Summer Splendor at The Farm

As you can tell, I took a week away from the blog. On July 1st, I drove from Dallas to the eastern border of Oregon to visit my mother. We lovingly call her home The Farm. One of the things I look forward to the most is her summer flower garden. Ever summer its a little different, but there are always some 'greatest hits' that re-seed year after year. Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure:








More of my Mama's farm house in Easter Oregon HERE.

Planning Your 2015 Garden?

Winter is always a wonderful time to browse seed catalogues and gardening books while waiting for the warm spring weather to arrive. Are you planning a garden for 2015? Frances Lincoln Publishers sent me a series of gardening books this winter for review.  Here are five of my favorite books from their collection to inspire your garden this season and beyond.






1)  I was really excited to get Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden Journal in the mail because I'm an avid journal keeper. I journal about everything, including my garden and planting schedule. It's a great way to know when I sowed certain seeds, what the weather was doing at a certain time of year and when my plants flowered (or died). Sarah Raven's Cutting Journal is a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Sarah Raven walks gardeners through the year sharing invaluable information about sowing, growing and properly harvesting flowers month-by-month. The photos are gorgeous and of course, since this is a journal, there is ample space for your own notes and observations.

A page from Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden Journal: A Year of Beautiful Cot Flowers



2)  In Great Gardens of America, leading garden historian Tim Richardson explores twenty-five of America's best-loved and most interesting gardens. The book is richly photographed by Andrea Jones and provides page after page of inspiration. Granted, these gardens are the cumulative of a life time of care and vision, but there is great value in examining our country's garden masterworks. I especially loved Steve Martino's Baja Garden (pictured below) in Phoenix, Arizona. Many of the gardens featured in Richardson's book are open to the public, so this is a great travel guide as well!

A page from Great Gardens of America


3)  I have long had an obsession with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. His homes and public spaces are a part of my inner being - a sort of American birthright. This is one reason why I was particularly thrilled to receive a copy of Derek Fell's book The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright. This book explores the relationship between landscape and structure, nature and man's handmade dwellings. As James van Sweden writes in the forward to this book, "Wright's was committed to marrying the house to the land. Confident and unafraid to obscure his architectural designs with trees or to create bold splashes of color with plants, he created layers of beauty that resulted in a seamless exchange between inside and out." This book has made me think more about my own home and how it interacts with my outdoor spaces.

A page from The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright


4)  4)  Royal Horticultural Society Companion to Scented Plants by Stephen Lacey is a classic gardening title which introduces the fundamental aspects of design with fragrant plants, and explains how to achieve effects that please the eye as well as the sense of smell. There are chapters on structural planting with trees and shrubs, herbaceous borders and ground cover, walled gardens and vertical planting, rock and water gardens, rose and herb gardens and gardening under glass. A comprehensive catalogue describes over 1000 scented plants to grow for their fragrance as well as beauty. This is the only major reference work on scent and scented plants and is endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society.

A page from Royal Horticultural Society Companion to Scented Plants.


5)  The First Ladies of Gardening: Pioneers, Designers and Dreamers by landscape architect and writer Heidi Howcraft, is far and away my favorite of the five books. It introduces the reader to a wonderful array of visionary women who pioneered contemporary English garden design. Howcroft writes beautifully about these women (Vita Sackville-West, Beth Chatto, Margery Fish, Beatrix Havergal and more...) revealing their gardening secrets and lasting legacies. These cottage gardens are the stuff of dreams. The photos by Marianne Majerus are especially evocative, showcasing lush garden vistas as well as smaller details of the gardens. The First Ladies of Gardening is a gorgeous coffee table book and I'm so happy to have it in my library!

A page from The First Ladies of Gardening: Pioneers, Designers and Dreamers


Sweet Peas

When my Mama was visiting a few weeks ago, she planted a bunch of Sweet Pea seeds in a plastic container on our patio. Sweet Peas are probably my most favorite flower. They're beautiful and hearty and perfect for cutting.They're already about 8 inches tall, sending up their thin tendrils towards the porch railing. I'm so excited to see them grow and pop out their happy little flowers. I wonder what colors mine will be?







Rethinking Grass

I'm done with grass. First off, we're facing some serious water shortages all around the country, California and Texas being at the forefront. Secondly, our grass looks like poo poo. And finally, I hate mowing. So from here on out I'm either planting food in my back yard or low-to-no-water Texas natives in my front yard. I'm thinking native no-mow grasses, agave, succulents and other plants more suited for Texas conditions.

I have about 30 x 45 feet of front lawn. And what I really need is a circular drive to get my car closer to my front door. I'm so tired of standing in the street and dodging cars to unload my son's wheel chair and get him in the house safely. So this year, I'll be saving my pennies for installing a circular drive and filling in the rest of my yard with beautiful no-water native species.


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Rest

Today, I'm feeling run down and in need of a place to hide. I've got a million and one tasks to complete before I depart for the Utah Shakespeare Festival next Sunday. But today, I would like to stay in bed with a cup of tea and my journal. I would like to rest. And since I'm dreaming, I would like to rest in the bedroom pictured below.

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Twilight in the Garden of Eden

I have a tree question. So if you're a botany enthusiast familiar with the North Texas region, listen up. Last night, while sitting with my husband on my newly installed bench swing, I watched dozens of black and orange moths swarm our backyard tree. There are actually three of this species of tree on our property. I see this tree EVERYWHERE in Dallas and I have no idea what it is.

It's in bloom right now. The tiny flower clusters start off smelling mildly sweet and then as more and more blooms open up, it smells more like urine. But the bugs and pollinators LOVE it. I took photos so that my amazing blog readers (that's you) might help me to identify this pee-scented tree. Ready, GO!





And here are some extreme close-ups of the bloom clusters. They're gorgeous, but oh my oh my, they make me sneeze. The yellow powdery centers are like pollen salt shakers. Every surface in my backyard and every car on the street is covered with its yellow pee-pee powder.





Also, I created a little graffiti yesterday on my new arbor with a Sharpie. I don't know what got into me. It was a perfectly good arbor, but I wanted to mark it and make it my own. I used to do the same thing on the wallpaper in my childhood bedroom - make little pencil marks to show that I was there. You can never go wrong with a little "Namaste". What do you think? If you hate it, don't worry - the Wisteria will grow over it soon enough.



The Conservatory

Oh, what I wouldn't give for access to a green house or small conservatory! I'm knee deep in winter sprouting experiments. My little green babies line the studio windowsill waiting for the frost to break and a shot at life outdoors. I'm running out of room quickly!






Wouldn't it be wonderful if...












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Basically, I just mined THIS beautiful board on Pinterest for all of these lovely photos.

My House Plants

I have a small legion of little green babies that help oxygenate my home. I rotate them around to make sure they get good light and in the winter months, I use them as centerpieces when flowers are not an option.

The first is a Ficus that I got at Ikea of all places. Thing looses leaves and grows them back with some frequency. He responds well to a bright window but doesn't like direct sun so I keep him in our dining room.




This little guy is a small Fiddle Leaf Fig that I also picked up at Ikea. (Seriously, you should look in their garden section every once in a while if you're on the hunt for sculptural greenery.) This one lives in my bedroom.



I also have a Philodendron, a gift from a friend. This baby grows no matter what I do to it. Snow, sleet, heat, whatever - she just keeps producing. I often take cuttings from her and start new little plants all over the house.




Finally, I have a small Aloe plant, gifted to me by an actress who came over and had me take her head shots. I love this little guy and have used him twice to soothe a burned hand. He keeps me company in my art studio and office. Isn't she cute?



What kinds of house plants to you have?

Lakeside Botanicals - Autumn is Underway

Hello everyone! It's Friday! For my last post of the week I thought I'd share some botanical photos I took last weekend while I was visiting Squam Lake for the Squam Art Workshops. Living in Dallas, Texas I don't often have the chance to see flora and fauna of this particular kind. So while I was there, I was soaking it all in. Isn't the smell of pine and woodsmoke magical?


Repurposed Screen as Garden Gate

While visiting a home in Halfway, Oregon this weekend, I happened upon this beautiful and lush vegetable garden. To keep the deer out, the homeowners constructed a high fence framed with fallen tree limbs. Metal folk art sits atop the guide posts and the garden gate is a repurposed painted screen door.







Photos by Sarah Greenman

Flowers in Wallingford

I'm in Seattle this week visiting family and I wanted to share some snapshot from yesterday afternoon. The gardens in Wallingford (and elsewhere) are in full bloom. While the flowers in my Dallas garden are being burned alive, fighting for dear life, Seattle gardens are well watered, happily sunning themselves and flourishing. Even the flowers that need dead-heading are gorgeous!














My husband and I have been doing what Seattle natives do best - drinking great coffee and beer, walking everywhere and surfing the internet in groovy spaces.







Oh... and I had the opportunity to borrow some hand cream from my sister-in-law's vanity. It's called Royal Apothic and you must try some. I used the Meyer Blooms fragrance. After a short internet search, I found it at Anthropologie.  (Of course.) Anyway... I'm hooked.




More from my Pacific Northwest journey anon... 

Ranunculus

Today, my home was on a home tour - a fundraiser for our neighborhood's Early Childhood PTA.  It was great fun.  I picked up two bunches of Rununculus from Whole Foods last night to add a little color around the house. They were so pretty I took some photos as inspiration for a painting.
















The vase is a piece of Roseville pottery that belonged to my grandmother. Her grandfather (or father - I can't remember) once worked in the Roseville factory in Ohio.  Isn't this piece wonderful?





I also grabbed a bushel of red Ranunculus. 





Moon Garden

What is a moon garden? A moon garden contains white flowers and silvery foliage that seem to sparkle and reflect light. I wanted to keep things simple this spring so I've planted an all white garden this year, although everything is still pretty small and wimpy. Until I'm able to share photos of my own moon garden, here are some inspiration photos from my file:






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For all of you Texas gardeners, here are some white flowering things that will grow (evidently) in our blisteringly hot state given the right environment:


Elderberry
Daisy
White Impatiens
Alyssum
Dogwood
Fleabane
Queen Anne's Lace
Common Hedge Parsley
Palespike Lobelia
Mayapple
Milkweed
Wild Potato Vine
Rue Anemone
White Azalea
Viburnum



And don't forget that this is the last two days to
enter our current giveaway from Hip Mountain Mama.
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I Love Bulk Trash

This weekend was bulk trash pick up in our neighborhood.  A friend of mine once told me that she rents a truck and prowls the fancy Dallas neighborhoods during bulk trash weekend.  I've heard of people scoring entire Restoration Hardware patio sets, beautiful Midcentry sofas in mint condition, pairs of Victorian wingback chairs, lucite console tables and more!

This weekend I scored two wooden rocking chairs from the bulk trash.  They needed a paint job, some new screws and a little wood glue.  I also found a door with little square windows.  It was damaged around the edges, but not so badly that it couldn't be repurposed.  I painted the name of our home on the glass panes and hung it from some rings and an "S" hook.  The weight of the door (this mother is heavy!) rests on the ground and the hooks keep it upright.  So, thank you bulk trash for the free spring update!












Winter Bouquet

I've been enjoying this small winter bouquet on my desk for the past week and thought I'd share.  Sometimes the prettiest arrangements are not comprised of big blooms, but of the "filler" usually sold with the flowers. I think this is Baby's Breath with miniature Thistle leaves.



Cutest porch EVER...

Hello dear readers!  While I was away in Oregon, I had the opportunity to write up four house tours for Houzz.com.  This sweet little hundred year old cottage is my first installment.  It's owned by Mimi and Eric Kauffman of Halfway, Oregon. And I think they've created my favorite front porch EVER! To read the article and see all the photos, click HERE. But if you're in a hurry, here's a little peek at the exterior of their home.