Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Good, Clean Fun

When we set up our annual garden project dates, the Divas of the Dirt don't use July or August for workdays - these months are usually too hot for remodeling a garden - but they're never too hot for fun. Mindy emailed a good plan for last Saturday. Sophia was out of town but the rest of the Divas met for a seminar at the Austin location of Smith & Hawken, leaving the weeds, garden gloves and grubby work clothes at home.This was one of a series of informal talks by manager Zach, a very creative and interesting speaker. The people who'd signed up for the seminar came in before the store opened for business. In some stores you listen to speakers while lined up in rows of metal folding chairs, but this time the audience sat on beautiful patio chairs, couches or in chairs around dining tables - feeling more like guests than customers. This talk was on outdoor entertaining, touching on furniture placement, centerpieces, lighting and fun ideas for using standard patio items in innovative ways. We enjoyed not only the ideas but the presentation as well - Zach's engaging manner and very pleasant voice encouraged audience participation.

In addition to the talk, part of a Southern Living magazine series, we all received a store discount - and found lots of things on the shelves to buy. Zach had mentioned various ways to keep mosquitoes from spoiling a party- I liked the idea of burning small citronella cones so decided to try some. The other Divas bought everything from organic fertilizer to decorative finials to doormats.

Zach will be giving more of these talks in future - he wryly noted that one planned subject for later this summer was watering! We've been in such a rainy period that this seems funny now, but weather here can change really fast - Zach's information may be essential again by late summer. If I hear a date I'll post it here - or you can check with the Austin store, 9901 Capital of Texas Hwy N, phone 512/345-8700.
Not far away, a new restaurant called Mimi's Cafe had opened, and amazingly, neither Buffy nor Karla had been there yet. [Many times the plaster dust is still suspended in the air when Buffy finds a new restaurant.] We headed over to the North Austin member of the national chain and had a great time catching up with the news while marveling at the size of the muffins flavored with blueberries, honey oat, carrot or corn, brought to the table while the Divas waited for breakfast items stuffed with crab.
Our newest Diva told us about this year's Keep Texas Beautiful ornament, planned to honor Ladybird Johnson. A mockup of the ornament had been sent to her this past spring, so Ladybird knew about this honor before she died.

After brunch the Divas parted, with a couple of us heading over to the Domain, a big new shopping & residence development. I hadn't been there before but DivaAnnie wanted me to see the way the planners had used floral and nature themes in designing the walkways for the shops - metal was fashioned into vines and flowers to divide areas, and lots of native plants are mixed into the wide borders and central beds.

We liked these cactus covered in blue mosaic - the blue appears to be glass and I think the surrounding plants are Hesperaloe - also called Red yucca. Since everything is newly planted, we'll need a return visit to see how the look changes as the landscaping matures.

We were amused by a sidewalk crane looming over Sur La Table - years ago I was at the Seattle area branch of this upscale kitchen store so was interested to see that it's now here in North Austin. Who can resist a stroll through this type of store? Not me!
Back at DivaAnnie's, we looked at her Senna tree, probably Senna corymbosa. It was still a small shrub when we worked on DivaAnnie's front garden in 2006, but it's become more treelike, and was opening yellow flowers. Although stores and restaurants were the main destinations, our Saturday ended with that essential touch of chlorophyll!

Signing off as DivaGlinda to post on my other blog as Annie in Austin