Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Stroll Through the Garden

The other evening it actually cooled down enough to enjoy a quiet stroll through the garden.

Leo and Leonora the Lions Guarding Fursdon House
Amazing, how everything has grown up this past year!  See Welsh the Rabbit peaking at you from the far left?
Old Glory! Long May She Wave!!
A closer look at Welsh.  Mom gave him to me for Christmas a few years back; he's quite my favorite!
One of Nigel's Chinese style lanterns.
The gate through to the Secret Garden!
Come on in, won't you?
A bird feeder I found at an antique shop, but it isn't old.  Just pretty!
I love blue and white china!
Reminds me of the Tortoise and the Hare! Here's the hare, racing to beat the old and wise tortoise! I found this at Scott's Antique Market in Atlanta.  I love the patina of the metal!
Behind the Studio, it's very quiet and I've "planted" ceramic multi-colored mushrooms. Thistle decides to visit while photo is "in progress". Typical cat - when I want her photo, she's never around!!
I found these two metal planters at Old Time Pottery last year - ON SALE!! I love the scrollwork. They'll look lovely in the courtyard once Nigel is finished with it. I'll probably paint them a lighter shade, perhaps cream? Not sure yet, so they sit here quietly, minding their own business.
 My poor, overheated vegetable garden!  It actually looks much better now cause I've planted some flowers and additional mint; fills it in a bit. And we had rain this morning, which is always welcome! In the wintertime, I'll plant some ornamental cabbages.  I love the close proximity of this garden to the house.  And it's so easy to care for!

Well, that's it for this post.
Hope you all have a lovely and blessed evening!    Jan

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Faux or Fake? And Does It Matter?

I used to be more of a purist at heart and I guess I still am about some things, but plants are NOT one of them!  First of all, I've never had a green thumb.  As a matter of fact, I pride myself on being able to kill just about any kind of plant thats come my way!

This isn't to say I don't appreciate the real thing. There's nothing like the beauty of real flowers, not to mention the beautiful scent!  But when realistic fake plants started making their way on the market, I took the plunge and bought some.

As with anything though, you have to be careful.  Some types of plants are more conducive to "fakeness" than others!  And the very realistic ones are usually much more expensive.  But I think they're worth it if you really like the look of plants but hate the upkeep, the mess, etc.  It also saves on the frustration encountered when you've spent good money and time on something that ends up looking like a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Trust me, this is what invariably happens when plants are left in my charge for any length of time. 

At any rate, my oldest daughter Laura agrees with me and two weeks ago, the two of us spent an entire Saturday searching our favorite shops for a good variety of fake plants.  The criteria was simple.  They had to be very realistic and, perhaps most importantly, they had to be in her price range.

I have to admit, we were exhausted at the end of the day, but we found some stunning examples and we had a great time doing it!  As a treat for her, I spent the next day redecorating her small atrium that had previously housed nothing but the real thing, but which had succombed to that lovely shade of death I'd given her so many examples of over the years.  Here are the results; see for yourself!  

I wish these were better photographs, but I'm having some issues in this department ever since going to my new computer.  Anyway....can you tell which, if any, are the real thing? If you're interested, here are some tips you might find helpful!

1.  Always use REAL DIRT and regular plant containers for a look of authenticity that's hard to beat!  I can't stress how important this is.  If you've gone to the expense of buying good "faux" plants, then don't skimp on the dirt!  Plant them just like you would any other plant; it lends to the overall "look and feel" of the real thing.

2.  Keep them clean!  There's nothing like a pile of dust bunnies to give your secret away!  Yes, there is some upkeep, but it's minimal.  And even real plants need cleaning to keep looking their best.  Just keep watch on how often they become dusty, then periodically clean them before they get "bunny-ized".  My favorite method is holding the plants under cold running water.  Even better, I frequently walk them out, container and all, to the deck and hose them off.  It's quick and easy and I just set them aside to dry after I've given them "a good shake" to get the majority of water off them.  Flowers may "bleed" a little, but I continue to wash mine this same way.

3.  Look for plants that are in keeping with the area in which they will live in.  Since this atrium is such a little "hot house", I knew  succulents would look very well realistic. And succulents tend to be my favorite faux plant anyway.

4.  For faux flowers, the best advice I can give is to put out only those flowers that would already be in bloom at that time. I have to admit though, I put out what I like, when I like it, regardless of the season.   Hey, I said it was good advice (which it is).  I didn't say anyone had to follow it! Ha Ha

5.  Mix plants together! Just as you might put two kinds of real plants in a garden pot, do the same with faux plants.  The hanging baskets in the hotos use this type of "underplanting".

6.  Another favorite tip - when you have a real plant, such as aloe vera that you want to keep on hand for burns and the like, and it starts to look a little scraggly, put in some fake stuff to "pretty it up". Consider it "make-up" for your plants!

7.  Consider how close people will be standing to them to determine the quality needed to withstand "the inquisitive eye".  Those plants positioned farther away may not need such a look of realism and can perhaps be less expensive.  Put your money into those which are going to be given close scrutiny.

Bottom line - do what works for you!  That's the beauty of today's market!!

May God Bless, Jan

Monday, July 16, 2012

Best Friends

Just spent a lovely weekend with my very best friend, Sherry!  We've known each other since we were both 13 years old; for those curious about such things, it will be 40 years next spring!!  And I truly thank God for the day He brought her into my life!  We haven't always agreed on everything and frequently we are poles apart in our thinking, but there is a core, an underlying sense of peace, that has only strengthened as the years have passed.  We know all the good things about each other, as well as a whole lot of the bad, but somehow it never seems to matter because it isn't about pointing fingers or oneupmanship. It's about the gift of love.  We share a history, Sherry and I, which is especially nice because it allows us the privilege of knowing where we're coming from and what we've both been through to get where we are today.  As I see it, having a friend is wonderful.  Having a best friend is a gift from Heaven above.  To Sherry!

Taken during our last trip to one of our favorite shops, World Market, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee!  Sorry Sherry - I know I don't have permission to use this picture of you, but you'll just have to deal! It's one of my favorites and every time I see it, I'm reminded of all the fun we had that particular day!

I found this card on the Internet; it sums things up quite nicely about both of us!

A stem of Morning Glory!  These have the sweetest little purple flowers when they're blooming, but I like the fact the leaves are all shaped like hearts!

May God Bless! Jan

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Work on the Courtyard & Outdoor Fireplace Continue!

Just realized I hadn't posted the latest photos, even though these are a month or so old.  I've already decorated it in my mind a hundred different ways!  BTW - Nigel, did you know I plan on decorating your courtyard for you? Hmmmm....we'll talk, okay?  Anyway, see what you think!

 One of the best purchases I think we've made this year is this portable cement mixer (the red thingy at the top right of the picture).  Saves on poor aching muscles trying to get that stuff mixed properly!!
 This is an entrance from one of the sides.
 The rock piled on top of the wall is to go around the fireplace (see picture below), as well as the posts that will support an arbor and anywhere else Nigel wants to put them!  The two small "arms" jutting out from the wall at the right of the photo will eventually support the grill.

Here's the back of the fireplace.  You can see where Nigel is adding the rock. This wall looks rather plain here, but Nigel planted a small "kitchen garden" in front of it (located between the wall and the front of my studio).  I'll try to take photos this weekend and show everyone. We have tomato plants (I just picked two large red ones about an hour ago!!), basil,  bell peppers, mint, squash, and sweet pepper.  Lovely because it's very small, easily accessed and therefore easily taken care of, and close to the kitchen!  Yes, I realize I don't cook anymore, but who has to cook when you can just pick fresh veggies and eat them!  YUM!!

Here's the front of the fireplace, with the two "wood boxes" (i.e., boxes that will hold wood for burning in the future).  Those slabs on top of each "box" are massive! I had to tease Nigel. He actually made them too thick - and therefore MUCH heavier - than necessary.  But working together, I actually helped him get them in place!  Okay, okay.....I only helped a little and probably got in the way more than anything else, but I still helped a little.  Besides, it was great fun teasing him because his work is usually flawless; nice to know he's a "mere mortal" like the rest of us! 

Hope you're all having a lovely evening! Me - I'm enjoying the peace and solitude of an empty house and listening to the rain outside.  Absolutely blissful, especially this time of year!

May God Bless, Jan

Friday, July 6, 2012

New Fursdon House Tea Cozies!!

Been terrifically busy lately, creating 10 new tea cozies for The English Table!  It's a lovely shop here in Huntsville that carries exactly what it says - anything and everything for the English - and American - table!  And I'm extremely fortunate that the owner, Fin Bjelke, is a good friend of the family and has been selling my tea cozies for some years now. See what you think!

My favorite!!  I LOVE the colors in this one!
 Bits and Pieces!!

 Pretty maids all in a row!!

All dressed up and ready to go!

I've made the design slightly larger and improved the lining; I much prefer these.  But thanks need to go where thanks belong - to Mom, for running to Home Depot at the last minute and picking up the plastic sheeting to make new templates with; and to Nigel, for running out and purchasing new fabric lining!  Sounds slightly backwards, but that's how it all came about! Thank you Mom and Nigel!!

Love and Blessings to All,  Jan