Simply Elegant | Meet Cashmere Lover Catherine Robinson

Catherine Robinson |  Founder & Designer of Catherine Robinson Cashmere  |  One of Catherine’s favourite photographs taken by her daughter Victoria on a wonderful ‘mother and daughter’ holiday in Croatia

Catherine Robinson |  Founder & Designer of Catherine Robinson Cashmere  |  One of Catherine’s favourite photographs taken by her daughter Victoria on a wonderful ‘mother and daughter’ holiday in Croatia

Catherine Robinson is the designer & founder of a line of beautifully made cashmere knitwear and accessories of the same name. I was so pleased to happen upon her shopping site last spring and ended up following her blog: Cashmere Lover . Not only does she have an eye for design, I love what she shares on her blog about style, meditation and yoga. I asked Catherine to share with us how she how she started her business and where she finds inspiration—our conversation naturally led to her other passions, meditation and yoga. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. 

Q: Catherine, It seems that we all cannot get enough cashmere these days! Can you tell us what led you to start your business?

A: On a London shopping trip in the Summer of 2010 I purchased two lovely linen ponchos they were my favourite pieces that Summer…which got me thinking how wonderful this design would be in cashmere, I couldn’t find any that I loved and I thought, okay, I’ll design them myself!

My daughter had left home, things were changing…I was approaching 50 and thought it was the perfect time to start something new. I’ve always been interested in fashion, I did a little modeling in my younger days before entering the fast and exciting world of public relations but ‘style’ and the 'art of dressing well’ has always been something I’ve enjoyed…I devour magazines, exhibitions, photography anything related to the art of style!  

My next step was to find a manufacturer; a company I could work closely with.  Mongolia was my first choice as in my opinion it is simply the best cashmere. It was important that they were able to work with my ideas and designs and I’m happy to say I have a wonderful relationship with them and I’m thrilled with their attention to detail and the beautiful pieces they make for me.

I feel, I’m exactly where I should be and it’s such a privilege to be involved in the ‘world of cashmere’.  I’m enjoying creating a brand and extending my product lines. I like to listen to my customers and what they would like…this year it was…”please, please design a cashmere robe” and it’s just arrived and it’s simply gorgeous…the perfect luxurious, loungewear!

I think some of us feel we’re restricted by boundaries—many of them of our own making…I feel if you have an idea, a passion, explore it and see where it takes you. I have learnt so much since I began, the ups and downs of a small, growing business, the highs and lows and the constant energy and creativity needed and I can honestly say, I’ve loved every minute of it…

'if you are thinking about starting something new but are not sure whether to
‘bite the bullet’ I would encourage you to do just that, don’t be afraid
just listen to your voice and slowly begin.'

Q: I love what you write about simplicity and elegance. Can you tell us how you view style vs. fashion?

A:  I think there is a huge difference between fashion and style…everybody can follow a fashion but style is very individual…it’s all about ‘you’ it’s creating your own style, what works for you, what compliments your character, your personality, how you live your life…being identified by a signature piece, a scent they all contribute to your sense of style; for me, it’s definitely wraps and scarves, I can’t leave home without them! Friends can’t quite believe what I can do with a scarf!

I don’t think my style has changed that much over the years…I still adore my wide pants and v neck sweaters (cashmere, of course!) jeans and jackets, knitted dresses and boots and elegantly long dresses.  I’m definitely an Autumn/Winter person…
I like to wrap myself in cashmere, a cashmere wrap and ponchos are my favourites…
a tailored coat and trouser suit too.

Personal style is something that grows with you through the years, for me, I do believe ‘less is more’, a simple elegance…when you see an elegant lady she is timeless; that is why Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly are still very much revered today…one of my favourite quotes from Audrey Hepburn is ‘elegance is the only beauty that never fades.

Q: While you and I were writing emails back and forth our conversation moved almost seamlessly from cashmere to style to yoga. What can you tell us about your experience with yoga? 

A: I have been practicing yoga for over 13 years now and it is an absolute joy and passion of mine it has simply changed my attitude to life, this hasn’t happened overnight it has been a process, a journey.  

In recent months my meditation practice has become simply, a way of life, I began to believe I really could make a difference in my life if I meditated daily, learning mindfulness and simplicity. I am constantly learning and will continue to be a ‘lifelong learner’ both yoga and meditation focus your mind, they quiet the inner noise and you begin to live mindfully and to simply ‘be’ and from this you begin to live a much happier life, a life of simplicity.  Yoga, for me, has always been a spiritual discipline, a life practice.

Q: Your blog Cashmere Lover features some of the most beautiful and iconic women in the world. Who do you find the most inspiring?

A: Victoria Beckham inspires me, she has her critics, unfairly, I think…she works unbelievably hard, she has created a phenomenal brand, her designs are elegant and new…she always looks beautifully groomed and stylish and is a wonderful Mother too. I admire her because she re-created herself and endured and continues to endure all the criticism and personal attacks with such grace.

Photo provided by Catherine Robinson

Photo provided by Catherine Robinson

Audrey Hepburn inspires me greatly…her beauty, her grace, her humility…the list goes on and on…her way of being and kindness inspires me to be the best person I can be. Her life was far too short but still today so many people think ‘what would Audrey do?’ She is incomparable.   

My husband inspires me, he has taught me so much over the years, he has always been so encouraging and has taught me to believe in myself, he has such an enthusiasm for life, which I admire greatly...we’ve been together forever and in all that foreverness, I’m sure that’s not a word, he’s always made me laugh, we laugh more now than ever and that is a wonderful gift to have…he is my soul mate. And my daughter,Victoria is an inspiration to me, she makes me want to be a better person…she is the joy of my life.

Q: What is the single most powerful lesson you have learned along the way? 

A: ... to have faith and be honest with myself, not to be afraid to ask for help, it’s taken a long while to recognize and believe that ‘I can do it’ ...it may take awhile, there maybe setbacks but with faith and a belief in yourself you can see that it will all be okay…I take this into my daily life not only in business…and to be kinder to myself, I use to be very good at ‘beating myself up’ I’ve erased the negatives!

My Life Philosophy…Be in love with your life every minute of it…
live simply with grace and humility, be gentle and kind and always mindful to others
Catherine Robinson in her office in the UK

Catherine Robinson in her office in the UK

To read more about Catherine, please click on the links below: Cashmere Lover  |  Catherine Robinson Cashmere Site  |  Facebook  

Catherine, Thank you for sharing your insights and story with us! 

Scarf Obsession + Ideas to help you incorporate Scarves into your wardrobe

Calling all Accessories Addicts!
As trends come and go scarves remain a classic wardrobe staple that can be worn for years. We are both obsessed with scarves of all hues and sizes, vintage and new, low end and high end. It's not just the yummy, oversized cashmere or modal versions that keep our necks warm in the winter months that we love but also the smaller sizes that can be worn year round, are light weight and dress up an outfit as a sophisticated and playful accessory. 

How to implement scarves into your wardrobe: 
For a simple wrap on the crown of a hat: align the middle edge of the scarf with the crown in the front and lay the scarf over the hat, holding on to each end. Fold the edge under about an inch and wrap the crown, centering the scarf so that the fabric falls evenly on both sides of the hat. Next, pull the two ends toward the back base of the hat, overlap the extra material that is now covering the hat and tie the two ends at the base, allowing the ends to fall down your neck/back. 
Butterfly Wrap: Take a larger scarf and fold it in half lengthwise—then take the ends that are together and tie them in a small, simple knot. This can work with a 36" scarf or one that is much larger. You will have one knot on the left and one on the right. Then lift the scarf and place your arms through the two holes you just created with the knots....and you have a "butterfly" sleeve wrap
Loose Neck Wrap: Wrap a thin scarf around your neck and tie it so the ends drape down your back, ideally you have a little skin showing between the scarf and whatever you are wearing. 
Halter Top/ Blouse: Take a scarf that is roughly 36" square and tie it as a halter top. There are accessories you can purchase that make this easy or you can just tie two ends together at your neck and behind your back. This looks great with a blazer.
Purse Wrap: Wrap a purse handle for a punch of color. Fold your scarf so that it is about 1 1/2" to 2" wide and line it up with the edge of one side of the handle. Holding the end in place, overlap the scarf as you begin to wrap the handle. Make sure to run the wrap over the start of the scarf to hold it in place—leaving about an inch or two of the end sticking out. Keep wrapping toward the opposite end of the handle and leave room to tie it off and allow a bit of the scarf to stick out. Ideally the two ends match in length. This may take a couple of tries but looks great when you get it!
Scarf with Pearls: Grab a strand of pearls and a smaller scarf, intertwine the two and tie at the back of the neck. Twist the scarf tight enough so that the pearls are held in place by the scarf. A trick to making this work is to keep twisting the scarf around the pearls so the scarf "catches" and holds the end of the necklace within the twists. You can also use a long strand of pearls with a longer scarf and once they are intertwined you can wrap the scarf around your neck twice and tie in the back. 
• Camera Strap: Remove a beat up camera strap and replace with a scarf instead. In this case we used a vintage scarf to go along with an old camera. 
• Choker: Roll or fold a lightweight scarf to the desired width. This is simple, just tie to the back or side. What makes this a chic look is to dress up a sun dress or sleeveless blouse by leaving a little skin showing!

Keeping it all organized: If you have a collection of scarves that are folded on your shelves or placed in a drawer, it is easy to forget about them. We recommend hanging them along side your clothing so you can easily reach for one when needed. We found these great hanging systems (below) at Bed Bath and Beyond. 

What scarves can do for you:
If you haven't been one to accessorize with scarves this post is for you! This often overlooked accessory can add personality to your outfit, or dress up a your basics:

1. Scarves add a pop of color to your neutrals.
2. They can be worn as a necklace, a choker, a hair accessory, a belt, a blouse, a cape...and more.
3. The artwork on scarves can be unique and beautiful in addition to being seasonal and fun.
4. You can spend a little or a lot depending on your needs and tastes. But you do not have to break the bank to collect a few great pieces. 
5. You can find new or gently used, designer scarves on the REAL REAL, EBay, Tradsey and other like sites. If you want to add a vintage or retro designer scarf to your collection we recommend reading about how to spot an authentic Chanel, Hermes, or other designer scarf. There is a great article titled: A beginner's guide to collecting Hermes scarves that gives you a little history and information on this designer label so you can make the best decision when shopping on a consignment or resale site. Do your research to make sure you are not purchasing a knock-off. 
6. Add an updated design or color trend: Jump over to Growing Bolder to see our newest article on Spring Styles as we have a few vibrant choices that we love—all under $100. 

There are endless resources to learn new ways to wear scarves. If you have not collected them in the past or they have gone overlooked in your wardrobe, we want to apologize ahead of time for introducing you to this little addiction! 

Below are a several books we recommend that feature design as well as ways to tie scarves.  
Have fun and thanks for reading! 

P & M




 

 

 

 

Add color to your home—Interior Design maven Stephanie Hunt tells us how!

Entry way  // Painting at center by Hyunmi Lee 

Entry way  // Painting at center by Hyunmi Lee 

Dining Room // Painting by Jayne Sweet

Dining Room // Painting by Jayne Sweet

Master bedroom // paintings over the bed by Unni Wood 

Master bedroom // paintings over the bed by Unni Wood 

Stephanie Hunt of @flairhunter is one of my favorite people for many reasons but mostly because she loves to laugh, thinks about her style choices in a similar way to her interior decorating decisions and most importantly she can rock a pair of marigold colored jeans! Not only is Stephanie fearless with color she also has a great sense of humor that she brings to her well designed spaces and has a refreshing lightness of being that comes across the very first time you meet her. Truly, I was content to visit with her all day!

Stephanie is a highly sought after interior designer with an eye for the unique. I asked her recently to tell us about how she thinks about color when designing spaces so that we can all channel a little of that happy into our own homes. 

Q: Stephanie, Clearly, you are very comfortable working with bright colors. Where does your color sensibility come from?
A: One could argue that I was powerless over this as my mother was a slightly zany, abstract expressionist painter in the 1960s-80s; an era of MORE IS MORE. My earliest memories are of homes and studios with enormous canvases [sometimes greater than 6 feet tall] filled with splattered palette knives, brightly smudged easels and tubes of oil paints in turquoises, fuscias, happy yellows, moody blues, and so on. The texture of sand and the gleam of gold leaf were occasionally mixed in with the explosion of vibrant colors. A friend once said ‘A blender with the top off’ which describes my mother’s art studio. My most vivid memories are of the oils, watercolors, tapestries that filled my parents home and their friends homes—even more so than the events that took place in those homes all over the world. [Directly below: Paintings by Unni Wood, Stephanie's Mother]


Q: Is it challenging to move your clients toward bright color in their homes if it is something they have not done before?
A: The homes I live in and design for others have a way of celebrating my tendency to embrace strong color. I also fully understand that achieving it for others, or nudging them to do it for themselves, can sometimes be a tall order.  Color can feel scary, some say or an expense that feels risky. Too much, too loud; a potential hot mess! A home that makes me want to know more about the person/people living there is so much more interesting than wanting to know the name of their designer. My clients hire me to help them achieve this in their own personal spaces. I see my clients more so as my partners, collaborators, co-conspirators. We have a LOT of fun, coloring and collecting the things for their world.


Q: Stephanie, your house is playful and colorful while still being sophisticated and elegant. Could you give us a few ideas of how we could enliven our own living spaces through the use of color?
A: Yes, I have quite a few ideas on the subject! Grab a cup of tea and read on!

1. Think of color as confidence, character and energy. Color is your personal flair.  We all have certain colors that resonate with us. What are yours? If you love that deep aqua color in your favorite blouse what if you found a similar color for throw pillows on your sofa? 

2. Don’t be afraid. You don’t need the entire rainbow of color. A room that is well done in neutrals or even blacks and whites can suddenly be made more interesting and lively with the simple addition of ONE color. Upholstering a pair of chairs in a vibrant color like marigold linen, grass green chenille or Chinese red velvet is sophisticated, lively and unexpected. Hang a small painting or framed print that includes the smallest suggestion of that same color and you’ve suddenly made the room more interesting.  Start with small steps of adding color and I bet you keep going.

3. Plants. Never underestimate the power of green. It is magic in my book. Mother Nature [or God’s, work with me here] perfect, clean, happy, magical color. Green goes with everything. I cannot put red next to everything but I can put it with green. By adding pops of green in the form of plants [ or succulents], green pillows, or even majolica plates you enliven the space.

4. Choose something you love and start with that as your inspiration. My favorite thing to start with is a painting [shocker]; pulling colors from within the painting for the room I am working on.  The colors in that painting might inform the tulips I buy from Trader Joe’s or the pillows I’m buying or making for the sofa, even an enormous bowl of a single fruit—think lemons, apples, grapefruit on the kitchen island all add pops of color. I once found the most perfect little oil painting of a piece of toast with a pat of butter. Odd, maybe, but so interesting that I ended up pulling the yellow from the butter, the silver from the frame and the chocolate velvet color from the toast itself. That painting informed the palette of the space. 

5. Another great way to get rolling with color is to begin with a great solid or patterned rug. Instead of the painting on the wall informing the direction of the room let the color underfoot be the project driver. Adding solid color pieces around the room and allowing the colorful rug to be the hero in the space.

6. Color does not mean pattern. Some people think that they do not like color but they are confusing it with pattern. Or they don’t like multiple colors within a pattern because they think it is too loud or too busy. Not to generalize but I have found more men feel this way. My husband, case in point! God love him. In fact, I fell in love with him because he had framed Diebenkorn prints in the bedroom of his beat-up surfer apartment when he was just out of college. [Diebenkorn prints! Seriously! We were destined to be together!] He loves color but the second I introduce a multi-color pillow or fabric or wallpaper for our home he looks at me like I’m a swarm of bees. Taking one color and using it in a pattern with just black or with just grey, taupe or white, is easier to achieve and to live with for many people. **Do not confuse all of that with the idea that I shrink from pattern, I love it!

7. Color from books and book spines. I am a sucker for a whole library of books. Shelved top to bottom, floor to ceiling when possible. The assortment of color on the spines of the books create their own art form and add character to the space. Like a tapestry of sorts or a giant mural of colors and text. Throw a sunshine yellow sofa in the room with a celadon desk lamp and a glass jar of coral tulips. Or any one of those and the space is happy, energetic and interesting with so much flair.

8. Color is youthful. I don’t mean unsophisticated, I mean that in the sense of freshness, openness, willingness to embrace the new. We all knew this when we were young(er), and perhaps we had a more youthful willingness to take on the world. We didn’t overthink it. Sadly, life gets in our head. It has a tendency to make us more fearful, less willing to take risks. And that can make us a little rusty and dusty. Way less interesting, in my mind. Who wants to be around rusty and dusty!? Why not fill our spaces with a big bunch of sunflowers or an overstuffed, white slipcovered sofa with a royal blue or green cashmere throw?

9. Adding color won’t change the world. But perhaps it can be a catalyst for change in other areas. Color can uplift the feeling in a space, it can create an openness to other more youthful ways of living and thinking. Make your home feel more like a colorful, happy accident— full of energy and flair! I’m pretty sure this is my credo, or my way of going through and responding to life.

10. Most importantly, have fun with your living space and surround yourself with colors that speak to you.     

Stephanie with her sons   //   Photo credit:   Sarah Knight Photography

Stephanie with her sons   //  Photo credit: Sarah Knight Photography

Thank you Stephanie, I am looking forward to your blog coming later this year and am also ready for bright yellow pillows in my house!

You can find Stephanie @flairhunter on Instagram or by email

Interior photos by:  SARAH KNIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mother's Day luxe gift guide...We just made it really easy!

It is April 23rd which means we don't need to panic yet as we have over two weeks until Mother's Day [May 10th]. This year we decided to be proactive and publish our little helpful shopping guide early so there is plenty of time to get these great gifts ordered. Our list is short but will get you headed in the right direction. If you are a Mom-please forward this to your husband/partner or adult children so they can do the heavy lifting. 

A few words about Mother's Day:
• It is true that Mom feels great to be remembered, but that doesn't mean ordering from a generic florist is always the answer! Bouquets of her favorite flowers [with less filler such as leaves and babies-breath] will always be appreciated. Think luxe, personal and something that will remind her of you. 

• Mom is all about good memories! Send her something that means something to her. Like a necklace with her initials, or a monogrammed bag like above. Please don't overdo it with a huge monogram, in this case small and understated is the best solution. 

• Was there a special trip you took with your Mom or a place you like to go together? The museum or theatre? What about theatre tickets? Mom's like to spend time with their kids. 

• Books are ALWAYS a good idea. We cannot get enough of them. We stack them on our shelves, on the floor, by the fireplace, on the ottoman, near the bed....love all that inspiration, fashion, funny pets, artists, designers and so on. Below is a list of a few of our favorites: 

• The last gift that I think is brilliant i[it includes multiple gifts in one is the Mother's Day Bundle on Huckberry. For $89.98 plus shipping you get a photo frame, a bag of espresso beans, a candle, a card, a labradorite necklace and a lovely yellow wrapping cloth. Click here to view. 

The best gifts are always the one's that are the most personal; the artwork on our shelves from our children, nieces and nephews when they were little. If you can make artwork for your mom I would say that is the best gift you can give her! Otherwise, please refer to the list above and happy shopping. 

p.s. Could someone please forward this to my husband!  — P ;-)

 

 

The Art of Ruth Borgenicht

Ruth borgenicht 

Ruth borgenicht 

As you probably know by now we love discovering and sharing artists and designers who leave us wanting to know more about their work. Whether you are an avid art collector or an admirer of art we believe that Ruth's work is unique, smart and engaging so much so that you will remember it long after you see it. When viewing it up close you first notice the surface texture and beautiful form; if you pick up some of the smaller pieces you notice the weight of it in your hands. Upon closer inspection you see links woven together to create a chain mail that is rigid as well as movable. Ruth writes:

"Worn under Medieval armor, chain mail is made of tiny interlocking metal rings
designed to protect a body in motion. I use the chain mail pattern and other woven patterns to create ceramic works that conjure up a sense of permanence and defensive concealment. Like the ancient armor, my pieces are made of a fabric of moveable interlocking rings. Using clay to make a protective mesh is contradictory;
for how can it defend anything, much less itself? Visually stone-like, the pieces
appear strong and impenetrable, belying their inherent fragility."
Centipede collection  //  2' to 12'' in diameter   //   more  here

Centipede collection  //  2' to 12'' in diameter   //   more here

Subtle shifts in ring color appear as a ray of light //  Raked Light VI  // more wall works  here

Subtle shifts in ring color appear as a ray of light //  Raked Light VI  // more wall works here

 subtle gradations in color lend an ombre quality to FAlling Mist VII  //  Here

 subtle gradations in color lend an ombre quality to FAlling Mist VII  // Here

There is also a sophisticated sense of humor in many of her pieces. In the chain mail sculpture [above] Set Back Skyscraper, 2008, the block leans forward, bends back and twists to the side. This piece is named after set back laws in Manhattan in which buildings are required to be 2-3 stories tall in the front while the taller floors of the building are set away from the sidewalk, behind the entrances, to allow sunlight to fall into the street. We love how the piece begs to be manipulated and moved and almost takes on a soft and flexible quality while remaining rigid. 

"When I am showing my work in a gallery setting people often assume
that the work should not be touched. I want people to engage with it—that
interaction is part of the experiential aspect of the work"
MUII  //  Earthenware, 10 x 10 x 75"  //  here

MUII  //  Earthenware, 10 x 10 x 75"  // here

Portrait, 2007  // Wall work in which The three top rings are fixed while the the lower two are movable 

Portrait, 2007  // Wall work in which The three top rings are fixed while the the lower two are movable 

Ruth teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University and The Art School at Old Church, both in NJ.
She has an undergraduate degree at Rutgers University in math.

Artist in residence programs:
Hunter College, NYC
Anderson Ranch, CO
Greenwich House Pottery, NYC
Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, ME
Chester Spring Studio, PA
University of the Arts, PA.

To contact the artist directly with inquires click here
For more information and to see a larger selection of her work visit: Ruth Borgenicht

Lets talk: Style + Design + Inspiration!

When we started our blog the goal was to create a place in which we could share style and design ideas as well as introduce stories about people who inspire us. We can say that it has been all of that and more over the last year and we want to thank all of you who have shared your stories, ideas and comments with us. You make this all worth it! 

If you are new to Patina & Hue please read about how we got started here or if you have been following us all along—below are a few of our posts that readers told us they really liked from the last year:

Style
Coco Chanel: Making Men Uneasy
Fear No Denim: Boyfriend Jeans even if you are over 40!
P&H INTERVIEW FOR 1010 PARK PLACE

Artist made Jewelry
The Depetra Sisters Jewelry
VICTORIAN + GEORGIAN JEWELRY = TRUE LOVE

Artwork
Robert Siegel Studio 
ICONIC ARTIST WAYNE THIEBAUD–A RETROSPECTIVE

Inspiration
Our 4th of July post received the most Pins on Pinterest
While our story about Lucy Meyer received the most comments, feedback and donations

Interiors
AUNT BABBS' LUCITE: CIRCA 1960S
CREATE MEANINGFUL SPACE IN YOUR OFFICE

We are working on new ideas all of the time and welcome your input and feedback in our comments section. We would also like to invite you to email us with any ideas you have or want to share. If you like what we are doing please invite your friends and family to the conversation by sharing our link. 

We have recently had quite a few people ask how they can get our blog posts to come directly to their email so they don't have to look it up online each time. There are several ways you can follow us:

1. Subscribe to our blog so that you can receive our latest posts into your email box. We post 1 to 2 times a week.
To subscribe: 
• Type your name and email address into the subscription area at the top right on this page. • Select the subscribe button and a box will pop up for you to confirm you want to subscribe. • Open, your email and confirm your subscription in the email from feedburner 
• You will now receive our emails in your inbox! 
• You can easily unsubscribe anytime by clicking the link at the bottom of the email newsletter. 

2. Follow us on Twitter here

3. Follow Pamela's Instagram here (Marianne's is coming soon!)

4. Follow us on Facebook here

Thank you again to all of you who made this last year magical and memorable!

Marianne & Pamela
Patina & Hue

7 steps to create beautiful succulent & cacti mini-gardens for your home

As I sit here writing there are small snowflakes coming down outside my window. It is only early April and I am already daydreaming about long summer days. Setting up the patio for summer entertaining is still weeks away but I am getting a jumpstart on indoor gardening that can transition to the patio once the warm weather arrives. 

We recently asked our friend and style maven [with a green thumb], Anne Livingston, to show us how she creates her beautiful and unusual succulent and cacti arrangements. I spent an afternoon with Anne and learned a few of her tips for creating and caring for low water plants. They are easy to make and much more interesting than picking up a potted plant at the nursery. Follow her quick and easy steps below to create your own!

Cacti, black stones and A BUDDA CANDLE HOLDER make this an interesting center piece or patio planter

Cacti, black stones and A BUDDA CANDLE HOLDER make this an interesting center piece or patio planter

a variety of blue and green succulents planted in glass bowls  with white sand for the FINAL LAYER

a variety of blue and green succulents planted in glass bowls  with white sand for the FINAL LAYER

ABOVE: TRIPOD PLANTER [ACQUIRED AT A BEAD SHOP THAT WAS CLOSING ]  WITH NEWLY REFRESHED SUCCULENTS AND OBJECTS. AFTER A SUMMER ON OUR  SOUTHERN FACING DECK. "I SLIDE THIS TRIPOD PLANTER INTO OUR DINING ROOM WHERE IT ASSUMES A SCULPTURAL ROLE".  

ANNE'S 7 STEPS TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL MINI-GARDENS FOR BOTH INDOORS AND OUT

1. Find Your Vessels for Planting: 
Visit junk stores, antique stores and garage sales for unique finds. Don't settle for what you can find at the local gardening store. Think clear glass or old containers that can be repurposed. What objects would you enjoy seeing on your table or on your patio?  
Often it is the unexpected container that enhances the arrangement. Also consider bowls or dishes that are interesting and fit your mood or style: modern, natural, traditional, vintage and don't be afraid to mix it up a little. 

ABOVE: A VARIETY OF SUPPLIES AND VESSELS COLLECTED FOR PLANTING

2. Objects for Your Mini-Garden:
Look for interesting—not overpowering objects that will enhance the planting. Allow yourself to experiment with some fun and unexpected objects:
• pebbles and rocks [ I've even used sand found at the pet store] 
• cast sand or small concrete objects [look at places like TJ Max, World Market, Pier 1 ]
• aquarium objects from the pet supply store
• beach glass 

3. Plant Selection:
Once you have your vessels for planting you will want to choose your plants. Most gardening stores have a good selection of succulents and cacti this time of year. You really cannot go wrong but below are a few key things to keep in mind when shopping for your plants:  
• Color: combine colors like silver-blues, blue-greens, reds, bright greens
• Texture: spikes, fuzzy, smooth, nubby, the more textural variety the better
• Form: short leaves, round or flat leaves, small or broad pods, cascading tendrils, and upright growers
• Height: some succulents are low growers and can be placed in the front while the taller, more upright growers should be positioned near the back of the pot to create height and layering. 
• Remember that a variety of forms, textures, color and height will add interest

ABOVE PHOTOS: CACTI AND SUCCULENTS IN A VARIETY OF TEXTURES, COLOR AND SIZES 

4. Potting Soil:
Ask your local gardening store to point you to the best soil for succulents and cacti. These plants like to have well drained soil and they do not do well in standing water. 

5. Planting: 
If you have a deep vessel for planting you can build it up with stones then add planting soil. Once you have the plants arranged the way you like them you can easily drop them into the dirt as they do not have deep roots. Once all roots are covered with soil you can add a top layer of white sand or pebbles to complete the look. 

6. Watering:
Good news—these plants do not like a lot of water. Drop ice cubes where you can on the soil to water every week or two. This is much more efficient and keeps the plants from getting over watered. Keep in mind that succulents and cacti have different watering requirements. Read the sun and water requirements for each and you may want to plant the succulents in a separate container than the cacti to help manage both better. Overwatering, resulting in root rot, is the most common mistake with succulents and cacti, and using a vessel without drainage is more likely to have that result. Sometimes if I'm modifying a vessel not intended for this use, I will drill holes at the bottom to ensure drainage. The other "Cheat " with succulents is that they will actually tell you if they are getting under-watered by becoming dimpled. Depending on the variety, their leaves act as cisterns—If they're thirsty. Suffice it to say less water is best versus overwatering. 

7. Sun, Sun and More Sun!
It goes without saying that succulents and cacti need lots of sunlight and indirect sun is fine.  Bear in mind, my dining room with a 20 foot awning outside is ANYTHING but direct, yet does the job for 6 to 8 months of the year when temps are too cold outside.

The main thing I want you to remember is to have fun with this project and let it be an extension of your taste and sense of humor. They also make really great gifts. 

Thank you for sharing this with us Anne!

Please let us know if you used any of her great ideas and email us photos of your project
and we will add them to our facebook page. Happy planting!