Creative, Yet Easy

This a walk along memory lane from a time when we attended home tours.  One of those many canceled events because it is 2020 and the time of the epidemic.

Not sure if these are live plants or not, but they could easily be container plants, like Boxwood that can be trimmed and shaped.  The rounded form and the fancy pots make these stand out.

I like the idea of decorating something you already own.  This sled has a winter theme, but think about other items, like a tricycle.  Even though it can’t be hung, it could welcome guests to your front door.

So easy and yet, attractive.  Let the orange slices dry out before using them.

Just put a pot of Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) in pots and place them among cactus or agaves.  Of course, they are tropical, so they cannot be outside in really cold weather.  But you could use winter hardy violas or pansies in pots.

Or you might even decorate your agaves with gumballs.  They need to be strong enough to bear the extra weight.

Create Christmas trees with sheet music or tear the pages out of an old hymnal.

Decorate kitchen cabinets with purchased wreaths or create your own.  I personally would have chosen a brighter color for the bows.

Cut out Christmas ornaments out of heavy card stock and string them under a picture frame or old window.

This garland is made from folded squares of tissue paper.  Red and green tissue paper would make it more seasonal.  Add a string of lights and voila.

Fill any container with Christmas balls or other decorations hanging on small branches.

Use a baby buggy, wagon, or any other item used to transport whatever.  Fill it with anything Christmasy and you have a unique decoration.

This made me wish I had a old wooden tool box.  But other outside wooden or metal garden items would work.

Bake some gingerbread men and ladies, decorate, and string them together.  A clever hanging garland for anywhere.  Of course, then the remaining cookies can be eaten. However, these may be made of an inedible material.

Just a few borrowed ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
                                                                                                                       Dr. Seuss

Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas

Usually in December, we attend some Christmas home tours in different towns.  This crazy, crazy year, we have stayed close to home, and most of the tours have been canceled, anyway.

So I’m going to focus on some of my favorite decorations that we’ve seen over the years.

This house was on the tour in Waxahachie in 2015.  The decorations was whimsical and fun.  Plus, they appeared to be expensive.

I wondered if they were special ordered and who would eat all the candy used in the displays.

So many trees – probably about 10 throughout the house.  Each with a theme.  This one was in the kitchen, so there are gingerbread men, candy, and baking utensil ornaments.

My favorite decorations were in the kitchen.

Santa soaking in a bubble bath in a clawfoot bathtub.

This was a large house.  Every nook and cranny was decorated.  It blows my mind to think of the time involved, but I think she had friends to help.

Creative.

 

Upstairs was not open.  Cute, cute idea.

“It was the night before Christmas.  Not a creature was stirring.  No even a mouse.”

 

Decorations continued outside on the wraparound porch.  Love this sign.

Love the draping ivy on this old stove used as a plant stand.  Another clever idea.

This was a fun tour.  Maybe next year.  Aren’t we all saying that about things we missed this year.

“You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things:  a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”  Maya Angelou

Chandor Gardens

A visit to a cool garden was just what the doctor ordered.  Weatherford, Texas, possesses an old private garden that is now owned by the city.  During this time of isolation, most of us need a little distraction.

We expected it to be mostly unoccupied on a weekday.  And it was.  We saw another couple and some workers off in another part of the garden.

Chandor Gardens was owned and created by an Englishman, Douglas Chandor.  He and a hired hand toiled for years to achieve this diverse, spectacular space.  In 1939, a newspaper article featured his garden.   He hoped to encourage other gardeners to dream big.

A favorite theme for Mr. Chandor was Chinese art, so it’s displayed all over the garden.

He created this fountain with many found objects.  In recent years, renovation was required because some parts were crumbling.

Two rows of coke bottles encircle the fountain.  A bottom row is made from glass construction blocks or glass bricks.  Very creative.  He was an artist, after all.

Walls were created from stones and bricks.  Not sure if this was done because there were different levels naturally or if soil was brought in to create different levels.

Boxwood hedges provided small secluded areas.

A brick wall at the back of the property separates it from another property, creates privacy and provides a backdrop for some features.

Because most of the garden is in shade or partial shade, annual plantings provide color and interest along the pathways.  Here, two different types of Coleus draw ones eyes down at this spot.

The gnarled branches of this old Cedar has become a sculpture to be seen from a lower path and an upper one.

Just as I stepped onto the first stepping stone, one of the carp or gold fish executed a flop, splashing water up.  Don’t know who was more startled:  me or the fish.

This pond is shallow with the stepping stones attached to the bottom.  They’re sturdy but disconcerting because it looks deeper than it is.

The pink Pentas or Egyptian Stars (Pentas lanceolata) contrast with the greenery for an attractive display in a stone urn.  Pentas are tropical flowers from Africa and the Arabian peninsular and are thus, annuals.

Several fountains throughout the gardens are calming with their sounds.  Water also just visually has a cooling effect.

Several shady areas have benches and seats to allow for rest and contemplation.  Tall Magnolias in this area are stunning.

Just being outside, especially in a pretty garden, is relaxing and calming for one’s soul.

“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”  Peter Marshall

Tyler Roses

Tyler, Texas, hosts Smith County Master Gardeners’ bulb sale every October.   A drawing card for the 2019 sale was Greg Grant.  He is a Texas plant guru, who has discovered and named quite a few natives.  Before the actual sale started, he spoke about the attributes of each bulb that would be for sale.  Naturally, this created interest in the sale and made us all lust for each type of bulb.

Tyler Convention Center was the sale location.  Behind the center are the famous Tyler Rose Gardens.

Following the long, long, dry summer was not the best time to visit the rose gardens, but we didn’t want to pass up that chance since we were there.

Tangerine Streams Rose is a Floribunda, which tends to be shorter bush roses.  Floribundas bloom with flowers in clusters.

Also a Foribunda, Charisma, looks like a poster child for roses.

Perfume Delight is a hybrid tea rose. Tea roses are repeat bloomers and were named because their fragrance had the scent of Chinese black tea.

Hybrid teas were created by cross-breeding two types of roses.  They bloom with one flower at the end of a long stem.

It was a cold, misty day, so we walked quickly through some of the gardens.

Coretta Scott King is a Grandiflora, which is a cross between a hybrid tea rose and a floribunda rose.  This is a florist rose with flower center taller than the outside petals.  Plus, the long stems make it easy for use in bouquets.

Black Bacara is a hybrid tea.

Christian Dior – another hybrid tea

Proud Land – hybrid tea

Iceberg Rose is a good example of a Floribunda.  Just look at all those blossoms.

Cherry Parfait – Grandiflora

There are hundreds of different roses.  I love them all, but to have them in my yard requires raised beds, amending the soil, and watering them.  That limits my choices.

Tyler is in East Texas, with high rain-fall and good soil.  Perfect spot for roses.

In one corner of the gardens, the Master Gardeners have a demonstration garden.  Love, love this plant.  I have one but don’t know the name of it.  It looks like the bush form of Gomphrena.

“Life is short.  Smile while you still have teeth.”  unknown

Grand Old Ladies

Stately old houses have a unique charm.

This Queen Anne was part of a large estate built in the late 1800’s.

In 1926, it was sold for $7,000.  The original third floor tower with a finial was removed for safety reasons.

The woodwork throughout the house is stunning.

The magnificent parquet floors are in excellent condition.

Just look at the craftsmanship and challenging detail.

A large group of people were touring, so I couldn’t get many pictures inside this house.

This Queen Anne is a well-known landmark that sits on a hill beside a main highway at the edge of Weatherford.  Its location on a hill provided breezes that kept it cooler in the summer than most homes.  Five fireplaces kept it warm in the winter.

Detail woodwork added to the grandeur.  The house has ten bedrooms.  Originally, it had only one bathroom.

Many stained glass windows lets in some light without allowing the hot Texas sunlight inside.

I love old style stained glass – very nostalgic.

The house is currently a bed and breakfast.

The rooms are furnished with large scale beds.  Closet space has been turned into small bathrooms for each room.  One room has access to a hot tub in an enclosed area just outside the room.

A Greek Revival house build in 1890 suffered severe damage in a 2008 fire.  New owners restored the house with careful detail to keep its original style.

They made some concessions on material, covering the wraparound porch with this new, modern metal that is stronger and is fireproof.

These stained glass windows are hung as art pieces along with the old wooden panel.

Sorry for the blurry picture.

While doing renovation, this glass mirror was found under the house.  H. P. Newman company was founded in England in 1909 but the name was changed to Dorothy Perkins in 1919.  They specialize in women’s clothing and fashion.  The company was adept in changing styles in each decade and still manufactures women’s clothing.

The purses belonged to the homeowner’s aunt.

Cute way to utilize old family pictures.

This is the last of the Weatherford Christmas home tour.

Hope your Christmas is celebrated with friends and family and merry and bright.

“The reality is that old houses that were built a hundred years ago were built by actual craftsmen, people who were the best in the world at what they did. The little nuances in the woodwork, the framing of the doors, the built-in nooks, the windows—all had been done by smart, talented people …”  Joanna Gaines

Christmas Tour

The Annual Candlelight Tour of Homes in Weatherford usually features older 19th century homes.  However, the first home we visited was built in 2015 in the craftsman style of the late eighteen hundreds.  The builder is a well known local contractor who restores older homes and builds reproductions of those styles.

The wooden mantel actually is an period piece.

Plop some berries in a pencil holder and it looks Christmasy.

This is a decoupaged trunk to mimic the Victorian style.

All ready for Christmas dinner.

Nice touch with Magnolia leaves and a ball of berries.

I have a thing for stained glass lamps or stained glass anything that is good quality.  The small manager looks like Fontanini, which is very collectible.

The faience girl looks French.  Marie Antoinette? Its bright colors draws your eyes right to it.

Outside on a small upper balcony this display caught my attention.

Striking combination of red and white Poinsettias in a deep blue pot.

The back driveway made this a small yard.  But this side flowerbed provides space for a great Christmas vignette.  Pansies in front give it a little color.

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” Credited to John Wesley, but disputed by some

Last View at Chandor Gardens

A few more pictures from our quiet stroll through Chandor Gardens.

Garden paths lead to calming scenes with water.

And some rather bizarre scenes of Chandor’s obsessions with Chinese culture.  This looks like volcanic rock used as a display case for oriental statutes.

Another display of red panels gives a suggestion about the importance of red in the Chinese culture, where it represents luck, joy, and happiness.  Brides wear red to ward off evil.

About eight Staghorn Ferns hang from a large oak.

Ah, back to a soothing pool surrounded by greenery.

Rare for this area is a pot of Kent’s Beauty Oregano with its fluffy flowers.

A lush area with lots of foliage.

As we head to the Chandor home, more water and assorted plants.

More potted plants topped off with a new variety of Coleus.

On the back side of the house is an enclosed patio area that has an intimate feeling.

Inside the walled area is a long planting of Pentas and Caladiums,which are cheery and refreshing.

One of my favorite features is this gate leading out of the patio.

The story goes that Chandor admired the gate at a friend’s house.  His friend then gifted it to him.  From the note, they may have been used over windows at Vincent’s home.

Now these lovely gates can be admired by all who visit this public garden.

What a special place Chandor Gardens is to this small town situated in a dry climate.

“At the heart of gardening, there is a belief in the miraculous.”  Mirabel Osler

Visit Chandor Gardens

Another look at what Chandor Gardens has to offer.

There are surprises along the pathways and stairs that climb to different levels of the garden.

Some of the newer structures don’t exactly fit in with the more formal sections, but are unique.

For the waterfall, the original builder and owner, Douglas Chandor, had to haul in soil and large rocks.  This was done without large equipment and one helper.

Pentas were in bloom and placed in several places in the garden.  They didn’t show any wilting from the heat but were fresh and lovely.

Maybe Bleeding Heart but don’t know for sure.

Stepping stones across a shallow pool.

Tied Bamboo poles give the illusion of sails on a small Chinese sampan boat.

Chinese statuary in different spots all around the garden makes me wonder why Chandor was so taken with that culture.

Chinese Button Bush (Adina Ruella) looks a little like the North American Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).  But it’s parts are more distinct and pop out against dark foliage.  This was in a mostly shady area on the edge of a small stream.

Chandor’s home is used for special events.

This Magnolia looks healthy, even in the extreme dry heat.

One of the many water features, this Pixie Pond is another place to relax and enjoy the sound and sight of water.

Cast stone pixies in different poses are placed on top of the stone (or brick) edges around the pond.  Chandor chose them and placed them himself, probably in the late 40’s.

The next post will be the final one on Chandor Gardens.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”  Thomas Fuller

Chandor Gardens

One of my favorite public gardens is Chandor Gardens in Weatherford, TX.  The travel time from our house to the gardens is two and a half hours, so it’s an easy day trip.

Another reason we enjoy it so much is that it’s mostly shady with some open areas that are sunny.  Even in the summertime, if the mercury hasn’t shot up too high, it’s comfortable to visit there.

Originally, the gardens were private and the result of the dream of one man.  He and a hired hand did most of the construction.  An Englishman, Douglas Chandor, married a Texas gal who wanted to live in her hometown.

Work on the garden began in 1936.  Chandor was a renown portrait artist, who painted presidents, famous people, and a queen.  He brought that artist eye to the garden that he labored on for many years.

Chandor built the Chi-Ling fountain using statutes found in New York city, Coke and 7 Up bottles, colored marbles, and his handmade ceramic tiles.  Because the original fountain was crumbling apart, restoration was completed this year re-using as much of his materials as possible.

Two rows of soda bottles continue around the base of the fountain.

I was glad to see that they saved the original parts from the fountain and have them displayed in a section of Mondo Grass.

Every time we visit, new items have been added, like these twisted glass accents that pop right out of the white Caladiums.

Usually, Canna Lilies have red, orange, or yellow flowers.  These are the first pink ones I’ve seen.

Monkey Grass and Little Ruby Alternanthera form a thick groundcover.

The large concrete pot gives nice height to the ground covers.  There doesn’t seem to be any bare ground in the gardens.  The only places without plants are walkways.

Chandor was enchanted with China and Asian art and styles.  I don’t care for the
Buddhas, but his use of water and rock is admirable.  He embedded marbles in the  Buddha Niche and decorated the rock walls with lotus blossoms created with cut rocks. Water pours out of the blossoms.

Six of these dividers form a line between two sections of the garden.  I don’t think these are original.

Chandor’s love for the Orient is evident everywhere.

Moon Gate was built in 1949 and was constructed by the artist with mortar, stone, roof tiles, split sewer pipe, bottles, and handmade ceramic figurines.

Looking up, these figurines look authentic.

Chandor Gardens is a fascinating place and has a peacefulness to it.  We usually visit on week days, so it’s extra quiet to stroll the meandering pathways.

The work of one man is enjoyed by many visitors.  Just thinking of all those years of back breaking labor, as well as continuing with his portraits of the famous is overwhelming.  It’s a good thing he spend half of each year in New York painting.

The city of Weatherford now owns the estate and keeps up the gardens.  Quite a chore for a small town.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton

Warmer in Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is a tourist town south of us where it hardly ever freezes.  It’s easy for us to pop in for a day there.

On Main Street where many small shops draw visitors, planters enhance the view along the sidewalks.

This one has brightly colored pansies and ornamental cabbages.

I’ve often wondered who is responsible for the upkeep of the planters – the shopkeepers or the city.

Note the tractor seats used as sitting spots for weary shoppers.

This one really intrigued me.  It’s a man laying in a bathtub.  So clever.

Just love the work of creative people.

Nimitz Museum, Fredericksburg, Texas.JPG

One of the big attractions in Fredericksburg, besides shopping, is the Nimitz War Museum, National Museum of Pacific War.  Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz served as CinCPAC, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet and was soon afterward named Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas during World War II.

He was a hometown boy of German heritage.  Most people in this area have German heritage with German restaurants being another appeal.

The museum itself is huge and packed with memorabilia.  Several hours are required to view it all.

Behind the museum on the same property is a Japanese garden given by the Japanese government to promote friendship.

It’s a quiet tranquil place with a walking path on the edge of the small garden.

From that garden, the pathway leads to the Memorial Courtyard.  In the background you’ll see the Walk of Honor and the Memorial Walls.  There are numerous stone walls with thousands of pictures from WW II .

The berries on this tree look like a Possumhaw, but it has a single trunk.  Most native Possumhaws have small multiple trunks and are not this tall.  So it could be a hybrid or a totally different species.

Gorgeous tree.

As I walked along the wall, I just took a couple of pictures.  There are many individual pictures, as well.  In fact, every time we visit, there are more walls and more pictures.

One of the things I noticed were how many different ships and planes were involved.

There was a plaza with memorials in a semi-circle to honor all the US presidents who served.  Of course, F.D. Roosevelt and H. S. Truman were the commander-in-chiefs.  D. D. Eisenhower was the Commander in Europe.  J. F. Kennedy, L. B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush served in the Navy.  Ronald Reagan served in the Army.

Automatic cannon mounted on ships for antiaircraft use.

Torpedo housing to protect them from heat and being directly hit by other guns on board.

One of four solid bronze screws used to propel an aircraft carrier.

Although it wasn’t labeled,this looks like the Peace Rose, which was developed between 1935 and 1939 by a French horticulturist.  When German invasion was imminent, he sent cutting to friends out of the country to save it.

“The eyes of the world are upon you.  The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”  General Dwight D. Eisenhower

“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation.”  Admiral Chester W. Nimitz