My mother-in-law has a knack for making everything in her garden flourish. In my own "plant-killer" mind, her true stroke of genius is having planned it so that the perennial flowers bloom in some kind of random succession, each of them seemingly taking their turn at being the star of the seasonal show that is her backyard.
From her kitchen it's easy to admire the fruits of her naturally green thumb with a virtually endless rotation of colour throughout the spring and summer months.
Now, I'm sure that gardeners-in-the-know would tell me there is a tried and true art to this type of garden management. Admittedly, my bewilderment with this concept suggests that I was not in line when they handed out the good-gardener gene.
Despite this, I know that if we take some time to plan our interior spaces, there is much to be gleamed from this gardening concept providing us with the opportunity to enjoy a rotation of fresh, dynamic colours and patterns in our homes throughout the year.
One could argue that there is no better way to acknowledge the concept of "bringing the outdoors in" than to make elements of our homes "green" or Eco-friendly. And while the idea makes some people cringe with visions of dollar signs in their heads, not every enviro-conscious idea need be pricey.
I would argue that simply replacing some of the solid interior doors in your home with glass or French doors will serve to allow light to travel throughout your home, brightening your spaces and freshening your rooms with warm sunlight.
To answer the question from Marlene of Newmarket who asks, "Can you give me some tips on how I can freshen up my home for the spring and summer months?" I would encourage people to think about how in this day and age, decorating to reflect the season could be naturally extended and broadened to incorporate decorating to reflect the environment.
The idea of "bringing the outside in" could be a nod to using materials that are friendly to the exterior surroundings we turn to season after season to provide us with rest and relaxation.
While buying new throws and pillows for your spaces can certainly inject a hit of colour into your home, consider a trip to the grocery store to buy a dozen bright lemons to stack in a bowl on the centre of your kitchen table.
Infuse a kitchen or bathroom counter with the warm green hue and the naturally complex design of a bunch of artichokes. Over time, use the lemons to make lemonade and know that when it's time to throw out the artichokes, they will not cause long-term harm to the environment.
When my siblings and I were young, we would head outdoors on a summer morning and snip pussy willows to bring home to our mother. While that might sound a shade idyllic, there is much to be gained by stepping outdoors for a few minutes to cut some fresh flowers from the garden, to bring them inside and to allow them to breath true freshness and colour into our homes. This modest and relaxing undertaking is likely the truest definition of "cheap and cheerful" and in no way harms the environment.
Look to cotton fabrics that use natural dyes when designing your window coverings and install low-e argon windows when it comes time to replace them. Low-e argon windows minimize air leakage, helping stabilize the temperature within your home despite the weather outside.
If the temperatures in your home are stable, your heaters and air conditioners will have to work less. And just think about how saving money on your energy bill will help save the environment while freeing up funds for you to spend on those draperies.
One of the best compliments I have ever received is from my neighbour who says that the bright-green toile we used for draperies in her home seems to invite her backyard right into her kitchen strictly for her enjoyment.
Painting the walls of your home with low-VOC paint in a cool shade of green or a bright sunny yellow can reflect the yard around your home. If you live in a home without a yard, these colours will steep your space in the natural calming hues that are intrinsic to the environment.
Introduce intense rose reds with fresh flowers or a bowl full of apples to help set off the tones. Low cost solutions, high impact statement pieces. Good for the environment.