Thursday, September 22, 2011

Serenbe Purchases

I forgot to mention that we made a few purchases while we were in Serenbe.  The Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop, where we had lunch, had some food items and books for sale.

I have honey in my tea every morning, so I had to have a jar of Serenbe Flower Honey, "Pure raw honey from bees on Serenbe Farmland gathered by beekeeper George Chandler".  We also purchased jars of blueberry preserves and strawberry lavender preserves, "Fresh preserves from rural Georgia".

We got a couple of books from the bakeshop as well.  This one, "Conservation Communities: Creating Value with Nature, Open Space, and Agriculture" by Edward T. McMahon, goes into more depth about what it takes to develop a conservation community, from feasibility to planning, marketing, and finally stewardship of the development.  Ten case studies of successful communities, including Serenbe, are discussed in depth.

I bought this book to add to my ever-gowing cookbook collection, "Southern Cooking from Mary Mac's Tea Room" by Margaret Lupo.  Margaret Lupo is the mother of Marie Nygren, co-owner and developer with her husband Steve of the Serenbe Community.

Our time was limited, so we only stopped by a couple of other stores, but I did manage to find this cute little chicken timer from The Bilt-House, which has women's apparel and accessories on the first floor and home goods on the second floor.

We will explore more of the shops when we return to Serenbe in November.  By the way, I hope you all appreciated my impromptu photography studio (foam core back of one of my husband's posters as a background, and a 12-pack box of ramen noodles covered with a chicken tea towel for a riser!) set up in our kitchen.  Necessity truly is the mother of invention!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Serenbe Visit Continued: Details

One of the charming things about Serenbe is the attention to detail seen in even the most mundane objects.  The sign above marks the site of the 2012 Green Home, and it is most attractively done.  Even the "No Trespassing" signs look this good!

This building in the town center, which houses a spa and a photography gallery, has a lovely butterfly and flower mural painted on the side, which would otherwise have been a blank expanse of brick wall:

Butterflies were flitting about while we were there, as a lot of the plantings around town as well as in the front yards of homes attracted them, such as this butterfly bush, which is a favorite with Tiger Swallowtail butterflies:

This colorful cottage garden fronted an equally colorful cottage painted a cheerful yellow, with a bright red metal roof:

Here are a couple of late-blooming perennials that we saw:

Sedum "Autumn Joy" (the bumblebees were loving this)

Purple coneflower (a butterfly landed on this flower but flew off before I could get a picture)

I saw a Tiger Swallowtail and a Gulf Fritillary butterfly, but was not quick enough as a photographer to get pictures!  I do hope the Green Home has plantings that will attract butterflies, which are abundant and beautiful in Georgia.

Serenbe's town center has the most unique street lamps that I have ever seen:

They look very organic, almost like some giant exotic flowering plant!

I loved this little detail -- embedded in the town sidewalks are metal letters spelling out the street name:

A little hard to read because it was partially shaded, but it does say "Selborne Lane".

The Serenbe Farmers Market has its own established spot just outside of the town center:

As you leave the Selborne neighborhood, headed in the direction of the Inn at Serenbe, this shaded bench is thoughtfully placed at the edge of town for weary walkers to rest (I think there is also one of the many trails headed off to the left in this picture, but we did not have time to explore):

Even the authoritative command of a stop sign is softened by an artistic surrounding of metal branches:

In fact, all of the street signs are adorned in this way, turning ordinary necessities into something special.

They do take the idea of recycling seriously in Serenbe.  Here, instead of cutting up and hauling off a downed tree at the entrance to the Serenbe Stables, the exposed roots and trunk were turned into an impressive and inviting railing for the entranceway (my sharp-eyed husband noticed this one):

Well, that's the extent of my photographic endeavors -- I hope you've enjoyed seeing Serenbe and the 2012 Green Home through my eyes!  When I get my husband's photos I will post them so you can get an Ecoguy's perspective (I decided my hubby needed a blogger name, and since he is an ecologist I am giving him this one whether he likes it or not!).  He said this morning that he is ready to go back and stay at the inn whenever I can make the arrangements, so expect more pictures in November!  I may post more information about life in Georgia and any noteworthy information I happen to discover about Serenbe here as well, if I find I have the time.  In the mean time, just remember the mantra "Serenity Now!"   

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Serenbe Visit

The 2012 Green Home (9/17/11)

Yesterday my husband and I finally made the 2.5 hour drive from our part of Georgia to Serenbe, the location of the HGTV 2012 Green Home.  It was certainly worth the trip!  The weather was perfect -- not too hot and not too humid.  We just missed the weekly Saturday Serenbe Farmer's Market (they were packing up just as we arrived) but arrived just in time for lunch at the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop, one of three restaurants at Serenbe.  The day was so beautiful we sat outside to eat.  My husband raved about his pulled pork sandwich, awesome coleslaw, and great cappuccino.  I would highly recommend the arugula and pear salad, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and huge peanut butter cookie (big enough to share, and I am usually reluctant to share!).  A few unique things about the bakeshop other than its delicious food -- there are iron bars next to the outside tables for attaching dog leashes, and also doggie water bowls, and the unisex bathrooms are also shower stalls (you have to see it to believe it).

After lunch we started to explore the Selborne neighborhood where the town center is located.  Across the street from the Blue Eyed Daisy is a row of townhouses (my husband took some nondigital photos, and when they are developed I will post them separately).  Each one is very different in style (stone, different types of brick, block, and wood siding) but surprisingly they all harmonize quite well.  We wandered through a few shops (I wouldn't be surprised if Linda Woodrum included a few pillows, tableware, and decorative items from The Bilt-House when she does the interior of the Serenbe Green Home) and then started photographing some of the cottages located just beyond the business section.  We were amazed at all of the different house styles:

Whimsically rustic

Traditional brick

Contemporary stucco (right across the street from the traditional house, and much nicer looking than my limited photographic skills were able to depict)

Simple rustic

After admiring these and other handsome cottages in the Selborne neighborhood, we did a quick drive beyond this area toward the Inn at Serenbe.  This was the original bed and breakfast before the Serenbe Community was formed and is the place for visitors to stay, as well as a location for events such as weddings.  The Farmhouse Restaurant is located here, and the place has a charmingly rustic feel, with the original barn and pastures inhabited by horses, miniature donkeys, and goats.  We turned around and drove back the way we came, and stopped to photograph the Serenbe sign:

In case you were wondering, the quote on the sign is as follows (from A. J. Downing, a landscape architect):

"All beauty is an outward expression of inward good, and so closely are the beautiful and the true allied, that we shall find, if we become sincere loves of the grace, the harmony, and the loveliness with which rural homes and rural life are capable of being invested, that we are silently opening our hearts to an influence which is higher and deeper than the mere symbol..."

It was getting late, and we still had not explored the Grange!  We hurried on through Selborne, past an area known as the Crossroads (cottages all done in a white farmhouse style, where a brand-new neighbor was moving in!), and on past the Serenbe Stables:

Just beyond the stables is Gainey Lane, which goes to the Grange.  Go to the end of Gainey Lane, turn right on to Serenbe Lane, and you will find Lot #157 (106591 Serenbe Lane), otherwise known as the HGTV 2012 Green Home!  The picture at the top of the page is what it looked like yesterday from the front.  Here is a view from the front but off to the side so you can get an idea of how the house stair-steps up the steep hill:

The uppermost section is the detached one-car garage with attached carport.  Ignore the vehicle out front -- it is mine and does not come with the house (it is so old you would not want it anyway!).  No one was working on the house and unlike the Dream Home there were no security guards, but there were lots of no trespassing signs posted, so we were careful to only photograph from the roads.  The front of the house is pretty much right on Serenbe Lane, so there is very little front yard, but small front yards are typical for a lot of the cottages here, and there is a little more privacy and space in the back.  Here is the view from Middleton Way, the road behind the Green Home:

As you can see, right now the back is very open and you can see right through to the front and beyond.  It looks like maybe there will be two walled patios or decks at the back, and also more landscaping possibilities.  Here is a close-up of the garage:

There is enough room for two cars, one inside and one outside (parking cars outside is not uncommon in Georgia).  There are no houses in the immediate vicinity of the Green Home at this time.  There are two wooded estate lot homes nearby, one with beautiful rock siding directly behind which is well hidden by the trees and one a little to the south and back.  Farther down Serenbe Lane on the lake side of the road are these two contemporary wood-sided homes that my husband really likes:

There was so much more to see but we really had to head for home.  We hope to visit again in early November and perhaps stay overnight at the inn, and the fall colors should be spectacular about then so we will take more pictures.  I wish my words and photographic skills were adequate to do justice to this wonderful community.  It really is special, quite unlike any other planned community we have ever seen.  Even my husband liked it, and he is not usually a fan of these types of developments!  I have a few more pictures that I will post later, and I will post my husband's photos when they are ready.  He is a far better photographer than I am and used a much better quality camera than my little point-and-shoot version (or as my husband refers to it, the "point-and-hope" camera, as in "hope for the best"!).  If you decide to visit, which we highly recommend, you will probably meet Tux the cat in the Selborne neighborhood -- tell him we said hello!