Visiting The Real Housewives of New York (RHONY) Dorinda Medley’s home, Blue Stone Manor, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Dorinda Medley and me in her Living Room at Blue Stone Manor, on the day of the Lenox Garden Club Tour.

Garden tour patrons approaching the front door of the mansion.

On July 15, 2017 The Lenox Garden Club held its biennial garden tour, and one of the show-stopping properties visited was Blue Stone Manor. Blue Stone Manor is the country home of Dorinda Medley who is a reality TV star on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City. Dorinda and four other property owners were kind enough, to open their gorgeous homes and spectacular grounds, for the day, as a fundraiser for The Lenox Garden Club. People from far and wide traveled to Great Barrington, Massachusetts for the “sold out” tour. This blog post shows some of the well-appointed rooms and grounds at Blue Stone Manor, decorated by the super tasteful, effervescent and charming Dorinda Medley. Continue reading

Posted in Garden Visits (Road Trips), The Summer Garden | 10 Comments

Fireplace Safety, Using a Fireplace for the first time, and Tips for Stacking wood to make, what I think is, a Picture Perfect Fire

How to use a fireplace for the first time, and Fireplace tools I recommend having

A fireplace is not a toy, and operating one should be taken very seriously. When you start a fire in your fireplace you are working with something that can look quite beautiful, but, at the same time you are facing wood that is burning at a high temperature and that is giving off carbon monoxide gasses, which if not properly vented could be deadly.

If you are new to owning/having a fireplace, it is of the utmost importance that you know how to properly open your fireplace’s damper, and how to start the draft going, before you ever start a fire. Continue reading

Posted in How-to, Interior Decorating Principles | 21 Comments

Full Overlay, or Partial Overlay on Kitchen Cabinets, the choice is Yours.

Full Overlay Doors and Drawers on Kitchen Cabinets.

If you are building a new house, or remodeling a kitchen, bath, possibly a study-home office or even a dressing room, choosing cabinets for those spaces will be something that you will be doing.  For most people, the two cabinet door types that they will be looking at will be either Full Overlay or Partial Overlay.  This post looks at the difference between the two style options. Continue reading

Posted in Interior Decorating Principles, Kitchen | 4 Comments

Knobs, Pulls or Both on Kitchen Cabinets

Using all Knobs on Kitchen Cabinets.

If you’re getting ready to build a new home, or remodel a kitchen, one of the many things that you will have to think about is the hardware that you will be having on your kitchen cabinets. Pulls and knobs are the jewelry of the kitchen and selecting the right ones can really make a difference. This blog post covers different things to think about when making your selection. Continue reading

Posted in Interior Decorating Principles, Kitchen | 8 Comments

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Fred Gonsowski Garden

The topiary bear, that I’ve grown from a Conical Yew, seen on my front lawn, here at Whimsey Hill House.

A topiary chicken, flanked by a pair of upright yews with lollipop tops, lit for the Christmas period, here at Whimsey Hill House.

Wishing You and Yours health, wealth and happiness during the Christmas period and in the New Year.

If you’ve wondered where I’ve been, well, I’ve been busy with my garden and have had workmen here sprucing up the house a bit, and one new project leads to another. Like, when I had a new sidewalk poured, the project for me that followed, was to then regrade and landscape the area that was torn up during the sidewalk construction. Or after they installed a few new windows and cut through the old sheet-rock, leaving dust, dirt and debris, that even after being swept and vacuumed up, still gave me the chore of washing my hardwood floors, throughout the whole house, on my hands and knees with Murphy’s Oil Soap. You get the picture. It’s not just about paying for something and you’re done. It’s about cleaning up the mess the workmen leave, no matter how good of a job they do.

If you want to take a look at what I might be doing, here and there, when I’m not doing chores, look at the new Instagram that I’ve started . I wanted to start it because I could show you a part of my life that I can’t show in a blog post. It’s kind of quick to do, and with it I can show you images of things that I like, seem to attract me, or even photos of myself.

The two photos that make up the cover pictures for this blog article, are of the topiary bear and chicken that are here at Whimsey Hill House on my front lawn, that I’ve lit for Christmas.

I do hope, that when things settle down for me, I will again have time to write posts that hopefully will inspire. Until then, Wishing you the Best in 2019!

Posted in CHRISTMAS / Easter | 7 Comments

A look at the Coaching Weekend in the Berkshires

The Coaches coming through the main gate at Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount during the Berkshire Coaching Weekend.

One of the visual high-points of the Columbus Day Weekend in Lenox and Stockbridge, which are located in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, other than the gorgeous Fall foliage, is the sighting of road coaches traveling through those towns and on country roads that connect them.

The Berkshires, also known as the Inland Newport, as in Newport, Rhode Island, was a place during the Gilded Age (1870 to about 1900) where fabulously successful men from places like New York City, Boston and other locations, and their families built opulent country homes, that they called “cottages”. People with surnames like Vanderbilt, Astor, Fields, Morgan, Carnegie and Westinghouse, among others, erected great estates where they emulated the lives of European aristocrats for just a few weeks each year. One of the hobbies of those “Summer Colonists” was driving coaches and carriages.

This year, for the ninth time, members of the New York Coaching Club and Four-in-Hand Club of America came together for three days of “drives” reenacting the glorious days of the Gilded Age that have long gone by.

All three days of the coaching weekend started out at the hosts of the event, Harvey and Mary Stokes Waller’s Orleton Farm in Stockbridge and the drives proceeded out from there.

The first day of driving brought the coaches to Elm Court, built by William Douglas Sloane and his wife Emily Thorn Vanderbilt in 1885. Their Berkshire cottage was designed by Peabody and Stearns and has 106 rooms. Elm Court is the largest Shingle Style house in the United States, and is done in the Tudor Revival Style.

The second day of coaching brought “Whips” drivers of the coaches and their guests through the picturesque village of Stockbridge, home of the famous artist/illustrator of Saturday Evening Post covers Norman Rockwell, and they proceeded to a private estate where they had lunch.

On the third day of the coaching event they drove to the home of Edith Wharton. Edith Wharton (1-24-1862 through 8-11-1937) was an American novelist, short story writer, playwright and designer. She is best known for her books The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome and her book which revolutionized interior decorating opinions from Victorian standards of design to what we think of as correct today, The Decorating of Houses, which she co-authored with Ogden Codman. The photos for this blog post were taken at The Mount. Continue reading

Posted in Garden Visits (Road Trips), The Autumn(Fall) Garden | 8 Comments

Visiting Bunny Williams and John Rosselli’s Garden in Falls Village, Connecticut

The front facade of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli’s Falls Village, Connecticut retreat, which was the subject of Bunny’s iconic coffee table book “An AFFAIR with a HOUSE“, where she covers the decorating of the house and other buildings and the laying out of the gardens.

Bunny signing my copy of her book, “Bunny Williams’ Point of View, Three Decades of Decorating Elegant and Comfortable Houses”, that I had brought from home.

One of the high-points of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program is a visit to Bunny Williams and her husband John Rosselli’s estate called “The Manor” in Falls Village, Connecticut. Bunny and John are both famous for being “Taste Makers”.  Bunny is a nationally known interior decorator whose work has been seen in every interior decorating magazine imaginable, an author of books about interior decorating and gardening,  and she also designs furniture and all kinds of decorative home accessories.  John is the owner of John Rosselli and Associates with showrooms in New York City, Washington, DC, Dania Beach, FL and Chicago, IL.  He specializes in fabric, wall covering, leather, furniture, lighting, antiques & accessories and rugs.

On a recent Saturday in July, the couple cordially invited garden lovers from far and wide to see what’s new and wonderful at their north-west Connecticut weekend retreat which has been featured, over the years, in many books about living with style.  So come along as I give you a little tour of their wonderful place. Continue reading

Posted in Garden Visits (Road Trips), The Summer Garden | 9 Comments

Outlining (Edging) a Vegetable or Flower Garden with Brick

One of my many projects that I’ve so far tackled this Spring was the redesign and outlining of my vegetable garden in brick. For years, I just had the planting spaces surrounded by black plastic edging, but finally it had come a time for a visual upgrade and this post shows how I did it. Continue reading

Posted in Fred's Garden at Whimsey Hill House, Garden Design Principles, The Autumn(Fall) Garden, The Spring Garden, The Summer Garden | 17 Comments

A look at the 2018 end of June garden, here at Whimsey Hill House

Over the years I’ve given my readers a photographic tour of my garden, showing them what it looked like at its peak, which occurs somewhere in the middle-end of July when most of the Summer blooming perennials and annuals are at their best. For this post I’m showing you what it looks like right now, in June, after I’ve so far, by myself, hand dug into the dirt (I’m not calling it soil because it’s just too worn out) twenty four 3.8 cubic feet bales of sphagnum peat moss to amend it.

I did not amend every square inch of the garden, just the spaces where I plant annuals, because for the last two years things started to not grow that well.  It was time to do this labor intensive project, because while working the peat moss into the ground I rarely saw a worm and the sphagnum moss that I initially worked into the ground years ago had disappeared leaving just the gravely-sandy dirt that I started with.

Twenty four bales was just enough to do the front garden, my newly designed vegetable garden (which will be shown in the next post)  and a new space where I’ve decided to plant the dahlias that I keep from year to year.  So let’s start the tour… Continue reading

Posted in Fred's Garden at Whimsey Hill House, Roses, Peonies, Tulips, etc, The Summer Garden | 23 Comments

Line porous terracotta pots with tall kitchen trash bags before planting to prevent plants from drying out too quickly

Each Spring, besides planting many annuals in the garden that I grow from seed or buy at local garden centers, I also put out quite an assortment of plants in containers that I display on my deck and patio, by the pool, along the side of my house, by my front door and even by my mailbox. Over the years I’ve amassed a collection of planting vessels that run the gambit from terracotta, to metal, to ceramic and plastic. Most of my planting containers I can just fill with soil from the garden and plant away, but I have a couple of, not inexpensive pots that are made of porous terracotta that seems to pull the moisture from the potting soil, which makes the plants dry out quickly. To remedy that moisture-wicking situation I line the pots with plastic cut from tall kitchen trash bags before adding my plants, which easily remedies the problem. This post is a quick pictorial showing how easy it is to do. Continue reading

Posted in The Spring Garden | 4 Comments

Fred Gonsowski Garden has passed the THREE MILLION point for Page Views/Articles Read

Fred Gonsowski in the “Studio” at Bunny Williams and John Rosselli’s Falls Village. Connecticut estate.

A photo of the Insight screen on my WordPress dashboard showing the 3,014,775 Page Views/Articles Read by the 1,798,798 visitors viewing this blog.

Dash board close-up.

Recently my blog Fred Gonsowski Garden Home passed the Three Million point for page views/articles read, and in a way I think that was a great accomplishment.  As with all things, it wasn’t just about my writing and illustrations, but about the many people who, hundreds of thousands of times,  posted my articles on their Pinterest sites, the San Francisco Chronicle, BuzzFeed, eHow and Red Book who used my articles as references or resources for their pieces, which gave me some extra attention, the people who linked my website with the articles that they were writing and the many people who just told their friends to look at what I was doing. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

Arranging furniture in an 11 foot 6 inch by 11 foot 6 inch section of a 13 foot 8 inches wide by 18 foot long Living Room

Recently one of the readers of this blog named Joy asked for my help with the arranging of furniture in her living room, which is open to her kitchen and dining area.  Joy has downsized from a larger house to a smaller space and arranging furniture in her new, somewhat open concept, home has become a bit of a challenge.   Joy’s dilemma became the starting point for this blog post.  I’ve come up with eight possible layouts that she might want to try; hopefully one or more will be to Joy’s liking. Continue reading

Posted in Arranging Living Room Furniture, Interior Decorating Principles | 10 Comments