2019-04-18T19:51:30-04:00By |8 McDowell, Friday Flowers, Garden|

Lots of small jobs around the garden this week: time to update the pots! Looking great! But that was a month ago and now the pansies are brown and almost gone. I had won (at a garden club dinner!) these two planters years ago and love them. For years they were sort of planter orphans: no home in the garden seemed right for them. But now they sit in the front entryway and are perfect. The pansies do well all winter: when it's cold and icy the flowers shrivel up but give them a day of sun and some warmer temps and they flourish! But, given that this is the hot Western side of our house, I have to be careful in summer. So this year I have filled them with Portulaca and Delosperma (Ice Flower); both are wonderful in hot, dry conditions! I added that one dark purple petunia...we shall see.   Another 'to-do' is to plant seeds. I don't plant many seeds as I find they just do not do well for me. Last year a friend started some in his greenhouse for me (seeds brought back from England so they were very special!) but otherwise I avoid them. However, here I am, with Zinnia seeds brought back from Petersham Nursery in London. So...I put them in this big pot [...]


2019-03-24T14:51:19-04:00By |8 McDowell, Shopping|

Are you a fan of Marie Kondo and the KonMari movement? Do you try to have your tidying up moments "spark joy?" Buy it here To be honest, I have not read the book. I've looked at it. And lately I have watched sections of several of the episodes on Netflix. Again, to be honest here, I am amazed at the tidying up "fever" that has swept over us! I am not a fan. There. It is all so prettified; so canned; so perfect. We are led to believe that by tidying up...I know, there is so much more to it than just that...we will lead better, happier, more focused lives. I totally agree that most of us have just plain TOO MUCH stuff. Shopping is a national pastime; malls have become our mode of recreation; and often it is quantity over quality. But her version of "tidying up" is much more than that and requires a huge life shift. It's just not that simple, folks. So, now that you know how I feel about all this let's get to the heart of my post. My takeaway from watching the bits that I did yielded one very good experiment. I tried it! I tried the very simple, physical way of rolling things before placing them in a drawer. My house is generally [...]


2019-03-14T17:07:43-04:00By |8 McDowell, Friday Flowers, Garden|

Container gardening is one of the things I love most about gardening.  I love the colors and textures (surprise, surprise, right?) Containers can, sometimes, be the only way to garden in a difficult spot. We have a Japanese Maple in our terrace garden that totally prevents me from digging into the ground below it. Containers to the rescue! They add dimension to certain spaces. The tall green one below forms an end point in one garden and raises the eye a bit. I've always liked containers by a front entrance. In my case, we have brick steps leading to a brick porch area with the front door. What a perfect place for containers. The only problem here is it faces directly west with that very hot afternoon sun so I have to be very careful with what plants will survive. Succulents have, over the years here, been the best choice.   Here is a photo I had put into Instagram back in February. You can see what was, to my eye, pure garden candy! Oh the colors. So, of course, I went back and bought that orange one you see at beginning of this post. Do I love it? You bet. This is a BIG pot. So how to fill it without it weighing a ton? I refer you to a long-ago post I [...]


2018-10-24T13:22:11-04:00By |8 McDowell, Cooking|

Banana Blueberry bread: are you hungry yet?   BANANA BLUEBERRY BREAD   Print 10 mins 40 mins 50 mins   Easy to make and oh so good. Freezes very well. Author: Libby via Epicurious Recipe type: Quick Bread Serves: 3 small loaves Ingredients 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 1 cup sugar 2 eggs, beaten 2-3 ripe bananas 2 cups flour 1 tsp. baking soda ½ ts. salt 1½ c. blueberries, best if mixed with a little flour Instructions Grease inside of pans you are going to use: I prefer small pans but you can certainly use 9x5 pan. Preheat oven to 375 Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or with mixer In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add this to the butter/sugar Mash the bananas and add to the bowl. Sift the dry ingredients and slowly add this to the bowl until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the blueberries. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 375 for 15 min. Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 30 min. Watch the pans: mine took less time.. Cool before removing from pans. 3.5.3251   Seriously, this is one of the best quick breads I have ever made. I'm not sure what makes it quite so good...must be the proportions. I did use blueberries I had picked in [...]


2018-06-11T10:12:31-04:00By |8 McDowell, Color, Friday Flowers, Garden|

Dreaming of flowers yet to appear: and all of these are yellow. I was never really keen on yellow flowers, but preferred the blues and pinks. But that was in a different climate! Here, in the Piedmont of North Carolina where the summers can be brutal, it's the yellow flowers that outshine, and outlast, all others.       A page from my garden planner!       I had posted this two years ago! My Recommendations: for (almost) foolproof, heat tolerant, summer flowering yellows Helianthus 'Table Mountain' Heliopsis 'Summer Sun" Rudbeckia 'Irish Eyes'     aka 'Gloriosa Daisy' Helianthus 'Western Sunflower' Rudbeckia ‘Henry Eilers’ I have grown all of these and love them. They do seem to flower a little earlier each year that they are in the garden..but that's fine with me. Just be sure they are not in damp, wet soil. They love dry. With all the rain we have here for the last two weeks I noticed that one of my Table Mountain plants had pretty much rotted at the soil line, so out it went today. But on my hot Southern slope they are growing by leaps and bounds.    


2017-11-05T16:51:15-05:00By |8 McDowell, Garden, Shopping|

While I am not a fan of decorating my house with autumn decor,  I do have autumn flowers around (surprise, surprise!) and maybe, just maybe, a few white pumpkins. But that is the extent of it. However, there is something appealing about an autumn wreath. When done well they can be lovely; but let's try to keep it in mostly live materials. Some faux berries or a few silk leaves will be tolerated... but dried flowers, berries, leaves and grasses are the best. Here are a few ideas I've gathered for you. Many of the best products are available from vendors on Etsy: there is a huge variety both in terms of price and design. So take a look: From 100% live materials HERE   Another totally alive beauty HERE   Here is a company I found on Houzz: The Magnolia Company This is stunning! Their items are fresh, picked daily! Find it HERE   How about this beauty, also from The Magnolia Company: The Turkey Pheasant Wreath! Available HERE   Another natural and dried materials HERE     This is definitely cool: made from dried Pennycress and birch twigs HERE   A beauty...and one that could easily transition into the Christmas season HERE   Another dramatic dried materials [...]

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