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Entries in outdoor (18)

Monday
Jun062011

perfect pairings: outdoor lighting

Choose the mood then choose the candlelight to provide the ambiance. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party and need tabletop lighting—make a dramatic statement with multiples of camp lanterns to create a ‘chandelier’.

For a outdoor areas with lounge seating, create a relaxed mood with ceramic lanterns in multiples.

And last, for the softest lighting, go with smart candle lights—get all the benefits of candlelight without worrying about strong breezes or clean-up.

Tuesday
May242011

how to: plant a modern topiary

A topiary is basically a sculpture made of bamboo, wire, etc, that either guides plants—or they’re trained—to grow into the 3-D shape.

Usually perennial plants are used since it can take years to complete larger versions—and ivy is a favorite since it grows fast and its vines can be easily wound around forms.

Weather across the country has caused a slow start to the growing season so this weekend could be the perfect time to get one growing.

Simply add a kiss garden sculpture to a properly sized potted plant and help it along. It’ll pop in contrasting red so, for added texture and visual interest, try multiples in landscapes.

photo by: puuikibeach

Friday
May062011

material world: eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a diverse type of flowering tree within the myrtle family. There are over 700 species, most of which are native to Australia, and only about 9 can’t be found there.

Eucalyptus are favored as a fast-growing sustainable resource, similar to bamboo, and all of the tree—it’s wood, leaves, flowers—are broadly used.photo by: Umesh Behari Mathur

First, the flower blossoms provide nectar for insects, birds, bats, etc. and essential oils from its leaves contain natural disinfectants so it’s used in cleaning products, deodorants, toothpaste, decongestants and cough/cold medicines.

Its also a key food source for some koala and possum who are tolerant of those chemicals which can be toxic in large doses.photo by: puuikibeach

On both a positive and negative note, eucalyptus trees require lots of water.

In swamp-like areas, planting them can reduce soil erosion and malaria bearing mosquitoes—ironic considering its inherent insect repellent properties—but in normal to dry or non-indigenous areas, they can prohibit other plants and native plants from thriving.

Such is the case in California where eucalyptus trees were introduced in the mid 1800s with the hopes that their fast growth would offer a vast supply of railroad ties as miles of new tracks were laid during the Gold Rush.

Unfortunately, wood from younger trees warped dramatically and wood from older trees was so dense that nails couldn’t easily secure them in place—both characteristics sealed its fate.

Although its favored as a windbreak and for curbing erosion, it’s disliked for its role in feeding forest fires (read on) and regenerating from mere trunks, so currently measures are being taken to reduce its population there.

Types of eucalyptus plants and trees have been carbon dated to tens of millions of years ago—around the time charcoal deposits have been dated as well—which is interesting since they share a common trait.

As a living plant, and at high temperatures, eucalyptus oil can be emitted as a vapor—which creates the characteristic blue haze of Australia’s landscape, shown above—but it can also be highly flammable, like charcoal.

But the wood becomes more dense—and therefore stronger, much like teak—so it’s also prized for its durability outdoors while those same natural oils help protect it from the elements.

Like most woods, eucalyptus weathers to a soft silvery grey but tung oil can be applied periodically to help preserve its original patina.

Friday
Apr222011

tweet tweet, feed feed

As trees begin to bud, the sounds of songbirds
of all varieties can be heard while venturing out
of their nests in search of food for their young.

Just like everyone else, different birds prefer different types of foods. To learn what bird seeds or blends specific birds like best, check out the National Bird-Feeding Society—with a focus on research and education of backyard birds, they’re dedicated to helping make the bird feeding and bird watching hobby a better backyard experience.

There are a few standard ingredients in bird food such as sunflower seeds, corn, thistle, milo, safflower seeds, millet—other types are suet, nectar, fruit or insects. For example, orioles and mockingbirds are attracted to fruits like apples, oranges and raisins while bluebirds are partial
to insects like mealworms.

Once you’ve determined what types of birds are indigenous to your area, and which ones you’d
like to attract, visit your local pet or garden store
for the proper mix to make sure they’re well fed. The tweet bird feeder holds one quart of seed
but packages come in many blends and sizes.

Happy bird watching, Happy Earth Day and
Happy Easter!

Wednesday
Apr202011

sunlight = vitamin D

Did you know that vitamin D is produced naturally in the skin when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays? Similar to a steroid in molecular composition, vitamin D circulates as a hormone and promotes healthy bones and muscles while boosting the immune system.

According to research by the Mayo Clinic, it’s believed that “vitamin D may offer protection from type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system.”

The trick is getting enough rays for a good supply of vitamin D, but using sunblock as protection against too much sun—if you’ll be in direct sunlight for an extended period of time. It’s all about balance—and getting outdoors.