Archive for Bringing the outside in

A Cherry Blossom Tree Craft For The Ages

It’s almost cherry blossom time here in the D.C. metro area. That is the time all of us who live around here look forward to each year. It is a magical time, the harbinger of spring, and a time to enjoy all the beauty that Mother Nature provides us. It’s fleeting though, and the tree blossoms only last for a couple of weeks, if we are even lucky to have them for that long. So today I want to show you an easy peasy craft that is super realistic looking, and will last years to come! Come along, and I’ll show you how to make this cherry blossom arrangement —

These cherry blossom branches are so realistic looking, don’t you think? My mother-in-law, Barbara, made them close to 20 years ago as a craft project with her garden club. Here’s how to make them…

First step is to go out in the yard and pick up dead, fallen branches. These were from actual cherry trees, but many other types of tree branches work well: willow, dogwood, crepe myrtle — really, any branches that are thin will work for this. They can be straight or curved. Collect as many as you want for your arrangement. For reference, this one has about 30 branches and fills a 5 inch diameter vase. Next, cut the branches to what ever length you desire. Those in the photo are about 24″ long.

The next step is to cut LOTS of 1 1/2″ circles out of pink tissue paper. Plan on at least 6 circles for each branch. You can buy a paper punch at craft stores to make these circles quickly, or go old school and just cut them out free form, they don’t need to be perfect. Fold each circle into quarters, and crimp the bottom. This makes the little individual blossoms. We found it easier to make a whole bag of them at one time. Glue each blossom on a branch, leaving 4″ to 5″ of space between flowers. My favorite glue to use is a hot glue gun because it dries so quickly, but you can really use any craft glue so long as it dries clear. Let the glue dry thoroughly.

An alternative would be to make coral colored circles which would look like quince branches, or yellow circles would look like forsythia branches.

Next, using a vase of your choice, add each branch individually into the vase to get a beautiful shape, and enjoy! These are so beautiful, and look so real! I’m not kidding when I say these are 20 years old; they really last a long time! I hope you will try to make some.

Happy Spring Everyone!

The Weather Outside is Frightful — Time for Some Indoor Gardening!

2018 has been foggy, windy and mostly frigid- time to stay inside!

2018 has been foggy, windy and mostly frigid. Time to stay inside!

 

I’m ready for some nicer days — aren’t you? 2018 has been unusually frigid and foggy, wildly windy, and with sudden, crazy temperature swings.¬† It makes me crave some tropical — or at least milder — springtime weather. Not to be had just yet, so until then, I’m doing some gardening indoors.

Crazy back and forth temperature swings have confused even the pansies as to what season we are in.

Crazy back and forth temperature swings have confused the pansies as to what season we are in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for a fun new plant or two- this one is a weeping pussy willow.

Time for a fun new plant or two — this one is a weeping pussy willow.

 

 

 

I’m always on the lookout for interesting new houseplants and couldn’t resist this one. It’s a weeping pussy willow, grafted onto a standard willow trunk. There is a legend that goes along with it: If you tie a loose knot in a trailing willow branch and then make a wish, the wish will come true. You then untie the knot and thank the tree, and it will grant you more wishes in the future. Well, I could use some of that! I’ll tell you if it works!

 

My shamrock is also starting to bloom again. I guess it knows that St. Patrick's Day is almost here.

Another great low-light plant is the shamrock. This shamrock is starting to bloom again. I guess it knows that St. Patrick’s Day is almost here!

 

 

 

 

The peace lily and the shamrock also are starting to bloom. I’ve had both of these for a number of years and highly recommend them for low-light areas. Mine are both in need of re-potting in larger containers, but I’ll wait until the blooms fade. A good rule of thumb is to use the next size up in pots, and March is a perfect time to re-pot a houseplant.

This peace lily is a great plant for low-light conditions, and rebloos several times a year.

This peace lily is a great plant for low-light conditions, and re blooms several times a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are orchids that are not blooming at the moment. I have any idea to try-

These are orchids that are not blooming at the moment. I have any idea to try –

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m waiting on some orchid plants to come back into bloom and decided to do something fun with them — I made an orchid garden to use as a centerpiece in the dining room.

If you want to try to make one of your own, here’s how: I took a huge punch bowl and lined it with floral foam (mine took four bricks of floral foam). I then added the real orchids (still in their pots) into the punch bowl around the outside rim. (So they can be popped out easily to water and put back in.) With the space that was left, I added faux orchids (I used 9 stems/sprays), and filled in with pine cones to cover any remaining visible floral foam or open spots. (You could also use moss, or shells, or anything you like for this step.) Bunching them all together garden style like this creates a statement piece with lots of impact. It’s so tropical-looking — just what I was going for! It makes me feel like I’m in a Victorian greenhouse when I look at it — a real plus for these chilly days. This could be done with any flowers or greenery that makes you happy, so I hope you’ll give it a try. Good cure for the winter blahs!

Here's my finished orchid garden- hope you'll give this a try!

Here’s my finished orchid garden. Hope you’ll give this a try!

Time for Collecting Seeds and Preserving Blooms

Look closely at your plants, many will have seed pods that you can dry and save for next year. This begonia has really strikingly pretty ones in a teardrop shape.

Look closely at your plants. Many will have seed pods that you can dry and save for next year. This begonia has strikingly pretty ones in a teardrop shape.

 

Hi, friends — happy fall! I’m sorry I have not posted for a while. I’ve been busy finishing up projects, and glad to say that I have completed many. The ten new storm windows are installed, and the new flooring in my basement finished, too. Now I can get back to my favorite thing — gardening! I was asked to write a post on how I collect seeds and keep plants for the next year, and I am happy to do just that.

 

There are many plants that I’m saving this year by collecting their seeds and berries.

After collecting pods, let them dry out. Break them open and pop the seeds out. Save for Spring planting.

After collecting pods, let them dry out. Break them open and pop the seeds out. Save for spring planting.

I like to store my seeds in recycled glass jars. I glue silica packs to the inside of the lid to keep moisture at bay.

I store my seeds in recycled glass jars. I glue silica packs to the inside of the lid to keep moisture at bay.

The pretty Hyacinth bean vine produced literally hundreds of pods this year. The best way to save these is simply to pick them and let the pods dry out. The pods break open quite easily then, and I just store the seeds in a glass jar until next spring. Here’s a preserving tip that you might not know: Glue a silica pack on the inside of jar lids — it will absorb any excess moisture from accumulating inside the jar. I save the silica packs from old shoe boxes and other shipping boxes that come with them inside, so it’s a great reuse for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many bushes in the garden will drop berries that will sprout in the Spring. Transplant the seedlings from these to a safe spot in the garden, and you will be amazed at how quickly these volunteers will grow into great new plants.

Many bushes will drop berries that will sprout in the spring. Transplant the seedlings to a safe spot in the garden, and you will be amazed at how quickly these volunteers will grow into great new plants.

Many plants in the garden, such as the nandina, holly bushes, pyracantha and liriope, have berries that I just let fall into the garden. In the spring I cull the best sprouts from these to start new plants. It’s amazing how quickly they grow into beautiful plants all on their own with hardly any effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the annual flowers that I grow in the garden produce seeds. If you check the soil in the areas that you have planted with annuals, you will see volunteers sprout up regularly. I do this every year with the vinca that is planted by the driveway. Even the gorgeous heirloom begonias that I grow in pots will self-seed. It’s always a good idea to save some of the seed just in case they don’t return. It’s easy to find the seeds. They will either be in little pods or form inside the flowers.

I love how many varieties of vinca are now growing in my garden. Many annuals will drop seed throughout the Summer, and if the soil is not distrubed too much you will have many new sprouts in the Spring. I like to keep the strongest of the new sprouts and clear the rest.

Many annuals will drop seed throughout the summer, and if the soil is not disturbed too much you will have many new sprouts in the spring. I like to keep the strongest of the new sprouts and clear the rest. Each year I like to grow a different color vinca. It’s fun to see the blend of colors from previous years, growing up through the current year’s plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the more tender herbs and plants are easily propagated by taking cuttings that you can root in water then plant indoors to save over the winter months. Begonias and basil are two of my favorites.

Some of the more tender herbs and plants are easily propagated by taking cuttings that you can root in water then plant indoors to save over the winter months. Begonias and basil are two of my favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another way of saving begonias, ivy and many herbs (such as basil) is by pinching off a few branches and rooting them in water. In just a few weeks you will have enough roots to sustain a fresh plant that you can keep indoors over the winter months, and plant outside once spring comes. The same can be done with many of the hardy herbs, like chives, oregano and thyme that grow in a clump. Just divide a small clump (2″ or so), and plant to create a wonderful indoor planter that you can pick and enjoy for cooking all winter.

 

 

 

This is a huge bundle of liatris from the garden that I hung to dry and then arranged in a clay pot. I have many of these on top of the cabinets in my mud room.

This is a huge bundle of liatris that I hung to dry and then arranged in a clay pot. I have many of these on top of the cabinets in my mud room.

I hang lots of the flowers from the garden from peg racks to let them dry, and store them there until they make their way into a flower arrangement. It adds color, and I love having a reminder of Summer all Winter long. Here I have yarrow, oregano, pussy willow, bay leaves, lavendar and many others. Easy to do!

I hang lots of the flowers from the garden from peg racks to let them dry, and store them there until they make their way into a flower arrangement or wreath. It adds color, and I love having a reminder of summer all winter long. Here I have yarrow, oregano, pussy willow, bay leaves and many others. Even hummingbird vine that I twist into wreath bases. Easy to do, and it’s fun to be able to make things for gifts that you grow yourself!

 

There are some herbs and perennials that I cut and dry to enjoy all winter in bundles and arrangements through out the house. These will stay pretty — sometimes for years — if they are out of direct sun. I regularly dry the liatris, yarrow and even oregano when it’s flowering. I like to hang it in bundles from peg racks in the mud room to add a little color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are other perennials like the blackberry lily that I let dry and the seeds will easily shake off into a paper bag. Those will be saved in a jar as well for springtime planting.

Some perennials produce very decorative seeds after flowering, like these blackberry lily. Once the stems start to fade, I cut and dry them. It's easy to shake the seeds off into a paperbag and save them for next year's planting.

Some perennials produce very decorative seeds after flowering, like these blackberry lily. Once the stems start to fade, I cut and dry them. It’s easy to shake the seeds off into a paper bag and save them for next year’s planting.

Happy Fall Gardening Everyone!

Happy Fall Gardening Everyone!

 

I hope that you will try a few of these in your own garden. Seeds are like coins in a piggy bank. It’s always fun to have some “Gardener’s Gold,” and don’t forget to share your bounty with other gardeners — a jar of seeds for a Christmas gift is always fun and welcome!

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Bringing Autumn Inside the Home

Sunflowers are one of my favorite fall flowers- I love to have them on the kitchen table to enjoy.

Sunflowers are one of my favorite fall flowers. I love to have them on the kitchen table to enjoy.

I hope this finds everyone enjoying the beauty of autumn. I feel like the rich colors of the season — golds, oranges and reds — are always so heartwarming.

It inspires me to bring those colors inside my home and display as many of my favorite pumpkins, gourds and fall flowers as I can. I use real, dried and artificial ones in bowls, baskets and flower pots all over the house. The more the merrier for me.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a bit of an obsession for those cute little gourds. I’ve been collecting them for years and love putting them out each fall. This year’s decoration is more casual and simple here at the house. Here are some photos of some of my favorites — hope you enjoy the autumn tour!

I love to change up the weathervane for each season. This time of year I surround it with gourds.

The weather vane gets something different for each season. This time of year I surround it with gourds.

My collection of paper mache gourds are used to fill all kinds of containers which I use on tabletops and as centerpieces. Whenever I see new gourd varieties this collection grows!

My collection of paper mache gourds are used to fill containers which I use on tabletops and as centerpieces. Whenever I see new gourd varieties this collection grows!

I like to have some flowers by all the entry doors to welcome visitors. This year I used beautiful deep yellow mums by the front door. My favorite gargoyle welcoming visitors, too!

I like to have some flowers by all the entry doors to welcome visitors. This year I used beautiful deep yellow mums by the front door. My favorite gargoyle is welcoming visitors, too!

By the kitchen door I have pansies, violas & mums in yellow, plum and burgundy colors. Most of my friends and family use this door so I always like it to look cheery.

By the kitchen door, I have pansies, violas and mums in yellow, plum and burgundy colors. Most of my friends and family use this door so I always like it to look cheery.

More pansies fill containers on the deck for entertaining outside.

More pansies fill containers on the deck to look festive for entertaining outside.

Back inside on the mantle in the family room I love to display the pumpkins with lanterns, ivy and more candles.

Back inside, on the family room mantle  I love to display the pumpkins with lanterns, ivy and more candles.

Adding a few of my chubby birds in the family room, too!

Adding a few of my chubby birds into the mix in the family room, too!

The living room fireplace has a fun new twist this year with the addition of some antique spools that I'm using to display pumpkins on top of. Reminds me of my dear friend who gave them to me every time I see them!

The living room fireplace has a fun new twist this year with the addition of some antique spools on which I display small pumpkins. Reminds me of my dear friend who gave them to me every time I see them!

A grapevine pumpkin with a spray of fall leaves and berries under a garden cloche sits on the coffee table.

A grapevine pumpkin with a spray of fall leaves and berries under a garden cloche sits on the coffee table.

Simply piled on a platter to add color in the dining room.

Pumpkins piled simply on a platter add color on the dining room mantle.

Who wants soup? I love all the pumpkin bowls and tureens at home shops the last few year. These have a lid to keep things hot.  I've used them to bake pumpkin custard, too- yum!

Who wants soup? I added these to my collection a few years ago. They have a lid to keep things hot. I’ve used them to bake pumpkin custard in, too – yum!

In years past we created much more elborate arrangements- this one was made by my Mom & I for her garden club event, but I'm feeling like a simpler style this year.

In years past, we created much more elaborate arrangements. This one was made by my Mom and me for her garden club event, but this year I’m feeling like a more casual style fits my mood.

And last, but not least a favorite table runner with pumpkins, and a trifle bowl full of gourds on the dining room table. I wish everyone a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving and hope this will insipe you to bring some autumn into your home!

And last, but not least a favorite table runner with a pumpkin motif, and a trifle bowl full of gourds on the dining room table. It’s not fancy, and I like the simpleness for everyday. Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving and hope this will inspire you to bring some autumn bounty into your home!

 

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