paros day 43: sea rope basket

I’ve had a quiet but productive day today. In a low key kinda way.

I spent the morning working on the poodle portrait and so far so good. It looks like a poodle.

At lunchtime I did some odds and ends around the place, and took Lainee for a walk in the afternoon. Along the way I collected a couple of cuttings from this geranium which was really leggy and unruly, but had the most vibrant red balls of blooms. I thought it was worth collecting. I can probably keep it from getting leggy by pruning it.

I also came across the biggest dandelion I’ve ever seen. Well, I took a photo of the biggest dandelion I’ve ever seen, cause I have seen them before. Isn’t it amazing?

Oh, wait. You need to see my hand so you can get the size!

See? I told you its big!

Tonight I’m working on a basket using bits of rope I found while walking on the beach. Its kinda fun. A craft project I can work on while watching Homeland even! No wasting time tonight.

I’ve now used up all the bits of rope I had and am left with pieces of net. I’m no sure how I’ll incorporate them into the basket, if and how I’ll weave them in, or what shape the basket will end up being. Its one of those things that just develops as you work on it. I’ll just keep going and it will keep growing till I feel its finished.

I think I need more rope. I may need to walk on the beach again… Oh such hard work!

Meanwhile it must be spring. Its warm, the mosquitoes are out in force and I’m itchy all over. That happens when bugs land on me. I’m allergic to pollen so I think that any bug that’s walked through pollen and lands on me makes me itchy. Its my theory anyway. Ugh. I need a shower!!! Better turn on the hot water boiler!

On that note I think its time to say bye, till next time!

z

paros day 41: rusty wire basket

Firstly, Lainee would like to say good morning.

She thinks she should feature in the blog more often. Says I’m focusing on myself too much and that’s just selfish. So here she is, freshly clipped face, feet and tail. Though between you and me she sure could use a bath. She’s a little on the nose…

Anyway, it was a gorgeous day, the wind dropped to a pleasant breeze, the sun was warm and I felt like being outdoors. I cleaned the front and back patio areas from all the pine needles and things the wind had blown in and did a general clean and tidy. It felt good to just be out with my plants. One of the good things about strong wind out the front is that often any leaves and pine needles get blown away before I have to worry about them!

Mid morning Lainee and I went for a short walk to share a couple of my potted plants with a friend. I brought seeds from some of my flowers in Australia with me and had a go at growing some this year. I’ve already given quite a few to one friend with a large garden. Its my backup plan: get some of my seeds growing so I can grow them again in my own garden one day.

Some of the seedlings are doing well, some struggling, others look dead. But I’ve had things come back from the dead before, so I’m not giving up just yet.

On the plus side the hydrangea looks like it will be fine, its budding up after I pruned it down severely.

An update on the status of my plants: One of the many lavender cuttings I took look like its taken. About half of the geranium cuttings are looking good. Two of them are flowering which is great, even though they’re still not more than sticks. At least I think its great. Maybe I need to cut the flowers off to encourage them to grow roots?

My new lavender and my white gaura seem like they’re doing ok. No sign of life from the coriander seeds I planted. Yet.

The basil and the pink gaura I bought died. It took the basil one day to die. The gaura took 5 days. But the good news on that is I got a piece of pink guara with some root from a garden during winter, it looked dead but something is coming up in that pot and I’m sure its the gaura.

Most of the succulents are doing great, which is to be expected. If you can’t propagate them you have a serious black thumb problem.

The daisies my aunt gave me pieces of are both doing really well. The pink one has lots of flowers, the white is taking its time but looks healthy.

I got another piece of white african daisies – the others all died, both pink and white. Hope this one takes. I envision a cascade of daisies over the rock wall…

The sweet peas look like they’re doing ok, both in the front and the back. I had to move the one in the back to the corner of the retaining wall nook so it would get more sun. It seemed to be struggling with less sun.

The bougainvillea had two flowers and now has none. But its growing so that’s good.

But back to the walk. We took the rubbish down on our way and I always love looking at what someone might have thrown ‘rubbish bin adjacent’. This time I found a piece of rusty wire mesh. And a couple of bits of rusty wire. Of course they had to come home with me.

I figured it would make a great planter basket (well, around a pot!!) so here it is. I rolled it up carefully so as not to break it and used the wire pieces to join it together with Xs. Then I plonked one of my small potted succulents in it. This particular succulent should get pretty big and fill the basket shape. How cool will that be!

I love my rusty basket.

I also found something else wonderful in another rubbish bin adjacent area. Two rusty birdcages. They will need a bit of cleaning up, removal of the ugly plastic bits in them and then who knows where I’ll put them… Stay tuned.

I made a new friend too. An old man was looking through the bins. He had the biggest bushiest sideburns I’ve ever seen in real life. And he asked me if I was married. LOL

I’ve still got it!

z

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paros day 33: a planter box from scraps

Yes, before you say anything… I’m a day late again. But I have a great excuse. Yesterday was a stunning day. The sun was shining, it was warm and beautiful… I took Lainee down to town to pick up some marble scraps and walked her along the sea front and through the deserted streets of town. On the way back we stopped at my uncle’s place so I could make a planter box. And it literally wiped me out. I got home too exhausted to do much of anything but shower, eat and go to bed early.

I wanted something big so I could plant my new hydrangea. The one that seems to be dying already. I don’t have the money to spend on a huge pot so I figured I’d make one out of what I could scrounge. I had some bits and pieces of old timber at my uncle’s place I knew I could make work. The box is about 45cm x 45cm. It’ll be really heavy to move once its full.

Wayne always used to say I should buy dead plants, sort of cut out the middle man… Since I was going to kill them anyway.

It doesn’t stop me from trying though. I’m no quitter.

Anyhow… I went to the nursery the other day to pick up some seedlings for my uncle’s vegetable patch and fell in love with this hydrangea. Its BLUE. And yeah, I know its the soil that dictates pink or blue, but its BLUE, alright!

I’ve had white before but never pink or blue. And I’ve never had much luck with really healthy hydrangeas but I always longed for them. Given I have a big pine tree shading my front porch for most of the day I hope it will like it here. In the heat of summer it should be protected most of the day as the sun is high in the sky. I do know they prefer morning sun to afternoon sun, but I don’t get morning sun. At the back I get late morning and early afternoon sun, in front I get afternoon sun. Where the box is now it gets a bit of late afternoon sun, but hey, if it looks like its getting hot I’ll put an umbrella over it. I’ve done that before and I’m not afraid to look stupid!

I’ve never made a big box/crate before. I made this one up as I went along cause, ha, who needs to follow instructions? I had an idea of how it would fit together and just went ahead and made it. Hardly any mistakes either! I did have to do a little patchwork cause I didn’t have enough of the blue coloured timber, but hey, I made it work.

I’m more a ‘don’t do what I do’ type of woodworker than a ‘follow my instructions’ one.

It took me way longer than I thought it would. I worked on it all afternoon. Then I brought it home and thought putting a sheet of plastic down the bottom with holes in it would serve well to hold in the soil.

I discovered two things:

One is not so much discovered but later thought better of – a sheet of plastic, even with holes in it might make it too wet when it rains, even though hydrangeas like to be kept moist… I’m going to have to line it with weed matting (I dont have any) or burlap (which I have) to be safer.

Two – I’m gonna need a s@#$ load of soil to fill this sucker.

Cost of box: 0
Cost to till it: 12,343,235.00. Or thereabouts.

This morning I’m off to the nursery to buy soil.

Meanwhile, I found this latern at the rubbish the other day and picked it up. After a little wash it came up pretty good. I’ve put rocks in the bottom to stop the wind from blowing it away and found an ice cream container that fit into the top. While on our walk yesterday I picked up some cuttings of a pretty pink and orange pigface I’ve never seen before. The idea is for it to grow out and over and down. If its not too averse to the shade. If it is I’ll have to move it elsewhere.

Come to think of it, it might do well on the buttress-like retaining wall bits. They dont go all the way to the top of the big wall behind my place so they create a ledge… hm… maybe it will end up there, allowing the pigface to grow downwards over the wall. That would be pretty…

But that’s for another day. Right now I need to get on with this one!

See ya’ll tomorrow.

z

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paros day 27: my upcycled view

Yes. A day late again. But I have a great excuse this time.

The weather was great so Lainee and I walked to my uncle’s place and took his dog with us for a walk on the beach where I’ve always collected sea glass and have now (once again) began collecting rope debris to make a basket.

On the way back I noticed something in the rubbish that wasn’t there before… This old stand. Its in bad condition. Rusty and bent, but it was love at first sight.

Ok, maybe not love, but it was the answer to my prayers. Sort of. See, my back ‘yard’ is a tiny cobblestone area where I grow some plants, hang my washing and store a few things in a plastic cupboard and plastic containers. Its not a lovely place to hang out at the moment.

This is how it looked till yesterday afternoon. Pots on the ground, you can see the plastic covering my seedlings in the far right, my plastic cupboard, ladder, buckets, etc. That was the view from my bedroom door. Not exactly inspiring.

I’d been thinking about moving that cupboard and putting plants in that little alcove so I’d have something pretty to look at. Maybe put a table and a couple of chairs out so I could sit when the weather was too windy out front… Maybe even the old Parian couch I’m supposedly renovating…

I was building shelves out of found materials in my mind to put plants on, but had no real plan. When I went to my uncle’s yesterday I had thought I’d look around his scrap pile for anything I could use. Then of course I found the stand!

This was the view from the other side, my area is basically from that slanted rock wall to the bamboo fence. My workbench (which houses and protects my plastic containers) actually goes into the neighbouring yard.

Notice the shopping trolley on the left, against the retaining wall? Another found object. Found rusting away in my uncle’s garage, wheels falling off, useless. Now it a new home for sweet peas.

This is the neighbouring yard. A much nicer square shaped yard than mine, with a tall brick wall on one side (illegally built by the far neighbour). The apartment next to mine has been empty since way before I bought my place. Its apparently been seized by the bank due to money owed. I’ve tried to find out about it but no one seems to know whats going on with it.

I really wish the entire yard was mine. And the apartment. I would have so much more space, I could even have a studio and workshop!

Anyway… since its empty and I’ve been cleaning the yard since I moved here, no one lives there… I figured I’d go ahead and use it till I’m told otherwise. Ask forgiveness not permission sort of thing.

So yesterday, instead of creating art, I created a better view for myself.

I brought home the rusty stand and filled it with the plants I’m babying along. These are cuttings I’m propagating and my seedlings which grew enough to put potted up. I moved the cupboard to the space on the other side of the slanted rock wall, leaving enough room for the ladder to fit in nicely beside it. Further over are my plastic tubs and potting mixes.

The view is already so much better. Just imagine how it will look once the plants grow and flower!

The pots on the stand are geranium cuttings which are starting to bud, the only lavender cutting I think might have taken, and a couple of daisies which are doing well. I love daisies, geraniums not so much, but when I see one I like I take cuttings. Lavender I think I’ll have to buy, they don’t do so well from cuttings.

The rusty trolley I took from my uncle’s holds sweet peas (seeds I ordered from England before isolation began) which will grow up the trolley and onto the rusty wire trellis (also bits I found and collected) I hung on the walls.

On the other side of the second slanting wall is a carmine bougainvillea growing on a trellis I made from cuttings at my uncle’s place. Here are the before/during/after pics of that project…

If all goes well, the bougainvillea will outgrow that trellis quickly, hence the rope to give it something to hold onto as it creeps up the wall.

Most of these plants are out the back to protect them from the strong winds out the front, plus to give them a chance to grow better than they would out the front where a large pine tree creates too much shade. Some of my plants didn’t like it out the front hence the move to the back. I’m hoping most of the geraniums will be able to move to the front once they grow. They seem like very hardy plants that can put up with a fair bit of abuse.

Some of the larger plants will move to big white pots and sit on the ground once they bush up and flower. I’ll finally have a pretty garden. At least a small oasis to look out on.

Much nicer than looking at a cupboard don’t you think?

z

the post gets decorated

I went out to the car this afternoon and noticed the post we put in the ground this week had been decorated.

post2

post1

Ok, the colour isn’t perfect, its not exactly high visibility… but the design and idea is brilliant.

I love it!

It makes me smile and I love having things that make me smile around me.

z

so, what have you done lately?

For the last few weeks I’ve been struggling to get anything done in the yard (I won’t call it a garden cause right now its far from pretty) and been feeling a real need to tidy it up and prepare it for winter. You know. Cut things back, pull up deal annuals, deadhead… etc etc.

And mow. We’ve had odd weather lately: cold, wet, windy. Then sunny and gorgeous. So the lawn (or the weeds I call lawn) has been growing like crazy, then its too wet to mow… Then Wayne lets the horses into the yard to eat the grass and they trim back things I don’t actually want trimmed and poop all over the place…

Well, we finally had a couple of sunny dry days in a row and I was able to get stuff done.

I know, you’re fascinated. My life is so exciting.

abit

I only managed to weed and mulch two tiny garden beds. The pretty daisy bush above was a nice round shape till one of the horses ate the middle out of it…

wall

Believe it or not, there’s a narrow garden bed in there, just below the wall. The alysum has spread out of it and totally covered the little footpath. Its pretty though so all I did there was cut back the dead lupins.

trellis

I finally managed to cut down and remove the two banksia roses I had climbing the trellis above. Yes, I love pale yellow banksia roses, but only if they actually flower! Those bushes have been in that spot since pretty much the year we bought this place and they grew and grew and grew but never flowered. Ever. I’d get one sprig with a few tiny buds. What they did do, though, was get a powdery mildew-ey tpe of disease on the leaves every single year. I decided they needed to go. Well, to be moved. I’ve taken cuttings. Fingers crossed. The cut back plant/roots need to be dug up next. I don’t know how they’d take to being moved, but if they make it great. If not, hopefully a couple of the cuttings will take.

The trellis looks so naked without the banskias.

Meanwhile, one small area of the embankment is looking pretty with the two different shades of cosmos flowering.

cosmos

And I love the autumn colours of the ornamental grape vine I put in a couple of years ago.

grapevine

Unlike some parts of the world, we don’t have a lot of red autumn colours in Australia. Most native plants are evergreen, but here in Tasmania we have a lot of poplars that go golden in autumn like these on one of the walking tracks in New Norfolk.

tynwaldpark

The story goes that these poplars were brought over from England and first planted at a farm in the Derwent Valley, then were used as windbreaks by most farms growing hops in the area.

Other than playing with plants, I spent a little time finding a home for the bird cages I bought at the tip shop last week. I normally put plants in these but for now I just wanted to put them somewhere till spring. I’ve hung them on the side of the grooming room.

cages

I managed to bash my middle finger with the hammer while doing it. The same poor finger I almost decapitated a couple of years ago. sigh…

The other thing we managed to do (we cause this was a two person job, not to mention a lot more people if they were available) was put this lovely big HEAVY post into the ground. Please note the little plant in the top of it. Theoretically that plant will grow and cover the post with flowers…

post1

So, what’s with the post? Well… See that retaining wall? It was hit TWICE by customers dropping off or picking up dogs. The first time someone hit it it knocked the end of it out of wack. The second time it was hit the sleepers were knocked off the small post entirely.

And neither time did anyone say “Hey, I’m so sorry, I just ruined your retaining wall”

post2

You know… I appreciate that people trust me to groom their dogs, but this is sort of beyond rude. I know a low retaining wall is hard to see over the back of a vehicle, but really? Why would you not say something?

Hence the huge post.

We might be going straight to hell for this, but the reasons are twofold:

  1. its harder to miss something that’s only a smidge shorter than me
  2. if someone hits this, they’ll know it… and it’ll give them something to remember it by!

Bwahaha!

(As I said, me, Wayne, hell…)

I have no idea what this thing was originally. We have two of them, both lying in our top paddock. They’re galvanised metal on the outside and filled with concrete except for the top area where I put the plant.

We’re talking SOLID. Not easily pushed over!

Ok. Now the plan is to paint it to make it stand out even more than it does so there’s no reason anyone would ever run into it. Red or red and white stripes comes to mind, but I’d like something more fun and imaginative. Ideas anyone?

z

the problem with plans – and sneaky previews

plandefinition

I was talking to a friend this morning and the topic of plans came up. You know. Plans are those things you make only to change them along the way. Or fail to follow through with entirely.

I don’t know why this is… I mean, surely, you make plans cause you want to get the things you plan to do done, right? Obviously. But it never seems to work that way. At least not in my life.

I make plans all the time: I plan the days I’ll groom (my job), the days I’ll do some gardening, the days I’ll work on dolls or other projects. I’ll also plan to do housework – well, that one is doomed right from the start. I never get past the planning stage of that one unless I’m expecting visitors.

So, why plan when it seems that by the very act of planning I pretty much guarantee not achieving what I planned.

Maybe making plans tempts fate, maybe I just jinx myself.

todolist

Plans are different to To Do Lists. A To Do List is a list of things you’d like to get done in a day, week, month, lifetime. A plan is something something more concrete… it has a timeframe, usually…  for instance, today I planned to garden. Then I slept in till 9.30am. Took 2 hours to feed animals, have breakfast and drink 2 cups of coffee. Then I went to the local market to buy fresh bread.

Gardening? Its way too late to consider that now!

I think I may forgo making plans entirely. I’ll stick to To Do Lists and Suggested Things I’d Like To Do This Week/Day/Month/Lifetime…

Seriously, you know how I mentioned I’d love an entire wall of chalkboards? It’d be one way to keep my To Do Lists front and center.

Anyway. Moving right along.

What have I been doing that’s kept me so busy that I haven’t posted for a few days? It sure as heck wasn’t gardening.

Yet somehow, some things are doing well despite me. Like my camelia, loving its new spot on the porch and blooming!

camelia

Ditto the pink geranium which is looking lovely!

pinkgeranium

I’ve been playing with dolls again! I started on 6 new dolls all at the same time, I finished repainting them and now I’m on costumes. They take longer. But I got in the zone the last few days and lose myself in it.

Here are some sneak previews – more pics to come when they’re finished and I’m ready to list them in my shop.

Can you guess who they are?

cersei1joffrey1jonsnow1tyrion3ygritte1

Answer: Cersei, Joffrey, Jon Snow, Tyrion and Ygritte from Game of Thrones!

Bad photos, I know, they were taken in my office using my mobile phone – the good pics will be taken when they’re all finished.

What fun it is to remake dolls. I saw there are tiny irons for doing craft/doll type stuff. I want one. Can’t afford to spend money on that right now, but its on the Things I Want to Own One Day list.

z

plants for sale

Nothing wrong with diversifying, right? I mean, I groom dogs for a living and I make stuff and I garden. And my garden produces flowers and flowers produce seeds and I end up with more plants and more seeds. Its the circle of life.
As Neil once said on The Young Ones, “we sow the seed, nature grows the seed, then we eat the seed, and after that, we sow the seed, nature grows the seed, then we eat the seed…”
Except for the eating part. I don’t eat my flowers. I admire them. Then collect seeds, sow seeds, grow seeds, you get the picture. As a result I have baby plants growing. I can’t use them all, so I normally sell them at markets here and there. 
Well, I decided that instead of having my plant nursery along the back of the casita where no one sees them, I’d put some out the front of the new grooming room so my customers can see them. That way, if anyone sees something they like they can buy it while I give ‘rover’ a new do.

I made the cute little sign using a timber offcut and acrylic paint. The large basket they’re sitting in is a galvanised bakery basket I’ve had for a few years. I put some metal legs on it and for the last 2-3 years we’ve lined it with burlap and used it to hold carrots for the horses in winter.

I do love my galvanised metal things!

One of my favourite pastimes is moving things around, assigning new uses to old things, etc. 
I wonder how Wayne will feel about the carrot bin disappearing…. hm. He wasn’t too impressed with the wood box moving to Stalag 13 to house chickens…
z
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my newest junky planter

I’ve had this gorgeous funnel shaped THING for a long time. Its some kind of filter, I presume it came from a water tank. I have no idea what it is… like so many of the things I collect, I just liked the shape.
I’ve had it for years. I’ve had various plans for it over the years. I was going to make a light fixture out of it at one stage. But its never happened. Its hung around in the yard most of the time, doing nothing useful.
Yesterday I decided it was time to do something with it. 
I’ve had many hanging planters over the years, mostly ones I made myself out of chains bought from the hardware store and steamers or colanders. I took one of the chains from a steamer with succulents in it and put them onto this rusty piece of gorgeousness of mysterious origins.
Who cares what it was in a previous life? What purpose it served. Now its a proud planter, holding a mix of succulents on the corner of our porch. In summer there’ll be tiny hot pink flowers forming a halo around it.
Below it sit my old mop bucket – one of my favourite planters of all time, the steamer which lost its chain – sacrificed for the greater good, and my camelia, in a new spot.
See, I’ve had this camelia for a year and it wasn’t doing great. Not where I had it… so, I’ve moved it. Its a heavy pot… moving it was pretty much impossible on my own… till I made a rolling base for it!
I used some pallet wood, made a frame and added castors. Now I can move it anytime I get the urge – to where it’ll get more sun, where the frost won’t get it or just a couple of inches to the left.

Meanwhile some months ago I posted about my change of heart regarding geraniums after seeing a photo of pelargonium apple blossom. Well… I was lucky enough to get a cutting of it from a really nice lady. And look at it now!

My formerly black thumb might be getting a tinge of green!
Before I go I’d like to show off my newest toy:

Isn’t that little tricycle the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Imagine plants in the little wagon… 
Watch this space.
z

new planter box

How do you like my new planter box? I think its really cool.
This is what it looked like when I got it. 

Yeah, your eyes are seeing well. I haven’t done a thing to it other than bringing it home and plonking it on the porch. 
Well… I did put some plants in it. For now. Temporary plants. Two established succulents and 2 cuttings I got from a friend that I didn’t have in my collection which I’m trying to grow. And one is a white geranium I am also encouraging to grow. 
I am not a huge geranium lover – I only have one pink one which forms balls of flowers which are gorgeous, and a variegated pink pellargonium a friend gave me a cutting of recently. That’s been planted and is already doing well. Talk about low maintenance. But this new cutting is a white one with a double flower I fell in love with.
Looking for pics of the geranium I have and the geranium I think I got I came across some amazing photos!
I’m totally rethinking my stand on geraniums…
This is similar to the pink one I have. Its a pale pink ball of flowers:
According to the site I found this photo on, its a common geranium. But I thought it was uncommon and pretty enough to make me want a cutting. Growing up in Greece, I was used to seeing geraniums everywhere but I never thought they were very pretty.
Maybe its cause they always looked sun bleached and dry… Who knows? My mother loves them cause they take neglect in their stride. Maybe the greek ones are tougher. On the website I found the pink one above it said they didn’t survive heat. Tell that to the ones living in pots on greek islands! Mine can cope with the heat but the frost nearly killed it a couple of years ago. Its still recovering. I now keep it on the porch in winter.
I think this is the one I got a cutting of. Its called a Double Trailing Sybil White Pearl. Click on the pic to go to the page.
Here is another photo of a Sybil White Pearl… Drool.
Or it could be this one. The Pelargonium Apple Blossom. How pretty is this one!
And here is another pic. OMG its amazing! I think I’ve just become a geranium person.

But I digress. My new planter box. I love the 60s look. The inside is lined with a bit of galvanised iron so I don’t have to worry about water leaking out the bottom of pots and rotting the wood.

I’ve actually had this for over a month, but I only put plants in it last week. 
A girl gets busy.
z