Charlotte Moss's sumptuous rose hedge, East Hampton, NY
Writing a book has often been compared to birthing a child. Let’s take a moment then to appreciate that interior designer Charlotte Moss’ 11th was born on April 6, 2021. The subject: flowers—their colors, scents, shapes, and attitudes that can tszuj up a party or everyday living. The acclaimed designer’s work may frequently usher her into interiors, but she’s equally drawn to our great exteriors—the garden. For 34 years, she’s tinkered, uprooted, replanted, and soulfully appreciated every minute in her garden, a place that’s just as good for hiding as it is for seeking. While her muse may be flowers, Charlotte appreciates an often unsung greenie, a compadre: moss.
Janet Mavec: How did you spend your pandemic?
Charlotte Moss: From the beginning of the pandemic through Thanksgiving I was primarily in East Hampton. It was the first time in 34 years that I saw the garden turn from grey to every shade of green and watch its progress daily. To walk around every morning with dogs and coffee was a luxury. I relished every minute. But like everyone else, my days were consumed with Zoom (and writing two books).
JM: I look forward to….
CM: Summer—because it’s when I see my garden the most. I am able to spend time in it and reap the rewards of winter planning.
JM: What plants get no love, or are underused?
CM: Some of my standbys—which are thought to be ordinary—are deutzia (a member of hydrangea family), which I have used in borders. Variegated pachysandra, hakonechloa (hakone), mondo grass, and epimediums (also known as barrenwort, bishop's hat). Then, all the little friends: plants and mosses that fill in the cracks between stones year after year.
JM: What are some of your favorite “rooms” in your garden?
CM: The kitchen garden is an enclosed space, which is really for cutting flowers and herbs. Our new “room” in the garden is a woven bamboo pavilion, where I can go and hide.
JM: Do you have an edible garden?
CM: No edible garden perse, but a number of espaliered pears and apples. We have so many great organic farmers on the East End (of the Hamptons); I just enjoy going to their stands to buy fresh vegetables. The displays are beautiful, and somebody else did all the hard work!
JM: Has your decorating influenced your garden choices?
CM: I don't think your decorating can not influence your gardening choices, and vice versa for that matter. I love layers with restraint, and fragrance is always an important component.
JM: What’s the one (outdoors/garden) tool you can’t live without?
CM: IGTV is a great tool, a tool for learning and experiencing. I have been posting Instagram videos of gardens I have visited and yearned to see again (@charmossny). IGTV is the next best thing to being there. But as for the more traditional garden tools: Modern Sprout clippers and Foxgloves.
JM: When is the last time you hugged a tree?
CM: I can’t remember the last time I hugged one, but I am looking forward to doing that soon! I have purchased a house in Virginia and I am planning that garden now. I’ve got my heart set on some obelisk copper beech, Crab-Apple Allée, and the rest is on the drawing board.
JM: What’s new or coming up for you in 2020 that you’d like to mention?
CM: My 11th book was published on April 6, “Charlotte Moss Flowers.” Two books I edited will be released in the fall, “Monticello” and “Home: A Celebration.” a book I was working on during the pandemic to help raise money for No Kid Hungry. It includes artists, writers, poets, and designers who reflect on the meaning of home.
Charlotte wearing her Janet Mavec Oyster Earrings.