A Week of Flowering Cheer: White

I’m joining Cathy, who blogs at Words and Herbs for her Week of Flowers, 2021. Bloggers are sharing a bit of color/colour to brighten our days.

White isn’t technically a color, but a shade. When I studied theater lighting back in the day, I learned that white light comprises all colors on the spectrum. Conversely, if you throw together all pigments on a piece of paper, you get black. Color or not, white is beautiful in the garden. White is crisp and reflective, providing a nice contrast to the shades of green around it.

Camellia

This gorgeous Camellia grows along the side of the house in our front garden. They are as messy as they are beautiful. They flower and quickly dump petals daily. I don’t mind. I think they’re spectacular, and who wants a well-behaved garden anyway? I like a little drama.

On the subject of drama, these freesias give the Camellia a run for their money. They refuse to remain in one place, preferring to populate throughout the garden. They’re not concerned that a certain gardener might trip over them when they grow between narrow openings in the walkway. They sure are cheering, though, with their waxy petals and brilliant yellow centers.

White to pink sweet pea

Once a year, magical sweet peas dominate the garden. They grow in various colors, and in this beautiful shade of white. The only thing surpassing their beauty is their intoxicating scent. You can’t help but linger in their presence, marveling at nature’s extraordinary gifts.

A Week of Flowering Cheer: Orange

I’m joining Cathy and others for a Week of Flowers, 2021. Cathy is inviting all of us to share a bit of color/colour during these dark and difficult times. Today I’m featuring orange flowers from the garden.

A cluster of California poppies growing near the curb

These brilliant orange poppies are California’s State flower. The soft petals fold into a variety of shapes at the end of lacy green foliage.

Cathy is also growing California poppies in her garden, half way across the world. That makes me smile.

A rich orange nasturtium

Nasturtiums come in a variety of colors, but the true standouts are the orange ones. They pop up in various areas of the garden twice a year, with foliage as beautiful as the flower. Aren’t they something?

I think a mollusk chewed this near-perfect hole in a California Poppy last spring. The fresh drops of rain and the teepee like shape always make me smile. I hope you’re smiling, too.

Thank you for following along.

A Week of Flowering Cheer: Purple

I’m joining one of my favorite bloggers this week for her Week of Flowers, 2021. Cathy lives in Bavaria and blogs at Words and Herbs. Her garden is stunning. Cathy is inviting all of us to share a bit of color/colour during these dark and difficult times. She wrote:

Last year my Week of Flowers 2020 was such a success, with so many people from around the world joining me and posting wonderful colourful photos from their gardens. It really did me good, and the feedback was amazing. Let’s do it again! All you have to do to join in is post one flowery photo a day, for a week, starting from Wednesday 1st December, 2021. Put a link to your post in the comments section on my daily post, and turn on the sunshine!

Cathy – Words and herbs

Today’s post features vibrant shades of purple. It’s fun revisiting these blooms from earlier this year.

Serbian Bell Flowers

These lovelies bloom in the early days of spring, looking gorgeous as buds and flowers. It lifts my spirits looking at them, knowing they’ll come around again and again.

Salvia in bloom, a hummingbird favorite

Salvia is part of the sage family. The shrub grows well in our semi-arid climate, requiring minimal water once established. It provides a lovely infusion of color all summer.

Purple pom-pom flowers

My final flower of the day is (I think) a Scabiosa. Please correct me if I’m wrong. This one grows in my curb garden, mixing in with a variety of summer bloomers.

Purple is my sister’s favorite color, so it continues to remind me of her. This post is for you Sharon.

Thank you, Cathy, for inviting bloggers around the world to share in the fun.

Halloween Light

I’m enjoying a scaled-down version of Halloween this year. It’s been a positive transition away from the usual hustle and bustle. We’ve also had an extremely rare and powerful storm blow through, which makes it feel more like autumn instead of summer-light.

Further, nothing screams “autumn” like foraging squirrels. One of the California Grey’s sent my miniature tea-house akimbo outside our kitchen window, which I interpreted as an invitation to make seasonal changes.

The birdhouse gourd, aka teahouse, came indoors for a dust-off. Here is a picture of the teahouse in its former glory.

Summer Tea House

I’ll put the gourd into the fairy garden rotation for next summer. I reused the tray, the moss, and the miniature seashells, along with the tiny “tree stump” to bring a bit of autumn magic to the fairy garden.

Autumn vibe

Building the fairy house was a breeze. I used a regifted candle holder for the base, then added an inverted coconut shell, once a floating candle holder, for the roof. The chimney is a tiny watering can with a bit of wool roving for the smoking chimney.

I used my crafting dye to spritz a bright green wood slab into a darker, earthier color. A seashell makes the perfect door nob. I used the same dye to darken a pair of take-out wooden chopsticks, then adhered seashells to create a fence.

Seashells from New Zealand
Autumn Scene

Rounding out the miniature setting, I used blue glass vase filler, white sand, and a pair of arched shells to create a tiny brook along the front of the garden.

Nestled Near the Little Free Library

Those clay pumpkins were also a gift several years ago (my friends know me well), with the tiniest pumpkin made from a bead and a twist of jute.

The autumn miniature spent most of the month next to the children’s Little Free Library where it stayed till a heavy storm arrived over the weekend. It’s now having a bit of a dry-out under the eaves.

Card-making also found its place in October.

Earlier this summer, I played around with my gel press and brayer, creating patterns and textures on white paper. I used several of those gel press images to make moons and pumpkins for Halloween cards.

The pumpkins are die-cut from some of my brayer images, while the stems use leaf impressions made from garden greens.

A couple of months ago I treated myself to a new die. I used it for the majority of my cards. I like to invest in dies that I’ll get a lot of use from, and this one fits the bill. Here is a quick video of how the die-cutting gadget works.

Here are a few of my cards.

Black-embossed cat, gel press moon, and green patterned paper cut with my new die
Silver embossed cat, gel press moon, and green textured paper
Two for one: I used the off-cut of this blue background to make a bookmark.
Card series showing dies used in two different orientations. I like the first image the best.

The card in the lower-left corner is for my sister. I used her favorite color for the moon, cut the leaf pattern from sheet music paper, and made a shiny black cat, complete with notched ear like her sweet kitty, Queen B.

It wouldn’t be Halloween if I didn’t use a few pumpkins in my designs. My friend Jasmin gave me that bottle of gorgeous bath soak for my birthday earlier this month. It’s the perfect compliment to my cards. I used holographic paper for the border, then die-cut the pumpkin, lettering, and stem from various gel press images.

The second pumpkin card is framed on two sides by spiderwebbed Washi tape but it doesn’t show well in this photo.

This final card is made from a sheet of acrylic embossed with spider webs. It’s been part of my stash for years. I liked it when I bought it, but I could never quite figure out how to use it. I think I used it on a card many moons ago, but I couldn’t say for sure. I like the effect.

A few assorted bookmarks rounded out the month before I cleaned off my desk and put the Halloween leftovers away. It’s been a great stress-buster and a chance to connect with friends by mail.

Boo-k marks

ScrapHappy Day: Once a Diary

My friend Alicia sent me the following note, along with this Cats in Art diary from 1988.

“I came across this unused diary, and though I have no use for it, was reluctant to discard it. I thought of you, wondering if you might find some purpose for it in your crafts.”

It’s nice when your friends get you, eh?

I’ve had so much fun taking apart the pages and turning them into cards, both big and small. My favorite images included cats in the garden or perched near windows and the art that beautifully conveys the natural world. While I appreciate all art, I’m not enamored with dark oils or dreary scenes.

I made two small blue note cards, a pair of craft paper cards, two oversized cards, and even a couple of postcards. I wanted to preserve as much of the original art image as possible.

The one exception is this z-fold card. I used part of the image on the front and another part of it on the inside. Both are viewable when the card is open.

I made ten cards in all, plus the thank you card using the beautiful art. I cut circles out of some of the calendar pages and made stickers to go with the cards.

It then occurred to me that I could re-purpose the calendar cover to make a folio for the set of cards. I carefully cut the remaining pages, made a flap over the rough center, and then covered it with Washi tape from my stash.

I adhered three craft envelopes in two different sizes to hold the cards and stickers in place. Everything fit beautifully. The final detail: adding a piece of vintage seam binding, also from my stash, to pull it all together.

I hope she likes it. I sent it off last week.

Thanks for hosting, Kate.

Kate, our hostGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChris,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, PreetiEdith, Debbierose, and Jule

ScrapHappy Cards: Stress-Busters

Stress is the enemy, and crafting is the cure…or something like that. I’ve had a lot of stress in my life this past month, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my card-making distraction.

I cut several paper scraps into half-inch strips and tossed them in a box. Rhythm is great for reducing stress.

Time permitting, I then sorted the strips by color. Some of my scraps are printed on both sides, offering lots of variety. Still no actual cards at this point, but sorting by color is cheering.

From there, I looked up some simple quilt designs for inspiration. Who doesn’t like looking at beautiful art and quilts?

At the suggestion of my friend Dawn, I bought an embossing folder that imprints a quilt-like texture on paper. A little retail therapy for the win.

I love the embossing folder. It feels like a bit of magic each time the folder imprints on the card. Here’s a closeup:

After assembling a few cards, my colored strips were in disarray. So I cut a few wax seed envelopes in half and taped the open side. Now the strips are contained but still easy to see.

Wax seed bag, before cutting it in half
One bag makes two

Here’s my collection of cards:

I’ve made cards using this simple pattern before. I enjoy the blending of color, pattern, and texture.

Here’s a similar card, but using the strips of paper at different angles.

Two solids and two patterned papers

I enjoyed using one solid and one pattern on this card. The sentiment is printed on the reverse side of the fan-shaped paper.

This card loosely follows the colors of the rainbow. The dark purple is too saturated in color for this combo, but it’s all about using scraps so there you go. It’s the only solid purple scrap I had.

This might have been the last card of the day before the Tessa interlude. I used 18 different paper scraps. It reminds me of some of the heritage quilts I’ve seen over the years assembled from old clothing pieces. I’ve always admired the history and beauty of those quilts.

18-Patterned pieces
Tessa loves paper, too.

This pattern primarily exists in my imagination. I call it the tea party. The light pink along the bottom represents the table; the gingham is the tablecloth and above that is the tea service. The fourth layer represents flowers outside the window. Along the sides are lace doilies draped on the back of the blue chairs. Still don’t see it? Try switching from tea to wine.

Tea Party Card

This last card is for a special friend who suffered an unimaginable loss. I made this card by laying down half-inch strips in a simple square pattern before cutting a heart from the center. Next I raised the heart with small pieces of foam tape, then replaced it in the heart-shaped opening. The raised heart adds some interest and texture, though it’s hard to see in this photo.

That look on Tessa’s face put an end to my crafting for the day, but that’s okay. Kitty’s are great stress-busters, too.

Tessa always has an opinion.

Thank you for hosting these monthly ScrapHappy Days, Kate.

I learned something new in the Block Editor today. I saved the list of ScrapHappy bloggers as a reusable block. Now I drop it into my post without the need to cut and paste each month. Welcome, Jule, our newest ScrapHappy Day blogger.

Kate, our hostGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChris,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, PreetiEdith, Debbierose, and Jule

Celebrating Pauline King

I miss Pauline. Our clever, artistic, kind, and generous friend should be celebrating another birthday this week.

So many of us got to know Pauline King when she joined the blogging community. In my case, our online friendship blossomed into in-person meetups, first on this side of the world and later in beautiful New Zealand. In between those visits, we made do with video chats.

Our final day in Wanaka, New Zealand: Kelly, Alys, Danella, Pauline, Steve, Laurie, Jo, and Mike

Pauline slipped away on her birthday last year, but she left a remarkable gift: a warm and deepening friendship with her daughters Danella and Jo.

Today I want to offer you a gift to honor and celebrate Pauline’s extraordinary life, but first an explanation.

Pauline’s June, 2019 post Vivid Colours, features several pieces of her original work. As always, wonderful conversations in the comments section followed. I fell in love with one of her cards featuring her cat Orlando. I suggested:

The Orlando card got me thinking, too. If you’re ever inspired, you could move the text down along the books to narrow the design and print bookmarks. I would buy 100 of them for my LFL. Just a thought.

Alys

The always-generous Pauline did just that, but instead of selling them to me, she sent me a PDF with the following note:

Original Art By Pauline King

In honor of Pauline’s birthday September 5th, I would like to send you one of her bookmarks. Please don’t worry about the cost of postage. I want to share her bookmarks around the world. This offer is open to anyone who appreciates her art. Please send me your mailing address using my Contact Form, and I will mail you a bookmark-sized slice of Pauline’s art.

If you followed Pauline, please share a favorite memory in the comments below.

Happy birthday, Pauline!

Pauline and Siddy, the apple of each other’s eye.

This post is dedicated to Pauline’s daughters, Jo and Danella, and to Pauline’s puppy Siddy and her marmalade cat Orlando who continue to live the good life with Danella.

Gardens and August Grief

My dad was a horticulturist by trade. He built our Canadian garden from a pile of dirt, transporting rock by rock to create a small brook that meandered through our back yard. By November most years, everything received a blanket of snow.

In the garden, August 2021

We moved to California in 1966, but Dad died of lung cancer three years later. As a result, he never got to realize his dream of a California garden. I carry Dad’s memory, along with the dirt under my nails and twigs in my hair, whenever I spend time gardening.

My dad died in August of 1969. His sister, and my namesake Aunt Alys, also died in August, but nearly 40 years later.

Dad on the middle horse, India, 1941
Aunt Alys, England 1930

I often feel lost this time of year, adrift in memories and full of melancholy. I’ve learned to let the feelings flow. Today a Google search revealed that a BBC radio show interviewed Aunt Alys’ neighbors shortly after her death. Unfortunately, John and Anne Matthews didn’t share this with me at the time, and now the program is archived and unavailable. So it goes. Somehow it brought about more loss, more tears.

If I could walk hand in hand with Dad on this warm August day, I would show him our garden, name the plants, and laugh about the botanical names that I can never keep straight. I would let him know that his little girl grew up and is now a mother to two incredible young men.

On my family’s porch with my sister Sharon and others in London, Ontario, Canada, early 1960s

He would be saddened to know that Sharon is struggling with MS and that the pandemic has been unkind. The loss of a daily swim has rendered her legs almost useless. Dad would comfort her, and love her, and then he would do something to make her laugh. I miss that, too.

Dad would love my husband Mike, a kind and clever man with a generous spirit and a loving heart.

Most of all, Dad would be tickled to know that I inherited his love of gardening. I would give him a hug and thank him for passing on his passion and his favorite color green to a daughter who loved him then, and who loves him now. I wish we could enjoy time in the garden together one more time.

As Projects Go

Back in April, I committed to two garden projects this season. I was enthusiastic at the time, as one often is when projects are simply ideas in your head.

Of course, the first project seemed like more fun: replace the long-in-the-tooth garden swing with a new glider. Done!

The second project involved repairing or replacing the top of my garden bench.

I started in the lumber aisle of our local big-box store, pretending that I wasn’t entirely out of my league. I looked at planks of wood and pre-cut surfaces but nothing seemed quite right. Further, the cost and availability of lumbar has been challenging due to COVID-related supply chain issues. Ok, so that’s another excuse for feeling overwhelmed by it all. I mean how expensive can it be to buy a small section of wood?

The existing garden bench boards are warped, but removing them further jeopardizes the sturdiness of the entire unit. I would need to replace the boards or attach something on top of them, followed by more sanding and paint. Neither of those projects worked out well the last time, so my reluctance is rooted in that experience.

In the end, I went in a completely different direction, and I’m pleased with the results. I ordered a plexiglass top from a local place called Tap Plastic. The acrylic is available in a variety of thicknesses, depending on need. I ordered a product called “green glass,” which mimics the real deal for a fraction of the cost. They created this custom-made acrylic top for less than a hundred dollars.

I made a pattern to include the surface and the small recessed area at the back. The new plexiglass top slides into the notched area, helping keep it in place.

You can see the rounded corners and the notched extension in the above photo.

I can change the look by swapping out table runners or placemats. The surface wipes clean with a damp cloth which is another plus over the wood surface. I hope it lasts for years.

This striped cloth draped on the bench is a gift from my friend Rosie. She brought it home with her from a trip to Africa a few years ago. I searched for the proper term but gave up. I found many sources and suggestions, including Mud cloth, Kente cloth, Kantha cloth, and simply “head tie.” I don’t want to attribute it to something it’s not. The fabric is soft and vibrant with a lovely drape.

The gorgeous birdhouse is hand-crafted by my friend, Laura. She started her own business a few years ago, making one-of-a-kind ceramic birdhouses in Paradise, California. I don’t have the heart to hang it on a branch for fear of breaking it in a strong wind, so I have it on the bench instead. Both gifts are lovely reminders of dear friends.

The rest of the garden is doing okay, though some plants are showing stress from reduced watering and heat. Only one of the three tomato plants produced decent fruit. The other two plants are stunted, even though we planted them in rich soil. So it goes with gardening.

That said, I count myself lucky to have many established native plants. They thrive in this climate and won’t bothered by a lack of water.

Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of rain.

Sunday Snapshot: Finding the Light

I timed my photo-taking just right this evening, snapping several pictures at dusk. The light is perfect.

Dusk is my favorite time of day during the hot summer months. The brutal sun finally sets but the air is warm. I enjoy the sound of crickets and the familiar scent of garlic in the air from nearby Gilroy.

Fresh strawberries are another summer hallmark. The VegTrug is more densely planted this summer making it harder for critters to spot the red berries. I wouldn’t swear to that but it’s my working theory every time I harvest a delicious berry, unmolested by a rat, snail, or squirrel. These plants are six years old, so it’s the end of their run. Next summer I’ll plant even more.

Mike added acid-rich plant food to the hydrangea last year, hoping to bring back the shades of blue. Interestingly, the above two photos are from the same plant. I’m enjoying the variety.

Equally stunning is this bright red hibiscus. I have a pair growing in one of the lower beds, but they’ll eventually need transplanting. They can grow to eight feet tall! This one is only about 24 inches. I need to do more research to see if I can encourage the plants to stay small. They fit so nicely along the garden path.

The bougainvillea fills out this corner beautifully. It drapes nicely across the VegTrug, and it also looks pretty from our bedroom window. You can see one of the hibiscus flowers just beyond. I love the play of sun on the neighboring pine tree.

As garden chores go, I didn’t have as much to do this week. No rain means no extra weeds, except of course for the oxalis along the front garden path. I dead-headed the miniature roses and some salvia, and clipped away spent seed casings on the cornflowers. They’re looking pretty shabby but the birds love eating the seeds, so they’ll stay in the garden till they are completely spent. I used some rain barrel water to refresh the potted succulents and to rinse part of the deck.I finally found some cushions that I like for our settee and chairs online. They arrived last week. They’re twice as thick as the original cushions, so they’re really comfortable. We enjoyed spending time out there this week. The deck is also a favorite hummingbird spot, so it’s great for bird-watching as well. In addition to the two feeders, the hummers like the nectar of the kangaroo paw and the gladiolas.

I hope you’re finding light in your corner of the world.