Deck the Halls.

Glitter & Greens

I love to decorate with fresh-cut greens in the winter. I go a little nuts arranging branches and tchotchkes on mantels and in arrangements. This year I wanted a winter woodland vibe in the house for New Year’s and much of ski season. Of course, a little sparkle never hurts! The bronze glitter “snowflakes” were part of my outdoor decor in 2017. I decided they looked wonderful in the “transition space” that has become central to our mountain home. The focal point is a woodland tree I placed in a glittery Faux bois vase. Said tree and vase are each over 5 years old. So fun to re-imagine for this winter season! White pine and cedar branches inserted into floral foam tie the vignette together.

Macro view of the old kitchen, now a transitional space at Hidden Valley.

Imagining the Space

Did I mention “transitional space?” When we linked the original 3-bedroom A-frame to a new addition this space took shape. Take a look at the white plaster ceiling. Imagine a kitchen within those dimensions- 10 x 12 feet, with about 9 feet of functional counter space. Oh, and think about regularly cooking dinner for 12 plus! You’re looking now from our original (and current) living room into my amazing new kitchen- honestly, the raison d’etre for the addition. With a gracious dining space unseen in this shot, it provides a generous gathering spot for our growing family.

One of my favorite features in decor magazines is a big entry hall anchored by a center table, adorned with flowers or books. While there is no grand entry in this house, I jumped at the chance to create a place that set the mood for our home. First, I found the Sandberg wallpaper, which was a perfect blend of whimsy and woodland. A rustic mirror and sconces from Currey and Company provide a year-round backdrop for seasonal arrangements. My husband built the console with a slab of live edge oak harvested from fallen tree at our Pittsburgh home. The comfy Gabbeh tree-of-life rug from O’Bannon Oriental Carpets anchors the space and provides a nice spot for dog lounging and baby play.

Creating Magic

Our mountain home renovation was a labor of love. But, the fun of decorating it throughout the year is a bonus. The vignettes change seasonally. It’s a space where I indulge my love of floral design. I hope my grandchildren experience it as a place for wonder, magic and memories.

It’s all about that vase.


One of my favorite parts of gardening is pairing plants and containers to create artsy compositions on my deck and at my front door.  I choose flowers and foliage that complement the color or design of the pot, enhancing both. The same concept relates to cut flowers. I have a cupboard filled with vases- or vessels- as a good buddy refers to them. I fill them with flowers from my garden, the grocery store, or florist and try to always have fresh-cut flowers indoors.

Always the “flower snob”, a dear friend brought flowers from a great Pittsburgh florist after I had knee surgery.  The bouquet was filled with cool colors- from the enormous blue hydrangeas to hot pink roses. On the color wheel these pinks, blues and purples lie side-by-side, or are “analogous”.  Adding more interest was the contrasting mix of floral forms, from large spheres to the spikes of blue veronica and larkspur. While it looked really nice in the simple glass container, I pulled the entire arrangement out of the vase and plunked it into a blue transferware pitcher. This pitcher complements most anything from lilacs to sunflowers, but it perfectly echoed the lovely arrangement and made it distinctly mine!

Late Season Loveliness

Salvia splendens Pennisetum rubrum

Bidding adieu to the 2018 growing season. It has been bittersweet for me, as my joints are telling me I must garden differently than I have for the past 30 years. July/August/September bled together into one oppressive humidity marathon. Worst of all, I suffered the loss of my trusty groundhog hunting dog- Ares, my companion for the past 8 years in the garden. He succumbed to cancer in late June, and the dreaded herbivores devoured my zinnias, coleus and coneflowers. A killing frost sounds pretty good right now!

Despite disappointments, a spring planting has created quite a show in front of my house as October winds down. I anchored a copper urn on the left side of my walk with a ‘thriller’ of annual purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum cultivar), definitely not a dwarf, clocking in at over 3 feet tall. It’s been unflagging through heat and drought, but any signs of the ‘filler’ and ‘spiller’ I planted alongside it are gone. They’ve been swallowed by the robust grass. It’s enormously out of scale, but I adore the fluffy wands that are glowing in the slanting rays of October sun.

Across from the urn is a contemporary shallow bowl, centered in a little bed that has held several dwarf trees, all doomed by snow removal from our driveway over the years.  After years of wanting a permanent feature in the bed, I concluded that a seasonal planting was the best way to go. This year it held a canna whose tropical leaves contrasted nicely with the grass across the way. As summer heat subsided, the canna has taken a backseat to its companion, one of my favorite late season bloomers- pineapple sage (Salvia elegans). Deer ignore its crushed leaves that smell like its common name. It’s taken center stage now, smothered in red flowers that sway with the breeze. I cut some branches to enjoy indoors, but leave most of the bright red flowers that perfectly complement the fountain grass.

No matter that the path to my front door is nearly blocked by container plants, they look wonderful and lush. They force my focus to the positive and, thankfully, the rest of the garden fades to the background. Like plants, old gardeners must adapt. Next year will bring some needed change, and some hired help, to my garden. Until then, I’ll plan and dream of next year’s garden.


Surviving the Dog Days

fullsizeoutput_2475Coming off of our recent run of hideously hot and humid weather, I’m just going to admit my garden looks awful. The weeds have won. A groundhog has binged on the coleus, zinnias and sweet potato vines in my garden. My basil is kaput. A brave blogger would take a picture of the depressing scene, but I’ll spare you. I’d rather post some prettiness. This little pave’ arrangement is contained within a funky little ceramic container that accurately mimics the matte finish of a common cardboard berry box. It features a pretty bi-color dahlia and two exceptional annuals for the cut flower garden. The pretty purple/blue puffs are Ageratum houstonianum ‘Blue Horizon’ and the hot pink at the top is Gomphrena globosa ‘Fireworks’. Both are terrific deer resistant plants that make awesome cut flowers.

It looks like the HHH weather has broken, and I’ll post some garden pictures soon. That means after I have several days when I can work outside without becoming cranky from the heat and pull the weeds that have overrun my garden!

Simply Spring

The components of this arrangement are simple and seasonal. Emerging leaves of Hosta ‘Sagae’ are slipped into a very narrow, contemporary vase. A couple branches cut from a terrific quince- Chaenomeles x superba ‘Cameo’, plus a few flowers of the small-cupped daffodil ‘Verona’ create a pretty arrangement.