the arb.

This week my Sunday mornings in the garden post isn’t coming to you from my own garden, instead I’m sharing the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in all of its glory.

The Arboretum, or the Arb for short, was founded in 1958 by some local community sponsors in partnership with the University of Minnesota.  Their mission is to ‘welcome, inform and inspire all through outstanding displays, protected natural areas, horticultural research and education’.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Honeycrisp apple you can thank the Arb for that.  It was developed here by the U of M, and was later named the Minnesota State Fruit.  I have to admit that their newer Zestar and SweeTango apples have taken over as my favorite varieties though.

My niece, Kris, had a day off mid-week last week and wanted to do something fun so she suggested a visit to the Arboretum.  I usually get out there about once a year, and every time I go I think “I should get out here more often!”  It really is worth the 50 minute drive.

There are two things I love about the Arb.

No. 1 – it’s simply a beautiful place to walk around and admire the lovely gardens.

One of my favorites is the Japanese Garden.

It’s so serene, and you know me, I like a garden that is mainly just green.

I was recently telling my bff that I’d like to visit Japan one day, but my problem is that I’d expect the entire country to look just like that photo.  I strongly suspect that it doesn’t though.

If you love color, the Annual Garden stands out in stark contrast to the Japanese Garden.

Every year the Arb does a different design for the annual garden and this year landscape designer Duane Otto decided to go with bright yellows, reds and oranges.

They’ve carried these colors to the area around the front of the visitor center building as well.

While I fully admit these beds of annuals are pretty darn spectacular, they aren’t my style at all.  I have very few bright colors like this in my own gardens, and when I do have color I tend to prefer the cooler versions rather that these hot colors.

Another favorite of mine though is the Knot Garden.

I’ve always loved the symmetrical and somewhat formal look of a knot garden.

The Rose Garden is really lovely as well.

I’d kind of like to know what they are doing to keep the Japanese beetles at bay though.  I saw very little damage from beetles on their roses, although there was some.

I don’t know that this next area has a specific name (at least not on the map I have), although it seems to be mainly conifers.

It has a ‘north woods’ feel to me for sure.

It also reminds me a lot of the Japanese Garden, but with a more natural feel.

The thing that all of these gardens have in common is that I won’t likely ever have a space like them in my own garden, but I still enjoy admiring them.

And that brings me to the 2nd thing I love about the Arboretum.

No. 2 – In addition to providing beautiful eye candy, the Arb also aims to educate.  It is part of the University of Minnesota after all.  I get lots of ideas for plant varieties, or plant combinations to add to my own garden when I visit.

Kris and I spent a bit of time checking out the Herb Garden.

I was trying to pick out some different herbs to add to my herb planter next year.

Although my herbs grew really well this year, the reality is that I don’t cook much so they felt really rather wasted.  So as we were going through the herb garden, especially the section with the scented herbs, it occurred to me that I might enjoy growing some herbs for their scent rather than for cooking.

My herb planter is situated right next to our outdoor dining table on the deck and I’ve noticed how the scent of the basil and the mint drift over while I’m seated there.

So next year I’d like to try growing some lemon balm, lemon verbena, and definitely one of the scented geraniums, like the chocolate mint.

I also thought this Society Garlic plant looked really nice in a clay pot.

That would be a fun addition to my deck as well.

I’ve never really grown hostas for their flowers, but while in the Japanese garden I noticed a hosta that had a deep purple flower that was really pretty en masse.

I was able to locate that hosta in the hosta glade where it was labeled as hosta clausa.

So now I can add that one to my wish list of plants for my garden.

I’d recently been wondering if I could grow a Japanese Forest Grass, or Hakonechloa.

I’d done some cursory research online and mostly found varieties that grow in zones 5 to 9.  I wasn’t sure if I could put one in my zone 4 garden.  But hey, if the Arb can grow it, so can I (theoretically).  Further research online tells me that this particular species, H. macra, is the most cold hearty of the bunch.  This is also one of the few ornamental grasses that perform well in the shade.  This plant is also definitely being added to my plant wish list.

In addition to the garden layouts in the central part of the arboretum, they also have educational and demonstration areas further out including a hedge display that showcases different varieties of plants suitable for use as hedging, the shrub walk to show different varieties of shrubs that will grow in our area, a weeping tree collection, an azalea and rhododendron collection, a crab apple tree collection, an iris garden, a peony garden, a section showing varieties of ornamental grasses, and one of my favorites, a hydrangea collection.

I had to laugh when I saw this in the hydrangea area …

What you’re looking at in the foreground is the Endless Summer hydrangea which is supposed to be a macrophylla hydrangea that blooms on new wood, and thus will bloom in our northern climate.  Behind it are all of the paniculatas that actually do bloom well in our climate.  I feel like this one picture says it all and I can get off my Endless Summer soap box.  Apparently even the Arb can’t get it to bloom!

They also have a dahlia trial garden at the Arb, and although I don’t grow dahlias myself (they are way too high maintenance for me), I couldn’t resist stopping to take a look.

I can definitely see why dahlias have seen a resurgence in popularity lately though.

They certainly can be magnificent.

Some of the flowers on these are the size of dinner plates.

How about you?  Do you grow dahlias?

There is so much more to see at the Arb than what I’ve touched on here, but I figure this post has gotten long enough.  I hope to make another visit there when the fall colors arrive, so stay tuned for a potential post on that.

The MN Landscape Arboretum was named the Best Botanical Garden by USA Today in 2017 and 2019.  It really is pretty dang fabulous.  The next time I am whining about the fact that we don’t have any amazing gardens here in Minnesota like the one I visited at Dunrobin Castle in Scotland

would you please remind me that although we may not have any castles here, we do still have some pretty amazing gardens!

the traders market 2022.

Last weekend my sister and I drove down to Elko, MN for the Traders Market.

I have to say, after having just been to the Gold Rush at Oronoco, this market is much more my style.  There were tons of fabulous things to look at, so I took a few snapshots to share with you guys.

Many of my favorite things were available, like cameras and clocks …

blue ball jars …

vintage scales …

(now that I’m looking at this photo, I wish I had considered purchasing that turquoise colored one on the bottom shelf, that would have been a great addition to my pantry)

and there were even quite a few toolboxes!

I have to say that many of them were even reasonably priced.  I’ll admit, I mainly didn’t buy any of them because I didn’t want to carry them around the market.  The next time we go, I’m definitely bringing a cart.

We saw quite a bit of the red, white and blue.

It gave me a 4th of July vibe, which was confusing in September, but then I thought maybe Labor Day is also considered a patriotic holiday by some?  Or maybe Americana is in style all year long.  I don’t know, what do you think?

Remember the swanky swigs I found last March?  There was a vendor with an entire table full of them.

There were quite a few vendors with more traditional collectibles, like military stuff.

There were also vendors with more unique items like this cow with a milk can head.

Some hanging lights made out of old globes …

Or this really cool, chippy, model ship.

You can’t really see the scale in that photo, but that thing was probably close to 4′ long.

Once again I came across some roller skates in a metal carrying case.

Now that they’re on my radar I’ll probably see them everywhere.

Speaking of seeing things everywhere, these Halloween buckets seem to be all the rage these days.

I’m curious, do any of you know someone who makes these?  Is there some sort of laser cutting machine that cuts out those faces?  They all seem to be exactly the same, although I have seen other versions (like the Frankenstein monster face on the one my sister purchased at Oronoco).

I did purchase a couple of things at the Traders Market that are a little more interesting than the mop I purchased at Oronoco, and they both went into my potting shed.  I picked up an addition to my watering can non-collection (in the background of this photo).

I didn’t have a watering can in that style, and it was only $12, so I snatched it up.

And I also picked up this mint colored step stool to serve as a plant stand.

But I have to say, my sister got the find of the day.  It’s a bit obscure, but a couple of years ago she started collecting pieces from the Dept 56 Disney Parks Village Series.  Now, this is not to be confused with the Disney Christmas Village, or the Disney Pumpkin Town.  Although she does have some pieces from them as well.  They are much more readily available.  But the Disney Parks series features actual buildings from the parks themselves.

A couple of years ago we found several of the buildings at a 2nd hand store for a reasonable price, but if you try to buy these online they are usually priced quite high.  She is currently coveting the new Haunted Mansion piece, but the cheapest I’ve seen it is $249 on Amazon.

I’d love to say that we found that piece, but not hardly.  But she did find two other pieces for $10 each, so we were both pretty excited about that.  Unfortunately, I neglected to get a photo of her finds.

The Elko Trader’s Market is held three times per year, Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day weekends.  I’ve only been to the Labor Day version, but I told Debbie that we have to make a note to go over Memorial Day weekend next year to see what kinds of summer/garden sorts of goodies they might have.

So, I’m curious.  What kinds of things do you usually buy at a market like this one?  Leave a comment and let me know!

the return of the potting shed.

Finally!  Today I’m sharing the transformation of the photo cottage back into a potting shed.

It’s done!

Well, as done as any room ever is at our house.  I’m always making little tweaks here and there.

As a recap, we scraped and painted the walls, then sanded and painted the floor.

Then I brought the old chippy cabinet back in.

There is a little backstory to this piece.  When we purchased our house the lower portion of this cabinet was in the carriage house, and had the very chippy paint you see on it.  I moved it out to the shed early on, and I replaced the insets in the doors with chicken wire.  The upper portion was in the kitchen.  The previous owners had built a surround around the radiator and added that top section to it to give it a hutch-like look.

Here’s some photographic evidence that I have been painting furniture for a very long time.

Yep, that’s me circa 1989.

Along with all of my other cupboards, I painted it a peach color the first time we redecorated the kitchen (don’t judge, it was the late 80’s, and hey, I was covering up mustard yellow).  The most startling thing to me about that photo (aside from my mullet-like hairstyle) is that I still use those blue plastic buckets!  Jeesh!  I have 33 year old plastic buckets.

Anyway, I later painted it white when I redecorated the kitchen again.  Eventually we ripped out that radiator surround and I decided to pair this top with the chippy cupboard in the shed.  It wasn’t until we went to put it in place that I realized it belonged there all along.  The chippy cupboard has grooves in the top and this hutch piece fits in them perfectly.

But that sort of explains why the bottom half of this hutch is in the original chippy paint, and the top half isn’t.  I suppose some people would opt to paint the bottom too, but not me.  I love that authentic chippy paint!

When I turned the shed into the photo cottage, I repainted the inside of the upper cabinet in Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg and I added vintage wallpaper to the lower shelf and inside the drawers.  You can read all about that here.  Then back in 2020 I re-painted the interior in Dixie Belle’s Kudzu.

I’m still keeping some of my pretty floral china in the top, and the bottom is perfect for storing clay pots.

Some of you might remember the primitive dollhouse I purchased at a garage sale back in May.

I ended up deciding to keep that for the potting shed, and now it resides on top of this cabinet along with a chippy green bird cage.

Opposite the hutch is the green wicker chair I revamped a few weeks back, and the first aid chest I shared last week.

I have a reading lamp on the window ledge next to the chair.

But I’m faking you out a bit with that.  I don’t have electricity in the shed.

I initially rewired this lamp intending to sell it at the shop, and then never did.  It’s still listed on my ‘available for local sale‘ page (if any of you locals need a cool lamp in a location that actually has electricity), but in the meantime the green base works perfectly in the potting shed.

The potting bench I created last month is opposite the door.

It will be a great spot for storing all of my less attractive gardening supplies like fertilizer and such.

As you can see, I’m gearing up for fall bulb planting!

Hanging on the wall to the left of that window is the pie safe that I shared earlier this summer.

I was going to bring that in to the shop, but once again, it never made it in there.  I do still have it listed on my available for local sale page though.  I would part with it as well if anyone wants to purchase it, but in the meantime it looks great in the shed.

I have this old vintage fly swatter hanging on the wall next to the pie safe.

I don’t know why I’m so drawn to this thing, but I love it.  It seems like an appropriate thing to hang in a potting shed.

On the other side of the window is a pair of bug prints (there is likely a fancier name, but I’m calling them bug prints) that I found super cheap ($10 ea.) at Michaels.

It is slightly ironic that they are hanging opposite the bug swatter.

You may have caught a few glimpses here and there of the very utilitarian rug that I have on the floor near the door.

Although I initially considered removing the rug for photos, I decided to keep it real and leave it in place.  The thing is, over the years I’ve come to realize that I am going to walk into this shed with muddy shoes.  It’s inevitable.  No matter how many times I tell myself not to do this, I will do it.  I debated going with one of those washable Ruggables, but ultimately I just couldn’t pull the trigger on a $129 rug for that spot (you already know I’m a bit of a cheapskate, right?).  So I grabbed this rug at Target.  Hopefully it will save my painted floors from some wear and tear.

And that does it.  The shed has been transformed back into a potting shed.  I think I’ll hold off on painting the exterior until next summer, but that is something on my radar.  In the meantime, what do you think?  Would you use a potting shed?  Or would you rather have a summerhouse or a photo cottage?  Leave a comment and let me know!

bon voyage Viking Mississippi.

I wasn’t planning to post anything today (I thought I’d give myself the holiday off), but I just had to share this quick post for all of you fellow cruisers out there.

Mr. Q, my sister and I were having dinner on Saturday night, about to start a game night, when I remembered reading that the brand new Viking Mississippi ship was in St. Paul about to set sail on its inaugural voyage.  So on a whim we decided to scrap game night and drive into St. Paul to see if we could catch a glimpse of the ship.

Despite having lived in the Twin Cities for 35 years, I actually had no idea that there was a ‘port’ in downtown St. Paul.  The address was on Shepard Road, so we figured we’d just cruise down Shepard and see what we could see from the street.

Turned out that the ship was pretty easy to spot, and not only that but a parking spot had just opened up at nearby Lower Landing Park.  So we parked the car and got out for a closer look.

That’s Mr. Q and my sister, Debbie.

OK, so Lambert’s Landing isn’t what most of us cruisers would picture as a ‘port’, it’s technically a ‘landing’, an area along the river where ships can tie up to load and unload.  There aren’t any buildings or anything like that.  But it is cool to know that in the 1800’s this was one of the busiest steamboat landings in the U.S.

It was a gorgeous evening, the weather was perfect.  We took a stroll along the river while waiting for the ship to set sail.

You get a nice view of the Comcast building across the river.

We also got to see the brand new Viking Mississippi up close and personal.

This ship was designed specifically for cruising on the Mississippi river and according to Viking it is the biggest vessel currently sailing in this region with 193 staterooms (check out details and photos on the Viking website).  It is also the first Viking ship built in the U.S. (it was built in Louisiana).

You can’t quite see it properly, but that is an infinity plunge pool on the upper deck aft.

I have to admit, at first we found it rather crazy that people would pay $9,000 (and up) per couple to sail along the Mississippi stopping in places like Red Wing, LaCrosse and Dubuque, Iowa.  We joked about whether or not they were serving regional foods (like they do on their European river cruises), and what would that include?  Tater tot hot dish?  Lutefisk?  Walleye?  Spam?  Surely they will serve cheese curds when they get to the Wisconsin portion of the river.

I checked out the shore excursions being offered for Red Wing and they included a trip to the National Eagle Center, a tour of Maiden Rock Winery (we have visited both, check out this post), and a visit to the Red Wing Pottery Museum (we tried to go there during our Great River Road road trip, but it was closed).  I looked at some of the excursions offered at other ports too, and there were quite a few that looked like placed I’d love to see like the Stonefield Historic Site in Wisconsin, and visiting Mark Twain’s hometown.  So maybe it’s not so crazy after all, I think those passengers are going to have an amazing trip.

I’d forgotten what a festive atmosphere there is during a sail away.  There were probably 40 to 50 people on shore to watch the ship depart.  Just as the sun was sinking below the horizon, the ship pushed away from the landing and sounded its horn making us all jump.

As the ship sailed past, the three of us were reminded of how much we loved our Viking cruise on the Danube and we realized we can’t wait to take another cruise!

We waved and shouted bon voyage to the lucky people on board while dreaming of our next cruise (spoiler alert, we’re thinking Norway, next fall).

How about you?  Are you a cruiser?  Or are you in the ‘ugh, how awful to be stuck on a boat’ category?  Leave a comment and let me know.


harvesting hydrangeas.

Good morning, and welcome back to Sunday mornings in the garden!

Last winter I didn’t quite get to filling my window boxes for winter until mid-December.  I’d left all of my hydrangeas on the bushes up to that point.

Don’t get me wrong, I always leave lots of hydrangea blooms in place for winter interest and I don’t prune them off until early spring.

But I usually get some cut off the bush by early October for my winter window boxes.  I’m cutting myself a bunch of slack on that one for last year though.  If you’ll remember, I was in the midst of trying to deal with an increasingly unpleasant work environment and ultimately making the decision to retire early on November 30.  So last fall doesn’t count.

I did find that the hydrangeas had really lost all of their color by the time I got around to gathering them for my window boxes though, especially the Annabelles.  So this year I’m going to be more intentional about drying them for use later in winter arrangements.

I did a bit of online research and learned that the best time to harvest hydrangeas for drying is when the blooms are past their prime and starting to dry and/or change color on the bush.

That timing is going to be different for different varieties of hydrangeas because of their bloom times.  My Annabelle hydrangeas started blooming back at the end of June.  Their flowers went from white, to green and are beginning to show a bit of brown here and there.

That, combined with the fact that we’ll have roofers here in the coming weeks doing who knows how much damage to plants, made me decide to go ahead and harvest them a week or so ago.  Especially the ones in the cutting garden.

For those of you who may not already know, my cutting garden is out behind the carriage house.  You can’t see it from the rest of our yard.  Everything I grow there is meant to become a cut flower and it doesn’t matter how the garden itself looks.

You can see where the roofline of the lean-to is in the above photo, very close to that hydrangea.  It’s unlikely it will survive the new roof unscathed.

So, while I probably could have waited a couple more weeks to do this, there’s no time like the present … at least for the Annabelle’s.  I’ll continue to let the paniculatas color up a bit more before I cut any of them to dry.

There are probably tons of different methods for drying flowers, but let’s talk about the 4 most common ones.

First, you can hang them upside down in little bundles.  This works great with flowers like roses where the blooms will droop if you dry them upright.  For the most part, you don’t really need to worry about that with hydrangeas.

Second, you can use silica gel or powder.  That’s not really practical with hydrangeas since you have to completely surround the bloom with the silica, can you imagine how much silica I would need to dry all of these?

That leaves the two most popular ways to dry hydrangeas, with water and without water.

Basically the only difference between the two is whether or not you put a little water in the vessel you are drying them in.  Otherwise the technique is the same.  Cut your hydrangeas with a longish stem.  You can always shorten it later when you arrange the flowers, but you can’t add any stem back on.  Remove all of the leaves, and then place the stems upright in a container of some kind.  If you’re using water, only put a couple of inches of water in your container.  Next, place the container in a cool, dry location away from sunlight.  Once the water is gone, your hydrangeas should be dry.

I did a little experiment to see if there was a noticeable difference between the hydrangeas dried with water, and those without.  From what I’ve read, the water option allows the hydrangeas to dry out more gradually thus providing a better result.  So here we are a little over one week later.  The water is mostly gone from the jar with water, and here is a comparison of the dried blooms.

The difference is very subtle.  However, I was surprised to find that the hydrangeas dried without water kept just a little bit more of their green color.  But honestly, I don’t think it’s enough of a difference to matter.

In addition to the hydrangeas in the jars, I also tucked that entire basket full of cut hydrangeas into a dark corner of the carriage house to see what would happen with them.

And they look pretty darn good too.

Obviously this little experiment could be a one off.  Or maybe it’s just Annabelle hydrangeas that dry just as well without water as with water.  I think I’ll do a similar test with my Limelights after they develop some of their fall color and see how those turn out.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on that one.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to having tons of beautiful dried hydrangeas to use in my winter window boxes.  How about you?  Do you dry any flowers from your garden?  Leave a comment and let us know.

the first aid chest.

I know I said I would share the completed potting shed project with you guys today, but I’ve been a bit under the weather this week.  No worries, it’s just a cold, but rather than try to push through and do a half-assed job of sharing the final reveal I decided to put that off until next week.  So I’m sorry, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that once again.

In the meantime, I had one last small makeover project to complete my furnishings for the shed so I thought I’d quickly share that today.

My friend/picker Sue found this little plywood chest somewhere.  She initially purchased it for herself and was going to put it on her front porch, but she ultimately found a piece better suited for that spot so she passed this one on to me.

I wasn’t planning on keeping it, it was in the pile of things to makeover and sell.  But as I was completing my work on the potting shed, I decided I needed something next to the wicker chair.  As it turned out, this chest was the perfect size for that spot.

So the next task was to decide what sort of look I wanted for it.  I didn’t want it to compete with the potting bench, and thus, I didn’t want it to be too busy.  So no florals.  I also didn’t want it to match the floor, so I decided no grain sack stripes in the Dried Sage color from the floor.  It will sit next to the green wicker chair, and I didn’t want to match that either, so no green.  After studying the space, I decided that I wanted it to be plain white (ie. Dixie Belle Drop Cloth), but I also wanted to pull in a little of the red from the florals on the bench and the chair seat.  So I went with the ol’ first aide cross in Dixie Belle’s Honky Tonk Red.

After painting the chest with two coats of Drop Cloth, I taped off the cross and gave it two coats of Honky Tonk.

I then added some scraps of wording left over from an old Seeds transfer to the top, and the small ‘1871.’ to the bottom front to give it just a little more detail.

I sealed the piece with a few coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat to protect it.  The spot where it sits is below a window with a screen only, so it will be somewhat exposed to some weather.

Had I been making this chest over to sell, I would have done something with the inside too.  However, I never go the extra mile for my own pieces (are any of you like that?).  I’m just planning to store extra potting soil inside, so no need to get all fancy.

This was really a super quick and easy makeover, accomplished in an afternoon (and despite not feeling well) and I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

It’s a perfect fit for the spot next to the chair, and I think it adds just the right touch.


What do you think?

the evolution of a space.

I was digging through old photos the other day looking for a picture of my front porch floor for Monday’s post, and I realized that our front porch was a great example of how a space changes incrementally over time.

When we purchased our home way back in 1988, the front porch was very utilitarian with white walls, trim and ceiling and a grey painted floor.  The previous owners had mainly seemed to use the area as a place to stash stuff.  I was so excited to have an old fashioned three season porch!  And obviously it required wicker furniture!  In addition to the purchase of a set of wicker furniture that included a chaise lounge, a chair, a coffee table, a small round stool and a console table, my friend Sue helped me add a stencil just below the ceiling.

Don’t judge, it was the 80’s.  Stenciling like this was all the rage.

Unfortunately, that’s the only picture I have of the front porch until we got around to giving it a full makeover in 2001.  That was when I painted my first checkerboard floor.

Ahhh, who else remembers Martha Stewart’s Everyday Green paint color?  It was one of my favorites.  Oh, and by the way, this was before I went digital so I only have photos in a scrapbook from this timeframe.  As for that floor, my method was simple.  Paint the entire thing in one color, then measure and mark out the squares with a yardstick and a pencil (this is the trickiest part), then hand-paint in the darker squares.

After painting that floor I realized that the walls looked dingy, so I painted them in Paris Pink.  It was left over from the living room … yep, we had a pink living room back in the day.  What can I say, I was (and really still am) a big fan of the shabby chic movement.  And as you can sort of see in the photo below, I kept the stenciling ‘as is’.

My bff sewed the floral slip covers for the cushions.

This was clearly before I developed my aversion to matchy-matchy furniture sets, although I think I was beginning to realize it wasn’t a good look because I swapped out the wicker console for a china cabinet that I painted white.

These were the early days of my furniture painting, I’m sure I used a latex paint on that cupboard.

Flash forward a decade now to 2011.  I was totally done with the pink.  I’d already repainted the living room, and it was time to get around to the front porch again.  So after repainting the walls and ceiling in a pale aqua blue, and adding a fresh coat of white to the trim, we sanded the floor and gave it a base coat of white followed by black squares.

I remember specifically wanting to make the squares bigger this time around, for some reason I thought those initial green squares were too small.

I was also continuing to whittle away at that matched set of wicker.

The coffee table, small round stool and console table are gone, and I’ve added in a little washstand that I painted myself.

I’d also cut way back on the shaggy, trailing houseplants in favor of a simple orchid and a small fern.

The cushions on the wicker were recovered in a slightly less floral vintage bark cloth.

I also painted over that stenciling in favor of one of my first uses of a transfer when I added this phrase to the crown molding.

Jumping forward to 2014, Mr. Q decided he wanted one of the green Adirondack chairs from our deck on the front porch instead of the wicker chair.

I can’t say that I blame him, it’s certainly far more comfortable.  Our handyman/neighbor Ken went through an Adirondack chair making phase.  He made two of these for us for our deck.  He also made a bunch of them for our neighbor across the street, nnK, one for my sister, a couple for my friend Terri, some for Sue, and we sold a few at our occasional sale too.  I wonder if he kept track of how many he made?  But I digress.

I tried to make the lime green work by adding a throw pillow covered with vintage bark cloth that pulled together the lime green and the aqua, but in reality the color was always a bit jarring.

I’d also changed out the washstand at this point.  It’s not a very obvious change, but if you look at the drawer pulls above you’ll notice that this is different one than the one that was in this space in 2011.  I’ve also swapped out the piece in between the chairs for a chippy old trunk, and recovered the chaise lounge cushion in something more neutral.

Ultimately I just couldn’t live with the lime green though, so the next year I asked Ken to make another Adirondack for us.  I moved the green one back out to the deck and painted the new one white.

That throw pillow is from H & M Home.  They used to have the best stuff in this sort of style, but now they’re leaning heavily towards a mid-mod sort of aesthetic.  Just go look at the throw pillows on their site to see what I mean.  So disappointing.

At this point I also moved my black cupboard into the spot where the washstand was.

In 2019 I added a transfer to the inside back of the cupboard.

I had been contemplating selling this cupboard, but I liked it so much with the transfer that I decided to keep it.

At that time I had swapped out the china cabinet with the fretwork for a small farmhouse table with the base painted in a custom milk paint blend.

I’ve considered placing this desk (that refuses to sell) in that spot …

It would be a perfect fit.

However, this is the spot where I take most of my close up photos in the winter.  It gets great light for that purpose, so I need a neutral surface that I can move around and a small table with casters works perfectly for that.

However, the table top on that original table was less than ideal for that purpose, so I swapped it out for this one.

And that brings us up to the current day.

I do occasionally think I should get rid of that one last remaining wicker piece and find something more comfortable for myself.  Maybe we’d actually sit out here more often if I had a cozier piece of furniture in that spot.  I also should refresh the paint on the floor, I still love the black and white checkerboard but it’s getting pretty dinged up.  No amount of scrubbing with my new Norwex mop is doing the trick.

(that pic is for you Mary, LOL!)

That might be a job for next spring at this point though.

Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with how this space looks for now.

I hope you enjoyed this journey through the evolution of a space over 34 years.  If nothing else, I think this post proves that it takes time to decorate a room with vintage décor.  In addition, I always say that you’re never really ‘done’ decorating your home, it just keeps evolving.  I hope to do some decorating projects over the winter this year, but I haven’t quite decided which space will get priority.  Maybe the bathroom … or the dining room … or possibly we’ll turn the guest room into something more functional.  You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

coloring inside the lines.

As I shared earlier this summer, the small structure in our backyard has seen a number of different ‘uses’ in the 34 years that we’ve lived here.  For a brief while it was even a smoking lounge.  That was back when my brother lived here and we wouldn’t let him smoke in the house, even in January (he has since moved out to Nevada, where he still smokes outside but the weather is a lot more accommodating).

After he moved away, it became a potting shed, and look, I found some old photos of it in my scrapbook.

Yikes!  If that isn’t scary, I don’t know what is.  That was before I painted the ceiling and floor (and developed a more refined aesthetic apparently).  Gosh!  Sometimes I have to look back at these photos to remember how far I’ve come.

Next up, I turned it into a ‘summer house’.

The walls were painted pink, the ceiling got painted white, but the floor was still unpainted.

Obviously I was heavily into my shabby chic period at that time.

That cane back sofa was not terribly comfortable, and I bet I could count on one hand the number of times I actually went out there and sat on it.  Although … forgive me if I digress for a moment … but I did take a nap on that sofa once.  This was shortly after my dad died and while napping there I dreamt that he came into the cottage, sat next to me on the sofa and gently stroked my hair.  I think he was saying goodbye, he always was a man of few words.

Anyway, ultimately I restyled that sofa like this …

and I sold it at one of my occasional sales.

In its latest incarnation, the shed became the photo cottage.

Back in 2014 I completely repainted the interior with a plan for using this space to stage furniture makeover photos.  I went with white walls this time thinking it would create the perfect bright lighting for photos.

I painted a checkerboard pattern on the floor, but I purposely kept it a little more on the subtle side with very pale gray and white squares so it wouldn’t compete with the furniture in photos.

Although I sort of made it work for a little while, ultimately it just didn’t.  I could never get the white balance right.  Red light reflected in from the carriage house turning the walls pink.  The floor would end up looking lavender if I corrected for the walls.

There really was only one very specific time frame in the mornings when the lighting was right to get good photos in there, so in the end I gave up trying to make it work.

For the last several years we have just used the space as a dumping ground.  But we don’t actually ‘need’ it to provide storage space, we have the entire upstairs of the carriage house for that after all.  So I decided to once again turn it back into a potting shed.

It’s unlikely that I’ll actually pot things up inside, but it will make a convenient space for keeping all of my gardening tools and supplies together and easy to find.  Right now they share space with my workshop, so this will also free up some space in there.

Plus, let’s face it, it will just be a fun space to decorate!  I’m thinking I may even decorate it for Christmas this year.  Why not?  I’ve got the time (well, we’ll see about that, I already have three trips planned for this fall/early winter and I may try to squeeze in one more).

The first step was to empty all of the junk back out.  Once I’d done that it became apparent that I’d have to scrape the chipping paint off the walls and re-paint.

I had really hoped to get by without that step, after all, I love chippy paint, right?  Well, maybe not so much on walls.  That’s when things stalled for a bit because I really don’t enjoy scraping paint.  Ugh.

But luckily my friend Annie offered to come over and help with this project and that motivated me to keep going.  Between the two of us we got all of the walls scraped and ready for paint, while also getting caught up on each other’s lives.

As they say, a job worth doing is a job worth doing right.

Once the walls were scraped, I also sanded them with my orbital sander.  Then I primed them with a stain blocking primer and finally painted them with some paint left over from previous projects inside the house.

Fortunately I did not need to repaint the ceiling, it was still in pretty good shape.

And that leads me to the floor.  At this point I realized that this was the perfect time to replace a board in the floor that was weak.  Every time I walked on that board I envisioned falling through the floor and breaking an ankle or something.  It made sense to take care of it.  So I asked my handyman/neighbor Ken to take a look, and he was able to replace the board fairly easily.

I then asked Mr. Q to pretty please sand the floor for me, which he did.  And really, once the floor was sanded it looked pretty good.  It had a nice aged, worn appearance that I liked.  Except of course there was now the problem of that one unpainted board.

It may have been OK if I had the same paint I used originally and could have painted just that board, but of course I couldn’t find this paint anywhere in my stash.  Also, as I thought about it, although I really wanted to retain the checkerboard, I never did like that shade of pale gray I used the first time around.

I’m a huge fan of checkerboard floors.  As you know, I have black and white on my front porch …

And I also have a stained wood version in my kitchen.

Well, in for a penny, in for a pound right?  I may as well do it up right.  As my friend Annie mentioned while helping me scrape, I always was good at coloring inside the lines.  So repainting the checkerboard floor in the shed should be a no-brainer.

This time around I decided to use Dixie Belle chalk style paint.  I knew it would adhere well over the latex having painted over latex many times on furniture.  Rather than start over entirely from scratch with a base coat of white, followed by measuring and outlining all of those squares again, instead I carefully painted over all of the white squares in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth using a good angled brush.

Today’s q tip:  when trying to paint a straight line by hand, without using tape, it’s really important to use a good, angled brush and go slowly.  I purchased a Zibra 2″ angled sash brush at Home Depot and it worked beautifully.

One coat of Drop Cloth was all it took to refresh all of the white squares.  Once they were dry I moved on to picking a color for the grey squares.  After using Dixie Belle’s Dried Sage recently, I totally loved the color.  Rather than looking like a green (which I assumed it would based on the name), it’s really more of a gray with a green undertone.  But just to be sure I would like it, I painted one corner of a square with Dried Sage and one with DB’s French Linen which is more of taupe gray according the the Dixie Belle website.

Ultimately I felt like the Dried Sage was a little dark full strength, so I lightened it up by adding some Drop Cloth and then it was perfect.

To be honest, it kind of surprised me how easy it was to repaint this floor.  Now that I know how simple it was to ‘color inside’ those lines, I’m much more motivated to touch up that black and white porch floor too.

After letting the paint dry for 72 hours, I protected it with several coats of Varathane clear matte water-based poly letting each coat dry for 24 hours in between.  Some of you may remember that we had our upstairs floors refinished a few years ago.  We used a matte finish on them and I still absolutely love them, so I wasn’t afraid to go matte on this floor.  I did a little quick research online and found this article which explains that basically matte poly provides the same durability and protection as shinier versions.  In addition, the higher the sheen, the more scuffs, scratches, and footprints will show.  So hopefully this matte finish will hide a multitude of sins in the potting shed.

Now that I have the painting finished, this week we’ll be moving the furniture back in and getting the potting shed styled.  I’m a little bit nervous to see how my potting bench is going to look with that floor.

Fingers crossed that they work well together.  Be sure to stay tuned for a final reveal post later this week!

perennials that bloom all summer.

Good morning gardeners!  Today’s ‘Sunday mornings in the garden’ post is going to be a short one because I’m sharing a rather short list of plants today; perennials with long bloom times.

While the upside to perennials is that they come back year after year (so you only have to buy them once to enjoy them for years), the downside is that most of them have a rather short bloom period.

As you know, my absolute favorite perennial flower in the garden is the peony.

And the bloom time for peonies is notoriously short, and made even shorter when we inevitably suffer a spell of hot, humid weather as soon as they open.

As you may remember, last year, in an attempt to extend peony season, I experimented with saving peony buds in the fridge and I had good success with that.  So much so that I did it again this year with even more peony buds.  And … um … well …

I didn’t follow my own instructions!  I wrapped these in a damp paper towel, and then put them in the Ziploc bag.  As you can see, they got moldy.  Last year I just put them directly in the Ziploc, no damp paper towel.  I’ll have to try again next year, with no damp towel!

Another of my favorites, lilacs, also have a pretty short bloom period.

And unfortunately, I don’t know any tricks for saving them for later.  In fact, I haven’t even found any tricks that work for making them last more than 1 or 2 days as cut flowers.  If you know of anything that works, leave a comment and let us know.

Roses are another of my favorites with a short bloom time.

However, I grow very few due to Japanese beetles. Those beetles just love roses!  I never had time for fussing with insect control in the past, so I took a few things out of my garden that the beetles loved including roses, a grape vine and some Virginia creeper.  I do have this one last pink shrub rose that was given to me at least 20 years ago or more.

But wait!  I went off on a tangent, this post is supposed to be about perennials with a long bloom time, not without one.

I’m tempted to start the list with panicle hydrangeas.

They definitely have a longer bloom time than peonies, lilacs and roses.  However, they only just started blooming in mid-August, so while they will continue to look amazing for the rest of the season, they missed most of the summer.

I do have a handful of perennials in my garden that bloom for a good portion of the growing season though, starting as early as May and continuing through the first frost.

Corydalis lutea is one of them.

This is a plant that I purchased at a garage sale not really knowing what it was.  Frankly, I don’t love yellow flowers.  But I let this one do its thing because it’s such a constant bloomer.  Mine starts blooming in late spring and it’s still blooming now.

You do have to be slightly cautious with this one as it self-seeds quite easily and will take over if you let it.  I pull out good sized chunks of it every year, and it is very easy to control that way.  It’s a great companion plant for hostas, and I have it growing in dappled sunlight.

Lamium Aureum is another perennial that blooms from May through frost.

I’ve even seen this one pop up through the snow with some flowers on it!

But I have to admit, I grow this ground cover for its foliage not for its flowers.  I don’t actually like the flowers, but I love the bright lime green leaves.

It’s another great companion for hostas as it will grow in full shade to part sun.

Another long blooming perennial that I purchased at a garage sale is Dicentra ‘Luxuriant’, sometimes called fern-leaf or fringed bleeding heart.

Unlike the more common varieties of bleeding heart that bloom in the spring and have pretty much died back to the ground by now, this variety blooms all summer.  As you can see, the flowers look slightly different (and aren’t as pretty, in my opinion) and so does the foliage.  The foliage is rather fern-like, hence the name.

The plant is much more compact that your typical bleeding heart, and it doesn’t get straggly and unkempt looking in late summer like the others.

This plant will also self-seed, although not quite as readily as the Corydalis, at least not in my garden.  I do have one volunteer plant that popped up in a spot where it doesn’t belong and I haven’t had the heart (pardon the pun) to pull it out yet.

Last on my long-blooming perennial list is Myosotis sylvatica, or Forget-me-not.

This is another ground cover that can lean towards invasive.  However, I have mine interplanted with a number of other ground covers, the Lamium, a varigated vinca vine and a very small sedum.  All of them tend to battle for dominance and so far no single plant has won out.

I do love those pretty little blue flowers.  But ‘little’ is the key word here.

An honorable mention goes to my new Roguchi clematis.

I just planted it back in May of this year, but it hasn’t quit flowering all summer and is still going strong.  I just have this one growing season to go by, but so far it seems to be a winner.  Once again, it’s not the most flamboyant of the clematis varieties, but I love that it has bloomed all summer.  I think the little purple and white bell shaped flowers are super sweet too.

One thing to note about the Roguchi is that it’s a non-vining clematis.  It won’t climb its way up a trellis on its own, but you can train it (which is what I have done).  Or you can let it spill over the sides of a retaining wall, or scramble through your perennial beds.

One thing all four of these plants have in common is that they aren’t terribly showy.  Perhaps that’s the trade off here, more subdued flowers in exchange for a much longer bloom time.

How about you?  Do you have any recommendations for perennials that will bloom all summer?  If so, be sure to leave a comment and let us know.

a cherubic thrift haul.

For those of you who also frequent garage sales or thrift stores, let me ask you this; do you often find that sometimes a theme seems to emerge on any given day?

For example, there was the time I came home from a neighborhood garage sale with a jumble of chairs.

I once decided that a grouping of chairs should be called a ‘jumble’, sort of like a school of fish or a murder of crows.

And then earlier this summer I found tons of toolboxes one day.

I wasn’t particularly looking for chairs or toolboxes on those occasions, but there they were.

Well, a couple of weeks ago when my friend Sue and I went thrifting another theme seemed to emerge.


They were everywhere.

First it was the tall urn that I found at Goodwill.

Well, OK, probably best not to look too closely at what’s happening on that urn, I don’t think those are cherubs after all.

However, I also found a plaque at Goodwill that definitely has cherubs.

The shorter urn was from Turnstyle, and also definitely cherubic.

And finally we have the golden cherubs, and they were also from Turnstyle.

I have an embarrassing confession to make regarding these.  I paid $14 each for them at Turnstyle, and when I got them home and was cleaning them up, I turned them over to find the original Marshall’s tag for $12.99 each.

I’m fairly sure I’m going to lose my status as an expert thrifter for that one … not that I have ever claimed to be an expert.  Clearly I’m not.

You’d think I learned my lesson from the last time I purchased an item at Goodwill that still had a Marshall’s tag on it.  That time the clerk at Goodwill charged me the Marshall’s price, which was quite a bit higher than the Goodwill price.  And I didn’t notice that one until I’d gotten home either.

But I don’t really feel too bad about it, they have turned out pretty cool as you’ll see in a minute and were worth every penny of that $28.

I had one thing in mind when purchasing all of these cherubic pieces, rust!

(if only I’d gotten the shirt!)

So I cleaned them all and then gave them a coat of flat red primer spray paint.

I could have used the Dixie Belle Prime Start, but that has to be brushed on and with all of the nooks and crannies in these piece, spray was just easier.

Next I pulled out the Dixie Belle Iron patina paint and gave them all two coats.  Yes, the Iron paint does get brushed on, but I recommend stippling it on with dabbing motions to avoid getting any brushstrokes which will become more obvious as the green spray will settle in those.  In addition, I find that you don’t have to be too particular regarding coverage with this technique.  Any spots missed with the Iron paint will barely be noticeable with that primer red base color, or they can be easily touched up.  While the 2nd coat was still wet, I sprayed everything with the green spray to create rust.

After waiting a day or so for the rust to fully materialize, I realized that I’d missed a few spots on the undersides of several of the pieces.  So I flipped them all over and dabbed more Iron paint on those areas and sprayed again.

After another day I still felt like there wasn’t enough rust for my taste, so I tried a little experiment with the two urns.  I’d noticed that the rusty pieces I’ve placed in my garden tend to get more rusty after they get a little rain.  So I decided to use my Dixie Belle Continuous Mister Bottle to spray them with a fine mist of water.

That totally did the trick.

When I’m leaving my rusty pieces outside, I typically don’t seal them.  I have several planters, and some iron garden furniture, that I’ve used the patina paint on and then left outside … even in the winter … and they hold up just fine, although of course they do continue to get rustier over time.

However, in this case I was bringing these into the shop and I didn’t want them to damage other items they might come into contact with so I gave them a couple of coats of Rust-oleum Matte Clear coat.

I find that the matte finish of this spray clear coat doesn’t alter the texture of the rusty patina quite as much as a glossier finish, although it does still change it a little.

So here is how those urns turned out.

And here is the plaque …

As for the golden cherubs, I think they would be perfect for Christmas décor, but the gold was a little too precious for me.  Now that I’ve made them rusty, they have an earthier feel.

I can see these added to a Christmas planter outside, but they could be used inside as well.  Maybe as part of a table-scape.

So tell me, which do you prefer?  Rusty or golden?

I’ll probably hang onto these cherubs until the Christmas season, unless one of you locals want to snatch them up now.  If so, check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.

You’ve probably noticed that I only had small projects to share with you this week.  Well, that’s because I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes painting the potting shed.  Phew!  I forgot how much work such things can be, and this one required A LOT of prep.  Luckily my friend Annie came over to help me, which motivated me to get ‘er done.  I’m hoping to share the completed shed next week, so be sure to stay tuned!