DIY Plant Stakes

BeeClose

Hey everyone!  I know it’s been quiet around the blog recently.  Life has been a bit more hectic than usual and we had a death in the family last week so I chose to take some time to rest and reflect.  Finding time to prep material for the blog is still a bit challenging and we’re currently working on a couple of projects that aren’t ready to share just yet, including one I didn’t plan on tackling this year, but I’m excited about what it means for my garden next season!  In the meantime here’s a fun, quick DIY I did earlier this summer.

Back when I had a holiday tree in our entryway I collected an assortment of cute ornaments for each season and holiday.  Now that I’ve given up the tree I wanted to reuse the ornaments in a new way so I could continue to enjoy them.  I decided they would make great plant stakes for my potted plants on the deck and couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.

This sweet little rusty bee (which ironically is the name of one of my favorite local makers!) was the first I transformed.  Although I didn’t document the steps of his transformation, it was fairly simple.  I removed the small loop at the top of his head  which was attached on the back by bending it back and forth until it popped off.  Next I dug out my E6000 glue and applied some to both the back of the bee and a small rusty rod I had in my supplies that matched perfectly.  Following the directions on the glue tube I adhered the rod to the bee and let it cure for 24 hours.

Bee

Once cured, I tested him out with a couple forceful shakes and he held tight so I found him a home in my vintage crock planter.  He turned out so cute that I decided to do the same to the other ornaments I had in my stash.  Each had a little different set up as each was unique but they all followed the same process – remove any hanging loops or cords and glue a rod to an appropriate point.  Since I didn’t have enough potted plants to keep them all I set aside my favorites to be used in my garden and put the rest up for sale at the recent Urban Junktion show.  I sold several and still have a good inventory available for other shows next season.  Here’s the current inventory as they were displayed at the show.

Stakes

There’s a little birdhouse with a heart shaped opening.

Birdhouse

Several dragonflies, who may just stay and live in my garden alongside their relatives that I already decided to keep. 🙂

Dragonfly

This little beetle has the same patina as the bee, but I already have a lady bug plant stake so I’m helping this guy find his own home.

Beetle

There’s also a few nautical themed stakes, including these blue and green glittery seahorses.

Seahorse

I had two mermaids but the red head sold at the show, so now this blonde “girl fish” as my nephew used to call them is all alone with the other sea creatures, including this glittery little fish.

Mermaid

Fish

I still have a good inventory of ornaments for other holidays including Easter, St. Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving.  I may revamp them for this purpose as well, or I might just find another option since those holidays don’t often correlate with having potted plants to decorate here in Alaska.

Stay tuned for more projects.  Posts might be a little few and far between for a while but don’t worry, we’re working on some fun stuff and will share it soon.

The Growing Season

Front2Today I thought I’d share how the front flower bed and rain gardens are looking this season.  The perennials from previous plantings have slowly been coming in and I’ve added a few new items as well to get the front beds going for the season, although like most other things around here, it’s a work in progress. (On that note, pretend you don’t see that crazy hose situation going on in the foreground there.  Our expandable hose bit the dust last season and unfortunately we haven’t figured out a good system for storing the long hoses we replaced it with just yet so they stay coiled in this pile for daily use for now.)

The first thing that showed up was this amazing allium, which sprouted and then produced a long stalk with a odd shaped bud at the top.  At first I thought an alien had taken up residence in my flower bed, but thanks to the local garden group I was able to identify it and enjoy watching it blossom.

FrontAllium2

FrontAllium

We moved the rain barrel out of the small corner next to the garage so it can be used in the backyard with a gutter so the space needed a bit of rearranging.  I filled the void from the rain barrel with white iris from my mother-in-law’s garden that I brought back when we picked up Brinley and added some phlox between that and the hosta that has come back much better than it did last year.  The phlox is doing quite well and has doubled in size since I planted it, so I’m pretty sure it’s happy there.  I’m also loving the metal hearts I added on the wall, which will look even better when the plants grow up and fill some of the empty space below them.

None of the previous plantings on the other side of the walkway came back so I took the opportunity to try something new – an anemone and a sea pink armeria.  The armeria reminds me of a Dr. Seuss plant, but hasn’t rebloomed since I deadheaded spent blooms, so I might need to find a better spot for it.

FrontCorner

The anemone is doing very well, although upon closer inspection last night I noticed aphids so I’ll have to address that.  It’s been a horrible season for pests so I’m checking out every DIY remedy available online.

FrontAnenome

I moved our little wooden moose statute into the corner to hide a cable that comes out of the garage wall until the plants grow in and do that on their own.  In the opposite corner next to the porch, I paired this metal sphere and piece of driftwood for a fun little garden vignette.

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There are more spheres on the far end of the bed on the other side of the porch.  This space got several new plants including daisies, lupine, yarrow and day lilies transplanted from my mother-in-law’s garden.

FrontEnd

The daisies got a little wild as they started to grow in so I used some of rusty cement stakes to create a little support system for them.  I’m hoping they go to seed at the end of the season and self-sow an even bigger crop next year.

FrontDaisy

Mr. Frog found a nice little resting spot next to a big piece of driftwood in the back of the bed.  He’s sorely in need of a paint job but I think I’ll let him be this season and address that next year since I love his colors in this spot.

FrontFrog

I filled the whiskey barrels on the stoop with dusty miller and purple alyssum, which has been slowly growing in.  Beyond that there is white alyssum in wire and burlap pots on each side on the first step, with purple daisies in rustic metal pails on the top step.  Those extra pots you spot hanging out on the porch are awaiting new homes in the gifted garden along the side of the house.  Before that can happen I need to weed that bed and make a bit of room for them.

Front

The rain garden is coming along quite well, and without much effort on my part, which is my kind of garden.  I moved the tall obelisk we got at the Great Junk Hunt last year to this space for some height at the back of the garden and really like it here.  I plan to transplant a lilac in the gifted garden to that same spot at the end of the season so it has more room to spread out, which will hide a large section of the tire wall. 🙂

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The clematis on either side of the garden weren’t growing in to cover the tire wall as I’d hoped so I decided to give them a bit of guidance with temporary tape.  One side is looking fairly lush and seems to have adapted well, but the other side is still a bit sparse.  I may add a third and forth clematis along the back wall next year if I don’t see much growth by then.

RGClematis

RGClematis2

The chives I planted out here at the end of last season when cleaning out the garden box are doing well and have actually bloomed.

RGChives

The mint from our herb planter last year is also coming in quickly.

RGMint

This mystery plant in the front of the garden is growing quite rapidly, but I haven’t been able to confirm what it is just yet.

RGMystery

I was surprised to discover the vinca vine I planted when we first did the rain garden had come back in after it showed little signs of life last summer.  Next to it the spikewell is quite lush although it hasn’t shown any buds yet.

RGVinca

The water iris are slowly growing, but I’m thinking they may not bloom again this year.

RGWaterIris

But the large clumps of iris that came from our friend’s yard in Seward have finally started blooming!  In fact almost every plant has several blooms opening on it!

RGIris

The other two lilacs that were at the back of the garden have been relocated to either side of the garden so they have room to establish and spread out without crowding each other.  I still need to clean up the areas around them but at least they have their own space now.

RGLilac2

RGLilac

The lambs ear from my mother-in-law’s garden survived the winter after transplant and has grown taller, so I’m hopeful it will continue to grow and create more shoots.

RGLambsEar

Here’s the view from the driveway of the whole scene.  The pile of rocks in the foreground are headed for our new rock garden and there are small batches of ground cover along the front that will eventually grow in to cover the slope.

RGPano

Between the house and the rain garden lies the raspberry patch, which is coming along nicely.  I pruned back the dead branches to encourage the new branches to produce which worked well since we have lush growth on the stalks and numerous white buds on each plant so we’re on track for a bountiful harvest.

We also added a haskap bush in front of the raspberries.  Haskaps are similar to blue berries, but are better suited for our climate.  Hopefully we’ll harvest those to accompany the raspberries in our summer time desserts.

Raspberries

The hubs also rigged up the big water tank you see in the background to gravity feed the soaker hose in the raspberry patch, which has been super convenient on the occasional hot sunny day.  I’ve decided to let the fireweed that’s encroaching on the raspberry patch be for now since both are fairly dominant and should fight each other out.  Plus it blocks out the ferns and other undergrowth that would like to spread out from the woods just beyond and if something going to spread I’d rather have fireweed than a thorny Nuka Rose!

Hopefully I’ll get the gifted garden in shape soon and can share that as well, along with the finished rock garden around the back deck. Stay tuned for those updates and a few other little projects in between. 🙂

Our New Rock Garden

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We’ve been working on one of my big projects for the summer over the past several weeks and although it’s still a ways away from being completely done, it’s finally at a point where I can share the progress.  Check out the new landscaping around our back deck!  It’s been an intensive project, especially since we’re sourcing all of the rock from else where around our property, but that keeps cost low.  Here’s how the space looked just after the Hubs tilled it right before Memorial Day weekend.

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Talk about a blank slate!  But I had a vision and have evolved the plan as we’ve put it together.  The biggest break in this project came when I spotted some boxes on the side of the road with some green sprouts sticking out of them.  We were on a schedule to get somewhere so I didn’t dare ask the Hubs to stop to investigate and when we came home later that day we used an alternate route so I was sure they had likely been claimed.  Luckily, the next day we drove by again and they were still there so this time I made the Hubs pull over and quickly stashed this amazing haul in the truck!

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Big beautiful columbine plants!  And there were lots of them too!  I could have filled this whole bed with them, but I didn’t want this area to be all about one thing, so a few of the larger ones went in this bed and the rest found homes in the gifted garden and the rain garden.  Here’s how things were looking mid-way through after I’d planted the columbines and a few other plants, including a spirea I weathered over in the pot from the end of last season and a couple new plants from a local charity plant sale.

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And here’s how things are looking these days.  I’ve still got a lot to fill in along the edge of the deck and plan to put more rock a bit under the deck to complete the look, but I’m super happy with how it’s looking so far.

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Here’s a view of the far side where the Hubs added steps so we no longer have to walk all the way around the deck to go feed the chickens!

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I’ll be sure to share the finished project when it’s all done, but until then enjoy this before and after!  From a mess of weeds to a defined space.  What a difference!

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Any guesses what I’ll be working on this weekend? 😉

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Getting the Deck Ready for Summer

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The temperatures are getting warmer and the sun is out longer which means it’s time to get the deck ready for summer!  I switched things up in the yard this year and put the sectional seating elsewhere so we could have a dining table on the deck.  Having one here makes more sense because the grill is nearby and the space is just off the sliding door to the main area of the house where the kitchen is.

I picked up this great table and chairs set on the local buy/sell page for just $100.  I love that the metal design is sturdy and won’t hold water so it should be ready to enjoy all the time.  I originally planned to add cushions to the chairs, but they are surprisingly very comfortable so I just used the throw pillows I already had instead.

The hubs dug out the umbrella and we placed it with the table for extra stability.  It took a tumble off the deck at the end of the season last year which broke the arm the hubs had repaired after we bought it at Goodwill.  This time he used metal tubing and painted it to match so it blends in quite well.

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You really have to look closely to spot which arm is the one that’s been repaired, so I’d say he did an excellent job!  As an extra precaution we keep the umbrella down when we’re not using it, just in case the winds pick up when we’re not around.

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Before we got everything set up we also pressure washed the deck (ignore the fact that it’s still sitting off to the side there.) so we had a clean slate to start with.  We’ll be painting the deck at some point this summer since it’s starting to show wear and needs a refresher, but a good wash works for now.  I’ll be adding plants to the various planters you see in the far corner this weekend and tilling the area around the deck to add landscaping there.  Check back next week to see it all come together! 🙂

Our New Deck Seating!

Patio3Our back deck is finally starting to look how I envisioned it before we began construction and I couldn’t be happier!  I had originally planned for the hubs to build a sectional for this space, but when I found a super duper sale at Pier 1 on their Echo Beach collection I decided to save him a project.  And because the final price with my coupon brought the total to less than what the materials would cost to build it I saved a few pennies too!

Patio2The purchase also earned me $70 in rewards points, which I used to buy the umbrella stand you see off to the right (thrifted umbrella coming soon once the hubs fixes a damaged arm) and a few décor pieces.

All the pillows I’d been hoarding collecting now have a home and coordinate fairly well with the rug, which I picked up on the local buy/sell page for $10 at the end of last summer. Because the tones of blue and green on each are a bit different, I am likely going to make some no-sew covers similar to these – perhaps with black stripes, a number and “Relax” or “Home” for some variety. The tan and black would be more cohesive and tie in to the umbrella which is also a dark tan.

The spool is a temporary coffee table until I decide what I want there.  I’m considering either a round table made with a galvanized tub and a wooden top for storage of candles and other little items when not in use or an industrial pallet cart style table.  It might depend on which supplies I can find locally first.

Patio1We’d like to add another two-cushion piece along the wall, but I’m holding out in the hopes that they will have an even bigger sale on outdoor furniture just before fall. Eventually this set will move to the deck we plan to install off the Master Bedroom (hopefully next year) and we’ll put a big farmhouse dining table under a pergola here. I’m fairly confident that we’ll do the same arrangement when that happens, but having the ability to move the pieces into different configurations gives us flexibility to see what works best. Until then, I’ll be enjoying them here every chance I get!

Vacation Tripping!

WHEW!  We’re finally getting back into a normal routine after our recent trip to the “lower 48” as we Alaskan’s call it.  Now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath – and edit a few pictures – I can share some of the fun we had.  We spent five days in Virginia visiting my family to celebrate my nephew’s graduation, my birthday and Father’s Day.   That was a whole lot of celebrating in just a few days, but most of it was spent just hanging out with family.  We also got to see friends who used to live next to us in Kodiak since they live in a neighboring town now.  With all that going on I didn’t take many pictures other than Graduation, which I still need to finish editing.

Next we headed to the Portland area, where we spent several days with my hubby’s mom and visited with a high school friend of mine in the area.  While there we also attended a huge vintage flea market called The Great Junk Hunt put on by the Funky Junk Sisters, which was AMAZING!  I’ll be sharing that experience in my next blog post, because it’s a story all on it’s own.

I made sure we hit my two favorite not-available-in-Alaska restaurants, Panera and Chic-Fil-A multiple times during our trip.  One of the Chic-Fil-A’s we visited was a brand new location in Pallyup, WA which had a great vibe to it starting with the cool industrial chic logo over subway tile near the counter!

Chick

They also had some large cow shenanigans art that made me giggle.  Best long-term marketing strategy ever.  Who doesn’t love farm animals with a sense of adventure and big dose of personality?

ChickTruck

I especially liked this one.  I think it would be perfect for an Alaskan Chic-Fil-A!  HINT HINT!

ChickTrail

One of the clues that told us this location was brand new was how crowded it was, including the insane drive through line which wrapped around a corner and through an adjacent parking lot.  There are still several cars ahead of what’s seen in this line before the ordering speaker.  What impressed us was how the staff took this as an opportunity to offer great personal service.  Notice the team members standing by vehicles? They have menus for customers to look at while waiting and tablets that they can place an order on so their wait time is still productive and ultimately lessened due to efficiency.  Although we didn’t experience this inventive idea first hand, the other staff inside the restaurant were some of the most pleasant we’d ever encountered despite a never ending rush of customers.  Kudos to this location’s manager for a wonderful last impression of their brand before heading back to Alaska!

ChickLine

Another fun restaurant was the moving sushi bar we tried for lunch one day.  We’d never been to one before, but now that we know how fun and inexpensive it is I’m pretty sure we’ll be searching for one here at home!  This one was called Sushi Moto and had a pretty good variety of rolls to choose from.  And if you didn’t see what you want, just ask the friendly sushi chef to make it for you!

SushiMoto2

I’m not a buffet lover, but this I could definitely embrace.  I could have sat there and picked options all day, especially at just $1.75/plate!  While these certainly weren’t culinary masterpieces, every single one I tried was good.  I’m surprised I was able to pause long enough to take a few pictures!

SushiMotoRoll

Other than eating delicious food and visiting friends and family, we did plenty of shopping.  I’ll be sharing some of the things we found with a house update post soon.  Until then here’s a sneak peek at some of the cool “junk” we snagged at the vintage flea market.  How cute is this little piggy planter that I bought for my mother-in-law!?  Um, so cute that I had to find one of my own on Etsy when I got home! I can’t wait for it to arrive because I’ve got the perfect spot picked out for it!  🙂

PiggyPlanter

 

A Little Update Out Front

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Now that summer is here it was time to get the front porch and flower beds in order.  I started with the porch, which just needed a little cleanup and a few accessories.  A citronella candle and a cute little cast iron frog I’ve had for years were a great fit for the milkcan table by the rocker.

FrontPorchTable

As one of very few shady spots in the yard, the porch was the perfect place for some inpatients.  I used an old ceramic crock that fit in the small spot next to the front door.

FrontPorchImpatients

Since the crock didn’t have any drainage I placed a small disposable pot inside before adding soil.

FrontImpatientPotFill

I did something similar in the large whiskey barrel planters just off the porch.  The hubs drilled a couple drainage holes in both, but I wanted to reduce how much soil it would take to to fill them so I filled the bottoms with plastic containers from our recycle bin.

FrontWhiskeyBarrelFill

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You’d never know all of that is in there looking at them all planted.

FrontWhiskeyBarrelFinished And they do a great job of attracting butterflies!

FrontButterflyI filled two metal buckets on the steps with dusty miller and lobelia for a little contrast.

FrontBucketI did the same combination for planters in front of the garage, which were used on the porch last season.

FrontSmallPotFinishedI searched for several weeks to find a third green planter to match the ones we already had but could only find a larger version which I placed between the two garage doors.

FrontBigPotFinished

Since it was so large I placed an empty bucket in the bottom to conserve soil once again.

FrontBigPotFill

I also added some pieces of sponge in the top layer of soil to help the plants retain moisture between waterings.

FrontBigPotSpongesI just tucked them down in the soil as I planted.

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The perennials in the front beds were the slowest to return this year and I’m convinced that the landscape fabric we used was the reason, so I tore it all out.  While doing so, I found a couple of plants  that did get trapped under the fabric as they started to grow so hopefully now that they’ve been freed they will come in properly.

FrontFlowerbedSmallAnd to finish it all off I added a few patriotic pieces like this garden flag and fun door hanging.

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There’s still a bit I’d like to do out here, but for now it’s ready for summer!