There are lots of garden tours in our area every year, but this one is different.
You take a drive along country roads in York County, S.C. Before long you're sitting in front of lavender fields, Italian cypress trees and a handsome Mediterranean-style home. It's a bit surreal.
Owner Chris Pinard, a landscape designer who was born in southern France, has planted more than 3,000 plants, including 22 types of lavender, 22 varieties of rosemary and around 50 different salvias.
You can sign up now for a tour of La Bastide des Lavandes, or the lavender homestead, for $25 at www.sclavender.com.
Pinard is booking 20 tours between May 31 and July 26, after which he plans to harvest the lavender.
If you've struggled with growing lavender and other Mediterranean herbs, you can learn from Pinard's technique for establishing these popular plants in our climate.
He plants lavender in winter in mounded rows of clay soil – with no special amendments. So there's hope that other Piedmont gardeners can have success with these plants, too.
In Charlotte, see more local residential gardens during “Art in the Garden,” presented April 26 and 27 by Charlotte Garden Club, www.charlottegardenclub.org.
Wing Haven's annual Gardener's Garden tour, May 10 and 11, also offers a peek at residential landscapes, www.winghavengardens.com.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014
Turns out tiny houses are of interest even in this city where McMansions are taking over some of the most sought-after neighborhoods.
Dozens of visitors came to presentations last week during opening weekend for the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show.
Even more visitors stopped by to see a 112-square-foot tiny house exhibit, said Mike Waite, executive director of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, which built the exhibit that continues this weekend.
“I talked to people who had tons of questions – ‘How do I get started’; ‘Where can I see it’; ‘Does it have to be permitted?’ ” Waite said. “I took a big book home. My wife is fascinated by it.”
Those questions are among the topics that will be covered at a Tiny House Conference that’s coming to Charlotte’s McDowell Nature Preserve on April 5-6. At $300 per ticket, it’s an event for people with a serious interest. See details at http://tinyhouse<code_dp>conference.com.
Small homes are being built as weekend getaways, hunting cabins and even as housing for the homeless, Waite said. Many designs include salvaged materials.
Living in a house that’s less than 500 square feet is not for everyone, he added. But local events help people see compelling alternatives to giant homes.
“People are trying to cut their footprint to something very manageable and eliminate clutter, starting with their living space,” Waite said. “You’d just be amazed at how much can go into a small amount of space.”
Monday, February 24, 2014
The worn and cracked paint on homes around Charlotte is a business opportunity for some local college students.
UNC Charlotte senior Harrison Bonner already has signed up seven students to paint houses this summer through Student Painters summer jobs program, which was launched in 1987 and operates nationally.
There are six other student leaders lining up contracts in the Charlotte area. Bonner, 22, calls his group UNC Charlotte Student Painters.
Students sign on for an entrepreneurial internships through Young Entrepreneurs Across America.
Homeowners pay $1.20 to $1.50 a square foot to have their exteriors, porches or decks prepped and hand-brushed with a fresh coat of paint. A 20 percent deposit reserves a slot.
Sherwin Williams, a program partner, trains the students, who use the company’s paint on job sites. Services also can include pressure washing, scraping, sanding and calking.
The program gives students training in business and customer service while they earn money for living expenses and, sometimes, college costs, Bonner said.
“The painters that we hire are just students who want a good summer job that works with their schedule,” Bonner said.
Reach Student Painters at 888-839-3385 or go to www.carolinastudentpainters.com to contact a local group.
Sullivan: http://homelifeclt.blogspot.com; Twitter @sullivan_obs
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Thursday, February 6, 2014
If you had to pick one bathroom in your house to renovate, which one would it be?
Most people, 60 percent, picked the master bath, according to a recent report from Houzz, the home decor website.
That’s not so surprising. The master bath usually is one of the most-used rooms in a house, and the folks who pay the bills are likely the ones who use it.
We’ve had it with played-out fixtures (49 percent), or the rooms fall short on functionality (37 percent). And about one-third wanted a renovation to boost their home’s resale value. Bathrooms are that important.
The powder room was a renovation priority for only 5 percent of the survey takers. More (35 percent) wanted a makeover for their second full bath.
Most homeowners gutted the bathroom and start fresh (58 percent), especially the master bath (61 percent).
When the dust settled, the master baths usually have a swanky shower instead of a tub. Older consumers also prefer two sinks in the master bath. Tubs tend to be for communities with younger residents, so keep that in mind if you plan to sell.
People of all ages apparently agree that the bathroom needs more lighting: new windows (48 percent), a lighted vanity mirror (41 percent) and skylights (12 percent). And here’s a new twist – lights in the shower head (7 percent).
We told you your fixtures were probably outdated.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
The movement that tells us to choose native landscaping plants has found a firm footing in Charlotte. But it hasn’t always been easy to identify and find those plants once a gardener gets interested in species that support local wildlife and tend to thrive more readily in our climate.
That led UNC Charlotte biology professor Larry Mellichamp to publish “Native Plants of the Southeast” ($39.95, Timber Press).
The just-released, 367-page hardcover book by the director of UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens lists more than 460 species and rates their value as landscape plants. (visit www.charlotteobserver.com/clever for a chance to win a copy.)
The garden’s Van Landingham Glen has been cultivated as a native plant landscape for nearly 40 years, and Mellichamp’s status as an authority has grown with it.
Classes for a native plant certificate proved so popular that a reference for gardeners was a natural step, said Paula Gross, assistant director at the gardens. “We feel like the homeowner wants to know which ones, where to get them, and how they perform.”
Now 15 to 18 classes a year are offered through the Certificate in Native Plant Studies Program. Native plants are also a focus of the spring and fall plant sales at the botanical gardens.
With the book published, the staff is focusing on raising money for a renovation to transform one-fifth acre in an ornamental garden into the Native Plants in the Home Landscape Demonstration Garden.
The staff thinks we’ll see the beauty of native plants and we’ll want to bring them home to remake our own ornamental gardens. Imagine that.
Sullivan: http://homelifeclt.blogspot.com; Twitter @sullivan_obs
Monday, January 27, 2014
We fire our gas grills with it. Soon we might also use propane to power up small engines for mowing and other lawn maintenance work.
New rules from the Environmental Protection Agency call for a shift to cleaner-running machines starting this year. Gas-powered landscaping equipment is one of the targets.
“That’s one of the bigger polluters,” said John Jessup, executive director of the North Carolina Propane Gas Association.
Five years ago one or two companies offered propane-powered mowers, such as the commercial model shown here. Now 14 do, and still others plan to, Jessup said. It’s not just mowers that are getting a makeover. Tankless water heaters, heating and cooling systems and appliances are also buzzing on propane, which can be more efficient and cheaper than electric power, Jessup said.
Natural gas is the top alternative to electricity for heating, water-heating and appliances in Charlotte, and propane doesn’t really offer advantages in cost or performance, Jessup said. So that left little room for propane – until the EPA demanded better pollution control.
“Compared to the emissions on gasoline engines, propane is about 60 percent cleaner,” Jessup said. “It makes a huge difference.”
Sullivan: http://homelifeclt.blogspot.com; Twitter: @sullivan_obs