FAREWELL to TREILLAGE……and an Ode to some garden finials

Breedlove Landscape Blog - Treillage

Breedlove Landscape – Treillage

My husband and I were gifted recently with an inheritance…..not the cash or kingdom kind, nor jewelry.  Instead, we received a set of four concrete flower & fruit garden finials.  Amazingly, they did not belong to any family members.  These were given by friends, weary with the task of dispersing a lifetime of goods that occupied their family home.

We were thrilled to have them, and frankly surprised that all four survived the decades intact.  Things happen in the garden….your dog spies a rabbit and goes tearing through the beds, jumping over the low wall that holds a finial.  Or the dear soul who comes to help with the heavy outdoor work and leans too closely and there goes the finial.  I love the word CROWN, and all that it implies, and found a very old brick bearing the word.  I placed it near a statue in my hellebore bed.  It went missing one day, and a search found it propping open a gate.  Things happen in the garden, including the slow march of time that embellishes statuary with its own brand of beauty:  mosses and lichens attest to the aging process.  Much like a face road-mapped with smile lines.

TREILLAGE closed last month, and although I never set foot in the door, I am sad it is gone.  Bunny Williams, ( my friends and I call her Bunny, but she doesn’t know us) and John Rosselli were spot-on the front end of the garden trend.  They knew what every good student of American history knows:  the Pilgrims brought their faith and their families here, and left the garden antiques behind.  So John and Bunny made a charming treasure trove of a shop filled with other people’s things from far, far away.  Once, at the end of a trip to NYC, I hurried to East 75th street, only to find Treillage closed for the day.  Undaunted, I stood like a kid outside a candy store and shopped from a crack in the door, my eyes surveying every single piece collected from the world over. Reluctantly I left, taking nothing with me but inspiration, excitement, ideas, and a renewed love of old gardeny things, and grateful that in the midst of a hustle-bustle city of gray and black, there was a refreshing oasis of green called TREILLAGE.  In spite of its closing, inspiration can still be had every year, as ‘Trade Secrets’ hosts a fabulous, and often famous, garden tour, and sometimes includes John and Bunny’s delightful farmhouse garden in Connecticut.

Funny thing about our recent inheritance;  the finials probably did start out in our family.  Paul’s father, an early Tyler landscape architect, designed and planted this home, and likely sold the four finials as finishing points on the low brick wall surrounding their back terrace.  At our house, they live inside; owing to the fact that all our posts and pedestals are currently occupied with other finials ( hmmm, a finial fetish?).  When you love the garden, the inside and outside begin to look the same.  Once, a client stopped by the house and coming inside stammered,  ” Your house…. It looks like your nursery.”  She was a little shocked, I think.  I was complimented.

Breedlove Landscape - Treillage

Breedlove Landscape – Treillage

Breedlove Landscape - Treillage

Breedlove Landscape – Treillage

Breedlove Landscape - Treillage

Breedlove Landscape – Treillage

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Spring Jubilee

Spring Jubilee

Spring Jubilee

Jubilee…..I love that word.  It contains all the festivity of a celebration without any of the fuss.  A ” seizing of the moment”……let’s pick some flowers, take a walk, or plan a meal.  It’s making a party out of an ordinary day.  Throwing together what you have on hand, adding a bit of what the French call “whimsy”, and there you have it:  an impromptu jubilee!

Spring is like a jubilee after a long, cold, dreary winter.  The jolly fountains of school-bus-yellow forsythia, coral-colored quince, pinky-purple Jane magnolia, all cause our winter-weary souls to rejoice.  Next come dogwoods, azaleas, and don’t forget the petticoats that frill our borders:  tulips, hyacinths and all their kin!  Birds are chirping, and blue skies give way to puffy rain clouds, then all of a sudden spring arrives in a jubilant symphony!

Sometimes life doesn’t feel like a jubilee….our loved ones go off to war, or we fight wars here at home:  the hardships of life, love and loss are constant enemies.  If nothing else, the seasons remind us that change is inevitable …..that while the glory of spring does not last forever, neither do the dog-days of August.

Paul and I love our work.  We are grateful to plant in your front yard or send you home with a pot of flowers.  We live our work, often making garden schemes early in the morning or after hours.  Our prayer for you, as well as ourselves, is that God will refresh our winter-weary spirits with his glorious creation—-spring.  Hurry on out, it won’t last long!

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Horticultural Tableware

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I’m having a bit of a crush on transferware these days…….which is odd, because it’s been nailed to my walls or stacked high on my tables for the last 30 years.  The charm of a scrolly printed scene of nature, seaside, or domestic life, all captured on a plate still appeal to me, and it seems, many others.

Looking like “toile” fabric, the “transfer printed image” is first carved onto a copper plate. Next, the copper is “inked” and the ink printed onto tissue paper, and lastly transferred to all sorts of dishes, cups, pitchers, bowls, tureens, and more.

Many colors exist, but the wildly popular blue outnumbers the others.  In the 1980’s, blue fell briefly out of favor, with brown taking first place.  Red, pink, ( really just red ink at the end of a run, looking faded), lavender ( called mulberry), green, teal, black and the elusive yellow, are all commonly seen at antique fairs and adorn walls across the globe.  Type in “transferware” on your electronic device and three days later you may be found drowning in the stuff.

But there is a link between my horticultural profession and these delightfully detailed dishes: each time I discover a new pattern with some variety of plant life painstakingly reproduced there by the Victorians some 100 years ago, I am reminded of the beauty of God’s creation, captured on a plate!  The botanical accuracy is astounding- and much like Redoute’s “precise rendering” of roses and other flowers;  they could be used in a classroom.  Oftentimes, as with botanical drawings, all stages of plant life are included: seed, leaf, flower, fruit and cone.

Equally charming as the illustrations on the front, are the names on the bottoms. “Backstamps” as they are commonly called, are works of art in miniature.  Besides the pattern name, the backstamp can include the maker, the pottery of origin, the date, and other information pertinent more to the serious collector than me.

Names like Ivy, Daffodil, Azalea, Camellia, Jessamine, Rose, Lily & Rose, Apple Blossom, Fushia, May Bloom, May Day, Floribel, Bouquet, Trellis, all enthrall the horticulturist within me and provide vivid landscape inspiration for my next garden.  My childhood is revisited with these names: Gossamer, Fairy, Fairy Dell, Maidenhair Fern, ( the fern of choice for fairies who live in the Dell ), Enchanted Garden, Festival….. all words your third grade teacher might put on a list and have you write a story about.  The girls would be thrilled and the boys would groan.

My dishes have served us well over the years;  decorated our home, lined flower beds as edging, been shattered into thousands of pieces for my broken china classes, and have even graced our table for their primary purpose:  to be a receptacle for food and the fellowship that occurs around a meal, sharing stories and heartaches and happiness, and nourishing our souls as well as our bellies. The oft heard phrase “if walls could talk” holds no interest for me. I wish these dishes could talk.

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Mirror made with Laurie’s favorite “backstamps” and porcelain dresser flowers

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A Little Garden Magic

The Follow
Magic is a little hard to find these days…..that is if you don’t equate magic with all sorts of electronic devices that cause things to appear out of thin air. No, the kind of magic I’m talking about is something unexpectedly out of the ordinary, but with a bit of the everyday mixed in.

Imagine that an azalea has died in your front yard and amongst your Saturday errands is the task of replacing it. You are running late and frankly, Breedloves is a tad out of the way (unless you’re at the soccer fields, Willowbrook, heading to connect the new loop 49, picking up a visitor at the airport, or ordering coffee at the newest Starbucks in town; but I digress).

You pull in, parking under the shade of a Live Oak tree. Not really feeling conversational, you avoid the friendly folk inside and start down the road near the water feature. The splashing sound and darting fish catch your eye, but on a mission to find that one azalea, you hurry on. Dismay sets in as you realize you forgot to bring a bloom to match. It is azalea trail time, and before you are a rainbow of colors, none of which you can choose as your own! Harumff!! Your steps slow enough to survey the beauty. Like colors in a crayon box, you had forgotten how many there are, and how luminously they blend together.

Lost in thought, you are startled by a sudden breeze and chimes ringing……sounding like church bells you once heard in England. Looking up you notice a bell tower……where did that come from? And what are those other structures…..a curved wall, a crumbling turret; is that an owl perched overhead? And what in the world is in the middle? A little stacked stone cottage whose layers look more like Graham crackers than stone. A jagged window reveals a red capped gnome. A windswept sasanqua covers the front corner. Benches and rocks are scattered for resting….sheep graze out back, and a black one seems to be escaping through a hole in the hedge. You have discovered our folly.

You laugh out loud and relax for the first time today.

A little garden magic? Maybe. A lot of hard work? Certainly. The blessing of working in God’s creation? Absolutely!

We at Breedloves are surrounded by a team of people who are craftsmen. People skilled at their tasks of planting, trimming, building stone structures, making your sprinklers work. People skilled at drawing gardens on paper, then planting that picture in your front yard. People that order, stock,sell, all with a smile. People that answer questions and solve problems. All people who love what they do and it shows.

Come on out one day this spring. Wander around and see the new plants or pots, and the folly. Get what you need or get nothing. But either way, you’ll leave with a sprinkling of garden magic.

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The Folly

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There is a spot behind our nursery where Paul has envisioned a folly. Over the last 20 years we have bantered about various ideas, never really settling on one…….until now. Somehow, in planning festivities for our 85th year, the folly crystallized onto paper, and is slowly morphing into reality.

Which is an oxymoron because follies aren’t real…..they are fanciful bits of architecture that don’t really belong. Doors that don’t open, structures that don’t make sense, crumbling turrets and winding walls. They can be fairy tale-like with whimsical features. And they must not be perfect…..which adds another layer of difficulty when your stone masons are excellent builders. One must coax them into laying crooked stones, ” loco” as we affectionately call them.

Mounds of dirt must be moved, sculpting a terrain that implies an abandoned and windswept land. Then we gather overgrown and gnarly plant material, (we love this part) placing it all so the folly looks time worn. Vines cling to the ruins, cloaking them in mystery.

There are inhabitants that must move in…..at night of course. A red cap peeks through the Gnome’ s Cottage….is it the gnome? An owl perches on the Castle Keep. Something is grazing in the Sheep’s Meadow….sheep perhaps? Chimes must be hung in the Bell Tower and the faux Bois must be planted.

Join us as we begin revealing our folly!

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PLANTING HAPPINESS for 85 YEARS

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Planting happiness is one of our slogans at Breedlove’s. Not certain of its origins, we give credit to Paul’s grandfather, Jesse Breedlove, founder of our company. Only thing is, I can’t see a big, burly rose farmer back in the late 20’s saying anything about planting happiness; he was too busy working. But he did manage to sell Tyler rose bushes over the radio via the Grand Ole Opry. I quite imagine that lent some happiness to those bleak depression years.

Eighty five years later we are still planting happiness…not just rose bushes, but flower gardens, azalea gardens, formal gardens, shade trees, magnolias, camellia and sasanqua gardens, commercial landscapes, and rooftop gardens.

We build follies, stone patios and stream beds, fireplaces, waterfalls, gazebos and trellis work; all called the hardscape that completes the landscape. Our work takes us outside everyday, and we thank God for it.

We have resisted the urge to migrate southward, past the shopping malls and new neighborhoods, and focus instead where our roots are. Yes, we’d love to be more convenient to you, our treasured friend in the garden, but that would mean leaving behind the rambling acres where the family horses watch as you select a tree from the hilltop near their pasture. Their soft nicker distracts you from the Burr Oaks, Red Oaks and Maples in their 45, 65, and 100 gallon pots. You were imagining the shade they would cast upon your home. Over near the crape myrtles a cloud of bees are humming as they conjure up their magical nectar. We carry 35 varieties of Japanese Maples, because we love them and you do too. Fish dart in the waterfall and old trees rustle way overhead.

When it’s hot, there is icy bottled water in a fountain, and when it’s cold, coffee from the local Starbucks. And every so often, scones or pastries from a budding culinary professional.

Many thanks go to the generations of family, past and present, who have helped build Breedlove’s into what we are today. And a hearty thank you to our dedicated and talented staff who feel more like family than employees.

We invite you to celebrate our 85th year with special events this October.  We will continue to serve you in our garden, or yours. And we are grateful for the opportunity.

photo credit….Old gas station prices given to us by a dear friend on our 80th. The sunflowers grow near the waterfall and the “plus” sign came from Crape Myrtle wood. Hope you like our “story problem” that shows our age!!

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The Glass Rainbow

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If my children knew what I brought home from the junk shop today, they would disown me.  Not that it was heavy or big….no, my purchase would fit inside a coffee cup.  That’s the problem.  I love small things….and lots of them.

Always in a hurry, I was whisking through a shop when a box of tiny glass vials caught my eye.  Peering in for a closer look, I situated my cheaters and leaned towards the light. Hundreds of bottles, the size of a 2 inch pencil, lay glistening in a crowded heap.  Inside each diminutive corked test tube was powdered paint, and according to the label, made specifically for china.

Because of my horticultural profession, I am a wreck over plant names and colors.  And here before me, arrayed like a fragile rainbow, were shades of earth and sky.

Air Blue………really?  What a simple, perfect name for the childhood sky we all remember from our cloud watching days.  Air Blue….why didn’t I think of that last year when writing an article on blue flowers?

When faced with choosing a favorite color, I waver between pink and green.  Pink, I know comes from all those girly things:  ballet slipper pink, bubble gum pink, powder puff pink. But today the enchanting green names win me over.

Hundreds of green hues exist, and now I owned 12 of them, captured on fading labels.  Apple Green, Olive Green, Emerald Green; each distinctly conjures up the correct tint, matching its name. Sap Green….Hmmmm….I thought sap was the color of honey.  Moss Green, surely at the bottom of the garden where fairies live?  Next comes Brown Green; you’ve seen that.  It’s what our lawns looked like last summer.  Shading Green….the color of leaves in the shade?  Exponentially different than leaves in the sun, all garden planners know that.  Yellow Green is next, but not to be confused with Chartreuse……the charming if overused color of sweet potato vine, surely a remote cousin to Kudzu.

Meissen Green, perhaps the aristocrat of all greens, made famous by the porcelain manufactured and painted in Germany in early 1700s.  If you own any, you know immediately the green.  Finally Darkest Green rounds out the landscape colors before Deep Blue Green leads us from earth to sky.

If Royal Copenhagen Grey describes foggy clouds after a rain, what does Deep Violet of Gold look like? The glory of the sun sparkling on those very same raindrops?  Celestial Turquoise is a Santa Fe sky….I’ve never seen it anywhere else.  But then, I’ve never been to Sevres, France for which Sevres Blue is named.

Out of the ground, Chocolate Brown or Chestnut Brown, depending on your soil type, grow Primrose Yellow flowers, Peach Blossoms, and tender pink Sweet Peas.  At the end of the season, Ashes of Roses describe the last spent petals, drifting away til next year.

If your garden is lacking any of these colors, call me. Or better yet, buy some porcelain paints for an indoor garden.  Every day I am surrounded with the beauty of creation. Oftentimes I look for new words to describe the landscape to my clients.  I think my new porcelain paint colors will help.

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