KAT AUL CERVONI, FOUNDER
My love of nature and all things botanical began early. Being outdoors was a way of life, not just for my extended family but for the whole pecan-growing small town in Georgia where I grew up. When I wasn’t catching fireflies, watching birds, or climbing trees (the exact species of which I took great pride in being able to identify), you could find me picking flowers for a bouquet from my mom’s garden.
At some point before self awareness set in, I became fascinated with all things girly, pink, and glamorous. I adored Barbies, Disney princesses, and American Girl dolls, which I readily credit for sparking my love of history. My obsession with Beauty and the Beast was so profound that I was given a dark pink hybrid tea rose bush for my kindergarten graduation so that I could have roses just like Belle and the Beast.
But as much as I loved playing dress-up, I never stopped wanting to be outdoors. As a competitive horseback rider all through my school years, I got plenty of fresh air. I also got endless lessons in how to handle not only the animals but also the care and maintenance of their environment. The endless mucking of stalls was great prep for clearing flower beds, turning over tons of earth, and wearing the same pair of muddy boots every single day.
When I left home—first for college in South Carolina, then for a two-year stay in Japan, and eventually to New York City to study landscape design at Columbia University—my connection to nature grounded me wherever I landed. Whether I was pondering the wabi sabi philosophy of Kyoto’s famous moss gardens or observing the seasonal shifts in Manhattan’s urban flora, I knew practicing landscape design would be my passion.
In 2014, I founded Staghorn NYC, a landscape design firm. Working both in person and virtually, my team and I have transformed countless backyard gardens, terraces, and rooftops in New York City and beyond, creating a bridge between indoor and outdoor living.
Now I am excited to be back in my native Georgia, putting down new roots. It’s thrilling to see that the seeds of change have begun to flower in this state. Here in Atlanta, my husband, Michael, and I are not only growing the next generation of our family, we’re also cultivating our very first garden. I'll be chronicling our progress on Greenleaf Garden here. We plan to use an array of native plants to shape this space to grow with our family and become our sanctuary, laboratory, and playground.
Equal parts playbook and inspiration board, The Cultivation makes living with nature second nature. Whether you are buying your first houseplant or have been tending a garden for years, this is the place to find design ideas, tending tips, and trusted tools that will enhance your experience and help you grow as a gardener.
Staghorn NYC, my full-service landscape design firm, is focused on creating functional and enduring landscapes for residential clients. I believe each outdoor space should be an extension of the home it accompanies. To achieve this, I take a collaborative and holistic approach to achieve a design that reflects a client’s tastes and lifestyle. The result is a garden that looks, feels, and functions like a true “outdoor room” of a home.