Crafty Watering Can Brings Flowers to Life

Several months ago I attended a weekend scrap-booking retreat and fell in love with the Silhouette Cameo™. In fact, one of the designs, featured today over at Boomdeeadda, uses the Silhouette. Check out the clever lantern designed by Despina Boettcher.

Over the years I’ve admired all the various die cut systems, but never jumped in. Where would I store them all? Then along came the Silhouette. Simply attach the Cameo to your computer via a USB port and download (or create) designs. The watering can design below was only 99 cents. Most of the designs are under two dollars. If you’re a designer, you can make your own creations and even sell them to other users. So darn cool!

This weekend, while hiding indoors from the current heat wave, I had fun making this paper watering can.  The design, by the clever husband-and-wife team at SnapDragon Snippets was a great way to combine my love of crafting and gardening.  Since it was my first attempt, I used paper leftover from another project to see how it turned out.  I love it!

paper watering can

Paper Watering Can designed by SnapDragon Snippets

Since none of my real watering cans look this good, I decided to age my paper one for an authentic flare. I used a water-based dye ink called ‘garden green’ and brushed on a coat of gold and copper leaf flakes, originally used on a Craft It Forward project earlier this year.

Distressed paper watering can

Distressed watering can

Then I waved my magic wand to make it waterproof (or for the less gullible I added a small jar inside).

Garden flower bouquet

Garden flower bouquet

In an effort to beat the heat, I raced around the garden early this morning snipping hydrangeas, anemones and for height, a few snips of flowering basil. (Since the flowers take away from the flavor, I could snip to my heart’s content).

pink hydrangeas and anemones

Anemones, hydrangeas and basil

It’s easy to forget how relaxing it is to pursue a creative hobby. Cutting and arranging flowers is soothing too. Note to self (and anyone else reading this): remember to make time for your favorite creative endeavors.

Searching for inspiration? Here are a few:

Hydrangeas in Artistic Glass

My friend invited me to the Los Altos Art and Wine Show last month and we both came home with the same bubble glass vase.  Isn’t it pretty?

glass vase with hydrangeas

I’ve misplaced the artist’s card. Won’t you please stand up?

It sat on my kitchen counter for a while, but it’s now found a ‘permanent’ home in our bedroom.  I use the parenthetical because I’m forever changing things around. It’s kind of a hobby of mine.  When my sister and I were growing up, we liked nothing better than to rearrange the furniture.  We had fun with the ‘reveal’ as the home and garden shows like to call it when our mom arrived home from work.  She always seemed please.

I digress.  The talented Donna Pierre painted one of our bedroom walls with a sea-blue plaster and glaze, a finish we now refer to as ‘the mermaid.’ We added a hammered metal mirror and table to the room and the vase was the perfect accent to complete the look.

Then, lo and behold, the pink hydrangeas started to turn, weathered to a soft grey-lavender patina.  What timing.  They are magnificent flowers, blooms I admired for years. They are far too big for apartment dwelling, but work well now that I have a house with dirt to call my own.

hydrangea closeup

Dusty lavender hues

I still have to pinch myself all these years later, grateful to have a beautiful home and surrounding soil to fill with roots and flowering goodness. I think about that whenever I see these dusty blooms.

Do you have a favorite bloom?

Lindy on the table

Lindy-Lu approves

A Mighty Wind: Bending and Breaking

sunflowers and garden bench

Sunflower Save

I guess the downside to planting a small garden is that ever single plant seems precious.  Farmers, especially organic ones, expect to lose 20% of their crop.  They simply take it in stride.  Not me!  So when I pulled into the driveway last week, greeted by heavy winds and leaning sunflowers, I knew I had to act.

Earlier this season, I planted several sunflowers from seed, for a near-perfect garden fail.  One sunflower survived.  To be fair, we do have a thriving squirrel population, so it’s important they don’t go without.  😉

I hit the nursery for a second go and bought a cell pack of (6) six-inch plants instead. I planted the second batch of sunflowers during an early season heat-wave and they all survived.  Thrived even!  Within a month they had tripled in height with flowers everywhere. Ironically the one plant started from seed continues to grow in height. It’s the big sister to all the other plants.

I digress.

So…I’m driving up the road bemused at the crazy weather, only to see my precious plants bending in the wind. No one else was home to help,  so I dragged the heavy wooden garden bench across the yard and the walkway so the plants could lean into the back for support.  I grabbed some garden twine and laced up the stalks to the slats in the bench. I’m sure the neighbors thought I had lost it, placing a garden bench at the curb facing the driveway, but I’m past worrying about that.

sunflowers and bench

Garden bench and a card table to the rescue

Relieved that my impromptu support was working, I turned to go inside, only to find the glass hummingbird feeder smashed to pieces.  Again with the mighty wind. The wind snapped the tree branch holding the feeder, sending sticky glass crashing to the ground. I found parts of the feeder on the patio step, across the lawn and in the shrubs along the walkway.

broken hummingbird feeder

Once there was a hummingbird feeder…

“Cleanup on aisle….” Oh right. I guess I’m on my own with this one, too. Ten minutes and one pair of worn out gloves later, the broken glass was up. While I tidied the sharp and sugary mess, hummers buzzed overhead. They couldn’t figure out why dinner had suddenly disappeared. They seemed to think I was responsible.

It was tempting to redirect them to the aforementioned sunflowers for a drink. “Hey…look over there!” Since we’re in the business of spoiling our local wildlife, however, I headed indoors to unearth our backup feeder. I mixed up a quart of sugar-water and we were back in business.

The mighty wind is fierce and strong; the resident gardener, resourceful.

Win or lose?

I think we’ll call this one a draw.

Flower Tower: Summer Edition

Tower of Sedum

Tower of Sedum

Earlier this season I created a ‘Flower Tower’ by stacking three clay pots in graduated widths, then securing them with a stake.  The flowers were beautiful, but the narrow space for planting, meant they dried out quickly.  Annuals are shallow rooters to begin.  Couple that with the porous clay pots and you have a watering challenge on your hands.

I loved the tower, and had fun aging the pots with gold leaf.  I wasn’t ready to give up.  I shifted the annuals to larger pots, then replanted with drought-tolerant Sedum.

I’m really pleased with the results.  The plants don’t mind drying out between watering (and in fact probably prefer it).  The soft greens contrast nicely with the clay.  As they grow, they’ll cascade down the sides of the pots, and once established will send out tiny flowers.

Power to the tower!

Sedum Guatemalense

Sedum Guatemalense

Sedum layered in tower of pots

Sedum layered in tower of pots

DSC_0022

 

Sunflower Power: Still Number One

I’m a firm believer in one of the following two clichés:

  • Variety is the spice of life.
  • Familiarity breeds contempt.

Can you guess which one?

Emerging Sunflower

Emerging Sunflower, 2013

sunflower 2012

Sunflower, 2012

Sunflower going to seed 2011

Sunflower going to seed, 2011

sunflower packet

Hope blooms from a packet of seeds

Did you guess?

I love the variety a garden affords. When you live and play in California soil, variety abounds. That said, I have three garden favorites that appear year after year: pumpkins, tomatoes and sunflowers.

My top three favorites never breed contempt. For over a decade now, sunflowers make the list. One tiny seed leads to a magnificent flowering plant, growing a majestic 5 – 12 feet (1.5 to 4 meters) or more. As they grow, they attract  beneficial insects.  They’re a huge favorite with the bees.  Sunflowers produce a mass of seeds which we generally ‘offer’ the squirrels at season’s end. The bright yellow flower is my favorite anyway, so I’m happy to share the remaining spoils.

How about you: variety, familiarity or a little of both?

sunflower collage 2013

Sunflowers, 2013

Also from gardeningnirvana:

What’s That Buzz?

bee covered in pollenThe clichés are true. Bees are busy and they do buzz when they move from flower to flower.  My gardening confidence bumps up several notches when they come to town, knowing my pumpkin plants are in good ‘hands.’

I’m terrible at sitting or standing still for long, but find the garden helps slow me down.  While standing still, I notice so much more. This morning I saw three different birds in the orange tree, a snail meandering on an orange peel and a group of industrious, shiny black bees.

The standing still part didn’t last long as I followed the bee from flower to flower, snapping as many pictures as I could before the pollinator moved on. Within a few minutes another bee arrived and as I darted from flower to flower, so too did the bees. They make a frantic bzzz sound before landing, then silence as they dip head first into the flower, rolling their shiny bodies in golden pollen. No time to lollygag, they quickly emerge, darting to their next destination.

bee coated in pollen

A nice dip in the pool

Pumpkin plants produce several male flowers at the start of their growth. Within a few weeks the female flowers appear. Without those bees, all the flowers would eventually shrivel and die, leaving a healthy but fruitless vine.

pair of pumpkin flowers

A pair of male pumpkin flowers

What’s that buzz? It’s music to my gardening ears!

bee with glassy wings

Spreading glassy wings

bee ready for lift off

Ready for lift-off

bee and his shadow

A bee and its shadow

You can learn more about the critical role of pollinators at Pollinator Partnership.  The site has a fun, downloadable poster as well.

Tulips: Waving Farewell

Our tulips put on a lovely show for weeks. Thanks to all of you for encouraging me to give them a second chance. Years ago I planted a big batch of tulips from Costco and not a single one came up. My friend, Bob, thinks the squirrels made off with them instead.

One of the cool things about keeping a gardening blog is the log. With over a year of blogging, I can refer back to planting schedules, what worked, what didn’t and all the wonderful comments you post.  It takes a village to plant an awesome garden.  I love that.

Here’s what I’ll be referring to this fall when I buy and chill garden bulbs:

Angelique tulip

Tulip Angelique

Angéliqué

Planted: 15
Survived: 4
Thrived: 2

I might try again, but in a different location.  They’re stunning, but just didn’t take off.

Tulip 'Attila'

Tulip ‘Attila’

Attila

Planted 15
Survived: 12
Thrived: 12

These will definitely be back next year.

Tulip Passionale

three tulips

Tulip ‘Passionale’

Passionale

Planted 5
Survived: 5
Thrived: 5

Also a winner, the Passionale tulips were the first up and the longest-lasting.

The not so dirty dozen

The not so dirty dozen

I thought I would feel wistful as the tulips faded, but signs of spring are in abundance everywhere. Farewell, garden beauties. Till next year.

Are you seeing signs of spring, too?