"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere beyond the morning." - J.B. Priestly

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bulb Planting Time

I admit it:  I'm not the most ambitious gardener.  I love the look and smell of a beautifully planted and tended flower bed, but I'm less keen on actually doing the work it takes to get it that way.  I always start out with pretty high goals in the Spring, but it tends to taper off as the season progresses.

Now it's Fall and I'm enjoying the beautiful trees and the crisp air and the fresh apples, etc, etc, etc.  Planting just doesn't grab my attention right now!

However, I'm always really irritated every Spring when I see the beautiful tulips and daffodils in the gardens of my neighbors -- and I have almost nothing.  Several years ago I did plant some tulip bulbs, and some miniature daffodils, and some hyacinth but the squirrels have dug up most of what was there.  When the few remaining flowers do appear, the rabbits eat them almost immediately.  It's very depressing!

Not one to give up, however, I purchased a bunch of bulbs and I've actually started putting them in the ground.  Huge allium 'gladiator' (the ones with the huge purple/pink heads), reblooming Iris (so they say), and narcissus 'Tahiti' went into the ground today.  I love the gadget that I bought for drilling holes in the ground; saves so much strain on my back and knees.  You just fit it into a drill and start making holes!  Today I was using a cordless drill so I wouldn't have to drag the cord all over the place, but the batteries run down pretty quickly with trying to dig in the clay soil that we have.  It has been raining for the past several days so the clay is compacted besides.  However, I managed to get 22 bulbs into the ground before losing power.

I have roughly 50 more daffodil bulbs to plant, and I decided to plant more tulips but I'm getting smarter and intend to plant them in one of my large outdoor planters.  With luck, they'll survive the winter and I'll have a pot of lovely tulips in the Spring that will be out of reach of the mangy critters.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Repurposing for the Garden

The summer is drawing to a close and, as I look back at what was accomplished this summer, I'm really pleased (despite the drought) with the results of lots of hard work.  All of that will be documented in a series of blogs. Today, though, I want to look at 'repurposing' -- a term that has become pretty fashionable and, frankly, sounds better than recycling.  Finding another use for things that we love is a wonderful way to make new memories (and save money).

I did some repurposing in my garden this year with varying degrees of success.

First, my new fence needed some color so I dug up an old plate hanger that my daughter-in-law had intended for a garage sale, and added three plates that I found in thrift shops.  Total cost of my art project:  $6.00 (for the plates).  I totally love it and the way it brings out the color of the flowers as well as drawing the eye up to make use of the whole space.  In the picture of the whole fence, there is also a Croton sitting in an old wicker wastebasket.

In the back corner of my yard (opposite this lovely fence) is an area that is shaded and has a full view of the entire garden.  For this corner, then, I wanted to arrange an area where I could sit and enjoy a book in the afternoon.  While arranging chairs and a table was easy enough, I also wanted to add some whimsy and saved a couple of things that I was about to take to the curb.

The first was an old wicker blanket chest that had lost a lot of the wicker from the top, but was still structurally sound with a metal frame and an ornamental front.  Really, too pretty to go to the dump!  The second item was a floor lamp that was sitting in my basement.  The lamp needed to have the base removed and the pole slid right into the ground!  The idea was to plant something with trailing stems and white flowers that would stand out in the shady area.

I put a plastic garbage bag into the chest first, and then a cardboard box to hold the soil.  Filled it with good potting soil (took more than I expected!), and added some shade-loving ferns, impatiens, and a sweet-potato vine, plus alyssum and petunias.  The lamp was planted with bacopa and euphorbia.

Turns out that the lamp (still a good idea, I think) was a bit shallow and maybe I need to drill a drainage hole.  The plants never really progressed and had to be replaced at least once.  I may just keep it and try again next year.

The chest, on the other hand, was awesome!  For a time, a colony of ants made it's home in with the plants but I eventually had to move them out as they were taking up all of the space.  With that good soil, though, the plants really thrived even with the drought that we had all summer.  I realize that the chest will eventually rot away completely but, until it does, this is going to just add beauty and whimsy to my favorite corner of the garden.

A couple of my other repurposed items:  a beautiful blue pitcher that I found at a thrift store in Florida which immediately became a favorite vase.  Also, a candle holder that struck me as something that would look beautiful with ivy trailing out of it.  So, I drilled holes in the bottom and planted an English Ivy that hung on a shepherd's hook in my garden all summer, and has now been moved inside where I can enjoy it all winter.

Finally, repurposing is something that is being done all over -- as I witnessed first hand during a trip to Alaska in August.  These 'plant hangers' were on the outside of a building that specialized in backpack adventures, but would look equally cute hanging on a tree in my garden.  I'll have to think about that!

Monday, October 8, 2012

New Florida Residence

Mom went to Florida last year for 3 months and really loved being out of the winter snows, and just liked the area in Lakeland.  While we were in Alaska, Dean discovered that a home in the park was going up for sale at an amazingly low price so Mom bought it.  Now she can come and go whenever she wants and doesn't have to worry about whether something is available to rent. Last week, Mom and I flew down to see the property and see what kind of decorating, etc needed to be done.

The home is located a couple of streets from Dean and farther from the clubhouse, but there's is less traffic than the one that she rented last year (both vehicles and foot traffic).  The home is a bit smaller than the one she rented last year and needed some cleaning and painting.  So, we spent the first three days cleaning and discovered lots of really great dishes, furniture, and appliances.  The floors are in great shape and the walls were all freshly painted in a nice creamy white so we had a clean palette to look at.

Then, we painted for the next two days.  The master bedroom ended up a beautiful shade of pink, with two shades of chocolate for the master bathroom.  Mom has a palm tree picture that became the inspiration for the master bathroom, and we found awesome palm tree towels and rug, and some cute monkey accessories (soap dish, toothbrush holder, etc.).  Everything turned out really cute.

There was a large oil painting of flowers that had the most beautiful colors in it, so we painted one panel of the bedroom wall a darker mauve color to accent the lighter pink of the walls -- both colors picking up shades in the painting.  Since the bed in the master bedroom had no headboard, the painted panel and the painting above ended up serving the purpose of a headboard.  These are great Florida colors!  Too bad I had to take this picture with only a lamp to provide the necessary light for the picture.

The hallway is a nice light blue and the dining room is a soft gray -- both of which were inspired by a print that Bill loaned to Grandma to hang in her hallway.  I'm nuts about the colors and by the print.  We all had different reactions to the print; it reminds me of Long Island and I'd love to have it myself.  I had part of the blue paint done and a bit of the gray, and Dean finished it up after we left.  Sure looks nice, but I wish the painting was hanging now.

When we first arrived at the home on the Saturday night we flew in, we had a welcome committee in the form of a great big frog stuck to the side of the home next to the door.  We had those suction cups on his toes and proceeded to walk up the side of the building.  It was pretty cool, really, and we found a metal frog to hang on the siding to remind Mom of her welcome to Florida!  Then, over the next couple of days we saw frogs that were smaller than a fingernail.  Dean said that he never sees frogs there, but they've had so much rain that it's like a swamp everywhere.  It rained pretty much every day we were there with high temps (90s) and humidity equally high. 

The plan now is to head back down in November so Mom can be moved before the snow starts, and she'll stay through the whole winter -- probably until April.  That's a lot of trips to Golden Corral!