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Have you ever come across something at a yard sale or auction that you knew you just had to have even though it was dirty/old/useless/broken? That’s exactly how I felt when I saw these two dirty old chicken feeder troughs at a farm sale last fall. I didn’t know what I would do with them. I just loved their shape and size and broken down old wood.
At about 10 feet long, these chicken feeders were really too big to use inside (unless you were lucky enough to have a HUGE kitchen table) and with no clear plan, they sat in the garage over the winter.
A couple of weeks ago it was finally warm enough to actually do some work in the garage, so hubby cut them down. One has been cut into three pieces, each of which is about 3′ long (like the one above) and the other was cut into two pieces. The challenge was that by cutting them, we needed some new “ends”. So we dug around until we found some scrap wood and hubby cut out ends to match the originals. He even found some old square ended nails to use in reconstructing them. Cool man I have there.
After a bit of reconstruction to attach the new ends and cut down the handle to fit, a thin coat of ASCP Pure White was applied. Before it was totally dry, I wiped it down to take off some excess paint and let the wood grain show through.
It’s rough wood finish and cracks and holes in the wood show through nicely with some distressing. After all when you have an old worn piece like this, making it too “new” defeats the whole purpose in my opinion.
We still have 4 more pieces to work with. I can see this on a kitchen table filled with jars and flowers, in the garden as an accent piece or even as a window box. Telling your friends that it used to be a chicken feeder is half the fun!
It’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, here in Canada we really don’t have much to work with right now. And even though the sun has shone for a day or two, there’s always some grey days ahead of us in April. So I did the unthinkable and mixed some faux and real flowers together to create a welcoming spring vignette for the front door.
My jumping off point was the forsythia wreath which is made from faux branches picked up at the dollar store last month. I’ve been waiting for the forsythia to bloom in my neighbour’s yard so that I could cut some down. But it’s been a cold and long winter and I just couldn’t wait any longer.
And I’ve been waiting for the tulip bulbs to emerge from their winter home in these pots. They were planted up in October and tucked away in the garage for the winter. Here’s how they looked in the fall….
Now that the sun has warmed the soil a bit, they’ve started to show some signs of growth. But it’s still about a month before they will be blooming, so I added some pansies around the outside of the pot.
Then I headed back inside and raided the kitchen table for the faux forsythia stems left over from the wreath project. A few clips here and there to give them a more natural look and the new urns are ready to welcome the sunny weather.
From the street, you’d never know they were faux stems. In fact, it’s hard to tell until you are really close. It’s not something I usually do. But it’s okay, isn’t it? I haven’t broken any Golden Rule here, have I?
I picked up this plain galvanized flower pot at a local yard sale last week. It had seen better days and needed something to give it a little flair.
A simple chalkboard Paris label added some French flair. The label came from The Graphics Fairy and I used the Iron-On Images – Paris Label graphic. I wanted a chalkboard look, so it was faded a bit using PicMonkey to achieve the grey chalkboard affect. Then printed out on a sheet of sticker paper, cut it out and simply attached it to the pot.
A little bird clip added some springtime charm to the pot of azaleas which were a sweet gift from my hubby while I recuperate from my back issues.
Stocking up on sticker paper and creating a file with downloadable graphics means that simple items like a discarded flower pot can be turned into something “yours” in no time at all.
April 22nd is Earth Day, a day where we as a society “celebrate” the earth with a variety of different activities such as planting a tree, recycling and picking up litter. But my question to you is why do we only celebrate Earth Day once a year? What are you doing to sustain our planet every other day besides Earth Day?
Here’s some simple ways we can help sustain our planet on a daily basis:
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle:
Think beyond pop cans and newspapers. How much can you do to reuse and recycle things in your home? Every time I take a bag to the charity shop, I’m helping the earth by reducing the amount of garbage going into my local landfill. Those old clothes and discarded household items don’t need to be thrown away, they can easily find a new home AND help raise money for your local charities.
|Learn how to build your own compost system here|
Not only is composting your kitchen and yard scraps good for your gardens, it’s good for the Earth. If you don’t have room in your yard for a large composting system, take advantage of your municipality’s “green box” program by saving your kitchen scraps and leaving them for pick-up. Every time I think about all the egg shells and potato peelings I threw into a plastic bag that eventually went to a landfill site, I cringe. If your city or town doesn’t have a composting system, call your local councillor and ask for one!
Many towns have a composting program where you can go and pick up compost to add to your flower beds (usually for free). Instead of buying new compost in bags from a big box store, take advantage of this program. You’ll be putting back into the earth the discarded Christmas trees, park grass clippings and other natural items collected by the town workers.
The easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to plant a tree. Not only are you adding carbon monoxide to the environment, you’ll have years of enjoyment from this one simple task.
Simple things like installing a water-saving shower head and buying Energy Star appliances are significant, yet easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Do you really need that extra refrigerator in the basement just to hold an extra case of beer when you have a party? And of course, the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to use compact fluorescent light bulbs – something we should all be doing anyways.
Use Natural Cleansers
Instead of buying expensive chemical cleansers, try cleaning with vinegar or bleach. Scrub your bathtub with a solution of baking soda and water. Use a homemade furniture polish by mixing 1/4 cup vegetable oil with 1 TBS lemon juice. Wash your windows with a mixture of 1 quart of water to 1 cup of vinegar. Most major manufacturers are creating all natural cleansers now, my personal favourite is GreenWorks by Clorox.
Learn About Your Environment
Take some time to get to know your neck of the woods environmentally. Where do the waterways originate? Is there a nature conservancy around? Who picks up the litter, can you join? Enjoy your own natural environment by discovering local trails and woodlands in your area. Take the kids and head outside now that spring has arrived.
- Kill Them With Kindness / Celebrating Earth Day | Lynne – Sensible Gardening & Living
- Celebrating Earth Day Every Day | Heather – New House New Home New Life
- Earth Day Inspiration | Jacki – Drought Smart Plants
- Earth Day Projects For Kids | Melissa – Empress of Dirt
- Earth Day | Judy – Magic Touch & Her Gardens
- Natural Garden Remedies for Earth Day | Shelley – Sow & Dipity
- DIY Eggshell Planters | Amy – A Healthy Life For Me
- Attracting Beneficial Insects to the Garden | Stephanie – Garden Therapy
- 12 Easy Ways to Celebrate Earth Day | Carol – The Gardening Cook
- Earth Day ~ 50 ideas to Green Our Lives & Communities | Barb – Our Fairfield Home & Garden
- Planting a Honey Bee Friendly Garden | Tanya – Lovely Greens
It seems that every spring, I’m filled with plans and ideas as to the changes I want to make in my garden. I have to admit that in the (almost) three years that we’ve been here, the garden has undergone a huge transformation. But like every gardener, I feel it’s not complete. Is any garden every “done”? There is one area in the garden that has been lacking inspiration and this year I’ve decided to tackle it.
This is the main project for 2014 – the “bird feeder” garden. Those of you who follow my garden’s progress are probably thinking that you’ve never seen this part of the garden and you’d be right. I rarely take photos of it because it’s just a bunch of things stuck in the ground with no plan and no joy.
The spot is nestled up against the house with a substantial burning bush (on the left), a small rhododendron and a pink hydrangea that blooms rarely. The little rock border was put in by the previous owner and will be removed. The bird feeder will stay, so will the burning bush. But everything else is probably going. There is a lovely carpet of lily-of-the-valley which blooms beautifully in the spring but then takes over and strangles everything. It will need to be thinned.
So what’s the plan, you ask? To “marry” the foundation planting by the house and the garden bed with the birdbath together by taking out the grass in between and filling it with shrubs and hydrangeas. Sounds like a great plan, but what shrubs, which hydrangeas and what under plantings?
First thing to go in will be a dwarf arctic willow tree. the light green leaves sparkle in the sunshine and move beautifully in the wind. This will go against the chain link fence to block the neighbour’s view into the yard.
Since the existing “birdbath” garden is filled with hostas with predominantly white flowers, I’m going to add some Endless Summer hydrangeas in “blushing bride”. The soft pink colour will work well against the olive green of the arctic willow and add some light to a darker corner in the afternoon.
So there you have it, my spring shopping list. Now that it’s put down in writing, I will have to actually do it this year. This area has been a trouble spot for me as I’ve not had inspiration or a vision as to what I want to do with it. Sometimes the exercise of writing it down helps cement my plans. I’ll keep you posted as to it’s progress.
What are you shopping for this spring?
Remember this wreath I created for the front door? It’s filled with faux forsythia stems that I got at the local dollar store.
|Learn how I did it here|
While I was at the dollar store, I picked up a bunch more of these stems to add to the urns flanking both sides of the front step. But the soil in the earth is still frozen thanks to the incredibly cold weather we’ve been having. It seemed a shame to put these gorgeous yellow beauties in the basement waiting for a warmer day. Why not make a spring display for the kitchen?
To add some more interest, this mesh cloche (a recent purchase from HomeSense) grounds the vignette. The little pot of succulents has found a temporary home inside along with a bright green nest – a natural one was lost inside the dark mesh – and a large “egg”.
|Restoration Hardware wreath|
Recently I was visiting my very stylish daughter’s home and noticed an awesome driftwood wreath hanging in their dining room. It looked just like one from Restoration Hardware, but I couldn’t believe that they had spent $129 on a “wooden” wreath. “No way, Mom, we got it at HomeSense” (our version of Home Goods). That made more sense. It cost a fraction of the Restoration Hardware version.
Anyways, the following week I came across a bag of small driftwood pieces for a really low price while out thrifting. I had a plan!! Why not make my own version?
Here’s what you’ll need:
Driftwood pieces about 3-4″ long (scour your local beach/riverbank or pick some up at a craft store)
MDF flat wreath form- any size will do. I used a 12″ wreath which I bought at Michael’s.
|Yes, I only paid $5 for the whole bag!|
Step One: Heat up your glue gun.
Step Three: Start layering bigger pieces on the base of the wreath, glueing as you go. The big pieces will add some depth to the wreath and act as a base for smaller pieces to be glued in place.
Step Four: Continue layering driftwood until your can’t see the wreath base and you have a nice rounded look.
Step Five: Fill in any “holes” with smaller pieces adding some interesting ones to the very outside layer.
All in all, it took me about 30 minutes to make this statement piece. I’m loving how it looks on the grass cloth wallpaper in our back entrance. But I may move it outside once the warmer weather arrives.
You don’t have to wait until the official start of gardening season (May 24th weekend in my neck of the woods) to add some colour to your outdoors right now. With spring just a few days away, now is the time to start planning your outdoor containers. Here are some of The Garden Charmers favourite planters, all with spring flowers and ideas:
Learn how to make Carol‘s fabulous staggered planter over at The Gardening Cook. Although complex looking, it’s simply three tubs stacked and filled. Love it!
Not a typical container, but this planted box of tulips and grape hyacinths gives an outdoor area a shot of spring. Shelley at Sow and Dipity shows us a number of different ideas for planters on her blog.
Even something so simple as an interesting little terracotta pot planted with some pansies fresh from the nursery adds some spring to your front step like I did here.
I’ve been laid up with the Norwalk virus this week which means that there has been no painting, cooking, DIYing or much of anything going on around here except sleep and recuperating. I’m over the worst of it now, thank you.
While I’m away from my workshop, I thought I would share with you some of the favourites from spring last year:
Snowdrops and Burlap Come Together
We own another property in another town – it’s an old home turned into a fourplex. It’s currently on the market for resale – it’s just becoming too much driving back and forth 45 minutes to see tenants, etc. Each spring the yard there is covered in snowdrops. And snowdrops happen to be one of my favourite spring flowers, especially naturalized through a lawn. And I thought it might be a good idea to dig some bulbs from this other house and move them to the new house before it sold.
So that’s what Alan did the other day. But I didn’t have time to plant them. So I stuck them into this little planter that hangs outside our patio door.
|you can see I had just watered it when I took this picture|
So in an effort to find an alternative to the liner problem, I headed to my fabric stash to see if there was anything usable. The burlap is a perfect liner for this planter. It is pliable enough to scrunch inside the odd shape, it provides drainage without losing the soil and it shows off the structure of the planter itself.
So although it sounds strange, I think snowdrops and burlap work really well together.
And by the way, once the flowers are finished I’ll cut them down and dry the bulbs in the garage. In the fall, I’ll plant them under my maple tree in the backyard to provide some early spring colour.