Thursday, February 11, 2010

Music, Movies, Awards and Her Grace

It has been a banner week at the Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville.  As I reported a few days ago, we began early last Sunday morning setting up and preparing for this year's show.  The installation of this year's garden went along quite smoothly and I think we all felt we were pretty well ahead of the game most of the time.  The final piece of the puzzle happened on Wednesday morning, with the installation of our "color" (tulips, hydrangeas, witchhazels and exquisitely fragrant hyacinths), and the creation of an enormous floral arrangement for the center of the garden.

I started with 1 urn, 36 blocks of oasis (floral foam for those of you who don't speak "flowers") and 9 five-gallon buckets full of fresh cut flowers, including 300 roses.  Three hours later the garden's centerpiece came to life in a rainbow-colored centerpiece that stood over 9 feet tall (including pedestal and urn) and more than 6 feet across!

While I was working on the floral display, a couple of notable Nashvillians strolled through during the show's "early shopping" event--an informal opening of the show to a few key benefactors and special guests--and two even stopped to comment on the flowers and say hello.  After living in Nashville for 17 years, I don't get terribly starstruck anymore, but when Faith Hill and Gwyneth Paltrow pass through, even I take notice.  I've met Faith on several occasions and she's always as sweet as she can be--and Ms. Paltrow was stunning!

Later Wednesday evening we arrived for the official opening of the show, the annual Antiques & Garden Show Preview Party, to find that we had taken home the award for "Best Use of Color" in this year's garden displays.  Last year we won for "Best Interpretation of the Theme."  I have to say, I like winning, and I like the fact that we're winning in different categories.  I hate to be stuck in a rut!

I got an even greater surprise today when, after her lecture (the opening lecture of three in this year's series) Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy strolled through the garden and was kind enough to stop and chat for a moment.  She is absolutely charming and has turned the British gardening world on its ear by creating a divine spectacle of a modern garden--The Alnwick Garden.  Please visit their website at  and revel in the garden that she, along with a number of very hardworking people, have created for the world to enjoy!  While I have rarely used the blog as a forum for solicitations, if you were going to support a garden outside of our own country, I would suggest that this would be a great one to support.  What the duchess has done is truly astounding, and the number of people's lives she has touched by doing it is what makes me particularly proud to have shared even a few moments with her.  She and her team are truly remarkable.

Thanks again to everyone for reading along and I'll try to post some more Antiques & Garden Show photos in a few days!  As always, Happy Gardening!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Back To Blogging

Hello, everyone!  And happy 2010!

A few of you have noticed that I took a brief hiatus from blogging and I appreciate the emails and messages from people wondering if I was okay or if something had happened.  The only things that "happened" were the crazy holidays and a somewhat protracted bout with a rather nasty upper respiratory infection that hung on longer than I cared to deal with it.  All gone now, though, and back to good health!

I've also been very busy with some work deadlines that had to be met, as well as redesigning my website.  The new pages are not up and running yet, but I'm hoping by early to mid-March the website will have an entirely new look and be more functional and full of new information, photos, etc.  I've also purchased another domain name and will be working this year on launching a new gardening website.  For now, it's a secret, so that's all I'm going to say--just that I'm doing it.  I haven't set any specific deadlines for it at this point until I know exactly what all of the details and parameters are going to be and exactly what the new site is going to encompass, but it's going to be good!

At 6 a.m. tomorrow morning we begin setup and preparation for this year's Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville.  This is my 17th year of involvement with the show and it continues to be one of the most fun, but exhausting, weeks of the year.  This year, we'll be installing a 1600 square foot garden based on a "spiral" theme.  I'll try to post a few pics if I have a chance.

We've had a very long and unusually cold winter here in the Nashville area.  The first big cold snap in January plunged us as low as 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit with considerably colder windchills and we stayed below freezing, even during the day, for over a week.  I know that doesn't sound that odd to many of you from colder climates, but for here, that's a fairly serious cold snap.  Especially true for those of us who like to push the gardening zones just a little.  It will be a good test of hardiness for some of those more borderline things and in my garden, though I hate to see a plant die, I always consider an empty spot a "gardening opportunity"!

Oh no!  Now I'm going to have to buy more plants!

Well, the foliage that didn't get freeze-dried on the hellebores (and a few other plants) during the first cold snap certainly did on the second one, although we were fortunate enough to get several inches of snow to insulate the garden against the worst of the cold in the second go-round.  Many people from here would not use the words "fortunate" and "snow" in the same sentence, but I'm talking about the garden here and we were lucky to have it.  If you are seeing burned foliage on some of your evergreen shrubs and perennials, just keep in mind that a new flush of growth in spring will push most of that old foliage off, anyway, so it's no big deal.  You can carefully clean up plants such as hellebores, just to make them look neat and tidy, but be careful.  Buds are alread showing and you don't want to mistakenly whack the buds when you're trying to clean up leaves!

As a brief digression, if you live in the South and you are not a transplant from the North or the Midwest (i.e. you were born and raised in the south and have never driven in wintry conditions), when it snows you should stay home.  You are dangerous.  They forecast even the possibility of snow several days in advance here so that you can get to the grocery store and buy up all of the milk, bread and toilet paper before it actually snows (I noticed on one local station that the weather report was being brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Kroger--go figure!) and you needn't endanger the lives of the rest of us who actually can drive in it.  I'm just sayin'!

As I pulled in the driveway a few minutes ago from a morning garden design appointment, I noticed that the clump of old field "jonquils" on the corner of the driveway are about 4 inches tall and in full bud.  They are loaded this year and if it warms up just enough, I might have blooms before the end of February!  The buds on the 'Arnold Promise' witchhazel are just beginning to show a little color, though it will still be a few more weeks before "Arnold" decides to show off ('Arnold Promise' is one of the later varieties) and the earliest hellebores are really starting to push up now ('Ivory Prince', 'Winter Moonbeam', etc.).  I'll trim the old, winter-burned foliage off of them next week, once I've recovered from the Antiques & Garden Show, and they'll be ready to lead the way for spring to make its grand entrance.

I'll be back on a regular basis from now on and I hope everyone has had a good start to the new year!  See you in the garden!