Thursday, April 17, 2014

If Looks Could Kill

Ruby uses the dining room window as her spot from which to view the world.  (She is up there doing that right now, as a matter of fact.)  She perches with her back feet on the church pew below the window, her elbows on the windowsill, and she looks for bunnies and groundhogs and all other types of intruders.  

For the past few days, Maggie has been enjoying the same windowsill for afternoon sunbathing.  

I was fortunate to be sitting here with my iPad, so I could capture what happened yesterday while Maggie was snoozing in the sun and Ruby charged up there, thinking that she heard something in 'her' yard.

Maggie:  What do you think you're doing?  This is MY window now.

Ruby:  We can share.  I think there's a groundhog out there.



Ruby:  (snuffle, snuffle, snuffle)

Maggie:  (looks disgusted)



Ruby:  back to guard duty.

Maggie:  Stupid dog.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Quality Control Team

It rained all day yesterday.  Instead of doing what I had planned for the day (which would have involved hauling furniture in an open pick up truck), or working outside in the garden, I sat at the sewing machine for a little while and put together a slipcover for this ottoman that's been living in my stash.



You can see that it meets with Alice and Dorothy's exacting standards for quality and comfort.

I was going to paint the legs, but now I've decided not to.  Whoever buys this at the Lucketts Spring Market can paint them, or leave them the way they are.

(Note to self:  Gotta remember to wash and iron the cover before I take it to the market, in case folks are allergic.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Still Plugging Away ...

Two more days of work are behind me, as I rid the English Garden of weeds, lay landscape fabric, and put down a proper layer of mulch.  Progress came so easily for the first three days, and it has slowed considerably now.  Yesterday, I was working by myself and it was really warm, and there's no shade here to provide relief.  I got a little bit accomplished in the two hours that I worked, but not as much as I had hoped.

This is what the bed looked like when I quit for the day on Sunday.


This is a reminder of where I left off on Saturday.


Today, Monday, the temperature was in the 70s, the sky was cloudy, and there was a nice breeze blowing from the west.  It was perfect weather to make some serious progress ... but it was not to be.  I pulled some more weeds, pruned more roses, laid more landscape fabric, and ran out of mulch.  This is how it stands as of today.



Normally, I would just run to the mulch place and get some more.  Couldn't do that today, because I need my truck to be empty and clean on Tuesday (and maybe Wednesday, too) for something else.  Oh, well, I am determined to get this garden finished as soon as I can ... not going to let all the delays and interruptions dampen my resolve.  I keep telling myself that little progress is better than nothing.

More updates to come ... stay tuned.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Making Progress

Yesterday was Day #3 of working to reclaim my English Garden by the barn.  Great progress was made!





During Day #1 and #2, I was working by myself.  Day #3 was special because I had some help ... my sweet husband.  He pulled weeds and spread mulch, while I pulled weeds and laid landscape fabric.  We make a great team.



This shows our progress as we quit work for the day.  The center bed was completed on Day #1, and the outer left-hand bed on Days #2 and #3.



I will start working on the outer right-hand bed later this morning.



This photo is a pretty good example of the Before and the After.



For now, I prefer to focus on the lovely After.

The roses are so small because this is all the live wood that was left after I pruned off the parts that were killed by our unusually cold winter.  


Have I showed you my bottle trees before?  (there are two of them, though I only photographed one.)  I bought the metal tree part at a garden show years ago.  I originally had them full of blue wine bottles, but that was too heavy for the frame.  To reduce the weight, I changed them to 'flowers' with blue wine bottles surrounded by green beer bottles.



If the remaining bed in this garden progresses like the others, I have two more days of work ahead of me.  It is so rewarding to see what the garden looks like now, and to realize that it represents the first time that this three-year-old garden has ever been truly clear of weeds and prepped for the coming season.  I know that some weeds will certainly reemerge, and I am going to try to get on a routine of dealing with them on a regular basis while they are small.

Happy Sunday, Everyone.  I plan to spend mine enjoying the sunshine, working in the garden.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bittersweet

Earlier this week, I received what is probably my last order of roses from Vintage Gardens.  Old rose enthusiasts know Vintage as the source of so many rare and  wonderful roses ... including many of the roses that I treasure in my own garden.  Vintage is in the final stages of closing its operations, which began in 1983.  

The box that I received contained two roses.



This one is 'Frances Ashton' (1937), a dark pink, single Hybrid Tea that I have wanted for a long, long time.



This one is a climber, 'W. Freeland Kendrick' (1920) ... new to me, and I am excited to see what it will do in the garden.



These little baby own-root roses, in their band-sized pots, will be big roses by the end of the season.

I get sad when I think of not having Vintage and their wonderful roses available for sale.  They are not closed yet, though.  There are still some great selections left in their inventory ... give them a look and see if there are any that you are tempted to order for your garden.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Flowers!

Our weather this week here in beautiful Hartwood, Virginia, has been absolutely perfect!  Sunny, breezy, warm-but-not-too-warm.  Forsythia and Daffodils are in full bloom.



The photo is a clump of heritage double daffodils in our front garden, glowing in the sunshine and waving in the breeze.  It does my soul good to have flowers in the yard, after such a long, cold, snowy winter.

I have been working to whip my English Garden into shape ... two days at it so far, and at least two more left to go.  Weeding, pruning, mulching.  Used up the first truckload of mulch, and I have a refill ready to go when I get back to it tomorrow morning.

I am tired, but it's a good type of tired ... the kind that comes from hard work doing something that I love to do.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Using Chalk Paint to Dye Fabric

I got a wild hare idea yesterday, to try what I have read online about using chalk paint to dye fabric.  With two colors of paint in hand, Primer Red and Graphite, and some chunks of prewashed cotton dropcloth, I got to work.

There's not an exact proportion of paint to water to use for dying fabric.  I poured a small splash of paint into a large mixing bowl.  I added hot tap water to the paint, mixing it with a whisk, till the mixture was the consistency that I thought it should be ... really watery.  (next time, I will probably see what happens if I use even less paint.)



I didn't think about this becoming a blog post, so I was a little late with the photos of the process.  The photo above shows the last piece of fabric that I dunked into the dye, and the mess that this made in my kitchen sink.  I didn't soak the fabric ... I just squished it into the solution in the mixing bowl, making sure that there was dye all over the fabric, wrung it out, put it back into the bowl and squished it into the dye again, wrung it out really well, and set it aside.  Then I used Soft Scrub to clean the sink.

Since this was an experiment, I wanted to see if the dyed fabric would end up being colorfast and machine washable ... so I tossed them into my washer (front loader) and washed them on the Delicate setting with a small amount of detergent.  I thoroughly expected to find that the dye completely washed out when I checked it after the wash cycle, but it didn't!  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I really liked the colors.  After a spin through the dryer, I was ready to get to work making something ... throw pillows.

This is the design that I came up with ... graphite for the background, with natural and Primer Red strips appliqued onto it.  I tore the strips and fringed them, to add some texture and a bit of rustic interest to the design.



As always, at least one of the cats comes to help.  In this case, it was Dorothy ... checking my sewing machine to make sure that it was in good working order after its tune up at the repair shop last month.



Here is how the pillow cover turned out.



The cording around the edge adds a nice finishing touch ... and I installed a zipper on the back.  (Envelope closures and ties are quicker to construct, but a zipper makes for a much nicer pillow.)



Here we have the finished product!



I love how this turned out.  I learned that I really like the colors that resulted from using chalk paint to dye the fabric, and I am anxious to see what I get when I use other colors of paint.  This pillow and its mate (I made two of them at the same time) will go into the heap of things that are destined for the Lucketts Spring Market in May.

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