Friday, July 31, 2009

Porch Rails. They’ve come a long way, baby.

Last week, my friend Maya at Completely Coastal wrote about Adirondack Chairs.  In her post she showed the following photograph of an image we all think of when we think of the adirondack chair.  When I saw this image, I saw the lovely chair, but I also thought to myself, “whoever sits there will surely have no view of the water beyond as the porch rails will certainly obstruct that magnificent view.”   And this was the inspiration for this post.  Read on.

If you are lucky enough to have a view from your porch, consider this.

Traditional rails made of wood.  Good.

Adirondack-chair-white railswithoutaview



Stainless Steel Cable Railing systems.  Better.



Glass railing system.  Best!



If you’re lucky enough to have a view, don’t obstruct it with the wrong type of railing system!

As always, Friday’s mean it is “Hooked on Fridays” time over at Hooked on Houses.  Take a peak over there to see what others are hooked on today!  Also visit The Inspired Room’s Beautiful Life Friday Blog Party.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Objects in the Landscape

There are several schools of thought when it comes to siting a house in the landscape.  First, we build a house and then create a landscape to go “with” the house.  It has always been my belief that a home and landscape go together – that one would never imagine the house in any other context. 

Another school of thought is just as valid, however.  The house or architecture becomes “art” in the landscape or an object in the landscape.  In this context, the landscape is so perfect that the house fits right in and needs no manmade landscape at all. 

Here are some fine examples of objects in the landscape.  This is what we would label as Design with Nature.  Click on the captions to see and learn more about the houses.

 Neal Creek Residence by Paul McKean Architecture, Hood River, OR

 Hong Luo Club House / MAD Office, Beijing, China

"Bridge House" by Max Pritchard, Architect, near Adelaide, Australia

Less is more.

Now there is a trend called Cargo Container Architecture where used cargo or shipping containers are being recycled as basic building units for residential housing.  Take a look.

Kit Home by Adam Kalkin

Cargo Container House, Designer Unknown


Redondo Beach Cargo Container Residence by DeMaria Design

A clean and green way to live?   In this economy, will less truly become more?  Will we see Americans giving up square footage for a simpler life style?  Building sustainable homes with native and natural landscapes instead of exotic ones that require an unending flow of water and chemicals to be kept alive?

Maybe one day, my friend Julia over at Hooked on Houses will feature an in depth look at some of these homes.

It’s been a while since I participated in her “Hooked on Houses” Friday Blog Party, but I feel social today and I’m hoping you do to.  To see what she and others are hooked on this week, visit Julia's Hooked on Houses Friday Blog Party and then stop by Melissa's The Inspired Room Blog Party.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Invasion of the Purple Pixies

You heard it here first.  The Purple Pixies are coming!  Just watch how fast this plant takes over the residential and commercial landscape in the next few years!

Photo from Heinz Nurseries

At long last, here is a plant that we will be seeing a lot more of in the future as it will find a spot in almost any garden in Zones 7 to 10! The plant is Loropetalum chinensis ‘Shang-lo’ commonly known as Purple Pixie Loropetalum.

Like other loropetalums, Purple Pixie is evergreen and has beautiful burgundy foliage combined with showy pink blossoms that almost always repeat bloom. Loropetalums do well in both sun and shade, but bloom best with more sun. So far, the loropetalums appear to be resistant to both disease and insect damage. What more could you ask for in a plant? I’ll tell you. Unlike the other Chinese loropetalums, Purple Pixie is dwarf and has a weeping and cascading habit.  This plant grows only one to two feet in height by four to five feet wide! What a great choice for ground covers for sun or container gardening!

PlantofMonth_Jan09_2 With it’s burgandy color and cascading habit, Purple Pixie Loropetalum will make a striking addition to any planter!

The strong points of the loropetalums for me have been their ability to form a dense architectural hedge. Also, their deep burgundy foliage adds year-round color to the garden and contrasts nicely with other evergreens. Their dense foliage also complements other evergreen plants such as boxwoods and hollies. The downside of the plant is that too many landscapers have planted it without paying any regard to the size this plant wants to grow, sometimes as large as 20-feet tall and wide! Because of this, often times these plants are the victim of the wrong plant in the wrong place. For this reason, I have always specified the “Ruby” variety that only grows three to six feet tall and wide.

 Other Loropetalums grow very large – sometimes up to 20-feet!

With Purple Pixie, this will change. Now we’ve got a beautiful dense groundcover for sun that won’t overtake the garden! My prediction is that this plant will catch on like wildfire!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Sorry, I’ve been away. I’ve been on holiday.

Here’s some eye candy for you to enjoy.




It’s furniture from Henry Pilcher and it is cardboard.