My Blog

Category - The-garden

30.03 20160

More Going Green in 2016!

For Saint Patrick's Day, I blogged on Going Green. But there's so much more to be said! Spring is all about green, which can mean a lot of things to different people. For some folks, it's all about fashion. 13

Others think of it as a beautiful color for their home.


Or a way to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside! Maybe it's floral or leaf motifs as details.


Or perhaps it's actual plants that you place throughout the house.


This vase is empty right now, but it's just waiting to be filled with spring flowers!


Science has proven that adding plants indoors can improve our air quality and mental health. They can be very elegant additions to your decor, too.


Of course, for those of us who don't really keep plants alive, there's also artwork inspired by spring. This painting is very verdant and alive.


There are other ways of going green, too. This article lists many ways to "go green" in an ecological way, while saving money in the process. One easy way is a low-flow showerhead.

Low Flow Shower Head

Saving water is very earth-friendly. There are other ecological ways to improve the world around us, too. One way is eating right - local and fresh foods. Perhaps you like to get outside and dig around in the dirt yourself. Here's a great article on drought-resistant shrubs that are perfect for Alabama's heat.

Locally, there's Pell City's Gateway Community Garden. "The goal of Pell City's Gateway Garden is to help everyone experience the thrill of growing your own lunch and give back to our community by helping others have access to healthy local foods."


If you don't have a green thumb, you can always support your local farms, like the Red Hills Farm in Cropwell, AL, is great because you eat local food, support your local economy, and reduce your carbon footprint. Another way to get local food is Pepper Place Market, which will start for the year soon! This is one of my favorite ways to get local food, as well as see local artists.


There's also a getting outdoors. One great way is riding a bike. The bike culture in Birmingham lately has grown almost overnight! The new Zyp bikes are as green as can be. Biking down to Pepper Place can be a great Saturday treat.

So - how about you? What does going green mean to you?

(Photos from my store at Lilly Designs, A Design Resource, and two of my favorite places  - Chelsea Antique Mall and Black Sheep Antiques in Harpersville.)

read more
10.03 20150

Spring Is Around the Corner

By: Renee Categories:Buzzworthy, The Garden

March is here, and the end of winter is near! Cheer up, the cold can’t last much longer. Life in all its many forms is beginning to pop up everywhere! Frogs, insects, and seedlings are awakening to show us the glory of spring. The first whisper of spring gives me a burst of creative energy, and just like everything else, I begin to wake from my long winter’s slumber. March is the month that I being to dig into the Earth. I love to plant seeds that turn green with life. Soon we will see the bees and the dragonflies flitting through the rainbow of delicate blossoms. I’m looking forward to sitting in my outdoor paradise, breathing in the scent of the earth, and reawakening. arbor 1 Photo source: Martha Stewart Living. Beautiful covered arbor shelters us from the harsh sun rays. Perfect spot to sip your favorite refreshing cocktail. pergola 2 Photo source: Martha Stewart Living. Outdoor dining under a covered pergola among green and yellow blooms. hydrangea Beautiful outdoor garden area. Fresh cut hydrangea arranged on industrial cart made into console table. Perfect place to settle down with a glass of wine or sweet tea. Source: Country Decorating Ideas: French Country Style. toile Relaxing and romantic outdoor space. Table covered with Matelasse toile. The lace hanging above table is a very creative idea. Lovely comfortable brown wicker chairs in this cozy garden getaway. flagstone Large Pergola stand over flagstone area with teak furniture with comfortable cushions. Attractive garden space to relax with a good book.   CandlesticksSource: Country Decorating Ideas: French Country Style. Linen Drapery sets the stage in front of the river rock fireplace. The French tabletop is covered in lace. The mercury glass candle sticks and crystal chandelier illuminate the beautiful outdoor space. Breathtaking! weathered lantern Source: Country Decorating Ideas: French Country Style Sheer drapery hangs beautifully next to the white columns. The weathered lanterns a top the white wash French cocktail table. Illuminate this gorgeous outdoor space. friends and family Gathering with friends and family under a shaded tree with sunflowers in the background.   And some product from A Design Resource, as well: cast iron urn   Beautiful cast iron urn.   Garden Angel Blowing Kisses   This cute angel is blowing kisses!   garden bench   This is a gorgeous bench for your garden.   Rachel French Daybed   This daybed would look great in a sunroom, so you can enjoy springtime in style.   Wooden lantern   Wooden lantern for lighting up those summer nights! Pair with a citronella candle to keep bugs away.

read more
27.02 20150

Indoor Gardening

We had our winter blast here in Alabama over the past few days! Let's share a little green to chase some of those winter blues away.  Before the snow came I cut these beautiful daffodils from my yard and put them in a cut glass vase. When I see the daffodils blooming, it gives me great pleasure to know that spring is just around the corner. daffodils   During the end of February, and all the way into March, the weather here in Alabama might still be too bone-chilling to get out and play in the dirt. My suggestion to all you gardeners out there is to do some indoor gardening. Find a sunny spot in the front of a window and a portable planter. Plants some herbs or tulip bulbs or whatever your heart desires. Natural light is the key to a successful indoor garden. African violets and orchids are two species that thrive indoors.  Look for an attractive container and arrange them on a stunning shelf, and they will become the star attraction. Terrariums are eye catching and a wonderful way to bring the outdoors in. Find some green moss and a glass dome. Ivy or ferns work well. Citrus trees are another favorite for indoor container gardens. daffodil Source: Garden Magazine. Distinctive Daffodils. They range in colors from pure white to golden to nearly green, with orange. Pink and almost red cups. tulips Source: Atlanta Homes Magazine. Tulips are another sign of spring. If you plant bulbs early in your favorite vase or container in your shed or garage. You can bring them in the house and force their blooming. Don't forget to water. primrose  

Source: Martha Stewart Living Primroses. You might find Primrose at your local super market in the floral department. Bring one home and place on your windowsill.
tree seedling
Source: Martha Stewart Living. Pick up a tree seedling from your local nursery and enjoy on a tray in a sunny spot in the house until the weather warms up for outdoor gardening. Find the perfect spot in the yard to plant.
Source: Atlanta Home Orchids. Antique urns are the perfect home for a fanciful orchid.
Source: Lilly Designs Amaryllis bulbs are easier to grow. Place in a special container and place in a sunny spot and water regularly. From the time you plant it should take about 5 weeks to see the beautiful trumpet shaped flowers that will brighten your winter windowsill.
Source: Real Simple Magazine Seedling Starter. Poke a whole at the bottom using a pin feel with soil and plant your seed. I love this idea!
Source: Country Decorating Ideas French Country Style Magazine This container of Lavender sits on the counter in front of the kitchen window.
Source: Garden Design Magazine Herbs: rosemary, spearmint, basil, Spanish lavender, marjoram, sage, Greek oregano.
hens and chicks
Source: Garden Design Magazine Hens and chicks in homemade hypertufa container
bell jars
Source: Real Simple Magazine
A terrarium is a type of miniature ecosystem of plants. You can simply place a dome over a orchid or succulent to create humidity for your plant and it make a beautiful statement.

read more
09.06 20140

Revitalization of Downtowns

The face of America is changing. Small towns that cropped up around industries that have moved on, now have to find other ways to keep the community from falling apart. ghost town     Large cities have lost once vibrant urban centers because of corruption, crime, and poverty. Detroit used to the "The Renaissance City." detroit   The trend of moving to the suburbs and leaving these centers of community is starting to reverse, though. People are realizing that community is impossible without a concentration of people working hard together. There are a number of movements that can help a community. Green space, like a garden can do wonders to improve a city's livability. Just look at our neighbor, Birmingham, and Railroad Park. An ugly concrete crime-riddled part of town is now a beautiful green space that attracts visitors from all over. railroad park   Pell City needs to look to other successful urban revitalization projects and find what works for us. We need more events, attractions, and business. We need to shop locally, instead of driving elsewhere to get what we need. Instead of looking at Birmingham's renewal as a competition, we need to figure out how to capitalize on that and become another success story for Alabama. In the recent Discover St. Clair, there's a spot on Lilly Designs and City Market, which is a rebranding effort on my part in this very spirit. I looked at what Pell City is missing in terms of commerce, and did my best to try and fill that niche. We need more foot traffic in the beautiful downtown area. Cogswell Avenue needs to be a place of vibrancy and life, but it takes vision and commitment from many people to make a change like this happen. It doesn't happen overnight, and we don't need to give up. I believe Pell City can be a wonderful attraction, but it's vital that the residents make the commitment to their home first.   Downtown-Pell-City-St-Clair-County-Courthouse-banner      

read more
04.03 20140

Time to Garden!

Let's face it - winter has been brutal this year. It has been cold, and there have been several cold storms that the South wasn't ready for. So almost everyone is ready for the green and new life that spring brings. Some people are forcing their bulbs to bloom right now to bring a little life into their world.

force tulips


This particular indoor garden is a little ray of sunshine in the middle of the winter.

winter garden

  A terrarium is a nice splash of green that would brighten up any room.  


Or perhaps this set of wicker trays (available at A Design Resource):

Wicker baskets.jpg

  Some people are getting ready to plant. Even the littlest helpers are excited about new life!

  Planting a garden


If you don't have a lot of space, you can always consider container gardening. herb garden

Look how great this balcony looks. It's a little oasis in the middle of a city.

balcony garden

The city of Pell City is working towards a community garden. I am on the planning committee and we're working on possibilities. As with any public work, we've got a number of issues to work through, including funding and plans. I'm very excited about the potential to bring some beauty to downtown Pell City!


Most of all, though, it's time for SPRING and LIFE and RENEWAL!  I love this time of year for so many reasons! What's your favorite part of spring? Do you have any plans for a garden or to add some green into your life?


read more
29.05 20130


By: Renee Categories:The Garden

Even if you have a black thumb, you can probably grow a succulent! Succulents are neat little plants that don't require a lot of attention or cost. To be a succulent, a plant needs to have fleshy, water storing organs. Most people recognize the most commonly used succulents: aloes, jade plants, and cacti. You've probably seen lots of other interesting succulents at your local nursery. Renee Lilly's succulents

Care for succulents is fairly simple. The hot Alabama summers are just fine for succulents. They love the sun, but just like us, they can get sunburned if they are overexposed to the sun. Pick a place that has lots of light but gets shade part of the day. The afternoon sun is especially brutal, so pay attention to how the light falls on any outdoor plants.  They actually prefer poor soil because they are adapted to the desert. Choose sandy soil that drains well, so that when you water them, they don't get waterlogged. Over-watering is the biggest cost of succulent failure, so make sure to err on the side of under-watering.  Once a week should be fine in the summer, once a month in the winter. These plants come in a variety of leaf sizes, colors, and different textures, so they can be a great outlet for your creative side!  Some people create rock gardens devoted to these little wonders. Pots of succulent gardens have such great visual interest, and are really inexpensive to create on your own. Personalizing the project makes it so much more fun, too!Vertical garden at Lilly Designs, a Design Resource Some of you have seen this wall in front of my store front for Lilly Designs. The project turned out so beautifully. There's a lot of information on the web on how to create your own vertical succulent garden. We used marine board, plywood, chicken wire, dirt, and sand to create this living work of art that I'm proud of. I hope it inspires you to buy a few succulents of your own and experiment!   Reneesig    

read more