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Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Flower Arranging Using Roadside and Garden Varieties

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.
~ Kurt Vonnegut

When I was growing up in Springfield, my mother signed my sister and I up for membership in the Junior Garden Club. Mom was a member of the Garden Club of Springfield, still an active organization in the community today.  The junior club was organized to teach school-age children the techniques of floral arrangement. We would attend regular meetings where we would learn how to arrange bigger flowers on the bottom, hide your stems and cover the holder. Sometimes the club would hold a competition and award prizes. I liked flower arranging, but after childhood, did not attempt any new projects.

Just recently I thought why not revisit trying a few arrangements.  All these years I had saved Mom’s flower holders, tapes and a few containers. I guess I was meant to come back and try again. I decided not to buy flowers, but rather use what I could find in my garden, back alleys or in waste areas. I added an accessory or two, just because they are fun.IMG_7876

Cape Gooseberry, with its charming lanterns, comes up every year. I have never planted it, and don’t know how it came into the garden. By late fall the lantern shells turn lacy brown, revealing a round yellow seed.


I added a charm hanging from a hook to this arrangement.  The little door opens.

I found white snakeroot growing in front yard and Queen Ann’s Lace along railroad tracks. The larger flowers are from hosta, a fragrant variety.


Goldenrod, plentiful along roadsides, turns fields into a seas of yellow. Great plant for arrangements as they last a long time.

Salvia: A Surprising Micro View

As a gardener, I sometimes difficult to resist purchasing something new for the landscape especially with the vast array of colorful plants on display at the big box stores. This time I caved to a Salvia plant, its aromatic fragrance wafting in the breeze, beckoning me to buy the bluish-purple blooms.

Salvia is the largest genus in the mint family, its name comes from a Latin word meaning to feel healthy. The tiny flowers line up and down tall stalks making a subtle contribution to the color in the garden, as shown in this photograph, just right of the flagstone path.

The micro level, however, reveals a complex and multi-colored flower. The tiny hairs secrete oils that fill the air with the plant’s distinct scent.

Seven Whimsical Garden Accessories for just a Few Dollars

Over the years I’ve added accessories to the garden, which cost just a few dollars . . . either because of having some luck, making it myself or fixing up a cast-off.   Sometimes I had some mini disasters along the way, but in the end these whimsical additions enhanced the garden.

Gazing Ball Pedestal: When enrolled in a pottery course, I hand-built this stand for a gazing globe.  The globe cost about $20 but unfortunately, I dropped the first one which fell into dozens of pieces. I guess it really cost me $40 as I had to buy a second one. The globe is supposed to give off a solar light, but because our lot is too shady for absorbing sunlight, it doesn’t really work. For all of its faults, I still like it.  Sometimes I put colored lights inside the cylinder.

Trellis: I found this trellis while hiking along a back road and saw a small part of it sticking out from under a pile of leaves.  It took me a few minutes to pull it out from under the debris. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that an ant colony had taken up residence inside the hollow metal, and the trunk of my car was swarming with the little guys by the time I arrived home. After shaking them out, I let it sit for a while before deciding where it should go. Purchased a clematis and attached the trellis to the side of the porch.

Donkey and Cart: This piece traveled through four states and found a new home when my parents moved to Pennsylvania. When they sold their house, we debated whether this kitschy and very heavy lawn ornament should just stay behind. The cement on the legs had totally deteriorated, and the paint was pealing off. I decided to keep it, and began the restoration including cementing the pieces back together even though I had no experience with cement. At first, the cement just oozed into pile instead of sticking to the iron core posts but eventually it dried out and began staying in place.

Bench: This was another rescue from a family move. Rust covered the metal, and the top covered with mildew. After scrapping the rust off, painting the stand and cleaning up the marble, the bench found a place in the side garden. I added a couple small ornaments and planted hostas on either side.

Cider Press: Found this piece at a yard sale. After giving it a quick coat of stain and inserting a plant, it was ready for display. The press was not in the best condition to start with and the water flowing on the wood contributed to some decay, so I added a piece of clear plastic at the bottom, which has kept it intact now for ten years.

Bird bath: My pottery instructor was ready to throw this dish away because of a serious crack that ran along the bottom rim. The patterns in the glaze were beautiful, so I took it home to see what I might do with it. I used clear caulking to patch the crack and placed the plate on top of a pot. The caulk has held up well for several years now.

Watering Can with Floating Spigot:  Ok, this one cost me a few dollars, but I splurged for no other reason except the floating spigot looked cool.  I once put it in one of the window display for Bindlestiff Books, and children would stare into the window wondering how the magic happened.  Kitty knows the magic of getting a drink of water from anything but her water bowl.

Philadelphia Flower Show: I Can Do That in my Garden, Really?

The Philadelphia Flower Show offers inspirational ideas to gardeners. The beautiful displays and the wares sold in the marketplace offer many possibilities to the gardener who would like to enhance the landscape. My sister and I kidded each other saying, “I can do that!” as we passed by the 25-foot waterfall or the deck with an elaborate display of cascading flowers lining the steps. Is there hope to achieve any degree of innovation from the ideas presented at the show? Below are four inspirations I found useful.

1. Colored blue lights against white orchids

This display could be achieved on a smaller scale. For example, a centerpiece with one orchid and a colored light would work. Several vendors were selling submersible LCD lights at $5 each, which we purchased, with the idea of adding light to a vase.

2. Stream of water

While for most of us adding a stream to our backyard would be an impossible undertaking, what is important is the idea of using a water feature. A small fountain adds the ambiance of running water creating a calming effect, transforming any space.

3. Colored tires

This exhibit deserves a prize for the most creative recycling: painting automobile tires and placing them vertically in the garden.  Shouldn’t be difficult to find a few used tires someplace.

4. Accessories: whimsical and otherwise

With statue and decorative planter in hand we’re all set to accessorize our garden.

Vendors displayed a wonderland of accessories, everything from planters and watering cans to expensive brass sculptures.

Attend the flower show and you’re sure to come away with ideas that will make gardening fun this spring. Don’t be intimidated by the elaborate and over the top displays, and you’ll be able to take away inspirational ideas for your garden, if only to add a dragon.

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