Loving Out Loud: CB2 Galvanized Metal Planters…..

I have received numerous emails and comments about where you can find the galvanized metal planters I used on my patio last year……

They were sale purchases from last year’s CB2 outdoor line and until recently, I couldn’t find anything similar to share with y’all.  Fortunately, CB2 saw it fit to bring them albeit in slightly different shapes…..

The square planter comes in three different sizes and are a great price.  However, this style does not come with a liner which is highly important to prevent corrosion.  The Titan planter is the closet to what I currently have and does come with a liner.  At $90, it isn’t cheap but still less expensive than some of the other alternatives on the market for a rectilinear metal planter.

Today I am planting bulbs to see if I can soften a rather barren corner of the patio.  I am not sure if it too late in the season for planting, but I figure it’s worth a shot.  So do you have any gardening goals this Summer?

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Wistful About Wisteria…..

If you follow my on  Twitter, you have been recently been buried under an avalanche of tweets with the hash tag #WalksWithScruffy.  Every afternoon, I take my adorable “design assistant” Scruffy for his afternoon walk in our neighborhood.  Thanks to the all the rain (and some hard work on part of our neighbors) everyone’s garden is on full tilt.  Walking through the neighborhood has become a visual treat as I am greeted by beautiful parrot tulips, roses, lush green ferns and my personal favorite wisteria.

Honestly, I can’t get enough of wisteria’s purple flowery vines of goodness.  Seeing a house covered in wisteria makes  me happy.  A fence encased by wisteria blooms makes me giddy.  And seriously, a pergola that is entwined and dripping with wisteria, makes me heart beat faster.  To put it bluntly, I love the hell out of wisteria right now…….

When I am see it, I am instantly calmed.  It whisks me away and makes me imagine warm Spring nights on the porch.  Tea drinking and leisurely dinners.  Women in flirty dresses and guys in crisp khakis…….

I can stare at these pictures all day, but alas I have work to do!  So tell me, do you have a favorite flower or plant that you can’t get enough of right now?  I think wisteria may slowly be edging out my love of succulents.  We shall see…..

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Spring Is Here….

Last night was the kind of evening I daydreamed about for years since moving to San Francisco.  I went to the Joyus Viewer’s Choice Launch Party at HD Buttercup.  I along with 3 of the other bloggers who participated in the challenge drank, smoked and nibbled on delicious yummies thanks to local Bay Area food trucks.  I was lucky enough to have The Partner and one of my good friends join me for the evening.  It was surreal seeing my face plastered on multiple screens throughout the store……

I left the party walking on air and just overjoyed that I was able to be part of this fantastic group of people.

So I woke up this morning and was still riding the “serotonin wave”.  I went downstairs to grab a cup of coffee and as I was savoring the rush of caffeine as filtered into my system, I noticed that my little patio garden was coming alive once again.  Things are in bloom!  I grabbed my camera and took a few shots – much to the chagrin of my neighbors who saw me with my bed head mumbling to myself with a camera and a mug of coffee……

I am now inspired to spend a few  hours this weekend in the yard to hang the outdoor lights, replant a few dead plants and add a new layer of mulch.

Ahhh Spring, I am so glad you arrived!  So has the “Spring Bug” bit you?  Are you itching to do some outdoor projects?

On a side note, thank you to everyone who has voted for my room on Joyus.com. You can vote for my room multiple times and each time you vote, you are entered to win a $1500 shopping spree from Joyus, so it pays to click especially in light that none of us won the mega lotto…..

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Planter Reaper Strikes Again……

Typically when someone mentions “amber wave of grain” they are either:

1) Extremely patriotic

2) Actually discussing wheat fields

I use the term to discuss the chaos known as my patio garden containers.  Back in June, we finished refreshing our outdoor space and I opted to plant Cannomois Grandis (Virgata), a reed-like plant that was supposed to grows up to 10 feet tall and hide the retaining wall.  The shoots on the plant take on a pinkish hue while young and can range from yellow to red as it matures.  These were the plants in July……..

Pretty cool right?  Tall, slender shoots that rustled in the glorious warm breezes of the afternoon.  The reeds were the perfect organic juxtaposition to all the hard angles in the space.  Fast forward to October……..

Good Grief Charlie Brown!  My once tall (and green) plants now look like shafts of wheat ready for harvest.  Yet again, my fickle finger of plant death has snuck in and wiped these suckers out.  “Virtually kill proof” said the gardening shop I bought the plants from …. well “virtually” doesn’t mean entirely.  Honestly, I should be hired by R&D by some horticulture company to test out the durability of their plants – because let’s be real, if a plant can withstand me, it can withstand anyone!

At least on a brighter note, the aptenia I planted in the new box on top of the fence is thriving.  This is what the planter box looked like in mid-July…….

And here is what the box looks like now…..

The aptenia has totally grown over the sides of the box and is beginning to trail nicely.   Surprisingly, I thought I would kill these plants before I killed the reeds since I grew these from cuttings.  Go figure……

It looks like I have taken one step forward and one step back as it relates to my patio.  So it looks like I will be shopping this weekend for some new plants for the containers – I am thinking of cutting my losses and going with bamboo.  What do you think?

Have a great weekend!

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Rest In Peace……Eulogy of a Houseplant

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to pay tribute and respect to one False Aralia better known as Houseplant #4……

Houseplant #4 you deserved better.  The odds were stacked up against you worse than being born into the Lohan family.  The day I bought you, your destiny was to die.  As morbid as it sounds, you were doomed from the day I laid eyes on you.

You were such a beautiful plant – full of life (and leaves).  A soft breeze would make you rustle with delight.  You grew full and strong — your leaves shiny.  Your leaves….like Madonna’s endless parade of young Latin lovers……were your shining glory.  Deep green and variegated, they were a pleasure to behold.

Now you are just a shell of yourself.  Much like a Whitney Houston record after 2000, you are basking in the glow of former glories.  I think the best I can do is give you your proper respects and place you to rest.

Go to that big nursery in the sky — your road was hard and you have earned your reward.  I pray that you find the sunlight & fertilizer you so desperately needed here on Earth.  Sleep the everlasting sleep my sweet Houseplant #4.  You put up a good fight…..


(okay I am off to find my next victim….have a great weekend.)

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Needless Obsession: Stag Ferns

Are you familiar with staghorn ferns aka “stag ferns”?  These plants are epiphytes, meaning they prefer to grow above the ground attached to tree trunks or rocky surfaces where they can siphon water run-off from their host. The run-off normally contains enough nutrients to feed the fern.

I stumbled upon them while searching for low-light plants to replace my ever rotating cast of house plants in the master bedroom.   While stag ferns can be grown in a pot, they traditionally are grown mounted to wooden bases and hung in shady areas.  Hanging stag ferns like trophies on a wall has my mind racing over all the design possibilities they hold for creating living art within an indoor room or how they could transform a barren fence outdoors.  Fortunately, some forward thinking designers have had the same vision and created some really interesting vignettes with the plant…..

I am officially needlessly obsessed with these plants.  I love how they bring a sense of life and sculpture to rooms they inhabit.  So what do you think?  Would you put a stag fern in your home?

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Tree Stump Planter: Super Easy Tutorial

As I mentioned on Monday, the patio is moving along at a nice clip.  The only two things that were remaining was installation of lights and making a decorative planter.

Well yesterday I knocked one of those off the list….can you guess which one (for a hint look at the title….)?  So using a tree stump that Scruffy found (yes my dog has an uncanny eye for design if you also include the mirror he found) I was able to create this……

And this is how I did it……

As I mentioned, Scruffy found this great tree trunk on one of our afternoon walks that was marked “FREE – PLEASE TAKE”.

Immediately on seeing the piece, I knew it had potential as a table.  The organic form and interesting knot hole put me in the mind of burled wood.  However, I knew that I had no place for such a piece in my home, but outside it could make the perfect side table.  So I hightailed it home, got my truck and snagged the piece I had seen on the walk. SCORE!  Total Cost: $0

I inspected the piece when I got home and saw that it was pretty much dried out with a majority of the bark coming off easily.  Using a hammer, I simply knocked off the remaining bark and cleaned out the knot hole.  And then it sat for a week as I tried to figure out what to do with it. I tossed around some ideas and finally decided on a planter rather than a table. because I had an area on the patio that was barren.  It was initially going to hold a small sculpture but that plan was scrapped, so the planter was the perfect alternative.  It provided a place to house more plants plus added an organic form to what was becoming a rather grid heavy patio.

So set with a plan, I started to work.  From start to finish, this project took me about 30-45 minutes.  As I mentioned, I had previously cleaned the stump and the knot hole.  However, upon cleaning the knot hole, its bottom came out, so I needed to find a way to hold the soil in.  After a quick scan of the garage, I settled on using the plastic netting that previously packaged my decorative rocks.  The netting is strong, flexible, water can easily flow through it and non-biodegradeable.  So with a few staples, I attached the netting to the tree….

I wanted to elevate the stump from the ground not only for esthetic reasons, but also because I didn’t want the wood sitting on mulch creating a damp playground for who knows what.  So I turned to Ikea and their Besta legs – a pack of 2 plastic legs runs $5.  I had the option to go with the more sleek shiny metal legs, but at double the price and the fact that in my design, the legs weren’t going to be seen I opted to go the cheap route.

I used a Sharpie to draw on the stump where I wanted the legs,  With an 7/32 drill bit, I eyed the center of each leg and drilled a pilot hole for the screw.  I then followed with a 1/4 bit with a flared head which was the perfect size for the screw.  With a little pressure, the legs were screwed in….

Total cost of legs: $10 + tax.

Flipping the  stump over, I added a layer of moss over the netting to stop soil erosion since the netting holes are large.  The moss also helps regulate moisture, so it’s an added bonus.  Tally for netting and moss: $0 (already owned the moss from the terrarium project).

Now with the stump upright, I did a quick sand with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped it down with damp rag.  I then rubbed the top of the trunk with tung oil to bring out the wood’s color and help protect it from the elements.  I initially thought about putting a coat of poly on it, but it didn’t look right when I tested it on the underside.  It looked too shiny and manufactured.  The tung oil turned the wood a deep dark brown and brought out a natural glow – perfect for a modern rustic planter in my book.

I applied three coats of the oil in rapid succession – the pic above is after one coat.  Total cost for tung oil – $0 (I use the oil on the patio furniture so I already owned it).

With the stump all oiled up (gosh – I never thought I would utter a phrase that could have such a double meaning…) I got to work on the plants.  I decided to stick with my beloved succulents for 3 reasons — (1) succulents come in a variety of sizes, textures and colors, that could look great against the color and form of the planter, (2) they don’t need alot of water which is perfect when dealing with a planter made of organic material and (3) I haven’t killed any yet so why ruin a good streak.  Oh there is a fourth reason too – since I wanted the planter to have impact year round, succulents were a perfect option since even in the winter, they are alive.  I chose two plants to fill the knot hole – Blushing Beauty and String of Pearls. 

The String of Pearls provides visual interest and a nice trailing factor while the Blushing Beauty provides texture and color since it will turn shades of cream, green and red as the season changes.  Total tally: $15 for the two plants at Home Depot.

And there you have it.  The actual execution was quite simple and easy.  The hard part is waiting for the wood to try out and cleaning it off.  Other than that, it was smooth sailing.  But here is the planter in its home on the patio…..

Now for the grand total for this project: $20 – Yup folks, I spent a grand total of $20 on this project thanks in large part that I already owned many of the items I needed and I found the tree stump for free.  However, if you had to purchase everything (including the stump) the project would run you about $45-$50. 

And then there was one — the final project for the patio is lighting.  I am hoping to finish that by the end of the month.  As usual, I will let you know how it all goes!

PS: You can see the stages of the patio renovation here, here and here.

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