I’ve been to Lowes five times in the last three days. Isn’t that always how it goes when you are working on projects? I never seem to be able to account for all the contingencies for which I will need materials.
This week was (is) kind of nutty. In addition to my own regular writing deadlines and ongoing book work, my daughter is the lead in the school play and it is tech week (for those of you – like me- who haven’t been through producing a play – this is the week when it all gets seriously-hardcore-insane right before the real show). My parents are visiting as well, which means two things – construction projects are getting done in record time and the bourbon in the liquor cabinet is just about gone.
I’m trying to navigate it all by keeping everyone on track, where they need to be, and with the right tools to get their jobs done. It’s part super-mom, part general contractor, part hostess with the mostess, top-chef and part writer. I’m taking moments of solace in my garden and reaping the last of the harvestable goodies for some seasonal decorations.
I showed you this vase a couple weeks ago (here). Want to know how it was made? After a hike in the woods where my son (who has a habit of gathering so many ‘interesting’ things that he generally can’t carry them all by the end of the walk) I saved this coil of birch bark from the collection. To make it into a vase, I wet it (softening it slightly) just enough to be able to slip a plastic water cup into the center. I have been changing out the mix every few days adding something different to pair with the fake red berries. This time, I gave it my best effort ikebana effort by adding stems of Callicarpa.
I am obsessed with Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry) since the shrub I planted a couple years ago is mature and laden with gorgeous eye-catching purple berries. I redressed the container by my front door with a combination of Callicarpa and other garden cuttings to include red-twig dogwood, boxwood, lavender, lighted branches.
I also added a couple inexpensive globe glass light covers (turned upside down) and stuffed with a string of lights to illuminate.
I can’t wait until this evening (hopefully amidst the madness) where I can set up the camera at twilight to capture a picture of how pretty these look when they are lit up. I’ll post an update with those pictures as soon as I can.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes. This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year. I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own. See the other posts in this series.
Cold, flu and winter allergy season has already started in our house. When the heat came on a few weeks back I was instantly plagued with intense allergy symptoms (I have a mouse allergy and I have finally figured out that those little buggers - and their nastiness – are all over inside my old house heating ducts ).
I like to tough things out if I can. It’s not that I have an intractable nature, it’s just that I find so many ailments come with cures whose side effects are as bad or worse than the original problem. Like now for instance, the allergy attack led to an immediate sinus infection whose antibiotic treatment is currently wreaking havoc on other parts of my body (which I don’t care to discuss).
I am however interested in learning more about herbal remedies. I figure at the very least I can become more knowledgeable about plants and their properties and the science behind their uses and at best I get a little relief and assistance while I hold out waiting to see if something goes away on its own or with a little of the right natural encouragement.
I’ve been starting to read up and learn, but when I came across this natural kitchen, designed by Nienke van de Pol I decided to go all in. Unfortunately this particularly pretty cabinet that comes with all the pretty implements isn’t in my budget but I do like the idea of a home Kitchen Lab for making my own self-care remedies straight from the garden. I think it will be housed inside the existing dining room cabinet – along with the liquor (they go together right?). As Nienka says: “Today’s circumstances force us to take the initiative when it comes to our health….[and] By exploring you will find how easy it is to make your own self care remedies for everyday ailments.”
images Studio Nienka Van De Pol
These planting ideas weren’t expressly presented as halloween ready by their creators…but I think they are perfect for the season don’t you?
Why not dismember a dolly and use her appendages for planters? (or buy these from Peacock Taco on Etsy)
Or turn your terrarium into a tiny burial ground ? (this one is available from the Faerie Nest)But if Halloween is a holiday that is really special to you , perhaps you might consider keeping a tiny zombie in a tiny terrarium close to your heart. (available from Faerie Nest)
It seems like almost everyone I have talked with recently laments, where has the summer gone? As a matter of fact, where did September go? It seems like yesterday that it was Memorial Day and all of the summer residents to Maine were just rolling into town and we were rolling out our summer annuals. When I look back at photographs taken early in the season, it is amazing to see just how small all of these plants were in May. June was cool along the Maine coast but once July came, things warmed up and carried us through September. As the temperatures warmed, our plants grew. Some plants grew more than others and these are the ones we are noting to use again in different ways for next year’s displays.
This week’s plant was one of the show-stoppers of our summer display. We had an exhibition of Lunaform pots at CMBG all summer long. In our Burpee Kitchen Garden, there were 4 matching pots that our kitchen gardener filled to the rim with plants. The centerpiece of this arrangement was Solanum quitoense or “bed of nails plant.” The common name for this tomato relative comes from the nearly inch long, purple spikes that emanate from the leaves, stems, and main stalk of the plant. Another common name is naranjilla, although this is primarily associated with the non-spiky plant grown more for its fruit, than its leaves. A plant native to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, it can grow up to 8 feet tall in cultivation, although in our short summer of Maine, we will be lucky if ours reaches 3-4 feet in height by the end of the summer. It is an annual so we can propagate ours through cuttings or by saving the seeds from the fleshy, bright orange fruit.
An individual leaf on these plants can be over a foot in length and 10″ or more in width. They are fuzzy, light green with a purple tinge, and the afore to mentioned purple spikes. People who have never seen these plants before cannot believe that such a macabre plant really exists. I remember when I saw one for the first time 15 years ago at Swarthmore College. I did a double take and then of course, immediately wanted one.
I would suggest that you grow this annual out of the reach of children. The spikes not only look sharp, they are sharp! Grow these plants in a rich, well-drained soil in part-shade to full-sun. The warmer your climate, the more shade I would give this plant in the middle of the summer.
Images: Carrie Eason, The Garden Diaries , finegardening.com
I have so many links and interesting things that I have discovered while researching and writing my book that I can’t wait to share. My biggest fear is that I will never remember them all — in fact I have already forgotten so many. I really don’t want to forget this one, so this is just a quick post before I head back to book finishing land.
What do you think this might be a picture of? It is part of the botany collection a the university of Amsterdam. It is titled ‘Schemavoorbepalingbedekkingsgraad” which translates to ‘Schedule for Determining Coverage’. I deduce it to be a planting plan.
I adore this kind of thing. I want to print it out and hang it on my wall. I think it is charming and interesting as a work of art, but knowing that it is a planting plan as well really makes me smile. I wonder what plants this represents? And are the choices in color and symbol shape related to the plants or completely abstract? I think the questions make it even more interesting.
I used to take great pride in my planting plans ( I haven’t done one in a while). They were full color affairs with beautiful photographic images representing all the chosen plants so that the clients could get a great sense of what they were getting. The printing costs where ridiculous. These days, I think I would want to make something more like this. Sure, it’s not as descriptive, but I find it much more satisfying…so maybe not for clients…but just for me.
image from the botany collection at the University of Amsterdam.
You can download a copy for yourself at the The memory of the Netherlands
I really enjoy reading stories about people who take huge leaps when buying a home and this is a great example. Kristina and her boyfriend lived in busy Portland, Oregon when they decided they were due for a change. After searching high and low for almost 2 years, they finally found a gem of a house in the beautiful rural countryside. Read the full post
I love owls and spotting one in the garden or while hiking outside is one of those events that happens rarely enough that extreme excitement ensues every time. I think I remember every single spotting in my life — including the first time — which BTW was when I was probably about 4 and we were driving through the University of Southern Colorado’s campus (where my dad was a student) and there in the middle of what seems like a desert…on a small tree in the middle of a hot day were 3 small owls…a momma and a couple babies…all less that 9 inches tall sitting on a low branch just watching life go by. They could have been statues – but they weren’t. Awesome.
Do you get excited over owls? Interestingly, across worldwide cultures and traditions they are associated with one of two things. Wisdom and/or omens of death or evil. I find it fascinating that ancient cultures who arguably had no influence on each other would have similar associates. Pondering this only increases my owl fascination.
Owl inspired products don’t quite make up for the real thing (not even close) but they are still fun to consider.
- Norris the Owl Garden Table
- River Rock Boulder Owls
- Owl Faucet
- Owl balancer stake (what do you think of this….I can’t decide if I love it hate it…)
- Hand Screen Printed Fabric (in Orange and other colors by by Melissa Bombardiere) - On Sale!
P.S. I am heading into the laptop-free woods of Maine for a few days of nature-loving. I will be back next Thursday but in the mean time Rodney will be here on Tuesday and I will likely be posting the occasional picture on instagram if you want to follow along. - Rochelle