Recently, my wife and I attended a couple of Washington Nationals baseball games at Nationals Park. We usually stand at the pedestal tables while we grab a bite and a beer, but Thursday night we took advantage of a smallish crowd to relax in one of their lounging areas. We don’t know why we hadn’t noticed before; but two of their lounge areas, one near the Scoreboard Walk bar and the other next to the Red Loft bar, feature resin wicker (or rattan) furniture!
Fans enjoy their food and drinks while sitting on wicker lounge chairs and sofas (cushioned, of course!) and resting their food, drinks and bags on wicker coffee tables and side tables. Other than a few canopies shading the Scoreboard Walk area, the furniture is exposed to the elements (drenching rain at times!) 24/7. While I don’t know how often they replace the pieces, when we examined them on Thursday, the chairs and sofas seemed to be wearing very well!
So, if you’re in the market for furniture with proven durability as well as style and beauty, visit my Resin Wicker collection. (The photo depicts one set that is available; however, the striped cushions are not.)
Impatiens is usually a lovely, reliable flowering plant for shady gardens and containers. But this season gardeners might have to rely on other species, such as petunias, begonias or coleus, for their shady spots. The problem, as reported by Adrian Higgins in his “Gardening” column for The Washington Post, is impatiens downy mildew. This widespread fungal disease appeared in New York in 2009 and now afflicts gardens in 35 states, including California, Florida, in the Midwest and Northeast, and D.C.
The disease affects common garden impatiens (hybrids of Impatiens walleriana) but not New Guinea impatiens, which are tolerant to the disease. Symptoms of the disease are: curling, yellowish leaves; then white fuzz (“down”) on the underside of leaves; then the dropping of leaves and flowers; finally, the collapse of the stems. Spores travel for miles and can infect neighboring gardens.
To avoid the problem, abstain from planting impatiens this season. Experiment with different floral and leaf colors. Some choices: caladiums, phlox, coral bells, hostas and ferns. Try my cedar planter and garden boxes for your plantings. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes sure to suit your purposes (see photo).
Not everyone lives in a house with a large backyard and patio. Many people live in small townhouse-style homes or high-rise buildings with small balconies. But even those of us who have small outdoor areas can provide a cozy, comfortable area in which to entertain. Just remember: Less is more.
Your first chore is to measure the space. You don’t want to purchase a 6-foot-long bench and a couple of sprawling lounge chairs if your space measures 6 feet by 4 feet by 6 feet. You’ll be packed in like sardines, but maybe not as comfortable! One idea is a bistro set comprising a small table (about 30 inches in diameter) and two chairs. Or consider a 4 foot bench with a small table (or two); if you have sufficient room to spare, add a folding or adjustable chair with an ottoman (which can double as another seat).
GardenFurniturePatio.com stocks several items for small spaces: cedar footstool (as a chair/table), folding Adirondack table, oak bistro chair, teak bistro set and Athena tete-a-tete (see photo). To maximize your area, angle some of the furniture. If there’s room, add a planter box for some bamboo or other shade plants.
Patio and “frame” in place, now select your plants. Any number of newspaper, magazine and online articles can advise you on which types to select for different purposes, garden locations, and soil and light requirements. You probably have your own preferences for flowers, vines, ground cover, shrubs, and maybe herbs and vegetables.
So, I’ll only make a few suggestions. First, shake it up a bit; try poppies or larkspur instead of petunias, for example. If you want sunflowers, plant them! Giant varieties (Mammoth, Sunzilla) screen as they grow. Bamboo, twisted willow and hazel grow well in large containers (over 14 inches) and also act as screens. Second, container gardening can make your life easier, because plants can be moved if your concept changes. You might need to rent or buy a ball cart, a dolly designed for planting trees, to move heavy containers. For additional ideas, search the Internet. Results of a quick search on just Amazon.com: Vertical Gardening (Derek Fell); All New Square Foot Gardening, 2nd Edition (Mel Bartholomew); and several on container gardening.
Gardenfurniturepatio.com offers several planter boxes and window boxes and raised garden boxes (which are expandable and stackable) made of sturdy, rot- and pest-resistant Western red cedar.
So, you’ve prepared the base for your backyard haven. Now you need to “frame” it. Fences, arbors and trellises provide not only frames for your patio, but also instant shelter. Some people cringe at the thought of fences, calling to mind chain-link and stockade versions. However, if your budget allows, hire a good carpenter and show her/him some examples you like. Think big when you select your material (it’s outdoors, remember!) and buy cedar if you can. To lower costs, fence off only part of your patio.
Alternatively, trellises provide lovely and, often, aromatic screening while allowing breezes to cool you in the summer. In addition, local building codes limit fence heights; but trellises, arbors and even pergolas can be used to provide shade, shelter and support for vines. These structures can be placed in elevated positions if your layout allows sufficient room and your patio material provides a firm base. If you want to incorporate one or more of these structures, don’t be stingy on size or materials. Many climbing plants, like roses and flowering vines, require sturdy support.
Of course, www.GardenFurniturePatio.com offers several arbors (with or without bench), trellises and pergolas (with or without swing) for your layout.
Are you an impatient gardener? I am. I get antsy waiting for the roses to bloom or the perennials to peak through the soil. When is that rhododendron going to blossom? And what about the herbs? Well, here’s a bit of advice on how to prepare a relatively “quickie” garden.
A patio is the element that binds your house and garden. The patio should be dry, flat and shady, which seems obvious but could present problems if your yard accumulates water in that area. If that water doesn’t threaten the house, use moisture-loving plants to help absorb the water. Examples of such plants include common mallow, swamp hibiscus and ostrich ferns. An online search for these types of plants should yield other suggestions.
The patio itself could be constructed of material as simple as pea gravel, with framing to help retain its shape and location. (Note that if this patio is near a tree, leaves and other debris could quickly clog the patio area.) If you can afford it, other good patio materials include dry-laid brick or bluestone (can be nicer than the usual modular pavers), salvaged brick (gives the illusion of age) or aggregate concrete with a stone edging.
I’m going to deviate a bit today. Instead of tooting my own horn (completely), I’m going to share a link with you that provides great tools to plan your garden and arrange your furniture, decorative elements and storage sheds. “Plan-a-Garden,” offered free by Better Homes and Gardens, enables you to create a beautiful yard on your computer with a few clicks in a few minutes.
“Plan-a-Garden” (http://buff.ly/10duajK) helps you design whatever your imagination conjures, from a container garden nestled against the side of a patio, to a whole-yard layout complete with pond, bridge, wishing well and bird houses. You can drag-and-drop more than 150 types of trees, shrubs and flowers and place and rearrange dozens of structures like garden hutches, fences and decks.
Of course, GardenFurniturePatio.com offers several types of garden hutches, planter boxes for constructing container gardens (complete with stakes to mark the different plants!), decorative structures like bridges and wishing wells, and even bird houses for you to attract feathered friends to share your garden relaxation time. So, while planning your garden, remember to visit us and select some of our durable, quality garden, patio, deck and pool-side furniture.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day! It’s cloudy here in Washington, D.C.; but our friends are returning from the parade and heading for a warm pub with cold beverages!
Are you enjoying the celebration outdoors on my durable, comfortable garden, patio, deck and poolside furniture? If not, you could be! Please visit www.GardenFurniturePatio.com to select some beautiful pieces for your outdoor space. Here is a suggestion from my rattan wicker collection:
Rattan wicker patio table set with cushions featuring solid aluminum frame and stylish beveled-edge glass tabletop for year-round, maintenance-free outdoor living. The table is 35 inches by 35 inches by 29 inches high. Include four stackable chairs with comfortable armrests and finished with decorative leg ferrules. The tabletop is 3/8-inch-thick pate glass with beveled edges. The rattan wicker strapping is woven from virgin vinyl for a natural feel and is colored a dark chestnut brown. The four high-density foam cushions included in this set come in a choice of Burgundy Red or Nautical Blue.
Early spring is a great time to prepare your garden, patio, deck and poolside for the months of relaxation to come. Your prep is quicker and easier depending on how much you want to do, how much you need to do and how much you don’t have to do!
Consider your choice of garden furniture retailer. Brick-and-mortar stores offer good selections, and you can touch and literally weigh your options when you shop at them. However, shopping online, through GardenFurniturePatio.com, for example, offers quality choices in furniture materials and styles. Also, our prices might be lower than in brick-and-mortar stores since we don’t have high overhead costs. Our collections also cover your next consideration when buying outdoor furniture: How durable is it? What it require storage during inclement weather or regular maintenance? Our collections are manufactured using durable, pest- and fungus-resistant western red Cedar, resin rattan wicker and Java teak, so your maintenance time and costs will be almost nil. No worrying about replacement costs, storage or how to maintain its beauty for many years!
Finally, measure your outdoor entertaining area and determine how much room your prospective pieces will occupy to ensure sufficient room for your outdoor suite.
St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner … well, 10 days away. Now is a great time to begin planning a celebration of Irish heritage. Why not have it on your deck or patio! This might not be a good idea if you’re hip-deep in snow or drowning in “wintry mix,” as we are on the East Coast and in the Midwest. But, in 10 days maybe it’ll all be melted and the temperature in the 60s! Here are a few ideas to get your juices flowing.
For a main course try hearty Beef and Irish Stout Stew served with or over mashed potatoes. For a good recipe, visit AllRecipes.com. Stew is a dish that can be adapted easily for more (or fewer) people. Irish Soda Bread is a good accompaniment, but biscuits serve just as nicely.
For drinks: Irish Cow (a warm drink), Irish Spring, Nutty Irishman (shooter or cocktail), and St. Patrick’s Day Mocha Java. I get my recipes from The Complete Bartender (Revised Edition, 2003) by Robyn M. Feller. Search the net for recipes. Need an Irish-themed movie? Try The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. (Photo, NEW Square Hanging Umbrella.)