May 30, 2013

BVIZ Design

When I was in High Point in April, I met a wonderful and talented woman, Rebecca Vizard. What I liked about her, aside from her great sense of humor, her infectious laugh and her quick wit, was the fact that she loves textiles even more than I do. She makes the most extraordinary pillows from the most beautiful antique and vintage fabrics. Silks, satins, velvets, along with gold and silver cording, beaded tassels and exquisite trims. Each pillow is one of a kind, pieced together to make the most of the bits and pieces of fabrics she collects from all over the world.imageSo I was delighted to see her home and her work featured in the June/July issue of Garden & Gun Magazine. The article is here.

She lives in the very small town on the Mississippi where she grew up, left and then returned to.imageThere are some great images of her house there, including this one with a walk-through armoire, which leads to a bathroom.imageShe’s such a talented woman, creative and clever.imageI am pleased I had a small chance to get to know her, spend some time with her and see her amazing creative work in person!

Check out her website here. imageIt’s loaded with the most gorgeous things imaginable!

May 29, 2013

The Emu

My friend Debby, who’s an animal advocate extraordinaire, has a new little companion. imageShe arrived several months ago in a big greenish blue egg. image

She was a tiny little thing, but pecked her way out of the egg. imageBefore she did that, she’d wobble the egg when she heard noises, which should have been a clue as to how active she’d become!image

Ethel, that’s her name, now has her own Facebook page, here. Ethel is very good friends with the weinerdog, Walter. image

Here she is as a baby in early May. image

Now, she’s more than 19 inches tall and will grow to more than five feet high.

She’s a good little thing, as evidenced here when Debby tells her to stay in the garden – and she does!

She’s totally hilarious as she learns to climb the stairs, aided by her trusty dog, Walter.

And she gets her exercise by running up and down Debby’s city garden.

Ethel will be moving to a farm in a few weeks, so make sure you “friend” her on Facebook and watch her further adventures.

May 28, 2013

Hot House Tour

As you might know, I am the VP of the Board of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, and our mission is to foster an appreciation of the built environment around us. Part of our remit is to host tours of significant properties, either commercial, academic or residential, around the region.

On Thursday, we’re hosting a small cocktail party and tour of an amazing house that you’ve seen on this blog before. imageI’ve always thought this was one of the most gorgeous houses in Baltimore, and in fact, I met the current residents as I was stalking it with my camera. Literally, caught in the act of snapping pictures of its fabulous details, but then we all became friends and they dropped the trespassing charges.{kidding} This house was once home to Milton S. Eisenhower when he was president of Johns Hopkins University, just a few blocks away, and while his brother Dwight Eisenhower, was the 34th President of the United States. The house was designed by architects Ellicott & Emmart. Current resident and Interior Designer, David Craig,  has transformed the home into a warm and elegant residence for himself and his family. He will lead a tour of home and show us the original architecture plans by Ellicott & Emmart, and maybe if we’re lucky, the secret rooms from the Cold War era.David has been the Principal of R. David Craig Interior Design since 1990 and Director of Interior Design at Dalgliesh, Gilpin & Paxton Architects (Charlottesville, VA) since 2004.  He has been responsible for the direction of interior design on a range of projects from farms and estates to commercial and residential properties.David’s designs draw on the European classicism of balance, harmony and scale.  Combined with his astute sense of color, luxurious use of textures and an eye for detail, his artistry has created beautiful projects in London, New York, Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia and Florida.Tickets for this tour are free to Baltimore Architecture Foundation members and $25.00 for non-members. For more information, please click here.

May 27, 2013

Keeper of the Kingdom

A new book is just being released, entitled “Keepers of the Kingdom: The Ancient Offices of Britain”. It outlines all of the odd and historic positions in the UK, necessary to keep the kingdom running smoothly. Of course, some of these positions are completely outmoded, but they’re retained, nevertheless.

This book was first published in 1999, and this edition has been updated and re-released in honour of the Jubilee celebrations which have taken place over the past year. image

Obviously, HM QEII holds several positions, most especially as the reigning monarch. She looks happy and relaxed, with all the symbols of her role surrounding her. image

In her portrait as Queen of the Scots, she looks much less friendly, and a lot more intimidating. image

This picture was taken on her property at Balmoral, miles from the main house and in a small glen with a stream running through it. It was chucking down rain just before the picture was taken, and there was also an invasion of midges (a small biting fly).image HM is shown wearing the wearing the Collar of the Order which is made from gold thistles and rue sprigs. The heather is blooming and the stream echoes the flow of her green velvet cape. The image is modeled after portraits by Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), the Scottish painter. image

Although the picture was taken three years ago, it’s just been published in the book, Keepers: The Ancient Offices of Britain, available here.

May 26, 2013

Memorial Day

When I lived in Annapolis, I used to attend services at the multi-denominational Naval Academy Chapel. imageIt’s a beautiful church and services there were especially lovely, imagewith the midshipmen and women providing much of the music.

One of the songs that was sung at every service was the Navy Hymn, and I think its words are most appropriate today, Memorial Day, the day on which we remember all those who’ve served our country on the land, in the air, and at sea.

Navy Hymn

Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.

May 25, 2013

Peony Time

It’s hard to describe how much I love peonies! peony1I love their beautiful pinks, ranging from the palest shell to the most shocking fuchsia (which I didn’t have any of). I love their hundreds of petals. I love the way the droop over from their weight. I love their subtle scent. I love the way some of the white ones are tipped in bright pink.I love the way some of the pink ones have yellow centers. The peonies around here got pounded by a big storm the other night and are looking a bit bedraggled. But I love them regardless.


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
   to break my heart
     as the sun rises,
        as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open--
   pools of lace,
      white and pink--
       and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
    into the curls,
      craving the sweet sap,
        taking it away
to their dark, underground cities--
   and all day
      under the shifty wind,
       as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
   and tip their fragrance to the air,
     and rise,
       their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
    gladly and lightly,
      and there it is again--
        beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.
    Do you love this world?
      Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
       Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
   and softly,
      and exclaiming of their dearness,
       fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
    their eagerness
      to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
        nothing, forever?


from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

(c) Mary Oliver

May 23, 2013

Guy Wolff Pots & An Old Geranium

I love old terracotta pots, and the more rugged and aged they are, the better. I try to pick up old ones when I see them. I was at a yard sale a few years ago and picked up a Guy Wolff terracotta pot, and recognized it from seeing them in catalogues and maybe at the old Smith & Hawken.

So when I was at Trade Secrets last week, I was delighted to have the chance to meet Guy and see the whole range of his pots.

Guy or one of his apprentices throw each pot by hand at his studio in rural Connecticut. And each pot is slightly different because of that, and they are all signed and dated.

This past weekend, Reggie and I got to talking about flowers, paintings, portraits, and of course, much, much more. I was talking about the portraits at my office and how we had a few Rembrandt Peale portraits of some of our early presidents. He reminded me of the Rembrandt Peale painting of Rubens Peale, one of his 16 siblings (each named after an artist), and a pot of geraniums. imageOf course, Reggie is familiar with this painting, having written about three years ago. Here.

Guy Wolff makes a pot called the Peale Pot, named after the pot in the painting. The Peale pot has some roping around the top edge and nicely tapered sides. Of course most appropriate thing for this pot is a geranium. And that’s what I got. But not just some road-side nursery geranium, but a cutting that is a descendant of a plant that was originally propagated by the master himself. Thomas Jefferson. {Genuflects}

According to Reggie, the Wolffs received a cutting from a plant that Peale had given Jefferson, and that Monticello’s staff managed to keep alive for two centuries. The Wolffs gave Reggie a cutting, and now Reggie and Boy have given me a cutting. Boy carefully wrapped the cutting in wet paper towels, put it in a zip-lock bag with a wee bit of water, tied it with some twine, and I hand-carried it the 300+ miles back down to Baltimore. It’s now resting in an old milk bottle, waiting to begin rooting. Once some roots have been established, I will repot it in the Peale pot which was a gift from Reggie and Boy, and hold my breath that it starts growing. It’s times like this, and especially days like this, that I miss my father, who was a great gardener. He could make anything grow, and I remember him having grow lights in the cellar, prepping for spring and planting season. Today is the anniversary of my father’s death, and you can read about what an interesting person he was here.

May 22, 2013

Peggy Stewart House in Annapolis for Sale

When I lived in Annapolis many years ago, the Peggy Stewart House was a part of my daily life. imageI would spot it frequently as I walked to and from work, and on my jaunts around town. imageIt’s now on the market for $3.2 million.

The Peggy Stewart House got its name from the ship named after Anthony Stewart’s daughter, Margaret. Stewart, a merchant and importer, lived in the home for seven years. in 1774, he returned to the US with a ship full of tea, paid the duty on the tea which was a violation of non-importation agreement. There was a riot, and Stewart was forced by the mob to set fire to his ship and its cargo. Stewart fled Annapolis soon after.image

TheStewart House includes five bedrooms, four bathrooms, eight garage parking spaces (which may account for the high price – parking is at a premium in Annapolis, year-round), a roof deck,image and an elegant rear garden, all on an unusually large lot.

The house is adjacent to the wall of the US Naval Academy and looks over the historic chapel. image

Many of the original details of the house remain, including dentil molding, image

the original center-hall stairs, image

and beautiful plasterwork.image

The colour scheme is sympathetic to the house’s historic origins. image


However, the house also is full of mod-cons, including a great kitchen with all of the big name appliances, imageand central air-conditioning, essential in this part of the world, and, of course, indoor plumbing!image

Having lived in Annapolis, I can tell you it’s a great place to live, and this is a fabulous house!