A Trook? Is that a typo? Has Annette been drinking too much compost tea again? Hah! No to both (though the compost tea can be quite delicious). A Trook is very simply a tree repurposed into a hook…a Trook! Genius.
The brains behind this brilliant concept of reuse is artist Geoff Fisher of Geoffrey Fisher Designs in Buckinghamshire, England. Buckinghamshire…doesn’t that name conjure up images of Robin Hood (or is it just that compost tea again)?
Okay the reality is Geoff is a very humorous man whom I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding with and would be happy to meet in person one day. As he explained in an interview given on William-Sonoma’s blog: “The word “Trook” comes from the words “Tree” and “Hook,” which I made up because it seemed to fit perfectly with the nature of the product and describes exactly what it does. Like a lot of designs it came about almost by accident when I had to cut down a tree in our garden. I tried to save part of it in a useful form, so I made a number of hooks for the studio. I first started selling them in a London East End store called Mar Mar Co and they took off from there. Part of their attraction is their individual character but also the label that accompanies each one and tells you exactly where it came from and which type of tree.”
I love that you know where each piece comes from. The batch we just received at Potted came from Penn Wood and are from a Beech Tree.
Geoff shared with me how it was still quite chilly when he gathered our little trooks and I tried not to be too cruel when informing him that I was wearing a tank top and sandals. It’s a tough job living in Los Angeles, but someone has to do it.
They are very useful and put a little smile on my face to think about their journey over the pond.
So when our story ended last week, I was having a quandary, “Do I try synthetic grass so I can have the perfect yard in spite of my destructive (yet adorable) four-legged beasts or do I just sod or maybe something else?” I’ve been working every spare moment to get everything into potted glory for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Tour and my lawn was, if you remember, beyond yucky.
Thank you for the emails I got trying to give me solutions. Most people were open minded about the synthetic as it’s come a long way, baby, but really wanted me to ponder all the alternative first, which I did. But at the end of the day what I really wanted in my 192 square feet of lawn was lawn. So I had the synthetic grass installed (I’m not the kind of person who mulls things over for too long which is why I got engaged on the third date to my husband of 20 years…works for me).
Looks pretty nice, huh? It’s from a company called Turfevolutions and was recommended to me by Joan Grabel of Park Slope Design (a fabulous designer who did another garden on the tour). It looks and feels absolutely amazing (make sure to get the kind with gold in it so it looks even more like California grass). The only thing I will say on the negative side is cost (yikes…glad I only had 192 square feet) and the fact that it glistens a bit in the sun…but that makes it looks like it’s just been watered (or at least that’s what I tell myself). Even the last issue of Garden Design Magazine (may it rest in peace) had an article singing its praises. Anyway, all three dogs seem to be fine with it and I just capped 6 sprinkler heads. I’m happy. When you take the tour (because you are, right?) find me and let me know what you think.
So since it is “A Potted Garden” of course it has to be decked out in all our newest and coolest products for the tour. I’ve been dying to have a City Planter by my front door and when someone changed their mind on an orange Color Blocked one we did custom a couple of weeks ago I knew that was the way to go.
Then I got to put on the new Plexi-Numbers we just designed and I was even more excited (I know, I need to get out more). But it looks pretty cool, don’t you agree?
And here’s the whole entry. Wait, I was only going to tease you so you’d be sure to come and see for yourself. Okay, no more wide shots.
But here’s a cute little concrete Owl we sell sitting to the left of the door…
We love top dressing at Potted…it takes a planting from ordinary to extraordinary.
And you don’t have to always use rocks or glass. Succulents are one of my favorite top dressings and sometimes, as in the case of this container, I add in little things that are meaningful but I really have no idea what to do with like the “face” rock my now teenage daughter made for me when she was 9 or the painted red valentine rock my grandson gave me a couple of years ago. Putting them into arrangements like this is the perfect way to give them a permanent home.
I find that sempervivums (hens & chicks) make the best top dressing (with echeverias running a close second) but as with all living things, they need to be freshened up every so often. I’ve added this different variety into the front here and used it again…
…on the top of my Julius Pot that was filled with Sunburst Aeoniums. Sometimes it’s hard to add new plants into an existing planting so I find that a good plastic chopstick is an excellent tool to help work out a little opening and guide the “tail” of these babies down where they can root.
When this totally fills in and the whole bottom of the pot is a carpet of rose colored sempervivums, this is going to be stunning.
And lastly (at least for today), I’ve taken one of our Wedding Cake Planters and just stuffed it with sedum. I love it. I never understood why this planter didn’t take off…it makes plants look so amazing and it actually has a drain that we designed so it doesn’t have to have a separate saucer. Sigh, I guess we just aren’t going to be fully appreciated as designers until we’re dead. I guess there could be worse things (like actually being dead).
So that’s this week’s tease for the Open Days Tour. Remember you can purchase tickets here, or get them the day of the event which is May 5th from 10am-4pm at the lead garden at 2333 Fern Dell Drive in Griffith Park. Be there or be square!
The Garden Conservancy is dedicated to preserving America’s exceptional gardens. It’s written right there under its name in any literature. Exceptional. So you can imagine what an honor and how excited I was to find out that my garden had been selected to be on this year’s Open Days Tour for Los Angeles. Excited…and then pure panic. Yeah, sure, they liked my garden enough to want it on the tour but now it had to be “exceptional”! So I decided to rip my driveway out.
At some point my driveway became the land of broken pots…one of the perks (or not depending on your perspective) of having a store. Something got chipped and I took it home. But everything was mismatched and worse, nothing could stand the burning heat of all that concrete. I always longed to cut it up and grow Dymondia between the pieces. So we cleared off, no kidding, 50 pots and I gave them all to my sister. She better be a lot nicer to me.
Then we started drawing how we wanted the lines to be cut. I knew I wanted to grow Alphonse Karr Bamboo (can’t get enough of those stripy stalks) on the side to finally hide our neighbor’s house, but it was a real trick to get a pattern going with the lines so they seemed random in width. It’s such a long narrow path, it seemed important that they not be so perfect.
Here’s a view from upstairs before the fence went in and also before we randomly cut off the ends of some of the pavers so they were more chopped up.
And here’s the final view with the bamboo planted. Since this photo was taken I’ve added or am adding a potting bench and little shed, more pots, a small fountain and crossing my fingers that the bamboo gets a little height before the tour. I can’t show you everything because then you would have nothing to live for (and wouldn’t come to the tour!)
So since as they say, the devil is in the details, following are some of the things I have repotted or added to punch everything up. This huge pot was from a landscape client of mine who didn’t want it so I planted it with an Acacia purpurea which unfortunately is still going to be quite stick-like for the tour, but I love underplanting…
…and think these will get a chance to fill in by May. Succulents make such good housemates for an acacia.
And I love the detail of this cork pot giving me some height. I’m sure as things mature I’ll make adjustments but that’s the fun part.
Here’s an old Bauer coffee mug with Jade that I’ve put on the ledge of my outdoor shower. Much prettier than shampoo bottles.
This is a Furcraea macdougallii I underplanted with aeoniums. I don’t know how long it will last in that pot as these guys get huge, but I think they’re pretty slow growing and I just couldn’t resist the squid-like quality.
Here is my extremely pathetic piece of lawn…
…and here are two of the three cute reasons it looks that way. I only have that patch of lawn so the dogs would have a place to, you know, enjoy, and they’ve just destroyed it. I’m thinking synthetic. It really has come a long way. I can’t look at that sad dirt and weeds any more. Opinions?
Using slag glass to keep the gates open. Much prettier than a brick.
These pots were being made at Gainey Ceramics before they closed down ceramic production. I’m so happy I snagged one.
And this beautiful little pot was a gift from Sara of Petersen Pottery, a prototype for the evolution of the Nantucket series. The plant is a Monadenium schubei from Tanzania that I just bought from California Cactus Center for a million dollars but I couldn’t resist. I also refreshed the Geo Planter by Kelley Lamb and my Julius Planter. It’s a lovely trio.
On the other side of my house I also decided to do a bunch of work. I added this Modern Bench from Campania on the fig tree patio that actually started Potted (another story for another time). All the walkways around this patio were mismatched and sinking so we ripped them all out and laid pavers with tile that matched the patio.
My favorite thing about this bench (besides it being gorgeous) is that it’s totally customizable. Here I’m making it a planter but you could easily add a fountain insert or a longer bench or a corner piece for two benches or…lots of options. Best Modern Bench ever.
And next I’ve got to replant the baby’s tears that got wiped out in the construction.
Please come to the Open Days Tour on Sunday May 5th from 10-4 if you want to see how it all turns out and lots more. Besides my house, there are 5 more amazing gardens in a three-mile radius that should make for an amazing garden gawking afternoon. Tickets are available for purchase on the Garden Conservancy Website and also on the day of the event at the lead garden which for us is Ferndell Park. So come and better yet, become a member!
We always love discovering new talent. It’s the best part of owning a store…people come in, show you what they’ve created and we get really inspired. In the case of Titia Estes and Susan Wong, we had the great pleasure of having a booth near them at last year’s Arboretum Show and spent a good deal of our time drooling over their wares. But what separates the wannabe artists from the ones who have what it takes are those that can deliver the goods…and Titia and Susan have done it in spades.
Titia’s work is very different as you can see. The texture is unbelievable.
“I became interested in ceramics about 7 years ago and made the transition from designing and fabricating jewelry. Because of my love of cacti, succulents, and plants in general, my first series of pots were planters of all shapes and sizes. Over the years these pots have morphed into planters that are simple in shape and highly textured.”
“The pieces textured with torn strips of clay resemble ripples of water. In contrast, the pieces textured with crisp, clean lines imply movement like the wavering lines of a pin stripe suit. Mellow brown clay, highlighted with a soft matte black glaze, create an interesting and natural surface for the planter that does not distract but, rather, enhances the beautiful color and structure of the plants themselves. Enjoy.”
Estes Pottery is already flying off the shelf here at Potted. Come see it for yourself.
Susan Wong uses ceramics in a different way…
“Pottery has been one of my passions for many years, and being from an Asian culture that highly values ceramics, I gravitated to this craft with great enthusiasm. Being of a practical nature, I have endeavored to incorporate its elements into my day-to-day life, either through the production of functional forms, ie. bowls, platters, cups, serving pieces, etc. However, over the last few years, sustainable edible gardening has become another passion, and it seemed a natural progression for me to create pieces that could be integrated into my garden.”
“Initially, I used pottery to make over 100 ollas (water jugs) which I presently use in my raised beds and containers to aid plants through the very hot summers here in LA. However, gradually, I wanted to create decorative elements which I could enjoy while toiling in my natural space. Henceforth, ever in the practical plane, a series of bells, lanterns and bird baths have evolved from this yearning. Hearing the resonance of a well rung bell evokes a sense of peace and well-being whilst being surrounded by green space, as well as an essence of just being.”
Susan has also created these dreamy tea light holders in beautiful transparent glazes. Each one throws light in a striking pattern. All of Susan’s pieces are one-of-a-kind and must be seen (and heard!) to be truly appreciated.
We are very proud to be able to bring you these two strong new artists. Susan Wong and Titia Estes…the newest and best from Potted.
Modernism Week in Palm Springs began this last Friday and due to the success of the small Modern Marketplace they did last year, this year the promoters decided to do up big…in a big top tent.
We were honored to be asked to participate (they imagined it like a mini Dwell) and decided to use the venue to launch our new Plexi House Numbers. We thought we’d share some of the highlights of the first weekend in case you wanted to head out there to catch the second weekend. The weather was fantastic!
Our booth was really nice right in the middle of the tent with our very own tree. We featured all of our designs including the Circle Pot, the Orbit, Iron Spheres, Clam Chairs and, of course the City Planters with our new Plexi Numbers.
I really love how Cristina, our planting genius, has been using Tillandsias mounted on branches to plant the City Planters too. They are so unique.
And look exceptionally good with the new Plexi Numbers.
These striking Sanseverias looked amazing in our new Brushed Aluminum City Planters. We only had a prototype to display at the show, but I think they are going to be exceptional…lightweight, non-rusting and super modern. They were a big hit.
Besides our booth, I was mad for these exceptionally designed coat racks from Blue Dot. They just make you happy.
I liked a lot of furniture from them. They have a store on Melrose, but are based in Minneapolis. They were very happy to be in Palm Springs.
Our neighbor was an exceptional designer of lighting and furniture, Brandon Morrison of Whyrhymer.
We loved how he used wood and ceramics and glass in his designs and his wood working was truly exceptional. He has a showroom on La Brea and also does custom work.
This was a concept that I could really get excited about…semihandmade. The idea here is to have you buy all your cabinetry from Ikea-let them measure, etc. but you just don’t buy the door covers. Then these guys make you beautiful customized door panels. It’s a brilliant concept for about a quarter of the price of true custom-made cabinets. All done in Southern California but shipped anywhere in the country!
The Palm Springs store Pelago had a nice booth including this brand-new re-issue of the Russel Wright Residential Melamine collection. I love melamine.
Another amazing find was Modology of Ohio. They make these incredible lucite credenzas but also amazing art work. I really enjoyed seeing what they were up to.
This mobile was made with paint brush handles…genius!
These planters (featured recently in Garden Design Magazine) are from Steel Life. We will very shortly be carrying some of their amazing designs at Potted. Look for them.
And how could you go to Palm Springs without flamingos? Actually the True Value Hardware store which had a booth is very high end there and loved the flamingos so much they actually rescued them from near extinction. So now you know where to get them.
There are also a couple of pre-fab houses and this very cool Silver Bullet trailer and next weekend there will be more and different vendors not to mention all the house tours and fabulous parties and restaurants and…oh, you should just go. And if you do, come by and say hi.
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