Category Archives: Whimsy

Pollinators Add Magic to Your Garden

Hello, Readers.

I’ve been so busy, working part-time at a local nursery and landscaping, that I haven’t had time to post blogs on my site lately.

But if you want to read about how to attract pollinators, please check out my piece on pollinators at the Fort Collins Nursery blog.

More later.

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Garden Gizmos that You Can Make

Handles from broken shovels are just one of many options for do-it-yourself hose guides in the garden.

Handles from broken shovels are just one of many options for do-it-yourself hose guides in the garden.

Gardeners, when left to their own devices, can create not only lovely landscapes, but also the tools to maintain them.

Take hose guides, for example. They’re just what they sound like—gadgets that channel your garden hose between plants so you don’t knock the head off of a small Color Guard yucca, like I did the other day. You can buy hose guides, of course, but where’s the fun in that?

So in my garden, I use the handles of broken shovels to guide hoses. Some gardeners use spray-painted curtain rods, vintage door knobs  or even plain old stakes, among other items.

A limb spreader will separate young branches that are too close together. Remove it after the branches have positioned themselves properly.

A limb spreader will separate young branches that are too close together. Remove it after the branches have positioned themselves properly.

Another useful garden apparatus is one that I learned about from a local nurseryman. It’s a tree limb spreader. If you find that branches are too close together on a young tree, you can make a tree limb spreader, using PVC pipe, to train the branches to grow farther apart. Just buy a short piece of PVC pipe with a diameter that is close to the diameter of your tree branches. Cut the pipe to the length you need, and then, using a hacksaw and pliers, carve a notch into each end of the pipe to fit against the two branches in question. Next, pick up a free, used inner tube from your local tire store, and cut two pieces of rubber from the tube. Fold each piece in half and use them to pad the branches so the PVC notches won’t damage them. Once the tree matures and the branches assume a better position, you can remove the spreader.

For marking vegetables, I’ve found forks with corks to be a fun, versatile and inexpensive choice. On sale days at Goodwill, you can generally pick up forks for a nickel apiece. As for corks, you can easily collect them if you’re a wine drinker, but even if you’re not, you can sometimes find a sizeable bag of them for $4 at a thrift store. Because the corks are dense, I recommend placing a cork on a stable surface and positioning the fork tines above it, and then hitting the end of the fork handle with a mallet to gradually push the tines into the cork. After that, just write the name of the vegetable on the cork and stick the fork handle into the ground. If you want to get fancy, you can wrap jute around the fork and tie a bow.

As for organizing your garden tools in your garage or shed, you can use palletsPVC pipe on plywood, or simply nails in a 2×4.

There’s one more tool that I really like—a grading (landscaping) rake. Grading rakes are extremely handy for evening out loose soil in beds, as well as for spreading compost, mulch and other landscaping materials. But it’s easier and probably less expensive, in the long run, to just go out and buy one rather than to make one.

If you have any favorite gardening tools you would like to share, please leave a comment on this post.

 

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Filed under Garden Maintenance, Whimsy

Create an ARRR-guably Playful Wind Chime

Pirate wind chimeFor those of you who can’t get enough of crafting wind chimes from recyclable materials, let me introduce the pirate family chime.

Note the resemblance between Daddy and Baby, who inherited Dad’s skin tone, as well as Mother’s hair. The two teenagers are going through a rebellious phase, what with the chalk line dreadlocks and irreverent facial expressions. Mother looks stressed and disheveled from managing her brood.

To begin this creation, I drilled a hole in the bottom of each can, then painted the can with latex paint. Oops paint (mis-tint) samples from the hardware store may be plentiful and cheap to use if you don’t have paint already sitting around.

Once the latex paint dried thoroughly, I used acrylic paint, fabric scraps, yarn and chalk line to personalize each can. If you don’t want a pirate family, you might use your own family members as models for the chime.

For the hanging supports, I chose purple smokebush stems for their color and character. Any wood will do, however.

Finally, I decided on rustic jute twine to string the cans and attach them to the supports.

Unlike silverware wind chimes, which offer a tinkly sound, the pirate family wind chime produces a clunking sound—which, when you think about it, is probably similar to sounds you might hear on a pirate ship.

Incidentally, I’m scheduled to facilitate a Dirt-Cheap Garden Whimsy workshop on June 24 at Denver Botanic Gardens.  If you plan to be in the Denver area, I’d love to see you there.

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Happy Holidays!

Thank you, readers, for your support over the past 2 1/2 years.

I’m taking a break from my blog for personal reasons. In the meantime, I wish you the best of holidays, and I look forward to rejoining you in 2015.

March 7, 2015 update:  My house in Denver developed a mold infestation due to over-insulation, which prevented the house from breathing properly.  So I sold the property and have moved to the Fort Collins/Loveland area in Colorado.

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How to Create a Welcoming Landscape

If you don't have yard space to devote to a Little Free Library, try planting one in a container.

If you don’t have yard space to devote to a Little Free Library, try planting one in a container.

Little Free Libraries have been popping up all over Denver. You may have spotted a few. Each is essentially a box of books where passersby can either borrow a book or drop off a book. They’re such a delightful way to add warmth to a landscape while promoting literacy. You can either build your own little library or buy one online at littlefreelibrary.org.

People often love curling up with books in the winter, so now is an ideal time to install a little library.

There are other ways to warm up your landscape, as well. For example, you can strategically place small lights along a sidewalk or pathway to lead the eye to your home or a focal point.

Then, of course, there’s signage. Who doesn’t love a rustic sign, often sprouting a tongue-in-cheek phrase, inviting guests into the garden?

Other enticing elements you might consider include:

  • Informal stepping-stone paths recessed into the ground.
  • Bold, bright flowers and foliage. This time of year, purple smoketree and tiger eye sumac provide knock-your-socks-off fall color.
  • Vine-covered arbors. Try wisteria, climbing roses or honeysuckle on an arch. Watch out for English ivy and Virginia creeper, though, because they can become invasive.
  • Whimsical gates. Canadian plantsman Doug Green offers an amazing display of garden gates, trellises and other architectural elements on his pinterest page.

As winter approaches and you spend less time tending your plants, explore creative ways to add affection and whimsy to your landscape.

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Who Knew Tin Can Lids Could be Such Fun?

Tin can lids and glass beads reflect sunlight in this easy-to-make wind chime.

Tin can lids and glass beads reflect sunlight in this easy-to-make wind chime.

The great thing about creating crafts from repurposed items is that you can experiment like crazy at virtually no cost. I mean, if you mess up a few tin can lids and discarded stove drip pans, who cares?

For my garden whimsy workshops, I had collected a plethora of can lids, as well as a few drip pans. So I decided to design a wind chime with them. As I sorted through my treasures, I discovered that the insides of the lids come in different colors. Some are silver; others, gold; and still others, copper.

To begin, I drilled five equidistant holes in the top of a drip pan. Then I strung tin can lids in alternating colors and sizes, interspersed with glass beads and spacers, as shown in the photograph.

The lids reflect light so well in my kitchen that I’ve decided to keep the chime inside. But I’m also curious to see how the chime would look if I left it outside and let it rust. It might look hideous. Then again, it might take on an interesting patina. So I’m going to make a second chime for outdoors just to see how it responds to Mother Nature.

Try making one yourself. It’s easy, and it won’t cost you more than the price of a few beads which, come to think of it, you may already have stashed away.

For more wind chime ideas, check out woohome.com.

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Two Northwest Denver Gardens Will Make you Smile

The Denver Puppet Theater courtyard provides a playful environment for children and adults alike.

The Denver Puppet Theater courtyard provides a playful environment for children and adults alike.

Each June, I visit two of my favorite whimsical gardens in Denver—The Denver Puppet Theater garden and the Picaso family’s garden. Both attractions are regular stops on The Conflict Center’s annual Enchanted Gardens of Northwest Denver tour.

The colorful sign at the entrance to The Denver Puppet Theater garden immediately draws you into the area’s gleeful atmosphere. Playful plants, fanciful flags, children’s patio furniture and whimsical handmade crafts greet visitors to the puppet theater’s courtyard. This attraction features clever pathways lined with up-ended wine bottles and filled with shoe-shaped stepping stones. There’s also a bunny hutch nestled among shrubs and vines. And you’ll even find a bird house crafted from expired license plates.

Cheeky chickens lie in wait for visitors to Donna and Ron Picaso's garden.

Cheeky chickens lie in wait for visitors to Donna and Ron Picaso’s garden.

At the home of Donna and Ron Picaso, you’ll delight in their collections of comical roosters and mischievous sculptures. You’ll also spot unusual objects and crafts hanging on the outside walls of their home. Donna and her relatives regularly haunt thrift shops and craft stores to collect new treasures for the garden.

If you crave inspiration for adding whimsy to your own garden, The Denver Puppet Theater garden and the Picaso family garden are two oases you won’t want to miss on The Conflict Center’s garden tour.

Donna Picaso and her mischievous pals relax in the back yard of the Picaso home.

Donna Picaso and her mischievous pals relax in the back yard of the Picaso home.

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