Saturday, January 17, 2015

Winter White

In case you missed my previous post, Tom and I have decided to downsize and sell our DC home. Many thanks for your calls, emails and blog comments - much appreciated! Your compliments and support warmed our hearts, as we have poured much passion into the restoration, renovation and work on both house and garden.

When I first toured the property - which had been loved by the Belfiore family for over 60 years - I had a vision of what it could be: a historic home graced with beauty, light, flow and open views to verdant gardens with seasonal colors. In shaping the gardens, I looked to the loose plantings of English gardens for softness, as well as the clipped landscapes of Belgium for structure appropriate for a city plot. Executing this vision has been a labor of love and a learning experience.
Before (above) and after (below). The house was sandblasted and re-stuccoed; layers of paint on the shutters were stripped to reveal their early painted surface; front door was relocated to the side; and boxwoods, yews and a leveled lawn replaced a weedy yard.
What have I learned? Invest in energy efficient windows and doors - worth every penny in DC where temperatures can go from near zero to almost 100 degrees. Invest in an irrigation system because there will be times when you just don't want to be outside in the heat. Design a garden with a succession of blooms, and choose plants that flower for a long period, because garden tours are more fun when you don't have to keep saying: you should've seen the garden last week when it was blooming. How tiring that becomes!

And just to clarify: we are not leaving the DC area, nor is our shop moving. We simply want to downsize to a smaller home here, so that we can spend more time at our summer home in Maine. We love both Washington and Maine!

Soon I will show the other rooms of the house along with before and after photos. But first, DC had its first snowfall of the season - always magical! Yes, I still rush to the window when I wake up to see if there is snow. Here is our garden dressed in winter white.
It has taken six years for the Nellie Stevens holly hedge to finally form an arch over the front steps - there's about seven feet of clearance under the arch. By the way, Nellie Stevens is a treasure - it's a handsome, hardy and healthy holly! A row of them provides privacy; also a dramatic backdrop for white flowers.

I custom designed the cedar gates with square spindles set on the diagonal. The span is about six feet, which is the width of the crushed gravel walk currently blanketed by the snow.
To avoid footprints, I drove around front and braved the icy steps to snap these photos in the frigid cold :) 

Looking across the front garden (or "sundial garden" when I'm feeling fancy), the structure of the eight sheared European hormbeam trees can really be seen during winter. The low yew hedge behind is punctuated with another cedar gate. Instead of closing off this garden, I designed this gate to allow friendly passage to and from the neighbor's garden. And the break in the hornbeams provides a borrowed view of our neighbor's stately magnolia trees - it hints at gardens beyond.
BELOW: Eight more sheared hornbeam trees anchor the other side of this garden. Hollies, boxwoods, yews, laurels and ivy stay green year round.
Here are more photos of our garden in previous winters, starting with my robust little friend. Our garden is frequented by robins (along with cardinals, mourning doves, hummingbirds, etc).
A view of the walled courtyard dusted in white. This was the last garden I designed on our property - it's a lovely, private and protected outdoor room.

Stay warm!
Loi

74 comments:

  1. wait. I'm the first commenter?! I haven't even read it yet, but the photos are exquisite! They almost make me wish I liked winter! haha! xo, Laurel

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  2. Your winter garden is beautiful, and the photo of the bird is exquisite.

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  3. Hello Loi, These winter photos are exquisite. They also point out how each detail is planned not simply for looks, but with a definite function in mind, giving the end result an underlying solidity that enhances the attractive appearance.
    --Jim

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  4. Your garden is very yew! When you visit the Uk that will make sense hehe I love all the thought and planning gone into everything and the invested time in the hedge arch. I must go through your past posts to check out your Maine garden now!

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    1. Thanks! The Maine garden needs a lot of work. Hoping to make progress this season.

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  5. Beautiful! I can't imagine ever leaving it :)

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  6. That is such a clever but simple design element to place square spindles on the diagonal - it seems a shame to move from such a lovely home, but I know that wherever you go you and Tom will enjoy recreating another space which will be just as elegant and lovely to see.

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  7. It looks so pretty in the snow. I know you will miss it, but so much ahead for you

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  8. Lovely photos, Loi! The garden is still beautiful blanketed in snow - a testament to your brilliant design. Thank you for the advice about the irrigation system; I will definitely include that in the plan for the next phase of our little garden in Newport. xo, Phyllis

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  9. Hi Loi - Beautiful photos! Such a peaceful and tranquil setting. It will be wonderful to see how you transform the gardens of your new home and house in Maine.

    xo
    Deborah

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  10. How gorgeous!! Love it, the house looks so serene and ethereal blanked in white. These would make a beautiful little book! Hope you enjoy your Sunday!

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  11. Dear Loi,

    Your home and garden is so beautiful and tranquil and has been lovingly resorted and brought to life. It is wonderful that you have lived in this house and enjoyed it for many years. We one time removed a house we had loved but almost immediately sold it and I mourned that house for a long, long time. We had put our very best into it and did not spent enough time there before selling.
    Fon wishes for a joyful week

    Helen xx

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    1. oopos auto correct is fooling me today, should read renovated, not removed. (though we were removed from the house) ha ha

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    2. No worries, Helen. Too funny on that auto correct!!

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  12. Your home is a WINTER WONDERLAND!!!!
    You and Tom have put your hearts and souls into every piece of it, from colors of gardens to colors of the interior. I have never know anyone who put so much of themselves and of the details than you both.
    I marvel at the entire property!
    I know your next home will be another work of art! I am looking forward to the adventure!
    The new owners of your home will be extremely lucky to be able to live in your masterpiece!

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  13. OH if I lived in that area I would be begging for your home! You have done such a spectacular job with it you should be so proud and I do think a book should be in the works! I am also toying with moving after putting so much blood sweat and tears into our old home but I am not sure what lies ahead. I do know that whatever home you move into next will again come alive with exquisite taste due to you and your husband.
    xo Karolyn

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  14. Loi your home and garden is lovely any time of the year! I know your next abode will be just as much so!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Featuring "Inner Spaces"

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  15. Oh Loi, I did read earlier of your plans for the future. . . . . . and was overwhelmed by the fact you and Tom will be moving on and leaving this amazingly beautiful property, both house and garden! After the photos of the gorgeous interiors you've created, and the garden in Summer, you are sharing the Winter garden which is perhaps even more stunning! Love everything about your home, sad you will be leaving, wish I could afford to buy it (we'd love to move back to DC), but know you will wow us again when you find a new property - can't wait for that part!

    Happy day and hope all goes well for you guys in these coming months. Perhaps we'll still be able to enjoy your garden in Spring prior to a move?
    Hugs - Mary

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  16. Good morning dear, dear Loi!

    You have snow?We have none....and we are having our January thaw. But your scene is very reminiscent of our Minnesota Januarys.

    OK.....I am so relieved that you will still be living and doing business in DC! I was under the impression you were just going to live up in Maine, not really knowing how you'd manage the shop! How gorgeous is all the hard work you and Tom has put into the home and garden; Ruben and I know the feeling, the long hours, the back-breaking work it took!

    Wishing you and Tom great success as you wait for the right buyers to come. OH THE BEAUTY HERE! XOXOX Anita

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    1. Anita - Happy to send you some of our snow!! Actually, it has all melted. I'm all ready for spring.

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  17. Hi Loi, It is spectacular. I love seing the "skeletons"--how much snow did you have? It looks like quite a bit--I can imagine you and Tom out there with snow ball fights!! Forget the footprints...... xoxo Mary

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  18. So beautiful, Loi! I can appreciate how you avoided the footprints in the snow. Best of luck with the sale and the next chapter.

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  19. Very lovely…these photos make a nice keepsake. I like your "friendly passage" gate and the view it provides.

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  20. I do agree: invest in energy efficient windows and doors and yes, it's worth every penny! We also have energy efficient film on all our west facing windows: it really does seem to keep any fabric fading at a bare minimum. We are about to do the irrigation system this spring: my poor neighbors have had it with watering when we are away!
    What a transformation in those first two pictures. You really had a vision for the house and surrounding area, and it has all succeeded beautifully!

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  21. What a magnificent home and garden! I miss the snow so much, but not the shoveling or the ice.......
    Your garden is so well planned. I love the sheered hornbeam trees.
    Thank you for sharing.
    I have a huge favor to ask..... May I do a painting from your picture of the robin? It is just darling! So fat!
    Once again, thank you for your blog. I always look forward to it.
    Janie Horn

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    1. Oh, I'd luvvvvvvv for you to paint my little friend. Yes, of course! I hope you'll let me share your painting. Thanks :)

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  22. Takes my breath away.

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  23. Hi Loi, you transformed the house and garden magnificently. Well done. You know, here in Toronto, our winter is freezing with high temperature but less snow. All that winter white on your house is lovely. Happy Weekend!

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  24. Beautiful, picturesque and a perfect winter setting. Love the image of the little bird in the snow.
    Happy Sunday and thank you for your sweet comment on my last blog post, you are such a wonderful blogging friend.
    xo Kathysue

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  25. I so agree with you on the "Nellie Stevens!!" We've had "such good luck" with ours...and, for winter arrangements...they last and last. You'al took the brunt of the snow this time...we hardly had a trace in Central Virginia...your "snowscape" was beautiful!! franki

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  26. I could live in just the gardens....even just the courtyard! Everything is so graceful, and even better..... functional! The garden as well as the windows and doors the best example..... they are details which just "make" the house.... and yet give you so much comfort both summer and winter.... no small thing. Can you share with us the company who made the windows and doors for you? Thank you!

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    1. Thank you! Our windows and doors are from Lepage which is located in Quebec, Canada.

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    2. thank you so much loi! you are always so generous.Stay warm!

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  27. Loi - stately, elegant, spacious, a beauty to behold - what more could one want in a garden? Your home is a dream and I think the gardens are a perfect preamble. You are so very talented and a great editor - a visionary really. Well done. You must be sad to leave but the Maine home will take up all your available love and energy, and how exciting to have a new house to consider in the city!!

    Hugs, xo Terri

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  28. It will be very hard for both of you to leave such a beautiful place for sure. I would buy it in a heartbeat if it were possible (even though I am contemplating downsizing myself!). The agent you choose has all their work already done for them! :-) ox

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  29. Your garden looks beautiful in every season, but then, that's the way you designed it! I'm looking forward to seeing mor of the house — you've whetted our appetite!

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  30. Just gorgeous! I wish I had seen you creeping out to get the shot!! Xo, K

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  31. a well executed garden in winter is such a lovely sight and you outperformed loi!! utterly stunning.......
    looking forward to more before and afters the exterior images are shocking. i must say it will be a joy coming along with you and tom on your new home and garden
    in illinois, a 3' holly is a marvel, ENVIOUS!
    xo
    debra

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  32. I absolutely adore your home and garden. As a novice gardener, I remember going through every single one of your gardening post last summer and learning so much from you. I laughed when you said you got tired of telling people how they should have seen the garden last week. I spent crazy amount of time tending the garden to show off to my parents who were visiting from Asia last summer. Everything was blooming so beautifully then of course a week before they got here, everything stopped. My father took one look at the garden and said, "ugh, you have to get rid of this garden, there is not one bloom here." I am going to have to figure out what type of flowers to plant for the summer here in Boston.

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    1. Smiling because I've been there! Hydrangeas bloom for a long period. They would do well in Boston.

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  33. Your home is absolutely exquisite, summer or winter, Loi! And your gardens, just the right mix of formal and whimsical!
    xo
    Holly

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  34. Hi Loi!!!!
    Wow, what a way to start off the new year! You and Tom have done AMAZING things to your current D.C. home and whoever is the next homeowner will be pinching themselves nightly!! I know you'll find another wonderful home to nurture and love. Just wish we could be neighbors!!!

    Here's to an exciting 2015!
    xoxo Elizabeth

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  35. Loi, this took my breath away. The gardens are truly stunning and I cannot imagine the love and sweat that went into the creation of these grounds. I am truly moved. And when you settle in your new home ... will you please come to me and help me figure out our garden. I am hopeless!! xokim

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  36. Loi,
    Your work on this house is spectacular. The garden is beautiful and I loved the 'tip' about planting for a continuous bloom. I know it will be hard to leave this home, but I trust we'll all enjoy your continued work in Maine and the new DC home. It's always so great to see what you're up to.
    I love the holly and wonder if that variety would grow in sunny Southern California!?
    xo,
    Karen

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  37. Beautiful pictures of your home...it looks gorgeous and cold! I hope it sells fast and you find your next charming home quickly...its so hard to have your house up for sell and clean and perfect all the time....Good luck to you and Tom!

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  38. Beautiful winter garden Loi! And the bird... so cute!
    Hugs,
    Vesna

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  39. Your home is amazing, and you've done such a wonderful job with it, especially the gardens. The next owner will be very lucky indeed! It sounded like your next DC home will be a fixer-upper ... is that right? If so, I look forward to watching the progress.
    Claudia

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    1. Definitely a fixer upper! I want another project ;-)

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  40. There is nothing prettier than new fallen snow! So pristine and white:) While I know it will be hard to leave this beautiful home I am sure your next one will be just as lovely and how much fun will it be decorating a whole new place:)

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  41. Beautiful everything. I'm sure you will enjoy the challenges of a new home (and less upkeep). Best of luck to you!

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  42. Stunning, Loi, I can hear the muffled silence that comes with a snow fall as I look at your gorgeous photos. What an amazing home an garden you've created. It's one thing for a garden to look gorgeous in full bloom, but yours is one for all seasons. I love the sculptural elements like the hornbeams that look so pretty all dusted with snow. It must be bittersweet to say goodbye, but how exciting to have more time in Castine to look forward to, and a new place in DC to make home. Whoever is lucky enough to move into your current place next will surely appreciate all the work you put into creating this haven. It's just lovely.

    Have a beautiful week! XO

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  43. Having two homes is a challenge, and it's hard to decide how to balance them. If your place in Castine is anything like the one you show here it must be quite lovely and give you every reason to want to be there as much as possible.

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  44. Hello Loi,

    How wonderful your house looks clad in its winter white overcoat.

    The bone structure of your garden is so beautifully evident in the depths if winter. The clipped Hornbeams are particularly fine and it is so satisfying to see things planted as small specimens grow into fabulous maturity. That is one of the things that is so hard to leave behind, but is such a great gift to the new owners.

    Wherever you go, you will, no doubt, place your own highly individual and elegant touch on it. May 2015 bring you peace, joy and prosperity wherever you may be.

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  45. Loi,
    I have drooled over every garden post you have ever done. Inspiration from England and Belgium led to transformations that are magical. Grace and beauty from Cedar gates to well manicured grounds. Thanks for part two of your tour. Whoever buys will live in beauty created by you and Tom. What an adorable chubby little Robin, almost looks like taking flight would be a heavy lift off! Come check out my giveaway.
    XO,
    Vera

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  46. ANOTHER Project is in STORE for YOU!I would imagine it was hard decision to make but a SMART one!Your garden is GLORIOUS HERE.......
    I look forward to hearing about the next house and how you TRANSFORM it!Best of luck with the SALE of this gorgeous house......it will not take LONG !!

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  47. Hi: beautiful gardens with first snow + love the robin red breast xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  48. What a beautiful house you are leaving Loi! Hope you and Tom will find your new dreamhome!

    Madelief x

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  49. Loi, wise advice from such a young one! Your garden is perfection, your next one will be sublime. Moving is always bittersweet but I am so looking forward to your new digs and new design adventures!

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  50. There really is something so special about the real first snowfall of Winter. Your garden looks amazing in all seasons. A tribute to its designer! You have a gorgeous home and garden. The person that buys it will think they have moved to heaven. And I am very excited to see what you have in store for us next! Thanks for sharing these amazing photographs.
    Susan

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  51. Whatever the season, your DC home is always radiant, and now, with the first snowfall, it is picture perfect, charming, and beautiful, as is the garden, covered in fresh snow, the trees bare and dramatic, as snowflakes fill the sky.

    Thanks for sharing these lovely photos, as well as the very interesting history of your home.

    xo
    Poppy

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  52. I would've done the same thing to avoid footprints in the snow too! The hubby would of course call me crazy!:-). Love your home and it's like a Winter Wonderland against the snow; so beautiful! xx

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  53. You have such a lovely house, you'll have no problems selling of course. I can't wait to see what you buy in DC! A cute little cottage I hope! :)

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  54. Happy New Year Loi! I have missed you! So excited for you and Tom. The future owners or your home will benefit from the manifestation of peace and beauty. Always inspirational Loi, wishing you continued blessings.xob

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  55. I am so happy for you and Tom and your future adventures. You have had tremendous success with your home and I can't wait to follow your journey on the new home! You are a jewel among is and I'm proud to be your friend! Xo Nancy

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  56. Everything looks so pretty with a coating of white!

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  57. Talk about a wintry white sanctuary with thoughtful touches seen everywhere...yours is an inspiring story of a beloved home. I love how snow transforms a property (though I am in no hurry to return to the tundra). Peace of the mango scented air to you, Loi.

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  58. Loi, your home always demands my absolute attention, causing me to say hmmmm.how could I do that, or that or that? I just love the way your mind works, and the beauty you share with us.

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  59. Isn't your house just more gorgeous now that your know your leaving it soon?? Your garden, green or white is always so magical Loi. I wonder if your gonna be sharing with us your smaller home soon!

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  60. Your garden looks so beautiful in the snow Loi........in creating our garden in England from scratch, we have also concentrated on structure and evergreen shrubs, hedges and topiary, with the aim to keep it looking good even in the winter. We just need some of your beautiful snow now! Hope all goes smoothly with the proposed house move......

    Sophia X

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  61. Looks gorgeous. The winter highlights the good design and foundation of this lovely series of gardens! Is there much land at your house in Maine to garden? Can't wait to see what you do there!

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  62. Hi Loi!
    I checked out for a bit but I'm catching up! I understand the emotions involved in preparing to let go of something you have cherished :). So much thought and attention given to the many details involved mean you are very invested. I get that! I hope you find the perfect little cottage for your next phase.
    All the best to you XO
    Sarah

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Many thanks for your visit! If you have a question, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer. Loi