Entertain in Style Featuring Joanna Buchanan's Gorgeous Garden
Growing up in Hong Kong, Joanna Buchanan developed a fearless approach to color, pattern and embroidery. From an aesthetic point of view, the culture was about excess—lots of gold and bling. “It was a great experience, and it has had a big influence on my work,” says Buchanan. “Hong Kong gave me a different perspective—what they do is so rich and lush.”
As an adult, Buchanan traveled extensively in India, which she feels is actually closer to her own color sense. “India is like my second home,” she says. “I’m definitely inspired by what I see there—patterns and colors that go together beautifully, but are so different. The love of color and pattern comes from my soul.” And it shows in her use of color in her line of seasonal accessories, holiday decor and gifts for her eponymous company, Joanna Buchanan.
A love of gardening developed during childhood summers in England. Ironically, when the couple purchased their Wilton home, the garden was a disaster. “Everyone thought we were crazy because the house was run down and the garden was overgrown. Weeds were head high, and the deer had eaten everything,” Buchanan says. “Landscapers wouldn’t even give us a price to clear it.” Eventually, her husband found a company to take on the task, and has been working with it ever since.
The family loves to be outside, where most of their entertaining takes place. Sometimes a party will start with lunch, and then guests will stay for dinner. She’ll set up tables throughout the garden and create private nooks with magazines and books so guests can have some alone time, a space to chat with a friend or even nap. Get-togethers are a time to relax and enjoy the property with no pressure to mingle or entertain.
“My sister-in-law was over from England, and we were having an evening dinner party for grownups and kids. She said, ‘You really have this down, haven’t you?’ We don’t have a formula, but we do have a certain routine,” says Buchanan. Separate children’s and grownups’ coolers allow people to help themselves. Go-to foods like a cheese plate, fruit and platters of fried chicken make for a casual vibe, and sometimes guests bring their favorite foods to add to the mix. Glassware is stored in baskets, the cutlery is in jam jars, and separate plates are dedicated for outdoor use. “We have lots of friends with young children, and we don’t want anyone to worry about things getting broken.”
The house and garden are also incubators and testing grounds for her product designs. Coasters, cocktail picks and napkins, bottle openers and wine charms feature honeybees, ladybugs and koi. Coral, evil-eye charms and fanciful jewels adorn items in her collection. “My designs are influenced by my travels,” she notes. “Colors and patterns have to speak to you, and you build on what you love.”
One such item—a giraffe bottle opener—has personal significance. After they had moved into the new house, she and her son, Hugo, set out to explore the property. At the end of an allée of cherry trees, there’s a white gate with wetlands beyond. “I said to Hugo, ‘I think there might be a secret garden in there.’ He peered through the gate and said, ‘Mommy, I see a giraffe.’ It was so magical, and now we imagine all sorts of amazing, wild animals living there!”
We are also excited to partner with Joanna on an Instagram giveaway! Check out our page @CottagesGardens next week to enter to win a bundle of goodies from her line!
A version of this article appeared in the April 2019 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Deluxe Duplex.