Thursday, May 29, 2008

Heritage roses field trip

Last weekend there was a short article in our local paper about a Heritage Rose garden and rose sale that was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.
The article said that the garden had been created by a couple who had scouted heritage roses from across the land, finding them growing beside abandoned farm buildings and against house foundations where the house had long since vanished.

This particular rose garden and rose sale was likely to be the last chance for the public to view the garden. The wife had died awaiting a heart/lung transplant. While she waited in the hospital, she had sketched plans to create a rose garden based on the plans created by Gertrude Jeckyll, (a famous name in roses...), plans that Jeckyll herself never saw realized.

There were no pictures with the news article. Just time of the sale, and location, and the belief that this was the only privately owned heritage rose garden open to the public in America.
Once the rose sale was ended, the garden would be leased to a wedding company. After that lease went into effect, I doubted people would be allowed to just wander through in the future. was a very, very hot weekend. Was I really interested in meandering through a garden in high heat and equally oppressive humidity? And what about the time and money aspect: The garden was seventy miles from our house. Going there would shoot up the better part of a day, and a good part of a tank of gas as well.

Monday gave us an opportunity to buy camera chips at a steal at our local electronic center. We decided to stop by the National Veterans Cemetery to pay our respects, then head to the store. That would put us almost half way to the rose garden....

Bernie and Laura gave in to my wishes. The drive south of Houston to the garden took us thorough farm land and tiny towns that we had never heard of.

I was totally unaware of the Town of Needville. I still don't know how it got it's name. I do now know the high school is home to the Fighting Blue Jays.

Somehow that doesn't seem like a very intimidating name for a football team...

After the wife died, her husband did create the garden she had sketched. Their tidy house is still on the grounds. He didn't name the garden after his wife, but rather after the person who inspired the garden originally.

As it turned out, there really wasn't a lot to see. It was still a rather young garden. In time the roses will climb up the poles and cover them like enormous rose hedges.

I loved that each rose was labeled with both it's name and creation date.
Mrs. Isaac Pereire was both lovely and fragrant.

Chestnut Rose...I wondered if those who fought in the War of 1812 had seen this rose and tucked a blossom into their darling's hair before they left for battle.

1927...the year my mom was born. I wonder why Robin Hood was chosen as the name of this oh so pink tiny rose? I would have named it Maid Marion instead....

The heat had curtailed the rose's flower production. There was not another soul around beside us three; it was almost a reverent experience to be walking in the garden dreamed of yet never experienced by the deceased lady. The garden was still so young but she did not get to see it built nor would she ever walk it in when it came into mature glory

The property will be lovely for weddings. A fish pond with water lillies reflected the dreamy blue sky, while the windmill lazily turned with the occasional heat relieving breezes.

Over another larger pond was a cover bridge with a pathway leading to a beautiful white gazebo surrounded by roses as well.

To the side was a chapel with a stained glass door. The room inside held two pews which would hold only two people each. A bride, a groom, a minister, and two sets of parents would be all that the room could possibly hold.

Another rose garden was beyond, an informal garden named The Mary Martha Garden.
The yellow rose above that was found in that garden was named "Mermaid"-much to mermaid collector Laura's delight. The rose was named in 1918...when the world was at war, and many were lost due to the Great Influenza outbreak of that time.

Even in war and pestilance, there was time to create beauty and tend flowers.

I confess: The tipping point for me to want to make the trip to the garden was to see this particular rose. A rose that people have enjoyed for over two hundred years!

The only blossom was sadly withered in the heat, but the bright orange rose hips and vibrant leaves still made the bush a lovely specimen.

(Above: the Mary Martha Garden)

I've been to many lush and elegant gardens and blogged about several of them. While I was walking about I wondered what I could say about this one. Would I encourage people to make the long drive to see it? Was it worth seeing at all?

In the end I wondered if I would have been more impressed if I had seen it on a brisk sunny day when the roses were covered with blossoms and sweat was not running down my brow. I probably would have been.

Still...there was something about seeing a garden built simply for the sake of love, to bring into reality the vision shared by two women, neither who had ever met, neither of whom will ever see the garden themselves, yet they will remained forever honored by those who walk about and see roses that generations that have gone before have treasured.

Like many treasures of life, the garden may not have been glorious, or breathtaking. But somehow it was still fulfilling.

PS: Seriously better pictures of the garden can be seen here on Laura's blog. Her eye and her camera...gee, her pictures just rock.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Garden: Before and After

Just a few scraggly pansies were left from our January planting.

Out with the pansies, in with the zinna, pentas, inpatients, begonia, , coleus, caladium, petunia, portulaca, white Mexican heather, Mexican petunia, and a border of yellow japanese sedum.

I love it...and I hope the butterflies and hummingbirds will love it too.
You can see some close-ups of the flowers here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Three ten year cycles

A few years back an interior designer told me that all interior decoration color schemes last about ten years, and that there are basically only three different color schemes that are used.

The first colors scheme is called Natural/Earth/Neutral tones. The years that those colors are popular find furniture, rugs and paint sticking to pallets that are beige/brown/grey/sand.

The second color scheme is called Jewel/Saturated tones: Think sapphire/emerald/ruby/rich purple,brilliant tangerine/vibrant greens and hot pinks and black accents.

The third color scheme is called Pastel/Muted tones. Think sky or dusty blue, rosy or dusty pinks and purples, sage greens, mint greens, butter yellow, apricot and peach.

The colors tend to switch mid decade, and by the time EVERYONE has those colors in the stores, the new color scheme is already showing up in the high end market. Remember too, color palettes for everything (towels, cars, fabric, dishes..) are determined five years ahead of what is seen in stores.

Also remember that Europe is ahead of the curve.

Now for fun...let's count back.

2005: Earth tones: these have been the years of granite countertops, brown or coffee colored walls and furniture, grey metals, and natural tones. This scheme just caught on a few years ago; I enjoyed watching young married bloggers paint their kitchen cabinets shade of brown and lust after granite counter tops. In other words: Earth/Natural tones.

1995 to 2005: Pastel/Muted: The hot color was sage green and soft dusty golds, soft rusty peach, butter yellow, some soft dusty aqua and soft plum. An "organic" take on Pastel/Muted colors. Many shades of beige were considered quite trendy.

1985-1995 Jewel/Saturated: Ruby red and deep burgundy, with teal greens, or deep navy blue with burgundy. I remember suddenly wanting a cranberry red sofa with big flowers and teal accents, and had to have a couch custom made. Ten years later you could find similar couches everywhere as the heavy floral and crocheted lace antique look exploded on via Victoria Magazine. Some folks went with toile, black and white rooms were quite interesting.

1975-1985: Earth tones: Macrame and baskets. Rusty orange and harvest gold, avocado appliances. Wood stains and wood panelling was cool, especially old barn siding if you were young! At the end of this time the soft blue with pinky ducks or sage green and peach desert motif came into play.

1965-1975: A bit of a mix here...some Jewel tones because of the Pop neon color movement, where hot pink, lime, orange, and purple showed up.

1955-1965: Pastels: Remember yellow, turquoise and pink bathroom fixture? Fluffy cotton candy girl's rooms? Aqua and brown and navy plaids for boys?

1945-1955: Jewels tones: Yellow, red, navy colors.

Anyway, if you want to read more about this, you can click here.
Be sure to click on color tends for 2008 to get an idea of where color is headed next.

As for me....
A trip to IKEA yesterday got my color engines all revved up.
I could so easily enjoy spending time in this yellow room!
Laura liked this room...but then again, she decorated her apartment with exactly these colors, including painting her walls that same shade of red.

Yes, as a matter of fact I would like an area rug just like this one.

I could almost go for this...the blue and neutral is certainly cool and restful.
But I'd rather be in this room right now. Color and more color! Lime and orange, navy and white. odd that my first bathroom colors when I got married were exactly these same shades!

Ikea fabric is so energizing.

You can buy fabric panels that can be hung on a tension wire, and change out to suit a mood or season. Much faster than repainting, and much much faster than wall papering.

Crazy red poppy....I love it!
( I had to share the joke: the tools and repair bits are all called "Fixa". I think that is quite droll.)

How about a bright pillow on a white duckcloth couch? Hot pink today, maybe rich deep blue tomorrow. Match or cure a mood...

So here we are back home, with my 2001 purchased dusty sage sofa, with matching silk or velvet pillows, and peachy silk accent pillows, that are totally shot, but Tiggie enjoys sitting on them so we keep them.

I am sooooo bored with this.

One IKEA pillow: WHAM! Feel the energy! I'd love similar curtains, and the striped rug....
I guess I decorated originally in Pastel, passed on the Earth tones, and am now really ready for some bright punchy jewel tones.

I look around at the house, and would be more fun to just sell everything, move and start all over again.

So I went to the garden center and bought a garden full of pink and lime green colors to tide my color cravings over for now.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Have you ever seen a lassi....

Two requests of Laura's Papaya Lassi recipe! Wow!

Well, truth be told, she is just like me, and rarely uses an actual recipe. Lassi is a yogurt based drink from India. It is popular there both as a cooling drink and as a digestive aid, and is made with many variations. Lately we have just been hooked on the Mango version.

Mango Lassi


3 cup plain yogurt (fat free is a great option, still tastes great!)
1 cup milk (whole, low, non-fat, whatever you've got...)
1 cup water (we prefer to use canned mango juice instead.)
1 cup mango pulp (good and ripe...)
1/4 cup sugar (or more if you want it sweeter, less for more tart.)
Dash salt
1 cup of ice

Whirl all of the above in a blender until smooth. OR if you are without a blender, stir everything except the ice together, then pour the mix over ice. We usually forget the salt...still tastes good.

I like to add a very fine light sprinkle of cardamon to the top for an exotic flavor; Laura likes finely crushed pistachios.

But wait...there's more!

Rosewater Lassi is a really unique flavored version.

2 cups yogurt or buttermilk
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon rose water.

Garnish with a rose petal.

I'm also a big fan of Cucumber Lassi for when I am burned out on sweet flavors:

1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup milk
1 medium cucumber, skin and seeds removed
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves, or a two teaspoons of fresh fresh mint
2 cubes ice cubes (more or less..)

Whirl in blender until smooth, makes one quart.

Obviously once you get thinking about it, you can come up with your own versions: Avocados with lime, pepper and garlic powder...strawberry.... bananas...cantaloupe...

As an added bonus: Do you remember drinking Orange Julius as a kid when you went to your local mall? French Vanilla coffee creamer added to fresh orange juice and whirled with ice will give you a beverage that is a dead ringer for the original drink. I just start with a tablespoon of creamer to a cup of juice, and regular orange juice works pretty good too. If you liked Strawberry Julius, just use strawberry juice.

I'm being summoned for a Scrabble game...gotta go...