At Christopher Spitzmiller's Hudson Valley farm, a neoclassical pool house inspired by a rustic temple at Arundel Castle in West Sussex, England (Photo by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls)
Photographs of dahlias from the garden were fired onto ceramic plates (Photo by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls)
Antique concrete squirrels at the entrance to the dovecote (Photo by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls)
The dovecote (Photo by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls)
Christopher Spitzmiller at Clove Brook Farm with a Blue Indian fantail pigeon (Photo by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls)
Christopher Spitzmiller at Clove Brook Farm (Photo by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls)
A pair of Christopher Spitzmiller handcrafted lamps is a talisman of sorts, found in the most exquisitely decorated rooms in America. The master ceramicist began throwing clay in the back of Southampton’s Mecox Gardens as its artist-in-residence. The late Albert Hadley soon commissioned his work, and the rest is well-glazed history.
If you don’t already follow Spitzmiller on Instagram (open the app, post-haste), you may be surprised to find that his account isn’t all delightful tableware, vases, and lamps, but primarily snaps from his pastorally lush life on his Clove Brook Farm in Millbrook, New York. Here, he tends to heritage-breed chickens, bees, geese, verdant gardens, and effortlessly entertains friends like Martha Stewart (who wrote the foreword to his new book, A Year At Clove Brook Farm, Rizzoli), Bunny Williams, and Ashley Whittaker.
As the charming Spitzmiller readies for his trip to Houston, we checked in to see what’s happening down on the farm.
Your first book is now available.
My goal was to create an inspirational book that includes all things to do with country life — lessons on gardening, entertaining, tending flocks, beekeeping, and even some of my favorite recipes. I’m over the moon that the book went into its second printing on the very day it was published.
Traveling to various venues this spring, summer, and fall, promoting the book. I’ve been collaborating with a friend, Cathy Graham, who is a very talented illustrator. Cathy has painted birds, bunnies, squirrels, cabbages, and flowers for a line of tableware we are producing. They are whimsical and charming, just like Cathy.
The other big event is the opening of my partner Anthony Bellomo’s store, Orangerie, in Millbrook, NY. It’s a garden and home store with topiary, orchids, unusual plants, pots, some of my ceramics, and other fun things for the home.
The past year’s silver lining.
Definitely spending more time at Clove Brook Farm! I got to enjoy the full season of blooms unfolding in our garden, including crocus, peony, sweet pea, and dahlias. Prior to COVID, I was only at the farm on weekends. My schedule and priorities have changed, and now I’m in the city two nights a week and the farm for five. A blessing, indeed.
Dinner party signatures.
We like to entertain at the farm with dinners, lunches, and weekend house guests. We’re serial entertainers. I make a “better than restaurant roast chicken,” and the recipe is in my book. We almost always serve buffet style from our kitchen table. Relaxed, good food, and a relaxed host make a great party. Don’t be afraid of letting your guests help or contribute to the meal in some way.
I’m a congenital shopper. I collect D. Porthault sheets and linens (they are the best!), antique Wedgwood and other dishes, garden stags, faux bois of all kinds, unusual plants, and heritage-breed chickens. There is always something out there that I seem to “need,” and I love the hunt and the chase. It’s one of the few sports that I truly excel at!
What Martha Stewart brings as a host gift.
Martha has brought me goose eggs from her flock, which became lifesavers during COVID. The eggs hatched and became as important to us as our dogs. Other times, she has brought cakes she has baked and jars of jam she’s made. Sometimes she even brings road kill! She recently brought me feathers from a pheasant found along the countryside road.
Rumor has it. . .
That I don’t sleep. But the truth is, I get seven to eight hours a night. I spend a good hour in bed in the morning on the phone and writing emails — both work and social calls.
Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole.
Christopher Spitzmiller will appear at Texas Design Week Houston for an illustrated talk, book signing, and cocktails, this Monday, May 17, 6 to 8 pm, at Found. Texas Design Week Houston is a ticketed event. For tickets and complete schedule go to texasdesignweek.com.