Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Reviewing Restoring A Metal Garden Swing Seat

 


We bought a metal garden swing seat recently for a good price as it needed some work and the shop needed the space. 

The swing is all metal and would have originally been painted black. It is very sturdy and quite heavy. It took two strong guys to carry it into our garden. 

My husband and I love this garden seat and like a bit of a challenge, so we embarked on revamping it. 

I always think if the bones are good then most things can be restored to look beautiful and useful again. 


Original State Of the Garden Swing Seat


From the minute it arrived in our garden albeit quite rusty and certainly neglected and in need of serious tender loving care,  we loved it and it felt like it had been there forever. I love the details of the leaves and flowers and the general shape of the seat.

It is super comfortable as well. The swing has a lovely action and it feels so relaxing to sit on it and gently rock back and forth. It belonged in our garden and we love it! 


Preparation Work For Restoring The Garden Swing. Using Wire Wool Brushes. 

They say that preparation is the most important part of any project and it is important to take your time doing this part. 

While I love to get to the exciting part of making it beautiful, I am happy to accept that this preparation element needs to be given care. 

First, we used wire wool brushes to get rid of any flaking rusty parts. Quite a lot of old rust and flaking damaged parts fell off at this stage! 

We chose quite slim brushes as there were many nooks and crannies to get into that a larger brush would not have been able to reach.

This part of the work was quite hard slow going as it is important to get rid of all the loose sections and make sure it was as clean as possible. 

I am very glad we chose to use brushes with long handles instead of steel wool bundles to hold by hand, as it would have been hard on our hands. Using the brushes our hands were protected and the brushes did a great job.  


 

Then we wiped down the whole seat with an antibacterial spray to clean it all up and remove any dust particles. We repeated this again before painting.

We initially thought we might have to get in a welder to mend some of the worst parts, especially on this armrest section, but wanted to try out epoxy resin first to see if that would work. 


Damage On The Garden Swing Seat


Repairing The Damaged Metal Sections

The next step was to use epoxy resin sticks to repair some of the damaged areas. Using this is quite easy. Do wear gloves as your skin may react to the epoxy resin. 

You simply cut the wrapping and the tube and I took a small piece and rolled it up in my gloved hands until the two parts were mixed evenly then simply applied it to the metal gap I needed covering.

It reminded me of using plasticine as a child. However, it is advisable to wear gloves when handling epoxy resin and of course, keep away from children and pets. 


Epoxy Resin Use On The Garden Swing Seat


I found you do need to work fairly quickly as it does dry in about 10 minutes. So best to only take what you need from the tube. I would keep any unused in a sealed container to help prevent it from drying out.  

I then smoothed it down and allowed it to dry. It took only about an hour before it was cured but we left it overnight before painting.

I thought I would need to sand it down but actually, on this type of item, it looked just fine as it was. I had taken care to smooth it out as much as possible when applying through. On some projects, you would need to sand down first. 

This type of epoxy resin can be drilled and sanded. It can even be used underwater and is waterproof rather than just water-resistant. We wanted this level of protection as this garden swing seat is too heavy to move around a lot so will be out in all weather. 

We were very pleased with the result. Even on the worst damaged sections of the armrest, the resin had set well and firm and the damaged sections were stable again.


Painting The Garden Swing Seat With Hammerite Paint. 

Once the epoxy resin was set hard we decided to paint the whole swing seat black with Hammerite Direct To Rust Paint.

This paint says it gives up to 8 years of rust protection and can be painted directly onto rust, though I still think sanding down and filling any damaged sections is advisable. I do think that with an outdoor seat like this we will repaint every couple of years to keep it looking good.

It is a great paint for a quick job as it is a primer, undercoat and topcoat all in one. This is very useful for outdoor painting when you are trying to paint when it is not raining for a while! 

You must keep it away from any aquatic life as it could be very harmful to them. Please wear gloves when handling and painting as it can provoke an allergic reaction and it is flammable so be careful where you leave it. 

It is important to keep Hammerite Paint away from children and pets. We even stayed out in the garden to make sure none of the local wildlife went near it until dry! 

Hammerite do many different colours, including gold, copper, white and green but as I eventually want to grow plants and climbers all around this seat we decided on a simple black so that the flowers and greenery will show up against it. I also think that this white would also have looked very stylish.



We have not used Hammerite paint before but we were very happy with the way it went on. It was about the right consistency. It did drip a little if we had too much paint on the brush so we learned to carefully wipe off the excess on the tin then paint.

We found it worked well on the larger sections of the A-frame and the broader metal lengths. It was also quite easy to use on the quite intricate leaves, stems and flowers as long as we did not load the brush up too much.


Beautiful Painted Leaves And Flowers


The Hammerite paint dried to a smooth sheen. It is a slightly glossy look which is what we wanted, rather than the rougher hammered finish of the original Hammerite paint. The finish is of course completely down to personal preference. 

Here is the garden swing seat when we had just painted the main A-frame but not yet painted the seat. 

You can see the difference once painted it looks significantly smarter, the rust is no longer visible and the metal is more protected from the elements. 


A-Frame Hammerite Painted Garden Swing Seat

 

I would advise using an old paintbrush that you are happy to throw away afterward as getting Hammerite out of a brush is a difficult task! 

Normally I am not an advocate of throwing things away but in this case, weighing it up, I feel that using the necessary non-environmentally friendly cleaner is probably worse than throwing away the brush. 

The brushes were certainly a mess after use and I think it would have taken a lot of work and product to get them clean enough to use on any other project. 

So we got off the worst of the paint then wrapped the brush in newspaper and took it to the skip for safe disposal. 


The Finished Restoration Of The Garden Swing Seat!

So was it worth all the work? Well, I would say yes absolutely!

We do not mind the work and got quite a lot of satisfaction from restoring a decaying piece of garden furniture into a once again beautiful and useful garden swing.

 After one coat of Hammerite paint we have achieved a good finish. We will do another coat of paint at some point but it has rained part of every day since so it can wait a while. 

Here is the finished product! 

 

Finished Renovation Of Garden Swing Seat 


It may well have been easier to simply buy a brand new garden swing seat. However, that would have cost us hundreds more. 

This way we have learned new skills, saved a lovely garden seat and now we have a beautiful piece we love sitting on with a nice cup of coffee and are very proud to have in our garden. 

The next stage is to choose suitable plants to position around the garden swing and to beautify it further with plants. 

Then I need to make some cushions for the seat. Now I am not all that handy with sewing. However, once we replace our mattress and memory foam topper, I feel I can cut the old one to size and use it as a garden seat cushion with a simple removable cushion cover. 


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Sunday, May 16, 2021

An Affordable Set of 10 Indoor Flower or Herb Planters


We don't have an outdoor garden and wanted a simple solution for naturally grown herbs for cooking.

I wasn't into getting an outside garden box or leaving planters with herbs on the outside patio table. 

Several years ago I had an outside planter with herbs, and just the mere fact that it was outdoors was inconvenient enough that I rarely went outside to gather them up for cooking. Mostly, I forgot it was there.

Kitchen Window Ledge Featuring Potted Herbs

When cooking, I prefer the grab-and-go solution for using herbs. Grab some parsley, grab some thyme, rinse, and add it to your sauce.

At Costco, we picked up four herb plants in simple black 4.5-inch pots. The herb containers needed a vase with something to catch the water on the bottom.

The above black planter pot fits perfectly inside this vase.

I had no intention of repotting them directly inside the pots. I simply slipped the potted herbs inside the vase.

Since the herbs are positioned on the kitchen window ledge, I didn't want anything made of ceramic or glass. 

Also, I didn't want anything expensive!


Above, four of the plaster planter pots are featured. 

This set of ten planter pots come in various colors.


The two flowers featured above are NOT part of the colored plastic planter pots. There are ten planter pots all in different colors. Above are the extras I'm currently not using. When I get tired of the colors featured on the window, I switch them up.


So there you have it, an inexpensive easy way to have your favorite herbs easily accessible in the kitchen. The four herbs we're using are parsley, basil, rosemary, and oregano. We went with the 5.1 inch vases.

We purchased these plastic vases from Amazon Canada - here. This particular set is showing unavailable on Amazon USA, however I've included a link to another set similar in price and design from Amazon USA here. Note that the vases from Amazon USA are an 8 piece set, versus the 10 piece set I purchased.




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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

In Two Short Weeks Gardening Will Become Everyone's Favorite Pastime!

For many Gardeners, waiting till the 21st of May is a ritual!

Garden centers all across the United States and Canada will be open for longer periods of time during that First Long Weekend and business will be brisk I'm sure!  Everyone knows that the chances of frost after this date is rare, so the plants you buy now will prosper without worry about weather conditions.



Everyone and their friends will be lined up to buy their bedding plants and vegetables that they plan on planting in whatever space they are gardening in.  

Did you know though, that you could be planning many ways in which to help your seedlings and bedding plants get off to a great start, right now?

How? 

Well let me take this opportunity to help you all become better gardeners and also become more ecofriendly too!

I'm sure that in your household there are many times through the week that you will be preparing eggs, either for breakfast or lunch or maybe in some wonderful baking.  Well, what do you do with the egg shells that are left behind from all this acitivty?

Don't throw them away!  

Egg shells are great in the garden!  


If you throw them away, you have lost a great opportunity to feed your plants naturally with what you have at hand.  I keep a metal bowl in my kitchen to catch all those egg shells.  It doesn't matter if I have shells from hard boiled eggs or from fresh eggs that I use in baking or frying.  They all go into the same bowl.  

You can keep some of the egg shells as they are and use them for potting up seeds, The shells will hold soil and you can water them easily, When you plant them in your garden the whole little shell pot goes into the soil.   I personally don't do this but you can without any problems!

When the bowl is full or I'm ready to deal with them, I take the shells and bake them for 30 minutes in an oven set to 350 degrees.  I do this to kill any bacteria (salmonella) that could be present, especially in the raw egg shells.  Once they have been baked, the shells become much easier to pulverize or to break into smaller bits.

You can use either white eggs or brown it makes no difference in the garden, just remember to bake them before adding them to your plants.



Now, here's the part that I really like.  Egg shells broken up in small bits like the ones in the picture above can be used around the base of your plants to keep slugs and snails at bay.  They really don't like the sharp edges of the shells on their tender foot!  

Eggs are a great source of calcium and your plants will thrive with that added natural fertilizer and it doesn't cost you anything more than the time to save, break, and bake them.  (Who knows, you might even use breaking up the shells as a therapy for anxiety during these times!)  

But that's not the only use that egg shells have.  If you love birds and have bird feeders in your backyards, add some broken shells into the feeders.  The birds will enjoy an extra treat and again you don't have to spend any money to give them this added bonus.  The calcium in the eggs is great for all outdoor birds.  

Is your soil a little too compacted?  Adding egg shells will act as a natural way to add some aeration to your soil mix too!  If you are like me and add worms to your garden beds, egg shells will feed your worms and the worms will feed your plants.  It's a win-win situation!  

Egg shells are totally organic and there is no need to waste them by throwing them out with the trash.  Do yourself a favor and start using them for the birds and the flowers and veggies that your are growing this year.

Add a worm farm to your garden this year if you really want to up the WOW in natural fertilizing!  I was amazed last year when I added worms to my balcony containers.  My tomatoes and cucumbers just went wild for the added benefits that the addition of the worms made.  

There are many different styles of worm farms available, or you can make your own by following the instructions on YouTube.

If you are looking for a finished worm farm set up, you can get one on Amazon right here!

This one is inexpensive and will do the trick quite nicely!


 


 If you need worms (the red wiggler ones), let me know I have thousands of them!

We need to become aware of ways in which to garden efficiently and with an eye to being as eco-friendly as possible.   Mother Nature is counting on us to do our part.

If you want to read more about worms and my garden efforts you can do that right here! Then you will understand why you need the red wigglers too!
 
Happy Spring to everyone and Happy Gardening too!
 





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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Garden Gnomes Reviewed

 

Definition of a Gnome: a legendary dwarfish creature supposed to guard the earth's treasures underground. 


Gnomes originally were thought to provide protection of buried treasure and minerals in the ground and were often placed at the entrance to mines.  Today they are used to watch over crops and livestock by placing them in the rafters of a barn or in the garden.  


Gnomes are also known as symbols of good luck.


History and Mythology of Gnomes


Image Source: Pixabay


From the Latin word genomus, which means 'earth dweller' gnomes are mythological creatures and diminutive spirits in Renaissance magic and alchemy, They were first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century 


Gnomes live underground and legend states that they can easily move through the earth. Gnomes are always described as being small and wearing conical hats. Myths claim that gnomes are sensitive to sunlight and some legends remark that the light of the Sun will turn a gnome into stone. 


In the book Gnomes, illustrated by Rien Poortyliet and researched by Wil Juygen, gnomes are thought to be seven times stronger than humans and live to be around four hundred years old.


Pixabay
Gnomes are described as being 'short of stature', which, being a pint-sized person myself, is probably why I like them. :)  Perhaps there is a correlation between protecting the earth's treasures and being short!




Gnomes Today


For years, the gnome lost it's appeal, but Social Media and the sharing of photos on the web brought back their popularity. Today, people love to share pictures of gnomes visiting places around the world. The gnome is becoming a pop culture giant as the key figure in the sport of “gnome-spotting”. There is even a movie – the 2001 “Amelie”, and major advertising campaigns for Travelocity and Ace Hardware.


Where to Find Gnomes


Fairy Garden Gnomes


Gnomes are available in many places, including Amazon and many garden centers, and come in a wide variety of styles and poses.  Holiday gnomes and whimsical poses are increasing in popularity.  Gnomes are favorites for backyard gardens and increasingly for Fairy Gardens


Handmade Gnomes


Many Etsy sellers have created gnomes in various mediums for your gardens and for miniature Fairy gardens. Gnomes are also popular on Garden Flags and as Yard Art. And, decorated in many styles and colors, gnomes are also becoming the 'in' thing for kitchen d├ęcor. 


Vintage Resin Outdoor Garden Gnome


This is a vintage resin outdoor garden gnome created by Joshua in a family-run business in Kettering, England.  This cute and colorful fairy garden gnome will spice up your garden.  Check it out in their Etsy Store called Darthomeltd.



Metal Yard Gnomes


Adorable spring yard gnomes!  Made of 14 gauge steel. 

Gnomes measure a total of 30 inches tall. The spikes that allow the gnomes to stand are 6 inches long which allow for 24 inches above ground level.

Created by Cody of Texas  for the Gillis Metal Works on Etsy. (Handmade metal art created by the owner himself!)


Kitchen Lemon Gnome

Gnomes can also be adorable indoor decor, as seen by this darling lemon gnome.  
This Lemon gnome will be the decoration of your kitchen or a great addition to your spring and summer decor. Lemon gnome measures 11.8 inches high. Adorable addition to your kitchen decor.  

Lemon gnome is handmade by Marina for her Etsy Store called the Magic Sewing Store.


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Garden Gnomes article written by Wednesday Elf






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Thursday, April 29, 2021

How To Grow Camellias In Your Garden Or Container Reviewed

I have always loved the beautiful Camellia. I see it as the beautiful rose of Springtime. When we first moved here I thought one would look lovely in the garden. 

This one is now twenty years old and about ten foot tall and four foot wide. It has been lightly pruned perhaps four or five times in its life so far. 




My Top 5 Reasons To Grow A Camellia 

I love them because all year round they are evergreen with thick glossy beautifully shaped leaves. Camellias provide a fantastic structure in the garden all year long and make a superb hedge too

They look stunning when covered in snow as the dark green leaves and the white snow complement each other beautifully.

They have the most stunningly beautiful flowers in Spring that lift your heart and are a perfect shape and come in pinks, whites, creamy yellows and reds mainly.  

They need very little care once established and grow a dense bushy appearance that no one can see through. 

A mature Camellia provides excellent cover for small birds who also like to nest in it. 


Camellia Flower Blossoms

However, for all these marvelous attributes their true moment in the spotlight arrives in early Spring and culminates in April and May.

From early March I am aware of tight fat buds appearing amongst the green leaves, a promise of what is to come. 

Battered by strong winds and rain here they hang on and remain tightly compressed until the weather calms a while and the sun starts to shine and warm up.

Then slowly the fat buds begin to unfurl revealing beautiful pink flower buds. Over the coming weeks more and more unfurl and the green shrub becomes a riot of pink blossom!

It is so stunningly beautiful and something I look forward to every year.



Each flower petal is perfect a gorgeous unique soft yet strong flower.

The petals are quite thick and not easily broken or torn and I noticed that the birds often take the fallen petals to use in their nests. I can imagine that each petal is perfect for laying eggs in and is very soft and insulating for the little chicks. 

The sparrows often nest in the Cammeilla and we often hear them chattering away to each other, squabbling and bonding. Sometimes a huge flock will fly into the Camellia and they disappear into it. 

As the weeks go by the petals begin to fall and the earth around the camellia is littered with a carpet of pink petals like a bride has passed this way and has been showered with flowers. 

Then by summer, we are back to a glossy evergreen shrub.




Where to Site A Camellia

Camellia generally needs to be sited in a position where there is light sunlight, they are essentially woodland plants so light sun to dappled shade is ideal. They do appreciate a more sheltered site and dislike cold biting winds. 

Never site your Camellia in an East facing spot as they actively dislike it. Also, the buds appear to become damaged by the morning sun when east facing so you will get fewer flowers. South or West facing is the best if possible. 

These shrubs do like acid soil but you may get away with a neutral soil that is slightly acidic. As a woodland shrub, it appreciates a good mulch with leaves each spring. You can also use pine needles or bracken or even fir tree clippings if you have them available. 

Probably the best time to plant is in the Autumn/Fall as the soil is still warm and you may have more rain at this time of year. 

When I first bought ours I planted it on one side of our garden and it basically did nothing for 3 years and looked very unhappy and started to die. So I dug it up and planted it on the other side of the garden where, as you can see it quickly flourished and grew and blossomed. 

I am still not sure why this happened as theoretically this first site was ideal, but there was something the plant did not like. It is worth trying an ailing plant in a different site before giving up. 


Watering Camellia 

When first planting, like any other shrub, do water regularly and deeply every week especially in very hot weather. Do not just sprinkle water on, give it a really good deep drink. Unless it rains heavily I continue to do this with newly planted shrubs for about a year to a year and a half. I find it gives them a good start in life then afterward they are little trouble. 

Light watering will be bad for the plant as it encourages roots to turn upwards to seek the water on the surface. You need to really soak the soil thoroughly so that the water is below the root level and the roots search down and out for water. 

Once it is mature and established you should not need to water at all unless you live in an extremely dry climate or suffer drought conditions. If small buds cease to grow or start to drop, or you do not see any buds, then you know it is suffering drought.

 



Pruning Camellia

This is good news for people who do not like pruning! Camellias do not really need much pruning. The only exceptions are if they grow either too big or are growing in a shape you do not like.

If you need to prune only do it immediately after flowering. If you do it any other time you will damage the emerging flower buds. 

Please do not use a hedge trimmer on your gorgeous Camellia. The result is so much better if you carefully prune with secateurs like these Wolf By Pass Secateurs It will take a little time but can be done gradually.

You can deadhead the faded Camellia flowers if you want to. I think this would be possible on a smaller plant. With a Camellia ten-foot high for me, it would be quite a time-consuming task.

Some people will want to do it though to prevent petal fall over the borders. I do not do this as I like to see it naturally fade and I love to see the pink petals fall to cover the earth and the lawn like a bride has just passed by and guests have thrown confetti! Once they have fallen to the ground, I just treat them as very pretty mulch.

Otherwise, you can let it grow and fade at its own pace and time and simply enjoy it.




Taking Camellia Cuttings

Once you have a mature Camellia I would recommend taking cuttings. This way you can over time have more Cameillas and if you ever move you can start a new plant. They also make lovely gifts. 

Cuttings are easy to take and so far I have had great success with them forming roots and growing on well. They are, however, fairly slow to grow from cuttings so plan ahead. 

Soil Conditions For Camellia

It is advantageous to have acid soil but it can cope with a neutral to slightly acid soil especially if you mulch with acid based materials or an ericaceous compost and feed each spring. 

To check your soil look around at your neighbour's gardens and see what is growing well. If Acers, Azelias, Camellias and Rhododendrons are growing happily in the soil then a Camellia should be just fine. 

The other way to check is to do a soil testing kit available in many places where you can easily test your own soil. 

If your soil is not suitable then do consider growing Camellia in a container with ericaceous compost and using ericaceous plant food.


 


Growing Camellia In A Pot

I always have a "can do " attitude when it comes to gardening. Many people have smaller plots and less room to grow in the soil so its important we consider any plant that can be grown in a container. 




In my experience yes, you can grow Camellia in a container. It will need to be size appropriate and have good drainage holes.

Even if you start with a small cutting which you can pot on in a small container, you will eventually need a large tree pot as they can grow large. You may well need to repot into a larger container every 2 or 3 years.

You will need to provide everything for the shrub in terms of water and food.

The big advantage is that you can move the shrub easily into its perfect position to give it the correct sunlight and shelter positions and you can take it with you if you move to another house. 

Make sure the soil is ericaceous or acid soil as it needs the best conditions to live happily in a container. I generally use this type of ericaceous compost below and every gardener has their own preferences as long as it is suitable for acid loving plants.

 

 


You will need to water well at least once a week. This is vital in the autumn/fall as this is when the buds for the flowers are forming. If you do not give it enough water at this time flower buds will not form and that means no beautiful flowers.

Many people chronically underwater Camellia in pots and do not get any flowers and think the shrub is not a good one to grow. This is so easily remedied by simply watering. Especially make sure you water enough in the autumn when buds are forming.

Rainwater from a water butt is best but if you do not have that simply use tap water and ensure you are careful with feeding enough so you maintain the acid balance in the soil.  Feeding is also vital for container grown Camellias and an ericaceous feed is recommended


You may find as I do that a little more pruning is necessary. The one in the container above is in need of both repotting and a prune to reshape slightly so it sits the container better. I will prune it after all the flowers have bloomed. 

I love the Camillia and would recommend growing it. I see it as an early rose-like flower without the thorns of most roses! I love to grow Roses as well but Camellia flowers early before roses are in bloom and gives a beautiful show of lovely colour along with the Spring flowers and bulbs before the summer flowers bloom.

In the ground it is a real low maintenance shrub that can be easily pruned into size and shape. In a container a little more care is required but it is always a pleasure to look after. 



I will always have at least one Camillia in containers and in the garden, but most likely two or three! 


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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Spring in Full Bloom

Spring Trees and Bushes


Last month when spring was just beginning, I shared with you my tips for early spring walks.  Now that spring is in full bloom, I will review some of my favorite spring flowers and flowering trees and bushes.  I hope you enjoy my photographs and a bit of facts on each of the types of blooms.


Lilac Bushes


Lilac bushes are my very favorite spring bloom.  I love the beautiful purple flowers and the fragrant blooms.  Here is a photo from the lilac bush in the corner of my yard.  This bloom is just starting to open and I was able to capture it right after a rain shower while there was still drops of water on the leaves.



Lilac bushes are very easy to grow and take little care other than good soil and sunshine.  They are a deciduous bush that blooms for about two weeks in late spring or early summer.  The most common color is a light lavender shade but they are also have bushes that are a darker purple, burgundy, white and shades of pink.

Red Bud Trees


I love the look of red bud trees in the spring.  In the midwest, where I live, you can see them dotting the wooded hillsides as you drive down the highways.  There are also a lot in our subdivision.  The photo below is one in my neighbors yard.



Redbud trees boast beautiful clusters of lavender-pink flowers in the early spring.  These flowers last for several weeks and then are replaced with delightful heart shaped leaves.

Redbud trees are easy to grow and need well drained soil and full sun or light shade.  The grow well in USDA Zones 4-8, and should be planted in early spring.  There are several different varieties of redbuds so you will want to choose one that is best suited for your area.

Here are a few more photos from spring blooming trees.  They are shots I took at a park and I'm not sure of the type of trees, but I thought they were quite beautiful.




Tulips 



I love tulips.  For me they are the perfect spring flower.  There are lots of tulips in my neighbors yards when I go on my daily works and they always bring a smile to my face.



Here is a card I made from one of my tulip photos.

When I searched online about tulips, I found several interesting facts.  Tulips are part of the Lily family and the petals are edible.  Most tulips sprout a single flower but there are a few varieties that have up to four flowers on one stem.  There are actually 1000's of varieties of tulips.

Did you know that in the 1600's tulips were considered to be quite valuable in the Netherlands.  In fact some cost as much as houses.

The beautiful blooms from tulip bulbs last only about 7-10 days until they start to whither and die.


Spring Annuals


 


One of my favorite spring annuals is the pansy.  This cheerful little flower is ideal for that time of year when you will still get cold mornings and possibly a little frost.  They bounce right back after a brief cold spell and florish until the really warm weather sets in.  I love having a pot of these flowers on my porch in early spring.  They are a favorite flower to photograph too.  I always think they look like cheerful little faces looking toward the sun.




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Friday, April 9, 2021

Bush Trimming Cleanup is Easier with Disposable Drop Cloths Reviewed

Trimming my Juniper bushes is the first thing I do in my backyard in early spring and it is the last thing I do before winter.  Thanks to my small, yet sharp, Black & Decker Hedge Trimmer, the trimming part is easy.  However, the cleanup used to be back-breaking and take hours.  I dreaded the job as the work days approached.  So many times I had to tell myself just get out there and get it done! Then one year I had an epiphany that made that job so much easier and faster. 

I started laying out disposable drop clothes under the bushes.  That way, as I trim, all of the debris and clippings fall directly on the drop cloth.  When I am finished, I simply roll up the drop cloths and throw them away.

Now, instead of taking 2 or 3 days, wearing myself out and having to take Advil for my back pain, I can finish the entire job in about 4 hours.   

Over the last few years, I have found that the lighter weight drop cloths are not a good choice. They tear, which defeats the purpose of using them.  

The plastic drop cloths I prefer are heavy duty, 1 MIL, 9" x 12".   Since I only use them one time and throw them away, this size and thickness are very easy to handle without being too thin to handle the weight of bush trimming. 

I buy them in packages of 2 or 3.  I use 3 drop cloths to surround the large bushes I have to trim and I lay them all out before I start trimming.  That way, I don't end up trimming in an area of the bush that doesn't have the plastic underneath it to catch the clippings. 

When I have finished trimming the entire bush, I fold the length side of each plastic drop cloth over the middle, covering all of the trimmings.  Then, starting at one end, roll it up, put it in a big durable Contractor's trash bag, and throw it away.

 

Buying plastic drop cloths is a very inexpensive way to make a hard job much easier.  Plus, I can enjoy my freshly trimmed bushes a lot sooner and call it a job well done.






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Monday, April 5, 2021

Spring Woodland Walks For Wellbeing Reviewed

 

Woodland Walks

Nature and wildlife are a huge part of my life in so many ways. They are an integral part of my life, my soul even. They are essential to my wellbeing. 

I had not been able to go for a woodland walk in a long time due to the Covid lockdowns in our country and having to stay local for walks.

I really missed our woodland walks and the absence of them made me realise how much I need to be connected to nature for my wellbeing. 

I love gardening and have done a lot of that this year but I know I also need the wildness of a forest. So today I would like to take you with me on our woodland walks and to discuss why connecting with nature and especially woodlands is so important.

Bluebells In Spring Woodland Clearing


Walking In Woodland

The obvious benefit to walking in woodland is the exercise. If you are on a treadmill or exercise bike I tend to notice how long I have been exercising. However, in a woodland walk, I can roam for hours up and down hills across streams and I really do not notice that I have in fact been exercising for maybe 2 hours.

In addition, you receive fresh air enhanced by the gorgeous trees and shrubs all around you and the experience being outdoors in a different environment. 

Also, I always find woodland to be so calming. Studies have shown that exercising in woodland decreases stress and anxiety.

There is always something new to see in a woodland from frosty winter trees against a blue sky, haunting misty scenes, to new buds and spring flowers.

We share the woods with many animals and birds and so far we have seen rabbits, squirrels, mice and many species of birds. In fact, it has made me want to learn more about bird songs as I can often hear the birds singing but cannot see them. 

Most of all I always feel tired yet refreshed after a woodland walk. There is something about the energy of the tall trees, the green environment, renewal and being surrounded by wild nature that makes the heart sing and sets me up for the rest of the day. 



Our forest walking began in late winter, early spring when we need some motivation to go out walking on a cold rather misty day. I love the photo below as it shows the woodland as a rather enchanted, mystical place.

The trees are bare with branches reaching for the sky and all around seems asleep, except that we know the buds on the trees and the flowers underground are just waiting patiently to emerge.

I have never felt afraid in a forest, it is all rather comforting and familiar to me. I like to feel small against the huge trees that are protecting, rather than intimidating. 


A Misty Woodland Walk In Early Spring


Tree Bark In Woodland

I love to look out for beautiful bark patterns on the trees. The bark is never just brown, it has amazing patterns and colours, shallow and deep rivulets.

If you look closely you may see a tiny creature or two going about its day. An ancient tree has lived so many years, seen so much and overcome drought with heat and damaging storms.

An ancient tree can give us hope and peace that we too can overcome many things. While our lifespan is not so long as many trees, we can experience and overcome so much, flourish and grow. 


Beautiful Tree Bark


Fallen Trees In A Woodland

I love to see the fallen trees gradually becoming a habitat for new life. The natural life of a tree is usually a long one. Trees seed, grow into young saplings,  mature and live long productive lives.

Then if trees are managed well they are either allowed to fall when old or felled if they become in danger of falling to cause damage or injury.

Importantly if they are allowed to rest rather than cleared away, there is a further opportunity in death for them to still live on providing sustenance and homes for all manner of bugs, insects and mammals.

Their bark eventually decays and enriches the soil and from that springs more new life and so the cycle of nature goes on just as it should. 


Fallen Trees Giving New Life


Stunning Snowdrops  

As winter turns to Spring I eagerly look out for the stunning Snowdrop. I do not have a favourite flower rather I like to embrace each flower on its own merits and the snowdrop is a perfect example of a flower that has its moment in time.

Snowdrops look so delicate, so tiny yet they are strong and tough little flowers that survive and thrive  at one of the harshest times of the year

I adore the white purity of the flower against the shining green stems and am always amazed how such a tiny flower braves snow and ice, winds and wet and comes through it all defying the harsh conditions to bloom so brightly, so splendidly.

To me, they are a symbol of Hope that the winter is behind us and the warmer, sunnier lighter days are just around the corner. We also look forward to bluebells, crocus and the wonderful fungi that appear in the forest. 



Woodland Birds

Birds fascinate me more than most animals in the woodland. I am mesmerized by their singing, the clever way they build their nests and care for their young and the beauty of their feathers.

I love to look out for blackbirds, sparrows, blue tits and woodpeckers. It is a lovely way to spend a morning to find a place to sit and listen to this sound which is as beautiful as the most accomplished orchestra.

In one of the forests we visit, the local Wildlife Trust has set up birdfeeder stations. If you are quiet and still and patient there is nothing better than watching the birds dart onto and off the feeders. Sometimes I take photos, other times I simply experience the moment, in a state of just being. 

I was so lucky we were in the right place at the right time and actually looking upwards to the tops of the trees, to get the opportunity to take this photograph of a cormorant perching high to dry his wing feathers after diving.

Cormorants are distinctive birds that often live in the woodland but nearby water and there is a large pond in the middle of this forest that is perfect for this bird to fish in. They have as you can see a long neck and an almost prehistoric appearance about them. After fishing, it needs to find a high perch in the open where it can hold its wings out so they can dry after each dive.  I feel so privileged to have observed this moment in nature.


Cormorant Drying Wings After Diving


Spring In The Woods, Nurturing The Soul

As we approach Spring, the clocks go forward, we have longer hours of daylight and suddenly the forest changes occur very quickly.

The tiny tight buds we saw in early spring now unfurl at a rapid pace and the previously brown bare branches almost overnight turn into bright fresh green foliage. This is my favorite time right now.

 Everything is fresh and new and bright, the days are longer and there is the promise of much more to come. Any worries we have seem more bearable in this beautiful magical environment. I feel a fresh resurgence of the desire to do things, to grow, to explore.


Early Spring In The Woods


It is far too easy these days to become caught up in the everyday noise of our lives, the television, the news, the traffic to see what is occurring right with us if we take time to really look and listen.

There is nothing quite like a forest to see that renewal to view the changes in nature, to feel the growth of new life, to smell the damp soil underfoot and to hear the beautiful birdsong. To experience the sheer joy of finding a new flower that was not there the day before. 


Beautiful Bluebells!


I love this poem by WH Davies which encourages us to "stand and stare" in nature for our own good.


What Is Life If Full Of Care...?

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

by W.H. Davies


Woodland Walking And Wellbeing

I gave some thought to what word I feel when walking in the woods and I have concluded that the word is "Serenity".


That is the feeling and that is perhaps why so many studies are now showing that it is vital for us all to spend more time in a natural environment.

Even if that is only one walk a week it gives us benefits but if we can make it thirty minutes a day it is beneficial to our overall health and certainly to our mental and emotional wellbeing.  

Life can be quite challenging at times and we all have things we need to deal with, perhaps more so these days, so we need a place to go to ground ourselves, to find peace, to find that serenity. 


If you, like me love to connect with nature and the countryside and have a love for trees and woodlands and have enjoyed this glimpse into my woodland walks, you may enjoy reading this book Wildwood by the late Roger Deakin. He was a British nature writer and takes us on a journey through the mysteries of woods, trees and nature in several countries around the world. His writing is quite beautiful and uplifting when looking into the spirituality of nature and people's connection with the natural world.  

  


So for me walking in woodland is not only an enjoyable activity I always look forward to whatever the weather and a way to connect with nature, but it is also an essential part of ensuring my health and wellbeing. I hope you have enjoyed this walk through the woods with me. 


More Nature Articles

 Six Ways To Help Wildlife In The Year Ahead  

5 Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed

Spring Into The Garden Give Nature A Helping Hand A Garden Review

Joy Of The First Snowdrops Diary Of A Wild Country Garden





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