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

Fall…A new beginning in Northern California…

People often say that spring is the beginning of the growing season and a new year, but here, in the Mendocino Range of Northern California, I most certainly believe it to be Fall.  The heat of the summer is finally over, the tall grasses turn brittle and grey, the sunflowers have all dropped their seeds from their towering stalks and the skies open up…the rains start to fall…ahhh….let the, “serious weather,” begin.

Grape Leaf in Autumn
Grape Leaf in Autumn

With the rain comes new life.  I always look forward to the first day that I see the new sprigs of grass emerging and anxiously await the uprising of the local, wild mushrooms.  It is a time when forgotten greens and herbs spring forth.   We light the wood burning stove for the first time and curl up with a bowl of steaming risotto and a glass of local wine and nestle in with the critters to plan the new growing year.  I love Fall, for it is surely a most special time of year.

During this season, there is still plenty of harvesting to do.  This morning, I found one, lone, overlooked cluster of grapes on our vines, glistening from the morning precipitation and begging not to be forgotten.  The tomato vines are laden with fruit and the unpicked apples are now falling to the ground, waiting to be pressed into cider.  Melons are sweetening up, artichokes continue to produce and the black, kale plants have reached waist-height and are loaded with nutritious leaves.  (Much to our chickens delight.) Alas, the pumpkins are on the late side this year, with only a slim possibility of maturing by Halloween.  Ya can’t win them all.

young-pumpkin
Young Pumpkin In November

With autumn also comes some retrospective views.  What worked, what didn’t and why?  Would I plant those Furry Boar, or Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye tomatoes again?  (Most definitely…they’re awesome!)  Do I really need so many sunflowers in the veggie garden next year?  (Nope…they take up too much room and rob nutrients from other crops…however, they ARE beautiful and joyous.)  I MUST make more compost!!!  It’s never too early to start.

Turning to the future, I’m making my preparations.  Today, I ordered more fruit trees and grape vines to plant from my favorite, online, tree and shrub nursery, One Green World, in Oregon.  Tomorrow, I plan to go through some of my coveted seed catalogs to pick out my, “must have,” seeds, even though I still have boxes of unused seeds from the last, few, previous , not to mention my DIY saved seeds.  The women in the family are all planning a trip down to Richmond, to visit Annie’s Annuals & Perennials Nursery.  I’ve even picked out a greenhouse kit to put up this year…a lifelong dream of mine.  The Mantis rototiller needs a tune-up and the hand tools need sharpening and oiling.  And yes, I’ve already started collecting leaves and chicken straw for those compost piles…it’s a never ending task and it’s a new beginning.

So…garden on.  I’ll leave this post short, as I want to just get this blog underway.

~ C