"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pasadena Showcase House: Thrifty Tips From the Greenhouse

Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the 48th annual Pasadena Showcase House for The Arts before it closed for the season. Considered one of the oldest and most successful house and garden tours in the nation, the fundraising event draws more than 30,000 visitors during its two-month run, and for good reason: It's a visual feast.

I spent hours photographing the estate -although because I was sharing my Media Monday access with two HGTV film crews, I wasn't able to enter all the rooms. Still, my memory card runneth over, and I plan on devoting several posts from the event in the days ahead.

To start, I thought I would feature photos from the home's greenhouse and the thrifty gardening tips shared by Laramee Haynes, the landscape designer responsible for the outdoor room.

Since seeds represent one of the most inexpensive ways to grow your garden, Haynes suggests the following for success:
* Check dates on seed packets to make sure they are fresh. 
* Use clean pots that that will allow easy transplanting later and wet the soil   before planting. *Plant seeds per packet directions using a pencil to poke a hole; place seeds and push soil over the hole.
*Cover initially with plastic wrap to keep humidity high.
*Remove the wrap when the leaves open up.
* No fertilizer is needed as seeds carry their own initial food supply.
* Label and date your pots.
* Save extra seed in the refrigerator.
* Transplant when roots are showing at the bottom of the pot.

                                                                           In his plant propagation handout, Haynes writes about cuttings:

"The key to success with cuttings is keeping the humidity high while preventing stem rot. commercial growers use greenhouses with mist systems, fans, swamp coolers and heaters. In some cases, you can duplicate the effect with a medium size glass jar placed over the cutting. Clean, sterile, fast-draining soil, and frequent watering are all critical for success. Start with easy to grow plants such as Geraniums, Germander, Sages, succulents and Begonias."


Haynes says the best candidates for propagation by division are multi-stem, ground covers and grassy plants. To divide and conquer, Haynes advises:

"Dig established plants from the ground or out of pots after a thorough watering the day before. Wash off roots with a strong jet of water. Pull or cut plants apart with a sharp knife. Re-pot divisions gently, promptly at at the original level in new, clean soil. Water thoroughly and place out of the sun until new growth emerges."

Haynes believes, "Knowlege makes all thumbs green."

"Many plants, common and rare, are surprisingly easy to propagate," says Haynes, "The results can be added to your garden or shared with family and friends. Propagating plants and watching them grow can be a rewarding, inexpensive, and truly green hobby."

Smelling faintly of warm earth, the quiet space of the greenhouse was an inviting sanctuary and would tempt even those with the darkest of thumbs...on another note, I couldn't help but imagine what a gorgeous place it would also be to host a candle-lit dinner party...


  1. Beautiful and great ideas to accompany your great shots! Love learning things to try at home. Thanks for that! Can't wait to see the rest of the house!

  2. The jar idea is brilliant, and by brilliant I mean free.

  3. Thanks, Audrey! I'm going to try the mini greenhouse trick to start some Hollyhocks! Can't wait!


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