in her circus themed landscape. When that invitation comes, and it will, I know CLOWN will be interacting with her landscape. Her home-garden-life, finally, together.
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What are your passions? Would I know it by looking at your landscape?
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How are you using your passions and landscape to nurture yourself?
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Why is this stuff important? A vanishing threshold of life-home-landscape will diminish sorrow & increase joy.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Friday, March 13, 2009

SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE: FREE LANDSCAPE DESIGN

At the opening of Something's Gotta Give I was enjoying the dialogue, scenery & Jack Nicholson. Then they pulled into the LANDSCAPE. Forget Jack. At first glimpse, in the driveway, I knew the landscape was a masters class. Landscape simplicity is for the brave & daring. Only the Italians seem to consistently get it right.

I have to see interiors to design landscapes. Above, I see: white hydrangeas, blue salvias & blue hydrangeas, 1 antique rose to match the soft pink pillows and 3-4 asclepias (butterfly weed) to match the orange in the painting. Placing the asclepias to look as if a bird planted them. Patio furnishings match interior seating: pair of benches, pair of chairs, huge coffee table, 4 end tables.

The dining room, above, again shouting: white & blue hydrangeas. Use them in drifts, not mixed.
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Evergreen hedges are indicated by the built in bookcases & breakfront. In Atlanta I would use sasanqua. Choose whatever is delicious in your zone.
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Interior rooms prove, Elegance is refusal. It's also serene.
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara
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pics via Columbia Pictures, Joni at Cote de Texas has an incredible post about the interior of this house.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

B&B DESIGN

A 1910 B&B in Highlands, NC. I designed the landscape yesterday. Vanishing threshold with furniture choices, paint colors, summer house, stone paths, and more. Highlands is at 4118 feet. No need for air-conditioning. Ever.

I'm shameless about requesting lunch. We ate outside overlooking the Allee.



Breakfast room and many others overlook the Allee too.


Details, below. Calming.........

Rebuilding the porch, below, the way it was originally built.


Overlooking the Allee & designing, below. (I'm not that fat, I have on 3 shirts.) The hat is crushable & 100% uva-b proof from San Diego hat company.



Rooms are on 3 floors of the B & B



All rooms are en suite as ads in England like to say about having a private bath.



Above, this room had my favorite bathroom with a clawfoot tub overlooking the ALLEE.


Each room unique.

The floors, below. Such integrity.

Still in my pink toenail phase. Who can pass up pink toenail mojo???


Owners, Rick & Helene, of 4 1/2 Street Inn, are DIY. I can't wait to see their landscape & vanishing threshold unfold over the next 2 years.
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4 1/2 Street Inn is in the Blue Ridge mountains,aka, Great Smoky Mountains & the Appalachians.
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The Bartram Trail, yes the William Bartram, naturalist, passed near the Inn as did De Soto. The Nantahala National Forest is here too.
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Growing up on Galveston Bay I only knew a climate that was an assault. In Highlands the air is soft and nurturing. An attraction since first going there in 1981.
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Rick said, This is a healing place.
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I wonder if it's The Power of Intention left from the Indians...............?
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Garden & Be Well, XO Tara