Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Heading out to San Francisco....

Inhale, deep breath, sigh. Tomorrow I am leaving for a weekend in San Francisco. It is an annual affair with my favorite girls in the whole world. My daughters of course! We are staying at the Fairmont on Nob Hill and are planning to do... nothing! We are all ready for a relaxing weekend of doing whatever we feel like doing. All of us have many people we take care of and lots of stress and we are all ready to take a breather and just relax. Our biggest concerns will be where to eat and what drink to order. 
But knowing us, we will fit in a little time for home design and fashion. We all love to walk so I'm sure we will do justice to the hills of San Francisco.  

See you next week!

This is my family. My girls, from the left, Robin (the wonderful mom of Jack and Lola), Aimee (the incredibly talented chef) and Sarah ( a first grade teacher who does wonders with her students).

The beautiful Fairmont on Nob Hill. We go on a girl's vacation once each year and when we go, we do it right!

 Oh yeah, there will be a lot of this going on.

 The bridge!

 The wharf!

The hills! 
OK, I gotta go pack. Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 23, 2012


As I sit here in the quiet of the early morning enjoying my coffee I am thinking about how good sore muscles feel. Lifting 140 blocks, digging the dirt to level them, setting 75 bricks for a mowing strip, it is a lot of hard work. But I like the way I can feel it in my bones and the knowledge that hard physical labor in my gardens will keep me strong and healthy into my "golden years". It's a good kind of sore.

So into the garden I went this weekend with the plan for a small retaining wall for the bed on the backside of the pool.
Remember this photo, you probably can't tell but the line of boxwood's is set up about a foot into deep rich compost. Unfortunately that means the compost was always getting into the grass and I finally had to make the decision to find a way to hold the dirt in. I used the flagstone blocks from Lowe's. My daughter just down the road is putting a wall around her boxwood circle in front of her house and used blocks also. We will forged into the woods this week, gather bags of moss, bring it home and put it in the blender with buttermilk. Then we will "paint" it onto the new stone and soon they will have that lovely mossy aged look.

This is the before:
This is the after. 

Yes, that is a new terrace you see. As I was installing the little wall I realized that the far side of the pool needed a seating area. And if there is one thing I detest it is moving lawn furniture so I can mow.  
 I used the same stones to form a border to hold the gravel, then laid layers of newspaper over the grass. I used 1/2 inch crushed and rolled granite for the gravel. It has softer edges than regular crushed rock, more interest and it stays in place better than round rock. 
One and 1/2 yards filled the 14 x 14 space perfectly. Add chairs, an umbrella and pots and voila, a new seating area.

 I need to find just the right thing for the garden behind the chairs. Maybe a tree that will eventually provide shade. In the meantime the big umbrella is on a swivel so it can be turned in a complete circle to block the sun at any time of the day. 
That's our trusty blue tractor in the background. We have had it for fifteen years and it has been has a faithful friend, helping me to build all my gardens at my old house. This weekend it hauled a yard of compost over to the fence so I could bucket it into the pots. 
Mark was so smart and make the fence so we could take down individual sections. We just removed the section behind this so we could back up the truck full of gravel and bring the tractor bucket right up the beds and it makes life so much easier!

 This is the lovely espaliered apple tree from one of our local nurseries, McAuliffe's. I like to but from them because all the trees are grown right at the nursery so they are grown in local soil and are used to our climate. 
It is loaded with blossoms and promises a good crop of Fuji apples.

The tree fills this space perfectly, now I just need to set about determining the under plantings.Things are still coming up so I need to wait and see, but I do know I want some small evergreens to add year round interest. 

OK, off to a wholesale garden supply with my girlfriend Diane, daughter Robin and my three year old twin grandchildren, Jack and Lola. I need one more arbor to complete the focal point on my side yard! A stop at the Silvana Butcher Shop for organic chicken and then lunch somewhere along the way will make for a great day. 

Friday, April 20, 2012


These gardens are amazing.The climate is so different from where I garden, but the plant placement, focal points and designs are universal. Really, really beautiful!

Today I bought a gorgeous espaliered apple tree to place against the wall at the far end of the circle lawn. I will plant it this weekend and post the photos. I also hope to get the cement pillars into place if Mark's back holds up! 
Happy gardening.

 Are you serious? Breathtaking! 
I am falling in love with Italian Cypress all over again. I grew two at my old house and they got to over 20' tall. Hated leaving them.

 The way the limb of that tree curves overhead is simply splendid.

 Love the patio floor. What am I saying, love it all!

 Where can I pick up a table like this???? And how about a load of that gravel while you're at it.

 The more I garden the crazier I get about stone and gravel.

 Well now, I'd be happy to drink out of this!

The Italian Cypresses are placed perfectly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I am in full on gardening mode. I have been reading Tara Dillard's blog and I love it. In fact, I spent the last three days working my way through all three years of it. I really like her writing style, short, blunt, opinionated and to the point. You can check out her blog at

I was running errands today and stopped by one of the vintage garden stores I like and found some great stuff. I also am getting ready to incorporate items from previous finds into my garden. 

Mark and I went to an auction for farm implements. We didn't find what we needed for the tractor, but I did spot this chimney pot and bought it for a song. It now resides in my daughter's front garden and looks lovely.

This is one side of a circle I did in the main lawn in the back yard. 

As we were leaving the auction I spotted these two beauties literally laying in a ditch covered with blackberries. I asked the owner if he would consider selling them. He said yes, but they'd be $15, each. Well I think I hesitated for at least 1/100th of a second before saying sold. He then got his tractor out and lifted each of them into our truck. They will sit in the dirt in the previous photo and I will plant all manner of sedums and roses and whatnot around them. Such a find! 
Mark was not thinking so this weekend when he moved them to the garage. 
The ground here is still too wet so we will wait for it to dry out and then move them into place. Now, which urns shall I place atop them????

Today I found this splendid item at the vintage garden shop. Delightful!

But wait, there was two of them! Can you see them planted with moss from our woods, filled with trailing vines and ferns.

My plan is to place them on the garage. I am thinking the inside part of the wall of the two portions that extend out. What do you think?

I also found this amazing wood birdcage. 

And this porcelain woven bowl. Love them both!

I have been studying John Saladino's gardens. What a master! I will share photos with you soon. This weekend promises to be one of our best this year, so I will be in the gardens from morning to night!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Spring has arrived! We have had several days of sunshine and it has been heaven. Early in the morning birds are chirping as I make my coffee. The air is cool and crisp with the smell of the earth and growing things. Is it any wonder that springtime is the proverbial time to fall in love? But I think they have it wrong, it is with the earth, not a man! Although I need that too. How else am I going to get those heavy pots drug around?

We moved into our home sixteen months ago. We lived with the yard last summer, learned our paths and living patterns. In the fall we set about bringing in soil and laying terraces and courtyards. So happy how it all came together. Lots more to do, but the fine tuning is the fun of it. Actually, I love the whole process, but this part the best.

The covered porch off the kitchen is probably one of my favorite things we did. Added this terrace last fall. 20 x 20 squares spaced two inches. Planted Elfin Thyme between them. Scoured every nursery within 25 miles and because it was fall could only do part of the filling in. I am already on the hunt this year to find the Thyme and complete the project.

This terrace is off the hill side of the covered porch. See the pipe in the corner? I buried it about three feet in the ground. My plan is to put a very large rotating umbrella in it. That will allow us to cover the outdoor table from all angles easily. I loath those umbrellas in the middle of the table that do nothing to shade more than one person! I will cut it off and paint it dark bottle green to blend in.

View across from the covered porch past the pool. This is our cow pasture with woods beyond. If you have a pool you know there are fence codes. Not a fan of chain link or any of those other sad choices. We built a three board fence with lumber we harvested and milled from our own trees. I then bought one inch wire mesh and attached it to the outside. Searched to find black mesh so it would disappear into the background. The code was one inch so children cannot get a foothold and climb it.

The pool, sited near the hillside where it drops off steeply. White cement stone, 26 inched wide,  surrounds the pool. Simple, I love it.

 Grass is thin, just seeded last fall. Need to add to it. Just got a wonderful organic fertilizer with iron, but not the kind that stains cement. I also ordered some seed that is supposed to be amazing. Roots 12 inches deep, needs very little water. If they work I'll post the names.

 That is the garage in the background. It is a beautiful design.

 Door to the pool room. I always wanted a yard full of daffodils and tulips. Last fall it was an absolute to do on my list. Plan to add more each year.

More of the garage.

 The pots surprised me with how much came back early. This African Ivy is amazing. I had no time for spring pots, so whoever showed up got center stage.

 Love the pansy and daffodils

 Not crazy about my porch chandeliers, but was at that stage and could not find/afford what I wanted. these will do until the others find their way home.

 French doors to the kitchen, extra large panes, saw it in an old Grange Hall and loved them. The BBQ is hidden around the corner, tucked in on a little pad. Blue stone path to the backdoor, where there is a bathroom right inside, no traipsing through the whole house to get there.

I do love the door lights. Restoration Hardware.

I will continue to post as the gardens develop and I add to them. I love to watch the yard evolve. next time I will show you my little side yard with fruit trees and hydrangeas.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When you're alone and life is making you lonely you can always go, DOWNTOWN!

Our small town is a wonderful throw back to another time. It has one main street filled with great shops. It is known for it's antique stores, but my favorites are the vintage home stores. 
It has an old fashion steel trussed bridge that gets covered with Christmas lights during the holidays, we have wonderful parades for every occasion. The bakery has been there since I was a child, the buildings are all very old, and I love it. 
The shop my girlfriend has space in is on the corner of main street. It is called Ruffles and Rust and is one of many shops where there are great "finds"on first street. On Monday we redid her windows and used the items I made and featured in a post a few days ago. 
It is hard to get good photos because the windows reflect what's going on in and across the street, but I did my best!

 I took these great, huge iron urns and filled them with moss from our woods. Then I planted them with Hydrangeas and golden bleeding heart. They are so beautiful! I feel like they need a good home on my patio.
Isn't the Madonna splendid. I was so taken with her.

 Here is the mannequin dressed in her finest. 

A close up of her, the windows make it hard to see.

 I papered the walls with hand done sheets that matched the matting in the prints.

 I did this close up so you could see the birds on the moss stick. I just took a broken limb from our woods and added birds turned in different directions. I have to say I think they are pretty adorable.

You can see the old bridge in the reflection.

It is hard to see the pots to the right of the photo, they are the most beautiful shade of blue.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone. We are lucky enough to have the sun making an appearance and it is a welcome sight.
Here are some pictures of lovely Easter baskets. 
Have a wonderful day!