Garden Themes!

 

My breakfast patio is one of my quiet spaces...

My breakfast patio is one of my quiet spaces…

Have you been dreaming of a new garden but just can’t figure out what you want to do? Well… check out my new post at Your Home with Karie Engels for 4 awesome ideas!

Click the link to take you right on over!

http://yourhomewithkarieengels.com/2013/11/21/garden-themes

Happy Day,
Jean

Kitchen Gardens

Check out my new post at The Detroit News, The Good Life blog… follow this link and please like it!

This is a photo of my Potager or Kitchen Garden... follow the link for an easy how-to!

This is a photo of my Potager or Kitchen Garden… follow the link for an easy how-to!

http://blogs.detroitnews.com/thegoodlife/2013/03/28/kitchen-gardens-grow-yummy-veggies-right-outside-your-back-door/

Happy day,
Jean

My Potting Shed

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” ~Helen Hayes

This photo was taken of me with my potting shed shortly after we had it all done... I was so happy- I finally had the perfect spot to put my garden bike!

This photo was taken of me with my potting shed shortly after we had it all done… I was so happy- I finally had the perfect spot to put my garden bike!

If ever a quote expressed my hearts deepest yearning, this would be as close to perfect as I can imagine. The days are promising to grow warmer, so my heart languishes and pines more earnestly for them… Yes, all to soon…. all too soon there will be that earthy smell I love… the trees will begin to bud and then finally burst forth into heavenly blooms and wispy leaves. Spring… come and fill this dead winter world with awe and inspire me.

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I’ve got big plans this year that include repainting my potting shed along with a new bed to wrap around it. A lovely, cheerful aqua blue with white trim will give her an all new look… a more cottage look. Currently the back has several antique garden tools, a shelf and a french door on it (see photo). I am planning on making a bed around one side wrapping around the back. My cut flower raised bed garden is on the other side… so excited to finish that up this year. I’m going to plant two different pink climbing roses at each corner around back. The beds will be planted up primarily with perennials from what I split off my other plants this spring. I’m dreaming of my antique white hydrangea, purple cone flowers, Shasta daisies and pink peonies with several purple bell flowers dancing around them. Of course there will be lavenders, creeping phlox and thyme cascading over the rock border. Dreams… oh waiting for them to come to fruition is such a lesson in patience for me. I will share lots of ‘in progress’ photo’s with all of you, along with all the other projects that are on my list this year! Next post: making your spring garden ‘to-do’ list!

Today’s post is going to be a little bit different… I’m going to tell you the story of how my potting shed came to be.

Potting Shed_back_emailver

The story of my potting shed is quite interesting… at least to me. About six years ago a lady I knew was getting rid of there mini-barn because they were planning on purchasing a larger new one. She went on to explain that they were going to tear it down and burn it. I couldn’t believe it… I thought, “What’s wrong with it?”… so then I asked. Well, they wanted something bigger, there wasn’t really anything wrong with it. “Why?”, she asked, “You want it?” DO I WANT IT! Of course I wanted it! Soooo, as I was driving home elated as a purring cat, I started thinking about how we’d get this 8’x10′ mini-barn home…. hmm, well surely Neil would figure it out, after all, it was free! Dreaming all the way home, I just couldn’t believe it… I was finally going to have a potting shed!

When Neil got home that evening I told him the exciting news and of course, he wasn’t quite as excited and he was thinking more along the lines of a ‘mini-barn’ to store the yard tools, mower and tillers…. and hey, it was free. Neil figured out what we needed to get it home and made arrangements with a friend to help and borrow their skid steer and trailer. Overjoyed is an understatement as to how I felt.

Once the ‘building’ arrived, they put it over on a concrete slab that’s located beside our vegetable garden… perfect ‘temporary’ spot I told him… he didn’t get what I meant, but shrugged it off. I’m sure he was thinking, “Temporary nothing, I’m never moving that beast again.”

Gardenbike2_emailver

Two years later with tow straps and chains wrapped around it, my potting shed was being dragged across and down the driveway to her ‘permanent’ location… so I thought. Neil stopped for a moment to check something and the strap fell off. He told our daughter, then just thirteen, to get in the truck and when he said to go, lightly give it a bit of gas to tighten it up and move forward s-l-o-w-l-y. There wasn’t much further to go, and it ‘should’ have been fine. Well, Taylor being a bit nervous accidentally put the truck into reverse… In the meantime, Neil was standing between the truck and shed… he later told me he thought for some reason it would be smarter to move out from between and then suddenly… Rrrummmmm! SMASH!!!! right into the front corner of the potting shed. She knocked the frame right off its skid! I was inside… not watching, but I heard the smash and went to the window and looked… oh to my dismay! Neil was ready to burn it in the driveway (remember, we live in the country). Of course I wasn’t about to allow that to happen! Being the optimist I am, I said it would be fine, lets finish taking it to the spot and access the damages and what repairs would need to be made. So, Neil calmed down and took care of it….

After some tucks and band-aids, we resided the outside, put a new floor and walls on the inside- all with boards that Neil milled on our sawmill- it was a whole new building… my Potting Shed! Now it was time to paint the inside and out and then decorate it…

And today, I have a beautiful potting shed that adorns my yard. The sad part to this story is I didn’t take any photos of it before we fixed it up! I had recently been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and had been quite sick before they found out what was wrong with me… shortly after I had a baby… so no photos. This is a perfect example of why I always encourage my readers to take photos and document your projects. I am so disappointed that I don’t have before and after photos.

In my next post I will show photos of other potting sheds to give you more inspiration!
Please be sure to visit Dragonflies Facebook page for additional daily photos, links and insprirations that can only be seen there…

Also, check out my weekly post at The Detroit News, The Good Life blog… I post the links on my Facebook page… here is a link to view… these are exclusive post! Be sure to LIKE it!
http://blogs.detroitnews.com/thegoodlife/2013/03/21/starting-seeds-and-homemade-potting-mix-recipe/

Happy Day,
Jean
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http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wren-In-The-Willow/137572243072292?ref=hl

Containers for Planting



I love to set up old, chipped paint chairs in and around my gardens.
 This one sits just outside of the kitchen garden.
A pot filled with happy pansies rests on top and an old rusty tin bucket sits beside… both ready to welcome
garden walkers!







This is an old fashioned double burner canner, or ‘water bather’!
I picked this beauty up at a junk yard when Neil was looking for a part! 
You never know where you’ll find good garden junque!
Once again pansies say hello to all who travel through the gardens.

This is one of my favorite planters- it’s an old, rusty metal toolbox!
I plant pink geraniums in it every year…
You can see where I used an old barrel in the background as a planter as well!

Have fun and be sure to read my blog below for lots more great Container Gardening ideas!

Happy Day,
Jean

 

More Garden Themes, Beautiful Ice Cubes, Two Super Meatless Sandwich’s!

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson

More Garden Themes, Beautiful Ice Cubes, Two Super Meatless Sandwich’s!

Today was magnificent! The sun was shining and the warmth it gave was strength for the soul.  We worked outside all day~ Neil cleaned out the very messy garage; Taylor washed all the windows in & out; I got flower & raised beds cleaned up with some help, my front porch swept & tidied up and my potting shed all cleaned out~ that was a job.  It seems every fall when ‘stuff’ is getting picked up and put away, it all goes into ‘my’ shed!  Kyle was helping me and he very innocently say’s, “You do this every spring mom.” I’m like, no kidding!  But that’s OK, I love getting in there and finding all the ‘clearance’ garden stuff I stashed away last fall in anticipation for the next summer. After school Kyle and Ethan were outside with Evan helping him fill his bird feeders~ they are so sweet to their baby brother! It paid off, Evan’s boo~jays were there shortly after.  As I was meandering through the flower beds and cleaning, of course I am thinking what needs to be replaced, added and thinned out.  Gardening is a job, but when it is your passion it is so worth while.  Today is going to be the last for ideas on Garden Themes, so I thought we would end with a few I was saving for last. 

Many people think flowers are just for looking at, cutting for arrangements or giving as gifts~ have you ever thought about eating some?  Edible flower’s are much more common in the many gardening magazines the last few years. I love to include pansies and nasturtiums in my salads, they don’t just add beauty but they really are yummy~ Nasturtiums add a ‘peppery’ flavor. Here are a more edibles, try planting them in your kitchen garden, in pots or in your veggie garden. Especially nasturtiums, they should go with your tomato plants!
*All herbs of course, scented geraniums, viola, violets, pansies, nasturtiums, dandelion petals & leafs, hibiscus, johnny jump ups, rose petals, snapdragons, day lily and calendula petals.  There are many more and if you are interested in finding more out on edible plants, a good book is, “Edible Wild Plants~ A North American Field Guide, by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dikeman.   As with all plants, be sure to read about them before ingesting because some need to be had in moderation and some do not go well with certain medications.

*Tea Gardens are always fun simply because of what you can plan with them, who doesn’t love a Tea Party? Creating a Tea Garden is very special, it is beautiful and practical.  Here are some easy to grow plants that make superb teas and blends.
*Lemon Balm, Raspberry leaves, Mints including but not limited to: Spearmint, Pineapple, Apple, Balsam, Orange, Peppermint; Sage, Rose & Chamomile.  This is a very small list but some of the most common to give you a start.

*Beautiful Ice Cubes~ If you are having some friends over or are planning any type of party here is a very easy yet elegant idea to spruce up your beverages. First boil enough water to fill 4 ice cube trays. After the water is boiled pour into ice cube trays and drop in 2 Johnny Jump Up’s or Viola’s into each insert. Freeze. Pop out when ready to use and hear the ‘ahhs’. The boiling of water makes it so the water is crystal clear.

We don’t always need meat on our sandwiches, despite what my husband thinks 🙂 !  Some days you just want it light & simple. Here are two yummy treats that are sure to please!
Farm Fresh eggs are a farmer’s market delight, especially when you get them from The Garden Gate!

Egg Salad on Sour Dough

4 eggs from Garden Gate, hard boiled, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup red onion from Garden Gate, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 loaf of Sour Dough Bread

1.  Using a fork, mash eggs, stir in onion, seasoning and 1/2 the mayo.
2. Cut the loaf in slices, about 8 will do.  Cut the crust* off.  Spread the butter evenly on 4 of the slices and the remaining mayo on the other 4 slices. 
3.  Spoon on egg mixture evenly between 4 slices; top with other.
What to do with radishes other than throw them on a salad or dip in salt and crunch!  Radishes have more uses than that. Here is a fun treat to change things up.  Serve with your favorite soup and a fresh fruit salad, Superb!
Spicy Radish Sandwiches
10 radishes from Garden Gate, washed, trimmed and thinly slice
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. fresh chives from Garden Gate, chopped and divided
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seed
3/4 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. each salt & pepper                                                                                                                      1 baguette, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1. Mix butter, 2 Tbsp. of the chives, sesame seed, ginger and oil in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. 
2. Spread mixture over one side of each baguette slice.  Top with radishes, overlapping slightly.  Sprinkle with remaining chives.
Yum!

Happy Day,
Jean
 

Children’s Gardens & more themes, Butterfly Kisses & a super Yummy Apple ‘Breakfast’ Pie!

Each Spring my children get pretty enthusiastic about planting ‘their’ own garden plots.  Ryan, my soon to be 10year old is always right there ready to get going.  Last year he gathered several old bricks he discovered and made small ‘raised’ beds.  He dug around to loosen the dirt and proceeded to plant his tomato plants along side basil, nasturtiums & marigolds.  He has learned the art of Companion Planting like a true gardener!  Taylor & Kyle are usually in competition as to who’s garden shall yield the greatest bounty and there-by collect the most funds from dad ‘n’ mom! The problem most often is that the thrill doesn’t always last through till the harvest~ before the harvest is weeding & tending~ not such glamorous tasks as the planting!  But they are learning and I believe will someday have beautiful flower & veggie gardens for me to walk through!

But in the meantime here are a few more Garden Themes to dream about & work toward!
The first is a lovely *Children’s Garden~  Sunflower Houses~  A good friend of mine has a really neat book called  Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy.  It is a book all about different children’s garden theme’s.  One that struck us most was a sunflower house. It is so fun & incredibly simple~ first find the perfect spot, a sunny corner in the far back of your veggie garden works well~ or in a flower bed if you have room~ figure about a 6’x6′ area.  You will need the Giant Grey Stripe or Mammoth Sunflower’s or even better a combo of both.  Using a stick for a marker, draw out the area in the dirt, any shape you want will do~ round, diamond, square, whatever~ then plant the seeds according to package directions.  Be sure to leave enough of an opening for an entrance.  Once the seeds start to sprout reseed where any didn’t germinate so you have a complete ‘wall’.  After your sunflowers are about six inches high plant Morning Glory seeds at the base of some of the sunflowers~ about every six would be good.  To make a roof over your hide away, take twine and go around the tops of the sunflowers to make criss~cross sections for the morning glories to climb over.  Once your sunflowers and morning glories are full grown it will be the perfect spot for picnics, story time or playing house.  Your children will love it!
other stuff for the Children to plant…. Children love to plant and if you give them something fun to grow it can even be more special! Let them plant some decorative gourds.  There are more varieties than you can shake a stick at including Swan, Bottle, Snake, Apple and even a Dinosaur Gourd.  Let them page the seed catalogs with you and have them pick what interests them.  There are books that teach the art of Gourdology which can be found at your local library.  The garden project can at harvest time become a craft project!  

Are you a crafty type of person?  Why not try growing your own Wreath Garden.  With the cost of materials these days, a package of seeds will go a long way in the savings department. Try growing these easy plants and who knows you might even be able to start a little business with your craft!
*Flowers that work well for Wreath’s include~ boxwood, sweet annie, yarrow, bay, statice, artemisias and gomphrena. 

*Ditch Garden~
Do you have a ditch in front or alongside your home that just screams ‘do something with me’? It is always an eye soar and you just don’t really have the time to tend another garden? You want something but would like a maintainence free space that looks good without a lot of effort? I did, so last year I attacked the ditch that runs along the road in the front of our yard. My ditch is often fairly wet so my choice was a day lily patch. Here are two very quick & simple solutions if you have a similar dilemma. First & foremost determine how often and to what degree the area is wet.  This will determine if you do a Wild Flower or Day Lily Garden.  Next, if tilling is a possibility rotor~till up the section to be seeded/planted.  If the area is not tillable due to moisture you will need to do a Day Lily garden.  If this is the solution, dig holes about every two feet and plant a clump of day lilies.  They can handle the early spring moisture and tolerate the dry & hot summer days that hit Michigan. If the area is not overly moist and tilling is an option,  simply scatter Wild Flower seeds in it. After a couple years you will have a breathtaking, car slowing garden that will never be an eye soar again.  Which ever you decide will best fit your space, be sure to check planting directions/requirements before you put all the work into it.  

What are Butterfly Kisses you ask? These have been shared in my gardens for many years by me & all my children.  They are the sweetest way to give that little person in your life a ‘special’ kiss & I love you.  So here are step by step instructions for those who are interested!
*First, find one or more of your favorite children.
*Next, stand them close to you and get down to their level~ face to face!
*Getting right up close in their face, put your eye up against their eye and blink as quickly as you can!  Be sure to tell the child to do the same!  The child will of course giggle and ask for tons more and of course you will gladly oblige!
That’s a Butterfly Kiss, and of course they are most fun in a garden!

Who says Apple Pie is just for desert?  This yummy Apple Pie will surprise the ones you love around the table, give it a try!

Apple ‘Breakfast’ Pie

1 beaten Egg, from Garden Gate
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup Pancake Mix from Taylor’s Bake Shoppe
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Vanilla Sugar
2 Granny Smith apples cored & wedged
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter
Add about 1/2 cup nuts is you would like!
Top it with some Whipped Cream or Ice Cream~ Yummy!

1.  Beat the egg, oil & milk together and then add Pancake mix, 1/2 cup of sugar and nuts if using.  Beat until smooth, but don’t over beat.
2. Pour into a greased 10″ pie plate. 
3. Arrange the apples evenly over batter.  Combine the 2 Tbsp. of sugar with cinnamon & nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples.  Dot with butter.
4.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 30- 35 minutes or until apples when poked feel tender.  Serve warm with your choice of topping.

Happy Day,
Jean