Saturday, May 2, 2015

Happy May!

Happy May Day! Families during medieval England would celebrate the beginning of spring by collecting greenery and flowers from woodlands and bringing them back into their homes. This custom was known as "Going A-Maying" or "Bringing Back the May."

In France, the tradition of giving lily-of-the-valley flowers goes back to May 1, 1561 when King Charles IX was presented with a bouquet as a token of luck and prosperity. Now on May Day or the Fete du Muguet, lilies of the valley are fondly sold throughout the country - from roadside stands to supermarkets.

At home, our lilies of the valley are blooming right on schedule despite spring's late arrival this year. All of them were gifted by my friend Charlet - they were transplanted from her garden. I love gathering a few bunches to enjoy. Just a bit of caution: these dainty, sweet-scented beauties can be invasive, and all parts of them are poisonous.
A generous bunch of lilies of the valley for our shop. So pretty! So spring!! The mirror with gilded Greek key border is French Louis Philippe. The greeny-blue painted chest is Swedish Gustavian.
Another bunch for our kitchen. These petite bell-shaped flowers infuse the air with a delightful fragrance - doing dishes just got a little better :)
Meet Lemon Drops! I also picked a few of these charming Narcissi from our small courtyard garden. Their fresh cream-and-lemon palette looks especially cheerful with our gray walls, furniture and floors.  
Speaking of our home, do you remember this post? Many of you have asked about the progress of our house search and real estate listing for our home. Tom and I had planned to officially list it right about now.....with the gardens in bloom. We have decided not to list our home at this time. Why? There has not been anything on the market that we liked or wanted to renovate. Plus, the smaller properties that we were focusing on have been selling extremely fast and, often times, with multiple bids. So for now, we'll continue to enjoy our home. Thanks for all of your interest, support and kind words. 
xoxo
Loi  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Early Spring

It's 5:00 somewhere! Time for cocktails on the veranda!! Don't you love spring? :)

This is such a busy but exciting season. There is much to do in the garden: cutting back deadwood, dividing crowded perennials, mulching beds, fertilizing plants and trees, etc. Please don't forget your street trees. Everywhere I look, plants including weeds are popping up like crazy. I'm just grateful to see any sign of life after that lonnnnnng winter. So, weeds: you are safe for now. Though I'll get you soon.....after I enjoy my margarita.
Pansies are one of my favorite early spring annuals - they are cheerful, hardy and easy to grow. This year, I've planted small white pansy flowers in the footed urns. These small flowers, just a little bigger than Johnny-Jump Up Violas, suit the scale of the urns.
The 16 European hornbeams, planted in groups of 4, are starting to leaf out. Even without foliage, they are striking with their graphic, twiggy form. But it's a relief to see that they've made it through another winter.
BELOW: A few days later, the other 8 Hornbeams on the north side are filling in nicely.
The boxwood balls are also flushing out. Soon they will be covered in chartreuse-green like the hornbeams.  
Speaking of green, the lawn is looking very lush. I love the stripes after it is freshly mown. Tom gets all the credit here! To keep the grass from meandering into the walkways and beds, he installed metal edgers.
 A closer look at a 4" high metal edging strip - about 3" is buried in the ground.
I don't think I've ever shown the street side of our Nellie Stevens holly hedge. Each April, hundreds of white Narcissus Thalias bloom in these terraced beds. After the flowers have finished their show, the foliage gets hidden by liriope plants.
With star-shaped flowers in pristine white, Thalia is an heirloom Narcissus that has enchanted gardeners since 1916.
Behind the cedar gate is the courtyard garden. The row of crape myrtles is still bare. Notice they are pollarded - pruned at the same height each year for size control. Pollarding or topping off crape myrtles is quite controversial - some refer to it as "crape murder."
Step inside for a pop of sunshine courtesy of mini Tete-a-Tete daffies. These early bloomers are the perfect way to welcome spring. Panda, our regal 16-year-old Tibetan Terrier, thinks so!
 Here are 2 photos of this same courtyard taken in previous Aprils - note the crape myrtles were not pruned.
Lastly, we have mischievous Mocha, another TT, frolicking in a bed of perwinkles :) Can you believe she is almost 15?
Cheers to another garden season!
Loi, Tom, Panda and Mocha

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Martha, Mary and More

Tom and I have had a bit of excitement at the house. Our home and collections were photographed for Martha Stewart Living. Yes, indeed! Hence my absence from the blog - we were busy cleaning, scrubbing, waxing, and polishing everything. Just for Martha :)

I want to thank photographer Helen Norman and Martha Stewart Home Editor Lorna Aragon for working tirelessly throughout the shoot.

With her artistic eye, Helen did a brilliant job capturing each room. I always learn a great deal from my friend Helen. She sees the best angles, and is so creative in manipulating the light. After each photo, I'd say "this is my favorite, Helen!" :)

It was my first time working with Lorna and, wow, talk about impressive! From flowers to furnishings, her thoughtful styling created many lovely vignettes, layers and moments. In addition to being talented, Lorna is quite strong. She insisted on helping move whatever needed moving.

Here we are about to have a quick lunch of yummy Danish Smorrebrod or open-faced sandwiches that Tom made. Helen is seated on the left, while Lorna is on the right. That's me in the middle...always in the middle!
Helen Norman's photos are beautiful. I'll keep you posted on the publication date. 

In the meantime, enjoy these gorgeous flower arrangements that Lorna created. I brought a couple to the shop after the shoot.     
An early spring arrangement of very fragrant hyacinths. I adore their heady, sweet scent. Iconic plantsman Christopher Lloyd once said "If hyacinth scent is cloying, I am perfectly happy to be cloyed." 
These stunning green-and-white parrot tulips take on a modern spirit arranged in this simple fish bowl. With the changing light each tulip reaches here and there, creating a bit of a dance. Don't you think the blooms look hand painted?
Many thanks to Lorna and Martha Stewart Living for the flowers!

Adding to the excitement, I finally met in person a much admired blog friend: the charismatic Mary from A Breath of Fresh Air! She and her husband Bob just enjoyed their golden anniversary. Mary was born in England, and she met the debonair Bob in Washington, DC - the happy couple came to town to celebrate. And, they made a special trip to visit moi in little Bethesda, Maryland :) I couldn't be more honored as this worldly couple has circled the globe. Mary has been to all seven continents, btw. Below is a sampling of her travel photos. 
A N T A R C T I C A
R U S S I A
S W E D E N
C R O A T I A
A R G E N T I N A
I N D I A
V I E T N A M
Z A M B I A
ABOVE: The majestic Victoria Falls at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. 
Did you enjoy that tour around the world? Cool photos, right? Please visit A Breath of Fresh Air for more. Many thanks to Mary and Bob! The pleasure was all mine~

With my crazy schedule, it's been difficult to post regularly on the blog. I'm going to try writing more but shorter posts - fingers crossed. You can also check out my INSTAGRAM account where I share daily snippets of...

New arrivals at Tone on Tone

Homes of clients and friends including:
This conservatory sitting room in CT.
And the living room of artist Jill Bateman.
Our gardens
Our home in DC (update soon)
Our home in Maine
Hope you'll follow along on INSTAGRAM.
Thanks so much!!
Cheers,
Loi