Saturday, May 31, 2014

Garden Update, 2014

I think it's good for the ego to review long-range progress, especially when it comes to landscaping and gardening. It's just too easy to focus on the lawn that needs mowing NOW, the weeds that need pulling NOW, the pile of landscape pavers you just brought home and don't have time to place, but golly you should get to that NOW.

Back in 2011, my house had been unoccupied for 18 months, two summers' worth. I think it showed:

And we started pulling the front perennial beds apart, getting rid of overgrown ornamental grass, a half-dead flowering plum, and weedy wild garlic. 

There were days it was hard to sort the worthwhile from the compost pile: 

But my sons helped me dispose of the concrete rubble and build new retaining walls: 

And every year I worked on mulching, and adding just a little bit more. I wish I could say I had a plan, but I didn't. I feel like cottage garden style doesn't need one, so much. Thank goodness, because I gave up having time to plan a garden out on graph paper years ago. 

This year, we've been enjoying the bulbs, like these daffodils. I wish the pesky squirrels had stayed out of them: 

The big hit this year was the new globe alliums, white and purple and nearly three feet tall. The neighbors stopped by to admire, and I even had an in-town school classmate contact me to find out what they were: 

Speaking of oniony-garlicky type things, we also have a nice clump of chives in the garden this year. I want to add more herbs as we go along: 

And the irises are at their peak. This one is called Tennessee Gentleman:

Overall though, the pleasures of the perennial garden are in the close-up views in May. The larger view shows it in its pre-peak stage:

The foreground above shows what's left of the daffodils and pink yarrow. The blue salvia "May Night" is coming along, and behind it are mixed pastel (coral, pink, white, and yellow) lilies and a mystery variety of white penstemon (with reddish foliage). Over on the far left is a clump of Joe Pye Weed that volunteered in my garden that I've let stay, because the butterflies and bees go absolutely nuts over it. Behind the penstemon you can see a pile of weeds that need to be bagged and the garden hose. Real life gardening!

I always have a few containers of annuals around for all-season color, and this year I chose purple, yellow, white and orange to go with the new house paint color:

Yes, my deck desperately needs staining, doesn't it? It's not faded though. I've decided it's got "patina."

Here's a finished container, with African marigolds, calibrichoa, lobelia, alyssum, dahlberg daisy, and annual salvia.

After the long winter, the garden feels glorious even when it's a little weedy and with not enough blooming. What have you got going in your little patch of Eden? 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Flea Market Booty, 2014

The last time my sister and I went to the flea market, in 2012, a great deal of our haul was fabulous vintage ceramics, like this:

This year is was more a mixed, and smaller, bag. For me. My sister got skunked. Seriously. She left the market without a single item. I was tempted to ask if she was running a temperature, but then decided against it. We all know that it happens. Sometimes the Flea Market Goddess decides it's not our day.

I brought home a wonderfully tacky fish planter, which will be used in our bathroom to corral things on the counter. Price? $1

I also spotted this nightstand; I loved the Art Deco lines, even though it had seen better days. Price: $18

Here's a view of the top. It's going to need a little bit of a rescue job:

Once it's feeling more like its pretty self, it will go in my bedroom.

This year, my friend Kristy couldn't go with us, and so instead of getting sunburnt at a county fairground for hours, she gets a glass to put her beer in. I've always kind of liked these older, 6 to 8 oz glasses for beer. That way way you can have more, right? Price: $3

My last item was my biggest "score" in terms of total satisfaction. For the longest time, I've been looking for a garden watering can, and I've been a total Goldilocks about finding one that wasn't too big (heavy) too small (not worth the effort), too flimsy (anything plastic) or too ugly (everything plastic).

A gentleman who was selling spiffed up old farm equipment had this to offer, and it came home with me. Price: $24. Yes, I know, and he wouldn't budge. But it is made like a rock, it's the perfect size, and it won't break or split after one season. I just love the feeling of it in my hand. And I think it's beautiful. Don't you?

The watering can is in itself a preview of the next few posts, which will be garden related. I'll see you soon!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Flea Market, What Cheer Iowa

Back in 2012, my sister Dyan, my friend Kristy, and I went to the flea market in What Cheer, Iowa (don't you just love that name?). We had such a great time that when my sister decided to get away for the weekend this month, she came to see me, get some sister time, and return to the flea. I mean, how can you not like a place where you can get pickled people heads?

The 2012 What Cheer Flea Market
Last year we spent hours and hours there, and this year? Not as long, though I can't say we've lost our enthusiasm. I think that first trip we'd sized up the Keokuk County Fair Grounds, and this time we knew the lay of the land. There's a lot of territory to cover, and it's best to pace yourself. We did a better job this time. 

I'll share the bring-homes in another post coming soon, but this is the window shopping post. Ready? Here we go!

I liked this assemblage of vintage items. This seller had a real eye for grouping things together in an attractive way. But I have no idea what I'd do with a cast iron horse head. Do you?

Not just a set of cooties, but a COMPLETE set of cooties, I'll have you know.

There are days when I wish had wee ones again, and this little scooter is one of them. Rooster!

I have absolutely no idea why it reminds me of a cartoon, but doesn't this pitcher set look like something Wilma Flintstone would use? 

On the same table we saw these awesome tiki glasses. They are the only thing I think I regret leaving behind.

I've also been resisting the temptation to buy a vintage typewriter for a long time. I almost didn't make it that day. Here's why:

It came with a carrying case and an instructional method book. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-Ching!

As a recovering chair addict, I'm proud of myself for leaving these mid-mod beauties behind (I do not need another chair...I do not need another chair....I do not need another chair....). They look suspiciously like Heywood Wakefield, but they are not. I believe the label was from the Jasper Chair Company, Indiana? The seats were nasty dirty and moldy and the wood covered in bird guano, but I think that they would have cleaned up very well. 

This mantel set, vase and candlesticks, caught our eye, and so did the swanky bar glass set behind it. 

If you're in the Midwest and interested in attending, the flea market meets three times a year, and the next one is in August. You can get more info on the What Cheer Flea Market here. Definitely worth the visit. 

What are the favorite fleas in your area?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

An Ode to Spring, Violas, New Mowers and Trash Bags (In That Order)

It's been a little nuts around here. So what else is new? But it seems like I posted last week, and it's now a month ago. Sorry about that....I I know it involved appointments and pots of spaghetti and some other....things. 

Spring finally arrived here, and while it's been a bit windy, cold, wet, and squishy, we're just glad the snow is gone and that we can enjoy sights like the miniature daffies, above, that I planted last fall. Squirrels got some of them, but they left enough for me to enjoy. 

The school year is taking it's damn sweet time getting done ---oops, sorry. Did I say that OUT LOUD?!---We're out of pencils and glue sticks and patience with fractions. As a parent, I'm sorta over it. I know that's not politically correct, but there you have it: sick of school, and I'm not even the student. 

We've also been busy with a lot of happy firsts: 

Ben's first orchestra concert (he plays viola)....

And Grant moved home after completing his first year of college. That involved a lot of box schlepping and then a lot of laundry. Aged dirty rugby kneesocks. It's an aroma, I am telling you. 

Most of the news around the house lately has been on the garden front. I purchased a new lawnmower. Get this: It doesn't have a motor. 

It's a reel mower. I decided that with a small city lot, the intention to convert even more turf to perennial and vegetable gardens, and the hatred of the noisy and smelly aspects of mowing, I could see if a non-motor mower would fit my needs. So far, it seems to be. The best part? Being able to hear birds sing while I cut the grass. 

I did say this blog post was an ode to trash bags. Those big contractor-size stretchy ones. I've been filling a lot of them lately. With clothes to donate, and yard waste. Spring cleaning is such a great feeling, isn't it? Inside and out? 

Seriously. You see trashbags filled with cedar clippings. I see a thing of beauty. Sigh. 

In bonus news, one of the first things my oldest son did after sleeping off his final exam stress was this: 

It is a bit small and I may extend the length by another brick or two; I apparently couldn't count bricks at the hardware store. It's also a little wonky in relation to the property line (up the right hand side of it), and I may straighten it just a bit so my symmetry OCD doesn't drive me crazy. It's going to hold our tomato plants this year. 

I'm also working up a calendar that plots every weekend, and a list of things to do to the exterior of the house, including dusting off the paint brushes and getting back to work on the siding. 

How's your spring? What have you got in the works?