Outdoor Glamour: Lessons From the Garden...

That moment when you realize your grandmother totally had it going on (and still does) when it comes to living the dream. I was always impressed by the time and attention my grandparents gave to their garden.

They were farm-to-table before it was cool. But instead of a farm it was a lush suburban backyard with a decidedly English feel. Ivy, raised beds, herringbone brick patios, wrought iron furniture, sculptures with patina one could only wish for... seriously. Who knew these two dynamos were so cool? Well, I suppose I did on some level, but as the years pass I begin to realize how fully they have always embraced life and daily living. There are millions of lessons to be learned from these two. 

Fast forward to today and I'm trying to channel some of that good green energy of my own into my own patio and yard. We have two enormous rose bushes outside which are in full bloom right now. While I am a bit astonished by their wild and crazy ways, I can't help but be won over by their colorful pink blooms. One favors a delicate pale pink flower, the other a hot pink worthy of a Bollywood hit. Once in a while a wildcard blossom erupts with a flower divided into each of these bold opposites. To see our patio floor dusted in pink petals makes spring a very sweet time indeed. 

MY FAVORITE OUTDOOR ELEMENTS


But now the mission is mine to excel at container gardening. I've decided to add window boxes to a wall and to focus on adding a few gardenias to the mix via large urns. If you're a southerner, you'll know these fragrant shrubs are a favorite around here. They thrive in the heat and offer the most intoxicating scent to your outdoor living area. Those of you more prone to killing a plant (myself included!) might like Southern Living's video with tips on keeping these hearty plants alive. And that, in a nutshell is my plan. 

So... back to my awesome grandparents and those life lessons they offer by example. To this day, they have a robust and thriving back yard filled with colorful blooms are carefully chosen plants. They've gravitated towards far more fuss-free options as the years have passed, but the message is clear: care for the things you love and they will repay you in beauty and enjoyment. I can take absolutely no credit for the roses in the yard. They were here when we arrived and are never my favorite shrubs until spring brings their gratuitous display of wild pink blooms. The rest of the space is up to me. It's time to refill those empty urns and pots and make our covered area a floral paradise. It will be thrilling to see (and smell!) the gardenias in full bloom and turn our plain but ample patio into a private Shangri La. 

HERB GARDENING MADE EASY

But that farm to table (or more accurately, windowsill to pizza oven) concept. I know my girls LOVE the idea of growing their own herbs. A slew of good looking raised beds have cropped up on the market and herb garden starter kits are available everywhere I look. Choose your herbs of choice and get started today. Your meals will thank you and your family will benefit from taking part in the creation of the ingredients. You don't have to veer much further than the classic trio of parsley, basil and oregano. These three will get you going and offer much culinary inspiration! 

DINING AL FRESCO IN STYLE



What about you? What do you love to grow? Are you skilled at raising herb gardens and tending to your plants? Are you a rose aficionado? Is there wisdom you can impart to me? What plants do you love to grow in containers? I'd love to hear and learn from you!   

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Outdoor Glamour: Springtime Patio Inspiration...

Every year I tell myself this will be the year I pimp the patio. While I've taken steps to make it a suburban shangri la it lacks the greenery and "wow" factor that each of these images above exudes. I know beyond a doubt that turning our covered patio into an "outdoor room" would give us a completely different energy and at-home lifestyle during the warmer months coming down the pipe. 

In addition to meals and entertaining, I think of the cool craft projects we could tackle outside and the morning coffee moments we could enjoy. A few twinkling lights, plenty of potted plants and and you've created a private oasis for making memories and maximizing daylight (and after-sunset) hours. Quite simply: I've got to make it happen this year before those spring days come about. 

What's lacking? I've narrowed it down to a few key elements and I'm ready to bring them into my life. Care to see the exact pieces I'm loving?

ELEMENTS FOR A PIMPED & PRETTY PATIO

There's no getting around this one. I want this table. I've mentioned it at least once here before and no matter how far or where I look elsewhere it's clear this is the table for me. 

Chairs. These are glamorous, gorgeous and look as though you could sit in them for HOURS. I am loving that bronze finish and the classic exposed metal back. These are perfect in every way and definitely worth stalking as I wait for a sale. 

Set the mood (and perhaps light some citronella) with these substantial cast stone candlesticks. Storms likely won't knock these heavy beauties over and they'll add much needed height to your tabletop or side table. 

There's no way of getting around this one: planters & potted plants. Boxwoods are the name of the game here, specifically the pyramid or ball shaped variety. They can handle our extreme temperature swings (100+ in summer to freezing cold in winter) and still look absolutely perfect. The best versions require little to no maintenance - exactly what this black thumb having girl needs. Planters are always pricey for some reason. These are gorgeous and perfect but (in my opinion) expensive.. I'm stalking this one on Hayneedle with (one) rave review and the classic urn shape I love so much. Also: $75!

It's a relatively short list, I just need to make it happen. Plants really are the key factor here as are the right table and chairs. If I could add one "have to finally own them" this year it's these substantial lanterns from RH. These babies will NOT blow over in the Texas wind. I've compared these to those at other popular retailers and nothing compares to the heft and quality of these. A few of these scattered about the patio add to the enchanted atmosphere after dark. 

What about you? Do you have springtime patio longings? 

Outdoor Glamour: Casa Verde...

While I wax on ad nauseum about my love of gorgeous interiors, I definitely have "this thing" with all things urns, ivy and boxwoods. The outside of my dream home will be rich with a heady mix of ivy gone wild versus carefully manicured bushes. Urns spilling over with meandering vines, stone walls covered in gorgeous green and carefully shaped bushes call to me in ways few will ever understand. Toss in a sparkling pool, pretty pink flowers and a trickling fountain and you've just described my idea of outdoor nirvana. 

What about you? Are you as outdoor obsessed as me?

INSTANT OUTDOOR NIRVANA-MAKERS

{these images and more via pinterest}

Tastemakers: Barbara Barry's Signature Outdoor Serenity...

Oh, how I love Classicism in my outdoor spaces, and no one does it quite like Barbara Barry. Boxwoods, planters, wrought iron furniture and blooming flowers conspire to create pretty patios and formal gardens that are dreamy and inviting. True, a home in Montecito or Corona del Mar would help to facilitate this lush green fantasy of mine. In lieu of that geographic option, I've found a few weather-worthy elements you can add to your patio to help you bring a bit of Barbara (and Southern California) to your own backyard. 

Warning: they are ALL on sale right now at Horchow at extremely good prices. Don't say I didn't warn you! ;)