Barbara Mayer

Senior Gardener

On a summer morning, one of the best ways to wake up is to get out of bed, put on some waterproof clogs and quietly steal out to the garden to see what's happened during the night. Sometimes, I'm joyful when every plant survived and some event grew a bit; sometimes, a critter has gotten in and caused damage. That's when heartbreak happens!

Barbara Mayer Photo: Joe DeSciose

Gardening and garden writing is my passion.

Some of My Works

American Design History
"Mindful of detail but never boring. . guides the reader through the Arts and Crafts Movement." -
-Home & Garden Magazine
American Cultural History
"Mayer demonstrates a talent for bringing to life the people who built Reynolda"
-Winston-Salem Journal
A sampling of work by the author

Quick Links


Me with a giant pot plant in Savannah, Georgia

Barbara Mayer’s first job as a reporter on a trade paper covering the home furnishings industry led her to a career of researching and writing on contemporary and historical ideas about design and the home.

In more than twenty years as an author, journalist, historical consultant, and educator, Barbara Mayer has won awards for a body of work that focuses on how high-brows and low-brows alike access current and classic ideas of beautiful homes, better lives and the interface between the two.

Her books include Reynolda: A History of An American Country House published by John F. Blair in 1997, The Complete Book of Home Decorating (Michael Friedman Publishing Group, 1994), In the Arts & Crafts Style (Chronicle Books, 1993) and Contemporary American Craft Art: A Collector's Guide (Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., 1988).

Her articles have appeared in magazines such as Art & Antiques, Better Homes & Gardens, Elle Décor and Metropolitan Home and in major newspapers throughout the United States and Canada. She also edits magazines and writes articles about gardens and gardening. From 1978 to 1999, she contributed weekly articles about home decorating and design to The Associated Press. She also authored a column on collecting for The Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time Newspapers in Connecticut.

As historical consultant to Benjamin Moore & Co., she works closely with the Benjamin Moore Archives and writes the company's Archives website feature at As an educator, she teaches design history at Pratt Institute. She has lectured to a variety of audiences at museums, historical societies and other venues on subjects ranging from the Arts and Crafts Movement to antiques to contemporary design.

She is a member of the Author's Guild and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Writing awards include citations by the New York State Press Association and the Newswomen's Club of New York.

Bought as a small pot plant from a local nursery, this 'Kong' coleus was huge by midsummer.

Photo: Peter Afif
This huge 'Kong' Coleus started as a tiny pot plant but REALLY grew!