The Container Garden

Container gardens are low maintenance if you plant them simply. Better to put single plants in individual containers and arrange the pots rather than trying to make a mini-perennial garden in one large pot. When a plant fails, just remove the pot and add something later.

  • Plant Simply – Simplicity always wins the day in a low-maintenance garden. Plant a border thick with hostas instead of perennial and annual flowers. Avoid having little patches or plantings here and there. Make fewer, stronger statements in the landscape, but always do it with the underlying structure in mind.
  • Plant What Thrives – Coddling marginal plants through a cold winter takes time. It’s rewarding if you have help or the hours to do it yourself, but truly silly if you don’t. Use plants that succeed in your climate and soil.
  • Prepare Your Soil Properly – Whether you are planting a rose, shrub, tomato, or oak tree, proper soil preparation will save you later fuss as you try to rescue a plant that’s failing to thrive.  The information is available; do your homework. If you’re uncertain about the acidity of your soil, you can have it tested professionally.
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Inspiration can come from many places. Attend a lecture given by someone you admire. Go on local house or garden tours. Watch Ina Garten on the Food Network. Subscribe to magazines; I can not wait for mine to arrive each month. Buy as many books as you can-a library is always a great source of inspiration.  And travel, travel, travel; the world offers so many treasures.

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For me, flowers and plants make a room come alive.  They can be as simple as an orchid, a pot of tulips, or a bouquet from the grocery.  When I have flowers in a room, I know I’m really home.  I like to keep things simple, perhaps a collection of pretty ferns or a bouquet of all the same flowers or different flowers in the same palette.  It depends on the color and pattern in the room.  I want my flowers to have enough contrast so that you notice them, but of course not clash with the color palette.  Proper scale is also important.  If someone is generous enough to send me a bouquet that’s too big, I’ll cut it down to size and put it in one of my own containers.  If I’m going to have a big arrangement, it’s going to go in the entry and not on the dining room table.

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For years I collected old salt and pepper shakers but found that emptying and cleaning them just took too much time. My life changed when I began using salt and pepper cellars. I always like to have them on the table so each guest can adjust their seasoning. Using interesting small bowls and dishes not only looks beautiful on the table but they’re easier to fill and then clean. I love using coarse sea salt and interesting cracked peppers. I usually let two guests share a set when I have a lot of people. With smaller groups, each guest gets their own.

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When in a hurry, which is most of the time, I find adding a plant to my rooms is instant decorating. The plants last longer than a flower arrangement and all they need is a beautiful cache pot to hide the ugly plastic pot. I have them in all sizes and use them everywhere in my homes. When there is time, since they are the perfect container, I fill them with oasis or chicken wire and make flower arrangements for the table.

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It’s important to plan a party that works for the space and budget at hand, so it is fun for everyone.  A host should never seem stressed and should be able to enjoy the party along with everyone invited.  Think about the whole event, from the time people arrive until they leave, and begin to prepare and plan.

1.   Only host a party that you can easily handle.  Keeping things simple will allow you to have a better time.

2.   A cocktail party with a buffet allows for a more casual party and can be done with less help.  Serve food that is easy to eat.

3.   Make lists, lists, and more lists to ensure you have everything ready beforehand and that you have what you need, from a coat rack to cocktail napkins.

4.   If you are serving a meal, make sure there are enough places for everyone to sit and eat their food.  No one should have to stand or sit on the floor.

5.   Afternoon tea parties are great for families.  Kids can have hot chocolate with tiny peanut butter and honey sandwiches, the husbands can watch sports and the girls-well, they always like to get together.

6.   Picnics are another great way to entertain families.  Pack up sandwiches, fried chicken, potato chips, and brownies and go to the backyard or the park for a great summer afternoon.

7.   If you are able to hire a caterer or help for a large party, meet them and have them cater a small party first so they can get to know you, your house, and how you like things done.  You want to be sure the party represents you, not how someone else thinks you should entertain.

 

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Not every wall has to have pictures, but hanging a large picture over a sofa or mantel will give exciting scale to a room.

Powder rooms and bathrooms are great places for collections of small pictures.

If you want to hang pictures of various sizes together on a wall, measure out the size of the space on the floor and arrange the pictures on the floor so you can see how the group looks together. Then measure and jot down the distance between each picture. This method will make hanging much easier.

A picture looks best in a space that fits its size. A tiny picture on a large wall will look lost, just as a large picture in a small space will look out of scale.

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