Monday, April 30, 2012

Garden Gifts

If you live in the South, you know our Spring was here-and-there this year.  Spring flowers started in January and disappeared into unexpected frosty nights.  I had azaleas right after Christmas,  a few in late January, and the rest whenever they pleased.  My "gaudy ladies" (a pink Chinese fringe bush, a fuchsia Pride of Mobile azalea, and a out-of-hand yellow Lady Banksia rose) did slightly overlap and produce their ditzy fashion show. 

Mostly we have had to take when we could the beauty that usually abounds in our neighborhood.  I have waited patiently for the purple flower to bloom in the above planter before I cleaned out the spent daffodils.  It is a small gift - probably from the birds or squirrels- but it has returned for several years surviving even the most rigorous replanting of this planter.  She greets me as I drive in the driveway each day for about a week, then leaves as quietly as she came.

This scraggly thing (maybe a corn plant?) was tossed into a pile of things I was purchasing at an estate sale.  It was basically a dried stick with one green leaf.  I poked around with the trowel and doused it with water.  It has responded so much in the last few weeks that I plan to reward it soon with a new pot and some rich potting soil.  I just hope it does not have to come in during the winter because the cats taste everything, and the dogs dig in the dirt.

This was a double gift.  A neighbor was tearing out a harvest gold seventies kitchen and offered me the light fixture.  I used the glass globe for another project, but turned the decorative metal cover upside down and wired it to a plastic hanging  pot.  After seeing the new hanging basket, the same neighbor offered some of this succulent who loves this sunny (let's be honest - super-hot) spot of the yard.

 These next two were Easter gifts from me to me as you probably read in a previous post.

Look how much this lemon balm has grown.  It sits right beside the front door - I love to brush my hand against it to release its scent.  I may have to take some cuttings to spread to other pots.

This Eau-de-Cologne mint has actually reached the porch floor.  I don't want to trim it.  I think I am going to put a pot of soil under it for new plants to take root.  I still do not know if it is edible.  If you do, please inform me before I do the taste test!

I saved the best garden gift ever for last.  Almost twelve years ago, my husband built me this pergola to shade the den windows. It was my twentieth wedding anniversary present.  He designed it without any previous knowledge of garden architecture  and spent two arduous weeks sitting in the driveway constructing it. 

It was the perfect planting time - early November - for perennials.  I desired a clematis.  The local nursery recommended an evergreen variety with huge white spring flowers.  You know the old adage about clematis?  The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps.  I was resigned to be patient.  The first spring - no growth, but six big, beautiful blooms.  I envisioned just what the pergola would look like covered in these.  Unfortunately the second winter we had a severe ice storm that laid waste to the landscape including the clematis. 

Next I tried annuals like morning glories and moonflower vines - just not the same.  Then I decided to go for pink roses and white Confederate jasmine.  BINGO!  They bloom at the same time each year and the nightly perfume floats romantically through the air!  (That prose is way too flowery for me, but it just spewed out - sorry!)

When I told my husband I was going to blog about the pergola, He asked why.  When I told him it was the best gift he had ever given me, he was surprised.  I explained it was not just the pergola itself, but the time, toil, sweat, and blood he put into it that made it special.

Well, life just happened.  My husband who has been experiencing severe low back pain and refusing to go to an orthopedic doctor. (He did go to his urologist to rule out kidney stones!) fell in the upstairs hallway, spilling milk and mini-bagels with cream cheese all over.  The puppies went wild - sure they had found some kind of exotic food paradise.  (We have never given them human food!)  After corralling Willie and Scout and luring them outside, Chucks (my husband) finally felt he could get off the floor.  It only took us forty minutes.  He is now ensconced in his study upstairs.  After our adventure at the emergency room with me last weekend, he is still refusing to go to the hospital, but has agreed to at least call our doctor tomorrow.  Why are men so stubborn?

Gosh, I hope all that pergola-building years ago did not contribute to this!

Thanks for visiting.  If I am not back tomorrow, I'll be wheeling Chucks around to the doctor!  

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"Spring" Tassels

I have been eying some trampoline springs at the Habitat Restore for some time.  I liked the shape and feel of them, but nothing came to mind.   A few weeks ago I saw tassels made from large bolts on Market Nine Home and immediately thought of those springs.  I finally went back and purchased the trampoline springs, a small bag of teeny screws, nuts, and washers, and a partial roll of wire. ( I ended up not using the wire.)

I selected small washers and nuts from the bag.   I cut slender hemp twine approximately three times the length I wanted.  I randomly tied the nuts and washers along the hemp with the heavier ones on the ends.

I did not care about conformity as you can see.  I decided that six strands doubled would be enough for the tassel.

Here are the six strands folded in half.

Here is a close-up of the strands.

I painted the trampoline springs yellow, turquoise, and a dark blue-green.  Then I distressed them by dry-brushing them with white and adding a antique gold glaze over the paint.  I sealed with a satin varnish after rubbing off some of the paint. 

It was at this time my husband walked through (actually he hobbled through - he has back spasms) and asked " Did you just take something rusty, paint them, and then made them rusty-looking?" 

To which I replied, "Of course.  I AM a rust goddess!"

As I waited for the springs to dry, I printed some vintage photographs of children courtesy of Karen at The Graphics Fairy.  I have been wanting to use them - they are so cute and I love old photos. I painted around the edges with a Sharpie gold paint pen, used my craft scissors to cut them out, and threw some glitter on them just for interest.

For the front door I used raffia and the twine strands to make a tassel.  I attached a photo of a little boy with his cello. 
(Yes, my front door is distressed red on the outside - right in public!)

Those of you who follow my blog know what is coming next - torn cotton ribbons.  I did not stamp these since I was tearing them into 1/2- inch strips.  Yes, when you tear them this small there are a lot of loose threads.  Just keep running the ribbons through your hands until most of the threads come off.  I don't obsess with getting them all.  Then I simply use the normal way of making tassels - cutting a piece of cardboard the width you want the length of the tassel, wrapping the ribbons around until you like the thickness, tying a string around the top, and cutting across the bottom.  I used matching ribbon to wrap around the top to secure the tassel.  Then shake, shake, shake to make the tassel fluff out.  I slid the hook end of the spring through the loop on the tassel and attached the photograph to the top hook.  I am currently using the tassels in the pantry on the cabinet doors.

I like the contrast of the little girl wrapped in a winter's coat on a "spring" tassel. The spring is turquoise and the tassel a pink calico.

The yellow spring sports a turquoise tassel and a photo of a girl and her cat.  (By the way one of the cats - Azalee - has just discovered the tassels.  They seem to be excellent cat toys!)

Yellow tassel on a dark blue-green spring with the boy and his cello used again.

Well, I have accomplished several things this weekend - primed a few tables and drawers, made tassels, and found time to squeeze in some grocery shopping - peanut butter on saltine crackers was getting too boring!  Just kidding - we did take-out.

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