January 31, 2010


January 31st in Illinois; sunny, freezing, snow on the ground........

However, just returning from the 'Mid-Am' horticultural show for the industry, excitement builds with the new introductions available in Spring 2010.

Here are some of my favorites;

  • Repeat, YES, repeat bloom on and off  all spring until frost....plus they are fragrant
  • Zone 4-7,  4' high,  full sun
  • Improved 'Annabelle' meaning strong beefy stems that WILL NOT FLOP!
  • Massive flower heads in full sun  to part shade
  • Zone 5+, 4-5' tall
  • From the Annabelle family, not only pink but near continious blooming.
  • Zone 3-9,   3-4' high (good in containers) 
SUN PATIENS registered
  • As the name suggests, impatiens for the sun, or shade arrives in many colors
  • Thick showy petals and dark leaves
  • Drought tolerant

  • Fragrant spring flowers are a magnet to Hummingbirds  
  • Compact and very hardy  
  • I love the foliage color of variegated chartreuse, green and pink which will stand out all season

  • Maintains a true blue splash all season
  • Thick leaves are slug proof
  • Low water needs!


   Low maintenance, gorgeous colors,  major texture

  And Chicago leads the trend. We have the most green roofs in the world for the third consecutive year running.

 Permeable surfaces; any surface that is not concrete or asphalt and allows for water penetration.

 Lose the Chemicals. Each of these "trends" will receive their own post in the future and this is a BIG topic. Here are two quick points
  1. I used to tease my Father-in-law...."Mr. Chemically Crazed".....that he could get Parkinson's Disease. His entire life was devoted to which chemical would solve every problem, in massive doses.He did and lost the battle.
  2. My own garden has it's issues; weeds, bugs.........but i have allowed an eco-system to evolve and a multitude of birds and beneficial insects have naturally kept the destructive bugs at bay.
 PS: bunnies NEVER bother my gardens, naturally. Can anyone guess my secret?   


Living walls....indoors and out

I could not say we are perpetually charming  ;-)  and try we do........but as a full landscape design/build firm, our aim is to always
"make your soul blossom"

NEXT POST.            I am so excited to extend a huge give-away, $600.00 value!

Who is eligible? Do I have to live in Chicago?  No, everyone, living anywhere is eligible
Any hints?  Yes, it is a service we already offer.... Your home and a makeover

                                                       Stay tuned...................

                                                                xxo   Debra

January 24, 2010


Meet Patrick Roullier. An amazingly talented artist, all-round nice guy and a treasured friend.

Raised in Michigan he now resides in Chicago. Patrick is a local master schooled in many art forms

His art is yummy.

Let's take a look while I introduce you to this dear man

                                                       tole tray in equestrian theme
The arts were instilled from earliest memories. And in advance of their times, his parents rarely bought new, scouring flea markets, yard sales and second hand shops. The altering of an existing piece was a way of life.
  Father;  photographer
  Mother;  painter
  Grandfather;  woodworker
  Grandmother;  tole painter

                                                   hand painted mural

His Aunt Jackie was the component in propelling him to consider the arts as a career, "do what you love and let the money follow."


Graduating in Scientific Illustration from the school of the Art Institute in Chicago plus biology courses at Roosevelt University he planned on entering the Medical Arts.

                                           more hand painted panels

During schooling he worked at Chicago's Oriental  Institute doing maps and other archeological renderings, pot shards, designs, tombs and various artifacts.

            In a home in Naples, Florida

Exquisite topiary on lined wall

                                                  gilded cabinets

A major life change occurred at age 19 when Patrick was mentored by Anna Chiara Branca renowned watercolor and porcelain artist....Mother of Allesandra.  At Branca design he became interested in doing highly detailed work, botanical renderings and studying the masters. As a true apprentice he began by washing brushes, sanding and priming as Ms. Branca introduced him to the world of interior design and the history of European decorative arts.

                                                   hand painted mural

                                                            up close

Branca's design studio made a a life altering impression..........creative people and artisans could indeed make a living in the arts.

                                                         composition and plaster

Until the latter part of the 19th century it was common that plaster was used decoratively inside a building. Primary materials could be lime and sand plus animal or plant fibers for strength. Later adding Portland and gypsum replacing traditional lime.

tole lamps

 Next step......Frederick Cooper Lamps, painting traditional tole, faux wood and faux marble on thousands of surfaces. Patrick had the opportunity to provide custom work for Mario Buatta but the ultimate was creative license in developing a line called 'Anderson & Roullier' lamps.

                                           hand painted chest

At night he assisted an elderly lady, Judith Brubaker whom pushed Patrick into wood. Learning wood finishes, french polishing and gilded gesso. On his own he practiced throwing pottery and sculpture.

                                                               painted floor

                                               mural      Geneva, Illinois

5th;   What artists have influenced you?

Patrick Roullier;  Ghram Rust, Issabelle Oneil, Jocastas Innes,
                              who have instructive books.
                    John Fowler mostly for his resourcefulness and polished feel.
                    Albert Hadley, Billy Baldwin, Jed Johnson and Charlotte Moss
                    "I LOVE the Colefax and Fowler book!

                                               Painted and  'Japanned'

The term 'japanning' is a process of heavy lacquer almost like enamel paint. Originated in India, China and Japan as a decorative coating for pottery, reaching Europe by the 1600's. This is a costly and time consuming process achieved in many steps.
1) numerous coats
2) heat dry each layer
3) polish to a smooth glossy finish

                                                     painted furniture

5th:   What type of projects are you currently working on?
PR:   Continuing experiments with painting wall papers.
          Chinoiserie of the 18th century
          Deconstruction of traditional motifs to create a more modern custom look for clients

                                                           cache pots

Striking out as an independent artist was now within Patrick's grasp. A buzz began in town........the now closed, Urban Gardener in Lincoln Park.........had an artist creating hand painted cache pots of incredible detail. Each was different, over 200 designs a year, a real collectors item. Not yet knowing Patrick I used to stalk this shop, well maybe 4 times a year. "Who is this artist?" I would inquire, casually, nonchalant. "Sorry we do not divulge that information."

I could not blame them, my motives were not pure..........I wanted this artist for my shop, making trays.

Many many years later an artist was referred to us for an event at the shop. Trusting my friends recommendation, the day of the event arrived as did this sweet and charming (and very cute) gentleman, portfolio in hand.........IT WAS HIM!

This is my personal favorite. Look at the detail, the colorway, see the "faux" moldings!

                                                     mural  ala Zuber

In France hand painted wallpapers were the rage since 1797. Of all the French wallpaper artists Monsieur Zuber was the "creme de la creme"

Before photography this was an upper crust decorative art craze depicting far away lands and periods long lost.

                                             hand painted mural within molding

                                                       the details

                                              delicate grain over custom made stencil


Not everyone is a fan of such high gloss techniques. Personally it resonates with me reminding me of England where most exterior doors and interior trim work have this sheen.

Another example of 'Japanning'. The ceiling detail replicates the pattern in a rug below.

                                                            up close


                                                   hand painted furniture

A subtle form of 'faux bois' in the style of a Swedish Manor home.

Afraid of heights?      Look out below!     

                                                   hand gilding wall papers

The partnership with Urban Gardener eventually set Patrick on his course of total independence. Having met so many designers, relationships were set and he was on track to an enviable position; busy, freelance artist.

                                               trompe l'oeil ceiling medallion

                                             gorgeous dove in a a patina of age


In my business I am surrounded with artists of immense talent.............it is the rare individual whom is both artist extraordinaire AND a responsible business person. Patrick is rare indeed!

One of Patrick's long standing clients has him decorate her home for Christmas every year in elaborate detail.

AND............every year the thousand's of ornaments are striped and REPAINTED by Patrick for the years new color scheme and theme..........imagine that!

As I finish this post would love to share some photo's of Patrick's he forwarded from a recent inspirational trip to Paris. The Landscape Designer in me is crazy for the photo below

As soon as I find the right components; basin and possible cabinet, we are brainstorming my next projects; two bathrooms. Tell me what you think..............as we narrow this down
1) powder room..............our family tartan.........Denny. The vintage basin would be a french iron wall fountain
2) full bath;  walls in the look of worn and aged leather. hammered nail heads, nail portion removed and glued to the wall in a pattern, all to replicate vintage traveling trunks.

Remember this?      My foyer...........BEFORE

AFTER;   Faux bois paneling. Looking for an art lamp above the pictures to add a warm glow

All free-hand. Guests arrive and want to know when I paneled the entry, then have to stroke the walls as they cannot believe it is hand painted. I am so crazy for faux bois I am thinking of asking Patrick to paint my Mini-Cooper like the vehicle below

Had to throw in some element of folly! :-)

Love you Patrick!
contact him at;  proullier@rcn.com 

This man is someone else I admire for his over the top talent........Eddie Ross! I know, I know you are rolling your eyes thinking "what is her obsession with this guy?"
"Why is she writing about him again?"..................EASY he needs your VOTE!

If you have not heard, there is a big contest at Bloomingdale's in New York. Elle Decor has asked Eddie and Jaithan to represent them and decorate one of the big windows. AND.....it is a CONTEST! Two others are involved,  Apartment Therapy and Bloomingdale's themselves. but hurry! contest ends Jan. 28th.

Take a peek then go here to vote. Let's help our friend, and maybe yours too, We are discussing a visit with Eddie and Jaithan to Chicago late April (ish)


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