Sunday, November 09, 2008

Kitchen Before and (Finally) After

In an ideal world, my kitchen make-over would have included new cabinets, a new countertop, and cork flooring. I had to make do with new appliances, a baker’s rack, an outlet refresh, and tons of paint.


It took many coats of paint to cover up those awful sunflower stencils.

After (sorry so many pictures, I’m just so happy with the “after!”)

The paint is Behr’s “Golden Cricket.” I had paint left over from covering up the hallway’s “Pumpkin Puke” and decided to give it a go in the kitchen. I’m happy with how it looks next to the true white cabinets and trim. The golden color also lessens the impact of the horribly dated countertop.

I’m proudest of the door. I bought a multi-lite door to replace the existing door, but it was too short and I had to abandon that project. Instead, I transformed the existing door with paint and trim so that it resembles the house’s other doors (all original). The trim creates an illusion of recessed panels that is quite convincing at first glance.

I love my “new” kitchen! I have to stop myself from going in to stare at it too often because the cats wrongly assume that I only go to the kitchen to get them “toon-toons” and follow me in to fix me with plaintive looks and meows. Or perhaps, they just can’t get enough of the new kitchen, either.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

First Rose of the Season

The first rose of the season belongs to Terese Bugnet. She’s a truly indomitable rose. She tolerates part shade and still blooms heavily. She is undaunted by late frosts, drought, and browsing deer. When I had to move her last spring, I ended up dividing her in the process. I planted the three largest portions in the yard and potted up two smaller pieces for friends. My divisions are all preparing to bloom their fool heads off, so I hope the gifted divisions are doing just as well.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Perennial Tulip

Gardeners are advised to treat tulips as annuals. Despite their association with the soggy Netherlands, tulips are native to the dry, mountainous regions of central Asia. They need cold winters, wet springs, and dry summers to perform well year after year. Most gardeners can’t (or won’t) provide these conditions, so the plants decline after a year or so. Tulip breeders offer varieties they claim are perennial, but are they really? (And, wouldn’t it be counter to the tulip breeder’s interests to produce a tulip that perennializes in the garden setting?)

I’ve either got one of those new-fangled perennial tulips or special conditions in my garage bed because these tulips are going strong on their third year! They’ve received no extra care. I haven’t fertilized them. They got pretty wet this summer as I irrigated the nearby tomato bushes. You want to know what type of tulip they are, right?

I wish I knew! They came free with some bulb order. Ah, the irony, to have a tulip that appears to perennialize and not know how to get more.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Anchoring the 35 Dollar Arch

My $35 arch kept falling over. It has no spikes or extra long legs to anchor it to the ground. I know from my experience with the cedar arbor that using plants to anchor structures can be disastrous. I ended up staking the arch to the ground with 100 lb wire and bright yellow stakes.

(The cat is only for scale, I promise)

I stood in the aisle of Home Depot for a good 30 minutes, debating the type of wire to use. I liked the look of wire rope and cable, but they didn’t seem like they could be tied off and Mike and I were stumped by the fasteners. I ended up using 100 lb picture wire because the back of the package had a diagram detailing how to twist and hook the wire to “tie” the end. As a bonus, the wire is almost invisible and sure to trip anyone that doesn’t use the approved entrance into the North Corner.

To further enhance the trip hazard, I wanted the wire tight enough to sing when plucked. First, I fastened the wire to the stake, then Mike pushed the stake almost all the way into the ground and I fastened the wire to the arbor. Finally, Mike stood on the stake to sink it as far as it would go, thus taking any slack out of the wire.

The arbor hasn’t blown over again, but I’m still waiting for my first tripping victim.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flushing the Fountain

I have a small, self-contained fountain from Home Depot. It used to sit in my sunroom, but I moved it out in preparation for renovations last summer. I set it out on a corner of the deck and decided I liked it there better. However, I discovered that keeping a fountain outside involves more maintenance than inside. Even though the fountain is in the shade, algal growth eventually clogs the water line and the result is a sad dribbling fountain:

Two or three times during the summer, I clean out the line using three common household items (1) hot water, (2) vinegar, and (3) a turkey baster. (I might add that I originally tried to unplug the line with wire, but that was ineffective.)

I remove the hose (and attached mouthpiece) from the fountain and bring it inside. Using the turkey baster, I force a mixture of hot water and vinegar through the line. It takes a few flushings, but, eventually, clots of slimy algae are pushed out the house. I finish with multiple hot water rinses, until I’m sure the line is clear. Then, I reassemble the fountain and plug it back in.

When I’m ready to put the fountain away for the season, I’ll clean the pump itself, but just clearing the line gets me through the summer.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pink Canna

When I read Mrs. Greenthumbs, she insisted that all daylilies are orange, no matter the advances in breeding or the pretty catalog pictures. I believed her then, but I’ve since found daylilies in shades without a bit of orange in them. (Not that I have anything against orange. I adore the color.) When I found pink cannas for sale, I was a little more willing to believe that the pictured pink flower was true to life. If daylilies can be lavender, can’t a canna be pink?

You can judge for yourself. It is definitely more orange than the package picture, but you could call it pink. Perhaps “salmon” would be a more accurate description. Not that I mind – I love orange.

City of Portland Canna


Monday, July 23, 2007

Candy Cane Border

At my open garden, as I described the concept of the candycane border to my guests (flowers in shades of red, white, and pink), I was surprised at how enthralled they were with the concept. Unfortunately, my guests had to use their imaginations to picture the flowers, because the border was between blooms. The moss phlox, daffodils, sweet William, peonies, and roses were spent. The hibiscus and lilies held promising buds, but were weeks from opening. More than one guest expressed a desire to return when the border was in its second bloom. I am unable (unwilling?) to host another event this year, but I’ll share photos here.

I’m fairly pleased with the late summer effect. The border color scheme sounds simple, but it can be difficult to blend the right red and pink tones together. While the hibiscus and stargazer lilies have purple undertones, the cardinal lobelia almost slides into the orange range and the sweet william blossoms varied from red-black to red-orange. Who knows what color the “red” hydrangea (hornli) blooms are because the plant hasn’t flowered (or grown much) in three years. White is the only “easy” color in the border.

I continue to plot and plan to improve the border and, in the meantime, I’m enjoying the bits of it that I think I’ve finally got right.

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