Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Digging in the Dirt: Contributing to Earth Day

Better later than never, I bring you my Earth Day contributions- or rather, my focus on sustainability. I have made a concerted effort to reduce the number of "bad things" I have or contribute to our Mother Earth.

This summer, it started with our chairs. Our cushions were beyond repair- and while thick- not the nicest quality. Mr. Southern and I had several discussions- he wanted to just buy a whole new set. I argued that no one would want the chairs without cushions and I couldn't see sending them to a landfill just because of cushions. Even though new cushions were nearly as expensive as a whole new set.

Several test runs of cushions later, we found these fabulous Sunbrella ones from Home Decorators Collection (if you, like me, had turned your nose up at HDC in the past, you should check them out again. I was surprised- ok, shocked- to recognize several of their decorative accents. And very reasonably priced!!).

Back to the chairs. Clearly, we were test driving the look, as the plastic wrap is still on the second chair. And if I were totally Earth Friendly, I'm sure the cushions would be made of hemp or something, but I'm trying! I will say that Sunbrella is worth the extra cost. The water beads up nicely, I can brush off the pollen, and the color gives the porch a nice punch.

Phase two of the project will be sanding and repainting the chairs.

In the garden (aka yard), I prefer Organic solutions to the bevy of chemicals. To be honest, this started because of Tilghman, our dog who likes to eat weeds. Not grass- just the weeds. So it makes treating the backyard quite challenging. (Unfortunately, he also likes the organic fertilizers- so I'm fertilizing, watering, and keeping him out of the yard).

As any gardener will tell you, the easiest way to cut down on chemicals is to buy low-maintenance plants. I've learned this the hard way and am now brutal about my selection. Usually this comes about by buying a sampling of plants, killing half of them, and buying more of the ones that managed to stay alive. While I adore roses, I'm sticking with the Knock-Out variety, until I improve my green thumb. Here are my knock out roses I planted last year.

The first is the Sunny Knock-Out, planted late in the season.I was a little worried they would "take" but looking great! And the rose has a lovely scent. So far, totally disease-free!

Here's the double-knock outs in pink- they are now a profusion of blooms- but this is what it looked like last week. We also have some residual daylillies underneath that probably need to be moved and some creeping phlox (light blue flowers), which I adore. Makes a great groundcover under the roses. It's probably getting a bit out of control though and the roses could use a trim?

To the right of the roses is our mammoth holly bush cluster. We, and the previous owners, have had landscape plans done in the backyard, and both teams said to eliminate the hollies. Yes, they require trimming (and are well past the contained stage) but other than that, they require no work. Lovely scented flowers at the start of Spring, no black spot, no fungus, impervious to insects and Tilghman's marking... what more can you ask for? I can handle a little trimming.Certainly better than the grass, which I keep trying to convince Mr. Southern to let me get rid of.

Total change of topic... I was in Puerto Rico again this past week- which contriburted to my slacker posting/commenting- so I thought I'd share with you the beautiful view from my room (the rest of the trip, I was in the convention center... not such a pretty view!).

Very cool fort of some sort on the property, that I think would make for fabulous photos...

The Condado section of San Juan, and the Conrad where we stayed the last trip.
And my attempt at artsy photography. I love the ocean in the morning.

Hope y'all have a fabulous week!! Looking forward to catching up.



  1. bravo on the earth friendly efforts you're making! the color of the chairs is beautiful. also, my mom is in puerto rico right now! we still have family there. it's just a beautiful place.

  2. I don't mind HDC, in fact it's the only place I could find the woven blinds I wanted in custom sizes for my basement and sunroom. We have 18 chairs and three lounge chairs, so their cushions are out of my price range on that many. We usually buy them about every three years...the first set was from KMart's Martha Stewart line, second set from World Market and this year replaced them all from Garden Ridge. It was still the big cha-ching and I haven't even put them out yet since the pollen has been so bad. Maybe this weekend.

  3. I love knock-out roses: easy and they bloom prolifically! My entire neighborhood is covered in them and it's lovely right now.

    Oh and I love your water at dawn photos. You should totally enlarge and frame!

  4. those cushions look super comfy, and i love the blue. ooh, PR--sounds relaxing (outside of the "work" part!).

  5. Isn't Sunbrella the best? I can say first-hand that it also resists sprays from the cat-next-door! I love your white knock-out roses - we have the standard red color, but I like the white ones more . . . maybe I need a second group of them in white?

  6. I have a dog that thinks he's a gardner too. Confused about where he got this idea, but since it gets sticks out of the yard, the more the merrier!

  7. Beautiful flowering plants. I'm not sure if it's the lighting or if you really have a 'white' Knockout. I love any flowering shrub or flower in white. I have pink Knock-outs, but would much prefer white. Can you give me a name? Thanks in advance.

  8. I especially love your last photo! I think it was an accomplishment - not an attempt.

  9. Love the knock out pinks are blooming now! And your vacation photos are so fantastic!

  10. Great photographs of Puerto Rico...would love to visit some day.
    it really is wonderful working in the garden. i also use organic foods and love Moo the best organic morrow I will be tackling the vegetable garden.

  11. Love your photographs! They are beautiful!

  12. I love these photographs! Your header is so cute :) It's nice to meet you, love your blog!

  13. Love those cushions and I love the simplicity of Your vacation Photos. great blog!

  14. Whenever I see pictures of water, it gives me a soothing feeling. I miss nature!

  15. The place is perfect for a getaway for relaxation. Love to be there!

  16. Oh my goodness,I have never seen such dreamy photos,I love them all!! You have sooooooooo much talent,thanks for the inspiration! All the best, Angelo.

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  17. I think it’s great that you are trying to minimize your impact on mother earth. I also love the blue cushions. It gives the chair more of a personality and you just saved yourself a lot of money. Thank you for sharing the pictures from your vacation, they were wonderful.

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