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How to Cultivate A Garden Lifestyle: Homegrown Taste, Garden-To-Glass Style ~ Highlights from My Talk at NKBA


Few things can equal the joy of talking to a group of hard-working, artful professionals about how to live a Garden Lifestyle ~ while enjoying the journey along the garden path. 

Recently I had that distinct honor and pleasure; speaking to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) Manhattan members in the delicious Sub Zero/Wolf/Cove Gotham showroom. 

As an “expert” on the NYC food and drink world, I was asked to share my “secrets” about my farm-to-table and garden-to-glass life ~ brimming with plants, pollinators, style and love.  

Here’s a snapshot of that “ground-breaking” talk. 

Look at what the guests saw upon entering the gorgeous Sub Zero showroom!

The team created a pretty-in-pink storyboard for the Welcome Cocktail.

I chose “Let’s Make it Interesting” from my Art of the Garnish cocktail book to serve because it’s a truly refreshing drink, it’s soooo pretty thanks to the Aperol and Rose Petal garnish (recipe below) 

And the roses frozen in the ice were an incredible touch of nature’s beauty, just so perfect for this homegrown soirée.


I have to share again my very deep and abiding gratitude and respect for NKBA Manhattan ~ I have known many of the talented and generous pros for some years.  I also had the opportunity to speak to this group and appliance manufacturers some years ago on the Future of Food. (highlights, here, from my blog).   

Big designer hugs to Toni, Julie, Charlé-John, and Joan. 

Here is the glamorous Joan Ravasy, interior designer and me, getting ready for the talk. Joan managed the Q&A with well, great style. Of course! 

I also thank my new foodie friends at Sub Zero ~ Toques in the corporate Chef Phil Raspanti, Crystal, Diana and Bianca.

Look at how fabulous their showroom is for the presentation. 

In addition to the magic and passion that ignite these genres, I launched the third leg of the stool with a uniting, unifying concept that brings together this holy trinity or as I called it, the “Ménage a Trois” (because it sounded a wee bit naughtier. 🙂)

I thought about the concept of Taste ~ we use this term to describe delicious food (cooking) and in good design ~ as in “you have great taste!” when describing the look of a room or garden when designed with elements or ingredients that we like. 

Begging the question, “What is Taste, exactly?”  

How to illustrate this?  I created a Venn diagram to show the uniting element that Taste is Pleasure!  

Flavor is often conflated with taste. However, taste is quantifiable, “corresponding messages sent to the brain by receptor cells on the tongue” when it detects components in food.

We use our all our senses in each of the attending genres of 

  • Interior Design
  • Culinary Art
  • Garden Design / Garden Lifestyle 

Plants are a muse ~ they inspire practically everything and everything we use ~ from food, home goods, health and wellness products, spirits, and textiles, to name a few.  

Think of tequila, rum, or gin, for example. They all come from Plants.

Think of silk, cotton, hemp. They all come from plants.

Think of wood, glass. Plants.

Think of perfume, aromatherapy, pharma ~ you guessed it. Plants.

I encourage all to think of using plants in new and perhaps different ways. 

I use homegrown corn to make corn ice cream!  

And homegrown peaches (from our mini orchard) to make puree for Bellinis and desserts.

Or our native Paw Paw fruit in pannacotta! 

And then there is the undeniable, sexy fun of using your garden plants as Cocktail Garnish, simple syrups, shrubs, and bitters.

I passionately encourage all to Drink with the Seasons ~ it’s so much more fun.  

I showed how I used my garden-fresh cherry blossoms, lilacs, tulip blossoms, roses, bergamot, and more, in my garden-to-glass cocktails and drinks. 



  Some of my favorite blossoms to use are begonias. I keep a container of flowering begonias near our bar carts. The lemony taste is so perfect for so many drinks.

And who can resist passion flowers, orchids, hostas, or pansies?!

I encourage everyone to grow herbs ~ they are so easy to have on hand, in every season, indoors and out.  I offered a few tips to keep them growing and flavorful. And most importantly, straight from my Art of the Garnish book ~ how to store your herbs.  In your Sub Zero, of course (wink) 

I showcased the many garden styles for today’s urban and suburban gardens: 

And described how you can grow in raised beds, on rooftops, in containers and on the counter top; support your local Greenmarkets or CSA, if you can’t possibly grow anything. 

And I also encourage “Succession Gardening” meaning that as you are completing harvests from one season and some plants, sow or plant the next ones. This way you’ll always have a crop of ingredients. 

I recommend products to help make it easier to grow your own food. 

Bill and I are very much loving our Vegepod that we bought at the Philadelphia Flower Show.  It is a mini-greenhouse; keeping those vegetables and greens away from the critters that used to get to them before we did!  

The Vegepod now is a feature in a new shell garden I designed this season ~ adjacent to our little homegrown “farmette.”  

Anticipating drier summers (do you remember last year in the Northeast?!), lack of rain and water restriction which will be the new “normal,” I wanted a garden that wouldn’t need us to provide supplemental watering.

A little farther on, you’ll see I added a no-water/no mow bocce court!  

More on these in a subsequent Dry/Shell garden design Post. Stay tuned. 

I cited Hydroponics as one option for counter-top, indoor food gardens.

Vertical gardens?  No. I cannot in good conscience recommend installing these gardens. They look lucious in magazine spreads or showhouses but unless you have a full time gardener ~ avoid this design. No one wants soil spilling onto a counter or plant plugs seizing up because they dry out so quickly. 

How to Design a Greener Future?

I offered a few ways we can all get to a more sustainable style within our own homes.

I went on to explain what plants need: THE best soil, water, sun, and love. 

Gardens take time and patience. They are work and a luxury.  

The rewards are incomparable. 

I suggested Xeriscaping, Hydrozoning, using herbs and veggies mixed in with one’s ornamental gardens, and using dwarf varieties and cultivars for small spaces.

I also challenged these talented designers to build in gray water recycling systems where filtered water can be reused to nourish plants, saving our precious water resource.

(I showed our rain barrel ~ the radishes I planted in the top are just coming up! Exciting.)

Food Change

I also noted that I foresee that in the not too distant future, our diets and menus will evolve. Eventually, what we eat on our plates will be transformed. This will be due to Climate Change. We won’t be able to grow some of the foods that are part of our cultural heritage, including rice, corn, beef, almonds, coffee, grapes for wine. (Those last two make me weep! Say it ain’t so…) 

Agriculture just cannot support some of the water-needy plants ~ and animals/livestock we presently eat and drink…

Going Beyond

I also talked about going beyond growing and cooking to take pleasure to live a garden lifestyle.

It is so interesting and fun to explore a Culinary and Cocktail Culture. 

Who doesn’t love gorgeous cocktail shakers ~ one of mine has flower blossoms wending its vine down the side, naturally. 

Or elegant cocktail glasses.  They add so much glamour to a garden-to-glass drink ~ I especially love the antique coupes and Nick and Nora glasses I collect.

Accessorize your kitchen, bars, terraces, with plants and accouterments that amplify a garden lifestyle. 

And in a pitch for my own homage to my special guests on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations guests, I showed my hand-painted cocktail napkins. 

I have created two artful cocktail napkins so far. (I know, I know, I’ve got to get painting more.  Right after the “silly season” that is spring…)


I was proud that I could offer the French 75 cocktail napkin for sale at the event that celebrates Toni Sabatino, my first guest on the Ladies Who Lunch Conversations videocast and the recent, past president of NKBA. 

Toni chose the French 75 as her favorite drink and the cause that benefits from their sale is HousePlus, the largest provider of permanent supportive housing for female veterans in New York City, who often face myriad challenges to life stability. 

You can visit my Garden Glamour Shop  to learn the stories about these glamorous, artful cocktail napkins, the Ladies who inspired them, and the causes they support.

We thank you for your support.

Cocktail Canapes

The menu that Sub Zero corporate Chef Phil created for the event was a tour de force of homegrown, local ingredients. 

Here is the very robust list ~ I hope it inspires you.

Following my formal presentation, I was asked to shake up my Art of the Garnish featured drink, “Let’s Make it Interesting” and we toasted to good food, good health, and a garden lifestyle.

NKBA was thrilled to note that this event was their best attended.  Wowsy.  

Here is president Julie Schuster welcoming her many members. 

I thank all for the opportunity to speak to you all about Homegrown and a garden lifestyle. 

And for the opportunity to autograph my books and sell the specially-designed Cocktail Napkins from the Collection. 

Cheers to you all to live a garden life brimming with good food, good drinks and the best ingredient: love.


  • Garden Glamour

    I'm thrilled you enjoyed this overview/recap of how to enjoy food & cocktails that I presented at NKBA in the sophisticated SubZero showroom. Glad that you too, learned about growing and using garnishes. We all need more beauty and fun! You are most welcome.

  • Anonymous

    It was a wonderful way to inform everyone how and when to enjoy food and cocktails. Also how to grow garnishes for all occasions. I learn so much. Thanks 🙏💐

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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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