Monday, March 22, 2010

Something wicked this way comes...

WICKED PLANTS by Amy Stewart

Just finished this quick, entertaining read. I recommend this for any plant nerd out there looking for some cocktail-party trivia to impress your gardener friends. While after reading it your takeaway may be "huh, just about everything can be deadly if you ingest enough of it," the real message is what we as humans usually deem the separate realms of the chemical and natural worlds are really one in the same.

Particularly fun factoids include:

All parts of your Easter Lily are toxic to cats.

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac are not an ivy, oak, nor sumac, respectively. And none of them are actually poisonous.

You never see a Cashew in it's shell at the grocery because the Cashew is in the same family as Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac, and its shell has a similar irritating oil that causes a nasty rash if any part of you comes in contact with it.

You could die from a diet consisting of only corn (I'm not kidding).

Also, for great photos of some of the plants featured in the book, check out this site:

'Wicked Plants' at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mid-century Home by architects Elizabeth & Winton Close

My realtor has a great listing coming back on the market in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I was through it last fall. Local architects Elizabeth and Winton Close designed the home for the original owner, a landscape architect. If you love mid century modern design and Danish modern influences you should check it out. There is a preview open house this Sunday the 14th from 12 to 2 pm.

The home is brilliantly sited to take advantage of a really interesting lot. Lexington Avenue is a busy road, but here you are high up above it nestled in the woods, not unlike being in a great big adult-treehouse. The original owner created a distinct and memorable landscape to support the amazing details of the architecture.

Check out the attached flyer: Close house pdf

"Permanent" lawn?

Check out the following link for a compelling debate about what makes something "GREEN" in this new green movement in which we all now live. I've actually worked on a residential project where we priced-out this new generation of artificial grass. The homeowners were interested in exploring it for their shady backyard where the challenged lawn also competes with four young kids and two dogs. I do have to admit, I'm a purist when it comes to design, but this new product is amazingly close to in texture, color and quality of experience to the real thing. I'm not sure I'll ever be specifying it for a design, but there definitely is an appropriate time and place for its implementation.

Ultimately the high initial cost of the permanent grass was the deciding factor for these homeowners. We ended up sodding, with the idea that there will need to be ongoing sod/seed replacement depending on how the lawn is used and abused.

Be sure to follow the link in the article for a more detailed analysis of the debate.