Designing your Gardens from Seed

The magic of mid-winter. Cozy up to the fire and scour your seed catalogs. I do have some favorites; Hudson Valley Seed, Territorial Seed Company, Johnny’s, Fedco, Baker Creek, Harris Seeds to name a few.

To plan your seed starting dates depends on your frost-free dates for your area. By using the chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) you can select your state from the pull down menu. This will generate a PDF file with a list of NOOA data collection sites in your state. In the left column choose the location nearest or most similar to where you live. This is your all-important Frost-Free Date.

It’s important to have fun while doing your seed planting; this is a rewarding endeavor, so have your supplies ready. Some time spent on organization up front will facilitate the process. A good bench or table with some type of bin to hold the seed starting soil medium is essential. I have used a shallow old sink basin dropped into my potting shed workbench with great success. Have all your seed starting trays, 6 packs, and cell packs clean and ready to go. An all purpose fertilizer (Garden Tone 5-10-5 from Espoma) is a good choice to add to your soil mix. Have a water source handy.

Germination is highly dependent on temperature usually between 68-70F and no lower than 58F nighttime temperatures are crucial. So shelving units with grow lights and/or heat mats should be considered.

So have fun sifting through the seed catalogs and make your choices. While waiting for your seed packets to arrive get your potting bench ready and full of all the necessary supplies.

Strat small if you are worried about your germination rate of success and don’t worry if certain varieties don’t have good germination. Many seeds have slow germination (parsley) and have very specific needs for their sowing procedures. It took me several years to learn how to germinate celery, but you’ll find a way if some seed stumps you and you’ll be so proud when you figure it out and harvest that plant!

So good luck and have fun. I’d love to hear from you about your seed starting stories.

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Maine Destination Weddings

Maine is vacation land and the summer increase of population is evident more and more each year. However, the lure of a Fall wedding in Maine has become an equally important time of year to the couples planning a destination wedding. The outside campfire, crisp air and the changing colors of the trees bring those couples who truly desire to create an event that takes place in beautiful outdoor surroundings while allowing their personal touches- rustic yet elegant or woodsy yet glamorous- to shine forth on their special day.

As the daylight decreases and the wedding ceremony is held much closer to fading daylight it is very important to consider the advantages of ways to create very wonderful lighting and gorgeous photo opportunities illuminated by the warm glow of candles and Sparklers, yes Sparklers!

As the couple emerge from the ceremony aisle and all the guests hold lit sparklers that create a glow to walk under the effect is dazzling, even Black and White photos become extra special. There are new 36” long sparklers that hold their light for at least 3 minutes. In less than 30 seconds you can have all the sparklers lit by lighting only 5 sparklers and handing them to 5 guests who in turn use them to light the other unlit sparklers of each guest.

Using amber tones for candles and lanterns add to the atmosphere. Mini pumpkins with ornamental kales and cabbages make wonderful vignettes. And don’t forget feathers! They work so well massed in an antique wire or metal containers with trailing vines and berries and mosses.

Don’t fret that you’ll end up with a “Harvest-Hop” type of look. Subtle shades of apricots combined with the more rust/ gold/copper/burgundy tones becomes quite elegant when done with just the right flair. Gold or copper chargers, black taper candles and soft linens in subtle shades that pool over the wood tables create a fantastic look that is elegant and rustic at the same time.

By adding what some consider very formal- orchids, to a more woodsy combination of pods, mosses and feathers with grasses you wind up with a very impressive display, especially by using the chocolate cymbidiums.

It’s so important to utilize the right combinations of colors, add just the right atmosphere through creative lighting to achieve a truly memorable event that brings together family and friends and reflects the personalities of the couples who have traveled to Maine for their destination wedding. That’s what it is all about- warm, fun, genuine good times!

Weddings ~ trends for 2018~ Bohemian style!

It's engagement season and I'm very excited about the new design concepts for 2018 weddings. The interest in the unconventional, personalized wedding has been prevalent over the last decade. But never before has it evolved with such pizazz. Couples are now planning without feeling restricted by their informal style an unconventional tastes.. It's almost as if the unconventional was the norm!

I've seen boutonnieres change from stephanotis and roses to pods and berries; bouquets in cascading shapes in holders to horizontal combinations with succulents and grasses. The new bohemian style uses very bold, deep contrasting colors. A citron green with deep orange and plum with cherry reds, rich pinks and deep greys. It's just wonderful that couples now are unafraid to get creative and make use of these unusual color combinations with very casual seating plans and very casual ceremony decor.

The use of macrame entwined with branches and flowers suspended for the ceremony "arbor" truly brings the informal setting to new heights. The flower combinations incorporate proteas, pods, feathers and big round shaped blossoms. 

I also think that velvet ribbon and rich blanket looking table fabrics will be very popular. The old pillar candle or floating candle has been replaced with taper candles. And my new favorite; black tapers!!! I just can't get enough of them. The black works with gold, copper, silvers and really makes a great statement on the table. And overhead flowers continue to play an important roll. The idea of terra cotta pots hung in macrame holders filled with big colorful blooms is a very fun an informal way to create the new "chandelier" over the head table.

The Flower Revolution ~ The Potager

The Potager; the French term for ornamental kitchen garden. Often contained flowers (edible and non-edible) an herbs planted with vegetables to enhance the garden's beauty.

The first were humble peasant gardens planted for utilitarian purposes. It wasn't until the Renaissance and Baroque Eras that the formal garden design called the Potager Garden appeared in France. The world famous potager at Chateau Villandry or Rosemary Verey's well-known potager at Barnsley House, Gloucestershire are fine examples of creativity in the vegetable garden. However, it is interesting to discover that these gardens drew their inspiration from the kitchen gardens that had their origins in the monastic tradition.

Choosing the right site is the first step in starting your potager; a level site makes work easier but you could step your garden on a slope if that is your only option. The garden should receive at least 6 hours of sun each day. Try to avoid shade from trees or buildings. Shelter from wind is also important, some sort of windbreak is beneficial; hedging or fencing would be suitable.

Next, you should make a survey. Make a scaled drawing taking careful measurements and record these on a clean sheet of vellum in pen and ink. This becomes your survey drawing. You can use tracing paper over this and start working out ideas.

Beds with paths wide enough for a wheelbarrow can be in any configuration that pleases your design inclinations. Think of it as a tapestry ~ a mix of colors, textures, shapes intermingling herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruits. This is my favorite garden: I love collecting the flowers for bouquets, gathering herbs for my cooking and just relaxing amongst the sites and fragrances.