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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bringing the Outdoors... In!

A bright red geranium adds color and
life to a corner in our dining room.
Original Image of the Gariepy House
by Lark Whicker

If you are like me, you like to have flowers around your house throughout the year.  Cut flowers can be expensive, and they really don't last all that long.  Nothing, in my opinion, looks worse than drooping, drying flowers and plants...  depressing!  One of my favorite inspirations for cozy, but grand, interiors was the late Queen Mother.  Now, how could ask how a family with an incredibly modest income could look to the Queen Mum for homekeeping inspiration?  Easy!  Many of the touches that I liked the most were very attainable for anyone (more on the QM and style in another post).

I've found a cost-effective, long-lasting alternative to weekly trips to the flower market.  Outdoor plants!  Now, this may seem obvious to many of you, but it was an entirely new idea to me several years ago.  You see, I love nothing more than big sprays of chrysanthemums in the fall.  Unfortunately, florist mums are pretty small compared to the huge outdoor varieties you can buy.  Our local farm had pots of enormous mums in every shade for less than the rather dinky indoor varieties.  I bought a few of these and brought them home and, guess what?  They lasted for weeks!  Each plant was covered with hundreds of buds, almost all of which opened over a month or more.  In fact, it was hard to get rid of them when Christmas rolled around.

Over the years, I've experimented with other outdoor plants and have found them to be superior to the foil-wrapped pots the florists and supermarkets sell for a mint.  Bright red zonal geraniums and scented geraniums are year round dazzlers, and even azaleas, delphiniums, roses and hydrangeas seem to thrive in our living room.  Remember, I am not talking about the obvious indoor plants you see, but those sold at your local nursery and farmstands.

One word of caution about the mums (the flowers, not the Queen!)...  If you have small children, beware!  Trips to urgent care were required to remove unbloomed chrysanthemum buds from the tiny, heart-shaped nostrils of more than one of our children!

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