Sunday, July 26, 2015

I Went to a Garden Party...

Actually, I was the host for the garden party. I've been wanting to do this for several years now, because I could think of nothing more delightfully summery than to stroll through my gardens with friends, as we sipped on drinks, and chatted about the weather, families, flowers... anything, really. And this summer, we did it.

Photo by Susan Pieper

With the unpredictable weather we'd been having, I knew I was taking a real chance that it would be suitable on July 23rd for spending the day outside, but that's what faith is for, right? And it could not have been lovelier.

Nearly 20 of us gathered in the backyard and by the day's end, looking back I think I can say it was the highlight of my summer, eclipsed only by grandson Maverick's birth two weeks later.

The Tower Garden provided plenty of leafy greens for our salads, and
celery for the Bloody Marys.

This summer was the first time I'd ever used a Tower Garden, and my intent was to serve a meal using the bounty from it and the rest of my garden, with a little help from the grocery store. Meghan Fronduti, my Tower Garden connection, encouraged me to do this and with Meghan in your corner, you think you can do just about anything.

My girl Jenny flew up from Texas for the party and she was such a help to me in pulling this off. I don't "do" parties, but if I can get Jenny to help me again, I just might do another one!

The Menu

We strolled and chatted and shared laughter and stories, and then settled down next to the pool for Curried Tuna Apple Salad on a bed of lettuce from the Tower Garden.

I made bite-sized biscuits containing petals from Calendula grown in my gardens out back. I used my friend Teresa O'Connor's recipe, and while the orange petals didn't really add flavor to the biscuits, they made them look pretty. They do add antioxidants and Calendula is often used as a more affordable substitute for saffron.

Not just a pretty face in the garden!

Various drinks were served, including water infused with cucumbers and strawberries (from the garden). There were Bloody Marys, with celery sticks harvested from the Tower Garden. This was a first for me for growing celery and while I had my doubts as to whether it was possible to grow it in the Tower Garden, it did beautifully!

For dessert, we had miniature cheesecakes, topped with blueberries from my Brazelberries® Peach Sorbet™ plants, grown in our Berry Barn.

After we finished eating, we all retired to a shady spot under one of our 200-year-old oak trees for a fun White Elephant type of gift exchange. In this instance, I provided the gifts, mostly from the bounty of swag bag items I've received over the years.

Photo by Meghan Fronduti

One member (not naming any names) liked her gift so well that she hid it and gave the stink eye to anyone who even looked her way with the intent of stealing it. It was all in good fun.

Crescent Garden provided a couple of containers that I fell in love with at
P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm in April. This one is "Eye Am" and it's
available in several colors.

The table arrangements were simple Ball jars filled with local wildflowers that
Jenny and I cut from the roadside nearby that morning - black-eyed Susans,
Queen Anne's lace, ironweed, and wild lettuce.

There's always a cat or two patrolling Our Little Acre.
Photo by Marsha Ross

The entrance to Max's Garden
Photo by Marsha Ross

Several people wore garden hats, including Marsha Ross and my mom.

Thank you, Meghan, for taking this photo of Jenny and me. We rarely get
our picture taken together, for some reason.

The day was warm and the pool was tempting, so Angie Bidlack, Sarah
Messmann and Kara Fritz took advantage of it.

The new kitchen saw its first party as the bar lived up to its name.

It was a beautiful afternoon with so many lovely guests, I'm not sure we could duplicate it, but I'm giving it some thought for next year. Thank you to everyone that attended, because without each and every one of you, this little get-together would not have happened.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Living Room Divider: Define Your Space With Plants

When Jenny Peterson and I were writing our book, Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants, one of the ideas we shared for using houseplants as a design element was as a room divider.

From Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants

The photo on page 83 of the Traditional Mix chapter shows how I used this concept in my own entry/living room. Our house was built in 1975 and when we bought it in 1977, we never gave the spindled half-wall a second thought. It's just how things were traditionally done back then.

Over the years, I came to hate those spindles. First of all, they have a colonial/Early American look to them and I'm just not a fan of that style. I knew that one day those spindles would be history, but I didn't know just what I'd do there, after their demise.

I don't remember now how the idea of putting a planter atop that half-wall came about, but my handy dandy dad constructed it and I planted it up.

That spot doesn't get the most light in the world - only indirect light from the windows in the living room - so I needed something that would do well under low light conditions.

ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) fit the bill. It's one of the easiest houseplants in the world, not being fussy about anything, including light and water. I planted it in 2011 and just recently decided it needed an overhaul. Most of the plants were fine, but I'd lost a few over the years, due to my truly neglecting them, as in I forgot to water them for a couple of months. (See? I'm not much different than you are!)

It was time for a change. And here's how it looks now:

Those sansevierias are stuffed in there. I wanted to put some ivy in at the base too, but there simply wasn't any room for it. There are a lot of new shoots coming up from the roots and I'll likely have to thin them at some point, but they're slow-growing so this should be good for quite a while.

Also called snake plant and mother-in-law's tongue, this succulent is known to be one that thrives on neglect, although you do need to remember to water it now and then. They prefer bright light, but will also grow in shade, making it highly adaptable as a houseplant.

Another benefit of Sansevieria trifasciata? It's one of the plants known for cleaning the air of toxins.

For more ideas on how to use plants to enhance your individual style inside your home, see our book, Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants.  It's available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers, as well as directly from me as a signed copy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Bought it For the Foliage

This spring, I was walking around the garden centers, in search of petunias to fill lots of spots in the garden, since I had declared this year to be The Year of the Petunia here at Our Little Acre. I found an orange one that I decided I needed, and not too far away on the bench was a plant with foliage that looked like it was just made to go with that petunia.

I can imagine all kinds of wonderful things this would complement!

I bought them both and potted them up in a hanging container for the gazebo:

Even though I knew full well that the beautiful-foliaged plant was a Fuchsia, for some reason I didn't expect it to do this:

This just might be my most favorite plant of the summer.


Fuchsia austromontana 'Autumnale'
Zone: 10-11
Light:  Part shade to Shade

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Update on the Cedar Waxwing

The young cedar waxwing I saved from the jaws of death last week is doing fine in The Berry Barn. I took some strawberries out to it and it wasn't too long before those disappeared. I also put a little dish of water with the berries but I don't know if it's drinking much of that.

The other day, I noticed another cedar waxwing hanging around and I assumed it was a relative - mom or dad, perhaps?

A concerned mama?
Well, today, we got confirmation that it is - Romie found the nest.We have a huge old oak tree that overlooks The Berry Barn and high up in it sits the nest.

We observed several comings and goings of both the male and female, so we're assuming they're feeding some babies still in the nest, although it's too high up to see if there are any in it.

Note the yellow tips on the tail feathers.
Both the male and female look for a nesting site, but ultimately the female decides and she's the one who does the nest building. Sometimes there will be a second brood in a summer and a different nest will be built for it, with the males often helping with that one.

Eggs are pale blue or gray, often with dark brown spotting and a typical clutch consists of anywhere from two to six eggs.

As the day has gone on, we noticed that our baby is being fed through the chicken wire, but we also notice it's eating the blueberries and raspberries inside the Berry Barn. It seems to be quite a bit larger than when I first put it in there, so it's probably growing just fine.

As soon as we can see that it can fly okay, we'll let it out. Right now, it flies just enough to get itself up on a low branch of the blueberries or blackberries, but it's pretty clumsy about it.

blogger templates | Make Money Online