26 April 2016

The Best All-Time Work of American Architecture: Fallingwater (Frank Lloyd Wright's Masterpiece)

Perhaps you'll add this to your bucket list?

Ever since I came upon a photo of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house, I have been mesmerized.  The overall design of the house is done in such a  way as to make it feel like the house is part of the setting, meant to be there.  Built in 1935, Fallingwater is located at Bear Run in the Laurel Highlands in the Allegheny Mountains of rural Pennsylvania.  Having vacationed there for years, Pittsburgh retail mogul Edgar J. Kaufmann and his wife wanted a house where they could look upon the falls. They commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design it.  Wright went one better, having it constructed so part of the structure is over the waterfall.  It was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1966 and is open to the public for viewing during a portion of the year.

Fallingwater has been called "the best all-time work of American architecture" by the American Institute of Architects. (1991)  

"You've never seen a building that fits with nature so tightly," Franklin Toker, author of Fallingwater Rising:  Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann , and America's Most Extraordinary House says. "It's not merely nature, it's animated. You've seen Vegas and Times Square, but you've never seen a building that's in constant motion."

Should I Add a Water Feature?

There are times when I really miss our old house, especially the back garden that we put so much into.  I've been thinking of our pond and waterfall that our son M installed and since I don't know how long we'll be staying in our current house, I am considering options to create the effect without digging up the yard. Perhaps a temporary feature on the deck by the back door or a tabletop fountain?

Recently I watched a video by Laura of Garden Answer (Proven Winners) wherein she made a small waterfall in a pot.  It was really cute and it would be very easy to do.  It wouldn't require a big investment of time nor money either.

But perhaps I want to go bigger?  I'd love more sound and maybe some lights with the option of adding a couple fish.  I'm undecided on the latter though because we'd have to have someone come take care of them should we find the time to get away during the summer.  (I work in a greenhouse so it's not always possible).  Aquascape released this video on YouTube that impressed me.  

What I like about this feature is the plants are water plants, less chance of evaporation to the point of no return, underwater lighting options, possibility of adding fish, a water lily(!). The sound of running water would help me create a peaceful place to relax at the end of the day, a highly desirable thing living in the city!  I'm thinking out loud here.

I'm still looking for options and if I do decide to create a water feature, you'll find out here which option I went with.  Which is your preference?

25 April 2016

Keukenhof, The World's Biggest Flower Garden

Photos free of copyright, provided by Keukenof Gardens
Keukenof Gardens is considered the largest flower garden in the world with over 80 acres of flowers.  There are 2000 varieties of tulips and 7,000,000 bulbs! Keukenof Gardens are open to the public only eight weeks out of the year.  That's a short period of time for the millions of visitors who come by the bus load to see and smell the promise of spring.  

Keukenhof's mission, now and in the future, is to be the international and independent showcase for the Dutch floricultural sector, with a special emphasis on flowering bulbs.

There are eight inspirational gardens comprising Keukenof Gardens.  In addition to these gardens, there are greenhouses and pavillions. The gardens are totally redesigned every year to keep the gardens fresh and innovative. The bulbs are harvested at the end of the season and planting the new design takes place in the fall.  It takes forty gardeners to plant the 7,000,000 bulbs in the newly designed plan.

The above footage was videoed with a drone.  There are some amazing drone shot videos allowing us to see the world as never before. 

And here's one last video of Keukenhof Gardens filmed this spring.

I hope you enjoy these short films and if you like what you see I encourage you to search for more on YouTube.  Perhaps a trip to the Netherlands to see Keukenof Gardens should be added to your bucket list.  I know it's going on mine!  Cheers!

22 April 2016

In the Kitchen: Favourite Broccoli Citrus Salad (my own recipe)

For a change, I will be adding to the recipes on Pinterest rather than trialling a new recipe and sharing here.  Last night I made a broccoli salad recipe (my own recipe) that was so delicious and my husband loved it (he's my guinea pig).  Of course, I thought to take a photo after we'd already started eating ours so it looks a bit lacking in the broccoli but that's because we ate it!  Seriously, the next time I make it I will use two heads of broccoli instead of just one, as amended in this recipe.

Favourite Broccoli Citrus Salad
Serves: 4 - 6

2 heads of broccoli
1 cup julienned carrot (approximately 2 carrots)
3 medium naval oranges
2 Cara oranges (red flesh naval orange)
1 cup raisins
1 cup Craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 slices cooked bacon

1 cup mayonnaise (I use mayonnaise made with olive oil)
1/3 cup sugar or Stevia
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

In a fry pan, cook and drain on paper towel the 4 slices of bacon.  Crumble or cut into 1/8 inch pieces. Set aside.

Into a large bowl add the following ingredients once prepared: Broccoli, washed (drained well in a salad spinner) and cut into bite size pieces, peeling the stems and cutting into small coins.  Julienne the carrots, leaving the skin on if not too thick.  Using a knife, peel  to remove all pith and cut the naval and Cara oranges into 1/2 inch cubes.  Stir in the raisins, Craisins and slivered almonds.  Add the bacon. Toss ingredients together.

For the dressing:  In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar or Stevia and white wine vinegar.  

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Optional:  add a can of rinsed water chestnuts prior to drizzling with dressing.

Happy Earth Day!

Gardening Website You Should be Acquainted With

In the industry there are a few favourite resources we return to again and again. One of these is the Heritage Perennials site www.perennials.com.  Here you can find top 10 perennials of the year, perennials 101, design tips, gardener resources, videos and more.  

Here's a peak at their home page:

A few minutes now meandering around the site will show you it's value.  Whether you are looking for design ideas or want information about a particular perennial, this site is an excellent resource.

I'm sure you have a favourite go-to site for gardening.  Feel free to share in the comments.  I'm always on the lookout for more resources.  Cheers!

20 April 2016

Zone Maps - because you've always wanted to compare ours with USA

Minimum Winter Temperature
Below -50
Below -46
-50 to -40
-46 to -40
-40 to -30
-40 to -34
-30 to -20
-34 to -29
-20 to -10
-29 to -23
-10 to    0
-23 to -18
0 to   10
-18 to -12
10 to  20
-12 to   -7
20 to 30
-7 to   -1
30 to  40
-1 to    4

19 April 2016

What's New in Perennials With Proven Winners 2016

Zones 4-9 with the exceptions of Leading Lady Lilac Monarda, Opening Act White Phlox,  Opening Act Blush Phlox, and Magic Show White Wands Veronica, all of which are zones 4-8.  

For details on size and colour please see:


18 April 2016

New Flowering Shrubs for 2016 with Proven Winners

Hardy for zone 3 and up:
Little Quick Fire Hydrangea paniculata
Tiny Wine Physocarpus opulifius
Lemony Lace Sambucus racemosa
Bloomerang Dark Purple Syringa

Hardy for zone 4 and up:
Spilled Wine Weigela florida
Sonic Blooms Weigela florida
Show Off Sugar Baby Forsythia

Please scroll through Proven Winners new spring booklet for zones and other pertinent information:

17 April 2016

Dutch Flower Fields

While spring flowers are slow to bloom here in central Alberta, we can enjoy and admire those of others.  I've been admiring a magnitude of floral beauty from Vancouver thanks to my son who sends me photos regularly.  I really appreciate that in the middle of winter.  Cherry trees began blooming in February this year, early for them but what a sight in a beautiful city.  Then in the Okanagan valley the apricot trees have been flowering (early April) and that was a thrill to see thanks to another son and his wife who shared photos.  

If you're like me, even in the slightest, you can never get enough garden exposure and sometimes you just have to seek it out when your own is just awakening.  Today I came across this drone footage of Dutch flower fields and they are too stunning not to share.  Enjoy!

16 April 2016

Sensual Gardening

Gardening is one of my greatest sources of peace. Several years ago I transitioned from a job that required my attention 24/7 and was very stressful to a job working at a greenhouse. The peace it brought to me, the necessary relaxation of the task of transplanting, offered me the very thing I needed at that time. I worked there for about five years before transitioning to another job but the love of gardening is ingrained and my soul still yearns to find those green spaces, to feel the soil caress my fingers, to smell the fresh crisp scents of earth right after rain. For me, gardening employs all my senses to great satisfaction.

The Language of Flowers

A few years ago I discovered a wonderful UK cozy mystery series about two women with a gardening/landscaping business who inevitably find themselves caught up in a murder mystery.  They're the "heroines of horticulture."  It's wonderful because it combines two of my favourite things:  mystery and gardens!  

I'm sharing an episode first aired September 2003 called The Language of Flowers wherein Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme are hired to invigorate and repair a water cascade on the grounds of the Caldecott estate.  Through some research, Rosemary reveals the meanings of several of the flowers used in the design of the cascade, the knowledge of which helps them solve the mystery and find a murderer.

BTW, you will surely want the entire series after watching this episode!  Cheers!

In the Kitchen with Pinterest: Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

Back in the kitchen again but this time with the slow cooker.  I love the ease and convenience of using a slow cooker.  It ranks right up there among my favourite tools of the kitchen.  

My son and his family were visiting with us for a week and he's on a special diet that has proven quite a challenge for both him and his wife.  There are a lot of things he can't have due to some digestive issues and they're figuring out what is bothering him.  So, I scoured the Pinterest site in search of some meals to make while he was here.  I found a few really good ones like a gluten-free applesauce cake (I'll share that recipe another time) and this butternut squash soup.

When preparing this soup, do follow the ingredient list without substitutions because the levels of flavours are astounding!  To complete the soup you must puree it when cooking time has passed.  I used my food processor but you can use an immersion blender too.  I would have used mine but I noticed the coating on the cord was melted down to the wires.  Did I do that when I was plugging it in?  Not sure, but better safe than sorry.  So food processor it was and it was perfect!  Smooth and delicious!  I forgot to take a photo but here's a screenshot of the Pinterest recipe and the link.  You simply must try it and let me know what you think.


15 April 2016

In the Kitchen with Pinterest - Chickpea and Avocado Garden Salad

I've been on a Pinterest kick lately and have been trying some recipes, some delicious, others ok.  This one turned out very good and my husband liked it too, even went back for seconds.  It serves about 6 people and I advise to eat it all the first day.  Avocado doesn't do well longer than that.

I added more tomatoes.  The recipe calls for 3 medium tomatoes, I used 4. Cherry tomatoes would be very good here as they wouldn't add to the liquid, thus the other veggies would likely stay firmer longer.  I thought 2 cans of chickpeas would be a bit much but it was better with two.  I drained and rinsed them well before adding them.  Easy on the red onion if you're not a fan.  This was a delicious recipe and at two servings each, it comprised a couple of meals for both my husband and myself.  The leftovers were not appetizing the next day.  But give it a try and eat it with company so there are no leftovers.  It's a good source of fibre and vitamins and it's filling.  Here's the link to the recipe:


14 April 2016

Spring Clean Up and Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree

Our son's apricot tree with "popcorn" blossoms Photo by TSM
The cleaning bug has hit with the arrival of spring.  Well, it's been more like with the impending arrival of my kids for Easter, especially our grandson who is not yet one (the house has to start clean anyway).  I made a decent dent in my list, so I'm pretty happy about that.  Still to do:  dry clean the drapes and shampoo the carpets, clean outside windows on the second floor and the biggest jobs of all - go through all the storage in the basement and the garage. I made only a minuscule dent in the former.  

We had a marvellous visit.  All the kids were here!!!  That hasn't happened in almost two years!  We went for supper Friday night and my daughter announced her engagement!  Yay!  Another wedding!!  We are so excited for them.  

Then we spent Easter Sunday at one of our son's houses and then our daughter-in-law, who's taking photography classes, took family photos.  It's been eight years since we had one of those done.  A lot changes in eight years!

Today it was beautiful outside with a high of 13 Celsius so I grabbed my pruners and pruned my Annabelle hydrangeas and the Red Prince weigelas.  Both grew and bloomed so profusely last year that I had a bit of clean up to do.

Every spring the weigelas have some winter dieback so they have to be pruned and the hydrangeas maintain their dried flower heads through the winter.  Once the new growth appears on both, I prune them.  Removing dead branches, crossing branches and unyielding growth is so much easier early spring plus I am not interfering with the blooms that will soon set.  I simply cut back to remove the portion of each branch that has died, easy to tell by where the new leaf buds end.

The grass is greening up and the Schubert Chokecherry's leaf buds have swollen to the point where the tips of the leaves are breaking free of the bud.  I can't wait until it blooms!

Do you see the edging popping up near the foundation, behind this bed? (yes, I knew it was).  Another task to do yet and of course the spring maintenance of the lawn.

This evening I took our dogs for a quick walk and wouldn't you know it, I had a defective doggie bag?  Not a seam in the darn thing!  That was fun to use!!  ^^

At the greenhouse, some of the stock has arrived and the perennials planted over the winter are growing well, some are even flowering.  Next week is going to be busy setting up the outdoor sections for the season.  It's a busy but fun time!

In Vancouver, where one of our son lives, the cherry blossom petals are falling, dusting the streets in pink snow.  Tulips and daffodils are blooming.  Even the lilacs have begun to flower.  In Vernon, another son's apricot tree has flowered and the irises are coming up.    I always marvel at the contrasts between here and there.  How's your spring?  

Photo by SWM


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