a step ladder update.

Last week I shared the chippy step ladder that I picked up while garage saling.

As much as I like the chippy look, I didn’t love the color scheme.  Orange and yellow have never been my favorites.

I wanted to ‘save’ the chippy-ness, but give it a new color.  So I sanded off all of the loose paint, wiped it down with a damp rag, and then added two coats of Sweet Pickens’ In a Pickle milk paint.

Once dry, I sanded it again.  Most of the new paint on the top chipped off.

But that’s exactly what I wanted, it looks authentically chippy … and authentically green.  I’ve successfully covered up most of that yellow and orange, although there may be little bits of it peeking out here and there.

Before adding a topcoat of clear wax, I added a couple of stencils to the lower two steps.

and to the back …

That stencil is from the Grain Sack Minis stencils from JRV Stencils, fyi.

This step ladder is a bit too rickety to actually use as a ladder, but it would make a fabulous ‘side table’ on a covered porch.  Or possibly a plant stand.

I staged up these photos with the last of my lilacs.

Don’t forget, the time to prune lilacs is immediately after they are done blooming.  I’ll be getting to that in a couple of days.

In the meantime, how do you like the step ladder makeover?

Do you agree that green is better than orange and yellow?  Or maybe you preferred the original color.  Leave a comment and let me know!

a bronze metal makeover.

Remember my bronze buddha from last year?

I took him from terra cotta to bronze using the Dixie Belle Patina Paint in Bronze with the green spray, and some Bronze gilding wax on the highlights.

I also added a few rusty spots to him using the Iron paint with the green spray.

I put him back in the garden and he stayed out there all year.  Then last week I whacked him with the hose while watering and broke his hand.  Ooops!

So after gluing his hand back on, I thought I’d share how well he weathered the third snowiest winter on record here in the Twin Cities.

Aside from a couple of spots on top of his head and that one spot on his face, he held up quite nicely.  Keep in mind that I did not use any sort of sealer over the patina paint.  Also, I was painting over an original paint on terra cotta that was failing.  So it’s not surprising that I had some problems.

But it was easy enough to fix.  I simply dabbed some Bronze paint over those spots, along with his repaired hand, and then sprayed them with the green spray.

I will say that the crack in his repaired hand sort of gathered the green spray and became a little more noticeable.

But really, if you didn’t know it was there I don’t think you’d notice it.

While I had the Bronze paint out, I decided to also spruce up my Chinese lantern.  You may not remember it, but I found this free at the curb during White Bear Lake’s Trash to Treasure day.

Sure, it was a little beat up.  And that piece in the middle has a big crack in it, but I just face that part to the back.

But after two years in the garden, the top was really starting to look a bit ratty.

And when you’re standing and looking down on the garden, the top is most of what you see.

You guys, it was so simple to give this a bronze medal metal winning makeover.  It literally took less than an hour.  I brushed the dirt off first, then painted a first layer of the Bronze paint.  It dried in no time because it was an absolute perfection of a day, 70 degrees and sunny with low humidity (and yes, I was working outside).

Once the first coat of paint was dry, I added a 2nd layer and while that was still wet I sprayed it with the green spray.  And ta da!

One thing I will note here is that the bronze patina develops much faster than the rusty iron patina.  Basically within about 15 minutes to half an hour.

In addition, maybe don’t follow my minimal prep example if you aren’t OK with potentially having to touch up your paint down the road.  I probably should have cleaned the lantern properly before painting, rather than just brushing off the loose dirt.  I also probably should have given it a base coat of either the Dixie Belle Prime Start or, since this isn’t metal, any chalk style paint would do.  That would have given the best results for long term adherence.

But I wasn’t concerned about that, as seen with my Buddha, I have no problem with coming back and touching up some spots every couple of years.

I’m also considering putting these items in the potting shed for the winter from now on.  After last winter when both of these were completely buried in snow for a couple of months, I’ve decided maybe they’d last longer if I store them for winter.

Before I go, you may be wondering why I chose the bronze finish for the lantern instead of my favorite rusty finish (using the Iron paint), and honestly it’s just because I already have quite a few rusty pieces in my garden including multiple pots, an iron bench and chair, and several rusty metal trellises.  So I needed to mix it up a bit.

Although a bronze medal is usually third place, I’d give the Bronze patina paint the silver medal in my line up of the patina paints.  So if you’re looking for a change of pace too, check out the Bronze!

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing all of their Patina Paint products for this makeover!

this time last year.

Some of you may remember that at this time last year my garden was recovering from this …

Yep, we had a massive hail storm last May.  It shredded my hostas.

In the end though, it was a blessing in disguise.  Our insurance company paid for a new roof on both the house and the carriage house, which we badly needed.  So we’re grateful for that.  And eventually the garden recovered and looked pretty good.

But this year I’m grateful for an undamaged (so far, knock on wood) garden.  Barring hail storm damage, this time of year is when everything usually looks really good.  No insect damage, no drought damage, just gorgeous fresh growth everywhere.

Some more of my favorites are blooming this week including the alliums.

I love the way these pop up out of the garden on their long stems.  There are lots of different kinds of alliums, these are the ones that you plant in the fall as bulbs.  They bloom the earliest in the season.  I’m sure you’ll see more alliums from me as the summer progresses, and in the meantime if you want to learn more about alliums check out this post about them from last year.

A bunch of my ground cover plants are blooming right now too including my sweet woodruff.

I love the white carpet of flowers it creates this time of year.

Ajuga is another ground cover that is blooming right now.

Isn’t that pretty?  I have to admit, this one isn’t quite as pretty once it’s done blooming but I still really like it.

Geranium macrorrhizum, or bigroot geranium, is also blooming now.

This stuff is kind of fascinating.  It seems to barely root into the ground, almost as though it’s just skimming over the dirt in a dense mat of plants that almost totally chokes out weeds.  It spreads like mad, but is super easy to pull out and thus keep in check.  You can rip up a chunk and then barely bury it in another spot and it will totally wilt and look like it isn’t going to make it, but next thing you know you’ll have a big patch of it.

The nice thing about it is that it doesn’t require much in the way of maintenance at all.  No pruning, no dead heading, and really not even any winter cleanup.  This is a semi-evergreen perennial, so for us in Minnesota that means it doesn’t really die back to the ground in winter and is one of the first plants to green up and look good in the spring.

Another ground cover that also has those same qualities is variegated vinca.  It emerges from snow cover still looking green and alive.

Here it is mixed with some lamium.

The lamium is the brighter lime green foliage with the pinkish purple flowers, the vinca has the shinier elongated variegated leaves with more of a blueish purple flower.  These two are duking it out for ownership of this space and I think that ultimately the vinca is going to win.

My pulmonaria (lungwort) has just started to bloom too.

This particular variety is called Raspberry Splash and I just put it in last year.  I love they way it has a mix of pink and purple flowers.

A couple of the sweetest little plants are also blooming in my garden this week, the lily of the valley …

and the tiarella, or foam flower.

The only problem I have with the foam flower is that the other plants tend to overtake it on a regular basis.

As for the lily of the valley, that stuff is indestructible and will spread like mad, so be careful where you put it.  My neighbor, nnK, and I were at a local nursery the other day and saw single stems of lily of the valley being sold for $12.99 each and we just had to laugh.  We thought maybe we should just pot some up and start selling it at the curb.  But seriously, don’t ever buy lily of the valley.  You must know someone who would be happy to give you a chunk from their garden (including me).

I hope you enjoyed this little wander through my garden this morning.  Now my sister and I are heading out to nnK’s mom’s garden to help her plant up all of her pots of annuals, followed by a bbq and hopefully a boat ride.  I think it’s going to be a glorious day!

a new home for the fairies.

If you’ve been following me for long, then you’ve seen my fairy garden bird bath.

This was basically a miniature garden planted in a cracked concrete birdbath that I purchased at a garage sale.  It didn’t hold water anymore, so that made it perfect for planting in.  I’ve shared it many times, even decorated for fall.

It had a few really nice miniature hostas and a miniature Barberry that reliably survived our Minnesota winters as long as we buried the birdbath top in a pile of leaves up against the house for the winter.

Unfortunately, I somehow missed doing that last year.  So here’s what survived …

Yep, that would be zilch.  As a sidebar, in order to survive the winter in a pot (rather than in the ground) a perennial needs to be zoned two zones colder than your normal zone.  In other words, since I’m in zone 4b, I’d need a plant zoned to 2 or lower.

But you know what, that was all the motivation I needed to push me to expand the fairy garden.  Well, that plus the cute little fairy house that my sister gave me for Christmas.

I knew I didn’t have enough square footage in the birdbath to accommodate the house.

I’d been thinking about using a run down old wheelbarrow that we had in the garden for exactly this purpose, but it needed a little help first.

I asked my handyman neighbor Ken to help me shore it up.  It didn’t need to be functional as a wheelbarrow, just sturdy enough to sit upright.  So he basically used some screws to hold the wooden handles in the appropriate place, and then we drilled out some drainage holes in the bottom.

Today’s q tip; you ALWAYS need drainage holes in outdoor planters!  If you’re turning some sort of vintage vessel into a planter, be sure to drill some holes in the bottom if it’s going to be outside.

So once that was done, I placed the wheelbarrow in a patch of vinca and filled it up with potting soil.

Then came the fun part, planting the garden.

I’ve been to a bunch of nurseries around my area looking for just the right plants for my garden in miniature, so I can’t exactly remember where I got each individual plant.  But I can tell you the names of most of the plants in case you what to create your own fairy garden.

First up, I planted ‘Easter Bonnet Mix’ alyssum on either side of the path.

I got this idea from the model train garden in the Germany pavilion in Epcot.  I’ve never really been a fan of alyssum in the garden, but I’d never thought about how perfectly miniature it is until I saw it being used there.

The plant with the tiny yellow flower is Golddust Mecardonia from Proven Winners.

It also has a tiny bloom that is perfect for a fairy sized garden.

I’ve been planting a wire vine on the metal arbor for years.

It has tiny little leaves that are the perfect size.  I have to periodically weave it up and over the arbor though, it doesn’t climb by itself.

The buddha and his lantern are sitting in a patch of woolly thyme.

Some of the other small plants I’ve used include Sunset Velvet oxalis, Golden Oregano, some small sedums, and a couple of small unidentified plants from the fairy garden section at Bachmans.

Also, thankfully, when I last divided the miniature ‘Feather Boa’ hosta in my old fairy garden, I put a few chunks of it in the ground near the potting shed.  So I was able to dig one back up to put in my new fairy garden.

Since I’ve placed the wheelbarrow in the sunniest spot in my entire garden, I realized that I needed to provide some ‘shade’ for that hosta.  I looked high and low for fairy garden sized trees or shrubs and was totally striking out.  Two of my local nurseries, Bachmans and Rose Floral (in Stillwater, MN) always used to have them.  But I noticed that they disappeared during Covid and they haven’t come back at either place.  They still have other small plants, but no tiny evergreens or shrubs.

Oddly enough, I ended up finding some that would work at Lowe’s.  The evergreen tree is a Dwarf Alberta Spruce.

The average mature size is 3′ to 4′ tall and wide, but I’m hoping to keep it smaller with regular pruning.  I also trimmed off some of the root ball when I planted it to encourage it to stay small.  In addition, there isn’t a ton of room in that wheelbarrow for roots, so hopefully that will discourage too much growth, but not kill the tree.

It was only $11.98 though, so if it doesn’t survive I’m not out a lot of cash.

The bush on the other side of the house is another barberry, a Golden Ruby.

It’s potential full size is 2′ tall and wide, so I gave it the same treatment as the tree, pruning both the top and the roots.

Naturally, after I had the tree and bush planted, my neighbor nnK texted to let me know that the Abrahamson’s Nursery in St. Croix Falls has a big selections of fairy garden trees and shrubs.  So if any of you locals are also looking, check Abrahamson’s.  They have several locations in the St. Croix valley.

I wonder if any of you remember that I mentioned potentially trying the Dixie Belle patina paint rusty look on my little angel statue last year?  It was looking rather shabby, so I did rusty it up using the Iron paint and the green spray (for all of the details on using that product, check out this post).

I added the path using thin slices of flagstone that have broken off my full size flagstone patio.

I’ve had this little pavilion for several years now, but my old birdbath fairy garden wasn’t big enough for both the pavilion and the arbor, so I used to switch it up every other year or so.

Now I can fit both of them in.

One fun thing about fairy gardens, you don’t need a drone to get good aerial shots.

I had lots of fun creating my garden in miniature.  It’s so much easier to plant a tree when you can just pick it up and move it with one hand, and weeding it takes no time at all.

It’s also much cheaper than it would be to create a full sized garden from scratch.  Although, that being said, I probably spent somewhere around $100 for all of those mini plants.

Now, as long as the squirrels don’t decide to start digging stuff up, I think the new fairy garden is good to go.  I’m looking forward to seeing it fill in over the summer.  And I have about 5 months to figure out how I’m going to protect it in winter.

Have any of you got a fairy garden?  Or perhaps I’ve inspired you to create one now?  It would be the perfect solution for those of you who only have a small space for gardening.  Leave a comment and let me know.

all’s well that ends well.

I’m getting a rather late start for this year’s garage sale season.  I usually kick it off the first weekend in May with the Bryn Mawr neighborhood’s Festival of Garage Sales in Minneapolis.  But I wasn’t even thinking about garage sales when my sister and I booked our trip to Disney World, so I missed out on that.

But this past Saturday my sister and I managed to get out to the Linden Hills neighborhood for their sales.  It was a beautiful day, if a bit chilly at first.

I didn’t come home with much though.  Certainly not compared to previous years (2022, 2018, 2015).  Still, I thought I’d share what I found with you guys.

My first buy of the day was a pair of owl bookends.

I’m not sure what material they are made out of, but they are very heavy (as bookends tend to be).

The old books were a good find, and I especially liked the crown on the spine of the one shown above.

I also picked up this little wooden shelf thingie.  I think this one will be fun to reimagine somehow.  You’ll have to wait to see what I can come up with for it.

As for those little trees in front, those are the same little Christmas trees that I purchased last year at the same woman’s garage sale (she has a giant box of them).  Once you fluff out the limbs they look like this …

I purchased some last year and put them in vintage flour sifters as holiday décor.  So I grabbed a few more to hang onto until next Christmas.

For some reason I couldn’t resist this vintage lampshade.

Isn’t it fun?  Here’s the other side …

I think it would be perfect for someone’s lake cabin.  I just need to find the right lamp to put it on.

I purchased this small chippy step ladder from a gal who said she bought it at a boutique for ‘lots more’ than she was charging for it because it has such a great patina.

I don’t disagree.  It does have a great patina, but not such a great color scheme.  I’m just not a fan of the orange and pale yellow combo.  I’m planning to give it a new look, while also retaining some of that patina.  Wish me luck on that one.

I did find a few other small things, including some items that I’m gifting to others so I don’t want to spoil the surprise by sharing them here.  But overall, as you can see, I didn’t find much.  In fact, I decided that the find of the day status goes to this …

Homemade macarons!  I love macarons, and these were delicious.

The trend towards neighborhood garage sales only providing an online (and unprintable) map using Google My Maps isn’t working very well for me.  Sure, I can bring it up on my phone, and even get directions to a particular sale from wherever I am.  But a phone is just to darn small to see the entire map, and you can’t put a big ‘X’ through the sales you’ve already been to on your phone.  We end up going in circles, and ending up back at sales we’ve already been too, and eventually having no idea which areas we’ve seen and which we haven’t.  Especially when there are 70+ sales taking place.

So after a fairly frustrating couple of hours trying to make our way around, and not finding much, we called it quits early.  We then went to lunch, followed by a visit to a thrift store where I found some ironstone.

So, all’s well that ends well, right?

Now I’m off to clean out my workshop, pressure wash and seal our deck, and maybe even start painting some things.  But how about you?  Did you find anything amazing at garage sales this past week?  Would the macarons have been your find of the day?  Leave a comment and let me know.

what’s blooming this week?

Good morning from my zone 4b garden!

It feels like we’ve gotten a bit of a late start this year, but then again, I’m pretty sure I say that every year.

As you can see above, most of the hostas are starting to fill in, although there are still a few that are only pointy shoots just coming out of the ground …

While I wait for all of the foliage to fill in, I’m enjoying lots of early spring flowers.

The tulips were still looking great earlier in the week, but they’ve pretty much gone over by now.  I’ll be cutting off the flower stalks this week, but leaving the leaves to store up energy for next year.

I planted Darwin Hybrid Pink Impression tulips, and I specifically chose a Darwin Hybrid because they are more likely to naturalize, ie. they will bloom again next year and even potentially multiply.  Overall though, daffodils, scilla, crocus and muscari are better at naturalizing than tulips.  So we’ll take a wait and see approach with that one.

Speaking of muscari, I added some this year.  Here they are with some lovely Maidenhair Ferns (one of my favorites, I love how delicate they look) behind them, and the pop of a small lime green hosta in front (I wish I knew the name of that one, but I’m not sure which one it is).

Normally I would plant the muscari as a bulb in the fall, but I found these for sale in pots and decided to see if planting them now would work.  The employee at the nursery where I purchased them said it would, but I’m not sure she knew her stuff.  I do hope they come back next year though, because they are lovely in that spot.

It’s interesting to see how much of a difference in bloom times there can be even in a garden as small as mine.  The daffodils that I planted on the east side of the house in a very sunny spot that is rather protected from wind started blooming two weeks ago, while the very same variety planted in a spot with less sun only just opened this week.

This fabulous rich, wine colored dwarf iris is blooming this week too.

It’s hard to tell from that photo, but these are only about 8″ tall.  I love them for that reason, the other bearded iris in my garden often require staking.

Someone gave these to me, so once again I don’t know what variety they are, but they certainly look like ‘African wine‘.

Another favorite of mine that is blooming right now is the Brunnera.  I have some Jack Frost which has the silver veining on the leaves, but I also have some that have solid green leaves.  The thing is, I’m pretty sure I planted all Jack Frost but some have reverted back to solid green.  Do any of you have any experience with that?

Either way, I just love the delicate froth of pale blue flowers that shoot up this time of year.

Speaking of blue flowers, my wild blue phlox is also blooming now.

I purchased this plant at a garage sale, and I didn’t know what it was.  But I posted about it here last year and one of you identified it for me.

It will eventually be overtaken by those hostas, but for now it looks rather sweet.

Now, I know I’ve called a number of the plants in my post today a favorite, and everything can’t be a favorite, but I do love the lilacs too.

They have just come into full bloom, and I think our cool weather this week is making them last (it was 44° when I woke up yesterday).  Even the flowers I cut and put in that watering can have stayed fresh looking for days (and usually I have trouble with preventing lilacs from wilting in a vase).

If you’ve followed me for long, you know that I have struggled for years to create a lilac hedge along our back property line.  In fact, earlier this week I dug out two more spindly, pathetic looking plants and replaced them with new ones.

However, the center of the ‘hedge’ has gotten to at least 8′ tall and is covered in flowers.

Now, if only either end would catch up.  I suspect it will be several years yet before these lilacs provide proper privacy, but I’m feeling optimistic.

That’s about it right now for blooms.  But before I go I thought I’d share my fern glade.

I’m fairly sure these are Ostrich ferns.  I planted them at least 25 years ago or more.  At the time that patch was under pine trees and it was only good for growing weeds.  The pines are all gone now, but the area is still in full shade from nearby trees.  It’s also a low spot in our garden, so it gets very wet in spring.  In other words, perfect for ferns.  These will take over and become almost impossible to eradicate though, so keep that in mind if you decide to plant some.

They are  are presided over by St. Francis.

It’s always amazing how fast these ferns shoot up out of the ground.  They look just gorgeous this time of year.  I wish they would last through to the first freeze, but they usually start dying back to the ground in late August, especially if we have a dry summer, and then start to look quite awful.  Also, in recent years, they’ve been plagued by the Japanese beetles too.  According to the internet, Japanese beetles aren’t attracted to ferns.  But they sure do like mine.

So tell me, what’s blooming in your garden this week?  Are your plants way ahead of mine?  Leave a comment and let me know.



is English green a thing?

I watch a lot of British television.  Mostly garden shows, detective shows like Vera or Father Brown, and the occasional Graham Norton.

One thing that always seems to catch my eye are brick or stone cottages with a vibrant green trim.  I searched high and low online for a photo of the shade of green I picture in my head, but couldn’t find the exact color.  I have this photo that I took at The Beamish back in 2017.

That green isn’t quite as vibrant as others I’ve seen, this next one might be a bit closer.

Hopefully you get the idea.

Last summer I decided to change up my front door color to what I think of as that English Green.  I ended up choosing a color from Behr called Mown Grass.

Then earlier this week I pulled that color back out and painted the obelisk trellis that my handyman Ken made.

You may remember that earlier this spring.  I painted up a Flower Market sign to hang on my back deck.

Well, OK, it was supposed to be spring, but we had that freak snow storm on April 1.

I used a Dixie Belle color called Kudzu on that sign, and I really love it.  At the time I was only thinking about what color would work well on the dark olive green-ish color of our siding.

I never even thought about the pair of Adirondack chairs that would sit in front of it.

It wasn’t until we pulled them out of winter storage this spring that I realized their existing yellow-green color was all wrong with the Kudzu.

I did love that color on the chairs.  It’s Rust-Oleum spray paint in a color called Eden.  It worked beautifully with all of the lime green foliage in my gardens.  But it definitely didn’t work with the sign.

But that’s OK because the chairs needed a paint touch up anyway.  So after giving them a good cleaning with some TSP substitute, I went ahead and painted them with the Mown Grass too.

It’s the perfect garden green.

And this color works much better with my Flower Market sign.

Try to ignore the fact that there is a hole in our deck under the chair on the left.  We’re working on getting that repaired.  It’s on the list with all of the other spring projects.  But I can check off ‘paint the Adirondack chairs’ and that feels good.

How do you like the new color?  And have you ever noticed that shade of English green?  Leave a comment and let me know!

a little bit rusty.

Between my most recent trip to my mom’s and then to Florida, I feel like my painting skills have gotten a bit rusty.  Since coming back I’ve been so busy in the garden that I haven’t even picked up a paint brush … well, except to paint the obelisk trellis in my garden.

But more on that later in the week.

In the meantime, speaking of rusty, I did pull out the Dixie Belle patina paint before my trips to turn some small garden statues into rust.

As you probably know, I just love this stuff.  The Iron paint combined with the green spray creates a perfectly authentic looking rust.

Here’s where my two pieces started out.

The pretty girl on the left is from the thrift store, and St. Francis came from my friend Sue.

Both are made from some sort of plastic or other man-made material, and have faux finishes.

After cleaning them up, I gave them a base coat of spray red primer from Rust-Oleum.  Dixie Belle does make a primer to be used with the patina paint called Prime Start, and they recommend you use that on metal pieces to prevent the patina paint created rust from becoming actual rust.  But I prefer to use a spray primer on pieces like these that have lots of nooks and crannies simply because it is easier.  In addition, neither of these are metal, so technically they don’t require the Prime Start.  However, both of them have a surface that may not hold onto paint well.  So rather than attempting to scuff sand, I just spray primed them.

For the full instructions on using the patina paints, check out my how-to post here.

I painted both pieces with the Iron paint, followed by the green spray.  After a day or two, they still weren’t looking as rusty as I wanted so I sprayed them with water.  That’s not an official technique for using this product, but I have noticed on my outdoor garden pieces that more rust comes out after they get rained on.  Sure enough it did the trick.

Here is how St. Francis turned out …

And here is how the peasant girl turned out …

I’m always rather particular about faces when it comes to statues like these.  Some of the cheaper versions have some fairly awful faces.

But her face is quite sweet I think.

At this point you may be wondering how this rusty patina holds up outside, and if it continues to develop more rust over time.

I’ll start by first noting that the durability of any paint treatment really depends upon what you are painting over, and in addition whether or not you applied it correctly.

But here are some examples of my rusty pieces that have been outside for a while.

I painted both of those last summer, and they both sat outside all winter.

Sometimes, in fact, even literally buried in snow.

They get some pine sap drips on them from the tree overhead, but otherwise they look really good.  I didn’t blog about the bench specifically, but I did share the two matching chairs and small table with all of the details here.

But how about items that have been outside for more than one year?

You may remember that I rusted up a pair of planters back in the summer of 2019.

These are made out of that molded plastic composite stuff, I don’t know exactly what that material is made out of.  But they are lightweight, not iron, not metal, not concrete, but some kind of man-made material.

These have been outside since they were painted, including winters.

So they are going on four years and are holding up fairly well, except for the very bottom where they often sit in snow.

When I purchased these pots, they were dark brown.  So actually, it’s the original paint that has failed down to the white material underneath it here, not the patina paint.  I plan to touch these up with some more patina paint, and that will be quite easy to do.

Also, you may notice that the pot looks a bit rustier now than it did when I first finished it (first photo with purple flowers).  So yes, these items will get rustier over time when outside in the elements.

I think my advice would be to take these items in for winter (if you live in a climate like mine in Minnesota) if you want them to last for many years.  However, if you only paid $30 for the pair at a garage sale, and you don’t mind having to touch up the patina paint down the road here and there, I say enjoy them outside in the winter!

Tell me what you think of my garden statues, was the rust an improvement?  Leave a comment and let me know.

the festival topiaries.

As promised, today’s ‘Sunday mornings in the garden’ post is brought to you from Disney World’s Epcot.

Normally when my sister and I go to Disney, we like to go in the fall.  The weather is perfect in late October to early November, and the crowds aren’t super awful then either. But this year we decided to go for my sister’s birthday, which happened to be during Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival.

The mouseforless.com says that “more than 500,000 plants, trees, and shrubs are planted for the festival; 250,000 of those are annual blossoms installed for the festival.”

In other words, it’s a massive amount of plants and tons of color.

I really thought I’d be able to share all of my photos in one blog post, but as I’m working on it I realize that it’s far too much for just one so I’m going to break it down into a couple of different posts.

There are around 25 themed gardens featured for the festival ranging from the Bouquet Garden in the France pavilion to the Shishi-odoshi Garden in the Japan pavilion (and I’ll share more on those in my next post).  There are also a butterfly house, food booths featuring plant based and/or themed food and drink, and a Garden Rocks concert series.  We saw Kool & the Gang and that was super fun.

In addition, there are over 100 topiaries.

But they aren’t what I think of as legit topiaries.  When I say ‘legit topiary’ I am thinking of living shrubs that have been strategically pruned to form a shape.  In my mind, these are the kinds of topiary that Disney was originally known for having in their parks, like these examples in front of It’s a Small World in Disneyland.

Large shrub topiaries can take up to 10 years to create though, so I can understand that they aren’t very practical if you need over one hundred of them.

They had a Topiary Heritage Garden in the United Kingdom Pavilion where they had placards explaining the different types of topiary being used in Epcot, with examples of each.

Standard Form topiary are created by training a woody plant to a long, single stem topped with a round head of foliage.  I think the double globes of foliage below also count as standards, but don’t quote me on that.

The spirals fall into the category of Free Form topiary.

They did have an example of a shrub topiary in the Topiary Heritage Garden, but there were a couple of gardeners trimming it up while we were there so I didn’t snap a photo of it.

Almost all of the topiary at the Food & Garden Festival are what is called Sphagnum Topiary though.  They are created using heavy steel frames that are then fitted with sphagnum moss and fast growing vining plants.  They also will use dried plant material to create details like faces or clothing items.

For example, I’m betting that Miss Piggy’s lavender gloves and shoes, as well as her face, legs and arms are made out of dried plant material.

I’m sorry, I just can’t help but feel like that’s cheating.  How much of these are even real growing plants?

However, although these topiaries feel rather ‘fake’ to me, they are pretty cute.

And this is Disney after all, their goal is to create magical illusions, right?

And I do rather love the ‘fluffy’ ears on Lady …

But tell me, what do you think?  Are you a fan of the sphagnum moss topiaries, or do you find them a little too ‘fake’ looking?  Leave a comment and let me know.

chairs, tulips and daffodils.

Phew!  My trip to Disney World really took it out of me.  My sister and I were there for 8 days, and we walked more than 20,000 steps almost every day.  It was really fun, but also really exhausting.  I’m still recovering.

I made a bit of a tactical error in that I didn’t have a completed project lined up to blog about upon my return.  So I’ve spent the last few days wondering just how in the heck I was going to come up with something, and where I was going to find the energy to quickly get it done.

Then I remembered this pair of little wooden chairs that I’ve been meaning to sell.

My friend/picker, Sue, found these for me back in the fall of 2018.  I’ve had them hanging on the wall in our bedroom since then.  But I’m ready for a change so I thought I’d move them on.

I was initially thinking about painting them in chippy milk paint, but the wood had a rather nice patina.  So rather than paint them, I decided to simply add some Classic Vintage Labels transfers to the backs.

I gave both of them a garden theme.

They are a bit wobbly, so I wouldn’t necessarily want a small child to sit in them.  But they’d be perfect for holding a potted plant, like this little pot of muscari.

I staged them out in the garden, mainly because I wanted to show off my daffodils.

And my tulips.

But that being said, these little chairs wouldn’t hold up for more than one or two seasons if you left them outside unprotected.

They would be awesome on a protected porch though, or maybe in a sun room.  Or really anywhere inside.

In that last photo, you may have noticed that my scilla (all of that stuff that looks like grass in the garden behind the chairs) are pretty much done blooming.  They have been followed up by the daffodils and tulips.  I planted a few new ones last year (for more details on that, go back to this post), so I thought I’d share how they did and exactly what they are in case any of you want to get some this year.

This first daffodil is Narcissus Double Delnashaugh.  It’s a late blooming double, and the white and apricot flowers are fairly long lasting.

If you’re not a fan of the typical yellow of most daffodils, this is a great alternative.

I also planted Narcissus Double Cheerfulness.

The flowers on this one are about half the size of the first one and not nearly as showy, but they really are rather sweet I think.

I managed to save a couple of patches of tulips from the deer by surrounding them with chicken wire.

If you use the green chicken wire, it’s not nearly as noticeable when it’s in place as the silver stuff so it’s not a horrible eye sore.

Also, I just loosely circled each patch and that seems to do the trick even though a deer could easily pop his head over it to eat the tulips.  My neighbor nnK gave me that tip.

I’ve been removing the chicken wire during the day so I can enjoy the tulips without it though.

These are Darwin Hybrid Pink Impression tulips.  And just to put quantity in perspective for you, I planted 100 of them and that gave me a patch this size …

I purchased these tulips, and both of the daffodil varieties from Longfield Gardens.  I also purchased three different varieties of allium from them last year, so I’ll keep you posted when those start blooming.

In addition, I planted some cheap tulip bulbs from my local Menards, but those were the ones that the deer got to before I could cover them.  So they look like this …

So it’s pretty much impossible for me to compare the quality of the cheap tulips with the more expensive tulips from Longfield.

But back to those chairs, what do you think?

Do you like them this way, or would you have painted them?  Leave a comment and let me know.