Annabelle Hydrangeas. If you don't have one in your garden, run get one. This is the most fabulous plant. I can't tell you in enough words how much I love this Hydrangea. I have four plants. I can't remember the year I planted them, but it must have been around eight years ago at least.
Can you believe this is only four plants? They die back to the ground each winter so this is all new growth. I believe they are hardy to quite low temperatures.
Most of the blooms are 9" across and many are at least 12" across.
In the back of the bed, the stems are about six feet tall.
So what do I feed the girls? In the spring around the first of March before they start to grow, I put in the bed a bag of Black Cow and then throw on a few handsfull of composed chicken manure. I think they like it!
Above is a photo taken on May 18. See how much they have grown in just three weeks. These are planted on the North side of the house. I do not know how well they would do in full sun. I did purchase the new pink variety, Invincibelle, and they are struggling in full sun. I have already lost one and another one is looking like it won't make it.
When they turn back to green again, I will pick some and take them inside to dry them for bouquets to last the winter. They dry very well.
I find Annabelles extremely easy to grow. No fuss. If I had a huge property, I would definitely plant more of these. I hope I've convinced you to try to grow them. And, if you already grow them, I know you love them too.
Amelia, since you may be wondering, is an occasional chair frame in the Amy Howard Collection. Amelia Chair The Amy Howard studio is in Memphis, TN. In January 2011, Amy began offering painting classes held at her East Memphis outlet.
I was so thrilled to be able to attend and learn her painting techniques.
I just picked up Amelia from the upholstery shop. Done. All finished. So, here she is:
The hands-on workshop at Amy Howard is actually the third class I have taken there.
In the photo above, you can also see a chest I painted a couple years ago in a taupe metallic finish. Also shown are some demijohns brought back from France that my husband and I selected at Roundtop antiques show in Texas this spring. I liked the aqua ones and he liked the green ones. Behind the demijohns is an original painting that I did. The photo is cropped so you can't see much of it.
The first class I took in January was on creating the Toscana finish with gold leaf edge on a small piece of wood.
This class is doing that finish on an actual piece of furniture. Students had a choice between two different chairs or a bench. Another student in the class, Sam, and I picked the Amelia chair and Beth chose the bench.
I took this photo outside so maybe you could see the finish a little better. It is so dark inside the house.
The fabric is a cocoa colored linen with a gold metallic painted damask pattern.
If you are within driving distance of Memphis, Tennessee and love to paint furniture, I suggest this class. It was not taught by Amy herself but by Lauren who she trained and Ned who is very talented and works at the studio. His instruction was invaluable. Thanks, Ned.
Here is the raw wood frame that I started with.
I know this sounds crazy when you want to end up with a light painted piece, but the first step is to stain it. Just one of the layers to get to the end result.
Then the legno gesso. Then water based paint.
Here Ned is quick drying it with a torch.
Here fly speck aging has been applied and Ned has distressed the frame with a scraper.
Red boulle water based paint has been placed where the gold leaf will be applied.
Here I have started applying the gold leaf over the boulle paint.
The gold leaf is now on.
The last step is adding light and dark wax and some dust of the ages.
This photo shows how the wax brings out the aging. I loved this wax but on a future chair, I would not distress it by scraping back the paint so much.