Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Turning Over A New (Design) Leaf


While The Library blog is temporarily undergoing a tidy-up and quick refit (and The Librarian is finishing writing her books), I thought I'd post a little story to tide readers over until things get back to normal in a week or so. Also, if you've enjoyed The Library these past few months, then please consider listing it as part of your blogroll. It would be lovely to be included, and it would also really help me The Librarian know if it's worthwhile to continue devoting time to this site. I do hope you will support The Library – and of course do let The Library Assistant (pictured left) know if there's something you don't like. Unfortunately, she can't understand anything apart from "walk", "bone", "home" and "no", but that doesn't mean she won't try and listen to your complaints...


2012 may just be the year we all turn over a new leaf. Small leaves. Big leaves. Even grand, luscious, tropical palm leaves. The leaf motif has been in design fashion for almost a year now, with names such as Prada, Designers Guild, John Derian and Henry Holland taking it to new horticultural heights. But it's now set to become an even bigger trend – palm leaf big, in fact – as more and more of us fall in love with the glamorous, Hollywood-meets-Miami look of creating a statement piece with a gorgeously grand palm or fern.  Like most things, it started with fashion, when the tropical leaf motif was spotted in several collections last year, and it is now swiftly being adapted for interior design, architecture, books and even paper weights, as John Derian's exquisite designs illustrate. And of course it's still big in landscapes. Think of the gardens of Beverly Hills (including the Beverly Hills Hotel), Palm Springs and West Palm Beach. It's a classic, spectacular and sings of summer. Coming soon to a living room, courtyard, frock, cushion or handbag near you. Just add the chaise lounge, the cocktail and a coolly glam white caftan {Top image via Rob Ryan –} 

Leaves of class: A page from Living etc magazine, August 201.

Rock Paper Palm: A delightful paper weight from John Derian.

Palming it off (oh, I wish I'd bought one on sale!): Kate Spade's chic Verandah Place handbag.

Leaf loveliness: Vintage Moschino handbag. {Via Slim Paley's beautiful blog}

The Island of Palms: Lord Howe Island, Australia. The citizens of this tiny island have became extremely wealthy by exporting kentia palms to the rest of the world. Pictured above is the sublime hideaway, Capella Lodge, one of the most beautiful hotels in Australia, with one of the most beautiful views. {Via Capella Lodge}

The Book of Palms: Taschen's palm-weight tome. Coming in at a staggering 5 kilos, this spectacular book (I loved it so much I bought a copy in New York and dragged it back in my hand luggage) chronicles the research work of Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius (1794-1868), professor of Botany at the University of Munich and director of the Royal Botanic Garden, who was a world specialist on palm trees. His life was so linked to palms that he was carried to his grave in a coffin covered with fresh palm leaves. It's been described as an "unrivalled landmark in botanic illustration and taxonomy". A fabulous read.

Palm luxe: The Mooring Village hotel in the Florida Keys, 2010.

Palms in profile: Lord Howe Island, 2008.

Drama in a dining room: Monochromatic glamour from Ralph Lauren's Bel Air collection. {Via Ralph Lauren}

Out of Africa in LA: More colonial loveliness from Ralph Lauren Home.

Stylish symmetry in the tropics: The Viceroy Anguilla hotel. {Via Viceroy}

Baroque bathing: The sheer perfection of the pool at The Raleigh hotel, Miami. {Via Raleigh}

Musical palms: Frank Sinatra's former home, Twin Palms in Palm Springs. The piano-shaped pool (look at how the walkway was designed to create shadows that then became the piano keys) saw a lot of good times while Frank was here. {Via Beau Monde Villas and}

Love in LA: Beverly Hills, 2011.

Horticultural Extraordinariness: The Victorian Palm House at Kew Gardens in London. {Via and the lovely blog}

 Garden glamour: Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay photographed at Kew Garden's Palms House by Jason Bell for the August 2011 issue of Vogue UK . {Via Vogue and Style Court}

Superior planting scheme: The Palm Courtyard of Raffles Hotel, Singapore.

Palm prettiness: India Hicks and David Flint Wood's home in the Bahamas. {Via India Hicks' blog}

Palm print: Palm tree-print fabric by Lisa Fine textiles.

Sweet as a coconut: Cute cushions by Escape to Paradise Sanctuary.


  1. Good morning Janelle,
    Love !Love! 'The Library'.
    Please don't leave.

    Ciao, Maggie
    Canberra Australia

  2. Already on my blogroll! Your blog is informative, beautiful and inspiring (Yesterday, I went out and bought a black and white mat-maybe influential?).
    I'm having a wonderful time reading all the earlier posts.
    Good luck with the writing. Today I plan to purchase La Vie Parisienne, it's in stock at Folio Books, Brisbane.

  3. Good luck with the finishing off of your books. It sounds very painful!!
    Have you visited the Palm House in Adelaide's Botanic Gardens? A beautiful glass house circa 1870's that was brought out from Germany to grow palms (which wasn't needed - they clearly didn't understand the Australian climate back then!). It's the last surviving one in the world of its type - the others were destroyed during WW2.

  4. Thanks Maggie. And thanks Claire for adding The Library to your blogroll. The Assistant Librarian is grateful too.

    No, I didn't know about the Palm House in Adelaide's Botanic Gardens Heide? Thank you for that tip. I've ventured into the gardens (loved them), but only for a quick visit. Will have to put it on The List of things to see since we're often in Adelaide. (My partner is from there.) I love the architecture of garden spaces, such as conservatories, green houses, even potting sheds, and this sounds beautiful. Can't wait to see it.

  5. Don't you dare not keep this going! What would I do at night!!!!
    You know you are on my blogroll.
    We have 110 year old palms all the way down the middle of our street, I love them but alas so do the starlings!! At night they fly round and round then all seek their perch in the trees and then swap all the gossip from the day for about an hour very noisy...but rather delightful!!!!!
    Claire, One for the Road is also great!

  6. I remembered you saying he was from Adelaide, so thought you might visit a bit and the Palm House is lovely. Do you have an email? I couldn't find one on your sidebar - I wanted to email you about a private garden you might be interested in in Stirling when you're next visiting if you have time. It has a Bath House (A Victorian marble lined indoor pool in its own little sandstone house) which is quite unique, and a very large historic garden....

  7. Julienne, I wonder if they're date palms, which would be the kind that would be planted in an avenue like that in a drier climate? I adore date palms. So majestic, aren't they? Thanks for the support, as always. Janelle xx

    PS Claire, perhaps don't read One For The Road. It's a terrible book. Terrible. Very depressing! Can't imagine what the author was thinking...?!

  8. Actually I thoroughly enjoyed one for the road and your parents!!!!!!
    I giggled all the way through so Claire get it!!!!!!!!!

  9. Library of Design went on my blogroll as soon as I discovered you. Instant attraction.
    This blog is gorgeous and you must not there!

  10. Julienne thanks for the recommendation. I will keep a lookout for One For the Road. In the meantime, I have purchased my copy of La Vie Parisienne and will start reading tonight.
    On the subject of palm trees, today the body corporate has chopped down a large number of the palm trees that were part of the original plantings. Everyone else thinks it is marvellous, as it improves the view of the river. I think it is horrid - the trees provided shade,reduced glare and were part of the view. Yes such a middle class problem!

  11. Fabulous Janelle! We seem to be in tune with each other these days. I added a few of these pics on my Pinterest account last night. Island living all the way! I have a few photos from Bora Bora that would fit in perfectly with this post. :)

    You are now on my oversight which has been corrected!

    Keep writing my friend, I love it!

    Jeanne xx

  12. Yes, you are already on my blogroll too Janelle and I would be very sad if you gave up the Library indeed. Love it so much. And your books... too late, I have read 'One for the Road' (!) and I have most of your others too being a very big fan for a long time now. Gorgeous post and love all the palms especially the fabric. Good luck with the deadlines and what a bonus to get this post - thought we were going have to wait 2 weeks XX

  13. PS Claire, if you don't like La Vie Parisienne, let me know and I'll send you the money for it. And a replacement book. By a different author.

  14. The best thing to do with a pandan leaf is to wrap it around a piece of marinated Thai chicken! And rewind that bit on the tape where you mention you're thinking of pulling the pin on the Library. Don't..... you..... dare - we've got too much to do yet!
    Millie xx

  15. Nooo! I have started reading, it's delightful. Now get back to editing!
    PS sorry to have whined about the palm trees.

  16. Quite all right Claire. Whining is allowed in The Library.

  17. Heide, I've emailed you privately. Let me know if it didn't go through. I'm completely inept at tech stuff. And yes - VERY INTERESTED IN VICTORIAN BATH HOUSES / INDOOR POOLS LINED IN MARBLE / ANYTHING ARCHITECTURAL, IN FACT! Particularly if it's in Stirling! Interested in ANYTHING in Stirling. Would be happy to visit an antique toilet seat if it was in Stirling... I think our local council is trying to make our village into a mini Stirling, but it's like comparing flip flops to Manolos really... We'll never have Stirling's style.

  18. Oh Janelle, you have a starring role on my blogroll - without question! Please keep on keeping on ☺. J x

  19. Hi Janelle
    I'm fairly new to your blog (found you through A-M's site) and am thoroughly enjoying your postings. Particularly enjoyed your "The Glamour of Black and wWhite" post and "How To Get A Book Deal." I am a big fan of your work and own three of your gorgeous books. I love how passionate you seem to be about books. Me too! Please don't stop blogging...I just found you.

  20. Thank you so much Sharyn. It's always lovely to hear from a fellow book lover! I must admit, I'm always a little shy when people say they've bought my books, but thrilled when they've enjoyed them. (As opposed to one nasty reviewer of an Edinburgh newspaper who wrote a piece so scathing it put me off writing for months!) I have a soft spot for the Black and White book and hope to do a sequel this year. Glad the Book Deal post was useful!

  21. oooh I MUST buy myself a copy of this Palm book Janelle.. Palm trees just do it totally for me! thanks for this suggestion.. PS. SOOOO happy I found your blog.. I have a copy of your La Vie Parisienne and to quote "who ever does not visit Paris regularly, will never really be elegant' H de Balzac 1895..

  22. Dear Cape Club, How lovely to hear that quote again... (Although I don't think I ever really learned how to be elegant, even after all that time wandering Parisian streets!) Have just looked up your blog / website and it is beautiful. I have loved the colonial style of interior design ever since I saw Out of Africa and read Tricia Foley's book on it many decades ago. Your images of Vietnam look amazing. I shall have to come on one of your tours one day.

  23. Thank you SO much everyone. Receiving such nice comments from bloggers who are so much better at it than me is very touching. Thank you again, and hugs to you all.


Thank you for stopping by. It's always lovely hearing from The Library's readers.

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