An avid gardener, I love to be outdoors. No matter what I’m doing, I always take a moment to look up at the clouds or stars. Then I turn my attention to the beauty of my gardens.
During the last 10 years I’ve been focused on giving garden tours and lectures, always emphasizing my garden design philosophy of using color, texture and interest throughout the year. This was also the focus of my first book, “Life On Mar’s: A Four Season Garden.”
I’m finishing up my second book about designing casually luxurious rooms. So now it’s time for me – and you as well – to turn our attention to outdoor spaces, our outdoor rooms as I like to call them. Outdoor rooms should follow indoor design principles. I created the outdoor spaces at my home in Westport to be extensions of my indoor spaces. No matter where you look, color and texture play a leading role just as they would indoors. I wanted an explosion of eye candy beyond the normal outdoor designs to blur the lines between outdoor and indoor living.
Two matching Adirondack chairs in my front yard are for taking in the cool morning air or for resting while I wait for guests to arrive. Each chair, painted in an orange inspired by Hermes, holds an oversized brown and white pillow to complete the look and make the space even more inviting. Once through the side rose-and-parterre garden you enter the privacy of my backyard. I’ve mirrored the front yard tableau under my Bradford Pear tree with two teak chaise lounges that invite you to relax and enjoy the views of the wisteria and honeysuckle- covered garden studio. This is the perfect place to come for shade to get away from the afternoon sun.
Just off the back French door spills a pebble and slate patio lined with Belgium blocks. An all-weather wicker loveseat, made from two sectional end pieces, is just the right size and scale. A limestone console table shows off small planters of succulents with reflective globes to capture the light. A teak coffee table is the perfect place to display weather-tolerant collectibles such as beach rocks and driftwood. An extra large pair of chairs completes the design.
A burst of blue from hydrangeas in oversized containers is complimented by the lush texture of boxwoods. An antique black urn with a rosemary plant is decorative and functional. The Garden Studio is the central part of my garden design, but here, too, one can sit, protected from the sun or inclement weather. For large gatherings this becomes the heart of the adjacent outdoor rooms and is where I have the bar or buffet table.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be served under the pergola; the rectangular table offers plenty of seating. Covered in zinc it is all weather as are the four teak side chairs and the two wicker armchairs. Even if I am not dining I always leave something on the table. Nothing is sadder than an empty table! I’ve turned a mirror into a tray to reflect light and to frame and highlight garden ornaments – in this case, a stone dove.