Archives for July 2010

At A Glance: The End Of Buck Week

the tapered Hudson planters

oak garden bench

Steel table in four sections


Breakform V-pot and sphere

event tents

bus stop pergola with oak bench

conservatory table



steel and concrete bench

oak and Valders stone garden table


The Solver Boxes

I have no idea whether you are enjoying the Buck week posts-but I know he is.  It is tough when you make things, and never see what becomes of them. The finish of a box is not really the finish.  The placement in a garden, the plants-there is a whole other melody to come once they leave Branch.  Any garden box asks for planted material-he is seeing that relationship in some cases for the first time.  Some boxes are one of a kind, but have no name-as they are much more about what gets planted inside, than their aesthetic appeal as objects.  These galvanized and painted sheet metal boxes are a vehicle for a planted expression.  Sturdily made, and held by substantial steel brackets, they are a forum for a planted discussion on a garage wall. The garage wall-not so prominent now. 

This giant box at the end of this driveway has a purpose.  Drive an additional three feet-you and your car would be presented with the prospect of a steep ravine.  This box is a not only a stop sign, it will stop you should you be coming down the drive on icy pavement. The boxes and plants are so much window dressing-who would guess they are more importantly a substantial safety feature.    This home is paved right up to the front of the garage and house-not much opportunity for landscape to soften all this hard surface. These boxes on the second story are galvanized sheet metal-with a sanded and painted finish antique like finish.  The color is much more punchy up close-at a distance the color is soft and unobtrusive.  This makes the view much more about plants, than about boxes.  They also make the house look warm.

A corner sun porch just 3 feet from the lot line makes an in ground garden all but impossible.  The wall hung boxes permit a garden to be viewed from inside, and do not obstruct traffic from the front yard to the back. The square footage of soil is considerable; my first complaint about most boxes like this is that they are too small.  It is not long before the planting virtually obscures any mention of the word box.

This box I did name-but Buck only made four, and they are gone now.  I call this the Charisse box, as in Cyd Charisse.  A dancer whose long legs were a legend in the entertainment business; this box has legs I like.  The flared bell flower shapes on those legs-a beautifully decorative detail.  The scroll arms and handles were time consuming to make; I never hear Buck ask when we are making them again.  But I  have not forgotten them.  They went to homes not known to me-I have never seen them planted. They do indeed make me smile-they are so light on their feet.  Not every space asks for a handsome box-some spaces call for pretty. 

These massive boxes are also contructed of galvanized sheet metal-this is a much less expensive material than 18 inch or 1/4 inch steel.  A second story balcony terrace was completely exposed to view from neighboring buildings; this client needed big boxes, and lots of them.  The first year, we planted them as a meadow.  In recent years, they have done a good job of providing a permanent home to a hedge of arborvitae.  The trick to maintaining evergreens year round, above ground-as big a soil mass as you can manage.  This minimizes the effects of freezing and thawing that ejects plants from pots, and exposing their roots to the air.  This client has a completely private outdoor terrace, thanks to this wall of boxes.

Some less than visually thoughtful builder installed a giant downspout dead center in an alcove on this client’s rear balcony terrace-unsightly. One of our two extra balcony boxes was modified and placed here.  Buck made a steel stand for the box, which includes an armature on the back which bears most of the burden of supporting this substantial decorative iron panel.  A morning glory, and a pair of cherry tomatoes will help to obscure the drain pipe from view.   

The last of the balcony boxes landed on the ground-in a bed.  I like this unexpected treatment; flowers at the bottom of the box look great.  The bed is too narrow for any garden of size; the wall behind it is very tall.  A little change of level provides some interest in a tight space. In retrospect,  I probably should call these boxes the Solver boxes.