Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Trip to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

On a recent road trip to Texas, we were looking for something 
to do on a Sunday morning and found that 
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 
was open and nearby.

( If you are not old enough to know who Lady Bird Johnson is,
she was the wife of Lyndon Johnson,
 who became president when John Kennedy was assassinated back in 1963.)

 One of the causes that was dear to her heart was to
 save native wildflowers and encourage others in the
 country to use them as much as possible. 

 When you see wildflowers  growing along interstates, 
they are there mainly due to her efforts.
  She said "We have impressive and valid reasons 
for using our native plants
---reasons of the soul and pocketbook". 

The most famous of her native Texas
 wildflowers is the Bluebonnet. 
 Normally, it would be abundant along the roadsides 
in Texas in April but due to the drought there this
 year, almost the only bluebonnets we saw were in gardens 
where they had gotten water by means other than rain.   

If you are ever near Austin, Texas, and you like gardening,
 you should take a trip to The Wildflower Center.

They have wonderful examples of how to use native 
wildflowers in fields and in gardens large and small.

The Display Garden section at the center shows that 
"whatever style garden you like, native plants provide the
 beauty, form, and texture you desire". 

The center teaches that native plants don't require as much
 water as conventional garden plants and thus saves our water resources.  Here are some examples from that area:

In very arid areas, a garden area could use texture and visual interest with sand and (something that looks like) sea glass
 (but I really don't know what it is exactly).

This was a mix a low-growing ground covers:

The center also had water features:

Even though I like to look at gardens, I don't do
 much gardening myself, so probably my favorite thing
 at the Wildflower Center was the beautiful use of 
native resources of logs and stone work there in 
the colonnades, buildings, and other structures.

                    My favorite structure was an observation tower. 
It featured a stairwell that had some treads on the 
interior and some treads on the exterior.

There were plants growing along the staircase and 
along the top wall at the top of the tower.


      Hopefully, you will find something in these pictures to inspire
       you in your garden no matter how large or small it may be. 

                            I am sharing this post at
             Oh, The Places I've Been @ The Tablescaper blog

Friday, April 22, 2011

More Grass Centerpieces

Here are more ideas for ways to use the fun (to watch grow)
and economical (only pennies each) grass centerpieces. (Here is my original post about how to grow the grass:
 I recently grew a batch of 30 grass centerpieces and they were a big hit at the event.
They still looked great even after the event, so I got to use them in other fun ways.

Well, this is not officially a centerpiece since it is on my mantle but the same idea could be used on a table.

I used a layer of cork to protect the mantle from the moistness of the grass out of its container but if you are going to grow your grass in an attractive container, you would not have to do this.

I put skinny candles already in a glass holder (from Dollar Tree) directly on top of the square of grass and
pushed it down a little until it was level.

Since the event was in the first part of April, I got to use the grass as if it were
Easter grass in some instances but I think the grass looks good any time in the spring and summer.

In other information I have read on growing grass for centerpieces, it says that you can grow the
grass in large containers and then cut the grass sod to fit in the container you want to use so I
wanted to try this for future reference. 
Ummmm...maybe I did something wrong but mine was a muddy mess on the sides.

I guess my lesson from this is that if you are going to cut the grass to fit in a prettier container,
make sure it is not see-through.  (You could GROW the grass in a glass contianer however if you don't
mind seeing the roots. Or a piece of ribbon  or scrapbook paper could be added to hide
the roots from view.)

From that little experiement, I had a square of grass with a hole in the middle. 
I threw away the muddy mess, cleaned the glass container, and put a chunky candle in it.
To protect the table, I put the whole thing on a 1/2" thick piece of cork from another project.

Here is the same set up but with river rocks around the base of the grass.
This covers up the roots somewhat if you don't like the look of them without a container.

The whole idea of growing the grass to NOT be in a container came from a picture I saw where
a floral designer used the live grass on river rocks only (no container) down the center of a table.
Here is my try at that:

If you try this, be aware that you need to put rocks underneath the entire patch of grass
to protect the table (or hide something waterproof underneath it all).

Here are a couple of instances where I did try to cut the grass to fit non-transparent containers.
Since the containers were deeper than my grass, I packed them with plastic bags to
make the grass the correct heigth. 

You can even add flowers directly to the grass.  Mums, daisies, and other hearty flowers
will last about 12 hours without wilting (if they not in a hot area).  Water picks could be stuck into the dirt
if you would like to use something more like roses, etc. 

Here is another illustration of mums stuck directly into the dirt. 

This patch of grass was cut to fit in an old "silver" container I got at a yard sale. 
I tried to make myself think it looked like a golf trophy to illustrate that I think the
grass centerpiece idea would be great for a golfing event.

If that looks more like "the rough" to you than a green, you cut trim the grass.

The grass will not last AS long as it would if it were still in its growing container but it lasted
better than I thought it would.  Instead of watering the grass from a pitcher, I just spritzed
it well (away from wood furniture, of course) every day.

I know this post is getting too long, but I don't think I should do ANOTHER grass'll
think it's all I do!  Here are (mostly) picutres of the event that I grew the 30 patches of grass for.
It was for a kick-off dinner for a baseball league for handicapped folks called "Miracle League".
I started the grass three weeks before the event.  I already had the grass seed so every
thing else I needed (including the potting soil!) came from Dollar Tree.

Most of the time, when I have done this in the past, the grass looked good in two weeks but
this batch did not.  Was it because it got "drowned" during an unexpected rain? 
I went back and poked holes in all the aluminum trays after this so the water could drain.
Was it because I didn't put a layer of dirt on top of the seeds? I had not in the past, but, oh well.
Fianlly, the squares went from this:
To showing some signs of life:
At the end of three weeks, they looked like this:

Other elements of the centerpieces included a 13" cardboard baseball (I found on the internet),
and cork squares to protect the tablecloth from the (as dry as possible) dirt and roots.

To personalize the baseball for the event, I printed out "Rooftop Friends" (the name
of the group sponsoring the league) "welcomes Miracle League" on full page
clear label computer paper and stuck it on the baseball.

The cardboard baseball was too wobble-y to stand up in the grass by itself so I
painted the tops of craft and skewer sticks white and glued them onto the cardboard
to make it stand up staight. 

 On the cork, I cut out paper base lines and bases and pasted them onto the
cork squares. Most of the cork came from rolls of thin cork from Hobby Lobby. 
They didn't have enough for all that I needed so I found a package of thicker cork
at Michaels to complete the centerpieces.  The thick cork was actually MUCH
better (but it was more expensive).

Tom is always a good helper when I get into a time crunch (which happens a lot).
After the event, we put the grass squares back in their little aluminum holders and gave them
a good watering.  They went to two other parties and lasted about 5 weeks total. 

I am sharing this at "Frugal Friday" at 



"A Stroll Thru Life" Tabletop Tuesday 


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