Category: Culture

The Doors at Canterbury Shaker Village

Doors are symbolic of opportunity, new life and passing from one state to another. But what about the doors that welcome us home everyday? It seems to me these passages represent a return to shelter and comfort, a return to the familiar.

During a recent trip to Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire I couldn’t help but wonder over the building entrances. Since the late 18th century these entries have ushered residents and visitors into meeting halls, workshops, dinning rooms and living quarters. What stories they could tell! Each door must have represented something different to every person who crossed the threshold.

Canterbury Shaker Village is located in Canterbury, New Hampshire. Built in 1792, it was one of 19 Shaker communities in the United States. The last Shaker resident, Ethel Hudson, died in 1992. Today Canterbury Shaker Village is a non-profit museum tasked with preserving the heritage of the Shakers who called the area home for 200 years. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993. If you want to see the Canterbury Shaker Village doors in person you can tour the site May through October and for special winter holiday events. Learn more by visiting www.shakers.org.

 

 

 

From Seed to Flower, Meeting Garden Designer Xa Tollemache

One of the pleasures of living is experiencing those moments when the past connects with the present. It’s like returning to a seed sown and finding a flower. You know, those instances when you say to yourself, “I understand.”

Five or so years ago I discovered garden designer Xa Tollemache while touring Castle Hill in North Devon, England. She designed the Millennium Garden there and I was an immediate fan. I admire her sense of proportion and scale and her ability to create visually compelling patterns with plants that carpet the ground.

Skip forward to spring 2011 and there I am introducing myself to Xa at a fundraiser in New York. After following her work for so many years, the moment was a little bit surreal. I was delighted when she came to Arkansas to speak at the Clinton School of Public Service and tickled pink to host a dinner party for her at the Garden Home Retreat.

It wasn’t until I was back in England visiting her home, Helmingham Hall, that I recognized the flower borne of the seed sown so many years ago. Surrounded by the graceful gardens she designed, I was transported back to the Millennium Garden at Castle Hill. The path from past to present was clear and I said to myself, “I understand.”

Favorite Films for the Coming Long Weekend

We’re coming to the end of the summer blockbuster season and I must confess I’m not sad about it. Of the summer’s releases my favorite was Rango, but the big budget, supersized special effects offerings didn’t do much for me. I’m not a movie snob. I like any genre–comedy, epic, animation, sci-fi and even horror. I’ll watch a movie at the theater, at home or even on a plane. I judge a movie by the writing, storyline and cinematography. I also like it when there is a surprise or two.

This Labor Day weekend I plan to spend some of my time relaxing with a good movie or two or three. How about you? Are movies going to be part of your holiday plans? If so I recommend the following:

Barry Lyndon (1975)
directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Ryan O’Neal
Set in 18th-century England, it’s a period movie done in Stanley Kubrick’s quirky style.
Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi247005465/
Amélie (2001)
directed by Jean-Paul Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou
I love the colors and imagery in this movie. It’s a visual treat as well as a touching story. It’s in French with subtitles.
Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi2330460441/
Being There (1979)
directed by Hal Ashby and starring Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Warden and Melvyn Douglas
This movie’s script is brilliant. It’s a “mistaken for greatness” story with fabulous wit and dry humor.
Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi489947929/
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
directed by Chris Columbus and starring Robin Williams, Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan
Who doesn’t love a good tale of cross-dressing? This is one of my favorite Robin Williams comedies with plenty of slapstick and hilarious lines.
Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi2564882713/

So those are a few of my favorites. What do you suggest I add to my movie-watching list?

Road Trip to the English Countryside

I discovered my inner Anglophile shortly after college while studying garden design and history at the University of Manchester. England felt like a home away from home for me and I don’t think there was a more ideal place in the world for me to hone my landscape design skills.

I recently returned to England on a tour of houses and gardens. While I started in Cheshire for a stay with my friends at Arley Hall, the majority of my visits were made in Norfolk and Suffolk. There was so much to take in and discover. I certainly came home with more than enough material to share with you on my blog. Over the next few months I’ll post a series of installments about my trip. This first one gives the 30,000 foot view.

Arley Hall, Cheshire. A favorite haunt of mine as a student in England. Lady Elizabeth Ashbrook wrote the forward to my 1st book, Garden Home.

Roses and lavender are a classic. Arley Hall gardens.

Arley Hall walled garden. Catmint, 'Halcyon' hosta  and 'Rosemary Rose' roses.

The herb garden at Arley Hall. Lady Ashbrook designed this years ago.

Themed gardens! This one is for golden plants. Very striking! Next to this garden room was one done in silver foliage.

'Fire and Water' fountain at Houghton Hall. David Cholmondeley has done great things with the garden in the past 10 years.

The Mediterranean garden at Houghton Hall. Note the 'bullnose' boxwood border around the raised pool. Brilliant! Love the potted agaves too.

Catmint 'Six Hills Giant' framing the view to the glass house at Houghton Hall.

My friend Xa Tollemache and Carla Carlisle at Lady Carlisle's home Wyken Hall. They are standing behind the Cornstalk Gates. Love it!

Silver parterre at Wyken.

Guinea fowl on the lawn at Wyken. Carla loves poultry!

Wyken Hall. Love the color!

Gifford's Hall. So attractive. David Hicks did the interior design back in the '70s & it still looks great! So hip!

Helmingham Hall was built in 1510. It's completely moated & the drawbridge comes up every night.

Helmingham is so majestic! I love the punctuation & rhythm of the boxwoods along the moat.

One of Xa's beautiful designs at Helmingham.

Columbine Hall and its moat.

The kitchen at Columbine. So charming!

Columbine's dinning room. I was so taken by the generous fireplace.