Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Modern Industrial Garden & a few Highlights from IDS 2013

On Sunday, I spent part of the afternoon at the big Interior Design Show in Toronto. The show is primarily dedicated to indoor spaces, but there was the odd booth with a garden theme. Take a quick look:

Outdoor beachy-coastal theme at Andrew Richard Designs.

Wasabi green accessories from Urban Barn

Owls continue to be a popular decorating motif and below there is a coastal-themed grouping of accessories, again from Urban Barn.

I thought this display booth by Earth Inc. was really interesting. 

With old bricks, wire pendent lights, huge metal beams and rusted pipes lashed together to make the enclosed courtyard, it is a modern industrial take on a natural outdoor space.

For the first post with highlights from IDS 2013 for interiors spaces, please click this link.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Seen, Noted and Photographed

I am smitten. 

This is not a love affair that my husband of twenty-odd years has to worry about though. I have fallen head over heals in love with native plants.

I must admit that, in the past, I have always taken native plants somewhat for granted. 

Sure, I admired them along the roadside and in fields of summer blooms, but I never gave them much thought... 

or considered them as serious candidates worthy of inclusion in my garden. 

Generally speaking, they were the plants I pulled out of the garden, not anything I would ever want to put in it.

So what changed?

I opened up my mind, and my eyes, and really took a look at what was there all along, just waiting for me to notice.

For this I have other bloggers to thank, in particularly Janet, Rose, Lona and Marguerite. I admired their sense of discovery and their enthusiasm for native plants.

I began to wonder what was out there just beyond my own garden. And so I spent the spring, summer and fall really looking for the first time.

I sloshed through spring muck. 

I wadded into tall grass (with a minor degree of trepidation I might add). 

I got down on my hands and knees and was amazed and charmed by what I found.

Last summer, when the grass had all but packed it in this tiny little yellow flower (above) dotted the landscape with islands of green and yellow sunshine.

The blooms were often delicate, but make no mistake, these were plants were tough; growing in the worst types of soil, and often with very little water.

I am almost ashamed to admit that I don't know half their names, or if they are annuals or perennials. 

Sadly, I know more about plants from Europe or Asia, than I do about the plants native to my own country.

After I spent the summer and fall admiring them, I found that I wanted to know more about native plants, so I started reading.

I also began to wonder what a garden composed primarily of native plants would look like. 

Would it be untidy? Not necessarily. Not if it was done well.

I have more to say about native plants and lots of pictures to share, but for today I will content myself with passing on what has been given to me: a remarkable sense of wonder and a fresh sense of appreciation for all native plants.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Seen and Noted, Part 3: Artificial Lawns

The seemingly perfect lawn that you see above isn't grass at all! It's fake!

Artificial lawns are one of the oddest gardening phenomena that I noted in visits to area gardens in 2012.

Once the standard issue of the typical suburban homes, the green lawn has been falling out of favour in recent years.  In many localities, there is a ban on the chemical concoctions that at once kept lawns healthy and weed-free. If you want a dandelion-free lawn, it is now a matter of backbreaking labor.

Rising temperatures, summer droughts and water bans have also taken a toll on the popularity of lawns. What was once a neat carpet of green, is now often brown for a good portion of the summer. 

As evidenced by the book to the left, homeowners have started to look for alternatives.

One of the most surprising manifestations of lawn replacement has been the appearance of artificial turf in home applications.

Take the shade garden below for example. Tired of struggling to get grass to prosper in deep shade, this gardener actually ripped out what was left of her back lawn and replaced it with articial grass.

Except for the slightly greyer color, you might not even realize that the grass was artificial. 

Truly, this was as nice a shade garden as I have seen, but I have to be honest, I struggled a little with the fake grass.

Here are a couple of further examples. In both these high-end gardens, the landscape architects have employed artificial grass in different applications.

In this first garden, a beautiful set of stairs leads you to the front door to your right and a children's play area to your left. 

I neglected to take a picture of the playground, which incorporated a large jungle gym and swing set, but you can see similar projects here. Chosen for its practicality and for its durability underfoot, was...you guessed it, artificial grass.

One final example. 

You can watch a short video of this Backyard Oasis designed landscape architect Mark Hartley by clicking this link

In this courtyard garden, the use of articial grass is more minimal and discreet. In the area to the right of the saltwater pool, the architect has incorporated thin lines of artificial grass to break up the hardscaping. 

I can understand and appreciate the reasons behind the architect's choice. Real grass on the pool deck would have been difficult to maintain.

Still...I have general reservations about this product in home applications. My main problem with artificial grass is that it is "artificial". Shouldn't we be aiming to create "natural" home gardens using all-natural materials? 

What are your views on using artificial grass? Is there a place for it in home applications, or does it only belong in sports stadiums and on putting greens?

I look forward to hearing your opinion.

Monday, January 14, 2013

First of the Winning Essays: Don't be the Crazy Cat Lady! by Holley of Roses & Other Gardening Joys

© Roses And Other Gardening Joys, 2012 Used with kind permission of Holley Garden

Last November, I decided to sponsor an essay contest. The best of the entries submitted had a chance to win one of my handcrafted bracelets. To judge the submissions and select the winners, I was lucky enough to have the assistance of some very talented writers and artists. 

Today, I am delighted to share the first of those winning entries with you.

For many of you, Holley of  Roses and Other Gardening Joys needs no further introduction. Though her gardening blog has only recently celebrated its 2nd anniversary, it already has sizeable following of loyal readers. And is it any wonder! Her writing is polished and always entertaining. I once inquired in my comment as to wether she was a professional writer in real life.

To accompany with her winning essay are Holley's own pictures of her rose garden. It has been my pleasure of texturize them and turn them into little artworks. 

I know your going to enjoy reading Holley's winning essay titled: 

Don't be the Crazy Cat Lady

© Roses And Other Gardening Joys, 2012 Used with kind permission of Holley Garden

Are you looking to make some New Year's resolutions?  Are you thinking about improving your life?  Want to change some things about yourself?

I have a theory.  People that make New Year's resolutions need a passion in their life.  They need something that fills their time and their mind - completely.  I know gardening is a passion that fills up all my time and thoughts.  I don't want to improve my life - I want to improve my garden!  I don't want to change myself, I just want to change one of my garden beds.   Of course, there are other passions, but I think gardening is the best one.

Let's just take another passion as an example to compare.

Did you know that there really is a crazy cat lady?  She lives in California and has over 700 cats!  Yes, that seven is supposed to have that many zeros on the end of it.  Seven hundred!  Over seven hundred!  She is known far and wide as "the crazy cat lady".

Now, I bet the crazy cat lady never says, "Gee, it's the new year.  I think I'll watch less television this year."

No.  I bet with 700 cats she never gets to watch t.v.  If she does, I bet there are cats on top of it.

I bet she doesn't have to make a resolution to cut down on sodas, either.  With her cats costing her approximately $42,000 per month, she probably doesn't spend a lot of extra cash on sodas.

At least, that would be my guess.

I know how much she spends on her cats each month because I watched a television show on the crazy cat lady.  There's something fun in saying "crazy cat lady".  Say it.  Didn't it make you smile?

Now, take gardening.  I would venture to guess that most gardeners don't think about watching less television, either.  That's because gardeners, like the crazy cat lady, have a passion.  They already spend all their time, and their extra money, on their gardens, not on watching television or drinking sodas.

And people respond better to someone stating they're a gardener vs. a crazy cat lady.  

Think about it.  When a gardener tells someone they have 100 roses (like I do), the other person usually responds with "Oh, I grow a couple of roses, too!"  But when the crazy cat lady tells people she has 700 cats, they look at her like she's a crazy cat lady.  I bet no one has ever responded with "Oh, I have a couple of cats, too."

© Roses and Other Gardening Joys, 2012. Used with kind permission of Holley Garden

And when a gardener tells someone that they have 100 roses, the first thought in the other person's mind is usually one of beauty.  But when the crazy cat lady tells people she has 700 cats, the first thought in the other person's mind is probably about poop.  You, too, are probably wondering what she does with the poop of 700 cats every day.  Admit it.  It's o.k.  I wondered about it, too.  The show didn't really go into it.  I guess they just wanted to sweep the subject under the rug, so to speak.

Gardeners can spend most days in their gardens and people will just act surprised that they are so tan.  The crazy cat lady just gets asked why she does it.  Gardeners can talk about needing to acquire just one more Souvenir de la Malmaison, and people will just nod as if they agree you need it.  No one nods when the crazy cat lady says she needs another cat!

I'm not putting down the crazy cat lady.  She is doing a great service to those cats that she has rescued.  And most of all, she has a passion.

© Roses and Other Gardening Joys, 2012. Used with kind permission of Holley Garden

Everyone needs a passion.  When you have a passion in your life, you won't be worrying about making New Year's resolutions.  You will find that your resolutions will all revolve around your passion.

© Roses and Other Gardening Joys, 2012. Used with kind permission of Holley Garden.

So, if you're looking to make a New Year's resolution, why not find a passion instead?  The way I see, you can become a crazy cat lady, or you can take up gardening.

Personally, I'd choose the gardening.

More Information and Links:

To visit Holley's blog, please click the link: Roses and Other Gardening Joys
In one of my favourite posts, Holley compared a rose to the grace of a woman on a dance floor. Also, be sure to check back on Holley's blog for her gardening book review meme held on the 20th of each month. See December's reviews here.

And the Winners Are...

On the way back from this weekend's Winter Camp, we stopped in at the Apple Factory 
to get some assistance with my book draws...

and to pick up a cherry pie. 

The Apple Factory Store is pure country kitsch and is all the more charming for it. 

Fresh produce is displayed on wagons. 

If can't wait to get home to enjoy a piece of fresh baked pie, you can always perch yourself on one of  the vintage milk cans and cozy up to a table made from an oversized barrel.

Don't forget to help yourself to a free sample of the homemade apple cider.

Every few minutes the curtain rises on the band of animated characters who 
belt out an Apple Factory jingle. 

It may be corny as hell, but kids just love it!

A friendly member of the staff graciously agreed to step out from behind the stacks of fresh-baked pies and help with the first two book draws. 

(This was the most complicated book draw to date. I made up ziplock bags of names based on your comments and changed out the draw box for each of the four book draws.)

And the winner of a copy of The Layered Garden by David L. Culp is...

The winner of The Unexpected Houseplant by Tovah Martin is Intianminttu

The manager in the meat department kindly consented to help with the draw 
for the next two books.

The winner for the essay collection The Roots of My Obsession is...

And finally, the winner of Gardening for a Lifetime is Patty of Gardening Pomona

Congratulations to all the winners! I will be in touch shortly to get your mailing addresses. 

More Information and Links:

Got a sudden craving for a piece of hot apple pie? Find store hours and driving directions for the Apple Factory here.