Christena Bender is a garden designer at The Good Earth Designs, where she has been designing beautiful gardens in Atlanta for more than 5 years. She’s worked with celebrity designers such as Chip Wade on projects such as the 2015 Atlanta Decorators’ Show House and Elbow Room on HGTV. We were so impressed with her work at the Show House that we asked her to be a guest blogger.
When it comes to making a first impression, your home’s entry makes more of an impact than you can imagine.
As an interior designer, Bridgette Boylan knew her home was in need of new plantings to showcase the entrances. After meeting with her and seeing her home, I knew that larger, more elegant planters were essential for showcasing the botanical presentation I had in mind.
Atlanta’s summers are unforgiving – hot and humid with daytime temperatures averaging 90° – so we needed hardy plants to ensure that they lasted the season.
For the side entrance, I chose Frontgate’s Athens Urn, a neoclassical urn with a wide planting area. We brought in gardenia radicans for their amazing fragrance and “kaleidoscope” abelia for its multi-colored foliage. The existing mature crape myrtle became the focal point in this intimate area, and the urns were a perfect complement.
At the front door, we wanted to make a splash. The dipladenia plant produces stunning bright red flowers all summer long. Purple fan flowers are superb in the hot Georgia summers (we’re in the USDA hardiness zone 7b/8a) and will flower non-stop, providing a pop of color against white vinca, as it cascades down the sides of the urn.
Accent plants add lasting depth and interest. I often use creeping Jenny, with its bright chartreuse color, around boulders or as ground cover (though it can be a bit invasive). A stark contrast is the purple heart, intense purple foliage that springs forth pink flowers as it matures through the season. For added drama, silver falls dichondra will drape over the sides adding even more depth and dimension. Lastly, creeping Charlie has a pleasant fragrance, and its green and white foliage is simply adorable.
The end result is simply stunning, transforming two keys areas into grand entrances worthy of Bridgette Boylan’s elegant home.
For more gardening inspiration, visit our Pinterest board.
On July 14th, Baseball brings its All-Star Game to Cincinnati, which is Frontgate’s hometown. It’s a homecoming of sorts for the sport – after all, the first professional team was the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, who barnstormed the country and introduced America to the game.
At Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, we proudly sponsor the Frontgate Outdoor Luxury Suite – a great spot to watch sluggers belt a ball toward the Ohio River, which lolls just beyond the right-field wall.
The city remains one of America’s best baseball towns. The Reds have won five world championships, including two in the 1970s by the famed Big Red Machine led by Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan. One of the All-Star Game’s most celebrated moments happened here in 1970, when Rose bowled over catcher Ray Fosse at home plate to score the winning run in the 12th inning.
This marks the fifth time Cincinnati has hosted the Midsummer Classic, and the first in Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003.
The baseball tradition of a hot dog at the ballpark gets a unique twist here. Cincinnati-style chili, a Greek-inspired meat sauce, is famously ladled on hot dogs and topped with cheese – and the chili/cheese combination similarly tops spaghetti in a Queen City staple.
Add in a craft beer from one of Cincinnati’s burgeoning breweries, such as Rhinegeist or MadTree, and you’ve got some Midwest flavor while you celebrate our national pastime.
Adapted from Food.com
The Cincinnati Coney is a specially made steamed hot dog in a bun with mustard and secret recipe chili, topped with onions and shredded cheddar cheese.
2 lbs. ground beef
2 cups chopped onions
4 cups beef stock
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2–3 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1⁄2 oz. grated unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp, instant minced garlic
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. ground red pepper
1⁄4 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
1 bay leaf
10–12 steamed hot dogs
10–12 hot dog buns
Chopped white onion
Finely shredded cheddar cheese
In a skillet, brown ground beef and onion. Drain.
Add beef stock to beef mixture and simmer 10 minutes. Add remaining 13 ingredients, and simmer uncovered one hour.
Remove bay leaf, and skim off extra fat. Serve over steamed hot dogs in buns for coney dogs. Top with plenty of cheese and onion.
Our favorite new recipe is light-years from your basic steak and salad. Easy, upscale and unexpected, Clams with Chorizo and Couscous makes a delightful summer repast.
Courtesy of Kelly Sterling
Serves 4 as main course or 6 as an appetizer
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1–2 links Spanish Chorizo, small dice (about ½ cup)
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup clam juice or unsalted stock
2 lbs. littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
1 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, as needed
Grilled Ciabatta bread or baguette
Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic, shallots and chorizo. Saute until the shallots are soft, stirring occasionally. Add the couscous and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add the wine and clam juice, stir and reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 minutes.
Uncover the pot and increase the heat to medium. Add the clams and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Cook until the clams just open (being careful not to overcook them). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and parsley. Check for seasoning; add salt and fresh ground pepper if needed.
Serve in large shallow bowls with grilled bread.
To drink, choose a crisp sparkling wine or dry white … you’re certain to find the perfect pairing in Frontgate’s hand-selected wine cases.
Find more recipes and outdoor entertaining tips on Pinterest.
From a sunny balcony to a shady garden nook, small outdoor spaces can have the appeal of private retreats. Yet often, we treat these areas like an afterthought, slipping in a hard bench or flimsy chair just to fill the space.
It’s time to reclaim these areas for what they truly are: cozy and inviting nooks that are destined to become your favorite place for sipping morning coffee or savoring a dinner for two.
The biggest challenge with a smaller space, especially a balcony, is furnishing it for both comfort and versatility. That’s where the Salima Chat Collection comes in. Not only is the set’s scale perfect for dining, you can also use the cocoon-like chairs alone, their smooth swivel making them great conversation seating.
When it comes to curling up with a good book or even tête à têtes, nothing tops the Carlisle Cuddle Lounge Chair. Generously cushioned, the seating is roomy for one, cozy for two. If you have a bit more room, add the ottoman for even more livability.
Your space will feel even more inviting with a few finishing touches. An outdoor rug will define the space and add a layer of soft texture. You can frame the setting with gorgeous planters filled with tall topiaries or brimming with flowers. Lastly, a lantern and a few outdoor candles will add a touch of romance for those moments after dusk.