Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blooms... And A Garden Tour

 Hello Friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by.  I know that most of my posts have been garden related lately, but I really love this time of the year.  My garden is planted and things are starting to bloom around here!  I thought it was time that I took you on a tour of my little wonky-willy-nilly garden.
 I have been so excited to show off these canterbury bells!  I remember the first time I saw canterbury bells-- I was working at a florist shop.  (Many, many years ago!)  I thought that these flowers looked like something straight out of a fairy tale or a Mary Engelbreit picture!  I've missed growing them and decided it was well past time to grow some at this house.  I'm so glad I did!
 My garden is kind of spread out... some of it's in pots, some of it is in a garden box, and some of it is planted in the side border next to the house. 

I like a bit of whimsy in my garden, and this year I added these fun skeleton lampshades into the mix.  I love them so much!  I found them at a vintage fair being sold by my-favorite-garden-art-people-of-all-time, Old Soul Studios
 Many of the plants that I grow are from heirloom seedlings that I purchased from a lady in my neighborhood.  She sets up her little heirloom plant stand on the sidewalk in front of her house, like a lemonade stand.  Don't you love that?!!  Her adorable little daughter helps her cultivate and sell the plants. This plant growing on the lampshade is some kind of an heirloom purple/scarlet bean.  I can't remember the name, and I've lost the marker.  It's just starting to bloom.  I've never grown these before, so I'm excited to try them.
It's crazy fun how fast things start to grow when they get to a certain point.  These are the purple beans, red and yellow peppers, sugar snap peas, herbs, and flowers.
 I like to mix flowers in with the veggies.  I try to companion plant where I can.  (Another link about companion planting here.)  Keeps everything happy and colorful.
Lots of herbs... I think that I really take them for granted.  I don't use them as much as I should, but when I do use them... yum!
 These peppers were starting to bloom here...
...and not long after, they looked like this!  These bell peppers will grow and turn yellow.  I'm not a huge fan of green bell peppers, but I do love the red and yellow!
 The sugar snap peas are starting to bloom here...
...and poof!  Seems like they turn into pods overnight!  These sugar snaps rarely make it into the house-- I love to eat them right off the vine.
  Every morning, usually in my pajamas, I go out to water and putz around in the garden.  This happy guy follows me everywhere.  It's kind of our ritual, and my favorite way to start the day.
 This garden box was already here when I purchased my house.  I've got about four heirloom tomatoes, a lemon cucumber, a dragon's egg cucumber, petunias, zinnias, sunflowers, and sweet alyssum growing in here.  The nasturtiums are from last year, so I let them stay and hang out with the others.  Oh, and there's a mystery plant.  I bought it from the plant stand. I know that it's "suppose to be good for the garden", but I cannot-for-the-life-of-me remember what it is.  Don't worry, it looks legal. (Ahem.)
The larger plant is a "Mortgage Lifter" tomato, and the one next to it is a "Purple Cherokee".  Do you see the chicken wire to the right?  I put it there so Hagrid wouldn't get in there and play "rototiller" like he did the day after I planted the garden last year.  Yep, he did.  The soil looked gorgeous-- so gorgeous-- but he dug up the entire box.  Seriously, the entire box.  Why couldn't he have done that before I planted?! Silly boy.
These two tomato plants are "Green Grape" and "Hawaiian Pineapple Stripe".  They're growing sooooo slow, and not doing as well.  I amended the soil before planting them, but some thing's off.  The nasturtiums are blooming like crazy and that's a sign.  Nasturtiums bloom well in bad soil.  I might also be over watering the plant on the right.  Any pointers, friends?  Although I've been gardening for a while, I'm still always learning.  I hope that I never stop learning.  I think that's part of the fun of gardening! 
I know, this ohm chime is kind of random.  I've had it for years and I love it.  I bought it at a Hare Krishna llama festival.  Yes, I did.   

 These are the lemon and dragon's egg cucumbers.  The dragon's egg cukes are new for me this year.  I'm kind of curious about trying them.
Nasturtiums... they're edible and taste kind of spicy, like a radish.  I love putting the blossoms and leaves in salad, especially my favorite tomato salad.
I had extra sunflower seeds leftover, so I threw a variety of them in here.  I'm so glad the birds didn't eat them before they germinated.  (I think they got to some of them in the box.)  The small pot has bee balm.  It comes back every year and I love the blooms.  So do the bees!
This is the first year that I've cultivated this border along the side of the house.  Everything looked so small when I took this photo.
This is what it looks like today.  That's a "One Ball Summer Squash" there.  C'mon, (nudge, nudge) I know you want to laugh at that name.
 The shasta daisies have been taking their sweet time.  I'm eagerly awaiting the first bloom.  Hurry up, shasta daisy!  How is it that some things seem to bloom overnight and others take forever?  Gardening teaches me patience every year.  It's all good.
 The summer squash blooms are huge and abundant!  (Watch out neighbors... someone could accidentally leave a bag of squash on your porch.  I have no idea who...)
Hello, cosmos.
 This "Dinosaur Kale" came from the plant stand.  I kept the original marker.  The plant lady's daughter drew a tiny dinosaur on it and I love it.  It makes me smile everytime I notice it.  This plant was teeny, here when I bought it, and has taken it's own sweet time to grow to a whoppin' five inches or so.  Right now it's struggling with a hungry pest of some kind.
Well, here I am.  After hunting for quite a while, I purchased a vintage lounger this year at the Sacramento Antique Fair. At the end of each day I try to spend some time out in the garden lounging and decompressing.  Hagrid looks for squirrels, visits (through the fence) with the neighbor dogs, plays with his toys, explores the garden, and lays around. 

Well, if you're still reading, thank you for hanging in there.  I hope that you've enjoyed this little tour.   It's a funky, wonky garden...but I love it.  It's my little piece of this big planet.  It's where I work out my stress and anxieties-- and find my calm and happy.  It's my happy place.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Itty Bitty Harvest

Mmmm...nom nom.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Visit To Lavender Hollow

Hello Sweet Friends!  This past weekend I had the fun opportunity to travel with some gal pals to visit Lavender Hollow Farm.  This beautiful little farm is located in Escalon- only an hour drive away- and was a perfect, easy day trip.
 As soon as we opened the doors of the car the lovely fragrance of lavender greeted us.  I love the smell of lavender, so the fragrance was like heaven for me!
  The gardens surrounding the private residence are so charming.
 We enjoyed walking around the grounds.  There was plenty to look at...
 ... like this beautiful clematis climbing the entry to the private residence.  I love how it looks against that pretty used brick wall.
Aren't these beautiful?!  I love the vivid violet color.  No alterations were done to the color in this photo-- this is really how it looked!
  Lavender Hollow Farm is open for a very short season, only 5 or six weekends.  The lavender is in early bloom right now-- and I imagine that the color will intensify throughout the coming weeks.  Each weekend the farm offers lavender crafting classes under the canopy in the photo above.  On this day, the guests were creating heart shaped lavender wreaths~ so pretty!
Charm and sweetness around every corner...
  ...and a really great variety of lavender plants were available for purchase. I purchased two-- Sachet and Betty's Blue!

 I never knew there were so many varieties of lavender!  I love that this variety is named "Alice".  That happens to be my favorite auntie's name.
 Inside the lavender barn was a fun boutique.
I love the hardware on the door to the barn-- so pretty!
  We found a great variety of lavender goodness-- lots of bath, culinary, and gift products.  I ended up purchasing some ground culinary lavender for baking, and can't wait to try it out in a batch of shortbread cookies!
 It was refreshing to find items at such reasonable prices.  Sometimes prices of items in tourist locations can be so inflated, but that wasn't the case here at all.
 We wandered around the grounds, taking photos and enjoying the sunshine.  Lavender grows well here because of the Mediterranean climate in this valley.
 We enjoyed a really great box lunch catered by Leonardo's Cafe.  Every item was infused with lavender.  It was so good-- not overpowering at all.  Click here to see the yummy menu! 

Oh, and I couldn't leave without treating myself to a lavender infused pink lemonade for the road.  The perfect ending to a perfect visit to Lavender Hollow Farms!  (Now, off to shop the antique/vintage stores!)


Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Fairy Garden Tour... Finally!

Welcome to my fairy garden!  The fairy garden housewarming party was a success, despite the local gnomes crashing the party. I'm finally ready to take you on a little tour and tell you more about the inspiration and resources that contributed to this fun little magical place.  I've been so excited!
This fairy garden is a combination of my two loves... miniatures and gardening.  I'm no pro, but this is the fourth fairy garden I've created.  My original fairy garden took a beating this past winter, so I decided to replace it with this one.  The other two were starter gardens that were gifts for my mom and my auntie.  Maybe I will eventually share photos of those, too. 

*WARNING*  Today's post is very photo and text heavy, so if you like lots of photos-- fabulous!  You're in the right place.  If not-- well, please try to endure.  I hope you won't be disappointed! 

Well, let's start at the beginning.  The sweet mushroom house above is actually a birdhouse that's been sitting in my playroom/studio since last summer.  The terra cotta flower pots were from my miniature collection.  I shopped my garage and studio for things to use in this project.  You would be surprised at what I could dig up around here.  Well, if you know me in "real life", maybe it's no surprise.  (Did I hear someone whisper "hoarder"?  Yeah, I won't deny it.)
This garden arch is the first thing I purchased for my fairy garden.  I've planted a wire vine next to it, and it seems to be training up the lattice quite well.  I purchased this arch and the two little planters at The Antique Gardener in Sutter Creek about four or five years ago and they've held up quite well.  It's fun to have a structure or two in the garden.  This time I built some stone steps climbing up to the arch and sprinkled and packed some small gravel between them.  I hope to grow some moss between the stepping stones in the garden someday.  Wouldn't that be pretty?
I just wanted to show you a close up of the little table of goodies that the fairies put under the arch for the party.  Do you like the little sage leaf table runner?  I love little natural touches like that.  The fairies took the inspiration for their goodies from Meg.  (They went right back into the dollhouse after the party.  I didn't want to leave these out permanently because they would probably deteriorate outside!)
This little clothesline is one of my favorite things about this little garden.  It was so easy to build.  I just found two sticks in my yard and strung them together with embroidery floss.  The little clothespins came from Michaels. 
Yes, this photo was taken on a different laundry day. (Note: a different "skirt" on the clothesline.)  I felt like a little girl playing with dolls when I, uh, helped the fairies hang the laundry.  After the laundry was done, the fairies used those garden tools to clean up the mess that the gnomes left.  They just waved the tools around and twirled about and... POOF!  The mess was gone, and every leaf was in place again.  I wish that trick would work for me, here around the house.
When the fairies aren't working, they're playing.  They love to catch teeny tiny butterflies with their net.  They always let them go after a few minutes though.  They're kind of sensitive about anything with wings.  You can read about that adorable tiny butterfly jar here.
When the fairies need to sit for a bit they either lounge around on the lawn by the clothes line, or they sit on this little vine twig chair.  I found this little chair and clay pillow at The Secret Garden in Elk Grove.
Here's a view of this corner... there's actually a lot going on here. This tiny path was created from chips off of my own garden path, and the wire edging is from my favorite garden center of all time, Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery.  If you are ever in the Sacramento area, take the opportunity to go there.  I always leave there feeling inspired.
This photo has a great variety of textures in it... the rocks, the three different types of foliage, and the metal pieces. It's so fun to place cute little accessories around the garden. I think little details add so much charm and character to these little gardens.
I love this sweet little birdbath.  When I water the garden each morning, I always try to put some water in it. Yeah, I get excited about little things like that.
Doesn't this plant look like some kind of dwarf succulent?  Love, love, love it.  It may be a small variety of sedum, but I can't remember.  I love how the leaves catch the water each morning.  I will list some great plants for fairy gardens at the end of this post... hang in there.
From above... so you can really see the layout.
...and nighttime!  I love these little lights I bought last year from QVC.  They're battery operated and have a built-in timer.  The lights are each the size of a piece of rice, and they're strung on a fine wire... perfect for the fairy garden.  I wouldn't have thought to put these lights in my fairy garden if it weren't for the inspiration from my friend, Lisa.  As far as I've seen, her garden is the only one with lights.  Placing lights in a fairy garden is such a brilliant idea!
I love to see the fairy garden aglow in the evenings... it makes me so happy.  I find myself peeking through the window and going out to see it each night.  (Just another photo of the fairy garden party--prior to being crashed by the gnomes.)
I must say, this has been one of the most fun projects I've done in a long time.  Building this fairy garden took me to a whole different level of happy.  That kind of happy you feel as a little girl, totally immersed in playing make-believe.  It makes my heart happy every time I look at it.  I hope it made your heart happy too.


*** But wait-- there's more!  You can build some happy too!  Here are some resources for plants, accessories, and more pointers on how to build your own miniature fairy garden.  Note that I have not been paid to promote these sites. (But I should be.*giggle*) If any of you have more tips, ideas or favorite sources for ideas, please feel free to share!  There's so much out there~ 

Plants For Fairy Gardens:  Look for low growing plants like ground covers and moss.  I've incorporated some bonsai plants in this garden and so far they're doing well.  When planting, keep in mind that the watering needs may be different for each plant.  Succulents won't need to be watered as much as moss.  I like to plant where my heart tells me, so I'm just careful when I water the plants.  Below are the names of some of the plants that I've used in fairy gardens: 

Japanese Snowbell (the flowering bonsai tree on the right side of the mushroom house)
Dwarf Horsetail (I love the texture of this one-- it's shown on the left side of the mushroom house)
Sedum Spathulifolium "Cape Blanco"
Dwarf Blue Toadflax
Pyracantha "Fiery Cascade" Firethorn
Irish Moss
Saxifraga "Pearly King" (The flowers look like miniature cherry blossoms!)
Corsican Mint  (Very low growing, and smells soooo good!)
Succulents (Whatever suits your fancy- the younger the plant, the better it fits.)

Hardscape Materials For Fairy Gardens:  Materials for your paths, etc.  Some of this can be found in your own backyard.  "Look at things with a mini eye", as my miniaturist friends would say. Consider the scale you are working with and and the textures.  (Confession: the scale of my 'shroom house and my arch don't match up.  But hey-- it's what I already had around the house!  Seriously-- in the end, just do what makes you happy.)
Gravel: The smaller, the better.  You can find smaller gravel in the bonsai department of your local garden center.  I actually used the gravel that was layered on top of the soil that my succulents and bonsai plants were in when I bought them.  (Recycle, re-use!)

Small Pebbles: Again, the smaller the better.  Check your garden center.  You can find medium to small pebbles in the florist section at craft stores, like JoAnns.

Sand and/or Ground Capiz Shells: They can be found at JoAnns in the florist section.  The capiz shells are great for building a shiny, sparklie path!

Stones:  I found mine in my own yard... keep your eyes to the ground and you'll eventually find some!

Soil:  Okay, this one's a toss up.  Basically, you just want to have well-draining soil.  Be sure there are drain holes in whatever container you use.  I drilled holes in the bottom of my galvanized tub (that I shopped from my garage!), filled it a third of the way with water bottles (so it wouldn't be heavy), then topped it with potting soil.  I put a top layer of bonsai soil on my garden, but it probably isn't necessary.  You can even plant the succulents/bonsai plants, container and all, in the potting soil according to my friend.  I would have never thought of that!

Accessories For Fairy Gardens:

I love this part!  Remember, you can build your own furniture, structures, stepping stones, etc.-- but if you would rather purchase them... More than just shopping~ lots of sweet fairy information.  I love this site.  I've always loved this site.  They have many of the accessories that I found locally, plus lots and lots more.  Great shopping-- especially if you're just getting started. This site also carries a lot of metal accessories.  The furniture-- ahhhh!  It's beautiful!  Looks like they may be swamped with orders right now, but be sure to stop by for the inspiration.

More Inspiration For Fairy Gardens:

Fairy Garden Flickr Groups:

Miniature Backyard Fairy Gardens
Mini Garden

Pinterest: (Of course!)

These girls have a great board to springboard ideas from...


The Magic Onion~ This is such a sweet blog, full of ideas for creating your own little woodland miniature garden.

There are a lot more ideas out there, but I hope this gives you a good start.  Thanks so much for stopping by.  It means a lot to me to be able to share the happy with all of you.  Okay-- now go have fun! oxo