Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Highlights

This weekend was packed with places we HAD to go and things we HAD to do!  I had planned to go to an auction on Saturday morning, but I blew it off.  I worked at home instead.  Saturday afternoon, The Husband and Ruby and I worked the afternoon shift at the Greyhounds Rock booth at the Lake of the Woods Dog Festival.  Immediately as the festival ended, we packed up our things, hit the road to deliver Ruby home, and we set off again ... to the NPC Max Muscle Virginia Classic where our Daughter #3 was competing.

She works SO hard, following a strict diet and exercise program, to get into shape to compete.  It paid off, because she placed FIRST in her class!!  Way to go, Sweetie ... your dad and I are very, VERY proud of you!

Sunday was one of those days where I had to hit my marks all day long.  First up ... breakfast at IHOP with Daughter #3 (a no-holds-barred breakfast off her diet to celebrate her win the previous night) and Daughter #1 and her family.  Caleb is almost 8 months old now, and everything he touches goes straight into his mouth.

While we were at breakfast, a customer stopped by the house to pick up a replacement rose that I left for her ... the one she bought last year was accidently mis-tagged.  (No questions asked, she got the correct replacement ... that's how we do things around here.)  When I got home, I saw that she had brought me two BEAUTIFUL peony flowers.  I love peonies as much as I love roses.  This one is Kopper Kettle Itoh ... the copper/apricot color with subtle stripes is gorgeous, and it smells HEAVENLY.  Note to self:  must see about adding some Itoh peonies to the garden next year.

At 1:00, Ruby and I went to spend an hour at HealthSouth, our hospital's rehabilitation facility, for the second part of her therapy dog test.  The objective is for us to interract with patients and their families in the presence of a therapy dog evaluator.  As we expected, Ruby loved all the people, sitting politely to be petted and loving all the attention.

Here is our group, after we finished our visit.  This is a great group of dogs and humans!  Notice TJ, our Greyhounds Rock spokes-dog, in the center ... his human Kim is our evaluator.

I finished the day with a few hours of shopping with Daughter #3.  Her new body-building body doesn't fit into her jeans, and she is on the hunt for ones that DO fit.  Our first stop was Goodwill, at her suggestion, and she scored a pair of jeans that we can alter to fit her perfectly!  I bought a dress for myself and some Waverly curtains that will most likely end up as chair seats.

This week will be a blur.  I have the plant sale at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday ... the photo they use on their plant sale page is one of me ... I was surprised to see it because I don't know when it was taken.  Hartwood Roses is opening for the season on Sunday, May 6.  (More on this in a day or two.  Follow Hartwood Roses on Facebook for the latest info first.)  I have LOTS to do to prepare for both of these events ... so I should turn off the computer and get to it. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Sleepy Morning, After a Long Night

This morning is cloudy and cool ... perfect for relaxing and getting a slow start to the day.  Judging from where the animals are and what they're doing, it isn't just the humans who feel this way.






The Husband and I were out late last night, which is very unusual for us.  We went with friends to watch the NASCAR race in Richmond, and we didn't get home until after midnight.

I love NASCAR ... especially being at the track in person to watch the race.

The whole crowd is standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.

We were sitting in Turn 1, right in front of the exit of Pit Road, and I was able to snap a couple of telephoto pics.

Ahhhh ... sunset over Richmond International Raceway ... accompanied by the roar of 43 race cars.

I have been to more than my fair share of loud concerts in my life, and I can say this without reservation ... sitting in the stands during a race in Richmond is THE loudest place I have EVER been.  Hearing protection is NOT optional.  Turn the sound up on your speakers and take a listen to what one lap sounds like.

Click HERE for the video.
(I tried and tried, but I can't get it to imbed into this post.)

After leading for most of the race, Kevin Harvick's car faded away.  Kurt Busch passed him and seemed to have the race in the bag, until Denny Hamlin made a late race charge.  Hamlin almost had enough to overtake Busch and win the race ... but he lost traction at the exit of Turn Four on the final lap, and Busch beat him by inches.  What an exciting finish!

Lots to do today, so I should get up from here and get to it.

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Yellow Seedling

Four years ago, I plucked a rose hip from my neighbor's 'Peace' rose.  One of the roses that I grew from the seeds in that hip has turned out to be a superstar in the garden. 

Who would have guessed that a child of 'Peace' would be extremely resistant to disease and bloom profusely throughout the season?  The flowers are three inches across.  They are a soft medium yellow when they open, and they fade only slightly as they age.  I can even detect a bit of fragrance!

Now that this bush has some size (it's about 3 feet high and 4 feet wide) I am going to make a concerted effort to root cuttings this summer to test its performance in other gardens.  If all goes well, it will be so cool to have a rose on the market that I actually bred myself!

Look out, Knock Out ... the yellow seedling is breathing down your neck.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Virginia Garden Week ... Fredericksburg Tour

Every year during the last week in April, garden clubs throughout Virginia offer tours of beautiful houses and gardens during Virginia Garden Week ... this is the 79th year!  The tour in Fredericksburg, hosted by the Rappahannock Valley Garden Club, is always on Tuesday of Garden Week.  It's almost like a national holiday for me, and I try not to miss it.

I invited my mother and Janet (of The Empty Nest) to come along.  My mother is a seasoned garden tour goer, but Janet had never been before ... and she was very excited that I had invited her.  With the company of two of my favorite people, and wonderful houses to see, you know that we had a GREAT time.

The houses on this year's tour were in the neighborhood surrounding Kenmore, the home of George Washington's sister Betty Lewis.  Most of these homes were built in the late 19th or early 20th century, and they are lovingly preserved as family homes ... a lot our historic home ... though mine is still very much in the 'construction' phase of its preservation.

The mild winter we had this year has made for some strange combinations of plants at peak bloom in most of the gardens.  Usually for Garden Week, we are treated to the usual spring blooming Southern plants, like azaleas, daffodils, tulips, hellebores, etc.  This year, azaleas are in full bloom, and so were most of the roses we saw ... a full two weeks (at least) ahead of normal.

The homes were staged and decorated with beautiful flower arrangements done by the garden club ...  no photography allowed inside the houses, so I can't show you some of the most beautiful of the arrangements.  Here are some that were outdoors.

We saw this display in one of the gardens.  The little card says, "Cookies are for display only, please."  There was only one cookie left, and notice that the top plate is full of crumbs.

My favorite sight of the day, and the first photo I took, was a Lady Banks rose climbing a trellis on this yellow Victorian house.  I love it when I see a rose that is allowed to grow to its full potential ... instead of being subjected to radical pruning and torture in an effort to force it to fit into an ill-chosen spot.

Mom and Janet and I had SUCH a great time!!

There is more garden tour for me today.  I am hostessing at a home on Richmond's Monument Avenue tour this afternoon, and touring a few of the homes and gardens before my shift begins.  I have to hurry now, because I still have to get dressed.  (I love hostessing tours and telling stories!)

Stay tuned for photos of Richmond.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Dreamy Little Garden Building

There is a farmhouse on Route 17, about 10 minutes north of here in Morrisville.  Whenever I have to wait at that traffic light, I always take a second to admire a beautifully proportioned little lattice structure behind the house.  Yesterday, I pulled my camera from my purse and snapped this photo.

The photo is blurry, probably because I had the lens zoomed as far as it would go, and I had to hurry because the traffic light turned green.  I think it looks a lot like a dreamy watercolor painting. 

One day, I will find a place for a building like this at our place.  When I do, I will stop and introduce myself to the family who lives in the farmhouse, and I will photograph and measure their beautiful little lattice house.

Isn't it perfect?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rose Vignette

This little ceramic Toad House sits on a concrete paver beside our garage door.  The rose, Reve d'Or, is growing up the wall ... this stem was knocked down somehow, and it was laying on the ground ... creating a perfect rosey vignette.

All I had to do was sit on the ground and take this photo.  (I corrected the color and the exposure a bit in PicMonkey, and I added a hint of a dark edge to accentuate the rose.)

Isn't it delightful when beautiful things just happen!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Big Blue Buffet

When evaluating furniture to refinish, there's a fine line between 'Classic' and 'Dated'.  This latest project of mine started out just over the line in "Dated' territory.  After a dose of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I think it now sits squarely in the "Classic" category.  Let's see if you agree.

When I saw this piece at Salvation Army, I knew that it would be a beauty when I finished with it.  The body is solid maple, and the innerds are solid plywood ... this piece is HEAVY.  It's from a great maker, and is well worth the effort needed to bring it back to life.

The first thing I did when I got it home was to pull out my heat gun and strip the dated lacquer finish off the top.  Two coats of Rustoleum 'Kona' stain, and two coats of polyurethane, and the top was beautiful.  I waited until this point to choose the color for the body ... because I wasn't exactly sure what color the maple top would end up.  As I hoped, it was a perfect compliment for a coat of my favorite ASCP color ... Aubusson Blue!

Even though I stripped and sanded and refinished the top to make it practically pristine, I wanted to acknowledge and honor the age on rest of the buffet.  In places, it had the most wonderful wear in the finish ... which I left in place and accentuated with some careful distressing.

Speaking of distressing, the rest of the buffet got quite a workout with my sandpaper and sanding block.  As I was doing it, I was imagining all the hands that have touched the hardware, opening the drawers and doors, and all the feet and brooms and vacuums that have run into the skirt and feet.

Bottom drawer, before distressing and clear wax.  Top drawer, after.  (The color in this photo is off, way too yellow, and I couldn't fix it to my satisfaction.)

Up until now, I have always replaced these 'bat wing' colonial-style drawer pulls.  In this case, the style is a little different and I loved the wear on them ... so I gave them a spritz of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint to update the color a bit.  I think they're perfect.

This buffet is now ready for its new home.  I wish that could be here, because I have the PERFECT spot for it in our dining room.

Unlike other pieces, this one is not heading for my shop.  It's the first piece that I have finished specifically for the Lucketts Spring Market.  I'm so excited to be a vendor there this year!!!  It's unfortunate that this is happening during my busiest nursery season ... but I'm balancing things pretty well so far. 

Can't rest on my laurels, though ... I have work to do.

As the magician said, "... and now for my next trick ..."

Wait till you see what I'm going to do with this one!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Irresistable Allure of Sunshine

In the morning, when the angle of the sun is low and comes through the windows and makes puddles on the floor, I know exactly where I will find the cats.

This is Alice's favorite spot for a number of reasons.

1.  It's warm and sunny.
2.  It's high enough so she can look out the front door sidelights into the front yard.
3.  Ruby can't reach her here.  (Ruby isn't allowed on the stairs.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Working in the Garden with Ruby

Can you believe that Ruby has been here for almost two months already?  In that time, she and I have been training daily.  Her 'sit', 'down', 'wait', and 'let go' are really reliable, as is her 'come' ... recall is an important and difficult concept for some dogs to learn.  ("Why should I go over to you", dogs think, "because the good stuff is WAY over here where I am.")

"What's that?"

Ruby's recall is good enough for her to go to the next step, off leash in an unfenced area, which is MOST of the property here.  If she's going to garden with me, she HAS to be reliable off leash.  We call it 'proximity training' ... the idea is to have Ruby within a certain distance of me at all times ... even within the fence.

"I know there are horses over there ... I can hear them!"

The first step is to put Ruby on a LONG training leash (20 feet) and have her drag it wherever she goes.  She will be like this for a while ... until I feel she is ready to graduate to 100% off lead.

"I'll just lay here and chill while you work, Mom."

Back to the gardening part of this post.  My goal yesterday morning was to plant the rest of the David Austin roses to finish the English Garden.  Ruby and I were at work fairly early, before the sun got too hot to have a black dog outside without any shade. 

"Are you finished yet?"

I planted 12 roses, moved three existing roses to make way for some of the new ones, and even put away all of my tools.

"There are people over at the Winery, Mom.  Can we go?"

Ruby was almost perfect while we were out.  She walked at heel when we were going back and forth, and she stayed well within the length of the leash at all times.  This training is going to make life much easier for me, since I won't necessarily have to leave Ruby in the house whenever I'm working in an unfenced part of the garden. 

"I like hanging out with you."

I could never do this with Daniel.  His recall is very reliable, unless he's spooked by something.  He has anxiety issues, and I cannot take the chance of having him scared by something and taking off.

I accidently snapped this photo while I was putting my camera back into my pocket.

The rose folks among you are wondering, "Which dozen roses did you plant?"  (We're always curious about which roses other rose gardeners are growing.)

I write on galvanized tags with a paint marker.  I have not yet had one of these fade or flake in the garden.

Completing this garden is one more thing to cross off my back-breaking To Do list.  All it needs now is some fresh mulch ... which I will order next week.

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

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