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Another heat wave is on the way. Why not embrace it with a summery BBQ, get the grill out and cook up some eggplant? From my trip to Israel last year, I can testify that there are tons of ways to prepare and serve eggplant. Mary Ellen Wright, of Lancaster Online, so eloquently captured some of these in her recent article featuring this festive purple delicacy.

Baby Eggplants from Brook Lawn Farm Market (photo from Lancaster Online)

My sister shows some of the newly picked crop of baby eggplants available at Brook Lawn Farm Market in Lancaster Pennsylvania. The photos make my mouth water when I think of all the possibilities for ways to eat them!

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The talented Michael Tavano gives a tour of the gorgeous outdoor space he designed for the 2012 Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House. If you missed the original on LXTV, watch the clip below. Custom cushions and a gold pergola really set the tone for the space. Planting layout and planting by yours truly. Look for the full story and photos in the September issue of Elle Decor Magazine!

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Newly Replanted Bed in the Courtyard of Hartley House

After hurricane Irene downed four mature trees at Hartley House last season, the courtyard was in desperate need of new plantings. Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design volunteered to provide a full design for the courtyard in an effort to reclaim the space and fill the void the trees left behind.

A Close-up Shot of the East Bed

Though the courtyard benefits from gracious donations of annual flowers on a yearly basis, we knew that it needed more this year to make an impact in the space. Alan Klein headed a garden committee to coordinate the replanting of the largest planting bed in the courtyard.

A Mixture of Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs Were Used in the Planting Bed

After the committee raised enough funds for the installation of an automatic irrigation system, Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design donated additional labor and assisted in obtaining plant materials to make the funds stretch to cover the full installation of the planting bed. The plantings, installed just after July 4th, feature perennial flowers, shrubs and vines which will continue growing year after year. Just a small portion in the front of the planting bed was reserved as a place for annual flowers.

Hydrangea ‘Little Lamb’ is a Showstopper Along the North Bed

We want to thank family, friends and neighbors who donated to this cause. We couldn’t be more proud to play a role in helping a community center which makes a difference in the lives of so many families in Hell’s Kitchen. We will continue to donate time to care for the plants and hope to raise additional funds to continue greening the courtyard at Hartley House in the future.

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Let’s face it, there are plenty of white and red flowering plant options for the garden, but if you look hard enough you can find some blue flowers as well. And no, I’m not talking about pansies. Try these three plants in your garden to make the festive feel of the 4th of July last throughout the season.

Blue Flowers of Campanula ‘Blue Clips’ Grow 6-9″ Tall

1. Campanula carpatica ‘Blue Clips’      Commonly referred to as Bellflower, Campanula provides a striking blue flower 3″ wide in the shape of a little bell. Campanula is hardy in zones 3-7 and prefers sun, though it is not tolerant of hot and dry conditions. Flowers appear from late spring through early summer. Blue Clips is a short cultivar growing only 6-9″ tall in a mounding form which makes it perfect for a spot front and center in the garden.

Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue’ Blooms in Late Summer to Fall

2. Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Longwood Blue’     Commonly referred to as Bluebeard or Blue Spirea, this shrub grows 2-3′ tall and wide boasting silvery leaves with spiky light blue flowers at the ends. Caryopteris is an herbaceous perennial hardy in zones 6-9 which can be cut back hard in winter. The blooms appear in late summer/ early fall which is a great feature since many other plants are finished blooming by the time Caryopteris takes center stage. Caryopteris will flower best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

The Flower of Hydrangea ‘Blue Lace Cap’ is Flat as Opposed to Globose like other H. macrophylla Cultivars

3. Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blue Lace Cap’     Commonly called Lace Cap Hydrangea, I think this is an often forgotten Hydrangea which deserves a place in the landscape. The flowers are unlike most other H. macrophylla blooms in that they are very delicate, lacey and flat as opposed to globose. The blue flowers appear in July and August. Hydrangea m. ‘Blue Lace Cap’ is hardy to zone 5 and grows 3-5′ tall.

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Planters used in a shade garden to add height and color to the space.

There are a limited number of flowering plants suited for shade gardens. It can be tricky to achieve a colorful garden in low light conditions. Unless you want a bunch of Impatiens and Begonias, focus on foliage and textures of plants as you fill your planting beds. Bring additional color to the garden through pottery, furniture and accessories.

Tiarella ‘Lace Carpet’ finds a home in the shade garden.

Tiarella ‘Lace Carpet’ is a lovely plant for the shade garden. This cultivar stands out from others with its aptly named delicate foliage. ‘Lace Carpet’ grows 6-8″ tall and boasts a typical white-colored Foamflower bloom in April-May. Tiarella ‘Lace Carpet’ can be used as a filler in perennial beds or as a groundcover. Hardy from zones 4-9 this is an excellent plant for deep shade.

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The heat wave makes summer official. Don’t forget to add lighting so you can enjoy your garden at night. I took this shot from one of our recently installed gardens here in midtown Manhattan with a gorgeous view of Worldwide Plaza. Simple uplights highlight the branching of the newly planted trees while wall-mounted fixtures wash over the lounge furniture and create a soft pool of light on the lawn.

Midtown Penthouse Rooftop Garden Glows as the Sun Sets

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Channeling Olmsted

Memorial day is a time to remember the lives given by those who served our country in the line of duty. At the onset of summer, as festivities and patriotic spirits are lifted, we gather with family and loved ones we are thankful to have in our lives. There is no doubt in my mind that Central Park is swamped with picnics and gatherings on this gorgeous day.

I want to take a moment to remember Frederick Law Olmsted and his contribution to our city. Central Park (and Prospect Park) is an inconic landmark of New York City which continues to make a significant impact on the lives of Manhattanites and visitors alike. The sea of green which Olmsted approached with the viewpoint of creating a public space equally accessible for all classes was truly visionary at the time.

A stunning penthouse on Central Park West overlooks the classic landscape that Olmsted left behind. Our task was to channel Olmsted’s vision to create a terrace that complements the views and surrounding landscape. The result is a timeless garden full of understated textures and greenery to produce a calm place for the homeowners to entertain and relax. Watch the video to see the transformation!

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