Whimsical Gardens (Part I)


OK, first things first.

 I’ve made it into The Finals of “The Homies”! (YAY!!)  Thanks to you!

Now  I need your help just once more to win.

I’ve already fallen behind (BOO) but voting is even simpler this time.

Just click HERE

and you’ll see this:

Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 1.30.12 PM

Easy peasy.

omg-can you tell I never got picked for any sports teams??

And now, without further pestering, the post;

editorials-garden-of-delights-carolineTim Walker

I don’t know about yours, but my garden looks like a dog’s breakfast right now.

Other than a few wildly optimistic blossoms on my pear tree that never grow pears (the eager date who shows up way too early-sweet, but it’s like never going to happen)

 I’ve got nada. Zilch. Strike out.

Not only that…but more of this happened …

IMG_2876My last big willow bit the dust.


Willow trees in Southern California are undoubtedly beautiful but let me tell you-they need a lot of supervision and attention.

They grow super fast, uproot easily, turn your back and they attract pests, and don’t look so great for a few months every year.

Basically, they’re the teen-age boys of the tree world.

So now I have about 10 of these wonderful stumps sitting around and I’m trying to decide what to do with them.

The Silver Lining is a dead tree turns into a beautiful ______ (Fill in the blank-don’t worry, this isn’t another contest :) )

I’ll put a few back in the garden as stools but I’d love to hear your suggestions on what to do with the rest.

I  love pretty much everything with a touch of whimsy, but particularly in the garden.

Nothing more boring than spaces that take themselves too seriously. Life’s too short.

Screen Shot 2012-11-04 at 10.03.20 AMAnna Williams

Screen Shot 2012-11-04 at 10.03.30 AM


Screen shot 2011-06-24 at 12.54.17 PMboth images via Pinterest

One of the reasons why I love gardens that incorporate “rooms”, no matter how small, is that they allow you to come upon hidden surprises, which is often the best way to add a sense of whimsy to your outdoor spaces.

l1090996One magnificent example of this is the incomparable Ninfa Gardens in Italy, which contains several ‘rooms’ as well as the pristine Ninfa river running through it.


L1040414Another is the garden created by Japanese silent film star Denjiro Okochi, located in the Sagano district of Kyoto, open to the public yet not wildly busy.

A stroll through the small, stunning gardens ends with a steaming cup of Macha in the tea house.

L1040410Speaking of teen-age boys…my younger son kicking it at the Okochi gardens.

Screen Shot 2012-11-04 at 9.59.57 AMMoss gardens or simply allowing any ground covering to rule also add a lovely sense of whimsy.

IMG_2849a fuzzy pic of my ground cover

Screen shot 2011-06-27 at 10.24.49 PM

Manolo Blahnik

I wish these were in my garden

 One of the most effective ways to create a whimsical effect is to place items normally found indoors, outdoors…

L1100410This “room” at “Lunuganga” in Sri Lanka (more of this garden and house in an upcoming post-It’s truly beyond)

L1100422Some of the arches are mirrored, some are not. How flipping genius is that?!

L1100418See me??

Screen shot 2011-06-27 at 6.01.47 PMChanel

Garden-MirrorOf course outdoor mirrors can be applied in much smaller gardens and apartment terraces

120119515032177572_Nijg0ekB_bboth pics via Pinterest

I’ve used mirrors outside in many outdoor scenarios.

Which I can’t show here.

Because  I’ve got “Save It For A Book” Fever now.

Screen Shot 2012-07-07 at 2.15.00 PMGiambattista Valli 2012

L1100455Another glimpse of “Lunuganga”


The very best thing about applying whimsy to the garden is that it’s utterly boundless.

And almost inevitably, you’ll get a helping hand from Mother Nature.

Whether you wanted it,IMG_2876or not.

Happy Grammies, Downton Abbey (almost over :() and to those of you on the East Coast-stay cozy!



Emerald Leaves…


.Perchance I miss posting ‘Favourites’ this week, as I will be traveling on Friday, I wanted to share this little gem with you.  British designer Jasper Conran’s first book  ‘Country‘ has recently been published and it’s a gorgeous tome!  Jasper was a young ‘Enfant Terrible’ ‘ just making his debut in the fashion world when I lived in London.  Despite the formidable shadow cast by his famous father Sir Terence Conran, Jasper has managed to stand the test of time and then some, to become a well respected and talented designer in his own right. Making his mark not only in fashion but interior design, fragrance and tableware (Conran designs for Wedgewood and Designer’s Guild, amongst others) he has a beautiful new feather to put in his cap. ‘Country‘ is a rich and quirky feast of mucky wellies, village fetes, roaring pub fires and heart-stopping vistas.  This is not an interior design book by any means, but rather a loving and personal tribute to everything that makes English Country Life so unique and appealing to the rest of the world.


Please Watch this Video for more lovely images from ‘Country’.

Slim Paley photo, Ninfa Italy

Nothing moves me more than a sun dappled allee of mature trees.

Ralph Lauren Fall 2010

Leaves of a different sort.


(I featured this green leaf large scale wall mural on my Chartreuse post, but I simply couldn’t resist it for this :) )

Artist unknown

Slim Paley photo  My favourite ivy leaf  bracelet


Monique lhuillier


Leaf Ties

How cute are these? I can think of a million ways to use them, can’t you?

Woops, lost the credit again

Walt Whitman’s First Edition “Leaves of Grass”

My Lover Gave Me Green Leaves


My lover gave me green leaves
with the mud of the garden on them,
radishes sharp and red,
nasturtium flames.

He gave me the tender heart
of a cabbage, its glossy coat,
a loaf of bread studded deep
with seeds.

He gave me the note
the blackbird
I’d cried at the blackness of
by the river sang.

He gave me the struck fire
of the thoughts
in his mind—
flint on flint.

He gave me the taste,
direct on his tongue,
of the syllables their embers
did not destroy.

He gave me his word,
the word of an Adam—
a promise,
should he set eyes on the sun.

He gave me a drop of the dew
to hold.
To see my face in it.
To look through.

He gave me,
in the chrisomed palm
of his empty hand—
a gasp of joy.


Born in London in 1957, poet Josephine Dickinson has been deaf since the age of six as a result of a childhood illness. She studied classics at Oxford University and went on to establish a career as a musician, composer, and poet. In her late 30s she relocated to Alston, a remote English Cumbrian town, where she met and married an elderly sheep farmer, Douglas Dickinson, who died in 2004.

Her poems, rich in natural imagery, are sometimes metered or rhymed, but always attentive to sound in their tender evocations of rural life. In a 2007 interview with the Times (London), Dickinson stated, “I do know that I found speech more difficult than music to cope with after the deafness. I came to see the written word as a liberation, which was wonderful. Very exotic and exciting.”

Dickinson continues to tend her late husband’s sheep farm.


Appree leaf shaped post it notes



Slim Paley photo

Bamboo in Kyoto


Fulvio Bonavia.

Slim Paley photo

It’s that time again… letting my Cecille Brunner climbing roses curl into my second story office – I LOVE summer!!

I leave you (no pun intended) with this pretty song by Crowded House; English Trees


Slim Paley photo

During The Rains




Slim Paley Photo ……….

Upstairs, where I was happily, obliviously enjoying a moment of sunshine during the rain…


Who the *&#%$*  knew that the porch gutters over my kitchen were so overflowing with leaves that it could’ve been an Al Qaeda hideout and I wouldn’t have known? (It does face East)  OMG. I walked into the kitchen and my first thought was; How charming! that splashing of the rain… so dramatic and unusual for us!  Second thought-hmmm…sounds so close-almost as if it’s raining inside.  Third thought as I round the corner-could there be ANY more water coming through the windows if they were actually open?!  I seriously contemplated pushing them open to deflect the river of water absolutely pouring in and onto my desk (and computer)  Even “Rachel U.” the spider didn’t survive the onslaught-or at least her web didn’t.

So, that was my upper body exercise for the week, thank you very much.  My husband and I were working in shifts with mops and brooms and umbrellas like two lunatics until help came.  We haven’t had a single leak in this house (built in 1895) for the sixteen years we’ve lived here so I guess I got just a liihhtle too complacent about the whole “WINTERIZE” your house drill.

Oh well.  At least I didn’t have that grown up nails/manicure resolution thing pulled together cause that would have been a waste.  :)



The photo above is from a sumptuous book my parents bought me for Christmas called The Life and Love of TREES by Lewis Blackwell. (Chronicle Books 2009)  It’s a MUST for all lovers of trees- a real beauty.









All Photos by Lewis Blackwell From The Life and Love of Trees


Now the sun is out and it looks like we might even get a rainbow.

   Oh, now it’s gone again and it looks like more rain, they say we  might even get thunder and lightening storms.



An absolutely perfect day for this song;   Four Seasons in One Day  (Crowded House)

Please click here




I leave you with an example of when water rushing onto a table is a beautiful thing




The Planted Dining Table with water runnel and fountain designed by Suzanne Biaggi and Patrick Picard at The Late Show Gardens in Sonoma earlier this fall