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Archive for June, 2012

McHubby sent me pictures of the nest that was in our asparagus fern last year.

bird nest with babies

birds in nest

Amy

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Please check out the Power of Paint. My patio art is being featured. Thank you Maryann!

Amy

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Birds and plants help people or be a problem for them. For instance, some plants need birds to eat their fruit and carry their seeds to another location where the bird eliminates them with their other waste. Unfortunately, the places that those birds leave their droppings, such as a car, head or deck aren’t always so nice for us.

I was reminded of this the other day noticing the large robin flying out from under our deck once again. The robins are on nest number two for this summer. I am happy to provide a nice location for them to nest, but I don’t like being yelled at by an irate robin when I’m only trying to use my own personal space.

Last summer, a bird couple of unknown species set up a nest in one of our asparagus ferns. Way cool, so we thought until we needed to water the fern. Imagine trying to water a plant, not drowning a nest and worrying about being dive bombed by a protective parent. Not so relaxing.

We aren’t the only one with birds nesting in container plants or hanging baskets. I thought perhaps I could find some good DIY remedies online. I found some, but I can’t vouch for their effectiveness.

Here is what I found:

Shiny metal objects- My friend swears by chopped up soda cans. I also saw a recommendation to use mirrors to scare the birds off. Aluminum foil balls are also shiny.

shiny scares birds away

Wind catchers, pinwheels, whirligigs- Apparently the movement is threatening. I suppose this could also be a nice decorative touch to you container garden.

movement scares birds away

Spiky things- Ouch! Birds don’t want to be poked while sitting on a nest any more than people would if they did. Remedies in this category include toothpicks, bamboo skewers and plastic forks with the tines up.

Birds won't nest with spikes in container gardens

Netting- Garden netting can be wrapped snuggly around the container. This probably isn’t the most attractive option although it’s effectiveness is probably high. Martha Stewart, in recommending this solution on her website, points out that the netting can be removed later in the spring once migratory birds are no longer nesting.

wrap container in garden netting

Scary predators- Putting a rubber snake in with your plants will keep the birds from nesting since they won’t want their eggs being eaten by a real snake. They aren’t going to check the rubber one out close enough to know that it isn’t real. You might unintentional scare some humans with this one too. Oops!

Rubber snakes to scare birds away

Rubber snake

Noxious smells- Dipping a cotton ball in ammonia and placing it on the soil stinks the birds away. Please make sure that children won’t be able to get into these containers and get the cotton balls.

I hope this gives you some ideas about how to live with nature and have your planters too.

Amy

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Hey everyone. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Right now at the woods near Skyline Drive, we are experiencing beautiful blue skies and trees shimmering with the sun and light breezes. I love it!

Today, I’m shining the creative spotlight on my cousin, Lee Anna Will. Besides being inspirational, she is an artist and teacher (formerly a public school art teacher). Like me, she loves color as you can see through her art. Color permeates her art and her home décor whether she is painting walls, furniture or her accessories.

I certainly learned a lot more about her through this interview. I hope her story inspires you to explore, discover, develop and play with your creative gifts.

When did you realize that you were creative?  I vividly remember at the age of five or so, sitting at the kitchen table drawing a palm tree on an island. I was thrilled that it looked like something and it gave me such confidence. I drew it repeatedly because I was so excited I could do it. That was my first understanding that creating something from nothing exhilarated me. 

What were some of your earliest creative explorations?  Flowers. I went through a flower phase from adolescence into my early 20’s. They are beautiful, vibrant, and full of color. It was the vocabulary I resonated with for quite some time.

Which artists inspire you the most?  To this day the work of Matisse just makes me happy with it’s loose form and color. Robert Rauschenberg who is so inventive with found objects. O’Keeffe for her strength of character and composition. Music is a huge inspiration for me. I listen as I paint and it reminds me to play. Don’t take it too serious. 

What did you do to discover your particular talents, such as painting as opposed to ceramics?  I dabbled in a lot of things and found my strengths. Painting, sculpting, and photography are my thing. I love ceramics and appreciate those who can do it. I learned by doing it that it’s not my forte so I played to my strengths!

Would you explain how you developed your skills? It’s that old adage practice makes perfect. I practiced. Just as important, I played! I let myself play with the zeal of a child. 

Do you consider your art to be like play for you? In what ways?  Absolutely! I give myself permission to play. I remember doing a painting with a sort of cathedral type interior. I used reverent colors and then thought about the kids I taught at the time. If they wanted something to be pink, they didn’t think “I have to be reverent.” I added permanent rose madder and alizarin crimson and voilà- it came to life! It was a big lesson. Let yourself play. Life can be daunting enough. You’re imagination doesn’t have to play by the same rules!

Do you have any creative/artistic goals? What are they? I showed for years and did commissions and achieved those goals. It’s hard and takes thick skin. I learned that and then I learned what became more important- make yourself happy. I create art for fun- for my own enjoyment. At some point I may get back into the business side. For now, the importance of creativity in my life is to nurture me and give a place to play.  My day job, project management, is very structured and an art in itself. Painting provides a balance that I need. 

Please describe your style.  My style really does evolve as I do. Whatever interests I have or whatever is on my mind influences my work and style. I’d say my style is consistently colorful and beyond that hard to put into box. Regardless of how it changes, there is always a common thread that stamps it as “my style.” I liken it to my voice. Regardless of what I say, my voice stays consistent.

You Are Here art

How can someone get in touch with you if they’d like to find out more?  leeanna.will@gmail.com

What or who inspires you?

Amy

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As promised, here are some pictures of my container gardens:

Three pots grouped together

Three pots of asparagus ferns hang from a wrought iron plant holder.

Decorative container with impatiens

A decorative metal basket holds small impatiens.

Fern, coleus, vinca, coleus, petunia, creeping Jenny

The right side container flanks front door.

Fern, coleus, vinca, petunia, creeping Jenny

The left side container. Both sides hold a fern, coleus, vinca, creeping Jenny and petunias

mandevilla, sweet potato vine, black eyed Susan

Sweet potato vine creeps from the pot with a mandevilla starting to climb the deck trellis. Black eyed Susan is also in pot.

pedestal pot

Mandevilla and sweet potato vine fill this pot along with a few “volunteers” growing from years past.

container garden

Gerbera daisy and creeping Jenny are planted in the top container. The bottom one holds dahlias growing from seed.

Vinca vine, snapdragons, yarrow, daylily

This unintentional container garden resulted from needing to move plants out of front landscaping beds in  a hurry  several years ago.

 

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Garden in a bra

via enotablog.com

A container garden doesn’t have to raise the neighbors’ eyebrows in order to be get lots of attention.

Here are my tips for a showy container garden:

1. Consider using a large container if you have the space. As the root system develops, it will need more room. When the roots can grow to their hearts contents; the healthier they will be.

Boat Container Garden

via about.com

2. Think of planting your containers in three tiers.

a. Tall plants, sometimes called Thrillers, include ferns, spikes and dracaena

b. Showy middle range plants, sometimes called Fillers, include impatiens and marigolds

c. Trailing plants, also known as Spillers, include sweet potato vine and creeping Jenny.

filler, spiller, thriller

via earlysnowdrop.blogspot.com

3. Evaluate the amount of sunlight that your location receives throughout the day. Is the area mostly sunny, mostly shady or part sun/part shade? Choose the right plant for that area. Most nurseries include an information tag with the plant.

Pots for shade

via stonecanyonstudios.com

4. How much time do you have to devote to maintaining your container gardens? Do you travel often? If you might not be able to water regularly, pick more drought tolerant varieties and try to plant more sparsely.

plants that take less water

via Sunset.com

5. Make sure your pot will drain well. Does it have at least one hole in the bottom? With the right tools you can add one if it doesn’t. To keep the soil from falling out, put a layer of stones, pot shards, packing peanuts (not the eco-friendly ones that dissolve when wet) or a coffee filter in the bottom of the pot.

Use pebbles for drainage

via dirtmomma.weebly.com

6. To minimize soil dehydration, consider plastic or other non-porous containers. Clay pots will dry out more quickly.

Plastic is less porous

via luxbotaniverse.blogspot.com

7. Container gardens don’t have to be all about bright colored flowers. Playing with leaf textures can make a gratifying composition. For instance, asparagus ferns have masses of small, narrow leaves and contrast with the large soft leaves of the silver Artemisia. A chartreuse sweet potato vine would add another look.

textures for interest

via about.com

8. Fertilizing is important, but needs to be applied reasonably: every two weeks or so with a water soluble fertilizer or once at the beginning of the season with slow release granules. Be careful not to over-fertilize. Read the package directions for measurements.

Plants need nutrients

via about.com

9. If showy flowers are you goal, choose a fertilizer with less nitrogen in the mix. The first of the three numbers in the ratio is the nitrogen content. Higher nitrogen ratio isn’t fatal; however, you will have more foliage with fewer flowers.

10. Dead head regularly. Once a flower starts to die, pluck it off the plant. This will give the plant more energy to devote toward growing new flowers.

Pinch off dead flowers

via ehow.com

What tips do you have for your container plants? I’d love to hear about them. I hope your containers get lots and lots of great attention from your neighbors.

Tomorrow…some pictures of my container gardens.

Amy

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I finished a project. Hip, hip, hooray! I’ve been working on redesigning my blog and moving it to the WordPress.org site. Since I’m a still a neophyte blogger, I seem to be wasting hours in front of the computer with very few tangible results. Oh…my now finished project took a few U turns and nearly found its way into the unfinished project pile in the basement. Once again, however, perseverance paid off with an item checked off my to-do list plus a blog post. (I still have a lot of work to do on the website.)

I will admit that guilt was bit of a trigger. I had a comment to my Patio Color post from a fellow student in the décor8blog class that I am taking. She asked where a picture of my patio was. Unfortunately, the honest truth is that I’m not finished with my patio nor had I been making any progress on making it colorful. Okay…I will give myself credit for the boatload of annual flowers that I have planted, but only a little credit.

Here is a picture of my patio last week:

Boring patio awaiting color

My patio has potential for a cozy summer hangout spot, but it really needs some color.

I wanted to minimize the view under the deck. First, I tried a metal potted plant holder, but it was too small to be effective. Then, it occurred to me that I had another metal art piece just like the one I used to make the basket hanger above the kitchen island. See here. I didn’t want to keep the original color and decided to go with a blue-green patina.

Here is the piece before changing the look of the finish.

Metal grill awaiting a makeover.

Project waiting for makeover to begin.

I used basic acrylic paint. See a sample of the colors below.

Aluminum, Aqua and Dark Green

I used aluminum, aqua and dark green acrylic paints along with stencil brush to change the finish color.

Using a stencil brush, I dipped the bristles into a little bit of each color and pounced the paint randomly until I got the look that I was trying to get. Then, I allowed the paint to dry for several hours.

***Warning, warning, warning. Potential failure alert ***

Next, I sprayed the entire piece with clear enamel sealer. OMG! The aluminum and aqua disappeared. I don’t know why, but the original finish was once again totally visible on about one-third of it. I tried acrylic clear coat since I was concerned the enamel sealer was reacting with the acrylic. But nooooo. Even more disappeared without any drips or any other trace. Vanished. That unfinished project pile started looking pretty good at this point. Well, I needed to let the sealer dry so the whole thing only made it half way to the pile.

Today, I pulled out the acrylics again and repeated my pouncing technique. This time, however, I used Modge Podge to seal the finish. Success!!!!

New finish on grill

The finished (rescued) project hanging under the deck.

To finish the grill, I took three medium sized clear jars with lids. After wrapping wire around the jar neck, I twisted the wire around the grill hanging the jar from the grill. I added colorful glass drops and tea lights. Once I hung the grill from under the deck with cup hooks and chain, I stood back and took a deep breath. Ahhhhh! One piece of color added to the deck. Yes, the guilt has diminished a tiny bit.

The patio with new metal piece.

The underside of the deck is now minimized with a refinished metal piece.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that I will finish some more projects tomorrow. Wish me luck. ; )

Linking to Domestically Speaking’s Power of Paint Party.

Amy

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