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Add A New Dimension to Your Interior Design

Add A New Dimension to Your Interior Design

If you were asked to envision a great piece of artwork for your home, chances are that you’d imagine a fantastic painting or photograph. You’re already familiar with the dramatic impact a wonderful two-dimensional piece can have on the overall feel of a room, but a well-chosen piece of sculpture adds a whole new dimension–a third dimension!

While a beautiful piece of flat wall art can make a rich contribution to the beauty of a room, a full-sized statue or dimensional wall sculpture makes a bold personal statement that helps define the feel of a room. Beautiful statuary need not be relegated solely to the garden. Imagine how lovely it would be to walk into space and see a breathtaking piece of sculpture beckoning to you from the far end of the room.

You can also borrow a page from traditional outdoor garden design and use statuary as a terminus point at the end of a hall. Many of the great outdoor garden rooms borrowed ideas from traditional interior design, and it can be helpful to look through outdoor garden design books when looking for inspiration for new interior design ideas to incorporate statuary. A tried and true outdoor design element takes on a whole new look when used indoors.

Statuary can easily be incorporated into your home for year-round enjoyment. Sculpture can enhance just about any room in the house–a solarium, breezeway, entryway, library.


 

For an unusual and whimsical touch, consider the limited editions of Fireflies or Fireflies Too by Marian Flahavin. These beautiful bronzes capture the innocence of childhood. They can be used indoors or out as they are equipped with both a discreet solar panel and a DC adapter to provide power for the fireflies’ realistic glow. For a library, a beautiful drycast limestone bust on an elegant pedestal such as our Bacchante would be enchanting and impart an Old World feeling of opulence to a formal room. A great sculpture, like any piece of fine art, makes an incredibly thoughtful gift that can be passed down through generations. The key to selecting a really special piece of art whether it’s two- or three-dimensional is choosing something that speaks to you personally. Some people get choked up when they see a beautiful piece of art, others are mesmerized and can’t look away, others just feel happy looking at their favorite piece. Isn’t it amazing that a piece of seemingly inanimate artwork can evoke such strong emotions? Choose art that will make you feel happy every time you look at it and your investment will be priceless. Please feel free to enlist our help in finding the perfect piece of sculpture for your home!

Bug Off: Some Attractive Repellents to Consider

Bug Off: Some Attractive Repellents to Consider

Flying insects like mosquitoes and gnats can really put a damper on your outdoor fun. Some of the commercially available bug repellents don’t always do what they promise, may have an unpleasant odor and some contain harmful ingredient to your skin.  If you’d like to try a more natural approach, here are a few tips and ideas that might make your time outdoors a little more pleasant.
  • Wear light clothing. Dark clothing creates strong contrast against background which makes it easier for mosquitoes to find you from a distance.
  • Cool down post-exercise indoors. Mosquitoes are drawn to carbon dioxide and lactic acid.  You give off more carbon dioxide and release more lactic acid when you are hot or have been exercising so it’s best to cool off indoors to avoid getting bitten.  Certain foods that are high in salt or potassium can also cause your body to release more lactic acid, making you more attractive to those flying pests.
  • Go easy on the perfume, aftershave and scented laundry and bath soaps. Subtle fruity or floral fragrances including those in fabric softeners and bath gels can make you much more attractive to bugs!  If you’re plagued by pests when you step outside, you may want to switch to unscented versions of your hair care, bath and laundry products for the summer months.
  • Citronella, peppermint, orange, lemongrass, rosemary, lavender and tea tree oils are all strong-scented essential oils that can repel flying insects including mosquitoes. When just a few drops are combined with a skin-safe carrier like olive oil or witch hazel (generally one part essential oil to 20 parts carrier), you can create an effective, natural and pleasant smelling repellent.  If you are pregnant or nursing, you should always consult your physician before using any repellents, natural or store-bought.  Mouthwash or other sources of alcohol around the home can be effective flying insect repellents. A clear alcohol, such as vodka, can be put into a spray bottle and used around the home and on exposed skin.
  • Pure vanilla extract can be dabbed on the wrists and behind the ears, and anywhere else where gnats and mosquitoes like to nibble! Many insects don’t appreciate the lovely scent of vanilla and will seek a snack elsewhere.  Be careful when applying as the vanilla extract can stain clothing.
  • A little trick that looks silly but really works in a pinch: If gnats are swarming around your eyes and you’re caught without sunglasses or bug repellent, raise your arm above your head.  The little critters will automatically seek the highest point and congregate around your raised hand instead of in your eyes!

How an Idea Becomes a Custom Iron Project

How an Idea Becomes a Custom Iron Project

The seed of a custom project is planted when you possess an architectural need or desire. Garden Accents has worked with Artesano Iron Works for many years. We both sell their beautifully forged outdoor line here at the showroom and facilitate the process of creating a custom piece. Are you interested in a custom arbor or gate with elements chosen especially by you for your specific site? From a simple sketch or quick meeting, The Artesano Design team is able to begin the design phase. They will provide a series of drawings detailing the size of the piece, the materials in which it will be made, its textures and finishes, working to stay true to your ideas and vision.

 

Once a design is chosen, their team creates a series of blue prints that detail the project’s exact measurements.

If needed, 3D renderings are sent in order to illustrate further detail to the client.

After the blueprints are approved by you or your project supervisor, experienced blacksmiths craft your piece with great realism and detail. This immediately makes clear the difference between these beautiful creations and pre-fabricated non custom products available in the mass market.

Custom projects require extra care and attention to detail. Information will be communicated back and forth in order to give you the opportunity to make any correction and suggestion along the production phase. Each project is one of a kind.

There is no greater achievement than seeing a project all the way through from the beginning idea to the design process, then to fabrication and installation.

At Artesano Iron Works and Garden Accents, we are very proud to be part of the elaboration of any project for your home and garden, whether it is decorative, functional or both. Art is in every hand wrought aspect of what we do.

Water Gardens - Creating an Oasis

Water Gardens - Creating an Oasis

There are few things more soothing than the sound of trickling water in the garden.  It’s a melody that is inviting to both human and wildlife alike.  You don’t need a large space to be able to enjoy a lovely water garden.  A beautiful watertight container filled with a variety of colorful and texturally interesting aquatic plants, a tiny fountain pump and a charming little fountain spout can add an unexpectedly delightful sight and sound to a foyer, sunroom or outdoor space with minimal upkeep.

Utilizing either a small fountain pump or fountain spout with pump is essential to keep water moving.  Moving water discourages mosquitoes from laying eggs and taking up residence in your outdoor space.  Mosquitoes’ ideal environment consists of shallow stagnant water so be sure not to promote this condition either in connection with your water garden or in any other place in the backyard. When water is moving, mosquitoes are unable to surface to breathe air.  As an added measure, if your water garden is large enough, you can add small fish which also eat insect larvae.

 When selecting the location for your container garden, remember that water weighs about eight pounds per gallon.  The area should be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the container plus water and plants.  For best results, try to position your water garden in a location that receives a minimum of six hours of sun a day.  Most aquatic plants need full sun although some of the bog plants can survive in less. You will also need a source of electricity nearby to connect your fountain pump.

Remember to keep it simple.  Sometimes less is more, and you can create a dramatic water garden with only two or three different plants. If you wind up with a design that you don't like, it's easy to rearrange the plants.  Small-container water gardens are actually a collection of submerged potted plants, so redesigning a planting is as simple as moving the pots around.

There are a number of excellent websites to find the perfect plants to use in your water garden including this one from the University of Illinois.  http://urbanext.illinois.edu/containergardening/water_plants.cfm  

Here are just a few of the many plant choices that thrive in water gardens:

Nelumbo ‘ChawanBasu’ (sacred lotus)

Growing two to three feet tall, this lotus boasts large, bluish-gray, oval-shaped leaves.  White blossoms, delicately edged with pink, appear from July to September.  Planting depth: 6 to 12 inches.

Azollafiliculoides (fairy moss)

This small, free-floating aquatic forms a dense, mosslike mat on the surface and changes from green to brick-red as the season progresses.

Nymphaea ‘Joanne Pring’ (water-lily)

The young leaves on this miniature aquatic are plum-colored.  It produces tiny, fragrant deep pink star-shaped summer blooms.  Planting depth: 6 to 12 inches.

Sagittarialatifolia (American arrowhead)

An upright native plant, it grows up to two feet tall and produces wide arrowhead-shaped leaves.  Clusters of yellow-centered white flowers appear from summer through fall.  Planting depth: 3 to 6 inches.

 

Typha minima (dwarf cattail)

This Eurasian cattail grows up to 30 inches tall and produces narrow linear leaves.  Small, dark brown cattails appear in summer.  Planting depth: 1 to 4 inches.

Water gardening is fun, easy and can be a great way to enjoy all the creative and artistic pleasures of gardening without ever having to pick up a shovel.  We have everything you need including design advice to help you create your first masterpiece!

Visit Garden Accents to find water bowls and containers, bamboo fountain spouts, other decorative fountain spouts, fountain pumps and more!

A History of Millstones

Neolithic or “New Stone Age” man utilized millstones to process grains, nuts and other vegetable food products for consumption and also used them to grind pigments and metal ores prior to smelting.  Millstones made from volcanic lava have been recovered from two Roman villa sites in southern Italy from the 1st century BC.  Over the course of many centuries to follow, millstones remained an important tool for grinding grains into fine flours and coarse meals.  Depending on the country of origin, millstones could be made from a wide variety of stones such as granite, Derbyshire Peak, Newcastle Grit, Belgian dark marble, German Cullen stones, porous lava, but the most desirable stones for fine grinding of flour were quarried at La Ferte sous Jonare in France due to their dense, smooth composition.

The surface of a millstone is divided by deep grooves called furrows into separate flat areas called lands.  The furrows and lands are arranged in repeating patterns called harps. A typical millstone will have six, eight or ten harps. The pattern of harps is repeated on the face of each stone, when they are laid face to face the patterns mesh in a kind of “scissoring” motion creating the cutting or grinding function of the stones. The grooves provide a cutting edge and help to channel the ground flour out from the stones.  Furrows create the pleasing pattern on the surface of the millstone and actually help to direct the grain outward from the center of the millstone and act as airspace to keep the grain from overheating.

When deemed no longer suitable for practical use, worn out or broken millstones often were reborn as components in new bridge construction or used to rebuild mill dams.  When marching around France, Napoleon was quoted as being surprised by how many old broken millstones were recycled as bridge abutments.

Garden Accents, thinks these history-rich millstones are much too beautiful to spend their retirement as building materials.  We have much higher aspirations for them—

While no longer pressed into service for grinding purposes, our millstones are hoping to spend the remainder of their days enhancing a lovely garden path, posing as unique garden sculpture or serving as an attractive fountainhead.  Customers have also used our extra large millstones as focal points in circular driveways.  We’re proud to have an amazing collection of both antique and reproduction millstones ranging in size from 24″ to a giant 82″ in diameter with various designs of furrows and harps to add textural interest.

Our import source has indicated to us that the genuine antique millstones are becoming harder to find as their popularity creates a higher demand.

If you’re in the process of planning a project that might be enhanced by one of these incredible timeless classics, please plan to visit soon. We currently have a large millstone fountain on display at the entranceway – a design that winterizes easily, possesses strong water flow therefore plenty of water sound and still provides a focal point and interest during winter months – it can remain uncovered!

Marcescent Leaves Whisper In Winter by Jason Lubar, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

Marcescent Leaves Whisper In Winter by Jason Lubar, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

Walking in the Wissahickon last year during the windy winter months, I was enjoying the solitude when I heard a steady rustling that had been going onfor a while. Focusing on the sound, I could see American beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaves vibrating in the wind. These faded, thin, ghostly leaves created wonderful sounds in the otherwise quiet winter landscape.

I wondered why beech and other tree species, like the Arboretum’s large Bender oak (Quercus x benderi)sometime hold on so tenaciously to their leaves all through the winter months, many to drop only when new growth forcefully pushes them off in the spring.

It turns out that these leaves that don’t want to leave are called marcescent [mahr-sesuhnt].Marcescence is when plant parts, in this case leaves, remain attached to the plant whenwithered. If you walk through the woods in our area in mid-winter, you will find marcescent leaveson a handful of trees, especially young or juvenilespecies such as oaks (Quercus), American beech, eastern hophornbeam(Ostryavirginiana), musclewood (Carpinuscaroliniana), and perhaps maple (Acer). Each species’ leaves are different, and produce a different sound in the breeze. So if you listen closely, you can identify the tree species in the winter without looking, by sound alone.

But what functional or evolutionary adaptation caused this clasping characteristic?There have been many reasons proposed since the word appeared in the early 18th century.

 

Protection:Some speculate that marcescent leaves protect new buds and deter browsing animals such as deer or the Pleistocene magafauna that existed millions of years ago.The leaves may also absorb and radiate heat from the winter sun, which may provide frost protection or allow limited photosynthesis (energy production) in the chlorophyll under the twig’s thin bark.

Nutrient Boost:Another hypothesis is that releasing leaves in the early spring facilitatesthe release of nutrients to help the tree during the early growing season, whereas those nutrients may have been washed away or leached too far into the soil if the leaves fell and decomposed during the normal leaf drop.

Moisture Management:Others suggest that marcescent leaves can trap snow and reduce the velocity of dry winter winds, leading to more moisture at the tree’s base in the spring.

Regardless of the reasons that marcescent leaves exist, they are a wonderful feature of our winter landscape. Next time you are out in the winter snow near a young American beech, close your eyes and listen. It is remarkable what you will hear.

I leave you with the 2nd stanza of the poem Reluctance by Robert Frost:

The leaves are all dead on the ground,

Save those that the oak is keeping

To ravel them one by one

And let them go scraping and creeping

Out over the crusted snow,

When others are sleeping.

Vertical Gardening For Heightened Drama!

Winter is the perfect time to gain a fresh perspective on your garden vista.  Before the buds and blooms return in the Spring, take an objective look at your yard.  Are your beds and borders lacking dimension?  If your landscape suffers from too many flat planes, shake things up a bit and incorporate a few vertical elements into the garden.
With the strategic placement of color, you can guide the viewer’s eye to your desired focal point or, conversely, away from a not-so-great view.  This can be as simple as setting a pot brimming with blooms up on a wall ledge, training sweetpeas or thunbergia up a tuteur or coaxing climbing roses over an arch or arbor.  Well-sited vertical elements add visual interest all year, even when there’s no plant material covering the structure.
By staggering heights with the use of these vertical elements, you can create a layered or terraced effect even in a tiny garden.  Get creative and continue the vertical approach on your terrace or patio.  Instead of just using pots placed on the ground and hanging baskets at or above eye level, don’t neglect that middle layer.  By strategically placing containers approximately waist-high (which is at eye level when seated), you can create a private nook for reading or dining.  In lieu of placing pots on a table or traditional plant stand, try something unexpected like a freestanding candelabra to hold a bounty of small potted plants.  Imagine how beautiful this would be on your terrace with flowers cascading down from each level!
Serenity Now:  Creating an Asian-Inspired Garden or Meditation Room

Serenity Now: Creating an Asian-Inspired Garden or Meditation Room

Everyone needs a space where they can just “be” to get away from the schedules and deadlines and general bustle of everyday life.  Perhaps this is a quiet corner of the garden where you can just sit and observe nature or a favorite nook in the kitchen where you can sit and write in your journal.  If you don’t have a peaceful area where you can escape to for quiet reflection or meditation, let’s think about creating one.

When choosing your location outdoors, pick a quiet area with privacy and some shade from the hot midday sun.  Indoors, quiet and privacy are the key requirements.

Some choices you might consider including are Asian garden accents that instantly transform any area into an incredible retreat, designed to encourage quiet contemplation and peace.  Water bowls are a wonderful way to bring the soothing sounds of running water, but can easily be tucked into even the smallest areas.  These are available in a variety of sizes. Wind chimes can add a subtle melodic tinkling and are available in different notes or keys and can be personalized based on what rings true for you.

To add subtle light in the garden or create punctuation at the beginning or end of a path, add a traditional Asian lantern.  These stone lanterns are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.  Each lantern style is significant with its own special meaning and application.

To help set off a secluded space, you might consider an antique Chinese carved stone screen – available in the Garden Accents’ inventory. Browse our extensive collection of pieces to add an uncommon, memorable and meaningful accent to your design.

Bring along a photo or photos of your intended space and ask showroom staff where you are shopping for ideas.

If you’d like to visit a few existing gardens for additional ideas, there are many beautiful public Asian-inspired gardens in our area including the Shofuso at the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center in Philadelphia and the Garden of Serenity in Bethlehem, PA.  In Washington, DC is a 12-acre Classical Chinese Garden at US National Arboretum which will be complete with teahouses, pagodas and bridges.  The beauty of an Asian-inspired garden or meditation room is that it’s timeless. From time to time, The Garden Conservancy Open Days offers opportunities to also tour private Asian inspired gardens in the Philadelphia area.

An Asian inspired garden or meditation space can be created in a detailed, researched manner or in a style and design that simply accomplishes your intended goal – peace & serenity. Choose materials and authentic accents of the finest quality, surround them with lush well-chosen plantings in a peaceful environment, and your garden room or meditation room will provide you years of beauty and enjoyment.

Preparing for a Winter Garden - Time to Winterize

With the onset of cooler weather, now is the time to take a few simple precautions to protect your garden treasures.   Last winter’s frigid temperatures and relentless ice and snow wreaked havoc on many of our gardens and ornaments, so a few hours of preparation now will be well-spent.

FOUNTAINS

Before the first freeze, take the time to winterize your fountain so you’ll be able to enjoy it year after year.  Pumps should always be removed, cleaned and stored indoors in a sealed plastic bag to prevent the rubber pump seals from drying out and cracking.  Water lines should be drained or ‘blown out’ to avoid freezing.  Unless your fountain is deemed ‘winter hardy’ (ie, lead, bronze, etc), you’ll want to cover it to avoid damage from freezing and thawing.  Garden Accents offers a selection of neat and tidy-looking fountain covers in a wide variety of sizes to cover most fountains, and their green or beige coloring help them blend into the surroundings much better than those bright blue construction tarps.  After emptying, make sure the basin is dry and put some absorbent material in there (like burlap or an old towel) to absorb any condensation that might occur before covering.  Secure the cover to withstand windy wintry conditions.

If you have an above-ground fountain pool, open the drain and make sure it remains clear by checking it often so the pool does not hold water.  If there is no drain, you’ll need to cover it with a tight, waterproof cover that won’t sag and leak over the course of the winter.  If you have an in-ground fountain pool, place a bucket weighted down with rocks or a log in the pool; as water freezes and expands, it will crush the immersed objects before cracking the pool and will help keep the pool from freezing solid.  If you need help closing your fountain or need a reinforced based for your statuary before winter, please give us a call to arrange for an on-site visit by one of our technicians who can help you prepare your garden treasures for the winter months.

PLANTERS

Sturdy planters such as high-fired terra cotta, iron, concrete and lead can be left in place on a frost-proof base as long as there is a drainage hole to allow water to escape.  If a pot or planter has no drainage hole, turn it upside down or cover the top to prevent water and snow from accumulating inside.  Some spacers under the bottom of the container to keep it slightly raised off the ground or base are important to allow for proper drainage and prevent the bottom from freezing to the ground.  Prior to a snow storm, be sure to remove debris or leaves which may have accumulated beneath your planter.  We offer a great selection of decorative pot feet and plant stands to help keep valuable pots up off the ground.  Pottery sealer works well to protect porous planters and statuary.  This easy-to-use spray helps seal materials like terra cotta and stone so they won’t absorb as much moisture which can cause cracking when left outside in freezing temperatures.

STATUARY

Statuary that lives outdoors all winter also needs some attention before freezing weather arrives.  The kindest thing you can do for your statuary is make sure it is resting on a frost-proof base, not just sitting directly on the ground.  A statue that is resting directly on unprepared earth runs the risk of falling over when the ground shifts during freezes and thaws.  A frost-proof base is a well-prepared site that has been dug down below the frost line and backfilled with crushed stone for proper drainage.  A slab of slate or a flat rock can be set on top of the crushed stone to provide an even surface for the statue to stand on.  Make sure the statue is secure to ensure safety.  Inspect the surface of the statue for any cracks and make arrangements for repair.  If water penetrates a crack and gets trapped, it can expand and cause damage to your statue when it freezes.  Pottery sealer can help protect porous statues from absorbing damaging moisture.

 

PLANTS

The subzero temperatures of this past winter were also very hard on many of our most-beloved perennials and shrubs.  Hydrangeas seemed especially hard-hit, and it’s disheartening when one bad winter wipes out a decades-old landscape favorite.  Do a little preemptive damage control, and perhaps you can avoid losing your favorite plants if we’re faced with another extreme winter.  Once the ground freezes, you can provide a little extra protection for these plants by covering them with a blanket of mulch or composted leaves.  This will provide insulation and may prevent them from heaving out of the ground during freeze and thaw cycles.  For shrubs, many gardeners have had good success by applying anti-dessicants to the leaves of ornamental evergreens to prevent them from drying out over the winter.

Kinetic Sculptures – Adding Motion to the Garden

Introducing movement to the garden is an excellent way to create an interesting focal point that immediately catches the eye.  If there’s an area in your garden that you’d like to draw attention to (or perhaps an area you’d like to draw attention away from), using motion will put the focus exactly where you want it. You can create movement by adding grasses that catch the slightest breeze, by adding a water feature with lots of movement or by introducing a kinetic sculpture to the garden.

Kinetic sculptures are the easiest ways to create this motion and are designed to capture and transform the gentlest breath of wind into a spell-binding display of graceful movement.  A well-designed kinetic sculpture should be just as beautiful at rest as it is in motion. We have several different types of kinetic sculpture here at Garden Accents to enhance just about any style garden.

One example is a variation of a gyroscope-within-a-gyroscope executed in copper and brass which is a work of art at repose and intriguing when revolving in all directions.  Its series of cups are similar to those found on anemometers which have been used since the 1800s to measure wind speed.  The sculpture takes on a random yet graceful spinning motion in the wind with each element independently balanced on stainless steel ball bearings for friction-free movement and a long, maintenance-free life.  The copper and brass take on a rich, old world patina when exposed to the
elements and will become more beautiful with age.  If you prefer something a little more free-form, the same artist has created a piece with similar action but with vertical spiral lines and copper leaves to catch the slightest breeze.  He likens the motion to undulating seaweed moving gracefully underwater.  We think it looks a little like a dancing flame–mesmerizing!!

If you don’t have space in your garden but would like to add a little interest to your porch or patio, we have some really interesting copper “infinity” sculptures ranging from 11″ to 24″ in height.  These are so simple yet look so beautiful when the wind sets them in graceful spinning motion.  Again, these will withstand the elements and are built to last.

View our short video below to see how some well-placed motion sculptures can make your garden come alive.