Southwest Gardener's April Checklist

Southwest Gardener's April Checklist

The American Southwest is a vast Place, covering Most of Arizona and New Mexico as well as Elements of California, Nevada, Texas and Utah. The areas of the Southwest are diverse and include low deserts, high deserts and mountainous areas, covering USDA zones 5 though 9.

The browns of winter have given way to bright green. Leaves are emerging on trees, shrubs and more. April is a superb time for desert anglers to add plants to the landscape and container plantings that are reimagine. With the warmer weather, irrigation controllers will need to get checked, weeds pulled and any residual frost-damaged plants pruned.

Gardeners in upper elevations can sow cool-season vegetable seeds outside, plant bare-root roses and lean fruit as it appears on trees.

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

All Desert Regions

Adjust the irrigation schedule.
As temperatures rise, so do the water requirements of crops. Watering schedules will need to change with the season. How deeply you water can be significant. Water to a depth of 3 ft and shrubs to 2 feet, allowing the soil dry between waterings.

A simple method to ascertain how deeply you’re watering would be to take a piece of rebar and stick it in the soil once you have watered. The rebar should go down smoothly until it hits dry soil. Pull it out and then measure just how deep the water has penetrated; fix how long you water until you get to the perfect depth.

Revealed: The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Low, Mid- and High Deserts

Warm up landscape color for spring by planting yellow flowering plants such as angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), feathery cassia (Senna artemisoides) and damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana).

Revealed: Angelita daisy

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Grow vines as ground covers. Vines aren’t just for climbing up walls and fences. They make great ground covers. Consider growing Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), purple lilac blossom (Hardenbergia violaceae), Lady Banks (Rose banksiae) or trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) on the ground.

Revealed: Purple lilac blossom

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Plant herbs in containers. Can you love fresh herbs? Plant a collection of your favorites, including basil, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Employ a slow-release fertilizer when planting your herbs, which is all the fertilizer they’ll need for your season. Additionally, herbs don’t like too much water. A simple method to ascertain if your herbs want water would be to stick your finger into the soil until it reaches to your next knuckle. Water when it’s dry.

Revealed: Basil, purple basil, rosemary, sage and chamomile

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Attempt a succulent as a container plant. Containers aren’t only for flowering annuals. Succulents make great container plants. They’re low maintenance and supply great feel by using their columnar, spiky contours.

Agave, barrel cacti and columnar cacti are good options for containers. Set them against a wall or flanking an entryway for greatest effect.

Well-drained soil is a must for succulents, so be sure to use a soil mix that’s specially formulated for succulents. Ensure that your pot has holes for drainage also. Water every one or two weeks in summer, depending on your succulent’s water needs and the weather.

Revealed: Smaller succulents flank a potted Mexican fence post cactus.

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Plant warm-season annuals. Increasing temperatures mean it’s time to switch out of your cool-season annuals for the ones that will flourish in our warm desert summers.

Celosia, blue salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’), red salvia (Salvia splendens), moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora) and vinca (Catharanthus roseus) are great options for a beautiful bed of flowering annuals that can take care of the desert heat.

Before planting, amend the soil with 2 to 3 inches of compost and then add a slow-release mulch, which will help keep annuals flowering throughout the summer. You can also add liquid fertilizer every other week, but you should be cautious to not get fertilizer on the leaves, because it can burn off them during warm weather.

Revealed: Blue salvia

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Upper Elevations (over 6,000 ft)

little fruit trees. After fruit begins to form in your trees, it’s time to thin them by eliminating excess fruit. Apple, apricot, peach and plum trees have a limited number of resources to devote to fruit production. Selectively removing fruit can help to channel the sources to the remaining fruit, which will grow bigger. Thin the fruit in your trees so there is approximately 6 inches between each fruit.

Revealed: Apricots before thinning

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Sow cool-season vegetable seeds. It is time to get into the vegetable garden and begin sowing your favorite cool-season vegetables. Broccoli, carrots, chard, lettuce, radishes and lettuce can be directly sown from seed in your garden.

Before planting, work 2 to 3 inches of compost into the soil. It’s also wise to incorporate blood meal and bonemeal (after the package instructions), which are natural sources of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Whenever it’s still too early to plant tomatoes outside, it’s the right time to start them from seed indoors.

Revealed: Radish seedlings

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Plant bare-root roses. Can you envision a garden full of fragrant roses? Select tier 1 roses, which have three large canes (branches), whenever possible. Soak your roses for at least 24 hours prior to planting.

Amend the soil with compost; mix it with the existing soil so you have 50 percent compost and 50 percent native soil.

Don’t fertilize newly planted roses; they need time to grow roots until they can encourage a good deal of new growth. Wait before adding fertilizer until the first flowers have surfaced.

Prepare for May. The temperatures are heating up quickly. The cacti are starting to flower, meaning that it’s time to heatproof your garden for the summer.

Revealed: Medallion hybrid tea rose

More regional gardening manuals

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From Destruction to Renewal Following Hurricane Katrina

From Destruction to Renewal Following Hurricane Katrina

After having to demolish their Hurricane Katrina–shattered home, Janet and John Paul watched an chance to rebuild their house and lives. “Our furniture was destroyed in the storm,” says Janet. “We were able to salvage only artwork that hung above the 7 to 8-foot waterline and a few pottery.” As opposed to leave their beloved area, the artwork- and antiques-collecting couple envisioned a brand new, modern residence and hired architect Ken Gowland of MetroStudio and Brandon Construction to carry out their new build.

Their locality was half inhabited when they began construction in January 2012. “Lots of gutted houses were up available,” Janet says. They moved on Halloween that year.

Their property is a double lot, along with the house fronts two roads, since it spans across the block. Two elongated rectangles overlapping at the center form a light-filled good room. Janet and John’s new design became an elegant canvas for which Nelson Wilson Interiors hand chosen furniture mixed with antiques out of Karla Katz Antiques, where Janet works. Local artwork pieces help give the Pauls’ set a fresh start and their c timeless feel.

in a Glance
Who lives here: John and Janet Paul along with their cat, Boris
Location: Lakeview area of New Orleans
Size: 2,300 square feet; 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, home office

Adam Breaux

The light and airy living room includes glass doors leading to the front porch. The doorways are sometimes left available, combining the 2 spaces the couple spends the most time.

A Louis XIV fauteuil seat from Karla Katz Antiques is your greatest fireside reading seat, and above the mantel is a sculpture by Cathy Rose, titled “Antler Man with Coral Antlers.”

Adam Breaux

Two framed alligator prints hanging above the sofa are by Yvonne Hanriout Giraud.

Adam Breaux

A see-through fireplace acts as a centerpiece and a divider for your fantastic room. The fireplace marks the specific center point of the house.

As part of Janet’s art collecting, she often acquires pottery, such as the Greek bits exhibited in the black granite countertop. The French baker’s table on the right has a high made from coral, and beyond that’s a personalized wood entertainment center designed by Nelson Wilson Interiors.

Adam Breaux

The fireplace is available on either side.

Adam Breaux

A glass totem made by Nelson Wilson Interiors stars at a corner of the dining room. All the cabinets are made locally by Northshore Millwork. The pendant and chandelier lights are by local artist Paul Gruer.

Dining table: Dakota Wood, Julian Chichester; painting: ‘Confrontation’ from ‘Pillars,’ Michelle Levine; kitchen appliances: Kenmore

Adam Breaux

The vertical aspect of the space and lighting is fully appreciated in a view from the kitchen. The west and east wing roofs meet in the center to form a gable, and a cathedral ceiling spans the fantastic room.

Adam Breaux

Adam Breaux

The west wing of the house (behind the kitchen) is home to the home’s only bedroom and bath. The tall and naturally lit area is a wonderful escape, complete with a separate shower and an Air Bubble Tub from Kohler. The tub rests against a background of Lucian green glass tile, and supporting it will be the shower and toilet, separated by a wall.

Adam Breaux

One of the most memorable areas of their previous home was a black and white tiled bath. To mention this richly missed room, this bath was created with one side in white and black, while another colorfully celebrates the new residence. The dress in the hallway was chosen for this room by an artist in the New Orleans Jazz Fest and can be constructed of sheet metal.

Adam Breaux

The master bedroom is supporting the restroom from the wing. Clerestory windows fill the space with daylight , and white walls display artwork by Cathy Rose. The painting is by Ashley Longshore. The desk is an Italian olive oil piece from Karla Katz.

Lamp: Luna Bella

Adam Breaux

John’s office is in the farthest end of the east wing, where he retreats to complete administrative work for his dentistry company or to simply listen to some tunes from his CD collection. (Janet is revealed in it here.) Both have been stoked to pick up this stunning painting, called “The Mardi Gras Indian,” from French-New Orleans artist Isabelle Jacopin.

Adam Breaux

The couple uses this front porch, that joins to the living space, just about any weekend for entertaining friends.

Troy Wilson made the lights that hang out of the green slats from Mardi Gras beads. The corner driftwood is from Adam Morales, who is called “The Driftwood Man.” Morales lives alongside a little bayou near Pierre Part, Louisiana, and sells sculptures made from his collected driftwood pieces.

Adam Breaux

Clerestory windows line the whole north wall, flood the rooms there with sun. A sliding barn door set against a corrugated galvanized iron wall contributes to a storage shed.

Adam Breaux

The green-yellow nighttime glow of the house invites others into the story of the enduring New Orleans couple and their land that was not forgotten, but instead upgraded and treasured using a new build.

Adam Breaux

Here, Janet relaxes in the antique Louis XIV fauteuil seat with Boris.

Have you recently remade your house? Share your house with us

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10 Ways to Entertain Kids on Rainy Days

10 Ways to Entertain Kids on Rainy Days

Navigating rainy days could be hard for us grown-ups. Backed-up traffic, broken umbrellas, wet clothes — soggy days are a drag. But for kids and their boundless energy, they are particularly tough. After all, whoever coined the term “bouncing off the walls” didn’t do this while watching kids outdoors. When my kids were little, I broke up the afternoon by choosing them for regular walks or outside for backyard time. This helped curb indoor boredom. Well, that is obviously not an option during a downpour.

But do not panic. There are ways to keep kids busy and guarantee a steady drain on their power meter. It’s true: Fun, lively indoor activities are attainable. The key is having a well-planned, activity-based space — one which trumps the temptation of TV and video games. These spaces do not need to be grand in scale; even a corner will get the job done. Bear in mind, it’s all about imagination. Here are a few suggestions to get you started. Your kids will finish up.

Jute Interior Design

1. Let them burrow. Kids like to build tunnels, caves and forts. When sofa cushions are not sufficient, try out a kid-size tepee. You can go the store-bought route or get creative with items around the house: Broomsticks and sheets should do the trick. Kids love these romantic spaces for studying, playing make-believe or bleach.

David Howell Design

2. Hop on board. When my middle son was little, he was a train enthusiast. He would stand at a train table for hours. If you’ve got a child who shows an interest in building things, a train table is a great activity. Tracks could be constructed and deconstructed over and over again. Additionally, there are a lot of books and CDs that contain the sights and sounds of trains.

Liz Carroll Interiors

3. Set up a performance corner. This is a easy wall treatment which may be used for many types of performances. Teaching kids to be comfortable in front of an audience spurs socialization and confidence. Invite an afternoon drama, concert, dance celebration or puppet show.

Wind and Willow Home

4. Give in to chalkboard paint. Kids love to practice writing their names and doodling self-portraits. Designate a wall for chalkboard paint and let them loose. Tip: Be sure to clarify that this is the sole wall it is OK to draw.

The best way to create and use chalkboard paint

Kate Jackson Design

5. Get in the swing of things. Who said swing places are only for the playground? Look into ways to safely fix indoor swings to play area ceilings.

Cary Bernstein Architect

6. Become invisible. Hide-and-seek never gets older. My youngest son was particularly good at this game. One time that he stood behind a curtain perfectly still for thirty minutes. We couldn’t find him everywhere until I discovered him giggling.

Julie Ranee Photography

7. Set up a basketball hoop. Shooting hoops will liven up appetites before a hearty lunch. A hoop does not need to be regulation size; smaller versions that hang over doors work also. Basketball is also a excellent activity for enhancing hand-eye coordination and learning how to count.

Visbeen Architects

8. Create a cozy corner for board games and puzzles. A landing is an often-overlooked space in many houses. If you’ve got an oversize landing, consider turning it into a nook for reading or games.

Eisner Design LLC

9. Get clean. Sometimes kids actually enjoy picking up after themselves and organizing toys. In addition, it is a good way to expend more energy — a win-win for you!

Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture

10. Rest assured. Don’t forget to permit some downtime. Encourage independence with low-energy activities such as listening to music or, my preferred, rest time.

More: Have a look at these fantasy kids’ spaces

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Move Fashion Forward at Home With Dressmaker Details

Move Fashion Forward at Home With Dressmaker Details

I remember being charmed by the word”dressmaker details” the very first time that I discovered an interior designer mention that, way back in the Stone Age of my first career. Like toast points and diamond studs, these fashion-inspired finishing touches to upholstery, window treatments and other textiles have an inborn elegance and delicacy.

Although they may not enroll when you enter a room, you’ll instantly feel the atmosphere of polish and poise these details add. They’re also an efficient and affordable way to create over mass-market furniture, linens and accessories with a personalized look.

Have a peek at the lush appearance that detailing lends to those interiors. What dressmaker details look in your house? Tell us in the Comments!

Echelon Custom Homes

Button tufting adds a feeling of richness and relaxation to chairs, headboards, walls and other surfaces. Throw a little sparkle into the mix for a touch of glamour which arouses bejeweled buttons on a well-cut blouse.

Liz Williams Interiors

How sweet are the very small lilac bows on those curtain flanges? Details like these are the reason that well-crafted interiors feel rich with life and also grounded in warmth.

Lauren Mikus

Scallops on the twin ottomans and mattress cushions, paired with box pleats on the window valances, play up the female feel of this distance. On the flip side, straight edges could have made them more masculine.

Alan Mascord Design Associates Inc

Banded closures and kick pleats on the seat slipcovers, plus pinch pleats at the tops of the draperies, add exquisite top notes to this dining room.

IN Studio & Co.. Interiors

These slipcovers take a more casual approach, with floppy bow ties and a relaxed fit. I could see them fitting right in with a cabin or a shore house.

Liz Williams Interiors

Following is a genius trick borrowed from clothing design: Line the interior of a kick pleat with a contrasting fabric. The peekaboo color makes for a beautiful surprise. This valance is capped with a fanciful scrolled trim.

Amy Troute Launched Interior Design

Contrasting welting on this trio of cushions helps to clear up the borders and underscore the palette.

Mustard Seed Interiors

A ruffled skirt lends flirty flair to this ottoman.

Caitlin Wilson Design

Pin tucks down the center of this bedspread give it the tailored feel of a tuxedo shirt.

I adore this updated twist on classic nailhead trim. The strip of matching fabric and extra-wide nailhead spacing give it a somewhat contemporary feel.

Phoebe Howard

Grosgrain ribbon banding defines those upholstered walls and ties the room together.

Harper Design from HarperCollins Publishers

Ribbon makes for curtain ties that are impromptu. You could use any substance or color that appeals to you, from metal chain for an industrial space to ripped strips of fabric if you want a more rustic result.

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Must-Know Modern Homes: The Lovell Beach House

Must-Know Modern Homes: The Lovell Beach House

The early 20th century was a time of architectural manifestos — see, by way of example, the De Stijl group’s manifesto discussed within an ideabook on a preceding Must-Know Modern Home, the Rietveld Schröder House. The manifestos tried to find appropriate architectural responses to the great changes in politics, technology and society, particularly in Europe.

Rudolph M. Schindler, born in Vienna in 1887, composed a manifesto in 1912, when he was a student at the Vienna Academy of the Sciences. Inside he contrasted historic structure’s reliance upon mass, structure and surface with what he saw as contemporary architecture’s emphasis on space as its raw material. Defining space through shape, instead of working with space as the by-product of a mass’s surface articulation, are the issue of the contemporary architect — and of Schindler after his studies.

Schindler’s doctrine of “space design” can be seen in one of the masterpieces, the Lovell Beach House on the Pacific coast south of Los Angeles. It is not as instantly attractive as his earlier Kings Road House in West Hollywood (now home to the MAK Center), but its influence on after modern structure is important and worth exploring.

Lovell Beach House at a Glance
Year constructed: 1926
Rudolph M. Schindler
Visiting info: Only rare visits scheduled
Location: Newport Beach, California

More: 10 Must-Know Modern Homes

The beach house that R.M. Schindler designed for Phillip Lovell is striking for the way it’s lifted above sidewalk level. This occurs via five concrete frames in the form of squared-off figure eights. Schindler was crucial of wood-frame construction, so at Kings Road he utilized tilt-up concrete panels, also in Newport Beach he created an impressive concrete structure which defies expectations.

Three factors drove the decision to lift up the enclosed spaces on the concrete frame: Give a rhythm into the house and its spaces, protect the house from flames (lightweight walls are suspended from the structure to maneuver independently during tremors), also provide views and solitude relative to the adjacent public beach. The final is evident in this aerial perspective; the house is sited prominently on a major thoroughfare resulting in the beach. Schindler’s inspiration came from conventional pile structures located on beaches in the region.

As an example, the cantilever faces west, with the sidewalk heading to the beach running north–south.

The bedrooms are located on the top floor. Initially they sat west-facing sleeping porches. Recall the sleeping porches of the Greene brothers’ Gamble House. In the days before air conditioning, sleeping porches were a acceptable alternative in California’s benign climate.

The sleeping porches can also be seen as an extension of the thoughts of Lovell, Schindler’s customer, who ran the Physical Culture Center and composed a “Care of the Body” column to the Los Angeles Times. Lovell advocated natural health remedies and saw the living environment as being important in health.

Even with the California beach’s positive climate, Lovell wanted the sleeping porches enclosed shortly after completion. Schindler oversaw this change, moving the French doors in the bedroom into the outer guardrail and shifting them to fit.

Yet there is something awkward about the enclosure in the cantilever, as if the windows are flimsy relative to the striking concrete frame. This along with other idiosyncrasies of Schindler’s designs were mentioned as reasons for his being left out of the exhibition The International Style in the Museum of Modern Art in 1932. This omission hurt Schindler, though less as when Lovell hired fellow Austrian and California transplant Richard Neutra to design his next job, the Health House, that did create its way to the MoMA exhibition.

Schindler and Neutra understood each other in Vienna before World War I, but upon graduation in the Vienna Academy of Arts, Schindler headed to Chicago to work in an architecture office, while Neutra remained behind. This movement was influential to Schindler, since it got him closer to Frank Lloyd Wright, whose influential portfolio of work was published in Europe while Schindler was in college. Four years later Schindler transferred to Chicago, Wright actually hired him had him manage the construction of the Hollyhock House in Hollywood while the master traveled to Japan. In 1921 Schindler set out on his own.

Wright’s influence can be seen in the glass panels inserted between the cement piers. As opposed to use big pieces of plate glass Schindler designed a pattern reminiscent of Wright’s Prairie-style abstractions. These patterns are another reason Schindler did not fit in the MoMA exhibit’s narrow perspective of contemporary design, which espoused absolutely no decoration or ornament.

Neutra emigrated to California in 1923, also working for Wright. He eventually moved to Schindler’s Kings Road house and worked with him on several projects, such as the Lovell Beach House. Neutra struck out on his own in 1930, and his architecture illustrated the gap between Schindler’s idiosyncratic regionalism along with his own European modernism; the latter has been tasked with MoMA’s definition of an International style through his articulation of space with large expanses of glass and planar surfaces.

Schindler and his doctrine of space structure, on the other hand, resulted in more complex forms found in the interplay of structure, surfaces and architectural elements. This perspective of the porch in the beach house indicates the complex intertwining of stair, ramp (in the foreground, moving in the opposite direction of the stair), living room wall and concrete structure. It’s easy to see the influence on after California architects such as Frank Gehry.

This perspective of the north side of the beach house indicates the plasticity of its architectural form. The concrete structure allowed the walls to be treated as independent surfaces (less one and the same, as in conventional structure), and Schindler exploited it by bumping out some walls, pulling others in, and adding windows as needed. Compare this facade with the side of the house facing the beach (observable as the short side in the first photograph); the elevation facing the beach includes large openings for opinions of the beach and water, while the north is mostly solid.

The home’s centre is the double-height living room and its own large windows (picture at right) looking into the south. As is evident, Schindler is not content with defining space by windows and planar walls. He layered walls, juxtaposed the concrete and timber structures, designed ladder-like patterns in the windows and comprised built in furniture.

The debt to Wright is obvious, particularly with regard to the built-ins (Schindler designed the built in furniture to the Hollyhock House), but you can observe the working out of his own fashion in matters like the shelving after the cement column — an odd detail, contemplating that the shelves are unreachable.

This floor plan indicates the first floor, which is one floor up from pavement level. One ascends either via a stair into the kitchen on the left or via a shallower stair (also referred to as a ramp) into the living area and south-facing terrace on the right side. The five rows of columns which contain the steel framing are evident, as is the cantilever of the top floor, indicated by a dashed line.

The top floor includes a corridor that overlooks the double-height living room, visible in the previous strategy as a dashed line. This drawing came after the sleeping rooms were enclosed; the bedrooms would have stopped in the columns prior to that.

The main, west-facing elevation really accentuates the design’s structural bravado. Out of the five structural frames, only the garage along with the staircase touch the floor. In this respect Lovell Beach House is possibly the first example of brutalist architecture, predating the short style style by three years. Architects of much larger and more public buildings would eventually utilize concrete structures to similar dramatic effect, yet this house was be Schindler’s last house constructed of concrete. He needed to give in to the popularity of wood-frame structure, yet he held to his doctrine of space design until his death in 1953.

Curtis, William J.R. Modern Architecture Since 1900. Prentice-Hall, third edition, 1996 (first published in 1982).Gebhard, David. Schindler. The Viking Press, 1971.
MAK Center in Schindler House.
McCoy, Esther. Five California Architects. Hennessey + Ingalls, 1987 (originally released in 1960 by Reinhold Book Corporation).Smith, Elizabeth and Darling, Michael. The Architecture of R.M. Schindler. Harry N. Abrams, 2001.
Wright, Gwendolyn. USA: Modern Architectures in History. Reaktion Books, 2008.

More: 10 Must-Know Modern Homes

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Great Design Plant: River Birch

Great Design Plant: River Birch

River birch (Betula nigra) is a one of the best trees for year-round interest. Using its multicolored papery bark which peels away from the trunk, this North American native species is an excellent selection for a driveway entrance, backyard habitat or woodland edge. And the way it can flourish in moist conditions makes it particularly valuable where drainage is a concern.

Windsor Companies

Botanical name: Betula nigra
Common names: River birch, black birch, water birch
Source: Native to the eastern United States
USDA Islands: 3 to 9 (find your zone)
Water requirement: Moderate to wet soil; adheres to flow banks (because its common name implies) and poor lands
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 40 to 70 feet tall
Benefits and tolerances: Fast-growing, disease-resistant Pick for riparian buffers to curtail stream erosion and improve biodiversity; foliage are a larval food source for swallowtail butterflies and other insects; seeds bring numerous birds and other wildlife
Seasonal interest: Year-round; beautiful yellow fall color
When to plant: Early spring to late autumn

Distinguishing traits. With lustrous 3-inch leaves, slender catkins and bark, river birch creates dappled shade that is easy to plant beneath.

Its foliage color in autumn is a medium yellow. Throughout the winter, with a new blanket of snow, the bark is a welcome sight; it looks especially good against a background of cedar, pine or hemlock.

Disease-resistant ‘Heritage’ is a patented choice named by Earl Cully of Heritage Trees; it’s an outstanding cultivar that is less likely to leaf spot than other birches and is more resistant to the bronze birch borer. It’s also more compact than the typical species — reaching about 40 feet tall when mature — and has a deeper saturation of bark colors.

ADRIAN SMITH – Landscape Architecture

How to use It. Grow it as a specimen or in a grove to create a pragmatic buffer in full sunlight; combine it with native foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) and inkberry holly (Ilex glabra).

Fast climbing, multistemmed trees in clump form include visual punch and are good for screening, while single-trunk specimens offer architectural formality.


Planting notes. Trees want acidic soils with a pH of 6.5 or lower, so amend if necessary. All these are large trees, so allow lots of room to grow and water during dry spells, especially in warmer zones.

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California Gardener's February Checklist

California Gardener's February Checklist

When I worked for a California magazine business, the business people believed that February was the opportunity to invite potential clients to the home office, a place with a big garden and patio for outdoor fun — an ideal setting to get a small brainwashing about various ways people lived on the West Coast. East Coast clients would arrive using raccoon coats (perhaps it wasn’t actually that long ago), runny noses and frostbitten fingers from shoveling snow off their drives. They would be served orange juice from fruit plucked from trees from the garden, so the story went. Camellias, daffodils and magnolias were prospering. The yard was green — anybody for volleyball? Brainwashing accomplished; ad pages sold.

Somehow February over any other month reflects just how identifying California’s gardening stinks are. We’ve got so much to respect and to plant life. Consider the five under California classics — favorite plants which glow this season, defying winter with vibrant color, sexy fragrance and, sometimes, mouthwatering flavor.

More regional garden guides


Meyer lemon. Apparently forever that was the ultimate California backyard fruit. It was in each garden, a handsome evergreen shrub with fragrant flowers and abundant fruit. Was it ever abundant! Our one tree created a lot of lemons that we could not give them away, and our golden retrievers munched about the dropped lemons (fine breath!) .

Then a couple of things propelled Meyer lemon into a new level of desirability. In the 1970s plant breeders developed ‘Improved Meyer’, immune to the virus which had led to a ban on interstate transport of Meyers. And Alice Waters got hold of those lemons and made the most of their juiciness and lower acidity.

I remember the first time I tasted a wine spritzer created with Meyer lemon that the restaurant Chez Panisse functioned from the 1980s. In 1987 The New York Times published a recipe for Chez Panisse’s Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie.

It’s easy to discover a spot for Meyer lemon in just about any garden. Plant one near a patio, in a border or trained as an espalier on a fence or wall. It will produce fruit all year, such as in winter and early spring, when it is most welcome.

Botanical name: Citrus meyeri ‘Improved Meyer’
USDA zones: 9 to 10 (find your zone)
Water requirement: Moderate and routine. Do not allow the soil dry out.
Light requirement: Full sunlight; a little shade is OK in warm climates.
Mature dimension: 8 to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Dwarf types are available.
Growing tips: Prune in spring to control both the size and shape. Fertilize regularly with a particular citrus food. Yellowing leaves often indicate deficiency in iron or nitrogen; correct that using products especially for those ailments.


Saucer magnolias. Also referred to as tulip trees, all these are varieties of Magnolia soulangeana, a deciduous small tree with supersize flowers on bare branches in late winter and early spring. Colors vary from pure white to purple — a few are so amazingly dark that they look black. Shown here is ‘Black Tulip’.

Contemplating their great looks, saucer magnolias are amazingly easy to grow in almost all California gardens. They make great yard trees. Smaller varieties can fit to a border or elevated bed of spring-flowering annuals and perennials. Wherever you put the tree, then make certain it’s a focal point at the time of year.

Botanical name: Magnolia soulangeana
USDA zones: 5 to 9
Water requirement: Moderate to more
moderate requirement: Total sun
Mature size: 15 to 25 feet tall and 6 to 15 feet wide, depending on variety.
Growing tips: Provide rich soil, with lots of alterations at planting time. Do not allow the soil dry; watch for sogginess. Prune only to restrain size, after the spring bloom.

The New York Botanical Garden

Artichoke. This Mediterranean delicacy is ideal for eating in late winter and early spring along the foggy California shore. Now is also a good time to begin your own. Away from the shore, expect your chokes to earn tough and dry eating, however, the plant is, shall we say, an interesting addition to a vegetable garden or perhaps a flower border. It grows to a striking, if sprawly, gray-green plant at one growing season.

The New York Botanical Garden

Even if your artichoke plant doesn’t do much for the dinner plate, it can produce striking purple thistles to use as cut flowers.

Botanical name: Cynara scolymus
USDA zones: 8 to 9
Water requirement: Moderate
moderate requirement: Full sun to light shade
Mature dimension: 4 ft tall and 6 to 8 ft broad
Growing tips: Start with roots, accessible summer time, or young plants at nursery containers, accessible all year. Keep the soil moist, especially if you want to have an edible crop. Fertilize monthly. Harvest chokes for eating whenever they’re tight, fat and glossy. If you leave the chokes on, they will develop into eye catching purple thistles; reduce them just before they completely open and then use them as cut and dried flowers. In the end of the year, cut the entire plant near ground level; it ought to resprout next year except in cold climates.


Daphne odora. A total diva. Has the most evocative fragrance of any plant (yes, that is subjective). Doesn’t deign to have a frequent name. Will sulk and die for no apparent reason. But try daphne at least one time. Find a place in semi shade and well-drained dirt, where it is possible to see and smell the small pink winter flowers, and give it a go. If it dies, try again someplace else. Try it in a pot.

Daphne is a good-looking evergreen with dense foliage, shiny green leaves (there’s a variety with variegated leaves). It seems great in a mixed border, at a raised bed and at a container.

Botanical name: Daphne odora
USDA zones: 7 to 9
Water requirement: Moderate. Do not allow the soil dry out.
Light requirement: Partial color, especially when there’s midday sunlight
Mature size: 3 to 4 ft tall and broad, and larger
Growing tips: Requires perfect drainage. Amend the soil thoroughly with compost; don’t bury the top of the root ball. To control the shape and size, you can sew, even shear back, a few inches after bloom.

Camellia. Here we’re talking about Camellia japonica, the astonishingly sturdy evergreen shrub with stupendous flowers that we take for granted. It can grow in many California gardens, in the shore to the foothills, in areas as warm as Sacramento or Arcadia, as trendy as San Diego as well as San Francisco.

Shown here is ‘Guilio Nuccio’, which, as stated by the Sunset Western Garden Book,is “considered by many to be the world’s greatest camellia.” Produced by Nuccio’s Nurseries, of Altadena, it’s a vigorous, upright tree that generates great large rose-colored flowers.

Botanical name: Camellia japonica
USDA zones: 8 to 10
Water requirement: Moderate
moderate requirement: Partial shade
Mature dimension: 6 to 12 feet tall and broad, and larger, depending on variety
Growing tips: Plant it in well-drained soil, kept moist. Mix in organic matter at planting time. Fertilize with special camellia food after bloom. Prune after bloom as needed to control the size and promote bushiness. Always pick up dropped blossoms to prevent spread of this illness called petal blight.

Choosing a camellia. Hundreds of types have been developed since the introduction of Camellia japonica into California from the 19th century. Flowers vary in color (white to pink to red plus variegated) and shape (single to double or more complicated). When deciding upon a specific kind, keep a couple of things in mind along with the flowers.

When would you need blooms? Varieties are categorized by bloom time: early (October to December), midseason (January and February) and late (March and April).

Also, study variety descriptions to observe how the plant fits into your landscape. Plants are explained in terms such as “upright,” “tall,” “distributing,” “compact” and such. It’s possible to use a camellia as a single specimen shrub, as a container plant, to get a hedge or screen, even as a little woods. The ‘Guilio Nuccio’ revealed here serves as a background tree at a raised border; about 15 years old, it’s 12 feet tall and 7 feet wide, with at least 50 blossoms open in late January.

Land Design, Inc..

What Else to perform in February in Your California Garden

based on how fast your climate warms up, there’s a lot you can do this month — such as winter pruning and planting of spring flowers and veggies, which can be hauled up by the warming effect of a raised bed, as revealed.

Deal with frost damage. If winter frosts hit a few of your crops, wait till after this month to prune off the harm.

Get conventional winter plantings from the ground. Now’s time to plant bare-root roses, fruit trees, berries, even color trees. Keep the roots moist until you’re ready to plant. Do not buy deal plants with dried-out roots.

Plant cool-season yearly flowers. They should peak in midspring and last until hot weather: calendulas, dianthus, Iceland poppies, pansies, snapdragons, violas and more. Provide the sunniest spot you can find in your own garden.

Set out cool-season vegetables. These include lettuce, broccoli, spinach and more. Swiss chard is actually simple.

Prune roses. End pruning this month except at cold-climates such as the large mountains. Generally, cut hybrid buds by about a third, and abandon three to five canes sprouting out of the foundation. Shrub roses require less exact pruning — essentially, shear them to restrain the size and shape. Fertilize all roses after pruning.

Prune fruit trees. Spray and exfoliates deciduous fruit trees, such as apple, cherry, apricot and pear. Check about the how-to with specialist books or consultants at your local nursery.

Plant summer-blooming bulbs. In per month full of daffodils, consider planting bulbs to bloom in late spring and summer: tuberous begonias, gladiolus, tigridias and more.

Snails and slugs. February could be declared California Snail Month. They like it moist and warmish (but not hot). Watch for telltale signs of chewed leaves or the creatures themselves, and scatter pet-safe lure.

More regional garden guides
direct to growing cool-season crops
Step-by-step guide to pruning roses

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New 'Anna Karenina' Sets Inspire Aristocratic Design Twists

New 'Anna Karenina' Sets Inspire Aristocratic Design Twists

Yesterday I had to push my new refresh button, so I hopped over to the Tara movie theater for a matinee of the new Anna Karenina movie, starring Keira Knightly and Jude Law. Set in 1870s Russia, the film is a visual feast; the extravagant costumes and sets stole the show. The majority of the film happened on a continuously shifting stage place, which supposed that fabrics, flooring, light fittings, carvings and wall treatments needed to make a strong impact. Here’s a peek at 11 ways the film could twist current trends.

Lucid Interior Design Inc..

Trend spin: Candelabras rather than single candlesticks. Hefty and ornate candelabras were once a lighting staple, now frequently thrown by the wayside.

Donna Benedetto Designs LLC.

Trend twist: Fur throws go grey. Bye-bye, deep chocolate brown; Anna’s coat may inspire a range of luxe grays and silvers. While a 19th-century Russian aristocrat would have worn real fur, then we will take ours artificial.

Fairford Blue Damask Fabric

Trend twist: Damask in blue. I left the theater with vibrant blue damask dominating my thoughts. We tend to see this pattern in tones such as gold and cream, or ivory and black.

Howard Bankston & Post

Trend twist: Multiple crystal chandeliers. Similarly, 19th-century people desired groups of chandeliers for light; maybe people groupings can inspire us to think outside the single statement crystal chandelier.

Watch how to use double chandeliers

Mark pinkerton – vi360 photography

Trend spin: Gold and ivory harlequin flooring. Instead of the typical black and white harlequin, the flooring at the chunk in the film proved to be a striking oversize ivory and gold pattern.

Elizabeth Gordon

Trend spin: Mirrored displays. One way the point sets were changed was with ornate screens covered in mirror and upholstery.

Trend twist: Silks go dark and rich. While we love the bold and bright silks which are popular now, the sumptuousness of elegant silks in deep burgundy, dark black and purple is mythical.

Siemasko + Verbridge

Trend twist: Needlepoint seats are tasteful again. Needlepoint has been back awhile, in the form of pop picture prints by Jonathan Adler on throw cushions. The movie turns the spotlight back into the original patterns, tasteful florals that coated French bergère and Victorian wood-framed seats.

LDa Architecture & Interiors

Trend twist: Decorating the doorways. Whether carvings, door knockers, leather or upholstry claws, doorways make a strong statement in the film, and the exact same pair of doorways helped us make the jumps from set to set.

Jamie Laubhan-Oliver

Trend twist: Black velvet is rear. Drape it whatever you need, from couches to your shoulders.

Bonus for George Costanza lovers


Alphabet Wagon – $58

Trend twist: Say it with blocks. If you see the scene between Konstantin and Kitty with blocks, you will recognize a timid percursor to texting adore anagrams and emoticons.

Have you noticed the newest Anna Karenina? What did you think? Let me know in the Remarks section; none of my friends have seen it, and I would love to chat about it!

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Armillary Spheres Set Rooms in Motion

Armillary Spheres Set Rooms in Motion

Armillary spheres seem to be everywhere — after all, these conventional globe-like shapes create a great desk trinket or striking lighting fixture — but many have never heard their name. Although it’s currently typically a simplified cosmetic accessory, an armillary sphere (called for the Latin phrase”armilla,” meaning”circle” or”bracelet”) used to be the center of the astronomy universe. Greek and Chinese scholars created the earliest-known models around the fifth century to be a symbol of the universe, together with the first variations depicting Earth as the centre. Early astronomers would rotate the precisely angled rings to ascertain the movement of the celebrities. Armillary spheres were also utilized as sundials, which is exactly why a lot of current models include an arrow at the middle (meant to point true north).

Today we’ve advanced beyond the practical utilization of an armillary sphere, but that does not mean we can not mention its intriguing history in our homes. Here are some ways you can incorporate this classical, beautiful accessory in your decor.


Despite their extensive history, armillary spheres can fit in with transitional and modern pieces.

Fabrizio Construction llc

Proceed from a formal to a downright regal dining area by adding an amazing old-world chandelier. It makes for a great focal point and can be a fairly easy way to glam up a space.

Custom Home Group

Bring some international charm to your house by pairing just-right accessories along with your armillary sphere. This Union Jack cushion, stacked suitcases and chandelier allow the homeowners to journey across the pond without leaving the living space.

Gabriel Builders Inc..

Due to its rich metallic finish, this armillary sphere looks great at a room filled with elegant woodwork and warm leather furniture.

Tim Cuppett Architects

If you’re searching to make a statement, an oversized sphere chandelier definitely can do the job. The choice brings contrast to this kitchen.

An armillary sphere fits right in with this Mediterranean-style patio. Together with the columns, stone arch and scroll accents, you can lounge poolside with thoughts of Italy on mind.


Authentic Models Bronze 7.3-in. Diam. Armillary Sphere – $180

This one stays true to its roots by simply sticking with the conventional bronze finish. It even has a suspended blue globe to represent Earth, as our world was once thought to be in the center of the solar system.

Z Gallerie

Armillary Sphere – $89.95

The silver-tone finish and clean, crisp lines create this modern sclupture an elegant update of the classic bronze staple.

History buffs can observe an original design in this white and black print. It is a terrific way to reveal the scientific history of the device without having to spend a pretty penny — and you can hang it on the wall to conserve real estate.

Schmechtig Landscapes

Landscape Architect Rob Schwarz frequently uses armillary spheres as a milder, more dimensional focus in the backyard. “An armillary elicits a sense of movement in the landscape,” he states. “Seeing sunlight shadows cast onto the ground at different times of day adds interest to the ground plane.”


Armillary Sphere on Pedestal – $395

This large investment piece looks great at a courtyard or across a garden walkway.

White Flower Farm

Armillary Garden Ornament – $75

If you’re not ready to invest in a massive garden statue, a much more compact one can add just the ideal conventional touch to a border or route.

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