Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Snapshot ... It's All About Family

The other day, as I walked into the family room, I saw this:

There were the sisters, Alice and Dorothy, spooning on the sofa, in the sunshine, on the down throw.

Today is a day for family for us.  We will be at my sister's house for brunch with my Dad (Mom is out of town).  This afternoon, our eldest daughter is having family over to celebrate our grandson's birthday ... it's hard for me to believe that the little varmint is 7 years old already.

Treasure your family ... time spent with them is precious, and time lost can never be recaptured.

Happy Sunday,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Making Collars and Contributing to the Cause

In my not-so-abundant spare time, I sew collars ... lots of collars ... collars that adorn the throats of dogs throughout the country ... collars that support Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg, with the goal to one day find effective treatments (and hopefully a cure one day) for canine cancer. 

It's time for me to take this enterprise to a wider audience, which means setting up an online store through Etsy.  To do this, I had to have great photos of my collars ... and no one I know does better photos than my friend Kat, from Low Tide High Style.  Last week, I mailed her a box of collars to photograph, and she sent back the most unbelieveably beautiful images.  Oh, the wonderful things that she can do with a camera!!

I learned to sew when I was ten years old, on an old White, straight-stitch sewing machine that once belonged to my great-grandmother.  I still have this machine, in its walnut stand, and I use it as a table in our master bedroom.  I moved up to a fabulous Kenmore machine that my husband bought for me shortly after we got married ... and it is the one I still use today, 30+ years later.

My collars are mostly made from designer fabric samples, gathered from various sources.  These fabrics are high quality and very durable ... and the colors are always beautiful.  My favorite fabrics to work with are tapestries, damasks, and linen and linen blends. 

The fabric samples I use are small, and I can usually only make two or three collars from each.  This means that my customers won't find their collar on every dog at the greyhound gathering or dog park, like happens with so many other collar makers.  It also keeps the process interesting for me, since I'm not making the same thing over and over and over.

To make these collars, first I cut the fabric into strips ...

... and I sew on the lining.  To make the process go faster, I usually sew the strips one after another without cutting the thread.  I end up with a huge heap of strips behind the sewing machine, then I cut them apart and iron them.  While I'm sewing, I can usually count on having at least one of the cats sitting in the middle of what I'm doing.  This time it was Amy, taking a quick bath.

Dorothy was sitting behind the machine for a while, watching the needle go up and down.

.... and Alice hops into my chair whenever I get up.

Now the fabric blanks are ready to get their hardware and become collars.

All done!

These stylish, colorful collars aren't just for greyhounds!  Any breed of dog whose head is smaller than their neck (like Great Danes, Collies, Poodles, Shepherds, and many other breeds) can benefit from wearing these comfortable, secure collars. Recently, I sold a collar to the owner of an English Bulldog!! 

When we sell these collars at our booth at events, and in the Etsy store as soon as I get it up and running, 100% of the purchase price is donated to Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg.  (I donate my time and all materials.)  My hope is that each collar I sell will  bring us that much closer to the day when fewer of our beloved canine companions are lost to cancer. 

THIS is my dream, and you can help.  I should have the Etsy store up some time next week ... it's a lot more work to get it started than I thought it would be.  In the meantime, if you see a collar here that you like, or have any questions, please send me an EMAIL and I will give you the details.

Thank you, Kat, for helping me get this started.  I know our Etsy store will be a success ... and a large part of the success will be because of your beautiful images!

Watch this space for news about our annual 'Take a Bite Out of Cancer' event, held in Fredericksburg, Virginia, November 12-13, 2011.  We have two BIG NAME guests in the works, and I can't wait to tell you all about them!!

'Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg' is a 501 (c) (3) registered charity.
For more information, visit our WEB SITE.

To help spread the word, I'm linking this post to:
Saturday Nite Special at Funky Junk Interiors
Show and Share at Just a Girl

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Annual Rant About Bare-Root Roses in Bags

I ran to Walmart to buy a few things yesterday afternoon, and I saw THIS outside the main door:

Stop me if you've heard this before ...


This display is full of roses with names that we remember our mothers and grandmothers growing:  John F. Kennedy, Pink Peace, Seafoam, Don Juan, and America, for example.  At $4.25 each, who wouldn't want to scoop up a whole armload and plant a beautiful rose garden at a bargain price?

Don't fall for it!  These roses are ones that would be rejected by big-name nurseries.  (Grade 1 1/2 is a lower grade than the Grade 1 that most nurseries sell.)  The growers package these in tiny bags, for cheaper shipping, with beautiful (desceptive) photos, to lure unsuspecting customers.  Gardeners (and want-to-be-gardeners) are sick of winter by now, and they come across a bright display with the promise of beautiful summer flowers.  We get sucked in by the familiar names ... I forgot to tell you, these roses are notorious for NOT being the rose they say they are on the label.

At this price, how can this NOT be a bargain, you ask?  Let's imagine that a beginning rose gardener decides to take a chance and buy some of these $4.25 roses. The roses struggle and fail to thrive. The gardener shoulders the blame, figuring that the roses aren't growing well because of something he/she must be doing wrong.  Where he/she went wrong was by buying roses that are probably not healthy in the first place. All the ground preparation, fertilizer, fungicide, and care in the world won't make a healthy rose out of an unhealthy, poorly packaged, or damaged rose.

These roses fit into these tiny little plastic bags because they have had most of their roots chopped off.  See what they look like without the packaging?  (I bought the roses in this photo a few years ago.  See, even I'm not immune to their appeal.)

For comparison, this is what a bare-root rose SHOULD look like, with a large healthy root system, and carefully pruned green canes without wax.


This year, for the first time, I saw Knock Out roses on the display.  People equate Knock Out with "easy to grow", so it only makes sense that they've trickled down to this level.  (If you missed my post earlier in the week about Easy Care Heirloom Roses, as an alternative to Knock Out, click HERE.)

Sometimes, it seems as if I'm spitting into the wind.  I'm one voice, against a marketing machine with pretty pictures and bargain prices.  Maybe if I do this long enough, I'll make some progress.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It Doesn't Take Much to Make Me Happy

It's impossible to look down and not smile when you're wearing these ...

New Wellies, bought last week at the Plow and Hearth Outlet in Madison (Virginia) ... half price!

Danko clogs, 50% off at Saxon Shoes

Ariat boots, Saxon Shoes, 70% off!

It truly IS the simplest of things that keep me happy during the winter.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Easy Care Heirloom Roses ... The List!

When I was asked to present a program on easy care heirloom roses, I decided to use the following criteria to create the list:

1.  Roses that respond the best in MY garden with minimal care ... meaning irrigation, fertilizer, and fungicide when I remember to do it.  I live in north central Virginia, which is USDA Zone 7A.

 2.  Roses that bloom with more flowers than my level of effort should produce.

 3.  Roses that look their absolute best in the worst of conditions.  At the end of a hot, dry summer these were among the stand-outs ... both in quality of flowers and the appearance of the bush itself.

I further narrowed the list to a manageable number that could be presented to a group in less than an hour, allowing time for questions. 

Let's sit for a while and look at lots of pretty rose pictures.  (Any of you folks with slow internet connections are going to hate me for this.)

Small Shrubs

 "Caldwell Pink", found rose
Polyantha, Lilac Pink, 3-4 feet, repeat blooming

White Pet, 1879
Polyantha, White, 2-4 feet, repeat blooming

Echo, 1914
Polyantha, Pink blend, 3-4 feet, repeat blooming

Ducher, 1869
China, White 3-4 feet, repeat blooming

La Marne, 1915
Polyantha, pink blend, 3-5 feet, repeat blooming

Apothecary Rose, bef. 1240
Gallica, dark pink, 3-4 feet, spring blooming

Rosa Mundi, bef. 1581
Gallica, pink striped, 3-4 feet, spring blooming

Medium Shrubs

 "Angel's Camp Tea", found rose
Tea, light pink, 4-6 feet, repeat blooming

Madame Antoine Mari, 1901
Tea, pink blend, 4-5 feet, repeat blooming

"Tutta's Pink Noisette", found rose
Noisette, light pink, 4-6 feet, repeat blooming

Duchesse de Brabant, 1857
Tea, light pink, 4-5 feet, repeat blooming

Marie Pavie, 1888
Polyantha, white blend, 4-5 feet, repeat blooming

Marie Daly, sport of Marie Pavie
Polyantha, light pink, 4-5 feet, repeat blooming

Charles de Mills, 1829
Gallica, dark pink, 4-5 feet, spring blooming

Large Shrubs

"Darlow's Enigma", found rose
Hybrid musk, white, 6-12 feet, repeat blooming

"Portland from Glendora", found rose
Portland, medium pink, 6-8 feet, repeat blooming

Sidonie, 1846
Portland, light pink, 6-8 feet, repeat blooming

Mutabilis, 1894
China, yellow blend, 4-8 feet, repeat blooming

Sarah Van Fleet, 1926
Rugosa, medium pink, 6-8 feet, repeat blooming

Madame Plantier, 1835
Hybrid alba, white, 5-12 feet, spring blooming

Shailer's Provence, 1799
Hybrid china, medium pink, 6-10 feet, spring blooming

Banshee, 1773
Hybrid damask, light pink, 6-8 feet, spring blooming

Repeat-blooming Climbers

Crepuscule, 1904
Noisette, apricot, 10-12 feet, repeat blooming

Climbing Pinkie, 1952
Climber, medium pink, 8-10 feet, repeat blooming

Alba Meideland, 1986
Climber, white, 10-12 feet, repeat blooming

Awakening, 1935
Climber, light pink, 12-16 feet, repeat blooming

New Dawn, 1930
Climber, light pink, 12-16 feet, repeat blooming

White Cap, 1954
Climber, white, 8-10 feet. repeat blooming

Parade, 1953
Climber, dark pink, 8-12 feet, repeat blooming

Spring-blooming Ramblers

"Peggy Martin", found rose
Hybrid multiflora, dark pink, 10-16 feet, scattered repeat

Alberic Barbier, 1900
Hybrid wichurana, white blend, 15-20 feet, spring blooming

Albertine, 1921
Hybrid wichurana, orange pink, 12-15 feet, spring blooming

Aviateur Bleriot, 1910
Hybrid wichurana, light yellow 15-25 feet, spring blooming

"Arcata Pink Globe", found rose
Hybrid setigera, light pink, 15-20 feet, spring blooming

Leontine Gervais, 1903
Hybrid wichurana, apricot blend, 20-30 feet, spring blooming

Gardenia, 1899
Hybrid wichurana, white blend, 16-24 feet, spring blooming

Ghislaine de Feligonde, 1916
Hybrid multiflora, yellow blend, 8-12 feet, spring blooming

As I said in THIS post from earlier in the month ... if you want easy care roses, you have many choices beyond Knock Out.  The roses I presented here are mostly available at specialty nurseries, and they usually cost less than the Knock Outs that you see at the big box stores.  Why not grow a piece of history in your garden?

This is by no means a comprehensive list of ALL roses that grow well with minimal care ... these are some of the roses that please ME the most. I offer them, hoping that they might also please you. 

Do you have a rose or two that you grow that you think should be on this list?  I would love to hear about it.
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