{ Archive for the ‘projects and crafts’ Category }

Gift-wrapping workshop: Pretty packages for botanical gifts

Let’s face it. Anything that doesn’t have hard edges can be a challenge to wrap. Which is probably why gift bags became so popular. But what if you have, for example, a pretty potted plant? You don’t want to risk spilling soil or crushing precious petals by shoving it in a bag. This is where Corinna vanGerwen comes in to save the day. Next Wednesday evening (November 16) from 6 to 9, Corinna will be hosting Paper & Petals – Holiday Flowers Workshop at RE:Style Studio here in Toronto. She will share her ideas on how to pretty up those potted plants or packages of bulbs with fine Japanese paper (an example is shown below). Participants will also get to create a medallion floral pick to take home and add to their own gift–one they wrap using Corinna’s tips, of course.

Speaking of tips, Corinna shares all sorts of fabulous advice and inspiration on her blog Corinna Wraps. She’ll even show you how to pretty up a plain gift bag in a pinch! And, she’s whipping up a little something special for CanadianGardening.com, so stay tuned for a holiday step by step!

photo courtesy of corinnawraps.wordpress.com

Reduce, reuse, re-harvest…

Call me frugal, call me resourceful, heck, you can even call me cheap. I’m a recycler and a Value Village maven (we call it V.V. Boutique around here). I’m the gardener who’s using newspaper for weed suppressant and milk jugs for cloches. That old adage, “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without,” lives on in my household.

I know I’m not alone. There are all kinds of gardeners out there learning and using talents to turn what they have into what they want or need.

But this guy here, he deserves a prize.

Pulling onions from his ready-made raised beds.

This is Allen Campbell, a neighbor of mine. He has put his garden into raised beds this year, but he didn’t build the frames. He has been collecting used packing crates from a wind turbine company that operates in our area. They are the perfect size and height for his veggies, and if he wants a section to be higher, they have metal corner brackets that stack. I don’t know that they’ll hold up like treated lumber, but they are working great. And they were free. And he didn’t have to build anything.

But that’s not all, folks. Oh, no.

He has patiently been collecting discarded bed frames from the dump. With this metal, some cheap-like-borscht white rigid plastic, and some welding, he has built a greenhouse. Yup, the L-shaped rails from discarded bunks are now growing tomatoes and cucumbers.

It's hard to show you in a photo, but Allen welded the rails together in such a way that they also act as shelf brackets: he can lay boards on them when the plants are small, remove them to make room as the plants grow.

An 8′ x 8′ building with double doors and set on cinder blocks to allow some air flow from below, Allen says the most expensive part of this project was the nuts and bolts. Of course, he laid out some time and effort. And exercised some patience to acquire all those bed rails. But we gardeners are practiced at patience, aren’t we?

So there you have it, some inspiration for your inner skinflint. Happy penny pinching!

Summertime, and the livin’ is…

…easy, a little too easy.

It’s tough to get motivated on that weed pulling when there’s picnics and beaches calling. I’ve done more kayaking this week than lawn mowing, and hanging the hammock seems more appealing than hauling hoses. But it must be done, and there’s a part of me, buried deep under the sunscreen, that really does want to do it. So I made myself a ‘summer garden’ playlist to kick-start my work ethic. And being the generous person I am, I’m sharing it with you. Hope you enjoy. If it’s not your taste, make your own and share it.

Summer Gardening Mix

Garden inspiration: Fix up an old bird cage

The other day, one of my writers, Signe Langford, sent me a photo of this gorgeous birdhouse with the following note: “A friend [Joy] did this for me. She found a decrepit Victorian bird cage and fixed it all up.” Does it not make you want to head out to the nearest antique market and find your own to fix up? I still dream about these amazing bird cages I saw in the Albert Cuyp market in Amsterdam. I still regret not bringing one home even though I was not quite sure how I would get it here in one piece.

Anyway, I asked Signe for a little how-to and this is what Joy had to say: I normally work in film doing set dec and art dept. I got the cage from a friend. They had used it as a humane way to catch squirrels. It was in rough shape and they were throwing it out. I knew Signe would like it. I took it home and I had to figure out how to make it look good. I had to repair the top part as the base of it had disintegrated. I ended up finding a piece of bendable wooden filigree that supported the unit and added a nice decorative touch. I decided I wanted to use paint from Restore as I felt better about recycled paint. I wanted a bright color so it would look beautiful in her garden amongst all the green. I found an egg yolk yellow. First I primed and it took 2 coats. Than I painted the yellow. After, I sanded the cage lightly to make it look a little worn, you know that whole antiqued look.

So there you have it, a little garden decor inspiration on this sunny day!

Don't you want to make one yourself?

What did you think of the royal bouquet?

Well, I rolled out of bed at 3 a.m. and curled up on my couch to watch the Royal Wedding. I wasn’t one for listening to the exhausting round of predictions of what Kate might carry down the aisle, but I was still interested in the real deal. I was pleasantly surprised by the bouquet’s subtlety and simplicity. Sure it was a little old-fashioned, but I like that it wasn’t dripping in excess, which suits Kate’s understated style. And the size was perfect because it didn’t take any attention away from that stunning dress.

Earlier I retweeted Frank Ferragine aka Frankie Flowers’ description of what was in the bouquet. Later on he mentioned that a do-it-yourselfer could easily put it together for about $100 to $250. Of course Kate didn’t have the time, but for you crafty DIYers out there who are getting married this summer and want to add an auspicious dash of fairy tale magic, here are the details.

According to the official Royal Wedding website, the bouquet was designed by Shane Connolly. I like that it’s layered with meaning from both sides of the family and the couple:

  • Lily-of-the-valley: Return of happiness
  • Sweet William (cute!): Gallantry
  • Hyacinth: Constancy of love
  • Ivy: Fidelity, marriage, wedded love, friendship and affection
  • Myrtle (stems were used from a myrtle planted by Queen Victoria in 1845): The emblem of marriage and love.

I don't have a close-up shot of the bouquet, but a big thank you to Adrienne Brown at our sister site Homemakers.com who was live-blogging the event as she watched it online (I've included a link below) and captured this image that she shared with me.

What did you think of the bouquet? Share your thoughts below!

Adrienne’s live blog with Royal Wedding highlights at Homemakers.com

Cold frame lessons

It’s done!

The newest addition to my "tool" kit--a cold frame with booster frame. This will be more or less its permanent home.

While I decided to use the plans provided on CanadianGardening.com, we (meaning my wise, more experienced husband) made a few changes based on our needs and site.

We chose to make the lip for fitting the booster frame to the top 1/2 inch instead of 1/4 inch. It just didn’t seem deep enough. We also decided to put a bit of a top on the back to make the back of the frame stronger and to allow a different hinge attachment.

A bit of the hard-won wisdom I’ve gained this week:

Me cutting the posts for the corners.

Chris nailing the top on. He says this will make it stronger and help keep it square.

Choose the widest board you can find for the angled side pieces. I wasn’t thinking about this when I chose fence board (5 1/2 inches). I was limited to a smaller angle for my window than I would have been if I had used the 8 inch boards recommended. This, of course, means I won’t get the same solar gain I could have.

Measure twice, cut once. And think it all the way through: the measurement of the side of the cold frame will not be the same as the side of your window. Window on angle = shorter side measurement. Duh.

Cedar is a very soft wood. It will split on you. It’s a very good idea to use an awl to make your holes for the screws (or pre-drill), and go slowly. Chris actually used a brad nailer to put the frame together with the glue, and then we followed up with the screws.

In preparation for actually using my new toy, I put down a double layer of weed control fabric inside the finished box, just in case any dandelions get any bright ideas. I’m planning to set pots in the frame rather than filling it with growing medium, so with some shredded leaves on hand for extra insulation, I think it’s ready to go!

Makes me want to start more seeds… cukes, more tomatoes, and it’s about time to get the squash going…

Building my cold frame

Well, it’s not built, but it’s ready to be built. Do I get an ‘A’ for effort?

After studying up on the basics again, I think I’m ready to begin.

When I revamped my front yard in 2009, I planned this spot (where you see my materials waiting) with a cold frame in mind. It’s a south facing wall, out of the worst wind, with full sun exposure. There’s gravel to walk on, as my yard is known to be a mud hole in the spring. Also, it’s about four feet from a tap for quenching thirsty seedlings.

We’ve had this old window sash hanging around since we bought our house (this is where it pays to have a pack rat around). It’s old and worn and absolutely gorgeous. The glass is all intact, but it does wobble just a wee bit. We will probably reinforce it some so it will stand up to being raised and lowered, not to mention kids trying to sit on it, and cats laying on it to bask…

For the box itself, I bought cedar fence board. It’s rougher than your nicely planed boards sold for decking, but I’m not going for any woodworking prizes here. With bottom line in mind, I paid $3.80 each for 6 six foot lengths, a total of 22.80. The 2″x2″ post for the corners I found with the decking stuff; one eight foot length was $4.28. All the hardware I’ll need is kicking around the garage, so all told I’ll pay just over $27 for this project (plus a little sweat and maybe a few splinters).

Next step: power tools!

Christmas inspiration for next year courtesy of Quebec City

I was in Quebec City for the Quebec Winter Carnival last weekend and the last thing I expected to see while exploring the snowy streets was inspiration for CanadianGardening.com. But Christmas is alive and well in this gorgeous old city – I imagine they’ve left the decorations up until the carnival ends – so I snapped a bunch of pictures to inspire next year’s holiday crafting extravaganza.

See? Christmas! Without the stress of hunting for presents.

This establishment used terra cotta pots as part of all their arrangements. Here they have painted the rims and tied them to a windowbox of sticks. They created an arbour using the same design.

Here they've tied wee terra cotta pots to a pinecone wreath. If I were to recreate this I'd take it a step further by adding something to the pots for colour.

I loved how they've perched this cute little owl atop some pine bows and birch logs. A little paint and some lights add colour and the snow looks like it was deliberately placed in just the right spots.

Terra cotta is traded for metal pots full of berries in front of Le Cochon Dingue - probably the best place I ate lunch while I was in Quebec City.

The stone facade, the colourful paint. This quaint little building looks like it belongs in a fairy tale.

Pick the perfect gourds for Thanksgiving decorations

I love hearing about it when an article on the site inspires a reader. Last fall, the talented Jennifer Roos created a Thanksgiving centrepiece and table accessories. Our advertising sales director, Julie Wiggins, emailed me to let me know she saw the idea featured in our newsletter and decided to create a similar centrepiece for her Thanksgiving table. The photo is below!

What are you creating to decorate for this weekend’s feast?

I love those large acorns nestled around the gourds and mini pumpkins!

Guest blog: Valentine’s Day floral trends for 2010

By Jennifer Murray

If you’ve always played it safe with a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day, this year, try something a little different.

Genevieve Bismonte, head florist at Quince Flowers in Toronto, offers some easy ways to up the ante this year.

When picking a bouquet, think colour. “We always try to push for unusual colours, like oranges, or a green bouquet, something like that,” Bismonte says. If you’re not comfortable straying that far from the traditional colour palette, pink flowers make a sweet statement on Valentine’s Day.

If you love roses, Bismonte recommends getting away from tradition. “We have these awesome roses called red intuition and pink intuition; they’re almost like a variegated rose. They’re two-toned roses and they’re lovely.”

For traditionalists who just can’t bear to part with their classic red roses, it’s all in the name: Bismonte says you just can’t beat a ‘Sexy Red’ rose.

quince-flowers

An arrangement from Quince Flowers

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