Final Bounty

A short post for you this Friday morning.

Final Bounty 1

Moving day is drawing near and we are experiencing our final summer here at Elizabeth.  And that means that it’s the final year of my first ever solo garden experiment.  If you’ve been following along, you’ll know it hasn’t exactly gone as planned, but I have reaped some benefits.  My delphiniums, the only plant I have ever successfully grown from seed, have survived the construction crew burying them in tree branches and should be in full bloom by the Pie’s birthday (they are his birth flower after all).  The irises my mother sent me that have been churning out bulbs for almost thirty years are finally blooming, as is the accidental wild rose bush I found out back one year and cut entirely down by mistake (the fact that it only started to bloom after I cut it to the ground tells me I did something right).

Final Bounty 2

And the peonies that I rescued and have been coddling for years are having a bountiful year.  Instead of the usual one or two blooms I now have over a dozen (before you pooh-pooh that, remember this is Newfoundland and my backyard is 100% shade).  So I figured I’d cut some down (before they fell) and haul them inside to enjoy, together with a few of the roses trampled by construction workers, and a sprig or two of the noxious weeds that strangle the rest of my flower beds (may or may not be, or related to, Queen Anne’s Lace — jury is still out and I don’t really care).  I may have packed all my vases, but a travel mug does in a pinch.  Happy summer!

Final Bounty 3

Pseudo-Peonies

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While the weather might be warmer than it was before, and while I pulled these lovely daffodils out of my garden last week …

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… my garden still looks like this.  Which means that my peonies haven’t bloomed yet.  If they’re going to bloom at all.  And I like peonies.  They’re one of my favourites.

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So I’m going to make my own here.  It’s not that hard.  I found a quick tutorial at Two Shades of Pink and had at it.

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Start with a bunch of coffee filters.  I don’t know how many.  A bunch.

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And some warm water.  And some food colouring.  Or watercolour paint.

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Dissolve some of your paint/dye in the water. This is some Crayola stuff I broke off and stirred in.

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I tried this craft paint but it wasn’t water soluble, not really.

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Then dip your filters into the coloured water.  You can do a bunch at once. And they don’t need to sit in the water for more than a few seconds.

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Experiment with the outer edges.

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Versus the inside. Or the whole thing.

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Squeeze out the excess dye with your hands.

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I totally dyed my hand pink.

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Spread out the filters to dry completely.

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Mine took a few hours, less when I fully separated the layers and put them in a place with lots of air flow.

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This is the full stack next day.

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Now, in addition to the filters, you will need scissors, a stapler (with staples), and then some tape or wire (I have floral wire here).

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Grab between 6 and 8 of the filters and stack them up.  Flatten them a bit with your hands.

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Fold the filters in half, then half again so you have a little cone.

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Take your scissors and scallop the rounded edge of the cone — don’t worry about perfection, it’s all good.

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Now unfold the thing and ruffle it up a bit.  Pinch that spot at the very centre where you made your folds.

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Flip the filters over and you can see what I mean by that pinch.

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Staple over that pinched spot to hold things in place.

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Now flip it back over and smooth it out a bit.

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Pull up the edges of the topmost (innermost) filter and, working from the bottom, squish the filter in on itself, leaving a nice fluffy gathering on top.

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Keep going with each successive layer.

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Make sure to keep the top nice and fluffy, while still jamming the paper against itself.

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Gather up the bottom layer and push it upwards, squeezing into the little handle you’ve created for yourself.

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The paper will hold its shape for a short time, but you want to fix it more permanently.  You can use tape around the little nub here or floral wire, which is what I used.

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I attached one flower to one end of the wire and another to the bottom.  What am I going to do with it?  I’m getting to that.

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Because of the variation in the way I dyed the filters, you can see different colour gradations in the finished flowers.

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On this one I put the darker filters in the middle.

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This was the resulting bloom.

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I used 8 filters per bloom and ended up with 18 flowers finished, which means I had 144 filters dyed.

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When I was finished I gathered some of the blossoms that were tied together and I used an additional piece of floral wire to wind their stems together.

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And it made two lovely little bouquets of 9 flowers each.

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I don’t even want to talk about that horrible plaster job in the background.  The landlord took our chimney away and now I have no place to display my work.

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So until I figure out how to compensate for my lack of a fireplace, I’ve put my pseudo peonies flanking my television.  Because I’m classy like that.

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A Vintage Arrangement

I made a wedding cake this weekend.  And it is AWESOME.

Unfortunately, I’m too tired to post about it right now so you’ll have to wait until Wednesday.  And actually, at this very second I am preparing to hurtle at 650km/h across the North Atlantic to return home to the Pie and Gren.  So some patience, please.

My parents’ garden is in rare form this year following a chilly, wet spring, so of course any excuse to cut some of the lovely flowers and bring their delicious scents inside is a good excuse.

This is a centre piece I made for a dinner with my Uncle Squeaker.  Peonies, my favourite flower in the whole world, make for great arrangements.  You can keep them tall and elegant in a huge wide vase or cut them off completely to float them in a bowl.  They’re just the best.

Here, however, I cut them short and stuck them in vintage canning jars.

And photographic fluid flasks. 

I even stuck one in my great-grandmother’s coffee jar.

Then of course some iris in old medicinal tonic bottles to add a bit of height to the arrangement.

And that was it.  Don’t let not having a big vase stop you from making a big (floral) statement.

Greenthumbing Update

An update on the garden:

THINGS ARE GROWING LIKE CRAZY.  It’s days like this I itch for a macro lens.  But everything is big and bountiful and thriving.

Including my lawn, which we haven’t mowed in forever, so please ignore that part.  I’ve added bits and pieces here and there, and made two trips to Lester’s Farm to pick up more perennials, like these snapdragons.  Most of the things I have purchased I have quickly forgotten what they’re called.

The phlox is flowering.  I thought I got one blue and one pink but they’re both pink so I guess I was wrong.

My lupins are growing well, but I long for the large clumps I see in the parks here.  The Pie and I have a secret plan to go lupin stealing in the middle of the night shortly.  Don’t tell anyone.

The things that I don’t know what they’re called are about to flower, which might aid my identification process.

I have been fighting the slugs.  The whole city is out of Slug-B-Gone so I got these slug traps but they don’t seem to be working.  You can see the slime trail on my bleeding heart.

I fear for my pretty little hostas.

My purple thing and peonies get more enormous every year.

As does my columbine.  It helps that columbine is a weed here. 

And this?  Well, this is a mushroom.  It has been raining quite a bit.

Peony Hoop

Peonies have to be one of my favourite flowers, and I am pleased to have a rather successful peony growing in my backyard.  I rescued it from the wind ravages of the front beds two years ago and it’s doing great.  It probably would do better in full sun, but it’s nice and sheltered where it is.

But peonies have very heavy flowers in comparison to their delicate stems, and peonies fall over.  Often.  In fact, almost all the time.

You can buy peony hoops for about $40.

Obviously I’m not going to do that.  I’m a make my own.

For this wee project you will need a wire coat hanger (the only wire hanger in my whole house) and a scrap of wood (this is a piece of flooring).

You will also need a power drill and some pliers. My power drill belonged to my grandfather.  It is OLD.Oh, and a saw.

First, I drilled two roughly even holes near the top of the scrap of wood.

Then I used the saw on the bottom to make a bit of a point so it would be easier to bury.

I took the pliers and opened up the hanger.

Using the support to my porch, I bent the hanger round to form a loop.

I used the pliers to straighten out some of the kinky bits.

Then I used them as a fulcrum to bend the ends of the wire at a right angle.

Now I have my loop.

I stuck the loop ends through the holes in the scrap of wood.

I wrapped the loose ends around the wood.

Dug a hole.

Buried it.Sure, it’s not the prettiest of jobs, but it took me ten minutes, cost me nothing, and it works.  Can’t beat that.

Greenthumbing Day Three

Can you believe it?  It was sunny!  I haven’t been in the garden since the Pie and I raked up all the leaves and I laid down the Slug-B-Gone (which, incidentally, seems to have worked).

The consistent rain has meant that my weeds are flourishing.  I spent a good two hours just digging them out.  This particular weed will be the death of me.It’s completely overrun the horrible hedge in the front, and it creeps through the fence in the back.On a positive note, my peony is going strong, as is my astilbe and my columbine.  However, columbine seems to be a weed here so I’m not surprised it’s doing well. I actually divided the columbine and planted some of it in the front yard to soak up the sun.

It’s good to see some new growth on my boxwood.  I thought they might have lost it this year.My lavender from last year has survived the winter, just barely.

Another nice surprise is that the two straggly clematis that made it out of the seed stage last year seem to be flourishing this year.  As you can see the daffodils are in bloom, though they get damaged easily by the winds here, and the tulips will bloom soon.

The iris are struggling back from their battle with the slugs.  Maybe we’ll see some of those bloom by the end of the summer, who knows?  I laid down some more Slug-B-Gone, as I saw a few slimers while I was weeding.

Now that the frost season is officially over I’m going to start trying to plant some things.  I figure the slug bait and the lack of snow might stand me in good stead this time around.