Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dependable Daylilies

Some of the most dependable non-native plants in my landscape are clump forming hybrid daylilies. Daylilies are adaptable to a wide range of conditions and hardiness zones. In catalogs they are often shown as adaptable from zones 4 through 9, however some daylilies can be even be found for zone 1 or up to zone 11. Some cultivars have been developed to withstand colder winters, drier conditions, etc., so it is a good idea to source your daylilies locally if possible or read the mail order descriptions in detail to see if a particular variety is likely to do well in your area. And oh my, the different varieties that are available! You can find short through tall, early to late blooming, and evergreen to name a few different characteristics, each in a rainbow of colors. Some of my favorites are the very ruffled edged varieties whose edges are outlined in a contrasting color.

One word of caution however, there is one species of daylily that was introduced to the US 100-200 years ago that while well adapted (good), it is very invasive (bad). It is known as the common orange daylily or Hemerocallis fulva. This plant spreads aggressively, in my experience, by underground rhizomes and will quickly form an ever widening dense mat that crowds out other plants. I definitely discourage its use, but with so many other amazing hybrids of adapted, non-invasive daylilies available, this is no hardship.

The daylily varieties that I have in my zone 8 garden are very dependable bloomers. I have early and late bloomers as well as others that will even rebloom. Daylilies are very drought tolerant. I have found that the darker colored flowers will fade some in direct afternoon sun. While daylilies do need a half day of sun to flower reliably, you can plant your darker colored ones where they will be shaded in the afternoon to avoid this. Each bloom only lasts one day, however the plants send up stalks with multiple buds that open over a long period. All in all, my hybrid daylilies are beautiful, low maintenance and very well behaved, increasing in size very slowly and don’t threaten to take over their neighbors.

If you are not currently growing daylilies in your garden, I encourage you to try this low maintenance beauty. Be forewarned however. You can become addicted to continually adding new varieties once you realize how easy they are to grow. Your garden could become overrun with them, not because any one plant takes over but because you keep finding different beauties to add to your garden. If for some reason you have no room in your garden for daylilies, you can still enjoy their beauty through my photographic art daylily images on bookmarks, note cards and matted prints.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Design This – Music Cufflinks

Some time back when I mentioned to a friend that I was working on developing a line of flying pig cufflinks for my EclecticSkeptic shop, she asked if I could design a custom pair of music themed cufflinks for her to give as a gift. Since the flying pig cufflinks included a printed image of mine, I assured her that I could come up with something and asked if she had any basic thoughts about what she would like for them to look like. After sending a couple of examples her way, we hit on a personalized final design. In addition, I drew a generic music themed design from scratch since I was looking to expand my shop’s offerings by including some items for the music, math or science geek. While she and I, as well as the eventual gift recipient, were pleased with the final product, I found that I was having consistency issues as I continued to produce my cufflinks using the production method that I had researched, so it was “back to the drawing board” for me.

I searched for other options and tried different materials but was not one hundred percent excited about the final outcome until I finally located some low profile glass cabs. About this time my friend mentioned that she wished that she had suggested a slightly different design for the custom music cufflinks that I had made for her previously. I took this as a good opportunity to have someone test out the new cufflink construction that I was planning on using. I developed a new custom design using hand drawn letters based on a monogrammed handkerchief belonging to the recipient of the first pair of cufflinks and my hand drawn music note. This new design made the handkerchief and cufflinks look like a set. Everyone has been very pleased with the results and I have started stocking my silver plated or gold plated generic music themed cufflinks using the new materials in my EclecticSkeptic shop.

Music themed cufflinks make pleasing presents for the musician or music teacher. They would also be great groomsman gifts. If you are interested in multiple pairs of cufflinks, please contact me to check on the lead time needed to complete your request.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Customize This

I love it when a potential customer takes the time to ask me a question when they find almost, but not quite what they want in one of my shops, on my blog or in one of my facebook photo albums. Since my items are handmade, I am often able to accommodate these requests. Some of the requests that I have received involve changing the color of a particular component of an item, making multiples of an item that they liked or giving me some general dimensions, colors and elements that they want in the custom item. Unfortunately there are times that I don’t have the correct raw materials on hand or the time to tackle a large custom order, especially if asked during the height of the holiday retail season, but I’m always excited to try to help the people that take the time to write to me.

If I know that I have a variety of materials that will allow me to customize the color of an element in an item, I will include a photo in my listings of several possibilities along with a comment asking the shopper to contact me about the color availability of their choice. Such a request led me to adding tagua nut flying pig pins to my EclecticSkeptic shop since I could not find shell beads (pictured) in the desired color. Tagua nut is a sustainably harvested product that is a great ivory substitute and can be dyed a variety of colors. Recently I was pleased that I had the raw materials on hand to make as many multiples as needed of a different type of flying pig pin that someone saw in a listing, liked and wrote to me about.

So please don’t hesitate to send me an inquiry if you like an item of mine but it doesn’t quite have everything that you are looking for or need more than what is currently listed for sale. I welcome your inquiries and promise to see if I can create for you, the vision that you have in your head. Many other artisans feel the same way. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

National Wildflower Week 2012

In 1988, the American Wildflower Society sponsored the first National Wildflower Week. In 2002, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was asked to become the celebration’s coordinator. While many communities local to you may be holding events centered around wildflowers this week, if you are near Austin, TX you will find many ways to celebrate this week that were organized by the Wildflower Center. They will have extended evening hours and reduced evening admissions this Tuesday and Thursday so that you can enjoy the beautiful wildflowers on their grounds. In addition, on Friday, May 11 the Wildflower Center will participate in National Public Gardens Day and host Gardens on Tour on Saturday, May 12.

If you get a chance to get out and enjoy your local wildflower display, you might find some of the varieties seen on the two note cards seen here from my four card late spring wildflower note card set. In addition to their beauty, native wildflowers are beneficial and should be protected from invasive species and allowed to complete their life cycle where possible without being mowed down. Native butterflies, birds and other critters depend on these plants for food and habitat. Native wildflowers also provide erosion control and many even make great Earth friendly, waterwise additions to a home landscape.

Is you mom a nature lover? I bet she’d enjoy a leisurely hike to enjoy your local wildflower displays for Mother’s Day this Sunday.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thanks for the Treasuries - April 2012

Three different Etsians let me know that they had featured one or more of my items in a treasury during April. Six April Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my items. My Mother's Day Rose Print was even featured twice. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective that were featured during April. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)

I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below (in alphabetical order) links to the 3 Etsy sellers that let me know that they featured at least one of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the shop links of anything that catches your eye.

Find jewelry for every occasion - night on the town to formal wear and wedding attire to *Sparkly* everyday accessories.

Corkycrafts' unique wine cork wreathes and cork crafts make the perfect gift for the wine lover.

Fabric supplies such as quilt squares and yoyos in addition to lovely handmade purses, placemats and more.