Life on the creative side

Posts tagged “garden

A neighbor’s generosity brings blackberries back to my garden on the ridge

Blackberries

blackberries from Ray

Thanks to a neighbor’s generosity, blackberries grow once again in my garden on the ridge. I have always loved  blackberries, they populate  my childhood memories as well as those of my children. We  enjoying making jelly and it became a traditional summer activity  with my kids. The sweet-tart berries were the first plants in my ridge garden.  But a few years ago I lost all my blackberry bushes.  Then last fall I mentioned in passing  to a neighbor that I missed my blackberries.  Well the word spread along the ridge until it reached Ray, a life-long neighbor and friend, who this spring deposited twenty blackberry transplants from his garden on my front porch – I love life on the ridge.

Creating a blackberry patch

 

Blue bird house in blackberry patch

 

first blackberries on the vine

The transplants are doing well.  I’ll be sure to share some fav recipes at harvest time.


Fun and unexpected container planters

Container plantings offers a fun  opportunity to add unexpected creativity around our homes and gardens.  I love to use discarded items like  cans, boxes, boots, birdhouses even old gourds. The creative options are limited only by our vision and willingness to be unconventional.  I look around at things with an eye for  color, scale, texture and a cavity that can hold  soil and plants. The process is easy,  if  the container doesn’t have a way to drain water, I  punch or drill holes in the bottom,  add a drain field by filling the lower quarter of the container with gravel or broken pot shards, then  I fill the rest of the container with  the  proper soil type, plant and enjoy.

 Air plants need no soil and add whimsy to a space.

glass orb hanging airplant planters

 Colorful wooden boxes make a great place to cluster plants…

vintage crate succlent table garden

indoors and out.

found container for porch planters

 Old garbage cans and  wheel barrels make fun and unexpected container planters…

rusty wheelbarrow recycled into garden planter

 as do old buckets and tubs.

2012-08-01_19-36-47_810

 Worn out birdhouses or feeders work great and add a little playfulness to a space..

vintage birdhouse planter

 Baskets are  classic containers but hanging them on an outside wall can be unexpected.

unexpected container planters

 Old crates are sought after for interior styling,  but this one was missing the bottom which made it perfect for my courtyard.

geranium planted in vintage wooden crate

  I love colorful labels and the paper on a can will last longer when sealed;  but sometimes I remove the label and simply  let the can rust.

colorful recycled tomato can planter

 I confess I sometimes buy a  products based on packaging,  if it can be creatively repurposed I want it.

succulents planted in colorful re-purposed olive oil tin

But sometimes a repurposable package is just a lucky extra.

bourbon box recycled into fun and unexplexted planter


replanting my perennial garden

Replanting my perennial garden.

dragonfly

If I could have  ordered up a perfect spring it would have looked and felt a lot like this one.  Actually, I can’t remember  a more perfect  spring season.  We have had cool to moderate temps, plenty of rain yet  enough dry time for  planting – which makes for very happy gardens.  It has been ideal for replanting my perennial garden starting with the flower  bed between the cabin and my studio, which had been pretty much  destroyed by deer and the recent repairs and remodeling and work on the courtyard. But now it is the  home to happy salvia, English lavender, penstemon ‘ red riding hood’, pink abelia, lantana, delphinium and coreopsis.

replanting my perennial garden

 

Deck with twisted vine rail and garvel courtyard

Gravel path between cabins

After stocking up on annuls at several  local green houses I  repurposed found objects like old wood crates, tin cans, gourds, a decaying bird house and even a rotting log into  planters for my porch.

Spring planters for the cabin porch

tomato can planter

gourd and birdhouse planters

Soon to come during this near-perfect spring –  a  new blackberry patch and tomato and pepper garden.

I love springtime!

For more inspiration heck out the party over  at the following links

vintage inspiration bif

http://www.dwellings-theheartofyourhome.com/

livelaughlinky-250x250

 


Peppers In The Garden

Jeff in his garden

Last year my brother’s garden had a bumper crop of peppers and he generously shared his harvest.  My kids and I took advantage of his generosity put up (canned)  some pretty awesome hot sauce. The hot sauce was such a hit that this year, along with my tomatoes, I  put out an impressive selection of  peppers.

 

peppers in the garden

Hubby constructed a tall fence around my small plot to keep deer out of my tomatoes and peppers.

Inspired by the technique over at  The Farm, Old World Garden and assisted by hubby and my sister, Edna, we created raised rows  covered with straw and mulched the  paths.

kathy in the garden

 

wayne mulching the garden

 

 

Edna in the garden

 

I also planted some bird house gourds along the back of the deer fence, we’ll see if they behave or if they try to take over the entire garden – my experience with rambunctious gourds leaves little hope they will behave, even so I can’t help but love them.  I also planted some extra gourds around the vintage hay rake near the garden shed.

 

gourds around the rake

 


Drying Apples

Since our trip to the orchard, Hubby and I have been busy drying  apples  and in this post I want to  share the simple process.

collection of apples for drying

Clean and cut away bruises and blemishes, peel (optional), core and thinly slice the apples; an apple peeler/corer  works great here. The peeler cuts the apple into a long spiral which  I then cut in half to create half moon shaped pieces – it is important to keep the slices consistently thin 1/4″ or thinner is best.

using apple peeler/corer for drying apples

I dipped the slices into a lemon/water bath to prevent the slices from browning; ½ cup lemon juice+1 cup water; this step is optional but it keeps the apples from browning  and I like the hint of tartness the lemon imparts.

peeled, cored and sliced apples in lemon bath

I used a dehydrator, with the apples spread out in a single layer over the dehydrator screen; the temperature set to 150 for around twelve hours (depending on the conditions it can take anywhere from 10 to 24 hours for drying apples).

drying apples in dehydrator

You want the apples to be dry but still pliable (they must be at least dried to the state of raisins to keep well). From this state the dried apples can be stored and used later by re-hydrating them for use in hand pies, apple pies, chutney etc.  (a future post). If I had wanted to make apple chips I would simply have dehydrated them until they were crispy – yum.

For a variation I tossed two cups of the slices into a Ziploc bag along with ½ cup of sugar and a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon also works great) and shook to thoroughly coat the slices. The seasoned apples took an additional five hours to cure but what yummy munchies they make.

The slices will shrink and pull away from each other as they dry.

apples drying in dehydrator

If you don’t have a dehydrator an oven set on as low as possible should work fine. If you’re using a cookie sheet, the fruit should be turned over once during the drying process, but cooling racks provide more exposure which aids in the drying.

The dried fruit should be at room temperature before being stored in air-tight containers. I refrigerate or freeze any that I don’t plan on using right away.

dried apples sealed in freezer bags

I am by no means an expert on food preservation,  but the folks over at the following site are, so check out their recommendations and start drying apples. http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/uga_dry_fruit.pdf

 


A Lovely Gravel Patio

gravel patio

Ok friends here’s another project update…

But first a little background:
butterflies in the gardenA few years ago the beautiful garden between Blue Antler Studio and the cabin was in decline.  It started with the lovely elm tree which was unfortunately lost to the blight that swept through our area. Then after a late hard freeze, many of our pollinators suffered; dropping the number of butterflies frequenting the garden from dozens at a time to a handful ; and of course the native honeybee had already been struggling for several years. Then we opened up the kitchen wall and built the new deck which encroached further into the weakened garden. We soon realized it would make more sense to move the garden altogether and utilize the space between the two structures as an outdoor living area.

We got started by digging up the remaining plants in the garden.

transplanting flowers from my garden

We replanted them along the path that would lead to the new patio.

path to the patio

Then we graded off the area, taking it down to the same elevation of the studio before adding several inches of gravel.

grading ground for patio

After compacting the gravel we added a low retaining wall around the upper side of the patio, curving it to create a cozy circular seating area.

curve of patio wall

The next step was to build the fire pit in front of the seating area. With the help of my, can-do-it-all, brother and my, I’m stronger-than-I-look, daughter we took an old metal fire ring and some incredible rocks (remnants of an old barn foundation that once stood on my childhood farm) and we created this amazing fire pit.

my amazing fire pit builders

looking down on my patio and fire pit

first fire in fire pit

For the final touch, my sisters helped me gather up interesting containers to repurpose  into unique patio planters; filled with Joe pye, sedum, mums, geraniums, saliva, sweet potatoes and other various vines they now grace my new outdoor space.  (Useful tip – first we partially filled the containers with empty plastic bottles, caps on, to help fill the voluminous space).

A leaky metal garbage can, filled with blooms, adds interest to the studio entrance.

re-purposed garbage can as planter

An overflowing, rusty-red wheelbarrow adds balance flanking the other side of the door.

rusty red wheelbarrow planter

Old metal tubs and buckets and…

sedum and succulents planted in old metal tubs

some broken wooden crates scattered  around the patio, provide pops of whimsy and color.

geranium planted in old wooden crate

Finally, the result of all our efforts  is this lovely patio!

my new patio

my gravel patio

Stay tuned for phase two – it will involve a rustic arbor and this beautiful, live-cut, pine-slab for alfresco dinning.

live edge pine slab for patio table Hubby sure needs his workshop finished!


Farm to Table

egg avocado cheese sandwich

organic, permaculture farm, produce market, ky

Summer time is the perfect time to embrace farm to table dinning. Blue Antler Studio sits on a rocky ridge in rural Kentucky, where farm to table is just simply the way of life, so farm fresh produce is easy to come by this time of year.  In fact I sometimes come home to find a sack or a basket of fresh produce, a gift from one neighbor or another’s garden.

basket of sweet potatoes

Out the road a little ways sits my dad’s treasure-stuffed, man-cave cabin…

a man-cave cabin

just inside the door there is a small refrigerator. If you look inside the frig you’ll usually find several dozen beautiful farm fresh eggs sitting beside a jar labeled with a hand-written note that reads, “egg money $2.00 a doz”. The eggs are not from my dad, as he and mom no longer keep chickens, but from Danny, a life-long neighbor, who keeps my family in lovely brown, pale-blue and cream-colored eggs all season.

colorful farm raised eggs

Much to my disappointment however, this year has been so hot the hens haven’t been laying well; but today I got word that finally there were eggs in the frig.  So I hurried out the road, threw open the frig door and to my delight discovered four dozen Danny eggs stacked beside the money jar; yipee!

egg jar

In true farm to table fashion, or Rocky Round tradition, this evening I enjoyed a delicious egg, cheese and avocado sandwich on a hardy, grilled bread; complimented by a glass of red wine sangria sweetened by in season, peaches and blackberries.

egg avocado cheese sandwich

LOL – I was so excited about this lovely meal, I had eaten half the sandwich before I thought to stop and take a picture.

                    .fresh sangria makings

Does life get any sweeter?

:)

To learn more about farm to table living  check out – http://www.farmtotablenm.org/

 


Summer Projects Around the Cabin and Studio

pine cabinet before being repurposed

As I write this post I’m sitting on my cabin porch on rocky round.  The summer has been hot and volatile but this morning the air is cool and fresh.  For the past month hubby and I have been supper busy around the studio and cabin. We have been finishing up the kitchen remodel, creating a gravel patio, renovating the guest loft, revamping the garden beds and most ambitiously building a workshop/barn for my hubby.

I’m posting a few pics of the ongoing projects, but I will post more details of the projects as they are completed.

We are refurbishing and re-purposing this old pine cabinet hubby made 25 years ago.

pine cabinet before being repurposed

It now looks like this…

french inspired kitchen island made from recycled cabinet

I’m loving it!

The space between the studio and the cabin is being transformed into a gathering area; when completed it will house a fire-pit, chairs and a gorgeous, ten foot, live-edge table! Hubby has a lot on his honey-do list.

I even got to drive the bobcat-too much fun!

bob-cat used to grade patio

And hubby is working hard; looking good honey.

digging a trench for plumbing

Notice the rock wall around the garden, I’m learning all sorts of new skills.

gravel paito

And here’s hubby’s new shop/barn.

building a workshop/barn

I will share the finished projects as they are completed.


Living Succulent Wreath

Living succulent wreath:living succulent wreath

While my daughter Kate, of Twice Treasured, was visiting for Mother’s Day, she mentioned a beautiful living succulent wreath project she had recently pinned  on Pinterest.  She commented that sometimes she, like a lot of us, was guilty of pinning projects with the intention of doing them but then not following through.  This project, however, was so perfect for us that we decided to make  time and actually create this beautiful succulent wreath.

Supplies:
Two wire wreath forms
Medium gauge wire and wire cutters
Mat floral moss
Succulent soil
Succulents

Line one of the wire wreath forms with the mat moss

making a succulent wreath

Pack with soil (the moss should keep the soil from passing through the back of the wire

Gently work the roots of the succulents through the wire of the other wire form so that the plants are on the outside and the roots are on the inside

applying plants into succulent wreath

 Place the planted form on top of the soil form and wire them together working the  roots  into the soil

 Using your fingers, gently work more moss into the wire around the plants

constructing a succulent wreath

 Cut four-inch pieces of wire and bend them into  hairpin shapes. Press the hairpins into the wreath among the plants and moss to secure

how to construct succulent wreath

Water thoroughly and keep the wreath flat for a couple of weeks or until the plants have rooted then it can be hung vertically.

 succulent wreath

check out inspiring links over at Yesterday on Tuesday

http://yesterdayontuesday.com/2013/06/project-inspired-19/

 

 


Spring Time In The Garden

 

My spring time at the studio has been wonderfully productive; the weather perfect, the gardening restorative but the time far too short. Now I have to hurry down to Florida to my hubby; he injured his knee only days before he was to join me in Kentucky. While he will be alright he is scheduled for surgery to repair the damage.

So while some of my garden plans have been put on hold, I am quite satisfied with what I accomplished so far, which included cleaning winter from some of my beds and weeding unruly spring from others…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning cold damage from the butterfly bushes, oak leaf hydrangea, gold flame spirea and antique rose-bush…

 Re-seeding grass in the bald spots of the lawn… 

 Transplanting seedlings from my self-seeding coreopsis…

Completely reworking my entrance beds which involved constructing two small rock walls, relocating a large bird house, rose-bush and a climbing clematis vine and planting eight carpet roses…

 Planting a beautiful rhododendron…

Potting a purple Cherokee heirloom tomato and some annuals for the porch and deck…

And finally mulching: All the while fighting a losing battle with some stubborn wood bees that have decided to make a condo out of the deck!

 My amasing sisters have kindly volunteered to plant the nine foxglove plants I purchased but have not yet planted by the back fence

 

All and all, spring of 2012 has been a good one; minus the knee injury of course.

 See you soon hubby

 


Architectural Salvage

My hubby and I recently attended a lovely, out-of-town wedding.  Since we were there for the weekend we had some time to spend with each other; and hubby surprised me with the perfect outing – a trip to an architectural salvage yard. It was a wonderful surprise and we had a great time: I even found a few treasures (imagine that).

archictectural salvage yard

After spending the morning digging through pieces and remnants of the past, we drove to the wedding with treasures poking out of the trunk, tied down with twine, and filling the back seat of my car.  We got a few stares, laughs and Beverly Hillbilly comments, but of course no one who knew us was surprised.

rusty metal candle sconce for garden accent

A rusty metal candle sconce. I think this will work great in my garden.

large paper dispenser

 I’ve needed a large paper roll dispenser at the studio for some time; now I have one.

amazing patina on old mirror

I love, love, love this old mirror; it has the most wonderful patina.

patina detail on old mirror

Here is a detail of the beautiful patina; see why I love it.

top of old wooden wheeled cartwheels for salvaged cart

And finally the most exciting find of all, an old (rotting), wooden  cart on wheels; well it’s not quit on wheels yet, but it will be once restored and then it will make a great coffee table in the cabin: So excited.


Birds, Butterflies And My Garden

roseate spoonbillTwo mornings this week there have been Roseate Spoonbills in a lake near my neighborhood. They are beautiful, quirky birds; lovely pink plumage and long bills that flatten out at the end like a spoon.

I love to watch the birds that frequent my yard, especially around Blue Antler Studio; with a lot of cats in my Florida neighborhood, song birds tend not to hang around for long. On the ridge however, I have feeders and bird houses all around my yard, strategically placed for viewing from the windows and the porch.

I have always planned my garden with birds and butterflies in mind.  But over the last few years my perennial garden has suffered; trampled during cabin repair, ravaged by age and, sadly, neglect.  But the lovely pink visitors have reminded me of the pleasures of having our winged friends around, so I have begun plans to revive my gardens. I’ll keep you posted.


Butterfly Days

butterfly journal

butterfly days book

During my recent organizing frenzy I stirred up more than just dust and memories. I rediscovered some of the fun projects and activities from my children’s childhood. One of my favorites took place over the summer of 2000.  It was the first time that my girls spent part of the summer away from the cabin, making their little brother a lonely boy. 

As a creative person I believe in the power of creativity to cure many ills, including a little brother missing his big sisters. That summer Mother Nature herself would provide inspiration – butterflies; colorful, delicate wings in unbelievable numbers, fluttered on the flowers of our garden, floated over the yard and gathered around mud puddles.

butterfly image

With a good butterfly book in hand we spent long days among the kaleidoscope of our colorful winged visitors, photographing, identifying, documenting and even befriending them.  Soon we were not only getting close enough to capture them on film, but with gentle coaxing they would crawl right onto our fingers; my then ten-year old son, still holds the record at five Great Spangled Fritillaries on one hand at one time!

nate with three butterflies

Using a small spiraled book, colorful markers, photo-corners and our camera, we created this scrapbook of our summer of butterflies.

butterfly scrapbook

 

pages of a butterfly watcher scrapbook

butterfly scrapbook

butterfly count listed in scrapbook

 

 


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