Category Archives: The Farmhouse Garden

A Valentine for Succulent Lovers

A Valentine for Succulent Lovers from Farmhouse38.com.I love cheesy Valentine’s Day heart-shaped candy boxes. I really, really do. It’s not even about the candy (I swear. No, that is not chocolate on my face. It’s probably chicken poop, can we continue?). I just love the, shall we call it: Hallmark-Chic, of it all. Haters gonna hate.

So clearly, I adore upcycling these things (see Valentine’s Candy Box Roses). And, since I have a whole slew of propagated succulent babies waiting to be transplanted, here goes nothing!

Using an upcycled heart-shaped candy box for a Valentine's Day craft, from farmhouse38.com

I especially love this box from Whitman’s–it’s tin, with a plastic candy tray, which makes it perfect for using as a decorative succulent planter!

Once you are done demolishing the candy, remove the plastic candy tray from the box. Poke a couple of small holes in the bottom of each little candy well (do this if you plan to leave the succulents planted in there for awhile–if you are just doing this for presentation and a quick replant, then don’t bother), place a real thin layer of aquarium gravel or some other fine gravel in the bottom of each candy well, and then fill each well with cactus/succulent potting mix.

Turning a Valentine's heart-shaped candy box into a succulent planter, from Farmhouse38.com

Meanwhile, take your tin box and paint it however you like. I started with a good coat of white spray primer, let it dry, and then painted the top mint green. I wanted the bottom to be sparkly gold, so I then did a coat of gold spray paint. After this dried, I sprayed a thick layer of gold-sparkle spray paint and then immediately coated in gold glitter. When that had dried, I knocked off the loose glitter and coated the whole thing in another coat of glitter spray paint to ‘seal’ it. If you don’t have glitter spray paint, you can use ModgePodge or Elmer’s to adhere the gold glitter, and once it has dried, seal it with a spray paint clear coat.

Upcycling a Valentine's Day heart-shaped candy box into a succulent planter from Farmhouse38.com

To finish the lid of the box, I wanted to do a tailored, traditional bow and ribbon, kind of like what you might find on just this sort of box of candy (this is important because you gotta put something fancy on there to cover the “Whitman’s” embossed label. Sorry Whitman’s, it’s been real). I started by cutting a length of coral grosgrain ribbon to fit diagonally across the lid, and then hot-glued it into place. I did the same with an overlay of sparkly gold ribbon.

Upcycling a Valentine's heart-shaped candy box into a succulent planter by farmhouse38.com

 

Now, make your bow and adhere it. (Since I forgot to photograph this, please refer to this sloppily drawn instructional cartoon).

How to make a tuxedo bow from Farmhouse38.com

Upcycling a Valentine's Day heart-shaped candy box into a succulent planter from Farmhouse38.comSucculent planting time!

If you don’t have itty bitty propagated succulent bits laying around like I do, hopefully you can find some tiny potted succulents to buy somewhere. Or maybe you have mature succulents that you can take cuttings from (here is a great how-to on propagating succulents).

Propagating succulents and upcycling a Valentine's heart-shaped candy box into a succulent planter from Farmhouse38.comNow carefully plant your little baby plants in the individual candy wells. If you want to be able to place the lid on the box, you must be mindful of the finished height of the planted succulents. Succulents don’t like being squashed.

Upcycled Valentine's Day heart-shaped candy box turned succulent planter from Farmhouse38.com

Upcycling a Valentine's Day heart-shaped candy box into a succulent planter by Farmhouse38.com

I heart succulents. Upcycling a Valentine's Day heart-shaped candy box into a succulent planter by Farmhouse38.com

 

I heart succulents. Can you tell?

 

 

 

Oh, Sierra Water Gardens, You Complete Me

Reno's SierraWaterGardens.com

I’ve been hearing about this place for awhile now. My Reno friends visit often, and talk it up. They bring home the loveliest little garden bits every time that they go. So, I started following Sierra Water Gardens on Instagram, and then on Facebook…and there was no turning back. On my latest trip to Reno, I had only one request: I. Must. Go. To. There.

And you know what? If you are ever in Reno, I’m telling you, you must, as well. Take a little swing down Dickerson Road…you’ll know where to park: right next to the old Hudson. The one with plants cascading out the windows.

Old Hudson turned into a planter at SierraWaterGardens.com

This is taking upcycled garden art to a whole new level of awesome.

Through the wisteria-covered steel beam archway (you know I love me some rusted steel, people), is a secret botanical wonderland. You just don’t see it coming; the loveliness that unfolds in front of you as you step off the road and through that entrance.

Visiting the magical Sierra Water Gardens. sierrawatergardens.com

Immediately, you are immersed in container-garden and water-feature heaven. Everywhere you look are pots overflowing with lush greens and splashing water. My eyeballs could not even keep up.

Lovely water feature at SierraWaterGardens.com

Potted water feature at SierraWaterGardens.com

 

A mosaic succulent wall hanging at SierraWaterGardens.com

There is just something wonderful about the variegated green mosaic of a succulent wall hanging.

Sweet resident garden doggie, Copper, at SierraWaterGardens.com

It’s at about this time that you’ll probably get greeted by the resident garden dog, Copper. As if I didn’t love this place enough! Sweetest boy.

Stop by the Succulent Bar and find all sorts of goodies to create a DIY garden in a found object container:

A rusted toolbox succulent planter at SierraWaterGardens.com

More upcycled container-gardening. Rust and succulents are always a brilliant combo.

Succulent display at SierraWaterGardens.com

Succulents waiting for their turn at the Succulent Bar.

Once you have wound your way through the container garden moment at the front of the property, the true magic of Sierra Water Gardens unfolds:

'Hello Love' letter succulent planters at SierraWaterGardens.com

The main pond at SierraWaterGardens.com

Water lilies at SierraWaterGardens.com

Gotta take a Monet moment here.

The main ponds at SierraWaterGardens.com

Lush, vine-covered seating area at SierraWaterGardens.com

Koi fish at SierraWaterGardens.com

Happy koi.

It is simply breathtaking to stand and take this all in; the ponds, the waterfalls, the bright koi fish, the lush greenery, the secret little nooks and seating areas. And all the while you’re wrapped in that yummy hum of running water. No joke, I could just stand still and look for hours. It’s one of those places that you just want to be.

But, wait. There’s more!

Reclaimed wood sliding barn doors on the adorable potting shed at SierraWaterGardens.com. Doors by BoneyardDesigns

Check out the UHmazing doors on this potting shed. Reclaimed wood gorgeousness designed and built exclusively for SWG by Boneyard Designs.

Let’s just talk about this shed for a moment, shall we? Those salvaged wood sliding doors are phenomenal.

Detail of salvaged wood design in the potting shed doors at SierraWaterGardens.com

Perfection.

And the reclaimed, rusty corrugated metal roof is killing me. Killing me.

Phenomenal reclaimed wood sliding barn doors and vicious guard dog at SierraWaterGardens.com. Doors are the creative genius of BoneyardDesignsReno.com

Copper digs it.

But also–the inside of that shed is not to be missed. Treasures!!!

Tillandsias displayed in rusty old tool bin drawers at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Tillandsias displayed in rusty old tool bin drawers.

The mouth of a big, glass terrarium with a belly full of lovelies at SierraWaterGardens.com.

The mouth of a big, glass terrarium with a belly full of lovelies.

Tillandsias displayed on a rusty mattress spring at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Tillandsias displayed on an old mattress spring. Joy.

Stained glass window in the potting shed at SierraWaterGardens.com.

A reclaimed stained glass window glows in the back wall of the shed.

Potting shed light fixture at SierraWaterGardens.com.

I’m in love with the shed ‘chandelier’. Casual, industrial, and so delightfully colorful!

A giant tillandsia at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Excuse me, Miss? There seems to be a mistake. I believe I ordered the *large* tillandsia. Laura of Olive and Love displays the newest addition to her airplant family.

Reclaimed wood and chalkboard potting shed side door at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Look at the side door to the shed. Just look at it! GAH!

Back outside, I fell in love with these:

Succulent heart planter at SierraWaterGardens.com.

And took one home. 🙂

I also fell in love with these:

Shop kitty Fig at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Shop kitty #1. I disturbed Fig’s catnap.

Shop kitty, Newt, at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Shop kitty #2, Newt, assists me in exploring the gardens.

I thought about taking them home.

Oh, and when you wander to the back of the property, you find that the whole thing backs right up to the Truckee River:

Reclaimed wood garden gate leading to the Truckee River at SierraWaterGardens.com.

I love that charming reclaimed wood gate, too. The river’s not bad, either.

And, in addition to the all-around awesomeness that is Sierra Water Gardens, they also do live music on Saturday nights during the summer season, featuring independent local musicians. You bring your wine, you bring your cheese, and you sit and soak it all in.

Summer Saturday night live music at SierraWaterGardens.com

The vibe on a summer Saturday night is absolute bliss.

Shop doggie, Copper, loves live music night at SierraWaterGardens.com.

You may get some Copper love while you’re enjoying the music. Especially if you have cheese.

Musician Tyler Stafford (TylerStaffordMusic.com) plays at SierraWaterGardens.com's Saturday summer live music event.

Musician Tyler Stafford was the incredible talent for the night. Check him out at TylerStaffordMusic.com.

A blissful evening of live music at SierraWaterGardens.com.

Like I said: BLISS.

Undoubtedly, you’ll meet these two smiley faces:

Sam and Sutter of SierraWaterGardens.com.

Sam and Sutter; they run the joint. Oh, and they also live there. Oh, and they’re also the cutest couple EVER. (Photo courtesy of Samantha Stremmel).

So YES. Put this place on your must-stop list if you are in Reno (between April and October, they are understandably closed in the winter). Sit a spell and soak in the tranquility. Hit the succulent bar and build yourself a sweet little garden somethin’-somethin’ to take home with you. Buy a couple of koi for your pond. And say ‘hi’ to Sam and Sutter for me. And Copper, Fig, and Newt, too.

Oh–and you simply have to find them on Instagram and Facebook–two of my favorite feeds. A lot of gorgeous photos getting got over there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About the Flowers (of Garden to Table Feast)

Slow Flowers at Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.comI just wanted to take a moment and bask in the beautiful local flowers that we were so lucky to have for the Garden to Table Feast. So-prepare yourself- I’m gonna fill your feed with endless images (mostly captured by the lovely Amen Photography). I regret nothing!!! I had always planned to pull flowers and greens from my own garden for the event, but as it grew in size, I realized that I would need to source additional materials from elsewhere. And I wanted those ‘elsewhere’s to be as local as possible.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Garden roses, leucadendron, alstroemeria, draping amaranthus, and grapevine.

In the heart of Los Angeles, local flowers have been a really tall order for me in the past. Sure, it’s easy to find flowers; walk into any local supermarket, or even home improvement centers, and it is sometimes astounding what a selection they have. But are they local? Most likely not. And the very point of the Garden to Table Feast was to choose the slowest materials and ingredients possible–not what was commercially (and in most cases, the most easily) available. Fortunately for us, the amazing California Cut Flower Commission  stepped in and reached out to several local flower farms on our behalf. Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, Mellano & Company, and The Sun Valley Floral Farms all generously provided us with a wealth of bafflingly beautiful flowers and greens. I was blown away, and completely humbled.

Slow Flowers at Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Lovely yellow Alstroemeria from Mellano & Company, Craspedia (Billy Balls–love these!) and various mints from the Farmhouse38 garden.

Additionally, I decided to reach out to the one and only super-local grower I knew of: Silver Lake Farms. This is a remarkable little urban farm so snugged away inside Los Angeles that you would never know it was there (unless you knew it was there). I’d read about them so many times in the past (in the Urban Farm world, they’re kind of the stuff of legends), and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what they had up their sleeves. I wasn’t disappointed, in fact, I was beyond elated at the overflowing buckets I loaded into my car.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com

My Silver Lake Farms haul: the best kind of cargo. Side note…my car needs to be washed. When you can see dog paw prints on the bumper…ya. Time for a wash.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com

Silver Lake Farms is what my garden wants to be when it grows up.

Because I didn’t know what I was going to get from any of these places, my floral design strategy was pretty basic: mismatched, clear containers, and a riot of botanicals with no set color scheme. Perfect for a Garden to Table Feast, in my opinion.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

A wide assortment of botanical materials and colors are unified by their intentional unintentionalness, and by the repetition of clear glass containers. Keeping the linens and place settings neutral also helps tie everything together.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Gorgeous colors, with no rhyme or reason. Seasonal perfection.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

A whole batch of loveliness from Silver Lake Farms; Sweet Pea, Monarda, and a bunch of other pretties that are beyond my realm of identification!

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com

Lilies, Queen Anne’s Lace, and some sort of amazing green balls (perhaps a type of leucadendron?) from Resendiz Brothers Protea Farm that I have no idea the name of-but am completely enthralled with.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Lilies, Queen Anne’s Lace, Monarda, and broccoli.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Leucadendron, hydrangea, kale, and radishes.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Garden roses, snap dragons, a couple of pincushions, lavender, white thistle, and sweet peas.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Flowers always kind of make the event, if you ask me (I’m probably a bit biased). But I have to say that having gorgeous flowers and knowing exactly where they came from takes it to a new level. I highly encourage you guys to go do some digging, find your local flower farms (they’re out there, I promise!), and buy from them. Check SlowFlowers.com and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers for lists of farms and retailers. And when you do go to the local market, look for labeling like the CaGROWN sticker, or the new AmericanGrown labels, or simply ask your grocer where they get their flowers. If they don’t buy locally already, they’re never gonna start unless their customers speak up. Challenge accepted, am I right?!!

A Garden to Table Feast

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, event styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.comGarden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, event syling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.comLast weekend, the summer solstice provided the perfect evening to collaborate on a wonderful summer party with a bunch of talented Southern California (and Western Nevada–holla, Reno!) bloggers. The idea was simple: let’s get together for a lovely dinner comprised of as many local ingredients as we could muster, and when possible, use ingredients straight from our own gardens. Set it all up under the mason-jar-lit grapefruit tree at Farmhouse38, shoo away the chickens, and keep the cocktails and Instagram rolling!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape and floral styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

I just love a big ol’ farm table and mismatched chairs, don’t you? Flowers and candlelight never hurt, either! Not one bit.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, event styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Just passing through! Carry on! (BTW, please take note of Eloise, in the background, and the way she walks. I don’t think her legs bend. Makes me laugh every time.)

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, floral styling and tablescape by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

The flowers! I have a special place in my heart for the flowers (always). Much more on them later.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape and floral styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Southern California really delivered on the most perfect, temperate evening. The weather and light could not possibly have been better–and we could not have asked for a more talented, wonderful photographer in Ari Nordhagen of AmenPhotography.com. Find her on Facebook, and Instagram.

In addition to her mind-boggling design and illustration talents, Sarah of VerySarie.com must also be a little bit psychic because she somehow captured the exact essence of the evening in her gorgeous invites and menus.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, invitations by VerySarie.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

How perfect are these hand-lettered and gold-foiled invites from VerySarie.com?

Follow VerySarie.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Because many of us were meeting for the first time, we kept ourselves and our blogs straight with adorable handmade name tags courtesy of Amanda at LoveCreativeBlog.com.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, nametags by LoveCreativeBlog.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

We all kept referring to each other by blogs, but it was nice to put names to blogs to faces.

Follow LoveCreativeBlog on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Oh, haaaaay, chickens.

Sustenance for the evening was in the ever capable and creative hands of Jennie and Corelyn of Garlic, My Soul. They came up with and executed the most delicious menu of comfort foods and gorgeous slow produce.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, hand-lettered menus by VerySarie.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Darling menus designed by verysarie.com.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, food by GarlicMySoul.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Oh, the picture perfection of heirloom tomatoes!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, Prosciutto Pear Bites by Garlicmysoul.com, photography by amenphotography.com

Insanely yummy prosciutto-wrapped pear bites by Garlic, My Soul.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, food by Garlicmysoul.com, photography by amenphotography.com

Zucchini Crudo: zucchini, onions, parsley, and feta in some sort of zesty dressing. Garlic, My Soul–you better be posting recipes!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, food by Garlicmysoul.com, photography by amenphotography.com

So much gardeny goodness in this salad!

 

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, food by GarlicMySoul.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Our plates just had no hope of being big enough!

Find Garlic, My Soul on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

What’s up, chicken?!

Did I mention the flowers?

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Slow flowers for days!!!

You all know that I take my cocktails very, very seriously. Fortunately, so do the two brains behind BourbonandGoose.com, Marissa and Sam. They were charged with creating a custom cocktail for the drink, and well, they brought us two. Huzzah!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, cocktails by BourbonandGoose.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Fresh produce, even for the drinks!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, cocktails by BourbonandGoose.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Master drinksmith, Sam, of BourbonandGoose.com, hard at work keeping cocktails in everyone’s hands.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, cocktails by BourbonandGoose.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

On the left, we have the Violet Beauregard: homemade rosemary infused gin, blueberry puree, and sparkling water. On the right…well, I can’t remember what it’s called but it was darned good. Jalapeño jelly-infused tequila, and fresh watermelon and lime juices. Yum and yum. For awhile there, I had one in each hand.

Follow the adventures of BourbonandGoose.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Shiner beer is not exactly local, but it is exactly Texas. The Texan always insists there be Shiner. Gotta represent a local brewery with a little Golden Road, though!

Dessert came to us courtesy of the incredibly sweet tooth of Julianne at BeyondFrosting.com. Her individual Mimosa Cheesecakes (adorably presented in mason jars, no less) and fresh-baked berry pies were absolutely to die for. To. Die. For.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, dessert by BeyondFrosting.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

I heart cheesecake in a jar. So much. I ate it so much, too.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, fresh berry pies by BeyondFrosting.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Fresh berry pies are just too perfect for ringing in the summer. These were incredible.

Follow all the desserty fun at BeyondFrosting.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

While you’re at it, check out YummyHealthyEasy.com. Jen is freaking fantastic. So is her site. She shares so many fabulous, fun recipes of all shapes and sizes. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

And then there were the flowers…of course, that was my little wheelhouse. The California Cut Flower Commission generously stepped in to help source materials from local farms (thank you to Mellano & Co., The Sun Valley Group, and Resendiz Brothers Proteas for their gorgeous, gorgeous flowers!). I also went to the most local flower farm I could think of: Silver Lake Farms, in the heart of Los Angeles for several lush buckets of straight-from-the-garden yumminess. Combined with flowers and greens from my own garden, we were dripping in stunning, local blooms. Stay tuned for a separate, more in-depth post about just the flowers!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Flowers and candlelight. Am I right?!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Such a fabulous time!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

White dog had to get in on the party.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

So did little brown dog.

So that everyone had a piece of the evening to bring home with them, Laura, of OliveandLove.com, sent us all away with yummy homemade brown sugar scrubs as favors. She’s kind of known for her scrubs.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, Brown Sugar Scrub by OliveandLove.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Find the recipes for these and so much more at OliveandLove.com.

Follow OliveandLove.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

The evening was just beyond fun, and I can’t wait to do it again next year! Many thanks to all of these amazing bloggers!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, event styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Flower Bliss

 

Slow Flower Joy at Farmhouse38.com

I’m a big nerd when it comes to my love for locally-grown, organic flowers. I get overly excited. Like a terrier. ‘Slow Flowers’, a derivative of the Slow Food Movement, is a concept coined and tirelessly advocated by the remarkable Debra Prinzing (author of The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers, as well as, you guessed it, Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm ) to describe the on-going shift towards a more conscious floral consumerism. Just as people have become more aware of where and how their food is produced, they are starting to realize that the same principles should be applied to the cut flowers they buy (the ones sitting in a vase on the table right next to their local, organic food). We should strive to farm flowers in the same ethical manner; free of chemicals, free of excessive packaging, and free of incredibly long-distance travel that requires fuel, preservatives, refrigeration, and even more packaging. Furthermore, the slow flowers concept champions the organic flower farmers; those who dedicate their lives to responsibly producing those gorgeous blooms.

Slow Flower Joy at Farmhouse38.com

An arrangement pulled straight from the Farmhouse garden, including all sorts of roses, echinacea, hydrangea, and grapevine. Doesn’t get more local than that!

Ten plus years ago, when I was running my floral event company, the slow flower concept was completely unheard of. I used to get so angry, too–showing up in the wee hours of the morning to the Los Angeles Flowermart and paying top dollar for materials that had literally been flown in from Holland or Columbia that very morning because a bride needed *this exact shade of pink* tulips and roses. How crazy is this? It made me irate, actually. This is not to say that there weren’t locally-grown materials available there–in fact, I tried to buy those whenever I could. But the wedding industry, at the time, kind of drove this ‘anything is available any time of year’ mentality that meant materials were often shipped from the other hemisphere. It was this insipid ‘Yes-ism’ that went something like: “Oh, you want scarlet peonies? Well, they aren’t in season, but let me just call Australia”. I was guilty of this mindset… though, at the very least, it bothered the living daylights out of me.

I used to fantasize about having a huge piece of property where I could just grow the flowers myself (at the time, I lived in a teeny-tiny house on a teeny-tiny urban lot–even teeny-tinier than the one I live on now) and then create events exclusively with those materials. But that just wasn’t how it was done. You don’t get *this exact shade of pink* tulips all year round when you grow them and sell them locally (if you even ever get it at all). You get what is in season…which is always gorgeous, but might not match that Home Depot color card you brought to me and insisted I find the exact floral manifestation of (true story). Ultimately, I was so disgruntled with ‘how things were’, that I left the business all together. I wish I had had the gumption to dig my heels in then, but life was sending me in another direction.

Slow Flower Bliss from Farmhouse38.com

I heart tiny arrangements, especially in an upcycled jam jar. So simple to grab a few bits from the garden; black-eyed Susan, zinnia, oregano blooms, and rosemary.

It sent me to the Farmhouse, where we moved right after I closed down the flower company. Naturally, I was reeling a bit at that time. What was I supposed to do with my life now? I missed the flowers, and I missed the actual art of arranging. It’s rather cliché, but I also missed the ‘giving’ of flowers. So while we threw ourselves into the renovation of this old house, I also threw myself into designing an organic garden that would give me enough flowers to get my fix.

Slow Flower Bliss from Farmhouse38.com

Look for a tutorial on this simple arrangement coming soon!

For a few years, I busied myself with house projects and ‘playing’ in the garden. Oh…and I started a blog. 🙂 My foray into the world of social media brought with it a trickling awareness of change within the floral industry. I began stumbling across blogs and Instagram accounts of florist farmers such as Floret Flower Farm in Washington, and Saipua in New York. And, of course, I followed. I began to see florists dedicating themselves to using only local, responsibly-farmed flowers, such as Farmgirl Flowers in San Francisco. And places like Lila B. Flowers in San Francisco and Silverlake Farms in Los Angeles defying the odds (and, in the case of Silverlake Farms, changing the laws) to grow sustainable flowers and produce for sale and for floral design, in the heart of the city (cheers to that). Go follow all these wonderful companies (full list of links at bottom)–you won’t be sorry!

I started hearing (*seeing, *reading) Debra’s name a lot. When The 50 Mile Bouquet came out, I ate it up–almost literally–the images (photographed by David E. Perry) are downright yummy. Here is a fascinating glimpse into the stories of the farmers, florists, and designers that make American slow flowers their life (but first, might I suggest reading Amy Stewart‘s Flower Confidential so that you can see exactly what these farmers are up against with mainstream floriculture). Close on the heels of The 50 Mile Bouquet came Prinzing’s aptly-titled Slow Flowersa veritable user-manual for building 52 weeks of breathtaking seasonal arrangements. For anyone dabbling in the art of DIY floral-arranging, this book is chock-full of ‘recipes’ and tricks of the trade. My favorite trick of hers? Instead of using that green goblin of the floral trade, florist foam, use chicken wire inside your container to stabilize your materials. Brilliant. I may or may not have an excessive amount of chicken wire laying around.

Slow Flower Bliss from Farmhouse38.com

A few tiny garden roses, fuzzy celosia, oregano blooms, and mint leaves make a tiny, but fragrant, arrangement in a vintage porcelain jewelry box.

But it gets better. You may be thinking this is all good in theory, but not so easy in practice. If you’re like me, trapped in the middle of a huge city, you may (ironically) be a little stranded when it comes to accessing locally-grown flowers. You may naively get really excited and buy peonies from Trader Joe’s thinking they are locally-sourced and then, after the fact, find out that they actually came from Canada. I’m not naming names. (To be fair, both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods source local flowers when possible, but not exclusively.)

Ombre Peony Arrangement by Farmhouse38.com

They’re gorgeous…but they travelled too far to get here. Look away!!!

So what is one to do (especially if you aren’t able to have a cutting garden of your own)? There are more and more resources online for finding your local flower farmer. For starters, visit the brand new slowflowers.com. Prinzing‘s latest endeavor is an actual online directory of floral studios, flower shops, flower farms, and designers who use American-grown flowers, or as the case may be, grow the flowers themselves. This incredible list of vendors is growing every single day. FieldtoVase.com is a lovely spot on the interwebs created by the brains behind Farmgirl Flowers, Christina Stembel, as a hub for all things locally grown and floral. Here, you will not only find a list of incredible contributors and a growing list of resources, but you will find a delightful blog spotlighting industry creatives and the very latest news.

There are a number of organizations that you should check out, as well. The California Cut Flower Commission (ccfc.org) has some fabulous resources, information, and meet-your-farmer type highlight stories for California-grown flowers. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG.org) is full of a wealth of industry links and information, but most importantly, you can search their website for local growers and flower shops by state. When you are shopping for flowers, look for the new American Grown stickers that make American flowers easily identifiable at your local market, or for the CA GROWN stickers that mark the abundance of blooms that come from the Golden State.

I simply can’t urge you enough to seek out flower vendors at your local farmers’ markets. This really is the best way to ‘know your farmer’ and support them, whether it be for flowers, produce, etc, etc. And if you’ve got the space and the will, grow yourself some pretties of your own. One of my favorite things is to purchase a local bouquet, bring it home, and add to it from my own garden. There’s my bliss. Right there.

I love that consumers are embracing slow flowers and the simple notion that seasonal is better. I adore reading stories about weddings designed with locally-sourced materials; brides and event designers actually choosing sustainability from the get-go, and in some cases, absolutely highlighting it. It warms the very cockles of my heart to see how times have changed and are changing still. Yeah. I said ‘cockles’. That’s how I roll.

Resources:

AmericanGrownFlowers.org— A brilliant initiative to ‘brand’ American grown flowers so that they are easily distinguishable to consumers. Love it. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest,  for all the latest news.

ASCFG.org–The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Find them also on Facebook.

CCFC.org–The California Cut Flower Commission, home of the CA GROWN movement. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

DebraPrinzing.com–A fantastic resource for slow flower enthusiasts; Debra highlights industry innovators in her podcasts and blog posts. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

FarmgirlFlowers.com–Follow along on Facebook ,Twitter, and Instagram. You won’t be sorry–this is one of my favorite feeds in each category–they post some gorgeous stuff!

FieldtoVase.com–Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for more local flower goodness!

FloretFlowers.com— Follow their wonderful blog, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram feeds. Their work, as well as their images, are absolutely stunning.

LilaBDesign.com— So much loveliness packed into just one website! Another wonderful blog, as well as beautiful Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram feeds.

Saipua.com–You’ll find information on their flowers, their farm, and their flower school here. Oh, and soap. They make that, too. Follow their adventures via their blog and their wonderful Instagram feed.

SilverlakeFarms.com–this one’s near and dear to me because they are, quite literally, near to me. Follow the happenings at this beautiful little urban farm on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

SlowFlowers.com–one stop shop for finding American-grown flowers, farms, and florists; follow along on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest slow flowers news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Colorful New Book for Your Garden Library

Review of A Garden To Dye For by Farmhouse38.com

Gardens are just divine, aren’t they? They provide us with impossibly much: food, medicine, an eye-ball-ful of gorgeous, and a basic, peaceful connection to the Earth that is hard to put into words. Leave it to the fabulously funny Chris McLaughlin to give us just one more bit of lovely we can reap from our gardens: natural dyes.

This book is an absolute technicolor dream for the home fiber artist; all you crafty spinners with your adorable goats and sheep and bunnies and alpacas and all their glorious fluff–here is your guide for what to grow in your garden (besides fluffy animals) and how to process it into yummy, yummy homemade colors. I can only imagine the possibilities. But for those of you who aren’t quite to the point of harvesting your own fiber (uhh, that would be me), Chris shows us how and with what to dye yarns, threads, silks, cottons, linens, and other ready-to-go fabrics. But it all goes far beyond fabric; natural dyes can be used on wood, basket-making reeds, paper products, play dough, and since we’ve just come off of Easter–eggs…of course, you can dye eggs with them! Huzzah!

There are so many wonderful recipes and tricks of the trade in this book, but, as a painter, one in particular jumped out at me…making your own watercolor dye paints. I knew I had to try this. I also knew I wanted to use materials that I either had on hand, or had in the garden. Red cabbage, beets, turmeric, and black tea were all already in my kitchen and would give me blue, red/pink, yellow, and brown dyes, so I got to work. In retrospect, I also realized that I have swamp mallow, marigolds, hollyhock, rose, and coreopsis growing in the garden–all dye materials listed by Chris–but I had ants in my pants and overlooked these at the time. Dang it. DANG IT.

As with all natural dyes, a little experimentation was in order. Ultimately, I landed on a pretty decent recipe that was just a miniature version of what Chris outlines for dyeing a big batch of fabric.

To get blue dye paint, you’ll need:

-4 tablespoons of finely chopped red cabbage

-1 cup of boiling water

(I actually started out by putting the cabbage bits in a mason jar, boiling water in a tea kettle, and then pouring the boiling water over the bits and letting them sit for awhile). This color was pretty, but ultimately, I didn’t think it was strong enough, so I then transferred the contents of the jar to a small saucepan, and boiled the liquid down by half. This gave me a great blue color.

To get red/magenta/pink:

-4 tablespoons of finely chopped red beets

-1 cup of boiling water

The tea kettle method worked great for this and I did not need to boil the liquid down further. This yields a very saturated dark pink. Obviously, if you want it lighter, pull a small amount and mix with water to water it down to your desired color.

To get yellow:

–4 teaspoons of powdered turmeric

–2 cups boiling water

The tea kettle method actually yielded a nice, light yellow color, but ultimately, I wanted it more saturated so, again, I boiled the liquid down by half after the fact.

To get brown:

-6 standard black tea bags

-2 cups boiling water

The tea kettle method yielded a very light brown, which was great, but I wound up boiling this liquid down by half, as well, which gave me better saturation.

To get green:

Mix equal parts turmeric and cabbage dyes.

To get reddish-orange:

Mix equal parts turmeric and beet dyes.

To get reddish-brown:

I kind of mixed equal parts of all four base colors.

Obviously, one can mix any variation of these colors and get all different shades and colors. Experimentation is key! Chris also suggests using binders to help the color stick: these include whole milk, egg yolks, or egg whites (but each of these will change the colors slightly, so test first). I opted to not go with any binders, and so theoretically, my colors will fade slowly over time.

 

DIY All-natural Watercolor Dye Paints from A Garden to Dye For via Farmhouse38.com

My resulting colors.

And my subsequent watercolor painting:

DIY Natural Watercolor Dye Paints from A Garden to Dye For via Farmhouse38.com

Eloise and Gertie in all their all-natural colorful glory. All natural except for the Sharpie outline. I’m a cheater. I do what I want!!!

This book was just a pleasure to read–Chris’ trademark humor and gift for ‘telling it like it is’ get me every time. Be sure to visit A Garden to Dye For’s Facebook page and Chris’ blog Home Ag with a Suburban Farmer because to celebrate the launch Chris is giving away a Natural Dye Starter Kit with all sorts of goodies (including a copy of the book) to get you started on your home-dyeing and gardening adventures. To enter, you just need to follow her on Pinterest and leave a comment on the A Garden to Dye For Facebook page telling her what your favorite kind of garden is. On May 20, 2014, her Chiweenie helper will select a winner at random. You gotta love that. And if you don’t win the prize package, never fear, A Garden to Dye For is available at all major booksellers including Amazon.

Cheers to pretty colors!

Review of A Garden to Dye For via Farmhouse38.com

 

 

Hello Spring! Giveaway

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

 

Okay, folks! Here it is! Spring is in the air so it is time to get your garden on–who’s with me???

We’ve got such amazing products in this fun gardening gift basket that will go to one lucky winner. Enter here or by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post.

But let’s run through all the goodies first, shall we?

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

WOOT!! A 6 Month Seeds of the Month Club membership! If you all haven’t joined this amazing program, you simply must check it out. Every month, they send you four packets of non-GMO seeds (mostly veggies and herbs) selected specifically for your growing zone and season. You never know what you are going to get, but that’s part of the fun! You can find out more by following them on Facebook, and Twitter.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A sampler pack of my favorite fertilizer: Authentic Haven Brand Manure Tea. This stuff is good, you guys. I’ve been using it for a couple of seasons now, and I am a huge fan. ‘MooPoo Tea’ is 100% organic and sustainable, and the plants really dig it. Furthermore, it is produced here in sunny Southern California on the Haven Family Ranch: follow along with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and see some amazing snapshots of ranch life on Instagram.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A copy of one of my favorite small-space gardening books, Vertical Vegetable Gardening, by the incomparable Chris McLaughlin. Chris is the author of several gardening how-to books, the homesteading guru for About.com, and queen of all things Home-Ag. For more about her, visit her website, Home-Ag.com, and you can also follow along with her on her suburban farming adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A hand-painted 12″x12″ reclaimed steel message board, made by yours truly (multiple versions coming soon to a certain Etsy storefront!).

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

Well, you need some garden-themed magnets for that message board, don’t you?

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A package of seed storage envelopes from Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Collection, in case you have any leftover Seeds of the Month Club seeds.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

My favorite little garden gnomey and gloves from Threshold Target. Every garden needs a gnome to watch over it, in my professional opinion.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A set of gorgeous copper garden tools (a hand fork and trowel), and a brass-tipped tamper-dibber all from Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian collection.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

And last, but not least, this gorgeous gathering basket to put it all in (also from Williams-Sonoma).

Contest begins today, Friday, April 4th, 2014, and ends at midnight, Wednesday, April 9th, 2014. The only mandatory entry requirement will be for you guys to leave a comment on this blog post (but please do so by using the Rafflecopter link below and following those instructions), but I will give you lots of non-mandatory extra entries by going around and following all our contributors’ social medias. The more you follow, the more entries you’ll earn.

So who’s ready to win this thing?!

Enter here!!!!

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