Friday, June 18, 2010

20th Dinning By Design for Diffa, Kansas City

For the past twenty years, an event that was started in Kansas City, Dinning by Design has been highlighting the area's premier designers and artists, as an extraordinary fundraiser.I've been fortunate to have designed a table every year of this event. Diffa is the design industry foundation fighting Aids, this supports individuals and families with HIV,giving a wide range of support and care in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Every year, I look foreword to the amazing environments that our talented designers create for this great event. I wish I had photos of all my tables...but this was started long before digital cameras were the norm, and snap shots get lost over time. My initial goal is to design an environment that is beautiful and fun to be at, conversation is a must, so I don't usually block the center with a too large arrangement for the event. Some designers don't care about actually EATING at the table; they go for drama only, and these are ridiculous to try and sit at, especially when you paid a tidy sum to do so! This year I again teamed up with the great contemporary design firm, Museo, and decided we would go chic picnic, and designed our environment to be enjoyed on the floor! Horsetail reed, custom planters, custom cushions and a woodland lily of the valley focus, gave us just the right vibe. This event has spread to other major cities, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle and Atlanta...all of which showcase their region's fine design. If one of these cities is close to you, you can attend as a guest for the main evening, or enjoy a preview- cocktail event the night before.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Native As It Gets, Baby

I'm always searching the by ways for beautiful native plants, it could be Milkweeds (Asclepias),Blue Stars (Amsonia)or in this case-Verbenas, V. canadensis.

I have about a thirty minuet drive back and forth every day, and my eye gets used to the same landscape changing through the seasons. This Spring, I caught a glimpse of a lavender pink flower as I sped by on the highway, and made note to myself of the exact location. The next day, I pulled the car over at a highway maintenance pull-off, and hiked up a steep grassy hill, bordering a beautiful wooded valley. The scope of the land was much grander than it could appear driving so fast. I had to hike farther than I had anticipated due to a very lethal barbed wire fence that protected the property. At a drainage culvert I made my way across in to such a lovely valley, almost like an English pastoral painting from the Eighteenth century.

Backtracking to the spot I'd seen from the road, I worked my way up a hill covered in native grasses and rock. At the top of this wind swept place, there where hundreds of pink Verbenas,blooming like crazy-scenting the air with a candy sweetness. I'd seen native Verbenas before, but only in isolated pockets in gravel areas in the western part of the state. These plants were colonizing this sunny spot with abandon!

I took pictures and then gathered cuttings to take back with me. This is the pure species- many people have recently grown the natural hybrid "Homestead Purple", a great garden plant. I wasn't aware of the strong scent of this species- the cuttings I took perfumed the house for a week, overshadowing the last of the Lilacs! I have to site my new charges in a dry, well drained spot, maybe the Golden Garden, which is built on a berm.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Llilac Thyme...

There are few things that conjure as many memories as the scent of a Lilac. Every Spring, I wait patiently for all my Lilacs to come in to bloom. If we're lucky, the weather will stay a bit cool, and there will be plenty of early rains for optimum growth.

This year was good, but I had little time to make crosses, a few, but not as many as I would like. The air needs to be buoyant and humid for the stigmas to be receptive, and of course the pollen must be fresh and shedding, it drys out quickly...

When they're in bloom, every room has it's vase of Lilacs. I like to group similar colors together, but sometimes a riot of all the different ones can't be beat! The scent fallows me into my dreams and wakes me in the morning for a wonderful three weeks or so. Each variety has it's own unique scent, some very powerful.

At my shop, we use the fragrant blooms in abundance, it's such a special time of year when the season is on. Cutting your Lilacs is essential for good future growth and bloom; the best blooms are on new, year old wood.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spring Catch Up

Hearts and Flowers....Forest Pansy Redbud
The vegetable garden has had it's share of gains and losses...spinach was a bust, but the tomatoes , onions, garlic and kale look great! All the arugula went to seed immediately, now I'll have it every where! Here are community pots of leeks, sweet onions, alpine strawberries and ruffled pansies for a co-worker
Catsup Bottle (or is it Ketchup?)
"Natural" terrarium I found in the of two
I'm afraid I'm not super human, so far from it! I've been so busy outside that the idea of taking the time to blog about my gardening and farm ventures seems irrational to me....! I'm out till' dark most evenings, enjoying the kaleidoscope of nature before me. The never ending planting and weeding just fill all my extra time. The house is dusty, and many garden areas have weeds still to be pulled, but new things have gone in, and old friends are blooming and growing like crazy.

I took many early spring walks, going places that now would be impossible with ticks and wild plant growth. On one such outing, I found an old dumping site from many years ago, mostly barbed wire and farm refuse, but these bottle gardens caught my eye, growing here for many, many years. Sometimes a beautiful thing can generate from pure trash. I try to wrap my mind around the tragic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the most fertile coast lines in the world...what beauty will come of that? and how far off ?? ever?