Posts in Vintage Container Design
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.

Autumn Vintage Container

DSC_0891 There is nothing like a vintage container with a beautiful "warn and warm" hue to fill for a simple autumn display. This is some sort of vintage bucket, which is big, and can be re-purposed for all kinds of objects that remind you of fall. I found the bucket on a whim at Gardenology. This is a great home decor shop that also offers unique vintage pieces. They now have two locations, Encinitas, and Newport Beach. It is fun to stop in regularly, just to check out their "chic" displays.

In all kinds of toffee hues, I have this container displaying various dried gourds that I have grown in years past. If you look closely, you'll see my favorite--the apple gourd. I've written about growing these whimsical apple gourds in detail before, Apple Gourds, and include a link to where to find them at Burpee Seeds. I had a few pieces of faux leaves and acorns that adds a bit of fluidity to the design. This display is so simple and timeless, it is hard to determine what is real and what is faux.

Some other options to use in an autumn vintage container such as this could be dried sunflower heads, dried flowers and pods of all types, gourds, pumpkins, indian corn, bundles of wheat, and even feathered-covered balls.

This vintage container will work through all of the seasons, creatively filling it with fun objects of each season. Do you have a favorite container that you fill and decorate with each season. Please share what you like to display for autumn in your favorite container.

Potted Fall Spirit

Fall Vignette When I saw this ornamental grass, Pearl Millet, Pennisetum glaucoma, I knew I had to plant it in my vintage vintner buckets. I love this chocolate bronzy grass, because of its scale, color, and commanding interest. Could it be it stirs my Midwest roots. Pearl Millet reminds me of marshy cattails on the edge of a sleepy pond, and a surprising stretch resemblance  to an ornamental cornstalk.

Pearl Millet is a perennial. It likes sun, and will faithfully bloom summer to fall. In a pot it should be watered at least once or twice a week. I have a feeling planted in the ground, this grass could grow legs. Seriously, the plant tag states that mature size is up to 1-8' tall and 1-4' wide. I think I'm going to keep mine happy in it's potted state.

I paired Pearl Millet with a New Day Red Striped Gazania, that will  reach 10" high and conveniently fill in the base of my bucket. Last, I added  a wispy, trailing Muelenbeckia, Creeping Wire Vine. It has small bronze leaves that will complement the bronze foliage of the Pearl Millet and the reddish stripe of the Gazania. Other choice companion plants might be zinnias, petunias, and marguerite daisies.

I stacked my favorite dried apple gourds on my French cart, and enlisted my rooster statuary as sentinel, and the vignette is complete.

Please share if you happen upon plants that stir your creativity. Please share if you have a beautiful fall vignette of your own.

Simple Country Bouquet from the Garden

Besides growing your own edibles, it is a great idea to grow your own flowers for bouquets. Here is a simple country bouquet idea for an event I had this spring.

Flowers. My perennial sweet peas were abundant and in bloom. I have written about my lovely perennial sweet peas in more detail, Perennial Sweet Peas. Perennial sweet peas are easy to grow, bloom spring to summer, and return year and year. Perennial sweet peas are one suggestion. Let your garden dictate your bouquet.

Vessel. I collected Bulgarian yogurt jars back in the seventies. When traveling through Bulgaria, yogurt was sold in these simple-shaped wide mouth jars. Such a nice size, and an appealing shape. You can use any vessel you have on hand. Try using vessels which appeal to you and are a little out of the ordinary.

Embellishment. These Bulgarian jars are clear. For fun, and a little color, I lined the jars with peppermint geranium leaves. These leaves are very soft and fuzzy. They hold up well in water for several days. The leaves are the prettiest "Ireland" green which is fabulous with the various pinks of the perennial sweet peas. I could have added a pretty ribbon, or glass balls at the bottom of the jars.

In a way, this simple country bouquet from my garden is exactly what my dear friend, Debra Prinzing, and her photographer, David E. Perry, are trying to convey in their new book, The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers. Following after the "Slow Food" movement, Prinzing and Perry introduce us to the "Slow Flower" movement. Do you know where your flowers are grown? When they were harvested? If chemicals were used to grow them? Prinzing and Perry introduce us to local organic flower growers, gathering, and ultimate "Slow Flower" design. Using fresh flowers out of our own gardens is one easy step in this direction.

Please share if you are aware of local organic flower growers in your area? Please share if you create your own organic flower bouquets out of your own garden.

Local Gardener Receives Royal Treatment

This past spring, the Village Garden Club of La Jolla brought Englishman Shane Connolly to San Diego for it's fifth "Meet the Masters 2012" program. This program is an annual garden club highlight, and it's keynote speakers are generally the highest caliber of internationally acclaimed floral designers.

In April of 2011, Shane Connolly led the floral design team for the marriage of Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, better known as Prince William and Kate Middleton. Remember the surprise tree-lined aisle inside Westminster Abbey. Connolly has designed floral creations for the royal family for over twenty years. Known for his sustainability interests and natural approach to floral design, his clientele is worldwide.

During his time in the San Diego area, while demonstrating his floral design, Connolly  spoke freely on his unique approach to floral design. Connolly has a broad foundation as an artist and a musician. His first professional field was psychology, and his floral design career blossomed unexpectedly from friends urging him to try it.

Connolly is proficient in the symbolic language of flowers and this knowledge only enhances his floral designs.  Connolly's sustainability interest and natural approach to floral design is simply refreshing. Connolly was also eager to tease his enthusiastic audience with tiny snippets about Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding.

Connolly demonstrated and spoke his way through numerous floral designs at his formal presentation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla, on Thursday, March 8, 2012. The following day, he toured, created a massive floral design, and enjoyed a social lunch at Lani Freymiller's North County private garden with a distinguished group of 35 LJVGC members.

Freymiller, a retired grade school teacher, is an artist in her own right with an impeccable eye. She has designed her breath-taking garden slowly over a period of nearly 40 years, and has received countless accolades and recognition. Perhaps the grandest compliment yet, is her local garden receiving this royal treatment.

Touring through Freymiller's stunning garden, Connolly choose sprays of Cherokee Rose, Tuscan Blue Rosemary, Pearl Acacia, Mock Orange, Rue, Silver Waves Camellia and many others. He also shared best pruning practices, such as prune from the trunk always, and prune first errant growth at the bottom of plants. In time, he had his desired mixture of garden cuttings to create his grand garden floral design. His container of choice naturally was a vintage tub.

Connolly charmed everyone, as he continued to share his design tips and philosophy. Freymiller was a gracious and  extraordinary hostess,  warmly sharing her beautiful garden. This special day will be fondly remembered by those attending for a very long time.

Connolly's Tips for Timeless Artisan Floral Decorations & Sustainability:

-- "Use a few seasonal flowers simply, with the prime objective of showing them off and emphasizing their individual characteristics."

-- "Designs live on after being created."

-- "Group things together, it is more like they grow in the garden."

-- "Use chicken wire, instead of an oasis. Put flowers in water."

-- "Let  flowers tell you where it wants to be in the arrangement. Lovely to let flowers do what they want to do."

-- "When you've done something, walk away from it. You can angst too much over flowers, and take their soul."

-- "Conditioning of things is most important, and the condition of things."

-- "I like shades of color. Don't dilute color with green."

-- "I like things that look like they were grown in someone's garden."

-- "I like using two same containers in different sizes."

-- "When doing an arrangement, tougher things go in first."

-- "You want  a physical balance, as well as a visual balance." Antithesis  of arrangements is to make a shape. Asymmetrical looks artful."

-- "The love of garden dictates your designs."

--"I think everyone should get their hands in some mud."

Cooking Up a Vintage Container

Take one vintage cooking pot with handle. Add small rocks in the bottom of the pot for drainage, or optionally drill five-spaced small holes. Add rich, organic potting soil. Select interesting plants such as a dramatic pink-spiked foxglove, and lacy "spring to fall" blooming alyssum. Add dark green reindeer moss around the plants to cover your soil and soften your container look. In no time, you have a spring blooming vintage container design.

That is the beauty of vintage container design. Re-purposed and planted with vibrant flowering plants, now this cooking pot has been magically transformed into something so much more. Train your eye to look for potential containers that might be a little of out of the ordinary, and you certainly will be rewarded with eye-catching results.

Please share some of your unusual containers you have had fun planting. Please comment on what stands out for you in a good container design.

Herb Garden a la Wine Barrels

Herb Garden a la Wine Barrels This spring I created a small herb garden in a quiet, sunny, protected corner next to my barn using vintage wine barrels. I borrowed this concept, modifying it slightly, from Rosalind Creasy's, Edible Landscaping book. This is a terrific book for incorporating more edibles in your landscaping. Rosalind has a whole chapter on "Designing With Herbs."

An "herb garden a la wine barrels," was multi-dimensional for me. My husband, John, and I make wine, and have access to used wine barrels. We have a functional barn, with a trio of wine barrels already planted with blueberry bushes and strawberries on the right side, why not do something on the left with wine barrels, such as herbs. This particular spot is also close to my kitchen, a must for any herb garden.

I used a trio of half barrels from standard wine barrels, cut in half. You can find these types of barrels for sale at home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Dixieline, nurseries, and garden centers. For my second top row, I used a smaller 15 gallon wine barrel, cut in half and sanded along the edges. All wine barrels need to have spaced holes drilled for adequate drainage. I also placed my bottom wine barrels on top of carefully placed river rocks to save the barrels from rotting in the soil, and allowing further drainage.

Since the barrels are big, it is best to use a sterile filler or upside down one gallon size plastic plant containers. It will save you on filling the entire barrel with soil, mulch, etc. I simply placed my second row, and smaller wine barrels securely on the sides of the base half-barrels, using their weight to stabilize them.

Fill your barrels with clean potting soil, almost to the rim of each barrel. You can add an irrigation system if you like. I chose not to. Select your favorite herbs, and plant. I planted chives, winter savory, curly parsley, Italian parsley, tarragon, sorrel, Italian oregano, sage, cinnamon basil, and Italian basil. Choose herbs that you use frequently in your cooking, and a mixture of annual and perennial herbs. Choose some herbs that have a trailing habit, so as they grow and establish themselves, they will spill over the barrels. As time goes on, you can always switch out herbs for new ones when needed.

Add a layer of mulch on top of your soil, and around your herbs.  Newly planted herbs like to be kept moist initially, and water moderately once established.

Please share if you grow herbs to cook with. Please share how your herb garden is set up and designed.