Nov 25, 2010

A Little House for Christmas?

If you would like to watch 
the sunny afternoon breezes
gently tease the palest of grey linen curtains, 
by this beautiful pool in Uruguay...
Or perhaps to set up your Christmas tree by this 
magnificent stone fireplace...

Or to sleep in heavenly dreams in a bed
under a glittering chandelier...

Then you may want to purchase 
this fabulous little number, 
just in time for Santa's requests,
because it is for sale. 
Would it fit in your Christmas Stocking, 
do you think?

Punta del Este, for sale through Reynolds Properties

Nov 22, 2010

Genius Loci... there you are!

It is often said that the first, 
and most essential, 
principle in landscape architecture
is to "consult the genius of the place"
or the Genius Loci.
The Genius Loci originally literally meant 
"spirit of a place" in Roman times, 
but its use in modern architecture & landscape architecture 
comes from a gorgeous ode written 
in 1731 by the English poet Alexander Pope.
Did I say modern???
Well, all is relative, I guess...

Consult the genius of the place in all;
            That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
            Or helps th' ambitious hill the heav'ns to scale,
            Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;
            Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
            Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
            Now breaks, or now directs, th' intending lines;
            Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.
In this incredibly, achingly-beautiful property 
at Kew {Melbourne}, the garden, the house 
and the surrounding landscape are as one. 
Alexander Pope would be impressed.
Hard to tell where the garden ends and the bushland starts...
Just to simplify matters, 
Pope also helpfully penned 
an explanation of his poem, 
to make sure we fully get how to do things properly...

"The chief proof of it is to follow Nature, 
even in works of mere luxury and elegance. 
Instanced in architecture and gardening, 
where all must be adapted to the genius and use of the place, 
and the beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it.” 
I think that in the most beautiful, 
the most quiet, 
and the most "ahh"-inducing gardens, 
the Genius Loci has been found, met, chatted with 
and celebrated.
In this shady, cool garden in Deepdene {Melbourne},
full of wonderfully gnarled old trees,
the Genius Loci has been wittily personified with 
rusty iron columns, heavily planted, 
which reference the tree trunks. 
And wittily celebrated too, by encircling another old tree
with a starburst of sleepers. 
The overall effect?
A respect for the Genius Loci - or the old trees, in this case. 
Another garden, 
so another spirit of place...
This time, in the coastal town of Mornington, 
where old redgum sleepers have been bound with 
rope and placed ceremoniously amongst the bottlebrush trees.
Isn't it beautiful?
When a garden appears to effortlessly 
ground the architecture, 
it is a combination of repeating elements of scale, 
referencing colours & textures,
and adding a touch of wit. 
Nestled in the picturesque 
 Mornington Peninsula, at Portsea, 
this quiet garden 
by Sam Cox
exudes a sense of timelessness. 
Perhaps it is the discipline of only native plantings, 
or perhaps it is the wonderful reed-filtered swimming pool
{more billabong than pool}
or perhaps it is the fine eye for scale and proportion, 
but this garden has absolutely nailed the idea of 
the spirit of the place, or the Genius Loci.
Alexander Pope would be very happy 
to sit in any of these gardens, I reckon,  
and reflect on how his ideas are being used in 
modern landscape design, 
almost 300 years later. 

All images were taken by the author during the Garden Design Fest in Melbourne, last weekend.
Gardens shown:- Images 1-4: Redmond St, Kew by Mark Browning of Cycas Landscape Design; Images 5-8, Barnsbury Crt, Deepdene by Richard Bellemo of RB Landscapes; Images 9 & 10, John Rowell Lane, Mornington by Philip Dyer of Garden Living Space; Images 11-13  Blair Rd, Portsea by Sam Cox of Sam Cox Landscape.

Nov 9, 2010

Romantic and sophisticated...

The very clever and talented Bree Oliver 
{you know, the Sydney interior designer with 
the gorgeous A Paddington Perspective blog},
has put her own adorable home up for sale.
Nestled in the inner city suburb of Paddington,
this is one very stylish abode!
Would you like to live here?

Agent's details....Ray White 

Nov 5, 2010

Mad Scientist Birthday Party ha-ha!

Does he look like an Evil Mad Scientist???

Last weekend, being Halloween,
was the perfect time to host
my son's 11th birthday party 
with a Mad Scientist theme...

I concocted some fun invitations 
which set the theme for an Evil Mad Scientist's Laboratory....
All eyes were on the guests as they entered the lair....
I figured that a bunch of 11 year old boys,
who share a penchant for science,
 would enjoy mixing up dastardly mixtures
just to see what happens....
They grew crystal trees.
And, while they were growing...
...They made super-structures with 
mini marshmallows and toothpicks... see which structure could go highest without toppling.
Next: home-made lava lamps...
in various awful {and nice} colour schemes...
Vegetable oil, alka-seltzer, food colour & water
is all you need for these great experiments.
Time to blow things up a little! 
We did the vinegar + alka selzter + red food colour combo 
to make an explosive bottle...

This is the "quick it's about to explode" look....
Then the good-old "coke and mentos" fountain,
which is supposed to create 
a messy spout 3 metres high...
But, in our case,
 there was a bit of a drought at the fountain...

Undeterred, the boys said it is all part of 
the experiment to see what does and doesn't work! 
Which cheered me up immensely. 
So then it was time for the repast....
They drank Poisoned Shrinking Potion
{I think I warned most of the mothers that
their sons would be returned in
a smaller size...}

The party boxes were tagged 
with warning labels

  And so the party is all over for another year... goes so fast!

Are you having a mad scientist party? 
I would love to hear what you are planning.

Nov 3, 2010

Black, white & gorgeous...

The stunning drama 
of black and white 
is rarely applied with such discipline
to the exterior of a residential building
as this fabulous home by Cero Architects, in Madrid. 
The mirrored facade creates fabulous drama 
- a trick often used in heritage sites -
but here the black mirror adds 
an extra layer of 
Isn't it gorgeous?
Black and white provides glamour in other guises, too...

Ah, so very disciplined...
But then, of course, it all makes the perfect backdrop
for a splash of riotous colour!
In racy red...
Or in elegant green.
All are simply black, white & gorgeous!

Photo credits: 1,2 & 3: Cero Architects; 4: Expo 1967 pavilion, via Vintage Vogue; 5: Zebra via HongKiat; 6: Anna French wallpaper; 7: Gabrielle Cortesse; 8: Gabriella Cortesse's bathroom via Daily Mail; 9: Charm magazine cover, 1959; 10: Benson sofa by Arthur G, Melbourne; 11: John Jacob;12: H&M halter top, image by Blue Fruit; 13 & 15: Alexandra Mansions via 1st option; 14: Grace Kelly via Vintage Vogue; 16: Melbourne International Flower & Garden Festival, image by Blue Fruit; 17: Hartley Landscape Architects, France 

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