Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Event: Hugo França at the Fairchild Botanic Garden ~ Dec. 1 thru May 31

“Itapema Chaise”- designed by Hugo França, 2013. Made from pequi wood. 43.3” H x 86.6” W x 49.2” D. Approximately 441 lbs.

Brazilian artist Hugo França can see form and texture in the remnants of once living trees. His hand crafted accents and furniture evoke the essential beauty of well seasoned burl and exotic wood grain. There's no better place to experience such natural creativity than at the Fairchild Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida. Here the artist and the Garden are committed to fostering sustainability and promoting conservational awareness.

This is part of the Art at Fairchild program dedicated to introducing the community to the beauty and power of art in a natural setting. The Fairchild is more than a natural setting, it's a wonderland that celebrates the tropical plants around the world. Such an exotic setting is the ideal surround for França's creative works which originate in similar ecosystems of the northern Brazilian state of Bahia.

Franca's skill was learned by living with the indigenous people of his homeland to discover their long used woodworking techniques that bring out the natural beauty of discarded remnants of felled, burned or dead trees found in the Brazilian forests. By working them into functional designs, França gives new life to trees that are sometimes hundreds of years old.

These hand crafted pieces demonstrate França's ability to assess each piece of reclaimed wood and see a finished project hidden inside. Instead of masking irregularities, he accentuates them to enhance the natural quality of his materials. The pieces are organic and show a true appreciation and understanding of nature.

Franca's collection will be on exhibit in the garden from December 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014 and will be curated during Art Basel Miami Beach by Cristina Grajales of the Cristina Grajales Gallery in New York.


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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! From Me and My Fairytale Pumpkin

It was spring, the May plant sale at the Rodale Institute, when I came across a pumpkin called the Fairytale Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). Of course I had to buy it immediately. I planted it in a bed near my driveway …

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Maria’s Five Favorites: Ladies, Start Your Shopping Engines!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you’re revving up for holiday shopping, here are five great ideas that make a world of difference! 1.  Cashmere V-Neck Sweater Renew your wardrobe with this essential cashmere sweater that’s designed to …

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

No Duds, Please: Getting Great Fall Color Trees

Fall colors along the Eastern Sierras in California. Photo by Josh Endres.

In Vermont, fall color trees are a no-brainer, but elsewhere in America these same species may not be nearly as bright, and some trees show little color at all. This unpredictability is related to your local climate and each tree's unique genetic makeup. Do not assume every individual of a species will bear the same intensity of color. All too often a tree that's supposed to turn fiery red may yield only muddy colored leaves.

For those in the south and west where conditions are warmer, even the brightest species in the north may be dismal. The only way to know for sure is to visit the local tree farm in the fall and tag the best performers for your project. This is how landscape architects ensure their visions manifest perfectly in the finished garden.

Fall Trees

The southeastern native sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, shows considerable variation in color in this alee planting (above). This occurs often with seed grown trees which are all unique individuals. However, growers wanted more reliable color too so they selected the most vivid colored trees and cloned them to sell under a varietal name. With Liquidambar, one example is 'Festival' which bears a reliably spectacular rainbow of hues on the same tree. For deep reds, 'Burgundy' is the most desirable. While you can rely on varieties with this tree, most others without varietal designations are best purchased when they're all dressed up for cooler weather, so your autumn bright spot won't end up a dud in your yard.

Yellow Trees
Photo provided by Garden Design reader Lana Hovinga in Kitchener, Ontario.

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