Green Curtains That Save Energy?

We talked about Italian architect Gaetano Pesce’s vertical gardens in a post a few weeks ago and about the beneficial impact they have on space maximization but did you know they can also conserve energy? According to recent news from, the Japanese company Kyocera Group decided to attempt to cool off buildings with foliage and thus, the “Green Curtain” was born! ReNest notes that the curtains of leaves, vines and other plant matter blocks the sunlight out and decreases the temperature of the building by as much as 27° F. Who needs air conditioning anyway?!


According to Kyocera, the curtains at their buildings in Japan, Thailand, and Brazil stretch a total length of 725m (2,379ft), covering a total area of 3,043m2 (32,750ft2) — an increase of roughly 4 times the area of last year. Throughout their annual growth cycle, these Green Curtains will absorb an estimated 10,651kg of carbon dioxide (23,481lbs. of CO2), or roughly the same amount as 761 cedar trees. For people who want to try this at home, the company’s website has instructions for preparing the soil, constructing the netting, planting, and maintaining the green curtains. Learn more at Kyocera Group Green Curtain Activities.

Photo Credit: Kyocera

Sharing Your Favorite Posts Has Never Been Easier!

If you’re looking for a simpler way to share Marvin Gardens’ posts without having to copy and paste its links every time, then listen up. There’s now a feature at the bottom of every one of our blog posts that allows you to quickly and simply share it with over 200 social networking sites! Follow the 5 steps below and you’re good to go!

1. Click on the title of the post you wish to share.
2. At the bottom of the post click on or hover your mouse over the share box.
3. Scroll down until you find the application you want to share through, or type in the name in the search box and click the icon.
4. Enter your user name and password for the site.
5. Click enter or send (depending on the site) and you’ve shared our post.

And there you have it!

Lemon Tree, Oh Lemon Tree

“Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet/
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat”

While these lyrics from the  illustrious 1960 song “Lemon Tree” by Will Holt suggest that  lemons aren’t ideal for the taste palate, this zesty fruit is one of the most-used for culinary purposes (among many others) throughout the world. In fact, amongst all citrus trees planted and harvested for fruit across the United States, lemon trees are the most popular. And when it comes to aesthetics, they add a touch of tropical beauty to any backdrop.

If you’re thinking of growing one in your own backyard, keep this list of Lemon Tree Care Tips from handy:

  • Use a shovel and soil (leftover from the hole or somewhere else) to construct a watering ring surrounding the newly transplanted lemon tree. Pile up the soil to create a wall around the tree that measures at least 2 feet in diameter.
  • Fill the ring with water and allow draining. Continue to water the new lemon tree every other day for two weeks and then water it weekly, until the water ring naturally disappears into the soil. After this time, only water the lemon tree when the top 1 or 2 inches of soil dries.
  • Add a 3- to 6-inch layer of mulch around the new lemon tree to deter weeds and to maintain moist soil conditions. Keep the mulch at least 1 foot away from the trunk of the tree and extend it out to a diameter of 3 feet.
  • Apply a small amount of citrus fertilizer around the lemon tree once growth begins. Repeat each six weeks through summer. Water the lemon tree after fertilizing to ensure the nutrients reach the soil.
  • Inspect the lemon tree often for any signs of diseases or pests. Check the entire tree for any changes in appearance. Contact your area extension office to identify the problem and to learn about the treatment required.

Do you have a lemon tree in your own yard?

Photo Credit: Club Algarve

Finding Inspiration in the Spreckels Mansion

Beautiful architecture usually inspires more beautiful art. The Spreckels Mansion is no exception. Located in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco, California and renown for its white limestone façade, this monument has been inspiring designers and artists alike for years.We wanted to take a closer look into the building that many bay-area residents can only hope to get a glimpse into.

From NeoHill:

The Spreckels Mansion was built in 1913 by sugar magnate Adolph Spreckels for his lovely new wife, Alma le Normand de Bretteville. The French Baroque chateau was built on several prime lots overlooking the bay and Golden Gate. Alma was an avid art collector and model – you may recognize her likeness in the Dewey Monument in Union Square – who would later donate the Palace of the Legion of Honor art museum.

The 55-room house remained largely unchanged until Alma’s death in 1968. The current owner, romance novelist Danielle Steele, added the row of hedges that now block curious eyes from trying to peer into the historic mansion.

At Marvin Gardens, we know that inspiration can be found everywhere. What are some buildings that you find most inspiring?

For more information on the Spreckels Mansion, visit NeoHill.

Photo Credit: NeoHill

Italian Architect Takes Gardening to New Heights

Gardens come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also can be placed in a number of locations. For some folks, space permits sprawling backyard plots that can showcase a number of different fruit-bearing plants. For others, their “home garden” is better defined as a strip of tiny potted cooking herbs on the kitchen window sill. But the award for the most truly unique garden space has to go to those for Italian architect Gaetano Pesce. In a world of tight spaces and growing pollution Pesce created hanging wall gardens in Osaka, Japan to maximize space while still maintaining beauty. The walls of the construction feature interesting extruded pockets with plants, thus creating an impromptu vertical garden, according to

From Freshome:

This idea also contributes to the overall original look of the building which made it become one of the city’s landmarks in the past years. The 80 types of plants and trees were selected by asking help from specialized local horticulturists, but the main species is Bamboo. In case you are wondering what this structure houses, know that is a nine-floor building with 7,052 square meters of interior space.

To learn more about Pesce and his work, visit his website.

Photo Credit: Freshome

Designs of Yesterday: A Closer Look at the Dorm Room of Edgar Allan Poe

Back-to-school season often means grumblings about all things scholastic. If you know someone who’s heading off to college this fall for the first time and is unhappy about the shabby amenities offered in their university’s dorm, have them take a peek at this sparsely furnished domicile of one collegiate Edgar Allan Poe during his time at the University of Virginia. Their tight quarters probably don’t seem so bad now, do they! Marvin Gardens is always interested in taking a closer look at the variations in design from both yesterday and today and after seeing this room, we’d have to conclude that the dorm rooms of today aren’t half bad at all!

Over 100 years ago, the president of the university assigned the upkeep of the poet’s dorm to the Raven Society, which is named after Poe’s most famous work and recognizes academic excellence. The room has undergone renovation twice and requires periodic cleaning — the window looking into the dorm frequently has smudges from students trying to sneak a peak.

Photo Credit: The University of Virgina Magazine via Apartment Therapy

How To Care for Your Fig Tree

Contrary to popular belief, the fig tree is not a difficult tree to grow. In fact, they are among the simplest fruit trees to care for! Whether you’re a gardener who prefers contained or underground plants, the versatility of this beautiful specimen will be perfect for your plot. To help guide you though the process of fig ownership — from selection to planting and then straight on through to fruit picking — has put together a quick fig tree how-to guide for those of you interested in adding one to your garden this year.


  • Choose a fig tree variety that will do well in your climate. Figs can be grown as far north as the coast of Long Island, but most do best in a warm climate, such as southern California.
  • Select a location for planting. Figs need some sun to propagate well and do best in full sun. The roots are vigorous so keep the tree away from septic tanks and sewer lines.
  • Start a tree from a hardwood cutting by taking a stem with three or four joints and place it in a container with well-drained soil. Keep the cuttings wet, but not too wet.
  • Remove the suckers that form at the fig tree’s ground level. The pruning of a fig tree is less work if you let it grow in a bush style rather than a single trunk.
  • Fertilize if you want to increase your fig yield. The fig tree does well without fertilization, but feeding the tree will increase its fruit production. If you’re going to fertilize, do it during the growing season from spring until late summer. Spread it around the base of each tree once a month and then water it thoroughly.
  • Water every week to every three weeks during dry spells depending on the soil.

Contact Marvin Gardens for more plant-care tips or e-mail

Photo Credit: MyOpera

A Twist on The Traditional Wedding Bouquet

If you’re in the process of planning a wedding, you know that there are a number of options for virtually every last detail that needs to be decided on. There’s black and white and then every shade of gray in between when it comes to picking out items like invitations, centerpieces,  cakes, venues…and of course, let’s not forget dresses. But we here at Marvin Gardens think that one particular designer of yesteryear had the right idea when it came to navigating through the plethora of options: less is more. Constance Spry, known to many as “The Original Wedding Planner” was responsible for designing the flowers for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and chose a more simplistic approach to the couple’s royal decor. In fact, through a little creative ingenuity, she created masterpieces of not just fancy flowers like roses but weeds and even kale.

Thanks to Habitually Chic, we found some fun photos from of Spry’s  traditional, yet minimalist style. Now if only Lady Spry was around today to help us wade through today’s obstacle course of wedding planning, we’d be in good shape!

Click here to view more.

A Century of Gardening

American horticulturist and philanthropist Bunny Mellon will turn 100 years old on Aug. 9. Yes, that’s right, 100! A longtime Kennedy family friend, Mellon advised  Jacqueline Kennedy first on fine arts and antiques during the Kennedy White House Restoration and then on the design of the grounds of the presidential rose gardens.

Her work was recently recognized in Vanity Fair by renowned photographer Jonathan Becker and so, to celebrate her life and her many contributions to the world of gardening,  Marvin Gardens invites you to take a look at some of Becker’s photos of Mellon’s gorgeous garden at her Oak Spring Estate in Upperville, Virginia.

Thank you and happy birthday, Bunny!

Photo Credit: Jonathan Becker and first by Henri Cartier-Bresson via Habitually Chic

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