Wednesday, September 30, 2009


LOVE BOAT said, "I don't want any grass, frontyard or backyard, we need places to entertain & play, and flowers & fragrance, but most importantly, there is no time to take care of anything." A Craftsman bungalow, frontyard & backyard, are both blessedly small.
LOVE BOAT significantly enlarged their original Craftsman bungalow keeping the front architecture intact. He, of LOVE BOAT, grew up in this home. His parents, from Cuba, still live here. He & She of LOVE BOAT are in food sales, working from a home office.
He & She of LOVE BOAT have adopted several children. Children truly needing a home. Nanny lives with LOVE BOAT too. With her child. Can you believe the layers of love here?
A friend of LOVE BOAT gave me to them as a gift. Yes, more love.
LOVE BOAT used their home contractor to build their stone terraces. And the plantings? The friend hiring me worked with LOVE BOAT sourcing plants, digging, planting, mulching, watering. More love. (For low maintenance I used only shrubs, trees, groundcovers. No perennials, annuals.)
Now you know why I call this home the LOVE BOAT.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


No details dears, this is a sidewalk shooting at the edge of Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA. Great house. Nice garden. But, WHERE IS THE FOCAL POINT????????? Keep walking, oh girl of little patience. Love the house, above, contrasting forms of plants (Cone, box, horizontal, weeping, oval), contrasting foliage colors (burgundy, greens, blue), late summer blooms (crape myrtle, rose of sharon)
10 steps after wondering where the focal point was. The garden spoke.

Then I wondered, WHY 2 FOCAL POINTS ?
The rule is, One Focal Point/Area (subsidiary focal points allowed)
Perhaps from house views it is, indeed, 1 focal point/area.
The garden whisperer within says this is not the original owner. And it was the original owner who put the landscape in.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Before landscape design Sandra Jonas was an international model. A Montreal native, Sandra married and moved to Boston. Not the city Montreal is. Questioning her choices, past/present, a tree answered. Never seeing dogwoods bloom before, Sandra thought her husband attached the blossoms as a gift. Dogwood blossoms sent Sandra to Arnold Arboretum. In addition to volunteering to caretake the grounds Sandra started school & completed The Certificate of Landscape Design from Radcliffe College. Then moved to Atlanta.

Sandra, living in an Atlanta rental, searched 4 yrs for a historic home. And began her landscape design business, Recreating Eden Landscape Design. Her drive, above, in Hogansville, GA.

Nearly pristine, Hamilton House is circa 1844. The granite step, above, is from a home built during the Revolutionary War. I met Sandra when she took my class, Plant ID, at the local college.

In front, above, Sandra kept the original meadow. Adding only a few hollies for blocking a road view and thousands of daffodils from abandoned homesites. Daffodils she purchased, died.Original walls, above, 29 layers of paint removed. Sandra says, "I cannot explain how blessed I feel living here. It is humbling to know I am the steward for now. The house will go on. I will not. I feel an obligation not to change too much and pass it on to another generation historically intact."

"The house needed me to make its garden. Hope I can finish It!"

Carelessly, Sandra said, "As an aside, I started my Camellia Walk as a nice way to get to the compost area in the winter. The rest of the garden fell into place." She should have included knowing to design in axis, focal points, evergreen structure, color, line, form, texture.

Laughingly Sandra asked me if I saw, above, her lovely statue on a plinth. Until it's funded the birdbath is makin' do.

Curving off, above, from the main path, a stroke of genius, another path and a peek at the house.

See the upside down pot? St. Francis, above, is using it as a plinth. "I don't know that I have a design trick," Sandra says, "but I do find that a sharp edge between border & turf goes a long way to define a space. No matter what is planted in the border the eye is drawn to the line and leaves the calm impression of order."

A new area in the potager, above. How does Sandra design? "I always begin a landscape by carving out the different areas the client requires: a place for family gatherings, a place for the dog, an outdoor dinning area, a quiet private place for restful contemplation, a place to grow herbs for the kitchen & etc. Later these areas tell me what plants are required. If a dinning area happens to be in hot sun (because it is close to the kitchen) trees will be required for shade (or an arbor). Each area is then treated as a 'garden.' Fragrance is always important and adds yet another invisible element to the design."

A special place for the cats Sandra has lost, above, each with a cat headstone.

And a place Sandra likes to sit with her current cats & chickens.

In exchange for honey Sandra lets a beekeeper keep hives in her garden. OMG, you can taste Sandra's garden in her honey.

Sandra's plant combinations, textures-colors, are a delight.

Looking into the garden, below, from the back of her home, are bits of the potager, fruitery and pleasure walk.

See the ladder, above, it's leaning into a fruiting fig. Yes, I ate all I could grab and she sent me home with fig preserves.

True to her Montreal roots, Sandra adores France. While on a garden study tour in France she found the doorknocker, below, now at her backdoor.

"On Gardening", Sandra said, "My advice to a beginner is READ. READ. READ!! Quality garden authors are invaluable. Attend lectures & symposiums. Volunteer at a Botanical Garden, they need the help and they will teach you. Go on every garden tour possible. Sign on to a master gardener program. Get a good horticulture dictionary, Wyman's or Hortus 3rd."
I've roomed with Sandra for garden tours and symposia across America & Europe.

Sandra told me to bring an empty basket. You see, above, what she had waiting for me.
Several years ago Sandra's beautiful son, a father & husband, went to sleep and did not wake up. For almost 5 years I did not see her. She was busy with her landscape design career, and coming to terms with her loss.
The 1st bench pictured, above, Sandra named the mourning bench. It was here, in her garden, she began to heal. Walking in Sandra's garden its beauty is obvious but its strength is formidable. So is its humor.
There are many ornamental chickens wandering the grounds. Moving art!! Sandra's landscape designs,, have been on tours and in articles.
LOL at the entire model thing, above. I knew Sandra, a friendship that feeds my muse, a decade before hearing that story. Why? We're always talking gardening. Life too. Sharing laughter tempered with tears. Life is that way. So we garden.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Gardening for children? Ha, garden fully for yourself and you'll attract children.
Children easily recognize pandering, patronizing & pitiful.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara
Pics, above, taken visiting my friend Sandra Jonas, landscape designer.

Friday, September 25, 2009


I always ask for a landscape design mission statement. TRACTOR CHICK wants her home to be an extension of her landscape, not, her landscape an extension of her home. What colors do you have in your home? They will flow into your landscape.
Want an outdoor fireplace, pond, kitchen, etc? Tear out pictures.

Another designer created a mostly fabulous concept plan for TRACTOR CHICK but it had FATAL FLAWS. (That plan had the outdoor kitchen on perfect view from the front door thru the foyer-formal dining room-breakfast room-French doors. The most important view (axis) on the site. And a stream flowing uphill.)

TRACTOR CHICK knew she wanted a 2-sided fireplace & a pizza oven.

Lots of garden rooms.

Little grass.

A compost area, and potting table.

One of TRACTOR CHICK's lists, above.

Laying out strings for garden rooms, flags for trees & the bench will be, ta-da, the bench. This begins the bid phase for the project.
NOTES: Yesterday TRACTOR CHICK & I met at Smith/Hawken going-out-of-business sale for patio furnishings & urns. Great success. This sale lasts thru Nov. get there if you can.
PUPPET BARBUDA was stunned at the first design on this property. Sniffing the winds, detecting profit margins. The stream didn't really flow uphill. The concept plan had grand visions for dumploads of dirt, a bobcat & laborers. Worse, to dearest PUPPET was directing the main view of this home onto a refrigerator.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Atlanta has flooded. Yesterday morning my contractor went to pick up plants for an installation. 3 acres of plants had washed down a creek. Another wholesaler had lost only an acre of plants down a creek. Douglasville was one of the hardest hit areas. Acres of homes under water.
A woman drowned in her car less than 4 miles from my home.

My leaking roof & flooded crawl space pale in comparison.

Driving to appointments yesterday, encountering detours. Washed out bridges & sections of road simply gone.

Seeing crews cutting huge trees, restoring power.

Connecting with friends & clients discovering who is fine and who is affected by this flood.
Susanne Hudson, pics above, lives in Douglasville. Her home & garden were spared. Isn't it wonderful to hear good news?
The bad news is incredibly humbling.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


PUPPET BARBUDA adores prancing thru Old Long Island. Not worth her effort, above. A beer taste - champagne budget landscape.
Above, PUPPET BARBUDA is prancing the landscape & peering into windows. She likes.

OMG, get serious, PUPPET BARBUDA thinks as she ignores this wretched landscape, above.

Not bad at all dear ones, above. PUPPET BARBUDA is delighted with the steps, vine & espaliered shrub. And is that gravel leading to the steps? Delicious!!

PUPPET'S kicking up the gravel, above. Wondering, are they French or was it just French travel giving inspiration?

PUPPET BARBUDA knows well the bones of this garden, above. Time has taken its owner and most flowering shrubs. But the design was so fabulous (axis-double axis-focal points-enfilades-rooms-contrasts-scale-line-form-flow) it remains. And, the structure of this landscape design can be maintained by the least skilled worker. Trees, hedges, meadow, focal point.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara
House pics via Old Long Island

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Shrubs, urns, tools are the new floral design. Design techniques are the same.
But the scale is larger than life. Look close, above, old tools drape the arbor.

Fresh, silly, classic, stately, sustainable, low-maintenance, above. So old it seems new. French toile patterns date back centuries using the old tool bouquet motif.
Garden & Be Well, XO Tara
Yes, I took these pics in Susanne Hudson's garden.