I Gotta Git Me One o’ These Outdoor TVs

While reading the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I stumbled upon a new (to me) trend in outdoor living:

Outdoor Televisions!

Phew!  It’s about time.  I was getting so bored and fidgety just sitting out on my patio with, like, no electronic devices whatsoever, wasting lazy summer evenings in quiet conversation with family or watching the birds and butterflies. 

Have a fancy beach place?  I am sure you are sick and tired of staring out into the azure sea, letting the rhythm of the breaking waves rejuvenate your spirit.  Those days are over, my friend, because now you are free to ignore the beauty of God’s creation and tune into The Kardashians on your very own al fresco TV set!

Now that’s living!

Growing weary of the happy splashing and laughter of kids playing outside in the water?  Hey, no problem, that’s nothing an 80-inch LCD screen installed poolside can’t fix: 

Your kids will be sedentary and mildly depressed in no time!

I like this next set up a lot:

Hot-tubs are no longer about such things as “romance” or “intimacy” — no, your hot-tub experience is not complete unless you have a giant digital television peeping up at you over the hedge.  Make sure to position it so that it looks like it wants to get inside the tub with you and appears sad that you’re not inviting it in.

Here’s my favorite:

Why watch The Big Game on your embarrassing little 90″ screen in one of the sixty comfortable rooms of your giant white mansion, when you can watch the action on a fifteen foot screen out in the blistering sun in the middle of your featureless grounds?  This TV is a bit steep at $620,000 but they throw in the trained Irish Setter for free to make you appear a bit more humanized and less like the materialistic and vapid creature that you are.

Woo-hoo!  Let’s hear it for Trends in Outdoor Living!

Garden Designers’ Roundtable: Mistakes

“A man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery.”

–James Joyce

13retain1_lgThen again, Joyce was a man of ideas.  I’m sure no contractor ever said to a client: “Oh, that retaining wall I put in last fall is collapsing now?  But of course!  How could something so bourgeois hold back the anarchy of our modern age??  Don’t you see??  It was futile from its inception!!!”

Anyway, it only took me a few minutes to compile a long list of mistakes that I have made over the course of my study of landscape design.  Here are just a few:

1. Giving landscape design advice to people who didn’t ask for it.  You might think that this would be obvious, but when you’re a new landscape design student all super-excited about what you’re learning, like I was, sometimes you can go a bit overboard.

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The Election 2012 Garden Mash Up

Finally, the candidates discuss the real issues.   And just in time for election day, too!

(Oh, I guess I should mention the candidates’ actual words are in white and my very slight modifications are in yellow.)

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Some Thoughts on Garden Ornament

Nothing announces the mood or atmosphere of a garden more so than Garden Ornament.  Sure, you can plant an Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ and a carpet of black mondo grass, but it’s really the stone lantern that declares:

“This Japanese Garden.  Please now be feeling sense of reverence and quiet awe.”

In the case of one of my neighbors, it’s the red Victorian gazing ball held aloft on the ears of three stone rabbits that announces:


I love all kinds of garden ornament, from dignified to kitsch, which is why I face a dilemma.  Since garden ornament tends to set the tone of the garden more so than any other individual garden element, there should be some sort of consistency among the pieces chosen.  An overall statement should be made.

Personally, I’m torn about which direction I want to go with ornament in my garden.  On the one hand, as I get older I find myself drawn to more dignified, classic pieces.  I love the idea of a stone column in my garden, surrounded by ferns and set off by evergreens…soothing, dignified, timeless.

But I also like this:

Gnome-B-Gone, by Fred Conlon

I mean, I know my garden is MINE, and I can do whatever I want with it, but I don’t want it to appear completely bipolar.

Luckily, there are some pieces of garden ornament that are more neutral and can fit into any scheme.  Most pots, for example, don’t hit you over the head with their personalities; they’re like the Zeligs of the garden and can blend into cottagy, modern, whimsical, or classic schemes.

This is why pots are all I have at the moment.  Pots and a couple of metal dragonflies hovering among my perennials. 

Perhaps my difficulty with garden ornament speaks to a larger problem with my sense of self.  My garden doesn’t really know what it is, therefore, perhaps I don’t really know who I am.  Should I wear floral scarves or chunky metal watches?  Should I try to do more serious writing or should I learn carpentry? Should I take a stand more often or just laugh stuff off and go with the flow?

Am I a stone column or a Gnome-B-Gone?

The Agrarian Buying Guide – a Top Ten List!

If you’re like me, you’ve been looking to simplify your life, get back to basics, and really re-connect with the earth — but you haven’t found the kind of shopping experience that allows you to do so with classic vintage style

So frustrating. 

Well, good news.  If you weren’t familiar with Agrarian, Williams-Sonoma’s new line of fashionably overpriced garden and urban homesteading accessories, consider this your introduction!  

Thank goodness somebody is looking out for your image as you undertake your new committment to gardening, canning, chickening, and honey-making (you need bees!!!), because otherwise you might have to buy your supplies from a regular nursery or hardware store.  Ewwww.  Or even make do with something you already have around the house.  Gasp!

Anyway, here is a sampling of what Agrarian has to offer –

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So I’ve Ripped Out My Lawn, Now What Do I Do?

With all that grass, I mean.  I know you have a super-creative plan for re-planting your ex-lawn, but now you’ve got a huge sod pile to deal with.  Don’t tell me you smothered the poor grass under cardboard and plastic?  That’s a damn shame.  Had you an ounce of ingenuity, you would have re-purposed your grass in a stylish and ecologically correct manner.  Like these people did.

#1  The Ecologically Fashion Forward Couple About Town.  Don’t roll your eyes.  You know you wish you could pull this off.  If you’re a little daunted, just start small.  Maybe with the tie, shoes, and hat.  Confidence is key.  You have to own the look.

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The Landscape Urbanism BS Generator

To follow up on my Top Ten Garden Buzzwords posts, here is a neat little doo-dad introduced to me by Stephen Ray, a landscape architect in the ASLA LinkedIn group:

The Landscape Urbanism BS Generator

Once you’ve opened the link, simply click on the “Make Bullshit” button, and voila! instant Landscape Architecture/Urban Planning Jargon BS is created for you!! 

I also wish somebody would invent a Pretentious Anglophilic Suburban Subdivision Name Generator, to randomly generate names in this well-loved format:

“The _________ at _________  ____________”, as in “The Mews at Crustington Manor”

Are You a Blower, a Sucker, or a Slacker?

A Gingko tree in my neighborhood in fall splendor. (Note the unsightly golden leaves on the lawn.)

I had a whole nuther post written where I really had fun with with leaf blower double entrendres, but I decided that was a cheap trick and beneath me.  But I had to keep the title.

I live in a neighborhood where the Autumn Leaf Anality Index is pretty high.  I’d say about 8 out of 10.  If you allow your leaves to linger on your front lawn for too many days, you may be considered suspect.  Perhaps you won’t get an invitation to the 4th of the July block party.  Kids may avoid your house at Halloween.  What?  You say you have a heavily wooded lot and it just seems natural to let some of the leaves sit and decay where they are?  Sorry, no dice!  Allowing leaves  to accumulate on your property is outrageous, unsightly, and downright un-American!

Look what one of my neighbors did to his poor maple tree just so that he wouldn’t have so many autumn leaves to deal with in the fall. If you look closely, you’ll see that he basically hacked off the top third.  Tragic!  Better to cut the tree down altogether than leave this mangled specimen standing:

A neat lawn doesn't make up for the deformed tree.


This final shot was taken in the neighborhood adjacent to mine, where the Leaf Anality Index is 10/10.  Good thing they’re getting rid of all that organic matter now so they will have plenty of room to lay down giant piles of mulch in the spring:

Also note the FOUR AC units along the house in the background.


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