Five Minutes in the Garden

Yesterday was busy from stem to stern: carpooling, walking, working and the usual day-to-day activities. It was also unseasonably warm, a day begging to be spent outdoors.

I took the spare minutes that I had and sat on the back steps.

Wishing I had my camera, I spotted five hummingbirds sunning themselves on the bare branches of the fruit cocktail tree. Delightful. Then a pair of mourning doves swooped down, foraging in the earth under the tree.

Now I *had* to grab my camera.

Once back outside, the birds had moved on but a squirrel took their place.

squirrel under fruit tree

Easy-going squirrel

Lindy followed me outside and settled into a sun-warmed layer of leaves beneath the Acer. Mouse followed and had a long drink from the garden fountain.

lindy at rest

Lindy enjoying the warmth under the Acer tree

I prowled the garden, making mental notes:

  • Remember to grab some twine and attach the Abutilon to the fence
  • Call the arborist and get a quote for pruning the fruit tree
  • Check the weather forecast for rain as things are looking dry
  • Staple the wooden slat back to the fence
  • Bring in one of the oranges as an offering to the indoor rat, missing in action
orange side one

Orange: side one

orange side two

Orange: side two

Five minutes probably turned into ten. The garden absorbs me and I lose all sense of time. The camera grew heavier in my hands. Reluctantly, I headed back inside.

What would you do with an extra five minutes today?

Garden Tool Clean-up: Farewell to the Dirty Dozen

Like many tedious chores, cleaning garden tools is easy to put off.  Though it’s hard to get started, it’s ultimately satisfying when you’re done. The electrostatic charge in the air yesterday spurred me into action. With my head held high, I’m happy to report that the dirty dozen of gardening tools is now the tidy twelve.

garden tools in need of some TLC

The Dirty Dozen

Last month I put my tools to soak in a bucket of soapy Melaleuca cleaner, then got busy with other things. It’s one of those jobs that nags at you till you get it done, but I knew I needed a good block of time to act. Yesterday was the day.

Newspapers spread and gloves donned, I tackled years of rust, faded paint and grime. Using steel wool and elbow grease, I scoured away layers of garden history. If those tools could talk!  Some of them have been around for over twenty years.

I sanded the sharp end of the garden tools first, removing rust and sharpening edges. Moving on to the tools with wooden handles, I sanded those as well before finishing with a soft rub of wax and oil. Everything looks great. The newer tools have vinyl or rubber handles which stand up to the elements better than wood. The wooden handles remain sturdy, however, and relished the coat of wax and oil.

Clean Tools

The Tidy Twelve

Last up: the garden saw.  I saved the worst for last. The once-blue handle had completely chipped away.  The blade was stained and covered in rust. Was I worried?  No!  I had big plans for this little baby.

Thank you, Martha Stewart.

It took three coats, but our refurbished folding saw now sports a handle in Martha Stewart’s Pomegranate Red. Who says tools have to be boring?

Garden saw painted red

Glitter Garden Saw


Painted folding saw


Perseverance 1, procrastination 0.

What’s on your “nag” list?

Getting the Job Done


Garden Tools: The Dirty Dozen

garden tools in need of some TLC

The Dirty Dozen

I made some progress towards the garden clean-up today, though not as much as I would have liked. I gathered the “dirty dozen” of garden tools and made a mental assessment of the work ahead. My husband, handyman extraordinaire, gave me some quick tips on removing rust using steel wool.  If you’re wondering the difference between #000 and #0000, just ask!

I pounded the cushions together to loosen the dust, and brought them indoors for a quick wipe-down.  I had to run outside to tether the inflatable spider before it broke loose from the yard and put the fear of arachnids in someone down the street.  Then I was out the door for appointments for the rest of the day.

Costume Update

I’ve enjoyed dusting off the old sewing machine this week and putting it to use. This year I’m dressing up for a few Halloween parties as a Bella Pilar greeting card. Her designs are fun and whimsical.

I pieced together a crinoline using two “maternity panels” from a fabric store and adding tulle from an old costume.  Today I finished sewing the skirt and made headway on the top.  I’m making a pattern as I go along, so fitting it has been a challenge. I’ve been dreaming of my own dressmaker’s form, but it’s hard to justify that expense given the minimal use it would get.

Just a few finishing touches and the costume will be ready to wear.

cat ears

leopard skirt


Halloween Countdown

Princess Pumpkin

Princess Pumpkin

Garden Clean-up on Aisle Alys

It’s that time of year again.  Garden clean-up.  I’d rather decorate than clean, but I know how good I’ll feel when these chores are finally done.

Garden Tools

Garden TrowelI’m a lazy gardener when it comes to tools, but I’ve promised myself I’ll be better this year.  I expect the spades and forks to dig on demand, with very little TLC between seasons.   When my hand shears are dull, my husband works his magic and returns them in sharp shape.  The rest of the tools deserve the royal treatment as well.

Lounge Cushions

loung cushionsI can hardly wait to get them out of storage each spring, but putting them away feels like such a chore.  I’m ready to move on to the next thing.  Right now, they’re stacked in the garage in a not-so-convenient spot. I need to slap them together to loosen the dust. Then I’ll damp wipe the surfaces before storing them in the shed for the winter.  I use extra-large Ziploc® bags to keep them clean between seasons.


Garden slipcoverI made a slipcover for the garden swing in May with a few easy ties for quick removal  I tossed it into the washing machine yesterday, then dried it on low.  It’s ready to store for the winter.  I want to come up with a teepee-styled cover for the entire swing to keep the original cover and frame clean and dry.  One year I used an old vinyl tablecloth with flocking on the back.  It worked fine until the squirrels moved in, shredding it into nesting material over the course of a few days.

Empty pots

I don’t have too many empty pots, thanks to our mild winters.  I clean the pots that aren’t in use  and store them upside down in the side yard.  Some gardeners scrub with a mild solution of bleach to kill off any parasites, but I try to go the organic route.  Using mild detergent and super hot water does the trick.

Stakes, trellises and supports

Saving the easy stuff for last, I just stack these in a corner near the shed and have them at the ready for next season.

Have you already tackled your garden-cleaning chores?  Do you put it off like me?  Check back tomorrow for a progress report.  Once I click the “publish” key, the pressure is on!

Halloween Countdown

Hawaii pumpkin

Hawaiian Vacation Pumpkin

Tips for cleaning and storing your garden tools.