Outdoor Living

At One With Nature: Outside & In

Gresgarth Hall & Gardens | Via Laurel Bern Interiors

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!'”

Robin Williams


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! What better way to honor the “green” than with a blog that celebrates how gardens and nature affect us as human beings. Like so many people, I crave a nearness to nature. In fact having “outdoor space” was one of my make or break criteria when I was searching for a townhouse.

Having lived in a home with a large backyard and extensive gardens, I knew I would miss being able to spend lazy summer days reading in my hosta garden under the dogwood tree. I even built a folly to make the experience that much more enjoyable (If you missed my post on follies, you can read it here).

And while I don’t miss the upkeep of my gardens, I really do miss the peacefulness they provided…the daydreaming…the bird watching.

When it came time to move, replicating at least a bit of that peacefulness was of the utmost importance. Luckily I was able to find a townhouse surrounded by trees with a creek running at the back of my yard. I also have three decks and a patio so there are plenty of places to add potted plants and enjoy the deer and birds.

So since today is St. Patty’s and with spring officially making its entrance on Saturday, I thought it would be nice to post about the importance of connecting with nature in our environments, both outside and in.

In Veranda magazine’s latest issue, they published a beautiful story, titled “Can the Garden Save Us? How the Power of Nature Can Change Life As We Know It.” In that article, author Tracey Minkin wrote:

“The garden—a human invention that meets nature at her threshold—provides sustenance of literal, aesthetic, spiritual, and even metaphorical value. We have tended plots from far back in prehistory, discovering the benefit of growing amid the earliest survival schema of foraging and hunting. We discovered further, over millennia, the gifts borne by plants—from nutrients and succor to medicines and alterations of mood—and we expended energy to put those plants close by and help them grow. We gardened.”

You don’t have to be an avid gardener, either, to enjoy the beauty of one. You may even just prefer to admire blooms on your walls inside (there are some awesome botanical wallpapers out there–more about that later). 

Either way, I hope you enjoy this brief journey into the power of nature to uplift and empower, to bring calm and healing. That’s what the great outdoors does for me. I hope it does that for you, too.



If you love symmetry and balance inside your home, then a formal garden might speak to you. Formal gardens add elegance, refinement and order to an outdoor living space. Their symmetry, polish and beautifully pruned plants and hedges can bring a sense of calm after a harried, frenzied day. A formal garden is the perfect place to showcase stunning topiaries, like these in the gardens of haute couturier Valentino Garavanis’ house in Paris.

Here are a few more breathtaking topiary gardens. I can feel the peace and calm just from looking at these photos. Imagine how peaceful it would be to stroll through these spaces.

Photo via Lu Mu Interiors


Landscape Design by Yann Monel | Via Cote Maison


If the previous topiary gardens were a little too buttoned-down for you, try this! There is always room for a little whimsy in the garden. Think of this as the garden version of those cute cat videos on the internet.

Photo by Rich Saunders


Photo by Rich Saunders



Being the Francophile that I am, this garden surrounding a home in Connecticut really moves me. Landscape designer Kathryn Herman designed the gardens to mimic what you might find in the South of France. As Herman told Veranda magazine, “We created a garden that was both French and American.”

I adore the formal/informal look. Yin and yang–something to love no matter what your mood is.

Photo by Neil Landino | Veranda


Rows of linden trees define formal, French-style garden rooms flanking this beautiful home.

Photo by Neil Landino | Veranda


(left photo): “There’s a wildness to it that’s unexpected and terribly romantic,” Herman told Veranda. Limestone steps  lead to the casual eating area.

(right photo): An ever-changing meadow with a walking path to a tranquil pool terrace. Ahhh! Can’t you just feel the calm setting in? Water always does that for me–instant drop in blood pressure and mood lifter.

Photo by Neil Landino | Veranda


Photo by Neil Landino | Veranda


Or maybe your wanderlust leans more toward the Mediterranean. For landscape architect Anna Hoffman, the challenge was to recreate the feel of her clients  favorite Tuscan hotel, the Castiglion del Bosco.” Mission accomplished.

This garden reminds me of my trip to Greece a few years ago. The tropical plants are so lush and colorful, with twisty, gnarly branches. Color is totally different there than here in the States. It’s very mesmerizing.

(left photo): How gorgeous is the bougainvillea surrounding this antique garden gate?

(right photo): The intimacy of this space is so wonderful. I love this simple stucco fountain that buffers the noise from the street.

Maybe Morocco is more your style. This Moorish-inspired outdoor garden and poolside retreat by landscape designer Scott Schrader is magical. According to Veranda magazine, Schrader “wove a new narrative for the grounds of this open-concept Spanish- and Moroccan-style home in the form of an olive orchard—with nearly every room in the home extending into a garden.”

Every room opening to a garden is one criteria for my dream house…instant access to the great outdoors.

The firepit is a reclaimed 13th-century well. How cool is that!?

Landscape Design: Scott Schrader | Photo by Lisa Romerein | Veranda


Love this little poolside Moorish folly, a fireside sitting room among the kumquat trees.

Landscape Design: Scott Schrader | Photo by Lisa Romerein | Veranda


The home’s family room opens to a bamboo dining room shrouded in black Mission fig trees. Everything about this photo is a little slice of heaven for me.

Landscape Design: Scott Schrader | Photo by Lisa Romerein | Veranda



It’s hard to beat a southern garden for charm. I lived in Atlanta for awhile and was amazed at the lushness of landscaping everywhere. The South seems to get the right mix of sun, rain and perfect weather to create stunning greenery and profuse flowers.

This cutting garden by landscape designer Carson McElheney is placed directly off the back of a house that features stacked stone and fence detailing inspired by the Virginia countryside.

Landscape Design: Carson McElheney | Architect: D. Stanley Dixon | Photo by Emily Followill | Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles



You say you don’t have even a green wrinkle on your thumb? Here are a few examples of show stopping color that don’t require lots of care.

Potted blue hydrangeas and a peacock for the win at decorator and antiques dealer Furlow Gatewood’s Southern Gothic home in Georgia.

Photo by Max Kim-Bee | Veranda


(left photo): A hedge of white hydrangeas bordering your lawn is enough to delight the senses and not hurt your thumb.

(right photo): And oh my gosh, it’s raining wisteria!

Source Unknown | Via Laurel Bern Interiors


Source Unknown | Via Laurel Bern Interiors


My dad retired to Tucson, Arizona, where he lived in a townhouse with a postage stamp sized garden area enclosed by high walls. Not wanting to mow grass or weed a garden, he had a rock and cactus garden installed…perfectly exquisite and very low maintenance. This rock garden reminds me of that, minus the cacti.

The water garden on the right is right up my alley–still waters run deep. I love the curlicue concrete!

Source Unknown


Architect: Francis Wilson | Via Johnny Unis



Not a lot of green space? No problem. Balconies and decks can be dressed to the nines with plants and flowers.

Source Unknown | Via Pouted


Source Unknown | Via Must Do Brisbane


Another gardening space saver is the vertical or rooftop garden. (We wrote a whole blog post on vertical and rooftop gardens. You can read it here).

Source Unknown | Via Home Made Lovely


Check out this rooftop herb garden!

Photo by pbev



This garden in the Four Seasons Doha brings the magic inside.

These indoor gardens are spectacular focal points in beautiful contemporary homes, too.

Designer Unknown | Via Deavita


Designer Unknown | Via Home Designing



Finally, I’d like to share with you some really awesome botanically-inspired wallpapers, wall art and fabrics that have been on my radar lately.

The wallpaper by Daisy James is perfection. I love the “panes” that create the illusion of looking through glass to the garden outside.

“The Botany” by Daisy James


Custom rose garden painting by Anne Marie Auricchio


Timorous Beasties is one of my favorite wallpaper and fabric lines. Its founders believe that plants, animals and society are visually inextricable. And their products are usually inspired by nature itself. Take a look!

Photo by Brian Thio


“Chic Blotch” Fabric by Timorous Beasties


National Geographic’s Most Beautiful Photo of the Year


“Grand Blotch Damask” Fabric by Timorous Beasties


To wrap up this blog, I’d like to share another snippet from the beautifully written Architectural Digest story:

“…when nature’s own hand challenged us with a life-threatening virus, we pushed open doors and took deep, healthy breaths outside. We remembered, like waking from a dream, that in our gardens we thrive. Now, as seasons turn over and science flexes a molecular antidote to a global pandemic, have we not re-glimpsed the greater power of one’s own—and every garden—to save us all?” — Tracey Minkin

And although we are not landscape designers at Marcia Moore Design, we certainly work with very talented professionals to create dream spaces both inside and out. Let us help you create yours. Give us a call at 314.395.1114 or CLICK HERE to send us an email today.

By the way, we’re back running full speed at Marcia Moore Design, but if you still prefer to work virtually, we understand and can do that, too. Whatever works best for you and makes you the most comfortable is great with us.

Stay safe and healthy,

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