Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gardening Article: Spruce Up Your Garden with a Decorative Penny Ball

Unique decor pieces can make your garden picture perfect and welcoming to friends, so don’t settle for mundane when fixing up a garden. Decorate your outdoor room just as you would a room in your home – with personality and flare! Choose colors and fixtures that will compliment your outdoor furniture. Items to consider for your garden are candles, potted plants and even vintage fountains. If you are more of a do-it-yourself gardener, considering making your own decorative penny ball!

A Garden Penny Ball

A penny ball will add the perfect touch of shine to your garden without overwhelming your flowers or other décor. It’s also the perfect project for any do-it-yourselfer – from expert florist to first-time crafter, this project offers a sense of homemade satisfaction in a unique decorative package. Requiring only a secondhand bowling ball, two to three hundred pennies and multi-surface glue, this project can be completed in as little as an hour. Once you’ve gathered the supplies, you need only glue the pennies in a design of your choosing to the surface of the bowling ball. For new crafters, I suggest a simple line pattern. If you’ve got more experience, consider a swirl pattern – wrapping a twisting line of pennies around the ball and then filling in the rest. Remember, pennies come in any number of copper tones, so consider separating them by shade before creating your pattern! The resulting copper-coated ball naturally draws the eyes’ attention while complementing the color of any blossom – white, red, blue or purple. Finally, the finished product requires no special pedestal or holder for display. It can be placed directly on a mulched area, balanced on a garden rock or tucked into a small bed of ivy. If you wish to make your penny ball more of a focal point, consider buying a cast iron stand to display it in a flowerbed or on your patio.

Similar Accent Balls

If copper doesn’t appeal to you, consider making a nickel or dime ball. If you have shades of red and pink in your garden, a silver accent ball may complement your garden better than a penny adorned decoration. And if metal just isn’t to your liking at all, buttons are a great way to add a pop of color to an accent ball. Choosing to apply buttons to your accent ball increases your color and pattern options considerably. If you have paisley or plaid patio cushions, consider picking out buttons that complement the various colors of the fabric to make a vibrant accent piece for your garden!

Finishing Touches

Once you’ve completed your accent ball and chosen how to display it, pick out smaller pieces to finish of the overall look of the garden. Citronella candles are a great way to keep bugs away from you and your guests when you enjoy your outdoor space, but they also tend to only come in yellow. If yellow doesn’t match your color scheme, pick out a candleholder to match your ball – red clay or copper holders look great with the traditional penny ball. Update your patio cushions if they are looking a little tattered, and add one or two more accent pieces like a colorful doormat or colored stones in your rock garden.

No matter which accent ball you choose, your garden will be sure to get the facelift you are looking for. Just remember, keep you color scheme in mind to create a cohesive look throughout the outdoor space. In no time, you and your family and friends will be enjoying your garden oasis.

About the author: Kristine is an avid blogger who loves walking her puppy when taking writing breaks. She has been gardening since her 10th birthday when her parents bought her a butterfly garden!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Clematis Vines or Passionflowers Vines, Which to Choose?

My plan since last summer is to redo the two large trellis boxes out in the front yard. My husband thinks we can do this fairly easily, I'm not as convinced since there are two pink jasmine vines and two passionflower vines in the boxes. For whatever reason none of them are growing well so my plan consists of pulling out the current non-producing vines, hopefully saving them to plant elsewhere, and planting some new vines in their place. You'd think as crazy huge as the passionflower vines on the front fence and the pink jasmine grow in our yards they would do well in the trellis boxes. My guess is the roots are filling the box or the dirt is just too old. Either way it will be interesting to try to pull the vines out intact. I sure hope we can do that but if not the vines are growing so poorly they might not make it elsewhere instead. The passionflower vines on the fence is a different color (dark purple and lime green flowers) than the passionflower vines in the trellis boxes (more of a magenta or lighter reddish-purple color). The trellis box passionflower flowers show up much better than the fence passionflower flowers...of course, because the trellis box flowers are barely blooming. So...its definite...time to start over and replant.

My next decision is whether to put passionflower vines back in the trellis boxes or to plant clematis vines instead. The one clematis vine I have grown has never done too well once we moved up to the coast, it was in a pot then planted in the ground and still is not doing well. Back in Petaluma the fine produced beautiful large blue flowers, but it was never very tall or full of flowers so the fact its doing worse here isn't too surprising.

I received a gift card as a prize for my work on one of my blogs so I have some extra money to spend online and I think the prices I found for both passionflower and clematis vines are worth taking a chance on two vines to see how things go. I'd want to vary the planting schedule by a number of months if these vines do take hold so the vines do not eventually die out at the same time. I'm leaning towards the passionflower vines since they seem to be hardier than the clematis I grew which really has been iffy all along in terms of growth. I've also decided to buy some blue poppy seeds with this order, it's cheap enough and apparently blue poppies like cooler summers (under 80 degrees or less) and we've got plenty of cool summer days here on the coast, rarely if ever getting to 70 degrees. I'm looking forward to placing the order for my new vines and poppy seeds this weekend and the upcoming challenge of digging out the old vines and putting in the new vines. It's time to see the tall trellis filled once again with green leaves and colorful flowers.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gardening Article: The Tree Swallows Have Returned To Nest

Guest author Jacqueline from, republished with permission.

A male arrives to check out last years gourd nest.An exciting event has happened in our front yard! We were alerted to the tree swallows’ appearance after hearing their cheerful twittery song and noticing their bat-like acrobatics as they raced for flying insects. We understand they can eat their own weight in insects every day.

They seem to have arrived back all at once looking for their old nests. We now have up four plastic gourds, which they seem to like very much. The openings are just right to prevent starlings from entering, and they hang from shepherd’s crooks planted firmly in the ground.

This is the third year they have come to the gourds.Tree swallows are a very easy bird to attract to your yard. Even with just one gourd house, you will have the enjoyment of following their beautiful life cycle, not to mention a decrease in the population of insects near your patio or porch.

The swallows don’t seem to be afraid of us at all! They must know they are much faster than we humans. This morning, I sat on a large nearby boulder to get these last shots. It was overcast, cold, and very windy, but they came and went, did aerial stunts, and chased round and round. Some of this is courtship behavior, and some is aggression towards a potential house

Preening one wing...This is the time before actual nest building when they stake out territorial boundaries, so there is a lot of posturing. Although the females are present, they are hard to distinguish from the males; the females have a slight more greenish cast to the blue.

The males go in and out of the nests and sit atop the pole to show ownership.

...then preening the other wing.Those that can’t find a ‘nest cavity’ lose out and will likely not mate this year, so putting up gourds is a help to these attractive, cheery birds. They may also find old woodpecker cavities in dead trees, but if occupied, they get chased away.

Checking out the new home.Weeks from now, once the eggs are laid and the parents are off hunting for flying insects, you can get right up to the door of the gourd and peer inside.

You may get noticed. The attack is usually enough for us to vacate the area on the run

Hopefully, once the eggs hatch, I can get some good shots to share!

Take a moment with your sweetheart and children to learn a little bit on these fabulous and friendly birds.

They are a delight to have in your yard. For more information on tree swallows, go here.

These gourds are wonderful, as well, for purple martins. Try to find ones with a 'port' to look inside and for yearly clean-out.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26.

~ Jacqueline

Photos courtesy of Jacqueline.

About the author: Jacqueline writes the inspirational blog, covering organic food and gardening, health, music, and life.

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