A Wreath for all Seasons

A wreath on the door is welcoming, friendly and adds a touch of charm to your entry.  Before the door is even opened, it sends a hug or handshake to your guests.

Wreaths can have many personalities, so it’s good to pick one that represents you.  Take some time to choose the “bones” of your wreath.  I personally love the twig wreath.  It can represent all seasons with a few simple adjustments.

First you might need to browse the internet or hobby store for a wreath that has the basic structure and appearance you want to convey to your guests.  Of course, the option of buying one pre-assembled is a short cut you might want to consider.

Generally speaking you can find a very natural look of twigs, pine, leaves, etc. to enhance by wiring, or tying your adornments to the body of your wreath.  I prefer a light leafy look or a few grassy, or wild-flower, stems to dress my twiggy wreath.  A ribbon or cord of your choosing and a wreath hanger will are helpful support system items for your wreath. ( I have to admit I have a nail I pounded into the door in my excitement to hang a wreath one year, and it has been there ever since…and works just fine!)

You can get ideas from images on line, or magazines before you begin your process.  However, I’ve been known to emotionally engage on the spur of the moment while I walk the isles of the craft store or art mart grabbing rolls of ribbon, berries, dried leaves or flowers and grasses to intermingle as i begin to get inspired.  It’s such fun; I just get it and keep it for other projects (they make wrapping presents a lot more fun) or to change out my wreath’s appearance another time.

We have reached that ‘twixt time of year when we can decorate for fall, or falling into Christmas.  I’m planning on adding some Christmas twinkles to my wreath pictured above.  I love simple, so it may have very slender ribbon strands, snatches of berries and maybe some tin stars…or rustic bells.  I’m getting excited to start already, but I don’t want to rush Thanksgiving out the door before it begins.

I hope you enjoy your project…I always recommend making a cup of tea or hot chocolate, unless you prefer a glass of wine to enjoy while working on your wreath.  I’ve been known to put on an old classic movie or turn on some music to balance my manic creativity.  

PS…You might want to have a wreath making party!  Set a date, invite a few friends to join you and bring the bones, etc. for their wreath…set out your refreshments and make some memories. 

                                                                           till next time,

                                                                                    Jackie 

 

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Fall…An Abundant, “Fun”tastic Season

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From beginning to end, fall is a cornucopia full of fun.  Here in southern California the change in leaf color is barely noticeable, but you can find it in a few variety of trees.  Living near 034Fallbrook, I love the way the gold shines out on our little, windy roads that lead into town.  Even the local vineyards turn to gold.  Pumpkins begin to show up in front of grocery stores and Lavender Hill Pumpkin Farm opens with its amazing varieties in all shapes, sizes, and colors spreading throughout in their growing ground.  006 Mike is the seed collector and business man, while he is often joined by his wife who loves to play her guitar and sing folk songs for the children…and often adults find her enthusiasm delightful too!

I love to begin buying pumpkins to use for decorating  from September through November.  I feel like a kid in a candy shop as I begin to pick my pumpkins for their color, size or unusual Our patio table pumpkinspatterns.  I put them both in and out of the house to welcome the season.  Decorating with them can be an art in itself.  I love to use burlap or plaid fabrics in fall colors on tables, in wheel barrows, boxes or draped over cabinets or tables covered 028with nuts, gourds and…of course, pumpkins with big, fat candles or luminaries to add fall intrigue to the display.  Then, I bring out any wooden bowls or bright colored pottery I’ve gathered through the years to find the right look for my pumpkins.  I like to contrast oranges with deep blue and white.  Outdoors, they wind up in boxes, cuddled together on the patio, or randomly placed in the garden.  We have been known to take a little tip to central coast to visit “Avila Farms” to see their mounds of pumpkins and to “See Canyon Apples” to celebrate fall.

Then, in October we can add the fun of Apple Season!  I love to visit the Apple Farms in Oak Glen or have Apple pie in Julian.  I even begin making pumpkin bread and Fall Vac 09 021 apple pie as time allows.  On top of that we have Halloween to enjoy.  A soft plastic skeleton or bat finds it’s way to the garden or  front porch lending to the fun.  I formerly lived in a neighborhood where the mailbox was up by the door on our front porch deck.   When I had outgoing mail, I tucked a waxy, fake hand into the mailbox holding my outgoing mail to have a little fun with our mail carrier… OK, that might be going a little overboard, but it was fun and I had kids at home to enjoy my mischief.  Halloween is scary fun…a time for dressing up just to be silly and laugh…to pop out and go Boo!  I loved to hang the black cats, witches, and bat drawings the kids made on the fridge.  How about you?  

The fun still lives on through Thanksgiving with turkey, pumpkin and apple pie, corn-on-the cob, butternut squash, cornbread…should I continue?  It’s a “fun-tastic” time when the chill hits the air and the fireplaces get lit…when trips to the mountains bring fall tree colors, and hot cider…when friends gather and we feel thankful for whatever abundance has come our way during the year.  When kids giggle and get to carve pumpkins, and hand tracings turn into turkeys, it’s a time for heart- warming memories for me, and the fun lives on.  Pumpkins can be very resilient …and I’ve been known to keep my best pumpkins out in the garden till spring!

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Wishing you a season filled with fun and happy hearts.

                                                                        Celebrating  Fall,                                

                                                                                      Jackie Jesch

 

Summer Daze

019For me, summer is a challenge.  I really don’t function well in heat.  That may be from living along the coast in Huntington Beach for many, wonderful years.  After transitioning to rural North San Diego County, I discovered my adaptability to the heat of summer challenging to say the least.  However, I have learned to use my ingenuity to work around the heat.  I look for the pearls, hunt for the treasure, or search for a star in the midst of the haboob of summer.  

I tend to do gardening in the evening as a treat after a hot day…or take a trip to the beach after the crowds and heat have gone.  You get to walk along the water seeing the remnants of sand castles, or take some wonderful photos of kites still flying, surfers out for their final rides of the day, a peaceful fisherman with his line cast, or couples walking hand in hand at sunset.  I take my camera, or phone along; it allows me to capture life, emotions, dreams, and the peace of the shore at dusk. The sound of the surf rolling in ad out is a soothing balm at the end of a hot day.

I just discovered that spring cleaning can be done in the heat of summer with the blessed air conditioning on!  This discovery happened quite by accident!  I had back surgery in mid-April with a 3 month recovery plan that has slipped into summer.  Now that I’m reaching that mark & planning on finding a path to normal, I’m using some valuable time indoors cleaning out cupboards, closets, draws, & more!  As I re-organize, I evaluate need.  I find it cathartic and much like having a fresh start for my back…my living “spaces” are getting a fresh start, as well.

Summer, can also be a great time to try new “light” recipes that require simple preparation.  Salads are a great staple, especially if you’ve started your own garden.  You can have pasta salads cold or warm (I’ve recently discovered uses for dried tomatoes) …and veggie salads with dried cranberries or blueberries, green salads can have shrimp, chicken or beans added.  I love simple cooking in the summer…and sitting outdoors in the evening with your simple dinner, a nice glass of wine, iced tea or fresh lemonade watching the sunset!

If you have kids or grandkids, you can make bird houses for the garden in a snap by pre-cutting the sides and roof, buying some paint and brushes in several sizes and glue and screws or nails to assemble!  That way they can paint and decorate them with gusto. The internet is a great resource for ideas.  There were also many easy and fun ideas on bird feeders.

Another fun project I saw was gathering stones at the shore (or buying a package of assorted sizes) and paint rocks…you can even make a “rock garden” by getting some paint pens and making your rocks look like cactus!  Then fill a small glazed pot with sand and “plant” your cactus stones! 

Making stepping-stones out of plaster of paris, or cement with hand or foot prints can also be fun!  They can be round, square or heart-shaped.  Make sure you have shells, beads, coins, etc. for decoration.  With projects like this, you can have as much fun as the kids and make great memories in the process!

One of my favorite past-times in the summer is reading…I love a good book store & recently found one on Coronado Island!  It’s called “Bay Books” and is a treasure for book lovers.  In fact, so is a trip to the Island!  We walked through the little town, and up and down neighborhood streets, along the shore and felt the breeze.  We found restaurants, and the Hotel Del, unique gift shops, candy stores, and more, but my favorite was Bay Books!  Sometimes I browse on-line and cheat myself out of the fun of a book store experience.  But it does give me the advantage of downloading a sample of the book before purchase. My tablet is light and portable, easy to charge up and takes pictures too, but it doesn’t replace that feel of holding a book, using a bookmark and putting it on the shelf like a treasure when I’ve finished it. 

I must share with you about my love for puzzles.  If you get a light piece of particle board and cover it with contact paper, set it on a table and buy a couple of awesome puzzles, it can be fun for the whole family …or just you!  It can sit waiting for the right moment, or friends to come by, or a relaxing moment, a break in your day…a date after dinner.  Puzzles are fun anytime of the year, but when it’s hot outside; it makes for fun inside….no pressure to finish, since half the fun is that special “time-out” with your puzzle.  This idea comes from a time in my life when my kids were around and neighbors were next door.  But thinking about it has resurrected nice feelings & happy memories to share.

I discovered drawing books at Barnes and Noble!  They had books with a suggestion and space to draw something new each day (or how often you want)!  What fun…you don’t have to be a great artist to play, but what a great challenge.  I just found the one I purchased and got out a set of pencils.  I’m going to take the plunge and explore the world of drawing.

One of my plans, for this summer was to take an art class!  I had to take a time-out for back surgery, but it’s still on my list.  If it turns out that it’s still a possibility, I will make sure the class is air-conditioned!  Check online or ask friends if they know of classes available.

It’s fun to start something new to stay fit, but that can be challenging in the summer.  However, there are options like a Yoga Class, or evening Tennis, or early morning Golf.  Since summer isn’t over yet.   I’m hoping to get the “OK” for getting back to Yoga.  I’ve also seen several runners along the beach in Carlsbad, as well as, walkers.  I find that exercise that is fun produces better results than the drudgery or chore of other methods. I walk better with music.  It starts my happy engine helping me put some pep in my step, and it’s a great stress reliever.  So far, I’m not in my usual peppy walking mode yet.  I do better on the tread mill, but not chalking up more than a mile and a smidge.  I won’t give up….better things are yet to come (I hope).

Originally, Tom and I had planned to learn to SUP this summer.  I figured we’d fall enough to stay cool!  Maybe that can be a plan for next summer or fall.   I’m glad I got up the courage to move ahead with the surgery, rather than continuing to delete some of my favorite activities.  I hope my ideas above prove fruitful in your life.  I try to plant seeds, hoping to hear that they are growing in the lives of the people I care about.  Sharing Ideas are like a community garden that brings blessings to everyone.

Until our next visit, 

Jackie 

There’s always room for Berries

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With spring transitioning into summer, our blackberry vines first produced clusters of white blossoms to create the anticipation of berry-picking.  Visions of fresh blackberries sprinkled on vanilla ice cream is a yummy thought, so is fresh berry pie, or pancakes topped with berries and whipped cream, but my favorite way to enjoy our blackberries to eat them fresh picked from the vine warmed by the sun.

          We inherited our patch of blackberries when we moved into our house.  It was a big, old, run down house in need of a transformation.  We didn’t know where to begin!  We found a contractor and made lists.  With the contractor’s guidance, we began a great adventure.  It was November…Thanksgiving weekend when we moved into our fixer upper.

          We had one working bathroom while the other two were being renovated.  We needed to keep warm, so we had two wood burning stoves and a new heating and air system installed to survive.  I was soon lost in paint samples, popcorn ceiling removal and floor samples.

          Double paned windows were ordered, and installed, Christmas came and went, and renovations seemed to be all encompassing.  It seemed the more we did, the more that needed to be done.

When spring came, we discovered a small miracle.  We had blackberries…sweet, plump, delicious blackberries!  It was like a wonderful gift that needed no renovation on our part.  The crop was abundant.  We now moderately care for it.  It has good years and not so good years, and sometimes the birds battle for the bounty, but whatever we get, we remember that first wonderful year of discovery. Sharing it’s abundance with friends and family was an unexpected treat and every spring I’ll always remember that patch of green stuff on the other side of a short rather unattractive block wall down a north facing slope that turned into a beautiful gift after months of plowing through decisions, dust, clutter, and a house full of workers helping us turn an old tired structure into a home, while we developed the surrounding land into a nursery…first, Daylily Hill and now, Waterwise Botanicals Nursery and Gardens.

 

Urban Small Space Gardening

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I love small cottages, with their cozy charm, the kind you find in small towns or historic communities within a city.  They are so charming, but often are on a small lot with limited gardening space. Also, popular and sought after beach front housing around small coastal communities, marinas, and bays often have compromised yard space due to the compression of building as many homes into small, cozy, or prestigious areas as possible.  In our urban communities more and more yard space is limited with the construction of duplexes, condos, and townhouses with shared park-like green space leaving very little plant-able “personal” space.

Fear not!  There are lovely solutions for gardeners who want their own garden of creativity.  You can introduce container gardens to  your porch or patio, or use window boxes for veggies, herbs, or succulent planters, painting them in colors you love to give

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them a more personal touch or going for the earthy natural style of metal or wood.  If you choose wood for planting, be sure to line your planter with plastic.  Rolls of plastic are easily found in the paint department of most hardware stores, as well as nylon screen for the bottom of planters and pots, so you don’t wash out planter mix or soil.  If you have space for a small trellis or overhead patio cover, you can have vines or hanging pots for color.  A baker’s shelf, often found in antique stores or vintage shops, can provide shelving in a delightful venue for setting pots and planters, or…a simple old wooden ladder propped against a wall or a free standing ladder can become a charming potted plant holder taking up very little space.  Just give it an inexpensive coat of paint and select a place in your unique growing space.
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Fences can be an opportunity for attaching a plant pocket, or partial rain gutter for herbs, succulents, or seasonal color depending on personal preference and exposure considerations.  Also, finding a 3-tiered fountain makes a great planter and can add some height for a unique and creative planting.  If you are lucky, you can find one on line that someone wants to get rid of…”what a find”.

Old wooden pallets can become incredible planters for succulents and take up very little space, by attaching ground cloth to the back, adding  some potting soil and planting in the cracks, while cuddling in the succulents with damp moss.  A simple old wooden ladder propped against a wall or a free standing ladder can become a charming potted plant holder taking up very little space.  Just give it an inexpensive coat of paint and select a place in your unique growing space.  Here are a few images that might give you some inspiration.

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Even a small balcony or porch can become your “Garden of Possibilities”… your “Peaceful Citadel” with a little imagination.  I hope as always that I have touched that earthy part of your soul that loves gardening… that transports you to the happy place in your corner of the world you call home.  May your creativity keep growing, as your hands keep diggin’ in the dirt.

Till our next visit,

Jackie 

 

 

 

Under the Spell of Cactus

 

I admittedly am a flower fan…perennials, roses, vines and anything “Wildflower-ish”, but…this fall on a trip to Ojai, I saw a large Opuntia with red round fruits on large oval pads near an adobe style home as we were taking a walk.  The combination was breathtaking.  I always take my camera to capture a delightful or unique moment.  I felt drawn into another dimension entirely as this adobe courtyard compelled me to enter… and tiny ground-hugging wildflowers garnished the setting.  The ambiance was enticing…almost hypnotic in the warmth of the afternoon sunshine.

Sometimes I go out for a walk through the nursery just as the sun is beginning to set and the light catches the spines on the vertical cactus giving it a soft glow.    Before long I’m on the ground, sitting, lying down in the dirt (whatever it takes) with my camera to catch the spell the setting sun casts on the cactus spines.  I watch as it lowers on the horizon…and I catch a shot of the Cacti as they softly radiate a silver or golden glow of gentle radiant light.  It gives them a romantic glow as evening approaches.

I’m also finding the beauty of patterns, shapes and markings… contrasting color of black or brown edging & thorns transform cacti into living art.  As I explore my new found interest in these unique specimens, it feels like a trip through a gallery….paintings, sculpture, creations of beauty.  It strikes me that landscaping with cacti is like painting with plants, gravel, and rock… you just create your masterpiece with a different media.

Agaves are extremely varied in leaf shape and size, and color.  They can be rigid or sprawling, wavy or straight but all bring their own dimension to the landscape.   When combined with verticals and orbs the drama of your “painting” unfolds like the curtain opening for a performance.

Some verticals are silver and slender, others blue with a top-knot of fuzz, and some others deep green with ripples and ribs, but they all have a part to play …adding height, casting shadows or catching the spell of the setting sun, while orbs, like Echinocactus grunsonii, the Barrel Cactus…with spines glowing like you’ve captured the sun itself look absolutely celestial in your landscape, while the green dotted pattern of the Echinopsis hybrid adds the intrigue of its subtle, quiet charm.

I now view a Southwest garden with splendor.  Mixing these astounding architectural cacti with drought tolerant perennials and soft succulents is an art that creates a “masterpiece” in the landscape.

As much as I delight in flowers, love how they dance in the breeze and make bouquets, I think I have found a new secret love.  I’ve become one of those girls who are attracted to the dangerous, good looking, mysterious type…the “Bad Boys” of the cactus world.  I know they are “armed and dangerous”, but I can’t help myself…I’m hopelessly under the “Spell of Cactus”!

Dirty Garden Gloves

When I see dirty garden gloves, it only means one thing!  Somebody’s happy!  Somebody’s been diggin’ in the dirt…planting, weeding, cultivating soil, and pruning.  For me, those days help me dig down to my core as well…my cares disappear and get buried in the dust as I prune out old dead branches, and redesign my garden with a fresh new look.  It may only need some replacements with just a few plants, or I may embark on a complete transformation, but it feels good and freshens up my garden giving it new energy.  When this process begins, I find that I get energized as well, becoming absorbed in the renewal.  It gives me such a feeling of satisfaction and delight.

I find that dirty garden gloves initiate dirty jeans.  I often use an old chair pad to knell or sit on, but I can’t help getting into the dirt as I reach for a stem or weed to toss.  As I sometimes crawl into spaces only meant for bugs and snails, I search out dead leaves and branches.  Resembling my dog when she’s found a good stick or buried bone, I toss and scratch in the dirt with tremendous satisfaction.  Sometimes the only right tools are hands and knees.

I have some faded, flowered slip-on canvas shoes that have seen their better days, but I’ve spent many of my happiest hours in those shoes.  They are part of my “gear” for chopping, snapping and raking.  As I get a little older, I enjoy taking on a section at a time, so I can go back the next day or so to enjoy another section of my renovation.  Each time I finish and look back at what I’ve done, I feel so alive, and likewise given new life to my garden.  In the wake of this transformation I catch sight of my overflowing trash can waiting for the mulch pile.  My vision magically transforms it into a glowing trophy of my efforts as I gaze with excitement to the next patch of garden waiting for some therapy.

So, I dust off the gloves, and stamp my feet…give those jeans a shake and smile.  I know they will be there waiting, just as I will for another happy day…another pair of “Dirty Gloves”.  Then I treat myself to a glass of iced tea as ideas dance in my head for the next round of renovation.

It’s always fun to visit with you like this…sharing my stories and thoughts on life in my garden…  I’m just thinking the best gift I could give you would be to wish you many “Dirty Glove Days” in your garden too.

Jackie Jesch