GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2006 show7
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Show #7

This week we go shopping, not for plants but for outdoor furniture. There are many innovations in furniture that assist in bringing the indoors out and many furniture makers are now turning their attention to outdoor furniture. The materials are great looking, low maintenance and high durability, so much so that it is difficult to tell the difference between indoor and outdoor furniture.

Susan McCoy is with the Garden Media Group. They've been working in the gardening industry industry for about 12 years, the last 5 tracking what's hot and what's not. Today's gardeners/homemakers have decided that the outside of their property is just as important as their inside - they're working, playing sleeping, eating and entertaining outside. Outside is an extension of, and just as important as, the inside of their house. Many of us have created elaborate outdoor kitchens, while some are even installing plasma TV's outside. As gardens have also evolved, so has outdoor furniture. For many years outdoor furniture meant teak or wrought iron. Today you can get beautiful wicker furniture that is completely weather resistant as well as beautiful fabrics that match your style and taste. Susan feels that gardening shows like Garden Smart have helped in this area. They have given us all confidence to put our own signature on our gardens, they've empowered us to go outside and make our own statement. She feels we should watch these shows, if feeling intimidated, start small, but go outside, try something, you'll find that living in the outdoors can be fun, relaxing and rejuvenating.

Maureen Recchia is the Store Designer for a series of stores called Georgia Backyard in Georgia and American Backyard in Dallas, Texas. Maureen must, for her job, stay on top of the trends. It is a challenge but she does her own research, scanning leading magazines and accompany buyers on trips to Chicago and High Point, North Carolina. She's constantly looking for the latest styles and accessories which she thinks top it all off.

There is furniture designed for inside, furniture for protected areas and furniture for outside. It can get confusing. The manufacturers do a great job designing the furniture so you're virtually looking out at your living room.

We start with a grouping called Shorewood, it needs to go in a sunroom, a completely enclosed environment. It has a sofa, love seat, chair, ottoman, rocker, dining and several accessory tables. With the divider screen you could fully accessorize any sunroom and it comes in different stains. It is an indoor set because it has cotton fabric, which is something you don't want in an outdoor setting because it will mold and mildew. It is also filled with a fabric, which does not allow the moisture to drain quickly. A easy way to determine if indoors or outdoors furniture is to pick up the cushion. In this case it is fully upholstered, thus doesn't allow the moisture to drain, thus an indoor fabric. The outdoor cushions would be filled with a polyester fiberfill because the objective is to not hold any moisture. It should dry within 20-30 minutes. The sales staff will be a big help in this area as well.

The next set is also ideal for a sunroom, a closed environment. It has a rattan flair, which has become more popular and has unique pieces which are different from the first set. This has a recliner, which is completely upholstered foam and upholstered material inside. It is also available as a sleeper sofa with an array of different fabrics and finishes.

The next grouping is suitable for a protected area, usually called limited exposure, meaning a screened porch or something with a roof so the furniture is not exposed to the direct elements. This furniture has cotton fabric with the upholstered finish. But, this vendor has several different acrylic fabrics which are made with polyester fiberfill inside. The rattan is treated with several coats of polyurethane, so it can withstand the elements. It would hold up in the elements, just not as well, because it is natural rattan. It has many different pieces such as a sofa, loveseat, chair, ottoman, a rocking chair, a breakfast nook and a bakers rack.

Joe notices a chair and a half which is referred to as a cuddle chair. It also has a cuddle ottoman. Typically this grouping would be used in front of a cozy fireplace. Bring up 2 cuddle chairs with an ottoman in the center - that seems to be the new hot trend for a cozy outdoor evening.

Joe feels a great compliment to great looking outdoor furniture is a nice looking container, and shows us several of his favorites. One has nice scale, is tall and narrow with a focal point that is tall and narrow as well. It contains an evergreen Dogwood, an unusual plant but one worth having in any container. The plants spilling over soften the edge and hide the bare spots.

Another container has one of the hottest color combinations in container design today. It combines chartreuse green foliage with black foliage. The plants are Heuchera, this variety is called 'Key Lime Pie' and Alocasia 'Black Magic' with Sambucus 'Black Lace'. These plants like full to part shade. In combination with the beautiful container it is a winner.

For more information about these above mentioned two wonderful containers and interesting plants visit our web site - click on GARDENING TIPS.

Maureen and Joe look at another furniture grouping ideal for a protected environment, limited exposure. This is wicker, protected wicker. It has polyester fiberfill cushions with acrylic fabric. The bottom is open for drainage. It has some wonderful complimentary pieces like a glider chair and ottoman which glides as well. Movement is important for outdoors, everyone loves to sit in a piece that rocks or glides.

The next set has a southern flair and reminds Joe of something his grandparents might have had, yet it has its own special feel. It is a William Pool (a famous architect) design, has a sofa, loveseat, Morris chair, desk chair and the cuddle grouping. There is a special design element in each piece. And everything is protected with a special coating so there should be no problems with mold or mildew in the protected environment. It is build to last.

Joe notices another grouping that is part of a traditional collection. It is modeled after a line brought out over 100 years ago. It is called the Reminisce Collection. It is beautiful. Joe, in particular, is attracted to the cushions. They remind him of the cushions he was never allowed to get on as a child because they were in the formal living room. Yet this grouping is ideal for an outdoors protected environment.

The next group is called the Hemingway Collection and is modeled after furniture found in the home of Ernest Hemingway in Key West. The vendor researched Hemingway's lifestyle, looked at the different furniture throughout his life, specifically what he used in Key West, and recreated that. It is beautiful. This grouping has unique pieces - a safari chair, an interesting swing as well as the cuddle grouping, even unique coffee and end tables. This is available in different fabrics and finishes so you can customize this to work on any screened porch, a covered area.

Eric Johnson tells us this week about fragrance. It adds a whole dimension to the way we experience the garden. It takes something that's visually beautiful and adds a whole new experience for our senses. Eric shows us 2 fragrant plants. Gardenia 'First Love' is wonderfully fragrant, great as a cut flower for bringing inside the house. Another is Daphne 'Carol Mackie'. It has wonderful variegated foliage, unbeatable fragrance and beautiful flowers. So if you're looking for unique ways to enhance your garden experience, think about fragrant plants. For more information on these fantastic plants visit our web site - click on GARDENING TIPS

Joe and Maureen continue their tour. Joe when thinking about outdoor furniture thinks about teak Adirondack chairs. That design has been around forever. The adirondack chair has now been redesigned but not reconfigured. It now is available as a rocker and they've added color to the lineup. Barn red is the latest and greatest color but it comes in other colors. It is now available in a new material called Envirowood which is actually recycled milk jugs that have been compressed together. It is an excellent material, is virtually maintenance free, floats and doesn't need to be repainted. The hardware is brass thus doesn't corrode and is long lasting.

Another outdoor collection is called Gerawood. It is as dense as teak. This set has a red finish rather than a typical plain wood finish. It is decorated with beautiful solution dyed acrylic cushions and beautiful throw pillows. Of course, it is available in a wide selection of fabrics ideal to customize any room. The cushions are weather proofed and maintenance free.

Joe mentions that when he sees the magazine pictures with outdoor groupings, to him, they're unrealistic because they're plush, yet out in the open with no protection from the elements. Maureen tells Joe that he's sitting on one of those sets and that it is called Camino Real. It really is virtually maintenance free, constructed using synthetic wicker wrapped around an aluminum frame. It has solution died acrylic fabric, filled with polyester fiberfill which, again, allows for quick drainage. Maureen has had this set in her own outdoors. It's been there for 4 years and she has 4 teenagers. It's held up remarkably well. This group has many different pieces available - a sofa, loveseat, glider, club chair, rocker, Morris chair, conversation group, dining group and bar height group. One can have everything match or bring in different colored frames. The options for accessories are endless, with mosaic tables, lamps, etc. Outdoor furniture groups can be individualized to reflect your own tastes or family needs.

The next group reminds Joe of his bachelor days. It is synthetic wicker wrapped around an aluminum frame. It has an acrylic blend fabric and polyester fiberfill. It's a sectional, thus very versatile. You can move pieces around or put it together as a sofa. It has a chaise which could be placed between a coffee table. It's perfect for a contemporary look. It comes in different fabrics and with or without piping. It is completely suited for the outdoors and can be decorated with all the different pillows the vendor has to offer.

Joe wants to look at a table for dining outdoors and Maureen has just the answer. This set is modeled after Frances Mays' home in Cortona, Italy. Frances Mays is the author of Under the Tuscan Sun. It is a beautiful and is called a settee. It is constructed of wrought aluminum, so it's hollow. It is acid washed, so it's going to patina beautifully, which means it will get better looking with age. It is meant for the outdoors with solution dyed acrylic pillows which are polyester fiberfilled. Additionally available is a sink with a cabinet which can be plugged into the hose, which will then provide running water, and if you want a refrigerator could be added. The etergee is beautiful and is another design of Frances Mays. Its top resembles a church steeple that she sees out her bedroom window. Open the doors and beautiful glass shelves are inside.

Maureen next shows us a pergola that is 110 inches long. Underneath is a zinc top table which is 103 inches long. It is called a farmer's table and seats 12 people. Joe likes a smaller table, one that will seat 4. Maureen shows us a 48 inch faux stone table that looks like inlaid tile. It is completely designed for the outdoors and is maintenance free. The sling back chairs that go with the table are great as well. One can mix and match colors to suit your style and personality.

Joe asks to see some of the other table tops. Maureen shows him some beautiful cast top tables with coordinating chairs that present a beautiful outdoor living environment.

We next visit with a Garden Smart viewer, Jan. Jan has installed a retractable awning. This awning serves different purposes - it is great at protecting plants from the afternoon sun, which can be very hot in this location. By bringing the awning out in the afternoon it protects those plants. Jan loves to entertain and has a beautiful table underneath. The awning can protect dinner guests from the elements - rain, etc. because it is waterproof. The retractable awning is a great addition to Jan's backyard- functional and good looking.

Maureen has some other outdoor accessories that are designed for protecting a seating area. They have umbrellas in all sizes, some 7 to 11 feet tall. They come in a variety of colors and with a variety of designs. Some have fringes on the edges, one umbrella can be configured with netting around the edge so it protects from mosquitoes and other insects. It's virtually a portable, outdoor room. Maureen has other accessories, things like outdoor lighting and artwork. She shows us some pillows that are gorgeous. They are available in a variety of colors and fabrics. They range in size from 18 inches up to 42 inches. They can be placed outdoors with no worry. Maureen shows us an assortment of outdoor rugs that can go under any grouping. They are made from a material that withstands all the elements. Lighting is important, one example Joe notices looks like a coconut tree. It is fun.

Garden Smart thanks Maureen for her time. This has been a different type show for us but just as important because we've learned about new gardening trends, about bringing the indoors out and new ways to enjoy the outside. Thank you Maureen.

Links ::

Georgia Backyard
American Backyard
Sunsetter Awnings Powered By SOMFY Motors
Garden Media Group

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Have your hanging baskets seen better days? It’s normal, by midsummer they are ready for a little TLC to bring them back to their former glory. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

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