Thursday, August 25, 2016

First Things First - Color

Yes, this paint has been on the walls for six months now, but I've been lax at posting. My intentions were to document on the blog the process of moving and decorating. That never happened. I did, however, take plenty of pictures so I can do some of that now.

Color is always the first thing to consider, and since South Calhoun was really and truly a blank canvas I was excited to use color in a much more thoughtful way than in the past. This was the first time I have ever been able to get everything painted ahead of moving, and since major pieces of furniture would be relocated (like the bookshelves that had been my "headboard" at Sheridan Court moving to the living room, and the china cabinet moving into my bedroom since I would now be without a proper dining room) I wanted to take full advantage of this lucky situation. Thankfully, with the help of friends and my contractor (heh, heh) it all got done in time.
I've been using Bedford Gray in my kitchens ever since Martha Stewart invented the color to use on everything, and I mean everything, at her Katonah farm. I love how it changes in the light. It's a darker gray than my old living room, but with the abundance of natural light and the 12' ceilings it works better than I ever imagined.

As in the past, we painted all of the trim and molding the same color. I love how it makes the details pop out. I wanted to, and then was convinced to, paint the pantry door and laundry closet door the same as the walls. They look great. I kept the front, bathroom, and bedroom doors and their trim white, but now want to paint them Bedford Gray as well.

The gray that went up in my bedroom made me nervous at first. It was really dark.

But we plowed ahead. The more walls it covered the more I liked it. I'm not used to having a largish bedroom, and that might have been what worried me at first. This would be quite dark in a small bedroom. The plan was always to use a lot of white in the room, but it was also the space my collections of faux bois pieces, mercury glass vases, and gilded mirrors and frames would occupy. Once everything began moving in and being hung I realized the color was perfect. Going with my gut paid off.

Keeping the trim white in here helps connect everything, as well as lightens the room. The wall at the right in the picture is destined to have some type of built in headboard or panelling or something or other. It will be a great winter project for my contractor.

Kyoto Green was another color for which I had been holding onto the paint chip for years. Here it worked perfect in the bathroom of all places,

Looking from the living room toward a glimpse of the bathroom. The green is bright, but wonderful for a small room. These are two of the doors I still want to paint.

The move was one of the worst weeks of my life. I'm really not exaggerating. One of my three big bookcases had to be cut down in order to fit them on the wall. I was rather bitchy at the time (I swear I measured like eight times!), but once it was all said and done they look great and I really don't even notice the change.

The only room that didn't get the color treatment was the closet, but more on that later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Neglect and Forgiveness In the Garden

I'm really not sure when I lost track of how many days I had spent away from the garden. There was work. And 90 degree weather. And no rain. And a lot of Sunday Fundays. Weeding was difficult in the baked over soil, and planting was impossible. A few new planters were filled. Tomatoes and beans planted, but other than that I really didn't do much this year.

 It seems like ever since the move I feel very settled, but at the same time completely unsettled. I've physically settled down (fine, there are still a few boxes under my bed that need unpacked), but there are so many other things happening in my life that remain unsettled I've become rather crazy and neglectful of some of the things I love. The poor garden has taken the brunt of that neglect.

With the break in the weather and several days of good, soaking rain, I took a stroll around and sort of took stock. There are so many things I want to change. The White Garden experiment might fall by the wayside as I simply expand the Shade Garden. And maybe a stand of Oriental lilies by the vegetable garden, both for cutting and for drawing in pollinators. The Berry Patch needs a complete overhaul, and I need to read up on pruning gooseberries and currants. The greatest thing about creating a garden is that it never ends. You are never finished. Much like people should be, a garden is a work in progress. There is always the need for a place for something new. If something fails, there is always another plant that needs to be divided that can fill it's place.  Always changing for better or worse, but the worse always made better. 

If only my own "work in progress" was so easily accomplished.

I was happy to see how good the garden was actually doing after weeks of heat and very little rain. There are purple beans and wax beans in abundance. The pole beans are just starting.

Last year we thought all of our Naked Ladies (or Surprise Lilies, or Resurrection Lilies) were doomed because so few of them bloomed. This year there are three strong stands of them around the sunny part of the garden.

The elephant ear in one of our new pots in the Hydrangea Border is doing amazingly well. I've ordered another type of alocasia called 'Megalodon' from Logee's that should be coming soon. It will have the rest of the summer to build up some strength before moving in for the winter.

Another one of the new big pots in the Shade Garden filled with begonias, sweet potato vine, and silvery helichrysum, or licorice plant. 

Another pot with the same ingredients, as well as some impatiens, sits in a bed of lily-of-the-valley.

The fig trees are producing slowly. All of the figs in their pots were moved to the front of the Berry Patch this year, and most of our tomatoes this year were planted in pots and placed along the back of the Berry Patch in an attempt to get them more sun. The raspberries themselves did rather poorly this year, so I am thinking about taking them out and starting over with one each red, black, and golden raspberries. This might also allow room for some black and white currants. 

The "upright" elephant ear I smuggled back from Charleston several years ago continues to come back strong every summer. This pot, filled with the elephant ear and a mix of coleus, sits at the South "Entrance" to the garden. You can get a better look at the plain, sturdy, brown clay pots we found on sale and bought up.

What we now consider our Cutting Garden runs along the south side of the house and it has completely blown me away this year. We have never grown zinnias with such long, sturdy branches. The plants themselves are so tall, and the blooms are enormous. 

My 'Dwarf Cavendish' banana tree has also put on quite a growth spurt. He must like his new summer location in the vegetable garden. There are a ton of off shoots in the pot, but once one plant flowers and creates bananas (which I hope happens soon) it will die and be cut out to make room for the next strongest stalk.

Agave have captured my attention the past few years, and now I hunt around for new varieties. This one gave two pups last year that I potted up and they are already growing quite large.

I have three of these lighter green and shorter leafed agave that were found in disarray on a clearance shelf. 

Out in the vegetable garden the little patch of several varieties of basil somehow made it through the drought and is actually thriving.

Pole beans on one of the heavy duty tomato cages we inherited last year.

We will be able to start picking these in a few days.

Another look at the purple beans spilling out into the path. I was lucky enough to spend several hours yesterday weeding and weeding and weeding. It sounds funny, but the mindlessness of the chore, coupled with the instant gratification of seeing an orderly vegetable bed, is like balm for the soul. I needed it, and the garden did, too.