Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Heat Wave & Watering Tips

For those of you who don't live on the East Coast perhaps you don't know that we're experiencing a bit of a heat wave...

And for those of you who DO live here, wow oh wow it's been H-O-T!

I thought I'd pass along a few tips of the trade for keeping your containers alive and well-watered when it seems like nothing you're doing is helping.  I know even we get home every night to a few weepy plants even though we may have watered them that morning or the evening before.  Our tomatoes have been known to drink 4 gallons of water in a day (each!!)

So without further ado, let me introduce you to a few of my favorite things:

Soil Moist is a fantastic product, they're small crystals that expand when you wet them.  They need to be incorporated into the soil when you plant, so if your containers are already in for the season keep this in mind for next year.  Here are a few of the highlights from their website:
•Stores over 200 times its weight in tap water

•Releases a steady supply of water as your plants need it

•Non-toxic, safe and economical to use

•Reduces plant watering by 50%**

•Reduces transplant shock

•Lasts several seasons**

Of course there's always the disclaimer section:
Note: Soil Moist must be incorporated into the soil at the root level of the plant/green good. Do not top dress or place on the surface.

** Results may vary depending on soil conditions such as salt, pH, microorganisms, u-v light

I have used this product for years with great success and I have a TON of happy clients who I've used it for as well.

A few other similar products to check out are Water-Keep and Water Crystals, I haven't used these but the look really similar and may be worth adding to your summer planting list.

This next product is something I recommend if you're going on vacation, but can also be used short-term in containers, the key is water BEFORE you put this in your soil!

Their website does have guide for how many to use per pot, etc, so check it out!

These watering wands from Dramm are amazing.  I have one on both levels of my garden-deck and patio and use them a LOT.  The most effective way to water is to soak the roots thoroughly avoiding the foliage if you can, so these gets the water where it's needed.  It has a nice cushy handle and an easy to use shut-off valve on the handle so you don't have to rush to the hose bib to turn it off.

The other trick for large garden beds is to use soaker hoses, I install mine under the mulch with sod pins to keep them from popping up and you never even see them.  We have used them several times, the trick with these is to water deeply and infrequently.  We may turn ours on for 8 hours once a month (although our garden is established now it's been in 4 years).  This is a great way to minimize water loss through evaporation of normal sprinklers, will save you a lot of time and money and is so much better for your plants!

Whew, thank you for hanging in there with me if you read this whole post!  I know there's a lot of information out there on watering, products, etc., but if you have questions, want to know more or even share your own tips and tricks please do!  I'm happy to help keep your gardens looking great!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Recap

We finally had a weekend "off" with no house projects-wahoo!!  So we made some time to hit up the local farmer's market on Saturday morning in Reston on Lake Anne.
Crowds ready for all the good produce!
Farm truck brining all their goods to the market 
Bright burst of color with these summer annuals (zinnias & celosia)
Beautiful veggies, look at the color of those onions! 
I loved how these were displayed a perfect checkerboard of fruits.  The blueberries were too good to pass up!  (Check out three & four photos below) 
Here I am, 9 months today-almost baby time!! 
Did I mention it was also the Ukelele festival??  They had a woman doing Hula along with the band and there were lots of people sitting in the courtyard listening and watching.
Those blueberries were put to good use-my sweet husband made me blueberry pancakes on Sunday morning.
Nothing beats fat, plump blueberries hot off the griddle with fresh Vermont maple syrup.  Mmmmm! 
And of course we had our fur babies close by keeping us company.

Any farmers markets close by that you like to visit?  What did you do?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I know we all have "that drawer" (okay or more) in our house that we just throw stuff in.  See exhibit A:
We have a desk in our kitchen and I LOVE having it there (most of the time) but occasionally I think "Ahh, what a waste of space, it always ends up cluttered!!" Anyone else have this issue?
Okay, well my mom works at The Container Store (yes, go ahead and be jealous) it's an amazing place and an awesome perk to be related to someone as Type A as I am-love you mom! So I called her with the drawer dilemma and thankfully she came to the rescue!
These bamboo boxes were the perfect fit.  The two small ones slide into the ridge along the bottom one, so you can see what's in the front and back of each compartment-genius!
I moved the boxes around until I found what worked best for me.  Our spare car keys and locks that we don't use very often are in the way back, checkbook, stamps, letter opener (and yes, those are pruning shears) in the front and business cards on the right in the black folder with blank envelopes behind it.  The top drawer holds our rubber bands and extra 3M command hooks.
It's so much better now and easier to find things which we both love.  Now I just have to organize the bottom two drawers and the top one.  Hey, I can only do so much in one afternoon...

Any organization projects on your horizon?  Or is every space neat and tidy?

Please share!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Capitol Hill Garden - Before & After

Last week I had an installation up on Capitol Hill.  Although DC is super close (11 miles from my office) traffic makes it seem like 1,100 miles away.  BUT, there are some very cool houses and gardens so when I get "the call" to work on a project down there I'm totally on board!

This was no exception, a very small space, which I like because I feel you have to be more judicious in your plant choices and there's no where to "hide" things or not so ideal plants, etc...

My wonderful customer wanted a low-maintenance space with some fragrance and some four-season interest.  She is a busy lady (working on the hill) and doesn't have time to dedicate to daily maintenance.  So I created a space that will bloom for a long time, has some evergreen structure, add some fragrance when she walks by and will allow her to clip a few blooms to bring inside if she wants.

So here was the garden when I arrived.
Facing the front of the house
Looking up the sidewalk (very cool steps!) 
Bed to the right of the walkway

And here are the afters
Same view of the front 
Again, left side of bed
Right of walkway

And a few close-ups...
Fragrant Angel Coneflower 
Limelight Hydrangea (tree form) 
Fragrant Bouquet Hosta

We did keep some of her existing plants-she had some family iris that were re-incorporated and she loved the liriope lining the path, but I did divide it so it wasn't so overgrown.

I added Boxwood against the brick stoop which will eventually get 2x2, some helleborus (a winter bloomer), and the coneflower, hosta.  So although it was a small job, I think the space is so much neater, tidier and more organzied.  When it fills out a little it should be perfect!

Any thoughts?  Questions?  Did you do any gardening this week?

Happy Monday!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

DIY - Lavender Sachets

Here's my tutorial on making your own lavender sachets.  These were the ones I used as thank you takeaway's at our baby shower.
First step was to rummage through my fabric.  Thankfully I found this beautiful silk moire that was the RIGHT color for the project-whoo hoo!  Love it when that happens.

Next up, a LOT of measuring.  I wanted to make a few strips at one time, so I measured the fabric both ways to make sure it would fit before I did any cutting without any waste.
Using my awesome cutting wheel and a metal yardstick I was able to just run down the fabric and get a nice straight cut. 
Of course I didn't write down my sizing (bad blogger) but you can really make these any size you want.  I like them on the small side, I think they're cuter, but they are a little trickier to fill and sew.  All said and done mine were about a 3.5" square.
Alright, so the strips are cut to size. 
Then I folded them over.  The moire does have a front and a back to the fabric, so I flipped them inside out so I was stamping on the right side. 
Here were the stamps, again, a lucky find, $1.00 each in a miscellaneous bin at Michael's craft store, but perfect for what we wanted!  I liked having two different templates to work with.

Again, bad blogger, I don't have a photo of my sewing them-whoops.  I think I was just into the groove!  But I basically flipped them inside out, sewed up the two sides and 1/2 way up the last side.  I wanted a small opening to be able to fill the lavender.
Mmmm, the lavender.  We did a lot of looking locally but couldn't find anything that wasn't $20+ a pound, not what I had in mind, so we ended up ordering it online (when I track down the website I'll add it).  But it was bagged in 1 lb. bags and smelled delicious! 
Once they were sewn up I flipped them right-side-out, inked up the stamps and went to town.  After the ink had dried I began the filling process.  I tried several things, but a small funnel was the best and then ended up using my fingers for the last few pinches.  When they were all full I then hand stitched the last inch or so.  I surprised my mom with my TINY stitches, again, who knew I had it in me??
Here's the final product at the shower!  Everyone LOVED them and I hope they will remind them of what a wonderful time we had that day and all the love and thanks they have from us.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I wasn't clear on something, I'm happy to help!

What projects have you done lately?


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I have always been a summer and warm weather kinda girl, growing up in tropical locales around the world led my sister and I to be water babies and were most usually barefoot or in flip flops.  When I met my husband he was very much the same way.  His mother used to double check him before he left the house to make sure he had shoes on (it was MOST likely that he didn't-fyi, I still check him some days!)  Even when he did have shoes on he used to pull them off!  Can't wait to see what our little one will do-nature or nurture??

While doing a little gardening this weekend I happened to stop and take a look down...
My footprint in our flagstone patio 
Mine up top, Greg's below 
Here's the back corner of our garden, the ferns are finally starting to take off!!  We just planted the climbing hydrangea this year and it did bloom, now it just needs to start creeping along the brick, fingers crossed it'll start doing it's thing!

How about you-do you prefer to be shoeless??