Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A new use for tomato cages ~

I love tomato cages, you know those inexpensive ones you see at the discount stores. They come in several sizes. I never use them for supporting tomatoes because they just aren't big enough. But I have found them useful in other ways. 

 First I paint them with a rust color spray paint so they will blend better into the garden - Camouflage is the name of the color I use. Then I dress them up with finials. For a person like me who thrives on details both in the garden and in decorating, some sort of finial makes an important difference.

 To make the finials this time, I took some old bathroom cabinet door knobs, glued them on the top of pots and  spray painted them in my signature red color.

Very simple

Then set them on top of the over-turned tomato cages. The tension of the wires keeps them in place.

Voila! What I call a Poor Man's Tutor.

In the first picture below I used one as an ornamental way to keep this small and newly planted rose safe from being stepped on. 


here in the vegetable garden I am using one to support climbing string beans. I will plant the bean seeds around the the bottom.

These are 4 foot tall tomato cages with a bottom diameter of 18 inches, but I also use the smaller ones depending on what I plan on using them for. The smaller sizes work well in pots for topiary.

In a casual cottage garden like mine these fit in perfectly, add architectural interest. a pop of color, and are useful. You might want to give one a try.

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Baskets in the garden ~

When I am out walking around in my garden checking what needs to be done, what is blooming, or what looks particularly nice that day, I will often stop to deadhead an occasional flower, or pull a weed, then I wander around with it all in my hand until I can trek back to the bin. I had the realization that it would so much more convenient to have some kind of containers, attractive enough to leave sitting throughout the garden, that I could toss it all in.

So a few weeks ago when I stopped by Michael's, to pick up something completely unrelated, and saw wicker laundry baskets on sale for $5.00 I thought these might be just the thing.

I bought 5 of them and tucked them around in various spots. Now I don't have to back track to the trash bin every time I have a hand full of weeds. Every once in a while I will empty them in the compost pile. Because they are made out of wicker they are very light weight, surprisingly strong and won't mind a bit of rain. 

 Being new they are a bit bright, over time they should acquire some patina and won't be as obvious.  I am very fond of baskets and really like the way they look, after all wicker is just dried plant material.

As a bonus, they can be stacked if I do want to store them.

Because my garden is fairly large I could really use a couple more of these...for appearance, cost and effectiveness they are just exactly what I wanted.

Thank you for visiting.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Spring at it's best ~

In the far back of the garden sits my little vintage greenhouse. Somehow or other, a time long ago, we had it moved on the property - a gift from a friend that didn't want it anymore.

I really don't use it to grow plants but rather to store pots, other gardening containers, and baskets.

It's a cute little structure made even nicer this time of year when the white Lady Banks rose festoons it. This rose like it's sister, the yellow and more well known variety, blooms only once a year in early spring, but like most of the once blooming roses it is so lavish with it's flowers that I really don't mind that it doesn't repeat.

It would be hard to ask for anything prettier than these charming clusters of white flowers tinged at their centers in soft, soft yellow.

When the Lady Banks roses bloom this signals to me that spring has definitely arrived and every year I look forward to this display of nature at it's best.

Thank you for visiting.

May your day be filled with the beauty of spring.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Success! ~

It has taken me a very long time to find the right fabrics for reupholstering the furniture in my living room. I found the perfect fabric for the sofa/canape, a beautiful cream jacquard, right away, then after looking for several weeks I came across the lattice print you can see on the wing chair in the picture below. 

I immediately knew this was the right choice . And when I got the chair back from the upholsterer last week I loved it.

 The big problem and the final piece of my decorating puzzle was what to use on the two matching bergere chairs. My first instinct was to find a solid fabric in the same color or a bit lighter than the lattice print - no go. After sending away for a lot of samples nothing worked. So I decided to try other colors....cream, pale pink, green. It has been weeks now, going on months, and as fabric samples came I couldn't commit to any of them. 

Reupholstered wing chair in lattice print

Now I am so happy that I waited because two days ago, in the mail came a sample of the fabric I was dreaming of. A lovely velvet, called Straw that is as close to perfect as I could have ever hoped for.

You can see below how well it matches the fabric on the wing chair.

Today I ordered it - hooray!

Here you see the combination of fabrics for this room: the floral drapery print, the lattice print, the solid velvet. and the cream jacquard. The very pale pink I am going to use as a accent color on the seat of an antique child's chair. The celadon green on the right I am planning on using for the new drapes in the entry hall. The drapes need to tie in with the living room and the adjoining room. This green does both.

I have to say that this has been one of the most frustrating decorating projects I have ever attempted , mainly because of not being able to find exactly what I wanted and trying to barter with my self over what I thought would be right. What have I learned from this, something I have probably always known, that it is better to wait for the right thing rather than settling and being unhappy with the results...even if it seems to take forever!

As soon as the fabric arrives I will send the chairs off to the upholsterer, then this extended project will finally be done.

Thank you for visiting

I hope you have a successful day.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Added pleasures ~

We are experiencing the most glorious weather. That coupled with the rain has resulted in the garden looking absolutely splendid. Everything seems to be bursting forth. Soon it will be hot and I will be complaining so I intend to enjoy all of it while I can.


Mrs B R Cant  antique Tea rose

one of the ways to enjoy it is to bring in flowers, herbs and greenery for bouquets, not only for fresh bouquets, but material that I can dry to use later in dried bouquets. Some flowers such as yarrow, statice and Queen Anne's Lace aren't blooming yet, but the roses, lavender and rosemary are ready for harvest.

If possible and I have the time, I like to make up nose gay bouquets, bind them with ribbon and hang them on door knobs until they dry. It has become a spring tradition for me.

After they have completely dried I will store them in a darken closet until I am ready to use them. They will last this way for a very long time.

It has been quite a while since I have made potpourri but I think I will make some this year. With the recent availability of so many essential oils, which used to be a bit difficult to source, it might be fun and I love anything that adds fragrance to my home. Just another element from the garden to enjoy.

Thank you for visiting

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring has arrived ~

A few years ago, in what was my first attempt to cut back on water usage and minimize garden maintenance, I took out a very large, intensely planted 25x100 foot perennial  border running along my driveway. 
I replaced it with a meandering gravel path, pink antique roses, four flowering ornamental crabapple trees and mulch.

This, I must say, was one of my better ideas.

This area is now almost completely maintenance free and it is all on a drip system so it uses comparatively little water.

But the best part is every spring when the crabapple trees bloom - they are quite spectacular and grow more so every year as they continue to mature.

The trees are under-planted at the base with Santa Barbara daisies and a very common purple geranium. Between the two I have something blooming almost year around. Then if I am very lucky the pink roses start blooming, as they are doing this year, along with the apple trees.

It is such a delight when occasionally something turns out even better than you had hoped for.

Happy gardening!

Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The saga of Piggy wiggy ~

A while back I took a pottery class. I wasn't really interested in making pots but I did have fun making a few sculpted things, such as rabbit finials for the garden.

And, the series of roosters behind my stove. 

Then I decided why not make something I had really wanted for a long time, and that was a
plaque of a pig head - like the ones that you see outside of meat markets in European cities. I would have preferred a wonderful antique one but that simply wasn't going to happen.

Instead I made Piggy Wiggy

With all of the details...grape leaves, bows, etc. he took a long time to make and I was told that he might not make it through all of the firings. He did fine for the first firing but poor Piggy Wiggy cracked in the second firing.

But he was so cute and so much work that I brought him home and pretty much forgot about him. Then last week, while spring cleaning I came across him, took him out, and decided that I would put him up even though he wasn't perfect, that the imperfection lent him a certain patina.

So here he is now where he was intended to be. Mounted on the hood above the stove.
I added a wreath I made from apple twigs to frame him.

He might not be perfect but he does have a certain charm and now I don't even notice the crack.


Thank you for visiting.

I hope that you have a wonderful surprise in your day.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Summer favorites ~ Dahlias

Have I ever mentioned that I like dahlias? 
Well I really, really, like them.

They are gorgeous and come in so many colors and forms. I bought the ones you see blooming below last summer, at one of my favorite garden shops in Carmel, California while on a visit to my sister a few years ago. They are very generous with their charming puffs of pink and yellow flowers. The only caveat - as with all dahlias, early staking, they are very brittle and there is nothing more difficult than trying to tie back up a large dahlia that has collapsed.

Every year I plant a few more tubers, most come back every year but I usually loose a few. So this year when they were available I indulged myself.
Most of them I purchased from Home Depot but I also sent away for some rarer types, such as Cafe au lait, which is an indescribable pink/buff/white color.  

Since I favor pinks in the garden, they are pretty much all shades of pink, purple, a striking maroon and a couple of yellows.

Not only are dahlias nice in the garden but they also make splendid bouquets. In fact some of the flowers are so large that they make a bouquet in themselves.

I managed to get all of these planted last week. Now all I have to do is wait for them to sprout and  not forget to stake them early. I hope that here at Rose Arbors this will be the best summer for Dahlias ever!

Life is always better with a garden.

Thank you for visiting.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Decisions, decisions and the finished canape ~

Some of you might remember that I showed you this picture of my Mother's canape when I first posted about updating my living room It had been stored away for several years with the idea that eventually, when I got around to redecorating my living room, I would use it.

This is a very elaborate and formal piece of furniture and it has been a major effort and a a bit of a departure from what I usually do, to design the room so it would fit in stylistically. I knew from the beginning that to make it look a little more casual I would do away with the button back, add a long, soft down cushion... 

 I definitely wanted it in cream colored fabric to match the stripes in the new wallpaper.

Later, for the throw pillows I  was inspired by a picture I saw in a magazine - trimmed in pink and green brush fringe they add a slight pop of color.  I made the floral pillow in the center out of the same fabric as the drapes.

And this is the final result. 

I am very pleased with how it looks. I love the cotton Jacquard fabric. I was originally going to use cotton duck but when this fabric sample came in the mail I was smitten.

So....one down and two to go. I have picked out a lovely lattice print in a pale caramel color for the wing chair and footstool and I am hoping that the upholsterer will be able to start on it next week. But I still am undecided on which of the fabrics below to use for the remaining two bergere chairs. My favorite today, the pale celedon green sample in middle below. But I am also very tempted by the cream colored velvet on the far right.

 Whichever fabric I choose Miss Twiggle doesn't care. Her only interest is whether or not it is soft and comfy. To make sure she would be welcome on such a light colored piece of furniture I sprayed it with Scotch Guard.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope you have a glorious day. Meow.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Spring is growing close ~

There are many signs in the garden that winter is ending and spring is growing near.

An example - the early apples trees are blooming. 
You don't really think of apple trees in Southern California, but if you plant the low chill varieties they do quite well.

I am very fond of them and have quite a few scattered around the garden, including an allee of ornamental crabapples which will bloom much later in the season. I grow the fruiting apples for their form, the fruit of course, and how exquisite they are in bloom.

I like them best as seen here, when they are leafing out but still covered with blossoms. 

In the far back along a fence I planted a row of apple trees to block out a neighboring house, it works and it is also quite lovely, especially when in bloom.

One of the nice things about the trees in the front adjacent to the sidewalk, is that I get to share the fruit with people walking by. Gardens are for sharing, don't you think.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope you enjoy the beauty in your day