Out Two-Steppin’

Remember these?

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These are the stepping stones my kind neighbors gave to me so they could replace them with a flagstone pathway.

I like these stepping stones. However, they’re quite heavy and were all originally placed in my front yard when I decided the majority of them needed to go in the back.

So….I made a simple plan to move two at a time to the backyard, and to install at least four per day.–By “install” I mean digging out the soil to level them and making sure they were set an equal distance apart heading in the right direction.

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The photo above is at the start of the path.  If you look at the ground to the left, you can see the little red wagon used to transport two stepping stones at a time.  The plants in the foreground are Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, which have small red flowers that are loved by the hummingbirds, Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is climbing the tree, and there’s a cast iron plant, Aspidistra elatior, to the right of the arbor.

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Above:  Here’s the new path from the arbor down to the new planting area.  (Yes, the photo shows I need to mow and I did, after taking this photo.)  Anyway, I’m certain I’ll need to re-level or move a few of the stones at some point, but in general, I’m pleased with how they look.  I used 18 stones altogether.

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Above: The view looking back toward the house.  The ultimate plan is to plant bulbs and wildflowers  to either side of the stepping stones.–The Tyler, Texas fall bulb sale sponsored by the Smith County Master Gardeners may be just the ticket for purchasing bulbs. I’d also like to put some large river rocks between the stepping stones, but that may not happen any time soon especially since I can’t seem to find any locally.

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The path’s destination is this bench.   Looks a bit lonely doesn’t it?  Hmmm…Maybe it needs a large pot to either side or maybe that’s too much or maybe the tray above the bench is too tiny?…I’ll figure it out.

Life doesn’t just revolve around MY garden.  What kinds of paths do you have in YOUR garden?  What garden projects are you working on?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Planting in Progress

My front yard is tiny, and for that, I’m seriously thankful.  Most of the front lawn is made of St. Augustine grass, and I’m grateful for that as well.

St. Augustine often gets a bad rap for being a water guzzler grass, but here in East Texas we get significantly more rain (12 inches/30 cm)  than central Texas where I’d originally heard St. Augustine maligned.  Frankly, I’ve not watered or fertilized my St. Augustine in two years, and it continues to thrive.  My St. Augustine grows in the shade of two old oaks, but where the shade ends, so does the St. Augustine.  In the approximate 12 ft x 15 ft patch of front yard sun, there is a mix of Bahia grass with a little bit of Bermuda grass thrown in for fun.

Until I moved here, I’d never encountered Bahia grass. From what I’ve seen of it, I’m not enamored.

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Bahia grass.

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Bahia grass photographed against my neighbor’s sidewalk.  It’s the three strands of  TALL grass.

Although Bahai grass is drought tolerant, which is almost a necessity in Texas, it’s also coarse and grows extremely tall very quickly.  Suffice to say you mow it and three days later, it needs mowing again, unlike St. Augustine which takes its sweet time to get tall.

Why am I telling you this?  Recently, I decided the Bahia grass had to go so I’ve created a lasagna layered bed to replace it.  The progress, however, has been slow for a  variety reasons:

  • I needed enough cardboard to cover the grass, and it’s taken time to find what I needed.
  • I decided I didn’t want to invest a lot of money and energy in this bed, plus I wanted to use easy-to-grow plants so I’ve shopped one of the Big Box stores for a few weeks looking at their $1-$3 discount plant rack. (Planting in July is always dicey here in terms of plant survival.  If I lose a $3 plant, it’s not such a big deal.)
  • I have a large blister on the pad of my foot so I’ve been off my feet reading old Stephen King novels. (Currently, I’m reading Misery, which in a small blistery way, helps me to better relate to the protagonist in the story.)
  • It’s 90-94 degree Fahrenheit (32-34 degrees Celsius) outside, and this area gets full sun 24/7. I don’t want to be out there for long periods.

From the discount plant rack, I’ve purchased & planted five Salvia greggii (cherry sage), three coreopsis, six Scabiosa columbaria (pin cushion flowers) and one Sedum “Autumn Joy’ in this bed.  Sadly, the Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susans) I purchased all died from a fungus they came home with. I got my money back.

I will to continue to make trips to the discount rack over the next few weeks until the bed is full.  From my home stash of plants, I’ve planted three garlic chives here as well.

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Bed in progress.  The large shrub is Texas Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens).  It gets lovely purple blooms every so often throughout the spring and summer. The Cenizo could use some shaping.

This front bed is far from finished.  It needs more mulch, plus I plan to edge it with some old bricks I have lying around.  I’m not one to hold back.–The bed is not pretty, but maybe at some point it will be.  It makes me happy simply to know I won’t have to mow that *&!!@ Bahia grass anymore.

And finally, excitement for me came last week with the building of the gated arbor in the backyard.  I’m pleased with the outcome, but am still working on the area, which is in flux.

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New gated arbor with old gate.  The potted plants in front of the posts are temporary.

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View from the backside.

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The gate needs a new latch so I’ve been looking for one.

The construction of the arbor has me thinking of the following:  Which potted plants should go by the posts?  Which tallish shrubs should I plant to either side of the arbor?—They need to take some shade.   I also need to strip and repaint the gate. I need to hang a lantern…and there’s more.

I’ve not planted the star jasmine on the arbor yet.  Instead, I sprinkled the area where it will go with a lot of homemade compost and then let the rain soak it in.

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This is the view from inside the arbor looking out to where the rock path will go.  All of that red soil is the subsoil the contractor threw out to make holes for the arbor’s posts. You get the honor of seeing all of this in its “before” state.

The long-range plan is to make a river rock path from the arbor to my other new planting area and to plant bulbs on either side of this path, but it’s all gonna’ take some time!

Wish me luck, and now back to foot soaks and reading Misery.

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking Outside the Box (Creative Garden Recycling)

I’m excited about this post.   During the summer, I made my first trip to a local thrift store not far from my home.  You know how it goes, you’re looking for one thing, but come home with something completely different.  Well, that’s what happened to me.

I found this.  Cost was $3.00:

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You’re probably thinking, “What will she do with that?”  I didn’t know.  I just knew I’d use it in the garden in some form or fashion.  (Full disclosure:  For some reason, I am hugely attracted to old light fixtures and lamps. If they’re cheap, I can hardly pass them up.)

Anyway, this single bulb ceiling fixture dates from the 1920’s or 30’s, and currently, they are kind of illegal (against electrical code) because they don’t have a cage around the light bulb, and therefore are a potential fire hazard….not that this matters to me.  If I’d wanted to install this fixture in my 1930’s house, I would, but I didn’t.

(Here’s a similar one I found on-line.  The price is outrageous.)

Two months after finding this fixture, I previewed a friend of a friend’s estate sale and came home with some wonderful loot (large concrete planters for $15/each, petrified wood, metal baskets, long pieces of cast iron fencing, all sorts of plant bulbs, etc.) While there, I spied an old lamp shade on top of junk headed for the dump.

The cloth on the shade was rotten and torn and the metal frame was badly rusted as it had been outside for a few years.

I looked at the shade and said to the estate sale guy, “What are you gonna’ do with that?”  He answered, “You want it?”  Of course, I did.  I just didn’t want to pay for it.  He gave it to me for free.

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I brought the shade home, peeled off the cloth, and then it sat for a bit.  I should say that this shade was actually TWO shades attached to each other.  I know that sounds strange, but it’s true.  A smaller shade (pictured above) was attached to the top of a larger shade.  Here’s a photo of what this kind of lamp shade would have looked like in its prime.

Okay, so sometimes it takes a while to come up with an insanely brilliant idea (joking here) for re-using JUNK.  Just like beef stew that tastes better the day after it’s cooked, the creative brain needs time to sit and let the juices mix to figure out the best way to create something.  And the real truth is there are times when the process takes years. ~ Grin ~  In this case, however, it took 3 months.

Next, I ordered this.   And no, I don’t receive compensation for showing you what I order on Amazon.

Lucky, lucky me.  Why?

For one thing, the ceramic light bulb socket that came with the light fixture could be turned around so the bulb faced in the other direction.  Secondly, the solar bulb I ordered screwed into that socket perfectly.  Third, the smaller lamp shade fit into the light fixture base as if they were made for each other.

The only issue was I needed a way to attach the wire shade frame to the light fixture.  Use wire?  Use a specialty screw?

I ended up buying these J-bolts and added washers to them because the lamp shade needed to fit snugly up against the light fixture.  The J-bolts fit through the two holes meant to bolt the light fixture into the ceiling.

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Below is everything un-assembled. (I spray painted all lamp parts, except for the solar light components, black.)

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Here is the homemade outdoor solar lamp put together:

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I needed to protect the solar panel from large hail stones, so I wrapped it with hardware cloth, which also made it easier to hang.  (Ralph, if you’re reading this, you’re right as ALWAYS.–Of course I meant to call it “rabbit wire.”  Ralph is a handyman I’ve used who drives me nuts.  He corrects everything I say.  Oh, I forgot, he will never read this blog so I don’t have to worry. SO it’s called HARDWARE CLOTH and NOT rabbit wire!!!! Ha-ha-ha!)  Sorry folks for that brief moment of Ralph-induced insanity.

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Above is the hardware cloth I used.

Below is a photo of my bare arbor with the new solar shade.  The photo makes it look as if it’s hanging crooked, but it’s not.

I have the antique rose, Crepescule, growing on one side of the arbor, but it’s only been in the ground for 9 months, so it’s not grown up the arbor yet.  My hope is I can hide the sides of the solar panel & wiring with the rose’s leaves.  I admit I may need to tweak it a bit.

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I’m pleased with my creation.  Once the rose covers the arbor, it should look much better.  Oh, and I tested the light, and it works!!!!

Here’s one more link to a woman who made a business out of recycling wire lamp shades.

Happy gardening!