Chestnut Hill Bauhaus by Faith Michaels

The front portion of Chestnut Hill Bauhaus is almost finished and it's a stunner. The haphazard flagstone walkway was replaced by a beautiful bluestone walkway that takes visitors past a lush meadow, newly planted dogwoods, birches, a small Asian inspired garden right to the front door. We maintained the Bauhaus tradition of clean, simple lines tied back to the land, to stay true to this historic property.

Before and after...

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Before and after...

Anatomy of an Install (A Night at the Mall) by Faith Michaels

It was another frigid January day when the management at the Mall at Chestnut Hill called me and asked if I would participate in their spring flower show.  I knew it was a big commitment and a lot of work, but I decided to give it a shot.  It might be fun and after the brutal winter, we all needed a colorful, floral infusion. I was offered a prime space in the center court. See the "BEFORE" photo below. I signed on and immediately picked up the phone and called my friend Ken Dietz(http://www.dietzandassociates.com.)  Ken is a well known interior designer and we often collaborate on projects.  While he designs the home's interior, I translate his themes and colors into the exterior landscape.  We had a meeting or two at the Mall and threw around a couple of ideas.

Center court BEFORE the work begins.

Center court BEFORE the work begins.

It was looking like a traditional garden until I brought my design partner and Landscape Architect, Steve Woods into the picture.  Steve took all our elements, and designed a modern,clean, simple space with waves of bold colors.  It was important to Steve to integrate the existing bronze sculpture into the plan. He did this by adding a tree at the top of a small hill so it would appear that the sculpture of the girl was peering into it.

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I found my tree and plant material on a snowy cold March day at the wholesale nursery.  It felt great to be inside the colorful, oxygen rich greenhouse.

6PM the Mall closed and the team transported the delicate plant material, two yards of loam, water features and supplies through the unusually cold temps and into the mall.

 The center court is prepped and ready to go!

 The center court is prepped and ready to go!

After we prepping the entire area, I brought in my friends from TMturfscapes.com.  It was too early to install sod, and I really wanted to showcase Turfscapes amazing products.  They sell a variety of artificial turf that actually looks like a real lawn.  I told them I wanted my personal favorite, the product with the "dead" pieces of grass woven in!  Some backyards are just too shady to grow grass.  Turfscapes can install this product on roofs, decks, patios and lawns and it looks green and great all year long!

8PM, Ken Dietz working with the Tom Molton from TMturfscapes.com

8PM, Ken Dietz working with the Tom Molton from TMturfscapes.com

Finishing touches on the lawn.

Finishing touches on the lawn.

Next, we wired silk dogwood flowers into the Crepe Myrtle tree and added clear Edison bulbs. The combination of live plant and silks produced a convincing "blooming" tree!

Ken Dietz and Elaine Shannon wiring the tree.

Ken Dietz and Elaine Shannon wiring the tree.

Now it was time to add all the plant material and set the water features.

In progress... Elaine Shannon, Pepe Diego, and Faith Michaels. 

In progress... Elaine Shannon, Pepe Diego, and Faith Michaels. 

Just past one in the morning the project is completed.

When the Mall opened in the morning, It was fun to watch the public enjoy this burst of spring we have all been starved for! Here's a garden lover bringing some images home!

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MODERN TOUCH FINISHED by Faith Michaels

What once was a hard to negotiate flagstone walkway, is now a modern pathway to the front door.  Luiz and Lucas built over 60' of bluestone landings and steps to gently climb the very steep incline.  Once the vegetation, plantings and lighting goes in next year it will blend seamlessly with the historic "modern" 1950's home.  Best of all we beat the ground freeze!

Luiz is happy to finish the season!

Luiz is happy to finish the season!



MODERN TOUCH CONTINUED... by Faith Michaels

The team has been working seven days a week to install the 63' long walkway before the ground freezes and our masonry season is over.  We made a lot of progress and it's starting to look amazing!

 

Bluestone was turned on edge to tie the walkway to the home's modern roots.

Bluestone was turned on edge to tie the walkway to the home's modern roots.

Footings were built and the 7 bluestone treads installed.

Footings were built and the 7 bluestone treads installed.

Each stone has been handpicked for color and texture.

Each stone has been handpicked for color and texture.

Luiz places each stone with thought and care for the overall design.

Luiz places each stone with thought and care for the overall design.

Polymeric sand will be added to seal the joints. MORE TO COME!

Polymeric sand will be added to seal the joints. MORE TO COME!


MODERN TOUCH by Faith Michaels

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Back in the nineteen fifties, the time of the three martini lunch and Don Draper suiting, "Modern" homes were all the rage. Architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus movement, built his own modern home right here in Concord Massachusetts. His friend, Walter Bogner, Dean of the Harvard Architecture School designed this home in 1956 in the Modern style championed by Gropius.  Listed in the National Historic Registry, the home bears hallmarks of the Bauhaus movement.  The structure has an open floor plan with sleek fluid lines and soaring floor to ceiling windows that bring the outside in.  The only problem was that the home had not been lived in for almost twenty years and the outside had literally taken over.

THE BACKYARD!

THE BACKYARD!

The other pressing issue was that there was no really front walkway to the house.  Our clients wanted to be able to safely navigate the front walk in the coming winter. FF Landscape Architect, Steve Woods designed a walkway that moved closer to the house and reflected the angles of the building itself.

THE OLD "WALKWAY."

THE OLD "WALKWAY."

THE NEW PLAN

THE NEW PLAN

Luiz and Lucas went to work building steps to match the original bluestone landing and sourcing stone to match an existing wall and to use on the risers.

The work is well underway.  We will keep you posted!









BUNKER HILL MOMUMENT by Faith Michaels

OK, SO I DIDN'T MAKEOVER THE MONUMENT, BUT I DID SPEND A COUPLE OF HOURS ON FOUR WINDOW BOXES ON THE SECOND OLDEST HOME IN BOSTON.  IN THE SHADOW OF THE MONUMENT, I MET A PARADE OF TOURISTS FROM TEXAS TO PARIS WHO COMPLEMENTED MY WORK AND MADE ME SMILE. OH-LA-LA!

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BLOW IT UP! FINI!!! by Faith Michaels

You may remember this cute little house with a weird front terrace and walkway.  Here is the "after" picture for your viewing pleasure...See what else we did on this Brookline makeover.

We added a new bluestone walkway and landing, sod and foundation plantings.  The window boxes added a colorful touch and trellis will be installed to balance the overhang.

The trellis has yet to be mounted in place, a climbing hydrangea will soon crawl up and cover the wood.

The trellis has yet to be mounted in place, a climbing hydrangea will soon crawl up and cover the wood.

We had assistance from the client's four year old daughter in making these beautiful window boxes.   

We had assistance from the client's four year old daughter in making these beautiful window boxes.

 

Winter color will last through the first few frosts.

Winter color will last through the first few frosts.

New bluestone steps with a natural fieldstone rise come from street level replacing the decrepit brick staircase.

The new sod lawn is a perfect place for their baby to crawl and learn to walk!

WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

THE DOWNSIZERS by Faith Michaels

I met a lovely Brookline couple who had recently sold their large home and downsized to a smaller space.  The described the beautiful garden and views from the old house and wanted to carve out a little oasis in the new.  Here's what it looked like when we arrived on the scene.

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It was overgrown and downright ugly.  The first thing we did was to tear out most of the plantings but kept those that provided some structure.  Next, we made a peastone ring with a cobble edge around the front crabapple.  This provided a perfect place for all the client's bird feeders and kept the seed in check.

We brought in some nice shade plantings of Huchera, Hosta, Astilbe and added some Red Twig Dogwood and Holly. Next on the agenda was to create a line of Rhododendron and Azalea as you enter the property.  We added Coneflower, Twist and Shout Pink Hydrangea and Seedum for summer and fall color. Last of all we added a beautiful Venus Dogwood that will display showy white flowers come spring.

Meanwhile, around back, Luiz and Lucas were tearing up the grass to install a new bluestone terrace.

 The only challenge was that the clients had brought a big load or irregular bluestone from their old house and old projects.  They wanted us to use as much as we could.  So, Luiz and Lucas set about to piece together a great big puzzle...

And here's the review from my wonderful client...

Dear Faith,                                                                                                                                                             You are making us so very happy.  The whole place is transformed!  Thank you and please thank your wonderful team so very much.  And wow, do I love the words “under budget” - the best.  

 

 

 

 

 

She wanted a home sweet home.... by Faith Michaels

A new client called me asking for help.  She lives with her son in a two family hidden away in Brookline Village.  The front of the house was full of weeds and sad looking.  I knew that in a few hours we could transform the front of her house to a sweet scene.

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We weeded and leveled the garden and installed some old pavers to create a space for a dining table.  We then added window boxes and hanging planters to bring some color in to the space.  Yes, it was quick-it was inexpensive- and she was thrilled...

"Dear Faithful Flowers,                                                                                                                   Thank you so much for your expertise, efficiency, and creativity!!!  Long held dreams and wishes came true for us because of you and your crew! For years, I have longed for window boxes, hanging baskets, and arrangements in potted plants. But I do not have the time, knowledge, or talent! My son and I have long wanted to eat outside - without sitting on the steps of the front stoop. You made all this happen in just one day.You created a lovely, peaceful outdoor eating space for us; our home just got bigger and lovelier thanks to you and your crew. You also did a great job of being respectful with my budget. It was so resourceful and brilliant to repurpose the pavers for the table! 

By the way, the very first thing my son said to me when he woke up this morning was: "Oh Mommy! I'm so excited about the outside of the Mommy Home!"
I imagine that what you and your crew did was simple because of your skill and talent; but what you did for our home was profound and will be celebrated and appreciated for years! 
Feel free to share the above content with your crew. They were so professional, so nice, and did such a GREAT job!

Awww we love it when clients feel this way!

 

BLOW IT UP! by Faith Michaels

Here's this sweet little converted ranch that had a recent interior and exterior makeover.  The new owners wanted to rid themselves of the 1950 style flagstone pathway and weird little terrace in the front.

Back in the 50's there must have been some guy who made a killing convincing homeowners in Brookline and Newton to go the flagstone route! What we didn't know is that whoever installed the terrace, poured concrete almost all the way to china.  Luiz had to jackhammer it all out and cart mounds of rubble off to the dump.

    

 

 

Next up clean and grade the front yard to prep for lawn and new plantings.  Follow the progress next week.  Just wait till we add planting beds, a grassy lawn and flower boxes!

 

Now that the walkway is out, Luiz begins work on the front landing and stairs.  Here's his progress....

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Hand cut fieldstone rise is installed.

Hand cut fieldstone rise is installed.

Bluestone treads.

Bluestone treads.

And a new beautiful landing.

And a new beautiful landing.


Now on to the walkway for the rest of the week.


SPOOKY NO MORE! by Faith Michaels

The walkway is finished and looks fab. Here's the before picture to remind you of the sad state of affairs...

The client requested a gently curving walkway leading guests to the front door.

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The stairs and landing were given a complete makeover.

All done!  For more photos of the garden and walkway of this project go to https://faith-michaels.squarespace.com/work-in-progress/2014/7/21/she-called-it-the-spooky-house

FAITHFUL FLOWERS FEATURED IN VESTIBULE MAGAZINE by Faith Michaels

It's a funny thing.  A client of mine texted me to say she liked the article featuring the Faithful Flowers landscape in this month's Vestibule magazine.  I had no idea what she was talking about until my copy came in the mail.  It seems they reused the article from Boston Homes magazine in which my client's Shay and Juliana were profiled.  I was lucky the first time to have photos included of the stunning backyard, when the home and oh-so-talented interior designers Ken Dietz and Misty Gray were the real stars of the spread.  It's nice that it's out there again and getting a second look see!



From Spooky to Splendid! by Faith Michaels

The client called the front of her house a bit "spooky."  We wanted to change all that with a warm inviting pathway and gardens leading to the front door.  Watch as the magic begins...

Here are some "before" photos of the home.  A cement walkway path leads to a crumbling landing.

The first order of business was to demo the landing and pathway (keeping the beautiful granite steps) and pull out the old ugly lights.  

Luiz and Lucas built a cobble cheek wall and began the granite apron.

Work begins on the landing.

It looks like it was always there!  Now on to the garden as Luiz works his way down the walkway.

BEFORE

BEFORE

Here's what the property looked like before.  Team Faithful Flowers removed old stumps, scraggily  bushes and the overgrown yew on the right.  We decided to keep a few important plantings like the three Spirea at the top, the Candytuft, Astilbe, and Bleeding heart.  We transplanted the Lilies and Hostas to other parts of the yard. The Japanese Maple was problematic.  It did not look at home there but we decided to leave it and see what it looked like in the new garden.  In the area where the yew was, we pulled out another garden bed stretching to the street.  That's the plan, wait till you see what's next!

 

So... First, we created a foundation of Rhododendron against the house. Behind those we installed a line of  White Annabelle Hydrangeas peeking their heads up over the rodys. We added more Astilbe, a punch of Foxglove and loads of blue Endless Summer Hydrangeas to bloom into late fall along with Stnecrop Seedum. The Japanese Maple finally began to look at home and find a place in the garden.

 

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White daisies bring light and cheer into spaces and the perennial geranium with its little purple flowers line the drive. Butterflies dive right in for a drink!



Up on the left side, we selected a beautiful dwarf Sargent Crabapple to bring more height to the garden and hide a concrete edge.  More photos to come of the new rose garden and Luiz's progress on the walkway.

Today, Luiz and Lucas laid the walkway outline and cobble edge. Then they set the granite stairs.

The pathway is starting to take shape.

It's a giant puzzle that only Luiz knows how to fit together!






The Doctor's Prescription by Faith Michaels

We began this project last season.  The family had recently moved in and the yard was a huge mess.  The front was hidden behind a partial large,old hedge and  the cobble driveway and concrete walkway were unsightly and a winter hazard. 

We began by demolishing the concrete walkway and carefully pulling up the antique cobble.  We regraded the area and installed a proper footing for the cobble driveway and relaid each stone.

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Next, we installed a bluestone walkway and rebuilt the stairs using bluestone and fieldstone.

e custom designed and built a railing inspired by the glass pattern in the old window.

e custom designed and built a railing inspired by the glass pattern in the old window.


 We tackled the front garden late in the season but the cruel winter took its toll as it did all over New England so we replanted this Spring.

Plantings hide a birdbath and bench for a little boy to discover!

Plantings hide a birdbath and bench for a little boy to discover!

The next job we tackled was the stairs and walls to the backyard that were falling down.

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Luiz took it all apart and then rebuilt it using some of the existing stone and adding new bluestone walkways with granite steps.

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Now for the fun part... THE BACKYARD! 

The clients wanted to keep the existing composite wall and courtyard, so our job was to make it look good.  The original owners had dug out the area and heaped yards of soil in the area behind the courtyard.  The result was a lumpy mess that began to rot the fence.

 

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Our first order of business was to selectively thin the trees, regrade the lawn area and repair, clean and paint the fence. Then we installed stone pathways, plant beds, trees and sod.

Blueberry bushes line the path which leads to the upper lawn and tomato plants.

Blueberry bushes line the path which leads to the upper lawn and tomato plants.

Arbor Vitae and Forsythia line the fence and add privacy from the neighbors.

Arbor Vitae and Forsythia line the fence and add privacy from the neighbors.

We rebuilt the deck, added privacy lattice and painted it the same color as the fence to tie it all together.

We rebuilt the deck, added privacy lattice and painted it the same color as the fence to tie it all together.

Project complete!

Project complete!



It's Friday, time for a beer! by Faith Michaels

A long week for the crew!  Working in the cold and rain. Planting in some pretty big trees.  The wall is coming along.  Next week we'll complete the upper portion, add a drip edge to keep water away from the house and plant beds.

Semi-Urban Yard continued... by Faith Michaels

Luiz has pretty much demolished the wall and unsightly flagstones.  Now onto installing beautiful granite steps and rebuilding the wall.  Notice how there is very little mortar showing even though it is a mortared wall.

LUIZ REBUILDS THE WALL   

LUIZ REBUILDS THE WALL

 

LOOKING GOOD!!!

LOOKING GOOD!!!

SEMI-URBAN YARD by Faith Michaels

We started to whip this yard into shape last year.  Lots of dead trees, mounds of dirt, ugly driveway and front stairs.  I'll post those before and afters soon, but what I have now is the progress on the back stairs.  The before pix shows a mishmash of stone and deteriorating walls.

Luiz is taking down the walls and installing sturdy granite stairs and bluestone landings.  We chose an old looking granite composed of greys and browns.  Once the stairs and walls are rebuilt we will fill in the beds with beautiful and lush plantings.  Stay tuned for more!

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Mass reality Article by Faith Michaels

Massreality.com recently interviewed me to learn more about the business.  Here's an excerpt from the article and a link to the complete story.

Choosing the Right Landscape Designer: An Interview with Faith Michaels of Faithful Flowers

In your opinion, what are three qualities that every landscape design firm should possess?

A good landscape firm must take pride in its work with every plant or stone chosen for a specific location and carefully installed. Listening to clients needs and being flexible to change direction or come up with multiple solutions. Customer satisfaction is extremely important as well as building client trust and confidence.

If you could describe your ideal client/designer relationship, what would it be and why?

The ideal client trusts me to deliver exactly what he/she envisions their landscape environment to be. I do my best work when clients describe to me what they are looking for and tell me to go for it. That's how artists do their best work.

As a landscape design firm, how do you make sure you're understanding of what your client wants?

The proof is in the pudding, or rather the planting. We have a lot of conversations, sample and design review before a plant or stone goes in the ground.

What are at least three questions every homeowner should ask their home designer before hiring them?

How do you come up with your pricing and are you flexible?
Will my job be finished on an agreed upon timeline?
Will I be the only client you will be working with or are you on other job sites? If not, how will this affect my project?

What is your philosophy behind creating dynamic, yet functional spaces throughout the landscape?

I think it's important to understand the environment you are working in and how the client wants to use it. We are actually creating outdoor rooms for people to move through and enjoy. One has to keep in mind how the space will develop years from the installation and the maintenance that will be required.

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