French Farmhouse Luxury: Oui, s’il vous plaît!

It’s officially summertime which means many folks all over the continental U.S. are hustling and bustling with sunny holiday plans. But if you’re like the growing number of Americans who will choose to stay close to the home front for the summer this year, you’ll have to enjoy the globe’s offerings vicariously through photos and illustrations. Marvin Gardens would like to spoil you with a few of our favorite pretty pictures from a quint and cozy 18th-century farmhouse in Province, France known as Le Mas de Baraquet. Recently featured over at Habitually Chic, these pictures are originally from UK House & Garden Magazine and depict tranquil gardens designed by Dominque Lafourcade and her husband Bruno Lafourcade. Aaah, the site of these lush gardens just screams, “Won’t you visit us in France, please?!” What are your summer vacation plans?

Photo Credit: UK House & Garden Magazine

All-weather shades for patio or poolside

Whether you want to spruce up your patio or add a dose of color to the edge of your pool, umbrellas are an essential summer staple. Not only do they provide shade and keep you cool, but they’ll also lend style and character to your backyard. It must be kept in mind that an outdoor umbrella should be able to withstand the elements. Here are the best all-weather upright shades the season has to offer.

This standard umbrella by Crate and Barrel goes with anything, thanks to its neutral colors.
Who says patio umbrellas have to be roundish? West Elm doesn’t think so!

This asymmetrical Tucci shade easily tilts to move with the sun.

Plain canvas gets a patterned update from Marimekko.

Droog calls this lacy piece a parasol.

If you like what you see here so far, have Marvin Gardens help you find the perfect shade for your swimming pool or patio.

Photo source: Elle Decor

Add a touch of glass to your garden

If your garden looks a bit one-dimensional when it comes to accessories, you can add a few simple pieces of decor that will instantly turn your outdoor abode into a three-dimensional wonder. The best way to do this is to install some glass artwork. Glass reflects light, emits color and demands depth to a garden.

Stained glass windows, hanging mobiles and bulbous totems are common garden decor. But you can expand upon those choices with other glistening items.

This wooden and glass art garden bench will shine through as a conversation piece.

Some glass art is even functional. This globe soaks up solar power during the day and illuminates as a lantern by nightfall.

Also, this piece serves as a butterfly or bird feeder.

If you have a pond, floating glass sculptures dress up flat water.

Marvin Gardens can help you choose the right glass art pieces for your garden.

Photo source: Light Kiln; indiedesign; Allsop; style hive; worldtechguy

Solve run-off with a rain garden

When it rains, your lawn and garden are likely to benefit. However, too much of rain can damage your yard. Depending on the land elevations, water without proper drainage (or that can’t drain fast enough) causes run-off that will make your yard look less attractive as a result of erosion or flooding. This insurgence of water may come from driveways or rooftops.

Rather than have a pool of water sitting in your lawn, which can cause grass roots to rot, a viable solution may be found in a rain garden. A rain garden is a collection of plants that soak up excess surface water. These gardens also act as a filter to reduce the amount of pollution that may end up in rivers and streams.

Rain gardens are usually situated where there is a land depression. Native grasses and wildflowers work best on account of their deep roots. The water is retained for less than a week in these gardens.

If you have a water run-off problem in your yard, have Marvin Gardens design a rain garden for you.

Photo source: BevKnits; Roger Soh

Gardening blunders that take a toll on plants

We all have killed a plant or two before… on accident. Just this week I put my brand-new stevia plant to premature death, all because I forgot it even existed. I hadn’t put it in the ground, and I hadn’t watered it. No recollection of ever owning the thing. Now it’s dead.

There are plenty of other gardening bloopers and blunders that send plants to an early grave. Here are five mistakes to avoid… in addition to the one I made.

1.) Don’t simply stick a plant in the ground. You have to prepare the soil with organic matter, compost or fertilizer. Good dirt makes a difference. Add worms to aerate and improve quality of the soil.

2.) Be careful what you weed for. You can accidentally pull out a valuable plant while getting rid of those that don’t count. If you have doubts about the green, leafy thing poking through, leave it until you know what it is for sure.

3.) Too much water can be a bad thing. Over-watering can kill a plant just as well as under-watering. Supersoaking causes the roots to rot. To ensure plants stay alive, water only if the soil feels dry.

4.) Don’t prune in the fall season. Never cut back your plants during that time because you will disrupt its energy storage, which is in the roots. Once you prune, the energy is sent back into the plant– too early.

5.) Pick plants that are able to grow in an appropriate climate. A plant’s labeled hardiness does not lie. If a plant wasn’t meant to survive a harsh winter, it really will die. if you prefer a tropical-looking plant for winter months, a camellia japonica shrub will work.

For more gardening tips and advice on how not to kill your plants, Marvin Gardens can consult you.

Photo source: pfly; Bonsai Care Basics; Nemo’s great uncle

With a vertical garden, there is no excuse for no space

We think that gardens are best served if they are presented on an expanse of land, free to bloom hither and thither, filling our field of vision. Of course, that requires a decent amount of space. But what if you don’t have the square footage to landscape the traditional way?

You may resign to a few hanging planters suspended from the ceiling or windowsill to fulfill your green thumb. But the possibilities don’t end there. A vertical garden is a viable option to have purposeful foliage even when horizontal space won’t allow for it. Plants that require little soil and water work best for this arrangement.

A wall garden may consist of a simple vine scheme.

Succulents are also easy to care for, while creating a lushness.

Edible variations are doable.

Fashion a design inside the garden.

Flowers aren’t banished from the list, either.

Photo source: superbatfish; Flora Grubb; Interior Design Houses; My Healthy Green Living; quinn.anya

Seven ways to perk up your picnic area

You’ve been meaning to spend more time in your backyard to eat, hang out and relax. But perhaps you haven’t found the motivation to follow through on that personal promise because your patio is a little on the “blah” side. Sounds like your picnic area could use a pick-me-up. Here are seven simple tweaks you can do to recharge your yard and get you outdoors!

1.) A pretty canopy shields you from the sun and adds coziness.

2.) Cross-pollinate colors from the garden into your tables settings, from runners to utensils, to complement the blooms.

3.) Swap out an ordinary window facing the garden for stained glass.

4.) Add a festive all-weather rug that will invite others to step into the area.

5.) Layers of various lighting lend warmth to a night sky.

6.) Bring the indoors to the outdoors… or at least give the appearance with more weather-friendly items. Use mildew-resistant cushions, rust-repellent floor lamps and metal-framed mirrors.

7.) Create a tiled “rug.” Concrete pavers arranged into any shape, then covered with mesh-backed tile, give the illusion of a hard-topped area rug to keep your table and chairs straight.

Marvin Gardens can turn your run-of-the-mill garden into an enjoyable sanctuary that will make you not want to go back inside!

Photo source: This Old House; e3000;

The summer garden

Hopefully everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend! With swimming pool openings and outdoor barbecues, that weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. But some gardens are already reflecting the warmest season of the year as if it were already in full-bloom.

Whether you’ve already planted a summer garden or are thinking about what to do with your “happy place,” let’s gaze upon these spectacular summer gardens for inspiration… or just to put you in a good mood!

Create a lush border with a variety of colors, heights and bloom sizes.

Or go with a triple-tiered look with these perennials.

Have fun and go with a whimsical theme.

Minimal color may be used and can still be just as sunny.

If a natural look is preferred…

… or if you don’t like getting your hands dirty.

Staying within the same color family.

Photo source: Friday-Ad;; American Greetings; Oxford House Inn; October Farm; Lavender Cottage; What’s Diggin’?