rediscovering our favorite design books

For me, these days of sheltering-in-place have been both confusing and clarifying. I know I’m not alone in that feeling, and I also know that many of us have had the good fortune of rediscovering many things about the place we call home. I have found comfort in revisiting well-worn, well-loved design books full of beautiful homes and gardens. And I was curious about what books others return to for comfort and inspiration.

Continue reading “rediscovering our favorite design books”

what we love about November…

Falling leaves in shades of red, orange, and yellow, country walks, apple orchards, mulled wine, heirloom chrysanthemums, cornucopias, cozy sweaters, planting bulbs, Thanksgiving, pheasants, afternoon naps, sheaves of wheat, plaid everything on these “soft-dying days” as Keats called them…









We hope you are enjoying these November days…


Holly and Brooke

into the garden: a book by artist Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff


Every now and then a book comes along that speaks to me in an unexpected way.  Into the Garden by artist Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff is just that kind of book. It’s a collection of paintings by one artist of gardens all over the world. This idea in and of itself is quite fascinating: an artist sits in gardens and paints his version of what he sees (and of course what he feels is there as well).


I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book like this. We have seen flowers and gardens painted by artists, but I’m not aware of an artist who deliberately set out to make a collection of garden paintings. As he explains it in the introduction, Christian came into the notion of painting gardens through his own garden in Hadlyme, Connecticut, and this passion grew from there to include gardens in places as far apart from one another and as diverse as Falls Village, Connecticut; East Hampton, New York; Sonoma, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Rocktail Bay, South Africa; Pic Paradis, St. Martin; and Lunuganga, Sri Lanka.


I was intrigued too by what the artist had to say about how he actually paints gardens (he sits for hours and often faces many obstacles) and what it has meant to him to do this kind of work.


The other thing about this book that caught me off guard a bit is the bold, abstract quality of the images (and that I was so enchanted by them). Van Gogh comes to mind. Most of the paintings are a saturation of vivid color with an abundance of purple in shades from lilac to aubergine. In contrast, some of the paintings are black outlined drawings that are predominately void of color. And there are large-scale flower paintings and drawings as well. (And it’s not exactly a coffee table book either because it is smaller and easier to hold in your hands, which I like a lot.)


Purple is not one of my favorite colors and I’m not always drawn to abstract art (though sometimes I am). Yet this book captured my imagination and I found myself quite absorbed in the journey. It’s completely different from gardens depicted in magazines that show us what they are actually like.  It’s something akin to how we feel when we look at interior paintings of rooms:  it’s more like dreaming.


A book like this brings forth so many questions about the connection between art and gardening, about creativity and design, about lightness and darkness, about the beauty of nature and the nature of beauty that I think wherever this book takes you, and how ever deep you go into the gardens, you are bound to enjoy wandering through its pages.



a flower farm (and a summer bouquet)

ECBC9125-0173-4645-AF69-C11D9CCEC3D6Butterbee Farm is tucked away along the edges of a residential community and a thirty-minute drive from Baltimore City proper. Owned and operated by husband and wife team, Jascha Owens and Laura Beth Resnick, Butterbee Farm provides locally grown flowers to the Baltimore/DC region and the Chesapeake Bay area.45636728-891C-4046-93DE-C6949F64C9310A99F8CB-E151-4619-A653-0B9ACD078F10And this past Saturday the flower farm hosted its first tour of the season. Most of us have seen dairy farms and large vegetable gardens, and we’ve seen or had personal cut flower gardens, but many of us have not seen a large-scale farm that only grows flowers.C6B340BB-7633-4FF5-B692-29E1D338E5D5530AE340-B94B-41C8-AA2E-540E8AA78BF395FBE2B1-C6D0-4EB6-91C1-E18FD677E4CC30610C67-E40F-47ED-B4A9-BC7AF3E492D3Our tour started just after 9 AM on a warm, sunny day. Led by Laura Beth, we started in the new green house (built recently so that flowers can be started early and grown during the off season), we walked around the centrally located farmhouse (where the couple lives) taking in the various sections of the farm where bulbs, herbs, woody stem flowers, perennials, and annuals are grown.74B5187E-DDA4-4AB0-B54A-29D770F6F4E5C129FE62-5F7E-4D17-8513-4C834493957DLaura Beth explained what her flower farm does: grows flowers and foliage for florists, floral designers, and DIY brides and grooms. As we walked she told us how she decides what to grow (she meets with florists who tell her the latest trends), and about the farming style she prefers (organic, sustainable, and one that involves an ancient method called occultation).4C46CABD-F260-4B84-A3D3-F0FE4D67357266774DB6-DE73-4F91-983C-ECE9066AF7E92D20B123-0A88-4109-A577-FF8E65637749The farm is small but looks out over acres of cornfields and rolling hills. And it is full of charm. Not just because of all the flowers but also because of the hosts who are clearly passionate about flowers, farming, and community. On our tour guests asked lots of questions, children wandered around, and at the end we made summer bouquets to take home.E05BA654-1309-4EFC-9AE6-C5B35C2C92F99EDDB029-7356-4F5C-9EA0-D9112B854F5CI saw straw flowers in colors and forms that I’ve never seen before, rows and rows of lanky, delicate cosmos, bright snapdragons, and lacey carrot flowers. The spring flowers were mostly gone. The sunflowers and zinnias were just beginning to bloom.9D8B1F7B-BBD5-497E-A47A-8F167D2805D46D7D038F-CFCE-41C4-B441-B6CA97481951The tours were on the half-hour and as we were leaving more folks were filing in to have a look and make a bouquet. I can’t think of a lovelier way to spend a summer morning. I highly recommend it. Click here to find out more!F7E63930-49F6-4A9D-8890-DFB46638B14AE20086C7-6484-4144-8D5B-C798C3F03A78ED14478F-E133-41B2-AB69-45DFCE1B1FD2


(All photographs by Michael Sneeringer, Jr @elsneero)





weekend edit 6.14.19

Pamela Cook for Veranda Magazine

Around the House:  Silk 101

 I’m increasingly fascinated with the origin stories of decorative art objects and textiles. Here is an interesting short history of silk, the mysterious, luxurious, much coveted fabric, in this month’s Veranda Magazine. It includes plenty of modern day examples with sources and a chart describing the various kinds of silks still being made today. Think of it as Silk 101. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Floret Farm

In the Garden:  Are dried flowers making a comeback?

 It seems to me that dried flowers might be making a comeback. And I’m thrilled. After years of being pushed away, they appear to be dusting off their dismal reputation as lackluster throwbacks to the 80s. I’ve always thought that in the proper hands, they can be very pretty and even chic (for example, dried lavender topiaries are always nice to have). Flower grower and floral designer Erin Benzakein writes about how she has just discovered dried flowers here. I hope this is a trend because I’d love to see what this new wave of floral artists will do with this lost art.

Country Life Magazine

Out and About:  House hunting

If you are anything like me (that is, obsessed with houses of all kinds), you probably look at real estate listings on a regular basis. My own interests range from tiny cottages to large estates, houses within my budget and lots of them outside of it. This one is way outside my budget, but great fun to dream about: an old millhouse in the English countryside. And despite its price tag and amenities (a lake and a quaint bridge, barns, a wine house, formal gardens, and country meadows), it doesn’t seem to be too full of itself.  Have a look here.

Cheers! Happy Friday!