Wednesday, June 27, 2012

garden-inspired jeżyk

When I can find the extra time, I enjoy creating garden-inspired versions of my Star Urchin ornaments, handcrafted by upcycling old garden design magazines, otherwise slated for the recycle bin. As you'll see, I am particular about the images that I use to create each ornament, which can add to the already time-consuming nature of this art form.

For this first ornament, that I titled Greens (size 4-inch), I was inspired by the mid-century design aesthetic of highly sheered garden hedges. I carefully selected pages featuring evergreen and deciduous shrubbery, being mindful of using complementary images as much as possible, so as not to detract from the final finished form. Creating a harmonious composition through the use of color and texture follows a basic garden design tenet:  

This bright and cheery ornament was made using various pictures of Narcissus, or daffodil flowers, and features fresh garden hues of yellow, orange and green; the result is a lovely homage to spring and its riot of colors after the long, gray winter here (size 3-inch):

This ornament was made using pictures of Canna 'Pretoria', with its dramatic yellow-and-green variegated leaves; the delightful mix of color and pattern adds a tropical twist to this repurposed-paper modern folk art ball (size 4-inch):

While these ornaments can be used the traditional way, hung on a Christmas tree, they also make great garden-themed gifts for gardeners, horticulturalists or landscape architects, and can be displayed as decorative art pieces on a coffee table, desk or book shelf throughout the year. Visit my shop to see my current listings; additional ornaments are available for commission only.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

lavender harvest

Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso' in my garden

It's that time of year again! I've begun the lavender harvest, gathering stems while the flower buds are at their peak and contain maximum fragrance, spreading them out on old window screens to dry. My entire house smells of lavender, and I guess I do, too, because I am often asked what is this wonderful fragrance I am wearing, during the harvest season, lol... 

fresh lavender stems in vintage lavender glass 

Shown here is my favorite variety, Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso'. I've had great success growing it in informal raised beds (mounded planting beds) in my zone 6 garden. I have placed a few other lavenders throughout my garden for ornamental purposes (and for the bees of course!), but Grosso is my first choice for crafting projects and fresh bouquets, due to its amazing fragrance and prolific production of long-stemmed, high-yielding flower spikes. It wouldn't feel like summer to me without this fabulous plant in bloom in my garden. Additional lovely lavenders for zones 5/6 include Lavandula augustifolia 'Munstead' and 'Hidcote Blue'.

Lavender is best dried hanging in small bundles or spread out on drying racks
(I use window screens) in a hot, dry and dark space, such as an attic or loft.
After the lavender has dried, strip the buds from the stems to use in sachets.

When growing lavender, whether for personal use or for a small business, it is important to plant successively, adding new plants every couple years or so. This helps to ensure that your supply will remain steady, as older plants' production diminishes or ends after about 7 to 10 years. I currently have a dozen Grosso lavender plants of various ages in my garden, and my small harvest each year provides me with more than enough lavender buds to last through to the next harvest season, when once again, this versatile plant will fill the midsummer air with its lovely fragrance.

My collection of hand-sewn lavender sachet dogs, cats, bears, moons and stars. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

sentimental structure

my new metal pea/cucumber fence and re-stained deck

my old handmade trellis, RIP

I've had some time to work on projects on the home front, including re-staining my old deck (it looks brand-new!). But I knew that the old stick trellis I'd made many seasons ago to support my annual pea and cucumber vines wouldn't make it through another growing season; it was time for an upgrade.

Although I missed my spring pea planting window (I may plant a fall crop this year instead), I went overboard in the cucumber department, planting two varieties and several seedlings in relatively close quarters. But I know this new trellis will handle it. Will it be a good cucumber season? I hope so, but my friends and neighbors may not; some seasons have been so prolific that I felt as though they were avoiding me during the harvest season... (but what's a few dozen cucumbers among friends?)

And yes, I know I had a silly sentimental attachment to the rickety handmade wooden structure I'd been using for so many years and nursing along well beyond its useful life. But structures become part of the personal landscape of a garden over time; one grows accustomed to their tireless (and literal) support year after year. So the old trellis is awaiting it's final sendoff, a final repurposing of sorts, into kindling for a Midsummer bonfire. RIP, you served me well.

Are you sentimental about a garden structure?