Thursday, April 30, 2009

LAKE PLACID LANDSCAPE LECTURE: MIRROR LAKE INN

Away a week, lecturing in Lake Placid & Albany, New York. Flew into Albany, rented a car and drove to Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid. A portion of the drive was beautiful mythical Middle Earth. Chunks of ice larger than my car, emanating a sky blue from their heart, falling from stone hillsides. White birch trees yet to leaf, waterfalls flowing into lakes following the narrow 2 lane road.
.
Below, a portion of Mirror Lake Inn. Did I mention it's in the Adirondack's? I guessed there might be a bear inside, below.
Details done right, below. I typically spec new shutters into landscape designs.


My room, below, is the bay window & 2 windows facing through the trees on the same floor.


Views, below, from all of my windows were spectacular. It snowed the morning I arrived.







Another view, above, from my window. Laying in bed or the Jacuzzi tub I could see the lake and snow capped mountains.

After walking around Mirror Lake I was glad to sit, above. With age I've come to adore Adirondack chairs. Great to set a glass of wine on one arm and a plate upon the other. All while being comfortable and visiting with friends.

Thursday is my favorite New York Times edition. I went into the local library, above, and read the paper while overlooking Mirror Lake and snow capped mountains.
.
Perennially Yours was the symposium I spoke at. Kerry Mendez, garden designer, put it together for hands-on gardeners. One in particular stole my heart. At breakfast a woman said to me, I have a Japanese garden on the shore of Lake Champlain. A line to attract any gardeners attention. Her garden began the day the Korean War started. On that day she arrived, with her newly minted botany degree, in Japan. She was working for SAC, the Strategic Air Command. Japan was a 3-year stint for her.
.
Somehow I've got to get to Lake Champlain to see her Japanese garden, and her.
.
Cold zone gardening changes a person. No time to waste in a short growing season. I was the speaker but listening to stories over meals & during walks humbled me. Gave a new window into what gardening means as a companion in life.
.
Landscape design doesn't change but how it's accomplished in the pattern of a life does.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara







Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TARA'S TRINITY: AZALEAS, CAMELLIAS, HYDRANGEAS

When I knew nothing about gardening, moving into this house 22 years ago, I knew to copy a garden with matching conditions. Morning sun then shade. My Grandmother had azaleas, camellias & hydrangeas, something was blooming each day of the year. Maintenance? NILL. Beauty? EXTREME.

Can you see my A/C above? It's to the left. Why does this garden work? SIMPLICITY. The 1st rule of gardening is to COPY what works.

Alas, copying & simplicity are hard. Design tools I must relearn daily. It's human nature to want flowering plants, oodles & oodles of them.
.
Designing, I make mistakes on the side of SIMPLICITY. It's easier to add plants, not take them away. Easier to maintain and afford, too. Most importantly, landscapes are prettier when simple.
.
Simplicity is a gift. Elegance is refusal.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Monday, April 20, 2009

AFTER THE STORM

Wind killed 2 people, destroyed many homes and left more without power for days. I read the Wall Street Journal & NY Times, not the local paper. It took a few days to learn the facts. I was home last week when the winds hit at 55 mph.
When I realized the devastation of the storm I walked my garden looking for damage.

I found beauty. Winds blew Chinese snowball blossoms into hedges, along paths and onto this birdbath. My garden looked decorated for a Mexican fiesta.
.
I didn't rejoice in the beauty. I prayed.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Friday, April 17, 2009

HIGHBALL SEATING

Who designed this incredibly smart, aesthetic & comfortable couch?
.
Deep seating, perhaps it should be coined, Highball Seating?
.
Three chairs create this couch. Where will conversation, and the chairs, go on a warm evening after Highballs?
I don't even know what a highball is but this couch is speaking to me.
.
Imagine the fun of bringing this couch back to life with paint, cushion choices & fabric.
.
Wish I had a covered porch or sunroom instead of open patio.
.
This couch is a novel in 3 parts. Each narrative led by a different owner of the couch through the years. Events swirl around and upon its welcoming embrace.
.
Saw it on Easter at Scott Antique Market. It's Ian Krost's, 770-468-4525, booth outside. He sells from his home location, in Barnesville, GA, too.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Thursday, April 16, 2009

POT STORIES

Whatever your style, make sure you buy pots so wonderful they can remain empty, if you choose. Studying landscapes in Scotland I intuited the Empty Pot.
Incredibly smart idea.
.
Pots, above, were at Scott Antique Market on Easter. The vendors had no pricing and were away from their booth. Sorry I can't give the the pricing.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NEVER NEEDS PLANTING

Serious about low maintenance? About beauty? The environment?
Place on a pedestal of found bricks or stones to the appropriate height. Place on axis with window views of your home or each side of a path's entry.
.
Do these pass the estate sale question? Are these so wonderful they will be fought over at my estate sale?
.
Imagine, no watering, planting, driving to buy plants. EVER.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

KEEP THE SNAG

In landscape parlance a dead tree is a SNAG.

MOTHER NATURE is not wasteful.

Dead & dying trees are equally important as living trees. Maybe more? Dead & dying trees attract insects & fungi which attract song birds. Earth's eco system, a portion.
.
If a dead/dying tree isn't a threat to safety keep it.
.
Above, my red bud tree, SNAG, lasted 6 years. It danced with the birds outside my breakfast room window during that time.
.
Who knew, dead & dying trees are precious.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Monday, April 13, 2009

ARTIST CATHERINE BROOKS

Girl Crush: Catherine Brooks. In a crowd of hundreds last week lecturing in Richmond, VA a woman flamed. I was the moth.
.
Energy crackling from eyes, that smile, the glow of skin, & a pulsating current around her. Hair matching the pansy brooch. The clothes & jewelry. Body language? Confidence, joy, a knowing of life.
.
I met her, it's all a blurrrr, by grabbing her hands & gushing. She's an artist. Some of her work here. Then, as only real life can be, she said it was her Mom I was wanting to meet. Yes? Her Mom, Kathy Brooks, landscape designer, had emailed me ahead of the lecture asking me to mention vegetable gardens. Small world?

From head to toe Catherine Brooks is an artist. And her work? Gorgeous.
.
Enjoy.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Sunday, April 12, 2009

OF GARDENS & EARTHQUAKES

From the NY Times yesterday, Milko Morichetti, Italian art restorer,

Without the culture that connects us to our territory, we lose our identity. There may not be many famous artists or famous monuments here, but before anything, Italians feel proud of the culture that comes from their own towns, their own regions. And when we restore a church or a museum, it gives us hope. This is not just about preserving museum culture. For us, it's about a return to normalcy.
.
Above, last week in Richmond, VA's Museum of History. Understanding Morichetti's words. Living a gardening life is my normalcy. What lifts you?
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Friday, April 10, 2009

PhD: Women's Garden Groups & Society

My PhD in horticulture topic is, THE EFFECTS OF WOMEN'S GARDEN GROUPS UPON SOCIETY: NORTH AMERICA 1770-2009.

Philanthropic arms of art & education with social networking. They bind communities. Informing the larger group of crime, deaths, births, illnesses, divorce, marriage, and etc. while making sure weeds, garbage, flowers and more are taken care of.

Impromptu matchmakers in love, career, pets, interior decorators, books, neighborhoods, vacation locations, garden designers, doctors, car, make-up, hairstylists, houses, friends, and more.

Below, I spoke at the Tuckahoe Woman's Club in Richmond, VA this week.

Women with a mission. Arts & education.

They know meetings are about expert speakers not the minutia of topics best left to a board meeting. AND FOOD.
Food. I can never resist the real action. In the kitchen. Their talk & activities are a book. How they use language, their accents, topics, laughter, hushed tones, gossip.

I look forward to the foods chosen, their silver and china.

Over 20 years of Garden Club Food have spoiled me into expecting silver & china. At all neighborhood price points.

And homemade cheese straws, below, are often on the menu.

Nuts in a crystal bowl with a silver spoon. Overkill? Perhaps, but I do enjoy the love behind it.

And their decorating. Colors, art, comfort & attention to detail. The unspoken saying so much.


Below, the tables always set up to check you in, sell a raffle ticket or other type of fund raiser.


Tuckahoe Woman's Club had something extra, the pianist.


Impromptu table, below, for my books. I learned while being the NBC-TV local garden expert to always bring props.
And their sweet marketing, below.
Tuckahoe Woman's Club has their own garden, below. Proving they're Cool Chicks, empty pots.

Pink dogwood, below, beginning to unfurl.

Visiting a private garden after the lecture, below, Mrs. Estes loves the classics

and is a serious plantswoman, the fragrant yellow magnolia, below.
The template of speaker, food, meeting kindred spirits, matchmaking, appreciating interior decorating and table settings, and touring a garden have been part of women's garden groups for decades. Seeing & understanding how communities are bound into civilization vs. chaos.
.
Learning how to be a plant society board member & president. How to choose speakers, get the money in, how to spend it as a non-profit aligning tightly with the group's mission statement. Putting together a newsletter, marketing, garden tour and attracting volunteers.
.
Wondering why companies aren't approaching these groups to market their services and products?
.
Oh, sugars, I'm not getting that PhD at the present time. Too busy living it.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

ENERGY BURSTS THE DAMN

Several women have hired me to open the plantings in front of their home. It's obvious change had occurred in their life. What? Seeing more change inside their home. Sensing a damn spilled forth. And their garden must respond. Must channel the flow. A flow of pure energy.

Below, my damn burst 5 years ago. It was obvious where to open the garden. On direct axis with the bay window. What had been a solid hedge, below, became a hedge with a permanently open gate. Robbins egg blue! Stone steps were added to the gate and front door.
Inside I made-over the mudroom. Adding antique drawers, and shelving with glass doors. Moving sets of china from the attic to the mudroom and onto the antique shelves. Organizing all of my wrapping materials into one of the large antique drawers. Putting paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils into another. Pet supplies fill the last drawer.
.
David Stevens put in the stone steps & COLLEGE BOY put in the gate. NAVY MAN from across the street helped bring the antiques into the mudroom. Ugh. I prefer my girl power but sometimes manliness is necessary.
.
And the garden. I adore going thru the Robbins egg blue gate. Even if it's only with my eyes while sitting inside.
.
What was the burst damn of energy? Don't know. As with my clients it is received with joy and honored as grace.
.
May your damn burst with energy this year.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Monday, April 6, 2009

CHOOSING A PATTERN

Your landscape should be a Vanishing Threshold with your interior. Pattern in the gravel? What to choose? Look at your: dishes, wallpaper, fabrics, art, furniture, etc. Repetition is a huge landscape design tool.
Love this gravel. Elegantly tiny and a receding brownish color. Too often gravel is too large. Large gravel looks commercial. Think parking lot. And gravel too bright, think whitish, overwhelms most landscapes becoming an unintentional focal point.
.
Oh dear, now you've seen my work shoes. Ugh. But it was important to show the the scale of some gorgeous gravel. Can you hear this gravel as I walk? It's a delight.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Sunday, April 5, 2009

IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP

Every element of the landscape must be in a relationship with each other. It's what the best landscapes have in common.
.
Do you think it's an accident the gravel drive and raised bed, below, casually touch? Why isn't there cobblestone or brick edging? Why is the focal point, above, placed exactly so? Why is the focal point of a subtle color? Why is there so much 'empty' dirt? This is a transition zone from the wild wood to the formality of the home, to the right of the gravel drive. Curious?
Each stone must be placed in relationship to the landscape. Each stone will tell you how it wants to be sited. Which is its top, side, bottom. Do stones talk to you?

As the tree grows its roots take life from the land returning beauty. Simple grace, form, function, and powerful.
.
The flowers 'just touching', and in relationship with, the stone, the tree.
.
The statue, tree, & stone, above, near the frontdoor of a home. The statue is on axis with the frontdoor. The tree, stone & flowers are subsidiary focal points to partake, if you're observant.
.
I cannot divulge this landscape. The owner has hired me to write about the home & garden. Once the owner's timeline is complete I'll trumpet details & pics.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Saturday, April 4, 2009

WHEN A MAN LOVES

Men come to gardening with single-minded love. Rapture? Mostly. Roses or hosta or conifers or ponds or daylilies or lawns or daffodils. Once seduced they want the entire landscape. Women, mostly, come to gardening wanting the entire landscape.
.
HE came to the landscape in its entirety. A few of HIS daffodils, below. HE designed the road, sculpted the trees, & planted daffodils; contoured to follow the land.
Driving with this man thru his land as he shares its stories is to share in a benediction. Not once saying 'my' land, always 'the' land. Honoring his good fortune in being its servant.
Wicked & knowing, HE made sure my trip home was perfumed with a portion of his delight in his landscape.

Little did HE know their beauty & fragrance would inaugurate a new teapot. A birthday gift from my Mom.
.
Is any of this a big deal? What is remembered thru time? A friend's love for their garden, a sweep of daffodils in spring, the gift of beautiful, fragrant flowers, a Mother's perfect gift to her child.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Friday, April 3, 2009

FOCAL POINT: CATS IN A TREE

The rule is, One focal point per area. Subsidiary focal points allowed. Subsidiary focal point example? A cast-stone cat in the trunk of a holly tree.
.
Near the frontdoor of my appointment yesterday I tried to get a pic of the stone cat. Someone got jealous.
.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara