Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dragonfly House

This morning I am linking to an article on my husband’s architecture here in North Carolina.  Dragonfly House was featured today in “Home & Garden” section of The Raleigh News and Observer’s series put together as a collaboration between the Home & Garden section of the paper and the North Carolina State University Design Initiative.  The featured architecture was selected by a panel of experts whose mission was to highlight the benefits of good home design and represent the diversity of homes and home renovations of North Carolina architects.

As you can read in the article, as far as we are concerned, all design starts with the site!  This house is on a very small lakefront lot in an exclusive golf course community in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Only 11-ft. from one neighboring house and 14-ft. from the other, this house was designed to open up to an inner courtyard containing a pool AND look out over a million-dollar view of a beautiful lake complete with a nesting pair of swans,  a beautiful golf course setting on the far side, and a sun-setting western exposure.  Once inside this house, you would never even know you had a neighbor!

Here are a few photographs of the house, although some are not the best.  Here is the money shot of the home on it’s lake setting.

Wilson house

Here is the site plan showing the house on its lot and the floorplan:


On the lower left, you can see the house situated among it’s neighbors.  While the Dragonfly house is oriented for views to its interior courtyard and the lake, the other houses are typical box-type houses with windows peering into each others kitchens, living areas and bedrooms.

This is a view when entering the home through the courtyard gates.  The main family/living room straight ahead has all glass curtain walls looking into the interior courtyard on one side and out over the lake on the other side.


Here is a view of the kitchen from the dining area that really does not show you too much.  The floors are Brazilian cherry and the cabinetry and bar is Anegre wood with Absolute Black granite tops.  The fashionable bar stools are designer stools called “Baba Bar Stools.”  Sorry for the poor quality photographs.


This is a view of the large family/living room looking toward the kitchen/dining area.  To the right is the wall of glass that looks out over the lake.  The walls in this room are mahogany again with Brazilian Cherry floors and anegre wood built-ins.  The blue wall at the end of the stair axis to the left of the photograph contains a beautiful stained-glass piece designed and built by the owner of the house.


Who is the architect you ask?  Michael Ross Kersting.  Visit his website at Kersting Architecture.

This week I’m hooked on modern architecture.  To see what others are hooked on, visit Hooked on Houses Friday Blog Party and also Fifi Flowers Fashionable Fridays.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fire in the Garden

Self-contained fire pits have grown in popularity among home owners in recent years. Adding fire to our outdoor living space is appealing for those of us who are outdoor-minded. Not only does fire make the atmosphere cozy, but it draws people together.

Putting fire in your landscape can be as simple and easy as placing an affordable self-contained gas or wood-burning unit on your backyard patio or deck, although it is never advisable to burn fire on wood decks.


With much improved safety, a gas firepit is perfect for small spaces such as a courtyard garden, patio or balcony.

Self-contained fire pits now come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes all the way up to state-of-the-art contemporary models such as these:



Both are gas burning and are sure to attract attention!

As it is indoors, the outdoor fireplace should become the main focal point of the outdoor room. It should be a place for people to gather. Furniture should be either built-in or adjacent to the fireplace. Moveable furniture may be best as it will give its users the choice of moving closer or farther from the fire depending on the amount of heat the fire is generating.


Outdoor fireplaces can be custom built.


Or they can be precast units.


In the west where the air is dry and the nights are cool, kiva fireplaces have been around for many, many years. The curved benches attached to the adobe fireplace are called “bancos.”


Outdoor fireplaces can be used to create privacy or they can be constructed as a backdrop for a space.

Digital Camera

Firepits can be used as a focal point.


Or a destination - a place to set and enjoy a view.


Or a place to relax at the end of a long day.


Fire most certainly can make a dramatic way to end an axis!


It can even be used as art. The “ Installation de Feu" by Carabosse was placed in Manchester’s Platt Fields Park during one of the 'Enchanted Evenings' by Manchester International Arts in 2006.


Photo by Paul Hurst

What is it about fire that fascinates us so?

We’ve come a long way since the campfire.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easter Lily

Lilium longiflorum, better known as the Easter Lily gained its popularity at Easter from American protestants in the early 1800s.  Native  to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan, the beautiful trumpet-shaped and fragrant white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life - the spiritual essence of Easter.

In the 1880s, while in Bermuda, Ms. Thomas P Sargent became familiar with a beautiful lily that blooms naturally in springtime. She fell for this lovely white 'Bermuda' lily and brought its bulbs with her back to her Philadelphia  home. There, a nursery man, William Harris, fostered its popularity among other florists.  At this time, most bulbs were imported from Bermuda.

Around the turn of the century, the Japanese took over the main production of the Easter Lily bulb market and its exportation to the US.  They remained the major world wide supplier of the bulbs until the start of World War II.  When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the supply of Easter Lilys was cut off. 

In America, the plants became known as “white gold” and many farms along the west coast began to grow them.  However, it was very hard to produce consistent quality of bulbs year after year as the plants required specific soil and climatic.  Eventually, just ten farms in the northern California/southern Oregon region became the sole producers of Easter Lilys for the entire country.

“The commercial bulbs are shipped to greenhouse growers throughout the United States and Canada who force the plants under controlled conditions to flower in time for Easter. This is a very tricky process since Easter falls on a different day each year, dependent upon celestial bodies. The first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox, Easter can be any day between March 22 and April 25. Crop scheduling and timing is critical - another reason why the bulbs have to be of such a consistent high quality with reliable vigor and performance. The flowers must bloom exactly when they're supposed to, with no margin for error.

“Still today, the Easter Lily remains the traditional, time-honored flower of Easter. Symbolic of a resurrection, Easter Lilies rise from earthy graves as scaly bulbs, and bloom into majestic flowers that embody the beauty, grace and tranquillity of the special region from which they originate.

I think the best thing about Easter Lilys is that once the plants have bloomed, they may be transplanted to your garden where they will continue to bloom each year!  Here in North Carolina where I live, they thrive! 

To plant your Easter Lilies outside, prepare a well-drained garden bed in a sunny location with rich, organic matter. Use a well-drained planting mix, or a mix of one part soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite. Good drainage is the key for success with lilies. To ensure adequate drainage, raise the garden bed by adding good soil to the top of the bed, thus obtaining a deeper topsoil and a rise to the planting area.

Plant the Easter Lily bulbs 3 inches below grade and mound up an additional 3 inches of topsoil over the bulb. Plant bulbs at least 12 to 18 inches apart. Spread the roots out and backfill the hole.  Tamp the soil lightly to ensure that no air pockets are left.  Water in immediately and thoroughly after planting.   As the original plants die back, cut the stems back to the soil surface. New growth will soon emerge.  Finally, it is important to remember that lilys like cool or shady feet and sunny tops.  Therefore, add a layer of mulch around the base of your plants.

Although commercial Easter Lilys are forced to bloom in March, they typically will bloom in early summer when planted out of doors. 

To learn more about the history and tradition of the Easter Lily, and how to grow them, go Here.   Happy Easter!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Potted Plants = Container Garden

Planted pots look great just about anywhere! They can brighten up an entrance.


Mark an entrance to a pathway.


Add interest to a blank wall.


They look great in groupings.



They can add much needed color.


Photo and Design by ABHL

They look good in repetitive formation.



Photo by Malcolm Bull


They make a great way to end a wall.


Or mark or accentuate a corner.


They can be very artistic.


And brighten up a dull spot.


They can provide color where it is needed.

Photo by Gertrude K.

Link one space to another.




Photo and Design by ABHL

They can soften.


Finally, potted plants can act as focal point or centerpiece.

Hamilton Gardens

In fact, they can be used just about anywhere for most any purpose. Here is an entire garden display made with potted plants.

Their versatility is unlimited!

Just like in any other design, you’ll want to choose plants that add to the composition instead of detracting from it. Pick plants of varying heights, color, texture and form when using more than one species in the same container. This will provide much greater interest.

Also, consider the use of the planted pot and how it is to work in the context of the space where it is to be placed. This will help guide you in picking the right container and the right plants. Remember that form, line, color and texture are the elements that tie a design together.

To learn how to plant and grow a container garden, go Here. And to learn how to care for them, go Here.