Monday, March 22, 2010

Reading Tip

Just Kids is a wonderful story told in plain, sentimental, but the truest hip language you can imagine by Patti Smith. The NY Times raved on the cover of the book review a few weeks ago and I was so excited with its giddy reception because I feel like Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe are a part of my family - so huge an influence have they been on my life and subsequent style. I hadn't even though about garden - I only knew a tulip from a calla lily by virtue of those sexy Mapplethorpe flower images.

I'll never forget the feeling that came over me the first time I saw this image of Patti Smith in the NY Times

And this is a picture that Robert Mapplethorpe took of me a few years later.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Speaking of Garden Accessories

If you don't have acres of land nor rolling hills to perfectly situate the big deer, every garden can use the personalization of a little something. Often sculpture or furniture sounds too stiff -- or maybe even foreboding, if not unromantic. Too serious and formal, but if you think of your personal touches as accessories like you would a yellow pair of gloves or that favorite scarf that you brought back from Prague - then it is much easier to imbue your garden with your own personality. It can be anything, a peeling garden gate that leads to nowhere, shells you brought back from South Africa (or bought in Sag Harbor). A proper Japanese granite 2 ton basin, or a coveted decomposing concrete stool that attracts lichen and makes itself quite at home. Look around your house, your attic, your shed - be adventurous and never forget - to travel is to shop.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Deer I Can Love

Right now occupying a main exhibition space at MOMA is the amusement parkish, sloppily installed Tim Burton exhibit. I would skip it if I wee you, but the Edward Scissorhandsian bigger-than-life topiary deer Sculpture Garden is another story. Give me this deer, dear Lord, and keep all of the normal gallivanting, munching, tick-carrying creatures away.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

For a Different Exhilaration

Without question get yourself to lion Rock Farm in Sharon, Connecticut on May 15 and 16 for le plus ultra rare plant and garden antiques sale TRADE SECRETS ( My most discerning Friends, Geoffrey and John the imagination-packed impresarios of the high-taste home accessory collection Dransfield and Ross wouldn't miss this one for the world. They take great delight in jostling plant-hoarder Martha Stewart over the rarest Trillium and are utterly convinced that this is the show. And so if it turns them on, then I too have a great desire to be there....Just look at this Root Etagere from their latest collection of to-swoon-over confections.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Spring Somewhere

If you have never been witness to one of the extravaganza European Flower Shows, well....then you just cannot imagine what Flower Power really is. If you are limited to, say, the Philadelphia Flower Show as your epitome of lavishness, then you must - sooner or later - take the leap and go beyond. Of course, because these totally over-the-top shows are in Europe - the big drawback is that you can't drag anything home through customs for your own garden and for that - i think i them just a little less.
This year there is the Floralies of Ghent which is in Flanders, which is the Dutch part of Belgium. Unless you are a Royal or have a special entree like we garden writers occasionally (rarely) do, April 17th marks the Opening Day. Breathtaking in its grandeur, the Floralies of Ghent occupies 44,000 square meters and for thous of you who are metrically challenged, let me just say that this is huge and the participants have centuries of flower-making grandeur to live up to ...unlike our Pilgrims and Founding Fathers/Mothers/Gardeners.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blandishments Be Praised

I can now attest that people in Connecticut and Colorado, Oklahoma and Oregon read and regard the esteemed magazine Town & Country - not only with reverence but with action! Their great coverage of the The Best @ Dianne B in the March issue has roused all sorts of heretofore unknown-to-us people into thinking of spring - panting for Panther Boots, ordering shovels and wrapping themselves in Tool Belts. Horray!

I am thrilled for that very juicy bit of national PR but nor more appreciative of it than I am of the local papers near New London. Connecticut. A few weeks ago The Groton Times and the Mystic Times had this to say, "Who says you can't look smashing when you're flapping compost? In fact, Dianne B has made a second and perhaps third career out of doing just that. No frumpy Wellies or Crocs for this former Madison Avenue fashion maven turned Hamptons gardener. She knows how to pick out a mean shovel too......"

Plus there is a very busy blogger with a site full of exciting images and far-flung ideas with the enticing sub-title of GARDEN LUST. call The Best @ Dianne B "ground breaking" - all puns appreciated - as well as my latest "toe-dip" - a new expression to me...and charming.

My thanks to you all.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Growth - Chartreuse

This is the other indescribable color impossible to capture in's not the ubiquitous 'Spring Green' of Hallmark (or should I say Jackie Lawson). It has incredible depth - is just a little bit funky and cannot be captured in fabrics or wall paint. Here it is embodies in one of the chicest plants - the incomparable Euphorbia myrsinites. I don't understand why everyone doesn't grow it as it has presence and style all the year long.

Where does fashion come into it? Well, everywhere really depending on your perception.....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Growth - Maroon

The longed for colors of spring are mysterious and pallette-defying. I'd plant a million bulbs if I could....just to see those unlike-any-other-time colors peek through.

Actually maroon is a terrible description for such a a wonderful act of nature...the first signs of spring growth, whether jutting out like a little spur on some Japanese maples or the points of a new peony pushing up from the earth, are the antithesis of being stranded and sort of maroon suggests.

It's a vibrant, brilliant color with over tones of copper and bronze and undertones of rubies and currants. The spring darks are a different tone than that of the later summer growth---even the blackest of dark plants lack spring it's the color that glistens.

This little Iris is only one shade of the spectrum.

Monday, March 1, 2010


The very idea of spring and its many wonders should be apparent in the garden by now, but alas - it is once again blanketed in white and as ethereal as this impossible to grasp tulip. On the few days in between snow melts - spring thoughts are obscured by the hard, dry yet icy, cracked earth without even a snowdrop or such measly ones that they don't count. It is merely the occasional confluence of faith and few determined-to-flower hellebores faintly pushing their luminous buds upward -----that keeps hoe alive. Oooof that new growth....
It's not news that language associated with the garden fascinates me. Not only the botanical Latin that I am forever trying to master, but the insistent onomatopoeic reminders that spring is here...the throbbing of the little Iris reticulata struggling to unfurl, the pushing up of those indomitable daffodil clumps, buds breaking - almost crackling.....that's what I'm waiting for...

Words that echo sounds are wonderful...listen to this, or better to hear/feel it - say it aloud...

Here are cool mosses deep,
And through the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved-flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.

That's from the Song of the Lotos-Eaters by the ever-popular Victorian, Alfred Lord Tennyson. Even if I never succeed with a blue poppy - that Meconopsis is ever more elusive after so many tries - I cherish these sounds and adore the title of this poem.