Western Red Cedar, native to northwest North America, including Alaska and the southwestern provinces of Canada, is popular as an outdoor furniture material for several reasons:
1. Among common softwood timber, cedar is the most stable; it naturally lies flat and remains straight. No warping, twisting and checking, common faults among many other species.
2. The wood stays cool in the hottest temperatures.
3. Its resistance to bacteria and fungi recommend it for outdoor use. Also, its natural oils provide resistance to rot and decay, a particular advantage in moist and humid climates. Example of item: cedar planter box.
4. Western Red Cedar is durable. For example, untreated and uncovered cedar furniture left outdoors, even during rugged winters, can last eight to 10 years. It will last about twice as long if covered or brought inside during winter.
5. Although unnecessary, cedar is the best softwood to stain, paint or oil.
6. Red cedar emits a distinct aroma that people like but that repels moths, insects and other pests. Many households still use cedar-lined chests to store their woolen blankets, clothes and other susceptible household textiles to protect them from these pests.
7. No toxic chemicals, like arsenic, chromium or copper are used to preserve Western Red Cedar.
(Continued from 1/10/2014 post)
A good wood sealer such as Thompson’s WaterSeal helps by blocking the pores of the wood. This inhibits the grain from becoming raised, yet allows the natural fading of the wood to a gentle silvery-gray color.
A number of finishes can be used on cedar furniture to preserve the colorful tones of the freshly sanded cedar. We recommend good-quality penetrating sealers and transparent or solid exterior stains. Many colors are available making it easy to match your existing decor. We recommend a single coat of a semitransparent stain with a UV inhibitor, such as Sikkens Cetol 1 (natural) or Thompson’s Stain. Every third year you might reapply a coat of stain to freshen the finish. Cedar requires little or no sanding, preparation or primer when you use a stain.
Paint is fine; but, over time, it requires scraping and refinishing. Stain, however, is “breathable” and won’t trap moisture; so, no blistering, no peeling. Stain is the best choice for cedar. Many colors are available in semitransparent and solid finishes.
Western Red Cedar should be preservative-treated if it will be embedded in the ground; for example, fence posts, landscape ties or garden arbor posts.
Western Red Cedar in its natural, unfinished state has a richly textured tactile grain and a glowing palette of warm, mellow tones ranging from light amber to deep honey brown. No man-made material can duplicate the depth of cedar’s natural luster. Western Red Cedar is subtly aromatic, and the characteristic fragrance of Red Cedar adds an aromatic dimension to its universal appeal.
Because of the inherent nature of Western Red Cedar to withstand insect attack and the outdoor elements, cedar does not require a finish to keep its structure over the years. Many folks prefer to allow their cedar furniture to age naturally without a stain or finish. Over time the colorful tones of the wood slowly weather to a handsome silver-grey, and the grain of the wood becomes slightly raised. If left completely natural, this silver-grey color eventually is highlighted by darker streaks formed from the reaction between the cedar resin and the zinc hardware. If you don’t fancy the dark streaks, we suggest using a simple wood sealer (see next blog entry).
We do not recommend using oil finishes on your cedar outdoor furniture. (Continued)
Whew! What a busy December: Between preparing for the holidays and updating prices on GardenFurniturePatio.com, I barely had time to get in a few rounds of golf! (Ha, ha!) Anyway, I’m changing prices on my Website to reflect pricing changes from my supplier. Most, if not all, items are reduced; so why not browse a bit and see if something strikes your fancy.
I also have some new products to offer; such as, new cushion colors, new models of accent furniture and a cedar sauna/entry bench. Also, a few Western Red Cedar items have been redesigned in response to customers’ suggestions. Check ‘em out! And remember, January is a great month to start planning landscape and garden redesign and for selecting new pieces of furniture to complete your plans!
Happy New Year!
Last week I wrote about cedar arbors, which have many decorative and functional uses in your garden. They can be entranceways between sections of the garden separated by hedges or fences. An arbor can span a walkway or serve as a frame for a statue or small fountain.
However, when combined with an arbor bench, your arbor becomes a relaxing refuge. You can enjoy hours sitting on your arbor bench, which can be all the more pleasurable if you have plantings of flowering vines growing on the arbor. The lovely scents of the flowers refresh your senses and calm stressed nerves, depending on the plants you select. While it might seem to be a no-brainer to purchase an arbor with an arbor bench, many arbor benches actually are like an accessory to the arbor; the arbor bench is a separate purchase and has to be installed.
With an arbor bench, your arbor also provides limitless opportunities for seasonal embellishment. For example, during the Christmas season you can use the bench as a stand for a small Christmas tree and/or planters of holly, evergreens or poinsettias.
A cedar arbor provides a pleasant, quiet haven in the garden for reading, quiet contemplation or basking in the sunshine. Many people enjoy planting climbing vines, flowered or otherwise, to grow over and around their cedar arbors to provide shade and create a scented atmosphere.
During the autumn and winter months, your cedar arbor may be decorated to reflect the season or holiday. For example, for Thanksgiving you could place pumpkins, gourds and other seasonal decorations in and around the cedar arbor.
Strings of lights can be strewn over the cedar arbor to provide a nice glow at night. If you wish, candles provide a romantic ambience. Don’t use real candles, though. You don’t want to start a fire! Battery-powered candles serve the same purpose without the fire hazard!
Flowers and other plants also make lovely decorations for a cedar arbor. Consider surrounding your arbor with planters containing poinsettias, holly and evergreens during the Christmas season to provide a festive atmosphere for your garden. Think of your cedar arbor as another household location that can be decorated any way you wish!
Thanksgiving is approaching fast. So are the final days to shop for and prepare your feast. If you’re tired of the same old, same old … or want to add a new dish for variety … here are some suggestions. My lovely cherry wood Wine Rack makes a perfect serving station for your feast!
Mashed Potatoes Enhanced – 1. Stir sauteed corn and a bit of sour cream into mashed potatoes; a cornflake-and-paprika topping adds a smoky, crunchy finish. 2. Revitalize garlic mashed potatoes with olive oil and the reserved water from cooking the potatoes; capers, lemon peel and parsley top off this variation. Re-Dressing – Corn bread boring? 1. Try using barley, Swiss chard, squash and Parmesan cheese. 2. For a real change: Pears, dried cherries and sharp white cheddar with whole wheat (or another favorite bread) cubes create a luscious fruit-and-cheese dressing. Veggie Assist – Substitute Swiss chard for spinach in a spinach recipe. For example, try Creamed Swiss Chard.
Recipes for all but the Creamed Swiss Chard may be found in this slide show: http://www.bhg.com/recipes/from-better-homes-and-gardens/november-2013-recipes/#page=1. Find a good creamed Swiss chard recipe here: http://southernfood.about.com/od/vegetablerecipes/r/r90520b.htm.
Previous: Oktoberfest Beer Tasting (10/24/2013) I mentioned the vertical format (one brand, several varieties). Other formats include blind: one style, several brands with guests tasting and naming which brand is which. Another is microbrews from lightest in color and alcohol to darkest in color and highest in alcohol. Or several brands of one style appropriate to the season (Oktoberfest, summer ales, etc.)
Set up a large table anywhere as the stage for your tasting. Since guests will be swallowing and not spitting out their beer when tasting, provide water to rinse tasting glasses and a “swill” bucket to empty them between each beer. Guests should have a clear tasting glass, glass of water, and pen and paper to take notes. If available, provide beer guides or style books for your guests’ convenience. Also handy is a beer menu: each beer tasted (in order), brewer, style and other relevant information.
Cheeses, fruits, and breads and crackers, maybe some deli meats and patés pair well with beer. Or pair your food to the style of beer. Oktoberfest beers pair with German food but also with baked ham, barbecued beef or pork, pizza, grilled veggies and chicken, and steak.
Celebrating Oktoberfest can get expensive for you and your friends, especially with cover charges for live entertainment. Instead, invite friends to your home for a beer tasting!
Beer tastings are gaining popularity. They can be less expensive than wine tastings, although some craft beers and microbrews can be pricey. Create a budget covering the costs of the beers you select plus food. Plan to serve at least four varieties (at 3 ounces per guest) for the tasting plus additional beer (of any type) for post-tasting enjoyment. Add seasonal lights to my 20-inch planter with trellis and it’s a decorative cooler for the beer.
One tasting format is the vertical tasting: one brand, several varieties. For example, Samuel Adams has different beers for assembling a good “flight” for your tasting. Its Web site has sample flights assembled by others and provides a way to choose your tasting’s beers. One sample: Sam Adams Boston Lager, Oktoberfest, Maple Pecan Porter and Harvest Pumpkin Ale. Many local liquor stores might not stock many varieties, but they might steer you to stores that do or will special order them for you. Next: Another Tasting Format plus Food for Your Tasting
My Web site now accepts major credit cards in addition to PayPal. This capability will expand your choices of how to pay for your purchases.
GardenFurniturePatio.com offers many choices of quality garden, patio, poolside and accent furniture. From the Western Red Cedar tables, benches and chairs to the cherry wood magazine stand and wine cabinet, you probably will find whatever piece you are searching for on my site. Now is an excellent time to buy, too, because prices have been reduced, some up to 25 percent.
Check out our new umbrella style in three colors: blue, tan and green. Isn’t it time you replaced that ratty old umbrella on your deck or patio?