gabions get hip

The humble gabion is having its day. Gabions are wire or steel cages filled with rip-rap or other stone. Long an engineering standard as cheap, reliable retaining walls, as of late they've been commonly used to stabilize highway embankments and other industrial landscapes. Suddenly hip, they are popping up in contemporary residential landscapes, and in the hands of designers they are quite lovely. 

Check out my Walls Pinterest board for more ideas.

modern beach

The Stinson Beach House by Blasen Landscape Architecture is a lovely example of a contemporary landscape that balances clean, simple lines with softness and warmth. I love the rich materiality of the built features juxtaposed with the soft texture and movement of the grasses. Although this project takes place in the California landscape, this style would transfer quite nicely to coastal Nova Scotia.


the mid-winter reflections of a landscape architect...

Lately I've been thinking about how this blog reflects my state of mind, my pursuits and my current areas of interest. I've considered how it's evolved over time, sometimes with a focus on design in general, sometimes with a more urban agriculture focus and recently, perhaps, with more of a focus on landscape architecture.  

I've always had a voracious appetite for learning and new things and I'm sure that is being reflected here. Sometimes I feel like I need to reign it all in and focus on one thing at a time, but that's really just not me. I'm a generalist and I think that's a really nice quality for a landscape architect. I once heard someone say that engineers need to know a lot about a few specific things and landscape architects need to know a bit about everything, which is probably why we are such great project managers.

I have finally come to accept that my range of interests - art, gardening, dance, herbal medicine, agriculture, fashion, food, travel and on and on -  inform my process and designs and contribute to my wholeness as a designer. It's about time I embraced that!

ps. This photo makes me so very happy. I'm dreaming of a peaceful home studio with such beautiful light...



Molly's Cabin
 I currently have a bit of an obsession with cabins built on outcrops, as you can see from my Pinterest board Cabin (have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest?). I came across photos of this cabin last night and almost went out of my mind. 

Molly's Cabin
Molly's Cabin, by husband and wife architecture team AGATHOM, is located in Pointe au Baril, an archipelago in Georgian Bay. The 1000 suare foot cabin is a simple, yet rich, reinterpretation of the architectural vernacular found in this area that responds quite beautifully to its context.

Architect Albert Frey's home in Palm Springs
I am curious to know more about the connection details involved in attaching to the bedrock. I still have time before I decide on a piece of land and attempt to build a cabin of my own (perhaps on one of the plentiful outcrops here in NS). Time to research, plan, dream and of course time to clip images of simple, beautiful and inspiring homes.


gorgeous greens

So apparently it has been some time since I gave an update on the Bloomfield Community Greenhouse; the last time I posted on the greenhouse (scroll down), these babies were just seedlings. Now they are gorgeously gorgeous and ready to eat! 

Prior to the holidays, our plants were looking a bit leggy. Perhaps due to the reduced light levels, maybe due to a lack of carbon dioxide. We made some adjustments, a fan for one,  and this along with increasing day length seem to have made the difference. At a time when produce has all but disappeared from the farmers' market, it's quite wonderful to enjoy a freshly picked salad of local, organic greens. 


integrated landscapes

This Australian residence by CplusC architectural workshop illustrates a seamless transition between interior and exterior space. I really appreciate how the pergola is incorporated into the structure of the house; the steal beam runs between interior and exterior structures. So often landscape is an afterthought to the architecture, is a divergent style or not at all considered and in all of these cases looks the part. It's nice to envision a world where design professionals - architects, landscape architects - work together throughout a project to create a cohesive design.


baby pics

As promised, here are a a couple of photos of the first seedlings to inaugurate the Bloomfield Community Greenhouse. It's now been three weeks since the first seeds were planted and the photos show the seedlings after one and two weeks. I'm so very happy that they are coming along so well and can't wait to enjoy my first harvest of tender, baby greens

week one 
week two


fall show

Autumn seems to be moving through rather slowly this year - which is fine by me! I love long, leisurely walks through Halifax's older neighbourhoods which afford glimpses of vibrant foliage (like this hydrangea) juxtaposed against colorful, historic houses.


bloomfield community greenhouse

I feel pretty lucky and grateful to have been selected as a participant in the first year of the Bloomfield Community Greenhouse. What a great opportunity to grow food throughout the long, cold Canadian winter! Also a lovely boost for the spirit - the greenhouse was a cozy 42 degrees celsius when I stopped in today (we're still calibrating details like temperature regulation).

The greenhouse is a collaborative project between two community organizations - Imagine Bloomfield and Ecology Action Centre. It's a pilot project with a vision of community greenhouses throughout Halifax Regional Municipality. A handful of us were selected through a membership lottery and now we're responsible for the day-to-day operations of the greenhouse, logging our experiences along the way.


Features of this passive-solar design include solar-panels, re-purposed barn boards, solar hot-water heating that circulates under the interior beds, an interior rain barrel, a community message board and a vermicomposter. I'm eager to meet the buider, Zak Miller of Full Cycle Builders, to learn more about the technical components of the building.

I planted seeds about a week ago and they are just starting to emerge. I am so excited to get started with a new crop just when the gardening season would usually be slowing down. I'll be back soon with pics of the new babies!


garlic planting tutorial (it's time!)

Right about now, at least in the temperate north, it is the perfect time to plant your garlic. Here is a simple guide to next season's bounty:
  • A stop at your farmer's market will provide you with garlic that is adapted to your local conditions. I bought bulbs of two varieties from different farms in Nova Scotia as well as two red types that aren't local that I am experimenting with.
  • Choose large well-formed bulbs. And from these choose the largest individual cloves to plant. Clove size is a better genetic determinant than bulb size of healthy, abundant garlic. I especially like the purple-tinged ones.
  • Before planting 'crack' the individual cloves from the main head and choose those big, robust ones.
  • This is the time to give consideration to next year's garden configuration. Remember garlic needs full sun.
  • Plant garlic (pointy side up!) 4" to 8" apart and cover with at least 2" of soil. 
  • Adding a layer of mulch - I used fresh seaweed but straw, hay, compost and leaves will also work - keeps the soil temperature constant. Garlic hates freeze and thaw cycles which are common here in NS.
  • That's it for now! In early spring you will start to see your garlic shoots emerging. And in July the tops will start to brown and fade signaling time for harvest. We'll talk more later about harvesting, curing and storage.


evening stroll

A few pics from a late summer stroll up the path behind my cabin shortly before I left Oregon. Magic?

hot hot hot!

I took this photo of my cayenne peppers on my last day on the farm in Oregon. It's the first place I've lived that I could really grow these spicy little heat-lovers. I'm now home in Halifax, NS and the lovely fall we had been having has turned bitterly cold! Just thinking about that long hot summer takes away a bit of the chill...


st. john's salve

I spent the other night making a st. John's wort salve - simply melting beeswax into oil infused with st. johns wort, calendula, comfrey and echinacea. It has a beautiful, rich, red tone and would be great for burns, nerve damage and all-purpose skin healing. 

I'm feeling inspired to put together a line of pure, plant-infused body products. I can't wait until I have a bit of land to grow all of the herbs myself...


repurposed patio

I see these old concrete blocks everywhere - at the curb, in parking garages, there are currently several in the loft of the cabin I am renting. This patio shows a great way to put a common, resource-heavy product to re-use. 

This patio is part of a kitchen garden designed by landscape architect Chris Saleeba of Fresh Digs  for the Pantry at Delancey. Saleeba  offers a service he calls 'DIY Construction Coaching' which gives support to budget-conscious clients so they can install a project themselves with guidance along the way. A fantastic idea! See more of the kitchen garden here.


what i've been up to...

Hello there! It has been awhile. I have been away from home for over 8 months now and traveling without my laptop. What started out as a 3 month trip to Ecuador, turned into Nicaragua and Costa Rica and then a 9 week internship in  Oregon and 4.5 months later here I still am in this lovely little village in the wilds of Oregon. Since the internship in herbal medicine and farming I've been staying in this lovely little octagonal cabin on an old farm at the very edge of the forest. I'll be soon heading home to Halifax, NS but I'd like to share some of my travels, and my life at the moment. Here are a few snaps:
my bath tub
my backyard 
a wild turkey saunters by
upper forest meadow
the farm


fall finale...

My last big harvest of the season
golden beet
    late October berries

A long, fantastic gardening season is coming to a close here in Halifax, NS. Here are a few shots from last weekend - just after a few light frosts. I'm kind of amazed that I am getting such a great harvest this late, especially the strawberries! Last year I took things a bit further with a cold frame, but a recent life change has had me questioning where I'll be spending the winter so it looks like I'll soon be closing the garden down for the season. I just read a post over at diggin'food that lifted my mood at a time when I really need some brightening:

"...I was reminded that one of the best things about gardening is that you know what will happen. And you don’t.You know if you sow a bean seed it will crack open underground. A little root will emerge, and soon the emerging bean will nudge aside a lump of soil. The sides of the bean will open up like wings and a tiny plant will unfurl slowly like it just woke up from a very long nap.But sometimes a bird gobbles up the seed. Or your dog digs up the bed. Or the seed just doesn’t germinate. It’s a mystery. This risk factor is what makes gardening and life so interesting. It is never the same. The expected and the unexpected happen. And that, of course, is the whole point."
Summer being the busy time it always is, over the next few weeks I'll share some post-season posts that I meant to share in real-time, but you know, didn't get around to.


chicken coop!

Ok I absolutely need a backyard so I can interject this sleek chicken abode The Nogg.

I have been very delinquent with my posting - but the garden is still going strong. I have been off on a little adventure which I will share with you as soon as things calm down just a bit!


plant combinations: cabbage and marigolds

Another gorgeous plant combination: cabbage with marigolds. Spotted in a garden neighbour's plot.


air plant pods

Bringing things back inside ...  I love air plants and I love pods so these are perfect! From Michael McDowell's Etsy shop Mudpuppy.


garlic time

I decided to arrange my garden plot into a modified square foot (14") method this year. I made the mistake of moving my garlic into formation in late March. It really didn't like it and the stalks remained pencil thin until recently dying back completely. I just uprooted it and was pleasantly surprised to find decent size bulbs. Root vegetables are always such a delight to harvest.


borage cubes

When talking about how to use the borage that has taken over the communal herb garden, my friend Eileen suggested I put the flowers in ice cubes. And so I did. These sweet blue flowers that I often nibble on are the perfect addition to a gin and tonic. I also wonder if the cucumber-taste of the leaves might infuse gin nicely.


coneflowers and bumblebees

The echinacea is in bloom and the bumblebees are loving them, even more than me! They are also all over the borage (more to come). As I was picking borage flowers one ran smack into my arm and didn't sting me. That is the way of the gentle bumblebee.



I tried something similar with my plot: I have been growing scarlet runners up tomato spirals and they too had reached the end of the line. Following suit I connected twine between the poles and my neighbours trellis to create an arbour. Unfortunately someone didn't like my idea and pinched the bean tips. Oh well.