Author Archives: writedesigner

About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint, Salon.com, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.

Nova’s Ark Project

While driving up Millstone Road in Water Mill to the Hamptons Show House, I was astonished to catch a glimpse of large-scale sculptures in a meadow. A stop at this site, Nova’s Ark Project, was the real event of the … Continue reading

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Cocktails, Anyone?

I didn’t love the 2015 Hamptons Designer Show House as much as usual. Usually, the rooms beckon me: sit down, sink into the sofa, stay awhile, get inspired, enjoy the view, covet the pool house, relax. This year, walking through … Continue reading

Posted in Beach houses, Interior Design, Private Gardens, Show Houses, The Hamptons | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Tall Tale

In Canadian and American folklore, Paul Bunyan is a mythical, superhuman lumberjack. He could out-chop, out0-saw, out-talk, out-roll a log, and climb a tree faster than any other man at any other logging camp. When a friend recommended Chris Niemiec … Continue reading

Posted in Horticulture, In My Garden | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Visit to the Connecticut College Arboretum

This place is deceptive. It’s advertised as a native plant garden, and you expect to see unusual, colorful plants. At first you think that there’s nothing much here. Then you look closely, and among the dappled light and shade, small … Continue reading

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A Friend at Hampton Court

Garden Club of Irvington horticulture co-chair Renee Shamosh is traveling in England and France. A few days ago, she visited the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, in East Molesey, Surrey, about 30 minutes south of London. Renee sends her greetings … Continue reading

Posted in Flower and Plant Shows, Flower Arranging and Decor, Horticulture | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Frida’s Casa Es Su Casa

Photo taken a few years ago with iPhone 1 at Casa Azul, Coyoacán, México, DF. Photo taken the other day with iPhone5 at the Frida show at the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.If you love succulents and containers, don’t … Continue reading

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”Blue” Entry Wins Blue Ribbon

Part of the joy of being a member of a garden club is growing plants and creating mixed plantings for horticulture competitions. With Renee Shamosh, I’m a horticulture co-chair of the Garden Club of Irvington-on-Hudson, NY (GCI), which in turn … Continue reading

Posted in Flower and Plant Shows, Horticulture | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Walk Down the Road

There are still patches of snow on our lawn. Yesterday, I woke up to a fresh coating of white all over everything. Around here, in the New York City suburbs, everybody wants to know when winter will be over. Many … Continue reading

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It’s Spring! (in Northern California)

The snow is falling again in the Northeast, and I look out at the fading light in my garden, which is two colors: the gray of the tree trunks and branches and the white of the snow. In San Francisco, … Continue reading

Posted in Horticulture, Nurseries and Garden Centers, Public Gardens, Travel-California, What's Blooming Now | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Julia Child’s Kitchen

On a recent visit to Washington, DC, there was nothing I wanted to do more than visit Julia’s kitchen at the new Smithsonian National Museum of American History on the Capitol Mall. The museum has the vibe of the office … Continue reading

Posted in Dining In and Out, Travel-USA Northeast | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Kiku at The New York Botanical Garden

An Immortal’s Elixir Chrysanthemum dew: Lift it up. Take a big sip And you will be immortal Not aging, not dying! –displayed on the Botanical Garden’s Poetry Walk   Kiku means chrysanthemum in Japanese, I’ve learned, and this is chrysanthemum-viewing … Continue reading

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A Chinese Garden in a New York Backyard

At the end of May, I took my daughter-in-law, Yan Zhang Miller, to see the garden of the newest member of the Garden Club of Irvington, Dongkai Zhen. Dongkai, left, has lived Westchester County, New York, for 24 years. She … Continue reading

Posted in Food from the Garden, Horticulture, Private Gardens, Travel-USA Northeast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Along the Road

Her name is Bernadette, and she’s been living in the same light green ranch house, around the corner from our rabbinical house in Norwich, CT, for more than 50 years. When she’s not tending her own garden, she’s beautifying the … Continue reading

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A Family Farm in the Hamptons

When you think of the Hamptons, do you think of boldface names, private jets, multi-million-dollar mansions, and parties you’re not invited to? Think again. Off Route 27, there’s a whole ’nother side of the Hamptons. Drive slowly and you’ll see … Continue reading

Posted in Farms and Farm Markets, Food from the Garden, The Hamptons, Travel-USA Northeast | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hamptons Designer Show House 2014

This year’s Hampton Designer Show House seems like its made for a huge extended family that entertains lots of guests. There are so many comfortable, inviting sitting areas that, say, you had a book in one hand and a drink … Continue reading

Posted in Beach houses, Interior Design, Show Houses, The Hamptons, Travel-USA Northeast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Streetscapes of San Miguel

Let’s say you’re visiting San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for a few days or a week. On a typical morning, you might have breakfast in your hotel’s patio or rooftop garden and enjoy a view like this. When you’re ready … Continue reading

Posted in Travel-Mexico | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Desertscapes of Guanajuato, Mexico

Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden, located in the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, contains many surprises, including a heart-shaped cactus paddle that might be the ideal valentine to send to someone who’s giving you a hard time. … Continue reading

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Sabores San Miguel

Last weekend, leafy Parque Juárez, just a few blocks from where we were staying, was the site of a three-day food festival, Sabores San Miguel. Hundreds of people gathered under a tent erected on the basketball court to savor wines, … Continue reading

Posted in Dining In and Out, Food from the Garden, Travel-Mexico | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Not Tough To Be a Trough Gardener

I  joined fellow members of the Garden Club of Irvington on a recent visit to Oliver Nursery in Fairfield, CT, where we got an expert demonstration on how to plant troughs. Although “trough” is one of the weirder one-syllable words … Continue reading

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A Visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show

The theme of this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs through Sunday, is ARTiculture. Art museums, including the Guggenheim, the Getty, and the Smithsonian, have teamed up to produce spectacular exhibits. The show is crowded, commercial, expensive ($32 per ticket … Continue reading

Posted in Flower and Plant Shows, Horticulture, Nurseries and Garden Centers | Tagged , , | 1 Comment