80 Main Street, Sutter Creek, California ~ ~ ~ Attempted Hours: Open Daily 11am-5pm, Closed Tuesdays

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Miniature, Tiny, Secret, Fairy Gardens

One of the things we love at The Antique Gardener is our miniature gardens.  Some call them Fairy Gardens or Secret Gardens or Tiny Gardens.  No matter what they are called....they are big fun! 

When I first ordered a few pieces of miniature furniture I thought it would be something new and different for the shop - - I had no idea how much fun they would be to create!  Six years later our miniature garden pieces are still very popular and we now offer free classes on a monthly basis.

I love the fact that there are new and different pieces available every few months.  The gardens in this post my son Jack and I created one afternoon after school. 

I love the little white bistro set - makes me want to sit down and eat lunch.  There are a number of different styles of furniture and plants for miniature gardens - just like our big gardens.  I sell white arbors, fence and furniture that has a cottage garden look to it and looks great with mosses and ferns.
Probably the most popular is the rustic garden items.  They are very natural looking and mix well with all kinds of plants.  There are all kinds of different accessories including tools, watering cans, wheelbarrows and more!
One of my customers told me that she had created a fairy garden with her grandchildren.  She purchased a mailbox so that she could leave them "fairy mail".  When her grandkids stayed with her they would get the fairy garden all set up during the day.  While the kids slept she would move things around in the garden so that it looked like the fairies had been there that night.  The next morning the kids were so excited to see that the fairies had come and gone and could image them enjoying their special garden in the moonlight!

Gardens can be made in all differents shapes, sizes and containers.  I sell these nice wooden boxes that last for years.  This one has been planted and replanted several times over the last year and is just starting to show a little wear at the corners.  I've also used metal boxes, fruit packing crates, enamel bowls or terra cotta pots.  I generally prefer square or rectangular containers - but just about anything will work!  Just make sure your container has proper drainage

This is a garden created in one of my classes last fall.  We added a few seasonal decorations like cornstalks and the Jack O'Lantern.  This year we have mini pumkins and tiny bales of straw for Fall.
I planted a moveable mini garden in an old wheelbarrow this spring.  The plants went a little crazy so Jack and I had to do some "yard work" and trim things back a little.

He created the little fire pit area and then found larger sticks for log benches.  I've also made firepits in class by using a tea light in the center of the fire ring.  The candles are great - especially if you are using it as a centerpiece on a table.

Another style of mini's that we have available are the twig benches and chairs.  They are a little larger but look great in a rustic setting.  I like to mix these pieces with succulents too.

Close up of the fire pit under an asparagus fern.

There are lots of different plants you can use for mini gardens.  Most ground covers work great.  Isotoma, Blue Star Creeper, Scotch and Irish Moss, Baby Tears, Selaginella moss and Thyme just to name a few.  Ivy, Angel Vine and Varigated Creeping Fig are great plants to train up an arbor - - just make sure to keep the ivy trimmed!  Succulents also work great but I generally don't recommend mixing them with ferns and ground covers since they need less water.
Here is a simple little garden in a terra cotta pot.  Mini's can be as simple as a plain pot or an elaborate garden in a large container or even in the corner of a flower bed.  They are a great way to play with garden design because you can move things around and change plants so much easier than a "real" garden.  The best part is they are fun and relaxing, great for all ages and  for all types of gardening ability. It is something unusual to add to your porch or garden that will bring lots of fun comments  - - but no weeding required!
For information on our classes check our class schedule. Private classes are also available for groups of five or more.  Miniature garden furniture and accessories are available in the shop year round.  Please contact Aimee for more information!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Great Finds

I received a phone call the other day about some garden furniture for sale.  I have people asking me all the time to come by and take a look a one thing or another.  They always end  by saying "It will be perfect for your store!"  I have seen some pretty interesting stuff...some of it is great...some of it is not so perfect for the store in my eyes. Well, last week I hit the mother lode!

The nicest couple invited me to their home and gave me the opportunity to buy some of the best garden antiques I have ever found.  These four metal garden chairs are just a few of the things I was able to buy for the shop.

Below are the two blue chairs in front of the shop after being scrubbed down.  I haven't done a thing to these except clean them off.  The patina is amazing.  The perfect blend of shades of blue with a little rust mixed in.

This is one of the hardest parts of having a shop...I want to keep all the really good stuff!

 Below is one of the green chairs after a little elbow grease.  If you look in the first picture these chairs are badly oxidized.  My secret...a little Liquid Gold furniture polish.  I love how it looks on metal - makes the color come back to life.  Although, if you are planning to leave these outside I always recommend a fresh coat of wax - just be careful that you don't lose too much paint.

I am going back for more treasures....I'll be sure and post more pictures soon!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Our Fall Postcard has Arrived!

Our Fall postcard has arrived from the printers and I think it may be my favorite of all time!  The shop has definitely "gone to the owls" because of our nest of baby barn owls this summer.  I searched and searched for a vintage owl postcard and completely fell in love with this sweet face.  (By the way, my owl photo from a previous post won first place at our county fair and prints will be for sale at the shop) 
I have posted our upcoming fall events here on my blog and a list of upcoming classes is available here.  Private classes are also available for garden clubs or groups of five or more.  If you would like me to add you to our 'snail mail' list just send me an email and I can get a postcard in the mail to you.

The shop is filling up with great stuff for fall...more on that very soon! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pesto 101

It's summertime, and in my family that means eating a lot of fresh basil pesto. Last summer I had my first Pesto 101 class here at The Antique Gardener. This summer I had to cancel it because I was sick...so I decided to share the recipe here. Enjoy!

I always start with a couple of large bunches of basil. I try to pick it and use it immediately. If you can't make your pesto right away just leave it in water to keep it fresh.

In my opinion the quickest and easiest way to make pesto is in the food processor. It can then be refrigerated or frozen. This recipe was adapted by me from the original recipe found in The Silver Palate cookbook (one of my favorites) by Russo & Lukin.

Basic Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup olive oil, sometimes a little less

1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh grated Romano cheese

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. (I usually chop up the garlic a little, then add the basil and process together so the garlic is well minced)

2. Leave the motor running and add the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Sometimes I use a little less (3/4 cup) because I will either be adding more oil to pasta later or, if I am planning to freeze the pesto I add a little on top to keep the color fresh.

(Little hands are always a great help!)
3. Shut the processor off. Add the cheeses, a big pinch of salt and a liberal grinding of fresh black pepper. Process briefly to combine.

Makes two cups, enough to sauce two pounds of pasta.

I generally use one cup of fresh pesto right away and freeze one cup to use later. Having pesto in the freezer is so handy for a quick dinner!

I generally prefer using fresh pasta because it cooks so quickly. I also like to use a small Ziti pasta or tortellini which is great served cold.

After boiling for a few minutes I drain the pasta, add a little olive oil, stir in the pesto and dinner is ready! The kids love it - Emma had three helpings - and I love it because dinner was quick, fresh and healthy and there is a second meal waiting for me in the freezer!

Here are some other suggestions for using fresh pesto....

With Pasta - combine with any type of fresh or dried pasta. Serve plain or add fresh Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, feta cheese or fresh cherry tomatoes on top.

Cold Pasta Salad - I generally use Ziti, Rigatoni or Tortellini pasta. Serve alone or add any combination of toasted pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, olives, chunks of hard Italian salami, cherry tomatoes, peas or feta cheese.

Breakfast - whisk one tablespoon into 4 eggs as you scramble them. Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh tomatoes.

Panini's - Pesto is a great addition to any grilled sandwich. Spread on a slice of good quality bread, add mozzarella cheese and a thick slice of tomato. Grill until cheese melts. Other great additions include grilled onions or smoked turkey.

Add to mayonnaise to make a unique spread for sandwiches

Combine with garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a refreshing summer salad dressing


I hope you get a chance to enjoy some fresh pesto this summer. Better yet, stock your freezer so you can have a little taste of summer all winter long!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Barn Owl Update

Well, our baby barn owls, like all babies, have grown up and left the nest - - - literally. I just wanted to do quick update to let you know that I think all five of our baby barn owls have successfully learned to fly! I am not sure how many are still living in their nest, located in the eaves of the shop just outside the back door. Below is one of my favorites. She seems to be the most curious or perhaps the most comfortable with her human neighbors. She often comes out when I whistle and will still tilt her head at me. Although I am not an owl expert I think she has stayed in the nest to watch over the younger owls. At any rate she is a very beautiful and responsible owl.

In the last few weeks our owls all seem to learn to fly the same way. They take their first flying leap out of the nest. Then they spend a day or two sitting on the ground or perched on our electrical boxes. Soon they are either back in the nest or on their way into the world.

I believe these are actually two different owls. In the photo above the owl just seemed to need a rest. The owl below was actually dubbed "sad owl" because he seemed much younger and looked like he was lonely and missed the nest. Luckily, after 2 days down below "sad owl" managed to fly back up to the nest to be with his siblings.

I love the last few fluffy baby feathers!

Although I am actually only 5-6 feet away this owl doesn't seem to mind! He is almost camouflaged against the old brick wall.

The other evening my family and I went down to see the owls flying. These three were perched on an old screen, across from where the nest is located. I believe these are the three younger owls. The middle owl refused to look down and the one on the right nearly twisted his head all the way around! Eventually they all took flight that evening.

As you can see they are quite a ways up - and very messy! We didn't stay around long to watch them. The mom & dad both show up at dusk to feed the young owls. The dad is HUGE and has a wing span of 4-5 feet! Both parents will screech and dive down if they think we are getting a little too close!

I've thoroughly enjoy our little owl family at The Antique Gardener this spring. This the first good picture I was able to take of the five baby owls (one can be barely seen on the far right). Just like my own kids I hope they have been given roots & wings. Perhaps one of them will come back to the shop to make a nest of their own in the years to come. I hope they do!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Our Baby Barn Owls

I am so lucky! I have a nest of five baby barn owls up in the roof at The Antique Gardener! These darling little owls have been here for over a month and are getting big enough and brave enough that they come out to say hello. They are extremely messy but well worth it!
As you can see, they are getting big but still have some of their fuzzy little white feathers on the top of their heads. I have also learned that owls do not lay all of their eggs at one time. They will often lay a few and then lay more several days later. There are a total of five babies, two of them are older and the other three seem to be younger as they have a lot more of the downy white feathers. Since I have to clean up a great deal of pellets and poop each and every morning I find myself talking to my little owls every day. I found out that one of the two older owls will tilt his head when I tilt mine. He seems to be very curious and will come out to see me whenever I whistle.

Here is a closer view of one of the older owls and one of the younger. It is amazing how they grow and change.

I'll keep you posted on our little owl family. Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Friday, June 24, 2011

10th Anniversary Celebration

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 10th Anniversary at The Antique Gardener. I started my shop because I had always dreamed of having my own business and thought it would be something I could do to make a little money, raise my kids and work with the things I love - antiques and plants. Although it has not been an easy journey I am happy to say that my little business has turned out to be exactly what I dreamed of. I have my two beautiful children with me at work and I am able to do the things I love to do each and every day.
I want to thank all of my family but especially my husband Dusty, our crazy kids Jack & Emma and my parents. They have helped me move and remodel at three different locations (and each time I moved I was pregnant!) They have spent countless hours babysitting, unloading and moving furniture, mowing lawns and a million other little things that help me every day.

A very special thank you to Vicki and Norma - my dear friends that help me out at the shop when I just can't be there every day. I truly couldn't do it without your help - and honestly it wouldn't be any fun without you there!

Finally, I would like to thank my wonderful, loyal customers. Many of you were there when the shop opened in 2001 in a 200 square foot shed. Then you joined me when I made the move onto Main Street in Amador City and finally our move to this huge rambling old home in Sutter Creek. You have watched both of my children grow up - often in a playpen behind the counter, sometimes crying, sometimes sleeping, always cute. You have tolerated my "Attempted Hours" or the occasional closed sign because of a sick baby or a quick "Back in a Minute" dash to school at 2:00 every day. Thank you for your patience and generosity. Thank you for your support. Most of all, thank you for all of your positive comments. It is the positive energy I get from my customers that makes me look forward to going to work every day. I thrive on your compliments and ideas. It is because of my customers that I'm looking forward to another 10 years!!! (shhh...don't tell Dusty!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Taste of the Ranch

A couple weeks ago my family and I were lucky enough to spend a Saturday afternoon at one of my favorite events - A Taste of the Ranch - a wine event in the vineyard at Shake Ridge Ranch just outside of Sutter Creek.

Shake Ridge Ranch is only a couple miles down the road from where we are building our new house. My husband, Dusty, did some tractor work for the Kraemer family when they were first developing the vineyard. I love this event because it is so relaxing. You are able to stroll through the vineyard - wine glass in hand - tasting different wines right where the grapes are grown.

They even have root beer "tasting" for the kids - which Jack and Emma loved!

Em was having a great time spilling her root beer down the front of her shirt!

My little cowboy.

My Dad actually set these giant boulders up in an overgrown cairn of sorts when he was doing some backhoe work at the ranch. The family loved them and they have been there ever since!

The wine is bottled under the label Yorba Wines and is absolutely delicious! The Tempranillo is my favorite. You can find more information or purchase their wines at YorbaWines.com

I love this section of old fence next to an old oak tree.

We arrived a little late to the event so Dusty and the kids were rummaging around for the cheese and crackers. This old barn is where we tasted the Shake Ridge Red - and the Bucking Rootbeer from Jackson Hole, WY. A great wine and Jack's favorite root beer!

I love all the woodpecker holes in this old post.

It was pretty overcast that day but the vineyard was still beautiful!

Jack is growing up so fast - but not too fast - it's root beer in the bottle!

Our family rarely spends a Saturday afternoon relaxing. We are usually working - either Dusty's on a job or I'm at the shop. It was a great day to be together enjoying the beautiful area we are fortunate to call home - I hope you enjoyed it too!