Archive for May, 2009

A Garden Visit

May 29th, 2009

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I had the privilege to spend two days in the backyard of garden designer Clay Andrews‘ home in North Carolina last week.    It was like a mini-oasis, thoughtfully and wonderfully planned and bustling with one idea after another that any novice gardener would love to have in their own backyard.  I’ve been having so much fun with my new Blackberry with its built in camera, that I couldn’t help but take tons of snapshots and share them with you. 

The small walkway from the driveway to the backyard featured these whittled posts with terra cotta pots on top filled with bonsai trees.   It’s such an unusual and natural way to display the plants without it become too strong of a focal point.    It also gives “purpose” to the walkway from being just a connector from Point A to Point B, to something of a gallery space if you really think about it.

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If you read Daily Danny often, you know I’ve been obsessed with this idea of turning my roof into a living roof, full of growing and thriving succulents/sedums.    But as I try to figure out a less expensive way to transform my roof, I am still a fan of the easy-to-grow plants.  I love how Clay incorporated them into this repurposed planter, showing the wide variety of colors and varieties available and using simple gravel as a dirt cover.

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The garden is full of DIY resourceful ideas most of us can do.   Many of us have garden hoses that we’re not quite sure what to do with.   Sure, there are lots of garden hose holders and organizers for sale in the market, but often they are even more of an eyesore than the host itself!   Here, a simple zinc pot is repurposed into a holder, with a hole drilled on the bottom for the connector part of the hose to connect to the faucet.   Just lift the nozzle, pull and the hose comes right out.     It’s a smart idea to fill it with gravel to weigh it down a bit, too.

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Speaking of gravel, another idea is just to fill a galvanized bucket with rocks and use it as a backyard umbrella holder.   No need for heavy patio umbrella stands or special tools.  Just fill with heavy rocks, use the existing hardware, and enjoy your backyard shade.

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The small garage transformed into a potting shed.  The minute I saw this, I knew this would be the perfect backdrop for our shoot.   I wished the entire time I was there that THIS was actually my garden.   The hard part of my job is that I get to go to so many amazing homes and then I start to think about how I wish my house was like this.   I constantly have home envy.   It’s bad.

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Yes, even a driveway can look like this.

Help! Bamboo Ideas

May 28th, 2009

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When I bought this house two years ago, it came with a large, mature bamboo grove in the front of the house.   Originally, I had plans to remove the bamboo plants because they are considered a non-native species and can be quite invasive, but after many, many protests from readers and friends, it stays.   As the bamboo plants thrive and carefully spread a bit, many mature stalks have died off, cracked or fell over during a strong storm.   I’ve always cut the injured bamboo at the base, chopped it up into small pieces and added scattered it in the woods, but now I’m thinking there must be better ways to use the fallen bamboo.

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Down in North Carolina, I had some time to spend in a beautifully designed, thoroughly thought out garden and spied this DIY bamboo fence at the side of the yard.  It’s a simple, inexpensive wire fence with bamboo poles simply wired to it piece by piece.    As the fresh bamboo dries, it turns a natural, tan color and retains its durability and strength.    It’s functional and looks good, too.   And I think I have just the place to build one of these bamboo fences right in my own backyard.

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Here’s a tighter shot of the bamboo fence.   I was told by the homeowner/garden designer he thought this would be a quick, simple project to do, but it turned into a week-long project.  So, in other words, be prepared to spend several weekends getting each bamboo pole lined up and in order.    But once it’s in, it’s IN.  

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And speaking of bamboo, I do have small shoots coming out of the ground that I’ve been randomly picking like weeds to keep the grove under control.   I might have to start saving the stalks to use as stakes in the garden.    Sometimes small plants need just a little support to grow upright, and here’s an attractive, easy and inexpensive way to help them out.   

As I sit here blogging about bamboo, I’m looking out the window at the grove and can’t believe how fast they grow.  It was only 2 weeks ago I saw some fresh shoots sprouting out of the ground.  Today, many of them are 8′ tall and 2″ thick.   Seriously.  When greenies say bamboo is a fast growing grass, they weren’t kidding.

Backyard Eco Summer Entertaining

May 27th, 2009

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Last week, I was down in gorgeous Charlotte, NC to do something called an Internet Media Tour, or IMT.    It’s basically a TV set where I can talk to leading bloggers in the green, design and entertaining space about going green this summer season.   I decided to give lots of summer entertaining tips because many of us will be having friends and family with us from Memorial Day until Labor Day, so why not go green when doing it?    In partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement and Method cleaning products, I got to talk to lots of great people that day.    I’ll post a video from the shoot in a few days.  But until then, I thought it would be fun to share my Top 10 tips on going green this summer season:

TOP 10 TIPS FOR EASY, ECO BACKYARD LIVING

1.        Skip chemical repellants.    Keep mosquitoes at bay by being vigilant about still-standing water in flower pots, saucers and even bird baths; turn them over to drain all the water out.  When entertaining, turn on an electric fan to keep guests cool and mosquitoes away; they hate breezes.    And consider naturally repellant plants to landscape with, including rosemary,  marigold, catnip and citronella grass.  Lowe’s landscaping centers are a great resource to find these plants.

2.       Maintain your solar lights.   Lots of us have solar lights that charge up during the day and give off a warm glow at night.  To keep your lights working their best, wipe down the solar panels with a Method microfiber towel to remove all the built-up pollen and dust.   Consider replacing the rechargeable batteries inside with new ones, especially if the lights are more than 2 years old; and be sure to recycle those batteries in free recycling boxes at Lowe’s. And be sure to place your lights in a sunny spot during the day for maximum glow.

3.       Light up the grill MacGyver Style.     Yes, MacGyver, as in the TV spy!   Be resourceful and use dryer lint as a firestarter.    It’s slow-burning, natural (mostly cotton lint) and will get your BBQ going without the use of chemical lighter fluid.    Keep a container of Method Steel for Real pre-moistened wipes nearby to keep your stainless steel grill looking its best.

4.       Use recycled rubber mulch.   There are about 300-500 million discarded tires dumps right now with nowhere to go.  You can help by buying recycled rubber mulch from Lowe’s, which is chipped rubber made from recycled tires.   The rubber mulch will do a great job blocking weeds from your flower beds all while allowing moisture to come in to water your plants.   The best part?   It won’t disintegrate like regular mulch, meaning your one-time investment will last a very long time as you do your part to use recycled products.  Win, win, win!

5.       Repurpose your bird bath.    Fill it with ice and use it as a cooling station for beverages.   When the party is over, let the ice melt and our feathered friends have a cool drink to enjoy.

6.       More S’more, please.   Have the kids gather twigs from the yard and sharpen the ends with a pencil sharpener.  Use the leftover hot coals from the grill to toast marshmallows and make homemade S’mores.   Use good organic chocolate and add a drop of peppermint essential oil for a minty gourmet taste.   Yum!

7.       Have a tree planting party.    Warmer weather is a great time to plant a tree in the backyard.   Lowe’s has a great selection of evergreen and deciduous trees picked for your region at your local store.    Don’t have a green thumb? No worry; trees are guaranteed to grow in the first year or Lowe’s will replace free of charge.     Plan a menu around fruits and sweets trees give us, like lemonade, maple syrup cookies, apple pie and peach cobbler.

8.       Stretch a painter’s tarp.  We all have a canvas paint drop cloth in the attic or garage, so why not grab it and stretch it in between trees in the backyard for an impromptu canopy.    String it high up in the trees and bring a table and chairs underneath for an al fresco Sunday lunch in the backyard.   

9.       Aromatherapy Firepit.    Many Americans enjoy the convenience and warmth of an outdoor firepit for those chilly summer nights.   Add a little aromatherapy to the fire in one easy step.   Grab a sheet of newspaper and roll up pine cones, rosemary and eucalyptus and tie with natural twine.    Use it as a firestarter and place firewood on top.   As the fire burns, the natural additions will slowly burn and release a gentle scent into the nighttime sky.  

10.   Think Candy Straws!    Instead of plastic straws, think edible Twizzlers!   Perfect for kids to enjoy a summertime drink outdoors.  Just snip the ends and sip.  It’s that simple.  And keep a pile of Method microfiber towels handy to clean up spills.  They are super absorbent and do a great job keeping your backyard table and chairs clean as can be.  Plus, they are machine washable, so you can use them over and over all summer long. 

UPDATE:  Here’s web video full of all the eco summer tips.  Enjoy!

Summer tips with Danny Seo from People Against Dirty on Vimeo.

Recycled Sweater Workshop

May 26th, 2009

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Something came in my inbox the other day that I thought was interesting.   The company Crispina, which is run by designer Crispina French, is offering summer workshops up at her studio in Pittsfield, MA for people who are interested in taking old, cozy sweaters and turning them into something new.      Above is a picture of one of the projects you can make: “sweater flowers” made from old sweaters and notions that she swears is a cinch to make.    Here’s a bit from the email:

Each month for the rest of the year I am offering studio workshops teaching the recycling techniques developed over 21 years of Crispina Design Workshop.  Learn to make Blankets, Rugs, Sweaters, Ragamuffins and Flowers all from 100% post consumer clothing! 

These classes – held in the studio (except for Sept) are limited to 10 students per day.  Workshops are offered for 3 days back to back.  Students are welcome to come for one, two, or all three days of learning.  One and two day students are free to come whichever days are most convenient.   Costs are $150 per day including the use of all tools and equipment, materials for the day, and a healthy lunch. 

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One of the workshops is happening July 22-24th and it’s called a “potholder rug workshop.”   It’s a little misleading because the above picture is what they call a potholder.    Basically, you can handweave a small, medium or large potholder rug of your own, all made from recycled sweaters, in whatever colors and combination of colors you desire.    This could actually be a lot of fun, even though July might be the worst time to think about warm, cozy, woolen rugs!   But still, there’s something nice about making a rug of your own and putting it in your own house.

Crispina will provide all the materials, but you are encouraged to bring your own sweaters.   So, grab all the old sweaters from your entire family and make a family quilt?   Could be fun.

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At the end of August, there are workshops on making stuffed toys, which looks like a lot of fun, too.   From the email:

Learn the craft of the critters that started it all back in 1987.  Ragamuffins are collages of body parts and shapes that allow for creative diversion.  Build your very own style with basic technique and components.  At the end of the session you will have a finished stuffed animal, puppet, or soft sculpture and a head full of inspiration to continue on your creative path. Completely hand sewn of all recycled wool sweaters.  No special tools or skill are required but strong hands and a general interest in hand work are advantageous.

And there are even more workshops on making everything from sweaters to scarves to kid’s clothes.      For more information, check out www.crispina.com or call 413-236-9600.   I just might see ya there.

Happy Memorial Day!

May 25th, 2009

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Happy Memorial Day!   I’m in New York City today filming a CBS Early Show segment (I’ll post it up here later this week) on natural mosquito repellents.    If you’re in your backyard grilling up a storm, you may need these easy and eco-friendly tips.

Come back tomorrow for regular posts!    Enjoy the day and thank all the men & women for their dedication to keeping our country safe.

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PS-Stopped by the Union Square Anthropologie store in NYC to check out the Wholearth display.   Perfume #7 is sold out and #4 has just one left!  Yeah!   Happy to see people are discovering it and loving it!   I promise we’ll get more product into stores very very soon.

UPDATE: Here’s the video of the CBS Early Show appearance with lots of natural and easy DIY ideas for repelling pesky mosquitoes:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5037825n%3fsource=search_video