Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rose Quartz and Serenity

The 2016 Pantone Color of the Year was announced and they chose two:  Rose Quartz and Serenity.  So who cares a big hoot about Rose Quartz and Serenity?  The marketing people in every industry that’s who. 

The Pantone Color Institute has typically chosen deep jewel tones for color of the year.   Their rationalization for Rose Quartz (a soft pink) and Serenity (a baby blue) is “consumers are seeking mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security…” Yes, folks, it’s all about marketing.    
Clematis "Nelly Moser"
They also mention its in reaction to “gender blur” – “societal movements” – “a snapshot of culture” and the colors “convey compassion and a sense of composure”.  The Pantone writers are seriously into marketing (aka selling) or totally self absorbed in their own importance.  Perhaps both.

Those of us old enough to have “experienced” color popularities return again and again aren’t all that impressed with soft pink and blue because new mothers have been using those two colors forever.
Amsonia "Blue Star"
No matter Pantone’s motives, industries take notice when deciding their new fashions, finishes and plants.  Yes, plants!  Expect to see soft pink and blue flowers being marketed to the plant world in the near future.

Although color trends may take awhile to reach rural Midwest, catalogs and designer gardens will fast incorporate the two colors of the year.  If you want to be a trendsetter in rural America or simply like soft pink and blue, here’s some selections easily found locally.

One of my all time old favorites is the pink version of Bachelor Buttons.  Often found in a mixed color package of deep blue, white and pink. 

Soft rose pink plants will be an easier find than the soft blue simply because blue isn’t as abundant in the plant world, especially a softer shade of blue. 

There is a sweet little soft blue Forget-Me-Not and a blue wildflower aster. 

Vines might include any number of pink or blue Clematis.

You can’t go wrong with a beautiful pink or blue hydrangea bush.
Sedium "Pink Chablis"
Color can be brought into the garden on a temporary basis with colored pots and other hard scapes.  Even a handful of colored glass marbles can bring in a new color.  Go big orbs with gazing balls and birdbaths. 

If you already have these colors in your yard because of house paint or fences, Pantone’s web site offers coordinating colors.  But, let’s face it; there aren’t many colors that don’t look good with soft pink and blue.  They can be the backdrop to more vivid colors, add color to a white moon garden or be the showstopper in a large bed.

Supposedly the colors we choose reflect our personality and affect our mood.   Pink is considered a romantic color and tranquilizing – not sure how those two go together but I’ll leave that to your imagination.  Blue is one of the most popular colors because it is considered peaceful and tranquil.  People are suppose to be more productive around blue so maybe filling your garden with blue would help you keep weeding all summer. 

While blue is the most popular color, it is considered the least appetizing.  Blue food is rare in nature and researchers believe it's because early human’s realized blue, black and purple usually meant something was poisonous.  People loose their appetite if a food is blue and I can attest to that when I served a blue variety of potatoes for one holiday and all the teens refused to eat it even though mashed potatoes is one of their favorites.

Want more insight into the over analyzed color wheel and moods?  Pink equals sensitivity and love.  Blue equals healing and calmness.
Bachelor Button in the rain
Interestingly, red is the only color that has an entirely separate name for its tints.  All others are called “light” or “dark”.  Pink is a powerful color, psychologically.  In feminine principle, it represents survival of the species.   Dang, and you thought this was just a garden article; instead it’s about the survival of the species.

Merry Christmas to all of you and may the Blessings of full and bountiful gardens and fields be with you through the New Year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's Been a Hard Day's Night

Last of the garden butternut squash and red cabbage ready for freezer

"It’s been a hard day’s night and 
you’ve been working like a dog":

Peaches ready for freezing
* When you take out the load of clothes from the washing machine and there’s a nail, a coin and a piece of something broken you found during the day.

* You wake up in the morning with a dog, cat or child laying on you and you didn’t even feel them.

* Sitting down in front of the TV at 3 PM and waking at 10 PM still in your work clothes because you were taking a short break.

* The “To Do” list grows by itself during the night.
Wheelbarrow load of tomatoes and herbs waiting on canning.

* You’ve been late to a social engagement because you threw in one more load of clothes.

* If you’re kids have their shoes, book bag and coat when you leave the house on school days, you feel it’s been a successful morning.

* Your children will always loose their homework the day after the boss tells you, “You can’t be late again.”

* You fell asleep petting the dog/cat and woke to find neither of you had moved.
Vegetable soup canned.

* It’s allergy season in the garden or farm when every load of clothes has washed tissues.

* You’ve gone straight from the field to a neighbor’s cookout in your work clothes. 

* You’re no longer surprised at work by finding snot or burp ups on your shoulder.

* You haven’t finished reading a newspaper before falling asleep since February.

* You go out to eat and look down at your hands only to realize the last manicure you had was when you ripped off a broken nail with your teeth.

* You don’t go on vacation because you don’t have time to plan one.
Variety of green beans.
* The kids eat all your cookie stash and you think, “Well at least I don’t have to worry about supper tonight.”

* The moment you realize you have an ache in a new place.

* Sometimes shaking your head and laughing is all the therapy you need.

* If your girlfriends don’t have dark circles under their eyes they obviously don’t have little kids.

* You pray God is pleased you made it to church even though you fell asleep during the sermon.
Pickling beets

* The only time you see a sunrise is when you’re brushing your teeth.

* Lunch at work has too often become peanut butter/cheese crackers and a diet drink.

* You don’t remember the last time you cleaned out the inside of your vehicle.

* You don’t have to worry about cleaning up the garden in the fall because you haven’t seen the plants for all the weeds since the end of July.
Long snowy driveway duty
* Your idea of a hot date is grandma keeping the kids over night and you and your spouse falling asleep on the couch watching a rented movie.

* Your formal exercise program is getting out of bed in the mornings.

* Every exhausted woman can close her eyes and visualize she still looks hot wearing short shorts and high heels.

* Every exhausted man can close his eyes and visualize – well who knows what guys visualize with their eyes closed but it usually involves snoring.

* Every exhausted child just whines until they fall asleep with nothing on their minds except secure in the love of exhausted parents.
There's a reason they sleep so soundly.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Home Ownership

You’ve just closed on your new home (new construction or just new to you.)  And now you’re ready to put your own style on everything from bathroom floors to landscaping.

I’ve never seen one single new homebuyer satisfied with the previous owner’s landscaping. You name it and someone will hate it or wonder why you didn’t do it.  It’s human nature. 

Here are some considerations for the whole landscaping gig at your new home:

1.    Don’t do any major changes to your yard the first full year.  There may be seasonal reasons for what does or doesn’t exist.
a.     Those trees may be in that odd place because they provide a windbreak from those crazy nor’easters or as a sound buffer.
b.    That huge bush might be a rare hundred-year-old survivor.

2.    Understand what’s underground and overhead:
a.     Locate the sewer, water, gas, electric, phone and cable. 
b.    What you plant over/under utilities today may be dangerous or removed in a few years.
c.     There is a free locating service – use it.

3.    Feel free to ask the neighbors the history of the landscaping.  Not ask them what to plant but they do have historical data plus you’ll get their gripes up front.  (The fence that’s on the property line, the tree that always gets their drive dirty with mulberries, the bush that doesn’t allow them to peak in your windows.)

4.    Use a diagram to plan changes.   Whether using a contract landscaping firm or doing it yourself, having an overall plan allows you to see what it will look like down the road. 

5.    Respect the history of your property.  Some things work for new construction but would look woefully out of place at an older home.

6.    Plan hard scapes FIRST.  Even if you can’t afford to put in everything in the beginning, having hardscapes in the original plan will keep you from removing important plants later. 
a.     Hard scapes are sidewalks, porches & decks, steps, edging, kids’ play areas, garages, driveways, mailboxes, clotheslines, fire pits, gates/fences, downspouts/rain barrels, irrigation systems, pool & other water features and any other large permanent structure.

7.    Large trees:  Know the measurements of the MATURE tree canopy and root system.  If these are placed wrong, it will forever be an expensive maintenance problem. 
a.     What is the purpose of the tree?  Shade, windbreak, privacy, decorative, sound buffer or wildlife habitat?
b.    What are the tree’s maintenance requirements?  Nuts, fruits, leaves, sap, susceptibility to disease & wind damage, invasive root system and will these things be a problem where you plan to locate?

8.    Bushes:  Considerations are much the same as when planning trees.
a.     Use bushes that are complementary to the age of your home.
b.    All bushes need some maintenance.  Understand all their requirements.

9.      Do NOT plant things too close to buildings – ever. 

10.   If you’re putting in a new landscape, amend the soil FIRST. 

11.   To sod or to seed?  It’s a money and speed choice.  Both will need water to establish.

12.  Now is the time to realistically calculate how much you’re willing to work or pay others to work.

13.   Edging:  Easy to mow around.  Will it require heavy weed pulling or herbicides?

14.   Consider how much light/shade – water/drought a piece of ground gets in ALL seasons.  It can make or break a plant.

15.   Landscape fabric/mulches:  Landscape fabric and mulches help control weeds but can become unsightly and difficult to remove.  Chose well. 

16.   I’ve covered this before, but unless you live where there are legal restrictions to what can and cannot go in your yard, you can pretty much design as you want.  Others may hate your 20 foot pink elephant bought at a bargain from Nature World but if you truly can’t live without it, put it in but then try to shield it from others.  It’s called “being a good neighbor.”

17.   If you want to remove the previous owner’s landscaping, instead of trashing, consider giving it away to other gardeners.  It’s the old:  One person’s trash is another person’s treasures.
There’s nothing wrong with getting ideas from Pinterest, neighbors and decorating books.  Then adapt what you love and put your own personality on the landscape.  

Wait a year, make a plan, do your research and happy gardening!