Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring Tablescapes, Containers and Rainbows

Bold graphics and whimsy mark Designer Edward Lobrano Tablescape at Lenox Hill Gala Charity event NYC. Image from Quintessence blog.
Edward Lobrano is the NYC-based designer and brother to my dear Swiss school girlfriend, Jennifer Lobrano.  Jennifer is also is a talented interior decorator, culinary artist, and Jacksonville-based caterer.
I will review the Kips Bay show house tomorrow -- Edward has a featured room at this iconic design showcase.  I'm so looking forward to this eye candy interior decor showplace.

My modest Easter tablescape: Jelly beans line vases, glass insert filled with tulips; blue bud vases (match blue jelly beans!) & filled with blue hydrangea; blue butterfly napkin rings, glass bunny candle holders -- all harmony with blue & sunrise/sunset room colors 

Container designs from my friend Virginia Newman - Pennoyer  & Newman featured in Elle Decor May issue,  Tool Box

One of my garden design clients & her glamorous Pennoyer & Newman elegant container compositions 
First-year apple tree - espalier -- delicate white & pink blossoms!

Not so Tool Box Elle Decor - but my happy white star magnolia, white ranunculus and pansies wink back at white house trim for a sweet, spring welcome composition.

It was difficult/challenging to secure container plants this year due to the unusually cold seasonal temperatures this year.

While not garden image per se, can't resist sharing my deviled egg presentation. The lustful recipe is always a hit and the platter is made for deviled eggs - with a cherry blossom design - so glamorous. It whispers spring in such an elegant way. Don't you love dishes made for specific foods? 

End of holiday week and lo - a rainbow smiled back at us & our gardens. Pax


Friday, April 25, 2014

How to create garden rooms & build garden décor Collections: the annual Antique Garden Furniture Fair: Antiques for the Garden and the Garden Room at The New York Botanical Garden


The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) hosted its special Preview benefit this evening for the 22nd annual garden fete, Antique Garden Furniture Fair: Antiques for the Garden and the Garden Room and sponsored by 1stdibs®.  

General admission visitors can enjoy the Fair from 10 am to 5 pm, Friday through Sunday, April 25-27 with the All-Garden Pass or you can purchase tickets on-site at the Garden.

But from The Collectors’ Plant Sale to the rare antiques, items were already selling like first-day sales of Harry Potter books or Apple’s latest iPhone. 

The Sold stickers were blistering plants, urns, mirrors, fountains, benches, botanical prints, bird baths, and sundials, faster than the cherry blossom petals falling from the trees gracing the Enid A Haupt Conservatory.

According to NYBG the Antique Garden Show is the “country’s original, largest and most important venue for authentic garden antiques  - with more than 30 leading exhibitors.”

There is no doubt this is THE event to build an indoor or outdoor garden room Collection.  The unique items at the show are important, authentic, decorative art.   

Entering the event, me and my Plus+One, EunYoung Sebazco ( a graduate of the NYBG School of Professional Horticulture (SOPH), landscape architect, pioneer of growing rice in NYC and former associate with my garden design firm, Duchess Designs, were greeted with cool jazz from the live band, hort friends, and double-sided rows of unusual herbaceous and woody plants from the finest growers, including Itoh peonies, orchids, Coral Bark acers, herbs, and annuals. 

Here too, were the Silent Auction items. I had pen in hand poised to bid on the Munder Skiles (  bench designed by my garden friend, John Danzer. 
Exterior designer, Horticultural Society of NY 2014 honoree, John Danzer (c)
John will have the distinct honor of being honored at this year’s Horticultural Society of New York on Monday, April 28th at the Pierre, along with Sofia and Peter Blanchard, patrons and visionaries of the Garden State’s Greenwood Gardens.
I wrote about Greenwood in January featuring the glory of this beautiful jewel of historical significance.
For tickets and support to the Horticultural Society:

Garden Room Magic
Stepping in to the garden room furniture showroom area, there were waiters poised with silver platters of wine and hors d’oeuvres, flanked by giant urns and planters filled with glamorous and colorful, spring-blooming plants.  

The annual Antique Garden show oozes more than great garden room finds, though.
It’s an intimate, frisson-fueled party. 
Straight away, there was Barbara Corcoran, successful real estate maven and Bunny Williams, doyenne of design, in a tete a tete.
Barbara Corcoran, (L) Real Estate mogul & Shark Tank panelist,  Bunny Williams, renowned designer 
More Garden beautiful people, L: Charles Yurgalevitch, Director, School of Professional Horticulture, NYBG; EunYoung Sebazco, SOPH graduate, landscape architect, Randall's Island hort pro, Eric Lieberman, Garden Ed Manager, NYBG, SOPH student, Chris Ruiz   

Every exhibitor booth was curated with items that elicit curiosity, awe and garden lust!


In no particular order, we found these items particularly beguiling:

Gilded wrought iron florals from Italy circa 1950’s from Brennan & Mouilleseaux Antiques   According to Tim Brennan, “The NYBG Show is the best of its kind in the country and we come perilously close to selling out.”  He added, “The show attracts a sophisticated and educated clientele.”

Here was also a slate table for $12,000. that sprouted a Sold sticker while we were just getting started.

The sweet, white garden furniture winked a happy welcome at Dawn Hill Antiques.  

But I was completely smitten with their whimsical, antique sprinklers. ($425)
Why haven’t I ever seen these conversation pieces cum works of art and garden workhorses?

John Peden, who with his wife Paulette, own the Connecticut-based dealership explained how these wonders worked. 
Made of indestructible cast iron, he’s passionate about these 1950’s American-made wonders, manufactured by the Nebraska company, National Manufacturing Company. 

With accelerating enthusiasm, he describes how the mechanical sprinkler spins, and “walks” the yard, even crawling up a hill, all the while following where the hose was laid out.”
Kind of like those Roomba robot vacuum cleaners – but for the lawn. 
But more rugged and clearly more cool. And handsome.

“They move at a stately pace,” he says with pride.

NYBG president, Gregory Long (R)
As Gregory Long, president of NYBG stops to say hello, Peden doesn’t break stride; continues to narrate how he’s sold perhaps three dozen of the sprinklers over the course of his career.
“How do you keep finding these?” asks Long. 
“They find me,” Peden replies gleefully. 

The seashell “floral bouquets” from were such a score that they were seized almost immediately by David Rozenholc and his wife Dina Weiner, who said they attend the show every year. 
When I asked the cost of the seashell bouquets, Rozenholc didn’t know the price - but knew they’d be perfect for their Southampton country house.  Along with the stork statue.
The dealer was reticent to share the price but when asked for a ballpark figure, she offered they sold for around a thousand a piece.
Well done, David. I covet these beauties! 
David Rozenholc

Another shell-based design was found at Blitheworld Home (
A 1940’s gem, this treasure box had a surprise inside – 1949 magazine headlines decoupage!

Blitheworld previewed a mix of intriguing through the looking glass pieces contrasting BIG and diminutive.  

Owner Sandra Seiger sources her art from Belgium and France.  Love the Big, early 20th century, pond-scum green & gold mirror $2,200 and small outdoor garden chairs $3,900.

The Oscar de la Renta Collection from the Shop in the Garden is even better than I remembered from seeing it in the Shop during the Orchid Show, after including the collection in the Garden Glamour post about the Macy’s Flower Show and tablescapes. 

Who wouldn’t love the story about how the designer researched the look from the Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Rare Book Collection for this, his 20-piece home collection.   (
The marbleized green chargers are a nod to the inside covers papers found in the antique books. 

Upon closer inspection – and pointed out to us, the trellis plates are in fact based on an in-plan garden design drawing and then repeated.  Brilliant!

Peonies (my favorite flower) and the May apple botanicals punctuate the cocktail, dinner and dinner plates that coordinate to mix and match casual, elegant look. 
I loved the dahlias, magnolias, and gardenia paperweights and pagoda salt & pepper shakers that look for all the world like table art. 

A first-time exhibitor, Cottage & Camp, showed intriguing toile painted andirons.  

Their booth showed lots of other intriguing garden lifestyle items, too, including plant stands. 

We discovered an astonishing mirror whose provenance hailed from South Kensington in London and was originally a ceiling mirror that was embellished with a frame that will make you blush. 

Here also was a very, very, extremely rare set of four large mid-19th century French blue decorated enameled cast iron conservatory planters, each with lion head handle and our lion paw feet, signed C.H. Paris & Cie, Le Bourget, selling for $65,000. 
The set is in excellent condition and is from the collection of Gene and Marlene Siskel (Siskel & Ebert fame) posing 20” high and 16” in diameter. 
This look is referred to as the “Rouen style”  “likely because the decoration in both color and form is similar to 18th century Rouen enameled pottery” according the Chicago-based dealer and exhibitor Finnegan Gallery, (

The Philadelphia-based Francis J. Purcell ( dazzled with a zinc and cast iron Fiske fountain circa 1876 priced at just south of $20,000. 

Joseph Winn Fiske and his company J.W. Fiske & Co. was the most prominent American manufacturer of decorative cast iron and cast zinc and was the preferred darling of mid Victorian garden art. 
The fountain bowl is stamped with the Fiske New York Park Place foundry address.  

Don’t you agree that banter about a Foundry on Park Place alone is worth a few year’s of cocktail party chatter when showcasing this piece?  
Toss in the American-made craft and legacy, along with the fountain’s enduring beauty  -- and you can surely make that 20K sticker price justified.

There were Fiske classic urns, too. 
And 1930’s grills that were found in a hotel inspired by Rococo gate and trellis designs.

The Italian well from Balsamo was a remarkable beauty – and already sold $16, 500. The dealer wouldn't reveal the selling price when asked but EunYoung simply turned over the price ticket...

Firehouse Antiques was a first-time exhibitor ( and given what we saw of co-owner Paul Thien’s creative design, they are sure to be successful at the show.
Thien showed us a pair of early glass consoles that he had a wood topped with zinc to look like slate, make two tables.  Brilliant design and very handsome. $900. 

The two black Salterini wrought iron chairs with black and white pony skin seats are too gorgeous: a work of art to behold. $600. 

I have to look into collecting Salterini mid-century sexy gems… I researched his nesting tables, cocktail tables, and Peacock chairs! 
Joan Bogart exhibited a mint-condition Salterini white liquor cart that still had its original finish. $2,695.

Firehouse also presented two arresting zinc wall panels from 1930’s for $1,875. 

RT Facts was all about neoclassical inspired pieces – from a startling svelte settee (American 1820) to mirrors and stands and urns. (

The highlight for me at the Scott Estepp Gallery were the two pieces they’d just gotten in from atop mid Western grange exchange – and are now gold sculptures perched on stands.  Ornate, floral designs!

The catering was provided by Steven Starr Events. 

Most everything edible was teeny:  mini bison sliders, cherry tomatoes stuffed (with a tweezer, I guess) with Feta cheese and itsy-bitsy, toothpick-sized cucumber slice, served on an ingenious bed of olive tapenade that looked not unlike potting soil! 

There was also mini BLT, spicy tuna tartare rolls, and be still my heart: marble-sized risotto arancini rolled in truffle oil and honey.

For a full list of the Garden Furniture Fair’s weekend special programs, including lectures, book signings, and Q&A with NYBG plant experts, visit: