March 17, 2018

Traveling to France? You will adore the French

Any travel plans to France this year, the most visited country on Earth?
Anytime I find an opportunity to go, I’m off. So, when I was asked "Could I bring you to France, to help me antique for furnishings & decorate my newly renovated home there?"
 I leaped….Pince Moi, (pinch me) 
Never could I have imagined such an opportunity, really loving my career at the moment
We will get back to that dream, but first…..
You have heard the horror stories, "they are rude, will not even try English, they are rude, ignored us, they are rude……."

As my husband and I readied ourselves for the first trip over we were inundated with the above in a remarkable series of versions, we second guessed ourselves. "maybe we fly there and go elsewhere?" Mind you we were quite young & impressionable. Then I spoke to someone in the know. "They are rude because YOU are rude" WHAT??!!?? 

You see it is a country of deep seated social mores of graciousness. How so?
-never walk into a shop, cafe, anywhere, without saying Bonjour, followed by the appropriate title of Madame, Monsieur, or Mademoiselle to the clerk, staff, anyone in the establishment,.When entering In the evening (after 6pm) instead of Bonjour, it is Bonsoir Madame, monsieur…..
When leaving it is Au Revoir, madame…….
All while looking them in the eyes.
-use Merci (thank you) liberally followed by Madame, Msr…….

-never walk up to someone speaking English, the height of rudeness! Imagine someone walking up to us prattling on in a foreign language…NON!  Practice a few words & sayings to get along. The most important being "Pardone, Madame, Monsieur, Mme, Parlez Vous Angalis?" (Pardon me, Madame, do you speak English?)
See the constant use of Madame, Monsieur Mademoiselle? Everything must begin or be followed by that sentiment
-Control yourself in public. We are noted for being loud & boisterous. I can always tell when a group is from the US, by the decibel level! This too is considered rude & inconsiderate to fellow diners/participants…..
Once there, do partake & enjoy the fruits of this country, they do know how to live 
Does all this sound off putting? When I share this with participants of a France tour by Sylvia and I, a look of exasperation looms over everyone, however once there, and put into practice, everyone exclaims, "This is so civilized, I forgot what that was like!" Viola!!
With this knowledge, I have never had an issue and find the French so charming, more so outside of Paris, however, that is with all large cities, 
n’est-ce pas?
So…..back to my journey, leaving tomorrow, arriving in the morning and off on a train…..this is where I could really mess up……then deep into the countryside. To market we go! Treasures from France are a perennial favorite when brought back to the shop

This reminds me, I will have to do a post on negotiating antique shopping in France, which will apply to most other countries too. All such fun! 
If you want to "come on this journey", follow me on my Instagram page;

Stay tuned, Sylvia and I are planning our tour to Provence in September, 2019. 
Ohhh la la!
Speaking of tours, we have a spot for one more on our English countryside tour this September. 
If interested email me.
  Madame, Monsieur, Mademoiselle,


March 8, 2018

Hiring a Landscape Professional....What to know

Making plans for your gardens this year? Would that include hiring a professional? 
Many of you ask me about our process in designing landscapes. I thought I would share our procedure with's a bit unconventional but going on 30 years in 2019, the process works for us and our customers
So, where to start?  

After fielding questions from our initial contact, our next important step is our survey, We will send you 5 pages of questions from your likes, to dislikes, what is the architectural style of your home, do you need privacy, drainage issues, favorite colors, and on...........

All sorts of preliminary work leads to a successful first meeting, it arms us with information to make each design personal. The more a client can convey, the better. And as you will see, we are fanatical about the details

Do you have a Pinterest account? Any magazine cut-outs? Let's review, together

At the initial meeting we begin the design process, all the preliminary is complete, let's go!
Our client has two options

   1) Just myself, who provides a design as seen below, with a mood board showing the plants and any ornamentation

   2) A well loved option is to bring Stephanie Fania, our in-house artist. Together we create a 3D pen and ink rendering which includes the house......soooo much better than a blueprint! So easy for our clients to visualize 

At our initial home visit, we do a landscape review and then head indoors. I want to see your interior colors and look out strategic windows. How ideal if the interior and the exterior flows.
More of our landscape is viewed from the indoors looking out. By pulling the garden "out" versus hugging a homes perimeter, the more enjoyable.

Ley's begin the design process. 

                  Top 5 Considerations
   Whether you hire a professional or you manage the project,
 here are some important questions to ask your contractor
 and yourself..........

 #1  What is the architectural style of your home?
How can the exterior and the garden be made into one cohesive design? This is key. 
Here is a past blog post to help with the Architecture question

#2 Consider the colors of your plant palette and your home
 Choose your colors via the exterior of your home, this too is important . What do I mean? Let's say you have a red/orange brick house. Pale colors would be lost, baby blue, soft pinks would clash but deep purples, dark yellow, rich blues, all intense colors, would do nicely

The same principals apply to ornamentation. Try to repeat a color found on your home, or a palette as spoken of above.                                            
 This client loves purple and with the Victorian homes colors and the complimentary plant material the blend is beautiful
#3 List your favorites ........ 
perennials, shrubs, trees, evergreens?
#4 Do you have a preferred style?
Type? Low maintenance or "I will love being in my garden" personality, understand your time commitment level. A cottage garden will require more of a commitment than formal. 
Floriferous and romantic?

#5 How will we utilize this space?
     Cutting or Veg garden?
     Space for the children?
     Maybe conversation and dining will be the priority?
  Many of our projects are renovations. How can we work with what is existing? What can be saved, what can be pruned
 (miracles are wrought here!), What to transplant? Remove? Scrutinize with a measured eye.                           
Loving to prune myself, particularly when faced with a creative challenge, I was thrilled to tackle this versus my crew, delighting in the instant results. And a much better idea than removal and starting over
It's transformative. Up and over the arch is a glorious climbing rose that once in bloom is breathtaking. As an aside this image makes a great example of brick color to plant tones. Pastels would be lost, whereas the colors of royalty; deep red, dark blue and purple, would compliment this structure.
 Let's take the above one step further by adding the orange toned Heuchera and a chartreuse underplanting in front of the boxwood.......what a pop and see how lovely these colors would be with the brick. Colored foliage is a delight to work with, they break up the monotony of all green creating an exclamation point of interest

Back to the design......... 
Our field drawings are in pencil and the client has an opportunity to approve or tweak the design before we leave. Designs are created on-site, too many details are forgotten in an office at a drafting table. I return with the sketch in ink, with a mood board of plants and ornamentation. Our clients LOVE this, after all we too are visual, let us help you to "see" your new space
Never forget to take into consideration the seasons, What will your garden look like in winter?

Do you have any views to conceal? Any to "borrow?"
  Ornamentation will set your garden apart, what kind and where?.  These too should match the exterior. I once went to a home that was a Southern Colonial; white brick, wrought iron filigree in high gloss black....very formal.  Her pots....would you imagine were whiskey barrels? And a split rail fence? A total disconnect.

   As this process, to us, is not just the garden but your home,
It's the total picture. 
We can additionally assist with the exterior. 
We ARE NOT ARCHITECTS, just enthusiasts, think "Curb Appeal".  
 We enjoy addressing those details, drawing in any minor architectural tweaks for a full understanding of what can be.

Want to see your home with shutters? An appropriately sized light fixtures, No problem, out comes the pencil

Change the paint colors? Let's explore!

Change the front door, add new porch rails? How about the current style, in need of a freshening? We once turned a mid century Mediterranean into French Normandy, we will draw it...... plus we travel with a big eraser, no risk taken.. 
We all know when we are not "being heard", if you sense this is happening with a professional, stop the process and make certain your wants and needs are being fully addressed. Not doing so will lead to costly mistakes later on. 
Unlike us, completing the design on site, usually in 3-4 hours, the majority of designers will take the details back to an office to craft the design. If you were misunderstood, you will be shocked at the results. Take charge and guarantee your delight. 

                                  Enjoy the upcoming season!
Scentimental Gardens provides on-site visits local, via E-Design and week I leave for France to help a client in and out. 
Oooh la la!  Pince moi!

 Fondly, Debra.

February 4, 2018

Hand Hewn Beams

Hello All!

How is winter going? Too quickly for me, yes, you read that right........that's what I get for my "I'll put that off for a winter project" mantra. Now I am overloaded and hoping I can get my butt in high gear before the madness that is Spring.

Still in "lounge" mode here, some of that time has been thinking about beams, specifically hand hewn 400+ year old beams from England. Even more specifically, when will mine arrive and what will I do with them?!?!
The options are endless, as you will see, But Let's step back a bit.....what am I talking about? 
Staying on in England with my bestie Sylvia, after our tour we antique…..pinch me! Near the very end, we went to visit the construction site her husband Joe was managing from design through construction.
There on the site was a stack of beams, 27 of them, irregularly shaped and roughly 12’ long, these are so hard to find!
The origin was the series of buildings, being sensitively restored for re-use into several townhouse-like homes. 
And yes, these beams had to come out, the originals being 
400+ years old, 

Give me hand hewn beams any day over diamonds! They could go on the same container as my antique finds, I said to myself……no problem
The history is vastly intriguing to me as I think, who carved these beams? How old were the trees that came down? 
We are talking Shakespeare's era!!
Below is a sample of hand hewn with the Mortise and Tenon technique. 
 An even older option was pegged mortise & tenon
A hand-hewn timber is a wooden marvel: the product of intensive labor and old-fashioned craftsmanship. Hand-hewn beams are a prized commodity among those who favor antique building materials, and the carpentry techniques used to create them are still in use among traditional builders today.

What is a hand-hewn timber? It’s any long piece of building material that has been transformed from round log to square timber using only hand-held tools. These timbers can then be sawed to different lengths and used as beams, joists, or trusses.
The less precise, the older they are.
 These have an inherent charm 
all their own
With renewed eyes, I am looking around my home for ideas
Deep in thought for ways to use them. If all my dreams were fulfilled,
 27 would not be enough!
But I know better........Mr 5th & State's "project" days are withering

An image from the Giannetti home, Patina Farm

I will choose my concepts sparingly, to guarantee them becoming reality
......wish me luck! 

First on the list is reverting one of the fireplaces to a beam surround

Yes, like this

Maybe with iron strapping?

Mad for this look, and many walls have been chosen....we'll see

What's not to love here? So you see, they are not just for ceilings
And they need not be in a rustic setting only. Loving contrasts, this really appeals to me, your thoughts?
CRAZY for this. Most of my homes ceilings are 7', after all it was built in 1865. With massively tall ceilings, these beams create an intimacy, a human scale to the room
The rest will go into my barn awaiting a client project, or for you! Need a beam, drop me a line

The England container is due to be opened & displayed

February 13th. Come on by, tea will be served 🇬🇧

As an aside……..
We are hosting a contest, shortly. A free exterior design, a facelift for your home. But......there is a caveat, only open to those that are serious about moving forward. Why? Looking for a before & after for my book  shhh! 
Could that be you?

Happy Super Bowl weekend!
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