Beautiful Life and Style


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Scenes from the Boston Flower and Garden Show

Hi there! I’m back! Where have I been?? Hiding under the covers avoiding the snow? Jetsetting around the globe to fabulous destinations (HA!) Nope, believe it or not- I’ve been working! I’ll let you swallow your shock. In all seriousness though, this blog is NOT my full time job and every once in a while my real one does pick up quite a bit. Engineering has its ups and downs based on project schedules and lately I’ve been designing buildings non stop.

I did happen to squeeze in a visit to the Boston Flower and Garden Show this past weekend. I had never been before and was happy we finally made the trip. It was a nice break to the endless winter we were having. I’m seriously craving Spring!!!

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For the event, the entire World Trade Center Exhibition hall is transformed with several gardens of varying styles brought indoors.. I can’t imagine the amount of work that goes into setting this up. Not only do the exhibitors have to build up the planting areas, fill them with soil, plant all of the TREES, bushes, flowers etc, build patios and arrange seating areas, BUT THEN some of them even go so far as to install working waterfalls and fountains. I’m explaining this all poorly, but here are my best pictures. I’ll apologize in advance for any cameo appearances by Boston area grandmothers- they were swarming the place!

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This was by far my favorite setup- not only did they have flowers and a gorgeous fountain- but do you see those “cages”?? THERE ARE REAL BIRDS IN THERE:

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Nick was pretty much ready to move into this child’s playhouse- I can’t say I blame him:

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There were also a bunch of vendors “peddling their wares…” Everything from wind-chimes and outdoor grills, to local honey and outdoor inspired art. I was in LOVE with these framed butterflies (I have a butterfly weakness).

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Of course these gigantic garden displays are lovely if you own a house with a big yard and have $25,000+ to spend on landscaping, but for me and my current living situation, everything was more of a mental note for “someday”. Thats not to say there weren’t some more indoor friendly garden ideas. This Bonsai was out of control beautiful and I STILL am obsessed with terrariums. There was also an entire room of beautiful floral arrangements.

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I can’t wait to go back next year! I really would recommend the event to anyone who finds themselves in Boston in late March. While I can’t promise that it won’t be winter outside, it was certainly a welcome taste of Spring.

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Traversing the snow and thinking about Spring..

Did you hear? It snowed 22 inches this past weekend in Boston. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen so much snowfall… I remember when I was little this used to mean exciting things like snow days and making forts in the mountain of snow at the bottom of our driveway, but now its more like “ugh. whole foods is closed- how will I eat?!” While the snow IS very pretty while it lasts, in a city that window isn’t long. There are 8 foot mountains of dirty snow everywhere they can shove it and three lane roads are down to only 1. The struggle back and forth between the plows and the guys shoveling the sidewalks has made for very interesting walking around the city- at the end of each street is an OCEAN of slush. Its kind of like a maze to just get where you need to be! It doesn’t help that its been sunny and 40 degrees since Monday….

So I”m over it. Rant complete. Now I’m looking forward to Spring. Here are a few images that are keeping me going. You can find all of the sources on my pinterest page aptly named “Gardens”:

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There is also a great garden sale on One Kings Lane today if you feel inspired to pick up a few items in anticipation. Here are a few of my favorites:

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1. This little Perched Rabbit would look SO CUTE peeking out of a flower bed. I would name him fluffy.

2. I imagine putting glowing white candles in these weathered lanterns. And then of course sitting on the patio drinking wine at twighlight.

3. Cant decide if I would cluster these garden birdhouses all together or scatter them around different trees- but they are so whimsical- I love them

4. You can never have enough containers- and at $39 for a set of 2 these little crackle planters are a great find

 


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Topiary Gardens

Have you seen this month’s Architectural Digest? The cover article is of Valentino’s grand chateau, and it includes a tour of his amazing topiary garden.

The editors of AD were so inspired, they created an online only collection of images of the best public topiary gardens around the world. I found it so charming and amazing!

When I think of topiary my mind of course wanders to grand English estates straight out of a Jane Austen novel, but in fact, the art has been around since the Roman Empire. It has also been attributed to the ancient Chinese, and later the Japanese. The trees vary in shape and size ranging from the simple hedge, to a large animal figure. I’m always impressed considering they are traditionally cut by hand, with no guide to aide the gardener. The typical plant is evergreen- mostly boxwood, holly and yew. I’m more drawn to the traditional shapes and styles but I find the whimsical animals and chess pieces just as fantastic. One of the images featured was taken from Green Animals Topiary Garden, which is close to Newport- I might have to take a visit! Here are a few of my other favorite images from the collection:

 


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San Mateo Japanese Tea Garden

More pictures from California!

As I mentioned, Nick and I had a very enjoyable time visiting the town he grew up in. California might be part of America but sometime it feels worlds away from the East coast- and this of course, is a good thing. One big difference that I noticed right away, is the large presence of Asian cultures. The Chinatown in downtown SF is probably 10 times bigger than the one in Boston and there are so many more shops, restaurants, and especially enjoyably- gardens, to explore. One of these, being right in Nicks hometown.

The San Mateo Central Park boasts a beautiful Japanese tea garden that we enjoyed on our visit. It was so quiet and relaxing, and one of those hidden gems that if you didn’t know it was there, you might walk right past it (and it was free!). The garden was designed by Nagao Sakurai, the landscape architect of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace.

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After visiting I did a little research (of course) on some of the traditional elements of a tea garden. Japanese gardens are almost always fenced in, with a decorative gate for an entrance. The fence acts as a protective boundary from the outside world, and defines the peaceful, contemplative space.

All tea gardens feature water like a small pond or brook- it is the most important design element. The water features are laid out to attract good fortune, and everything from the flow of the water, to the shape of the pond has significance. The “sea” will always have some sort of inaccessible island, representing a utopia or sacred place of everlasting happiness. These sacred islands may also represent shumisen, the legendary mountain on which Buddha was believed to have lived.  Koi are a common decorative element in the water.

Stone lanterns, like the one in the top right are also a common feature. The piece touching the ground represents chi, the earth; the next section represents sui, or water; ka or fire, is represented by the section encasing the lantern’s light or flame, while (air) and (void or spirit) are represented by the last two sections, top-most and pointing towards the sky.

The wooden bridge is another important element. An arched bridge over the water reflects a complete circle and the journey across represents the path to immortality.

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The structure in the top right here is a shinden. It is a shrine to ancient spirits. This one was gifted to the city of San Mateo from their Sister City, Toyonaka, Japan, as a gift of friendship marking the 25th anniversary of the Garden.

The tea garden featured a Zen garden, with rocks and sand- these are designed for meditation and contemplation (kicking myself for not snapping a picture!) There was also a tea house, or chashitsu (again kicking myself) for traditional ceremonies and contemplation.

As we walked through I can say I truly enjoyed every aspect of the well thought out garden. It was a perfect was to enjoy a morning coffee and I hope someday we are able to return! Have you ever been to a Japanese Garden? What was your favorite part?

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“The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place. The few books she had read and liked had been fairy-story books, and she had read of secret gardens in some of the stories. Sometimes people went to sleep in them for a hundred years, which she had thought must be rather stupid. She had no intention of going to sleep, and, in fact, she was becoming wider awake every day which passed at Misselthwaite.” – Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Some interesting articles about Japanese Tea Gardens: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4


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Garden Sheds. Or how my flowers aren’t pretty if they are surrounded by a mess.

I went out to water my flower boxes this morning and my balcony looked like this:

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Not exactly the urban oasis I’ve been hoping for. Lets just say its a work in progress. But, as you could have guessed by my lack of posting- I’ve barely had time to do my laundry lately, let alone finish my gardening. What I really wish I had room for is a beautiful garden shed to hide all of these empty planters, dirty gardening gloves and tools in while I wait to finish my outdoor projects.. Something a little like these:

I especially love the idea of having a lounging area inside the shed as well. I mean… if we’re spending our imaginary days in the sun, gardening- it might work to sleep out there too: (ps this is actually the same “shed” as the one above- talk about amazing right!?)

But even just an extra sink in the house with beautiful open shelves would make me happy:

A girl can dream right?