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Garden Glamour 2013 Look Book: The Garden Design Year in Review- plus the garden stories still waiting to be “Looked At”

We are stewards of our beloved, inherited, Kwanzan cherry tree that adorns our front yard 


This is the time of year for lists; looking back and
It’s all good – (c’est si bon) as it allows us to assess and
be mindful of our dedications and passions and challenges.
In that spirit, here are my (hopefully lucky) 13 Garden
Moments for the 2013 Look Book:
1.   It was bleak.  2013
started off the year with garden sadness. 

There was just simply too much Superstorm Sandy melancholy
and detritus in the area’s gardens and landscapes left over from the time of
the storm.  

Sad truth, there still
is.  Everyone knows someone who is still
not back in his or her home, are still rebuilding or some variation on this
scale.  I have several garden design
clients who just now acquired the permits to move forward… (And to think it
only took 410 days – just under 15 months- to build the Empire State building
in 1929 – from excavation to ribbon cutting.)
And punching romantic notions of garden beauty, especially
as the aggressive tree companies from the Midwest were commissioned here to cut
down or hollow out the trees that had managed to survive Sandy’s wrath. 
That buzzing sound of super claws and saws is impossible to
Do you know of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream?” 
That’s kinda’ the emotion that the sound of these
tree-buzzing killers evoked.  
For too much of the winter, it was Sandy clean up and plant
To make matters even creepier, a beloved garden design
client located in Sea Bright, in the Garden State, had six of their trees cut
down while they were away for the winter, waiting for the town to determine
house height rebuilding guidelines.  

It was the textbook case of adding insult to injury.
It was breathtaking destruction and cruelty – and a crime. 
The local police and detectives did their work but as of
yet, still no arrests. 

Just last month, the murderers struck again with abandon –
and cut down yet another tree plus gouged two more. 
These are trees that are 20+ years old.  The loss of shade, oxygen, and shelter for
birds and other creatures is truly heartbreaking…
Gardeners are ever hopeful and so we will replant once the
house construction is complete this spring and summer.
And the plant care resulted in the espalier coming back and we replanted the checkerboard parking courts. 

In town/New York City – so many of the trees in lower
Manhattan and Brooklyn were damaged by Sandy’s salt and winds. 
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg – a great friend to botanic
gardens and parks and gardens – initiated the Million Trees program – allocated
$3.45 million for tree pruning compared with the previous year. 
But Stump removal was not given and far too many ugly stumps
I noted these sad tree carcasses on many occasions after
disembarking from the Wall Street ferry to see yet more cutting. More loss.
FEMA stepped in and covered the costs of grinding down 4,000
stumps where more than half of the tree was uprooted or was sitting on damaged
sidewalk for a total of 7,000.  
Of the 16,000 new trees planted in NYC in 2013 there were few
that replaced the stumps…
2. Another sad note was Garden Design Magazine ceased
publication in April.   

Much lamenting and some Monday-morning quarterbacking from
garden enthusiasts made the green social media wires quiver with wistful
Good news – again, (the theme is “gardeners are ever hopeful”)
– and in this case, Garden Design will again be publishing, this time it will
arrive quarterly – promising to be more like a book than a magazine” with a
target date of summer 2014. 
The magazine suggests you sign up here to be notified of
their announcements.
In the meantime – Garden
Design Magazine
can be found online.
3.  A HUGE highlight
of the year was Martha Stewart Living selected my book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook as “Gift for the
Gardener” Pick!  
This was a remarkable honor,
a blink-back dream, and a gift to me and the chefs and growers in the Homegrown
Martha’s Stephen and Melissa wrote: “More than just a book
of recipes, this lush cookbook profiles outstanding Long Island chefs and their
personal gardens.”  
4.  “Rice the
Immigrant Grain” lecture caught my eye and writer’s imagination.  

Held in February at the magnificent ode to
all things books and literary: the New York Public Library, the talk covered “How
and why did rice, primarily long grain white rice arrive in the British
colonies and become big business. Rice origins are Asian and West African and
is through these populations migrations that rice became an establish staple in
Author, Renee Marton, and her book, Rice: a Global History”
was published this year.  
Rice author Renee Marton
And just like one does in New York, I, in turn, networked Marton to EunYoung Sebazco, horticulturist, landscape architect and
the Rice Guru at the Urban Farm on Randall’s Island Park Alliance, where she
and her team, including Nick Storrs and Phyllis Odyssey, the Director, planted
and successfully grow New York’s first and only rice paddy.  

Phyllis Odyssey, (L) and EunYoung Sebazco – Randall’s Island Park Alliance

Devoted to practicing and teaching sustainable
growing methods to future generations, the Urban Farm is a unique, bold garden
that boasts many enterprising initiatives, including the Rice Paddy.
On its own, the Randalls Island Rice Paddy has been heralded
by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, the Japanese consulate, New York Magazine,
David Chang’s Momofuko restaurant who’s chefs help contribute to edible school

Nick Storrs, showcases Randalls Island Rice Paddy

5.  I had the pleasure
of enjoying several Martha Stewart newsworthy events and milestones this year, (besides
my book’s being named a Gift for the Gardener), including the release of
Martha’s first Cake cookbook and the American
spectacular awards ceremony and tasting party held fitting at the
“Crossroads of American” Grand Central Station in the glittering Vanderbilt Hall,
and replete with a red carpet and a cavalcade of food and fashion and TV
The press event for the launch of Martha’s Cake Stands with
Macy’s was an elegant, intimate affair held at her New York City offices and
test kitchen for Martha Stewart Weddings.  
Here editor Darcy Miller and her talented team displayed diminutive and
standard domed cake stands to showcase a variety of cherished things from
flowers to cupcakes to cookies.
I should’ve tried the Cronuts while I had the chance! 
The idea was to stimulate and inspire (Martha might say,
“educate”) us journalists as to how to creatively use domed cake stands in our home
And to further the connection and engagement, Martha’s team
upped the ante with a contest of sorts. 
The challenge was to use the cake stand we selected as our Swag in
creative ways for the next week or so and send the images showing our
creations.  “Winners” were to be given a
$50 Macy’s gift certificate and a featured spot on Martha’s Wedding blog.  
Guess what? I won!  I
featured silk flowers with a teeny LED light in one design and another with
fairy tale eggplants and purple basil for another.  It was fun. I did one every few days. 
And I still adore the cake stand that sits like jewelry on
my kitchen table, the adornment changed out for the holiday or season. 
6. The annual NYBG Winter Lecture Series is a much-anticipated
series of talks held at the Garden at the ideal time of year for landscapers,
horticultures and gardeners to learn from the industry’s celebrity
Last year – the Series featured:
Tom Stuart-Smith: The Modern Garden: Finding a
Chris Strand Winterthur: The Last
Wild Garden
Bill Thomas Chanticleer: A Pleasure
Garden at NYBG
This year’s Winter Lecture Series – the 14th
annual starts January 30th. (Launched the year before I worked at
NYBG, I just love how the Series matches the year. The NYBG folks are too
clever…)  Register now:
NYBG also provided an excellent Landscape Design Portfolio
Series, held at their Midtown Education Center in Manhattan.  

This season’s speakers were: Christine Ten Eyck, Gilles
Clément, and Mary Margaret Jones—all shared a focus on reclaiming and
regenerating urban landscapes—both vast and intimate—from parking lots to
public spaces to industrial waterfronts.  

Giles Clement, the French landscape designer wowed the audience with the
beauty of his garden designs, as as well as his gardener-as-advocate and
interpreter approach to using and understanding plants.
The Wave Hill annual Lecture Series at the New York School of Interior Design held every winter is yet another outstanding opportunity to learn from the horticultural rock stars. 
7. A knock-out of a show is the New York Botanic Garden’s
Orchid Show.  It was even more of a
delight as so much of the Show was curated so well.  

On the way to the The Shop after a lecture to
check on my Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook that is sold there, I
thought I’d seen the show in previous years so thought I’d just take a peek and
be on my way.  Think again.  I was held spellbound at every point.  This Orchid Show must be experienced. Every
8. Being a garden writer, I receive plants and tools, on
occasion, to try out,  test and write about. 
Last year’s pleasant surprise were the Mighty ‘Mato tomato
plants that are grafted onto SuperNatural rootstock. 
I tried several varieties in our edible garden and was
impressed with the harvest, taste and the fact that we were harvesting right up
till frost in our zone 7. 
The fruits are two-ounce bright
red, salad tomatoes with sweet flavor. They are crack resistant fruits, and
were late blight resistant.
Grafting is a natural technique
that joins the top part of one plant (scion) to the root system of another
I don’t know why I was resistant to the concept of grafting
– perhaps it stirs up images of “Franken-carrots” or other modified
plants.  But truth is, this is all
The growers write:
As the nation’s
gardeners begin a clamor for organic and local sources of food, many have opted
to grow their own. While the downturn in the economy has encouraged this as a
practical consideration, additional stimulus has come from health concerns over
GMOs and toxins found in the average American diet. Throw in the impetus from
the superior taste of homegrown veggies and the trend to grow-your-own
vegetables is quickly becoming a movement.
(More on the grafting story upcoming)
In response to the demand for grafted inputs, SuperNaturals
Grafted Vegetables is now offering over 100 varieties of grafted plants
9. The Horticultural Society of New York (HSNY) 3rd
annual Urban Agricultural Conference was a kinetic, educational and inspiring
gathering.  The post and my coverage
still generate a ton of visitors – – testament to the interest and enduring 

10. Two highlights of 2012 worth noting: the opportunity to
be featured in local media to discuss and share with their readers how to
remediate plants affected by Superstorm Sandy and how to grow edible gardens
and enjoy eating healthy, homegrown food. 
In The Two River Times:
11. A breakout event was the launch of The New York Botanic
Garden’s Hortie Hoopla, a professional development event designed to
bring horticulture interns together to discuss career options in the green industry.
The brainchild of the Charles Yurgalevitch, Director of
NYBG’s School of Professional Horticulture, the premiere event was an
unmitigated success.  
Student Vanessa & Charles Yurgalevitch (R)
There was an
all-star speakers lineup, including Ken Druse, lecturer and radio host – and a
speaker at this year’s Plant-O-Rama, January 28th, and Ethne Clark,
Editor-in-Chief, Organic Gardening magazine, followed by Garden tours and dinner
in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. 

There will be a Hortie Hoopla this year. Stay tuned.
12.  The Metrohort
lectures and gatherings with the area’s horticultural professionals are held at
the Central Park Amory during the winter months and there the evenings are
filled with plant pros and food and drink. 
Unbeatable combination.
So was this past year’s line up of speakers:
Thomas Woltz – Stories of Plants and Place: Horticultural Narrative
from Private     
Gardens to Botanic Gardens,
Jeff Epping – Sustainable Gardens: Designs for Greener Gardens
W. Gary Smith – Nature’s Patterns 
(Smith also showed us his bold design work on a Virginia couple’s estate
and that news story recently ran in Anne Raver’s New York Times garden
column.  I love Anne and her garden
Diana Balmori – Plants: Actors with new roles on a city stage  
During the summer, Metrohort leads educational visits to the
area’s parks, gardens and arboreta, including Greenwood Gardens in the Garden
State and Governor’s Island. 
Those stories still to be told.  
Greenwood Gardens

13. The stories still waiting to be produced, er, written,
for the Look Book 2012 are many – sorry a garden writer and author and
garden designer has no down time!
Here are a few that stand out to be shared:
* Stately Homes by the Sea: an annual designer show house
and garden, located in Rumson in the Garden State (think Gilded Age estates,
refreshed by designers and decorators.  
This year’s home, the former Hartshorne Mansion, survived the ages but
took a heavy blow from Superstorm Sandy… 
The Hartshorne Mansion is a registered
historic home, was built in 1891 by a member of the New York Stock Exchange,
but perhaps better known as a U.S. Olympic ice skater – five time dance
champion and US Figure Skating Hall of Fame inductee. His home hosted Sonja
Henning who skated at the home’s front pond. He was on his way to judge the
1961 World Championships in Prague, when incredibly, Hartshorne and the entire
U.S. Figure Skating died in a plane crash.
It’s a great story – and the Hartshorne Mansion home
designer showcase – is one I’m keen to tell.
* Another one that I’m incredulous I haven’t written is the review
of my talk about Kitchen Gardens and my Homegrown book at the Strauss Museum
for The Atlantic Highlands Historical Society. 
In fact, for this post, I had to Google it thinking my blog overlooked
this important news item.  Sigh… 

* Appreciation for Revered Garden clients.  It was incredibly busy seasons for my Duchess
Designs team and our garden clients.  I am truly
blessed to have garden clients who are not only lovers of the beautiful
aesthetics of garden design and the sheer exuberance of plants and the joy they
bring but they possess that innate garden patron’s characteristic of patience
and vision – so essential always but particularly so after Sandy… I so love the chance to make them happy with seasonal container compositions and plant care and summer annual plant designs to add that “punch” of color.  
* I’m also keen and thankful to welcome new garden clients
this year.  Here’s that thread of
hopefulness yet again – that garden lovers seek the possibilities and see the
light, while some must fret for the economy and Sandy – there are still those
that will say – “Let’s plant a garden and enjoy our home more.”  

And what a gateway to other garden world experiences! 
I am so honored that one new garden client suggested me for
a Ted Talk!  Wow. That’s surely a vote of
garden confidence.
And all the opportunities that came about late this year are
already filling the early 2014 calendar – from a book signing at Metrohort’s
Plant-O-Rama to teaching at NYBG to talks and interviews and…  
While I feel guilty and wistful about the 2012 stories I
didn’t get to write, I remain grateful for the migration from a bleak start to a
heroic, glamorous garden conclusion to the year and the recognition that plants
and gardens heal and enrich all of us. 
Just look and listen to the plants…
If you missed WNYC’s Talking to the Plants – Secret Life of
Plants with Michael Pollan – whom I have written about for the Wall St.
Pollan cites plants as his first love- back to his roots and
talks about plants’ intelligence and memory and communication – a topic I have
long embraced and have been working to share via my writings.. Love the
gravitas Pollan provides.
Embrace and Love the mystery and beauty of Plants…
This was the year we broke down and installed turf in part of the front garden – and it enhanced and complemented the allee arbor and perennials beds — and felt good on the feet… 
We got goldfish for the one-year old water garden fountain, and enjoyed our first bloom of water lily – both day and evening bloomers. 

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"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art."
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 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.

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