FAQ Why are Barns Red?

There are three reasons we see so many red American barns. It’s traditional, it’s practical and the color looks good.

Although a main reason to paint wooden buildings is for appearances, paint also protects the wood so it lasts longer.

During the 1700s and early 1800s, barns on family farms in the Northeast U.S. were typically covered with thick vertical boards. When they were left unpainted, the boards would slowly weather to a brownish-gray color.

But after the mid-1800s, to improve the efficiency of their barns by reducing drafts to help keep their animals more comfortable in winter, many farmers tightened up their barns by having wooden clapboards horizontally nailed on the outside barn walls. These clapboards were sawed quite thin, so painting them provided needed protection and dressed up the appearance of the barns.

In the 1800s it was common for people to make their own paints by mixing pigments with linseed oil made from flax seeds and other ingredients. Pigments are dry materials that add color. They were available in various hues, but the tint we see so often on older American barns was called Venetian red.

According to the 1884 edition of “Everybody’s Paint Book,” by F.B. Gardner, Venetian red was “suitable for any common work, or for brickwork and outbuildings.” This red pigment penetrated well into wooden barn boards and resisted fading when exposed to sunlight, so it could age gracefully for generations.

But as people found similar iron oxide deposits in many other places, “Venetian red” became a generic term for light red pigments that did not have any purplish tinge. By the 1920s, such “earth pigments” used to make red paints were being dug in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, California, Iowa and Vermont.

By the late 1800s, in addition to red, it became fashionable to paint barns with other color schemes, especially those designed to complement the architectural styles and finishes of owners’ houses. These included various hues of yellows, greens and browns. Also, white paint commonly was applied to barns and houses.

But red paint remained popular on many farms because it was the most affordable. In 1922 the Sears, Roebuck catalogue offered red barn paint for just $1.43 per gallon, while other colors of house paints sold for at least $2.25 per gallon – nearly twice as much

Today, many modern barns don’t resemble classic versions. Very large barns that hold hundreds of cows or pigs look more like hangars or warehouses, and may be built of metal. But the tradition of painting smaller barns red continues – so strongly that the U.S. Postal Service now celebrates them on postage stamps.

by Thomas Durant Visser, Professor of Historic Preservation, University of Vermont.

Wooden bird that once sold at auction for $100 belonged to Anne Boleyn

Written byHannah Ryan, CNNKatharina Krebs, CNNLondon

When antique dealer Paul Fitzsimmons bought an ornate wooden bird from an auction for £75 ($101) in 2019, he knew that it must have been associated with a member of the royal family — but he just didn’t know who.So he put on his detective goggles, eventually coming to the conclusion that its original owner was Anne Boleyn — the Tudor queen who was beheaded by Henry VIII of England. Now, the rare artifact is believed to be worth around £200,000 ($269,900).Fitzsimmons, from Devon, in southwest, England, is now planning to gift the 16th century falcon to Hampton Court Palace — where the wooden bird would have likely adorned Boleyn’s private quarters — on a long-term loan. He said he was delighted to make the discovery after matching the bird to a Hampton Court Palace drawing that depicted the same piece. An analysis of the bird against the drawing confirmed his hunch.

“It is really quite an incredible find because Anne Boleyn is probably the most famous woman of all time,” Fitzsimmons told CNN. “And Henry VIII did his utmost best to completely obliterate every trace of her. All her emblems were removed from the palace, and nothing survived,” he said, adding: “This is really quite spectacular because it is in perfect condition and it has got all its original gilding, all its original paint.”The notorious Henry VIII famously split from the Catholic Church to divorce his first wife, Catherine, in order to marry Boleyn in 1533. The move led to the creation of a separate Church of England. But three years later, he accused Boleyn of adultery, incest and conspiracy — and ordered her death.

A 19th-century painting depicting the Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn’s first meeting.

Fitzsimmons said that while the staggering value of the Boleyn bird is notable, the most important thing to him is making sure that it “gets back to the right location where it should be.””It really has to go back to Hampton Court Palace,” Fitzsimmons said of Henry VIII’s favorite residence. “It does carry a huge value. But it’s not about the value,” he added.Historian Tracy Borman, chief curator for Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages Hampton Court Palace, told CNN that she is also excited about the discovery of Boleyn’s wooden falcon.”This discovery is hugely significant. Artifacts relating to Anne Boleyn are incredibly rare, thanks to the fact that Henry VIII wanted all traces of her removed from his palaces after her execution in 1536,” Borman said.

Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England’s Henry VIII

Borman explained that the bird is “very similar to others carved for the Great Hall at Hampton Court in preparation for Anne becoming queen and was likely part of the decorative scheme. The carving is very fine and restoration work has uncovered the beautiful gilding which suggests it was a high status item.”She added that the bird was “likely saved by a supporter of Anne,” saying that it is “wonderful that it has survived for almost 500 years, right up to the present day.”A prayer book inscribed by Mary, Queen of Scots is expected to sell for up to $434,000

Borman also pointed out that the discovery is bound to excite Boleyn’s notable fanbase.”Of all Henry’s wives, Anne Boleyn has by far the largest following so this find is likely to attract a huge amount of interest,” Borman said.Borman’s forthcoming book “Crown & Sceptre” will offer a comprehensive history of the British monarchy. She said she is “delighted” that she found out about this surviving artifact of Boleyn’s life in time to include it in the book.

Christie’s Guide to Collecting Chinese Pottery

Christies has managed to use such phenomenally rare pieces and astronomical prices that it might put off most people. But these Rules are as honest and useful that they would apply if you were scouring a local flea market in search of a treasure. I especially agree with Number 3- Buy what you love. In all things antique and decorative- if you have a talent for collecting; your gut leads you to as many treasures as an advanced degree.

I however, am not blessed in this regard and I offer up the following story to prove it.

I found a Blue and White Yen Yen Vase in the closet of my aunt. I asked her what I should do with it in her new apt and she said she thought it was awkward and not worth anything- Please take it away! So I had the “not worth very much” in my head and never applied the Rules below- ever- not even when I opened an antique store in Washington, DC. I did not look at it when I took it to my farm on the Northern Neck or to my home in Roland Park where I used it as a doorstop/umbrella stand. I only looked at it sparsely when a dog hit it coming in the house and sent it sprawling across the floor. I said exactly to my husband what was said to me “its not worth very much- take it away” and into the store it went.

Luckily we are lazy dealers and it was never priced or photographed. I only slightly noticed when my husband mentioned that a very nice Chinese gentleman said he would like the price. Spider had told him that he wasn’t even sure it was for sale. But something went off in my brain and I asked my husband, “how long did he look at it? ” For quite awhile he said and then I got on line and the first thing I saw was that the Baltimore Antiques Show was in town. 2 + 2 and I was in the car the next day and driving to Freemans Auction. Freeman’s suggested that it was worth 1500.00 and they would stick it in the next auction. I told Spider that if the man came back, he could contact Freemans.

Now I am a fan of Freemans. But the auction catalog arrived and my vase was not even pictured. And had what I would say was a rushed description. No photos at all- not the vase not the underside- nothing. And the auction was in 2 days. I called and did my part to get a do-over by placing a Reserve- which could not possibly be met with no photography.

The buyer paid $19,800. Enough said!!

Lessons Learned: Don’t let anyone else tell you what something is worth- figure it out yourself. Don’t be lazy when putting things up for sale and apparently don’t ask me or my husband anything.


Christie’s Collecting guide:

10 things you need to know about Chinese ceramics

What new collectors need to know about palettes, glazes, reign marks and more, plus why it pays to handle as many pieces as possible 

1 Handle as many pieces as possible

A teadust-glazed hu-form vase, Qianlong incised six-character seal mark and of the period (1736-1795). 13¾ in (34.9 cm) high, Japanese wood box. Estimate $100,000-150,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

A teadust-glazed hu-form vase, Qianlong incised six-character seal mark and of the period (1736-1795). 13¾ in (34.9 cm) high, Japanese wood box. Estimate: $100,000-150,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

Chinese potters have copied Chinese ceramics for hundreds of years, both out of reverence for an earlier period and to fool buyers — so beware. There is no quicker way to learn than to handle as many pieces as possible. Large numbers of Chinese ceramics are offered around the world at reputable auction houses, which, unlike museums, allow potential buyers to handle them, so make the most of the opportunity. This creates an understanding of the weight of a piece and the quality of the painting — of how a ceramic should feel in the hand.

2 Ask questions

A very rare blue and white dish, Yongle period (1403-1425). 13¾ in (34.8 cm) diam. Sold for $637,500 in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 25 September 2020 at Christie’s in New York

Building the knowledge needed to authenticate Chinese ceramics can take many years. Reading reference books can give structure to the field, but pick specialists’ brains and ask as many questions as possible. There is nothing that a specialist with a little time on their hands likes more than to talk about their subject.

3 Buy what you love

Do not necessarily think of buying for investment. If you buy what you like, you will never be disappointed. Try to buy the best quality example your budget will allow.

A very rare yellow and green-enameled ‘dragon’ vase, Jiaqing incised six-character seal mark and of the period (1796-1820). Estimate $150,000-250,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

A very rare yellow and green-enameled ‘dragon’ vase, Jiaqing incised six-character seal mark and of the period (1796-1820). Estimate: $150,000-250,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

4 Familiarize yourself with different palettes and glazes

Palettes and glazes evolved over the centuries. For example, the wucai (literally ‘five-colour’) palette was used in the Wanli period (1573-1619) and led to the famille verte palette, which was introduced in the 17th century and the Kangxi period (1662-1722). This was a palette of green, predominantly, plus blue, red, yellow and black. The famille rose palette was added to the ceramic painter’s repertoire in the 1720s and featured a prominent rose colour; the enamels were opaque and there was a wider repertoire of colours. In the 18th century, there were many technical advances, and glazes such as copper-red and flambé were introduced.

A rare and unusual Doucai moon flask, 18th century. 12¼ in (31.2 cm) high, hardwood stand. Estimate $50,000-70,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

A rare and unusual Doucai moon flask, 18th century. 12¼ in (31.2 cm) high, hardwood stand. Estimate: $50,000-70,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

5 Learn about the differences in glazes across kiln sites

Ceramics were made all over China and the kilns in the north and south produced different types of wares and glazes. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), for example, beautiful celadon-glazed ceramics were produced in the Longquan area of southwest Zhejiang province, and also by the Yaozhou kilns in the northern Shaanxi province. The celadon glazes differed between these two kilns, with the Longquan glaze often giving a warmer, bluish-green tone, compared with the Yaozhou glazes that were more olive.

Jun wares from the Song dynasty were produced with beautiful lavender glazes, often highlighted by abstract purple splashes. The Dehua kilns specialised in ceramics with white and cream glazes. In the late Ming dynasty in the 17th century, Dehua wares were creamy in tone, but by the 19th century, these had became more ivory and white. Also during the Ming dynasty, the kilns at Jingdezhen in the south of China produced most of the blue and white ceramics.

6 Look underneath

A rare underglaze-blue and enamel-decorated dish, Zhengde-Jiajing period (1506-1566). 7 in (17.7 cm) diam. Sold for $81,250 on 25 September 2020 at Christie’s New York 

The way the base of a vessel was cut, finished and glazed changed from one dynasty to the next, which can help enormously in the dating and authenticating process — especially as forgers don’t always get it right. They may not have an original example to copy, relying instead on photographs in auction catalogues or books, and these don’t always include images of the base.

7 Recognize changes in blue decoration

This decorative element changed a lot over the centuries. A characteristic of 15th-century blue and white porcelain, for example, was the so-called ‘heaped and piled effect’, in which the cobalt-blue underglaze was concentrated in certain areas, bubbling through the surface of the glaze and turning a deep blue-black. This inadvertently gave texture, energy and shading to the design and was highly admired in the 18th century. 

Chinese potters subsequently mastered the technique of firing blue and white wares to achieve a more even cobalt-blue tone. But the tone varied from one dynasty to the next. During the Wanli period (1573-1619), for example, blue and white wares often had a greyish-blue tone, while in the Jiajing period (1522-1566), the tone was almost purplish-blue.

8 Pay attention to shapes and proportions

The shape of ceramics also evolved. Song dynasty ceramics, for example, were often inspired by nature and foliate in form. Chinese ceramics are also well known for their beautiful proportions. A vase or bowl that looks out of proportion is an indication that a neck or mouth has been ground down.

A flambé -glazed ‘pomegranate’ vase, Qianlong six-character incised seal mark and of the period (1736-1795). 7 78 in (20 cm) high, Japanese wood box. Estimate $50,000-70,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

A flambé -glazed ‘pomegranate’ vase, Qianlong six-character incised seal mark and of the period (1736-1795). 7 7/8 in (20 cm) high, Japanese wood box. Estimate: $50,000-70,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

9 Consider the condition

What makes the condition of a ceramic acceptable or otherwise depends on whether or not it is Imperial-quality and when it was made. For example, on a non-Imperial porcelain vessel made in the 17th century — such as a Kraak ware charger — you would expect to see some kiln grit or kiln dust on the base and perhaps a firing flaw that would have occurred in the kiln. Both would be acceptable. 

However, you would not expect to find these kind of flaws on an 18th-century Imperial mark and period ceramic, because the firing techniques would have been refined. Fifteen years ago, only mint-condition mark and period ceramics would have been considered acceptable. Now, however, collectors will consider ceramics that have been broken and restored, or which have hairline cracks.

10 Familiarise yourself with marks

Reign marks state the dynasty and the name of the emperor for which an item was made, and were used on all ceramics made for the emperor and his imperial household. Do not rely on a reign mark to establish the age of a piece, however. Marks were often copied and can be apocryphal.

A pair of rare gilt-decorated coral-ground ‘dragon’ dishes, Yongzheng yuan nian jianzhi marks, corresponding to 1723, in underglaze blue within double circles and of the period. 7⅞ in (20 cm) diameters, softwood stands. Sold for $43,750 in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 25 September 2020 at Christie’s in New York

A useful reference book is The Handbook of Marks on Chinese Ceramics, Gerald Davison, London, 1994. Reign marks should be studied alongside the many different variations of hallmarks, auspicious marks, potters’ marks and symbols that you find on the bases of Chinese porcelain throughout the ages.

CHINESE VASES

SHAPES, STYLES AND PROPORTIONS

It’s hard to explain what attracts the human eye to one shape or form over another. It’s a matter of scale, proportions, symmetry and of course color. Chinese potters throughout history have been more influential than any other culture in setting the standards by which nearly all vases are viewed. Today, it’s nearly impossible to buy a table vase that doesn’t owe it’s shape in some degree to an original Chinese form.

Antique Chinese vases have over the centuries been produced in a wide variety of shapes and styles. Some forms were based on prototypes originally carved in jade or cast in bronze. Their constant evolution throughout history, always adapting but never losing their stylistic roots from their earliest days is a testimony to their timeless designs.

Jade Congs came originally in a great variety of sizes and are frequently found in Liangzhu tombs, sometimes arranged in a circle around the body. Their original meaning and function remain unknown. 

The form came back into fashion in ceramics during the Song (960–1279) to Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) and then again during the Qianlong Period (1736-1795) and became particularly popular during the 19th C. as a porcelain form

MEIPING

The earliest examples were produced during the Tang dynasty (618-907)  were used as wine vessels. By the Song dynasty (960-1279) their use had evolved into being used to display plum blossoms, hence the name they are known by today “Meiping”. The word literally translates into “plum vase”.  The Song to Yuan examples were done in Cizhou, Yaozhou, celadons and Qingbai wares. During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644)  they were produced primarily in blue and white and on rare occasions in underglaze red. During the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) the ranges produced expanded immensely, including blue and white, langyao, flambe glazes, sancai, famille verte and famille rose decorations.  Among the millions of porcelains produced over the centuries antique Chinese vases in the Meiping shape remains one of the most popular forms. 

Yuhuchunping

Yuhuchunping vases were first produced during the Tang dynasty (618-907) and were made to hold holy water. By the Song dynasty  (960-1279) the form had become a popular type of wine vessel.  During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) the shape became more refined as well as being decorated with both underglaze blue and red. This tradition continued into the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and into the Qing dynasty (1644-1912).  Today they are often referred to as “Pear Shaped vases”. During the Yuan and Ming dynasties the form was further adapted by the addition of handles and spouts for wine.

HULUPING, DOUBLE GOURD VASES

The Huluping derived its shape originally from the actual double gourd plant during the Song dynasty at the Longquan kilns. Double gourds are thought to have magical medicinal healing properties and were believed to absorb “negative energy” known as KI. They are also symbols of fertility.  The first dated examples were produced at the Souther Song Longquan kilns. They can be found in every palette of colors imaginable. Including Tea Dust, black, Famille Verte, Wucai, Sancai, Flambe etc.  During the Kangx period in particular, numerous triple gourd examples were made as well. 

“GU”, BEAKER VASES

GU vases also known as “Beaker” or “Flaring” vases have their roots in the early bronze age during the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256 BC).  It’s original purpose was as a wine drinking vessel. The first porcelain examples are thought to have been during the Yuan dynasty.  The form became particularly popular during the middle of the 17th C. right through the Qianlong period.  Most often decorated with celadon glazes, underglaze blue and with overglaze enamels in Wucai, Famille Verte and Famille Rose. Flambe examples also come onto the market once in a while.  This particular shape can be found in a variety of other antique Chinese vases with slight variations in style. 

SUANTOUPING, GARLIC HEAD VASE

The Garlic mouth or garlic head vases were first produced in bronze during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). The form is that of a  pear shaped vase with a garlic head shaped into the top at the mouth.

BAOYUEPING; BIANHU; MOON FLASK OR PILGRIM FLASK

 Moon Flask or Pilgrim Flasks were first produced during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) based on Middle-Easter vessels produced in silver and gold brought to China by traders. The bodies are of circular flattened form is fitted with a narrow cylindrical neck with flanking applied handles linking the neck and body. Typically the early Ming examples are decorated in underglaze blue and later periods enamels were also used. On very rare occasions they were also produced in underglaze red.  The earliest examples made during the Ming dynasty had a swollen area on the neck and are generally referred to a “Pilgrim Flasks”.  Today “moon flasks” are still extremely popular among collectors of antique Chinese vases. 

TIANQIUPING; GLOBULAR VASES

First developed during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), these are notable for their heavily rounded bulbous bodies and long straight necks.  During the Qing dynasty particularly in through the Qianlong period these became court favorites and were made using a wide variety of decorations.  Among the wide range of antique Chinese vases this particular form is among the most enduring. 

XIANGTUIPING; TONGPING; SLEEVE VASE, ROLWAGEN VASE

A shape developed during the very end of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and into the earliest days of the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). Most recognized as a development of the “Transitional Period” .  The literal translation for Xiangtuiping is “Elephant foot” vase.  The term Tongping refers to “sleeve vase” or are referred to using the Dutch word “Rolwagen”, a term that evolved when they were first brought to Holland in the 17th C. The form noted for its brief waisted neck and relatively straight vertical sides. 

LIUYEPING; ‘WILLOW LEAF’ VASE “AMPHORA”

The name, Liuyeping, is derived from the vase’s slender profile, which resembles a willow leaf. The shape originated in the Kangxi Reign (1662–1722 AD) during the Qing dynasty, and is often found in a peach-bloom glaze.

BANGCHUIPING; ‘ROULEAU’ VASE

The term Bangchuiping translates literally from Chinese to “Wooden Club”. A name derived from this vases form of a cylindrical body with flat shoulders with a cylindrical flanged neck.  French Asian art historians coined the term Rouleau due to it’s roll-form body. The shape was developed during the Kangxi period (1661 – 1722.). Most often this form is decorated with underglaze blue, Famille verte and with the two combined.  Minochromes in cobalt blue and Famille Noire examples also exist.  Among antique Chinese vases of the Kangxi period, Rouleau examples are among the most sought from the Kangxi period.  Numerous convincing later copies can be found on the market as well. 

FENGWEIZUN; PHOENIX-TAIL, VASE; YEN-YEN VASE

The form, most commonly known as Yen-Yen vases is derived from the earlier GU shape originating as a bronze form during the Shang dynasty. The began being made during the Kangxi (1662-1722) and are often used in garniture sets coupled with tall covered jars. They were produced in Famille Verte, Famille Noire, cobalt blue and mirror black.  During the Yongzheng and Qianlong period few in this form seem to have been made but came back into fashion during the 19th C.  Yen-Yen’s are among the most recognizable of all antique Chinese vases associated with the Kangxi period, be careful when buying some very good copies are now on the market.

YAOLINGZUN; ‘MALLET-SHAPED’ VASE

The form, most commonly known as “Mallet vases” is characterized by the bell form and long narrow circular neck. The most well know examples were made during the Kangxi period (1662-1721) During the Yongzheng and Qianlong periods very few in this form seem to have been made and fewer were made during the 19th C.  The majority of these fine and rare antique Chinese vases were done with underglaze red decorations. 

HAITANGZUN; LOBED VASE, BEGONIA-SHAPED VASE

The vase’s recognizable characteristic is that it is a lobed vase – in other words it has a lobed/sectioned mouth and most often has lines running down the vase, splitting it into panels or sections.

Many thanks to Peter Combs to whom I refer constantly.

Collecting Wrought Iron Furniture

One of our stores, Parterre garden Shop in Phoenix, Maryland specializes in vintage wrought iron furniture and garden ornaments. This year Parterre has shipped all over the country and the desire for these pieces seems strong. Buying these unique items for the store has required a great deal of tire rubber and fast food but the assembled collection is pretty strong and can be found on DGDHomecatalog.com or on Chairish.

The following is the best article on why to buy collectable vintage furniture. Below that is a list of what is considered to be the styles and names to collect.

Wrought-iron beauty from a more stylish age

  • By Bob Wyss Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

When Linda and Louie Saltus of Westfield, Mass., went looking for the perfect outdoor furniture for their brick patio, they visited everything from specialty shops to big discount stores.

They found what they wanted at a flea market.

“I wanted something fanciful, that would last,” explains Linda. “Look at this table; they just don’t make them like this anymore.”

She was pointing to a 60-year-old wrought-iron table with a glass top and six metal chairs. The set was built by John B. Salterini, who emigrated from Italy and from 1928 to 1953 made quality outdoor furniture.

“Salterini made pieces for the millionaires,” says Joni Lima, who, along with partner Joseph Spaider, runs Iron Renaissance in Damariscotta, Maine.

“The 1920s to the 1940s was when the absolutely best furniture was made,” says Mr. Lima. “It is far better than what you can find today.”

There are still some extremely talented individual craftsmen making great pieces, says Barbara Israel, author of “Antique Garden Ornament.” But she agrees that today’s mass-market metal furniture isn’t the same quality as that of an earlier era.

“What makes them so appealing is that the designs are gentler and more lyrical,” says Ms. Israel, who also owns Barbara Israel Garden Antiques in Katonah, N.Y.

American wrought-iron furniture of the first half of the 20th century was a product of craftsmen – many of them immigrants – in the New York area and portions of the Midwest.

Wrought iron is lighter than cast iron and more pliable, making it easier to wrap into a variety of fanciful designs. Many chairs and tables of that era feature metal acorns, intricate fern leaves, and grape vines, and have legs and arms that wrap into scrolls and cylindrical designs. There are even chairs or chaise longues that rise up in the back to create little roofs to shade one’s head. The designs resemble all of the popular styles of the day, from Art Deco to GothicRevival.

This type of wrought-iron furniture is often called an antique, although traditionalists might quibble because that label is usually reserved for something at least 100 years old. One has to look a little bit harder for this older outdoor furniture, and one also has to be wary. There are many cheap reproductions to be found, many of which come from Mexico or Asia. For quality and authenticity, proponents tout such names as Woodard, Florentine Craftsmen, Molla, and Leinfelder.

Israel says she sometimes regrets mentioning the Leinfelder firm in her book because it has become increasingly more difficult to find its work.

Based in LaCroix, Wis., the company began as a blacksmith shop that made large objects for customers. “But on slow days they would make this beautiful, whimsically designed furniture that they would sell through a New York retailer,” says Israel.

Another Midwest manufacturer of wrought-iron furniture was Woodard Inc. of Owosso, Mich., which is still in business. Lyman E. Woodard began the business in 1866, making wood products from window sashes to pine caskets. His son, Lee, branched into metal furniture in 1933. It was a risky move, especially during the Depression, but Woodard priced his products lower than many other metal craftsmen, aiming for a broader market.

In New York, Salterini specialized in the high end. Besides the traditional tables and chairs, the firm made several exotic pieces, including a double chaise longue with large metal wheels and elaborate wrought-iron spokes. In the back, metal braces swept up in an arching pattern to hold a large shade canopy. According to an old catalog, Salterini also sold benches, with pillows, including a sturdy rounded version that could seat six.

Molla

molla seashell outdoor furniture
 Ebay member eames14

Molla began in England in the late 1800s but moved to the East Coast to produce neoclassical cast aluminum and magnesium metal furniture that was saltwater resistant—suitable for the estates in Newport, Rhode Island, and beach houses on Cape Cod. Midcentury pieces featured Alumaloy frames that were advertised as being resistant to pitting and rusting—major issues with metal furniture kept outside. Metal finishes included special names like Pompeian, Old Pewter, Mediterranean Blue, Iridescent Green, Venetian Blue, Venetian Green, and Yellow.

What we collect

Molla began in England in the late 1800s but moved to the East Coast to produce neoclassical cast aluminum and magnesium metal furniture that was saltwater resistant—suitable for the estates in Newport, Rhode Island, and beach houses on Cape Cod. Midcentury pieces featured Alumaloy frames that were advertised as being resistant to pitting and rusting—major issues with metal furniture kept outside. Metal finishes included special names like Pompeian, Old Pewter, Mediterranean Blue, Iridescent Green, Venetian Blue, Venetian Green, and Yellow.

Notable Lines and Products:

  • Brighton
  • Diana the Huntress
  • Double chaise lounge
  • Greek key
  • Marina
  • Nassau
  • Neoclassical
  • Seahorse and Shell (pictured, photo courtesy of eBay member eames14)
  • Zodiac table

Location: Owosso, Michigan
Era: 1930s
Founders: Lee Woodard began making handcrafted metal furniture in the 1930s. His three sons, Joe, Lyman and Russell, built the company to become a leader in outdoor furnishings.

Notable Lines and Products:

  • Andalusion
  • Chantilly Rose
  • Chateau Lorraine
  • Daisy Bouquet
  • Grapevine
  • Mayfield
  • Pacific
  • Pinecrest
  • Sculptura
  • Spun fiberglass
  • Trianon
  • Tulip-shaped aluminum

Location: New York City
Era: 1928 to 1953
Founder: John B. Salterini, who emigrated from Italy

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Notable Lines and Products:

  • Banana Leaf
  • Cheerio 
  • Clamshell by Italian architect/designer Maurizio Tempestini
  • Cubist
  • Della Robbia
  • Dogwood
  • French Provincial
  • Ivy
  • Laurel Leaf
  • Lily Pad 
  • Magnolia
  • Montego
  • Mt. Vernon
  • Palm Springs
  • Park Avenue
  • Peacock
  • Rambler: Vines, leaves and berries; art nouveau inspired
  • Ribbon by Maurizio Tempestini
  • Riviera by Maurizio Tempestini
  • Rose Leaf
  • Roslyn
  • Sea Island
  • Verdigre
  • Willow

Note: Salterini collaborated with Italian Architect Maurizio Tempestini and these designs are highly collectable as well as a collaboration with Russell Woodard.

You can check out our finds at our Parterre Garden Shop at 13801 Jarrettsville Pike in Phoenix, Md or on Chairish

Maple Oatmeal Cookies

These maple oatmeal cookies are the best recipe we’ve found. And with a few swaps are healthy enough for breakfast!

Makes 24 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened 1 1/2 sticks
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole white wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats not the quick cooking kind
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In your stand mixer, whisk butter and maple syrup on medium speed until creamy. It might look a little weird for a second but it will come together. Add eggs and vanilla, and whisk until combined.
  3. In a second bowl, combine whole white wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix until uniform. Slowly pour into the butter mixture, mixing on low until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, or using a rubber spatula, add oats and additional add-ins (if using); fold into the dough until combined.
  5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.
  6. Cool for a minute on cookie sheets so they don’t fall apart when you move them. Then move to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container. You can also freeze these cookies- just double bag and Enjoy!
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup

Pure, sweet maple syrup meets smoky, woody bourbon to create a multi-layered taste that will make your mouth water. Just one drop, and you’ll see what we mean.

Sustainable goodness

Runamok Maple knows good maple syrup depends on healthy trees. So they treat the land they work on gently by protecting the soil and encouraging biodiversity while making as little impact as possible.

Try our Runamok Syrups

Chicken a la King

Classic Chicken a la King is rich and creamy and made from scratch. This easy dinner recipe is great served over rice, pasta, toast, or biscuits!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup heavy creamy
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chopped drained pimientos
  • 4 cups chopped cooked chicken

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in flour and stir until there are no more specks of flour left. Pour in chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.
  • For a richer sauce: in a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks with heavy cream. Working quickly, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the egg mixture while whisking vigorously. Immediately pour this mixture back into the saucepan, whisking the entire time. Cook 2 minutes more.
  • Stir in frozen peas, drained pimientos, and cooked chicken and let heat through, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve hot over cooked rice, pasta, toast, or biscuits.

Rigatoni With Sausage and Bell Peppers

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

  • 1 (16-ounce) box rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage 
  • ½ medium-size red onion, chopped 
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • ½ green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup chicken broth 
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • Step 1Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  • Step 2Cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.
  • Step 3Sauté onion and bell peppers in hot oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 6 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in sausage, cooked pasta, chicken broth, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Transfer to a serving dish, and top evenly with basil and cheese. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato and Sage Tian

Layers of thinly sliced sweet potatoes are baked in a sage-infused cream for this tian, which is a French term for both the style of casserole  as well as the shallow earthenware dish it is traditionally baked in. Simple and satisfying, this side dish pairs will pair just as well with a Thanksgiving turkey as it will with a holiday ham. 

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (1 cup)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, plus 7 whole black peppercorns
  • 5 cups half-and-half
  • 32 fresh sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, such as Jewel, Garnet, or Beauregard, unpeeled
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush butter evenly over bottom and sides of a 9-by-12-inch oval baking dish, 8-by-10-inch rectangular baking dish, or other shallow 2-to-2 1/2-quart dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese evenly over butter; season with ground pepper.
  • Step 2Combine half-and-half, 20 sage leaves, garlic, and peppercorns in a large saucepan; season with 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, discarding solids; season to taste.
  • Step 3Meanwhile, slice sweet potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Snugly arrange slices vertically in prepared baking dish. Tuck remaining 12 sage leaves between potatoes; carefully pour half-and-half mixture over top. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and lightly drizzle with oil.
  • Step 4Roast until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, 55 to 65 minutes. (If top is browning too quickly, tent with foil.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

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ON SALE! Our Annual Garden Sale

SHOP ALL OUTDOOR on GORE DEAN at the FORGE

Gore Dean at the Forge & Parterre Garden Shop
13801 Jarrettsville Pike, Phoenix, MD

GARDEN ANTIQUES   GARDEN DECOR   GARDEN DECOR + PLANTERS
GARDEN TOOLS  INDOOR OUTDOOR PILLOWS
INDOOR OUTDOOR RUGS        NON BREAK Dinnerware
OUTDOOR CUSHIONS + RUGS     OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING
OUTDOOR FURNITURE    OUTDOOR LIGHTING
PICNIC + TAILGATE    POTS + PLANTERS

Check out more Garden antiques at our Chairish Shop

Design Essential: Cleary Linen Bedding

By Legacy Linens

Coverlet: Cleary Mitered Hem.
Duvet Cover: Cleary Flanged Reverse to Sateen.
Bed Skirt: Cleary Tailored 5 Pleat. Standard 15″ Drop – No Decking. Band w/Mattress Pins to attach to Box Spring.
Sham: Cleary Knife Edge.
22 x22 Pillow, 14 x 20 Pillow, 12 x 16 Pillow: Cleary Knife Edge.
20 x 20 Pillow: Cleary 1/2″ Contrast Flange Mitered Border.
55% Linen 45% Cotton

Monogram It!

ITS CLASSIC

Shop GORE DEAN at the FORGE and DGD HOME CATALOG and MY NAPA HOME

What else is new?

August Gardening at Pipe Creek Farm

Be very careful to not garden when it is overly hot and dry. Plan the hours and days when you will enjoy being in the garden. In August I limit myself to 6am to 8 am and then after dinner before nightfall.

  1. Those bargain-basement annuals that you bought back in July should have returned to health by now. Keep them watered and insect-free.
Inexpensive Salvia bought in July was rootbound- cut back, watered, and planted and mulched will be 4-5 feet tall next year. Black and Blue salvia should come back!

2. Keep everything watered! and continue to mulch so that you can afford not to mind the garden for days at a time. Mulch cuts down on weed growth and lessens your need for watering- plus mulch will soak up extra water from thunderstorms.

3. Harvest vegetables and berries regularly. Zucchinis will get tough if you leave them too long on the vine and not harvesting can cut down a plant’s willingness to put out more. Tomatos can be sliced/chopped and frozen until you have enough for sauce so do pick them as they are ready.

so many…everyday!

4. Harvest herbs because although we love to dry them, they are awesome when grilling. `

5. And lastly, August is a great time to assess your pests. Gopher, Rabbit and Groundhog damage can be scene more readily and its a good time to note where and how prevalent these little garden fiends are and to make a list of where we will want to put plants next year that discourage them.

At Pipe Creek Farm, ground hogs are a major issue. Not just in the garden but they can be a safety issue for horses that can easily break a leg in an unseen hole and even for tractors that can turn over or get stuck on hills that have been eroded from underground by runamok rodents. Hawks, foxes and coyotes do our main groundhog control but I always try and keep them away from the house and gardens- and the dogs.

Squash plants after the first harvest. They have survived the pests but the sweet potatos to the right were nibbled down to the ground. Alas too close to the woods!

Heading down to the Pond

Inaccessible when we first arrived, we could tell that there was great potential when we could see geese and ducks flying overhead. Sadly we often found geese nests, bones and egg chips so we knew that predators were enjoying the overgrown conditions more than the geese.

We cut and mowed until we had a path that wound around the pond. We placed some Adirondack benches for either side and cleared where they would be and then stopped. Too much clearing and once again the birds would have no where to hide and protect their young. Coyotes now can be seen approaching and the deer venture forth now for water and berries. To draw wildlife we do place salt licks for the deer and encourage berries bushes and we will place corn there in the Fall.

The pond is a great place to cool off, fish and take a canoe ride. The dogs find it irresistible and the geese families now know that they are harmless. A magical place best kept in a semi-natural state with minimum mowing and clearing.

Hydrangeas!

Nothing spells Summer like Hydrangeas! They are beautiful and easy. But their popularity has meant that the varietals have started to pop up everywhere and now we need to know what we’ve planted and how to care for them. I am a huge Oak Leaf Hydrangea fan because I love mine to be big and form a hedge ( I use Alice which can grow to 10 feet). but I also have always had a Nikko or two in the flower beds. Do I prune both the same? NO!

If you are lucky, your home had a PeeGee hydrangea when you moved in. I think we need a guide to growing these lovelies. So lets get started. And by the way, you can get a piece of grandmom’s PeeGee and grow it in your yard. I’ll show you how.

 Some hydrangeas have large, round flower clusters while others have smaller, flatter, and more delicate flowers. The foliage also varies depending on the species. Plus, these versatile shrubs thrive in sandy coastal soils, shady woodland sites, and almost everything in between. To ensure that hydrangea shrubs have time to establish a healthy root system before blooming, it is best to plant them in fall or early spring. Once planted, hydrangeas are rapid growers, averaging 2 feet or more of growth per year.

Toxic to people and animals, be careful not to allow young children to place in their mouths.

Fertilizer: If your soil is rich in nutrients, you likely won’t have to fertilize your hydrangeas. In fact, if hydrangeas are given too much high-nitrogen fertilizer, they might grow full and lush but with fewer flowers. If your soil is not rich, apply a flowering shrub fertilizer in the spring.

Placement: Hydrangeas prefer fairly mild temperatures. In areas with cold winters, dieback (a plant dying from the tips of its leaves inward) can be a problem. Protect your hydrangeas from cold winds by planting them in a sheltered spot or with a burlap windscreen or burlap frame filled with dry leaves. A north- or east-facing site, where temperatures remain somewhat constant, is a better choice than a spot on the south and west side of your property, which will heat up in the winter sun and can cause buds to open prematurely and be vulnerable to cold snaps. Hydrangeas prefer moderate to high humidity, as dry climates can cause the leaves to wilt which is why they naturally grow and are native to the South.

Too much shade can reduce a hydrangea shrub’s flower output. Hydrangeas do well in the partial shade provided by tall deciduous trees, especially if they receive morning sun and the partial shade is in the heat of the afternoon. They will also thrive in full sun but might need extra water on hot summer days.

Water: Hydrangeas prefer a deep watering at least once a week unless you’ve had rainfall. During particularly hot weather, slightly increase the amount of water, but make sure they’re not sitting in soggy soil.

Soil: Hydrangeas can tolerate a wide range of soil types. YES! And you may be able to change their flower color. Although somewhat determined by cultivar, the color can be tweaked by the amount of aluminum in the soil and the soil pH. The soil pH determines how available aluminum is to the plants. Acidic soil (aluminum available to the plants) will give you blue flowers, and alkaline soil (aluminum unavailable to the plants) will give you pink flowers.

To decrease the acidity of your soil and change flowers from blue to pink, add hydrated lime to the soil in the spring. To increase the acidity to change flowers from pink to blue, add aluminum sulfate to your soil in the spring, or mulch with oak-leaf mulch.

CategoryBlooms on old or new woodWhen to prune
Bigleaf hydrangeaOldImmediately after flowers fade
Smooth hydrangeaNewLate winter or early spring before new growth starts
Peegee hydrangeaNewLight pruning in late winter or early spring
Oakleaf hydrangeaOldSummer after flowers fade
Mountain hydrangeaOldImmediately after flowering
Climbing hydrangeaOldWinter or early spring, only when necessary to control size

The Essentials

Oak Leaf Hydrangrea H. quercifolia

Easily recognized by its oak leaf-shaped foliage. It is native to the southeastern United States, in woodland habitats from North Carolina west to Tennessee, and south to Florida and Louisiana. Can grow from 4-8 feet up and out.

PLANT:  full sun to partial shade in moist well-drained soil.

PRUNE: Oakleaf hydrangea blooms on old growth and should be pruned immediately after it has finished flowering.

Mountain hydrangeas are small flowering shrubs with narrow, pointed leaves and flattened flower heads.

Mountain Hydrangea H. serrata

Mountain hydrangeas are small flowering shrubs with narrow, pointed leaves and flattened flower heads. 2 feet high and out and works well under higher shrubs and in border gardens.

PLANT: Easily grown in sun or partial shade

PRUNE: Prune after it flowers, trim back to a pair of healthy buds. In early spring, prune unhealthy stems to the ground.

Smooth Hydrangea H. arborescens

Smooth hydrangea, including the popular cultivar H. arborescens ‘Grandiflora,’ doesn’t usually have any problems blooming, though its white flowers aren’t as showy as we normally expect from hydrangeas. It’s a round shrub with leaves that are somewhat rounded with a pointed end, paler on the underside than on the top. Popular varieties are Annabelle or Incrediball.

PLANT:  full sun to partial shade in moist well-drained soil.

PRUNE:  lightly just after its flowers fade in early autumn.

Peegee Hydrangea H. paniculata Grandiflora

Also known as panicle hydrangeas, peegees display massive snowball-shaped flower clusters in mid- to late summer. The flowers start out white and slowly turn pink, drying and remaining on the plant. Can take full sun and is the hardiest of all the hydrangeas in cold weather. It can grow to 6′ up and out.

PLANT: Best in full sun to partial shade.

PRUNE: light pruning of individual stems in late winter or early spring plus you can deadhead spent flowers during summer

Climbing Hydrangea H. anomala petiolaris

The stunning climbing hydrangea is the type you see slowly making its way up a tree or other support. It’s a vine not a shrub, and it generally requires little to no pruning. This plant flowers on old wood grown during the previous season.

PLANT:

PRUNE: might need occasional late winter pruning to set boundaries. Overgrown? cut back to ground level in early spring to rejuvenate the plant.

Bigleaf Hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla

The bigleaf hydrangea often has flowers whose color changes with the soil pH: blue in acid soil and pink in alkaline soil. However, there are also a few varieties that simply stay white. Its leaves are coarsely serrated and glossy, dark greenBigleaf hydrangeas set their flower buds from late summer to early fall. Grows to 4-5 feet up and out.

PLANT: Sun to part shade. Rich, well drained soil

PRUNE: When most of the flowers have faded, it’s time for pruning. Pruning in the spring or even late fall will remove the flower buds and any chance of getting blooms for that season. Don’t prune the old wood because this is what will keep flowering as the new growth matures.

DRYING YOUR HYDRANGEA BLOOMS

After a successful growing season, you hate to see your hydrangeas fade. So keep them around by drying them. Here’s How:

  1. Cut the blooms when they are just past their prime. If the flower has too much water, it can take too long to dry out and get mushy. You want to cut them when they are getting a little papery in texture.
  2. Remove all the leaves.
  3. Place the stems in a vase of water with about 4-5 inches of water. Place the stems in a cool dry place and wait for the water to evaporate. Dont overcrowd the vase. Give the stems plenty of room and air to dry evenly.
Give the stems plenty of room to dry evenly

HOW TO MAKE A HYDRANGEA WREATHE

Wreathe can be made from fresh or dried hydrangeas

USING DRIED HYDRANGEA

You’ll need a grapevine form, some wire, a hot glue gun and a clear sealant.

Work your way around the wreath form, weaving bunches through the grapevine to hold them in place. Secure the stems to the wreath with florists wire. Simply loop it around the wreath and twist to secure. Once you’ve worked your way around, add smaller hydrangea flowers to fill in any gaps. If needed, you can use hot glue to keep the flowers in place. Spray with a clear sealant (yes hairspray works). Will last for years with care.

USING FRESH FLOWERS

You’ll need a wire frame, floral wire

Work your way around the wireframe attaching bundles of blooms and wrapping the wire 3 times for each bundle. Limelight hydrangeas work well here!

PROPOGATING HYDRANGEAS

During the Victorian era, hydrangeas were thought to represent showiness or boastfulness. This was because while hydrangeas produce spectacular flowers, they rarely, if ever, produce seeds. This can create a problem for a gardener who wants to propagate hydrangea shrubs. Because of this, propagating hydrangeas is typically done from cuttings — also referred to as “striking”.

Let’s take a look at how to root cuttings from hydrangea bushes.

The first step for how to root cuttings from hydrangea is to select a stem for cutting. In early fall, choose a stem for hydrangea propagation that is at least 6 inches (15 cm.) long, has no flower, and is new growth. A new growth stem will be a lighter green than old growth. Also be aware that if you live in a colder climate where the hydrangea dies back to the ground, the whole shrub may consist of new growth Once you have selected a stem to propagate the hydrangea, take a sharp pair of shears and cut the stem off just below a leaf node. A leaf node is where a set of leaves will be growing.

The hydrangea cutting should be at least 4 inches (10 cm.) long and should contain at least one additional set of leaves above the selected leaf node. Next, strip all but the topmost set of leaves from the cutting. The cutting should have only two leaves left. Cut the two remaining leaves in half crosswise (not lengthwise).

Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone. While rooting hormone will increase the chances of successfully propagating hydrangeas, you can still propagate hydrangea shrubs without it. Stick the cutting into damp potting soil. Cover the pot with a plastic bag, making sure that the bag does not touch the leaves of the hydrangea cutting. Place the pot in a sheltered location out of direct sunlight.

Finding a future in a house with a past

PART ONE: I think the house was waiting for us.

Whittaker Chambers’ Pipe Creek Farm as we first saw it.

Many things conspired to bring us here, many of them not particularly good but then again we never know the plan, do we? And you can really appreciate the concept of Fate when it happens to you. Here tucked away on a 450 acre farm in Westminster Maryland was a charming house that had been cared for by the Chambers family and let out to people who cared and sometimes didn’t about preserving this place a home.

We had been living in Monkton Maryland since our daughter had gone off to college. We had what we called an artist’s cabin on the Gunpowder River. But it had issues and it was time to go after 7 years. Moving all the way to Westminster was not met with enthusiasm by anyone and it did mean an hour commute to work but then again- work was secondary in a pandemic. I argued to make the move because I thought that this house needed the kind of work that Spider and I had always been good at- hard work, physical labor and zero patience work- pick a project and get it done work.

The house had been put into very good shape by the owners and the Realtor. It had its typical and amusing old house issues- like light switches that dont seem to be attached to lights and actual lights that dont appear to have a way to turn them on. If you’re smart, you call that Charm and move on. A pickier person will spend $5000 putting it all in order. Plus we needed things to tackle what wasn’t perfectly fine!

A good decorator could turn these rooms into any style you imagine yourself living in. But I took a cue from a great decorator, Barry Dixon and a home he did in Virginia that I was lucky enough to visit. Let the house be what it is supposed to be. We are living in a farmhouse. Get used to it. Not a cottage, not an Estate- its a house on a farm. Now with a few channelings from Barry Dixon-make it the best farmhouse it can be. Good thing I am an antique dealer. But you never own what you need so, Oh I wish I had a budget and a credit card!

Nestled in trees on top of a hill whose precipice is way too close, it has both shade and sun and, more importantly; its quiet. It looks over forest within feet on one side and hay fields on the other that stretch out forever. It has a sky that has a blue that you only see in paintings and at night is pitch black with layers of twinkling lights- the stars, an occasional airplane and the lightening bugs- all doing their part to keep you outside. The back of the house looks doooowwwwwnn into a pasture and at one end of that is a pond. The front of the house looks up to the big red barn. A long formal driveway under oak trees can be perceived but has long ago succumbed to falling trees and ever growing thorn bushes. You can see at once that things GROW here.

We determined it best to shelve our house muse and call upon the teachings of another master, John Saladino whose exterior rooms are as magnificent as his interiors. The exterior needed to be done first! (and it costs less). I remembered a lecture I attended once given by Mr Saladino in Washington DC where we went on a tear about suburbanites who plant azaleas in the sun and have dogwood trees in their front yards. I never enjoyed a lecture more- rear ends were twitching and sliding throughout the room as women were scolded for not having natural exteriors- you know, lawns vs yards. I remember thinking that someone should take Mr Saladino through Bethesda on the way back to the airport. But still a great lesson because he was right! So years one and two will be for clearing and creating great soil. And….as funds permit peonies and daylillies will replace grass in the sun and azaleas, rhododendrons and even a dogwood or two will find themselves settled in the cleared woods.

So the house could get the breathing room we should always give a home before we redo it and make it our own. And Spider and I could get to what we do best- labor. What I had not realized was how ill equipped we were to take this on. Living in the artist cabin on the river, we had a cappuccino machine not a chainsaw not to mention a riding mower. Normally you would just go to Lowe’s. But with no work and no open stores- and good heavens, these new mowers are 5000 dollars. So I started driving around looking for signs of life in the towns around me and found Jerry. Jerry has a junkyard and a lawn service. I was able to make 2 payments and get Scott, my first lawn mower for 350.00. Scott will cut anything. He has heart. Only when I run up on unseen, downed trees will Scott get fed up and turn over- pinning me in 5 foot tall grass screaming for Spider, who responds, “Where are you?” and to which I can only repeatedly yell louder, HERE!. Scott is my friend and he and I spend romantic late afternoons together looking out over whatever plot he has mowed that day. I have a glass of wine and he sighs and moans and coughs up oil as he settles. Jerry has also created Frank or Frankenstein as no two parts fit perfectly together, a John Deere with a wicked turning radius but no heart. I will always prefer Scott.

Other tools had to be found- a wood chipper, push mower, tiller, hoses, sprinklers, edgers, weeders There is just nothing in our urban tool box that can do this kind of work. And there is no point even starting with out the hedge hog- especially if I was going to reach the pond which at first was inaccessible but held forth such promise- as I could see Geese overhead. So everything went on Ebay that we had and we worked our way down the Need List as things sold. Slowly pasture was cleared and just as fast, it needed to be replanted or put to some use. So we named everything the gate, the drive, the garden, the glen, the orchard, the pasture, the upper field and the pond- we made each area our friend and we set about defining them with love and a chainsaw.

Working here on Pipe Creek Farm has another wonderful advantage. You are never lost for something to do. That feeling of what do I do today when you first wake up was decided when you put your rake down the night before. And as I work in the peace of the land, I have come to understand people in my past better. My grandparents, for instance would look at something you offered to buy them and simply say, “this one works fine”. Or when they would excuse themselves from family and company that had come to swim or vacation and slip away and back into chores- because they loved the work. They saw the result even if it was not admired by anyone else and they enjoyed each other – because they shared the same Need List.

Year One we uncovered the brick pathway, added a few feet and planted Hostas (the best plant in the Universe)- a few Birch Trees that we got for $5 dollars from Tractor Supply and now we wait for the trees to lend shade.

The Front Door now a bit more Georgetown than Westminster

It helps to be an antique dealer! I have carted the zinc panel in the background to every home for the last 25 years. It fits, like so many fated things- perfectly.

PART TWO: The Garden- you dont know what you dont know.

Whats Happening at Pipe Creek Farm (July)

We have been blessed this year with lots of rain! That is hours of Mother Nature doing my evening chores and cooling off the the very hot daily temperatures. But rain can bring its own unique problems, we have many down or weakened trees and loads of weeds. So …lots of expense and hard work..as always.

The Garden shed awaits a rainy afternoon

They hay harvest was late and got barned just before the 4th- so no fireworks! It only takes minutes for a spark to level a full barn of hay. But thanks to the downed Locust tree, we could see all the other fireworks from the porch.

Tomatoes seem late to me, but we planted so many that I will never go hungry this winter. The herbs are nuts! The neighbor’s corn is almost ready. BTW how do you buy “Local Corn” when the fields everywhere are only half high? As always zucchini and squash are prolific. Potatoes are doing great. Sweet potatoes not so much. A good lesson to the different ways they were planted… Its really too hot to be outside during the day but starting after work there are a couple of hours that are really beautiful in the garden and of course, we finish the day atop the hill or by the pond with a glass of wine.

OUR STORY

What we can still do in the garden:

FIRST: WE SHOP

All the garden centers have SALES going on now. Try and buy from the local garden centers if possible but even I cannot resist the sales at Home Depot and Lowes. A 4 foot tall Nanho Butterfly Bush is now 17.00. Come on! Do be careful though…the damage done to these plants from forced survival waterings and sitting on baking asphalt for months can be too much for healthy roots. I sometimes look at these centers as a plant ASPCA. I feel more like I am adopting. If a tree is truly days away from death, I always offer to take them off their hands for few dollars. Amazingly, managers agree most times. So its a great time to shop, make some deals and plan for next years garden lay out.

SECOND: We can still plant. You can even still sow seeds. But get started now!

BEANS, BEETS, CARROTS can start from seed

CUCUMBERS, KALE, CABBAGE, BROCCOLI, CAWLIFLOWER, SQUASH are available in plant packs and that gives them some extra time. If you grow to harvest- you can wait on Kale – it hates the heat and will push to flower. I have Kale in my fenced garden for eating and Kale in the pasture garden for its beauty and for the deer, of course.

THIRD: We Harvest! You should still be getting strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. And then, of course, its July so we get Peaches!!

We planted 4 trees in our newly restored orchard, two made it past winter. We had moved them late when we finally got the orchard cleared last year. But we did not give them enough time to get their roots down. The surviving two are burdened down with peaches now and they should be in our store by this weekend. And I will be making peach ice cream for myself…If peaches are really plentiful, we’ll do a chutney. Of all the fruit crops, peaches are the most beautiful and helpful….planted in the right spot (protected from wind)…they are pretty easy. So I’ll be checking those SALES for a few more to complete that orchard.

FOURTH: MORE MULCHING ! Compost should be turning out now from early Spring clean up and water will get scarce next month. Its back breaking work so we do one wheel barrel every morning. and just let the projects pile up.

FIFTH: We start the canning. We have finished the Dill pickles and Bread and Butter pickles. And tomatoes are now coming on at a rate that is beyond our meals and store. So its getting to sauce time. And with all these zuchinnis- I’m guessing that relish is in my future.

WHAT WE’RE COOKIN

BLACKBERRY CAKE

HOT MILK CAKE

VIRGINIA HAM BISCUITS

VISITING the GARDEN SHED

When we first moved to Pipe Creek Farm, our first project was the horse run in barn. Filled with manure and hornets, it was very close to the main house and had to be cleaned but was far enough way to be able to have a rustic, tree house fun space of it own. Someplace you sit while still dirty or hide out with a book.

The shed was small- but big enough to be a room. So manure out of the barn and into the compost pile…Next we tried to level out the shed floor but even an axe could not get through. We put down cobblestone “look” cement pavers. A pair of louvered doors that I had been carrying around for years- finally found their forever home on either side of the opening. We painted the interior a light green, with a black green coat over the beams and the ceiling (metal, yuck) and them scrubbed the wood walls which this fall will get a coat of wax.

Then it was off to the stone yard for stone pallets, which are stronger and made to last and they have way too many! Back home and level out the front of the entry. Lay out the pallets, measure them and then off to Lowes for decking. No you should not do this…but you CAN. I wanted a deck, a porch so that a dining table could be under the stars. It doesn’t have to last forever, I wont.

We found a great but over the hill, antique German wardrobe at an auction (Brad Dudley & Son). It had no doors so we took just the top and bottom and made a big potting stand. Above it, another collection of iron wedges found a home. I put in a small flagstone area underneath to keep water from seeping into the wood. The potting area faces the garden and old zinc milk boxes keep seeds and small tools dry.

On the other side, I put a grill. This summer, sauces for canning will all be done here. Meanwhile, dinner goes right to the grill! and we rarely make it back in the house. Carrots with just a little oil and salt and pepper- peppers, corn and tomatoes are all just a few minutes and a little gas or charcoal from vine to dine!

The shed looks down on a new stock tank pool tucked into a fig orchard.

Have you redone a shed? I would love to see it!

Want to learn more about Pipe Creek Farm

The Beauty and Elegance of all White Table Linens

Not to mention the Practicality!

Benefits:

Easy to clean You can machine wash, hand wash or dry clean. Check out our guide.

Goes with everything white or ivory goes with everthing but they are not interchangable

Elegant You can dress it up and make it casual. That’s why they call it classic

Mix it up You can use different designs and collections together as long as the color matches!

OUR VIEW: People are sometimes hesitant to purchase fine linens. They are scared that they are a lot of work, can be ruined easily and are not convenient. Our view is that they are more work than a paper napkin- and that’s about it. Paper napkins are a one time and toss what could be less GREEN. Cloth napkins will last, they are beautiful and with a few rules of thumb- are easily cleaned. Cloth napkins are nicer to live with. You spend time and money on preparing dinner- so dine! don’t just eat! You can read about Caring for Table Linens here.

My best advice would be to start every collection with a good set of white or ivory napkins. White is more contemporary and goes nicely with cool colors. Ivory has a greater array of base colors, its warm and inviting. Both can be dressed up, starched, and monogrammed or left to their wrinkled beauty. I have found that ivory is easier to mix and match and lends itself to mix easily both new and old.

A GREAT WEDDING GIFT

Then add a tablecloth when you have settled on your dining table or do a runner for both indoors and out. I personally do not do white placemats, unless they are wood, rattan or my favorite, Chilewich. I use placemats for design more than function so I usually go for color. But knowing that there are 12 napkins and a tablecloth that are clean and pressed in the closet gives me great comfort as I rush through the grocery at 5 pm the day before Thanksgiving.

But most importantly- USE YOUR LINENS. Think about collecting antique linens as well. But try and match size (20 – 22″ square for a dinner napkin) slight variations in design and hue are usually a lovely addition to your table.

Vintage Linens can be a great hobby and a wonderful gift

Cleaning and care of VINTAGE LINEN

Shop: TABLE LINENS

Shop: By Color: WHITE

Shop: Our BRANDS

CHILEWICH

DEBORAH RHODES

HUDDLESON LINENS

KIM SEYBERT

ALT LINENS

ANICHINI