Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

I love that we dedicate an entire day to our sweet Mother Earth to celebrate her.  BUT (you knew that was coming) how can we think of her just one day out of the year?  I mean, let’s make some serious changes that we can do all year long.  Here are five things that I do, plan to do, or will be thoughtful of this year.  Will you please join me?  Think of someone you love and try to make our world better for them by leaving a lighter footstep.

1.       Paper or plastic? No thanks!

Remember to actually use your re-usable bags.  Keep some in your car for those last minute stops at the store.  And don’t discriminate- they can be used for more than groceries!   

2.       You can grow it.

Grow your own veggies.  It’s easy, saves $$$ and you will have a new affinity to vegetables.  They taste so much better when you grow them yourself, organically.  

3.       Lights out!

Even though you have switched every light bulb in your house to the energy efficient type, doesn’t mean you need every light in the house on.  Sounds elementary, but when you leave a room, turn off the light. 

4.       Don’t STEP into the trap. 

Skip the $@*!!’s Four Step Program.  Most people don’t even know what they are treating with or for when they apply those bags of chemicals to their lawns.  The local hardware store in town has a big sign out front: Apply Step One Now!  (PUKE!) Do you really want those puppy paws and baby toes running through a toxic yard?  I will write a week’s worth of blog posts about how to have a healthy, green lawn without going through four steps of chemical applications. For now, don’t be a sheep.  Skip the applications.

5.       Right plant, right place!
Plant a couple of deciduous trees on the south side of your house. They will shade your house in the summer which will help to reduce the amount of cooling needed for your home in summer.  In winter when the leaves have dropped off, the sunlight will help to warm your house.  Plant some evergreen trees on the north side of your house to cut back on the wind that hits your house in winter.  Easy on your house, easy on your energy bill!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thank YOU!

Thank you loyal readers! I realized this morning that my blog has had over 1,000 views and I’ve been posting for less than two months!  Thank you for signing up to receive these posts in your inbox.  (If you haven’t yet, click HERE to connect to my blog page.  Type your email in the bar on the top right of the screen and follow the prompts.) My posts about gardening, design, plants and life are read by people around the world- besides my fellow Americans.  Germany, Russia, Canada, the UK, Israel, Slovakia, Argentina, India, Latvia and Brazil are among some of my regular readers.  I am thankful for all of you and honored that you take a minute out of your day to read my blog!

My husband brought me an arrangement of roses that I adore! They were very fresh and well prepared because they lasted over a week! I love that they were neat and low- a perfect arrangement for a table.  The florist packed the container tight with greens to keep the roses in place (there was no floral foam used), cut the stems of the roses low, the heads of the flowers were just above the rim and completed it with dark Eucalyptus leaves. Understated but stunning!       

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kwanzan Cherry

Yesterday brought a trip to Westbrook Connecticut.  Ahhhhh, Westbrook.  It’s one of those quaint, swanky towns that’s just so much fun to be in.  The shopping is great, the restaurants are delish and there is always some great landscaping to appreciate.  What could be better?

One of my favorite spring flowering trees in flower, perhaps?  The Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata).  Hardy as the boys, but floriferous too.  Double blooms explode on a perfect canopy.  There are a few Kwanzan Cherries planted in front of this building in Westbrook and it was striking.  Looking to add a delicate punch to your garden? This is what you have been looking for!  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Day at the Beach

Elle and Julie
This past Friday my daughter Elle and I had a play day.  I needed to take a break from design work to spend some time doing what matters most.  We went to the beach in Charlestown, RI and the ocean was 100 shades of turquoise.  We met up with friends from our birth class who have been an amazing support system since our babies were born.  It was a blast to spend some time together and we got a huge kick out of our little ones interacting together. Here are a couple of pictures. 
Lorie, Aimee, Sean, Tessa and Elle

Elle and Sean


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Good Bye Old Oaks

This past October Connecticut experienced an unusually early snow storm.  Storm Alfred dropped copious amounts of wet, heavy snow in our area which resulted in tremendous damage.  Because most of the deciduous (plants that drop their leaves in the winter) trees were still holding on to their foliage, the snow accumulated quickly and took an extensive toll on them. Broken branches and downed trees crossed every road and yard for miles.  Our two old Oak trees were no exception.  We were lucky that they didn’t fall down on our tiny guest house, but they suffered major damage from the storm and so it was decided that rather than ‘clean’ them up by pruning the broken branches, they were to come down.  This week we said farewell to our two old oak trees.  Sikes Tree Service of Suffield, Connecticut cut them down with the greatest of ease.
The first and largest Oak

Tool of the trade

The second Oak tree

This third Oak tree was saved and only had a few broken branches removed.
The trees made the saddest groaning noise right before they fell.  (Seriously.  I wish I had my video camera rolling to capture this.  It’s like nothing you’ve heard before and it’s so sad.) When the trees fell, the ground shook.  It was incredible in many ways.  Each ring in the trunk indicates one year of life and it look like this tree was about 50-60 years old.  Thank you for your many years of service- your cool shade, home for animals and soft rustle of leaves are already missed more than you will ever know.     

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Magic

Spring Magic Bowls by Proven Winners are on my list of ‘Top 10’ things for your garden this spring.  They are colorful, easy and different.  While all your neighbors will have the same old pansies, you will stand out with elegance using Spring Magic Bowls. Not only will they add beauty to your garden, they are a smart investment. Spring Magic Bowls are composed of perennials and self-seeding plants that will come back in your garden year after year. 
Click HERE to watch a quick story about them that I did for WFSB’s Better Connecticut.  There are lots of flavors to pick from, depending on your taste in colors.  Green thumb or not, you need to have at least one in your garden.  What’s not to LOVE about these?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!
Chip, Julie and Elle

Friday, April 6, 2012

Everybunny Will Love This!

The table is set.  The ham is in the oven.  The flowers are in place.  The chocolates are hidden until the hunt.  You can finally rest and enjoy your Easter Celebration- or can you? Avoid that awkward pause around the dining room table as your guests try to figure out where to be seated with these place ‘cards’.
Elle's place setting for Easter

This egg isn’t dyed, it’s just fresh from one of the hens here on the farm and hard boiled.  If you are looking to add more color to the table you can dye them first, but please keep the colors soft.  Just a drop or two of food dye diluted in a white vinegar-water mixture will do the trick.  I find nothing worse at Easter than those neon kit colors that grocery stores sell. I used a permanent marker to write the names onto the eggs.  Place the egg in a small terracotta pot- and done!   

Just another EGGcellent idea of Natural Elegance!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Flowers- Easy and Fabulous!

It seems like Easter is sneaking up on us quickly this year.  While I was brainstorming ideas for WFSB’s Better Connecticut, I realized this and made sure that I did a story on the best plant to give and receive for Easter, as well as a quick, super easy and cheerful Easter centerpiece.  Click on this link: Easter Flowers to check it out.  The green sheet moss that I used is a nice way to cover the ‘mechanics’ of your centerpieces.  In this case that is the soil, the pots and any spaces in between. This moss is something different from Spanish moss and I think a better choice for spring.  This package had my name on it…literally!  “Natural Elegance for Home & Garden”

I like this trio of purple hyacinths, pink tulips and yellow daffodils together.

But, I have seen a lot of monochromatic color schemes in arrangements lately. You could use all white bulbs, or yellow and white for a crisp, fresh look.  Think about what other colors will grace your Easter table and pull your bulb selection from that.     
Martha Stewart
Once these flowers have almost expired, I will deadhead them (remove the flower stems) and plant them out in the garden.  If you leave the flowers for too long, they will begin to go to seed which robs the bulb of energy.  Removing the flowers ensures that the bulb will be re-charged to flower again next year. Be sure to leave the foliage alone and only remove it once the leaves turn yellow and begin to dry up.