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Outdoor Holiday Decorating Inspired by Mother Nature

What’s your favorite kind of outdoor holiday decorating? As I was driving to an event the other night after dark, I passed one of those homes that was lit up like a firecracker for the holidays. They had lights of every color outlining the house, the shrubs and the walkway. It all flashed and blinked and there were a couple of blow ups (I recall a ten foot tall Santa and a giant nutcracker) to top it all off. For me, Mother Nature is so elegant, that simply gathering what is available to us can create the most beautiful celebration of the season. Take a look at some of the ideas here, and see if you don’t agree. Leverage your garden furnishings and architectural features for outdoor holiday decorating. Dress up the ordinary for a seasonal celebration in outdoor holiday decorating. Remake your containers, including urns, with bountiful arrangements of evergreens, red berries, dried vines, and even fruits. Redesign your window boxes with evergreens, pinecones, and berries. Food for the birds and a feast for your eyes. Keep wreaths natural as it’s all about bringing the outdoors in every time you open your door to guests, with outdoor holiday decorating. The best part about all of this is that it is all recyclable, you won’t be adding landfill, but instead what the birds haven’t eaten becomes garden protection as the temperatures are typically lowest in January and February. There’s no need to haul off your decorations but simply scatter them. You’ll save, time, effort and enjoy the bounty of Mother Nature. And the evergreens you bring indoors for garlands, wreaths, or over the door accents will add the wonderful fragrance of the season without requiring you to stock up on potpourri, scented candles, plugins or sprays (unless you want to.) Outdoor holiday decorating can be fun, elegant, and affordable when you embrace the elegance of Mother...

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I am always inspired by English garden design and landscapes. Last month, I enjoyed a brief trip to England on my way to Russia and wanted to share some of the flavor of their landscape architecture and the English garden design. The English are well known for their classical gardens and gorgeous flowers, despite it being late in the season, there was a lot to enjoy. English Cityscapes English Countryside   English Garden Design & Landscape Architecture Save Save Save...

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Often called the Russian Versailles, The Peterhof Gardens near St Petersburg are the very definition of a grand garden design. With 500 acres, 200+ statues, 144 fountains, 7 palaces, and 23 museums, it is the most visited site in Russia hosting over 4.2 million visitors annually. Inspired by a visit to Versailles castle and grand garden design in France, Tsar Peter the Great built Peterhof as a summer residence and he managed to make it even bigger and more spectacular than his inspiration. The Fountains Inspire Garden Design The Tsar insisted on the use of an Italian gravity based water flow system that enables the fountains, an integral feature in the garden design, to flow on their own, never running dry. The fountains circulate 30 million liters of water daily, the equivalent of 12 Olympic swimming pools, 1 thousand liters per second. What really makes the gardens and palaces so exciting is the grandeur and volume of the space they inhabit.  Grand spaces are a rare thing in our increasingly crowded world, grand garden design is even rarer.  The Peterhof Gardens are the finest I have ever visited, and I have visited many. Grand Space Delivers Grand Gardens These gardens are grand with space, moving water, plantings, and the sea light.  I loved that everyone was so happy in this garden.  It’s as if they felt Tsar Peter’s inspiration personally and were transformed by the true magic of his grand garden design. Russia is like another planet, not just another country, culture, and customs.  The light is very different, whether the day is cloudy or sunny. The plants were all familiar to me and I was surprised to learn that.  I think I was expecting Siberian winters.  The original landscape and garden designers used carefully selected native plants that could withstand the harsh winter weather and provide that blanket of green in the spring and summer. Peterhof Restored and Garden Design Today Peterhof has undergone restoration and fresh plantings significantly following the great flood of 1777 and again after the decimation of World War II. The groundwater in St. Petersburg is so polluted from earlier heavy industry that it cannot be drunk by anyone.  It is an irony that the city is surrounded by water and it is water that inspired Tsar Peter the Great, yet it is undrinkable.   Humans can make and destroy grandeur. Save...

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In February this year, the International Sculpture Center awarded artist and sculptor Bernar Venet the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the field of landscape sculpture. Just two weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Venet and experiencing his world renowned landscape sculpture first hand. It was 1983 when Venet established the basic structure for his “Indeterminate Lines” steel structures and I was drawn to them at first sighting. Being near the fluid lines without specific form, something so rigid as solid steel, is compelling physically and emotionally, almost electrifying to the touch. I became a raving fan of Venet’s when I met the French born conceptual artist this summer. I was fortunate to be a dinner guest of the energetic, charming, and fascinating artist at Le Muy, the site of his Venet Foundation in Provence France this summer and home to many of his landscape sculpture. While Venet’s landscape sculpture can be seen in museums and important galleries all over the world, his paintings, photographs, films poetry, and music are less well known. Venet says “I work in all these different areas because I’m never satisfied.” A consummate creative experimentalist and intrepid artist in a surprising variety of media, surely the best viewing spot is in the artist’s personal landscape and sculpture park. Venet was inspired to create Le Muy, as a home for several of his grand scale landscape sculpture and for his foundation, by fellow artist Donald Judd. Judd created his personal gallery in Marfa, Texas and included many works by his artist friends. In Le Muy, the collection also includes works by major artists of the American minimal and conceptual movements, Dan Flavin, Richard Long, and Richard Chamberlain as well as works by Arman, César, Sol LeWitt, On Kawara, Robert Barry, Lawrence Weiner, and Carl Andre. Frank Stella designed a chapel especially for the site. According to Venet “With the Venet Foundation, I am trying to make more widely known the adventure my friends and I experienced during an extraordinary period—the 1960s and after—in the United States, a country that opened doors for me from the moment I set foot in it at the age of twenty-four. While I’ve had and still have the great privilege of living with them, the works I’ve created and those I’ve acquired do not belong to me. They were produced for cultural reasons and as such they belong to everyone, they are for everyone’s eye, pleasure and knowledge.” Venet is the most internationally exhibited French artist with 30 public sculpture exhibitions and monumental works permanently installed in cities including Auckland, Austin, Beijing, Berlin, Cologne, Denver, Geneva, Neu-Ulm, Nice, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Tokyo, and...

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Composing a garden is a lot like composing music. There are places in the garden that invite a crescendo of blooms, and other areas that call for a something gentler, more of an adagio. A tree may be a cappella, placed without accompaniment of flora and fauna, while garden intermezzos are provided by a restful bench, an inviting birdbath, or an architectural remnant. The overture to the garden may be a stone pathway leading you into the orchestration of plant life. The point to composing a garden is to provide an overall feeling of harmony and create a truly personal connection. The composition of music is similar. Good music can inspire.  Listening to great music in an intimate chamber music setting on a weekend afternoon in the country is transformative, taking me out of my daily routine and into my imagination. And so it was on a recent Sunday with the Emerson String Quartet at the Highlands Chamber Music Festival.  The Emerson, formed in 1976 in a dorm room at NYU, now plays at Tanglewood, Ravinia, Lincoln Center and broadcast nationally on NPR.  Marcia Weber Gardens to Love was privileged to sponsor their first appearance at the Performing Arts Center in Highlands, NC. Landscapes and gardens are like music in that good design requires rhythm, movement and some force in endless variations.  At the heart of chamber music and good design lies the spirit of collaboration and the role of the musician or the garden owner. There has to be a dialogue with the ensemble of performers or workers, a collaborative expression of experience, knowledge, and talents of its participants.  When well done, there is a transformation. The magnificence of music not only impacts people, but also is said to impact plants. The right tones, rhythm, and harmonies can actually promote plant growth by helping them open up to growth potential when they would otherwise be dormant. Music transforms all forms of life....

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