Sunday, July 31, 2011

build a dining room in the garden

Saturday, Wayne built a little dining room in the back yard.  It's a cheap room add on at about $130 dollars and some definite sweat equity.  The temps were in the mid 90's with humidity at about 80%.  We'd had the table/umbrella/chairs sitting on the lawn, but wanted to define a space for them.  Eventually, there will be a deck, but that's expensive...not in the budget right now.

We bought four twelve foot 4x4s, some weed block cloth ($19 for 120x4' at Sam's Club), and 10 bags of eucalyptus mulch.  We had some extra 4x4's, shorter ones, left over from other projects.  Wayne decided to use those for a small graduated wall on one corner of the 'room'.  We use eucalyptus mulch because it is made from an invasive species, it repels bugs, it smells nice, and it stays in place better than other types of wood mulch.  It costs a little more.  I also really hate that red dyed stuff everyone seems to be using these days.  Am I the only one?

First, mow the lawn.  Then, Wayne half-lapped the ends of the 4x4's, laying them out on the newly cut grass.  Half-lap is where you cut half the thickness of the wood on both ends, just as deep as the 4x4.  Here's a picture of the half-lap join on the corner.
From Garden
Next he used the weed whacker to cut the grass in the square as close to the ground as possible.  He laid the weed block cloth on top and secured it.
From Garden
Using 3-1/2" stainless steel exterior screws, he fastened the corners together.  On the far corner of the room, he built a pyramid-like wall with the old 4x4s, alternating the ends and securing those with ceramic coated 8' timber screws.  This way, it can easily be deconstructed when we eventually build that dining room deck.
From Garden
Next add mulch, furniture, a few plants and Chopper, the watch dog.
From Garden
That's 144 square feet less grass to mow.  The area is right next to the pond, so it's another nice little sitting area where you can hear the water.  There are great books on making outdoor living spaces like Sunset's Complete Deck Book.  In that book, you can read how to properly lay out a patio or deck.  We, however, make up our own rules.  We are rebels.  We do not follow the rules. 
From Garden

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

gardening down under

For my birthday, the love of my life found a most unique present.  He went out searching...the "I'll know it when I see it" method of gift shopping...and stopped by an itinerant garden shop.  The proprietress had a healthy display of Florida hardy plants and gifts.  He came home with two beautiful purple fountain grass plants, a plumbago and a terracotta Down Under Pot.  Skeptical at first, because I'd seen the silly looking 'topsy-turvy-as-seen-on-tv' method of planting, I liked the look of this clay pot.  It was already planted with coleus.
From Garden
Wayne made the mistake of mentioning that she had a cobalt blue glazed Down Under Pot.  It was more expensive, so he got the terracotta one.  Cobalt blue is my favorite color.  I may have said that out loud.  Later in the day, he went back and bought the blue one.
From Garden
I took cuttings from coleus in my garden and augmented the planting of the blue pot with white vinca.  I did have to add a bit more coconut husk to the top so that the potting mix didn't fall through when planting.  A US 15 knitting needle helped tamp down the potting mix as I added it to the top (soon to be bottom) of the pot.  I used rooting hormone for the coleus and carefully tapped off the soil from the vinca before potting.  Once everything is thoroughly rooted, in two to three weeks, I'll upend the pot and hang it.
From Garden

R&J Plants sell at the corner of Lake Magdalene Blvd. and Florida Avenue in the parking lot of Sunset Market on Saturdays.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

so long, Orenji, and thanks for all the fish

With apologies to Douglas Adams, the last title in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy came to mind when we found Orenji floating in the pond.  I imagine poor bereft Moby swimming around alone looking for his companion.
From pond
Actually, Moby seems quite okay, though every time he makes a circuit of the pond I can't help but anthropomorphize his feelings (too many readings of Charlotte's Web as a child).  Do fish have thoughts?

Coincidentally, the day he found Orenji deceased, Wayne went to our local Wild Birds Unlimited store to pick up bird seed.  Amy said they needed to thin out the goldfish in the store pond.  They are really pretty goldfish with really long fins and tails.  She said to come and take some of them for our pond.   I don't think Moby minds the goldfish, but I wonder what they think of this white whale.
From pond
Moby gets to know his new pond-mates.
From pond
From pond
I made a little slide show of our pond which started out on a small patch of the back yard where the grass would not grow.  We're thinking about a bigger one soon.  If Moby keeps growing, we'll need one.

Monday, July 4, 2011

a gardening knitter's tribute to independence day

Yesterday was my neighbor's birthday.  I knitted her a ballband dishcloth and mitered hanging towel in red and white to go with her vintage Coca Cola themed kitchen.  The patterns are from two of my favorite books, Mason-Dixon Knitting and Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.
From knitting
We also traded some plants appropriate for the holiday.  I have white firecracker plants and she has red ones.  These are great plants for Florida.  Also know as Coralblow (?!), and properly as Russelia, they grow easily from seed, cuttings and runners.  They bloom continuously in the summer and attract hummingbirds.

Here's a slideshow to get you in the mood for fireworks this evening.  The pictures are from our garden with a doggy version of the 1812 Overture courtesy of Barking Classics.