Thursday, August 30, 2012

Goodbye August

I am not a fan of August and I'm always glad to see it go. I have to say though that this August has been a fairly tolerable one. The weather this year has been crazy and it seems like we are a month ahead of schedule. This August has seemed more like September. Maybe this means we will get an early fall and winter? That would be okay with me.

We have also been fortunate to have regular rains. We are overdue for some now and it is frustrating that we won't get much from Hurricane Issac. It is also so frustrating to see the color green on the radar over your town but then you go outside and it is not doing a thing. I've been dragging hoses around for the past several days. Overall though, I cannot complain because I know most areas of the country has had it far worse.

The garden is tired by the end of August and so am I.  I'm excited about getting some fall color. I hear we may have a significant cold front coming through next week. Bring it on!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Monday, August 20, 2012

New blooms

Some of the new plants I planted this spring are finally blooming -

Buddelia 'Miss Molly'
Buddleia 'Blue Chip'
Cestrum 'Orange Peel'

Cestrum 'Orange Peel'

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Last Saturnday morning, I was taking the kitchen compost out to the bin and I kept hearing owls. I've heard them before but never really investigated further. This time they were loud and clear. I glanced up into the tall thicket of hackberry trees behind our garage and there they were perched on a high branch. We were getting ready to go to Huntsville so I didn't have time to get a proper photo. I grabbed my camera and took this shot which is still dark even after considerable lightening in Photoshop.

Last fall, I was at work and Michael was home. He had raised the windows because it was cool outside. He was sewing and said that he kept hearing voices outside the dining room window. It sounded as though people were having a conversation. This isn't that unusual because there is a dentist's office right across the street and people are often talking out in the parking lot. He kept hearing the voices and it sounded as though they were outside the window in the garden. He peeked out the window and a pair of owls were sitting in the Yoshino cherry tree, apparently carrying on a conversation. 

I don't know that much about owls and don't really know if it is a good thing to have them in your garden but so far I don't have any complaints. I've heard stories about them snatching pets but our two outside cats seem to be fine. It is always exciting to find a new animal or bird in the garden!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Friday, August 10, 2012

Crape Myrtles at the Florence Cemetery

The crape myrtles are really beautiful this year. The prettiest ones I've seen are at the Florence Cemetery. There they have enough room to spread naturally and I love the way they have been pruned. They were at their prettiest a few weeks ago so I'm a bit late getting these photos.

I don't know the variety but most of them look the same. I've always thought that I would be perfectly happy with a job landscaping a cemetery like this. The Florence Cemetery is lovely and I go there often. I wish more cemeteries would put more emphasis on the landscape. So many consist of just green lawn. Florence Cemetery is one of the few with stately older trees and beautiful shrubs. 


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rosenbaum Home - The Only Frank Lloyd Wright House in Alabama

The only Frank Lloyd Wright structure to be built in Alabama is less than one mile from our house. I drive by it often but it has been over 10 years since I was inside. I first saw it when Mrs. Rosenbaum still lived there. At the time, parts of the house was in need of repair and I didn't see every room. This past weekend, our Memphis friend Joann was visiting and she and I took the tour.

The above photo shows the front of the house but it faces the back of the property. Wright designed it this way so that the back of the house, which faces the street, would be more private. Here is the view you see when you drive by - you'll notice that the windows are small and horizontal and are placed near the roof. The overhang that you see was a carport. Many vehicles today would be too tall to fit underneath.

The house was built by Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum in 1940. Stanley Rosenbaum was from Florence and he met Mildred, a former model, in New York. Stanley's parents gave the newlywed couple 2 acres across the street from their home to build a house. They liked the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and wrote to him and asked if he would design their house. To their surprise, they got a response about 4 months later and he said "yes". Amazingly, Wright himself never visited Alabama. He sent an apprentice to supervise the construction.

The walkway that leads to the carport area and back entrance. Notice the statue of the sprite to the right.
The house is very small and the living room is the largest room. The windows look out over the back lawn. When the Rosenbaums first moved in, you could see all the way down to the Tennessee River. Today all you can see are trees. The furniture was also designed by Wright. The room to the back was Mr. Rosenbaum's study.
Mr. Rosenbaum's study with a desk designed by Wright. Mr. Rosenbaum was an English professor at the University of North Alabama. He had a huge collection of books and the couple requested lots of book shelves.

A dining area is located right next to the living room. The table runner was weaved by Mildred Rosenbaum.
Another view of the dining area facing the windows. The track lighting design is throughout the entire house.
The original kitchen was very tiny. Mrs. Rosenbaum did not like it and later requested that a new one be added when they added an addition to the house in the 1940s.

The stove in the new kitchen.
Pottery and other objects from Mrs. Rosenbaum's collection.
The Rosenbaum's had 4 sons and later asked Wright if he would design an addition to their house. This was the older son's room. Bunk beds are located on the far wall. A long window, to the right, overlooks the Japanese garden.
The Japanese garden
The view of the garden from the son's bedroom.
The Japanese garden is enclosed with a wooden fence.
Unfortunately, another tour prevented me from getting photos of the master bedroom and the younger son's rooms. Photographs are allowed but only at the end of the tour. All of the rooms are very small with very low ceilings. Wright was only 5'4" we were told and he designed houses to suit himself and not the client! Any addition or special request had to be approved by him and he sometimes said no. 

The tour is fascinating, with interesting stories about the Rosenbaum family and the house. If you are in Florence, do visit it.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy