ISSUE 5  |  Pattern Language

Editors’ Picks: 10 Ikea Favorites for Indoor Gardens

January 31, 2017 6:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

With winter weather keeping us inside, we took inventory and came up with a list of our editors’ 10 favorite Ikea accessories and (plants) for indoor gardens:

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Above: A Lucky Bamboo plant is an auspicious addition to a windowsill, says Annie, “if you are someone who hopes for peace, prosperity, longevity, luck, beauty, good energy, or graciousness. A 16-inch spiral is $2.99.

See more in Gardening 101: Lucky Bamboo.

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Above: Michelle likes the Satsumas Plant Stand, with natural bamboo legs and a second shelf to store pots; $44.99.

ikea-ensdig-vase

Above: Margot’s found fronds look right at home in a clear glass Ensidig Vase; $3.99.

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Above: Alexa admires the clean lines and bamboo feet of Ikea’s Bittergurka Plant Pot; $9.99.

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Above: Jeanne recommends keeping a potted aloe plant on a windowsill, “where it serves as a kind of living first aid kit… ready at a moment’s notice to give up the healing gel inside its leaves to sooth a burn or minor cut.” An Aloe Vera potted plant is $3.99.

See more in Gardening 101: Aloe Vera.

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Above: A Socker Plant Stand on wheels makes it easy for Meredith’s houseplants to chase the sunlight in her apartment; $6.99.

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Above: Julie recommends Ikea’s glassware (see more of her Ikea shopping tips in our Remodelista Book); her set of Pokal Drinking Glasses can double as vases for small posies; $4.49 for a six pack.

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Above: Michelle covets a mini grow house to make it easy to start seeds to transplant to her edible garden. Not currently available in the US, a Krydda Cultivation Unit is £21 in the UK.

See more of Ikea’s Krydda collection in New from Ikea: A Hydroponic Countertop Garden Kit.

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Above: Margot admires the powder coated stainless steel Bittergurka Watering Can with a bamboo handle because it’s stylish enough to display next to the houseplants; $9.99.

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Above: A galvanized steel Socker Plant Pot has an acacia wood handle and doubles as a display-worthy bucket in Julie’s laundry room. It is $7.99.

For more of our Ikea picks, see:

 

ISSUE   |  Pattern Langauge

10 Easy Pieces: Underwater Landscape Lights

January 31, 2017 4:00 AM

BY Alexa Hotz

For lighting a pond or fountain from below, we want a fixture as appealing as any other landscape light—or something stealth and hidden beneath the surface. Here is a list of our 10 favorite underwater lights for fresh water features. Note that you should always check for recommended use—many are not for use in salt water, pools, or spas.

12V Stainless Steel Underwater Spotlight

Above: From Affordable Quality Lighting, the 12V Stainless Steel Underwater Spotlight (PU-SSDX-898) has a convex, tempered glass lens and open face design in stainless steel. It’s prewired with 24 feet of STV underwater cable. The light is $40.99 at Affordable Quality Lighting.

Kichler Stainless Steel LED Underwater Mini Accent Light

Above: The Kichler (15711SS) Stainelss Steel LED Underwater Mini Accent Light is a small LED housed in stainless steel with a watertight seal that can also be used out of water; $156.80 at Lighting Direct.

Hinkley Lighting Brass Submersible Pond Light

Above: Hinkley Lighting’s Brass Submersible Pond Light has a clear lens and halogen light bulb UL listed for wet locations; $135 at YLighting.

Pentair Fountain Light in Cast Bronze

Above: Pentair Fountain Fixtures in cast bronze can rotate 360 degrees and can be installed in a niche or as a standing light (shown). Contact Pentair for more information.

Alpine Corporation 10 Watt Submersible Halogen Light

Above: The Alpine Corporation (PL1008T) 10 Watt Submersible Halogen Light comes with the transformer needed for use underwater; $31.62 at ATG Stores.

Forged Brass Underwater Light

Above: The Forged Brass Underwater Light is designed for low voltage landscape lighting and can be ordered with an LED or halogen lamp; $49.97 at Volt Lighting.

Aquascape LED Pond and Landscape Spotlight

Above: The Aquascape LED Pond and Landscape Spotlight Kit is an option for small, stealth lights submerged in the corners of a pond or fountain; $95.98 at Doctors Foster and Smith.

Dabmar Stainless Steel Marine Light

Above: The Dabmar (LV-LED302-SS316) Marine Grade Stainless Steel Underwater Light is made of marine grade stainless steel and designed for underwater use with a UL listed underwater cord; $351 at Affordable Lamps.

12V Aluminum Underwater Fountain Spotlight

Above: Affordable Quality Lighting’s 12V Aluminum Underwater Fountain Spotlight (PUA77) in black is $28.95.

12V Marine Grade Stainless Steel Underwater Fountain Light

Above: 12V Marine Grade 316 Stainless Steel Underwater Fountain/Pond Floor Light is $169 at Affordable Quality Lighting.

12V Brass Underwater Open Face Spotlight

Above: The 12V Brass Underwater Open Face Spotlight (PUDX77) from Affordable Quality Lighting is $74.99.

Kichler Black Underwater Halogen Accent Light

Above: The Kichler (1519BK) Black Underwater Halogen Accent Light has a heat-resistant glass lens that is sealed for watertight use. It’s made of durable thermoplastic resin construction and is not intended for pool or spa use. It’s $108.20 at Lighting Direct.

For more outdoor lights see our posts:

ISSUE 5  |  Pattern Language

Designer Visit: Piet Oudolf’s Otherworldly Garden at Hauser & Wirth Somerset

January 31, 2017 2:00 AM

BY Kendra Wilson

Somerset is one of those counties that keeps itself to itself. It’s a place that you make a point of going to; you don’t rush through (unless you’re on the M5). So the idea of a destination gallery with a jewel of a garden in Bruton, Somerset, does make sense. Hauser & Wirth is a place that people cross the country, and the world, to see.

The main draw for garden visitors is Oudolf Field, a slope of 1.5 acres enclosed on three sides by traditional hedging. It’s a former field that is now a garden, conceived by international star Piet Oudolf. With the Dutch designer’s trademark perennials that have beauty at every stage, we wonder how they are doing in deepest winter?

Photography by Heather Edwards.

Oudolf field at Hauser and Wirth Somerset in Winter

Above: The answer, of course, is just fine. With plants that are chosen for their texture and shape, over color, it is a given that on frosty days they’ll be giving a good account of themselves.

Seen here from the middle of Oudolf Field, the gallery buildings were completed in 2014. Behind them stand the original barn and pigsty from Dursdale Farm, linked together around a courtyard by Paris studio Laplace. The courtyard garden is also designed by Piet Oudolf.

Winter prairie border with Sedum 'Matrona' seed heads in foreground - Oudolf Field, Hauser and Wirth Somerset

Above: The winter prairie border with Sedum ‘Matrona’ seed heads at the front.

Hauser & Wirth’s owners have galleries in London, New York, Los Angeles and Zurich, but chose Durslade Farm as their rural outpost because they already lived locally. They commissioned Piet Oudolf to landscape the whole site.

Frosted seed heads of Datisca cannabina

Above: Frosted seed heads of the arching foliage plant Datisca cannabina.

Eryngium yuccifolium seed head - Oudolf field, Hauser and Wirth Somerset

Above: Button snakeroot, or Eryngium yuccifolium. Eryngiums dry particularly well in situ, without changing too drastically from their summer appearance.

Frosted seed heads of Echinacea pallida - Oudolf Field, Hauser and Wirth Somerset

Above: After the magenta petals have dropped, seed heads of Echinacea pallida remain. Although the space has the initial look of a planted field, it is divided into 17 flower beds and a pond.

Winter border with Molinia and Aster seedheads, feature mounds of circular grass on a path - Oudolf field, Hauser and Wirth Somerset

The winter border with seed heads of purple moor-grass Molinia and Aster.

The field-garden is bisected by a central walkway, leading from gallery and pond toward open country. Grass island mounds bridge the gap between the new building’s uncompromising lines and the romantic groups of perennials.

Seed heads of Agastache 'Black Adder' in Winter

Above: Seed heads of Agastache ‘Black Adder’, after making a graceful transition from purple to frosted brown.

Winter border with Achillea, Monarda, grasses and Agastache 'Black Adder' seed heads

Above: A minimal palette from what was already a subtle color mix of Achillea, Monarda, grasses and Agastache ‘Black Adder’.

Visit more of Dutch designer Piet Oudolf’s gardens with us:

ISSUE 5  |  Pattern Language

Gardening 101: Snowdrops

January 30, 2017 6:00 AM

BY Kendra Wilson

Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis: “Flower of Hope”

Snowdrops are the flowers of pre-spring. They can come as a surprise, popping up earlier than expected, or they’ll be the cause of consternation if they fail to do their duty bang on time. It’s an emotional time of the year: after a long winter, snowdrops are the signal of a new dawn.

Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer.

Snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire

Above: These hardy winter flowers are unperturbed by snow and frost, sending up their pointed tips regardless (giving them the name ‘perce-neige‘ in French). The pendulous flower dangles about 4 inches off the ground, whether or not the ground is covered in snow.

Snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire

Above: Snowdrops spread happily on their own but they can be dug up occasionally and divided by carefully pulling the clumps apart. It’s not essential; they are happy in a tightly packed throng.

For most people the common snowdrop is cheerful enough but there are more refined varieties of the common snowdrop like ‘S. Arnott’ which is taller, and scented. Carefully side-stepping the affliction known as “snowdrop mania,” the Royal Horticultural Society also recommends: G. plicatus, G. elwesii, and early flowering G. ‘Atkinsii’.

Snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire

Above: Visually, it is ideal if snowdrops can be planted in a place where they are likely to be hit by low winter sun. This can be in turf or the rougher edges of a garden.

Cheat Sheet

  • Snowdrops flower from the end of December in northern Europe. In the northern United States they coincide with thawing snow in April.
  • Galanthus naturalizes easily without help, making densely populated, yet well-behaved drifts (they are not considered invasive).
  • Snowdrops mingle well with the earliest spring flowers, such as cyclamen and crocus. They provide an elegant foil to hellebores.

Snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire

Above: Perfect conditions. Tumbling down a woodland bank, these snowdrops have moisture, some shade, and good drainage.

Keep It Alive

  • Snowdrop bulbs dry out easily, so they need to be planted in late spring instead of autumn. It’s easy to remember to increase numbers since they need to be lifted after flowering when the leaves are just beginning to lose color. Gently divide into smaller clumps and re-plant.
  • If ordering from a nursery, snowdrops should arrive “in the green,” in other words with leaves still attached and in a moist condition. Plant immediately.
  • Snowdrops enjoy dappled shade and the naturally dampish conditions of a woodland floor that is also well-drained. Add leaf mold (or compost) when planting, to make them feel at home.

 

Double snowdrops, Galanthus 'Hippolyta'

Above: There are a number of double snowdrops, with a Victorian crinoline look. Ruffly Galanthus ‘Hippolyta’ grows on a tall stem (about 7 inches off the ground) and is a later variety. Bred in England by one Heyrick Greatorex, it was developed by crossing the wild double G. nivalis ‘flore pleno’ with G. plicatus. Double ‘Ophelia’ is another well-known Greatorex creation.

Yellow snowdrop at Colesbourne Manor, Gloucestershire

Above: Yellow snowdrops, arguably more prized by collectors, have had a turbulent history involving exorbitant bulb prices and a susceptibility to disease. One of the most reliable varieties is ‘Wendy’s Gold’.

Snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire

Above: Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ was bred by a retired nurseryman who lived in an estate cottage at Painswick, Gloucestershire. The Rococo Garden at Painswick (photographed here) is one of the best locations in the UK to see snowdrops, with great numbers of G. ‘Atkinsii’, among others.

For more from photographer Britt Willoughby Dyer’s visits to Painswick, see: Garden Visit: Snowdrop Season at Painswick Rococo Garden.

ISSUE 26  |  Independence Day

Hardscaping 101: Ribbon Driveways

January 30, 2017 4:00 AM

BY Jeanne Rostaing

A gracious style of driveway is making a comeback. Did you even know the ribbon driveway had a name? Read on for everything you need to know about environmentally friendly ribbon driveways.


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Above: A 1,200-foot ribbon driveway paved with gravel curves gently as it approaches the entryway of a Bridgehampton estate on Long Island’s east end. Landscape Designer Visit: A Sprawling Long Island Estate by Scott Mitchell. Photograph via Bespoke Real Estate.

When I was growing up in Memphis, we lived for a while in a little brick 1920s bungalow. A very prolific pecan tree grew beside the garage, and each fall we would gather the nuts from the spot where my dad parked the car–two strips of concrete with grass in between. Little did we know that we were harvesting pecans from a “ribbon” driveway.

What is a ribbon driveway?

Ribbon driveways, sometimes called Hollywood driveways, usually consist of two parallel tracks paved with a hard material and separated by an unpaved area. The tracks, or ribbons, are normally a couple of feet wide with a three-foot strip between them, though the proportions can vary to accommodate the sizes of different vehicles.

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Above: Photograph courtesy of Stephen Stimson Associates.

A water-permeable paved parking area employs brick on edge, dry-laid with granite edging in a design by Cape Cod landscape architecture firm Stephen Stimson Associates. For more, see Landscape Architect Visit: A Very American Garden on Cape Cod.

What is the history of ribbon driveways?

Apparently my family’s driveway was the height of fashion when our house was built. Ribbon driveways became popular in the 1920s. They were a natural progression from the ruts carved in the ground by the wheels of wagons and, later, automobiles. It makes sense that if you’re driving your vehicle from the street to the garage every day, you’d want to avoid wearing deep, muddy grooves into your lawn. The simplest and most economical way to do that: paving the areas where the wheels go and leaving the grass in the middle.

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Above: Photography courtesy of Stephen Stimson Associates.

On Cape Cod, a ribbon driveway designed by andscape architecture firm Stephen Stimson Associates is crossed by a granite path, a visual cue to emphasize that pedestrians have the right-of-way here. For more, see Landscape Architect Visit: A Very American Garden on Cape Cod.

What are the benefits of a ribbon driveway?

  • Ribbon driveways can easily be curved to fit the contours of the property where they’re being installed.
  • Because they use less paving material, they usually cost less than a fully paved driveway.
  • They offer a range of landscaping options: They can be constructed from a variety of paving materials, and the strip in the middle can be planted with any number of low-growing ground covers.
  • They are a “green” solution, because they’re more permeable than solid driveways, allowing rainwater to be absorbed into the ground instead of draining into an overloaded sewer system.
  • Ribbon driveways with planted centers are cooler in summer than concrete slabs and more pleasant to walk on.

 

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Above: A ribbon driveway with a mown grass strip curves gently, following the contours of the land at the Amagansett home of fashion stylist Tiina Laakkonen. Photograph by Matthew Williams. For more, see Swimming Pool of the Week: Dreaming in Blue at a Designer’s Hamptons Compound.

What are the best materials for a ribbon driveway?

For the driving surface, the classic choice is concrete, which goes well with vintage Craftsman-style architecture. But crushed gravel, mortar-set brick or stone, cobblestones, oyster shells, or more modern interlocking pavers work well. Really, you could use any material that can withstand the weight of a moving vehicle and that complements the style of your house.

For the center strip, grass is typical. But you can also use a contrasting hard-surface material that requires less maintenance, such as stones or gravel. For a softer, more landscaped look, use mulch or any low-growing ground cover that will thrive in the light conditions. Old reliables like vinca minor, ajuga, or creeping phlox are good choices, as are herbs such as creeping thyme or rosemary. We’ve even seen succulents planted in the middle of a ribbon driveway.

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Above: Photograph by Lauren C via Flickr.

What maintenance does a ribbon driveway need?

A major advantage of ribbon driveways is that, if correctly installed, they’re more flexible than a fully paved driveway in their response to the freeze-and-thaw cycle, and less prone to cracking from weather extremes. Of course, different materials have different requirements. Crushed gravel tends to scatter and may need to be topped up periodically. Center-strip plantings may require weeding, mowing, and/or watering. Snow removal can damage the plants, so you may find yourself replanting after a particularly harsh winter.

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Above:  A ribbon driveway paved with gravel is flanked by cedar gates and fencing at  a Bridgehampton estate on Long Island’s east end. For more, see Landscape Designer Visit: A Sprawling Long Island Estate by Scott Mitchell. Photograph via Bespoke Real Estate.

Ribbon Driveway Recap

Pros:

  • Environmentally friendly. Allows for greater water absorption after downpours, which helps avoid overloading sewer systems.
  • Attractive. Gives your property a greener, more landscaped look than a giant slab of concrete or blacktop.
  • Flexible as far as placement goes–easily contoured to fit an irregular space.
  • Low cost.
  • Easily maintained; durable.

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to maneuver. It’s hard to drive a long ribbon driveway in reverse.
  • Plantings can be damaged by the wheels of vehicles that are wider than the paved strips.
  • Mowing the grass in the middle can be problematic.

Interested in more driveway ideas? See Permeable Concrete Paver Driveways. Then there are Garage Flooring Options to consider.

Explore more ideas for patios, roofs, and fences in our Hardscaping 101 archive.

 

ISSUE 5  |  Pattern Language

Expert Advice: 9 Tips for a Colorful Winter Garden

January 30, 2017 2:00 AM

BY Justine Hand

In fall the Instagram feeds many of our favorite gardeners, quite understandably, start to wither or move indoors. Not so that of Dutch garden designer Frank Heijligers. Indeed, much like the dames of imperial Russia, who, rather that retreating from the cold, donned furs and tiaras in anticipation of the social high season, Frank’s winter garden seemed to reach the height of its sparkling charm.

Enchanted, we decided to ask Frank, who grows grasses, perennials, trees, and shrubs at his nursery, Van Nature, to divulge his secrets for a successful winter garden. Here are 9 tips for adding sparkle and moody color:

Photography by Frank Heijligers.

Embrace Black

Frank Heijligers Dutch Winter Garden

Above: Now a dramatic black, the once purple cones of Agastache ‘Black Adder’ still stand tall in the frosty winter garden.

“Successful winter gardens need a lot of plants with good structure in them,” says Frank. “The plants have to be strong and have more than one interest: nice foliage, bloom, color, seed head, change of color in fall, strong skeleton in winter.”

Long-Lasting Seedheads

Frank Heijligers Dutch Garden Fall 5

Above: Like spectators at the ballet, crowds of Monarda ‘Croftway Pink’ seedheads watch a changing fall landscape.

Fill the Gaps

Van Nature Garden Nursery Netherlands

Above: Because plants with good structure tend to bloom later, Frank notes that the successful four-season garden “starts with having a little more patience in spring.” To fill in the gap, he uses bulbs. Alliums, which maintain a sculptural seed head after they have gone by, are a good choice.

Frank Heijligers Dutch Garden Border with Perennials
Above: One of Frank’s gardens in summer. Though lust and leafy, it still maintains a textured feel.

Frost-proof Plants

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Above: A similar border garden in winter, when the regal heads of Phlomis take on a silver sheen.

“Hosta or Alchemilla mollis are plants that look good early on in the year, but with the first bit of frost, they collapse,” Frank says. “You need plants like Phlomis, Aster, Eupatorium, Veronicastrum, and Anemone combined with grasses like Deschampsia, Miscanthus, Sporobolus, and Festuca mairei to make the garden look good until March.”

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Above: Another sculptural favorite: Veronicastrum ‘Pink Spike.’

Bonus: birds love all the leftover seedheads in Frank’s hibernal garden.

Feathery Textures

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Above: Feathery textures of dried grasses and desiccated asters create a dynamic winter garden.

Like many of the great Dutch gardeners that inspired him, such as Piet Oudolf, Dan Pearson, Tom Stuart-Smith, Dan Kiley, and Mien Ruys, Frank prefers structured perennials and textured grasses.

Frank Heijligers Dutch Winter Garden 7
Above: Standing in a sea of waving grasses is a stalwart sculpture of a wooden fisherman made by a neighbor.

Frank Heijligers Dutch Winter Garden 6

Above: The stiff skeletons of Monarda ‘Prairienacht’ emerge from a veil of feathery Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’.

Add Structure

Frank Heijligers Dutch Winter Garden 11

Above: A sea of textured grass, meets a horizon of clipped Larix kaempferi hedge.

“[Along] with big plantings of perennials and grasses, I like to use cloud hedges of Beech or Cornus, for example,” Frank says. “Even though those plants lose their foliage (Beech keeps those nice brown-copper dried leaves), they provide a lot of structure in winter and early spring. The look of the garden is modern, with strong lines and focal points. When the plants begin to grow, you gradually loose those lines and you get a totally different-looking garden.”

The Charms of Decay

Frank Heijligers Dutch Winter Garden 12

Above: Playful Asclepias ‘Ice Ballet’ (milkweed) mimics fox ears or fish tails.

Late-Season Color

Frank Heijligers Dutch Garden Rubeckia and grass

Above: As fall sets in, late bloomers like Rubeckia, add a final bit of color and life.

“After the blooming period comes the decay,” says Frank. “Every period has its own charm. And in February it’s great to cut it all back and start all over again with a clean slate.”

Frank Heijligers Dutch Garden Frost

Above: Colorful accents in the winter garden. The black seeds of Baptisia and the reddened leaves of Vibrnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ can withstand the frost.

Frank Heijligers Dutch Garden Fall

Above: The skeletons of Pycnanthemum pilosum against autumnal grass.

Frost Is Your Friend

Frank Heijligers Dutch Winter Garden 13

Above: The pompom heads of Pennisetum are even prettier with a dusting of frost.

Frank Heijligers Dutch Winter Garden 10

Above: Anemone ‘Serenade’ and Pennisetum ‘Cassian’ create bands of color and textures.

Stop dreaming of summer and get outside. Here are more ways to revel in your winter garden:

ISSUE 7  |  Snowdrops Season

Expert Advice: 10 Tips To Get Your Garden Ready for Spring

January 29, 2017 2:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Waiting for spring can make you as antsy as waiting for Christmas when you were a kid. Will it ever get here? And then it arrives suddenly…and there’s no more luxurious time to scheme or dream.

We think of winter as a gift—precious time to prepare for spring. Barb Pierson, nursery manager at White Flower Farm in Connecticut, has 10 essential tips to prepare a garden for spring. We’re on it:

Photography by Sara Barrett for Gardenista, except where noted.

1. See What’s Not There

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Above: A trial bed at White Flower Farm.

When trees are bare and plants are dormant is the best time to study a garden’s underpinnings. “In the winter, you can see what’s missing. Are there areas where you need screening because you suddenly you notice the air conditioning unit that looks horrible?” asks Pierson.

2. Add Trellises, Tuteurs, and Supports

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Above: On that topic, “now is a good time to think about—and add—screening elements like trellises and tuteurs,” says Pierson. “There’s room in the garden to put them in.”

Pierson’s favorite is a White Pyramid Tuteur (visible in background above); $120 from White Flower Farm. See more ideas in 10 Easy Pieces: Garden Tuteurs, A Glamorous Trellis to Reflect Sunlight, and DIY Bean Trellis.

3. Help Your Hardscape

white-flower-farm-purples-gardenista

Above: This is a good time to fix or add to your hardscape. “Get sand to fill the cracks on a brick path, for instance,” says Pierson. “it’s a great time to think about edging. Do you want to add some kind of stone edging? Add it now.”

4. Plant Trees and Shrubs

white-flower-white-garden-border-gardenista

Above: Give your garden good bones by strategically placing small trees and shrubs to anchor beds. “Ask yourself what small trees and shrubs do you want and do you need more evergreens,” says Pierson. “Think about focal points and build out from there.”

Some ideas to consider: spring-flowering dogwoods, trees with Colorful Fall Foliage, and replacing a fence with a Hedge.

5. Place Your Order

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Above: Cleome hasserliana in bloom against a stone wall at White Flower Farm.

After you decide how to fill the holes, place an early order to get the best selection and prices on both specimen trees and hardscape elements.

“Last year, I waited too long and for my own garden I couldn’t get the white tuteur before we sold out,” says Pierson. “I like it because it looks clean and actually becomes part of the garden design.”

A Cleome Hasserliana is $8.50 from White Flower Farm (ships for spring planting).

6. Buy Seeds

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Above: Nicotiana and echinacea mix well in a border.

“I like to direct-sow in spring,  but it’s very important to order now or you won’t get what you want,” says Pierson. “One of my favorite vendors is Renee’s Garden. I’m ordering all my cosmos, zinnias, and sunflowers now.”

The secret to sowing seeds directly into the ground? “Raised beds are the answer because you’ll be sowing into nice, light, fluffy potting soil. If you don’t have air in soil, you’ll have problems.”

For more of our favorite sources for seeds, see: Ask the Expert: 7 Tips to Grow Cut Flowers and 10 Easy Pieces: Heirloom Seeds for Spring.

7. Rehab Your Tools

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Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle. For more, see How to Clean and Care for Garden Pruners.

Now is the season when you have time to clean, oil, and repair tools. Do it. “I was just down in my basement last night to take stock, to look at my scissors and pruners and what needs to be sharpened,” says Pierson. “My gloves are a disaster; the middle finger always goes out. Anything I need to replace for the coming season, I’ll do now because I’ll get better price and availability.”

8. Prune Judiciously

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Above: “If you live in a zone where you already see that trees and shrubs have buds swelling, you want to get the pruning done before they do leaf out,” says Pierson. “It’s also a good time to move or remove plants that just didn’t do well, for instance if you tried to grow a full-sun thing and it’s not in full sun anymore.”

9. Weed With Enthusiasm

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Above: “If your ground is not frozen,  now is a great time for weeding before the roots get established and everything goes to seed,” says Pierson. “It’s easier to weed in moist soil.”

10. Mulch for Moisture

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Above: “A lot of landscapers will have early specials on mulch and if you are in an area where it’s not going to snow, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about it,” says Pierson. “If you have a shrub border established and you want to get that mulch on before it gets hot, it’s not a bad idea—especially if you live where you know it’s going to get dry later in the season. Get it on now to capture the moisture while you have it.”

ISSUE 4  |  The Japanese Garden

Current Obsessions: A View from Above

January 28, 2017 8:00 AM

BY Gardenista Team

From enticing tree houses to a wintry recipe, here’s a look at what we’ve been coveting and admiring this week.

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Above: We enjoyed taking a look inside the homes and botanically driven minds of Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff, based in Munich and outside of Paris respectively. The two bloggers look at plants for more than their Instagram-worthy characteristics. “Plants should be an integral part of the home, making it not only nicer but also a better and healthier place to live,” says de Graaff. Image courtesy of Freunde von Freunden.

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Above: A Mexican getaway fit for the botany lover: the Treehouse, a new project created by Papaya Playa. Located in Tulum, Mexico, the lofty escape is an “exceptional exercise in eco-design and sustainability cocooned by the verdant jungle.” The treehouse is made of indigenous materials and was built using ancient Mayan construction techniques. Photograph courtesy of Papaya Playa Project.

Instagram Inspiration

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Above: We’re admiring the ethos and work of Copenhagen-based @slow_signevoltelen and @slow_mariehertz. The garden-to-table events at their collaborative greenhouse in Frederiksberg have a loyal following. Photograph via @madaboutcopenhagen.

If you’re like us you’re always on the hunt for new garden finds and inspiration. For more fodder, visit our recent posts:

ISSUE 4  |  The Japanese Garden

Trending on Remodelista: Japan by Design

January 27, 2017 6:00 AM

BY Gardenista Team

This week Julie and the Remodelista editors invite serenity, calm, and artful Japanese butter dishes into their homes. Their top design discoveries:

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Above: Architects and students worked together on a DIT (do-it-together) Renovation in Hayama, Japan.

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Above: Justine experiments with Kintsugi, The Art of the Mended Vessel.

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Above: In this week’s Shopper’s Diary post, Margot visits Stardust, an Otherworldly Kyoto Boutique and Café.

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Above: Trend Alert: Julie rounds up seven artful Japanese butter dishes.

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Above: In this week’s Steal This Look post, Alexa discovers design tips for the home cook at a restaurant supply kitchen in Tokyo.

ISSUE 4  |  The Japanese Garden

Object of Desire: Color-Coded Garden Pruners from Japan

January 27, 2017 4:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Are you cheating on your pruners if you start seeing another pair?

I would say no, but I’ll let you know what my pruners have to say about it after my new pair of made-in-Japan Smart Scissors arrives:

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Above: Small enough to fit your hand comfortably and designed with a curved, ergonomic handle, a Small Scissors Pruner is made of plastic and stainless steel; $58 from Rikumo.

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Above: The pruners comes in three colors; they have rustproof blades and are meant to trim flowers, stems, and small branches.

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Above: The pruners come with a safety catch.

For more of our favorite garden tools, see: