Posts in Styling
Connaisez-Vous Sharon Santoni?

I heard distant rumblings about Sharon Santoni from her first book, My Stylish French Girlfriends, then she was featured in the May/June 2018 Victoria Magazine, sharing with us her just-released second book, My French Country Home, and her gracious taste in French country living in Normandy, France, and I was hooked. 

Sharon Santoni grew up in England, fell in love, married a Frenchman, raised their four children in a rural dream home and cultivated garden, and embraced her French life. Soon to be an empty nester, Santoni got the idea to start a blog, My French Country Homesharing her daily life in rural France and all that it offers.

Fast forward, her blog is now read by thousands all over the world, two beautiful books under her belt, and an accidental entrepreneur with her quarterly subscription mail order Stylish French BoxFrom spark to fire, sometimes life is like that! She muses frequently  about reinventing oneself, lessons we can all learn from her.

If that is not enough, Santoni loves to troll nearby brocante flea markets for unique treasures for her home, garden, and entertaining. She is my kind of girlfriend!


Victoria Magazine, May/June 2018

Follow Your Inner Urn-Ing

For some time I have wanted an urn in my garden, an urn that was simple but gave a nice touch to the garden. Urns are easy, as they can be planted, take the weather, moisture, and look great just where they are placed.

So in my mind, I began the hunt for the perfect white urn. Why white, because I have two existing white fountains, white is in my garden color palette, and I have a white stucco home. White is a theme. I have found white urns are a bit harder to find than other colored urns. 

So my journey began to find a white urn that would work well in my garden. In my travels and every day life, I came across fabulous urns and began to have "urn envy."

Recently, I stumbled across an urn that I thought would look great in my garden. I should say "urns" as I found three, and made a little vignette. Where did I placed these urns? In a perfect spot, the olive grove. Interestingly, these urns are almost a collage of the fabulous urns I had seen and been admiring, only better, because they seem perfect for my garden in color, form and size. Their white color draws your eye to their heavenly spot, in a most simple and natural way.

Urns in My Olive Grove

Urns in My Olive Grove

I found urns for my garden, at the most surprising place, HomeGoodsThese urns are very reasonable and beautifully handcrafted in Mexico by local artisans. Suggestions to find urns for sale are nurseries, garden shops, flea markets, and home decor stores. Know what you are looking for, and keep your eyes open!

Teak for the Table

Teak Containers Can Be Beautiful

Teak is not just for furniture anymore, teak has evolved into accessories for your garden, outdoor rooms, and patios, too. The same teak principles apply to teak accessories, in that they age to a beautiful gray patina, withstand weather, and overall are very durable.

If planting a teak container, you will want to line the inside container with a plastic bag or plastic lining before adding your soil, plant material, and moss. If you plant a succulent such as this Sticks on Fire (Red Pencil Tree), Euphorbia tirucalli, in the photo, this container will require little water to maintain it.

Besides plant containers, you can find versatile teak accessories for hanging on walls, serving bowls, trays, art objects, and the list goes on. One source for teak accessories is Teak Closeouts. 

Think teak for timeless and trouble-free.



Boxwood Bonus

We all know how beautiful boxwood can be clipped in a formal garden, but have you thought about using boxwood as literally a very "green" oasis for your floral arrangements? I have a dear friend who is very talented in creating magnificent floral arrangements from her garden. On a recent visit to her showcase garden, she showed me how to use her boxwood from her garden as a way to secure her flowers in their vases. Clipped boxwood anchors your flower stems, looks great especially in your clear vases, and is what I call "garden economizing"--free from your garden.

The added advantage of using boxwood is that it will keep for a long time in your vase, far outlasting your cut flowers. Simply cut boxwood pieces to your desired floral vase or container size. Arrange them under water until your vase is full of boxwood clippings, and next add your cut flowers. The boxwood will hold your flowers in the spot you place them. I love the look, very classic, very green, and very earth-friendly.

Please share if you use a green, alternative to oasis for your floral arrangements. Please comment on which boxwood your enjoy the most.

A Wreath For All Occasions

Rustic Burlap Wreath I love burlap as a medium, see my post, Beauty in Burlap for more ideas. Burlap is easily found in art and craft stores as a finished garland. Over the holidays I made this rustic burlap wreath and finished it with a plaid holiday ribbon. Now that the holidays are tucked away for the year, this beautifully textured wreath can become a "wreath for all occasions" simply by changing out its ribbon style or embellishment.

The wreath is simple to make, requiring little other than a wire four-ringed wreath form of your preferred size, a spool of 6" wide burlap garland that is 10'long, scissors, and a favorite ribbon of your choice.

Wire Wreath and Burlap Garland

Begin by unraveling your entire 10' of burlap garland. Leaving a beginning tail which you will tuck in later, begin weaving your burlap garland through your wire form, first under, then over your wire. As you weave under and over your wire, pull out a loop of burlap each time you weave in and out. Create your loops the same size, which becomes your burlap form. Leave a tail at the end of your wreath, as in the beginning and tuck it into your wire wreath form to finish.

Nearly Completed Burlap Wreath

The burlap garland is cumbersome in the beginning with 10' to thread through the wires, but soon after the burlap wreath starts to take shape. Knobby loops begin defining the textural beauty of this wreath.

Copper Feather Ribbon

In celebration of my beautiful hens, I have my wreath currently adorned with a copper feather ribbon.

Wreath with Holiday Ribbon

Around the holidays, you can easily change the look of this wreath to a more holiday festive look. The same goes for spring with a pastel ribbon, or the fall with a black and white checked ribbon. You have unlimited possibilities with this wreath for all occasions. Don't forget that wreaths can dress up a window, or a candle and hurricane on a table, besides a special door.

Please share if you adorn a wreath for a special occasion other than the holidays. Please share what your favorite wreath.

Viva Verbena!

DSC_0460My new favorite perennial plant is Verbena bonariensis, also known as Purpletop Vervain. I planted it in mass on one side of my courtyard next to my olive trees and white iceberg roses, and I have really been enjoying it. It is very low maintenance with high "plant appeal."

It is native to South American and has naturalized in California. It does best in USDA Zones 6-10, prefers sun, and little water. It is a tall structural plant, 4'-6' high and at least 2' wide at maturity. Yet it has this airy quality which brings lightness and motion to a garden setting rather than density. It has clusters of captivating lavender-hued flowers that bloom prolifically from summer to fall. It is an incredible magnet for butterflies and delightful birds such as hummingbirds and goldfinch as an added bonus. Verbena bonariensis can reseed easily and aggressively, so be careful where you plant it.


There is even a dwarf version called Verbena bonariensis 'Little One' which reaches 18-24" high by 12-18"wide in size. A good source for both of these Verbenas is Cedros Gardens, (tel) (858) 792-8640, in the heart of Solana Beach's Cedros Design District.

Here are some tips for using Verbena bonairensis in your garden. Plant it in mass like I did, either as a background or in a foreground as it has such a nice "see-through" quality. It pairs well planted among roses, as mentioned in Carolyn Parker's everything rose blog, Rose Notes. Since it takes hot and dry conditions very well, think about planting it in your driest garden spots. I planted Verbena bonariensis "Little One' directly in my pea gravel around my water fountain. It looks like a cheery volunteer, yet adds interest and a dab of color. Or plant it in a dry spot along a flagstone pathway for a little bit of a surprise element for those walking by.

Please share if you have Verbena bonariensis in your garden. Please comment on how you have it planted and styled in your garden.

Nature is the Best Decorator

My Personal Bird's Nest Collection I collect bird nests from all over my garden. Sometimes a strong wind sends them to the ground. Thank goodness I find them empty, after the young birds have "flown the coop." I marvel at how well they are engineered. Some are large, and some are small. I recognize these nests are made from materials that come out of my garden. It gives me great joy to see the results of my garden from another angle.

I feel these special bird nests are symbolic of new beginnings, life, good fortune, and more. I count my blessings that there are so many of them. When I recently hung a European coat rack, I knew that was the perfect spot for my bird nest collection. Nature is by far the best decorator.

Please share if you collect bird nests. Please share the best bird nest you have found.

Elegant Roses Create an Elegant Holiday Table

For those of you with limited dining table space who need a floral arrangement which is not too overwhelming in stature and height, try this floral arrangement which compacts rose heads. I've seen this type of floral arrangement in flower shops in Europe, and sometimes in dazzling floral demonstrations. It can be done for any occasion, and in any color. It is a design concept, which can inspire you to create an arrangement of your own.

I have an antique dining table which is very long and narrow. I love our table, but it is always a little challenging to get candles, place settings, and sometimes flowers squeezed in. I did this arrangement for our Christmas dinner, and it worked out well.

This floral arrangement starts with a table oasis which you can readily find at floral supply stores. The oasis is soaked in water as usual, and then placed in a plastic form box which keeps your tablecloth and table dry. I choose white roses, but you can choose any color rose which compliments your particular theme.

Start with fresh roses, and cut them at an angle to about 3-4" in length. Line them up, shoulder to shoulder in your oasis. Remember that your roses will continue to open up, and expand in your floral arrangement. Creating this arrangement 2 days ahead allows the roses to open more, and fill in the arrangement with a mass look.

For greenery, I clipped foliage from my garden. I found green boxwood, feathery cypress, chartreuse euonymus tips, and blooming blue rosemary. You might have berries, pods, and other blooming shrubs to use from your garden. Green foliage is placed horizontally in the floral arrangement to hang over sides, cover your oasis, and complete the look.

This arrangement will last longer than usual because the water has less distance to travel to the rose head. Check every few days if your oasis is still moist.

Please share if you create a special floral arrangement for your holiday table. Please share if you are familiar with this type of floral arrangement.