Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Creating a Garden Patio

Hi, all!

  I got my bee picture that I've been working on done, but I haven't taken a picture of it yet.  I will make time for it tomorrow.

  Meanwhile, I worked on creating a patio area off of our porch for those picnicking days of summer to come.

  We have a picnic table that we only seem to use twice a year:
during our annual plant sale where the "cash registering" gets done,
and when the kids suddenly get the urge to have a picnic supper (and I happen to be willing to haul it all out to the middle of the yard).

  I decided the table might be used more if it was closer to the kitchen.

  When I thought on where the best place for that to be was, I turned to this place.

  Location is key when choosing where to have a patio.  I noticed that my kids and I all seem to try to lay claim to the seat toward the end of this porch each morning because the early morning sun comes up on this side and it's warmth is so sweet in the morning.  By afternoon, this space has a gentle shade and by evening, the shade is complete.

  The porch is also right off the kitchen, so hauling foods and utensils wouldn't be too hard to do from this distance.

  So it seemed that this place was the best place for a picnic patio...
which meant removing all the plants that seemed to grow exceptionally well here.

The first thing I felt I needed to do was extend this garden.

  The ground is so good here, so little rock and just thick, brown dirt.  It was very easy to dig and flip off the sod, so I chose to go that route.

  (For many of my other gardens where the ground has been too hard to dig and work with, I just laid a thick layer of newspaper (probably 4-5 pages thick) right on the ground and then shoveled good dirt I have from our rotted manure dirt pile right onto the newspaper.  Once completely covered, I would then top it off with mulch and hose it all down good.  In a few weeks, I found I could plant into it  Of course, I didn't always want to wait that long, so sometimes I made holes in the newspaper where I wanted the plants and planted them right away, but then I had to battle weeds that also poked through around those areas.)

  I used my hose to create a rough line of where I wanted the edge of the garden extension to be.

  (The hens like to keep me company while I dig and overturn the grass and then shake out the sod before removing it because there were plenty of earth worms and grubs to scurry after.)

   The digging of the extension took about 2 days of work, in between dealing with the kids and other normal interruptions.

  I began removing the plants that were in this place, digging each variety up and separating each plant into many plants, potting them up so that I can replant smaller version in new spaces and sell the rest next spring.  They will have time to grow and fill in the pots til then.

  We had a number of old terracotta drain pipes up in one of the cow fields where an old corn bin had been.  It seemed a shame for them to sit out there not being used, so I hauled as many as weren't broken down to the area.

At first, I thought I might use them for edging...

but did not like the way they looked and worried one of us would twist our ankles on them.

I next tried them as a type of dividing wall coming down the garden.

I dug a trench and partly buried them to make them secure.

There were extra, so I moved them the other side of the garden to create a small wall there as well.

The plants all removed and the walls up, I then called in some help to prepare for the table.
(It is always nice to have a helping hand willing to give of his busy day with a happy smile and song on his lips...

okay, I may be stretching it a little,
but his help really was appreciated).

We leveled the ground somewhat, removing dirt to be used elsewhere.

I had two old rugs in the shed that I had saved for a project like this.  They had been used in rooms where the dogs often laid on them (before the dogs were restricted to just the basement den).  They had just gotten to the point of no return.

We laid these out as a type of weed barrier.

The table was moved in, and immediately, I could see that it will have much more use in this space.

With the few extra drain pipe pieces, legs were made for this "bench."

(There is a granite counter top business in town that lets us take some of their broken pieces).

I still need to finish planting everything where I want it, and my daughter wants a little part of this garden for herself.

I can see evidence of her play here.

For now, I hope it will turn out to be worth all the effort.

Here is the before picture:

And here it is at the moment:

I will be by again soon with painting techniques;...
just need to make sure all the dirt is off these hands.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Art Lesson: Watercolor Painted Vintage Wall Art

I was feeling the need to make my mantel sing of spring,
so I dug up these old wooden oval pieces I had once painted on and decided I did not like.
I decided to paint the edging of these ovals in black.

I found some vintage images on the Graphics Fairy of birds and printed them up in the center of each page by pasting them into Word and situating them to the size and place that I wanted them.

 (We've had a visiting blue jay to our yard in the last 2 weeks who is as blue of a blue jay I have ever seen).

I wanted to add a bit of color, so I splashed water all over the page with a paint brush
and then added some blue
and then some touches of red.

 Once that had settled into the paper a little bit,
I began painting the bird with a darker and less watered down blue.

 I filled in the leaves, branch, and flowers as well.

 Once the jay was done, I followed the same process for the Robin picture.

It is always a nice break to just paint an image that is already all drawn up for you.
Who doesn't love a bit of coloring-book style painting?

 I let these dry thoroughly and then cut them to fit into the oval shapes
(I did this by tracing the full oval shape onto the page and then cutting it down evenly on all sides until it fit, but a piece of tracing paper would also work to be more precise.
Laying it into the frame and running a pencil around the inside edge carefully should work).

Once I had them cut, I spread glue all over the backs of the images and then pasted them into the ovals, using paint containers to hold the image down on all the edges.

 Wanting a more vintage look, I heated some water and, using a damp teabag,
dabbed the warmed tea bag all over the image until it was stained as I wanted.
(This could also be done before gluing the image into the frame).

 The teabag was so used up, it cracked at bit and shed some bits of tea onto the images,
but I left them there to dry to add more character.

Once dried, I painted two coats of Mod Podge, allowing the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.
I then applied a squeeze of Martha Stewarts all purpose gloss paint from the bottle it comes in around the edges to make them look sealed in to the frame.  I used a paint brush to carefully brush it in and a few damp q-tips to clean up any smears.

Here they are all finished.  Can you see the difference with the Mod Podge?
The shine makes them look more like framed pictures.

I then put some frame wall hangers on the backs of the bird art
and hung them over the mantel in the living rooom

They added a touch of quaint, older looking decor to the wall with no expense at all:
I just recycled and used the supplies that I had...
aren't those the best kinds of projects?

Have you added any spring to your home this season?

I am still working on the bee picture.
It is coming along pretty well, but I am trying to wait until it is all finished before I share the processes I tried with it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Living Spaces in the Flower Gardens.

Hello!  Did you do anything creative this weekend?

I did a few things but mostly spent a lot of time catching up on housework...the plant sales and kept me so busy that my house was in desperate need of some drastic attention.  It feels great to have a good part of the house done but I still have a few areas I hope to finish this week.

It is so hard to be inside when the weather is perfect.  The sun shone all weekend and it was a perfect temperature of warm out.  I took a few pictures because it is incredible how a couple weeks can transform the gardens.


I have a few different types of allium, but these are my favorite.
The flowers are about 4 inches in diameter each.

I did spend some time to clean up the basement porch.
The winter woodpile by the door was finally used up as it has been such a cold spring.

I love how adding a few plants on the porch seems to extend the garden in.

I painted the long bench and the wooden bucket some cheerful colors.
I was going to separate this hosta I dug up from one of the gardens but ended up planting it into the bucket for now.

Perennials are my usual choice for plants, but this dainty purple plant was a gift to each of the ladies at our mother-daughter banquet so I potted it up and set it on the window sill...
as long as the curious cat doesn't knock it off.

It always seems that by the time I have caught up with the house and gardens,
a group has formed of new plants I want to put in.

(My husband and kids started the winter woodpile back where I had plants stocked for the sale just as soon as I got them moved back to the field again.  His work never ends).

I collect hostas; this one is called Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

There are hundreds of hosta varieties and they have great names and beautiful colorings and textures.
I try to limit myself to just a handful of new varieties each year.  As they grow, I separate them and plant them into three different gardens and then I can dig one up and every year or so to have the extras to sell at my plant sale.
(This lets me feel like my collection pays for itself...eventually.
I enjoy collecting something that stays outside and becomes beautiful without my having to dust it or vacuum around it; and the fact that it grows and can be shared makes it even better).

This year I chose Queen of the Seas, Popcorn, Northern Exposure, Miss Suzie, Ripple Effect,
and Ulysses S. Grant.
See what I mean?  They have fun names, don't you think?

Of course, simple blooms like that of the Cornflower are sweet to see.

The Bridal Veil Spirea is in full bloom right now.  The scent of it takes me back to my grandmother's when I was a child.

This is what the gardens look like most of the time in the spring.

I found some dwarf wisteria shoots in the place where I had moved it from and dug them up to see how they would do.

Unfortunately, my walkways are seldom tidy.
Chickens and ducks seem to like the gardens as much as I do,
no matter how much I try to shoo them out.  I kept them penned up until the plant sales were done
and it just seems hard to keep them penned all season with all the thousands of bugs to catch and the green grass to nibble on,
so I try to work with it.

It's hard to believe how much has grown since my earlier post on this flower bed >HERE<.

My plans now are to extend the garden below, clear the center of it, and make an area for our picnic table so we can spend time eating outside this summer.

I would love for my husband to build a support system over it for the wisteria to grow on,
but that may have to wait until the wood is done and the hay fields are mowed and the barns are cleaned out...

Still, it is fun to imagine what I want this place to become.

Until next time, I'll try to finish up the bee picture I mentioned in the last post.
It might be a struggle to stay focused with the blooms calling to me outside,
but I'll get to it!

(Viburnum Doublefile)

Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Using a Sketch to Bring a Painting to Life.

Hello again, friends!

It has been a long time.

My easel has looked like this for some time now.

I recently discovered an artist's picture that I thought was so creative and beautiful.  It is Slaveika Aladjova's lion print done in watercolors, brushed with bright colors and dripping paints.

I wanted so much to try this technique.

I dug out the bee sketch I did a few weeks back,...

printed up the image I had sketched (enlarging it to the size I wanted to use in my piece),
rubbed pencil lead on the back of it,...

turned it over and taped it where I wanted it to be on my piece, and then traced the image so that it transferred onto my canvas.

I lightly added some more flower details to the canvas, and then decided to use some permanent calligraphy ink to mark parts of it.

I did not mark every line that I had sketched with the pencil, just the ones I chose to be in the piece. 

Once I was finished with it, I took a picture of it and printed up several of the images onto some heavy cardstock paper in an attempt at doing some different techniques and colors like the colorful lion watercolor.

(I still hadn't erased the pencil marks in this picture).

I will end this post here now and continue with what I came up with in a future post.

Thanks for stopping by!  I do plan to come around more often as the plant sales have passed, and I am so happy to be back at the paintbrush once again.