The Glass Hotel

Murano Lobby Longboats Lobby LongboatThe Hotel Murano in Tacoma could also be called the Glass Hotel, dedicated as it is to showcasing the work of over 45 international glass artists. From the street to every floor, beautiful works of studio glass shine. These are glass long boats by a Danish artist, hanging over the lobby.

 Dante Marioni (2) Dante Marioni 14th floorEach floor showcases a different artist. Glass panels show the artist, a vitrine shows pieces of their glass, and the hallways display photos of their working process.  On the 14th floor, these brilliant yellow sculptural pieces were created by Dante Marioni.

 Miriam di FioreOn another floor the artist is Miriam di Fiore, born in Buenos Aires, but living in Italy. Her work is collected around the world.

 Hotel Murano Lobbydetail of central sculpture closeup of glassesThis enchanting sculptural piece is in a lobby vitrine. The figures show the art of glass blowing. The glasses each have their own glass blowing figures. These whimsical and delicate figures also decorate the elaborate glasses. I’m sure no one has ever served white or red in them!!

Murano Lobby Deck of CardsThese large glass ‘playing card’ wall plates called “Oakland Deck” were created by Therman Staton, There was an larger installation of a dozen of them on another floor.

 Murano Lobby QuagliataDreamer #1 by Narcissus Quagliata, b. Rome, now living in Mexico.

 Dale Chihuly Macchiata series, 1984Dale Chihuly, Macchiata Series, 1984 2Of course the star of the hotel collection is native born son, Dale Chihuly. The two pieces above are from his Macchia series from the 1980’s. They were named by his friend and collaborator, Italo Scanga, from the Italian word for spotted.   Lots more of this work next time.


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A Garden Retreat for Miss Choate

Naumkeag the terrace and south lawnNaumkeag in Stockbridge MA was built in 1886-7 for Joseph Choate as a summer retreat from New York City. This lovely home was designed in Shingle Style by Stanford White, of the prestigious firm of McKim, Mead and White.

 Looking back at the HouseThe Choate’s daughter, Mabel, began working on the grounds after her father’s death, and she had the perspicacity to hire the young landscape architect Fletcher Steele to design new gardens for the house.  She was a member of the Lenox Garden Club and went on the famous GCA trip to the Far East in the 1930’s.

 The famous Blue StepsThe Blue Steps are Naumkeag’s and Fletcher Steele’s most iconic design/image.  This gracefully descending set of steps traverse the 28’ drop from the upper house and garden down to Miss Choate’s cutting gardens. Gravity fed water trickles down through the arches, while on a day like this, the fluttering birch leaves cast a dappled shade.

 MacMonnies statue looking SouthThe house looks south over the Berkshire Hills to the former homes of Mr. Choate’s law partners. The silhouetted statue of “Young Faun with a Heron” is by Frederick MacMonnies.

 Curves make curves More CurvesEverywhere you look in this masterful plan are curves which echo the curves of the surrounding hills and of the sloping landscape.

 Naumkeag The Afternoon GardenThe Afternoon Garden was installed in 1926. It is overlooked by the principal rooms of the house, and is shaded on warm afternoons. There are charming pictures of Miss Choate and Fletcher Steele hatching their garden plans over martinis on the terrace. They were real partners in crime and had no compunction about getting themselves in the thick of things.

 From the terrace looking EAstThis terrace is surrounded by brightly colored poles reminiscent of Venetian canal-side terraces with stone paving and a centerpiece of a boxwood lined parterre. This view looks down the East Lawn.

 East Lawn plantings and scholars rocksThe lawn slopes gently down to this scarlet ironwork structure with its marble plinth and what look to me like Chinese Scholar Rocks. The luxuriant dark plantings of Oxalis set off the stone.

The afternnon Terrace looking SouthMiss Choate, her gardener and Fletcher Steele worked on the garden for over 30 years until Mabel’s death in1958. She bequeathed it to The Trustees of Reservation, a Massachusetts Conservation Organization. In 2013, the TTR began a complete restoration of the garden, to be finished in 2016 with the restoration of the Chinese Garden to the west of the house. Until then, come visit, sit on the terrace with a cool drink and enjoy Miss Choate’s retreat as P.S. and I did last week!


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Dahlias on parade

Dahlia in DublinDahlias are another ‘Summer-only” flower that charms us and then leaves.  It is a most challenging flower to arrange as it’s look-at-me-attitude can over power designs.  In August, this brilliant peppermint striped dahlia was placed to completely steal the show with only the purple lights for competition.

Flower Frogs with DahliasRemember too, that I used golden dahlias to entertain the real estate brokers looking at my house.  These were floating in a stainless steel tray amongst the lead flower frogs.

 Dahlias at Campo de FioriThese spectacular blooms were glowing at Campo de Fiori last week when P. S. came to visit.  They have the luscious ombre effect of a beautiful chiffon dress.

BBG bi-colored Dahlia Dahlia TRio Miss G's Show StopperAt the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Flower Show called Rainwater….weather or not”, these diverse and lovely dahlias were exhibited to great acclaim.  My favorite is just above – a showstopper beautifully grown by Miss G!!

White DahliaAnother in the show was this almost pure white dahlia – is the slight plum blush at the center supposed to be there or not-wanted-at-all??????  I think it is very subtle and makes the white – well, whiter.

 Dahlia EleganceI am always seduced by red dahlias – these are among the most beautiful, EVER.

 Mixed DahliasThis summer’s crop seemed to be bigger and better than usual.


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