Friday, June 7, 2019

Dried flowers ~

As anyone who has read my blog before knows, I love dried flowers. Now don't get me wrong, I totally enjoy bouquets of fresh flowers, but in certain situations where I want the effect to last, nothing in my opinion beats the flexibility and longevity you can get using dried material. 

Thus when I wanted an arrangement to last for the next few weeks on the mantle in the living room it was the natural thing for me to use some of the dried flowers from the cache of last years harvest - I am just beginning to cut flowers to process for this year.

In this arrangement I used eucalyptus, olive and pepper branches,Heavenly Bamboo seed clusters and white Oakleaf hydrangeas - soft and simple which is what I wanted. I have never used the heavenly bamboo seed clusters before, they turned a really lovely, rich golden color when dried. It's fun to try new flowers and foliage to see how they will dry, I have had some surprises and some disappointments. I only dry by hanging so it is a very easy procedure.

I  grow different types of flowers for drying: yarrow, statice, Queen Annes Lace, and of course roses. This year for the first time I am growing actual Strawflowers which I seeded a few months ago and just recently planted out in the garden, I have high hopes that these will provide me with colorful accents in future dried bouquets.  

The wonderful Erin of  Floret Flower Farm offers lots of different Strawflower seeds and other flower seeds to grow for drying plus an extensive variety of other annual seeds and bulbs all shown to you along with tutorials on her beautiful website.

 Meanwhile, today when I walked into Trader Joe's I saw the seasonal peonies had arrived, how could I resist. Fresh is best but dried flowers have a place in my heart and home too.

Thank you for visiting

Have a lovely day.


Monday, May 6, 2019

Enjoying the garden ~

In all of the years I have been gardening here at Rose Arbors I can never remember a season that has brought so much beauty as this spring; it is of course due to our abundant winter rainfall.

I don't expect we will see much more heavy rain this year but last week during the night we were blessed with a nice sprinkle. In the morning I went out and took these pictures. There is nothing like the sparkle and freshness of rain to enhance the beauty of a garden. And this year because of the super bloom - oh my!

An early morning view from the deck.

The lavender walk in the far back more wild reaches of the garden, augmented with poppies seeded by the wind.

A lovely example of David Austin's Ambridge rose in a front border.

A gravel pathway, higgly-piggly with bloom.

Alongside the pond in the back, roses and foxgloves, two of my favorite flowers combine together.

Valerian, in the deck border, I pull it out every year, then wish I hadn't, then it surprises me and comes back. I just recently read that it makes a good cut flower, but I haven't tried it yet, maybe this weekend.

Image result for black and white images of flowers in a line

 It will get hot again this summer I have no doubt and gardening will become more of an effort and less of a pleasure but right now I am really enjoying my garden

Je suis très chanceux

(I am so lucky)


Monday, April 29, 2019

Updated office ~

A few months ago I begin an update of my office. Like most of the other home projects I have tackled it has involved endless amounts of time, just finding the right fabric, trim, wallpaper and hardware has taken forever; currently I am waiting for back-ordered switch plates and trying to find cushion fabric for the two chairs. But now that it is done, except for the aforementioned details, I wanted to share the results with you.


 My favorite part, the wall behind my desk. I love it for its elegance. And best of all I was finally able to find a place for my Mother's wall scones and porcelain figures.

The backs of the shelves on the opposite wall are now wallpapered in a soft damask wallpaper that matches the paint - a detail that I enjoy.

Once I finished making the drapes they were a bit tricky to hang. I ended up using a length of PVC pipe and closet rod hangers. Not only was this very inexpensive but quite effective in dealing with the span - the valance hides the rod.

. Dividing the room with the tie-back drapes adds pattern and color, it also seems to make the space look larger. I love the fabric and was able to get the last few yards before it was discontinued. Fringe, well what can I say, I have a real love affair with passementerie and have some type of trim on all of the window treatments I have made. 

This poor chair is waiting patiently for me to find the right fabric to recover the cushion  The grape vine and faux berry drapery tie backs are hard to see in this photo, they were recycled from the entry hall remodel of a couple of years ago, I always had the feeling I would reuse them somewhere. 

So, after restoring the old tile flooring, stripping the wallpaper and painting, installing new recessed lighting, mirrors, wall sconces, hardware, drapery...and oh yes! finding the perfect area rug and beautiful new writing desk this is the result.


...and after. 

 I absolutely love walking into this room now.

Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful day.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Golden mornings ~

When I woke up this morning the sun was just beginning to rise casting the whole garden in a golden hue. It was so lovely that I wanted to make an attempt to capture it with my camera and share it with you.

I planted this Honey Burst Locust tree hoping that the new, brilliant yellow foliage, would appear as the same time that the yellow Lady Banks rose on the arbor behind it was blooming, I added the Euonymus later. This lovely synchrony won't last long, the rose is once blooming and the leaves on the tree will turn green, but the sight as it is right now always thrills me.

Here at the pond, the early morning sunlight seems to make the water glisten, up close the fish are darting about making little waves among the newly blooming water lilies. The smaller tree over-hanging the edge is really a shrub that I have pruned into a tree form, it sports chartreuse foliage all year and is still covered with it's orange, winter berries - during the warm months it has lots of small purple flowers.

This is one of those times as a gardener that I forget the work, the frustrations, the disappointments and just feel so lucky!

Thank you for visiting.

Happy Spring!


Monday, April 8, 2019

Joys from the garden ~

 One of the more common place plants in my garden, but one I couldn't do without, is Limonium, better know as Sea Lavender. It is a dependable and hearty plant, I grow it for it's beauty and because it dries so well. 


Today, while weeding near a patch and inspired by it's lush blooms, I put down my trowel, cut some, came into the house and made a dried bouquet.

 I bought this straw tote last summer to make a flower arrangement for the kitchen, I wanted it to look like I had just returned from a farmer's market and casually hung it on the door, filled with flowers.

So I filled it with fresh rosemary and Limonium, then added some other things from my cache of dried flowers...roses, queen anne's lace and oak leaf hydrangeas. The fresh flowers will dry perfectly and mesh in with the previously dried ones, this bouquet should last for as long as I continue to enjoy it.

Just another joy and delight from the garden.

Thank you for visiting.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Seeds and spring ~

Spring has definitely arrived in Southern California!

With so much going on it was hard to find one picture I wanted to share with you, I decided to post nasturtiums because in my garden they are so emblematic of early spring. For the next few weeks they will romp gloriously through the borders, wane, and then be ready to be pulled out to make way for other plantings, faithfully returning next year.


I have been planting lots of annual seeds, hoping to get a head start on flowers for summer color.I usually wait too long, this year I think I have started early enough to have plants ready to put out in the garden by June.

 Up to now I have been using little peat pots to start the seeds, but decided that these would be more efficient to use for any seedlings that needed pricking out and potting up before planting in the garden, or for starting larger seeds, such as sunflowers.

So this morning I made a trip to Home Depot and bought a commercial Pro-Hex starting tray to use for planting the rest of the seeds. It is all a fun experiment to see which way is the best and it will probably work out to be some combination of the two.

So far, in the peat pot tray I planted earlier, the strawflowers and gomphrenas seeds have began to sprout. I am growing them for both garden color and to use in dried bouquets.

No spring flowers in the picture above - the contrast of the succulents growing in this fountain against the wall covered in creeping ficus caught my eye this morning, I though it was so pretty I had to take a picture. 

Thank you for visiting

Happy Spring! 


Monday, March 18, 2019

It's beginning to look like spring ~

Last month seemed to zoom by without my posting. I was busy with other projects and winter clean-up in the garden.

But today when I went out this morning I felt the need to take some pictures. Although the garden is still quite bare, it is being to look like spring.

We had a very rainy winter which has been wonderful, the extra water has added so much lushness to the garden. Everything seems to be bigger this year and I expect this to be an exception spring.

For now I must be content with the early bloomers, the magnolias are beautiful and so are the purple hibiscus, which never seem to be out of flower. I have two of them and a few weeks ago I planted another.

Bulbs are the highlight right now. Usually when they are in full bloom we get an unseasonably hot spell that shortens their flowering but this year the temperatures have been lower and the bloom period much longer. These dwarf daffodils are planted in my driveway median, they are low enough for the car to drive over. I love them combined with the low growing purple verbena. 


An update

The office project has taken quite a bit of my time and with the exception  of the details is finally complete. I will be posting more about it later but I wanted to share one of the parts I like the most, the wall behind my desk. The sconces were my Mother's, I saved them knowing that eventually I would find a spot for them. The mirror is from my brother's shop, it was damaged but I was able to repair it. I am also in love with the new cabinet door pulls, they were an extravagance but in my opinion well worth it.

 I have been waiting for the trim to finish the drapes, it came yesterday, I hope to get it sewn on in the next couple of days. Two chairs that need cushions replaced, switch plates covers to install and drapes to hang, then it should all be done. Hooray! 

Thank you for visiting


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Potted pathway garden ~

I usually plant winter greens in raised beds at the back far reaches of the garden, but on dark, cold nights it just isn't appealing to trek back there to pick fresh lettuce or herbs for my dinner never knowing if I will come face to face with a raccoon or coyote. It can be a little daunting.

So this year I decided to try something new.

At Home Depot I found six packs of mixed lettuce and  asian greens, along with chives, parsley and sage. this was all I really needed.

I had two wide, but not deep pots, that were perfect for the lettuces, and as you can see in the pictures  they have thrived. 

I put the pots along the pathways closest to my back door. It has worked out so well that today I potted up a Swiss chard plant to add to my little potted pathway vegetable plot.

I know that Swiss chard can grow quite large so this will be an experiment. It would be nice if it does as well as the other vegetables. If this works out next year I might expand my list and perhaps try some peas on a little trellis in a pot. I love Chinese pea pods.

I fact maybe it isn't too late and I can plant some for this year.  I think I need to make another trip to the nursery.


Winter has become one of my favorite seasons in the garden. Not many flowers but what is blooming stands out and the greens look so intense. Even the bare branches have a certain beauty. And, it is so nice not to have to deal with the increasingly intense heat of our spring and summer days.

Thank you for visiting


Monday, January 21, 2019

Add a little sparkle ~

 After putting the holiday decorations away the house looked a bit sad, I missed the sparkle and glitter. So instead of putting all of the the silver serving pieces away that I used to entertain in December, I kept some out and combined them with crystal to make little light catching vignettes in the kitchen. 


This silver Brides' basket was given to me many years ago. I have always thought it to be a very pretty thing. The bouquet is a result of  winter pruning, the branches from this shrub almost made it into the bin before I realized how nice they would be in the they came!

Across the counter, on an old iron shelve I put a collection of small objects mostly related to tea: strainers, a tea caddy, jam pot and a crystal tooth pick holder holding a baby spoon and fork. The little vase is just the right size for one perfect winter rose. These are mostly antique pieces that my Mother collected.

 The silver footed gallery tray, two tiered silver and crystal stand and Fostoria pedestal, along with the powered sugar dispenser were given to me as gifts over the years by my bother. 

In February I will polish up the larger pieces and put them, along with Hagarty anti-tarnishing strips, in plastic bags and store them until next year, or another festive occasion. The smaller objects will return to the corner cabinet in my kitchen, but for now I am enjoying their elegance and sparkle.


The work in the office is progressing nicely. I have most of the cabinets and book shelves painted. I hope to finish tomorrow and then I can put all of the painting mess away. I am waiting for a wallpaper sample to arrive. I want to back the book shelves with some type of damask wallpaper, the one below is my current choice, when you order samples on line you are often surprised, I hope that this will be a good one.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope you have a happy day.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A new project with a surprise ~

I have been planning to completely re-do the office for a while. It was my husband's favorite room and he spent many hours here, which adds to my enjoyment of using it now. With all of the windows and a view of the garden it is quite a nice room to work and spend time in but it has become very dated and quite shabby and the huge over-sized desk and chair commanding much of the room was far more than I need.


Increasing the space and function of the room was one of our first remodeling projects years ago when we first bought the house. We knocked out the exterior wall, the driveway beyond limited how far we were able to go, but by making it all in windows it gave an feeling of spaciousness and certainly a more pleasant view. 

Below you see the room with the desk and chair on the day the shelter I donated it to came to pick them up. I was so happy to give them a home where they would be appreciated, but it was a little sad to think of all of the times I would go in and see my husband sitting here, working, listening to the music he so loved, and talking to various people on the phone.

In the past few years when I have been trying to decide what changes I wanted to make in this room it always included painting the natural wood ceilings white, removing the old carpeting and installing a  brick veneer floor laid over what I remember as a combination cement, and wooden sub floor where we had added the addition to the room. My goal was to make it into a combined office and sun room.

Then...Juan (my wonderful helper) came to remove the old carpeting and prepare the floor for laying the new brick.  He took up a bit of the carpet and surprise, surprise under it was tile! I have absolutely no memory of ever laying tile in this room and we did all of our own tiling. Not only do I not remember tile but neither do my children, or any other family members. But it is here, in a suitable color, and excellent condition - there was no way I could reconcile removing it for brick.  

The big problem, although the tile was in good shape the carpet had been glued down. It took days to clean up the glue during which time I had to keep Miss Twiggley (and myself) away from the toxic odor. It was a horrible mess!

 Beside cleaning up the floor Juan also removed all of the old wallpaper, primed the walls, painted the ceiling and installed recessed lights to replace the old, and in my opinion, ugly track lights. I have painted the walls in Bahr's Cottage White, I still have the woodwork and bookcases to paint.

I love picking out fabric and adding details to a room. After hours spent on line and ordering several samples, I found  Laura Ashley's Hydrangea fabric for the drapes, I was lucky enough to get the last 9 yards of what is now a discontinued pattern. After three tries I found an area rug to match the sage green and pinks in the fabric.

So...a new project for a new year. Lots still to do including picking out window coverings and ordering a new desk, but the worst is over and the rest is the fun part.

Thank you for visiting!