11.17.2017

Holiday Wreaths at Terrain

One of the most beautiful garden shops in the United States is Terrain. It is Anthropologie's garden concept shop and there are only four locations: Glen Mills, Pennsylvania (the original), Westport, Connecticut, Walnut Creek, California, and Palo Alto, California. The original shop in Pennsylvania is the most quaint and charming, in my opinion, because it uses the original structures of an old farmstead to house and showcase its wares. Every year Terrain sets up a winter shop that sells the most beautiful holiday decor items, including stunning handmade wreaths. I've selected five of my favourites below. To see the full collection of their wreaths, click here. If you have the chance to visit any of their stores, I strongly encourage you to! They are an experience in and of themselves. (At the bottom of the post there are photographs of the Terrain stores).
Crimson & Greens Wreath: bright red sprigs of caspia, phalaris, celosia and flax pair with natural leaves to form this handmade wreath. Indoor use only.
My personal favourite: Pheasant Forest Wreath: striped pheasant feathers (gathered humanely) add the finishing touch to this hand-crafted wreath, which brings the autumn woods indoors with natural oak leaves, grasses, cattails and twigs. Indoor use only.
Winter Forest Wreath: natural leaves and eucalyptus with boughs of preserved cedar, white sinuata, echinops and pinecones. For indoor use or sheltered outdoor use.
Dried Cotton Boll Wreath: a handmade wreath featuring natural cotton bolls, some full and some empty, for a look that is charming and unique. Indoor or sheltered outdoor use.
Another personal favourite: Autumn Flax and Protea Wreath: bright protea pods are mixed with natural leaves, preserved myrtle, eucalyptus and flax. Indoor use only.

WELCOME TO TERRAIN!

The Terrain stores are gorgeous any (and every) time of year. Below is a selection of photographs of their stores to give you a sense of their charming atmosphere. In addition to selling plants (indoor and outdoor varieties), they also sell a delightful selection of home decor items, books, outdoor furniture and accessories. Each of the stores also has a cafe and a space for events, such as weddings, workshops and more!

11.16.2017

Martha's Conservatory Greenhouse

One of the most spectacular structures on Martha's property in Bedford, New York, is the conservatory greenhouse. It was designed by Allan Greenberg, the architect responsible for all of the renovations at Cantitoe Corners and the design of Martha's stables. The greenhouse was inspired by the Crystal Palace greenhouse of Hyde Park in London, England. Built in 1851 to house more than 14,000 vendors from around the world who attended that year's Great Exhibition, the structure was more than three times the size of St. Paul's Cathedral! It was destroyed by fire in 1936.

Martha and Allan were inspired by the symmetry and the layout of the Crystal Palace, and other Victorian greenhouse structures similar to it. While Martha's greenhouse is nowhere near the size of the Crystal Palace, it still occupies a nearly 3000 square-foot footprint - quite large for a residential greenhouse design.
It was essential that Martha have a large greenhouse at Cantitoe Corners to grow all of the specimens she was interested in: begonias and orchids of all kinds, lemon trees, ferns and numerous rare specimens of houseplants. Martha and her gardener, Ryan McCallister, use the greenhouse as both a laboratory and a showplace. It is a place to nurture young seedlings as well as display unusual plants that are not ideal for display inside a home, such as the Titan arum, or 'corpse flower', which smells of rotting flesh. (Martha has one!)

Below are photographs of Martha's conservatory greenhouse. (She also has a vegetable greenhouse and a tropical hoop house!) Now that the weather in the Northeast has turned cold and the skies have become a perpetual grey, I thought it would be nice to show a little green. There is a video of Martha touring the greenhouse at the bottom of the post.
This is the main entrance to the greenhouse from the main entrance road. The greenhouse is located at the south end of the property near the tenant house and Martha's main residence, the Winter House.
This aerial view of the greenhouse, taken with one of Martha's drones, shows the vast scale of the edifice. To the rear of the building is the gardener's head house, which is where Ryan McCallister works cultivating, re-potting and caring for all of the plants inside the greenhouse. Behind the greenhouse is the former vegetable garden, which is now Martha's cutting garden.
Here is a closer look at the head house. It is made from the same stone as the stables, quarried in Vermont.
In this more distant view, you can see the adjacent pergola that is used to hang some plants outdoors during the warmer days.
The former vegetable garden, which is now the cutting garden, is located next to the greenhouse.
Inside the greenhouse Martha grows hundreds of specimens of plants: begonias, orchids, succulents and ferns are among her favourites.
A fine gravel covers the aisles to absorb water.
So much green!
Extra pots are stored under some of the benches and everything is grouped by type of plant and displayed beautifully.
Ryan checks in on the plants.
Gorgeous tropical foliage in the sunlight.
Details!
Guy Wolff orchid pots in the head house, bottom right. Almost all of the ceramic pots at Martha's house are by ceramicist Guy Wolff.
Kept warm and out of winter's biting chill, Martha's plants have a happy home indeed! What a nice place to visit on those bleak winter days!






11.13.2017

The December Issue

Having a birthday in December - two days after Christmas, no less - means that I'm pretty partial to the twelfth month of the year. Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, December has an undeniable magic about it, further enhanced by all those gorgeous decorations, twinkle lights and the excitement of a first snowfall. Those who do celebrate Christmas (or Hanukkah) will undoubtedly have their favourite holiday traditions - tried, tested and true - that are eagerly anticipated each year. One of mine includes curling up on the sofa with some hot chocolate and reading the December issue of Martha Stewart Living from cover to cover. It is one of the most exciting issues of the year for MSL subscribers, which editor-in-chief Elizabeth Graves notes with appreciation in her editor's letter. Readers' hopes (and standards) are always high for this issue and, to me, the success of the December issue really is the litmus test for how the magazine is performing and meeting its mandate of inspiring and informing its readers.

The current December issue is out now and I must tell you that it's a really delightful one at that. Graves and her team have done an excellent job of keeping the magazine true to its heritage while pushing its boundaries a bit to make it feel fresh and modern and new. The cover is enchanting; the photographs inside are beautiful; the ideas and recipes are inspired and there is a gorgeous feature on Martha's holiday party that kicks off the back of the issue in fine form with beautiful photographs of her Christmas decorations and her farm in winter. It's a really beautiful issue to round out the year's offerings. They really did 'bring it home'! For a look back and a thorough assessment of the year that was at Martha Stewart Living, I'll have my "2017 Year in Review" article posted in early December! In the meantime, enjoy this issue!

11.07.2017

Martha Stewart’s Newlywed Kitchen

Martha's 90th book is out today! Newlywed Kitchen promises to deliver quick but interesting weeknight recipes for the couple on the go as well as complete menus for entertaining family and friends on the weekends and holidays. It also contains a really great section on what every couple will need for a well-equipped kitchen, plus all the essentials good hosts should have to entertain guests. It makes a perfect wedding or first-anniversary gift (or any newlyweds on your Christmas shopping list), but I think any couple will enjoy its recipes, especially those whose quantities are scaled down to serve just two. Look for it in bookstores now, or order on Amazon! For a complete list of Martha's books, click here!

11.03.2017

Planting my Amaryllis Bulbs

If you're an aficionado of beautiful holiday flowers, then the Amaryllis must surely be among your favourites. They are my favourite holiday flower and I grow them every year. I really enjoy the process of planting them and then the anticipation of their enormous, trumpet-like blooms. It generally takes about six to eight weeks for the bulbs to flower, which is why it's crucial to plant your bulbs now if you expect to have them in full bloom by Christmas. I always plant mine the first week of November, which ensures they'll be ready by the week of Christmas Day.
I prefer the Minerva variety with its candy-cane like stripes. I generally buy three bulbs.

The bulbs are inexpensive enough to have many: you can cluster several of them in the same cozy planter, as I do, or arrange groupings of smaller pots on a dining table in favour of a single centerpiece. They also make easy, assembly-line gifts: tuck single bulbs into attractive terra-cotta pots, along with printed care instructions, tie a nice red bow around the rim of the pot and you've got a pretty gift!

The biggest surprise about these plants is that they are not members of the genus Amaryllis at all. The big, fat bulbs are in the related genus Hippeastrum and descend from plants native to tropical America. (The genus Amaryllis contains only one species, Amaryllis Belladonna; it comes from South Africa, is still quite rare and is tricky to grow).

GROWING AMARYLLIS:

The bulbs we grow indoors at holiday time are simple to care for; they thrive on benign neglect for much of the year. First, they don't need much room. In fact, they prefer close quarters: a pot about two inches larger in diameter than the bulb is ideal, or several closely clustered in one larger container, leaving about two inches between each bulb. Use a well-draining potting mix: try a blend of well-rotted compost, coarse sand and vermiculite in a ratio of 3:3:2. The key is to make sure the soil is well-draining.
The bulbs look so humble before they are planted. They contain so much beauty inside!
It's important, too, not to bury the bulb completely. Be sure the plant is pointed right side up (wide end down) and cover the bulb up to its shoulders, leaving about one-third of the bulb visible above the soil.

When it comes to water, Amaryllis requires very little. Water them once after the initial planting and then only once a week, or as needed, after the plant begins to show signs of green growth emerging from the bulb. Once the plant does start its rapid growth spurt, ensure the soil is evenly moist but never sopping wet.
I plant he bulbs in a flower pot I got at Anthropologie many years ago. I love its artichoke-like motif.
Amaryllis loves the sun! They will not grow as well in dimly-lit areas of the home and much prefer a sunny south- or west-facing window with at least a few hours of direct sunlight.  Once they bloom, the plants should maintain their blossoms for a few weeks. Some of the better varieties will have multiple stems with multiple flowers.
I always put moss around the bulbs. It looks attractive and I tell myself the plants enjoy the extra company. 

Most of us discard the bulbs after the holidays, but if you're keen on keeping them until the following year, you certainly can. After the flowers die, cut back the stem to the tip of the bulb and then allow the foliage to continue to grow for the rest of the year, maintaining a regular watering schedule. In September, you will force the bulb into a dormant period by cutting back all of its foliage and keeping it in dark place for six to eight weeks without any light or water. In November, bring them out again and the flowering cycle should begin anew!
These were some of last year's blooms. The photo was taken on January 15th and it was the fourth straight week of flowers! Aren't they gorgeous? 

Martha & Marley Spoon's Thanksgiving in a Box!

The Martha & Marley Spoon Thanksgiving Box is back again this year and it sounds like a dream come true to me: getting everything you need to make your Thanksgiving dinner delivered right to your door, with almost no ingredient left unaccounted for! (That means no schlepping around the grocery store at the last minute, desperately searching for that elusive spice or herb!) The only ingredients Martha & Marley Spoon ask you to provide yourself are olive oil, salt and pepper! Done, done and done!
Knowing the service - and the food - has Martha's signature of approval on it makes it all the more exciting to me; the kit uses recipes that were developed by Martha's team of food experts and some of them were developed by Martha and her mom!

Here's what you get: the box includes ingredients for all of the following; brown-sugar glazed turkey and gravy, Martha's classic stuffing with dried cherries and Martha's mom's perfect mashed potatoes. It also contains all the ingredients for roasted root vegetables with brown butter, sage and almonds, green beans with shallots and lemon and, for dessert, spiced apple oat crisp. (My mouth is watering just thinking about it!) The quantities feed eight to ten people and costs $160 - very reasonable!
If you already have your turkey ordered, or have selected another main dish, Martha & Marley Spoon have also provided a "Just the Sides" box as well, sans turkey. It contains ingredients for all of the aforementioned sides and the dessert, minus the turkey and gravy. 

I think it's such a good idea for busy, active families on the go who may not have the time, or the inclination, to think about menu planning and grocery shopping for a Thanksgiving feast. Having everything you need - every ingredient fresh and carefully selected from responsible growers and farmers - delivered right to your door with easy-to-follow recipes and instructions is such a great service. If any of you try it this year, let me know how you thought it was.

(I so wish the service was available in Canada. Even though we've already celebrated Thanksgiving up here, I would definitely throw a fall fete just to try it out!)

Below are photographs of some of the finished dishes:
Martha's Brown Sugar Glazed Turkey and Gravy recipe is so easy to follow, and they include the highest quality 12 to­ 14 pound free­-range, additive-free turkey from Goffle Road Free Range Poultry Farms. http://www.gofflepoultry.com
Martha's mom's Mashed Potatoes that everyone loves. (It's the most popular mashed-potato recipe on marthastewart.com). It includes cream cheese for a heavenly rich mash – and everything you need to make this dish is in the box.
This is the Green Beans with Shallots and Lemon side.
The Roasted Root Vegetables with Brown Butter, Sage and Almonds includes sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, pearl onions, garlic and herbs – all topped with decadent brown butter.
The Classic Stuffing with Herbs and Dried Cherries – it can be served inside or outside the turkey. It’s a big favorite at Martha's table!
For dessert –  Spiced Apple Oat Crisp. It’s all the delicious flavors of apple pie without the labor intensive dough. This crisp is a wonderful combination of apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Ordering at Martha & Marley Spoon is simple and straightforward; the two Thanksgiving options are shown above. The Complete Feast is $159.99 and Just The Sides is $99.99. Click here to visit the site and place your order!

11.01.2017

New Real Weddings Special Issue Out Now

For those of you who collect the Weddings magazine (or Martha Stewart special issues) then you'll want to pick up this beautiful special issue: Real Weddings & Honeymoons. This magazine is issued twice a year (a spring/summer volume and a fall/winter volume) and it's a nice supplement to the standard Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, featuring actual weddings, beauty tips, venues and locations around the world, plus honeymoon destinations, from the quaint to the exotic. It's on newsstands now!