Naming Names


The very best part of the beginning of March?  It is 12 months until it will be the end of February again.  This I like.  Though I have been cooped up inside like lots of other gardeners, I have an interior landscape project of my own invention to occupy some of my jail time.  I truly do enjoy dismantling the entire shop, and putting it back together in some completely different form.  There are many givens, and few variables in my landscape at home.  The shop landscape has lots of new and some old elements.  I can rearrange everything.  The first order of business?  Clean, and repaint.  A change of color in any room can fuel a fresh start.    

Of course this means moving everything you own out of the way.  This picture is ample evidence of what happens when an organizing idea is not in place.  A random collection of objects is visually disquieting.  Clash was a great band, but clash is not such a great concept for a space.  How do I pick and choose, move, add and rebuild?  First up,  I name my spaces.  In much the same way as the garden of my dreams will have a nuttery, a pond, a wildflower garden, a kitchen garden, a knot garden, the meadow walk, a corgi run, hellebore heaven, and a dining terrace-I name names.  In my house, I have a reliquary (for my cherished relics) a corgi lounge (featuring a giant couch that holds the four of us) and a dressing room.  The names fuel the arrangements.    

Our greenhouse space has had lots of names over the years.  But this spring season, bootcamp for gardeners.  Back to basics simple handmade Italian terra cotta.  Good tools.  Materials as in moss, pot feet, vintage trugs and galvanized steel sinks.  Plainly functional objects and vintage materials have a beauty all their own-how can I arrange them to make this naming  visual?  Once a space gets a name, it is easier to see what belongs-and what needs to be moved somewhere else.      

Our front room got a newly painted floor-decidedly more modern than traditional.  A pair of light fixtures-one vintage industrial, and one mid century modern.  The ceiling, painted steel,  is much like the carport my parents had in the fifties;  this part of the building was built in 1947.   What name for the space comes to mind?  The modern garden?  Whatever words I might choose, the naming is a decision that can energize a design. 

This room was easy to furnish.  Every object I looked at either seemed right for the space, or seemed wrong.  I paid no attention to the provenance, or history of an object.  I pay attention to their visual aura.  The three vintage dock bumpers hung in the airspace at the rear of this room-no one would ever characterize them as modern, or contemporary.  But their simple shape and texture, their relationship to the steel sphere in the foreground makes them appropriate for this space. 

A stump based table with a plank top captured in galvanized metal-I could see this in a modern garden.  A stainless steel watering can-harmonic.  A tray of welded metal  circles echoes and repeats the bronzy glaze and rounded form of a simple pot.  This arrangement of objects makes a cohesive visual statement.   

What could be more traditional, or more historic than the footprint of a fern? These contemporary English garden pots are of a shape and detail that describes a fern in a decidedly contemporary language.  The shape and the top edges of these pots-edgy.  How would I plant these?  I need more time with them.  Though they would seem out of place in my garden, I greatly admire them.  They will find a name and a place, I have no doubt.  A spot in the all things modern room-perfect. 

I have a new pack of dogs on the way. Troy, who sculpts these for me, is an old school grower and naturalist.  But his vision of the energy and beauty of a dog is so simple and spare, his sculptures warrant a place in this room. 

Her name is Annie.  Give names to places, spaces, and gardens.  You will know what to do next.


  1. Linda Hagan says

    Naming–what a wonderful organizing principal that I’d never thought of before in terms of my garden. It’s sure to spark some new ideas and relieve me of the overwhelming feeling of having so much to do outside my house that it becomes daunting and muddled.

    Hope you’re recovering nicely from your fall.


  2. Hi Deborah,
    I am so glad you found your camera, I was starting to worry over the days of no blogs.
    I am in the mist of planning my daughters wedding, with succulents being the flower theme. What is the dog laying on???
    Thanks,we still enjoy beginning every day with your blog!!
    Nancy LaMotte

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nancy, those are fabulous succulent reproductions in what seems to be a rubber like material-they even feel like succulents! That display table is slatted-so the stems of the succulents go through, allowing the “plant” to sit up straight. Deborah

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