Top Drawer

Staff writerJuly 25, 2009 

Gardening to beat the clock

Like many of you, I want to have a beautiful lawn and garden. I also want to spend more time relaxing and enjoying and less time maintaining the garden. So when "The One-Hour Garden: How You Can Have a No-Fuss, No-Work Garden" landed on my desk, I had to stop and take a look.

The goal of this guide by Joanna Smith, published by Reader's Digest, is to help you plan a garden that's beautiful without hours of weeding, pruning and mowing. In fact, Smith says you can have it in one hour a week.

This how-to guide is divided into chapters with advice on planning, creating, planting, enjoying and maintaining. It offers tips on controlling weeds, what to plant and how to solve problems, such as a sloping lawn.

Architects honored for lounge design

Vernacular Studio (, a Raleigh architecture and interiors firm, has received an Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects, Virginia chapter, and Inform magazine for its interior design of 101 Lounge + Café ( in downtown Raleigh.

"It is an honor to receive recognition from industry peers for our work on 101 Lounge + Café," said Chad Parker, AIA and principal of Vernacular Studio. The lounge and café's design ( draws on the fact that it opens early in the day to cater to breakfast clientele and stays open into the night to provide a comfortable lounge atmosphere. The concept of day and night is reflected by use of contrasting materials and light, creating interaction between the first and second levels.

"The owners of 101 Lounge + Café allowed us the freedom to explore architectural opportunities that reflect the unique lounge and café concept of 101," Parker adds. "When a client puts a blind trust in you and gives you a blank canvas, it invariably raises the bar and creates a sense of partnership between the architect and client."

Mark your calendar

The Triangle Orchid Society's Orchid Growers Day seminar is Aug. 8 at the Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. Attendees can learn to grow several types of orchids in homes or greenhouses. Novice orchid collectors and those who just want to know what growers love about the flowers are welcome. The cost, $25 for the day, covers lectures, lunch, a souvenir orchid and membership in the society for the rest of the year. Registration by Aug. 1 is required. Send a check payable to the Triangle Orchid Society to Bob Meyer, 110 Widecombe Court, Cary, NC 27513. Information: or 469-9149.

Garden memories

A few weeks ago, we published some readers' garden memories. We received so many that we couldn't publish them all that day. Here are a couple of them:

"It's a peony! Mom proclaimed as we walked Dad's acreage in Maryland, where he kept his landscaping business supplies. Out of a large mulch pile, she pulled a nondescript twig. It thrived once planted. Now in my garden, it's a lovely, purple-pink, showy and fragrant legacy of her." -- Cathy Burton-Gates, Raleigh

"Precious memories of my mother are stirred every spring near Mother's Day as our purple (her favorite color) and white irises bloom in our Raleigh flower beds. We brought the bulbs in 2006 from our yard in Virginia; the flowers came years ago from her yard in West Virginia." -- Mike Jarvis, Raleigh

Build a countertop

Here's an ambitious project: building a countertop from scratch. Fu-Tung Cheng's "Concrete Countertops Made Simple" (The Taunton Press; $21.95), says it's easy. The book and DVD explain in detail the seven-step process of building a concrete countertop, from making a template to installation. Color photos, instructions and "tool boxes" show which materials to use. Why concrete, you ask? It's timeless, earthy, affordable and different.

Bored? Move the furniture

Rearranging furniture is so much fun. And because it's free, your husband will likely be happy to help, unless you're like me, and have made changes three times in the past two weeks. Hey, it's all for a good cause: curing boredom, I mean, giving the room a fresh look. So what if the bed has faced every direction, some in violation of Feng Shui principles, only to end up in its original spot. Sure, a measuring tape or paper and pencil might have saved some time. But pointing here, there and over there while someone else does the lifting doesn't take that long either. Or if you're solo, try the Arrange-a-Room tool on the Better Home and Gardens Web site,, before finalizing a plan. The important thing is to give it a try. Oh, and not to laugh when your helper bumps into a wall in the middle of the night.

Orlando Sentinel

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