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Archives for September 5, 2017

Green means go (for it):a crumbling ceiling gave one garden designer the perfect chance to bring the outside in

Summer is a year-round event in Butter Wakefield’s Victorian villa in Stamford Brook, west London. From the hallway papered with a pattern of palm fronds to the botanical prints on the kitchen wall and lettuce ware china in the conservatory, every room is decorated with foliage and flowers, in print and pattern, on fabric and in vases wherever there is a ledge, sill or tabletop. 

An American who learned from the best when a young assistant at interior design institution Colefax and Fowler, and who simply adores the English country garden, Wakefield somehow gets it just right, so the overall effect is not oppressive but delightfully easy on the eye.

When she divorced a couple of years ago, and the drawing room ceiling fell down about the same time, Wakefield, ever the optimist, saw a decorating opportunity. “I thought, this is my cue! I can get rid of all his furniture and the decor can be as crazy as I want without anybody going, ‘I really think you’ve got enough green.’”

Certainly, there is a lot of green in every room, but it’s fresh and lively, and works well with her revised palette of pale grey paintwork as well as the black-and-white oversized chequerboard floor that runs through the hall, kitchen and conservatory, and makes such a great foil for vibrant colour. “It’s good old-fashioned linoleum. I’ve renewed it a couple of times over the past 25 years. It’s soft underfoot, and if you drop things on it, they don’t necessarily break.” With her obsession — her word — for flowers, it’s no surprise that Wakefield is a successful garden designer, and where she can, has created the interiors of her home not only to reflect the style of an English garden but to capture views of her own garden. 

The roomy kitchen, originally a skinny galley with an adjoining music room, has a stable door that perfectly frames the flowery mini meadow beyond. To maximise on the through view, Wakefield tossed out the dining chairs and replaced them with two long, sleek benches, dressing them up with zebra-print seat cushions in lime, secured with contrasting fabric in delphinium blue. 

Dainty glass garden lights are strung across the ceiling and flowers snipped from her borders, popped into jugs and jars, feature daily whether guests are expected or not. “It’s the small touches that make a house a home,” believes Wakefield, so when guests are invited to lunch or dinner, the limed oak table might be laid with glass green charger plates set on exquisite mats made from circles of real preserved box leaves.

Instead of the more usual cupboards making use of space, the kitchen walls are tightly packed with all manner of botanical prints, gathered over time. “I put pictures up years ago because I couldn’t afford hanging cupboards and now I rather like not having hideous cupboards taking up every corner,” says Wakefield.

“There is a theme that links all the pictures, though: a black frame. A lot of the pictures are postcards and others are very good prints or paintings, but it’s the combination of them all in black frames that makes it work.”

The conservatory, added 10 years ago, was another way of bringing the garden indoors, hence the huge sash window and picture seat beneath to admire the magnolia tree just the other side of the glass. Instead of doing the predictable — banking up the light-filled space with hothouse flowers — Wakefield has made it a cool, green retreat, using splashes of emerald green for velvet cushions and glazed pots on either side of the plumped-up pale grey sofa, that hold ferns emerging from beds of moss. 

There is much here to distract the eye, notably one of Wakefield’s many collections of china, displayed on the wall in a decorative plate rack. “I love the cabbage leaf green, these are all Wedgwood and I jumped for joy when I found the flowery plates on the Portobello Road. I do love a bit of china. If I’m wandering by an antique shop, they wink at me and I might have to nip in. I’ve got a pink lustreware thing going on in the kitchen but my latest craze is silver lustre. I’m on the hunt all the time.” 

Twin marble fireplaces, elegant cornicing on the ceilings and dove grey on the walls make elegant, neutral backdrops in the double sitting room, while a plumped-up, pinstriped sofa, linen cushions and sisal flooring make the ambience easy and relaxed. 

“When we moved in, the fireplaces were mean and miserable wooden surrounds so we replaced them with these, and what I love about them is the depth, which gives me a surface,” says Wakefield. “It’s all about tabletop landscaping for me, creating pretty vistas on a tabletop or a surface. And a fireplace with depth adds importance to a room, as well as scale.”

What also adds importance to these rooms is the simple addition of flowers, in the form of oversized focal points, huge statement blooms that Wakefield gathers at dawn in New Covent Garden Flower Market, then displays in giant tinted apothecary jars from Homebase. 

The feel of a country garden on a summer’s day continues upstairs. In the main bedroom, for example, the walls are painted palest leaf green, the window blind is a lively lime-and-white print while white cabbage roses trail in a lazy pattern across outsize cushions on a bed dressed in pristine white linen.

In the guest bedroom, acid green viburnum blooms in twin vases complement a fabulous black-and-white chest of drawers inset with mother-of-pearl. “To me, my home just screams happiness.”

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Gardening with Natives Symposium: Creating Native Landscapes

The typical suburban backyard has an area of groomed lawn, flower beds which follow the fence line and a tree or three to provide shade. In contrast, native habitats have free-flowing lines and often random, organic distributions of plants located in the exact spot which best favors their growth. Native habitats are home to pollinators such as native bees and support a wide variety of wildlife. They can bloom profusely and can also provide dramatic contrasts in textures and form. They can be self-sustaining through periods of summer drought and are refreshed during our cool, wet California winters.

The Sierra Foothills Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) will present its annual Gardening with Natives Symposium on Saturday, September 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sierra Building of the Mother Lode Fairgrounds on Stockton Street in Sonora, CA.

The keynote speaker this year is Bonnie Bladen of Intermountain Nursery.

Bonnie has a forestry degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Bonnie and her husband, Raymond, have attempted to grow every native plant they could find by seed or cuttings just to see if they could. Their Intermountain Nursery has 11 demonstration gardens where they test out California native plants to see how they grow and to showcase the various native species at their full size. Besides a full line of low water use plants, they currently specialize in four species of local native milkweed, Carpenteria californica, which is endemic to Fresno County, and pine trees for homeowners wishing to replant. They also grow site-specific plants for Yosemite National Park, PGE, the Forest Service, and land conservation organizations. They practice forestry on 240 acres of conservation land they own in the Sierra. More information about Intermountain Nursery can be found on their website, and on their Facebook page.

Bonnie’s talk is titled ‘California Native plants for Landscapes in Valley locations, the Sierra Foothills and Mountains.’ She’ll have photos and a plant list showcasing California native plants appropriate for landscape use over a wide range of locations. Her talk will include plant requirements, planting tips, plant combinations and communities.

John Whittlesey operated Canyon Creek Nursery – a mail order nursery specializing in uncommon perennials – for twenty years. A graduate of the California School of Garden Design, he is now a garden designer/landscape contractor with an emphasis on drought-tolerant/wildlife-friendly gardens. John’s talk is titled ‘Keeping Company with Flowers – Native Plants for the Garden and the Pollinators They Attract.’

Meteorologist Rob Carlmark has been forecasting weather in California for the majority of his decade-long career. You can watch Rob Monday through Friday on ABC10 early in the morning.

His talk is titled “Gardening’s Green Future in the Mother Lode: Adapting to Change.” He describes it this way: The last 5 years in California have been truly historic in the weather world. From record rain and snow, to drought, to another round of record rain it’s been tough to figure out which California we will get in any given year.

Registration is $40 for CNPS members; $50 for non-members and includes lunch, morning and afternoon snacks, and program hand-outs. Participants will also receive a

list of native plants that will be available at the upcoming October native plant sale, thus allowing you to plan additions to your garden recommended by symposium speakers.

More information and a down-loadable registration form are available here:

The Sierra Foothills Chapter of the California Native Plant Society sponsors the Gardening with Natives Symposium, with support and assistance from University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Tuolumne County Master Gardeners and the UCCE Central Sierra Natural Resources program. The author of this article is Francie McGowan who is a California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener of Tuolumne County.

archive here located in the Real Estate Section with other home improvement, home finance and other informative real estate articles updated weekly here.

Extremely pointed garden room features a treehouse-like design and a climbing wall

climbing wall, a study and a bedroom are all contained within this Brisbane house extension, designed by Phorm Architecture + Design to be reminiscent of a treehouse.

Described by the studio as a “detached residential extension”, the Taringa Treehouse is built under the shelter of a tree, in the backyard of a property in the Queensland city.

The tree is one of a row that divides the yards in the suburban neighbourhood – and prompted the treehouse-inspired design.

The wedge-shaped structure presents its broadest sides to the neighbouring properties and its narrowest towards the owner’s home and garden.

In an effort to reduce the impact of the structure further, a ground-floor patio is cut into the tip of the two-storey structure.

“Brisbane is a verdant, subtropical, suburban place. House lots are typically long and thin. Traditional timber and tin houses (Queenslanders) politely occupy the street edge and create largely unoccupied spaces at the rear,” explained Paul Hotston of locally based Phorm Architecture + Design.

“These backyards tend to be overgrown, unruly spaces and are the domain of children and makeshift structures. The treehouse is devised as an invitation to visit and engage with this distinct yet typically unchartered territory,” Hotston continued.

“The treehouse presents no formal elevation back to the original house. Only the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ is present. The intention was not to fill the backyard but retain the natural aspect and vacancy.”

The garden-facing elevation is made from weatherboard, while metallic cladding covers the western facade that faces the neighbourhood to create an “unexpected urban artefact” among the foliage.

The mixture of cladding references the adhoc materials used by children to built backyard treehouses.

Inside, the climbing wall stretches up the back wall of an informal lounge area, while a translucent stairwell wraps around its back, leading to a study, bedroom and bathroom on the upper floor.

Spaces are wood lined throughout, bar the bathroom, which has glossy grey-painted walls that match the colour of the upholstery selected for the sofa and bean bag. A wooden table and shelves are built into the study to make the most of the angular space.

“The scale of the building is proportioned to the tree. The structure is stretched and elongated to reach the low branches,” said Hotson.

“Many aspects of the treehouse are informed not from local domestic architecture but rather the playful language and sensibilities of children’s cubby houses which traditionally inhabit this terrain.”

Australian architect Max Pritchard has similarly built a treehouse-like studio for himself at his self-designed home near Adelaide, selecting a forested hillside that overlooks the sea.

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Del Rio School gets facelift | The Daily Courier | Prescott, AZ

Del Rio School’s new logo is designed to represent the intermediate school by depicting a cougar that’s no longer a cub but not yet an adolescent. (CVUSD/Courtesy)

Construction, changes, growth, improvement … on HGTV it would be called “Fixer Upper,” “Flip or Flop” or “House Hunter Renovation”! Well, it doesn’t feel that glamorous but it is exciting. Summer renovation is still underway for the third through fifth grade school of Chino Valley Unified School District … Del Rio School.

In an effort to create a more secure environment, several areas have changed and will continue to change throughout this school year. The front office is now located on the south side of the school at the intersection of Road 1 West and Road 2 North. A visitor parking lot will be created after the three old portable buildings are relocated and fencing removed, which also will allow families to drop off students in front of the office. With the increased accessibility in the new front, the other two parking lots will be for staff parking during business hours.

In addition to the facility changes, there is a new cougar face that can been seen in the front office and all around campus. Del Rio School students, staff and community members adopted a new cougar logo design to represent them as an intermediate school housing third through fifth grades.

Dan Kronz was the artist who created the cougar face to represent a youthful cougar representing growth between cub and adolescent. Plans are also in the works to have Dan paint the mural on the south face of our new office. The extraordinary wood carving of the Cougar mascot in the front office was donated by a local craftsman Buzz Ahrendt. Buzz masterminds a computerized machine to create these amazing designs. After programing the image into the machine, it took five hours for the machine to produce the incredible detailed cougar (pictured).

Plans are underway to engage students to participate in a mural at the school and design landscaping ideas around the campus. Operation “Face Lift” underway!

Information from CVUSD

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Wyevale to shine a light on garden design

Retailers, garden designers and landscapers are this month (September, 2017) invited to a free event at one of the UK’s leading nurseries to explore the use of lighting in outdoor spaces.

Wyevale Nurseries, which is located in Hereford, has teamed up with Landscapeplus, a leading supplier of garden lighting, to host the event on Thursday, September 21 from 6pm.

Adrian Hoare, garden design and domestic landscape sales manager at Wyevale Nurseries, said: “During the evening we’ll be exploring the use of lighting in garden design. The event will commence with a tour of the nursery, taking in the diverse range of late summer and autumnal stock, followed by a talk and demonstration from Paul Willavoys of Landscapeplus.

“Paul is the New Business Manager at Landscapeplus, having been with the company from its early stages and developing through the sales team. He is now a well-known figure within the industry, having suggested lighting on many RHS show gardens with great success.

“Paul has a desire to educate people through talks nationwide. People want to know more about the effects and control of lighting and the development from halogen to LED, amongst other topics.

“He is also very passionate about developing products fit for purpose within the garden, ensuring lighting systems work and the clients get the system they deserve for their garden.”

Light bites and refreshments will be served throughout the evening. People who would like to attend the free event are asked to contact Adrian via or call 01432 845200.


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Clock ticking on efforts to save private Japanese garden on Bellevue’s Phantom Lake

The koi pond is clouded with algae. Invasive cattails obscure the arching bridge between garden and lake.

But a noted Seattle-area landscape architect sees in the neglected, private garden on Bellevue’s Phantom Lake a legacy of the culture and history of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest, including their internment during World War II and the rebuilding of their lives when they returned home.

Seko Garden, the home and grounds of Joan Seko and her late husband, Roy Seko, could be sold next spring. Joan Seko, 80, can no longer care for the 4-acre property with its hillside Japanese garden sloping down to the lake. She’s purchased a condo about a mile away.

The couple ran Bush Garden restaurant for 44 years, from 1953 to 1997, in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, where it became a center of Japanese-American celebrations, political fundraisers and one of the country’s first, and still beloved, Karaoke bars.

Koichi Kobayashi, a landscape architect who worked on the restoration of the Seattle Japanese Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum in the 1970s, is trying to rally support to find a buyer for the garden who would restore it and open it to the public. He said real-estate agents have told him that the 1950s ranch-style house and garden, valued at about $1.3 million, likely would be leveled and a new lakefront home built on the site.

“I don’t have much time,” Kobayashi said. “I’ve seen a lot of gardens wiped out.”

He’s reached out to prominent Japanese-American businessmen — Scott Oki, a former Microsoft vice president, and Tomio Moriguchi, the former CEO of Uwajimaya. Both told him they have other priorities, he said.

He brought a group of representatives from the city of Bellevue and its parks department to tour the Seko property, but parks officials told him that a private residence on a private lake surrounded by other homes isn’t a good location for a public park.

That’s left Kobayashi to make presentations about Seko Garden to community groups, including churches in his own Queen Anne neighborhood.

“I’m looking for a wealthy patron, a white knight,” said Kobayashi, who gave the example of Oracle founder Larry Ellison, who bought a historic garden villa in Kyoto, Japan, to preserve it from development.

Little-known legacy

Kobayashi had an office for his landscape-design business in the Chinatown International District, near Bush Garden. He ate there often, he said, and was friends with Roy Seko, but never knew about the Bellevue garden.

He learned about it only five months ago, while he was researching gardens built at Japanese internment camps, including Minidoka, in Idaho, where many Seattle-area families were imprisoned during the war.

Among them were several men who would be influential in Seattle-area landscape design and the construction of local Japanese gardens: Fujitaro Kubota, who built the 20-acre garden that is now a Seattle park and historical landmark; Richard Yamasaki, one of the builders of the Seattle Japanese Garden; and Roy Seko.

Roy’s father, Kaichi Seko, was imprisoned at a different camp, suspected of being a spy because of airplane drawings by his then 14-year-old son. He was released after the rest of the family had returned to Seattle. Once he rejoined them, he founded the Bush Garden Restaurant, bought the Phantom Lake property and hired Yamasaki to help him and Roy Seko build the garden.

The garden features many elements common to a Japanese stroll garden, including a cascading waterfall, three ponds, sculpted and pruned trees, stone lanterns and wandering paths.

Yamasaki installed the rockery and bonsai plants that over the years have become overgrown. Kobayashi said he particularly admires the craftsmanship around the waterfall feature, with its tall, craggy rocks. Roy Seko later installed a pump that circulated lake water that spilled over the rocks and flowed through the descending ponds.

Because of its residential setting, Kobayashi said, it illustrates the variety of Japanese gardens in the Pacific Northwest.

Following Kaichi Seko’s death in 1966, Joan and Roy Seko moved into the Phantom Lake home with Roy’s mother, Suye Seko, where they raised five children and continued to make additions to the grounds, including an arching bridge on the lower pond that Roy built in the family garage. In its prime, the garden was featured in Sunset magazine and The Seattle Times Pacific Magazine.

Joan Seko remembers that in the two weeks before her husband’s death in 2004, she set up a hospital bed in the living room so he could look out over the garden and lake. She said hundreds of people visited to pay their last respects.

But she is not sentimental about the garden. She said she remembers her mother-in-law calling in tears while it was being built. The elder Mrs. Seko said her washing machine was broken and her husband wouldn’t buy her a new one. “He’s paying for rocks,” the mother-in-law said.

Joan Seko also remembers plucking pine needles by hand from the sculpted trees to maintain their form, and rushing out with her husband in the middle of a snowstorm with brooms to keep heavy snow off the trees. all part of the garden’s near constant upkeep.

She pointed to grass now growing in the garden’s gravel walks. “There’s no end to the weeding,” she said.

She appreciates the recognition the garden is now getting, and would like to see it saved but said she can’t wait around for a grand plan that may never materialize.

“I’m old. I can’t keep it up. My kids won’t let me get up on a ladder anymore.”

Hopeful vision

Kobayashi estimates it would cost between $5 million and $10 million to purchase the property and restore and improve the garden. That cost also reflects his ultimate vision — to have a traditional Japanese residence designed and built on the property to replace the existing house.

“The goal is to make the property so unique and precious that no one would want to destroy it,” he said.

Kobayashi said that in the garden he can see the hand of the three men who designed and built it, Yamasaki, Kaichi Seko and Roy Seko, and in that collaboration, their pride in their Japanese heritage and their ability to create landscapes of beauty and tranquillity after an experience that he called “the most bitter of their lives.”

The garden, he said, is “a piece of art and a piece of history. It would be sad for all of us to lose it.”

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