I just added Steven Schwartzman’s blog called, “Portraits of Wildflowers” to BLOGS I LIKE (side-bar menu). And with his permission, I’m reblogging this AMAAAAZING PHOTO of a snail he took on a flower bud. Mr. Schwartzman has contributed over 200 photos to the native plant database of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and this is only the tip of the iceberg of his contributions. Love his photography! Cathy T (Note: Please respect all copyright notices, photos reblogged are the property of the originator.)
The past week’s weather prompted me to start decorating for “Falloween,” the period where it may feel a tad bit early to put out your scary Halloween decorations, but not too early to begin decorating with pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, mums, and other goodies.
So I decided to go with the easy packaged Martha Stewart find called “pumpkin sleeves” discovered at a local Michaels craft store. When I tried looking up instructions, because there really wasn’t any on the package, I could not locate this item on the Martha Stewart website.
Not a bother – because it was very easy. Just slip it over and secure the ends. At first I used small rubber bands to gather the ends on the bottom and top, but later discovered a draw string for the top end of the sleeve. However, I still found the rubber band trick to secure it tightly worked better.
As I went to pimp my last pumpkin, I realized I didn’t have enough sleeves (only 3 per package), so I went to my drawer, found a pair of plain black nylon stockings, cut a portion off the foot end, and pulled it over. It is not as pretty because there isn’t a pattern on it, but I’m sure I could use a Sharpie permanent marker to create some images on it if I wanted to later.
I also picked up some bling-bling from Michaels by Recollections. It is rhinestone stickers, probably intended to stick on windows, but I attempted to apply them to my pumpkins and galvanized buckets.
Because the temperature of the pumpkin will get cold in the evenings and warm during the day, I added some additional clear glue under to help it stay adhered. We will see if it hangs on for the rest of the month.
Both the sleeves and rhinestone stickers are a quick and easy fix to pimping your pumpkins. And since there is no cutting involved, it will last much longer than a carved pumpkin. Plus you can reuse the pumpkin sleeves every year. For rhinestones, you could also investigate your unused jewelry beads, buttons, or small pieces to upcycle them for a look similar to the rhinestones.
That’s it! Just a quick bit of inspiration – and right after, I went to my hammock and rested a bit to enjoy the beautiful blue skies of this past weekend. It was absolutely gorgeous out – and the weatherman said it would be nice and warm all week.
Enjoy your week.
Written by Cathy Testa
Beautiful fall photos of maples (Acers) by a blogger named Cara Lockhart Smith from the Scottish Borders. Check out her paintings too – many focused on natural settings. Cathy T
After the green of the willows in the woods, these acers round the little pond demonstrate the vibrancy of a different part of the spectrum altogether. These are colours that I love to use when painting. The creator of the garden was told that acers would not flourish this far north, so since he loved the plants, he set out to proved them wrong. And did so. Up close the leaves of the acers are exquisite, but I wanted to make an image which showed the colour they create in the garden at this time of year when, apart from the spears of the gladioli, the flowers are fading in the garden, and the wildflowers have almost disappeared.
You can learn some tips all the way from the UK. Check out this blog for tips on sowing seeds, storing them, and cuttings, etc. by Plant Heritage.
Through a staff member, Plant Heritage Surrey Group was lucky enough to receive money from the charity arm of The Times to train 10 of our members on propagation courses with nurserywoman, author, botanist and lecturer Marina Christopher of Phoenix Plants .
On arrival coffee and delicious apple and walnut cake courtesy of Jo, Marina’s assistant.
Marina introduced herself as a scientist rather than a horticulturalist, so her modus operandi is to ‘Look, Observe and Experiment’, rather than do what she was taught at college. From the many different ways of doing things she finds out what works and sticks with it resulting in some interesting concepts.
But the heart of the nursery is the grit Marina uses in her composts. 1-3mm grit is used in different proportions for different purposes. Around each piece of grit is a surface layer of moisture, so the medium is well drained and…
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I had to share this post by GWENNIESGARDEN blog. A window into France on her journey. Check out the container garden and gardens in her photos. Cathy T
I am in France at the moment on holiday. We spent the first days of our holiday in Dijon, a small city in the east of France, known for it’s strong mustard. They have a beautiful old city center with many old building and art everywhere you look. We had a beautiful B&B on the outside of the city center and it had a beautiful garden ! Did you know France had the most visitors in the WORLD ?!
As pictures tell you so much more than words, here are some of the pictures I took.
BUILDINGS LIKE THIS ONE ARE EVERYWHERE IN THE CITY CENTER.
THE BUILDINGS ARE ALL VERY WELL RESTORED
I FOUND THIS ONE VERY FUNNY
We also visited the botanic garden in Dijon.
AN OLD LINDEN TREE WITH IT’S TRUNK FULL OF NOBS
STATUE IN THE ROSE GARDEN, ALAS THE ROSES WERE TOO FAR GONE AND…
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You may be standing there questioning your own abilities as a gardener while envying a master gardener’s garden, but what you don’t know is the so called master gardener you are in awe of (or the professional gardener you asked for help), is hiding some truths about how they do it.
So before your gardening failures bring you to tears – or make you want to just give up – learn the truth. Here are some dirty little secrets master gardeners and professional gardeners don’t want you to know.
1 – They hire help.
Anyone who’s attempted gardening is fully aware it is high-maintenance to keep all spaces and plants pristine unless your plants are made of plastic. You can bet the person, as in the master gardener or professional, who’s garden you have been admiring, has been hiring someone to tend to their garden behind the scenes. They have a full time or part time servant doing their dirty work. It may be a landscaper, a teenager, or just an overly ambitious newbie to gardening eager to learn from the “master or pro.” Whoever it is – they are not doing it alone. This is especially true for gardens designed by professional gardeners featured in magazines, on websites or television. Their gardens are so spectacular, the photos speak volumes and you grow your envy as you look over their talents, but just remember, they have help.
2 – They make up plant names.
Its true. Those Latin names they are so eloquently pronouncing as they point to their unique plant specimen may not be its true name. In times of panic or memory loss, where it would be revealed to the casual gardener their Latin expertise is not up to par, they may just make something up spontaneously under pressure, AND make it sound great. Master gardeners and professional gardeners study plant names – believe me, and know them – or most of them. The best in the business can pronounce them with such precision, the accent in their voice rises your envy level to a new high. And pro’s take pride in this skill – and thus, they should. However, everyone forgets. Once in a while, when showing off their amazing and stunning garden plants to their captivated audience, they may have an embarrassing lapse in their memory bank. So they just make it up. Next thing you know you are pointing to your new plant, telling your friends it is the Hosta ‘Monster Fries’ with no awareness you are sounding like a fool – or pro, depending on how convincing you are.
3 – They claim to be totally organic.
I bet my bottom dollar if we set up a hidden camera near an “organic gardener’s” unblemished gardens, we would witness the awful truth – they claim to be totally organic but have reached for a synthetic pesticide (at least once, or twice in their desperation). Let’s face it – professional and master gardeners take immense pride in their showcases, so if they have tried soapy water, picking off bugs by hand, setting up insect traps, and other natural organic methods – and still find a pest on their prized plant ordered for beaucoup dollars from a specialty nursery, they reach for a hidden bottle of “x” and spritz the sucker when no one is looking. By the way, to be “certified organic” you must prove it by supplying a great deal of tedious documentation. So anytime you see the words ‘certified’ – you should be able to trust it.
4 – They hide a really great reference source.
Master gardeners and professionals learn a great deal about plants and gardening by studying, trial and error, hands-on experience, or by taking college horticulture classes. But along the way, they discover an amazing resource book. Or they may have a trusted (other secret) professional gardener with whom they exchange all their tricks of the trade. But, they don’t tell you about this secret source or reference book. It is like a private club of pro’s sticking together and not letting anyone else in unless you are worthy. You know who I’m talking about, don’t you? Just like chefs do not reveal their “secret” ingredients, master and professional gardeners don’t tell all of their secrets either. They have some tools they keep to themselves. Otherwise, they risk not being “the master.”
5 – They are not really “Master” Gardeners.
Yes, this is probably the biggest dirty little secret of them all. Anyone can sign up for the master gardening program, and many of those who do are avid gardeners. When I took the classes, I discovered the true meaning of gardeners. So many of the program’s attendees were people with lots of dirt under their fingernails and have spent years, almost a life time, practicing the art. But if an attendee has little to no experience, and sits in a classroom for 16 weeks of training for 10+ hours a day, this does not instantly make them a MASTER gardener. So if someone says, I’m a Master Gardener, you may want to differentiate if that means they actually mastered years of experience in the garden, took other training (like college hort courses), and have official proof they are a “master” – Or if they just took the training program and are now claiming they are a Master. And really? A MASTER — This term is not applicable in the gardening world. Everyone knows you never truly master nature. Master gardeners are passionate, finish the program, pass the test, and are special volunteers contributing their time and energy to many horticulture related needs. These are the attributes which make unique and worthy.
6 – They have no social life.
People who spend all of their time in their gardens have little social life – how can they? Their gardens are perfect, lush, full, and maintained – so they are most likely spending most of their free time in their gardens. Granted they want to do so, and this is what makes them truly happy – but they are not using up their free hours to go on trips, shows, events, or parties. In fact, the only time they may be talking to real people is when those people are admiring their gardens. Gardening is their preferred past time, which yes, is “a life,” but most of the time they spend admiring and talking to their plants, and not people. Plants don’t talk back. If they are available for social events, see dirty little secret no. 1.
7 – They steal plants.
Most avid gardeners with master or professional skills will succumb to stealing a cutting from someone else’s garden or while on a tour of a botanical garden at some point. Why? Because they get jealous and must have that plant too in their garden to rank as high as the garden they visited. You see, they can’t resist taking a plant like a drug addict can’t stop taking pills. They have secret pruning tools hidden in their pockets and snip a cutting or grab some seeds, and then go home and enter their greenhouses to propagate them. They may even, God forbid, propagate plants with plant patents, prohibited by the horticulture industry. And some of them will sneak into their neighbor’s gardens while the neighbor is at work to take a seedling, thinking you won’t notice. They may even give you false flattery so you will volunteer a cutting to them. Even pro’s can reach those lows.
8 – They have a large bank account.
Some pro’s or masters have unlimited funds to spend on their garden maintenance, plants, and replacements when something fails. They don’t have tight budgets holding them back from buying brandy new plants anytime they wish – or big plants which they plop into their gardens and claim to have grown from a baby seedling. They can afford to load up their Lexus SUV with many expensive and unique specimens to add to their garden collections. When a plant is doing poorly, they can rip it out, and toss it in the compost. They will just go buy a new one. They dress up their gardens before their garden tour by doing just that. They may even buy some container gardens created by someone else (hint-hint), and place them just perfectly for your admiration as if it was their own. As shocking as this may be, some gardeners, especially pro’s can spend fortunes on their gardens – they may even have an inherited amount to use just for that! Not all of them are able to achieve grandeur without sufficient funds. Grandeur without funds can be achieved, but it takes skill, practice, knowledge – and patience. So hope is not lost if you are not rich.
9 – They misdiagnose plant problems.
There is a plethora of reasons why a plant may be ill or fail. To properly determine what the problem is, you have to do a thorough assessment, carefully look at symptoms and signs, and what the gardener has been doing wrong or where they planted it – or maybe the plant was sick before it left the nursery. You may ask your friend, the master gardener or a professional, and they give you an answer that sounds right. “Oh, that’s black spot,” they said. Well, you see spots, and they are black, but maybe it is not black spot. A pro should not guess, and many will not do so, but sometimes they just don’t know “for sure.” Even a scientist looking through a microscope can misinterpret the issue with the plant. That is because plants are a combination of science and art. Some diagnoses are obvious and based on facts, others are just guesses. Don’t be surprised if a pro misses the target from time to time. They are not as perfect as you think – they make mistakes too – just like an unseasoned or beginning gardener.
10 – They are better at mowing lawns.
When working in a garden center, I came across a few so called professionals knowing nothing about plants. They’d send their “clients” to the center to review their created design or ask questions about plants, and I would help them. But I thought, “Why isn’t the pro doing this with them?” Or a pro would show up and didn’t know that Ilex is a holly (well, genus of Holly trees and shrubs). There are lots of people out there offering their services with no formal education, experience, or plant knowledge. But everyone has to start somewhere – don’t they? And it could turn out that guy starting off mowing lawns has a great personality, the desire to meet their customers’ needs – and is willing learn – and maybe even become a true professional. But they started somewhere, and probably had some crying moments too. They just don’t want you to know about it.
Written by Cathy Testa
Antiques are not really my thing, but I love salvaged pieces and re-purposed items. Something about a pile of old watch faces displaying antique lettering or rusty railroad spikes made from wrought iron speaks to me. I think about how I might use them when combining art with nature in the garden and as decor in my container gardens.
So when I suggested visiting a vintage bazaar in Salisbury, Massachusetts to Steve, my husband, as an idea of “what to do on our anniversary this year,” he agreed to go. There was a nice “seal the deal” portion of the trip because on day two of the event, vintage motorcycles would be showcased, plus we planned to stay on the beach nearby.
Clever displays, Upscale and Classy.
All of the show’s vendors at The Vintage Bazaar in Salisbury, MA cleverly displayed their features and finds in well-spaced tents of a boutique style format. Their items were arranged in interesting groupings on the edges of their tents, and in an upscale classy way. There was also a raffle table where you could place your five raffle tickets received as part of your entrance fee of just $5.00. If you wanted to get there early to find the deals and get first dibs, you could do so by getting “early bird” tickets for $2.00 additional dollars.
It didn’t take too long to spot the unexpected, from eerie Ouija (weeje) boards to a cute little vintage travel trailer spiced up with adorable and charming embellishments inside and out. All included in the vendor’s asking price. The trailer sold during the “early bird” hour, prior to the gates opening at 10 am, for a price of $3,200-3,500 (I can’t remember the exact amount she stated, but I know it was in the 3’s). You may not expect to spend that much at an event like this – and you don’t have to – there were many bargains and deals as well (I got two huge golden reindeer for $4 each!), but seeing this special trailer did start the day off with a feeling of more good finds to discover. And I could imagine this cute little trailer right in a garden as a spot to relax and enjoy the views too.
Added bonus – getting Autumn Decor at the show.
There’s something special about visiting fairs and shows like this one during the fall season when you can also collect Halloween or Autumn decor to dress up your surroundings at home for the season. One of my favorites was works by Alycia Matthews made of paper mache and mixed media. I bought a cute little Halloween themed doll from her whimsical display to add to my collection of Halloween figurines. Alycia is located in Newburyport, MA and her works may be found via etsy at www.AlyciasArt.etsy.com.
Pumpkin Heads by Vergie Lightfoot.
And I was infatuated with handmade pumpkin heads with realistic painted eyeballs by folk artist, Vergie Lightfoot. I spotted this pumpkin headed manikin with a black velvet dress from yards away, and couldn’t stop looking and considering the others like this one in the tent. However, by this time, we had spent enough dollars on other finds, some at bargain prices – and with a weekend beach stay as part of this trip, we couldn’t justify the expense for a pumpkin head, even though the seller mentioned these pumpkin heads were talked about on The Jay Leno show last year, and he collects them. I can see why – they are comical and goofy. I especially liked the one in the little black shoe with a black umbrella.
There were other surprises – like this big basket or container created with saws. And things like a bowl or envisioned bird nest made with rebar. Both repurposed in a unique and creative way. These could be positioned in a garden as garden art and would last for years due to the material. The creators were thinking wisely and you can see the hand-crafted effort put into these items. And check out the mason jars – different ways to repurpose them into storage containers, whether for your spices or wine corks, it is a good use of a commonly available jar. You could easily recreate something like it with baby food jars too. However, getting them from an artsy person is always an option too if you don’t have any crafty bones in your body.
Other Garden Themed Decor.
The event gives you inspiration by viewing all the wonderful ideas and finds. Take these metal letters – perfect for creating a sign in a space like on a roof top patio or by a sitting area in the garden. Or how about the little decorative glass lantern below with a bird nest and other cute features, perfectly staged to add decor to a themed enclosed garden room. And the old typewriters remind us of prior years. When incorporating elements from the past into our spaces, we create thoughts and memories – and talking points. And who would think we would treasure the bowls or drinking glasses from the 60’s or earlier times? The once tossed or stored items by your parents or grandparents are treasured for so many reasons – they are rare, unusual, or bring back memories. Plus many come in great colors too.
Capping it off with a Harvest Fest.
After the vintage bazaar day, another traveler mentioned another find – an “Applecrest Harvest Festival” in Hampton Falls, NH. So after resting our feet for a bit, we drove there – and it was worth the visit. Fiddle band, warm apple pie with fresh ice cream, hayrides, orchards, tons of apples, peaches, figs, and homemade cider donuts. The waiting line for the donuts was very long, so we opted for pie and picked up some fresh goodies, then ended our day with another sit on the beach in our sweatshirts, waiting for the harvest moon to cap off another gorgeous sunset on a beautiful September weekend in the fall. And alas, it rained on Sunday (which it did on our wedding day 23 years ago – and seems to happen almost every September 22nd, but it is considered good luck – so we’ll continue to take it).
The Event’s Location.
The Vintage Bazaar in June and September is held on Pettengill Farm at 45 Ferry Road, in Salisbury, MA (only minutes from Salisbury Beach). I believe this was their 3rd annual this year in 2013. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm and entrance per person is $5.00. However, there is an “early bird” ticket option where you can enter earlier for $2.00 more which includes free entrance on Sunday. The parking is free. Several bands play during the day, and because the event is held on a beautiful flower farm, you also have the option to shop for plants at reduced fall prices. There are greenhouses, arbors, statues, fountains, and even a live emu on the premises. A beautiful map of the grounds, designed and rendered by “Order Up a Garden,” is displayed at the raffle drop off beyond the entrance booth. And by the way, The Vintage Bazaar is going on the road in October, partnering with The Boston Antiques & Design Show at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA. To learn more, visit: www.mybazaarlife.com.
Written by Cathy Testa
P.S. Steve did purchase something – an antique Budweiser serving tray. That surprised me the most – not that its BUD, but that he bought something for himself at this event! He was a good sport, and even though the next day’s rain prevented us from seeing the Vintage Motorcycles on day two, he went with the flow. Instead we opted to hit the road early back home and get some local pumpkins to put outside.
Another tip: Seaglass Restaurant on Salisbury Beach is outstanding. Great views and a nice treat for dinner, and take an easy walk on the beach after to work it off. Loved the side plates (appetizers) the best!
Links to business cards above:
and there were many many more…See HERE.
With the autumn season approaching followed by Thanksgiving and the holidays, you may be thinking about inviting friends over for parties, dinners or special events. The best way to get started is by considering a classy or different invitation to set the tone of your gathering and create a great first impression.
Not only are Halloween costumes being stocked on store shelves, we are seeing Christmas and holiday items too. Ugh on the Christmas ones, it is a tad bit too early in September, don’t you think? However, seeing the witches and goblins may prompt you to think about having a gathering for adults or kids. Here are some cute and clever designs by a little paper company in Arkansas called, “Odd Balls Invitations,” offering many wonderful themes and colorful stationary for this holiday and others.
Hayrides, autumn, and foliage.
Riding around on a farm during our beautiful foliage season in the northeast is a treat for adults and children. Include a pumpkin carving contest, a fireside chat, and some fresh apple pie. Then stop by the barn for some country music. Getting the idea? There are so many choices on the Odd Balls Invitations website, it is difficult to decide. I know these below ring true for me.
Thanksgiving, goobble-til-u-wobble, or farm fresh harvest dinners.
While you are out shopping or planning for the Halloween season, you may start thinking about Thanksgiving. My sister told me the other day she visited a winery and is keeping her bottles of wine as a special treat for our annual Thanksgiving dinner at her house. It is always helpful to plan ahead to reduce stress, and getting your invites ordered and ready is a good tip too. Surprise your family members this year with something unique or unexpected. Getting invites in the mail, the old fashioned way, is something special.
Christmas, holidays, and all things evergreen.
Yes, I just said it is too early to be bothered with thoughts of the December holiday season! True, agreed, but in my case planning for events starts next month. And for those who know already, my December class, is an annual. This invitation would be perfect, wouldn’t it?! So many themes in water color from traditional, classy to charming, can be found on the website called “Odd Balls Invitations,” where these were spotted when I was just browsing around for themed invitations.
Got a beer lover, horse rider, or other type of person in mind?
There is a plethora of themes to select from. See HERE for more. It will take you a while to view them all for there are so many. And each is well made by the artists, and again, sets the idea, tone, or style of your gathering – and if that gathering is for a particular person in your life, it is ultra special to represent them in your invitation style.
Mardi Gras and Carnival.
Because I have friends in New Orleans and been there a few times, I really enjoyed checking out the themes with masks, boa feathers, and vivid colors. Something for February or March. But these couldn’t be left out on this post.
Gardens, patios, and decks.
And I would be remiss if I did not include the floral types and garden themes showcased and offered by “Odd Balls Invitations.” There are many, many more to view, such as, Bugs and Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Tropical, Topiary, the list goes on. Click HERE to see them all. These are absolutely perfect for your spring or summer garden related gathering or event. Think garden tours, wine tastings, or tea time in the warmer season.
But back to the present moment, today being September 20th, there are still some beautiful days remaining to gather up friends to “relish in the golden, glimmering joys of autumn,” as Odd Balls Invitations so clearly represents in the above invitation with a beautiful urn and warm colored pumpkin. A wonderful representation of combining nature with art – and festivities.
Written by Cathy Testa