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What’s At The 2008 Flower and Landscape Exhibitions For You?

Hi, all, the 2008 Flower and Landscape exhibitions are now upon us, likely showing now at your local exhibition center. So what are the landscaping supply manufacturers and the landscaping contractors going to try to sell you as this year’s most wanted property enhancement?

Having just returned from an exhibition in the Northeastern states, my mind is full of creative possibilities for this year’s summer projects. The show was filled with the typical big sellers; hot tubs and spas were present in liberal quantities, windows, sun rooms, and man made ponds are always present at these shows, and will likely be back at the spring Home Shows that will be filling the same exhibition centers a few weeks from now. But the tone of our blog focuses on a rustic decoration style, and there was no lack of displays to spawn the creative thought process.

The thing I like the most about the landscaping shows these days is the fact that you don’t just look at a single product at each display. The companies renting floor space do it all up right, and design an entire landscape in their space. You can imagine looking out your back window and seeing exactly what is laid out in front of you at the show. For example, a manufactured paver company put up quite a display, building a complete landscape. Obviously the entire scene was built upward from their pavers, which were arranged in a complex pattern under foot, but they combined efforts with other products from other companies to give a feel for how their product worked with others. Stackable manufactured stones bordered the paver patio, cedar landscape accents were strategically placed, a striking cedar pergola rose from the patio, and a stackable stone island was placed just outside the pergola with a polished granite counter top to cap the stone and provide a resting place for a propane cooktop. Having taken in that whole scene, I have an idea of what my summer project will consist of this year!

Other displays that I haven’t seen too much of until this year included ‘modular outdoor fireplaces’. These displays looked like stone fireplaces built by skilled stone workers, but were actually pre-cast modules that stack together horizontally and vertically to create sprawling outdoor structures. The show piece was a configuration that included five foot counter top units on either side of the fireplace, and the fireplace itself whose chimney extended upward for about nine or ten feet including the chimney cap. This impressive configuration did come at a price; it was tagged at just under $20,000 installed. That’s 20K, as in new car dollar figures. Of course, there were more reasonable configurations set up that displayed gas grills embedded in them with a bit of usable counter space.

Me, I am sticking with the patio-pergola-counter top configuration this summer next to the pool. That will create a nicely usable outdoor room in a section of yard that I’ve been wondering what to do with for quite a few years now. How about you, what’s your summer project for this year? Not sure? Get out to your local Flower Show or Home Show to get lots of fresh ideas!

Have fun,

Ron

Wind Chimes, Decorative and Therapeutic

Wind chimes can be a soothing, decorative and enjoyable way to introduce some music and personality into any outdoor location. Although they may seem rather simple, unique wind chimes come in a large variety of musical tunings, decorations and sizes all ensuring that you find the right one for your individual needs. Furthermore, you may choose from natural materials such as wood, Bamboo or something more unique such as Aluminum. Gone are the days of identical chimes which all sound the same, there are so many unique wind chimes on the market today that bringing pleasant, relaxing music to your backyard will be hassle-free.

In this hectic society, time for rest and relaxation is at a premium. There is a download available from iTunes which features the soothing sound of wind chimes for meditation. Explore the Feng Shui aspects of chime placement to maximize harmony in your life. There are special Feng Shui chimes which have been tuned to a scale obtained by throwing coins as directed by the ancient book of I Ching. What an enhancement for the practice of yoga or meditation. Take a moment from your busy day to enjoy the sound clips mentioned below. With all of the styles available, it’s possible to take a musical break to find the ones most suitable to your ear and decor.

When choosing which type of unique wind chime to purchase, there are a variety of materials to consider for outdoor use. Chimes are made of Aluminum tubes, Bamboo, glass and a number of other metals. Speaking of metals, brass is often used to fashion either bells or gongs, a popular category explored by many wind chime manufacturers. Another new category is the creation of small chimes which can be used indoors, placed on a desk stand to catch the air current from circulation ducts. Each offers a distinct musicality and decorative element which makes choosing enjoyable.

Aluminum Wind Chimes

Aluminum wind chimes feature durable tubes which can be precision tuned. In fact, Woodstock Aluminum Wind Chimes offer a life-time tuning guarantee. These wind chimes offer a distinct change from earlier chimes which were visually beautiful but paid little heed to tonal quality. With the precision tuning developed by founder Gary Kvistad, these tubular bells are of symphonic quality. One of my personal favourites is the Gregorian chime, which is available in five sizes. The durability of aluminum makes it an excellent choice for chimes exposed to the elements.

Bamboo Chimes

Bamboo chimes boast an ecologically friendly and sustainable build, as well as beautiful decorative elements. Their sound can be a bit more earthy and natural than that of the crisp aluminum wind chime, but their beauty also rests in the unique decoration. Bamboo chimes are tuned by hand and made of non-endangered, renewable bamboo.

Solar Wind Chimes

A smaller category of chimes combines various materials, such as Capiz shells or bamboo, to provide the music with a solar cell which absorbs the sun’s energy to provide illumination automatically when the sun sets. Not only do you have pleasant music for the ear, the sense of sight is also activated by the display of lights.

Bells & Gongs

Garden ornaments are becoming increasingly popular in landscape design. When considering garden ornaments, a choice of garden bells or one of the gongs will provide a delight to the ear as well as the eye. One of my favourites is the Woodstock Water Bell FountainTM which contains brass bells sounded by the continuous flow of water, the ultimate “Water Music,” with apologies to Handel. This fountain combines the soothing sound of flowing water with the harmonious sounding of the brass bells producing an oasis of calm in a hectic society.

Indoor Chimes

Indoor chimes are unique in that they can be placed as an accessory indoors wherever a slight air current will sound them. Feng Shui products have created a lot of interest of late, and there are specially tuned chimes which are based on these principles. Another popular chime features the Amazing Grace song. Other options include a small Gregorian chime and a Peace chime. No longer are wind chimes relegated to the outdoors.

Music has long been recognized as a potent force in relaxation. Tubular bells are believed to be the first musical instrument. Archaeologists have discovered drawings of them dating back 5000 years. Adding music such as this to your modern living quarters, indoors or out, is an easy way to reduce stress and add pleasure in your surroundings. Music therapy is becoming more common in schools and institutions. Add a simple variety of this therapy to your life, powered by the slightest breeze. With a wide variety of tunings from which to choose, you can experiment with various chimes to determine the ones that resonate with you. Hanging the chimes at different heights or in different places also changes the musical mix as they are activated by changing wind currents. All in all, this is customized music which is easy to enjoy, as wind power does all the work of “playing” the instrument.

You’ve Got Your Iron Gazebo But What Now? Some Decor and Landscaping Tips

It’s wonderful to have a sheltered, shady spot outdoors to enjoy a meal or just sit back and relax on a hot summer day. An iron gazebo can be a charming landscaping feature too. As a focal point they are extremely attractive and will add height to an otherwise flat looking garden. If you’ve just purchased or had an iron gazebo installed, you may need a bit of help personalising it and making it feel like part of your home.

Formal or Informal

Iron gazebos offer lots of decorating potential. To start you off, the most important decision to make is whether you’d like a formal or informal setting. This will ultimately be determined by what you’re going to use it for; elegant dinner parties or naps after you finishing mowing the lawn. Once you have a picture in mind, it will help you make other decisions about your plants and furniture. Wrought iron gazebos naturally lend themselves to formal, more elegant gardens. Although, in an informal setting with wild planting, they’re a great choice as they offer such strong structural support.

Plants

Hard-landscaping of any sort can often look bare until the plants go in. Here are some great climbing plants to make your gazebo blend seamlessly into the landscape: Climbing Roses, Evergreen Clematis, Wisteria, Vines, Ivy, or Jasmines. An iron gazebo looks great with traditional climbing roses or vines. Be sure to think about whether the plants will be North/South facing or against a wall, this could affect your decision. Consider when they flower and what they’ll be like seasonally. Finally find out whether the plants you choose are known to attract insects so you can rule them out. Though, perhaps you might like the idea of attracting butterflies.

Shelter

The more protection you have from the elements, the more you’ll be able to use your outdoor space, extending its use until well into the autumn. The addition of side covers will offer a lot more shelter from strong winds or rain. Curtains on the gazebo may not offer as much protection but will look amazing. They also offer you more flexibility than a completely closed structure with glass.

Traditionally a gazebo has a full roof, however many structures these days can be purchased as a frame thus giving you more options. At this point, if you don’t have a roof, you may want to consider some sort of roof cover or roof canopy. These can be purchased separately, once again, it depends on how you’d like to use the space.

Entranceway

A grand entrance is always important. Highlight the walkway to your iron gazebo so there’s a clear path to your outdoor room, using stepping stones or lighting. Decorate the doorway with hanging baskets, lanterns, a mat, planters to highlight it for a welcoming entrance.

Lighting

Assuming you’ve decided where to put your iron gazebo, you’ve probably thought about your power supply. This will determine the type of lighting you can go for (if any). If you’ve got an electricity supply to your structure then the sky’s the limit when it comes to lighting, it also gives you option to make full use of your gazebo at night, for parties, entertaining and dining. If not, don’t worry, there are lots of great outdoor light solutions these days, from battery operated candles that look just like the real thing – to solar power.

Inside

The interior of your iron gazebo of course depends on the space you’ve got, your existing furniture, and what you will primarily use the space for. Whether you’re fully enclosed or not will also limit your options. You can really enjoy this part; create a formal, elegant dining area under the stars or a relaxed, chill zone with low level seating, bean bags and outdoor rugs.

For an Event

You may have purchased your iron gazebo for an event. It’s always better to bring in benches, placed around the inside of your structure; they’ll provide a lot more seating. You can then put small tables in between; this will mean you’ll have plenty of room in the middle to get in and out. If you’ve got space you could include a centre-table or a feature hanging. The best materials to use when decorating gazebo for an event are light fabrics such as tulle, the rest of the d├ęcor will depend on your theme.

You’ve certainly got plenty think about after reading this post-gazebo-purchase guide. However you decide to use you iron gazebo – make sure you use it often.