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14 Sep

potting bench4

My love affair with potting benches started in early spring when I saw a beautifully styled potting bench repurposed in a Pottery Barn catalog (see above). Before I knew it, I was fantasizing about all the cute ways I could style mine with drink dispensers and cute handmade or vintage signs for parties out in our garden.

potting bench

The thing is, the “potting bench” in current use in my garden is a good sized picnic table absolutely covered in dirt, empty plastic pots, and flats of various seedlings I’m in the middle of starting. There is nothing cute or styled about any of it – it’s a functional workspace and I’d be hard presses to keep it as neat as a lot of these inspiration photos.

potting bench2

In studying these pictures and thinking more about the whole concept of a designated spot for “potting” things, I’ve come to a few conclusions —

1st – A working potting bench needs to be functional and hold everything I need to pot up plants in the garden. This could mean there are a variety of pots, containers of various potting soils and soil amendments like peat, sand, or potting soil as well as gloves and various tools for the task.

2nd – Know that it’s not a greenhouse. Part of the problem with my current set-up is the fact that I let my stuff stay there. My lettuce seedlings are hanging out in the exact same spot they started in this past spring and taking up precious real estate I could be using.

3rd – Although a potting bench is a place to muck around in the dirt, a little inspiration never hurt anyone so it’s nice to seek out cute little garden signs, pretty gardening gloves, and attractive containers

 

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Garden Update: September 2017

6 Sep

IMG_0341Now that Labor Day weekend has come and gone, it seems like a good time to do a quick check-in on the Garden To Do List. Also, my list has grown so before I update it for the fall, I thought I’d give a status update where things ended up and why. Here’s where we started in the fall and what we got done:

Our 2017 Spring/Summer Garden Priority List

Stump and tree removal in the backyard
Deal with the chipmunks
Remove two shrubs under kitchen window
– Level the backyard
– Redo and build-out the patio
– Build-up berms along the back perimeter
– Seed the lawn
Start our vegetable garden
– Plant privacy trees and shrubs on back perimeter
– Install side yard arbor and gate; plant clematis and roses
– Purchase lounge chair seating
– Find the perfect hammock
– Find a swing set for Emilia
Install front window boxes

Now, to be totally honest, a few of the above are multi-step items that may be only partially done, but I feel like we got a lot accomplished in hindsight, so I’m going to count them. The fact is, there is one lingering chipmunk, we have quite a few more trees and stumps to deal with and our veggie garden has a ways to go, namely, we need to secure it from the bunnies and the day pigeons (who ate all our bush beans) which means some sort of fencing next year.

For the moment, I’m just going to enjoy the fact that we were able to get the garden in at all since I was in my third trimester at the start of the planting season. It was also a terrible year for gardening because we had SO much rain in June.

There are a few things I didn’t put on my priority list earlier this spring like planting asparagus and purchasing fruit trees to get started, but as I’ve settled into this house and gotten to know a bit more about our property and its potential, I’ve realized we might not have the best conditions for a lot of the things I’d hoped to eventually put in, like a pear tree, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hidden potential to be unlocked!

Stay tuned…

Fall Container Planter Ideas

6 Sep

halloween planter ideasBring on the fall, am I right? I used to cling to summer come Labor Day weekend, but since having Caroline (and becoming a homeowner), I’ve been longing for cooler temperatures. It feels less wasteful to spend most of the day inside with the kids when the sun isn’t taunting me out the window. So my mind has turned to fall projects and at the top of my list is updating my window boxes.

Long before we bought our house and installed said window boxes, I was a container gardener. I hadn’t had a garden of my own since I was a kid, so the second I moved to an apartment with enough room for a few planters, I dove in. It wasn’t anything glamorous, just a few pots in the driveway in front of my parking spot, but I dreamed of the day when I’d have an entry way and back patio to adorn to my heart’s content.

Since buying our house last spring, I’ve been able to indulge in YEARS of planting fantasies, but quickly realized that it adds up fast – especially when you’re outfitting 60 inch window boxes on a seasonal basis. Before Pinterest, I used to snap pictures of exceptional window boxes and planters (OK, I still do this) and tear photos from magazines (ditto) to hoard for the day when I’d need ideas for my future garden, but it’s an exercise in frugality to figure out a way to do most of them on a budget.

As I was perusing the web for ideas, I started to notice some themes and thought it might be worth sharing for my fellow New England gardeners looking to add some fall color to their front entrances and patios, like me. Here are a few examples that caught my eye.

fall container ideasIn the example above, there is a lot working for this. The dark, textured shutter  paired with the rich wood tone of the door makes the planter contents really pop. The hardscaping (in this case, the stairs) give gorgeous texture as well. I always try to repurpose things in my garden for my planters, so I love that it looks like these planters rely heavily on snapdragons. I’ll definitely remember to plant some in a rusty hue next year so I’m ready come fall.
fall container ideas2
This is an excellent example of budget container gardening. The chartreuse foliage spilling over the side is sweet potato vine (one of my favorite trailing plants) and it’s SO easy to propagate. I usually buy just one plant a season, then snip it up and strip some of the leaves, then stick the pieces into juice glasses and leave on a sunny windowsill until I see roots forming, then I just pop them into some potting soil and tend them lovingly until I have a strong plant to transplant. Voila! I actually just purchased a purple version to do the same thing for my fall planters.fall container ideas3
Here’s an excellent example of how the right planters, scale, and texture can make or break your planters. I LOVE the industrial feel of the corrugated metal planters and the use of edibles (that’s Swiss chard leafing out of the top planter) amidst the grass. I recently finished a great book about incorporating your garden in with your flowers and it has really influenced how I approach my borders. Next summer I’m going to really work on this a bit more. fall container ideas4Grasses are one of my favorite container additions, so if you were going to buy one item for a planter, this would be my pick since I’m not familiar with how to start it or propagate. And the coleus is one of my garden staples even though it’s technically an annual. I hate to spend on one-season plants that don’t self-sow, but it’s VERY easy to propagate coleus, so this wouldn’t be too difficult to take inspiration from with some forethought early in the summer. Loving that Purple Pixie fringe flower too. fall container ideas5Stunning, right? This is an example I’d steal inspiration from to use in other planters, but not something I’d try to recreate in its entirety because it just wouldn’t work outside me teeny, tiny Cape-style home. If I owned a sprawling estate – absolutely. I love the use of creepy jenny (the green spilling over the right edge) and the ornamental kale. I really love the shape of the planter as well. It reminds me of some vintage champagne glasses I should dig out of storage and actually use sometime soon.

fall container ideas6
Finally, more creepy jenny and kale. And possibly… red leaf lettuce? I wish I’d not ripped out all my lettuce now. As I review these examples, I’m realizing more and more how easy a lot of these will be once I have a more established garden since I’ll be able to repurpose things with the next season in mind. For example, the creeping jenny and coleus from my summer planters would be great in window boxes come fall. Just toss in a few sugar pumpkins and call it a day.