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Archive for the ‘Gardens’ Category

Now that spring has arrived, it’s a great time to get a new landscape designed and planted.  With cooler than average spring temperatures, new plantings require much less watering and nursery stock is abundant.

Whether it’s a small city garden or a sprawling suburban landscape, Watercolour Gardens will work closely with you to create a design suited to your lifestyle and needs.  The first consult is free and any budget can be accommodated, with the expertise of an Oxford trained designer.  We offer various levels of service, from lush perennial paintings to complete hardscaping projects, using the best of materials to create a lasting environment.  We offer a full service solution, from concept to completion.

Please visit Watercolour Gardens online or contact us at 1.847.380.2699

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According to The Wall Street Journal, Evanston made their list as one of the most walkable small cities in the US.  Evanston has always been known for it’s fantastic footpaths and exceptional lakefront.  It’s also very easy to get from one end of town to the other by foot, while enjoying the historic architecture and leafy mature trees.  Evanston also has fantastic bike paths and bike lanes, which can take you across town, linking up to various paths in Chicago.  The Fall colour has yet to peak in Evanston, but it’s on the way.  Another reason to take an invigorating long Autumn walk.

To read more from The Wall Street Journal.  Click here.

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Visiting Sissinghurst in England’s Southeast is a step back into several layers of history. The ruins of an Elizabethan summer palace were purchased by the eccentric couple, Vita Sacksville-West and Harold Nicolson. Both having been writers, they rebuilt the remnants of a centuries old pile in their own vision of a romantic past. The gardens were built in the 1930s around architectural remnants consisting of stonewalls, foundations and old terraces. It was a work in progress during their lifetime together. The Bohemian paradise even had a working farm attached to the property, but has long since vanished. Under the supervision of the National Trust, the gardens and home have been polished to facilitate the masses that visit every year.  It’s a euphoric experience to spend the day there, wandering around the various outdoor spaces they planned and implemented.

Mr. Nicolson and his family currently live on the property as part of an agreement in the will of his predecessors, but the grounds are owned and managed by The National Trust.  The current family and The National Trust have somewhat of an interesting relationship.

A few years ago, the BBC aired a series on the daily relationship between Sissinghursts permanent ancestoral residents and the management.  It was fairly entertaining and gave a good look into the operations of a highly toured English historical site.  I’m sure it will broadcast here in the States on PBC in the near future.

The New York Times recently posted an article written by Adam Nicolson.  Adam is an expert author on the history of the property and the lives of his grandparents.

To read more about Sissinghurst and its facinating history, click here.

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Being familiar with the French landscape designer, Patric Blanc, I’ve seen Parisian office buildings covered in swaths of textured and colourful foliage. The garden designs seem to defy the laws of gravity. Not only can a building have grounded gardens, rooftop gardens, but also vertical gardens. Truly remarkable to see.

The concept of vertical gardens, grown on walls has been taken to all new environments. A South American rain forest has been recreated on the New York condo walls of Michael Riley. As a director of the New York Horticultural Society, Mr. Riley has plenty of experience with tropical specimens, but he wasn’t satisfied with traditional pots and containers. He built a complex infrastructure or irrigation, drainage, containment and lighting on the walls of a typical New York flat.  Brilliant!

Thanks to the New York Times, you can read more about this gravity defying indoor garden.

For more about gardens in Chicago, visit Watercolour Gardens.

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We all know the value of home improvement, but many homeowners overlook one of the most important factors in a homes worth. Landscaping can add significant value to a property. Start with a design that uses logic, to create usable outdoor space. Features are really important in landscape. Ponds, outdoor rooms, sculpture, fountains, terraces, distinctive trees, creative planting and tasteful paving are all important. Quality is a must. Skimping on detail and using cheap materials can actually detract from a homes value. Budget is important to focus on while in the planning stages and not when a project is already underway. It’s not cheap to have a designer landscape but neither is the cost of owning a home. So why not pay for it, enjoy it and see it as a worthy investment.

According to The Boston Globe, just having a landscape can add 12.7% to your property value. A sophisticated and functional garden can tack on 42% more to your home’s value.

Money growing in your garden

Mature plants, spacious patios, and other outdoor features can all add value to your property.

By Elizabeth Gehrman

“Show me your garden . . . and I will tell you what you are like,” wrote the English poet Alfred Austin in 1905. Today, the words might more aptly be “Show me your garden and I will tell you you’ll get more money for your house.” Up to 12.7 percent more, to be exact, according to a 2007 paper by Virginia Tech horticulturalist Alex Niemiera that brought together research from the previous decade. The factor that added most to a home’s value – up to 42 percent – was design sophistication. For more…..

Contact Watercolour Gardens for landscapes designed by an Oxford trained designer. Tel. 847 380 2699.

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As a landscape designer, I often take scent into consideration in planning a garden. When designing scented cues, the emotional response to the visual stimuli is enhanced. Scent can make the experience more meaningful and memorable for the garden’s owner and guests, when used properly.

Scent is a very powerful tool. It serves as a means of communication in so many ways. An attraction between individuals. A memory. A way to manipulate consumers, as stores pump Oxytocin into ventilation systems to increase spending. Scent is not something we think about all the time but our subconscious minds are always aware of it.

The New York Times recently covered a symposium on scent as design.  It’s interesting to see what the scent experts are up to.

A Parsons Symposium on Scent as Design

By JOYCE WADLER                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Photo: Robert Wright for The New York Times
WE arrived late for “Headspace: On Scent as Design,” a symposium held March 26 in the auditorium at Parsons the New School for Design, and so missed the smell of birth being spritzed into the room.

Happily, we had another opportunity, because that scent, along with several others — including “being a baby,” “puberty,” “partnership,” “empty nest,” “sex” and “death” — were available for inhalation at a table outside the auditorium, most of them embedded in small plastic beads that visitors were invited to take.

“No one likes puberty,” Kim Fisher, the young woman at the table, said. “Everyone likes sex, but there are no beads for it.”

Being not quite product-ready is not uncommon when things are brainy and theoretical, and at Headspace — a conference presented by Parsons and the Museum of Modern Art, in partnership with International Flavors and Fragrances Inc., Coty and Seed magazine — they were extremely cerebral. Does your head ache after that list of sponsors? Imagine how you would have felt in the auditorium, where designers, perfumers and industry experts talked about “co-creation” and “facilitating dialogue with the consumer.”

“I see design going through filtering, clarifying, making things visible — how does that go towards defining your work as a designer?” a moderator asked in a morning session, making us ache for the scent “coffee.” Also, the auditorium was freezing.

Why is it so cold? we asked Jamer Hunt, the director of the new graduate program in transdisciplinary design at Parsons and one of the people who dreamed up the symposium, after we beat it to the outside foyer.

“There’s a special technology for diffusing,” Mr. Hunt said. “We need the back doors of the auditorium to be open so the scent flows through to everybody.”

For Headspace, Mr. Hunt explained, designers and architects like Toshiko Mori had been paired with perfumers to “design using scent — not just a fragrance, but something that would affect our everyday lives.”

Ms. Mori had been involved in creating a scent called “anti-gravity.” Marije Vogelzang, a Dutch designer, had made eating utensils imbued with the smells of foods that might be harmful to consume but are still nice to sniff. The urban designer Majora Carter had worked on scents that could be diffused through the ventilation system of an apartment complex in her neighborhood in the South Bronx.

Mr. Hunt also seemed proud of a student project called “Scent Clock,” a piece of cardboard listing six times of day. “If you scratch at each hour, there is a different smell associated with a different time of day,” he said. “Scratch the shiny spot.”

The reporter scratched an orange rectangle labeled “10 wake up” and smelled not much of anything.

“We wanted to make it a challenge and didn’t want it to be easy,” Mr. Hunt said. “It’s a combination of toothpaste and an alarm clock.”

The reporter inhaled again, smelling mint. That explained the toothpaste, but where was the alarm clock?

“There should be a slightly more plastic smell to it,” Mr. Hunt said. “Part of the challenge is what does an alarm clock smell like? I think it smells like electronics, which is a certain kind of burning smell, but there is also the metaphysical. An alarm clock wakes you up, so you want a smell that is very bright.”

The reporter moved on to the scent made by Ayse Birsel, who has designed pots and pans for Target and toilet seats for Toto. Ms. Birsel and her colleague Yoko Hiroshi, working with perfumers Celine Barel and Laurent Le Guernec, created a birth through death line. As Ms. Birsel conceived it, each scent would be contained in a large, smooth stone that would symbolize that moment in life. Since there was no time to imbue the stones with the scent, they were presented separately.

Ms. Birsel, who wore a black stone-like Japanese gourd around her neck and black fishnet stockings, had a half-dozen stones with her.

“What we wanted to do was give form and scent to threshold in life,” she said. “We wanted to create a very intimate form. The form of the pebble as something you can hold in your hand would symbolize a moment in your life, like a birth or a partnership.”

So those two halves of a stone that fit smoothly together — is that one “partnership”?

“This is sex, actually, the pebble as yin and yang, two perfect pieces that come together,” Ms. Birsel said. “Partnership is the whole stone. We decided puberty is about dichotomy, you have multiple personalities and a piece missing because you are not totally whole.”

What about the scent?

“We asked them to create a scent that is unbalanced, with too many hormones,” Ms. Birsel said. “We had them imbued in the little plastic pearls, because in the time frame we had we couldn’t inject them in the forms.”

We heard nobody likes the puberty scent, we told her.

“Well, nobody likes puberty, so it’s a successful smell,” she said. “That was the intention.”

Click for the original article.


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