Hey Chris! How can I found out what cool merchandise is for sale this week?!?

Well, I'm gonna tell you: We usually keep about a dozen listings up each week on chicago craigslist (http://www.chicago.craigslist.com/). We post our phone number (847.345.4711) in the ads, so if you put the last four digits "4711" into the search box, just our ads will pop up, with the occasional oddball vintage Schwinn Spyder bike with 4,711 miles on the odometer...

Soon we should have the website www.midsummergardens.com up and running with links to photos through Shutterfly, Picasaweb, or somesuch, as we've purt near worn the fingerprints off reentering and reposting on craigslist.

And of course, there's the phone (847.345.4711) and email (clyngso@gmail.com). Ciao!

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Fine Landscape Design, Vintage & Antique Home & Garden Furnishings & Accessories

Fine Landscape Design, Vintage & Antique Home & Garden Furnishings & Accessories
Pocket Garden showing Swiss Stone Pine, Rugosa Rose, Witchhazel, Fountain Grass, Cranberry Viburnum and Purple Dome Aster

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You CAN force a bulb to do what you want!!!

Smith and Hawken was responsible for turning on the country to the joys of forcing Spring bulbs throughout the holidays and into the winter. It's April Fools Day here in Chicago, and the Star Magnolia, Scilla siberica, Forsythia, Crocus, and a few early Narcissus are blooming in the ground...given a few brisk Spring rainshowers, more will follow.
Did you attempt any bulb forcing yourselves? In the miserable aftermath of the closing of Smith and Hawken nationwide, I anticipated my withdrawal by stashing away two bags of Muscari armeniacum (the venerable Grape Hyacinth) in the Kelvinator last October. There they slept, going through the faux winter in what had been the bin reserved for carrots and parsnips...until around the first of February. In the picture, you'll see a dynamite oval roasting pan in Cream and Hoosier green which I scored at an estate sale in Wilmette. Chipped, Dinged, Lidless, and 3.5 inches deep...TWO BITS!!!
Filling the pan about half full of soiless mix and arranging randomly 20 Grape Hyacinth bulbs (tip upward), I covered the bulbs with soil to just below the rim of the pan and placed it in a cool darkened location away from the bright winter sun and heat. Kept uniformly moist, not soggy, about the condition of a squeezed out kitchen sponge, the bulblets sensed the ringing of their miniature biological alarm clocks and began sprouting. This photo was taken right around March 7, five weeks after potting up, and now, at Eastertide, they are in full bloom, a grassy sprawl of shaded lilac and violet right atop my Danish Grandpa Lyngso's oak roll top desk.
Next up this weekend, a trip to my favorite secret beds of Chaenomeles japonica (Flowering Quince) to cut some branches for forcing indoors.
If you have questions on your garden, have finally decided this is the year the old patio goes bye-bye, or want a professionally designed landscape master plan so you can do the sweatin' and gruntin' your own self, please call me at 847.345.4711. We've just sent out the first preview announcement for an awesome Spring sale to be held at a glorious retail space down in the North Loop later this month. If you'd like to sign up to be on our regular email list for this event, you can reach me at clyngso@gmail.com. Signing up to "follow" this blog ensures you'll get a notice whenever we post something new. Check up on what's for sale by putting "4711" into the search box for "all items for sale" on http://www.chicago.craigslist.org/. Add a comment below to this topic, tell me what you've forced this year or in past ones...cry on my shoulder about Smith and Hawken's demise, ask me if I know which nursery you might be able to find a "thus and so"... 'K???

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's up on blocks in the Workshop this week? How about a Mid-century wrought iron deep seating trio!?!

Very soon, you'll be able to purchase this sweet trio of Mid-60s Mancini / Martini era deep seating, with cushions. We're busy fabricating reclaimed teak armrests on a pair of loveseats and a side chair. Lean and low design lines, comfortable angled backs and deep knee room make this a dy-no-mite set that could swing indoors or outside in a vintage or contemporary interior space or garden terrace. Here is one "peak behind the curtains" in this morning's early light, before testing out the cut and jib of the armrests. It won't last longer than it takes to say "Breakfast at Tiffany's???", so if you would like to be first in the waiting line, call or email us at clyngso@gmail.com, or 847.345.4711 and put the code word "Lula Mae" in your heading.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Urban Industrial Freaks...look what we've got!

If we weren't so staunchly suburban, we'd love to be living in an exposed brick loft in the city, with polished & stained concrete floors and funky exposed plumbing & HVAC ductwork. Here's the thing, in that kind of space, some of the most fun things to utilize as kitchen islands, storage furnishings and such are banged up, original paint, stripped down to bare metal and waxed urban industrial Nutbusters...
You don't have to go whole hog industrial either. Good design and good lines work anywhere and who's gonna stop you from expressing your own funkadelic self? Not us...This spring we've got a number of things hidden behind door #3 to watch for, but here is a hip steel cart with cast iron wheels, original paint traces, and gouges and scuffs galore that is ready to go at just $450. It measures 21 inches wide by 48 inches long and is 34 inches high...as close to perfect counter height as you can get! We had just finished scrubbing it down and hosing it off in this photo, it has since been polished with Vinegar and Aluminum Foil and finished off with a waxing of Endust. What that does to oxidized steel is just make it gleam. Load it with your All Clad collection, stacking baskets and crates full of your worldly possessions...and send us a picture of it when you're done. Last season we sold a 1920s vintage Pollard & Sons Steel Workbench to a Lincoln Square chef, and built a gorgeous granite topped bathroom sink and counter out of an industrial iron pipe workbench frame. We'll be unveiling a gorgeous tall butcher block workbench from the 1930s by Pollard & Sons as soon as it's ready, that'll be around $650, and we have a wiregrid 5 shelf landscape nursery cart on wheels for $350 in oxidized green. Call or email us soon, 847.345.4711, clyngso@gmail.com

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring has Sprung, the Grass has Ris (I wonder where the flowers is?)

The first sign of spring has arrived in Glenview! Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) have sprouted...the very first sign of Stella Daylilies and Autumn Joy Sedum are evident at the office, this reminds me to mention that those of you who planted last Fall were wise to do so! We never know when the soil in Chicago will be friable enough to cultivate, and planting a new garden, with the compost, peat, excavation and compaction of equipment, can be a tentative thing. This garden at the Redfield Center was planted in Mid-May 2002 Midsummer Garden's front entry at the ASID showcase held there! Hostas and ferns that existed were already on a race to full maturity and each day, the Dogwood leaves expanded visibly! The orange flowering "Mandarin Lights" Azalea hasn't leafed out yet, and at right is a Pinus strobus 'nana', or Dwarf Eastern White Pine (dwarf confers and Rhododendrons are our specialty at MSG). The white margined Hostas are complimented by white, yellow and purple Violia and a perennial Geranium called "Mayflower". Altogether, a blousy, cottagey effect. Please call us to arrange a walkabout in your garden, discuss a new patio, consider planting a specimen tree or ornamental Magnolia or Crabapple to commemorate a birth or special anniversary. The phone number here is 847.345.4711 and our email address is clyngso@gmail.com. Ciao!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Working in the garden? Set a spell and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

You work hard on your garden, you grid it out and dream all winter, waith for the soil to be "FRIABLE" (whatever that is) enough to start tilling and dividing. At night, you walk around it and wonder what might be worth adding or moving.

How about spending a moment to find a spot other than your patio to relax in, make your phone calls, twitter to your friends that you're in all your sunhat and Felco glory!?! Intentional garden furniture serves not only as a focal point drawing your eye into the garden, but as a place to savor a unique vista back towards your home. Anyone can plop a teak bench out front facing the pavement, but who sits on it? That's right, nary a soul. You'd be amazed at how a quality teak or iron bench, glider built for two, pair of bistro chairs with a cafe table or conversation table large enough for a pitcher of mojitos and your Fine Gardening magazine will do to spice up your life!

It all starts with vision, and is followed up by the choice of quality hardware. A seat that is rusted away to almost nothing might look quaint, but wrecking your summer-white skort and risking painful collapse and crushing of your Achillea in the aftermath isn't worth it. You'll want sturdiness, something that sheds the rainfall and needs only a quick wipedown or addition of a cushion when company's headed your way. Probably you'll want to set the legs on something like pieces of stable flagstones, whether the seating is in the midst of a bed or floating on your perfect lawn. This eliminates sinking into wet soil and the advancing or rust and rot from the feet up that spending the year on moist soil and mulch fosters. A 12inch by 12inch piece of limestone or bluestone disappears at a distance and can be weeded or mowed over, especially if you opt for thicker (1.5 inch or so) slabs to begin with.

Here are some pictures of choices of seating available from Midsummer Gardens last year. We're busy as bees steel wooling, waxing, teak oiling, spritzing and spraying and sometimes sandblasting and starting from scratch on a huge inventory of antique and vintage furnishings. Containers, urns, pedestals and plinths galore, a chimney pot and some Grecian urns are out there some-a-wheres, along with two conical French tuteurs waiting to be added to your large cast iron planters or in the midst of your rose garden. Just call us at 847.345.4711 with your wildest dreams, drop us an email at clyngso@gmail.com, or post something here on the Blog! Ciao...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vintage wrought iron patio furniture is worth it's weight in, er, iron!

Maybe your brother got mom and dad's wrought iron patio set and you're tempted to buy something new from the pool and patio shop that kinda looks like it. DON'T! One of our specialties at Midsummer Gardens is restoring and refurbishing vintage and antique iron outdoor furniture. The old stuff was better for several reasons. First, they paid attention to detail in design! heavier bar and rod stock make for greater strength, usually some type of undercoating was used that surpassed today's spray painting or powder coating. Actually, a vintage finish with signs of well-loved wear and a little rust is actually preferable by all but the "has to be perfect" nouveaux-gardinieri.

When you sit in a vintage or antique iron chair, it just feels right. Vintage mesh seats were much heavier gauge. Legs on new pieces will bend and lose their strength with just a few seasons of your obnoxious brother-in-law leaning back on them.

With a little web-searching and googling, you'll learn that names like Woodard (from Owosso, Michigan), and Salterini, in their various incarnations, developed design lines with names like Chantilly Rose, Acorn Oak, New Orleans...it's always fun to add a teacart in your pattern, a chaise or spring chair, or deep seating sofa and club chairs or occasional tables. Salterini is often recognizable by a type of Sombrero foot...but not always.

A little light spritzing with spray paint of a restored set pays long dividends...once a set has been powder coated, touch-up is not always as easy. Moving your set indoors or to a more sheltered area, protected by a table and chair cover that breathes but keeps the worst of winter's blazing sun and assault of ice and snow minimizes touchup needs.

The most exciting set we have for Spring is Woodard's Andalucia line. Gorgeous filigreed iron, in a soft charcoal. We have four side chairs, six high backed chairs (two with arms, four without), and two glass-topped tables...one accomodating six and the other for four. If you're interested in seeing this set in person or receiving image files, you may email us at clyngso@gmail.com or call Midsummer Gardens at 847.345.4711! Till the snows melt completely, keep on planning and dreaming for garden season 2010!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Intentional Home Environments Inside and Out

I'm a huge proponent of designing our inside and outside environments to intentionallly reflect our values, our core being, who we are. That means every plant, every decorative object, every piece of furniture is in place with a useful and sometimes whimsical purpose. Re-use, borrowing from the past, breathing new life into something vintage for a new purpose really float my boat! I'm often amazed and the mixed bag of "crap-ola" that I have on hand at any given time to hawk.

What's the common denominator? Generally, you'll find something that would be useful in your garden, your sunroom, a piece of art that suggests where you'd rather be if you weren't working for "the man"...Something nobody, not even Martha herself, would have thought of to organize your life, plop your bills and junk mail into, put your feet up on, or settle your weary tush into after a day tilting at windmills.

If you're handy, you can sometimes catch these things in "pre-restored" state. Usually, they'll be spritzed, dusted and prepped for you, and more than likely ready to go. Often, the best value is retained when there are still scuffs, scrapes and a little rust. The love-handles and varicose veins of vintage garden accessories and furniture.

We'll try to whet your appetite with what's fresh from the fields, what's on the restoration table or at the sandblasters, or what you blinked and missed. One thing right at this moment that I'm looking forward to having ready for you are custom trellis panels made up from vintage farmhouse storm windows and storm doors. Yep!

We've got a couple of metric tons of vintage wrought iron patio furniture in stock for 2010, in singles, pairs, dining tables, bistro / conversational tables, deep seating sectionals...names like Salterini and Woodard...There are a gorgeous pair of weathered carriage house doors, and even a massive Victorian era chimney pot like the one pictured only better! Call us, email us, follow us on the blog or facebook, or give us fair warning and drop on by!!! We're looking forward to a great 2010 season...

What's Fresh on the Shelves at Midsummer Gardens

Company coming? Want to doll up your guest room with something unique? Set your bedside table with a wonderful vintage German-made travel alarm clock by Phinney-Walker. Round Alligator Leather case, gleaming brass trim, radium highlighted dial, keeps perfect time. No up and coming Mad Men era salesman would've boarded a Constellation for a business trip to Chicago without this in his Samsonite! Windup mechanism...just the right touch with a vintage lamp and water carafe.