A Wreath for all Seasons

A wreath on the door is welcoming, friendly and adds a touch of charm to your entry.  Before the door is even opened, it sends a hug or handshake to your guests.

Wreaths can have many personalities, so it’s good to pick one that represents you.  Take some time to choose the “bones” of your wreath.  I personally love the twig wreath.  It can represent all seasons with a few simple adjustments.

First you might need to browse the internet or hobby store for a wreath that has the basic structure and appearance you want to convey to your guests.  Of course, the option of buying one pre-assembled is a short cut you might want to consider.

Generally speaking you can find a very natural look of twigs, pine, leaves, etc. to enhance by wiring, or tying your adornments to the body of your wreath.  I prefer a light leafy look or a few grassy, or wild-flower, stems to dress my twiggy wreath.  A ribbon or cord of your choosing and a wreath hanger will are helpful support system items for your wreath. ( I have to admit I have a nail I pounded into the door in my excitement to hang a wreath one year, and it has been there ever since…and works just fine!)

You can get ideas from images on line, or magazines before you begin your process.  However, I’ve been known to emotionally engage on the spur of the moment while I walk the isles of the craft store or art mart grabbing rolls of ribbon, berries, dried leaves or flowers and grasses to intermingle as i begin to get inspired.  It’s such fun; I just get it and keep it for other projects (they make wrapping presents a lot more fun) or to change out my wreath’s appearance another time.

We have reached that ‘twixt time of year when we can decorate for fall, or falling into Christmas.  I’m planning on adding some Christmas twinkles to my wreath pictured above.  I love simple, so it may have very slender ribbon strands, snatches of berries and maybe some tin stars…or rustic bells.  I’m getting excited to start already, but I don’t want to rush Thanksgiving out the door before it begins.

I hope you enjoy your project…I always recommend making a cup of tea or hot chocolate, unless you prefer a glass of wine to enjoy while working on your wreath.  I’ve been known to put on an old classic movie or turn on some music to balance my manic creativity.  

PS…You might want to have a wreath making party!  Set a date, invite a few friends to join you and bring the bones, etc. for their wreath…set out your refreshments and make some memories. 

                                                                           till next time,

                                                                                    Jackie 

 

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Fall…An Abundant, “Fun”tastic Season

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From beginning to end, fall is a cornucopia full of fun.  Here in southern California the change in leaf color is barely noticeable, but you can find it in a few variety of trees.  Living near 034Fallbrook, I love the way the gold shines out on our little, windy roads that lead into town.  Even the local vineyards turn to gold.  Pumpkins begin to show up in front of grocery stores and Lavender Hill Pumpkin Farm opens with its amazing varieties in all shapes, sizes, and colors spreading throughout in their growing ground.  006 Mike is the seed collector and business man, while he is often joined by his wife who loves to play her guitar and sing folk songs for the children…and often adults find her enthusiasm delightful too!

I love to begin buying pumpkins to use for decorating  from September through November.  I feel like a kid in a candy shop as I begin to pick my pumpkins for their color, size or unusual Our patio table pumpkinspatterns.  I put them both in and out of the house to welcome the season.  Decorating with them can be an art in itself.  I love to use burlap or plaid fabrics in fall colors on tables, in wheel barrows, boxes or draped over cabinets or tables covered 028with nuts, gourds and…of course, pumpkins with big, fat candles or luminaries to add fall intrigue to the display.  Then, I bring out any wooden bowls or bright colored pottery I’ve gathered through the years to find the right look for my pumpkins.  I like to contrast oranges with deep blue and white.  Outdoors, they wind up in boxes, cuddled together on the patio, or randomly placed in the garden.  We have been known to take a little tip to central coast to visit “Avila Farms” to see their mounds of pumpkins and to “See Canyon Apples” to celebrate fall.

Then, in October we can add the fun of Apple Season!  I love to visit the Apple Farms in Oak Glen or have Apple pie in Julian.  I even begin making pumpkin bread and Fall Vac 09 021 apple pie as time allows.  On top of that we have Halloween to enjoy.  A soft plastic skeleton or bat finds it’s way to the garden or  front porch lending to the fun.  I formerly lived in a neighborhood where the mailbox was up by the door on our front porch deck.   When I had outgoing mail, I tucked a waxy, fake hand into the mailbox holding my outgoing mail to have a little fun with our mail carrier… OK, that might be going a little overboard, but it was fun and I had kids at home to enjoy my mischief.  Halloween is scary fun…a time for dressing up just to be silly and laugh…to pop out and go Boo!  I loved to hang the black cats, witches, and bat drawings the kids made on the fridge.  How about you?  

The fun still lives on through Thanksgiving with turkey, pumpkin and apple pie, corn-on-the cob, butternut squash, cornbread…should I continue?  It’s a “fun-tastic” time when the chill hits the air and the fireplaces get lit…when trips to the mountains bring fall tree colors, and hot cider…when friends gather and we feel thankful for whatever abundance has come our way during the year.  When kids giggle and get to carve pumpkins, and hand tracings turn into turkeys, it’s a time for heart- warming memories for me, and the fun lives on.  Pumpkins can be very resilient …and I’ve been known to keep my best pumpkins out in the garden till spring!

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Wishing you a season filled with fun and happy hearts.

                                                                        Celebrating  Fall,                                

                                                                                      Jackie Jesch

 

Urban Small Space Gardening

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I love small cottages, with their cozy charm, the kind you find in small towns or historic communities within a city.  They are so charming, but often are on a small lot with limited gardening space. Also, popular and sought after beach front housing around small coastal communities, marinas, and bays often have compromised yard space due to the compression of building as many homes into small, cozy, or prestigious areas as possible.  In our urban communities more and more yard space is limited with the construction of duplexes, condos, and townhouses with shared park-like green space leaving very little plant-able “personal” space.

Fear not!  There are lovely solutions for gardeners who want their own garden of creativity.  You can introduce container gardens to  your porch or patio, or use window boxes for veggies, herbs, or succulent planters, painting them in colors you love to give

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them a more personal touch or going for the earthy natural style of metal or wood.  If you choose wood for planting, be sure to line your planter with plastic.  Rolls of plastic are easily found in the paint department of most hardware stores, as well as nylon screen for the bottom of planters and pots, so you don’t wash out planter mix or soil.  If you have space for a small trellis or overhead patio cover, you can have vines or hanging pots for color.  A baker’s shelf, often found in antique stores or vintage shops, can provide shelving in a delightful venue for setting pots and planters, or…a simple old wooden ladder propped against a wall or a free standing ladder can become a charming potted plant holder taking up very little space.  Just give it an inexpensive coat of paint and select a place in your unique growing space.
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Fences can be an opportunity for attaching a plant pocket, or partial rain gutter for herbs, succulents, or seasonal color depending on personal preference and exposure considerations.  Also, finding a 3-tiered fountain makes a great planter and can add some height for a unique and creative planting.  If you are lucky, you can find one on line that someone wants to get rid of…”what a find”.

Old wooden pallets can become incredible planters for succulents and take up very little space, by attaching ground cloth to the back, adding  some potting soil and planting in the cracks, while cuddling in the succulents with damp moss.  A simple old wooden ladder propped against a wall or a free standing ladder can become a charming potted plant holder taking up very little space.  Just give it an inexpensive coat of paint and select a place in your unique growing space.  Here are a few images that might give you some inspiration.

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Even a small balcony or porch can become your “Garden of Possibilities”… your “Peaceful Citadel” with a little imagination.  I hope as always that I have touched that earthy part of your soul that loves gardening… that transports you to the happy place in your corner of the world you call home.  May your creativity keep growing, as your hands keep diggin’ in the dirt.

Till our next visit,

Jackie 

 

 

 

Under the Spell of Cactus

 

I admittedly am a flower fan…perennials, roses, vines and anything “Wildflower-ish”, but…this fall on a trip to Ojai, I saw a large Opuntia with red round fruits on large oval pads near an adobe style home as we were taking a walk.  The combination was breathtaking.  I always take my camera to capture a delightful or unique moment.  I felt drawn into another dimension entirely as this adobe courtyard compelled me to enter… and tiny ground-hugging wildflowers garnished the setting.  The ambiance was enticing…almost hypnotic in the warmth of the afternoon sunshine.

Sometimes I go out for a walk through the nursery just as the sun is beginning to set and the light catches the spines on the vertical cactus giving it a soft glow.    Before long I’m on the ground, sitting, lying down in the dirt (whatever it takes) with my camera to catch the spell the setting sun casts on the cactus spines.  I watch as it lowers on the horizon…and I catch a shot of the Cacti as they softly radiate a silver or golden glow of gentle radiant light.  It gives them a romantic glow as evening approaches.

I’m also finding the beauty of patterns, shapes and markings… contrasting color of black or brown edging & thorns transform cacti into living art.  As I explore my new found interest in these unique specimens, it feels like a trip through a gallery….paintings, sculpture, creations of beauty.  It strikes me that landscaping with cacti is like painting with plants, gravel, and rock… you just create your masterpiece with a different media.

Agaves are extremely varied in leaf shape and size, and color.  They can be rigid or sprawling, wavy or straight but all bring their own dimension to the landscape.   When combined with verticals and orbs the drama of your “painting” unfolds like the curtain opening for a performance.

Some verticals are silver and slender, others blue with a top-knot of fuzz, and some others deep green with ripples and ribs, but they all have a part to play …adding height, casting shadows or catching the spell of the setting sun, while orbs, like Echinocactus grunsonii, the Barrel Cactus…with spines glowing like you’ve captured the sun itself look absolutely celestial in your landscape, while the green dotted pattern of the Echinopsis hybrid adds the intrigue of its subtle, quiet charm.

I now view a Southwest garden with splendor.  Mixing these astounding architectural cacti with drought tolerant perennials and soft succulents is an art that creates a “masterpiece” in the landscape.

As much as I delight in flowers, love how they dance in the breeze and make bouquets, I think I have found a new secret love.  I’ve become one of those girls who are attracted to the dangerous, good looking, mysterious type…the “Bad Boys” of the cactus world.  I know they are “armed and dangerous”, but I can’t help myself…I’m hopelessly under the “Spell of Cactus”!

More than Driftwood

 When I see a piece of driftwood, I think of the sea…but there is more to it than that. Driftwood is a survivor of the storms. It gets tossed, carved, polished and punished by harsh forces before it gets to shore. Even then it survives sun, wind, and more storms. I’ve often overlooked the journey of a piece of driftwood…only admiring the smooth, beautiful twists and turns…colors and shapes of the end result.

Some of them still look rough and worn…even battered, but others fair better and the beauty is brought about by their trials. The qualities of the wood from which they derive play a part in their journey, as well. Softer wood will show the ravages of a storm in a different way than hard wood and the intrinsic values of each wood…color, growth patterns, and density will be a part of the end result.  In any case, every piece of driftwood has a story.

I love to see driftwood used in the landscape, or used as a container for planting. It can be a wonderful patio or home décor accent, adding a touch of nature to your environment. I’ve seen it used as a base for tables or displayed on walls, even hung by rope or chain from beams…both inside and out. We can only guess the story of each piece as we place it, or plant it or hang it, but to be sure it will bring a story to your home, and no doubt be a conversation piece.

We are not that different from the driftwood, are we? We have trials, and storms to weather…we have certain characteristics handed down through generations…we have strengths, and weaknesses that can tear us down…or give us a hurdle to jump. We have stories too. Sometimes I see dozens of beautifully different faces, laughing, talking, playing or working…however, once in a while I catch a glimpse of someone I’d love to draw, or write about. Their face has character…lines and wrinkles that hold a smile…eyes that shine despite the creases around them, weathered hands that are gentle, or a raspy voice that carries soft encouraging words.

The next time I plant a piece of driftwood, or choose one to display…I will wonder where it has been, what is has experienced, and admire the intrinsic qualities of the wood…and I hope I can give more grace to the difficult people I encounter…or encouragement when I have a chance. There just might be a hurdle in their path, after all…we are all on our way to becoming “beautiful”.

Come by and take a look at our wonderful display of driftwood from Larry Bourget’s “Sea Foam Driftwood” here at Waterwise Botanicals. There might be a piece you identify with…a soulmate from the sea…an intriguing accent for your home or garden waiting for you!

Perennials that dance in the wind have a “wild” quality that is so appealing. They express grace and softness in the landscape becoming the “music of the garden” as they sway. I love to see a variety of color playing host to one another, creating a whimsical, inviting appearance. Let’s take a look at a few favorites that attract Butterflies and some that attract Hummingbirds, as well… adding an extra dose of joy!

            Salvia Amistad is in the mint family with deep green foliage on long graceful stems. Its blossoms of purple line the top of the stems in the summer and fall. I like to keep mine at about 3’ tall by simply snapping the stems down to maintain the overall grace and width of this gorgeous perennial. Its water needs fall into the medium range, and likes cool sun to light shade.                               * Attracts Butterflies and Hummingbirds

            Gaura lindheimeri has long stems lined with little flowers that resemble Butterflies and blooms spring through fall, taking a break in the winter. It comes in both white and pink & will need pruning to the ground a couple of times a year to refresh the foliage and flowers. It grows to about 3 ½ feet tall and wide. My personal preference is the white…it seems wispier and a bit taller than the pink. Gaura is deer and rabbit resistant and attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies.

            Lavendula heterophylla, or Sweet Lavender produces soft, wispy, blue-purple flowers that rise up above the foliage almost year-round. It exudes a sweet lavender scent that adds a nice touch of aroma therapy to your garden, and doesn’t like a lot of water. To keep them thriving by giving them a diet of low water and sunshine. They grow to a nice size of about 3’ x 3’ tall & wide, love cool climates, attract Butterflies, but do struggle in the hot summer.

           Tagetes lemmonii is a soft shrub forming a loose rounded form with fern-like green leaves and golden yellow daisy-like flowers. Its herbal foliage gives it a scent of Marigold…something one loves or strongly dislikes, but its overall bloom appeal is like sunshine in your garden, attracting Butterflies, as well! It needs little water, and loves the sun, blooming mostly in the fall/winter and sometimes into spring depending on the weather. It will need a good pruning after blooming to insure new growth and flowers.

            Centranthus ruber is another eye-catcher with its pink, reddish or white flowers on 2-3 foot slender stems. It spreads by re-seeding aggressively, but can be controlled by weeding out new growth & pruning. I often just chop and pull randomly to keep a nice, wild impression. Centranthus makes an absolute beautiful haze of color spring through fall. It is deer and rabbit resistant, attracts Butterflies and is easy to grow!

           Heuchera sanguinea blooms winter through spring on slender stems about 18” tall lined with bell shaped coral flowers deriving from a cluster of low green rounded leaves at the base. These “Coral Bells” add graces and color as they dance in the breeze. They like filtered sun or partial shade to full sun along the coast, like regular garden watering, and attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds!

Lobelia laxiflora has slender stems with small tubular orange/red flowers at the tips spring through fall, and grows to about 2 ½ feet tall, but spreading to about 4+feet wide. It’s very graceful habit is beautiful in a “Wild Perennial” garden as well as water-wise. It loves the sun to partial shade and takes a little pruning to keep its flowers freshened. It attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies!

Salvia clevlandii is a bit more of a shrub, but one with some great aroma therapy going on! Between it’s whorls of sweet smelling lavender flowers and the herb scented foliage it carries an amazing scent and wonderful impact when planted in your garden. Its long stems still sway in the breeze and it blooms from spring to mid-summer. It loves good drainage, is water-wise, a California sun-loving native, and attracts Butterflies!

*As an added note, I’d like to suggest scattering California Poppy seeds in with your graceful perennials. They add a wonderful “wild” grace like a spring bloom in the desert, as well as attracting Butterflies with a punch of orange color.

“The Power of a First Impression”

When friends and family come to visit, does your landscape or garden offer a welcoming smile…an embracing hug on your behalf…or a “keep out” sign? 

I know that might sound a little odd, but the first thing people notice is thefirst-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-5 warmth or appeal of your home garden. It conveys an invitation, or a cold shoulder depending on the appearance, often called “curb appeal” by realtors.

The first impression of your landscape can truly set the mood first-impression-pics-for-articleof your home, whether it’s free-form and flowery, jewel-toned succulents, easy breezy perennials and grasses or cool, comfortable foliage. During our lives we often meet people that are engaging and positive. They leave us with a pleasant feeling. Our gardens can be that kind of ambassador to the outside world.

first-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-3Have you ever taken a walk and were suddenly stopped in your tracks by a beautifully simple landscape that seemed to speak to you. Maybe it was the colors…or the textures…or the soothing grace or symmetry that first-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-2impressed you. Perhaps it was a couple of chairs or some bird feeders…a stone path instead of concrete…a swing on the porch and lattice arbor.

 

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If your landscape has lost its appeal…gotten dull, and unimpressive, you can give it new life…a smile to welcome you home, or to others who pass by. Take a fresh look at what your garden says to the world around you. Sometimes even our aging gardens need a little “face lift”…after all, our environment affects our mood, and it can lift or deflate.

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Landscaping is one of the least costly ways of softening and enhancing your home.  It can also add to its value not just in terms of resale, but the “Home Sweet Home” feeling you can’t put a price on!