I love outdoor dining. We had a great time at this family dinner a few years ago at my sister’s house. Ann is a clothing designer and we designed a back yard for her that makes a gesture toward her graphic sensibilities. Check out her work at annwilliamson.com!
One of the special pleasures of doing residential landscape design is that each project is as unique as the clients we work for, and we regularly get to design things we’ve never designed before. Case in point, this delightful henhouse that we’ve come to call The Chicken Cottage for obvious reasons. The design inspiration came fully from the client, and we had so much fun creating this delightful little building full of everything one could possibly want to raise happy little hens in style. With its curved shake roof, mortared basalt walls, leaded windows, and arched doors, it looks like it came right out of Beatrix Potter or the Hobbit. I could see it converted someday into the most magical little playhouse.
The henhouse has several fun little features. The eggs can be accessed from outside through a hatch hidden in the flower box outside the window. There is a little utility sink inside, as well as a portion of the paneled wall that swings down to act as a countertop. The chicken run is incorporated into the structure, with part of it under a porch roof, and part of it open to the sky, but protected from predators by wire mesh. There is an automatic chicken-sized door between the indoors and the run. A wall-mounted ladder leads up to the storage loft, enclosed by a barn-style sliding door.
The cottage-style planting has just been installed around the henhouse, since these photos were taken, and I’m excited to see it transform into a cheerful tangle of flowers. The hens have moved in and made themselves right at home!
I happened to come across something I found really beautiful. This is “Cracked Ice” by Maruyama Okyo, painted around 1780. Okyo was a distinguished artist, known for a naturalistic style of representation. Early in his career, he was trained in making megane-e pictures, which were one-point perspective images meant to be viewed through a wide angle lens, which then conveyed an impression of depth and three-dimensionality.
“Cracked Ice” suggests recession. The boldest widest lines are at the bottom “in front” and as your eye runs up the screen the lines get dimmer, thinner and closer together. Okyo is said to have carried a drawing pad with him at all times and to have been in the habit of pausing frequently to make quick sketches.
But the image is also abstract. The “cracks” are clearly simple brushstrokes rather than cracks in a clear material with thickness. Real ice cracks are more jagged and less tapered at their ends. The image shimmers deliberately between being representational and abstract in a way I find very compelling, sophisticated and modern. All this at a time when the US was fighting for independence from Britain.
We are delighted to finally be able to invite you to look through our new website. Many of the images and projects will be familiar, if you’ve been here before, but several are totally new. There is a lot to see – we hope you enjoy.