The beauty of January

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Frosty sunrise chickenhouse view

Rise and shine chickens!

Hi there! Has it been frosty where you live? or maybe snowy? We’ve been so lucky (well, I consider it lucky) that we’ve only had a few days of hard frost, which by any standards isn’t bad at all. There have been some beautiful sunrises and some absolutely gorgeous sunsets too, making January quite enjoyable!

I managed to get in the garden twice so far this year. Yup, twice: once to start pruning my roses and once to do some weeding. Both jobs are not nearly done! But it did feel good to get outside in the fresh air. I have a very warm pair of gardening gloves that were perfect for those cold days.

The days are ‘getting longer’ too! The chickens were going to bed at 4:30 pm in the darkest days of winter, whereas they are now going to bed after 5 pm! Yay for more daylight!

Here are a few pictures from my garden in January, and mostly on frosty days.

I hope you are staying cozy and warm!

In Peace,
Dana

Nootka Cypress

One of my favorite trees: Nootka Cypress

Globe Artichokes January

Globe Artichokes from the summer in a pink hued sky

Frosty view of front garden

Another one of my favorite evergreen trees: Abies Koreana

Black spider plants

I don’t know the name of this plant (given to me by a neighbor). I think it is a black ornamental grass of some type. πŸ™‚

Frozen rose

a frozen rose

 

Frosty January view of playhouse

a frosty view of the garden around the playhouse

Discovering a ‘gem’ while on vacation! (the Chihuly collection presented by Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, Florida)

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Carnival Chandelier, 2008, Chihuly Collection

Carnival Chandelier, 2008, Chihuly Collection

(close up) Carnival Chandelier, 2008, Dale Chihuly Collection

(close up) Carnival Chandelier, 2008, Dale Chihuly Collection

Azul de Medianoche Chandelier, 2004

Azul de Medianoche Chandelier, 2004

(close up) Azul de Medianoche Chandelier, 2004

(close up) Azul de Medianoche Chandelier, 2004

Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier, 2010

Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier, 2010

a description of Dale Chihuly's chandeliersIt is wonderful going on vacation, isn’t it? There are two aspects to vacation for me: 1. Relaxing with family and 2. Discovering/exploring/learning something or someplace new. I had the pleasure of visiting my family in Florida over Christmas. It was wonderful to get to spend time with family, especially over Christmas! We also ventured out to see the Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center, in St. Petersburg, Florida. What a collection!

I only learned about Dale Chihuly this past April when my daughter and I came across his work while visiting the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (I wrote about that here). During that visit, I learned that his work is renowned around the world! Interestingly, this building at the Morean Arts Center was purpose built to hold this collection of Chihuly’s work. They showed a documentary film which covered all of Chihuly’s work, which was fascinating to watch. It was so interesting to learn how his collections come about. First of all, he works in teams made up of anywhere from 5 to 18 people, although the concepts and ideas are his. He also doesn’t usually handle the glass, as he only has vision in one eye following an accident from years ago. He is a prolific drawer and painter, and from those drawings and paintings come forth the ideas for new collections. It is an incredible, fast paced, constantly evolving process.

The Morean Arts Center also has a studio and ‘hot shop’ just across the street from the museum where they give blown glass demonstrations. This gives a wonderful perspective on the process of how the items are created and how unique each one is. It is well worth the visit!

Our teenage girls also enjoyed seeing the collection and the demonstration, making it a successful family outing! πŸ™‚

I hope you enjoy the pictures, although I’d highly recommend seeing the collection in person!

In Peace,
Dana

blown glass in the ceiling between show rooms (Chihuly Collection) Morean Arts Center

blown glass creations in the ceiling between show rooms (Chihuly Collection) Morean Arts Center

Float Boat, 2007 Gift of Bill and Hazel Hough

Float Boat, 2007 Gift of Bill and Hazel Hough

Float Boat, 2007 Gift of Bill and Hazel Hough

Float Boat, 2007 Gift of Bill and Hazel Hough

Dale Chihuly's drawings

Dale Chihuly’s drawings

Venetians

Venetians

Venetians description

Venetians

Venetians

Venetians

Venetians

Venetians

Venetians

Venetians

Venetians

work by Dale Chihuly

pieces from the Chihuly collection at the Morean Arts Center

Silvered White Spotted Ikebana with Gilded Purple Stems, 2006

Silvered White Spotted Ikebana with Gilded Purple Stems, 2006

Silvered White Spotted Ikebana with Gilded Purple Stems, 2006

Silvered White Spotted Ikebana with Gilded Purple Stems, 2006

 

Sunset Persian Wall - 2010

Sunset Persian Wall – 2010

Sunset Persian Wall - 2010

Sunset Persian Wall – 2010

The Mille Fiori (Italian for a thousand flowers) display is simply breathtaking!

Mille Fiori 2010 - Dale Chihuly

Mille Fiori – 2010

Mille Fiori- 2010 - Dale Chihuly collection

Mille Fiori – 2010

Mille Fiori - 2010 - Dale Chihuly collection

Mille Fiori – 2010

Mille Fiori 2010

Mille Fiori 2010

Mille Fiore 2010

The demonstration in the ‘hot shop’ brought the experience to life! It is very much worth going to see!

hot shop demonstration of blown glass

demonstration of blown glass at the ‘hot shop’

demonstration of blown glass at the 'hot shop'

demonstration of blown glass at the ‘hot shop’

family picture at the demonstration of blown glass

Family selfie before the demonstration!

2019 was full of Flowers, Fowl, and Fun

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Snowdrops in January

Snowdrops in January

Hellebore Frilly Isabelle

Hellebore Frilly Isabelle in February

Happy (almost) New Year! What a joy it has been looking through pictures of this past year while putting together this blog post! I love taking pictures and capturing what is happening in the garden, and it is nice to then go back and see what changes there were in the garden throughout the course of the year. The garden is always in a state of flux and growth. The biggest change to the garden this year, though, was the addition of chickens. I adore having them as pets. The Long Island Red (hybrid) chickens joined our family in March, at 23 weeks. They each started laying one egg a day a couple of weeks later and have continued ever since. Their house and run now take up a large part of our back garden, where I can watch them from our kitchen.

There have been other changes in the garden, too. In one of my lavender beds, I removed a large plant that I have never been a fan of (name unknown). What a great feeling it was to get rid of it! In its place, I added a fig tree. My love of evergreen trees continues, with the addition of a small one, Picea pungens ‘Super Blue’,Β  to the garden this year.

Plants and shrubs were added to a few of the beds around the yard. I like making these small changes, which of course add up over time.

My two rose beds have also had more David Austin roses added to the collection. The boxwood (box) hedge in the newest rose bed is doing really well and slowly filling in. This is exciting to see because we grew all of these plants from cuttings. “Yay!” for successful ways to save money in the garden!

We had quite a fruitful crop of apples and pears this year! Lucky enough, we didn’t have any major storms to knock down the fruit prematurely from the trees, as has happened in the past. (And they tasted delicious!)

I’m thankful for our harvest of garlic, too. There is nothing nicer than homegrown garlic!

My crop of sweet pea smelled simply amazing this year. I was able to cut bouquet after bouquet of pretty, sweet smelling flowers for weeks.

Like Sweet pea, Sunflowers have been a staple in the garden for the past number of years, and I plan to continue with that tradition.

Not all was pretty in the garden this year though. My Incrediball Hydrangea started the season off well, but finished with a burnt look from, apparently, too much sun. I will move it to a shady spot this year.

Another section of the back garden has become quite overrun by weeds – in a very bad way! And therein lies my challenge for 2020!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the garden, photographing it and writing about it. I hope you have also enjoyed it.

I’m very excited to see what the garden brings in 2020!

Thank you so much for being a part of my gardening and blogging experience! I have had visitors to my blog from all over the world, and I’m so glad you’ve stopped by. Please do feel free to write a note, especially from where you are from. I’d love to e-meet you! πŸ™‚

I wish you all best wishes for a wonderful and healthy New Year! May 2020 be everything you hope it to be!

In Peace,
Dana

 

Garlic in Feb 2019

Garlic in February

Cleared out lavender + hydrangea bed March 1

Lavender bed cleared of unwanted plants while Lavender, Hydrangea & Lilies remain – March 1

pink hyacinth in a jug with chicken house in the background

A bouquet of Hyacinth and the hen house

Hellebore Winter Sunshine March GREEN

Hellebore Winter Sunshine in March

Freshly dug up bed - Lavender + hydrangea - fresh compost

Lavender bed cleared of unwanted plants while Lavender, Hydrangea & Lilies remain. Here it has been freshly turned with compost added.

Abies Koreana + pine cones March 31st

Abies Koreana covered in pine cones March 31st

Surrounding fields in April

Surrounding fields in April

Aubrietia in April

Aubrietia in April (can you see my boots?)

Front Garden View April 26

Front Garden View at the end of April

Japanese Maple garden view end of April

Japanese Maple garden view end of April

Dug-up bed mature Lavender + hydrangea + hosta + lilies

Lavender bed cleared of unwanted plants while Lavender, Hydrangea & Lilies remain.

Merlot tulips + aubrietia

Merlot tulips and aubrietia

Dana in compost with chickens and cat

Dana in compost with chickens and Kitty

Strawberry Plants May 2

Strawberry Plants at the beginning of May

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula' (Nootka Cypress)

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ (Nootka Cypress) in May

 

Lily of the Valley + cypress Nootka

Lily of the Valley planted with our cypress Nootka

view of garden around playhouse in May

View of the garden around the playhouse in May

Hawthorn trees in May

Hawthorn trees in May

 

Lilacs + Hawthorn May

Lilacs and Hawthorn in May

Mature lavender + mystery plant

Here is a picture of the mystery plant (at the back of the bed) last year. The mature lavender plant at the front is the source of many of my lavender wands!

Newly dug up bed mature lavender + hydrangea + new fig tree

Lavender bed cleared of unwanted plants while Lavender, Hydrangea & Lilies remain, and a fig tree has been added.

Chicken house + 1 chicken in May June

Chicken house and 1 free range chicken in June

Viburnum June

Viburnum in June

Full rose plant in June

Full rose plant in June

Poppy garden June

Poppy garden in June

4 chickens in Japanese Maple garden

4 chickens in Japanese Maple garden

Primula capitata subsp mooreana

Primula capitata subsp mooreana

June view of the veggie garden

June view of the veggie garden

Playhouse flowers lupin iris bleeding heart

Flowers at the playhouse – lupin, iris and bleeding heart

June Rainbow garden

June Rainbow garden

Lavender colored poppies

Lavender colored poppies

Chickens following Emer

Chickens following my daughter

Chicken at ditch wall garden July 11

Chicken at ditch wall garden July 11

July front garden

Front garden in July

July harvest of garlic

July harvest of garlic

Newest evergreen - Picea pungens 'Super Blue

Newest evergreen – Picea pungens ‘Super Blue’

July cleaned up lavender bed

July cleaned up lavender bed

Vase of Daisies in July

Vase of Daisies in July

Pears in July

Pears in July

Lavender wands in July

Lavender wands in July

August View of Garden Sunflowers + hydrangea

August View of Garden Sunflowers and hydrangea

Sweet pea + Kitty

Sweet pea + Kitty

August Lily + chickens

August Lily and chickens

August Sunflowers

August Sunflowers

 

Lilies in August

Lilies in August

Fig plant in August

Fig tree in August

Chicken in driveway in August

Chicken in driveway in August

Sunflower + Apple tree in August

Sunflower and Apple tree in August

Black ornamental Grass in August

Black ornamental Grass in August

Light Pink David Austin Roses in August

Light Pink David Austin Roses in August

Buttercup squash August

Buttercup squash in August

 

Chickens + pink hydrangea

ChickensΒ  and pink hydrangea

Chickens outside run in September

Chickens outside their run in September

Pears in September

Pears in September

apples in bowl + tree

apples in bowl and apple tree

Deep pink David Austin Roses in September

Deep pink David Austin Roses in September

Yellow David Austin Roses in September

Yellow David Austin Roses in September

October apple pie and sunflowers

Apple pie and sunflowers in October

October Playhouse garden with chickens

Playhouse garden with chickens in October

October Hydrangea

Hydrangea blooms in October

The first evergreen tree which we planted: Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula' (Nootka Cypress)

The first evergreen tree which we planted: Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ (Nootka Cypress)

October Garden Hazelnut tree

Hazelnut tree in October

Nov Lavender wreath

Lavender wreath made in November

November Chicken house in Sunrise

November Chicken house in Sunrise

December Chickens and Cat

December Chickens and Cat

Blue Blanket with poppies + Dana in Family room

Me with my poppy blanket which I crocheted πŸ™‚

 

Thankful for the Birdsong

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Mrs Hop's Scarecrow

My friend Betty made this scarecrow for me many years ago.

I’m going to be honest; I haven’t worked in my garden in weeks, other than deadheading some of my roses. But every single day I am thankful to be able to look out into my garden and enjoy what is there. The garden will always attract me, but I also love watching the birds in and around the garden. It seems to be the perfect time of year for starlings to put on their shows – or murmurations. It is so neat to watch! Our garden is filled with birds, as there is still a lot for them to eat.

June 2013 Monsignor McCloskey in the garden

Monsignor McCloskey in the church garden in 2013, in Fayetteville, NY

Three very dear friends of mine, all of whom sadly have now passed away, also had a love of birds. Monsignor McCloskey used to have several bird feeders outside his living room window so that he could watch them during the day in his retirement. He also had a wrist watch that had several different bird whistles that it could play on command. He loved showing this to the children before or after mass on a Sunday!

Betty & Harold at the 4th of July parade in 2006 in Manlius, NY

Betty (far left in blue top) & Harold with my very young children at the 4th of July parade in 2006 in Manlius, NY

My other friends, and former neighbors, Betty and Harold, had their bird feeders right outside their kitchen window. I loved my visits with Monsignor and my visits with Betty and Harold, and it was such a bonus to get to enjoy the bird shows, too!

Aug 2015 bird at Betty's feeder

At a visit to ‘Betty’s kitchen’ in 2015

Aug 2015 hummingbird drinking at Betty's window

This was a a treat for me while visiting Betty and Harold in 2015 as I rarely see hummingbirds!

Aug 2015 chipmunk at Betty's feeder

O.K., so not always birds at Betty’s bird feeders!

I think of Monsignor, Betty, and Harold now as I marvel at the starling’s formations, or as I enjoy the birdsong that is constant in my yard, despite not having a ‘bird feeder’. I miss them, and am so thankful for the many years we enjoyed each other’s friendship. I still can’t believe how blessed I am to have had such special people in my life.

Tree full of birds Nov 16

This tree, as seen from my yard, is always filled with either starlings or crows, depending on the day!

They have had such a huge impact on me, simply by being themselves. I can still hear their voices, and their words of wisdom and comfort, and their laughs. They might not be here in person, but they are always with me in my heart.

Dead sunflowers with Goldfinch Oct 2019

These sunflowers will be left for most of the winter. In the middle of this picture (although not in focus) is a lovely male Goldfinch, noted by his red face and black and white head.

I’m thankful for the pure beauty of the birdsong, and the chance to not only hear it but to see the birds in all of their singing glory. I’m also thankful for those who share in this love of birdsong, especially Monsignor, Betty and Harold. May we each find our own ‘birdsong’.

I wish all of my American family and friends a Happy Thanksgiving!

In Peace,
Dana

Dried fall flowers Thanksgiving 2019

Dried fall flower arrangement.

Things will get done when they get done

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Lavender wreath in the making - first round

It starts with a straw wreath frame, some floral ‘U’ pins, and groups of 12 stems of lavender each being pinned into place!

There are lots of good things about getting older, and one of them is knowing that things will get done when they get done. Are you smiling? I hope so. Because isn’t it the truth? I definitely used to fret more when I was younger, worrying about when things would get done. Now, a bit older and (hopefully) wiser, I see that life is so full, and most of us are always in ‘go’ mode which makes it really difficult to slow down or even rest. I’m learning that it is perfectly O.K. to stop and take some time out, because things will get done when they get done.

Lavender Wreath in progress - half way

Section by section the lavender is pinned in place.

Lavender Wreath + fuschia roses side view

A side view shows that the wreath frame is completely covered in lavender, with an accent of roses and hydrangea.

Lavender wreath + fuschia roses + hydrangea full view

This design has the lavender go in one direction, ending with flowers.

This leads me to my lavender story. You see, I needed a rest. I’m used to going ‘non-stop’ and this past year I’ve just had to slow things down a bit. With my lavender this meant that while I harvested it in July, and even made some lavender wands, after I laid it out to dry, I just left it. One wreath was made ‘on schedule’, but then … nothing. I have no reason, and 100 reasons. There was a little progress as the summer shifted into fall and chilled into winter, and the little progress kept on going and bit by bit the wreaths were made. I needed that extra time to not rush through and make them just to make them. I wanted to enjoy the process and be present when I did so.

Lavender wreath + Rosemary and Rose focus - in progress

This wreath has Rosemary and roses in the design.

Lavender wreath + Rosemary in progress

I really like the green of the Rosemary when it is first cut. Everything is attached with the floral ‘U’ pins, except for the roses, which are glued on with a hot glue-gun.

Rosemary from my garden

Rosemary from my garden.

Lavender Wreath with Rosemary + roses complete

I’m glad to have someplace to make my wreaths – and not worry about the mess!

I can be somewhat impulsive, and when the mood strikes to create a wreath, I just go with it, gathering up whatever materials tickle my fancy that day. This is the first year that I used up nearly all of my dried lavender from this season. The wreaths were so full of lavender!

Lavender wreath in progress roses on top

This design was rather unusual. I worked the lavender in three rows around the frame. I have to say that this was a bit tricky to work through.

Lavender wreath with roses on top

Close up of the dried roses.

lavender wreath + roses on top + ribbon on door

The finished wreath embellished with a ribbon.

Repeating designs is not really something I like to do. I prefer to try new ways of making things. Sometimes this works well, and sometimes I think ‘I should have stuck to the original plan’! It’s a learning process. This season my dried roses really kept their colors, which I think adds a nice contrast to the shape and color of the lavender. I do like to work with greens, too, so the Rosemary was a nice addition – although sadly, it won’t keep that pretty bright green color. This is the first time that I worked a very tiny amount of hydrangea into the lavender wreath, too, just to try something different!

Lavender in basket

This is my lavender basket, which is now nearly empty.

I am now finished with making lavender wreaths for this year, and I’m happy to say that I enjoyed the process (and I like the wreaths, too)! And it is so true that things will get done when they get done.

In Peace,
Dana

Lavender wreath + Rosemary + roses outside

Lavender, Rosemary and Roses

Lavender wreath roses on top + ribbon

Lavender wreath with roses and a ribbon

Lavender wreath + fuschia roses full view

Lavender wreath with roses and hydrangea

 

Being creative is good for the soul

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Blue Blanket in the beginning Jan 2019

Starting with a simple ‘Robin’s egg blue’ base for the blanket

Creating with my hands is one of my favorite things to do. Whether it be crocheting, making wreaths, or whatever, I enjoy crafts that finish with a lovely ‘something’.

Blue blanket no flowers up close

A close up of the waistcoat stitch (doesn’t look like crochet to me)

Crocheting is so much more than just granny squares (although there’s nothing wrong with a good granny square!). I made a number of items over the past few years as gifts and I felt the time was right to make something for myself.

Blue blanket no flowers border up close

close up of the border (variation of the spike stitch)

We’d completely ‘done up’ our family room last year: pulled up the rug, installed an electric fireplace, bought a new couch, curtains, and light fixture, and painted the room. It was a long time in the making and last year everything finally came together. We all love it, especially the couch. It is like getting into a big family bed. πŸ™‚

Blue blanket with Emer

The main blanket finished but not yet embellished with poppies, held by my lovely daughter. There are orange California poppies in the background of the picture, along with red poppies which are not as easily seen here.

We went a bit bold with the paint in the family room – it is Adonis blue. Happy to say that we really like it. And we went bold again in pairing it with red curtains. So I wanted a blanket that would bring those colors together. Not only that, I wanted to embellish it with poppies, to tie in with the curtains. That was January 2019.

poppy petal in progress

It was a painstaking process figuring out the poppy pattern!

Poppy center up close

The pistil (in black) and stamen (in bone) give extra texture to the flower.

Some things just take time, and deciding which pattern to use for the main blanket was no exception. I finally decided on a pattern that doesn’t really look like crochet. It is called the waistcoat stitch. I used a tutorial from Crafternoon Treats.

Poppy flower up close

The completed poppy flower looks different depending on whether the petals are laid flat or scrunched up (my preference).

The border is where I worked in the colors of the curtains, using a variation of the spike stitch. I used Caron Simply Soft yarn, in harvest red, bone, black, off white for the border and the main blanket is in Robin’s egg blue. It is a ‘throw’ size, and if you sit nice and close to each other, it will cover two people for watching tv. (4′ x 5.5′)

Blue blanket on couch with some flowers

Playing around with the flowers to figure out where to place them.

I ran out of the blue about half way through, but I had a trip to the States coming up, so I restocked (phew!). I finally finished the main blanket in June.

Blue Blanket with poppies shaded + sun

Completed blanket with poppies (winter sunlight distorts the coloring).

Finding a pattern that I liked for the poppies was a whole other challenge! Finally, I found one that had the stamen and pistil, with the bonus of texture for the pistil, and four individual petals. I really like it. I found it on crochet-ideas.com. The video is in Italian, but with subtitles, so although tricky, it was manageable.

Family room full view Nov 17 (1)

Our family room transformed!

It took some time figuring out how I wanted the poppies to look on the blanket. They couldn’t be symmetrical – anyone who’s grown poppies will know that they grow all over the place, and never where you plan them! I also didn’t want to cover the blanket in them, as I quite like the blue and wanted to be able to see it. So they are in a bit of a cascade from one corner to the opposite corner.Β  VoilΓ !

Blue Blanket with poppies + Dana in Family room

Me with my blanket πŸ™‚

I am absolutely delighted with it, and thankfully the family like it too. I’m glad I took my time with it to find the right patterns. And I think it fits in perfectly in our family room.

Good things come to those who wait…

In Peace,
Dana

My chicken story

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Chicken house with chickens April 29

Here is our chicken house and enclosed area with the front door open.

Hi there! It was just last year when I received my cute little Chicken house for Christmas. I’d wanted to get chickens since we moved to Ireland, and waited patiently (9 years!) for the right time. Living in the country, it was fairly easy to source chickens and it was recommended that it would be best to buy them right before they would start laying eggs, at around 22 weeks old. The idea of getting little chicks didn’t appeal to me, and getting them at 22 weeks and ‘ready to go’ did.

Chickens climbing ditch wall hill

Poppy, Lily, Rose and Daisy climbing the wall/hill in our yard

We knew very little about chickens! I did know that we wanted a good egg producing variety, and the Rhode Island Red hybrid would be perfect for that. In March we bought just 4 for our house that would fit 6. We had our little chicken house and a tiny, albeit extended from the chicken house, enclosed area. After the first couple of days, if we were home, we’d let them out of their area. We soon learned it was quite challenging to catch them to put them back! So, little by little, we started leaving them out all day. We soon learned that they’d put themselves to bed when the sun went down. In the summer that meant 10 PM, and not a minute before!

Chickens in the yard following me April 9

The girls would always investigate what I was doing in the garden.

four chickens on the compost heap March 31

The girls usually stay(ed) together. Here they are on our compost heap.

chicken looking in window Sept

Chickens are curious creatures.

About 6 weeks after we bought the chickens, they started exploring the extended area around us. We are completely surrounded by fields, and that season the fields were mostly planted with barley. At first, it was just one chicken who’d go off to the field behind our house. And then little by little, the others started following. Before this, they would spend all of their time wandering in our yard. They’d often go under our hedges and be completely camouflaged. In the beginning, I’d constantly go out looking for them. They could be anywhere in the garden! They made several dirt-bath locations in my flower beds. Nap time could be spent on our deck, under the hedges, or in a flower bed (anywhere, really). If it was raining, they would hang out on our front porch, or under the table on our deck. It seemed the perfect life! But the ‘call of the grain’ was too strong, and off they went exploring. They’d been spotted a few fields from our house on several occasions. I’d also been informed of their being in the road, too; Not just for crossing to the fields, but if grain was spilled on the road, they’d stand there and eat it…

Chickens in the ditch wall garden April 26

This is when they would still stay in our yard, perfectly happy wandering the garden together.

Chickens in Rainbow garden Oct 15

The chickens love it when I weed and freshen up the soil for them.

No matter how far they went, every evening they’d make their way back home. And as the sun set, they’d put themselves to bed. They each would lay one egg a day, and those eggs … WOW! Delicious!

egg carton of fresh eggs

Sometimes we’d get jumbo sized eggs, which always had two yolks.

Chickens in house and nesting boxes

The house is very easy to keep clean, with a removable tray. There are two nest boxes where the chickens lay their eggs.

By late summer, they were only in their house at night, and they were never locked up otherwise. We’d been planning on making an enclosed run, but mostly I loved having them roaming the garden with me and they seemed really happy, so I was in no hurry to start or finish the run. But unfortunately, chickens and roads and cars, well, they don’t mix well. I sadly lost two chickens, who were both hit by cars (at different times). Since then, we finished our run and they have remained safely in it.

Chickens flying off of house

It took a while to completely ‘chicken proof’ the run…

After the second chicken was killed, I stayed off of social media. I didn’t feel like posting … anything. I love having chickens, and they were/are my pets. They each have names and are identifiable. The first one to die, Poppy, well, she was quite bossy. I thought she’d been the ring-leader to crossing the road and exploring. So honestly, when she was gone I thought the others would stay close to home. I was wrong. Of course I am responsible for their getting hit. I should have kept them safe. I feel terrible about my negligence. The run they now have is quite a nice size, approximately 25 feet by 10 feet, but it sure isn’t the same as roaming free.

Chicken Run 25'x10'

The completed chicken run (getting fencing in the hedges was super challenging!)

So I now have just two chickens: Rose and Daisy. Rose lost some feathers on her back a while ago. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, as I thought maybe she was moulting. But she is possibly too young for that, and it was only one area. Those feathers have mostly grown back in, although her tail feathers seem to be on their way to falling off. I consulted with a ‘chicken friend’, and we sprayed the area to stop Daisy from pecking at it. Although the area had been clean and looked ‘fine’ for a number of weeks, Daisy had then started pecking at it and causing it to bleed – which is why I called my friend. The spray has worked, and Daisy has stopped pecking at it. Hopefully the rest of the feathers will grow in and all will be fine… Hopefully!

two chickens Oct 31 in run

And then there were two. And one has been sprayed blue.

Next up is winter. After we get through the winter I’ll reassess, although I’m already planning on getting more!

Chickens in the sunflower bed with kitty watching them

Kitty and the chickens like to keep an eye on each other. The chickens are taking a dirt bath here while Kitty watches on.

So there you have my chicken story. I will miss having the chickens roaming with me in the garden. Maybe someday I’ll have fencing around the entire yard so they can once again roam freely.

Chicken on grass resting May

Just a chicken resting in the grass.

In Peace,
Dana

Inspiration from the Beatitudes

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I rarely write about my faith, and not because I don’t have a strong faith. I just don’t usually bring it up when I’m chatting about my garden. πŸ™‚ But you haven’t heard from me in a couple of weeks because, well, I couldn’t find the right words to say. Today began the St. Gerard Majella novena in the area where I live. (A novena is a devotion with prayers or services on nine consecutive days.) This is the only novena I’ve participated in, and I try to go to at least some part of the nine days every year, and have done so for the past 8 years. As I sat in the pew today, and listened to the prayers and the sermon, I felt compelled to share the eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10), which are the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

helenium young Aug 27

The eight Beatitudes in Matthew:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Helenium up close Jul 29

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Helenium Sep 19 upclose

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Helenium Jul 31

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Helenium Moerheim Beauty Sept 18

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

helenium + daisies

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Yellow David Austin Rose + Helenium morning sun Sept 21

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Red Admiral & Small Tortoiseshell butterflies

May we all be blessed by our actions and what is in our hearts.

In peace,
Dana

Fall (re)view of the garden

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Ladder view of sunflowers + sweet pea + apples Sept 10

A view of the garden while standing on a ladder

Recently, while walking in the garden, I had a thought of ‘Now this is exactly what I was working towards’. I’m going to temper that ‘perfect feeling’ with a disclaimer that my garden is very far from perfect. But, it brings me peace, and joy, and I simply love my time in the garden. I have sunflowers, sweet pea, apple trees, a pear tree, and the rose bed is filled with roses and buds about to bloom. I walk around the garden, with chickens nearby, and simply enjoy everything around me and honestly, I’m learning to ignore the weeds. πŸ™‚

Apple tree + bowl of apples + sunflowers Sept 10

A beautiful day in September means a fun photo shoot in the garden

miniature sunflower vase + apple

A very tiny sunflower in a very tiny vase

We have two apple trees: one is an eating apple tree (variety unknown), and one is a cooking apple tree (Arthur Turner). Some of the apples have grown to quite a large size this year. The first few years we had ‘baby’ apples, really. So it is nice to have these ‘full size’ ones. Both of our trees lean to one side and as they are maturing it is getting worse. We started to straighten up one of the trees this past winter, and it worked, straightening it up a bit. We’ll be doing the same again this winter for the 2nd tree, and a bit more on the first tree to get it fully upright. I’m just glad we are still able to rectify this leaning issue!

Sunflower closed Aug 31

Even before sunflowers bloom they are so pretty!

sunflowers in a vase Aug 19

It’s nice to be able to cut flowers and enjoy them in a vase, too.

The sunflowers have been so easy to grow. They haven’t needed any special attention. I have short and tall plants, and almost all of them have several flowers per stem, and best of all, the birds love them! I’ve taken a few flower heads to save the seeds to plant for next year and the birds get to eat the rest. Not a bad deal for the birds!

Sunflower head with missing seeds Sep 7

A sunflower head with only half of its seeds, thanks to the birds.

Sunflower full bloom blue sky Aug 24

The bees enjoy all of the different sunflower varieties I have

Sunflower cluster Sep 10

Large or small, the sunflowers are bright and cheerful and always make me smile!

I am going to boast that the Tamar mix organic sweet peas are STILL going strong! I have had cut flowers in the house for the past 5 weeks. They are so sweet! Now, they really only last for about 3 (maybe 4) days inside, but their scent is amazing during that time. I’ll be looking to save those seeds, too.

Sweet pea + sunflowers Sept 10

The Tamar mix organic sweet pea is still going strong!

Roses. Doesn’t everyone love roses? I think I have always wanted a rose bed, and it was the first bed I created when we started this garden. I try to get roses that are fragrant as well as beautiful and hardy (tough standards here!). This year the roses are doing so well. I don’t use chemicals, which means I don’t spray them for blackspot. Some of the plants do well, some suffer a bit during the season. But they all seem to be doing well now and the bed looks and smells beautiful!

A cluster of light pink David Austin roses (Scepter'd Isle)

A cluster of light pink David Austin roses (Scepter’d Isle)

A light pink David Austin roses (Scepter'd Isle)

A light pink David Austin roses (Scepter’d Isle)

Lichfield Angel David Austin Rose

A creamy white David Austin Rose (Lichfield Angel)

David Austin Teasing Georgia yellow rose Sept 18

A yellow David Austin rose (Teasing Georgia)

A medium pink David Austin Rose (Harlow Carr)

Look at all of the buds on this medium pink colored David Austin Rose (Harlow Carr)!

Gertrude Jekyll - David Austin Rose

A deep pink David Austin Rose (Gertrude Jekyll)

I usually have a picture in my head of what I’m working towards in the garden. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes not so much. Thankfully, one idea plays into the next and they all tend to work together. It is a process that requires a lot of patience! There is still planning going on in my head, and loads more to do in the garden, but I love this process.

Sunflower heads + heart Sep 7

The seeds from these two sunflower heads have been harvested for next year’s planting

I hope you’ve enjoyed the walk through my garden! Make sure to say ‘hello’ to the chickens on your way out! πŸ™‚

In peace,
Dana

 

four chickens in the garden

‘The girls’ roaming the garden

Having fun making hydrangea wreaths

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straw wreath frame

a plain straw wreath frame with a hanging wire

Hello there! I’m very happy to report that I have two more wreaths completed (so far!) this season and I am very happy to share pictures of how I made them. The wreath making process starts weeks before actually putting flower to frame, when the flowers need to be gathered and dried. About a month ago I went out to the garden and cut as many hydrangea stems as I could. I’ve found that the stems need to be sturdy (not young), or they will just wither. I then hung the stems from drying racks (we usually hang our socks from these – I’m not sure what their official use is!). It doesn’t take that long to dry out flowers, maybe a couple of weeks. For me, the tricky part is finding enough time in one ‘go’ to start and finish making a wreath. My life is such that I squeeze in these projects in between ‘life’. I think I’ve mastered ‘ad-hoc’ project making! Anyway, I made these two wreaths in half of the time it took to make my last lavender wreath – it’s great working with large flowers! They were super simple to make and it was fun to use up all of my dried flowers.

hydrangea paniculata flowers

These stems are from my Hydrangea ‘Vanille Fraise’ Paniculata ‘Renhy’

Confession time: I have several wreaths around my house. I hate throwing things away if they still have some life in them. But hydrangea and lavender wreaths do fade with time. I might get two good years out of them, but not more than that. So for this first wreath made from my Hydrangea ‘Vanille Fraise’ Paniculata ‘Renhy’, I stripped down an old wreath, leaving just the Spanish moss since that is the background and doesn’t really age.

Spanish Moss covered wreath

Spanish Moss covered 15″ (38 cm) wreath

I used floral ‘U’ pins to attach everything, and 15″ (38 cm) straw wreaths. All of the flowers are from my garden. Now, it was interesting making this first one because the shape of the flowers are pointy. It looked really funny as I was making it, but I think I was able to balance it out in the end. Well, maybe it still looks funny, but I love the shapes in it and the textures and the quirkiness about it!

Hydrangea 'Vanille Fraise' Paniculata 'Renhy'

The first layer: Hydrangea ‘Vanille Fraise’ Paniculata ‘Renhy’

The hydrangea plant is not that old, and this is the first year that the flowers were a substantial size (they were quite small before!). They are the prettiest colors as they change from cream to pink to dark pink. It’s a lovely plant to have.

Hydrangea 'Vanille Fraise' Paniculata 'Renhy'

Adding on a second layer:Hydrangea ‘Vanille Fraise’ Paniculata ‘Renhy’

I was trying to soften the pointy-ness of the blooms by having an outside layer. I’m not sure if that happened or not!

blue hydrangea for wreath

Adding in a change of shape and color with this blue mophead hydrangea

Ah, yes, interesting picture. See the heat stain on my table in the picture above? I learned that lesson 25 years ago – never put a hot pot directly on a wood table (duh, right?)! This table is my craft table now πŸ™‚

Hydrangea 'Vanille Fraise' Paniculata 'Renhy' wreath

Mophead hydrangea and paniculata hydrangea used to create this wreath.

Oh my gosh I just think it is the neatest thing ever! My mophead hydrangeas are quite funny looking (I sense a pattern in my garden…). It’s not that they don’t dry well, they are somewhat closed even when I cut them. I’m not sure if it is lack of water, or what. I’m still learning!

Hydrangea 'Vanille Fraise' Paniculata 'Renhy' wreath

Wreath made of hydrangea ‘Vanille Fraise’ Paniculata ‘Renhy’ along with some mophead hydrangea stems.

Wreath made of hydrangea 'Vanille Fraise' Paniculata 'Renhy' along with some mophead hydrangea stems.

Wreath made of hydrangea ‘Vanille Fraise’ Paniculata ‘Renhy’ along with some mophead hydrangea stems.

hydrangea paniculata wreath

This is the wreath hanging in my kitchen

Nothing ventured, nothing gained! That was the first wreath I made that day and it had gone so quickly and I still had time in my ‘free time’ window, that I jumped right into making a second one. This time I only had mophead hydrangea stems.

blue(ish) mophead hydrangea flowers to begin a wreath

blue(ish) mophead hydrangea flowers to begin a wreath

You can see in the picture above how short I cut the stems. Thankfully, the stems were quite strong and I was able to pin them in place with the floral ‘U’ pins. The flowers were big enough that when looking at the front you couldn’t see the sides of the wreath, so I wasn’t concerned with covering the sides.

blue hydrangea wreath outside view of stems

blue mophead hydrangea wreath view of side and pins

blue hydrangea wreath in process

One by one, the straw wreath gets covered.

With the large flower heads, it was easy and fast to cover the straw wreath frame. The colors are a mix of blues, greens, and pinks – and I reflect back to my garden trend of funny looking colors!

blue hydrangea wreath half finished

It was a simple process of adding a flower to the inside of the frame and then one to the outside. I used the larger of the flowers for the outside to cover as much of the side as possible.

blue hydrangea wreath bottom half close up

texture!

I like it! It’s just something fun, quirky, and from my garden. I still have LOADS of lavender left, too, so plans for more wreaths are working away in my head! πŸ™‚

ta-da! completed hydrangea wreath

ta-da! completed hydrangea wreath

blue hydrangea wreath on playhouse

Requisite picture of the wreath on our playhouse

All that in just a couple of hours! It took longer to work around the sun’s schedule to take pictures than it did to make the wreaths.

hydrangea paniculata wreath playhouse + chickens

The chickens roam the yard full time, so they’re bound to be in pictures and never in a pretty posed way!

Being creative is a wonderful way to express ourselves, no matter what the medium. What is your creative outlet? πŸ™‚

In peace,
Dana