Garden Style 101

Design expert and tastemaker Charlotte Moss offers tips for making your garden unique.
A Beautiful Outdoor Table

A Beautiful Outdoor Table

Entertaining outdoors is designer Charlotte Moss's forte.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Rizzoli

Image courtesy of Rizzoli

Entertaining outdoors is designer Charlotte Moss's forte.

Charlotte Moss's lavishly illustrated garden tome Garden Inspirations is just one indication of this prolific designer's seductive imagination. The book offers glimpses into not only Moss's personal grand East Hampton garden, but images of the Italian, Russian, French and British gardens that inspire the designer. The celebrated designer, who lectures around the country and whose accomplishments include a Elle Decor Vision Award and selection as one of Traditional Home magazine's top 20 designers in the world, stopped in at Atlanta's design mecca ADAC and shared with HGTVGardens the gardens that inspire her, the flowers she can't live without and ways to bring great style to your own outdoor space.

What is one thing everyone should have or grow in their own garden?

Flowers of course provide beauty and color—but the fragrance, healing qualities and cooking uses of herbs have no peer in the garden. The simple pinch of a leaf is soothing and at the same time transporting: verbena, thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano and coriander...for cooking, steeping as a tea, or a small bouquet at the table. 

Name a plant that has never let you down?

My climbing hydrangea just keep getting better, I adore all nepetas for their colors, heights and way they move with the breeze.  All of my herbs because I enjoy them in the season and dry them for the winter to make infusions, I have six large stone urns filled with succulents, they are always robust and strong.  Two large jardinieres of tree ferns, and everything in the shade garden: grasses, heucheras, hostas, gingers and hellebores. 

What’s a plant you have given up on? 

Dahlias. I have some in a border, but I am not cultivating them…the moles love them! 

If you had to choose: fragrance, color or form?

Fragrance—hands down. 

What’s your best outdoor entertaining advice? 

Everything you do inside applies to outside, but being outside is more like a picnic. Umbrellas for shade during the day, lots of lanterns with candles at night, are both musts. 

From the most pedestrian to the most exotic, what’s growing in your garden?

Scented geraniums I can not have enough of, and on the exotic front would be the lemon trees that live in a greenhouse in the winter—and all of the espaliered fruit trees.

What country’s gardens thrill you the most? 

I would have to defer to Italy: the trees, the water features, architecture and the stonework.  I feel most at home there, that is. In addition to American gardens which I love for their diversity and their personalities.

What are the garden trends you love that ordinary gardeners should look for? 

I never look at trends. Things that were done in the 17th century that worked then still work now.  Technology has enhanced our ability to do more things, i.e. anyone can have a small self circulating fountain adding water and sound. 

I do see a shift to more manageable plots, not over reaching, more green, and the use of more edible materials and natural grasses, things indigenous to a particular locale.

One thing you can never pass up at the garden store?

I do have a serious case of 'tree lust.' I love trees.

Favorite movie or book about gardening?

Greenfingers with Helen Mirren—what gardening is all about: defiance, perseverance, passion and a sense of humor.

For a book, The Education of a Gardener by Russell Page—and a must for any would-be gardener.  I am always referring to and quoting from that one!

Flower that reminds you of childhood?

Bearded iris and violets in my grandmother's garden.

Top 5 tips for bringing a design sensibility to your garden? 

Color: Select a palette that you love, it will more than likely be what you use inside the house.

Fragrance:
Plant fragrant plants near paths and near the front and rear door.

Scale:  Start with what you can manage alone then build from there.

Learn: Read about other gardens, visit gardens whenever you can, listen to BBC radio garden shows; iTunesU has lectures at universities on horticulture.

People: There are great garden writers that you can glean experience from. And lastly, there is Google at everyone’s fingertips.

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