There’s something to be said for your own private patch of green, an oasis, large or small, where nature invites you outside to marvel at its beauty any hour of the day, and where friends gather to bask in the fresh air and sunshine. In fact, there’s magic in that space that is your very own escape, according to Mary Lennox, the beloved character from the timeless classic, The Secret Garden.
“It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place anyone could imagine.” The Secret GardenFrances Hodgson Burnett
This Spring I found myself discovering the mysteries of my own newly acquired green oasis. It has yielded a cutting garden with lilacs and daffodils and hydrangea, as well as a myriad of butterflies, robins, cardinals and crows, even a family of deer that visit regularly. With summer approaching, I look forward to morning coffee accompanied by a symphony of birdsong, and evening barbecues among the fireflies.
Mother nature has provided her magic, now the garden awaits its finishing touches.
In our garden edit, find European, handcrafted ceramic and terracotta planters, glowing mouth-blown glass lanterns, hand-carved sculptures and furniture, willow birdhouses … a curated selection of art objects for your private oasis. Nature’s enhancements, if you will.
Born in a rural village in Taiwan and raised in the Scottish countryside, Nancy Fuller’s wood-fired pottery uses techniques dating back to ancient agricultural communities and is imbued with the landscape of the croft in Aberdeenshire. Nancy’s traditional forms are fired in an anagama (a Japanese wood-kiln built with her own hands) for four days and three nights. The surface effects and colors result from the interplay of the wood ash and the mineral inclusions within the clay body. “Each pot has its tsuji aji or ‘clay flavour’ and my belief is that these characteristics all add to the beauty of the work and tell the story of its creation.” We can imagine her Solace or Silence Kame (a Japanese vessel used to store water) perched at the top of garden stairs, tucked between your perennials or standing alone against a barren wall to be cherished through the ages. If well cared for, they will last for generations to come.
Weltevree in Dutch means you feel pleasant, or content with your surroundings – a feeling at the heart of our garden edit. We have to admit, we were searching a long time for the perfect lighting to add to your outdoor oasis and when we found Weltevree’s Stringlights, we were jumping for joy. The design, which is both playful and ethereal is beautiful for draping over any outdoor table, but what really caught our attention is that each glass shade is mouth-blown with great care by experienced glass-blowers.
“Translucent and dense, strong and fragile, classic and modern.” Since 2010, designers Niki and Zoe Moskofoglou have focused their energy and passion on a material that they came to know through their metallurgist-engineer father. Marble, an archetypal Greek material, takes on an unconventional role in on.entropy’s designs. The design duo enjoy displaying marble’s diversity – on the one hand, heavy and compact, and at the same time fragile and translucent. on.entropy, a name inspired by a word with different interpretations in different fields, from thermodynamics to psychology, focuses on the transformation of the material. We are in love with their marble Birdie Num and can imagine a collection of them flying above an outdoor hideaway. Or perhaps the smooth green lines of the Prickless Pear? Will be hard to choose …
Hanna Lehtonen, co-founder of EcoFurn, grew up in a small village in Finland surrounded by forests, lakes and “all things made of wood.” Fascinated with her country’s craftsmanship in wooden furniture, she and two friends started to tinker in wooden items, experimenting with doors, stairs and windows. “Our first sellable products were wooden cutting boards and terrace deck modules,” she says. “As we cut the wood, thin wooden bars were left as leftovers, which we used to burn for heating.” But soon they started to produce wooden chairs from those leftover bars. This is how EcoChair was invented — leftovers turned into something useful. Today they produce over 20 different wooden products. “We have grown from a tiny carpenter shop to an international enterprise, employing 50 people in Finland and in Estonia.” We love their iconic beach and garden lounge chairs and the new Pontto birdhouse.
“Wood, worn, weathered and worked by hand”. This is how Alex Walshaw describes his handmade wooden furniture and designs. Utilizing storm-fallen and reclaimed wood, and wood grown through coppicing, an ancient and sustainable method of woodland management, Alex’s pieces are truly unique. While his handcrafted stools and benches would look amazing in any garden, we are especially fond of his relic oak and elm sculptures. Handcarved with love, he allows the fallen trees to talk, often leaving what he calls a “wild edge”. Through these standalone pieces you can almost imagine yourself in his surroundings, the source of his materials and inspiration – his natural workshop for every season.
Welcome to Isabel McGarva’s green world of willow. Coming from a British arts and crafts background, her first broad interest for artefacts led her to study art history and archaeology. In between digs and projects she went on upholstery, woodwork and sewing courses and one day, lucky for us, she stumbled upon basketry. Every aspect of basketry drew her in – the freedom of being self employed, the ecological aspect of growing your own materials and the honor of helping an ancient craft endure. “Willow is a sustainable, compostable material that has infinite potential as it’s native to temperate Europe and grows naturally on most terrains”, says Isabel. She only works with year old shoots for basketry rods and cutting them, she emphasizes, encourages vigorous regrowth. We love her willow bird feeder and can imagine how its woven walls will blend perfectly into any foliage. Add this little, natural structure to your own garden and watch the smallest feathery friends flock to their safe snacking respite.
Nove, a town in the area surrounding Venice, has been famous since the 18th century for its production of artistic pottery. The supply of raw materials from the subsoil and the presence of many watercourses have helped promote the development of craftsmanship there and the ceramic and porcelain tradition has flourished through generations. The collection Plumage, designed by Cristina Celestino, is a great example of where traditional craft and modern artistry meet. All of the porcelain tiles are handmade and hand-painted. The Bottega Nove website offers plenty of inspiration for using tiles in your own garden. Add texture to any old wall by displaying these feathered tiles between creeping vines and potted plants – a backyard boho vibe for the ages.
What garden would be complete without a potted plant or 10? Of course you can find planters in every town or hardware store around, but we’ve grown a deep fondness for terracotta. At first our search yielded page after page of plastic “terracotta” pots and mass-produced balcony troughs, until that is, we started to dig a little deeper. And that’s when we found Poterie Ravel. Founded in 1837, Poterie Ravel is one of the oldest ceramics makers in France and has been awarded the status of a Living Heritage Company. This family business has been led by five generations in succession, who have built up an authentic and rare expertise in the heart of Provence. From preparing the clay to turning the pots and making moulds, the entire production process takes place on site and all the work is carried out by hand. Their skilled artisans make terracotta pots ranging from 10cm to a metre high, right in their own workshops.
Arxe designs its nature-inspired furniture using reclaimed organic materials. Handcrafted in their own workshops in Spain, their products are created by textile, upholstery, carpentry, metalworking and turnery artisans in wood and iron. Their Mediterranean-inspired collection has us longing for a terrace overlooking the sea in Ibiza, but we will try to recreate the ambiance in our own garden with a wooden rocker with a woven rope seat or their wooden chairs, benches and stools covered in fishnet seats (made by the weathered hands of the local fishermen), or the cool zinc-topped table pictured here. The salt air is calling!