Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Living Room Divider: Define Your Space With Plants

When Jenny Peterson and I were writing our book, Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants, one of the ideas we shared for using houseplants as a design element was as a room divider.

From Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants

The photo on page 83 of the Traditional Mix chapter shows how I used this concept in my own entry/living room. Our house was built in 1975 and when we bought it in 1977, we never gave the spindled half-wall a second thought. It's just how things were traditionally done back then.

Over the years, I came to hate those spindles. First of all, they have a colonial/Early American look to them and I'm just not a fan of that style. I knew that one day those spindles would be history, but I didn't know just what I'd do there, after their demise.

I don't remember now how the idea of putting a planter atop that half-wall came about, but my handy dandy dad constructed it and I planted it up.

That spot doesn't get the most light in the world - only indirect light from the windows in the living room - so I needed something that would do well under low light conditions.

ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) fit the bill. It's one of the easiest houseplants in the world, not being fussy about anything, including light and water. I planted it in 2011 and just recently decided it needed an overhaul. Most of the plants were fine, but I'd lost a few over the years, due to my truly neglecting them, as in I forgot to water them for a couple of months. (See? I'm not much different than you are!)

It was time for a change. And here's how it looks now:

Those sansevierias are stuffed in there. I wanted to put some ivy in at the base too, but there simply wasn't any room for it. There are a lot of new shoots coming up from the roots and I'll likely have to thin them at some point, but they're slow-growing so this should be good for quite a while.

Also called snake plant and mother-in-law's tongue, this succulent is known to be one that thrives on neglect, although you do need to remember to water it now and then. They prefer bright light, but will also grow in shade, making it highly adaptable as a houseplant.

Another benefit of Sansevieria trifasciata? It's one of the plants known for cleaning the air of toxins.

For more ideas on how to use plants to enhance your individual style inside your home, see our book, Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants.  It's available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers, as well as directly from me as a signed copy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Bought it For the Foliage

This spring, I was walking around the garden centers, in search of petunias to fill lots of spots in the garden, since I had declared this year to be The Year of the Petunia here at Our Little Acre. I found an orange one that I decided I needed, and not too far away on the bench was a plant with foliage that looked like it was just made to go with that petunia.

I can imagine all kinds of wonderful things this would complement!

I bought them both and potted them up in a hanging container for the gazebo:

Even though I knew full well that the beautiful-foliaged plant was a Fuchsia, for some reason I didn't expect it to do this:

This just might be my most favorite plant of the summer.


Fuchsia austromontana 'Autumnale'
Zone: 10-11
Light:  Part shade to Shade

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Update on the Cedar Waxwing

The young cedar waxwing I saved from the jaws of death last week is doing fine in The Berry Barn. I took some strawberries out to it and it wasn't too long before those disappeared. I also put a little dish of water with the berries but I don't know if it's drinking much of that.

The other day, I noticed another cedar waxwing hanging around and I assumed it was a relative - mom or dad, perhaps?

A concerned mama?
Well, today, we got confirmation that it is - Romie found the nest.We have a huge old oak tree that overlooks The Berry Barn and high up in it sits the nest.

We observed several comings and goings of both the male and female, so we're assuming they're feeding some babies still in the nest, although it's too high up to see if there are any in it.

Note the yellow tips on the tail feathers.
Both the male and female look for a nesting site, but ultimately the female decides and she's the one who does the nest building. Sometimes there will be a second brood in a summer and a different nest will be built for it, with the males often helping with that one.

Eggs are pale blue or gray, often with dark brown spotting and a typical clutch consists of anywhere from two to six eggs.

As the day has gone on, we noticed that our baby is being fed through the chicken wire, but we also notice it's eating the blueberries and raspberries inside the Berry Barn. It seems to be quite a bit larger than when I first put it in there, so it's probably growing just fine.

As soon as we can see that it can fly okay, we'll let it out. Right now, it flies just enough to get itself up on a low branch of the blueberries or blackberries, but it's pretty clumsy about it.

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