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Best of Show at NY NOW – Home and Garden Designs

Straight out of the press room – Alsop caught my eye. While there’s no doubt I go weak in the knees at most everything magically glittery and twinkling – the design firm also appealed to my more pragmatic nature.

See, Alsop offers pendant lamps and lanterns, string lights, and speakers – all solar powered. I can’t wait to spec them into my garden designs!

I always say that every good garden design tells a story; and accessorizing the garden with products such as these sustainable creations adds abundant, unique charm – and of course utility.

It’s a true luxury to indulge in the garden, patio or terrace, post-dusk. Even if you have fireflies (or lightning bugs as we call them), these solar-powered lights create their own style-rich ambience. This is not task lighting, rather it’s that romantic glow.

It was explained to me that Alsop – and father and daughter owned business launched nearly 20 years ago with an updated, ergonomic wheelbarrow, has patents on their designs and they continue to innovate.

There is a “built-in photo light sensor that turns on the LEDs. The handmade lanterns and lamps use both TyvekⓇ so they are durable in all weather, punched metal, glass, treated canvas, or the original, Soji™ UV-treated nylon — in solid colors or very pretty graphic patterns and prints.

All the lanterns and lamps come in a variety of shapes – from round to teardrop to pods or “cans.”

There are stringed lights too – so your garden rooms can take on the look of a sophisticated resort. The Stella String, for example, features ten, cylinder-shaped lights in a pearlescent tone punched with a sunflower pattern – conjuring the classic tin luminaries.

And then there’s the Marrakesh Metallic String is silver, copper and more than a few sexy shapes.

Part of the magic is the punched designs — no matter the material – there are intricate patterns that look good in the day and then allow the subtle solar light to glow through.

I could readily see layering and/or mixing and matching not only the styles but the shapes too. Alsop offers their own accessories so that you have the unlimited option of using the lights in a variety of ways, depending on the party or your mood. For example, you can transform a hanging light to a table top or a use on of their stainless steel stakes to line a garden path.

I love the possibilities.

And finally, there’s Mooni© (I just love saying that moniker!). Mooni is a glowing lantern and/or a glowing lantern with a speaker – in seven colors and four light modes — all controlled via a remote, charged up with a USB; 
plus you can customize your settings with a BluetoothⓇ device to stream your favorite music. Easy and portable — just in case the party flow moves from pool to patio…

Look for these innovative Alsop products to add glamour to your outdoor garden rooms — or ask your garden designer (or me!) to create a glowing, artful evening decor that is guaranteed to delight you and your guests.

I also saw very handsome pots from Campo De’ Fiori terra cotta pots and planters with their lush, trademarked moss that adds an artful faux patina for an aged look. The company’s name means “Field of Flowers: in Italian). Nice. The firm also showed a number of garden accessories from vases to sculpture that will punctuate garden room design.


I found myself lingering at the CDI Design booth. Because I am a horticulturist, there a time not all that long ago, that I would’ve just sped by a maker of faux plants and flowers, I’ve “evolved” – (as politicians are wont to say, of late…)

I do mix faux with real – or for some clients – I use faux entirely in container arrangements or full-scale compositions. Why not? There’s a host of environmental reason to do so; plus they make them so very realistic — and there’s no getting around the no to low maintenance. So for site-specific reasons or circumstances, I’m on board. Moreover, everyone knows those “green walls” simply do not hold up. Too much work. Messy. And more. With rich, lush, faux flowers and foliage – I could design for a patio, terrace, or bathroom spa. (I saw this at a recent Kips Bay Design House but with real plants — and thinking of all the ferns and soil that would soon “litter” the tub, I got the shivers.)

But this is a green wall of a different design. You can control the look.

Also, I’ve been on the research hunt for someone who could make a faux topiary that would pass muster with a favorite garden design client. The ones we had seized up in a crash freeze a few years ago. I’m nurturing them back to health but not soon enough. Topiaries are singular luxury – because they take so long to cultivate.

And then there’s espalier. So much easier on the tortured plant. Although I do love my apple tree espalier and one of my garden design client’s whole house pyracantha espalier that we not only prune for more than a dozen years – but lovingly nurtured in Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath.

The folks at Creative Displays reassured me they could create anything I design. I believe them! They invited me to their facility in the Garden State (naturally) and I’m going to do it. In the meantime, check out their floral arrangements: tabletop and potted. The tropicals and succulents ts are a wonder…

Another innovative lighting designer I found was SonnenglasⓇ a South African-based company that produces — prety much all handmade — solar-powered, eco-friendly light source. Available in two sizes, (about seven inches tall and the Mini (almost three and half inches tall), the glass looks like mason jars.

The lids contain four solar-powered LEDs, which charge the solar cells and includes a micro-USB charging port. Sonnenglas claims they offer the most efficient solar cells on the market – providing up to 24 hours of “warm, bright light.” Lorenzo Maggi, export sales manager at the show booth, delicately pointed out to me that many countries don’t have electricity so the product was originally developed for people in these underserved areas. I felt rather guilty then, because I saw the jars as conduits for a kind of mini terrarium for garden parties. I thought I could create darling or elegant compositions inside — blooms, charms, sea shells, layered, colored sand, cool insects, stones — I was off and ruminating on the design possibilities…

Nevertheless, the Sonnenglas is weather proof; it has a wire handle for easy transport — I’m thinking entertainment or tablescapes, of course, but these would be ideal for a picnic or beach night. The company refers to their glass lights as “bottled sunshine.” Gotta love that.

Chive could’ve been voted as the number one “happy” vendor booth due to its rainbow of both whimsical and elegant vases and pots made from ceramic or glass. I use these hanging ones a lot


New to me in a very usable size are these beauties.

I can see these used in so many Tablescapes, office environments, and vanities.

Chive’s shapes and designs are inspired by nature: coral from the sea, or the cutest animal pots — look at this piglet pots — perfect for a Lunar New Year celebration because it’s the Year of the Pig. Can’t you just see these making your guests smile?

There’s also turtles, snails, rhinos, elephants — and shhhh – unicorns.

Speaking of animals — one of two very favorite birds – flamingos – lured me over to Jacaranda Living

A true discovery was handcrafted Whole Harmony – medicinal, wellness plant healers.

These two herbalists/entrepreneurs: David and Stacey have a great story
 –and offer tonics, elixirs, and teas — all grown and harvested and blended on their Connecticut farm. Ahhhh. I tasted the teas — very tasty and rewarding.

I truly loved the Elderberry Syrup


And most especially – the Folk Fyre

According to Whole Harmony’ – their “Folk Fyre is an old-fashioned herbal remedy crafted to warm up your digestive tract. Unlike regular apple cider vinegar, Folk Fyre’s impressive list of natural ingredients includes a variety of powerful additives. Potent and fiery, this blend includes freshly shredded horseradish, ginger, and turmeric to name a few. Once steeped in raw apple cider vinegar for a duration of six weeks, we then strain and bottle up this potion for your consumption!”

I was readily conjuring up cocktail recipes with the Folk Fyre and the Elderberry Syrup. I had the distinct impression Whole Harmony focused on the pure health elements of their homegrown and hand-crafted creations – (meaning please don’t talk about wicked cocktails with regard to their farmed and healthy blends) — but I can’t help create and promote a delicious, pure, garden-to-glass ingredients for craft cocktails.

A truly charming product I discovered is sure to create memories — and a lifetime of gardening joy. Serial entrepeneurs, husband and wife Sheri and Clyde Hutchinson —

launched Backyard Safari Company based on Sheri’s experience in the garden with her grandchildren. There are 10 different “gardens” with everything you need to start a garden, including soil.
For example, their newest garden, “Tranquility” includes: Seed envelopes that are FCS Certified, 30% Post Consumer Waste, 100% Windpower with the Egg Carton Garden including:

  • 6 packages of Heirloom Seeds
  • Starter Soil
  • Plant Recipes
  • Wooden Plant ID Stakes
  • Growing Instructions
  • Pencil 
  • 100% Recycled Fiber Egg Carton Planter
  • Seeds: Chamomile (calming), Holy Basil (reduces stress), Lavender (relaxing sleep), Peppermint (cooling & energizing), Wild Bergamot (soothing), Sage (memory & focus)

Other gardens are Chili, Cocktail, Honey Bee, and Sunflower.  

Sweet success. I just love this!

Another cute garden idea is from dZi Handmade. They showed hanging planters made from felt. Very cute and colorful. The felt can absorb the watering. Succulents would work very well.  

I also like Bees’ WrapⓇ Basics sustainable food wraps made from harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. I’ve been on a mission for a number of years to rid the kitchen of plastics — and have some very good products I use, including Pyrex and another beeswax wrap, Abeego. But these are so very pretty!

Introduced this year is The Oceans Print line that celebrates “our shores, seas, and waterways; partnering with 1% for the Planet to donate a percentage of sales from this print to organizations that support ocean conservancy and water stewardship.

I also was very enchanted by Kim Seybert’s line of extraordinary placemats, runners, napkins and napkin rings. Their line offers up very sophisticated table jewelry that will highlight any number of Tablescape compositions.


NY NOW®, is the largest retail focused exhibition in the Americas, held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. The market “fully embraces the sweeping renaissance that is reinventing retail. The winter 2019 market, with its 2,300 exhibitors, demonstrated the success of what they term “chore” shopping versus “cherish” or chosen shopping. Point being – the vendors and makers at this show appeals to small, usually family owned shops – and top-tier designers and decorators.  Cheers to KBIS – as the best example.  

The Show folks say, “Growing faster than GDP, the millions of independent retailers responsible for 96%+ of all retail sales are beginning to experience a totally new and exciting reality. Online commerce, long assumed to be the future of retail, now makes up less than 9% of the total market and all about “chore” purchasing. Meanwhile in-store or “cherish shopping” is on the rise. Millennials and Gen Z buyers prefer the brick and mortar environment and want to discover unique and inspirational pieces and experiences.

Back to the makers: A few other noteworthy makers at the show here — because I love all things botanical:   

Lucy Jade Sylvester; exhibited her jewelry alongside other designers who were brought to New York by Craft Scotland. Lucy believes you cannot compete with the beauty of nature, its perfect lines and textures, so uses it as directly as possible in her jewelry.
After walks near her Oxfordshire studio, she takes moulds from her delicate woodland finds. Lucy casts into the cavity they leave, the process allowing her to create exact replicas of life in solid gold and silver that retain the finest details.
“These natural forms with beautiful textures would decay into the ground and be gone forever; with direct casting from them I’ve created something that will now be here forever, to be worn for a lifetime.”
Botanical bridal engagement rings cast from twisted twigs and leaves are set with brilliant cut, rose cut and uncut diamonds. These can be paired with woven grass, leaf vein or lichen textured woodland wedding bands in widths to suit all. These rings provide a timeless alternative for those who love the patterns and textures provided by the natural world.

How lovely is this?  “Landscapes you can hold in your hand. Or The landscapes you hold dear to your heart”

Sol Proaño debuted her globally inspired jewelry line at the February 2019 edition of NY NOW. With the name Origin, the collection embraces the designer’s roots while maintaining a simple yet refined aesthetic.

“Inspired by the landscapes of her native Chile, Sol Proaño’s jewelry marries the soul of the Andes with American minimalist style. The collection mixes both clean lines and organic shapes, as well as metals like recycled sterling silver and 14k goldfill. In this way, Sol integrates her very dissimilar visual experiences in South America and the United States into a very distinctive body of work.

The Great British stag beetle, bees, and hawk moths have all been given a new life in solid silver and gold by the nature loving jeweler. Her Hawk moth ring was chosen by costume designer Michele Clapton to be worn by Sansa Stark in the hit medieval TV series Game of Thrones.

The Lifestyle Collection’s new indie NOW feature attracted retailers who were quick to take advantage of unique never before seen fragrances and personal care products.

The newly co-located and fully curated National Stationery Show® featured “Emerging Artists” where retailers could find over 50 totally new introductions plus 400+ better stationery product designers and producers, all ideal sources or products for their store to add to a successful buyer experience.

A few nice tablescape compositions caught my eye:    

Look for handsome botanical, hand-embroidered napkins to highlight your tablescapes:    

I love the look of Metal Lace – the art of metal.  Their baskets, vases, bowls, coasters, candle holders, and more are intriguing, mysterious, and true conversation pieces.  So unique.


As a related aside, I researched this process and was delighted and intrigued to learn that historically, metal lace “describes a type of lace made from metal or metallic threads, such as gold, silver, or copper. The designs can be worked on a textile ground, or the lace can completely be made from metallic threads. It is mainly used as an embellishment for military uniforms, fashionable, ceremonial and theatrical dress, and ecclesiastical textiles.”
Metal Lace reinterprets this artful tradition in extraordinary ways.
Voted Best in Show were the gorgeous wood bowls from Lily Juliet — also kind of “lacy.”

A tasty product discovery is Sugarfina’s sweets.  Who can resist chocolate vodka or bourbon balls?! Put that in your Valentine’s Day gifting.

I was particularly attracted to their patterning with spirits and wine — especially with my friends at Desclan’s pretty in pink, “Whispering Angel” rose.

and with Tito’s handmade vodka 

A too-beautiful bureau took my breath away:  Ercole’s Blossom chest of drawers:   and bar: 

Made right here in Gotham, these truly one-of-a-kind pieces deserve a space in your home (I gotta find a nook for that bar!)
According to Ercole: “Every collection is designed and directed by Ornella, and each piece is hand made in New York, in a studio principally staffed by women artisans.”  Love the women solidarity and girl power!

About NY NOW
The winter 2019 edition of NY NOW®, the Market for Home, Lifestyle, Handmade + Gift, takes place February 3-6, 2019 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. NY NOW features three comprehensive collections – HOME, LIFESTYLE and HANDMADE – that encompass tens of thousands of products in hundreds of product categories. For the first time, NY NOW welcomes the co-locations of the winter market with the National Stationery Show® and SURTEX®, which will take place during the same time, all under one roof and in the same location. Attendees from all 50 states and nearly 70 countries worldwide attended.

Thank you NY NOW.

*all photos are mine or the makers’.

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"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 I adore plants. Plants are my muse ~ they are my paramour… I’m a garden artist; a nature lover, & horticulturist. I’m an author & writer. My passion for culture & beauty, along with my trait curiosity, brings you an authentic celebration of life. I’m a storyteller ~ weaving the artful gifts of horticulture, garden design, tablescape decor, floral design, cocktail culture, garden-to-glass recipes & their glamorous garnishes, homegrown edibles, food & drink; & cooking, to bring you my flair & what I’ve been told is an avid elan ~ as well as the stories from those who inspire me ~ to pursue an elegant, enduring, & joyful, entertaining lifestyle. It’s an honor & a privilege to do what you love.

Join me to celebrate a romantic, garden-infused, entertaining lifestyle filled with artful design, sparkling dinner parties, peerless martinis, and copious magnums of champagne!





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