Return From Respite, A Field Trip, Found Inspiration

It has been quite a respite from blogging, but not from creative endeavours. My current creative interest, oddly enough, arose from a field trip we took one blustery day last October.

We crossed the border from Canada and drove the hour or so it took to reach our destination, Graycliff,  Derby, New York. Graycliff was the summer home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Darwin Martin family of Buffalo,  New York. It was built from 1926 -1931 atop a sixty foot cliff on the south shore of Lake Erie  and has been restored and opened to public tours.  While I am not a fan of Wright’s architecture, my taste being “English Cottage/Shabby Chic”, I can appreciate how his designs incorporated the environment where they  were built. Since Frank Lloyd Wright also totally controlled all aspects of building from landscape design to interior decor and furniture, I know that I could never have worked with him!Graycliff-1

Our tour began outside  the visitor centre/gift shop at the front of the property. We encountered rain, hail and sunshine in the few minutes while our docent introduced history of the property before leading us to the main house. It was pointed out to us that when approaching the house, windows on the ground floor allowed one to see completely through to the lake at the rear. The water feature at the main entrance was designed to be a tribute to Lake Erie. water_feature-1

The foyer  branched into a sun room on the left, living room on the right and staircase directly ahead. Graycliff-2 We climbed the stairs to the second floor where bedrooms with ensuite baths were arranged off a window walled gallery along the length of the house. Several of the bedrooms opened onto terraces that availed lovely views of the lake.

I was excited to see bathtubs identical to our bathtub at home, (built-in, not clawfoot).Graycliff-7

At the far end of the second floor we descended a narrow staircase to the service areas of the house. There we found a butler’s pantry that led

into  Mrs. Martin’s flower arranging room. The windows here provided abundant light for Mrs. Martin, who was practically blind, to enjoy her flowers. In fact Wright purposely designed this entire house to incorporate as much natural light as possible because of Mrs. Martin’s diminished eyesight. The work counter was situated directly in front of windows and featured a double sink. Of all the rooms we saw,  this  was my favourite.Graycliff-10

The kitchen was located at the back of the flower arranging room. It was a spacious area that featured a porcelain sink, a  cooking range, and a  substantial refrigerator. Refrigerators were quite a novelty appliance in the 1920’s when  ice-boxes were more commonly available.

We left the service area of the house passing back through the flower arranging room into the low ceilinged dining room, followed by the living room, a fern room and the side porch.

We concluded the tour outside of the main house.

Throughout the hour and half of the tour, the docent was passionate about the history and restoration efforts at Graycliff and shared her knowledge with warmth and humour. I highly recommend a visit to this property if you find yourself in western New York, USA.

In trying to create a memento using photos from this field trip I discovered a new passion: altered books, but that’s a story for another day.

Loving Lavender

The other night DH and I were watching an episode of Downton Abbey. One of the  characters, (Daisy), was busy in the kitchen stripping the dried flowers from lavender stems. She mentioned that the flowers were going to be made into sachets which would then be used to scent clothing and linen cupboards. Lavender scent famously repels moths as well.

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It was a long, cold winter and I worried that my English lavender plants would be killed off. Happily all three survived, are in full bloom, fragrant and abuzz with wild bees.

Feeling confident about their ability to thrive in our less than optimal growing conditions I thought I’d try an experiment to see if I could propogate lavender from stem cuttings. I found abundant  information on the internet  with directions to do this.

The first step was to take a few woody stem cuttings using a very sharp knife:

After stripping the leaves from the bottom 5 cm and removing the flower from the top end I dipped the bottom end into root stimulator; natural unpasteurized honey.

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I had prepared a clay pot ahead of time by soaking it overnight in water. When I was ready to take the cuttings I filled the pot with potting soil.fullsizeoutput_68

The prepared cuttings were then inserted into the soil, evenly spaced around the edges of the pot.

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Finally, I enclosed the entire pot in a clear plastic bag and placed the pot in a bright window.

 

Only time will tell whether my experiment is successful.

A Colourful Transition

The wetter than normal spring and early summer that we enjoyed rewarded our garden with plentiful and beautiful hydrangea blooms. Over the course of the season the blooms changed colour  from brilliant blues to mauve to pinkish -green. Although I hate to cut any flowers, I know that the hydrangea bloom’s beauty can continue for months as they dry indoors. hydrangeas_colour-1-2hydrangeas_colour-1-3

I cut the stems to fit and removed most of the leaves before arranging in  shallow bowls. Because I want them to dry, I don’t put any water in the bowls

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It’s coming soon! Hope to see you there:

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Hello Autumn

This is likely the busiest season, with all the outdoor preparations  for winter: storm windows up, raking leaves, final weeding, mulching plants, storing garden tools, picking apples and pumpkins. Although we had a bumper crop of apples from our six trees, we only had one pumpkin!

In addition to all the outdoor activities I have been busy preparing for an upcoming “Christmas Marketplace”  along with one of my DF’s. (I’ll post details in another blog entry.)

My “autumn decorating”, therefore, was rather minimalistic:

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Wreath on Door

And:

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The chrysanthemums were a very thoughtful gift from our next door neighbour. I love how they so perfectly matched the colours in the wreath. I purchased the pumpkins since ours wasn’t quite ripe when I did this display.