What’s At The 2008 Flower and Landscape Exhibitions For You?

Hi, all, the 2008 Flower and Landscape exhibitions are now upon us, likely showing now at your local exhibition center. So what are the landscaping supply manufacturers and the landscaping contractors going to try to sell you as this year’s most wanted property enhancement?

Having just returned from an exhibition in the Northeastern states, my mind is full of creative possibilities for this year’s summer projects. The show was filled with the typical big sellers; hot tubs and spas were present in liberal quantities, windows, sun rooms, and man made ponds are always present at these shows, and will likely be back at the spring Home Shows that will be filling the same exhibition centers a few weeks from now. But the tone of our blog focuses on a rustic decoration style, and there was no lack of displays to spawn the creative thought process.

The thing I like the most about the landscaping shows these days is the fact that you don’t just look at a single product at each display. The companies renting floor space do it all up right, and design an entire landscape in their space. You can imagine looking out your back window and seeing exactly what is laid out in front of you at the show. For example, a manufactured paver company put up quite a display, building a complete landscape. Obviously the entire scene was built upward from their pavers, which were arranged in a complex pattern under foot, but they combined efforts with other products from other companies to give a feel for how their product worked with others. Stackable manufactured stones bordered the paver patio, cedar landscape accents were strategically placed, a striking cedar pergola rose from the patio, and a stackable stone island was placed just outside the pergola with a polished granite counter top to cap the stone and provide a resting place for a propane cooktop. Having taken in that whole scene, I have an idea of what my summer project will consist of this year!

Other displays that I haven’t seen too much of until this year included ‘modular outdoor fireplaces’. These displays looked like stone fireplaces built by skilled stone workers, but were actually pre-cast modules that stack together horizontally and vertically to create sprawling outdoor structures. The show piece was a configuration that included five foot counter top units on either side of the fireplace, and the fireplace itself whose chimney extended upward for about nine or ten feet including the chimney cap. This impressive configuration did come at a price; it was tagged at just under $20,000 installed. That’s 20K, as in new car dollar figures. Of course, there were more reasonable configurations set up that displayed gas grills embedded in them with a bit of usable counter space.

Me, I am sticking with the patio-pergola-counter top configuration this summer next to the pool. That will create a nicely usable outdoor room in a section of yard that I’ve been wondering what to do with for quite a few years now. How about you, what’s your summer project for this year? Not sure? Get out to your local Flower Show or Home Show to get lots of fresh ideas!

Have fun,

Ron

Outdoor Decorating With Landscaping – Part 1

No outdoor living space is completely successful until it is integrated with the surrounding landscape. Just as there are principles for designing interior spaces, there are also guidelines for exterior ones. If you are choosing a site for a gazebo or a patio, it is one of the most important landscape design decisions you’ll make. If the structure already exists, you can enhance it by assessing and changing the landscape. For instance, you may want to plan a garden around a gazebo, planting shrubs and flowers to highlight the beauty of the site. Or you may want to treat the gazebo as a secluded retreat. Achieving either goal takes careful planning of the site and surrounding plantings.

Evaluate the site. The landscape design should provide a framework for your outdoor living space. The views, lines, property configuration, and traffic patterns need to work together. Spend some time getting acquainted with your site and noting any special features. What are the site’s assets? Are there beautiful views? Are there natural features, such as trees or streams? Consider the size and shape of your lot, the style of the house itself, as well as your own lifestyle needs and preferences.

Balance the elements. This is the process of arranging various site elements so that they are resolved and balanced. A visually heavy or large object can be balanced by a visually lighter or smaller object on the site if the smaller object is darker in color value, is unusually or irregularly shaped, has a contrasting texture, or is more elaborately detailed. All of these strategies will help to draw attention to the smaller object and thereby visually balance it with the larger object. For example, let’s say you have a large clump of pine trees on one side of your yard. To visually balance the trees you might plant smaller, more colorful ornamental trees on the other side of the yard, or you might use a man-made object such as a gazebo.

Create a cohesive design. Harmony can be achieved by selecting and using elements that share a common trait or characteristic. By using elements that are similar in size, shape, color, material, texture, or detail, you can create a cohesive feeling and relation among the various elements on the site. An example this might be using a shape, such as a square. Imagine having a square concrete patio scored in a square (or diamond) pattern with a square table covered in a checkered tablecloth. The results can be extremely pleasing and harmonious.

Weathervanes As Decor and Art

Weathervanes have been valued throughout history. They rest admirably atop churches, barns, homes, schools, libraries, court houses, and government buildings. We are all familiar with the ever popular rooster perched handsomely on barn cupolas or the gallant horse adorning the tops of stables across America. The Federal Eagle has been popular since the 1800′s. Artisans have crafted beautiful weathervanes using themes that capture the spirit from antiquity up until today.

In our modern day and age the weathervane is being recognized as décor and functional art. It does not matter if the weathervane sculpture is contemporary, traditional, country, or classic, there is a place for the piece in the world of design. It is still popular to mount weathervanes on cupolas and rooftops but the possibilities for display have introduced weathervane sculpture to a whole new realm of aesthetics.
Weathervanes can be displayed indoors in a number of different ways. Floor stands are available in basic cast iron or ornamental brass. These display bases are often used to feature a weathervane in living rooms, dens, offices or libraries. The presentation is simply stunning. Indoor wall mounts are an attractive way to showcase the work on a central wall or beam. Tabletop weathervanes are great for desks and tables. They make great gifts too! If you are interested in interior decorating, consider the time honored weathervane in your design.

The options for outdoor display are wonderful. It is possible to mount your weathervane on the deck or on a garden pole. Eave mounts offer the possibility of placing your weathervane on the side of a building. The results are stunning and will capture the attention of your friends and neighbors.
In addition to a generous variety of mounting options, the weathervane is now available in several finishes. The traditional polished copper is still a favorite but it is not the only choice. Some of the most popular finishes include antique, blue verde, chestnut, and bronze. There is a patina for just about everybody.

Themes and styles are impressive and cover just about every subject. The palette includes locomotives, golfers, dogs, wine, flying pigs, unicorns, fairies, angels, flags, ships, airplanes, birds and even a wine weathervane. Clubs and restaurants are ideal for weathervane art. It is common to see the golfer, the blue heron, the whale, or the eagle displayed in a public setting. Most of the designs are available in sizes that accommodate smaller buildings such as garden houses, gazebos, and decks.

Whether you are an interior decorator, a landscape architect, or a do it your self designer, there is a weathervane that is perfect for your décor.