A terrace from the book Rooftop Gardens, features red maple trees, ivy, cypress, blue hydrangea, boxwood hedges and more, making this a beautiful and a colorful oasis in the sky, high above Park Avenue.
In New York City outdoor living space is an extreme luxury that most people covet. There are a few who are lucky enough to enjoy a tiny sliver of outdoor space in the form of a balcony or maybe even a small terrace. And then there are the ultra-privileged ones who can claim ownership to the most sprawling and enviable terraces and outdoor gardens that the City has to offer. These spaces, like the one above, are like little slices of heaven in New York and a new book published by Rizzoli and written by Denise Le Frak Calicchio and Roberta Model Amon, is devoted to exploring these lavish outdoor gardens. From Park Avenue to Soho, Rooftop Gardens, gives us a rare glimpse inside the posh private terraces and balconies and conservatories of the city’s toniest residences and the glamorous lives of the people that live in them.
I received an advance copy of the book and one of the spaces I was completely smitten with is this wraparound multi-level penthouse terrace in Tribeca that is complete with two dining areas and stunning views of New York City. It’s planted with lush, gold-tipped arborvitae, juniper, fernspray and white hydrangeas which are one of my favorite flowers.
The garden can be seen directly from the penthouse’s windowed living room, which creates the perfect visual flow between the well-appointed indoor and outdoor spaces. (In case you were wondering, the sumptuous interiors were designed by Thomas Jayne who I’ll be profiling here on So Haute very soon!)
You can order a copy of Rooftop Gardens here through Rizzoli or here from Amazon.com
Photos by Norman McGrath, courtesy of Rizzoli
Doesn’t this photo from the Dec ’07 issue of Elle Decor totally embody the spirit of winter? For me it conjures up nostalgic memories of snowy childhood winters in Michigan and me with my sister making snow angels in our backyard. I can almost taste the snow! The photo is from a story on the country home of interior photographer and regular Elle Decor contributor William Waldron.
The Waldrons’ 1760s farmhouse in New York’s Hudson Valley, complete with a quirky giant peace sign on its facade, rests on 77 acres of land in an idyllic setting amidst fir trees and expansive views.
Inside an inviting fireplace adds a feeling of comfort and warmth. This looks like the perfect spot for enjoying a glass of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night, don’t you think?
The home’s minimalist decor includes a hodgepodge of mismatched antiques, flea market finds and salvaged fixtures. Soft white walls and a neutral color scheme exude pared down elegance and give the space a feeling of serenity. I’d say this home is the perfect winter retreat! Now I’m officially in the ready for snow and winter…which means the holidays are right around the corner and I can’t wait!
Photos: William Waldron for Elle Decor
Celebrated photographer François Halard never fails to produce images so captivating that upon first glance you feel as though you’re being taken on a magical journey. Such is the case with this series of houses and gardens from his portfolio. Each beautifully captured image transforms these already handsome gardens into a majestic fantasy land. The photos are soft, romantic and truly enchanting. Take a look…
Photos: François Halard via Trish South Management
My business trip to Santa Barbara last week took me to a magical place called Lotusland which is the most beautiful botanical garden I’ve ever seen. Lotusland is a 37-acre estate and botanic garden in Montecito just east of Santa Barbara. I spent the day supervising a camera crew that was covering behind-the-scenes of a television commercial that was being taped on the property. Talk about a great day at the office! The sun was shining all day and during my moments of downtime I wandered around the gardens testing out my new camera and taking in all the beauty.
Photo via lotusland.org.
Lotusland has quite an interesting history. It was once the private estate of a Polish opera singer named Madame Ganna Walska–a lively character who toured the world singing opera, amassed a huge fortune and had six husbands over the course of her life. She purchased the property in 1941 and spent much of her time renovating and landscaping the grounds. Later in her life she established the Ganna Walska Lotusland Foundation to ensure that the beautiful gardens she created would be forever preserved. When she died in 1984 she left the estate and her entire fortune to the Foundation. Lotusland is now a public garden available for private or group tours by reservation only. Above is a map of the gardens so you can get a sense of the layout. It is truly an amazing, fairy-tale like place. If you’re ever in the area it’s definitely a must visit destination. For more information, visit Lotusland’s website
. And for your viewing pleasure, here are some of the photos from my visit. Enjoy!
Here is one of Lotusland’s many orange trees in the orchards which is planted with numerous fruit trees including peaches, plums, apples, figs, oranges, lemons, limes, kumquats and more.
Here an arbor covered with growing vines of lemons surrounds a picturesque walkway.
A fountain at the end of The Orchards portraying a mythological sea monster.
Looking away from the fountain you can see rows of beautiful olive trees, also part of the orchards.
There were so many pretty brick walkways like this one leading to and from each of the gardens.
Here you can see some of the perfectly manicured boxwoods on the property.
This is the topiary garden which was one of the highlights for me. The main feature is the giant working clock that you see in the foreground which is planted with succulents and embellished with copper zodiac signs.
The topiary garden contains collection of extraordinary topiaries shaped like various animals like the bear and duck you see here.
The topiary “zoo” also includes this meticulously shaped dinosaur…
And this cute giraffe!
I was intrigued by this tangled mess of cacti growing against one of the properties main buildings.
These giant silvery-blue palm plants were incredible.
Here is a plaque honoring all of the donors that supported the planting of Lotusland’s cactus gardens.
Here are some of the beautiful cacti on the grounds.
The collection of cacti was truly impressive.
The property features two swimming pools and next to one is this sandy “beach” filled with giant clam shells.
This is the butterfly garden which includes many varieties of flowering plants that attract butterflies and other beneficial insects which feed on the plants then move to other areas of the garden to prey on common garden insect pests. This natural method of pest control reduces the need for harsh chemical pesticides.
Here’s a view from the butterfly garden looking out into the orchards.
Here’s a beautiful red bloom from one of Lotusland’s many flowering aloe plants.
I spotted this colorful patch of round cacti while walking down one of the property’s many pathways.
This giant tree was so eye-catching…it had hundreds of branches and the beautiful sun rays beaming across its trunk only added to its beauty.
The Japanese garden one of my favorite sites at Lotusland. There were many concrete lanterns such as this one scattered about.
The Japanese garden includes many beautiful trees and plants including Japanese maples and Japanese cypress trees as well as azaleas. In the background you can see many of these trees and plants surrounding a small Shinto shrine.
Here is a serene Buddha statue sitting among flowering blooms.
And here’s a closeup of some of the colorful flowers.
Near the Japanese garden is a water lily pond filled with koi fish which you can see here just under the surface of the water. I was told that the lily pads are plentiful in the spring but there were none visible during my visit.
The parterre includes two beautiful water fountains one of which is seen here. The fountains are surrounded by hedges, shrubs and rose bushes. I loved all of the mosaic tiles that line the inside of this fountain and I was also intrigued by all of the interesting stone statues.
Here’s a closeup of one of the statues.
Photo by Julina Sohn for House & Garden, Apr ’07
I have a love hate relationship with New York. While there are definitely many things I adore about this city, two things I can’t stand are the lack of outdoor living space and the lack of natural beauty outside. There are a lucky few living in Manhattan who are fortunate enough to have their own private outdoor space whether it be a balcony, a terrace or a small yard in the back of their brownstone. Those things are true luxuries that make me green with envy. The rooftop terrace below belongs to photographer and filmmaker Carter Smith whose lower Manhattan home was featured in the January ’07 issue of House and Garden. I think the home’s red brick wall provides an interestingly beautiful and colorful contrast to the terrace’s rustic looking furniture, textiles, flowers and greenery.
Photo by Martyn Thompson
This next terrace was featured in the April ’07 issue of Elle Decor and belongs to a stylish interior designer and architect couple who resides in the historic colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. The views are incredible! I love the colorful textiles here and I think the hand painted floor tiles is what really gives this space its “umph”. Simply beautiful!
Photo by William Waldron
The wrap around terrace below was featured in the recent May issue of Elle Decor as part of a profile of architect David Mann’s Manhattan studio. I love how the architectural details of the building are a such visible part of the space. This stylish little terrace has the feel of a garden in the middle of New York City…seems like such a perfect spot for cocktails at dusk!
Photo by Joshua McHugh
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a gorgeous terrace like the ones above, if you live in New York you still have to deal with horns honking and all the other annoying noises of the city, the views are usually the brick facades of neighboring apartment buildings and you never really have true privacy because there’s usually someone’s window just across the way with a direct view into your space. Take for instance the terrace below which is attached to a $995,000 two bedroom Upper West Side co-op currently listed for sale with Halstead Property. Sure, the terrace is nicely decorated and HUGE by New York standards but who wants to be within a birds eye view of someone else’s apartment?
Photo via Halstead Property
And New York is not the prettiest city to put it nicely. There’s garbage everywhere, the city stinks in the summer, everywhere you turn there’s construction and you hardly ever see things like grass or trees. People will argue that there’s always Central Park. Yes, it’s a beautiful park, even more gorgeous in the summer and it’s a nice refuge from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Manhattan. But whenever I go there and see people in their swimsuits sunbathing in the grass while surrounded by groups of photo snapping tourists and stinky horse drawn carriages I always think to myself, “something’s wrong with this picture.” I don’t mean for this post to sound like a hate letter to New York but if you didn’t grow up here, after a while you really start to miss the normalcy of being surrounded by trees, the smell of fresh cut grass, peace and quietness, clean fresh air and wide open space. After living here for five years I totally get why so many people have weekend homes. I’d give anything to have a quiet peaceful retreat to get away to when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the city. I would love to have a country home with a nice little sitting area surrounded by a pretty garden like the one below which was featured in House Beautiful. This would make the perfect setting for an afternoon lunch with girlfriends…
Photo via HouseBeautiful.com
Or how about a chic patio leading out to my backyard like this one designed by Thom Filicia…
Photo via ThomFilicia.com
And wouldn’t it be lovely to live near the beach and have a simple hanging swing on your patio complete with gorgeous views of lush hilltops and the ocean like the one pictured below? A girl can dream! This photo is from the portfolio of interior designer Jennifer Bradford Davis.
Photo via Jbradforddavis.com