Friday, July 4, 2014

The butterflies are coming!

The trellises are filling in nicely with the passionflowers on one and the Dutchmans pipe on the other.

As much as I love seeing them fill in, I really love the butterflies that are moving in too!

The passionflower has gulf fritillaries moving in. Even found a few of their cocoons! Just hoping that they slow down eating enough to not kill the vine.

The Dutchmans pipe just had some new little guys move in last week. After a little research, found out that they are pipevine swallowtails. Huge caterpillars, bigger appetites! But can hardly wait for these butterflies in our backyard.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Magic squash!

In December we made some squash and I tossed the seeds into the garden... forgot about them. I've found sometimes the least you do for a plant, the betterand it does.

Once every memory of the squash seeds had been removed from the far reaches of my brain, along came little plants. Having no clue what they were, I decided to let them grow and then see. I could tell from the leaves that it surely must be a squash or melon or maybe even a cucumber...

Sure enough as the days counted on, the vines grew longer, the leaves bigger, the flowers came and then finally the fruit.

Watching the fruit helped gather my memory about what I threw into it garden: butternut squash!

Didn't water it. Didn't fertilize it. Didn't do anything to it. Not only did it came with numerous little gourds. I must say, very tasty, big,  and good! Looks like we'll be eating a lot of squash for a while!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dutchman's Pipe

The trellises by the pool with the passionflower and the Dutchman's pipe are doing fantastic!

What's truly amazing is how fast the Dutchman's Pipe is growing. Each day it seems to gain another inch or so to the vine. Very fast grower!

Take a look at the video below to watch the flower grow.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Unique Bird Bath

I recall a few years ago while Sam and I made a day trip to St. Augustine, we saw something that caught our eye: leaves "sculpted" from concrete. We saw how an artist was able to take these leaves to weave intricate fountains using the leaves. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to be able to have the talent to create such wonders.

Recently on, I saw a few posts in which others created these leaves and using them for birdbaths. After reviewing some of these, we quickly realized that we too can be artists! We used some of the tips, but modified a bit too.

We started with a large elephant ear. A triangular mount of sand was built up and covered with a piece of plastic. We laid the leaf face down on the mound and cut the stem off as close to the base of the leaf as possible. The leaf laid right onto the triangular mound easily.

The leaf was covered with a good layer of concrete that was just stiff enough that we could form an edge to stop the concrete from becoming a large blob. We covered it with a sheet of plastic and let it sit for a day. **Tip** knowing what we know now, we probably would have stuck a piece of rebar into the base to form our pedestal around that once the leaf part was done.

The next day, we flipped it up and VOILA!

The leave stuck into the concrete a bit, but we were able to peel it off.

Once the leaf was peeled off, we let it sit for another day to make sure that it was good and dry.

I painted the leaf in different stages with acrylic paint to give it some life and depth. I started off painting the entire thing "Smurf" blue.

Next I used silver to get into the deep part of the veins of the leaf.

A little yellow and lime green all over...

And then olive to mellow it out.
As bright as the leaf looks, it really settled down after a couple of days drying. 

Next we worked on the pedestal. Sam had this amazing vision of trying to mimic the natural shape of the elephant ear stalk instead of using a traditional upright column. First we bent a piece of 10 ft rebar in half. Then shaped the rebar with little bends throughout to create the "s" curves. We decided that we would have to form this in place. We cleared out the area where this sits and then stabbed the rebar into the ground about 2-2.5 feet. This is what helped give the base the stability to hold the weight of the leaf on top.

After getting the rebar into the ground, we covered it in chicken wire. **Lesson learned: Don't crush up the chicken wire too much. Once you do, you really will have a rough time getting the concrete into the little spaces.
Cover the whole thing with concrete. Remember - too smooth and it falls off. Too thick and you can't work it. Because the concrete kept falling off, we held the concrete in place, and from the base up, wrapped a fiberglass tape around it to act as a form. After it dried, we cut the tape off. This part is definitely at least a two person messy job. 

Once the pedestal dried in place, it was painted the same way that the leaf was and then the leaf was adhered with liquid nails.

I covered the nearby area with drop cloth and used a clear coat sealant over the entire project. This protects the paint job and makes sure that any little areas that did not see paint were sealed to that the bath contains the water.

The last part was to let it dry and give the birds a little water to play in!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Picture Frame from recycled Fence Panels

Last year we change the position of the fence and ended up with a lot of fence panels that were not in the best shape. A lot of them were just rotting in the dirt and some were so weathered, I wondered how much life we could really get out of them. We stacked them into the backyard for the "just in case..." (aka, junk collection that probably will never have anything happen...)

After seeing the old panels sitting there doing nothing for so long, I have finally challenged myself with the task of finding useful purposes for these panels. So instead of tossing them out, I am now actively trying to find things for them to become.

Special note: I have found that the old fence panels are very similar to old pallet wood.

This post is all about my first creation from this wood: a beachy picture frame for a beautiful watercolor painting of Nubble Light House in Cape Neddick, ME.

I simply created mitered corners and pieced the fence panels in the arrangement of a square. Then I stapled the corners together from the backside and reinforced with small pieces of scrap wood.

The wood was dry brushed with a little bit of white paint and then sanded it to give the wood the look of old bleached out driftwood.

I sealed the wood with a rub on sealant.

Lastly, the frame was decorated with old rope that I tied into knots, sea glass (from a broken votive holder, I tumbled the glass in a rock tumber), sea shells and beach pebbles (that we actually picked up in York, ME), and a few small pieces of drift wood. All of these were attached with hot glue.

This was the perfect addition to the foyer. We had started a beach vignette, but it was always missing something. Now it looks complete!

This area was based around an Sam's Grandmother's antique cabinet. I like the way the vase on the floor has a beach scene with the lighthouse and then the glass vase on the cabinet draws your eye upwards with the driftwood pointing up to the newly framed painting!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Passionflower TRRRellis!

OK... So let me start with the "I'm sorry." Keeping this blog up to date has been a task for me. Once I got behind, it seemed daunting to get back on to make updates. Now that I am started again, I'll keep it going :-)

Recently we found ourselves in need of space in the garage and have been going on a spree of get rid of it or at least find a use. By far, my favorite project so far that has come of this: the pair of trellises by the pool. Take a look!


So this is a Triple-R project: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We reduced landfill waste, reused some pieces, and recycled by repurposing.

"How?!" You may be asking. (If not, just stick with me...)

There were two old Queen Size mattresses in the garage! We stripped the material off the mattresses down to the springs. Although we did not keep the fabric, we did reuse some of the underlayment as a weedbarrier in the garden (works great!) and we found that the springs made a wonderful trellis.

First we set the galvanized poles from an old chain-link fence with a sledge hammer. We literally pounded them into the soft sand several feet in. Once they were in, Sam marked the poles of where the springs would be attached.

Then we drilled into the pipes where it was marked.

 The mattress springs were then wired to the post through the drilled holes.

After the springs were attached, Any remaining bits of fabric were cleaned off the frame with a razor blade. 

And VOILA! a trellis was built!

We built two in between our palms by the pool to create a natural screen of vines. On the left, we have planted two varieties of passionflower: a purple and a red. And it looks like they are enjoying the weather already!

We hope to have something else planted on the right one soon. More updates to follow soon!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Doing Something Right?

It's so exciting to see the development of our yard. When we moved in, it was just a barren weeded lot with a tree out front. One by one, we've brought in young trees and moved fences, and pulled out vines along our property line, and planted plants.

As the property has morphed, we've started to see an increase in wildlife.

River Otter
Red Tailed Hawk
Spider (sunbathing in the pool)
Recently, we've seen an increase in wildlife - I only wish I had a camera ready to go more often! Sam saw turkeys one afternoon. A few nights ago, we had three deer running across the yard. And since spring is in full bloom, we have seen an emergence of all kinds of birds including: cardinals, wrens, mockingbirds, mourning doves, ground doves, woodpeckers, crows, ravens, guinea hens, and more.

It's nice to know that we are creating a landscape that is nice to look at, but also welcoming so much of nature.