Tag Archive | art

Winter Display Containers 2017

It’s That time of year again! Winter pot time!!!

We pre-fab these at the office and the crews deliver these to the client’s homes. You can skip many of the next steps if you already have a prepared pot of soil. We make them this way so we don’t have to stand outside and do it! I think this almost falls into that category of, ‘Lazy man works the hardest!’ Ha!

       

We use nursery pots that closely fit the size of our client’s containers. Cut a plastic sheet to fit over the bottom holes. This slows or stops the water from draining and helps freeze the display in place. Next, add florist foam to the middle for stability of the larger ‘thriller’ items, as these could be rather large birch poles. Then fill the rest of the pot with a 50/50 soil/sand mixture. Be sure to really stuff that soil into the pot. The better packed soil helps hold the display in place from precipitation, the weight of snow and wind.

The design is the standard, Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large sprig/evergreen, center piece, or for this season, mostly sticks. Filler are those mid-range sized pieces of evergreen, or other material that is generally wider and less tall that the thriller material. Spiller is just that, floppy evergreen, weaker-stemmed items that hang over the edge of the pot.

A few often overlooked hints and tips:

  • Fresh cut ALL of your greens right before sticking into the pot. It does make a huge difference as to how long the greens will stay green and especially how long the holly berries will stay on the branches.
  • Be sure where you want to push the stems into the foam, because the foam will break if you change your mind too often.
  • Before using hydrangea, pre-treat them to a blast of clear spray paint to help them keep their form.
  • If your display becomes covered in snow, be sure to clear it by hitting the branches in an UPWARD motion. If you push too hard on them downward, they may break. A broom does a great job.
  • After you have created your masterpiece, wet the display down well. It will freeze and hold all the stuff in place. It will also give some moisture to the cuttings.

Want to check out some previous years containers? Click away!!!  2016 ~ 2015 ~ 2014 ~ 2013

I will have a couple of DYI|Step-by-step tutorials coming: However, for now, here’s a GOLD one and a SILVER one.

     

      

      

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 

Build a Pondless Fountain, On the Cheap

We had to rebuild our pond when the original 5 gallon bucket we used proved not to hold enough water for us to leave for a weekend before it splashed out. Many times the Robins would sit on the fountain and during their bathing would flap a good portion of water out of the system. We decided a larger basin was needed. However, many of the basins that are specifically made for pondless fountains are very expensive. What is expensive? Anywhere between $400. and $700. dollars. I feel that cost places these fountains out of many folks price-points. I’d rather use that money towards the ‘art’ part. The part everyone sees… The fountain!

We dug-up everything that was buried and set it out for re-installation. We decided we were going to try a plastic storage container and see how well the $20. dollar bin would hold up. We dug the hole about 4″ inches larger than the bin and back-filled that area with pea gravel. We hoped it would allow the bin to freeze (expand) and thaw without cracking. So far, this fountain has been through one winter with no issue.

    

So the lid wouldn’t cave in, we set the central weight of the fountain on top of a 6″ piece of PVC pipe. The pump (with its filter) sat just outside the PVC pipe. We placed holes in the lid to drain the water back into the basin, however not enough to compromise its integrity.

After everything was installed in the basin, but before the fountain was assembled above, we checked if the pump was working correctly. Better to check now than to stack the fountain and realize there’s an issue. DoH!!

    

Everything was running well, so we continued to finish the installation by adding the grate, the pond membrane and returning the stone to the area. We then carefully stacked the fountain on the copper pipe. We plugged it in and stepped back to admire our work.

If you want to see other pondless fountain ideas, click here!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Toy Hauler Mailbox: When Good Things Come From Bad

We live in a somewhat rural area, where there are no sidewalks and our mailboxes are at the street. It’s the first time I’ve ever lived with this situation. In the past, I had a walking mailperson, who dropped mail in my house-attached box.

In the past few years, I’ve become an Amazon.com addict, along with many other online stores and the amount of package deliveries have spiked to epic levels. I do have a wooden bench near my door that is under an eave for those large boxes, however some of the smaller ones still got jammed into the small mailbox, ultimately bending or breaking something. Frowny face to the mail carrier!! No Duncan Doughnut’s gift card for you!!

Along with USPS (United States Post Office), I also get deliveries from UPS, Fed Ex, DHL, and other carriers. Only the USPS can deliver items INSIDE my mailbox, the rest get placed on my bench. Here’s a tid-bit for you; Did you know it is a federal offense to steal mail (anything delivered by USPS, in or out of mailbox), however only a misdemeanor to steal packages delivered by carriers other than USPS? This is why smart-ass thieves tend to steal packages off stoops over cracking into mailboxes. Either way, I’d hope the Karma train takes care of these thieves!

We’ve been talking about making our mailbox into a travel trailer for years. However, the timing was never good to start the project, along with the fact we still had a working mailbox… Until a week ago.

My neighbor is slowly dying. I can’t recall the disease that is killing him, however it’s a reaction from a drug he took years ago. He is unable to eat because of reoccurring sores in his mouth and in a lot of pain from a previous neck injury. He’s on liquid morphine and has hospice folks coming by often. One day last week, he got into a large argument with his wife, and amazingly was able to get out of the house and behind the wheel of his truck. I was actually writing on my laptop, overlooking my yard and mailbox when it happened. BLAM! Mailbox up! Mailbox down! Neighbor back-up and off mailbox, neighbor drive forward and continue down the street.

I ran out there immediately and called his wife, as I knew he shouldn’t be driving. She told me the police were already in route, so there was not much else for me to do, but to pick up the many pieces of my mailbox. Not more than 10 minutes later, I watched the mailperson drive by, looking at the mailbox-less post, and continued on. Um, you could have knocked on my door and delivered my mail! But no. The mail carrier just carried on.

I was able to Jerry-rig a close replica of my mailbox with what was left of the box, some bungee cords and duct tape. It doesn’t really close, however it would work for the interim.https://youtu.be/sZnhtojtUYc

Meanwhile, we decided it was time to make out new mailbox, technically a ‘toy-hauler’, and impress our neighborhood with our skills ;^D

  • First, we started by ordering a LARGE (24″ long x 12″ wide x 15″ tall), gray mailbox from Amazon.com. In the future, we hope this allows for less squished packages.
  • Hubby painted on the windows, doors and details.
  • He then made the gas tanks out of PVC.
  • The bumper and hitch are made from copper and painted black.
  • The wheels came from a toy truck and painted silver instead of the yellow rims it came with.
  • The spare tire (also made from PVC) and the faux awning were then attached.
  • We found little reflectors online to create the taillights and side lighting.
  • Finally, we found a place that made little license plates for our address number. Yes, it’s a bit out of proportion, but we wanted it to be seen from a distance.

In the end, I’m really impressed at the turn-out of this project! I think it’s so cute!! If I recall correctly, without time and labor, material cost us about $85.00.

Ironically, my hubby sent a pix of this to his boss, who then posted it on his FB page, bragging about what a creative employee he has. Many of his friends responded back positively and even asked if his employee could make other mailboxes like fire engines and race cars! How cool is that?! Hubby has already been trying to figure out how to make mini hoses and Mars lights….

    

*PS – No one besides my mailbox was harmed by my neighbor. The sheriff found him parked on the side of the road, around the corner. Whew!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Evergreen Winter Seasonal Pots 2016

It’s that time again!! Wiiiinter pots!!

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We pre-fab these at the office and the crews deliver these to the client’s homes. You can skip many of the next steps if you already have a prepared pot of soil. We make them this way so we don’t have to stand outside and do it! I think this almost falls into that category of, ‘Lazy man works the hardest!’ Ha!

We use nursery pots that closely fit the size of our client’s containers. Cut a plastic sheet to fit over the bottom holes. This slows or stops the water from draining and helps freeze the display in place. Next, add florist foam to the middle for stability of the larger ‘thriller’ items, as these could be rather large birch poles. Then fill the rest of the pot with a 50/50 soil/sand mixture. Be sure to really stuff that soil into the pot. The better packed soil helps hold the display in place from precipitation, the weight of snow and wind.

The design is the standard, Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large sprig/evergreen, center piece, or for this season, mostly sticks. Filler are those mid-range sized pieces of evergreen, or other material that is generally wider and less tall that the thriller material. Spiller is just that, floppy evergreen, weaker-stemmed items that hang over the edge of the pot.

A few often overlooked hints and tips:

  • Fresh cut ALL of your greens right before sticking into the pot. It does make a huge difference as to how long the greens will stay green and especially how long the holly berries will stay on the branches.
  • After you have created your masterpiece, wet the display down well. It will freeze and hold all the stuff in place. It will also give some moisture to the cuttings.
  • Before using hydrangea, pre-treat them to a blast of clear spray paint to help them keep their form.
  • If your display becomes covered in snow, be sure to clear it by hitting the branches in an UPWARD motion. If you push too hard on them downward, they may break. A broom does a great job.

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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Plant Kaleidoscope ~ Take III

This is our third trip to the Nicholas Conservancy & Gardens, where we always seek out the plant kaleidoscope! See past visits here and here =-)

I’m so making one of these!! With all the craziness that’s going on in my brain including menopause, mental illness, needing to change careers… I can’t forget about my hubby’s needs also. He has been without a studio to do his artwork in for years. He tends to do large sculpture projects and needs space. We have the room, just need to remove all the crap from the room. Once that is done this winter, I hope to be able to use it to build one of these for my yard. Mine will be ‘junk art’ and will utilize things I can find at the junkyard/antique shops. I sometimes don’t understand how something so simple can give me such entertainment!!

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Burr Oak Sketch

We recently went to the Vintage Wine Fest in Utica, Illinois, and camped at a favorite campground, Hickory Hollow. Sadly, the newly built sand mine next door has sent folks elsewhere to camp as it is very noisy, along with blasting throughout the day. Another sad note is that the owners want to retire. They had hoped to find someone to purchase the campground and continue to run it as one, however no such luck. The sand mine gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse and they accepted. The mine is allowing them to stay in business until October of 2017, right after wine fest, a big weekend for them.

We have been camping here for the last 10 years. We’ve been on many different sites, however site H0 is our favorite. There is a large, burr oak on the site that is just magnificent. I am besides myself to know that this tree will be killed to be able to remove the sand it’s roots have been in for over many years (give or take 100, my guess). I’m very sad. =-(

I, of course, had to try my hand at preserving the memory of the grand ‘ol tree.

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I hope some of the acorns I grabbed will continue on the heritage of this wonderful tree.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Autumn Container Displays – 2016

 

All the basics from designing a summer container still apply when designing the fall pot:

The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller!

The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest.
Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature.
Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.
The only small difference you need to remember is that Fall plants do not grow like the Summer plants do. Basically, WYSIWYG (what you see, is what you get), you do not need to think about a plant growing into it’s place. Fill the pot to it’s greatest extent because this container will only be around for two months at best.

Most Fall plants are also not that tall. We use grasses, sticks and other material to get the height the design requires.

Here’s a list of our commonly ordered Fall plant material:

Miscanthus grasses – These add great height & texture
Pennisetum millet – Height & texture, fuzzy seedheads.
Heuchera – Coral bells – Great colored leaves available
Acorus & Carex – A nice bright yellow or white for a great spiller
Sedums – Great for spillers
Ajuga – Nice texture
Rudbeckia – Great reds, yellows and oranges available, also great for height
Kale – It comes in many varieties from cabbage/round style to tall parsley-looking
Osaka Cabbage – A staple in most of our designs. Fills those ‘holes’ really well
Swiss Chard – A wonderful filler that is very colorful also
Mums – Aren’t they the official fall flower?!? Great filler
Calibracoa – They look like small petunias, but can handle the cooler temps. Great spiller
Ivy – Sometimes we reuse the ivy from the summer containers as it still looks great and it’s much bigger than the newly ordered pots
Ornamental Jerusalem Cherry – Looks like a tomato plant, but use with caution, they don’t take the cool weather well & the ‘cherries’ fall off
Ornamental peppers – Great way to splash in some color to the filler section
Crotons – One of my favs! Great for a colorful thriller
Pansy – These cool season flowers look great and add great color to the pot
Bittersweet or honeysuckle – This one is not alive, but it is a great finishing touch to the design. Unfortunately, it is a very invasive species, but is grown for the floral industry. I wish someone would get a business together where they would ‘wild collect’ this and do a ‘two-fer’ for society, invasive removal & design enjoyment.

   

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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 9-7-2016

Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia. Charles M. Schulz

Don’t wait till tomorrow to see what was blooming in 2013, 2014, 2015

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Sporobolus heterolepis ~ Prairie Dropseed   ||   Pennisetum alopecuroides ~ Fountain Grass

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Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pee Gee’

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Hosta     ||   Lobelia cardinalis ~ Cardinal Flower

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Phlox

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Rudbeckia triloba ~ Brown-eyed Susan     ||   Rhus typhina ~ Staghorn sumac

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Parthenium integrifolium ~ Wild Quinine    ||    Solidago canadensis ~ Canada Goldenrod

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Euphorbia corollata – Flowering Spurge


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Wait

Wait Wait Wait

Wait for what?

For our hearts desire?

What will hopefully transpire?

Wait Wait Wait

Old regrets disappear.

Regrets of being silent long ago.

Disappear when I see your face glow.

Wait Wait Wait

Until it’s over.

It’s rare you meet a soulmate.

Over one who doesn’t appreciate.

Good things come to those who wait.

And I’ve been patient there’s no debate.

For our love, I’ll anticipate.

The trueness of our love will decide this fate.

Wait Wait Wait

You say you can.

Say, what do you mean?

You can’t stay in-between.

Wait Wait Wait

I need to know.

Need the answer I want to hear.

To know I have nothing else to fear.

Wait Wait Wait

Wait for what?

For the wait to cease.

What tensions we could release!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl