My September 2012 edition of Traditional Home came the other day. It is always my favorite. I save it to read last because I just know that I will go over and over and over it. I am usually not that patient, but for some reason, I can wait to be with Traditional Home. There was a French house in the August issue that is beyond wonderful! I love everything about the elevation that is pictured below. And the gardens are to die for! I enjoyed them so much and then I got to thinking how some of the elements in the wonderful French gardens in Birmingham, Alabama were in my garden in Pikeville, Kentucky. You may remember that I have moved seventeen times and one of my stops was Pikeville. We stayed there the longest…eight years. So, I had a garden that was just coming into its own when we sold the house. I was thinking the other day that I could probably fill a tractor trailer with plants that I have bought over the years for all of my gardens. I learned through trial and error.
Notice the wonderful hip roof line and the stunning wrought iron light. The boxwood hedges add to the French glamor! Couldn’t you spend you whole day on the balcony?
One of the hydrangias planted in the garden is of the Lacecap variety. They do not dry as well as the hydrangias that we are all used to growing, but they have their own soft elegance. I just love the name…Lacecap. A beautiful bush grew outside a post office in one of my towns. I often thought that I should go out after the post office was closed and do some automotive gardening but I restrained myself. I once attended a flower arranging class that was given by the chief flower arranger from Colonial Williamsburg. He suggested that automotive gardening in cemetaries is a good thing. I never tried that one either.
Below is a stone pathway that leads around the home’s rear facade. Don’t you just love the fact that it curves to the right and you really do not know what you will see when you round the path. I’ll bet that it goes into another wonderful garden “room” with a stunning fountain or bench.
Of course a French home would not be true to its name without a set of French doors. I can see myself flinging these doors open every morning to hear the birds chirping and to see my wonderful garden in the morning light. Notice the crystal chandelier, the floral printed drapes and the box encrusted at the top with sea shells. I am a shellnatic, and you will undoubtedly hear about my shells, shell art, and shell experiences at a later date. In fact, I think that I need to make a box like this with my shells from Guantanmo Bay.
This is the back of the terrace. It overlooks a parterre and the Appalachian Mountains across the valley. The cherubs are a focal point in the center of the parterre garden.
The house where we are living now has a very small lot. I think that I am finally over big time gardening. But seeing the French home in Traditional Home made me nostalgic for the garden that we made in Kentucky. When we arrived, we had zero landscaping. We worked hard. My sweet neighbor from across the street would monitor how long I stayed out in the sun and would come to coax me inside. It all started with this goat wagon that my darling husband bought me in Walnut City, Iowa. I had seen one filled with flowers outside of a restaurant in Coupeville, Washington and could not get it out of my head. So, when I saw the one in Walnut City, he indulged me and it became my birthday gift. Q. “What did you get your wife for her birthday?” A. “A goat wagon.” When we got to Pikeville, I did not want it to sit out in the elements and it was too large for the inside of the house, so it lived on the front porch and held a lovely fern. I am also a “fernatic.”
There was a little stream bed behind the house and we owned land on the other side. So, again I coaxed my sweet husband into building a foot bridge across the stream bed so that we could garden on the hillside beyond. Then, we added a small pergola and I planted wisteria. Note to self: wisteria can crush a pergola. It is very aggressive and may become a nuisance. I added some urns and a twig bench from North Carolina beyond. The problem was that there just never was enough time to sit on it and relax.
After we had lived in the house for six years, we turned the cedar deck into a sun room. Notice the French door. It was unusual because the side lights opened and air could flow into the room. I had a flagstone patio laid to the right but I always wished I had used pea gravel!
I started out trying to have an all white garden, but these blue iris just had to be planted. Did you know that blue is the most rare color for flowers? Baby iris are just the right shade of blue/purple as far as I am concerned. In another location of the garden I had iris that were from my mother-in-law’s yard. Hers came from her mother’s garden. What could be better than plants that survive generations? My sister once had a Christmas cactus that was over 100 years old and I had a Night Blooming Cereus that was over 100 years old. My grandfather had a large one in a wash tub and when it would bloom, he put it out in the driveway for all to see. Farmers would roll up in their wagons at night just to see it illuminated under an electric light. When it bloomed, the inside of the bloom resembled Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus in the manger. Wish I still had it, but it did not make one of the moves. This same grandfather was a gladioli and peony grower. He had six acres of glads and later he planted the acres in peonies. I loved nothing more than to go walk through the flower beds. Could that be why I love gardens so much?
This was the front garden. I had several boxwood plants and it looks to me like I should have trimmed them….just a little raggedy.
This is the last photo from the Traditional Home Birmingham house. I included it because I just love the stone cornucopia that you see flanking the steps. I have often priced such sculptures when I am at a garden store, but the price is just too high. However, as you can see from the photos below, that did not stop me.
This little black one on the bottom tier of my grandmother’s Victoria plant stand was found at Hobby Lobby in Mississippi. It is formed from some composition material, but I love it just the same. The rocker is one that I sat in to rock our first daughter. It has been white, pink, natural wood, and black. There is not more comfortable rocker! The ivy topiary was shaped by bending a wire coat hager in a circle and then training the ivy to grow around it.
This cornucopia is in the kitchen on my counter. I bought it in a store in Abbingdon, Virginia. It was very inexpensive and I wish I had bought two. I am a Libra….seems like I love balance and two are way better than one!
This is my latest one….found it in an antique mall in Charlotte, North Carolina. I knocked two women and a child over to get to it because I thought at first that it was my long awaited concrete cornucopia. Alas! It, too, is composition, but I love it just the same. It sits atop my grandmother’s dry sink.
When I went to a church flea market in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I found this one. Problem was that it was green ceramic and I wanted it to be white. Oprah told me that day about how wonderful Krylon paint is. I bought a can of white Krylon spray paint…it said you could paint ceramic. It was right. Of course, I won’t be putting it in the dish washer, but it looks great on this dresser upstairs.
This last cornucopia is my favorite. I found it in a garage sale in Kentucky. The basket weave at the bottom was painted black and the fruit and vegetables were painted many colors….tomatoes were red, oranges were orange, etc. I took it home and painted it taupe with craft paint and then went over the raised parts with a dry brush technique using white paint and then a coffee colored glaze. It is sitting below a shell mirror that I bought at the Navy Thrift Store in Oak Harbor, Washington. I asked the clerk, “How much is this mirror?” She replied, “Well, how about ninety….cents?” The mirror was cracked so I had that repaired. Years later, I added the shell “pediment” at the top. Some day when I am in a “shellnatic” mood, I will tell you how to make it.
I hope that I have inspired you to garden. Think I will go outside and maybe plan where to add another plant? Create and be happy!