Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lily Strikes Again

The evidence

The culprit

This is the 3rd spool of thread Lily has "appropriated". It seems I have a learning problem.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Feng Shui Garden Design 3

This is the last post in a series of 3.

The property had a small triangle in the back, bordered by an unruly honeysuckle hedge, a neighbor's fence, and the garage. It occurred to me that there was enough room to install a "Secret Garden", where the clients could sit in a garden space to enjoy our beautiful summers. I strongly believe that we feel better when we are surrounded by plants, and always include a space for this purpose when I design landscapes. Sitting on a deck doesn't qualify, as it only makes us spectators of nature, not participants.

The "before" photos show the ball-shaped yew and the old spruce tree, both of which were removed. We were able to salvage the perennials and use them in the side garden.

Circular paved stone patio with raised wall. The wall was built at sitting height. The gazebo keeps out insects and provides an intimate sitting area.

The garden is a mass of easy-care Daylilies, with a ring of Amur Maple trees which will fill in and create a leafy canopy over the patio area.

The fountain is the focal point of the Secret Garden, providing the sound of trickling water to mask traffic noises.

This project was successful for the following reasons:
  • Dream clients with clear design parameters and open minds (the Secret Garden installation was an additional cost)
  • A competent contractor (Steve Elliott of Acer Land Developments in Sudbury) willing to work with Feng Shui principles
Many people only know landscape design through television programmes. Either the projects are hugely expensive, or the installations are a "surprise" for the unsuspecting home owner. I can't imagine coming home to a surprise garden installed in my property when I had no input. Good landscape design is a reflection of the owner's lives, the architecture of the home and the character of the neighborhood.

I'm looking forward to working on my new property. I have my own Secret Garden planned!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Feng Shui Garden Design 2

This post continues from yesterday's post.

The side of the house had no pathway from the driveway to the front door. The foundation planting was too narrow and dry.

I created a wider garden with the owner's favorite perennials, as well as the appropriate Feng Shui plants for the owner's birth dates.

All paths curve gently.

This is the "before" photo of the area between the garage and the back door. Drainage was poor, and the old decking was rotten. The owner was also concerned about security and was reluctant to leave good quality furniture outside.

The "after" photos show the secure courtyard I created with dining area and herb garden. The wrought iron fence will be completely covered by the climbing honeysuckle within 2-3 years, creating a private area and attracting hummingbirds to the honeysuckle flowers.

The herb garden for the cook.

Tomorrow I'll post photos of the secret garden I created!

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Feng Shui Garden Design

I was a Landscape Designer and owned my own business for 15 years. The following photos are of a design I created using Feng Shui principles at the owner's request. The house is a lovely Craftsman style, but the property was shabby and in need of a complete overhaul.

The owners purchased the house using Feng Shui guidelines, and wanted a design that incorporated those while being sensitive to the architecture and period of the house.

I knew nothing about Feng Shui, but the owner gave me a pile of reading material and I immersed myself in studying this fascinating subject to prepare for the landscape design.

These are the "before" photos. The trees were dying. The rock wall was falling down. The grass slope was difficult to mow. The front door led to nowhere and was not welcoming.

These are the "after" photos for the front of the property. The dead trees were removed. All lines curve to direct the energy flow around the property, including the retaining wall.

The wrought iron arbor sits over the junction between the front and side paths, and each corner is planted with a different clematis that will eventually cover the arbor.

Tomorrow I'll post photos of the side garden and courtyard.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Bed Quilt Club 6

Our 6th meeting was held yesterday. We were really happy to see our friend Gwen arrive to join the group! Gwen is starting a quilt pattern called Cafe Ole, from Jane Hardy Miller's book French Braid Quilts.

The beginning of Gwen's fabric choices

Pat showed us her adaptation of Nancy Daniel Brennan's
The Disappearing Nine Patch
,which she calls Art Deco.
This is a beautiful quilt, and Pat's colour choices are wonderful.

Colleen has made progress on her quilt blocks for her Minnesota Backroads pattern from the book by Kathryn Squibb and Deborah Jacobs. We also had fun helping her with fabric choices with her blue, tan and yellow quilt.

Marg has passed the 1/2 way mark, with about 1050 half square triangles sewn. She needs 2040 of these units to make the 255 6" blocks required for her Friendship Star quilt.

These are the 35 blocks Marg has made up to this point.
The little red bits really add some punch to the quilt.

These are our 9 patch exchange blocks. We shared our extras with Gwen, and now she has to make a pile to catch up! How many more meetings will we need to get enough blocks to make a quilt? These are only 3 1/2" unfinished. Yikes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Botanical Art Quilts Workshops

I've put up a new Workshops page on my website.

The first is called Bead Embroidery and Embellishments. I'll be teaching embellishment techniques with beads, buttons and embroidery suitable for any kind of project including quilts, wearable items and stitcheries. This will be a half day workshop. In the past I've taught this using my beaded bugs kits.

The next is Botanical Art Small Wall Quilts, which I have taught a number of times. Students will be able to choose from any of my flower block designs and make a small wall quilt in this one day class.

Leaf Magic Little Quilts will also be a one day class. Again, students will choose from one of six leaf designs for their project. I will also demonstrate how to preserve real leaves for use in these quilts, or in art journal/scrapbooking projects.

My lecture is called Healing Stitches, which will explore my stitched journey in life. I'll be explaining the concept of healing/protection quilts and the designs and symbols used to create them. I gave this lecture at the last Quilts on the Rocks show here in Sudbury a few years ago.

And lastly, my Trunk Show will be chock full of all kinds of Botanical Art quilts, embellished works, collaged quilts and even my bed quilts when there is room in the luggage.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Janet's Iced Tea Recipe

Today is a great day to be alive. The weather is perfect and I just made my first batch of Janet's Iced Tea for the season. Here is the recipe, which I developed about 30 years ago:

4 tea bags (full strength or decaffeinated)
12 c. boiling water
Steep overnight in glass jug.
Add 1/4 c. lemon juice + 1/2 c. white sugar or sucralose (Splenda or other brand)
Garnish with mint leaves or citrus slices (lemon, lime, orange).

It's inexpensive and delicious. Enjoy!

Friday, April 18, 2008


"The last fling of winter is over...
The earth, the soil itself, has a dreaming quality about it."
Donald Culross Peattie

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Bed Quilt Club 5

The Bed Quilt Club met while we were away at Quilt Festival. Marg took these photos for me. As a reminder, these are the guidelines:
  1. You must be working on a bed quilt.
  2. There are no deadlines or pressures or responsibilities.
  3. You can Show & Tell any project.
  4. Helpful tips and suggestions are welcome.
Pat's Kentucky Log Cabin blocks

Marg's Friendship Star blocks

Doris' Cabin Fever blocks

Doris has also made a pastel squares quilt

The 1st 9 patch block exchange was made. I delivered Mom's and mine before we left. We have hundreds to go before a quilt is possible! These are the guidelines for the exchange:

Rules for the Nine-patch Swap:
  1. 3" finished size blocks, 1" finished squares.
  2. No solids or whites.
  3. The dark squares are at the outside corners and centre.
  4. Blocks will be 2 fabrics: light and dark.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"The Bean", Chicago

We visited Millennium Park in Chicago to see Anish Kapoor's incredible 110 ton stainless steel sculpture called Cloud Gate. This huge reflective art piece, inspired by a drop of mercury, has been nicknamed "The Bean".

My friend Jean Boyd took these photos because I forgot my camera! Looking into the sculpture is like being inside an interactive landscape painting. The sky, the city architecture and the viewer are one image that changes with the viewer's movement.

Public sculptural installations often cause a great deal of controversy and conflict. However I strongly believe that it is the mark of a great city when visionary politicians overcome their usual planning for the next 10 minutes to commit to a project of this size (literally and financially). Congratulations Chicago!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chicago Quilt Festival 2008

These are some photos from Quilt Festival. Despite the poor economy in the US, there were lots of shoppers from many countries. We had trouble squeezing through some of the aisles on Friday.

Chicago Quilt Festival - bird's eye view

Beautiful booths and lots of shoppers

My Leaf Magic Little Quilts in the Embellishment Village booth

The next Quilt Festival will be held in Long Beach, California this July. Many people that I spoke to are planning on going. It sounds like an amazing event.

The following photos are of the Friday Sampler. We paid a fee that gave us a booklet of one page instructions from each teacher, and we visited each of their technique demonstrations over a 2 hour period. These were my favorites:

Karen Kay Buckley again - isn't that a gorgeous quilt?

Monday, April 14, 2008


I stood at my kitchen window this morning and felt the sun. Spring has come to the north. If you live in a warm climate, you can't imagine how it feels to walk outside without gloves and see the birds building their nests. It's such a gift.

Quilt Festival in Chicago was an amazing experience. Chicago is wonderful; I had no idea how beautiful the lake front is. I'll post some photos tomorrow.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Pulsatilla vulgaris, or Pasque Flower

The robins are back and the geese are massing in the open water areas of our lake. Spring is here!

The Pasque flower is one of the first perennials to bloom in northern gardens. The ferny leaves emerge as the snow melts, and the beautiful bells open before many other plants begin to grow. These photos were taken in late April and early May in my previous garden. When I make new gardens this year, the Pasque flowers will certainly be included.

Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Alba'

Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Rubra'

I'm leaving tomorrow for the Chicago Quilt Festival, and will return in a week.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Ancient Sitka Spruce

Sitka Spruce, Hanson Island, Johnstone Strait, British Columbia

"The wonder is that we can see these trees
and not wonder more."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


This is how desperate I am for spring. I'd even be happy to see a Dandelion.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thimble Faire Distributors

A new company is born! Thimble Faire Distributors is a brand new wholesale needlework pattern and book company from Texas. Thimble Faire carries my patterns, as well as those of many other needlework designers.

This is very good news for our industry!