Monday, May 19, 2008

Backyard Make Over

As summer approaches, its time to break out the gardening gloves and give your backyard a spring cleaning. Here are some tips to turn an ordinary backyard into your own little oasis.

Clear out the clutter. Remove any dead plant debris, weeds, last fall’s leaves, etc. Give your bushes and trees a good pruning. If you’re adding new plants or a flower bed, do your research first. Find out what type of plants do well together. Make sure you space each plant properly, different species require a different amount of space between each plant to ensure adequate room for growth and lessen the risk of disease.

Fruit trees make a great addition, even in small backyards. Not only are they ornamental, once they mature, fresh, organic fruit is just a few steps away! Their spring blossoms fill the air with sweet fragrance.

An herb garden is another great idea that is visually appealing as well as providing you with fresh, delicious ingredients for your favorite recipes without making a trip to the grocery store. Herbs come in many different varieties, some look like vines, others like flowers and herbs such as rosemary make a nice hedge.

You can also choose plants that attract different forms of wildlife to your yard. Butterflies are a common favorite. They need warm, sunny areas to thrive and fly. They like to sun themselves on large, flat stones. They also like tall plants that provide protection from the wind. Some of the flowers they like best are butterfly bush, verbena, sedum, zinnias, latana and Mexican Sunflower. Planting these flowers by a wall or the side of your house will provide the butterflies with additional protection from the wind. This is also a good area to place some of your lawn and patio furniture, so you can watch these beautiful creatures.

To attract birds to your yard, hang some decorative birdhouses from the trees and provide a birdbath for water. Birds like berry producing plants and flowers that have gone to seed. A hummingbird feeder filled with sugar water will attract these delightful creatures and many of the flowers that attract butterflies will attract hummingbirds also.

An outdoor fountain will provide not only visual appeal but also provides the calming, soothing sound of running water. Placing a fountain under shade trees or an overhead trellis will help prevent the water from evaporating as quickly as it would in direct sunlight. Hanging a hammock or swing near the fountain will provide you with an ultimate spot for relaxation or a much needed nap after all that yard work!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lighting Your Home With Art Nouveau

More than just a lamp, Tiffany lamps are considered by many to be true works of art. Have you ever wondered how Tiffany lamps got their name? Here’s a little history about these famous lamps.

Louis Comfort Tiffany designed the first Tiffany lamp in the late 1800's. Original Tiffany lamps were considered part of the Art Nouveau movement that started in Europe about the same time. Mr. Tiffany was inspired to create the lamps by the stained glass windows he designed for his firm in New York. Each lamp was made by hand, using small geometric shapes of colored glass. Over the years, Tiffany designed many different styles of lamps, including the nature and botanical designs that incorporate flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, peacock feathers and more. Two of Tiffany’s colleagues, Emarel Freshel and Clara Driscoll helped him design his lamps, including the Wisteria and Pond Lily designs.

Tiffany Lamps are made using a method called the Copper Foil Method. The pattern for a lamp is drawn out on a piece of cardboard. Each piece of the pattern is numbered and a color is assigned. Then the glass is laid over the pattern and traced. Now the glass can be cut and grinded in the desired shapes. Copper foil is applied to the edges of the cleaned glass pieces to adhere them together. The edges are then soldered together for a firm hold. Last, the lamp is carefully cleaned to a beautiful finish.

Tiffany lamps are skillfully crafted beautiful works of art. Make the next lamp you buy an elegant conversation piece with a timeless beauty that looks spectacular in any type of decor!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Decorating Your Home With Terrariums

A terrarium is a great way to create your own little indoor oasis. Terrariums are created using clear plastic or glass containers such as fish bowls, aquariums, large glass jars or jugs. They can be open on the top or enclosed. Terrariums that are enclosed can recycle their water, need very little attention and are good for plants that thrive in high humidity. Open terrariums are better for plants that need a dryer climate, however, they need more frequent watering.

Plants growing in terrariums need indirect sunlight. Never place one in direct sunlight. Low growing, dense plants work well. You can also control the amount of growth by pruning. Select plants that have similar light and watering requirements, but choose variations in size, color and texture. Some plants that do well in terrariums include small ferns, carnivorous plants, polka dot plants, croton, creeping fig, Ti plant, ribbon plants and prayer plants. If an enclosed terrarium gets too moist and humid inside, open the lid for awhile.

When you start to set up your terrarium, the first thing you should add to the bottom of the container are small clay granules that you can find at most nurseries or garden centers. These are important for proper drainage and help keep the soil from becoming too soggy. (Unscented cat litter will work also.) Next add a thin layer of aquarium gravel. A layer of horticultural charcoal above the gravel will keep the soil from developing a sour odor. Then add a quality indoor potting soil, about 2 inches deep.

Now you are ready to add the plants you chose. Plant the taller ones in the back. Dig small holes for each plant and plant them no higher or lower than they were in the pot. You can add to the miniature landscape by adding rocks, shells, pieces of wood or small ceramic figurines like frogs, turtles, snails or even tiny fairies. Have fun creating your own little world.

The most important thing to remember with a terrarium is not to over water. Open terrariums need less water than other houseplants. Always water light. Closed terrariums only need to be watered every four to six months. Frequent pruning, pinching out tips will keep the plants from growing too tall.