The Millefleurs - Thousand Flower Garden at Met Cloisters

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Met Cloisters" is perched on four acres in Fort Tryon Park overlooking the Hudson River. The four 12th Century French cloisters house 2,000 pieces of Romanesque and Gothic arts and architecture. Part of the collection are four beautifully curated courtyard gardens—all a joyful foil to the cold austerity the Medieval interiors.

In the past year, the Trie Garden was completely restored. This garden was originally designed to mimic the gardens of the Cloisters' prized Medieval Unicorn Tapestries' own millefleurs (thousand flour) garden. Now the courtyard garden has been redesigned for "four-season-interest". In mid-September, the blooming flowers and contrasting foliage are spectacular.

Met Cloisters' Managing Horticulturist, Caleb Leech, explains in great detail how his team used the garden as a canvas of their own in a recent blog post. He explains: "The inclusion of our wild garden in the midst of a cloister adds a particular joy for gardeners. The enameled mead, or flowering meadow, which is thought to be a modern trend in gardens, was clearly beloved by those in the Middle Ages. In yet another way, gardens and plants bring us closer to our predecessors." 

The Cloisters is open seven days a week except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's days. A contribution is suggested but, ultimately, MET museums allow you to pay what you can. And a ticket to the Cloisters will grant you same-day admission to The MET Fifth Avenue and the contemporary collection at the MET Breuer.

99 Margaret Corbin Drive
Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040Phone: 212-923-3700

Open Seven Days a Week
March–October: 10 am–5:15 pm
November–February: 10 am–4:45 pm

Labels for the Kitchen Garden

You may already be harvesting the sweet peas you pushed into the earth in late February but now is the time to begin succession planting new peas, radishes, baby beets, carrots and lettuce.

To make the initial one inch furrows and keep track of just what you plant  - consider labeling tongue depressors with a white grease pencil. They'll hold up for one season and can then be tossed into the compost.

Hudson Valley Bottle Shop

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Inspired by antique bottles he unearthed as a boy, Kevin De Martine's thirty year old Bottle Shop in Salt Point, New York is a treasure trove.  Each room has a theme—bottles, earthenware, tools, kitchen implements, old tins and cigar boxes—and it is meticulously organized.

Between the old carriage house and barn that make up the shop is an outdoor space full of antique metal work and other things that standup to the elements. 

 Open 11-7 except Tuesdays.

The Bottle Shop, 2552 RT 44, Salt Point, NY, 845-677-3638

Improving Feng Shui with a DIY Hataki Duster

 

Legend suggests a Japanese hataki duster - made of bamboo and cotton cloth - activates positive Feng Shui. Rather than collecting dust - it pushes it to the floor to be swept up. The French housewares company Perigot makes beautiful hataki dusters you’ll find in the basement bricolage of Paris’ Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville. But you can easily make one from your own favorite fabric - as useful as it is beautiful.

All you need is a length of bamboo, some fabric and twine. Cut two rectangular pieces of fabric and iron accordian folds into them. Position the folded fabric on either side of one end of the bamboo. Tie with twine. Fold the fabric back and wrap the twine around again. I chose to make mine with a five foot long bamboo pole from my garden for hard to reach cob webs.

 

The Magic of Tidying Up

 
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You may have read already read the rave reviews, but what  no one has told you about Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is that it is a beautiful little volume you’ll enjoy holding in your hands and the magic lies in the last few chapters. 

Along with detailed tutorials on how to tidy in “marathon’” style to avoid “rebounding” and exactly how to roll one’s socks - Kondo encourages you to only acquire and hold onto the things that truly spark “joy” because “being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy.”  

It isn’t until the last chapter of the book that she reveals the magic really lies in accumulating and tidying less.  She points out you can truly cherish only a few things at a time - and spending your time acquiring and tidying a mountain of possessions defeats the purpose of life.  In her words: “...put your house in order now, once and forever….Pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life. I am convinced that putting your house in order will help you find the mission that speaks to your heart. Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.”

 
 

 
 

DIY wallpaper to the rescue

 

Living not far from New York City's Chinatown - we've come to embrace its Blade Runner aesthetic. For years we've dodged in and out of market stalls selling raw fresh fish,  sweet-bean-paste buns, steamed  dumplings, and exotic fruits like durians and mangosteens.

Some of our favorite spots are Dim Sum Go Go for vegetarian dumplings,  Pongsri for its coconut rice, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for almond ice-cream, and the little café next door for its iced-lychee drinks (and walls papered with dollar bills). 

We've slowly domesticated our live/work loft near Chinatown - embracing the tools and the aesthetic of local restaurants. Most recently we coped with the upstairs neighbors' leaky hot water heater by wallpapering the kitchen wall with Chinese newspapers. 

We tried both mixing our own wheatpaste (wheat flour, water, vinegar) and using a low-odor, commercial wallpaper paste (preferring the latter because it didn't yellow). We simply brushed on the paste with a wallpaper brush, tacked on our newsprint, and brushed another layer of paint on top. Once it dried, we appled a second coat. The commercial paste promises it is easily removed with a little steam though we can't imagine removing it. In fact we intend to layer it with more found and homemade pieces of art as an ode to the lost graffiti mecca, The Chocolate Factory, up the block. Of course,  Banksy has an open invitation to add his own flourish.