It was a crisp, beautiful autumn day - just perfect for a wedding at my Maine home on Mount Desert Island.
Last weekend, my gardener at Skylands, Mike Harding, married his fiancee, Christina. Mike asked me some time ago if he could have the wedding at my house. Mike has worked with me for more than 13-years, so I was delighted with the idea.
He and Christina planned a small and intimate event with their immediate families and closest friends. They also planned to do all the arrangements and preparations themselves - everything from cooking the food to making the table centerpieces. It was quite an undertaking, but the results were nothing short of beautiful. Enjoy these photos.
This garden is on the property of an old house I recently bought in Maine right near Skylands. It was the perfect venue for Mike’s wedding.
Mike gathered all the woodland elements for his centerpieces – sphagnum moss, pincushion moss, haircap moss, and reindeer moss. All these were, of course, returned to the woods after the ceremony. He also used willow branches. Mike said while preparing for the wedding, he utilized all the skills he’s learned working for me over the years – they came in very handy.
All the moss, branches and pink granite rocks and stones were placed in galvanized metal planter inserts we had not used for a long time.
Mike also used spruce branches to add more texture and height to the arrangements.
Each of the three centerpieces took about an hour to complete.
They look so beautiful with battery operated fairy lights weaved through the willow branches – one centerpiece for each of the three eight-foot long tables.
Mike also made an arbor out of a felled white cedar tree. The uprights are eight feet tall, and each of these cross bars is about two and half feet long.
He built it in a corner near the garden, so it would be easier to transport to the actual ceremony location.
The arbor weighed more than 100-pounds when it was complete. When it was time to move it, Mike screwed 2x4s on the front and back to use as supports. He didn’t want anything to happen to it during its 150-foot trip to the garden’s center.
Mike borrowed 24 teak chairs from the property, and carefully moved them from storage to the site.
Mike’s friend, Scott LaForge, helped set-up the chairs the evening before the wedding.
That day before the wedding was a little drizzly, but it didn’t last long, and preparations moved very smoothly.
The day of the wedding was perfect – low 60s, dry and sunny. Here is a simple yet beautiful setting overlooking Seal Harbor.
I had recently hosted a gathering in the carriage house of my stable, so it was already suited for a reception. Mike set-up the three tables to make one long one – I love this room with all the wonderful large windows looking out onto my vegetable and flower gardens.
This is a red maple tree that had to be cut down. Mike repurposed the top to decorate the reception space. He and Scott woke up very early on the day of the wedding and “planted” it in a bucket of pink granite pea stone.
Mike and Christina prepared this platter of bites. It included various cheeses, salami, fruit, blackberries, grapes, and nuts. Mike says they are still enjoying the leftovers.
The actual ceremony was casual and non-traditional. Christina’s children, Rylee and Dylan, served as maid of honor and best man.
The officient was Jennifer McWain. She is also the town clerk for the Northeast Harbor. Mike has known her for years and was thrilled to know she was available to perform the ceremony.
The couple planted an azalea in this vessel as part of the wedding.
They kept the rings on the azalea as they added soil to the pot. They then removed the rings and exchanged their personal vows.
Here is a lovely photo taken at the moment Mike and Christina became husband and wife.
Christina baked her own wedding cake – a classic white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Mike set up two planting boxes upside down for the cake platform. If you look closely, you can see part of one of my horse carriages on the right. It’s a Bar Harbor buckboard carriage. In the 1900s, these were designed for use by hotels as beach wagons during the holiday season.
Here are Mike, Christina and his parents, Bill and Betty – the first of many family pictures.
Each table sat eight. Christina found all the table setting pieces herself from shopping online and in local shops.
These are Mike’s longtime best friends – Art Gowie, Ryan Corliss, and Scott LaForge.
Here is Scott putting wood under the lobster cooker right outside the garden shop. On top is a large galvanized wash basin that can cook many lobsters at a time.
The table lights were turned on just before the wedding ceremony, so when everyone arrived at the carriage house, this is what all the guests saw first – a beautiful table lit up for the special occasion.
This photo was taken in the pagoda next to the overlook garden. Mike and Christina are looking out over Seal Harbor towards Little Cranberry Island. Christina also created her own bouquet out of dahlias and hydrangeas picked at Skylands.
Congratulations Mike and Christina – I wish you all the very best.
This month, we’re very busy preparing for our 5th annual American Made Summit! This super-successful, nationally recognized event honors makers, small-business owners, and creative entrepreneurs in the fields of crafts, design, food, and style. The Summit is your chance to learn from the nation's most influential innovators and business people. Listen-in on inspiring talks hosted by me and other well-known industry leaders; shop our wide and interesting vendor section, and taste delicious meals and snacks throughout the day!
American Made takes place on October 22nd at our headquarters in New York City. I hope to see you all there! In the meantime, I invited two of our past winners to join me on yesterday's special American Made Facebook LIVE. If you missed it, you can watch by clicking on "Facebook American Made". Enjoy these photos, and don't forget to click here to buy your tickets for American Made 2016!
This year’s 5th annual American Made Summit is just weeks away. If you are a small business owner or aspire to be one, don’t miss this – it’s a full day of keynote speeches, panel discussions and networking to help you and your business succeed.
I hosted a special American Made Facebook LIVE to promote this year’s event. We shot it in our Martha Stewart Living “Turkey Hill Kitchen” – it’s one of my favorite kitchens, and part of my collection at The Home Depot. http://www.homedepot.com/c/SPC_BRD_MSL_Kitchen
I spoke with Viraj Puri, co-founder and CEO of Gotham Greens. He was one of our 2015 honorees. Gotham Greens is an American urban agriculture company founded in Brooklyn, New York. It grows produce year-round in rooftop greenhouses, and is sold locally in New York City and Chicago. http://gothamgreens.com
The company focuses on bringing fresh, local and pesticide-free vegetables to urban areas using ecologically sustainable methods.
Viraj says American Made helped his company gain public exposure and investor interest over the past year. I am very proud of what our American Made initiative can do for young entrepreneurs and their small companies. Anyone trying to grow a business should attend – and there is still time to buy tickets!
When Gotham Greens started, it offered five types of packaged salad greens and herbs. Later harvests included tomatoes, baby kale, arugula, bok choy and Swiss chard – so many, many choices.
Almost half of all produce in the US is thrown out. Gotham Greens also helps fight food waste by packaging cosmetically imperfect, but perfectly delicious, produce! Ugly Greens are available at various Whole Foods markets.
I love Ugly Greens and suggested they would be great for lettuce soup.
My other guest is Christophe Pourny, an antiques restorer, and author of “The Furniture Bible”. http://christophepourny.com
This book is about two-years old and is so well written and put together. It is the definitive guide to maintaining and caring for anything made of wood.
The book includes an overview of Christophe’s favorite techniques with full-color step-by-step photographs so readers can easily follow along. Christophe has attended all our American Made Summits, successfully teaching visitors how to care for furniture without using harsh chemicals. He and co-founder Jason Jobson are 2015 Design finalists.
I’ve been using Christophe’s furniture products for years. Christophe showed us how easy it is to clean this antique mirror using organic furniture wax.
Using a paintbrush, Christophe applies a light layer of wax to the frame, and then just wipes it off.
The wax not only cleans the wood, but also gives it luster. One can notice the difference right away.
And look at the cloth used to wipe it – so much dirt!
This cutting board tonic uses citrus oil, rosemary oil and white vinegar to give cutting boards a nice clean finish.
This organic furniture wax clear paste is great for any colored wood piece. It cleans and revives.
One of our Facebook followers asked what she could use to help light colored wood cabinets in the kitchen. Christophe suggested his furniture tonic color reviver, which cleans as it revives – plus, it is great for rosewood.
Last year, we provided our Makers with a section specifically designated for shop vendors. Christophe sells many of his products at American Made.
Some of our past vendors include: custom state shaped cutting boards and cheese boards, plus muddlers, cake stands and other unique pieces from Heirloom. http://aheirloom.com
80 Acres of McEvoy Ranch was one of our 2015 finalists in Style. The body care products are handcrafted locally in small batch production and recycled packaging. The company strives to create luxurious, vitamin rich plant extracts and botanicals from all natural elements found near the McEvoy ranch. https://www.mcevoyranch.com/
Clark’s Botanicals, a line of organic, botanically based beauty products for the skin created by founder, Francesco Clark, a 2014 American Made Honoree. http://www.clarksbotanicals.com/
This year, aside from our many wonderful vendors, we are featuring notable speakers including Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” and co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”. You don’t want to miss his money tips!
My friend, author and chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, will also speak to our American Made attendees. http://www.geoffreyzakarian.com
“The Honest Company” Jessica Alba will talk about the making of her billion-dollar lifestyle company, and share some of her valuable stories. https://www.honest.com
“Innovation” is just one of the topics that will be discussed by Linda Boff, CMO of General Electric, a 125-year old “start-up company.”
Sarah Michelle Gellar, founder of “Foodstirs”, will also be there. https://foodstirs.com
And, our own chef, television host and author, Emeril Lagasse – hear his best tips for being a successful business owner. http://emerils.com
Last year, the audience filled our clerestory. Let’s do the same this year – American Made promises to provide guests with lots of ideas, inspirations and advice for growing a business.
To get your tickets for American Made 2016, please go to http://american-made.ticketbase.com/
My flock of peafowl is growing and thriving here at my Bedford, New York farm. I now have two adult peacocks, three adult peahens, and several peachicks.
Peafowl can add an exotic element to any farm, but caring for them is a huge responsibility. It is very important to me that all my animals get the best of care. And for the birds, this includes a safe place to roost - they like to be up high to see what is around them and to escape from predators if needed.
All my outdoor birds have access to natural perches made from old felled trees here at the farm. Recently, I had one moved and "planted" near the new peafowl coop. Here are some photos.
Earlier this summer, it was necessary to cut down a sycamore tree from its location in the southeast paddock. Fortunately, I was able to repurpose it and make a wonderful perch for my peafowl to use during the day.
Using a post hole digger, my outdoor grounds crew foreman, Chhiring Sherpa, digs a big hole for the tree next to the new peafowl coop.
He digs the hole about four to five feet deep, so it can safely secure the tall tree.
Using the post hole digger is not difficult, but it does take time, especially if there are a lot of rocks in the area. Chhiring raises the post-hole digger as high as possible, then drives the blades down into the soil, pulls outward on the handles to close the blades and lifts the excavated soil from the hole.
Using a tamping bar, Chhiring compacts the soil in the hole, so it is level.
The tree is already sitting nearby on the other side of the peafowl coop. Chhiring trims the bottom of the tree, so it sits level when placed into the hole.
The trusted Hi-Lo is brought in to lift the heavy tree. Chhiring secures a heavy duty strap to its trunk.
Driving the Hi-Lo, Pete slowly carries the tree across the field and to the new location.
The tree was maneuvered into position.
Pete carefully lifts the tree, and gently raises it over the newly dug hole.
The hole is pretty deep, but maybe it isn’t wide enough?
Not quite – the hole is a little too narrow and needs to be adjusted.
Using the post hole digger again, Chhiring digs the hole a little wider.
And then the tree is lowered into the hole. The most striking feature of the sycamore tree is the bark, which has a camouflage pattern of gray-brown. It peels off in patches to reveal the light gray or white wood beneath. Older trees often have solid, light gray trunks.
The Hi-Lo is also used to make the tree straight. A live sycamore tree can grow 75 to 100 feet tall, and even taller under ideal conditions. Our peafowl sycamore tree is about 30-feet tall.
Once it is level and straight, Pete and Chhiring backfill the hole with soil.
They walk on the soil to tamp it down.
Chhiring climbs half way up the tree to remove the strap and to make sure the tree is secure enough for the peafowl – it is important that the peafowl feel safe when roosting on its high branches.
Because the peahens have been raised here at the farm, they’re all accustomed to the various noises – they are very curious animals. It did not take long before they approached the area to see what was happening.
In the baby peafowl enclosure, they also ran to see what all the noise was.
This baby peacock even lifted its small covert tail feathers.
Pete cuts any branches that are too low, short or seemingly unsafe.
Peafowl are beautiful birds, but do not underestimate their power – they are extremely strong with very sharp spurs. They will perch on anything above ground to get a better view.
Full grown, peafowl can weigh up to 13-pounds, and peacocks with their majestic trains can reach body lengths of more than five feet. I’m so pleased my peafowl are healthy and happy at the farm.
Here is my three-year old Black Shoulder Pied peacock. He is the alpha male of our flock.
This is one of the two India Blue peahens. Both male and female peafowl have the fancy crest atop their heads called a corona.
The white four-year old Black Shoulder Silver Pied male also comes over to investigate.
Peafowl enjoy roosting at higher levels. In the wild, this keeps them safe from predators. My peafowl will love this tree.