Interview with Annika Zetterman

DESIGNER INTERVIEW, GARDEN DESIGN, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Interview with Annika Zetterman, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

My last post featured a review of New Nordic Gardens: Scandinavian Landscape Design by Annika Zetterman. I am excited for her book because she has great style and provides a comprehensive foundation of Scandinavian Gardens. Annika was amazing to answer a few of my questions for Thinking Outside the Boxwood, about her favorite products and Nordic plants, restaurants and gems. Her shared sources are like getting a personal tour with Annika, seeing the best shops – coolest restaurants and best nurseries. Thank you Annika for all your answers, and check out her book. Amazon only had 3 copies left (more on their way) the last I checked so act fast, I promise you will enjoy the book. (I have included links to all the locations Annika mentions, and I highly recommend you click through and check out the products or locations, since most translate to English or at least have instagram accounts you can follow for inspiration)



ANDO, a beautiful book by an incredible architect, which a very good friend gave to me, hence even more special.



While most Scandinavians love coffee ( top consumption per capita in the world) tea is my choice, having lived in the UK for many years. Herbal teas is a current favorite, such as “Detox” by Pukka.


I love exciting buildings, sometimes more than the exhibitions. The New Design Museum in London is amazing and so is Tate Modern and Getty Center in LA as well as the former railway station in Paris, Musée d’Orsay.



Stockholm and Sydney, beautifully situated on waters. London, which still feels like a second home, where I lived nearly 10 years.



Favorite Gardens to Visit:


Lundhags, old company in Scandinavia, making classic, durable, cool boots



Felco nr 9, as I am left handed



Tape measure, pencil and drawing pad.



Ferns, due to the architectural appearance yet the lightness they possess.



Hostas that come in many different sizes and colours can look stunning combined. Acer Platanoides and Drummondii is a fascinating variegated tree.



There are plenty, but if I have to pick one, I would say birch trees



Miscanthus and Calamagrostis with sturdiness lasting a very long time and coping with our weather conditions.



ICEHOTEL For a once if a lifetime experience, and a fun adventure, the Icehotel where you will have the chance to see the northern lights (Aurora Borealis) or experience the midnight sun too!



In a region where culinary is on a height, there are heaps. From award winning restaurants like Fäviken, Esperanto and Frantzén to local and seasonal specialities that you find in every corner of the region. If in Stochkolm, perhaps go for a vegetarian choice and culinary experience with amazing views over Stockholm at Fotografiska, or enjoy a relaxing brunch at Café Saturnus or Greasy Spoon. Try vivid coctails at an old pharmacy (first opened on 1575) in Old town in Stockholm, pharmarium.

(Annika also provided a link to a BUZZ FEED article with Scandinavian restaurants with delicately beautiful prepared meals. HERE.)





  • Löddeköpinge plantskola – My personal favourite nursery/garden centre in Sweden, located in southern Sweden, always inspiring and tranquil.
  • Slottsträdgården Ulriksdal just outside Stockholm is a lovely nursery /garden centre with a wide range of plants and products. During harvest season you can pick your own flowers, herbs and veggies to buy. The café serves a delisious vegerarian buffet.






Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist

Green wall, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Back in February, I traveled to Cleveland to hear Patrick Blanc speak on the Science, Architecture and Design of Vertical Gardens. The Shaker Lakes Garden Club hosted the event in which Patrick spoke for a full two hours and shared hundreds of images and projects. Patrick is the person responsible for vertical gardening across the world, with the inspiration and foundation starting as a boy in love with aquariums and providing the best environment for fish. What I think is missing in a lot of main stream articles about Patrick is the fact he is a scientist first and foremost in botany and has spent a lifetime exploring the world studying and discovering new plant varieties. It is his vast knowledge and lifetime of passion and curiosity that as giving him the ability to be both the founder and maverick of the vertical gardening world.

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

A private residence in Seoul, features green walls in a motor court that engulfs visitors and blurs the lines of the space. The birch trees are striking against the green backdrop. One of my favorite projects he has completed.


When he explains the systems, it all seems so simple and straight forward, but again that because of his expansive knowledge and experience. His walls can have hundreds of different plant species woven together, however each plant and placement is made based on the individual sight specifications such as direct sunlight based on surrounding structures. The irrigation systems are rigged to deliver water based on the wall placement. Indoor locations get shorter more frequent watering compared to outdoor spaces. He is also very specific in the nutrients added to the watering system, knowing the balance of the plants needing only a bit of some nutrients. Finally, maintenance should just be watching the watering and periodic trimming back if following his directions.

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

(Posted information at the Shin-Yamaguchi Station in Japan showcasing the plants included (many native to the area), Patrick’s sketch for plant placement and the young plants of the wall to the left.)


Besides his ability to put is work into such simple terms to understand the basics of the system, is his ability to constantly be pushing what and where vertical gardens can be. Here are a few projects he shared that I enjoyed the most, but his website lists so many you should really explore.


His personal home, featuring a home office on a glass topped aquarium with green tendrils dripping down the walls, filled with frogs and birds. It is pretty magical in photos, can only imagine what it is like in person, especially in the evening with lighting in the aquarium. More photos of his residence are HERE)

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Blank walls seem to be the logical place for a vertical garden, but this project for a free-standing sculpture covered was an aha thought, you don’t need a building with a blank wall to go vertical. (More photos of the Spiral at Chaumont Sur Loire HERE).

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Another great example of thinking away from the empty wall, is this rainforest chandelier hanging down the center of a shopping mall in Bangkok.   (You can see more images of the project HERE)

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


All the images on the post are from Patrick’s site, so I highly recommend you check it out and explore. A great tool is the project MAP, you can see where all the projects are located, maybe in you area during your future travels.

A Thoughtful Gardener: An Intelligent Approach to Garden Design by Jinny Blom

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A Thoughtful Gardener: An Intelligent Approach to Garden Design by Jinny Blom, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

I have long been an admirer of Jinny Blom’s garden designs for the juxtaposition of feeling like they have always existed while being fresh and reflecting the current excitement in garden design. When she hinted at writing a book via Instagram early last year (@Jinny.Blom), I made a mental note to pre-order on Amazon. I am honored she accepted my request to review the book on Thinking Outside the Boxwood, and as a result got to read the book cover to cover before everyone else!


The short of the review is, YES you should buy this book. But here is why –


Gardening books typically fall into one of three categories; coffee Table/portfolio, DIY and Textbook/Plant geek. Generally a DIY book is not useful to the professional and a textbook/plant geek book can overwhelm a pleasure gardener or novice. The Thoughtful Garden falls into none of these categories.


Even though the book is filled with beautiful images worth studying and appreciating, this is not a coffee table book for thumbing through passively. The images are supporting figures for illustrating a thoughtful breakdown of her process for creating gardens that draw out the natural beauty with consideration to place, time and structure. Jinny pulls back the curtain to share her process with an honest dialogue, like her limited use of grasses or her love of Hybrid Tea roses.


A Thoughtful Gardener: An Intelligent Approach to Garden Design by Jinny Blom, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Jinny’s approach for creating a garden strongly highlights that gardens are more than just a collection of plants, with the first discussion on plant selection mentioned in chapter five. There is no chapter list to give the reader a cheat sheet to jump to a specific section, you need to read from beginning to end, for a gradual flow of the process woven between projects with time to pause between each topic to reflect before proceeding.


A Thoughtful Gardener: An Intelligent Approach to Garden Design by Jinny Blom, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


The process is littered with sage advice and practical tips that you could easily highlight and return to again and again. Some examples include:

  • Gardens used every day should be close to the house.
  • Posh path ways can meander, but practical routes should be direct.
  • Structure is the necessary corset of the garden
  • ‘First we must destroy’ – with the junk removed it is possible to really see the value in what is left.
  • The details make all the difference to the serenity and quality of the end project
  • Large gardens need division in order to give them intimacy


A Thoughtful Gardener: An Intelligent Approach to Garden Design by Jinny Blom, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

This quote towards the end of the book is the best recap of Jinny’s philosophy and what you will learn from The Thoughtful Gardener –

“My fundamental feeling is that it is the structure of the garden – its walls, surfaces, routes, views, water, structural planting such as trees and shrubbery, topiary and hedges – that ultimately counts.”


The book release date is next week on March 16,  so pre-order your copy from  Amazon and follow Jinny on Instagram. Once you get a copy of the book, please let me know what you think and how our thoughts compare. I will also report if there are any USA book tour dates announced for this year.