November ABODE: Green Scene

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GREEN EYE

A jump on local gifts
The smart money’s on buying local this holiday season, and any shopper worth her salt knows that waiting until after Thanksgiving to start on that list will cause consternation. Get in the game this month with the Artisan Studio Tour, November 12 and 13. It’s a weekend when those cool folks who actually know how to make stuff with their hands open their studios and show off their new stuff.

Now in its 17th year, the Tour includes 19 studios from Faber to Madison, with a number of stops right in Charlottesville, and many studios hosting multiple artisans. You can visit everybody from Mud Dauber pottery in Earlysville to Wayfarer Forge in Afton, checking out all kinds of work including fabric arts, jewelry, glass, wood and metal.

There’s no admission fee (more money for buying work!) and lots of the studios will offer demonstrations, plus edible goodies. The tour runs 10am-5pm both days; see artisanstudiotour.com for a map and other details.—Erika Howsare

A warmer winter
The last part of the year means fun and celebration, but there’s time for learning too. The monthly GreenMatters workshops continue at LEAP—this month, get all your questions answered about keeping your house as cosy as possible when the chilly weather really starts to creep in. The November 17 workshop will cover steps you can take to prepare your home for a winter that’s not only comfortable, but efficient.

Get a demo on building a better attic hatch cover, and learn how to minimize heat loss through your windows and fireplace, avoid condensation problems, and improve indoor air quality. (Winter can be rough on the lungs!)

LEAP will continue to sponsor green workshops throughout 2012 at its office in the ecoREMOD building, 608 Ridge St., which is in itself a great source of sustainability info. Call 227-4666 or e-mail annie@leap-va.org for more info or to reserve your spot in the November workshop.—E.H.

TIPS FROM BETTER WORLD BETTY

‘Tis better to recycle
This month, Betty highlights two local artists/creative recyclers, sure to bring out the green giver in you!

Bill Hess, a glass sculptor/artist, and Andy Faith, a mixed media artist, are both archaeologists of sorts with a love of found objects. Both have been known to “dumpster dive” as well as scour junkyards in search of treasures. With all the wonderful materials, textures, colors, and “stuff” available for free, who needs to go out and buy new?
Hess, who is also an engineer, loves reclaiming bits of glass (I once took him a broken vase) and embracing the design challenge of transforming it into something useable like counter tops, tiles, houses, and lamps. Hess’s latest project actually combines recycled glass and activism via a glass greenhouse in Mongolia.

Faith is a woman after my own heart –a collector of ALL things. The City thought she took it a bit too far a few years ago, telling her to clean up her backyard of “future art” (scrap metal) or serve jail time! She says that “Street trash just isn’t what it used to be,” so she’s thankful that people keep giving her “junk”— broken jewelry, Brillo pads, you name it. Her specialty and a popular holiday gift item are her infamous “overaccessorized” objects. People bring her shoes, chairs, anything really, and she adds recycled/found flair. Remember the Barbie Christmas tree at the Consignment House? That was Faith’s. She likes to tell stories with her art–the tragedy and comedy of life and sometimes social commentary–while enjoying the play and the process.

Hess’s work can be found at Vivian’s Art to Wear, Muses, and Etsy, and Faith’s can be found at McGuffey Art Center. Other great places to access local, hand-made art are Cville art, Bozart, and other local art galleries, as well as Etsy shops, where you can search by “recycled materials.”

Check out Better World Betty’s green living resource list at betterworldbetty.org and blog at cvillebetty.blogspot.com.

GARDEN GREEN

For the birds
When the bear tossed the place like a drunken frat boy several years ago–turned over garbage cans, threw benches about and mangled the finch tubes (you know what I’m talking about)–we regretfully gave up feeding birds several years ago. My brother in Howardsville actually goes to the trouble of taking his feeders in each night, although his resident ursine loafer still hangs around to graze on the leavings. We haven’t seen hide nor hair of ours since we removed his temptation, but I worried we would lose the birds when they didn’t get their regular sunflower seed fix, especially during winter. It’s turned out, however, that you can sustain a vibrant avian population year round without anybody becoming dependent on store-bought feed.

We’re lucky enough to be surrounded out here in the country by a diverse woodland with a variety of trees, shrubs and perennials that attracts all sorts of life. Even in smaller landscapes, however, you can give shelter and sustenance to birds and other creatures with what you plant. Coneflower, zinnia and sunflower left to go to seed along with ornamental grasses and a few sweet spire shrubs (Itea varieties) can anchor a serviceable small-scale birdscape.

A sterile sweep of lawn is inhospitable, ironically, to most forms of life except us (we do love it so). Keep it to a minimum (think of turf as a museum piece, or a rug for the kids and pets). Instead, plant the edges of your property with small trees and large shrubs like dogwood, redbud, Amelanchier, witchhazel and Viburnum that provide shelter as well as food. We usually think of berries when we think of birds feeding in the wild, but that’s during fall when they’re filling up for winter. They also need insects to eat when they breed in spring. Oak, willow, birch, cherry, crabapple and blueberry are tops for attracting enough Lepidoptera larvae to feed the birds, with some left over to float around the Monarda and Buddleia in the summer butterfly garden.

November in the garden
*Plant birdscapes.
*Escape the turf box.
*Minor in minor bulbs.

November soil is cool and moist, perfect for growing roots on newly planted woodies and bulbs so they have a chance to settle in before winter. You should get all bulbs in by Thanksgiving, but if you have to go into December or, shamefully, even the very new year, do it, as long as you have firm bulbs in hand. Take a chance and venture outside familiar trumpet daffodils and predictable tulips, charming as they are, and look into the so-called minor bulbs. You might still find a few handfuls left in the garden center boxes. Siberian squills, star flowers, winter aconite, glory of the snow and green-tipped snowdrops are all long-lived, small, early-flowering bulbs that can edge walkways or nestle in the odd well-drained crevice.

Use them as the finishing touch to carpet a bird-friendly shrubbery or grove that provides branches for shelter, berries in fall and something to host those yummy spring caterpillars. But re-think the birdseed. It can attract a rough crowd.—Cathy Clary

Cathy Clary is a gardening teacher and consultant; she tends ornamental beds and a kitchen and cutting garden at home in a hollow south of Charlottesville. Read more about her at hollowgarden.com, and e-mail her with questions at garden@c-ville.com.

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