Centuries of charm and fantasy bloom in little shopBetty...


March 13, 1994|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff Writer

Centuries of charm and fantasy bloom in little shop

Betty Branson is filling me in on the workings of her antiques store/flower shop/gallery. "I just sold another gargoyle today," she says brightly. I had noticed a gargoyle outside on the stoop, chained to the front of Gallery Elizabeth along with a painted World War I artillery chest. The gargoyles fit right in with the general sense of fantasy at this odd little shop, filled with fresh flowers, dried arrangements and wreaths, fairy lights, turn-of-the-century and Civil War items, and Heidi the cat curled up on the counter.

Ms. Branson opened Gallery Elizabeth six years ago with her daughter, Gerry Tully, as a "Victorian flower shoppe." Flowers are still a large part of their business -- you can send a sweetheart roses in a 17th-century glass bottle, for instance. But in the last few months, Ms. Branson has started painting designs on antique furniture, and it's become a best-seller. Right now, she says, she's busy working on a pair of 200-year-old shutters.

Gallery Elizabeth is located at 1448 S. Light St. For more information, call (410) 752-3466.

If you thought it was hard to breed pandas in captivity, consider the 213-year-old George Washington tulip poplar, which failed to produce seedlings because it was 100 feet tall and isolated from other tulip poplars. Pollination by insects was almost impossible. American Forests, the oldest nonprofit citizens' conservation group in the United States, came to the rescue. A geneticist brought pollen from the National Arboretum in Washington to Mount Vernon. Hoisted up in a cherry picker, he applied the pollen with a Q-Tip. In two years, the tulip poplar gave birth to a thousand descendants.

American Forests' Famous & Historic Trees nursery sells George Washington tulip poplars and many other historic trees as part of a project to plant and preserve trees across America. (One-third of the purchase price benefits the project.) For $35, you get a young, healthy tree and a kit to make sure it thrives. You can choose trees from the homes of presidents, trees from Civil War battlefields, trees with ties to American artists. To get a copy of the fascinating Famous & Historic Trees catalog, call (800) 320-8733.

If you build or remodel a kitchen or bath this year, the project could win you a new Chevy Blazer in the American HomeStyle kitchen and bath design contest. Two first-prize winners will get $3,000; two second-prize winners, $1,000; and 45 runners-up will receive kitchen appliances. The grand-prize winner will be featured in the magazine.

The categories are New Kitchen, Remodeled Kitchen, Cosmetic Makeover of a Kitchen, New Bath and Remodeled Bath.

To enter,you'll need an official entry kit. Send your name, address, phone number and a $1 check payable to American HomeStyle to 1994 Kitchen & Bath Design Contest, Box 5079, Pittsfield, Mass. 01203-5079, by Sept. 11. Projects must be completed and submitted to the contest by Nov. 11. Winners will be announced in January 1995.

You enjoy reading about the cutting-edge trends, you love looking at the gorgeous rooms in the glossy magazines. But when it comes to redoing your own home, Minutes & Pennies may be all you need.

It's a decorating newsletter for real people with a real budget (limited) and time (not much). This is common-sense interior design, which has its limitations -- there's not much excitement involved in surrounding yourself with a practical, timeless environment. But if that's OK with you, the newsletter has some easy, useful tips.

Four times a year, Minutes & Pennies features "Room of the Month," a room make-over, with furniture and accessories advice; "Commodities," which gives new ways to use common household items such as bookends or spice racks; "Serendipitous Sources," surprising places to find decorating bargains; "Quick Creations"; and "Children Welcome," tips for living with children and a lovely house.

A year's subscription costs $15. Send a check or money order to Minutes & Pennies Subscription Department, P.O. Box 41335, San Jose, Calif. 95160.

My mistake. Two weeks ago when I wrote about the Equator Clothes-Processor, which washes and dries clothes in the same unit, I suggested that it was a new idea. I've gotten several calls and a letter from owners of Bendix, Norge and GE combination washer-dryers, all of which were made in the '50s and then discontinued. The woman who wrote was nice enough to thank me anyway because her GE finally needs to be replaced, and she didn't think manufacturers made the combination appliance anymore.

On the Home Front welcomes interesting tidbits of home and garden news -- events related to the home or garden, new stores, trends, local people with ideas on design and decorating, mail-order finds, furniture styles, new products and more. Please send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, On the Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.


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