Monday, August 22, 2016

Road trip ~

Over the weekend my Granddaughter and I went on a short road trip up the coast to Santa Barbara. Our destination was Lotusland, a garden created by the talented, fascinating, and somewhat scandalous Ganna Walska. 

Original Peacock entrance gates

 The property was purchased in 1941 by Madame Walska, a former Polish opera singer and her sixth and final husband. Their marriage shorty ended but she lived on at Lotusland spending the next 43 years creating one of the world's most famous exotic gardens. Comprised of 37 acres it is divided into seperate spaces featuring cactus, succulents, a Japanese garden, cycads, aloes, ferns, palms, bromeliads, an Australian garden and of course the famous lotus pond.

Zoe on the mosaic rock path
Mosaic paths, shards of blue bottle glass edgings, antique statuary, and shells, shells, shells, adorn the garden.

The original house is located in the midst of the cactus garden.

 Steps away down another footpath is the shade garden with it's huge baskets of plants cascading in grand and ethereal splendor.

In some parts of the garden you almost expect dinosaurs to appear...

Aloe garden
...turn another corner and you happen on the lotus pond.

Years ago the original  lap pool was filled in and converted to the lotus pond. The lotus had almost
finished blooming but the sea of seed pods was quite amazing.

Wouldn't this be a lovely place to have breakfast in the morning or sit in the twilight of early evening. 

Madame Ganna Walska died at 97 in 1984 maintaining her passion for the garden up until the end of her life. Her last and final creation, the cycad  garden, was financed by auctioning off  her jewelry collection for a reported one million dollars in the late 1970's. After her death Lotusland became a nonprofit botanic garden. It is truly one of California's treasures.

We had a great day!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The pinks of late summer and a ghost story ~

 At the end of this deck I got a nasty surprise a few days ago. In the middle of the night I heard the water turn on. At first I thought it was one of my micro-sprinkler units but after ten minutes, the duration they are set to go on for, and I didn't hear the water turn off I knew I had to go out and see what was going on. At 3:30 in the morning this had little appeal. But I got up from bed, took out a flashlight and made my way outside. When I stepped off the last step it was into a pool of water and water was gushing everywhere. It took me a while to figure out that it was coming from a hose. Somehow, someway, the faucet had been turned on full blast. It was an easy fix, I just turned it off. The mystery is how it got turned on.

When I did a Google search the next morning I found several explanations for this happening. The first raccoons. Yes, they can turn on faucets and I do have a raccoon family that frequents the garden. The second, water pressure can build up in an old faucet and cause it to twist itself on. Of course it could have been a ghost, but all of the ghosts here are far too nice to play such a trick.

I will be installing a new faucet, one that I hope will be pressure resistant, raccoon and ghost proof.


And now to the pinks of late summer.

Pink is my favorite color in the garden but rare in the late summer when yellow seems to predominate. However I do have some pretty pink blooms I wanted to share with you.  Above, some zinnias I started from seed, they stand up well to our hot summers.

 Two Chinese Pagoda crepe myrtles, lovely, and so dependable, one in the front garden and one in the back garden bordering the pond.


 the dahlias, this one just started blooming this week. The flowers are very large and such a luscious shade of pink.

Lastly, with it's puffs of pink bloom the incredible gomphrena, Fire Works.

 I have also added several  new pink salvias this year but that is for another post.

Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Benches ~

Along my driveway I have a little cracked concrete area that I originally created for a bench. The funny thing is that I have had just about everything else here but a bench. First I had a decorative wheelbarrow filled with flowers, it was very charming but after a while the wood rotted and I wasn't able to find a replacement. Then recently, a large planter filled with succulents, which looked nice through the cooler weather but didn't really stand up to our increasingly hot summer months.

 I finally decided to do what I had originally intended and put a bench here. I found the perfect bench online at Home Depot. It took a while for me to get around to putting it together, not easy for one person alone to do as the pieces were heavy and awkward to deal with, at one point I just sat down and laughed at myself and how incompetent I must look struggling with this thing.

But I got it done and it looks great, so great in fact...

 that I ordered another one to replace a rather worn wooden bench I already had in another spot farther down the driveway.

Right here.

I like the idea that they match and being made of aluminum neither of them will ever rot away or need to be repainted every year.

Visitors to my garden should certainly be able to find a place to sit!

Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rudbeckias and updates ~

It has been hot, hot, hot here for the past couple of weeks. Between the intense heat and watering restrictions it is surprising that anything survives but some hardy plants such as Rudbeckias, better known as Black-eyed Susan, defy the odds.
 I took this picture in the morning after coming home from my walk, I was pleased with was how pretty these Rudbeckias were.  I planted them in several places in the garden because they stand up so well to torrid conditions and I hoped that they would take center stage in this spot when the roses stopped blooming. They seem to have done just that.

And now for an update on the living room project.

 I am still sanding and painting woodwork but hope to finish this week, then I can start wallpapering.

Putting together fabric possibilities is really fun. These are all from different manufactures but they goes well together.

 I have already purchased the fabric on the bottom right for the living room drapes and the solid rose colored one is my current favorite for the entry hall drapes. The others...for accents.

 The entry hall is done. All painted, including the ceiling details and the new molding. I don't think anything adds more to a room then decorative molding.

As for Miss Twiggley she doesn't worry about painting, (although she did manage to get paint on her tail) political conventions, or keeping the garden watered, but she does care about comfort. Her favorite activity right now is sprawling out in front of an air conditioning vent and snoozing the day away. 

I think life as a cat must be very pleasant indeed.

Thank you for visiting, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Side tracked ~

Repairs, repairs, repairs. 

I am right in the middle of redecorating the living room and entry hall but needs must and while Juan, who does lots of work for me had the time, I decided to have him paint one of the out buildings. Little did I know what it would lead to.

This building was originally a chicken coop, then a storage shed, a playhouse and now back to a storage shed again.

New battens helped to cover up and protect  the widening seams in the wood exterior but we quickly realized that one of the walls would need to be replaced.

Years of termites and wood rot had taken a toil. I don't know what was holding it up.

New studs, new plywood and we are in good shape again.

All done!

Fresh and clean and I hope good for another few years.

Now back to the main project...the living room!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A different kind of dinner plate ~

I love Dahlias.

They are so pretty and come in such a wonderful variety of colors, sizes and shapes and
right now they are starting to put on quite a show in my garden.

 Most of them winter-over without being dug up in our warm climate but a few of them mysteriously disappear. So each year I add a few. A friend of mine planted some beautiful purple dahlias which I don't have. I am experiencing a little bit of "dahlia envy". I plan to remedy that by planting some deep purple dahlias next year.

Not purple but a luscious lavender and

... a gorgeous yellow; the blooms on both easily reaching 6 inches. Early in the morning with the early sun shining through it is amazing.

 I stake all of my plants, starting out early when they are quite small. In the past I have not been as rigorous about doing this but I have found that there is nothing more distressing in the garden then trying to tie up a large dahlia plant that has fallen over...and they never look as nice again.

Although you can't tell here, this is another of the dinner plate dahlias, thus called because of their size of the flowers.

Cutting the flowers keeps the plant blooming for a longer period of time. It is important to deadhead and of course this is a great reason for cutting them for flower arrangements.

The dahlia below is one of my favorites, I don't know the name but I bought it while on a trip to Carmel, California. It isn't a huge flower about 3 to 4 inches wide but the color variation is wonderful and it is very prolific bloomer.

In the past I have had some difficulty with the vase life of these beautiful flowers, for this arrangement I followed the advise below. I just made it today so we will see how long they last, I hope for a while because they really brighten up my kitchen. They are just so pretty.


How to Cut and Arrange Dahlias

Although it's great to enjoy the blooms directly in the garden, cutting dahlia flowers for bouquets actually produces more flowers. Be sure to deadhead any spent blooms.

The best time to cut flowers, including dahlias, is in the cool of the morning. Snip horizontally with a pruners or scissors, taking stems long enough for your bouquet. Choose flowers that are open or nearly open because the buds will not open once they're cut.

You should cut as much length as you need for your bouquet, but try to make the cut just above a set of leaf nodes and side buds. New shoots will grow from those nodes.

After you've harvested dahlia flowers, make a fresh horizontal cut at the bottom of the stem and place the cut ends in about 2-3 inches of very hot (not quite boiling) water. Let the stems stay in the water for at least one hour. This hot-water treatment conditions the stems so the blooms will last four to six days.

Once the cut stems have been conditioned, strip off all leaves that would be below the water line in your vase. This is true for all flower arrangements, not just dahlias. When leaves stay under water, they decay and release bacteria that shorten the vase life of the flowers.

Thank you for visiting, I hope you have a beautiful, flower-filled day. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Entry Hall ~

Entry Hall

The ceiling in the entry hall is low, by painting the center white and carrying the wall paint up onto the ceiling it gives it the illusion of more height. 

I did this with the help of one my very favorite products, painter's tape. It is a bit time consuming but used correctly it results in a very accurate edge.

Step # 1
Here is how the ceiling looks with the addition of the painted border, done of course with painter's tape. Nice but a little boring.

Another border, this time using metallic gold it's getting interesting.

This is so much fun to do, it is almost magical.

After the paint dries and you pull off the tape you have this lovely embellishment and I think a much more interesting ceiling.

Now that the painting is finished  I am looking for the drapery fabric, the main contender so far is Norfolk Vintage Rose by Waverly. I am waiting for the sample to come so I can decide. I hope it is right because I have already picked out the most beautiful, luxurious fringe to trim the drapes. I love the details.

Norfolk Vintage Rose 

Thank you for visiting, I hope you are having a wonderful summer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Busy days ~

The past couple of weeks have been very busy, I started  the redecoration of my living room and entry hall. I have been planning this for quite a while. I loved the floral Laura Ashley wallpaper but it had become dated and all of the upholstered pieces had become very worn. The rooms definitely needed a new look

All of the furniture has been heaped into the center of the room until I can sort it out and decide what I will keep and have reupholstered and what I will get rid of. I want a much more spartan feel so I know that I won't be using everything. 

I had help in stripping the wallpaper and with painting the ceiling. I thought I might feel a little sad when we started stripping the wallpaper...but not at all. I bought the electric steam wallpaper stripper you see sitting on the table at Home Depot, it was a well spent $50.00 but even then it took several days and a couple of people to remove the paper and oh, what a mess!

It's finally gone, down to the original 1927 walls, I think the room already has a lighter feel.

The ceiling, the ceiling surround and the fireplace have been painted in Raffia Cream, by Behr, The shutters and all of the wood trim will be in Decorator White another Behr paint. After I get the trim painted I can start putting up the wallpaper.

Wallpaper and drapery fabric

It is a start but there is a lot to do before the room is livable again...making the drapes, picking out upholstery fabric and all of the other small details. I am hoping to have it all together in time for the holidays.

Thank you for visiting