ISABELLA GARDNER MUSEUM – PART 2

COURTYARD’S SEASONAL DISPLAYS

 

This is the second part of a Post I published last week Isabella and her love for Art and Gardens, on it, I talk about the amazing life of the Gardner family, its trips, and their lifestyle that lead them to build the Isabella Gardner Museum.

Isabella Stewart Gardner was passionate about art and culture, she became interested in the gardens she saw while traveling all around the world and wanted to leave her legacy through art; this Museum is the accomplishment of those interests, with, of course, her personal and intimate touch.

Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice, 1894, by Anders Zorn (Oil on canvas, 91 x 66 cm)

Her museum is a mix of styles, gothic, renaissance, roman and byzantine, famous because of its great art pieces, nevertheless, the garden courtyard is also an essential part of the building, with floral exhibitions of new and full-grown plants that change constantly during the year, according to seasons and blooms.

Every month the courtyard has a floral theme and color, therefore it has become as essential and iconic as every part of the museum.

The Courtyard


Before we start talking about plants, here are some curiosities about the courtyard and it’s care:

  • Every seasonal display in the courtyard contains 300 to 500 plants.
  • Each plant is placed in the courtyard for around 7 days, after that, they have to replace it with another identical one; there’s a lack of sunlight in the courtyard, caused by the tall walls so close to each other and the plants can suffer having low light.
  • The most traditional display is the long Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) hanging from the third-floor balconies as Gardener used to in the early 1900’s.


That being said, here’s the list of displays during the year

 

Winter tropics (January – February)

Tropical and subtropical plants fill the courtyard: lots of Orchids, norfolk island pine (Araucaria heterophylla), tree ferns (Cyatheales), fishtail palms (Caryota), areca palms and ferns.

This display is inspired by old images of plants placed by Isabella.

(You can also grow this plants at home, in a room with indirect light and high humidity).



Orchids (February – March)

Exotic orchids native to Southeast Asia and Africa, like slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum) with maroon and green flowers, Leopard orchids (Ansellia) with yellow flowers and brown spots, nun’s cap orchids (Phaius tankervilleae) and other groups, all of these, surrounded with calla lilies.


Hanging Nasturtiums (April)
The most traditional display in the museum.

As Isabella did in the late 1800’s, hanging nasturtiums keep making a dramatic appearance above the courtyard. Cascades of flowering nasturtium vines grown in the Museum’s greenhouses, they require continuous care to ensure the dramatic length.

Hanging nasturtiums above the Gardner Museum courtyard

 

Spring blooms (April – May)

Time to talk about color! After the Nasturtiums (also colorful), they place azaleas, blue cineraria, ivory and cream daffodils, and pines. Another Gardner Museum’s signature is the Clivia miniata. Flowering maples used to flank the steps and the statues.

This is the most famous and labor intensive of the courtyard displays.


Hydrangeas (April – June)

The most notorious and common are the Hydrangea macrophylla, Hydrangea quercifolia, and Hydrangea paniculata among other specimens grant life and color to the courtyard. Violets, deep blues, and whites of the hydrangeas complement the delicate yellow oncidium orchids.


Summer blues (June – July)

Late-flowering hydrangeas are a great source of color and create a nice environment in summer. Mophead Hydrangeas and H. paniculata ‘Grandifolia’ fill in the courtyard and stand out among the statues, then, they introduce Agapanthus blue blooms.

Agapanthus at the Gardner’s Museum

 

Bellflowers (August – September)

As the courtyard has small dimensions and tall walls, it remains fresh during warmer months, ferns and fountains’ water help maintain it that way. At this time of year, chimney bellflower (Campanula pyramidalis) appears in the courtyard. The Museum’s horticulturists grow this plant as a biennial, from seeds; it takes two years to get Campanulas to maturity (1,80m tall) and thrive in the courtyard.

Campanula piramidalis at the Gardner’s Museum

 

Chrysanthemums (September – November)

Late September is chrysanthemums’ time, different colors and species. It’s known that Isabella grew many chrysanthemums varieties, as a matter of fact, a pink-tinged chrysanthemum was named for her.

Chrysanthemum at the Gardner’s Museum
Chrysanthemum at the Gardner’s Museum

 

Holiday Garden (December – January)

Holiday traditions at the Gardner Museum showcase flowering jade trees (Crassula argentea) raised in the Museum’s greenhouse for many years, the oldest ones are 60 years old, with trunks around 10 to 15 cm in diameter and 90 cm tall.

Crassula, holiday courtyard

Other plants thrive around the Museum like jade trees, like silver dusty miller, green aloe, and amaryllis red winter blooms.

 

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My first video & more info about Grass-like plants!

Grasses are one of my favorite shrubs to decorate a garden, there’s a vast list of varieties for every taste; small, big, golden, silver, rounded, tall, adapted to damp or dry soil, shady or sunny areas, and the list goes on.

Ornamental grasses can be the focus element on most gardens, I find them so elegant and graceful, especially the tall ones, because of its “fountain” shapes and subtle movements when the wind blows.
They can also be the perfect complement flowering plants to highlight its color and structure, some of them will grow perfectly in containers, so they’re pretty much perfect for any situation.

Ornamental grasses mostly like sunny and bright positioning, but, they tolerate well a wide range of conditions. They need moist but well-drained soil and, the most important thing about them is that they are super low-maintenance plants, you just need to “feed” them with fertilizer in spring and that should be enough for them to do the rest.

After giving you a quick summary of Ornamental Grasses, I wanted to talk to you about the Elegia tectorum, a gorgeous grass-like plant which was the inspiration for my first video in Cape Town.


Elegia tectorum

Common names:

Cape thatching reed, deckreed, dakriet (Afrikaans), restios.

 

Yep, this is <clearly> my first video, I explained a bit of this gorgeous plant in the middle of a windstorm, apparently XD (kidding, that’s normal weather in Cape Town o.O).

So here’s the rest of the information for this ornamental shrub that I hope you like as much as I do.

Restionaceae

 

Elegia tectorum or restios are a superficially grass-like shrub endemic from the Western Cape Floral Kingdom or Fynbos, which is the smallest and richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms per unit of area. They grow together with proteas, pincushion, and ericas among others.

Restionaceaes grow in greater variety in fynbos, they have symmetrical shapes and tufted red-like appearance.

They have thin dark green stems and brown flowers, male and female flowers grow on separate plants branched inflorescences; female blooms are protected by golden brown bracts.

They grow in sand dry soils in full sun exposition and plenty of air movement.

Protected area in Kommetjie, Cape Town – South Africa

Maybe you can find this shrub at home, maybe you don’t, there are other plants which can give the same effect and I’m sure you’ll know about them here.

You can find an example of a garden with grasses on my Low-Maintenance Garden post, there I show you how to use them also in small spaces.

Hope you enjoy it!

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How to design your own Low-Maintenance Garden

Here we are again, with a new project and I’m very excited about it.I’m always excited about new projects, especially using low-maintenance plants to help my clients and you having a garden with no effort!

The place: a nice garden situated in Lake Como, in a small house part of an antique Villa, surrounded by nature but in desperate need of revitalizing.

My clients: a lovely newlyweds’ couple, transferred to an antique house a few months ago, they now have a nice and comfortable garden which needs some care.
They want to start this project step by step and that’s a nice decision when you are not sure what to do and how it will look in the end, so it is OK to separate the areas and visualize what you’d like before running to the nursery.

So, we decided to start with a small rectangular area, perfect for a flowerbed, situated right after the entrance door. This is the first thing they see every day, going in and out their new home so it was first on the list to fix.

 

It looks small but it has space for different dimensions shrubs and we are going to take the best of it

 

Former owners plant cherry laurel just to have some privacy from cars and some pedestrians but there’s still space for other plants there. So a nice way to start is taking a look at this old plants and make sure of two things:

  • First, we have to consider if we want to keep them, this can reduce costs, time and work.
  • Second, check for unhealthy plants, this way you’ll know if it’s worth to keep them, replace some of them or simply remove them.

 

The Project

For starters, I wanted to provide color and different textures, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably know those are the most important things when designing a garden, in order to have a relaxed and “spontaneous” garden… and if you don’t follow me, then follow me, I’m here to help 😉

In order to make this area pop, we need (as I said already) color and texture, and we’ll get it from some special shrubs. You’ll probably know them already, but, the first one is going to make you remember grandma’s home: it is the Butterfly stonecrop. Before you think about grandma’s garden again (in a negative way), let me show you how it will mix perfectly in contrast with other structured plants. A touch of color will be given by mixed bulbs and tall vervains. Texture contrasts will be given using small shrubs to fill some angles and renew this old area.

Flowerbed’s floor plan
How it’ll look



Butterfly stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Brilliant’): formerly known as Sedum spectabile, is a perennial with compact shapes, cultivated in full-sun, part-sun, and well-drained soils. They look gorgeous in rock gardens and they give all their best in autumn. Couple with perennial grasses they’ll look amazing. They have light green foliage, pink blooms between September and October and they’re low maintenance. Drought and heat tolerant, they grow 45cm tall and 60cm wide.
Also excellent to grow in pots on a sunny terrace.

Sedum and Stachys ‘Primrose Heron’ flowerbed

 

Fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale): it is a low-maintenance/easy to grow grass. They are super resistant and tolerate any soil, so they’ll grow nicely in well-drained soil. They like full-sun or part-sun exposition and blooms from June to October. Green-grey leaves and light pink blooms that change colors in autumn. They grow 50 – 60cm tall.

Ornamental grasses

 

Purpletop vervain or tall vervain (Verbena bonariensis): this amazing plant will give a nice touch of color, highness and “air” with its long and thin stems. This is an ornamental perennial plant that grows well in well-drained soil in full-sun and part-sun areas, it has dark green stems that “die” in winter and re-grow again in early summer. It has small purple flowers that bloom from summer to autumn, sometimes they last until late October. It goes from 1-1.5 m tall and 30-90 cm wide.

Verbena bonariensis
Tall vervain and grass mix

 

Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina): small and compact shrub, ornamental with soft silver leaves. Perennial, but it also dries in winter and re-grows in spring. It makes stand up pink, blue and purple blooms,. It likes a well-drained soil although it also grows well in rock gardens in full-sun expositions. Depending on the species it goes from 30 to 50 cm tall.

Stachys byzantina’s silver leaves

 

Bulbs: you can mix and match whatever bulbs you want, always!. Things to consider: highness and colors. In this case, some purple blooms would go perfectly so I choose Allium schoenoprasum, but you commonly call them chives. This is a perennial plant that grows from 30 to 50cm, flowers are pale purple and has dark green grass-like leaves. It would grow nice in full sun and you can plant separate bulbs or in groups depending on the final look you want for your garden. I propose at least 3 bulbs together, they will multiply next year so it all depends on you, I like the informal look.

 

Lamb’s ear and chives working together!

 

The idea of a nice garden is to make it as natural as possible as if those plants grow spontaneously. Don’t be afraid to mix and match, it’s nice to have different shapes contrasts in your garden, so, if you have any questions, you know where to find me!!!

Grass border and chives

 

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Boost your productivity with these low-maintenance houseplants!

Hello there!

Here I am again with some more tips and ideas to help you transform your own space into a fresh and relaxed one with the use of plants.

This time I’m showing you a project for a Home Studio (or home-office, I just don’t like the word “office” anymore, be patient with me 🙂 ), my clients work at home and they weren’t feeling it, they were bored of the space, there was no life and it was affecting their mood and their way to engage with the space.
Sometimes we don’t realize that small changes can brighten up our day, that’s why I keep repenting we all need “fresh” spaces, where we can breathe and concentrate better, in this case: working better.

 

THE PROJECT 


They have a small studio, about 12 sq.m, it may seem small but they do have a lot of indirect light and I wanted to take advantage of that with the use of succulents, because, let’s face it, if you’re working, the last thing you want to think about is plant’s caring, and they will make the difference.

The project includes low-maintenance plants, each of them with a lot of character because sometimes, transformations require being bold, and these plants have everything we want.

I love sketching, so here’s a view from my client’s studio with some nature behind

 

PLANT SELECTION

 

Studio floorplan

 

  • Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
    Is an ornamental, evergreen, perennial plant. Evergreen means that even in colder seasons they’re going to maintain all their green leaves. Leaves grow vertically about 70 to 90 cm, dark green color with yellow edges when mature. It is perfect as a houseplant because it can tolerate low light and irregular watering.
    It will highlight every angle, and in this case, we’d placed it in a narrow niche to give the illusion of a taller space.
Sansevieria

 

  • Inchplant (Tradescantia zebrina)
    I chose this plant because of its colors, so beautiful and intense. When decorating, we also have to think about shapes and this one has it all.
    It grows well in indirect light and dry to wet soil, obviously, it has to be a balance, but you’re going to be fine with them.
    The falling shape makes it easy to find a high spot on a library, a shelf or in this case, the top of glass doors.
Tradescantia zebrina

 

  • Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria)
    Is a cactaceae family member, small dimension plant, they need direct light, but, indoors, it’s better to place them in a bright place but avoiding direct sun through glass windows, it can be too intense for them. They like breezy areas so it is ok to open the windows and let them have some air in summer.
    If you find the right place for them, they’ll bloom in summer, forming a little “crown” around your cactus, it’s really pretty and perfect for a bookshelf or in a high space so you won’t pinch yourself constantly 🙂 it also works perfectly by itself or in groups. Give it a try! it’ll make you love cactus.
Mammilaria

 

  • Zebra Cactus (Haworthia fasciata)
    Small but equally ornamental as any other big plant, it’s a succulent with chubby leaves and white reliefs on the bottom that cross the leave all over them with (like a zebra). It can grow from 5 to 10 cm and needs a nice amount of light during the day, but, as I said before, it is better if you can avoid direct sun especially in summer.
    It’ll look amazing in a small container with other plants, but this time, we’ll keep it alone. If you have clear walls (for example) it will stand out without efforts!.

    Haworthia fasciata

     

    There you go, now you have character and colors in a small room, with no effort, no added furniture, and practically no deep plant care. Plants make our life better and sometimes you just need small steps including small but full or style plants.

    Hope you enjoy this post and if you have questions, I’m here baby 🙂

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Best Low-Maintenance houseplants that also work as air-purifying!

Indoor plants

Everybody (including me) want the perfect living-room but sometimes it feels like a never-ending homework of details, and to be fair, sometimes it is, that’s why I’ll show you how to make the difference in your living-room, make it stand out with some beautiful and functional plants and especially, no effort required!.

This topic came to me because my husband and I are moving into a new house, we are leaving a downtown apartment, to live in a house, surrounded by nature, with a real garden and a bunch of noisy roosters around… but we love it!. Somehow this has become a goal for some people, they’re getting tired of living in the city chaos and they’re connecting more with nature, but, that’s another topic for a different post.

Enough about me, let’s get to the real thing: beautiful and functional plants for your living-room, this list is all about plants that will make your living-room look good, they require really low maintenance and the cool thing is that NASA agrees with this selection 🙂

 

This low-maintenance plants also require low-light orientation, so they’re perfect for your workspace!

 

Before getting to it, you will notice a connection with basic care steps and that’s a good thing, once you memorize it, having more than one plant will be a piece of cake;

  • Indirect light: they need moderate to indirect light so finding a place for them will be easy.
  • Moist soil: most of them are native to tropical environments so humidity is important for their growth, but remember: Moist doesn’t mean Wet!
  • Green leaves are healthy leaves: if you see some brown tips, pale green or sluggish leaves, check the soil, something’s not right.
  • Fertilize: they need nutrients just like us, give it to them.

Remember: is better to water your plants with abundant water in long intervals, that way, the water can go deep in the soil, the roots will grow down to feed themselves and be protected. If you put little water, the roots will stay in the soil’s surface, so whenever you forget to water them, the roots will dry quickly enough to damage the plant.

 

Let’s divide the plants so you can choose wisely

 

Colorful leaves

Sansevieria trifasciata or Snake plant: an ornamental evergreen, its young leaves are dark green and with time they get that nice yellow edges that will stand out in your living room or workspace. This is one of the most tolerant indoor plants, they grow by rhizomes so they need a good and draining soil; they can root easily, so few water is more than enough to take care of this elegant and structured plant.

NASA research has shown that snake plants are able to clean the air, filtering and removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene formed at home.

 

Dieffenbachia or Dumbcane: an ornamental evergreen with different dimensions and colors (depending on the variety), It has big leaves in shades of green, yellow and white that will decorate your room very elegantly and it definitely will stand out from any angle. It rarely blooms indoors and it likes a moist drained soil. It’s convenient to rotate the container just to make sure that it can receive light in a uniform way.

Basic care:
– Filtered light
– Moist soil (not soggy)
– Removing the dry leaves to avoid fungus.

It is important to know that the leaves if chewed or eaten are poisonous, so place it where babies or pets can’t reach it.

Dumbcane

 

Falling plants

Hedera helix or English Ivy: this one can survive every condition, sun, shades and little water, it is a warrior and you can take care of it, trust me, you can!
This climbing and/or falling plant is an evergreen perfect to grow indoors with indirect light, they even survive in shady angles but the leaves will lose its variegated margins and stay dark green.

You just have to maintain a moist soil watering it about every 7 to 10 days (depending on your home temperature) during winter and if you don’t want/can’t do it, you can buy a special container with a water dispenser and you’re done, no headaches for you.

Climbing English ivy

 

Epipremnum aureum: also an ornamental with nice heart-shaped leaves and clear green-yellowish lines, very decorative, subtle and romantic, with nice and soft falling shapes.

For this plant, you can use an aerial container or a simple vase on the edge of a library to let the leaves fall. It grows fast so it’ll cover your corner in a few seasons and of course, it will clear the air at home.

They love indirect light and water every 8 to 9 days in winter.

Epipremnum

 

Tree-like

Ficus benjamina or Weeping fig: is an erect plant with a tree-like shape, dark green and glossy leaves. It will make a statement in your living room so don’t be scared to use some big indoor plants. They are slow-growing (up to 3m tall) and they will bright up and refresh your room. Water roughly, then allow to dry out slightly between watering, it does not tolerate soggy soil. Keep soil slightly drier in winter.
This fig tree will help you breath easier being one of the best plants used to improve indoor air quality, it’ll help you remove rates of toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

They like bright indirect light and no air drafts, in early fall it will lose some leaves but, they will be fine by spring, this is a long-lived house plant so if you take care of it, it will take care of you.

Weeping fig

 

Shrubs

Chlorophytum comosum or Spider plant: considered one of the most adaptive plants and one of the easiest to grow, so it’s perfect if you want to try your abilities and “green thumb” with “one” plant at a time; its spider-like leaves are clear green or variegated.

You just have to provide:

– Bright indirect light,
– Well-drained soil
– Moist but not soggy soil, let it dry between watering.

Spider plant

 

Palms

Dypsis lutescens or Areca palm: also known as butterfly plant and awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit; NASA tested it and concluded it is one of the best plants at cleaning air at home and working spaces.

Dark and shady areas or direct sun are not good for them, so try to find a place in between (indirect light) at home so they can grow big and stylish as they are. This plant is always thirsty, but don’t exaggerate with water, there’s have to be a balance.

* This plant needs more cares than others, but it’s not impossible to do it, just practice with other plants before you engage to this one and then you’ll be prepared 🙂

Areca palm

 

Chamaedorea seifrizii or Bamboo palm: they have dark green leaves and erect strong stems, they’ll grow well and fast (in comparison to other indoor plants, about 2 to 5 years) if placed in a bright place with indirect sunlight; they don’t like sitting water, it can rot the roots and stems. You will notice if you are overwatering if new leaves are clear green and you’ll notice some brown tips or brownish new growing leaves.

This plant will give you instant gratification and that’s what we all want in a plant, right? If you take care of it, it will give you years of nice foliage at home. It also grows well in bathrooms and you wouldn’t have to water them so often.

Clean the leaves every now and then with soft soapy water and if you want a regular and even palm shape, turn the container every week or so, to let the plant have even light.
If you put it in a shady place, it’ll still grow, but slower.

Bamboo palm

 

Blooming plants

Spathiphyllum or Peace lily: they have dark green leaves and white “flowers” that are actually a specialized leaf bract that grows hooded over the “real” small flowers and catch the attention of pollinators.

You may think they need extra attention because of the flowers, but they really don’t and that’s what makes them perfect for someone new in the plants’ world.

They prefer shade over bright spots, but, it will depend on how you want your plant to look like, more sun means more spathes and flowers; less sun means fewer blooms and a green foliage look; they are native from tropical rainforests so they demand basic needs like:

  • Medium to low light
  • Water them when the soil is dry
  • Mist/Spray the flowers and leaves to imitate the humidity in rain forests (once a week or more in summer time)
  • Cut brown, yellow or soft unhealthy leaves; re-pot when it’s big enough to cover the container and cut away rotted roots.
Peace lily

 

Phalaenopsis or Moth Orchid: are blooming plants that will grant color to your living-room for long periods. Sometimes is a little bit difficult find a place for them to adapt, but, following this basic steps it will grow nicely and catch everyone’s attention:

  • Find a (moderate) bright windowsill and test its adaption to the spot.
  • Use good draining soil, roots are the most important thing to care.
  • Buy a container with little holes around it, this will let the roots to breathe.
  • Water when the soil starts to look dry (every 7 to 10 days, depending on the season)
  • Use a specific fertilizer for orchids and when the bloom season is over is good to re-pot them with fresh soil, they will appreciate it!
Moth orchid

 

This is really a nice list of easy-growing/low-maintenance houseplants and they will reward you by giving you clean air, bright colors, and beautiful shapes at home.

You can do this, try your skills with one of them and soon enough you’ll see that is totally doable, believe me, you’ll see and feel the difference at home.

 

 

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Transform your terrace in only few steps!

I’m so excited to share my first Garden Design with you!, as I explain on my profile, every project and its information is going to be public so you all can get ideas for your own garden needs.

Today’s design is about a particular “L” Shaped Terrace, the clients are a family of three, a mom and two daughters. They had 3 specific needs;

  • They wanted relaxing “tea time” area so they can have some friends in spring afternoons
  • A sunbathe private area for the summer
  • And a space for aromatic plants because they love to cook.


Let’s get started!

 The terrace is placed in the 4th and last floor, pointing to North, it means that each side of the garden is going to have sunlight for at least a couple of hours during the day. It turns convenient because every angle can be used depending on the needs. One thing to know about me is that I really struggle with unused spaces and stuff, I always try to have functional things and (obviously) space, I believe we should all enjoy every angle of our home and that’s what I’m doing here.

 

Plant selection:

Terrace floorplan

 

  1. Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
  2. Iris ‘Wedgwood’
  3. White Hortensias in tall containers (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  4. White Hortensias in tall containers (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  5. Hosta ‘Halcyon’
  6. Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’
  7. Coral bell (Heuchera x ‘Midnight Bayou’
  8. Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
  9. Festuca glauca
  10. Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’
  11. Aromatic herbs

 

THE NEW GARDEN

The new terrace design

Tea-time area

It was designed as a seating area, with an outdoor sofa in dark wood with cream cushions and a tea table in the same material.

  • On each side of the sofa, tall containers carry white hortensias (Hydrangea macrophylla) which will grant elegance to the terrace.
  • On the right side of the couch, star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) that gives privacy and in the same containers, a line of iris bulbs like Iris ‘Wedgwood’ for a touch of color and shapes during blooming time.

 These girls love maples so the main angle will be a perfect spot for some colorful maples, it could be a new sitting area in the future so having all the plants in separate containers can be a good option for those who love changes.

 So:

  • The same line of containers carries red and acid green maples. Those are filled with small ivy (Hedera helix) that gives a falling effect and different shapes to the garden.
  • Winter bulbs like snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) will make the difference in cold seasons, mixed in the same container with the ivy.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ is a 6m tall maple with yellow-green leaves and red coral branches visible during the winter. This maple is in constant color change, even in winter, when it has no leaves and the red brunches will give another shade to the garden.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ is a 5m tall maple, with dark red leaves that change into vibrant red in autumn.
  • Small but strong plants surround the A. p. ‘Sango-kaku’, like Hosta ‘Halcyon’ nice and compact shrub, loves partial sun to full shade, tall 35-40cm and 70cm wide. It has blue-grey heart-shaped leaves and grey-lavender bell-shaped flowers.
  • Another great shrub is the dramatic coral bell (Heuchera x ‘Midnight Bayou’) with red foliage, perfect for growing in containers and beautiful in contrast to green foliage plants. It grows well in partial sun, it is 30cm tall and 50cm wide, in summer it forms stems with white little flowers.
  • Next to the A. p. ‘Bloodgood’ goes the or blue fescue  (Festuca glauca), an evergreen grass, tall 30cm and blue-gray foliage of erect tufts, it stands up under the red maple foliage.

Sunbathing in an orchard

 Some aromatics will help these girls relax while sunbathing, a free space and seating area that’s not visible from the tea area, thanks to the shape of the terrace and the plant selection.

  • The aromatics selection is always easy and hard at the same time, all of them are beautiful and tasty. Perennial shrubs like rosemary, chives, and sage will work just fine to look at and to cook. Other herbs like basil and parsley are placed in separate containers so they can rotate and change them in winter.
  • Other annual plants are dispersed around the terrace, like geraniums (Pelargonium) that they can alternate every year with bulbs.
  • Another small shrub will look good here and it’s the evergreen known as elephant’s ears (Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’); It has rounded deep green leaves that turn into purple in winter, it’s 60cm tall and it’s perfect to help the garden looking alive in winter.

 

There it is!

It’s all about colors during the different seasons, contrasts between colors and shapes is all it takes to start a good project, I hope you’ve enjoyed it!.

 

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Italy’s Beautiful Gardens: Villa del Balbianello

We are in beautiful Italy, it’s summer, it’s sunny and there’re big quantities of gelato.

Last Sunday I decided to visit Villa del Balbianello in Lake Como (North Italy), somehow I always thought about this kind of places to be full of tourist and I rather go first to the “local” places, but, obviously, there’s a reason why they are so famous, and I’m glad I finally did it (after a long time, may I add).

Villa del Balbianello is part of the Italian National Trust (Fondo Ambiente Italiano – FAI) which owns a list of awesome historic buildings and gardens. Villa del Balbianello had existed since the 13th century and its firsts residents were Franciscan Monks. In 1785, the Villa was purchased and the changes in the building and gardens started, along with new owners until 1988, when its last owner died.

Guido Monzino, the last owner, was a renowned Milanese businessman, art collector and a passionate traveler who left the Villa, the Gardens, the furnishing to the Italian National Trust; He also donated a dowry which still helps to cover the Villa and Gardens maintenance.
Since then, they have renovated the Villa and partly turned it into a private Museum with Monzino’s art collection, memorabilia from his famous expeditions to the North Pole and the Everest (between 1971 and 1973) and, they’ve also renovated the Gardens.

Villa del Balbianello

The Gardens

This time I only entered the Gardens, the thing I love the most and what I wanted to show you.

The gardens frame the Villa, they’re developed in different floors and paths, as they follow the rocky mountain shape. From the beginning the big shaped Platanus acerifolia stand out, a nice Magnolia and alternating Hydrangeas follow the paths. Then, as you keep walking, the Lake takes control of the view, it just blends with the gardens like a perfect painting.

The most interesting thing about this garden is that, because of the rugged terrain, they couldn’t design a formal “Italian garden” nor a romantic “English garden”, so, they had to work and create paths around the Villa and make a unique space that gives you the opportunity to enjoy the lake from different angles. You really get to discover different scenarios just by descending the paths.

They made a pact, between the formality of the design and the “informality” of the nature when they design the Gardens.

Numerous statues guard the surroundings of the Villa and get to watch the Lake through every season.

Plant Selection

  • Wisteria sinensis: full of color in late spring and early summer
  • Hedera helix: covering some walls facing the lake
  • Agapanthus: that welcome you if you arrive by boat
  • Buxus sempervirens: elegant and a formal icon from antique gardens

You can use some of this plants to make your garden a “Royal Garden“, it’s always worth to invest in some strong and long-lasting plants, you’ll get your reward, trust me.

Agapanthus

Also, you probably recognize the name of this Villa because of its appearances on Hollywood films since 1990, like:

  • A month by the Lake (John Irvin – 1995)
  • Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones ( I said “probably”. By George Lucas in 2002)
  • Casino Royale (Martin Campbell – 2006)

Quick tip: if you don’t like crowded places, like I do, just try to go early in the morning, there’s basically no line, your photos will be better and the lights are really favorable in the morning, plus, if you want a summer selfie, your face won’t be all shiny and sweaty 🙂
You have to walk/hike (nothing complicated) a few minutes to arrive to the actual Villa.
Also, I took the bus to get to the Villa; It’s about 45min from the Lake Como’s bus station and the price was around 6$ round trip. Lenno is the name of the village and the bus stop.

 

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Marrakesh discoveries: Majorelle Garden

This time, I’m trying to give my blog a new and fresh direction, so today, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite trips I took this year. The destination: Morocco.

Last spring we (my partner and I) decided to go for the first time to Africa, this sunny and kind continent that we knew nothing about, its people, its food, culture… we knew nothing, so we booked a flight to the nearest and convenient place for both of us. I mean, I wanted to see some gardens, my BF wanted to do some surfing and both of us needed to eat some good stuff.

So, we arrived into chaotic Marrakesh, where we were welcome with some mint tea and amazing cookies (already in love with the city).
I dedicated myself to find some good green spots (very difficult, especially the “green” part) to visit while relaxing at the Riad near to the city center, although, the riad had some vines, cactus and rose smell that make you feel in a natural place from the moment you arrive.

Our first visit was to the Majorelle Garden and it was so worth it! here’s why:

Majorelle Garden is a Villa where a Botanical Garden take place along with an Archaeological Museum. It took us about an hour to visit the gardens but you can bring a book and relax sitting in the shade of their palm trees and bamboo selections.

A public open space diverse from others in Marrakesh, with nice refreshing and shade areas designed by the French painter Jaques Majorelle, passionate about botanics and gardening, who put heart and soul to the gardens and it shows.

Jaques Majorelle bought the villa in 1923 and also, a rare variety of trees and plants for over 40 years, creating this unique and relaxing space.

Plants from the five continents:

– Cactus,
– Palm trees,
– Agaves,
– Bamboo,
– Coconut palms,
– Thuyas,
– Willows,
– Bouganvilleas,
– Tree ferns, among others.

This was the first time I saw a plant selection like this in the harmony of a real open garden, it was different, eye-catching, beautiful and surprisingly fresh.

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the Jardin Majorelle in 1980. They renamed it Villa Oasis, and undertook the restoration of the garden in order to “make the Jardin Majorelle become the most beautiful garden – by respecting the vision of Jacques Majorelle.”.

Automatic irrigation systems were installed, adjusting the distribution of water according to hours during the day and to the specific needs of each plant. New plant species have been added since 1999, increasing the total number from 135 to 300. A team of 20 gardeners once again began working to maintain the garden, its ponds, and fountains” – Jardin Majorelle

Few of the most interesting species in the garden:

  • Echinocactus grusonii: known as golden barrel cactus or mother-in-law cushion (pretty funny), is a spherically shaped cactus, endemic to east-central Mexico. It can reach 1m tall with sharp spines from yellow to white colors. It looks great in rock gardens, it obviously needs its space and it blossoms after 20 years old, so, if you like it, buy it for the beautiful shape.
Echinocactus grusonii (left) and Agave macroacantha (right corner)
  • Pilosocereus azureus: columnar Cactaceae with beautiful blue stems, hairy areoles, and golden spines. It’s very interesting for indoor spaces because of its slow growth, blue color and big flowers that cover the stems during the summer.
Pilosocereus azureus (Pinterest research)
  • Carnegia gigantea: known as Saguaro, you probably relate it to western films (I do), it is a tree-like cactus with white flowers from April to June and it goes from 12m to 21m tall. Very flashy.
Carnegia gigantea (Pinterest research)

 

Other views of the garden

Quick tip: go early, that way you can take good photos and relax if you want to 🙂

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About “Fresh Lemonade Gardens” and some Green Love

When I think about Gardens, I immediately think of some open space, full of plants (it’s summer, obviously), maybe some white Hydrangeas, private area, seating comfortably with a cold, super fresh glass of Lemonade in my hand.
That’s it, talking about gardens always takes me to that place, that green and refreshing place where I drink Fresh Lemonade all day (apparently).

So, Fresh Lemonade Gardens represents a window for those green lovers, like me, who want to feel good and comfortable in their own gardens and green (indoor) rooms; in other words: having a nice space to relax with plants around. 

This is also a place designed for those who want to learn how to take care of their plants, take the first step or several more in their gardens, or simply, for those who want to keep their plants alive with no effort.

We can help you transform your space with:

  • Tips and ideas on social networks (like Instagram) to show you how to organize your space with the use of plants.
  • Information about specific plants and how can they light up your space.
  • Personalized design for your own space: each month, we will publish images about green and fresh solutions for yours or others home, real examples of real homes.
  • Short “one-on-one” sessions (30min max.) via Skype, where we’ll talk about your project. In each session we will dedicate time to facilitate yours and your plants life.

To sum up: We will help you transform your space, with personalized solutions, examples, images and a list of things you have to do to, we can have Skype talks to guide you through the process and answer any questions you have. Easy right?

Each proposed solution will be public, this way, everyone can have access to the information and use it as an example to create their own environments. We will try to get everyone to learn how to organize their own space with real examples.

We would love to help you design your garden, terrace or balcony, living room  or kitchen, lounge, workspace… you name it! We have got your back and your plants’.

 

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