Finishing the Cottage – A Time for Details

The devil is in the details, as the saying goes and as a building project comes near its end, you realize just how many details there are yet to do.  We have had multiple setbacks while building our cottage and a global pandemic only added to the chaos.  But now, we are finally getting to those special details that really add character to a home.

Of course, my husband and I often differ on what those details should be.  He’s the contractor and builder, so by the time that we come to this stage, he’s been at a project for a good, long while.  At this point, he’s tired and just wants to get it done.  I, on the other hand, am chomping at the bit and anxious to put some of my own creativity into it all.  And so, we clash.  However, because of this being our 4th house we’ve built together and the fact that we are celebrating our 40th year of marriage this fall, he’s learned that he should probably just let me have my way.  If not, he knows that he will never, ever hear the end of it if he tries to go with his easier, cheaper way.  He also knows that all of his arguments and feeble excuses will just fall upon my deaf ears.

It’s a delicate dance that we do.  I now have him looking at wide, thick mouldings to go around the interior doors and windows.  They’re expensive and yeah, he complained, but I’m willing to compromise by going with the very nice, but considerably less expensive, cabinet pulls, so I think that all is good.  I’m also willing to paint the entire inside and outside of the house myself, along with my son-in-law, so long as we can go at our own pace, (slow,) and we don’t have to paint the very high, outside areas, such as the gables, (scared of heights.)  That saves us about $9 grand.  I think that my bargaining chips are piled high at this point.

My husband found an exceptional person to help me with the gardens.  This guy has been staying after hours to plant trees, shrubs, water the lawn and roses and keep watch over the job site at night.  He’s been amazing!  He doesn’t always know just what to do with the gardening chores at hand, but he’s a good learner and a very hard worker.  This season, he learned all about pruning roses, train espalier apple trees, and how to use different kinds of mulches.  At the moment, he’s working on a couple of circular, vegetable gardens…so unique and pretty!  So, when you walk, or drive by our cottage, please take a moment to admire his handiwork.

So…now we are near the end.  The painting, tile and cabinets will be done next month and after that, the house will be near completion.  However, the gardens will take a few, more years to mature.  It’s a slow, but most enjoyable process that probably will never end.  It just keeps going and gets better and better as time goes on.  I hope that our newest guests will come back again and again, to see how the garden as grown and matured.

It has taken us way too long to do this project, but it has all been with family input and cooperation.  I started this idea as a middle-aged woman and now I am looking forward to the possibility of receiving my first, social security check sometime soon.


And now you know why the place is called, “an old woman’s garden.”

Quilting Away the Pandemic

Let’s face it…this pandemic has us doing tasks that we’ve all long ignored.  Sheltering in place has people cleaning out their closets and garages, while others are getting creative in the kitchen, cooking up new recipes.  There are some folks that are plowing through piles of books that have been on their, “must read,” list for years.  As for me, I’ve been quilting.

Although I’ve been a sewer all of my life, I only started quilting about 10 years ago…a newbie by any quilter’s standards.  Even so, like every quilter, I have amassed more than a few UFOs, (Unfinished objects,) and WIPs, (works in progress,) WISPs, (Works In Slow Progress,) and even a few WHIMMs, (Works Hidden In My Mind.)  I figure that now is as good as a time as any to tackle some of them.

Yesterday, I finished one of my oldest WISPs…a traditional, pine tree pattern in various shades of green, on a white background, with rusty, red binding.  I can’t tell you what year I started it, (I’m guessing around 2013,) but I can tell you what a relief it is to finally have it done, lumps, bumps, mistakes and all.

Pine Tree Quilt
My Pine Tree quilt is finally done and is just waiting for a sleepy cat.

Continue reading “Quilting Away the Pandemic”

Some Plugs For Bloggers That I Admire

I’m a poor and lazy blogger.  I do not blog to make money, I don’t worry about SEO, I certainly don’t blog to become famous, I don’t blog on a regular basis, I’m not into taking photos and I hate sorting through super spammy comments that some idiots leave …really I just blog when something comes to mind that I want to share with others. I know that it could be better and maybe that will change in the future.  But for now, it is what it is.

So, when I come across other bloggers that are really putting their heart and soul into it and I like what they have to say, then my total respect shines through for these people.  I usually spend the entire morning pouring over their words, clicking through on their links, (even if I don’t buy the product,) and occasionally leaving a kind and encouraging product.  It’s tough to make money blogging and I want to give them all of the kudos that I can.  So, with that in mind, here are a few of my favorite blogs for 2020:

Small Footprint Family – Blogger, Dawn Gifford, has done a great job in organizing her blog.  She hits on all of the topics that are near and dear to my heart such as environmental issues, home thriftiness, and lots of yummy, make-from-scratch recipes.  I have not read her book yet, but it’s on my list of things to do.  From one, “back-to-the-lander,” to another, Thanks Dawn.

Don’t Waste The Crumbs – I’m impressed with anyone that can save enough money through careful shopping and budgeting to by a beautiful house for cash.  Yeah…as in NO house payment.

She has some great tips on how cut the spending and I loved that she and her family did a, “30-day no shopping for food,” challenge.  I learned a lot from her posts and I’m sending her link over to my kids with hopes that they will appreciate the pointers on saving vs. spending.  She has a boot camp which I just may enroll my daughter in.

Full of Plants – This blog was started by a teen, Thomas, who had some severe acne and bloating problems.  He wanted to solve them by giving up animal products and yes, going vegan worked! Now he has a blog in hopes of sharing his recipes and helping others. I admire the youthful enthusiasm of Thomas.  His blog is very good and informative, with hard to find recipes and he has a nice collection of curated products that are worth a look-see.

Fermentation Recipes – This is a good, informative blog on anything that has to do with fermentation of foods.  There’s lots of recipes, including some unusual ones like Fermented Curtido, (hummm…what’s that?) and Cardamom Squash Sauerkraut.  There are lots of how-tos and information on the art of fermenting, as well as a nice shop for tools and ingredients.  I’m not exactly sure who writes this blog, but its worth a look non the less.

~ C

Cooking Without Plastic

The latest buzz topic on the environmental scene is how to eliminate plastic from our earth.  Honestly, I have been worried about this for many years and about 7, or 8 years ago, I decided that I was going to try to eliminate plastic from my life.  Well…good luck with that.  I realized that I could not even get out of bed without touching something made of plastic.


That has not discouraged me though to try to get rid of some of it.  Here are some of my “recipes” for getting plastic out of my kitchen and home:

Fridge, or freezer:

First, I’ll try to put the item in the fridge, or freezer without any covering at all, (eg: Baked squash goes straight into the freezer, skin and all, same with bananas.)  If that Isn’t practical, I’ll try to use a plate, or pot lid to cover the item.  If I need a different container (smaller one that fits in the fridge,) I’ll first go with a ceramic, or glass container, then I’ll go to a paper bag, or compostable, soy waxed paper covering, then go to my recycled, veggy bags, and finally, if all else fails, I’ll very reluctantly use a new, plastic bag.  I used to use zippies every day and buy a box 2x/month, now it’s once a year, if that.

Dry goods:

I’ve invested in mason jars, large gallon jars, various gasket sealing jars from thrift stores, etc.

I used to bring home everything in plastic bags augh!  Now I take my jars to the co-op and go to the bulk foods section to fill them up. I have pre-weighed the jars so that the cashier knows the tare wt. and I bring a sharpie with me to label each jar.  I still buy some things in packaging (more plastic,) but I’m slowly changing over to as much bulk items as possible.


I save bottles.  I know, I sound like a crazy, cheap, old lady, but they do come in handy.  I have to be careful not to over save…then it becomes hoarding and there’s just no room in my cabinets for that.  Like I said, I also have a stash of mason jars of all sizes.  Put it in a jar!

Other Coverings:

Plastic wrap irritates the hell out of me!  Just one use and POOF, it’s in the landfill!  I try now to cover my bread dough, marinating foods, etc. with a cloth towel instead of a sheet of plastic wrap.  I’m also getting into eco-friendly, compostable, soy-waxed paper.  I occasionally use parchment paper, but really, I don’t always NEED it and am learning to be more economical with it.  Aluminum foil is something that creeps into my kitchen drawer around the holiday season.  It sits there for several years, taking up precious space in my small kitchen.  (Obviously, I need to “gift” it to someone.)

Soap Containers:

This year, for 2020, I’m changing over to bulk soaps, shampoos and detergents.  I saved a couple of appropriate, plastic containers and labeled them with the tare wt. and fluid oz.  They’re good for the shower area.  I also have a glass, pump bottle for the dish soap by the sink.

Cooking Utensils and Methods:

I like cooking with all metal pots, pans and utensils.  Wooden spoons are nice too.  (I’ll admit, I do have some silicon spatulas that I’m not willing to give up just yet.)  I have a beautiful collection of Pyrex dishes, casseroles, bowls and stackable, storage pieces that I love.  They have been around since the 1930s and still going strong.  I refuse to buy any plastic bowls, storage containers, plastic handled cookware, or even measuring spoons.

Dishtowels and rags:

No more paper towels, no more polyester dishrags, or towels, no more plastic sponges, or scrubbys!  For dishtowels and rags, I cut up our old clothes and make rags out of them.  I’ve done that for years.  I love our big, colorful basket of rags on our table…so pretty!  There are some fabrics in the rags that are not made of all-natural fibers, but at least I’m delaying their trip to the landfill by a few more years. I recently got rid of the last, synthetic sponge at my sink.  It never worked very well anyway and always harbored lots of germs.  I use a metal scrubby that’s easier to keep clean and lasts a pretty long time before I have to buy a new one.

Foods from the garden:

Last season I bought some lightweight, wooden baskets for storing and harvesting.  My hubby still uses his plastic baskets, but I’m slowly trying to get rid of those and replace them with my biodegradable, wooden containers.  I have some small, handled baskets that hold about 1-2 gallons of produce and some larger, 2-bushel baskets.  Both are made from thin, pine slats that are woven into shape.  They’ve just gone through their second season and are still holding up well.

Yard and Gardens:

Here’s to metal trash cans!  Why did we ever switch to plastic ones?  We have one, metal trash can that is over 30 years old and is still in perfect shape.  We recently bought a couple more, because those plastic ones wore out after only a few years.  I even bought some smaller 3 gallon size to keep our bulk beans and almonds in.  Love’m!

I also love a metal bucket.  I used to have one, but it got lifted when I brought some plants to a charity gardening event.  I’ll have to invest in another one…or two.  My hubby loves those plastic ones, but I’m hoping that I can convert him.

Kitchen Compost:

Several years ago, I finally broke down and bought a garbage bin with a foot pedal that is used to open it up.  What a Godsend!  Now, when I have any food, or veggy scraps in my hands, I just turn around and step on the pedal and drop it all in the bin.  Not much goes down my garbage disposal anymore.  As for trash, I’m now changing over to biodegradable trash bags that I’ve recently purchased from

Plastic still lives in my kitchen:

The coffee maker is made of plastic.  We do have a nice, ceramic, 1-cup, drip funnel, but frankly, it’s a hassle, since between my hubby and I, we can easily go through a whole pot of coffee each morning, so we live with the coffee maker.  (At least it was bought used from the thrift store.)  We also have an espresso machine, which uses plastic pods.  I absolutely love espresso, so I’m looking into refillable pods.  To be honest, the small amount of pods that we collect is miniscule in relation to the other plastic issues in the typical kitchen.  However, after they’re used, I do open them up and scrape out the coffee and recycle the hard plastic that’s left.

There are some other appliances that are also made of plastic such as the food processor, ice cream maker and popcorn maker.  However, we have some vintage appliances that are mostly metal, ceramic and glass such as our Oster Blender and Oster juicer.  Our large juicer is also mostly metal.

I do try to look for items that have less plastic on them, but it’s hard.  Some of my baking pans have a non-stick surface…a form of plastic.  There are still some plastic-handled utensils, a couple of plastic to-go containers from the grocery store that I try to reuse as many times as possible and plastic packaging and labeling that I can’t seem to avoid not matter how hard I try.  I think that we should all boycott plastic packaging and labels.  I also have a pure disdain for those pesky, little, plastic stickers that they put on produce.

 Next year’s goals:

There’s still more that I can do.I want to completely eliminate plastic bags and wraps.  I can sew up some soy-waxed, veggie bags and colorful, bowl covers to replace them.  I can also buy compostable baggies to use at home, or just save the ones from the grocery store after they’ve been used.  The entire interior of my refrigerator is made of plastic and I guess I’ll have to live with that, but, I can change out the ice cube trays and storage bin to metal.  I already reuse spice jars, but they do have plastic tops.  I can’t change those, but I can put corks in the glass jars and bottles that I save, which lends to a very, natural décor in my kitchen.  I’m tempted to buy a pack of eco-friendly, recycled paper to-go boxes for those times when I have to send food home with friends and family.  I’m also planning to make some protective cozies for my bulk foods jars, so that they are less likely to break in transit.

If I didn’t already have 2, large vegetable gardens and an orchard, I’d shop at the farmer’s market, where you bring your own bags and containers.  Speaking of shopping bags, mine are made of plastic, so I will be sewing and decorating my own, cotton ones this year.

When an item has lived out its purpose at my house, I will promise to recycle it in some way…take it to the thrift store, re-purpose it for some other use, etc.  My goal this year is to cut our trash down by half.

I will continue to vote with my dollars at the grocery stores. If it’s covered in plastic, I refuse to buy it, or at least buy less of it. I suppose that I could write letters to the food companies too.

I hope that others who read this post will take this matter seriously and try to eliminate the plastic from their homes.  One less plastic item bought, one less plastic item left in the landfills and oceans.  If you have any tips on how to eliminate plastic from our lives, please send me your comments.

~ C

PS: I just realized that I’m typing this on a plastic keyboard.  We will conquer this problem, one step at a time.

Going with a Manzanita Hedge

Sometimes, I think that we take for granted that we have some beautiful, endemic species of plants in our area.  One is the Manzanita.  While looking for a hedging plant for the cottage rose garden, I cam across many “hedge” plants that were not from our area s/a boxwood, cypress, holly, etc.  All of them had their problems and were iffy choices for my hedges.  Then I realized that good, old Manzanita would actually make a wonderful choice.  It has low nutrient and water requirements, grows like a weed and can fill out quite nicely.  It also has beautiful white, or pink flowers and pretty berries.  It was the perfect solution!

I could have started my own plants, but I needed a lot of them and I needed them right away, so I opted to buying them from a California native plant nursery, Las Pilitas Nursery, in Santa Margarita.  I chose ‘Louis Edmunds’ Manzanita, (Arctostaphylos stanfordiana bakeri,) because of it’s lovely, pink berries and appropriate size and height.

I plan to use it as a surrounding hedge and backdrop for the rose garden and also a privacy screen to divide the highway from the property.

Las Pilitas was great at getting the plants to me right away and in perfect shape.  So far, I have planted about half of the plants, but have been delayed due to all of the rain that we’ve been getting lately.  I’m also going to come up a little short on number of plants needed and Las Pilitas is completely sold out, so I plan to start some of my own Manzanitas for the back hedge.  I don’t know what variety it is, but it looks very similar, only it has white flowers.  They probably will have to wait until next year to be put into the ground, but since it’s the back wall and won’t be seen by many people, no problem.

The roses are on order and should arrive next month.  The fountain is in place, (although still lying on its side right now,) and the paths and fences are designed, though not built yet.  It’s going to be a long, rainy season, so I hope that we can get most of these things in place by spring.

As for the cottage itself, it is in “architecture purgatory.”  We were told by the architect that it would take 2-3 weeks to get the calcs done and re-submit it to planning.  It has now taken 9 months, with no end in sight.  I’m not giving up hope.

~ C

The Boonville Cottage…Clearing the Lot, Felling the Tree and shopping for ADA Compliant Products

We are still preparing our lot in Boonville and getting ready to build our new ADA compliant cottage.  The building and planning departments have just sent back our plans with a few more requests and some hoops to jump through.  Most of the issues have to do with the ADA .  That’s OK…it’s all part of the process.  I only hope that we can get everything approved soon so that we can get the main shell of the house up before the rains come.  Once winter sets in, we’ll be unable to continue working outside.

The land was recently dozed and smoothed out and the rose garden area had a rough tilling.  My husband felled a huge tree that was in the way and was rotting from the inside out.  It’s a big relief to have that done.  We were worried that the tree would fall on to the neighbor’s motor home at any moment.  The roses and hydrangeas for the gardens have arrived.  I’ve replanted them all in larger pots and given them a dash of fertilizer.  I’m afraid that we’ve lost a couple of plants while we were away on vacation, but the rest are thriving on my porch steps, just waiting for the cooler, fall weather.

I’m now shopping for chic, ADA compliant bathroom and kitchen fixtures.  Easier said than done!  I’m finding a few sites in the UK, such as Wheel Chic Home that have some great ideas, but sadly, many of the products they suggest are just not available in the USA.  Americans are way behind when it comes to designing fashionable homes that are handicapped friendly.  It’s sad, really.  Most of the images that I’ve found from the US look very industrial, like something out of a hospital ward.  Who wants a house that looks like that?  However, I’m bound and determined to change that…at least in my little corner of the world.  I really want this little cottage to be absolutely beautiful, restful and easy for the disabled guest to stay and get around in.  I’ve started a, “wish list for the disabled,” of less obvious items to help me with picking out the right products.  While these are not on the ADA required list, they are still excellent ideas.

  • kitchen sink with side faucets that are easier to reach
  • microwave/coffee center in a low cabinet
  • door levers, not knobs
  • high contrast fixtures and furniture for the seeing impaired
  • a place to store wheelchair, or crutches
  • slightly higher toilet
  • slightly lower sinks/counters, with knee space
  • no vessel sinks
  • pretty grab rails where needed.
  • towel bar/grab bar on back side of bathroom door
  • roll-in shower with chic, teak, fold-down seat
  • shower controls outside the spray area
  • no rugs
  • recliner chair that’s easy getting to up and out of
  • no super low furniture
  • high shelves: decorative, low shelves/drawers: storage
  • low, or no thresh holds in doorways
  • wheelchair friendly garden paths
  • wheelchair parking areas in garden
  • fire alert  and security system with lights and siren

That’s my starter list.  I’m sure that I’ll come up with some more thoughts along the way.  If you have any good ideas, I’d love to hear them.



Handicap Access For the Boonville Cottage

About our cottage…OK…So we’ve met with the county planners, Building Department and Health Department of Mendocino County.  I have to say, as county officials go, these guys are pretty nice to deal with.  They all have gone above and beyond their call of duty to help us with this project.  That being said, we are going to have to revise our project and probably call it something else besides a “B&B,” or “One bedroom residence,” to make it fly.

One of the biggest obstacles is making the place ADA friendly.  (That’s access for people with disabilities act for those of you who are wondering.)  On first thought, this seems like a big pain in the arse.  We are going to have to change our plans to make everything more wheelchair friendly, which costs more money and time…and of course, effort.

BUT, on second thought, I love the idea of creating a space that is not only ADA friendly but chic and stylish, as well.  Both, my husband’s mother and my own mother were in wheelchairs a good deal of their lives before they passed on.  I think about how my mom struggled to make dinner for herself in a regular kitchen.  She almost burned down her home on two occasions because she could not see what she was doing on the stove while cooking.  She could not cut vegetables and fruits on the normal height cutting board, she couldn’t reach her dishes, or glasses and even the microwave was out of reach for her.  She usually just gave up and resorted to eating pre-made junk food, rather than trying to make her own meal.

The irony is that we could have made those adjustments in the kitchen, bath and hallway easily when we were designing my mom’s new mobile home.   I have to admit, there was some pride involved on my mom’s part that blocked our way.  She would never have approved grab bars near the toilet, or lower kitchen counters that are more wheelchair friendly, but I still, could have overruled her.  After all, I’m the one who designed the building for her.  Sad to say, I failed her miserably.  I should have recognized her gradual decline in her physical abilities, but I didn’t.

So, I now look at this cottage as a challenge and perhaps retributions for my errors in the past.  Although my mother passed away several years ago, I’m hoping that I can make things right, by creating a cottage that is totally handicapped-friendly, easy to move around in and without any compromise to making the whole place look chic and stylish.  Hey…even  people with disabilities like a little glam.

So, I’m scouring Pinterest, as well as the rest of the internet for cool looking bathrooms that are ADA friendly, kitchens designed around wheelchairs and rose gardens that people on wheels can enjoy.  I’ll let you all know how I fare.  More to come soon…


~ C

Ordering Plants On The Internet – Some Tips

It’s that time of year…spring planting.  This year, I have 2 gardens to plant. ( Well, actually 3 if you count the veggie garden,)  The first is a flower garden at my home.  It was started about three years ago, in a crazy attempt to frantically get the yard in shape before my son’s wedding.  It was a beautiful success that first year, but unfortunately, a huge storm came in the night before the wedding and we had to move the whole shebang to an indoor location at the last minute.  Not a single guest saw my flowers…oh well.   Since then, I’ve made a lot of changes and more than a few errors in that garden.  The annuals are now slowly being replaced by perennials, those lovely bushes I planted the first year are now past their prime and annual seeds keep popping up in all of the wrong places.  So really, it’s like I’m starting all over this season.

Most of my plants for this garden are coming from just two places: Annie’s Annuals and Perennials and Breck’s.  In the past, I’ve also had good luck ordering from One Green World for our unusual berries that are now establishing themselves in the yard. I’ve ordered from all of these places many times with good results, so I know I can trust them.

The second garden is at our property in town.  It’s a brand, spanking new, rose garden, created only on paper, so far.  It will live next to a new cottage that we are planning to build there.  I’ve ordered the roses as well as a few hydrangeas for the back yard.  David Austin Roses is the ONLY place that I will ever order roses from again (see my previous post,) and the Hydrangeas were ordered from White Flower Farm, a new vendor for me…fingers crossed.

Buying plants from a brick and mortar plant nursery is always best, but the problem is, I don’t have many of those close by.  In fact, two of the three closest ones just recently closed their doors.  Too bad. The selection from the remaining nursery is very limited, so ordering from an online plant nursery is my only real option.  However, that can be hit, or miss.  There are places that I won’t mention that I would never order from again.  Plants from these places arrived weak and spindly, late, half dead, all dead, or not at all.  (One company actually sent my plants a whole year later than expected!)   When things arrive too late in the spring, then I have to pot them up, baby them through the hot summer, cross my fingers, pray an swish some sage smoke over them, then delay planting them in the ground until late fall.  What a waste of time and effort.  Finding nurseries that you can completely trust to do things right is so valuable.  Here are some tips to do just that:

1. Read the comments.  I realize that plants are perishable things and not everyone has that magical green thumb, so there are bound to be some negative comments.  That being said, if you see a LOT of negatives, back slowly away from the computer screen.  If you see a lot of positives, keep reading!

2. Carefully read all plant descriptions and planting instructions.  You don’t want to buy something that only grows in zones 3-7, if you live in zone 9, or 10.  Nor, do you want a plant that eventually reaches 25 feet tall, when the description told you that it will only get about 8 feet tall.

If you want to get your new plant off to a good start, then definitely read the company’s planting instructions.  I would also suggest that you research the plant online and look for other companies’ instructions and growers’ comments too.

3. High price does not necessarily mean quality.  Just because their prices are up in the stratosphere, that doesn’t mean that they are selling you a “super plant.”  Same goes for bargain basement prices…those are usually left overs at the end of the season and not always in tip-top shape.  In other words, don’t go by price alone.

For example, David Austin Roses are only a dollar, or two more than a few of the other rose growers, but the quality and size are so much better.  I once ordered roses from one of those “other, online, rose nurseries.”  Their roses were more expensive than the DA roses, but the roses arrived weak, covered in black spot and three months late.  I planted them anyway, stripped them of all of their leaves to get rid of the black spot and hoped for the best, but they are still spindly and at least a year behind.  Actually, I think one of them has recently died.

4.  Check to see if the nursery has a promised a precise delivery date for your area.  Most will try to give you some idea, but the really good ones will tell you the delivery date within a week, or two AND they will stick to their promise.  David Austin Roses and Annie’s Annuals and Perennials are absolute experts at this.  I have never, once had a late shipment from them and they always ship at a practical time for my area.  One time Annie’s delivery person could not find my house, so they even called me several times to make sure that my address was correct and acted as a liasion between me and the delivery company.  The really wanted to make their delivery date and I appreciate that.

5.  Ask what soil medium your plants grow in at the nursery that you are buying from.  Boy…I’ve learned this one the hard way.  My virgin soil in my own garden was contaminated with horrible  Devil’s Grass from one of, “those other nurseries,” several years ago.  I’m still pulling the stuff out and probably will be for the rest of my life.  Give the nursery a call and just ask what medium they grow their plants in and if they have any safeguards, or guarantees against pests and weeds showing up with your plant purchase.

6. Make sure that your plant order is trackable.  You would think that this is a no brainer… but no…not all nurseries will track your shipments.  If there is a hang up on the delivery service’s part, at least you can call them with a tracking number and find out what’s up.

7. Ask how they pack your order.  You want to know how the plants will stay fresh and undamaged during shipping.  The great nurseries will take exceptional care in how they pack the plants, carefully making sure that nothing gets jostled about, adding moisture pellets and wrapping, if necessary, and possibly misting them before sealing up the box.

8.  Check their return policy.  It’s tragic when dead plants arrive on your doorstep.  I’ve tried to baby them along, because frankly, it was a hassle to send them back and try to get a refund.  The really good places just credit your account, no questions asked.

That’s about it.  Get out there, have fun!  Garden on!

~ C


The Boonville Cottage Rose Garden

First, I would like to say that sadly, David Austin Sr., acclaimed rosarian and founder of David Austin Roses, recently passed away on December 18th, 2018.  He was 92 years old and he left behind a huge legacy in the world of roses.  He spent much of his life creating an amazing array of romantic, “English Roses,” at a time when the trend was going with the more common, (dare I say boring,) Hybrid Tea Roses that can be found in any big box garden center.  He definitely changed the way that many people appreciate and use roses in their gardens. His family will be carrying on with their wonderful roses, but he will be immensely missed.

So, with that being said, if you love growing roses, you’ll know that David Austin Roses are simply the most beautiful and healthiest roses available.  Their old world charm, wonderful fragrance and hardiness make them my only choice for the new, rose garden at the Boonville cottage.  While it is still too early to plant a majority of the plants in the main garden, I did order a couple of, “Wollerton Old Hall,” climbers this season to grow over the shed.  The flowers are a pale apricot that fade to cream and I think that they will look nice next to the “salmon red” walls of the shed.

The rest of the rose garden will probably have to planted next year.  There just won’t be enough time to get the lot graded and the hardscape done before the heat of summer sets in.  However, I may go ahead and order the roses this spring, pot them up and leave them on my porch, where I can carefully watch and water them.  Of course, buying in bulk is the way to go.  David Austin offers several collections that are so enticing.  I’ve also got a 15% off discount because I’ve ordered from them before.  Nice!

Surrounding the rose garden will be hedges.  Right now, I’m thinking of using a cultivar of Thuja Arborvitae for my hedge plants.  They grow tall and will maintain a lovely, conical shape if left to grow naturally, or they can be clipped into a tall, boxy shape.

I plan to use smaller hedges closer to the cottage, most likely some sort of boxwood cultivar.  The backyard will be lawn, rimmed with white Hydrangeas (arborescens Incrediball®) and already established trees.

There’s a lot of hard work ahead.  I will have to get some help with the soil preparation and planting.  These old bones just can’t take it anymore.  Still, it is what keeps me young.  Garden on!

~ C

Designing and Decorating the Boonville Cottage and Gardens

So…OK…we don’t even have our plans approved yet, but I’m already chomping at the bit and ready to sink my teeth into this new project.  After all, one can never start too early with creative endeavours… I’m so excited!

I’m really hoping that the entire, “Boonville Cottage,” project will reflect a sense of place and history.  Even though it is going to  be a new building, I want it to feel like it’s been there forever. It’s important that it has that, “Anderson Valley,” vibe, and not look like it came out of some showroom in NYC.  On top of everything else, it has to be welcoming.

I’ve decided to decorate the cottage in a similar way that my own home is done…simple, used, vintage items that have lots of soul and casual comfort.  Nothing too fancy, frivolous, nor overly trendy; just a, “feel-good,” kind of decorating.  I’ve been completely inspired by designer, Molly Hyde English’s style and her book, “Camps and Cottages.”  Her style is so similar to mine and I’ll love looking through her website and reading her newsletter for new ideas and products.

I already have several furniture pieces that I have in mind to use. They’ll all need refurbishing…that will keep me busy for awhile.  I’ll definitely be heading over to Miss Mustard Seed’s  for her wonderful milk paints and new ideas. I’d also really like to create my own fabrics for some of the upholstery projects.  Spoonflower is a fabulous resource for doing that. If I don’t have time for that, then it’s Brick House Fabrics for their amazing collection of traditional prints and yardage.

It’s also time to get out my paints and create some wall art.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious painting.  My DIL is a very talented artist and I hope to get her involved in this project.  but, if her schedule doesn’t permit that, then I’ll have to wing it on my own.  The DH is willing to make me some custom, art frames out of old growth redwood and knotty madrone.  (He’s also willing to make a unique dining table for the cottage. Boy…am I’m a lucky girl!)

The gardens will be trickier.  It’s plants will need time to grow and mature, so the first year, or two, will look a little stark, I’m afraid.  I’m going to have to come up with some strategies for filling in the bare spots until the foundation plantings take over.  There’s nothing a few packets of flower seeds can’t solve.

Building a new garden can also be an expensive venture.  I’m hoping that I can clone as many hedge plants as possible over the next couple of months to save on plant costs. I’m always on the lookout for little snips and cuttings of plants as I walk my dog, “Lucy,” through town.  (I never take anything that is in their yard, only what is growing on the public parkway.)

I can also draw from my own collection of plants that have been lovingly passed down through the generations, such as a Clivia plant from my late mom’s house, giant callas from Gramma’s, scented geraniums from a friend’s yard and several plants that were gifts from my son and daughter.  All of these can be divided and multiplied to be used in the new place.  Spread, err…plant the love, I say.

As far as the roses go, I’m certainly not going to scrimp, or cut corners here.  They are the center pieces of the garden.  I will only order from a company that I trust to give me superior plants and that’s David Austin Roses. Over the years, I’ve tried several companies for ordering roses online for my own, personal residence I have to say, and David Austin is by far the best in their selection and quality of products and service.  Even today, as we approach the winter months, my David Austin roses are still lush, green and still blooming, while the other roses look tired, leafless and weak.  There’s just no comparison.

There will be other garden elements needed. I’ll be hunting for free compost, garden benches, birdbaths, etc.  You never know what we’ll find.  I’ll be making my own planters for the deck out of old, used redwood, downed logs, or possibly clay or cement.

All in all, I’ll have my hands full.  I love it all!  I just hope that my energy level can keep up with my imagination.  My fingers are crossed!

I’ve decided to add a new category in the index just for the Boonville cottage, which will be where I’ll be continuing the writings on this project, so please look for that when you revisit.

~ C