Breakfast in the Treetop Bistro

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.  ~John Gunther (American journalist & author)

This morning was a perfect moment – the air cool but not chilly, the sky a clear blue, and a light breeze bringing the fragrant scents of the garden up to the deck. I celebrated with a long lingering breakfast in the Treetop Bistro, the name for our upper deck.

The two decks along the back facing the woods were a big factor in choosing this house. The upper deck, reached by a spiral staircase, was where I originally planned the garden. The perfect place for morning coffee, it started out as a calm blue and cream place with wicker chairs, a birdbath, and some potted plants, and served its purpose well. 

But then two years ago, with a thunderous crash, a huge old oak fell on the house on a calm windless day, taking out the lower deck, part of the roof, part of the upper deck, and most of the furniture and pots.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the garden and decks were a construction zone all summer.

It seemed a good time to rethink the upper deck; I wanted to create a colorful hideaway for a cup of morning coffee or a glass of evening wine. Taking into account the dark brown house and the green wall of treetops, I settled on a mix of rose, coral, orange, gold, and dark red.

 The area rugs are actually woven vinyl, called Mad Mats, an inexpensive but attractive way to create the feel of an outdoor room, easy to hose down all summer and roll up to store for the winter. Brown outdoor paint pulled together a mish mash of furniture, a few pillows were added, and the “bistro” was born.

Not only did I want a certain color scheme that was warm and cheerful, I wanted the feel of a secluded bistro like so many I have visited in France, Italy, and Spain, tucked away in a side street and surrounded by old trees. Hayracks and pots holding flowers, herbs, lettuces, and tomatoes turned it into a lush kitchen garden as well.


The bench invites a quiet moment in the treetops.
Sometimes Angel Eyes takes a nap on the bench.
And breakfast? It was delicious!
Want to see what the plantings will look like by the end of summer?  See a slideshow from last September that includes some photos of the Treetop Bistro’s first season.
I had to delay the video deconstruction of “Breath” until a later date because of work on several projects; next week, I hope to premiere the second part of The Four Elements – “Light”.  Enjoy your weekend!

47 thoughts on “Breakfast in the Treetop Bistro

  1. Just getting caught up, and now more than ever I really want to pay a visit to your garden as well as your Treetop Bistro. It’s so beautiful. 🙂

    You are right about me having a reason to visit Pittsburgh. I’ll email you when we’re planning our next visit. We’re on our way to Lancaster County (to visit family) soon, but don’t think we’ll have time to stop in Pittsburgh on our way.

  2. That’s really lovely and SO inviting. You have a gift for putting together visually appealing areas!!
    I also have a very small deck on our second level just off our bedroom. And I’ve been trying to convince my hubby to put a spiral staircase in for years! I’ve tried many types of plants on our deck. It’s mostly in the sun and gets VERY hot, so nothing I’ve put up there becomes beautiful and lush; mostly it dries out, shrivels and dies. 🙂

    You’ve inspired me to give it another go. Since we had to get the lower yard in tip-top shape early for the party, I have all summer to plan what I want on the balcony. You’ve also inspired me to name the area something inviting.

    I’ll let you know if I was successful …

    • Paula, the secret to the plants? I use self-watering inserts in all of the pots, from Gardeners Supply. They keep water available at the root level and are easy to keep filled with a hose (similar to Earth Boxes). For the hayracks, I lined the coir liners with plastic cut from heavy duty black garbage bags, poked a few drainage holes in them, then treated the soil with a plant-friendly moisture granule additive (again from Gardeners Supply), so they last an entire hot day before they need to be watered again. That said, my peas are toast in this current heat, so I’m pulling the burnt remains and seeding more basil, my favorite fragrant/flavorful herb! So, it is a balance between plant choice and potting choice – hope this helps 🙂

      • P.S. I planted Agastache Apricot Sprite in the hayracks. They have never survived a winter here in the ground but did winter over in the hayracks, meaning that they are sensitive to winter drainage. So, agastache are GREAT plants for hot dry spots!

  3. what a beautiful place to start and end your day! I can see why you were tempted to buy the house. An old flat of mine in London had a raised deck and then a flight of steps down into the garden – a lovely view and one that I always enjoyed as I got tp see the garden from another angle. But your bistro looks so smart, and with your lush planting would be a real retreat. I’m off to lool at the slideshow and the link for the mats – we are re-doing part of our garden this year, and you have given me an idea!

    • Thanks, Claire. I designed the lower garden from that view, and as you said, it is a different point of view, looking down instead of across. The Mad Mats are great, 95% recycled materials and I think (but am not certain) that they are made in a Fair Trade workshop. I hope they are available in England; they are a great buy and eco-friendly too! The colors really are that bright and the designs are as intricate as traditional woven rugs. Hope your new garden idea works out!

  4. What a wonderful a oasis. I bet friends like to spend time with you here! Your gardening and style really shows in this “bistro” –like an outdoor spa..without water. I have 2 cement balconies which I haven’t gotten around to doing anything because I’m not a gardener and it can get windy where we are.

    • Thanks, Jean! I like that image of an outdoor spa with water. Even on a cement balcony, if you didn’t want to do the plants, you could make a nice little space for yourself with a Mad Mat rug and a bistro table and chairs, maybe some wind chimes, mobiles, a little fountain,etc. – use the wind to your advantage 🙂

  5. Your bistro looks like a terrific place to spend time relaxing, Lynn.

    About 20 years ago, my mother had an addition put on her starter home-sized house in the Chicago area, and she was talked into having a modest raised (i.e. second story height) deck built as part of it. My mother notorious for second guessing herself, but, to this day, she describes the decision to have that deck–which overlooks a back yard shaded by numerous mature maples and oaks–as one of the best decisions she’s ever made. She’s out there just about every day in decent weather.

    Your pictures and descriptions put this thought in my mind. Thanks.

    • Kerry, thanks for commenting and the story of your mother. I was an avid tree climber as a kid and spent a lot of each summer in the branches of trees. Can’t do that now, so this is the next best thing, being up at eye level with the branches and seeing all of the life going on in there. Sounds like your mother did make a great decision!

  6. Lynn, heard a comment on the radio the other day that Monet was good because of his gardern. Looks like that comment also applies to you and your talents in many areas! Graham

    • Thanks, Graham – I heard that show too! I love Monet as both a painter and a gardener, and would love to visit Giverny some day. I frequently visit The Carnegie to see the waterlilies painting there. Maybe I will get to the Bronx this summer to see NYBG’s recreation of Giverny. Here’s a link to the story on NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/07/154007039/monets-green-thumb-how-art-grew-from-a-garden And here is the final quote from the story – “The gardens and the paintings were so inextricably wound in Monet’s life and his work and his mind,” Tucker says, “[that] the gardens themselves become like a living work of art — like a still life.”

  7. Outstanding space for breakfast, wine, and general retreat! DId the tree fall when the leftovers from the hurricane came through several years ago? We had a very large tree take a bit from our enclosure during that storm. Fortunately, avoiding the main part of the house.

    • Thanks, Frank, it really is a great place for summer leisure. The tree was rotted at the base right below ground level, though there was no sign of that before it fell. Two other trees in the neighborhood fell later in the summer from the same cause. My guess is that it was the previous severe winter with 4′ snowfalls that packed around the trees and waterlogged the soil. Our tree fell on a windless mild day in May; I wasn’t home or I would have been in the garden; my husband was in the basement and thought a plane had crashed into the house! Two years later, I’m still finding wood shrapnel in the garden beds from the explosion of tree meets house.

  8. Lynn:

    Just a note to let you know I’ve enjoyed reading this blog entry. It seems to be such a peaceful place to sit, relax, think and enjoy life as it comes along. Hope all is well with you and yours! Take care and enjoy all there is to enjoy!

    gene

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