Thursday, April 29, 2010

Building the Great Wall

Our first garden related project pains me with guilt, even to this day...

When we moved in, our yard and our neighbor’s yard were one large open space with a shared perennial bed that spread out from the central property line. The effect was breathtakingly expansive and lush.

The view from the house to the back of the yard.

We have three dogs however, and our neighbor has as many cats. Though our dogs are smart as dogs go, there was no way that they could ever understand an open yard with such a vague boundary between “cat” and “dog” territory.

If only it were true!

Our dogs chase anything that runs, including the neighbor's cats!

Meet "the Boys":

The Ringleader: Scrap

Troublemaker #2: Buddy

Don't let cute fool you. Troublemaker#3: Rusty
On hot days, they like to play in the sprinklers just like little kids!

After a few minor dog and cat skirmishes, we decided the "open concept" yard had to be sacrificed. They say that fences make good neighbors and so the fence building began.

Ian (my brother) helps Daniel (my son) dig one of the post holes.

It was an undertaking that took a number of weekends, but the end result was well worth the effort.

My husband created a mini-arbor at the gate to the backyard. A canopy of Silverlace vine now covers the arbor. (Silverlace tolerates shade and has a small, somewhat nondescript flower in late summer.)

Now the dogs can run free in the yard!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bring Spring Indoors

I love to have flowers in the house and am always looking for new ways to display them. Here is a novel way to bring spring into your home.

Things you will need to recreate this arrangement in your own home:

Decorative metal trough (find decorative pots at garden supply or interior decorating stores)

3 small bulb pots

Spanish moss (find moss at a garden supply store or craft store)


twigs snipped from the garden

paper butterflies (find the butterflies at a craft store)

For this arrangement, I used three small pots of daffodils that I got at the grocery store (Total cost just under $10).

I watered them and then placed them in the metal trough. If you scout around you can often find metal buckets or troughs that hide the less than attractive plastic pots in which spring bulbs are most commonly sold.

To support the leaves, which I sometimes find flop down unattractively, I used red dogwood branches that I snipped out of the garden.

Then, I added some Spanish moss to disguise the plastic pots.

(Tip: Spanish moss can get a bit messy, so for an easier cleanup work over top of some open newsprint. If you or someone else in your household suffers from allergies replace the moss with shredded paper from a craft store).

For a final flourish, I twisted paper butterflies on to the dogwood branches.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

First Projects: Our Son’s Room

To start, we decided to get the bedrooms move in ready. A week or two and the work would be done...or so we figured!

We began with our son’s room. My husband, Harold and our son Daniel spent days trying to remove the thick layer of stucco that covered the walls. After days of slow, meager progress, they gave up and stripped the walls back to the studs. This allowed us to not only fix the walls but to improve the insulation, which was spotty at best. A project that was to take weeks turned into months....

Other Twists and Turns

The house had other odd features as well. In the cramped space at the top of the basement stairs, there was a weird mini-bathroom complete with a toilet and pedestal sink. I could just imagine myself heading to the basement to do the laundry and coming upon some poor unfortunate, who had chosen the same moment to use the john. “Oh, so sorry!”

Upstairs, there was gyprock slapped crudely on top of cracking slat and plaster. In the master bedroom and the front hallway, hideous stucco had been applied with crudely with a trowel overtop of old wallpaper. A curved staircase to the third floor attic built overtop of an older set of stairs.