It is about time to move outside. Especially this winter, as the gods have been kind to us, everything is starting to pop. This is the time I begin to really itch to create art in the gardens on our little plot of land.
My husband has been crazy loving “Downton Abbey” with the rest of the country. Since he is new in proximity to North Carolina, here in SC, we went to”Biltmore”, the Vanderbilt estate in Asheville last Saturday so he could see more of the same kind of addictive “dreamland” that we look for on that mini series.
In starting to renovate my farmhouse, the downstairs, the servant area of Biltmore was the influence for my master bathroom. At Vanderbilt, the downstairs is very utilitarian, but very solid. I loved all the old tile. Redesigning their black and white combination to dark green, yellow and white was because of the tile I had. In this first image, tile is being laid on the far wall which is also part of the shower stall. The imbedded tile painting is Japanese, and something my mother bought when we were there in the fifties.
The four by four white bathroom tiles are some of the only tiles in the house actually purchased. I was given the yellow, so that was one reason I chose this pattern. These tiles were cheap enough, eleven cents apiece, and created the clean, white, simple look that the downstairs servant area in Biltmore had.
To the right of the room is the stair stepped shower area. It mirrors the great fireplace in the kitchen outside the bedroom suite. Amazingly, no shower door is needed. The vanity structure was made for about five dollars worth of time from my contractor guy, and we used two legs which were purchased at the flea. The sink insert was about 78 dollars at Lowe’s.
The mirror is missing in this picture. I bought an old one and added a detail of old mock stone triangles. There are some of these same triangles used within the interior of the shower.
I stole a flower during that same visit to Biltmore years ago. At that point, as a new gardener, the type was a mystery to me. It was a little shoot that was growing up in the line of the sidewalk that is created for cracking. I took it, spit on it to give it water, and wrapped it up.
It turned out to be “upright verbina” and I babied that plant for years. One spring it simply did not come up. I had run into upright verbina before. Many years ago, I created a batik with this plant as the subject, and traded it to a friend for a ring. I loved the spaces between the stems. My piece favored this work by Mondrian, where we see his interest is in between the branches of the tree, as well as the simple lines of the tree it self.
This year in the formal gardens between the Biltmore house proper and the very upscale greenhouse where I first saw the mass of upright verbina, now tulips are planted. Near the walls of this garden, there are these fabulous bushes with great lines and amazing color in the late winter.
This is called “Midwinter Blaze Dogwood” and will be a big bush when mature. During the winter, this is what you see. Upon exiting Biltmore, we passed by a little nursery on the grounds. We stopped to see if we could buy any Midwinter Blaze, and the manager said that they could be very difficult to find. She said they were copyrighted as is the Knockout Rose. Searching on the web the next day, there were plenty for sale. We bought four for April delivery. I know just where to put them.