Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What’s the Secret Garden?

Before I post about my Spring Fever list update this week I’ll first need to explain to you what I mean by Secret Garden, since several of the items on my to-do list refer to it.

It’s not something I meant to be a secret from YOU, oh no.

Quite the contrary. I think you’ll totally “get” what this is about.

You see, growing up a middle child in a teeny tiny house surrounded by my parents and 5 sisters every minute of the day, I was known as the quiet child who most times could be found curled up in a corner behind a chair with her nose stuck in a book. 

As a matter of fact I would often shut myself in the bedroom closet with a flashlight to read by (yeah, I know, anti-social behavior there) in my attempt to find my own space.

Don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of time playing outdoors with the other kids, but I always craved time alone too. 

Probably because it was so hard to come by in our loud and crazy household. Why, we shared everything; 3 girls to a bedroom, each getting one drawer out of the lone dresser in each room. Clothes, toys, bikes, even friends were shared by all.  We had only one bathroom in the house so even that was not a place to be alone.  As a result I tended to favor stories that had some sort of secret place, be it a secret tunnel, a cave,  a room, or a garden

One of my favorite books  was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett

(If you click on the link above it will take you to a free website where you can read the book online )

That story stuck with me and I’ve always wanted a “secret” garden of my very own.  It doesn’t need to be very big, no, not at all.  It just needs a door and some kind of walls but not necessarily stone walls.

It’s funny how the kid we once were always remains inside us.  Even though I now have a whole house shared only with my husband and dogs; a house with rooms we don’t even set foot in most days (weeks even), I still dream of having my own space like that magical secret garden I read about way back when I was 9.

When we fenced in our yard several years ago it occurred to me that the small side yard bordered by the house on one side and the 6 ft stockade fence on two other sides just needed one more wall to enclose it to make my very own secret garden.  I kept that little thought to myself while I  I worked on the more public areas of the yard, like the gazebo sitting area, the patio and Outdoor Kitchen, the Rainbow Memorial Garden, and even the potting shed.

Finally, this spring I’m ready to tackle the Secret Garden, where that little 9 year old Rose who so desperately wanted her own quiet space will be able to enter at will.

Will I be able to pull it off?

Only time will tell.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

A Stop at Linda’s House

Last Friday I got a call from my friend Linda.  She wanted to let me know she had potted a Hops vine for me and it was ready to be planted.

Isn’t she the best?  Last year I tried to grow some from seed and lost all the seedlings.  They just withered away and died.

Hmm, was I supposed to water them or something? (kidding!)



Long story short, we were trying to figure out a time to meet and it just so happened I was on my way to a place just beyond her town.  We decided I would stop by on my way back home.

It was such perfect timing!

I started to tell her all about the “secret garden” I was working on and she immediately said she had lots of plants she was thinning out from her gardens and I was very welcome to take any I wanted.  Wow!  I was super excited!

Linda lives in an old Victorian style farmhouse she bought many years ago and has fixed it up beautifully. 

She’s an avid gardener and with 4 1/2 acres has no shortage of yard to garden in.

I’m green with envy of her Barn and Potting Shed, not to mention the amazing front porch she has.

Check out the bead board ceiling and ceiling fan on that porch!


I had my camera with me and this time I made sure to snap a few photos to share. 

Her house is amazing, both inside and out, but I’m afraid I was only focusing on the outside on that particular visit. 

These rusty relics sit outside the barn and hold potted flowers during the summer.



Linda tells me the birds were getting into the barn through holes in the siding so she put birdhouses over the holes.

They look so cute!


And I’ve seen this particular piece in the summer when vines are trailing over it and flowers spilling out of each of the holes.

It’s heavenly!


Old ladders and angel make a sweet vignette leaning against the barn wall. 

Those ladders will soon be made into an arbor.


This next picture is of her potting shed.  This used to be a well house (?) on the property across the road from Linda.  She rescued it from demolition, had it brought over to her house and set about restoring it so she could use it as a potting shed. 

Isn’t it adorable?


The gardens are still being cleaned up and aren’t in full bloom yet. 

This one by the road has lots of spring bloomers and is already spiffed up for the season with a layer of fresh mulch.


You can barely see in the background there’re more gardens beyond this and a huge tree with a wooden bench built all the way around it.

I wish I had taken pictures of that end too, there’s a white bike in the background and several arbors.


While Linda wasn’t looking I snapped a picture of her in her cute garden boots.  shhhhhh…..


I managed to get a couple shots of the side entry.  She painted the walls herself with a dappled effect using 3 different paint colors and a “woolly”. 

It’s perfect for that space.


I love what she did to her stairs!


The door trim is so elaborate and the tin ceilings make me drool.


While there I had to get an updated picture of the headboard bench I put together for her last year.

She added the decal on the back, a piece of trim on the front edge, and storage baskets underneath.


I’m loving the detail of the new trim!


It was a fun visit, and I went home with a van loaded down with plants.


My secret garden wasn’t quite ready to plant yet so I used my raised garden beds as a temporary landing zone for all the plants,

making sure to cover the roots and water them all well.

(hey, wasn’t that one of the items on my Spring Fever list?)


Thank you so much Linda, I’m thrilled with all the plants and can’t wait to get them situated in their new home.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Fever List week 2 update

I’m moving right along on my spring fever list. 

Mostly because the kids haven’t been around for me to go work on their unfinished rooms.

Oh well, might as well do my own stuff then, right?

This week I decided to tackle # 17…..

17-  Paint new gazebo chairs from estate sale black to match existing set (and touch up the paint on the rest of the furniture while I’m at it.) 




Remember when I got them they were white?

Well now they’re a pretty gloss black. Why gloss you might ask? 

Because that’s what I had in my spray paint collection. 

I had 4 cans of it and figured it was enough to get the job done. 


I even touched up some of the old furniture. 

The coffee table and one chair have been scraped and painted.

I can’t quite cross this off my list entirely as there is one more chair in dire need of  being scraped and painted from the old set. (see the one on the right in the next picture? That’s what the one on the left looked like before I started!)


I ran out of steam, daylight, and spray-paint at about the same time.

It’s close though!

Once I get the painting all done I’ll put out all the cushions and pillows.

Speaking of which……

Last night on my way home from work I stopped at Joann Fabrics  and got a new piece of foam to make that  replacement cushion for the one Sandy chewed up. 

Number 18 is about to be tackled.

Oh yeah!

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Fever Project List update #1

Ok, I need to confess something to you. 

When I published my Spring Fever project list I had already been working on the list. 

By that I mean the list was made but I hadn’t blogged it yet; however I had started on some of the stuff. 

Is that considered cheating?

Oh well; then call me a cheater if you will, but I have an update already!

Are you ready for this?

Item # 3:  Add pergola over Outdoor Kitchen

is now complete! 

Last weekend Mike and I purchased the kit from Lowes and set out to put it up.

The instructions said it would take 2 people approx 2 hours to assemble.

Well, it took us 3 1/2 hours all told.  Most of that extra time was spent undoing and redoing parts that weren’t exactly clear in the directions supplied. 

And then there was the little issue of the wind blowing that day that made the partially assembled roof trusses difficult to stand in place for connecting to the adjoining sides.

We actually had one fall over and bend on the corner. 

I was not very happy-actually I freaked out just a little bit thinking the whole thing was ruined.

(alright already, truth be told I freaked out a LOT!)

Turns out the part that bent was in a place that wouldn’t show after assembly anyways so all ended up cool.

Overall it wasn’t too difficult to do and we really love the new look.

Mike says it looks like a  park pavilion.

Know what?

He’s right!



We popped the cafe light strings up right away, but as you can see the green wire I used to attach it needs to be changed out to something less visible. 

It was pretty cold out by the time we finished but that didn’t stop us from popping open a bottle of wine to celebrate checking off the 1st item from the list.


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Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Fever

The last few days have been typical spring weather around here, temps in the low 50”s during the day, some rain, some sun, near freezing at night.

But that spell of unseasonably warm temps we had a couple of weeks ago really jump-started all the vegetation.  The trees are budding and about ready to burst into leaves, the grass is green, and the tulips are almost ready to bloom. 

I can’t wait until my flower bed in the front yard looks like this again!

Yes, spring has sprung!

I find myself daydreaming about what I want to do out in the yard this year.  My brain is going a mile a minute and I have sketches drawn on every scrap piece of paper I can lay my hands on!

What do I want to accomplish this year?  Oh boy, is that ever a loaded question!

You know me; my list is always longer than the time I have to spend on it.

Let’s pretend that time wasn’t an issue for now. 

These are the items I would tackle.

  1. Potting Shed-  Continue the shed makeover to the inside.  Add a work surface along the back, tiles on the floor, and shelves between every vertical stud.  (oh, and put some glass in the last 3 panes of the door that I broke last fall)  Outside the potting shed; add a galvanized roof and a galvanized awning above the door.                                                                                                                                           
  2. Outdoor kitchen- swap out the louvered cabinet doors with galvanized panels in a frame.                                                     
  3. Pergola over the outdoor kitchen- after much debate we have decided to purchase a metal pergola structure with a canvas roof on it from Lowes. It’s made by Allen & Roth and we think it will work out perfectly for what we want.  (bonus is that I don’t have to build it!)                                                                                                                                            
  4. Add a fan to the soon to be new pergola for bug control
  5. Build 2 arbors for “Secret Garden”
  6. Edge and mulch Secret Garden.
  7. Change path to all stone or mulch (no mowing needed) make spot for chair or bench to sit.
  8. Add vertical elements along house side wall. (trellis, vines)
  9. Garage- Build arbor over doors to garage-plant climbing vines. Something like my friend Deb, of Proper Prim did with her garage.  I’ve been wanting to to it ever since she showed hers.  Isn’t it awesome?    Click on the picture to see how she did it.                                                                                                                                                                  
  10. Remove or rebuild old brick bbq (debating what to do here)
  11. fix Rainbow Garden crib rail fence (from where tree fell on it)                                                                                            
  12. Build a bench for Rainbow Garden replacing store-bought one you can see in the background of this picture.               
  13. Paint arbor in Rainbow Garden (it has peeled this year like crazy!)
  14. Dig trench, run power to gazebo.  Add lighting.
  15. Add screens to breezeway- replacing the ones Sandy destroyed the first week we had her!
  16. Paint old China Cabinet and place in breezeway for outdoor dish storage.
  17. Paint new gazebo chairs from estate sale black to match existing set (and touch up the paint on the rest of the furniture while I’m at it.)                                                                                                                                          
  18. Make a new cushion for the missing back on one chair. (Sandy chewed it up)
  19. Plant flowers in raised beds instead of veggies this year. Use for transplanting to pots and hanging baskets around yard.
  20. Plan and have at least 6 outdoor get-togethers.

There you have it.  I don’t have much to do now, do I? 

I forgot to add play golf 3 times a week.  That’s my social time.

I would love to get all this done, none of it is especially hard or time consuming.  By writing it down it gives me something to refer back to and maybe even keep me on track.  I plan on giving progress reports weekly with a goal of Labor Day for finishing.  Could you help me out a bit here and keep me on task?  (having a very slight tendency to jump into new projects I know I’ll need all the help I can get to stick to my list)

What about you, do you make lists of what you want to do?  Are you good about sticking to them?

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