Monday, June 26, 2017

Blooming in full color

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” ~ Alice Walker, The Color Purple 

Cindy La Ferle

One of my biggest gardening challenges is finding ways to add color to a yard that's densely populated with trees and evergreens. Over the years I've planted several varieties of hosta -- with great success -- but even the plants with variegated leaves don't provide enough interest. 

Cindy La Ferle
Which is why I've become a major fan of outdoor ornaments and container gardens. Colorful potted annuals can be placed in sunnier locations, then moved anywhere you like for backyard parties. 

When it comes to decorating with garden ornaments, I think there's a fine line between tacky and sophisticated. If you collect too many garden gnomes, lawn pigs, or religious statues, your neighbors might wonder if you're selling the things as a part-time business. The key to successful garden decor is nestling your favorite items between lots of greenery, using them as subtle accents rather than focal points. A garden ornament should appear as a "surprise" that delights visitors when they spot it on a tour of your yard. And if you've got a quirky sense of humor, the garden is a great place to show it off.

Cindy La Ferle
A few of my garden ornaments were gifts from friends, serving as sweet reminders of special people and occasions. Years ago, for instance, I wrote a newspaper feature about a talented gardener in my community. After the story was published in the local paper, she gifted me with a small stone cricket and told me that it's a symbol of good fortune. 

Other ornaments in my yard were purchased to add color and interest to specific areas. Sometimes I stumble on wonderful items in unlikely places -- when I'm not even looking for them. The whirligig in the top photo, for example, is a recent purchase from Ace Hardware in Clawson. Doug and I spotted it when we were looking for plant stands. This piece will be moved to our Frank Lloyd Wright home in St. Joseph, where it will work nicely with the midcentury modern garden theme there. ~CL

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My garden in Royal Oak, with Apollo in his new wig / Cindy La Ferle

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Rowing together

"Know your circle. Make sure everybody in your boat is rowing and not drilling holes when you're not looking." ~ Steve Maraboli

Kayaks at LeBear, Glen Arbor / Cindy La Ferle

Friday, June 23, 2017

Prize-winning art

‎"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the artist or actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got." ~Steven Pressfield

As any serious artist will admit, art is something you do because you're motivated to create, express, or share something -- not because you're trying to win a prize. Even so, it's an honor to receive professional validation for your work. 

I'm incredibly proud of my husband, Doug, for winning two awards in the annual Michiana Annual Art Competition. The exhibit, currently at The Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, MI, runs through July 29. Doug won "Best in Show" for his oil painting, "Balloon Dart," which depicts a carnival game at a summer fair. He also won the top prize in the sculpture category for his kinetic steampunk piece, "Dreamcatcher" (shown above in the newspaper cover photo).

To read the full article about Doug's art and the MAAC exhibit, please click here. And if you've ever wondered what happens in the art studio above our garage, visit Doug's professional web site, here. ~CL

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Open hearts

"There have been many self-indulgent 'artists' in all fields. But true art is selfless. It’s breaking open your own heart on the chance that your vulnerability will coax other hearts to open." ~Martha Beck

Beach at Glen Arbor / Cindy La Ferle

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gardening Wright

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Meditation bench overlooking the St. Joseph River, Carl Schultz house / Cindy La Ferle

Gardening in my pajamas always tops my list of things that make me happy in the summer. My morning ritual begins early: I brew a pot of coffee, grab my favorite mug and the dog, then head to the garden to see what needs weeding, pruning, or watering.

Zen garden at the Carl Schultz house / Cindy La Ferle
Today I'm sharing a few garden photos I took yesterday morning at our second home in St. Joseph. Designed in 1957 for Carl Schultz, it was the last building Frank Lloyd Wright designed in Michigan before his death. During the restoration process, Doug and I learned that the house once had an Asian rock garden, which was overgrown with myrtle and ivy by the time we purchased it nine years ago.

I've always been drawn to Asian gardens, so I was excited about the possibility of uncovering and "reinterpreting" the original rock garden, located just outside the master bedroom. I also wanted to add a stone meditation bench that would overlook the St. Joseph River, which flows past the property. With that in mind, Doug and I hired Arcadia Gardens for the project -- and they did a beautiful job making that vision a reality.

Cindy La Ferle
Just as I do at home in Royal Oak, I always rise early when we're "out west" in St. Joseph. I love waking up to the view of the sun rising over the river. And just as I'd planned, the stone meditation bench at the end of the Zen garden is the perfect spot for planning the day ahead.  

To read an essay I wrote for The Christian Science Monitor about our decision to buy our Frank Lloyd Wright home, please click here.  To read more about the Carl Schultz house and to view photos of the interiors (and Doug's extensive renovations), visit the Carl Schultz House web site. ~CL
Zen garden detail, Carl Schultz house / Cindy La Ferle

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Road trips

“Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn't mean to take.” ~Angela N. BlountOnce Upon an Ever After

Cindy La Ferle

When I was a kid, my folks took me on a two-week vacation every year, driving to cities and landmarks where I could learn the history of our country -- Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Jamestown, Gettysburg, Boston, Concord, and many more. 

With our AAA TripTik Travel Planner and a motel/hotel guide at the ready, we'd often take detours before reaching our destination, paying visits to historic battlefields and commemorative statues, homes of iconic American authors, and small, quirky museums. Best of all, my mom enjoyed taking the "scenic routes" in lieu of the expressway, and she'd talk my dad into stopping at gift boutiques or souvenir shops along the way. 

I've been a fan of road trips ever since. Aside from the fact that I'm a fearful flyer, I can't think of anything more relaxing than viewing the countryside from a car window.  

En route from Glen Arbor to St. Joseph earlier this month, Doug and I spotted the huge dinosaur (above) at the Kampvilla RV Park on US 31, about 20 miles north of Manistee. It was a gorgeous Michigan morning, complete with a cloudless, postcard-blue sky serving as the backdrop for a towering yellow brontosaurus. Of course, I was immediately reminded of a scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure -- and had to pull off the highway for a few photos.

More often than not, unexpected discoveries are the most memorable parts of our travels. This summer, I hope you'll have time for a few road trips with meandering detours, whether you drive across this beautiful country of ours or revisit the wonders of your own state.