What’s At The 2008 Flower and Landscape Exhibitions For You?

Hi, all, the 2008 Flower and Landscape exhibitions are now upon us, likely showing now at your local exhibition center. So what are the landscaping supply manufacturers and the landscaping contractors going to try to sell you as this year’s most wanted property enhancement?

Having just returned from an exhibition in the Northeastern states, my mind is full of creative possibilities for this year’s summer projects. The show was filled with the typical big sellers; hot tubs and spas were present in liberal quantities, windows, sun rooms, and man made ponds are always present at these shows, and will likely be back at the spring Home Shows that will be filling the same exhibition centers a few weeks from now. But the tone of our blog focuses on a rustic decoration style, and there was no lack of displays to spawn the creative thought process.

The thing I like the most about the landscaping shows these days is the fact that you don’t just look at a single product at each display. The companies renting floor space do it all up right, and design an entire landscape in their space. You can imagine looking out your back window and seeing exactly what is laid out in front of you at the show. For example, a manufactured paver company put up quite a display, building a complete landscape. Obviously the entire scene was built upward from their pavers, which were arranged in a complex pattern under foot, but they combined efforts with other products from other companies to give a feel for how their product worked with others. Stackable manufactured stones bordered the paver patio, cedar landscape accents were strategically placed, a striking cedar pergola rose from the patio, and a stackable stone island was placed just outside the pergola with a polished granite counter top to cap the stone and provide a resting place for a propane cooktop. Having taken in that whole scene, I have an idea of what my summer project will consist of this year!

Other displays that I haven’t seen too much of until this year included ‘modular outdoor fireplaces’. These displays looked like stone fireplaces built by skilled stone workers, but were actually pre-cast modules that stack together horizontally and vertically to create sprawling outdoor structures. The show piece was a configuration that included five foot counter top units on either side of the fireplace, and the fireplace itself whose chimney extended upward for about nine or ten feet including the chimney cap. This impressive configuration did come at a price; it was tagged at just under $20,000 installed. That’s 20K, as in new car dollar figures. Of course, there were more reasonable configurations set up that displayed gas grills embedded in them with a bit of usable counter space.

Me, I am sticking with the patio-pergola-counter top configuration this summer next to the pool. That will create a nicely usable outdoor room in a section of yard that I’ve been wondering what to do with for quite a few years now. How about you, what’s your summer project for this year? Not sure? Get out to your local Flower Show or Home Show to get lots of fresh ideas!

Have fun,

Ron

Decorate Your Landscape With Solar Outdoor Lighting

When you hear the phrase “outdoor solar landscape lighting,” what comes to your mind? Some people think of solar lights as being some type of pole light, floodlight, streetlight, or garage door light. While it is true that solar lights do include these types of fixtures, there are in fact, many more than that. Recent advances in solar technology have greatly expanded the kinds of outdoor lighting products that are currently available on the market.

Solar Lighting is Energy Efficient and Cost Effective

This makes it a perfect alternative to a 120-volt system that must be installed by an electrician or lighting technician. Solar lights do not require the use of external cables and transformers because they are powered by the energy of the sun.

The sun’s rays are collected by small solar cell panels attached to the lights, which is converted into electricity and stored in batteries to power the fixtures at night. It is a self-generating power supply, which enable the lights to be used in many areas where it would have otherwise been too expensive or impractical.

Installing solar powered lights is a terrific Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project for the homeowner who wants to reduce energy costs and save some money. Installing is easy and simple. A small project of a few lights could be put in place and be ready to use in an hour or two. If this kind of project sounds interesting to you, here are some great solar lighting ideas you can easily do yourself that will bring your outdoor areas to brilliant life at night.

Solar Post Lights

Post lights are a very good choice for larger areas that need good illumination, but need a bit less than the brilliance that comes from floodlights. Post lights work well for driveways, patios, porches, decks, and front and back yards. They come in a wide range of decorative styles and colors, which makes it a breeze to find one that will go with the design of your home. Whatever the style you are looking for, be it modern, vintage, or somewhere in between, solar post lights are sure to add a stylish flair to your home

Solar Post Cap Lights

Solar post cap lights are decorative and functional light fixtures that are used to top posts on decorative fencing, walls, and entry gates. A post cap light becomes an attractive extension of the wall and gate that enhances the existing design rather than detracting from it.

Solar Deck Lights

Decks are great venues for parties, barbeques, and other outdoor activities, but when it gets dark, you will need to turn on the lights to continue the fun, and improve the safety for you and your guests. Most decks are elevated a few feet off the ground, so lighting the deck for night use is a no brainer from a safety perspective. Putting deck lights along the deck’s stair treads is also a great way to add ambient lighting to the area.

Solar Porch Lights

A porch light provides illumination for those times when guests come to visit, as well as adding a distinctive decorative touch to your home. For example, putting a custom porch light by your front door is an inexpensive yet effective way to differentiate and customize the entryway.

A porch light also brings about some safety benefits. When someone rings your doorbell at night when it is dark, you can flip on the porch light and look through the peephole to see who is there. In addition to improving visibility at night, the porch light may also act as a deterrent to a prankster or thief who is up to no good and hopes that no one will respond.

Solar Fairy Lights

For temporary lighting purposes, festive occasions, parties, apartment tenants and renters, solar fairy lights are a great option. They are a temporary lighting arrangement that adds a lot of charm and warmth to any patio, deck, porch, or balcony. Solar fairy lights come in many different colors, including red, pink, blue, green, clear, and assorted colors.

Floating Solar Lights

Floating solar lights are used for more than just swimming pool accents. They can be placed in practically any water feature deep enough to accommodate the size and weight of the lights, such as ponds, fountains, and birdbaths. Use them as a centerpiece for your outdoor party table or buffet. Fill an attractive bowl or vase with water, and add the floating lights. Match your event’s color scheme by putting a couple of drops of food coloring in the water. This is an inexpensive yet effective way to add a touch of ambient lighting to your festive event.

Solar Step Lights

For nighttime safety and decorative appeal, add solar step lights to your deck or outside stairway. This low-level lighting is less intrusive than would be floodlights or pole lights, yet provides enough lighting for people to find their footing on the steps in even the darkest evening. It is similar in function to the aisle lights in movie theaters, which provides the light for moviegoers to find their way to their seats in the darkened room.

Solar Accent Lights

Well-placed outdoor solar accent lights can create an impact that is both subtle and dramatic. Accent lighting can highlight distinctive features, direct attention to unique ornamental plants, and provide functional lighting for garden paths, sidewalks, and driveways. Garden statuary, specimen trees, shrubs, and decorative masonry or are just a few of the many features that accent lights can enhance and bring to life.

Solar Floodlights

Solar floodlights are a sure way to show off any home with great architectural features or landscaping. These fixtures make it easy to create a focal point of light for any landscape feature in your yard or garden. Because they are bright, and enhance visibility for up to a hundred feet or more, floodlights also improve the security of the home. Before installing floodlights, check with your homeowner’s association rules to see if there are any restrictions or guidelines on the types of lights and wattage that is allowed.

Solar Pathway Lights

There are numerous different styles and heights of solar path lights. If there are many low growing shrubs and flowers that border your garden pathway, fixtures that are one to two feet tall are probably sufficient. When the plants are taller than 2 feet however, you may want to use a longer length light fixture that illuminates the path and the plants. Should your landscape already have pole lights or other light fixtures nearby, consider installing ground level lights, which includes fixture types such as well lights, string lights, stepping stone lights, and solar tile lights.

Solar Rock Lights

Solar rock lights provide a good alternative to many of the more traditional styles of fixtures. They are similar in features to most of the other types of solar accent lights, but are distinctive in their unique design. Because they look like rocks, they can easily blend in to landscapes with a natural design. Use rock lights in places where you might use a traditional accent light, without drawing attention to the lighting fixture itself.

Copper garden lights are a good way to complement a lighting layout that includes unique or artistic features such as statuary, fountains, wishing wells, and so forth. To keep the copper finish shiny and like new, you can protect it from the elements with a coat of clear lacquer. If however you want the copper to achieve a weathered, natural appearance, just leave it as is and let the forces of nature take its course. After some time exposed to the elements, the finish will eventually change into a blue-green “verdigris” sheen that has an elegant and vintage appeal.

Mosaic solar garden lights

Mosaic lights provide another artistic lighting option. Mosaic designs are not new; they have been around since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Mosaics are usually made of broken glass or pottery, which is set into plaster or cement, creating a very durable and colorful material. It is then fashioned into a glass ball that fits over the light bulb and attached to a stake.

You can create a virtually unlimited number of designs and colors with mosaic lights. If you can’t find a mosaic light that fits your design scheme, you can have a local artisan create a custom design for your solar fixture.

The Art of John Brady – An Irish Artist Producing Abstract and Landscape Art

The first 25 years of John Brady’s contribution to the art world was in the capacity of a Graphic Designer. In the early days of computers, as an Apple/Mac technology enthusiast, John, designed anything creative that came his way: marketing pieces for local businesses, corporate identity branding, logo designs– he was even commissioned to design the emblem for Bill Gates’ commemoration of Microsoft’s 10-year anniversary in Ireland. A remarkable achievement in itself, however his crowning glory and his more ever-lasting legacy takes place in the next 25 years of his life. As an artist! And not only that, but an educator of art, as his website reveals.

For anyone lacking the imagination to know what kind of art to buy, or where to hang it once you’ve bought it, Dublin-born artist John Brady has created a website that might be entitled, ‘ How to Become an Art Connoisseur.’ The site shows photographs of his art displayed in every room in his villa. Using every available inch of wall space, paintings are hung in every niche, every hallway, every nook and cranny. His entire residence has become a showcase for his art. As if that weren’t enough, John includes on his website, a step-by-step video showing how he paints one of his favorite subjects, a field of poppies. Starting with a white canvas, and using nothing but palette knives, John applies paint directly from the tubes. Wielding his knives like a slight of hand magician, with a few deft strokes a sky emerges, a few more dabs of color and a field of poppy plants appear. Then, the coup de grace as John twirls in the barest essentials of crimson red poppy leaves petal by petal. Never one to overwork his canvasses, what details John omits from his poppy fields landscape, the viewer’s imagination fills in. John Brady’s works are so predominant and energizing that instead of people buying them as paintings to match their decor – the paintings are the decor! And rooms are decorated and centered around the artwork. In fact, some paintings are dynamic enough to set the theme for an entire residence. Many of his works appear to divide the canvas diagonally one section in contrasting opposition to the other. Ethereally, his paintings have the essence of the yin and the yang, the spiritual versus the material. Symbolically, one section plays against the other as if they were the tectonic plates of the earth’s crust advancing towards each other, volatile with the potential of massive amounts of energy. It is this maneuver of spatial energies that give his art the power.

Vibrant landscapes, vivid florals, brilliant abstract studies of nature– all with such dynamic movement, they’re about to explode off the canvas. ” When I finish a piece,” says John, ” I know that it will brighten the most mundane wall.” He is a deeply spiritual being and seeks to enlighten people with his art. As he explains, ” I feel dramatic colour can lift your senses and energize your mind, and stimulating the senses is what I try to achieve.”

In the true spirit of the disciplined Italian masters Caravaggio, Raphael, Michelangelo and daVinci; and the freedom of expression of the Impressionists Monet, Constable and Van Gogh– who were all “teachers” of this fine student– very few artists have the ability to excite the senses to this extent with just the power of the paint and brush. John Brady is one of them.

You can visit Johns website at http://www.johnbradyart.com