Sunday, July 24, 2016

In My July Garden

Let's take a walk through my zone 7a garden and see what's new and blooming, shall we? Quite a bit has changed since my update on blooms last month. Caution: photos ahead!
By the 4th of July, my annual beds and containers really begin filling out, which I love to see. I only used Miracle Gro a couple times this year, as we've had a lot of rain in addition to high temps and humidity.
As a result of the heat and humidity, the lawn begins to see little patches of Bermuda (the brownish spots) creep into our mostly fescue grass in July, which Mr. P. despises. He mows and edges our lawn, keeping it cut on the highest level with clippings back into the grass, in efforts to minimize the Bermuda grass. He also pulls it like weeds, but those roots run deep and wide. I realize lots of Southerners love Bermuda, but fescue works well for us, staying green year round.
In addition to my annuals filling out by the 4th, another thing I look forward to is seeing my hibiscus plants starting to bloom.
The photo above shows two opposite corners of the landscape, with the front plants (L) about two weeks behind in growth and blooms when compared to the back landscape plants (R), both taken in early July. By late July they are both at full maturity and bloom rate (see photo below of front hibiscus, taken this past week).
All the staking I did through May and June pays off when the strong thunderstorms of June and July come along. The hibiscus remain upright, with blooms toward the sun.

My last update on blooms also showed my containers just after planting. They've grown!
I have two pairs of each of the containers pictured above. Here's a comparative photo (below), showing early June to mid-July:
It wasn't until this past week in July that my plumes on my purple fountain grasses emerged in my containers.
In June, my bee balm and black-eyed Susans were just starting to come in, and below is what they looked like by mid-July. You can see a few coneflowers mixed in, as well as the butterfly bush on the right. First flush of spirea blooms in foreground are mostly spent at this point.
By late July, the bee balm were looking peaked, with leaves yellowing, stalks drooping from strong storms, and flower heads sucked dry by hummers and heat. I cut them down this past week, and you can see the difference in the freed up space when comparing the photo above and below.
In the photo below, you can see I have butterfly bushes in both dwarf (top right frame of collage) and tree form (bottom frame of collage) in my landscape. 
My knockout roses are trained to grow upward behind my dwarf butterfly bushes (behind trellises of top right frame in above photo). My buttercups were behind the three tree butterfly bushes, and they were cut down in mid-July to control spreading after the blooms were spent.

The arch trellis is just beyond the dwarf butterfly plants, and is still slow growing. As the magnolia next to it is growing bigger, it's been harder to realize full sun exposure and coverage on the trellis as quickly as I'd like to see. I added some moonflower vine seeds, though a little late, this year. I've made mental (and written) notes on that for next year's planning.

My hydrangeas are looking pretty good this year (photo below), much better than the past three years. I have zero regrets for removing three of those plants this past March, and another one in a year prior to that. 
These plants are huge, and they are at the farthest back placement in the landscape, just to the left of my blooming hibiscus. They make a nice 4th of July display with the hibiscus and flag. Hostas in the foreground will begin blooming in early August.
Shortly after the 4th, I typically change out my flag for variety. 
As you can see below, I now have room to walk behind my hydrangeas, which was impossible before the purge.
A couple of newbies in the July garden this year are Mexican sunflowers and a family of baby robins. It's been fun watching both grow. The variety of birds and nests in our area seem to be prolific this year. So are the mosquitoes! Thankfully, the dragonflies are plentiful too and, based on their jet propulsive flights across my lawn, they're doing the best they can to keep the mosquito population contained.
Originally, I planted the Mexican sunflowers from pass along seeds. My intention was to fill in the space in the back landscape, opposite from the hibiscus, but visible beyond the butterfly bushes, near where the bright yellow buttercups were (see June post for buttercups in bloom). The plants are still growing, and the first bloom in the back just appeared on July 21.
Often with a first year of a new planting, the blooms are fewer, but I guess I'm being a little greedy. I want many more blooms before the season plays out!
I also planted the Mexican sunflowers on the opposite side of the landscape, where the hibiscus are going crazy with blooms. They began blooming sooner, so there are more flowers on those plants. You can see below - salvia, sedum, and the Mexican sunflowers are next to more black-eyed Susans (also on opposite side of landscape). There's also lavender and English laurel (Otto Luykens), just in front  of the hibiscus.

Hopefully I'll have a nice pop of that fiery orange bloom on both sides by August and into September. I love that complementary orange against the blue sky!

Lavender has been harvested and dried continually through June, and is now slowing down a bit in July, and all of those plants seem to be doing well, too. Courtyard roses were cut back once the first flush of blooms were spent in June, and they're blooming again, though not as full as before.
There's still a little lizard family among my courtyard lavender and roses, but there are also other critters and creatures typically sighted among my landscape beds during July.
The garden spiders and butterflies are welcome (in the garden, NOT on my porch and windows!), the bunnies are annoying, but it's the praying mantis I watch closely, especially when they're anywhere near my hummingbird feeders. Please read this post I wrote if you are unaware of their danger to hummers. I know they're beneficial insects for the most part, but they can be predatory toward hummers.

I've still been fortunate this gardening season NOT to have any poison ivy breakouts. I do see it, and I do pull it from my garden. However, this year I have been keenly aware and very ritualistic in my routine afterward - I stop, go inside, use a nail brush and poison ivy soap and scrub with cool water. Then I remove my gloves and do the same with my bare hands. I have even scrubbed my forearms, ankles and up to my knees, depending on how high the plantings are where I've been. The yard waste bag is tied up once the ivy is in it.

A neighbor sent this poison ivy quiz to me just this past week, and I'll pass the link along to you from a great website. Go ahead, test your knowledge. Let me know how you did. The photo below is mine, but the caption should refer you to the website. Note: it only demonstrates eastern varieties.
Poison Ivy Quiz
Thanks for joining me in my Zone 7a garden walk for July. I'm always interested in reading others' posts on their gardens, how the season is unfolding, and the differences in our timing of plants in the various regions. I ♥ my garden! I appreciate your readership and comments, too!

Rita C. at Panoply

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ripley and Other Believe It or Not Vintage Finds

The Panoply sisters have been on the loose again, pickin' and packin' some new vintage finds. Wanna see what we hauled in?  Grab a drink, and sit back. It's show and tell time!

First stop...Ripley, WV. Though not associated at all with the Ripley's, we still saw some incredible deals there. Each year on the days surrounding the 4th of July, the small town of Ripley (pop. 3,256), just about 40 miles north of home, is host to an annual antique and flea market. Sister M and I made the short trip on the Saturday of the holiday weekend. Believe it or not, we were there about 3 hours, and only made it to two booths. Yep, it's how we roll when we find a booth we like...we stay and shop.
We came across the sweetest gal who sold some great furniture at some great prices. Pictured above is a collage of the gal's booth space in the hosting barn facility (top, complete with sand and sawdust floors). Also pictured is the skinny strip of the driveway I navigated between that big truck and the ditch beside it to get my SUV through. Finally, a shot of the gal and me, after we loaded the car.

Here's what we bought and loaded (Sometimes we amaze ourselves. Believe it or not, it all fit in the SUV!): First, this two-piece stepback cabinet (pictured below). It's finished in Annie Sloan's Old White (light distressing on edges), and the top is sanded and clear-coated with polyurethane.
Next (photo below) are two pieces my sister purchased: a repurposed island and refinished tea cart. The collage shows two views of the island, both front and back. Not certain what the piece was in its former life, the gal informed us it cranks from a center handle to raise the attached wood surface (freshly applied) up to the height desired. There's an attached bar on one side for hanging towels or tools, and a heavy (new), enameled pan on the shelf below (removable from the stationary shelf on which it sits). The whole thing's got a sort of farmhouse, industrial vibe to it. The tea cart has a lift off glass tray, and the cart itself has two lift up side panels. If told what paints and finishes were used, I've forgotten, but the island is a grey, while the cart has more blue in it.
We both purchased some smalls, too, which we stuffed into the car's trunk. I picked up the smalls pictured below. Funny, how things have their way of finding you, isn't it? Does that little covered bowl in the left frame look like a familiar pattern? If you read this post of mine, you'd recognize it's the same pattern! On the right is another McCoy planter, and a sweet cross stitch message and old garden weeder.
This being an election year, I couldn't resist this assortment of political buttons for the prices asked:

Alrighty, that was the end of that trip. The following week, our next stop was the Ohio River Valley of Cincinnati and neighboring Kentucky. Sister M and I met up in sister J's hometown for a couple days of hard work (!), combing through one thrift store and three different antique malls. One of our two days involved packing a picnic lunch, as we shopped from 9am to 7pm (including our commute to and from J's home).

You know we don't go anywhere that we don't typically sniff out some good textiles. When shopping with my sisters, it's just a question of who will take what. We try to share. Believe it or not, we each had nearly an equal amount of vintage textile finds. Below is a photo collage of all that I brought home on this trip.
Did you know granny square afghans are having their day again? At least in our area, they are. The top left frame shows the afghan I bought - not huge, but a nice lap size coverlet. It's of tightly woven wool yarns, I think, as it sort of has the smell of wool (but not dirty). I think it may have been machine washed, resulting in that tight, felted feel, which may explain its size (shrunken). The top right frame shows 3 great, vintage cotton tablecloths (the tulips one is a Startex brand), two pairs of crochet-edged pillowcases, and 4 crocheted cup or glass cozies. The bottom right frame is holiday related: a home-sewn (child's) holly berry apron, 6 matching plaid, 2 snowflake holiday napkins and 4 matching fleur-de-lis damask napkins (versatile for any season) - all either new old stock or like new. The framed watercolor is a winter snow scene of a man walking a country road. Finally, the bottom left frame shows a fantastic pair of lined draperies made of barkcloth, with wonderful farm valley graphics. I thought they'd be great for projects, such as pillows or placemats - cut, hem and stuff!
For those of you who follow me, you remember on one of my last trips to this area, I left the Quimper vase (in the top frame of the collage above) behind. It was still there (!), and it was marked down! I also found the pudding mold (marked Germany), and that child's ironstone casserole - sweet! The bottom frame shows a little collection of smalls that intrigued various interests of mine - 2 clothes brushes to add to mine at home, an equestrian scarf and gloves (thinking of Derby vignettes), a bakelite tipped olive server (so very mid-century!), and an old copy of Silas Marner, a classic.
Last but certainly not the least of my picks are the items pictured above, most all of them with a fall theme. The THANKFUL pillow was made of new fabrics - dropcloth front and ticking stripe backing - with the hand-stenciled word on front. It sits on a naturally chippy, yellow painted stool, and in front of it is a hand-stenciled and painted APPLES sign on old wood. The tiny little apron is a child's, fashioned of old denim, and trimmed in a rooster print. The sunflower plate is Bordallo Pinheiro. Of the ironstone molds, the very small two are for butter, while the oval one (a rabbit) is for pudding.
Sister J is a lover of primitives, and all but one of the items above are picks she either bought on this trip or recently acquired alone. The top frame of the photo collage are two really great pieces: an 1800s Virginia-sourced wooden pitcher, and a hand-wrought grain scoop with square nails and wood bands. The bottom frames, L to R include a Cream of Wheat [period] framed advertisement (titled, "Financially Embarrassed"), a primitive quilt, and the tiniest little doll quilt with two dolls. The doll on the left is a Topsy Turvy (J's), and the doll on the right is Black Americana (M's).

No doubt you'll be seeing most of these items in some not-too-distant future Panoply display changes in the antique mall. We have some planning to do of our spaces, and we'll likely spend a day or two revamping our booths. I'll be sure and do another post of those updates.
That's it for the latest Panoply show and tell. I'm to the point where I only buy what I like these days, just in case things don't sell and I end up necessarily keeping them. My biggest problem, though, seems to be letting go of things right away because I like them so much. I haven't decided which of these finds I'll keep awhile yet. Which ones would you keep? Did you see anything you liked? Let me know!

Rita C. at Panoply
(Special thanks to Dagmar of Dagmar's Home, Thrifty & Vintage Finds #128, for featuring this post!)
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

FestivALL: Celebrating the Arts in WV

For a small town (pop. just under 50,000), ours is one that celebrates in a bigger city style. Each year since 2004, FestivALL, a non-profit organization in our town, has been collaborating with many different artists in many different art genres - music, dance, visual art, theater, humanities and more - to bring arts to our community in Charleston, WV. It is a wonderfully anticipated event each year in June, consisting of more than 10 days of highly coordinated events throughout the city, some of which are self-produced, some co-produced, and others presented by FestivALL. Its tagline is "FestivALL: A City Becomes a Work of Art".

This year's FestivALL June events were kicked off with a preview day on Memorial weekend, coordinated with our town's Live on the Levee summer music concert series on the Kanawha River levee.
The 2016 FestivALL kickoff preview event was a food fete called Taste-of-All. It features various local restaurants, which serve a number of items in a tapas (snack) style. Tickets are sold for 50¢ each, and food items offered by the restaurants cost anywhere from 1 to a max of 6 tickets. Vendors were set up inside the Sheraton Four Points, but patrons could move freely from indoors to outside, where a DJ was spinning tunes on the levee.
In addition to the preview Taste-of-All with DJ, there was plenty of other food and music throughout the 10 day June FestivALL event also. The two biggest weekend events include Blues, Brews & BBQ, followed by Wine & All That Jazz.

All throughout the FestivALL, there are riverboat cruises to not only cruise up and down the river at various times of the days leisurely, but to also transport patrons back and forth from the downtown venues to the riverfront campus of the local University, where the weekend music festivals are held. This year's devastating flash flooding in WV had the riverboat taxi necessarily canceled on June 23, and the riverboat barely made it out of town in time to avoid grave danger. The river was simply too high for any kind of boat, pleasure or purpose (barges included).
The one event I look forward to most each year is the Capitol Street Art Fair. The FestivALL leaders had to make some hard and fast decisions this year in light of the #WVFloods, but decided to move forward with scheduled events (other than the riverboat cruises). In teaming up with the American Red Cross, FestivALL was able to help raise funds for flood victims at all the major event venues.
The Capitol Street Art Fair encompasses more than five blocks full of tents and stages, with activities for all ages. There is a kids' art station with various shows in one block, dancing and music stages set up in the remaining blocks, along with more than 100 local artisans' wares for sale.
I absolutely love artisan-made wares! I have, over the years, tried to support artists, and buying their wares is just one way of doing this. During the last two years, the collage below includes many of the items I've purchased.
Clockwise, starting top L: Coordinated tote, crossbody and wristlet; 2 original watercolor prints, 3 fabric-corded baskets, another coordinated tote and wristlet, and natural stone/sterling bracelet and pendant.

Additionally, I have a strong connection to my friend's business, Anna's China Jewelry, and have bought several of her pendants over the years (see below). I wrote about her in more detail here.
This year, a few artists created banners that were sold via auction on eBay, and I won the one I loved the most. It's approximately 24" x 36", and it's a collage of mixed textiles, some vintage and some new.
The details and assembly are wonderful to me!

Performers abound during FestivALL, some of whom are mainstays to the events, others brought in by special arrangement. The collage below shows the FestivALL Princess and a couple of professional clowns, both mainstays, The top right corner, however, pictures me with a very special guest in 2013, our state's sesquicentennial year of statehood. It is David Selby, a West Virginia native, who portrayed Abraham Lincoln in a theater performance celebrating West Virginia's 1863 statehood, during the Civil War. Most of us in the fifty-something bracket remember David Selby as none other than Quentin Collins from the daytime television gothic drama, Dark Shadows! I was pretty much starstruck with meeting him backstage. :0
Another really quirky artistic display during FestivALL happens in our Town Center Mall. We have a balloon artist by the name of Dizzy Doc, and he creates a themed, balloon sculpture each year during FestivALL, and it remains on display in center court of the mall. Below is a collage of two of his notable sculptures from 2016 (left), a riverboat, complete with people, and (R), a whitewater rafting scene, typical of West Virginia's adventurous rivers and tourism offerings. That detail!
And lastly, another event Mr. P. and I really enjoy is the Sunrise Carriage Trail walk event. It happens each Sunday of the FestivALL event, and features an historic mile-long walk trail through treetops and woodlands, just on the edge of one of our hillside neighborhoods. The trail, during FestivALL, features stations with music, live theater and musical art easels.
Of course, none of this would be possible without strong leadership and a host of volunteers and sponsors. FestivALL was the brainchild of Larry Groce, who served as Executive Director for more than 10 years (as well as Executive Producer for Mountain Stage for more than 30 years), backed by our current mayor, Danny Jones, and a volunteer Board of Directors. Volunteer staff work year-round to plan and execute details of this 10-day event, as well as FestivFALL, an abbreviated version held in October each year. In 2015, my daughter was named Executive Director of FestivALL as part of a succession plan to Larry Groce's retirement. She heads the team that produces this event.
Various photos of FestivALL Director, Former Director, City Mayor, and FestivALL staff and Volunteers.
Although quick to give credit to the entire team of volunteers who help with this arts event, there's no denying she has taken the role of leader very seriously, and has already demonstrated - very well, I might add - that she loves her job and her work. Prior to taking the role of Director, she began as an intern in 2012 as part of her MFA studies while at Florida State University. Her responsibilities grew each year thereafter, until she took the role of Director in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

If you are ever in Charleston, West Virginia in the month of June or October, I would highly recommend you check out the FestivALL website and look into participating in this well-orchestrated celebration of the arts. If you've ever participated in our town's FestivALL, I'd love to hear from you, and what you enjoyed, or what you think stands to be improved.

Does your city celebrate the arts in a big or small way? Are the arts important to you? Do you think they should remain an integral part of our education system? Your opinion matters!

Rita C. at Panoply

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