Friday, August 18, 2017

The Solution - Part II

Part II

The Solution

In my last post I told you about the problem with the floor of the pavilion which sits in the far back of the garden. Over time, especially before I added the solid tin roof, it was very exposed to the elements and in recent months I realized that the floor, which had become quite damaged, really needed to be repaired...or replaced.

Below you can see what bad condition it was in. What ever I decided to do this time I didn't want to  to use any type of decking and I did have a certain look I wanted to achieve.

So...I took a risk.

I have always loved black and white checkered floors. I almost put one in my kitchen when I last remodeled it, but my beloved french terra-cotta tile won out. Here I thought, crazy as it sounds, was a place to use it!

Black and white tile outside, yes it does seem weird, but I went ahead and did it. And, I love, the way it turned out!

First backer board was laid down to level the surface then the tile was glued down. I used plain old 12 inch commercial tile from Home Depot - inexpensive and almost indestructible, the same tile you see in grocery stores. The whole job took my handyman less than a day to install.

The next day I put down two coats of liquid wax for addition ease of cleaning and shine.

I already had the black wicker outdoor furniture and I painted two 'found' side tables black to match. I was able to find the perfect outdoor fabric to make new seat cushions - black and white with a flash of color. The lantern was brought home from Morocco many years ago, as was the brass tray. The stained glass window I originally made for a door. I think that it now has the Victorian Brighton Pavilion look that I was trying to achieve, although I would like to add a potted palm tree.

And the best far it is easy to keep clean!

I hope that you like it, I know this will not suit every taste but it's rather fun to do something a little quirky once in a while.

Thank you for visiting.

Have a happy day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Dilemma ~

I went out in the garden this morning to take some photos for a  post on a project I have been working on. I came in, edited and downloaded the pictures, then decided this time I would do  something new - this post really needed two parts.

So, for today...


Part I The Dilemma

 As I have shared with you before, in the back far reaches of the garden is what I am now referring to as the pavilion. It was built by my husband as the site for our daughter's wedding, because of this it has very strong emotional ties for me. But the poor structure has had some issues in the past few years.  First, the original lattice top was completely blown off in a windstorm. I had it replace with a tin roof which has really worked out well and looks quite charming. But now the flooring has started to rot away. 

This structure is pretty much the centerpiece of the garden.

It is flanked on one side by the pond and the other side by the gravel garden.

One of the orange trees, which must have been planted on the property at least 50 plus years ago, adds shade and definition to the area.

All things considered it really is important to keep the structure looking as good as possible - an asset rather than a detriment to the overall look of the garden.

So now the current problem: the flooring and how I solved it.  I took a risk and did something quite daring and I love it. I hope you will like it too,

I will share how I went about this with you in my next post, Part II The Solution.

Don't you love a bit of mystery...I hope you will come back.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Entry hall drapes ~

Somehow, without meaning to, I seem to have taken a blogging break during the month of July. The extremely hot weather really reduced my energy level and time just seem to slip away. I really am looking forward to cooler weather but that is not going to happen for at least another two months. Like people in northern climates look forward to spring, we look forward to autumn.


I have finally finished the new drapes for the entry hall. I used sage green linen. It has a nice soft hand and puddles beautifully. They are trimmed with ruffles made from the same fabric as the newly reupholstered window seat cover.

I felt very lucky to find just the right gimp for a bit of contrasting detail and a little zip.

This is kind of a strange color to use but I fell in love with it and it was of primary importance that the drapes tied in with the colors in the adjoining rooms. I ended up using the same fabric for the two bergere chairs in living room. I think I left you saying that I was using a caramel colored velvet for those chairs - not right! They were delivered one day and sent back the the upholsterer with in a week. A terrible extravagance but I simply couldn't live with them. Now in the sage green they are perfect.

I didn't want the drapery rod to show so I covered it with fabric. I have never done this before but I like the way it turned out and it was a much easier fix than using a cornice box.

I am quite pleased with the way it all looks. The mirror by the way is new, a gift from my brother. It fits the spot perfectly and I am of the opinion that every room needs books, flowers and a mirror.

I hope that you are having a wonderful and enjoyable summer.

Thank you for visiting.

PS Barbara, this post is for you, I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Star of the garden ~

Most of the time I plant things in the garden, keep my fingers crossed, then sit back and wait, hoping  that they will perform the way I envisioned them in my daydreams. I have some disappointments  but most  plants do fairly well and I am generally happy with the results.

Then there are the occasions when things turn out far better than what I expected.

It is like this with the Rudbeckias I planted below the deck in the back garden. I thought they would be pretty here but I didn't really expect how pretty.

I planted them from a six pack in early spring and now they are fully grown and lush with bloom. There are several varieties of Rudbeckias, these are the common, old fashion type. A tough, hardy selection that withstands our summer heat. 

I have pink Austin roses, the extrodinary Climbing Pinkie rose and several kinds of dahlias planted here also - if you look closely you can see them, but right now the Rudbeckias are the stars of this border. 

Any plant that can tolerate our 100+ degree days and look like this has my approval. This just might be my plant of the year.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you have a happy day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Digaplexis and hot summer days ~

It has been mercilessly hot this week, temperatures reaching 100 degrees everyday. This makes it very difficult to get much done in the garden. I am continually amazed that any plant can survive the heat, but surprisingly some continue to do so.

 I have found the best way to cope is to get out early, around  6:30 am before it starts to heat up. I work in the garden a couple of hours, come in and eat breakfast and then collapse until it starts to cool off in the evening.

 Even Miss Twiggley's routine has changed with the season, sleeping during the day, stalking the house at night, looking for bugs to play with and when she really gets bored, leaping on the bed and attempting to get me to wake up and play.

I do get other tasks accomplished but the hot weather is so energy sapping that even inside chores seem to take longer. A good book and a nap seem to be the best way to while away the hot afternoon hours and I am fortunate to be able to do so - but not without a little guilt.

But in spite of all my complaining things are happening in the garden. It is really too hot to plant most things but I did find this wonderful Digaplexis plant that I couldn't resist. It is a cross between garden foxglove and perennial isoplexis canareiensis. 

I had first seen these last year but they were quite expensive and in large containers. I found these this week in gallon containers at Home Depot and I simply couldn't resist. They are also available at Annie's Annuals. Foxgloves are one of my favorite flowers and any improved variety would be great especially if they turn out to be perennials in my climate zone.

I have decided to situate them in a partially shady area where they will get filtered sun. It is too hot to plant them now but it is supposed to cool off a little at the end of the week so I am waiting until then to put them in the ground.

These are so pretty I really hope that they grow well for me, if so I will definitely be getting more next year.

Wish me luck!


PS.  The flowers in my header are Oakleaf Hydrangeas. These were cut as fresh flowers. Oakleaf hydrangeas grow well for me, much better than other hydrangeas which I never seem to have enough of. Until this year I hadn't thought of trying to dry them but I had them in such abundance that I gave it a try and they dried perfectly. I think they are going to make a lovely addition to dried bouquets. If you have some you might want to give it a try. I just dried them by the hanging method - away from light, in a closet.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Planting for summer color ~

It was a beautiful and cool morning. A bit overcast with the sun occasionally peeking through.

Perfect for what I had in mind...

cleaning up, and planting out new summer annuals in one of the back borders.

Otherwise, out with some old and in with some new.

I have lots of perennials planted here: roses, mums, salvias, iris, lambs ears, and gaillardias to name a few, but I like to mix in annuals for summer color. Many plants needed to be tidied up, cut back and dead-headed and all of the altromerias, which had finished blooming needed to be pulled, along with the spent spring annuals.

I planted several dozen of the zinnia seedlings I had started last month, Echinacea, some Nicotianas I had also started from seed, and for a bit of brightness Rudbeckias. I love rudbeckias they are so cheerful and do well in our tough climate.

As you can see it was quite a mess, but I all got cleaned up, planted, fertilized and the walkway swept before I came in for the day. Now I just hope it lives up to the picture I have in my mind, with gardening you never completely know what you are going to get, each day is full of surprises.

Thank you for visiting.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ants be gone!

For the past several years I have been at war with ants. Argentinian Black Ants to be precise. With cooler weather the problem abates, but the minute the temperatures warm up they are back again. Nothing can be left out, I even have to refrigerate Miss Twiggley's dry cat food

Image result for argentine ants

 I have worked very hard to build up the population of good bugs and propagators in my garden and every time I was at my wits end with an evasion of ants and was picking up the telephone to call an exterminator I would look out of a window and see a beautiful butterfly flit by, a buzzing bee, or birds at the bird feeders. I just couldn't risk endangering this.

So, I have been trying natural remedies and I have come up with two solutions that in combination seem to be working.


 Diatomaceous earth, a benign white powder is excellent in getting rid of ants outside; it simply dehydrates them. I have been sprinkling it around ant hills at the perimeter of my house. So far it has completely destroyed all of the ant nests I have used it on. I will leave some nests in the far back  of my garden because I believe in the diversity of insect life in creating  a healthy garden.

Inside the house where I can't physically reach the ant nests I made my own ant bait - the ants simply ignored the commercial products I purchased. I tried several recipes I found online all using a combination of borax and some type of sugar/syrup solution. Borax is the killing agent and the sweetner was the attractant. This failed to attract my seemingly gourmet ants.

Then I realized that they really, really, liked wet cat food, the cat food of choice ironically is also Miss Twiggley's - Meow Mix. I used cat food containers with a bit of food left in and mixed in the borax. This is the same 20 Mule Team borax that is used for laundry, I just happened to have an old box in the garage. I added a little water to thin it. The nice thing about the cat food containers is that you can partially close the lid and the ants can still get in.

I made up a couple of these traps, putting one in my pantry and one under the sink. For a couple of days it was a bit yucky because in order for this to be really effective you have to let the ants come, feast, and take the food back to their nest to kill the queen before they die.

As of now, I am ant free! I love when persistence pays off. I wish I could give you the actual measurements I used but it was a bit random - I tried to add enough borax to kill but not so much that the ants wouldn't eat it.

  The bait is not poisonous but I would still make sure it was completely away from any pets or children.

This is probably the strangest post I have ever written but I thought this information might be helpful to others that want a environmentally safe way to deal with their ant problem

I hope you have a wonderful and pest free day!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The good, the bad and the lovely ~

My week started off  in a stressful way with a very sick Miss Twiggley. I woke up one morning and found her sleeping under the bed - not a normal thing for her to do this time of year. Then I saw that she hadn't eaten, both signs of illness in a cat, or at least the cats I have lived with.

I quickly got her to the veterinarian where she was diagnosed with a high fever and an intestinal infection. After four days of antibiotics and a lot of anxiety on my part, she is finally feeling better, her fever is gone and she is eating again. I just hope it doesn't return. 

my beautiful girl

Now for some of the good parts of the week.
The poppies have all bloomed, they were beautiful this year. I have been waiting for them to dry out so I could collect the seeds. It is so much fun to turn the pods, which I am saving for dried flower arrangements, upside down and watch all the the tiny seeds fall out. As my very nice friend and exceptional gardener, Ralph said, "It's like shaking a pepper shaker"! I will plant them in the fall and hope that they will do as well next spring as they did this year.

I am trying to finish the new drapes for the entry hall. I was held up waiting for the gimp trim I had ordered to arrive. I found what I think will be a perfect accent trim online here. They always seem to have the trim I am looking for at very good prices.

The zinnia seeds I planted have germinated and put on their second set of leaves. I love the old time Pink Enchantress but this year I am also trying a new offering, a bi-color zinnia in pink and chartreuse. I am looking forward to seeing this new zinnia bloom, the photos in the seed catalog are gorgeous.

I also sowed sunflowers and nicotiana Sensation seeds. Nicotiana  used to be available in six packs but for some reason they haven't been available the past few years in my local garden shops. It makes a lovely, colorful and fragrant summer annual.


I leave you with the picture taken in the front garden...roses, Queen Anne's Lace, Foxgloves and Cleome. I have had never planted Queen Anne's Lace before, goodness what I was missing. There will be a lot more next year!

I hope you have a lovely, peaceful, and relaxing week.

Thank you for visiting.