Hillside Of Olives And Outdoor Rooms

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The three gardens that surround Greg and Barbara Siemon's hillside villa give a virtuoso performance that explores the range and spirit of Montecito's climate and all the major themes of the Mediterranean planting palette.

At the end of a long drive, an ancient orchid cactus presides on a limestone bench. Just beyond, a gate opens to a stone-floored foyer and a stone wraparound seating area.There, beneath the wide branches of a native California oak, a banco offers a view of a full house of outdoor rooms—a pergola-covered dining area, a swimming pool, and a casita outfitted with kitchen, lounge and bedroom. Datura and wisteria perfume the air. So inclusive is the space that the Siemons lived in the casita as their house neared completion.

The garden began with Barbara poring over photos of gardens in Provence. She took her cues from French hillside terraces, dry-stacked stone walls and pea-gravel paths—and particularly from the interplanting of lavender, rosemary and olive trees, leading her to import two dozen 100-year-old olive specimens. In her desire for accuracy, she even placed a ladder against an olive tree "partly because it looks so picturesque," she says, "but also because to harvest an olive, one needs to climb up a ladder and shake the fruit down from the tree."

Barbara admits that the garden below the house was a major challenge from the first, given that the hillside was covered with nothing but the tough local natives—poison ivy and cactus. And it was so steep that it took three or four people to hold onto her and her collaborator, landscape designer Heidie Baldwin, to negotiate a safe path down the hill. Meanwhile, researching what would grow on a south-facing slope in Montecito confined Barbara to herbs, olives and succulents. If the

Tropical Slope LandscapingTropical Outdoor SpacesTropical Garden Downward Slope

garden isn't actually original to the site, it brilliantly presents what nature intended.

Above the house is another world, a woodland garden crisscrossed by a path whose end offers a breathtaking panorama of the canyons of the Santa Ynez Mountains beyond. Wanting the garden to naturalize under the canopy of its established native oaks, Barbara planted only what could thrive there on its own—agapanthus, pittosporum, chocolate and peppermint scented geraniums, ornamental grasses and iris. At the top of the hillside, she nestled an orchid house moved from an early-20th-century Montecito estate. And a meditation garden, with a pond punctuated by a weeping mulberry and an ancient Chinese soy mill converted into a quiet fountain, provides another retreat.

"Olives, pepper trees and oaks formed the atmospheric mix of the old mission-style gardens of the area," explains Barbara.They are the grand strokes of this pleasure garden, too, which, after much labor, an acute attention to detail and careful, abundant planting, fulfills the sweet promise of Montecito.


Outdoor RoomsTropical Pleasre Gardens


Making Limestone Fountain The House

eye of the day French antique Anduze pottery and limestone fountains, English lead urns, handmade terra-cotta, hand-carved stone statuary and American-made benches make this exquisite collection world class (above). 4620 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria; 805566-0778; www.eyeofthedaygdc.com.

william laman Well-edited shop with an ever-changing mix of looks and products for interior and garden, ranging from the contemporary to the antique, gathered everywhere from Western Europe to Asia. 1496 E.Valley Road, Montecito; 805-969-2840. www.williamlaman.com.

William Laman Montecito

lotusland The late Polish opera singer Madame Ganna Walska spent 45 years designing this flamboyant botanical garden (above). Composed of rare, unusual and endangered tropical and semitropical plants, this surrealist, theatrical presentation is counted among the most outstanding gardens in America. Reservations required well in advance. 695 Ashley Road, Montecito; 805-969-9990; www.lotusland.org.

santa barbara botanic garden Dedicated to the biodiversity and conservation of native California plants, this historic property with its meadow, mission dam and aqueduct offers premier display gardens and changing exhibitions. 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara; www.sbbg.org; 805-682-4726.


casa del herrero

This Spanish Colonial Revival house and its array of distinct and fabulous gardens open a doorway into the glamorous world of old Montecito (below). Tiled fountains and runnels guide the way through gardens influenced by the Spanish Moors, the 16th-century Italian Renaissance and 19th-century England. Along with Lotusland, this historic garden continues to have a strong influence on the private gardens in the area. Reservations are required. 1387 E.Valley Road, Montecito; 805-565-5653; www.casadelherraro.com.

seaside gardens

This full-service nursery is the garden community's gathering spot (below). Functioning as a virtual botanical library, it offers a wide range of unusual plants, state-of-the-art display gardens and design services. 3700 Via Real, Carpinteria; 805-684-6001; www.seaside-gardens.com.

Seaside Garden DesignsTurk HesslundTurk Hessellund Nursery

turk hessellund

Named for its original owner, the 40-year-old institution of Turk Hessellund Nursery (above), located among the shops and restaurants of Santa Barbara, is now run by the knowledgeable Raymond Sodomka.A one-of-a-kind nursery known for its jam-packed, kaleidoscopic plant offerings ranging from leading-edge introductions to the tried and true, it offers spirited display gardens and a design service. 1255 Coast Village Road, Santa Barbara; 805-969-5871.

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Turk Hesslund

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Turk Hesslund

Atthe heart of Europe sits the small country of Belgium, a creative milieu where contemporary and traditional styles easily intertwine. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Belgium's cutting-edge floral design.The impetus for this is partly historical, partly cultural. Close-neighbor Holland has dominated the floral industry for over 400 years, and Belgium has been renowned throughout Europe for its nurseries since the turn of the last century. Even art history has had its influence— the floral still-life painting of the Dutch Masters in the 16th and 17th centuries set the tone for flower arranging for hundreds of years. Though bouquets are popular in the United States, there is no comparison to the passion for cut flowers in Europe. They are part of everyday life, a staple like bread and milk; every small town has its flower shop (or several). And Europeans take the craft of floral design very seriously—as a field of study it requires years of rigorous education and apprenticeship.

What has emerged is a style that shows a deep understanding of the innate qualities of even the simplest materials, combines European mass arrangements with oriental simplicity, and is familiar yet somehow startling. Three designers whose work exemplifies the best of Belgian floral art are Daniel Ost, Geert Pattyn and Nico De Swert.These are not just flower arrangers but artists, who use the full wealth of nature to sculpt their visions, creating pieces that are both innovative and a fusion of classic styles, a celebration of fleeting beauty and the power of flowers to transform living spaces.

Daniel Ost Sint Niklaas AcademieFloral Ikebana Aspidistra

Examples from three of Belgium's top floral designers. Far left: Geert Pattyn's sci-fi sculpted aspidistra leaves. Left: Daniel Ost's stylish combination of Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Green Goddess', Aspidistra punctata and Symphoricarpos albus. Below: Nico De Swert's dainty tapestry of wax flower blossoms.

Bearded Wax FlowerNico Swert

Nico De Swert

Nico De Swert's primary inspiration is color,yet his preference is not riotous multihued explosions but sophisticated, monochromatic combinations through which he can better explore the sculptural qualities of his materials. In fact, he considers himself a "floral sculptor" rather than an arranger. Educated at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Antwerp and trained in the trenches of the European cut-flower industry, De Swert brings an artist's eye to his work. Also an interior stylist, he is keenly conscious of how an arrangement fits and even transforms a room, like any work of art.

Rather than nature re-created, his arrangements are "nature recast," using berries, leaves, stems and flowers like actors in a play— hydrangea blossoms in a vertical "painting" or grasses as wall sconces.The traditional often takes a twist, like the beehive hairdo of gloriosa lilies above.Wanting to bring the European love affair with flowers to the States, De Swert now works as a top stylist in NewYork.

■ Photographs byWendall T.Webber from Nico De Swert: Living with Flowers (Harry N.Abrams, 2005, $40).

Japan Mini Pond

This page:A flat bowl makes a mini pond for floating duckweed (Lemna minor), edged by bay laurel leaves (Laurus nobilis) strung together. Far right, top: A dress sculpture made from raffia and money plant (Lunaria annua). Far right, below:A pattypan squash makes a handlike container for a still-green flower head of Sedum spectabile.

Geert Pattyn

Geert Pattyn

Geert Pattyn is more than a maker of beautiful bouquets. His creations are integral, even if temporary, elements in the overall design of the space rather than simply accessories to a room. There is an elegant minimalism in much of his work, but the apparent simplicity is deceptive—there is ingenuity in weaving steel grass into globes for lights or using a pattypan squash as a vase.

Inspired by working on his parents' farm, Pattyn knew from a young age that he would become a floral designer. After studying horticulture and floristry, he launched his own business on his family's property in Geluwe.The renovated outbuildings that now form his studio, house and conservatory serve as a sort of floral-design laboratory, accompanied by a garden where Pattyn gathers materials. His designs range from a bounteous bouquet of cosmos fresh from his garden to a wedding-dinner display to abstract sculptures of twigs and branches.

Twice awarded the coveted title of Champion Florist in Flanders, Pattyn has represented Belgium in international competitions, frequently gives courses and demonstrations, and is a regular contributor to the Belgian floral design magazine Fleur Créatif.

■ Photographs by BartVan Leuven from Floral Interior Decoration (Stichting Kunstboek, 2003, $73; www.stichtingkunstboek.com).

Geert Pattyn

Geert PattynDaniel Ost

Daniël Ost

It's impossibletotalk about floral art, particularly in Belgium, without mentioning Daniël Ost. His very personal blending ofWest-ern floral traditions and Eastern sensibilities is unique, and his works often look like a cross between a Baroque Flemish painting and Japanese ikebana. Indeed, Ost's work is a dynamic study in contrasts— bountiful and thrifty, ephemeral and earthy, contemporary and Old World, celebrating new growth and decline. Born in Sint-Niklaas, where he still lives and maintains a shop (a second shop is in Brussels), Ost has been at the top of his field since the 1980s.

Though he creates arrangements from the sumptuous to the highly stylized, flowers are not always the focus, sometimes not appearing at all amid bark, leaves, twigs, seaweed, moss, fruit and seedpods. And the pieces are often a celebration of senescence as much as burgeoning new growth. All parts and all stages of plant life are fair game.

Ost's creations go far beyond home décor, challenging conventional views of floral design. Many pieces are more like installation art or performance art for plants, utilizing unexpected materials, unusual containers and even startling settings. As much as a creation of art, Ost's work is intended to provoke thought, set a mood and spark emotion.

■ Photographs by Robert Dewildfrom Remaining Flowers (Lannoo, 2004). Ost's work can also be seen in his other books Leafing Through Flowers (Callaway, 2000) and Invitations (Lannoo, 2004).

Robinia Pseudo Acacia Surreal

by tovah martin photographs by lynn karlin

Succulent Gardens Montecito

short but sweet

Summers in Maine are fleeting spectacles of color and spice—at least if you follow the

"no-fear, no-holds-barred" approach of a culinary couple and their inventive designer

Tropical Outdoor Garden PlantsPlanting Combination For Sedum Empror

From top left clockwise: Everywhere the theme is contrast, like the lily-sedum combo in the upper garden. In the pool area (next two pictures and lower left), pots limited to a trio of plants or a single specimen make a splash. Orange Lychnis chal-cedonica, Salvia nemorosa and an ornamental grass keep the contrast high.

Boston proper might give out buttoned-downvibes, but nearbyYork, in Maine, wants you to know that it is anything but conventional.The moment you nose north and glide over the Maine border, gardening goes distinctly unplugged.

For Jonathan King, a longtime resident of Maine who knows the weather all too well, to garden or not was never negotiable. Playing in the soil was intrinsic to his psyche ("It's one of the few things that keeps me completely focused"), even though the climate renders the growing season brief. Actually, the compressed time slot might be one reason why Jonathan, a psychology major, turned to jam making, a hobby he subsequently turned into the East Coast gourmet empire known as Stonewall Kitchen. Jon will tell you that the jam idea began because of his Yankee distaste for tossing anything that could possibly be squirreled away. At any rate, he devoted his postcollege days to working in greenhouses and moonlighting in restaurants. Similarly, his partner Jim Stott also had split affinities: He managed his own construction firm during daylight, then waited in a restaurant after dark. That's where the two were when they began hauling their hand-labeled preserves from Jon and Jim's extensive vegetable/herb garden in Hampton, New Hampshire, to a local farmer's market.The rest is culinary history.

Apparently, the two had a knack for making summer bloom eternal (if only for your taste buds), because their business mushroomed from the inception of the Stonewall Kitchen brand in 1991, eventually requiring bigger digs. The two now live close by their 55,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in York. Having always cultivated secondhand growing spaces, Jon longed to fashion a garden from scratch. So this time around they bought what was basically an oversize sandbox, 25 acres total. It was all potential with no prearranged footprints.

That's when Jacquelyn Nooney entered the picture. In the landscape biz since 1984 and with plenty of experience under her belt (she's the principle of Jacquelyn Nooney Landscape, Inc.), she has dual strengths: strong structure and inventive/off-the-beat-en-path plants, which includes a fabled sympathy for annuals. (Since customers are apt to jump immediately to images of wax begonias when they encounter that word, she uses the euphemism "seasonal plants.") Between Jon's tendency to be a stark raving collector (so far he has gone ape over

Tropicals Garden Design


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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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  • Rowan
    How to plant olive in tropical garden?
    9 years ago
  • aatifa welde
    How to construct a mini pond at terrace?
    9 years ago
  • milo
    How to fold leaves daniel ost style?
    9 years ago

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