Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Canada!!

Tomorrow is Canada's 148th birthday ... Canada Day! 
We've been doing some crafts around my house to show our patriotism. 
In the past we made these cotton flags using real maple leaves to stamp the maple leaf.

made by kids
This year had us making some wooden flags from jumbo popsicle sticks. We painted a maple leaf cut from fun foam for this one, and the foam worked really well as a stamp.

Just to the east of us, there is always a good Canada Day celebration in Cobourg, Ontario. They have a parade, live bands and all kinds of fun things going on at the waterfront park. I see there's going to be an arts and crafts show/sale this year ... very tempting! 

Happy Canada to all my fellow Canadians!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Five on Friday

If I get this post finished with photos and published and linked ... well I guess you could call that just short of a miracle ;) It's been a mixed up, busy week, what with the end of school here, and schedules seem to all be up in the air!

And of course, since it's beautiful weather, I've been spending more hours outdoors than in. Good thing my sister came for a visit this week, which forced me to give the house a thorough cleaning. I'm linking up with Amy of Love Made My Home for Five on Friday. I won't bother showing you my tidy house, but I will show you some things outside. I hope I'm not boring you all to tears with my gardening posts ... actually today I've tossed in a few non-flower items :)


I've seen this fun project all over Pinterest (and after a bit of searching, I think this is the original link which has a full tutorial). It's a simple project of a Heart of Stone ... basically stones held in a heart-shaped wire frame. And since I have "a few" rocks lying around, I couldn't wait to put one together! I made this with an old clothes hanger and some chicken wire. The chicken wire was a bit more of a struggle to work with than I thought it would be, but I finally wrangled it into this ...

The weight of the rocks made the chicken wire sag down, so I'll have to fill up the top of the heart again. If you do this yourself, be sure to leave yourself lots of extra chicken wire around the edges.

Remember the fairy houses from little tree stumps I was hoping to make up? Didn't get to that yet, but fairy houses were on my mind, so I did pick up this little birdhouse at the thrift store. I probably paid too much for it when I laid down two toonies, and when I got it home I wasn't that thrilled with it. It's going to get a paint job, but for now I've just set it in among the plant pots.

I picked up this tin planter at the thrift store as well. I planted Red Creeping Thyme in it ... oh, and a rock! I've been thinking of planting some of this thyme on a small hill beside our driveway, but I'm a little concerned that it will creep right into my neighbour's perfect weed-free-mown-every-other-day-watered-daily lawn! We're not on the best of terms, so part of me wants to do this just to see if the thyme would actually creep into his lawn (heh heh). The nice part of me thinks that's a bit mean. Because I can't make a decision if my life depended on it, I popped it into this planter for now to see if it will spread quickly. It's not done much in the week that I've had it ... I'm a bit impatient ;)

You may remember me picking up a "Welcome" sign at the thrift store recently as well. I wanted to spray paint it since the original grey colour was a bit worn off. I did paint it, and if you look at the bottom three images, I'm going to let you guess as to which colour I used! Which colour do you think gives this little sign the best welcome?

And now for a couple of "before and after" shots of things doing well in the gardens. I wouldn't show you my failures ... but trust me, there are some heartaches out there! This is the window box we planted on the garden shed. I water it regularly, and we've had some torrential downpours in the past few weeks, so it gets lots of water. When I was at Stricklands Perennial Farm, the owner there told us that petunias welcome a bit of shade, rather than full sun all day long. This box is in shade until about 1:00 p.m., and then it's full sun till around 8:00 p.m. It seems to be working. There is also some lobelia and a sweet potato vine in there (practically hidden by petunias).

Left: freshly planted
Right: after three weeks
The next shots are of my transplanted hostas under our pine tree. I first placed a ring of rocks around the base of the pine tree so that I could rake up the brown needles and have them all looking pretty there with the rocks. Then I remembered seeing a nice shady garden years ago that had a tall pine tree and huge hostas underneath it. I admired that look a lot! I decided two years ago to finally go ahead with making a hosta bed underneath the pine. I split my favourite hosta enough to be able to ring the tree with small cuttings. The first year I did this, the hosta looked fairly dismal, and I wasn't sure if it was going to survive. This spot is shaded until about 1:00 p.m. as well, and then it's full sun. This year they finally have filled in very well, and I'm happy with the look. I really want to get some of those dusty blue coloured hosta, and I will do that very soon ... maybe there will be sales at the garden centre soon!

Left: Ring of rocks with pine needles
Middle: First year of planting
Right: This year ... 2 summers later and looking good!

And that's my five! I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend! Ours has turned overcast and cool ... giving me a chance to be on the computer without feeling too guilty! 
Thanks for stopping by and
Happy Gardening!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

DIY Garden Flags

Last summer I made some garden flags with some kids, and I mentioned that I would tell how we did that in a future post. A year has passed, and now I've finally sat down and collected photos and will tell you how we made them. It's a fairly simple process that has been described many times on the internet I'm sure. Freezer paper is available in your grocery store along with other rolls of waxed papers and plastic wrap and tin foil. Freezer paper comes in rolls and the rolls are nice and wide which is perfect for these garden flags.

Here is a supply list:
  • freezer paper
  • white fabric (cotton or broadcloth work well)
  • x-acto knife
  • acrylic paints
  • plastic coated wire garden stake

First find yourself a nice piece of plain white fabric. I used white broadcloth for these flags, but I think any plain cotton would work well enough. I considered using a coloured fabric, but decided that I would just use white so that the paints will show up well. The cloth size is up to you. Consider that it will be a flag, so you want it to be able to hang well and flutter a bit in the breeze. Ours measured 24 x 16".

Turn under one short end of the fabric 1/4" and press. Turn the same end under another 1/2" and sew along that edge to give you a pocket to insert a wire for hanging. This doesn't have to be fancy, and if you don't have a sewing machine, you could easily do a running stitch along that edge and it will work fine. The other three edges can remain unfinished as the paint will keep the edges from fraying.

Cut a piece a piece of freezer paper the same size as the fabric. Freezer paper is shiny on one side, and dull on the other. Draw a picture on the dull side in pencil. This picture will be cut out with the x-acto knife, so it's easier if you keep the details to a minimum. Having said that, one of the pictures I cut out had lots of tiny details which I hated to lose, so I carefully cut them out and it made for a very cute flag. Now the child I did this flag with (below) could not draw very well, so we traced her handprints onto cardboard (cereal box) for templates, and used two handprints side by side to create butterflies. We added details to the butterflies with a Sharpie pen at the very end.

The handprints are a bit difficult to see in this photo,
but you can see some of the flowers that were drawn as well.
Using the x-acto knife, cut out the picture very carefully ... AN ADULT'S JOB! I used a cutting mat under the paper, but a plastic cutting board works sufficiently as well. Just go slowly and take your time to cut the picture out as accurately as you can.

Now place the freezer paper shiny side down on top of the fabric. Using an iron on a moderate setting and with the steam setting switched to "OFF", gently press the iron over the paper and it will adhere to the fabric. Go slowly and carefully so that you don't rip any details from the cut paper. I used the iron directly on top of the paper without burning it. Keep the iron moving around and don't let it remain in one spot for too long on the paper to keep it from burning. It adheres fairly quickly. Make sure you iron over the entire paper and be sure that all the edges around the cut outs are stuck down well.

Time to paint! It's best to paint the cutouts from the outside edge into the middle so that the paint doesn't seep under the cut edges. Sometimes young children have difficulty with that simple rule, and the paint does get under, but it's not a total failure if that happens. The edges are just not as crisp when it's all finished. Once the painting is finished let the entire piece dry. Be patient ... don't remove the paper until the paint is completely dry. 

Once the paint is dry, peel the paper off the fabric to reveal the masterpiece. Kids love this part :) For this particular flag, I cut additional strips of freezer paper to paint a border around three edges. The border was painted after the initial cut out paintings were dried. If you paint a border, it keeps the fabric from fraying around the edges.  The flag below was painted by a three-year old. 

You can also cut the edge of the fabric with pinking shears to give it a zig-zag edge which will also keep the flag from fraying. We did that on the flags in the last two photos.

Insert the plastic coated wire through the top pocket and you're done. The wires that we used were picked up at the dollar store. They were a ringed wire support for plants with a ring and three stakes looped onto the ring to drive into the ground. I removed the stakes, used one for the flag, and using needle-nosed pliers turned the straight end over into a loop. This way you can hang the flag with some string tied through the loops.

Here are some previously painted flags from last year ...

My favourite ... this is the one with tiny details.
The little hearts in the flowers ... I had to keep those!

If you have any questions, just ask and I'll help you out. These are meant to be used outdoors. I made one myself, and although the paint is a bit faded from the sun, it still looks OK after three summers outdoors.

Thanks for stopping by today!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Five on Friday

Linking up with Amy of Love Made My Home for Five on Friday this week. I'm so glad it's Friday! Our weather remains unsettled, but I've been spending all available sunny moments out in the gardens. June really is a great month for my perennials.

And since my garden is making me so very happy at this time of year, I'm of course going to share five things in the garden :) 

1. Peonies ... I have only one scented peony, and it is just now coming into bloom. It smells wonderful! And the blooms are that perfect frothy pink. Don't you find peonies are the most fascinating blooms when they start to unfurl?

My white peony in the front garden does amazingly well. It all falls onto my neighbour's side, so I hope they're enjoying the blooms!

2. It would appear some sort of caterpillar is eating its way through an unknown bush. The leaves are taking on a skeletal look, almost lace-like ... so that can't be all bad, can it?!

3. A fresh set of blooms on the dahlia ... such a bold flower :)

4. Love this fern and how those lines just draw you in.

5. My son's two clematis are doing great!

And that's my Five!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!


Frog Prince

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mosaic Monday

Quickly popping in to share some of my garden's flowers today with Judith's Mosaic Monday. Be sure to visit Lavender Cottage to visit some other folks who have joined in!

I have a lot of purple flowers in my garden, so I've been trying squeeze in a few other colours ... and non-colours as in white.

Left: Peony / Right Top: Dahlia; Hens & Chicks / Right Bottom: Mock Orange Bush; Pentas ('Starcluster')

Adding a few more interesting pots and containers to the mix as well. The rustic pot with the blue lobelia (below) was made by my great-grandfather who was a potter. The pottery stump planter (in the back of the same photo) was also made by him. He must have enjoyed gardening too :)

Clockwise from Top Left: Lobelia / Spiderwort / Miniature Rose / Rabbit / Dahlia

The flowers in the watering can are doing great! I picked up a dark purple vine for the stump planter. It should look nice when it starts to drape over the pot.

Clockwise from Top Left: Peony / Peony / Hens & Chicks / Red Creeping Thyme / Stump Planter: Sweet Potato Vine ('Midnight Lace') / Spiderwort / Window Box: Petunias, Lobelia / Love Lies Bleeding / Watering Can: Trailing Verbena

Thanks for stopping by today.

Happy Gardening!


Mosaic Monday

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Tips for Iris and a Mystery Flower

Sunday was a day of gardening bliss. My husband and I thought we'd head out to a gardening centre to the east of us, but when we got there, it was closed. We decided to drive along a country road to the north of us, as I was pretty sure I had seen a gardening centre along there in the past. We saw a small sign for a perennial garden centre up another country road, so we followed the sign which led us to Stricklands Perennial Farm! If you're in the area, we were in north Bowmanville (there are directions to the farm in the link to their website).

It was a surprise to drive into a well-maintained front garden area complete with wide grassy lawn and dry riverbed feature (sorry, I didn't take photos of it). This is a family run farm, and we were told they are open every day of the week. All of the perennials were so lush and green and healthy looking. The gentleman who greeted us told us where to find the plants, and that he was available for any questions. After we browsed around and had our plants chosen, I picked his brain about iris. I have some beautiful iris in my front garden (now blooming!), but the iris in my back garden are suffering and many are not even blooming this year. These are the iris in the front garden ...

And these are two of only a few blooms in the back (even the flower is stunted) ...

Mom's favourite black iris not looking so spectacular

love iris, and since these are all from my mom's garden, I really need them to survive. These flowers mean so much to me.  Well, the man told us that the biggest mistake people make about iris is to cover the corms. The corms need to be exposed to the sunlight directly. I wasn't sure if all the corms on my iris were exposed, but I knew some of them were. If they are covered, just brush the dirt gently off the corm with your hand. Also, iris need well-drained, sandy soil ... they don't like a lot of mulch or manure. Don't water them too much, they do better in dry conditions. They need full sun, and if you separate the corms, or move them, do this in August. Also, if they develop a fungus on the leaves, you can treat this with cinnamon sprinkled directly onto the plant leaves. The cinnamon acts as a fungicide. I told him I was considering moving the iris right away to get them into the garden where they are doing well, but he warned that this is the worst time to move any plants while they are flowering. He said to be patient and wait to the end of August to move them, otherwise they will suffer and die back. I hope they survive till then, but at least I have a bit of info to go on. And just in case they don't, I picked up a new iris 'Ziggy' and popped (... Ziggy Pop! ha ha) it into the front garden right away. This is one of my favourite colour combinations for iris.

We also bought two other flowers for the front gardens, both in white. The first is gay feather 'Alba' (liatris spicata). Since all the flowers in the front garden were all purple this year (unintentional), I thought a bit of white might look nice. These flowers are tall white spires, which are yet to bloom. I do hope they bloom this year. Right now it just looks like a Muppet!

The front garden ... purple balloon flower, purple lupins, purple iris, purple spiderwort ...
The second flower is moss phlox 'Snowflake' for the garden alongside the steps and walkway to the front door. It should fill in a bit bigger by next spring. Looks like I still have room for another plant (or two) there!

up close
I also transplanted this little mystery flower from where it had sprouted up behind our garden shed. It's not one of my flowers, but I was happy to give it a better spot. It looks sort of like a geranium in the leaves, but the flower is very different. It is a low slightly mounding flower. Do you recognize it? I'd love to know what it is.

Thank you everyone for helping in my search for the name of this mystery flower. We were all right that it was of the geranium family, and I checked out all the names you all supplied, but each one was just a tiny bit different to my flower. Anne of Design Dreams by Anne has been able to find the exact geranium species. It is a Geranium Macrorrhizum. I googled the name and came up with the image below, which you have to admit is an exact image of my own photos above. Thanks Anne! And thanks everyone for taking the time to send me your geranium names. I'm so glad that this wasn't a weed ... much too pretty ;) 
Geranium macrorrhizum flowers.jpg
Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geranium_macrorrhizum

I had quite a busy day of gardening on Sunday, but I won't load it all into one post. This is the best time of year for my garden, so there are lots of flowers to show. I'll just leave you with this pretty view looking the opposite way from the pond and you can see my son's beautiful clematis growing up the arbour he and his dad made a few years ago. I love this little garden spot in the yard :)

Thanks for stopping by!


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