Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Sister's Garden Transformation

This post is a before and after of my sister's landscape garden beds over the past 15 months. It is intended to be an inspiration to anyone out there who thinks they can't do it, don't know where to start, or how to logically make a healthy landscape garden happen.
In 2015, my sister C decided to tackle her years neglected landscape plantings surrounding her home's back deck. The immediate needs were to weed, cut back, and purge overgrowth.
She started this in March of 2015, patiently and methodically going about weeding small patches at a time for nearly two months. She would work as her stamina allowed, usually one or two hours at a time.

By early May, she had made a really noticeable dent in the work. The really difficult part, she noted, was trying to cut through the old landscape fabric that had originally been intended to keep weeds at bay. What happened, in actuality, is established plants' roots were beneath that fabric, weeds had crept in over top of the fabric, and cutting through it all was a HUGE effort. That stuff doesn't cut well once clay dirt mud is trapped within its fibers among the roots, weeds!
I volunteered to help my sister by setting aside some of my own divided plants that spring. I thinned out nandina, hosta and black-eyed Susans (pictured below) to ultimately fill the spaces cleared in sister C's landscape beds.
I helped my sister position the starter plants within the cleared areas of the mostly full-sun beds, based on my own experience and knowledge of their expected heights at maturity. Her husband dug most of the holes, and she amended the clay soil mud with purchased garden soil before planting. Sister C also divided some of her own plants (liriope), so she could create some symmetrical plantings on either side of the steps of her back patio
A couple of very stubborn roots of old plants were left to make the proverbial lemonade - my sister used them as lifts for added container plants! Below is a photo of the progression of the most highly visible corner from the curb - May through June, 2015.
The downward slope of the beds which follow the above corner were weeded, and river rock added to prevent the mulch from washing away during summer rains.
I returned in July and took a quick photo of the bed with most significant change.  Plants were thriving in the hot sun, and alyssum (from seeds purchased inexpensively at Family Dollar) was blooming all along the borders of the bed. Much improved, wouldn't you agree?!
Fast forward to 2016. My sister continued efforts to focus on these beds closest to the perimeter of her back patio. I divided more plants - nandina, black-eyed Susans, buttercups, and bee balm - and took them to my sister in May, 2016. Some of those roots from old plants were in the way of prime positions for some of the new prospects. So, I dug them out!
We then amended the clay soil once again, and moved a few plants which were already in place.
More nandinas were amassed among the prior year's plantings (above photo).
Buttercups were placed where the removed root ball had been (above photo, just behind the small white plaque in dirt), and bee balm behind it, against the fence wall.
More black-eyed Susans were planted in the bed on the other side of the steps (middle of above photo). Hostas were emerging from the prior year, as well as a few alyssum at the border.
New lavender and Asiatic lilies (Mother's Day gift) were moved for better spacing.
The bed looking from the corner and the slope downward, to the rock beds, May 2016.
The above photo shows comparative shots taken in 2016. The top frame shows the beds in May, after planting but prior to mulching. The lower frame shows the beds in July, after mulching and much growth.

My sister and her husband have also had some major tree trimming completed, and they've also worked themselves on the house front beds, around trees, and plantings (weeds, overgrowth) around their shed. Since I didn't have those before photos, I didn't think it would be as dramatic to see the after changes in those spaces.

All of this has been quite a transformation in just 15 months! Taking photos and journaling your garden really helps you realize just how much transformation does occur when you care for it and nurture it. I am so proud of my sister's efforts in what's she's done here, and happy some of my plants helped her realize the changes for no added cost. Sister C deals with some chronic health issues, which makes this transformation an even bigger deal. Best of all, gardening grows the spirit!

Do you have a garden area you've transformed recently, or know someone who has made some changes to theirs in a big way? Were you a part of seeing the changes? Isn't it amazing to witness the change first hand? Share your dirt!

(A huge thank you to Kathryn's readers at The Dedicated House's Make It Pretty #190 Showcase for making this a top-viewed post!)
Rita C. at Panoply

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Let's Bee [Farm] Friends - Tablescape!

Playing with dishes in the sunroom again, I've corralled a few farm friends from my barnyard of a basement stash to create today's tablescape.
Bee-lieve it or not, this entire tablescape was inspired by two things: this cute little dip/spreader in a bee motif (clearance, Horchow)...
...and the items pictured below, particularly the dish towels, which I purchased from Williams Sonoma earlier in spring.
Detail on the towels has the same bee motif as the teaspoons.
Lemons are a staple in my house, so they became part of the table decor.
The place settings took on a life of their own, starting first with my chalkboard chargers, each having a different phrase written on them, as the base.
Each place setting was then layered with my Fiesta yellow square dinner plates, followed by salad plates from one of my newest sets (Castleton China's Independence), and a TJ Maxx set of bread and butter plates with a rooster motif.

The flatware was a recent vintage find, and the Williams Sonoma bee motif spoons were added into the mix.
Cups and saucers are also of the Castleton China, and lead crystal glasses are vintage.
Notice the additional splashes of silver on the table besides the bee dip/server: some sterling, some plated, all vintage and antique finds. The antique biscuit barrel has claw feet, hinged lid, and an etched fern design.
A service bell by the Queen Bee place setting is for a little bit of whimsy, ironically placed alongside the crumb brush for self-service.

A mix of high and low, plain and polished, is the way I like styling things, and none of these items are necessarily pedigreed, just estate and antique finds over the years. For me, the mix is just a visual metaphor for my lifestyle. I like things casual, but also like dressy things, both of which appeal to me. I try not to take myself too seriously, whether setting a table, or planning for guests for any event. A sense of whimsy, humor goes a long way in conveying a casual feeling and making guests feel comfortable, and that's how I prefer to live and entertain. Even a dressy dining table in my home will, more than likely, have buffet or self-service style for plating foods. I may use various serving pieces at the buffet for an appealing presentation, but it's always an overall casual feeling. It's how we live.

Speaking of high and low, I have had this huge serving platter for many years, waiting for its proper debut on the table. Here, it sits on top of my antique white ironstone cake pedestal as a centerpiece, adding the height dimension while freeing space on the table surface. There are no backstamps on the more than 16" diameter platter, nor any other clues to help me date it. There's no crazing, so I don't believe it to be very old, but it is very heavy, much like old transferware. The detail of the roosters, hens is what appealed to me originally, and it complements the little bread and butter plates nicely.
I placed the coffee service (Castleton coffepot, sterling cream and sugar) on the platter. Lo and behold, somebody left the barn door open, and the cow came out for the party! I guess she didn't want to be without the other farm friends. ;)
Thanks for joining me at the table today. What's your style for entertaining? Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear from you!

(A special thanks to Chloe at Celebrate and Decorate's Celebrate Your Story! #42 for featuring this post!)
Rita C. at Panoply

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Switcheroo

Just a few days ago, I posted on changes my sister and I made at the antique mall (you can view that post here). The washstand / sideboard pictured below was one of the large items we brought in.
If you noticed, I didn't mention where it was sourced. Does the photo below look familiar? That's taken from a post I did in the Summer of 2015 (you can view that post here).
Also, if you recall from one of our buying trips in July (refresh on that post, here), the stepback pictured below was an item I purchased.
I had every intention of placing it in our space at the antique mall, along with the purchases my sister made. But I didn't. On the weekend before we planned to remix our floor space at the antique mall, I asked sister M to measure the stepback (temporarily stored in her garage). Eureka!, the dimensions were perfect for the corner in my sunroom!
So, before we loaded our cars with all the furniture to take to the antique mall, we first loaded the stepback, brought it my house, unloaded it into my sunroom, and loaded up the washstand / sideboard for the store.
This is a nice change for me at home and, truthfully, I really didn't want to sell the stepback. It just didn't click for me to switch out the sideboard. The only option I was thinking prior to this switch was for the stepback to replace my baker's rack on the opposite end of the sunroom. However, the baker's rack was a gift from Mr. P. when I was single, plus it also provided good shelf space (four!), so I didn't want to replace it.
So now I have more space to display dishes, seasonally, and create vignettes. Fun! As a bonus, I have more storage space for dish rotation. Win-win. For now, I've just put the dishes from my alfresco dining table on them, plus a few things I use fairly regularly. I'll style it for fall soon. :)
Mr. P. didn't make much noise about the change, other than to say he liked the sideboard better (typical). Honestly, sometimes I think it's just change that's disliked. I even doubted myself for about five minutes after I made the swap. I thought I'd just leave the washstand in the car once we got to the antique mall (in case I changed my mind to bring it back home). But, as you can see from that last post, I was comfortable in my decision. Sometimes it just takes a while to get comfortable with a decision to change. Some longer than others. Either way, can you relate to the whole resistance to change thing? 

Rita C. at Panoply

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Panoply Booths Remix

The last major remix my sister M and I did in our booth spaces was in late May, recaptured in my early June post, here.  We attempted something a little different, but were never really happy with it. Recently, we took a step back, and did another remix of most of our spaces. We incorporated many new items from our July buying trips, and I'm sharing those changes with you now. There are lots of photos, including before and after shots. We completed this remix right at the end of July.
Before and After, Late July 2016 Remix - Panoply Main Booth Space
In the space we call our main booth, we made the most significant changes, yet the overall look appears subtle. We liked the farmhouse look we originally created in January 2016, but steered away from it in May. With new pieces purchased in July, we were able to return to the original vibe. In the remix, we removed the drop leaf table from the center, and placed the showcase in front.
Before and After, Late July 2016 Remix - Left Side Panoply Main Booth
On the left side of the booth, we removed the settee, flipped the black stepback cabinet for the white corner cabinet from the opposite side, and brought in the painted tea cart. We also flipped the vintage hat display from the opposite side of the booth.
The tea cart is styled primarily with miniature ironstone, designed for child's play. The larger ironstone coffee pot is for needed height in the vignette.
On the right side of the main booth, you see the flip of the white corner cabinet for the black stepback cabinet which I mentioned above, and we removed the shutter and shelving unit. In its place, we brought in the industrial island/cart purchased in July. A painted room divider creates our wall behind the vignette.
Before and After, Late July 2016 Remix - Right Side Panoply Main Booth
We dressed our mannequin with two vintage aprons, layered one on the other, and outfitted the vignette with vintage kitchen wares including enamel and milk glass Pyrex, scales, and few other wood and metal  accessories.
Panoply Mantiques Booth, Late July 2016
On this remix of our spaces, we left most walls untouched, other than filling void space where items sold. The space we call Mantiques was left alone on this day (above photo).
Before and After, Late July 2016 - Panoply Aisle Space - Primitives
The space directly across the aisle from the Mantiques is another area that we remixed. Previously, we had a lot of garden items mixed among our mostly primitives, and felt the space looked cluttered as opposed to our intended open area, so we returned the shutter and shelving unit to divide the floor space into two, distinct areas.
The green stepladder on the aisle was removed, and the casual linens placed there. This has worked for us before, and now the casual vintage linens are caddy cornered from the dressier vintage linens rack. We also removed the garden display (a table and fence shelving unit) from the center space, where the shutter and shelves are once again.
This antique, marble top washstand (pictured above) was brought in and placed against the wall. The photo below shows the wall right above the washstand. We had changed that wall just a couple weeks prior to the remix, and it remains the same now (other than the linen rack moved). On the wall, we have two framed prints, both antique Cream of Wheat advertising lithographs, two Black Americana dolls, and other miscellaneous laundry items. The larger, framed lithograph on the right is one of a pair (the other is in the Mantiques area). These advertise for Mother's Oats ("Our Boy").

Before and After, Late July 2016 - Panoply Living Room Booth
The last area we worked on in the late July remix was the space we call the living room, just to the right of the shutter and shelving unit. In the comparison photo above, you can see the garden table & fence shelving unit previously against the wall at center. I mentioned we removed and replaced those with the shutter and shelving unit to divide the space.

With two distinct spaces again, this section is, once again, a more formal space. 

When in retail, things need to rotate and look different, even if they aren't so different. In this remix, we're returning to a look very similar to what we had in January and, when we finished, we felt accomplished. We added in a few new large items, along with many new smalls into the mix, and did a thorough job of housekeeping. It must've been effective, as we've since sold the faux fireplace in the main booth, as well as the side table and the Asian cabinet in the more formal booth space. :)

Already looking ahead toward fall and holiday changes, we'll be working to come up with something that catches customers' attention. We keep talking about needing to redo the Mantiques section, but it always gets put on the back burner. My argument is the guys know where to go and we shouldn't change it. ;)

If you want to read about more of the ways we've styled our spaces in the antique mall over time, you can check out more posts under the tab on the menu bar of my blog under Panoply Antiquing. Thanks for your visit today, and I love it when you leave a comment, letting me know you were here.

Rita C. at Panoply

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