Is this not the coolest thing ever?

23 11 2008

During our short stop in Huntsville, Sue and Steve treated Michael and me to lunch at Westin Hotel’s Sage Grill (where I feasted on my first fried green tomato ever—now I know what the fuss is about!). Afterward, we browsed the shops at Bridge Street Town Centre, one of Huntsville’s newest shopping malls. I was immediately drawn to the “living walls” at the Anthropologie store. New York-based Elmslie Osler Architect designed the store as well as the living wall—the largest in North America. The installation is constructed with two foot by two foot panels that are three inches deep. The container trays were filled with growing medium and pre-planted with seeds from various sedums. The walls bloom in the spring and stay green throughout the milder winter months in Huntsville. They serve another purpose—extra insulation to reduce energy use. In the summer, the south-facing walls absorb UV rays that cool the building’s interior. The 2,000 square foot wall was created by Green Living Technologies.

There are two categories of green walls: green facades and living walls. Green walls are comprised of climbing plants growing directly on a wall or on specially designed structures. Living walls are composed of pre-vegetated panels or fabric systems that are attached to a frame or structural wall.

The concept of “vertical gardens” or “Le Mur Végétal” was invented by botanist Patrick Blanc. Click here to browse his amazing website with beautiful examples of vertical gardens. They are also known as biowalls.

Read more about Anthropologie’s “edgy and unexpected” store facades here.

Check out this article by architect Randy Sharp—“6 Things You Need to Know About Green Walls.”

Visit to see some really beautiful buildings wrapped in living walls.

Learn about maintenance of green walls at

Gardener’s Supply Company sells outdoor living wall planters as well as indoor living wall panels. Click here to see more examples of living walls in their photo center.

I know what my next project is going to be!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Visual and aural overload at Pike Place

22 09 2008

Color (and how). Noise (a bit too much). Flowers (unbelievably cheap). Neon. Bustle. Shops. Cars. People, so many people. Flying fish. Fruits. Vegetables. Grains. Tea. Coffee. Trinkets. Seafood. Shouting. Singing. Music. Purses. T-shirts (bought some). Jewelry (ditto). Breads. Pastries. Antiques. Street performance. Restaurants. Chocolate. Cheese. Crafts. Jellies. Jams. Visually and aurally overwhelming. Happy 101, Pike Place!

Learn more about Pike Place Market here.

Learn about Pike Place Fish here.

Take virtual tours here.

Learn about the neighborhood here.

Ooooh…love the colors on the “Taste Pike Place Market” website here.

Check out local resident Phil’s Pike Place Market blog here.

And read Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson’s review (complete with photos and videos) here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Lavender, shopping, cheese, wine, a whale, and yet another sunset

21 09 2008

On Wednesday, Sept. 17, we left Bainbridge Island (again) and drove toward the city of Sequim, in Clallam County on the Olympic Peninsula. When Michael and I first visited Sequim a few years ago, we kept pronouncing it like it is spelled—“See-quim.” A local corrected us and informed us that it is pronounced “Squim.” On this visit, we found that Sequim has grown by leaps and bounds.

We visited the Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm, whose gift shop is open year round. We bought a few lavender gifts for our pet-sitters, Debbi and Regina. I photographed Sue and her mom, Wanda, outside the shop in one of the many purple chairs.

Many other lavender farms, like Purple Haze Lavender, Ltd., were already closed for the season. We were able to shop at Purple Haze’s shop in town, though, and I picked up one of our favorite lavender products, Purple Haze Salad Dressing (it’s really, really good stuff!).

We did some shopping in town at Over the Fence, a really neat garden and home store, and Heather Creek, a home accents shop in a shabby chic cottage setting. Heather Creek’s friendly proprietor, Mary Patricia Cain, fell in love with Sequim on a visit five years ago. She said that her husband was so drawn to the area that he told her he thought they were supposed to live there. This surprised her, since he is more left-brained than right. She agreed, and the family went back home, sold their house, and hightailed it back to Sequim. Everything fell into place as it was apparently meant to be! I can relate—Michael and I had the same thought when we visited the area three years ago.

We picked up all the trimmings for a picnic from the Dungeness Bay Wine & Cheese Shop—Oregon Blue cheese with pomegranate sauce, really yummy brie, pretzel crisps, and wine—then bought green grapes, bread, and pesto spread from Safeway. We drove to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, not far from the Dungeness Spit. After a picnic in the car, we got to see a baby gray whale swimming in the ocean. It was Sue’s first real-life whale observation! (Many thanks and hats off to Carol, the local resident who told us some details about the baby whale). I did shoot some images of the whale with my longest Nikkor lens (80-400 VR), but they’re more record shots than anything, so I apologize in advance for the less-than-stellar images!

We then headed to Port Angeles to catch a late afternoon ferry to Victoria, British Columbia. This photo was shot from the ferry just as we sailed into the harbor in Victoria.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Po folks gardenin’

10 03 2008

Princess Gigi’s day started out like any other day. Coffee served in bed. A dose of Good Morning America, followed by Regis & Kelly. All the while, thoughts of spring swirled in her sleepy head. Thoughts of Wal-Mart and her need to usher in the season. Off she went, in her gas guzzling cherry red Jeep, to the big box giant. She expected to find her usual treasures that included Super Bubble gum and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and perhaps some seasonal delights such as Nerds jelly beans. As she felt her blood sugar dwindling, she opted for a triple thick chocolate shake (small, of course) from McDonalds. And, not forgetting her one-eyed dawg, Gumbo, she picked up a plain double cheeseburger from the nifty dollar menu. After perusing the “fashion offerings” in the women’s department, she felt her pulse quicken as she neared the garden department she fondly thought of as mecca. She simply couldn’t resist the 10 cent herb seed collection and the assortment of bulbs on display. She felt herself magnetically drawn to a shelf of already-blooming Cyclamen. Red! Pink! White! Oh, they were so lovely; each one more beautimous than the last. A certain corner of her dining room needed a splash of color and she knew the price was right: $3.50, marked down from $7.88. Wanting to live a pilot’s lifestyle on a flight attendant’s salary, she knew she had to pace herself. It was, after all, just starting to warm up. Gardening season was barely upon her on this blustery March day. She chose a red specimen (her favorite color) and nestled it among her other various impulse buys. She proceeded to the self-scanning register. Much to her surprise, the perfect red Cyclamen rang up as .02, not $7.88, the original price. Not $3.50, as her 4-days-before scan had revealed. Just two cents! She fumbled for her cell phone to call the Head Weed. She just knew she would win the “best garden bargain EVER” award with this major coup! What would get her friend Cindy away from her mundane work faster than a two cent sale on Cyclamen at Wal-mart? And she was right. The Head Weed instructed her to buy every Cylamen in sight! Being the dutiful little Weedette that she is, she did as instructed. She ran back and filled her cart with all 15 plants. Total expenditure: 30 cents plus tax! She agreed to meet the Head Weed in the Target parking lot to share the loot and collect her 20 cents. Don’t believe this story? We have photographic proof and a partial receipt.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.