Minnesota, a MagnaView® Review, and Bonheur du Jour

Back from our Summer break. Celebrated Mom's 90th in St. Paul with a big family reunion, visited relatives, volunteered at the Minnesota State Fair, drove through the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum not because we are lazy but because it was high season for the Minnesota State Bird (aka mosquito), made the obligatory tour of Como Park, lunched at Cafe Latté and continued work on Sister's House.

The view of sister's late Summer garden

from the bonheur du jour (I'll get to this later)

makes writing Thank You notes a pleasant task.

 Whoever designed this card had me pegged: a dog sitting on a pink Louis 16 settee.  

My sister's 1926 (same age as Mom) Craftsman style cottage is surrounded by garden -- no turf. Prairie grasses, wildflowers, and perennials keep her urban oasis blooming Spring through Fall.

Preserving this charming garden view was first on the requirements list for the new window coverings. Privacy and light control tied for second.

We decided on HunterDouglas' MagnaView® aluminum blinds. The slats nest together giving four inches of clear view of the garden. They close completely for privacy, light control, or somewhere in between. (Please pardon that there is no space between We and decided. Every time I try to correct it the entire sentence disappears.)

The brushed finish gives a soft glow in the evening.

The valance, bottom rail and tilter are real wood. Just enough to dress up these 2" aluminum blinds for use in the home and banish any whiff of an 80s mini blind.

MagnaView® is an excellent option when we want a clean, unfussy look that preserves the view and does not look like it belongs in an office. The pictures taken with my new Samsung phone don't really do them justice.

Would I do MagnaView  aluminum blinds again? Yes! If they fit the style and needs of my client.

Now about that bonheur du jour (baw nair do zhoor). Another French furniture form easier to look at than pronounce.

Meaning 'happiness of the day', a bonheur du jour is a small but delicate lady's writing desk introduced in 1760s France and quickly became wildly popular.

I found my sister's bonheur du jour in a consignment store we stopped in to look at dress shirts, of course.

Sister's bonheur du jour is decidedly English in style, not French. And would have been called, quite sensibly, 'a lady's writing desk' had it been made in England.

But Minnesota is filled with French influence and so sister's new antique desk will forever be a bonheur du jour. Minnesota's motto is L'Étoile du Nord. My dad's favorite fishing lake was Mille Lacs. Streets, parks, avenues, and a County are named after Louis Hennepin, French explorer. We ate at Cafe Latté at least once a week when we lived in St. Paul.

I am imbued with bonheur when sitting at it. The Cat, normally quite vocal, said nothing and I took this as a sign of her agreement.

Hope you are enjoying the transition to Autumn.

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

P.S. the holidays are closer than we think. If you want/need any decorating, now is not too soon to call your designer.


Garden Conservancy Open Days

I interrupt our summer break with a note on a weekend activity that is completely civilized, highly enjoyable and free (mostly) of discussions on current events.

Tour Private Gardens
courtesy of the
Garden Conservancy Open Days Program

Is there a better way to spend a high summer's afternoon?

Follow a meandering garden path

and gaze at the garden's envy-inducing home?

Why, yes. I love a Maine coast cliff walk followed by a lobster roll and a glass of chilly white. When that option is not on the table, I will happily tour a private garden.

The west end of the garden on Garvin Hill.

Pink hydrangea!

Across the US and all summer long, the Garden Conservancy invites the public to view America's best private gardens. I am looking forward to several Boston area gardens this weekend.

Click 2016 Open Days for the national schedule, there is sure to be one near you.

Private gardens are works of love, and in some cases, decades of care, like the Hunnewell in Wellesley. Open this Saturday for the first time, four generations of Hunnewells have stewarded this estate garden. It is supposed to have the best topiary north of Ladew Gardens. 

It looked like this in 1909.

Click this link for info on visiting The Hunnewell Gardens.
Photo via The Garden Conservancy site.

The homes these gardens adorn are not on the tour, but some are architectural gems well worth seeing, if only from the exterior. So if you are interested in design, architectural and landscape, these garden tours are an exceptional opportunity.

Like last summer's tour of the garden on Garvin Hill in Chichester, NH., a hilltop compound home to a multi-generational clan. Except for the above of Hunnewell and the one below of Bonair, all pics in this post are of Garvin Hill and taken by the author.

The elder generation lives in the historic main house, built in the early 1800s.

The front of the property is all turf, which at first was a little disconcerting (what, no garden?). Until we realized this is the view from the front walk. Holy Cow! The gardener (homeowner) told us Mt. Washington is visible on clear days. No question then as to why the gardens are in the rear.

There is an idyllic expanse of green between the main house and

I wonder how old these trees are? What a fabulous setting for afternoon tea. Or a picnic.
The white structure on the left is an addition to the main house done in the early 1900s.

the pool house.

The next generations live in a modern home on the far side of the pool house, as seen here from the garden.

The extensive gardens in the rear stretch all across the property.

It was a privilege to tour The Garvin Hill garden. Well worth the drive up to New Hampshire.

Our plan for this Saturday is to tour Hunnewell first since it's never been open before. If I avoid a meltdown (the forecast is in the 90s and humid, of course) we will continue on to

Photo via The Garden Conservancy site.

Bonair, a five-acre Italianate garden in Sherborn.

Of course, not everyone is a garden enthusiast crazy enough to venture out in the midday sun. But I'm sure you'll have a great weekend anyway!

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan