Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Inspiration from Subtle, Seasonal Signs

While the summer days are lingering, I can't help but be aware of my surroundings and be inspired by observing the subtle, seasonal signs of changes occurring. 

During August, one sign of the impending seasonal shift is the early morning fog we see on our walks. Have you ever heard the farmer's almanac folklore, "for every fog in August there will be a snowfall"? Well, we've seen several already.
Early morning August fog lifting from the Kanawha River, along the hillside behind the WV state capitol building.
Finding first fallen acorns on early morning walks is yet another subtle seasonal sign of change. 
The hints of fall have inspired me to make a few subtle changes in my home as the seasons are changing. Today, I'm collaborating with several other bloggers who are also transitioning from summer to fall in their homes, as part of a tour Amber Ferguson from Follow the Yellow Brick Home has graciously organized. If you're coming from A Stroll Thru Life, I'm sure you've recognized Marty's style is smart and chic in a traditional way, and always on a thrifty budget.
If you're new to my blog, welcome! If you're a returning reader, welcome back! All of the seasonal changes I've made so far in my home are just a matter of selecting things from my personal and small antiquing business inventory. My style is traditional with a vintage flair. For example, a gathering of fall fruits in a Shaker knife box demonstrates simplicity in seasonal display in the sunroom. The knife box, a purchase from a collector friend, is resting on placemats purchased new last year. The Golden Delicious variety apple originated in my home state of West Virginia, in case you didn't know!
Textile changes via throws and pillows, with feathers and other items in the sunroom, are all hints toward the late summer changes ushering in early fall.
A study in textures and contrasts against the exposed brick wall of the sunroom suggests an Indian summer.
A vintage find from earlier this year - a metal and wood pitcher - rests on a side table, now in service as a vase.
The sunroom (pictured below), in transition from late summer to early fall, is where I've made the majority of transitional changes. This is my year-round, go-to casual space for reading, relaxing and accessing my garden through French doors on the right side of this space.
My plates of party birds with friends are now perched in the sunroom hutch (out of view in previous photos), alongside some Parchment Check, my everyday ironstone, a couple vintage wine casks and other tabletop items. You can see how the birds and other critters on these plates partied like flock stars in this tablescape.
Together, they are a perfect transitional addition for a subtle hint of seasonal change, and replace the cool blues the hutch was styled with earlier in the year, as seen here.
I had more fun with dishes on the wall opposite the sunroom dish hutch, where my wine rack was converted to shelves in our kitchen update last year. I used vintage plates and more Parchment Check for an understated, neutral tone here. The plates can be seen in a fall tablescape from 2016, here.
For the dining room, a textile I admired and later received as a gift from a blog friend has now been put into service as a tablecloth (thank you, Patti!). The fruit and floral garland down the table's center is a simple arrangement of magnolia and dried hydrangeas from my garden, along with twigs, cotton bolls, and apples.
More dried hydrangeas are placed in an antique, quadruple silverplate bowl on the bar cart. A small herd of sheep gathers in the tole tray, while a single stray black sheep peeks out from the ironstone cafe au lait bowls beside the group. The bar cart and everything on it are either auction, estate or vintage shop purchases.
Even in my laundry room, I play up the seasons by rotating a collection of colorful crocheted potholders. I keep my potholder collection in an ironstone wash basin on my dryer as a simple display. For an early fall look, I pulled the yellows and golds to the surface, tucking the summer's blues away in the bottom of the basin.
All of these small changes are subtle, seasonal signs of the season to come, nothing glaringly shouting fall. I love all the seasons, and while choosing a favorite is hard, fall is second only to spring as my favorite. I love the change in the colors, mood and shadowplay that fall brings. I'll add pumpkins, gourds and other harvest items as the season progresses, but continue enjoying summer until it plays out with what I've shared here today.

Next on the tour is Carol's home at the blog Art and Sand. Carol lives in sunny California. Her style is the epitome of a relaxed, coastal vibe, energized with gorgeous color. You'll want to be sure and take some time to visit all the other blog links on this tour, too, conveniently located below!

If you're new to Panoply, I'd love to have you engage in conversation with me. You may browse my topics at the main menu at the top of the page (if on a handheld, just scroll to the bottom of your page and click on web version to access). You'll also see my subject labels and a search button on my sidebar for a particular topic of interest. Feel free to leave your comments, letting me know you stopped by. Thank you for your visit today!

Rita C. at Panoply

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Mid-Summer Garden Glimpses, Maintenance

Since mid-July and my last garden updates, we have had nearly 10" of rain in our Zone 7a region. That's about double our average rainfall for this time of year! No doubt, there are lots of weeds, mushrooms and other new growth (plus maintenance!) throughout the landscape that I've captured to share with you on this mid-summer garden glimpses post.

The mushrooms create their own sort of fantasy garden, one in which I somehow expect to see little gnomes under those fungal umbrellas.
The rain has encouraged continued growth throughout the garden beds, such that it almost looks more like late spring than mid-summer. Raindrops on morning blooms are always delightful sightings, as seen pictured on the anemone below.
Since it was raining so much, I divided and transplanted a few of my Mexican sunflower plants to a second area. It's a space in an otherwise bare section of my east landscape bed, where my perennial bee balm had been knocked down and blooms already spent from storms. Between the rain and high temperatures, the Mexican sunflowers are doing well in both areas where I have them.
Hosta plants are beginning to push their blooms too.
Such high temperatures, and so much rain! My husband likes to pluck the Bermuda grass (not planted, just creepers among our fescue) from our lawn because it stays brown when the fescue grass is nice and green.
Pulling the Bermuda often creates bare patches, so I've been planting grass seed (overseeding method, explained here). With all the rain, it's working beautifully, as you can see in the area just outside the steel edging in the photo below. Obviously I could do more, but that area was nothing but dirt before.
Liriope grasses are pushing blooms now also, and will have dark berries later in summer and early fall.
If you recall, I mentioned trying a different vine on my trellis that bridges the entry from my courtyard to the landscape. I planted hyacinth bean vine on Mother's Day weekend from seed at the trellis base. Here's what it looks like now, below. The trellis is completely covered, and the vine is trying to take over my magnolia!
The view from the courtyard, looking through the trellis opening:
As per any plant that blooms for the first time of the season, I was excited to see the hyacinth bean flower in late July.
Even more exciting, about two weeks later, was seeing the seed pods where the flowers withered.
Hyacinth bean vine is an annual in my region, so even though its growth rate is fast, I won't need to worry about the seed pods sending off new plants (at least I don't think I do). I can just collect what I want to save and reseed for next year.

In the maintenance department, I've been able to slow down the watering thanks to Mother Nature, and mainly just tend to weeding. I'm not transplanting anything more until fall, and I typically quit feeding my annual blooms by August. We scheduled pruning of the magnolia (which will be the first time in 14 years). It is infringing on the access of the trellis on the landscape side and starting to grow over our gutters of the house's second story. We also had a growth inhibitor injected into the ground surrounding the magnolia to retard its future growth rate.

But then the storms created more work.....as in prune control of trees on the riverbank.
We had some pretty high winds that took out some leaf-heavy branches of our sassafras and silver maple on the riverbank surface. Our city is great in providing service for fallen branches, as long as you gather them into one area and call for pickup. We'll be having those trees thinned out, and dead branches cut out (multi-trunk, as seen behind the guys in the right frame of the collage above).

The storms also created some fairly major damage on the lower riverbank. In the photo above, you can see various trees below the street level. We have a total of eight trees on our property near the water's edge. They are river birch and silver maples, mostly just to stabilize the bank. Until they don't. What we now have is a mess, and a new estimate for storm damage pruning.
With all the water and additional rains, one tree completely split and fell (onto our neighbor's property). There's one lean-to - a tree that is at a 45° angle into another tree, which caused that tree to have a 90° angle broken limb. There's another lean-to out over the water, and a couple trees that will look stupid if we leave them standing. A total of six trees will come out and be dragged up the riverbank for disposal. $$$$$ And no, we can't just cut and let them fall into the river, but if a storm knocks them into the river, that's different.

In other maintenance, my containers with the braided hibiscus contracted thrips. I'm pretty sure the high heat helped the colony of tiny red boogers grow. What I'm not sure about is how healthy the plants - one particularly - was/were when I purchased in May. But hey, after they're planted, who wants to dig them out and return them? I'm sure that's what the big box stores hope for too.
So I bought an organic fungicide/insecticide, covered the base plants (lantana, which bees and hummingbirds were feeding on already) with plastic, and doused the plants. They're still pushing blooms, but I had to repeat the process again, two weeks later.

In the neighborhood, I spotted an ambitious squirrel one morning, hauling a peach across the street, carrying it with his teeth alone! When he got to the lawn across the road, he dropped it, and was trying to re-situate it.
It would've been much easier for him to pick up what I later found, the first acorn of the season.
Then there was this little robin fledgling in my landscape about a week ago (below), whining and chirping for his momma all evening, first in the mulch behind the boxwoods, then in my courtyard. I had to literally shoo him out because we close our gates at night. When he tried to fly over the brick wall, he clung, and then scaled back down the wall like he wasn't quite sure of his wings yet. He was still around the next day, in the rain, still whining for his momma, so I knew he was okay.
Last week also brought a few less humid days, so I found myself sitting outside, intent on just reading all afternoon.
Here's the thing, though. When I sit outside, I soon start looking critically at things around me. In the photo above, you can see the tops of the trees on the riverbank across the street (the highest most trees in the photo frame). Those are the ones to be control pruned, as is the magnolia against the house. More than that, though, I start looking at the interior landscape, and before you know it, I was pruning and weeding. So much for relaxing in the garden. Do you find yourself doing that?

Thanks for taking the time reading, allowing me to catch up on my gardening journal. You can easily find other garden posts at this link. What's new in your zone? Fire, rain, pestilence? Feel free to leave your comments and share! I love reading them all.

(A special thanks to readers of Kathryn's blog, The Dedicated House Sunday Showcase From Make it Pretty Monday, for this post being featured!)
Rita C. at Panoply

Sharing: Pieced Pastimes, Best of the Weekend, Amaze Me, DIDIBNOTPInspire MeMake it PrettyThe ScoopDagmar's HomeCelebrate Your Story, SYCDelightsome Life H&GGrace at Home, Gardens Galore