lovely things

Some lovely things I’ve been enjoying:

::a good book::

A Man Called Ove, a Swedish novel about an unlovable, suicidal curmudgeon, and the people who make a difference in his life, past and present. I wept at the end of this book.

ove

::a pretty song (and video)::

This is old, but I listened to it on my way home from work and remembered how much I loved it and just put it on repeat for a little while.

::my porch::

I still have a lot of work to do on my porch this summer, we had some big winds this winter that blew stuff around and made a mess. Pots were broken and plants destroyed, but I’ve made this corner nice and comfortable and spend most evenings and weekends here. It’s perfect for knitting, spinning, reading, and just watching the birds. And hanging out with dogs, of course.

on the porch

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fairy garden

fairy garden 1

I finally made my little fairy garden this weekend. I used a poorly constructed (by me) box from scraps of wood from an old, weathered fence that fell over a few years ago. And then I thought I’d practice with my nifty 50 lens and take some artistically dreamy photos.

fairy garden2

That might not have been the best idea, since I still don’t know what I’m doing or how to capture what I want.

fairy garden 3

Well, it is a fairy’s eye view I guess.  How about an iPhone photo of the whole thing?

9390297352_3777d77985_o

Well, bad photos aside, it was a lot of fun to collect small plants and garden accessories and design a garden for the imaginary wee folk. Winston wonders when they are going to show up, so he can eat them.

winston

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succulent

succulentThis succulent (and other plants) gardening thing might become an addiction. Luckily, I think it’s a pretty healthy one. I decided to go big and brought home this lovely thing a few days ago – it’s about 10 inches across. I’m reading Succulents Simplified in an attempt to learn how to best care for all these plants I keep buying, and even attempting to remember the Latin names. I believe this guy is a Dudleya Pulverulenta (aka chalk lettuce). Like always, I have a whole board dedicated to just succulents.

I love the way succulents are like sculptures. I’m enjoying the creativity of putting plants together in little arrangements that are pleasing to start with, but with patience, eventually become something lusher and richer. I think this pot needs something to creep over the edge to finish it off, some kind of sedum, probably.

succulent

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go water some plants.

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green-ish thumb

I think it’s pretty obvious that I like flowers. I also like vegetables, and I love the idea of a garden. I have tried a few times to turn the back corner of our property into a vegetable garden, without success. Despite the fact that this is Southern California, the elevation (4000 feet) at which we live makes for harsh conditions in the garden.

Our last frost date is Memorial Day, so that means there are few vegetables that I can plant outdoors before June. One year, I waited patiently for that last weekend in May, and then filled my 4′ x 8′ raised bed with just as many plants as I could. And then we have several frosty nights well into June, which reduced most everything to a black, shriveled mess.

Undeterred, the next year I tried again, although I was less ambitious, and didn’t plant quite as much. Each day I faithfully watered my little vegetables, and every day it seemed like there were fewer plants. The soil itself seemed undisturbed, but a plant that I swore had been there the day before was suddenly missing. A closer inspection revealed very faint animal tracks, probably a rabbit or squirrel. Whatever it was, it made tidy work of eating my tender plants right down to the ground and letting nothing go to waste. Whatever little beast it was, it eventually ate everything.

This year, I had to move the geese out to that back garden pen, because they were beating up on my chickens, so there will be no attempt at a vegetable garden this year. Instead I’ve decided to focus on container gardening, and so far, I am enjoying much better results.

container garden

So far there has been only one casualty. I originally had a purple and white lisianthus in the middle pot, above. The day after I repotted it, the whole thing just keeled over. I have no idea why. I thought I’d try to return it, so I removed it back to the pot it came in, and it perked up a little. I don’t know if it will recover completely, but I guess it liked it’s cramped plastic pot better than my pretty, roomy, distressed terra cotta pot. I replaced it with this geranium, and I actually like this whole arrangement so much better.

geranium

I love the tiny flowers, and the silvery grey-green foliage.

I know it’s all about the porch all the time around here, but I’m so happy with how it is coming together, and it is where I spend most of my time when I am home. All my pots of herbs and flowers and succulents are what make it feel so lush and special to me, and shockingly, nearly everything seems happy and is growing.

down the porch

I got really ambitious and even added a dwarf kumquat, which will move inside this fall. I am going to try really hard to keep it alive. And the Silver Falls hanging just above is one of my favorite things. It’s just in the ugly plastic pot it came it, so I need to find something pretty to put it in. Luckily, the plant covers most of the pot, so I hardly notice it.

Pulley is hanging out in my new seating area. I want to make a cover for the cushions on the love seat, and a new slipcover for the ottoman, so I’m not going to bore you with too many pictures of that area. I hope to have a really dramatic before and after post once I get that stuff done.

side table

I found that it really started looking homey out here when I added a few things to my bright yellow side table.

Despite giving up on the raised bed for now, we do have a few nice things happening elsewhere on our property. Mr. Heylucy has been planting trees every weekend, hoping to replace some of the shade we lost when our oak trees died. We discovered that a previously unknown bush is actually an elder berry shrub. It doesn’t seem to mind our climate, and has become enormous this last year. I don’t know why we never noticed that it had berries on it before. I may have to try making some elderberry syrup later this summer, and bottle it up to treat winter colds.

elderberries1I put in a few tomatoes by the chicken pen, and they are growing and starting to bloom, so I’m hopeful that we’ll get at least enough to enjoy in salads. Someday I want a giant tomato patch so I’ll have enough to can and make sauce to last all winter. I have two big pots near the back door. I stuck a few strawberries in one, and the two little dogs thought it would be great fun to jump in and dig it all up. I haven’t even had the heart to clean up the soil they spewed all over the walk way. Nobody got any treats that night, I can tell you.

fairy garden-to-beNext up: a fairy garden in a box! Pulley says, “yay, something else for me to play with on the porch!”

sir pulleyLook at that face! I love the little water droplets on his whiskers. His favorite thing to do is bring sticks on to the porch and then chew them up and leave all the little bits for me to sweep up. It is not my favorite thing.

 

 

 

 

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the next phase

I am fully committed to my porch project, and making a lot of progress. Even though I have a lot more that I want to do, it’s now my favorite spot to hang out. I can eat out there, sit and knit, read, or even take a nap.

I finished two pillows and have a couple more pillow forms waiting for covers. I played with batik again, and again, it was a lot of fun. This time I went bright with pink and orange dye. I originally added the orange to the pink dye bath when I was finished with it, hoping for more of a coral color. Obviously, I should have added less orange for that to happen. I’m fine with the bright tangerine, though.

pillowsI just used a paint brush and beeswax on drop cloth fabric, like last time, but I think if I do this again, I’ll invest in this special tool to see if it gives me a little more control. I just keep calling this sort of imperfect outcome ‘organic,’ to legitimize all the gloppiness of it.

I love the texture of the drop cloth for these pillows, which will be outdoors much of the time. The cushion covers are simply two squares of the dyed fabric with an invisible zipper in the bottom seam, so they’ll be easy to remove and wash.

pink pillow

I know, I need to paint my rocking chair. It’s an old, cheap one from Wal-Mart that Mr. Heylucy surprised me with one day, years and years ago, so I can’t complain. Painting it is on the to-do list, but it’s at the bottom for now.

Completely unrelated to all this, I made a little rosemary wreath after work the other day, just for fun. I have two giant rosemary bushes in serious need of pruning, so I cut enough sprigs for this project. And you can’t even tell, the bushes are still spilling over the walkway. I could probably make a couple dozen wreaths from those monsters.

rosemary wreath

Here’s a quick how-to, in case you want to make one yourself (it’s super easy and fun!): cut lots and lots of rosemary sprigs. Strip the leaves from the bottom few inches, and bunch three or so together and wrap with floral wire (I have a paddle of very thin, green wire, so it’s easy to wrap). Don’t cut your wire. Gather together another bunch, again striping the leaves from the bottom, and overlap the first bunch, wrapping the two bunches together and continuing down the stems of the second bunch. Keep repeating with new bunches until you have a string of rosemary long enough to shape into a circle. Wrap the last bunch to the first bunch. If you have a lot of wire showing, you can just add more sprigs here and there with short bits of wire to cover it up. And that’s it! Hang up your wreath and admire your handiwork, and marvel that it just took a few minutes to make. If it’s a bit wonky, just call it ‘organic.’

And going back to the porch, here’s a gratuitous picture of Pulley, who likes hanging out there as well.

pulley on the porch

 

 

 

 

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