December 3, 2020

Christmas Inspired by Nature

 When my treasured friends/talented superpowers, Cindy Hattersley,  Mary Ann Pickett  and Annie Diamond asked me to join this discussion, I immediately said YES! 

Easily said, this is my favorite style...Nature Inspired                     

I am opting to feature what we have been busy creating for clients, outdoor decorating, predominately planters. 

First, let's explore the basics,  from a northern climate

*. Never use terra cotta, they will fill from rain or snow, freeze, expand, and POP!

*  Soil is the best medium to use, never foam which can split and crumble

*  Add the interest of berry branches but only hard plastic. Not plastic coated foam, they will crack & pop. Real berries turn black & drop. These will last 3-5 years!

* Use a variety of greens for an interesting composition

* Look around your natural world, try branches, fallen pine cones, clipped evergreens.....

* You will need twice as many greens as you think. Go big, and go thick, the branches will diminish once frozen.

Here are varieties to consider. All plantings are by us, over the years

At the shop, where I can experiment, is a composition of greens; long needle pine, spruce toppers, and variegated Euonymus, nearby and in need of pruning. faux berry stems and lotus pods

Big impact! Packed with faux plastic berry stems, surrounded by Noble Fir
With Boxwood surround. 
A favorite for narrow spaces; a boxwood wreath lain over the urn opening and filled with red twig dogwood. This will last until Spring, oftentimes with the dogwood sprouting
Yellow twig Dogwood, with pods, cedar fronds and hard blue plastic berries. Notice the blue shutters? Step back and look at your architectural can they be enhanced?
White painted Birch sticks
Here I chose a combination of orange curly willow and yellow twig dogwood. Deep inside are numerous battery operated lights, it positively blazes at night
A garland wound around this formal urn and draping to the sides
This composition uses boxwood garland along the rear of the container, highlighted by ribbon

Lotus pods, seeded Eucalyptus, boxwood, silver blue fir
This ribbon I use so much is velvet & taffeta (some form of polyester) is so beautiful and does beautifully outdoors, often for YEARS!

We created this ages ago and a favorite on Pinterest
Leaving in the Fall Cabbages, they last most of the winter
See the drape of Bell Eucalyptus? Never use indoors, as they dry the scent of cat urine permeates everything!
Feathers, burlap ribbon, Eucalyptus, Noble Fir, and a Angel Vine nest. This product comes as a mess, one big box of a tangle, ove separating and making nests. I Spring I will add these nests to containers with a tiny egg inside
Matching another homes berries to the shutters
A quiet composition
Silver fir, red huck, spruce, oregonia, magnolia, with horizontal birch logs tied with rope cradling really good plastic cones (you would swear they are glass). When I use magnolia leaves, I only use faux stems,. The good ones they look real and do not fold up going gray (northern climates)

The Eucalyptus pulls out the shutter colors
For a later upcoming surprise venture at this place!

Objects.....I love using them in containers

Up close, a concrete acorn nestled with greens, berries, and angel vine. How about that container, the detail? It too is concrete!
A pair of Doves

Last year I hosted a Christmas walk at our home. My front urns were a wild combination of raised, oversized "nests". A talented friend Sherri Buck Baldwin, a professional artist, sent me this drawing. Lucky me!

Please visit all seven bloggers on these Nature Inspired Christmas posts, you will love these!


May 1, 2020

The Coronavirus Diary & Fab links to try

  I will have to stay my initial reaction and silence was part down & out,  and part relief....a needed rest. How are you faring?

Here in Illinois our Governor wisely, that is my opinion, said we are not to reopen until 5/30, allowing some businesses to open, such as golf courses and garden centers. He is however being challenged in court

Imagine 1918's Pandemic. Letters and manuscripts from that era all speak of rampant feelings of isolation, no tv, movies, internet, email, instagram....very little sources of news, and in the case below, flu masks. Life can always be worse. Here's to hoping all of you are well, safe, and not bearing serious financial problems. It is tough out there 

Ok, a bit of levity.....If there is anyone out there who has not seen, The Woman in the Closet, enjoy!

We have a huge announcement.......
Our new website is UP....ta da! Not yet for online sales, that will follow. Still some glitches but I could not wait any, longer as it has already been in process for three years! Once all sorted, we will host a big contest......stay tuned

TV.....who else is enjoying "permission" to lounge around and watch?  Well, yes, to a point. If you love design, and are not watching the UK's series, GRAND DESIGN on Netflix, rush over. impossible builds, and renovations, my hands down favorite! 
Speaking of TV Have you noticed the home backgrounds of tv personalities? I just love looking and well,  judging. My favorite being Lara Spencer of GMA, her decor from room to room is a beautiful blend of vintage and new, plus all the dogs that come and greet her.
My pick for worse....Jimmy Kimmel.....what is that?
 And while searching for an image for Ms. Lara's home, this popped up, anyone else feel thoroughly inadequate? Sigh.....
Naturally our France tour in June was cancelled. So far England is still on for mid-September. Here are garden tours you can enjoy now at home via the National Garden Scheme. I love this national organization, they contact predominately private gardens, to ask if the owners will open their gardens on specific days for charity. It enables so many to 'peek inside' while helping the less fortunate. Enjoy these tours!
The first time I went to England, we sought out this organization and to our delight, visiting cottage gardens and grand estates was over the top. Most serve tea and cakes or scones, very charming and quite welcoming. Being tremendously thirsty and not able to abide tea, I asked if they had water, "no was the response, the only other beverage is squash"  Squash? Imagining juiced zucchini, I relented. Was I ever delighted when she handed me the juice of an orange!

How about a short series on Amazon Prime called
 THE BIG HOUSE REBORN, a dear friend just told me about it. A 200 year old manse in Northern Ireland with stunning gardens has fallen into serious disrepair that the National Trust embarks on a 3 year and many pounds later, restoration.
If you follow us on Instagram, the shop and myself, look for our Quarantine Quickies....brief clips teaching home & garden tips plus merchandise available for pick up or delivery 
The Shop Instagram
My Instagram
Our Consignment shop, SG TOO

Lastly, I found an album on Spotify called Isle of Calm, brought to you by NPR, check it out, you may like it too!

Dear Friends, at the end of this it is said, everyone will know a life lost due to the virus. Thus far, I can say I do not, and pray you do not either. Please stay safe


February 16, 2020

Want to get away?

Yes, it is that time again, when my British partner Sylvia and I ready our three European tours for 2020 to France, England or Scotland!

 Europe holds my heart, the varying cultures, the architecture, the music, food, uniquely different. Isn't travel good for the soul?
These do book quickly since we take small groups, no more than 15 and for women only. These are boutique excursions with an emphasis on rubbing elbows and getting to know the locals, with access to private homes and gardens, to break bread together, all on a personal level

Paris and Provence
June 10 to June 18th, with a pre-tour opportunity, June 9th, for a tour of Monet's Giverney

I love this journey!

Highlights include........

Wine & Cheese pairing.....truffle hunt.....private
antique time.....wineries.....perfumerie.....OOOOH LA LA!
(these are my photos of past trips)


September 15th to September 23rd

Our premiere journey.....and 25th year!

The countryside of England is magical, thatched cottages..... cream teas.....private homes and gardens
flower arranging course in a 15th c chapel.....antique time.....
Prince Charles Highgrove..... and a renown UK Artists studio
(these are my photos of past trips)


October 8th to October 16th

Join us for our maiden voyage to glorious Scotland!

Based in Edinburgh be prepared to discover this magical and mystical region!

Tour Outlander filming sites.....castles & ruins.....autumn gardens.....antiquing.....whisky tour.....bagpipes & kilts.....royal yacht Britannia.....charming villages


For details email me for an itinerary, pricing, anything I can assist with. 


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