Monday, February 27, 2012

Glorious Weather = 25 Toddlers & A Tractor Ride

 The weather on Sunday was glorious with just a hint of cold.  Perfect weather for an influx of fifty guests all invited to celebrate the birthdays of two little boys turning 2 and 4.  Our friend and fellow blogger from Art. Fashion. Furniture. asked to hold the boys party here and we were thrilled except for the looming possibility of cold....but who are we kidding?  It's the "If Winter Don't" of 2012 and I can say for certain, "it don't" and it didn't.  The sun was shiny and the birds were chirpy...Hallelujah.

Lola and I were tasked with coming up with crafts for the kids in the event that it was too chilly for playing in the mud (the past-time for most of our young visitors).  We worked on a few ideas which rapidly became too "girlie" for a boys' birthday party.  Dirt Dog popped in from time to time and mentioned that we didn't need crafts because we have sooooo many tractors.  He had a point.
Still we devised a plan to make little glass "Seed Men" with moss hair and catkin noses.  We were pleased with them and set out supplies for our guests.
Thrilled with the idea of having a birthday at our house Lola kept watch for the first guest hours before they were due to arrive.

"Scoop" at the ready.
 The birthday boys arrived and headed straight for the mud.  No craft could call them away.  Toy tractors, dump trucks, cement mixers, graders and excavators worked in great unison as the adults mingled.  A few stray tots wandered into the studio, grabbed a bowl of popcorn and tried out making a Seed Man....

A handful of wildflower seeds
a round glass jar
sheet moss
pussy willow catkin
googly eyes
sparkly glue pen
hot glue gun.....

Completed Seed Man & Seed Woman....Lola improvised.  Go figure.

Soon it was time for the tractor ride.  Short on hay at this time of year the crowd climbed aboard and sat down (or stood), perhaps not so comfortably, around the wagon edge. Saffie steered them around the pond and up the hill where they proceeded to find stuffed animals hidden in the trees.  Dirt Dog was mighty protective of his favorite sea turtle but otherwise fun was had all around.

Upon return, the wild mob rumbled through the studio and back out the other side where they whacked a dinosaur pinata until it relented and spewed forth candy.  High on sugar it was time for a chorus of Happy Birthday.
The boys mom delivered dream cookies complete with John Deere tractors...Dirt Dog about fell off his seat.

MaryBeth of Art. Fashion. Furniture. delivering cookies made by Eizabeth Hoffmann.
As DD likes to say when he sees clear skies and his Daddy readying himself for an outing, "It looks like a "tractory" kind of day!"  It was indeed "tractory", not so flowery, and overall loads of fun.  Happy Birthday H & W and thank you for celebrating with us!

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stump the Flower Chump!

Have a question for The Flower Fanatics?  Post it here!  Farmer Bob, Saffie, and Cammie are all eager to hear from you and answer your questions.  What kind of questions can we answer?  Well, we'll do our best with anything garden related but our passions are for the flowers and the trees.

Want to play Stump the Chump?  If one of us can't answer the question we promise to take a picture of the chump holding a big chump sign and post it here......The Garden Chump, The Flower Chump....who will it be?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gee-rahf and a Boatload of Flowers

The odd thing about meeting Saffie on a cut-flower farm in Virginia (aside from how odd that was), is that the flowers in South Africa are so amazing I can't imagine how he ended up in Virginia.  I am glad he did but truly, the entire country of South Africa is brimming with flowers of the most delicious varieties.  From my western perspective it seems one of the primary goals of most visitors to South Africa is to see a lion, a leopard, a buffalo, a rhino and an elephant (apparently this is called The Big Five), I, on the other hand was thrilled by the animals but just as curious about the flowers.  I had a list of what I hoped to see and it went something like this:

1. giraffe (pronounced by my family as gee-rahf)
2. zebra (zeh-brah)
3. lion (Nghala as spoken by the Shangaan people)
4. protea
5. leucondendron
6. all the little bits found in the African Cape Mix bouquets we get from the wholesaler.  In particular the miniature bee-hive flower, the silvery-green itty-bitties, and the lime green something-or-others that no one can tell me the name of......
7. Also, I would like to hear South African music.

My dreams of seeing a giraffe and a lion were satisfied almost immediately.  I cried on both accounts.  It is extraordinary....really extraordinary to see these beautiful creatures in their natural environs.  The giraffe literally took my breath away.  From the moment its head distinguished itself from the trees I could hardly move.  My SA family was disappointed about there only being one giraffe and talked quite a bit about how it was "an old one" and seemed "a bit battered."  To me, it was one of the great moments in my life.  I mean honestly, the markings alone are awe-inspiring.  The sultry gait as it walked across the open plain.  I can recall every second of that sighting and it still thrills me.  A giraffe for goodness sake.

Still, for all that the giraffe thrilled me, so too did the flowers.  I found them.  Each one of those odd little bits and something-or-others were right there for me to inspect and they were not just beautiful but ancient looking and inspiring in the way they are tough and tender all at once.

The protea.
King Protea in full bloom.
These flowers first came to my intention when I worked at Company Flowers in Arlington, Virginia.  I held one up and examined it.  The soft center just calls you to touch it, but the spiky petals stand like prison bars keeping you at bay.  Named for the ever-changing Greek God Proteus, this flower has 114 family members, 82 of which are found in South Africa.  Yikes.  Anyone want to send me there to write a book?  I could spend a year exploring the protea alone.

Here are a few of the smaller finds:
I like to call this one the little bee hive flower, but its proper name is: leucadendron coniferum
I referenced this one to a wholesaler by describing it as, "a dome of itty-bitty silvery-green balls all clustered together like pins on a pin-cushion" but it's proper named turned out to be: brunia albiflora
This one I called "the round, furry pine cone flower," but it too had a real name: leucadendron bruniodes
It looks to me like someone took a nail-file to this pine-cone and came out with a super-smooth finish properly referred to as the lovely, leucadendron rubrum
As I said earlier, I loved the animals.  From the lion to the warthog, but the flowers....the diversity of 9000 species, 6200 of which are endemic (meaning they do not grow anywhere else in the world) astounding.  May I say it again?  9,000 species....holy guacamole that is a big family!  Maybe primarily for the flower fanatics among us but I ask you, can such diversity ever be boring?  The dream is to return with my new fancy camera on hand and walk through Cape Town, through the Drakensburg, through the Transvaal, Bloemfontein (the City of roses!) and please please please may I someday go to Namaqualand?  The flowers of Namaqualand, the very thought of them makes me shiver with excitement.   Just think of the posts I could write about a place that looks like this........

Flower fields of Namaqualand.......

That's it but since I could go on adding these forever I may as well start a Pinterest board on them.....NAMAQUALAND OF MY DREAMS.
How about it?  How about a year with the family in South Africa studying the flowers, writing a book or two....well,  we'd have to do a few children's stories while we're at it.....ok, four books, one year, more flowers than I have cells in my ABOUT THAT.  

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fairy Found in Fake Flower

Last week I was given a fake pink flower.  A pink chrysanthemum on a long green stem.  Lola saw it and assumed it was for her.  A huge hug to my legs and an exuberant "Thank you Mommy!" sealed the deal and she happily took it home.  This the story of where the fake little chrysanthemum found itself within hours of entering our family.

The sound of scissors snipping and Lola singing (she sings all the time but particularly when crafting) alerted me....when this girl hits "craft-mode" there is no stopping her.  Rolls of tape can disappear into thin air, sheets of colorful paper long-since buried in the art drawer appear with renewed vigor and any bit of ribbon or colorful knick-knack is at the mercy of her fast fingers.  The girl keeps time with the pros.

Before long a fairy appeared.  A box top, cut and colored was transformed into the base for a glittery, giddy, curly-eye-lashed fairy who was now in need of hot-glue and a home in the fake chrysanthemum.  She could probably handle it but I draw the line at hot glue and five-year-olds so she lured me in to this part of the task.  
With a very specific set of directions Lola set me to work glueing the fairy into the flower.  I suggested propping it up so it would stand straighter and she smiled.  My suggestion was clearly off-base.

A few rounds of "Away in the Manger" later (she is still singing this from Christmas) and the fairy found its way to her bedroom.  She tucked it into the tiny hole where a finial is meant to go and set to work comforting her sea-otter.

The part that I love is how completely uninvolved I was.  Sure I wielded the hot glue, but only at her specific instruction.  Otherwise I just snapped a few photos and smiled to myself as her humming figure flitted about creating masterpieces and caring for sick otters.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 20, 2012

If you like mud, you've come to the right place.

Outside my window are eight beautiful, almost-finished, raised garden beds lovingly built by my dear Saffie over the past year.    These were not made with wood from the shed (more posts concerning that old shed wood coming soon!) but from beams and a few railway trellis's.  For many nights Saffie stayed up until the wee hours designing the perfect boxes.  I believe there are at least four different versions of his design sketched out and detailed.  From start to finish he borrowed every chain saw in the greater rural area, begged the help of multiple friends and family (thank you!!) and worked before the sun came up and long after it had snuggled up to his folks on the other side of the world.  

On day one Saffie borrowed a Bobcat to dig the trenches....he started early and spent the day carefully following his plan, digging and moving dirt.  Dirt Dog was over the moon when the BobCat showed up and stayed on his Dad's lap the whole day as peaceful as a soul in meditation.   The love of mud and things that dig run deep in my boys.

DD napping.

With the BobCat having served its purpose, Saffie set in for many days of hard digging.  The rains came (of course) and Saffie just kept right on going.  One day, friends visiting from DC heard word that a tornado might blow through.  They left for home earlier than planned and that afternoon when the rains came perpendicular to the house Saffie plowed through as though the Robin's were singing the sweet song of spring.  (Note, Dirt Dog, Lola and I headed for the safety of the closet....but no tornado came.)  By evening Saffie was so covered in mud I could hardly find him in the midst of it.

As the days wore on Dirt Dog and Saffie worked tirelessly on the trenches, hauling wood and stacking beams.  Our house, already perilously close to the land of mulch, wood chips, soil piles and so forth...... became a highway of footsteps big and small.  My mop has never worked so hard.

 When at last the beams began to stack up and the beginning details of the grand scheme showed through I could see three things......

                   1. This would someday be beautiful.
                   2. Someday was a ways off.
                    3. I had a great veggie garden to plan......oh the joy!

Stop by soon for the next stage of the project and my list of what I hope to grow....hint, it starts with asparagus and strawberries....

Thanks for stopping by!

Rehearsing Loveliness.

Going through my photos for a flower post today I found the rehearsal dinner designs from Lauren & Bob's wedding (from my post: The Details Are In).  Mason jars full of purple basil, gomphrena, wax flower, dahlias and eucalyptus......copper buckets teaming with dianthus, celotia, mountain mint, feathers, hypericum, curly willow and pampas love love in abundance.  Enjoy!

Flowers grown lovingly in the Wollam Gardens.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Petals In Prose: Flowers: The Details Are In.

Petals In Prose: Flowers: The Details Are In.: Some weddings turn the corner of beautiful and head straight into jaw-dropping gorgeous. Lauren & Bob's wedding encompassed all of it......

Friday, February 17, 2012

Flowers: The Details Are In.

Some weddings turn the corner of beautiful and head straight into jaw-dropping gorgeous.  Lauren & Bob's wedding encompassed all of it....the beauty of kind people; the beauty of perfect weather; the beauty of impeccable detail; the beauty of that intangible vibe of love.
I've never had it in me to envy someone else's wedding day.... we all celebrate the enactment of union in our own special way, our stories told as individuals not as a tribe following the rituals of a magazine.  That said, if I had to choose a wedding to hold up as perfect in its own design it would be this one.  Sarah (from my post Flowers Please!) and I loved and poured our hearts into every last minute detail and hope you will love it as much as we did.

The photos are all from the luminous photographer Lynne Brubaker... her website and blog are very worth a visit.
dahlia, tuberose, seeded eucalyptus, dianthus, jade hypericum, pg hydrangea...loosely bound with natural hemp rope.

The florist in me would like to say the flowers took center stage...but can we please take a moment to, LOVE THAT DRESS. 
 They had me at, "lots of color".....solidago, wax flower, celotia, dahlia, seeded eucalyptus, hydrangea, heaven.....
Our neighboring guinea fowl were so proud. 
Love for the Mama.

....and to the foodies out there I say, honestly, did they even need dinner?

The details were impeccable.  The bride's sense of style was everywhere and in everything...the dresses (the bridesmaids were stunning); the venue; the chairs for the ceremony;  all reflected her style and set the tone for a joyful celebration.  The Keswick in Charlottesville was an amazing backdrop and worth the trip in and of itself.  

A walk down an aisle punctuated by the scent of rosemary, a bit of wax flower, celotia, coxcomb, solidago and faces like summer skies.  Sometimes loving the details can mean losing sight of the big picture...I don't believe that was the case here.  The details were more like elaborate exclamation points at the end of a sentence saying, "Joy is everywhere!"  I felt it.

I wasn't around to watch them ride off into the sunset but I know they did.  I just hope she brought her bouquet, it so suited her. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finding Winter: Waking up in the Greenhouse

I could hardly wait for our walk today.  The quiet, blue, flirtatious skies were begging us to get outside.  We raced through our chores, tugged on our muck boots and went off to find....what seems more and more like one of the last days of winter.  Of course, it is still winter, the groundhog did see his shadow  but like it or not, spring appears to be knocking on the front door.  
Just ask my friend the tulip....even in this bare state she is so beautiful.
I do worry it is early, but when it comes to spring blooming I worry about everything.  I am concerned about the cold, the heat, the rain, the sun, the Mayan prophesies.....

We tucked into the greenhouse to take a look around.  

 Tubers like trufula trees sandwiched between plant trays.
A sea of new stock inductees.
A dahlia screaming for food....

Back out side we wandered through one of the temporary hoophouses and Lola explored the rows of died off chili peppers.  

And then we found our jewel.  Peaking out of a crate was a tiny enclave of anemone....the watercolorists' dream.  Purple so pure it would make Alice Walker proud.  Fuchsia beaming with pride to be the brightest bloom for miles.  Nestled in green.  Beauty beholden.

Out here we lack the effect of knowing what time to go home by the illuminating of streetlights.  We could wander about searching for the jewels of winter for hours and on any given day, we have stayed out past dark.  We tuck in here, peak in through there and Lola is always gathering something.  But tonight, with only a few random branches, a pocketful of rocks, and a comparatively quick visit with Ole' Red, we headed home with spring bounding along behind us, hot on our heels.

Thanks for stopping by,

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