The Pond at the New House, finished!

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It’s nearly June and I’ve been working on the yard like mad. It was pretty much a moonscape when we bought the place, so I have much to do. The first area I tackled this Spring was the pond. The previous owner did the hardest part, digging the big 3′ hole, as well as lining it and adding the filter box and pump (see the “BEFORE” pics). I dug out the stream and hole at the top for the filter box, lined it and added all the rocks. (thankfully there is an great rock place right up the road from us). I’ve been adding plants and the dwarf Japanese maple bit by bit and now it’s done! Feels good to have one big project completed.

I have bits and pieces of other projects done as well, but will wait to post those images until they are complete. Still a long ways to go but making headway! Other projects I am in the middle of: Adding a cutting garden to the side of the house and adding 3 small raised bed vegetable gardens on the lower level. (Working on the inside of the house as well, mainly painting and wallpaper) Yard projects still to go:

Painting the fence, Staining the decks, Adding walking paths on the lower level, Adding a low rock retaining wall/planting bed on the lower level, Adding a bit of artificial turf (for Max the Pug!), Landscaping two bare areas behind the house, Planing along the back fence (likely lilacs and snowball viburnum), Adding a graveled seating area on the lower level. Painting the arbor, Painting the house. All this and then the upper level by the entry, which will require a landscape contractor. I sure have my work cut out for me! It is very satisfying work though and I know I am adding to my property values 🙂 So without further ado here is the pond project:

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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Most of the plants came from Costco (a fantastic source for plants in the spring! Great deals) and Lowes. We brought the gazing ball, pots and most of the decorative accessories with us from our Denver house, and the new patio furniture came from Houzz.com and Wayfair.com.

Thanks for looking! Hope your Spring is colorful and bright 🙂

Recycling Halloween into Thanksgiving, Part 2…Outdoor Decor Redo for Zero Dollars

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Fall, Part Deux! As I said in the last Thanksgiving post, because I go a bit over the top for Halloween and Xmas, I like to chill things out a bit in between and go for a simpler look. It took me about an hour to “recycle” Halloween into Thanksgiving out front. Here’s what I did:

BEFORE: (Halloween in full force)

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I removed everything distinctly Halloween: all the black and orange, along with the crows, lights, spooky eyes, and carved pumpkins. What was left was the faux Fall foliage and “whole” (un-carved) faux pumpkins. I added some silk sunflowers I snagged from the Goodwill a couple years ago, as well as a large dried grapevine wreath separated into 4 pieces.

AFTER:

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The pots out in front were the easiest. The faux Fall leaves (originally from the thrift store) stayed in the pots. I just removed the crows and added a few silk sunflowers. (It’s too cold here already for live outdoor plants, (low of 25 tonight!) so faking it is the best we can do.)

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The two pots on the stoop were much the same, a bit of faux fall leaves wrapped around the top, a faux pumpkin (all the pumpkins are also from the thrift store for a couple bucks apiece) plopped in the middle, (no real pumpkins possible here, the ravenous squirrel army would be munching on them within minutes) and a section of dried grapevine wreath added on top. I purchased the grapevine wreath from the floral wholesaler for about $35, and have been reusing it for many years now. You will be able to find these at most hobby shops as well. With a little care they will last for many many years. (I store mine in the garden shed when not in use.)

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Next to the door, the column gets the same leaf-&-pumpkin treatment.

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The table on the other side of the door (patiently awaiting a new paint job) is just a pile of dried gourds, also left over from Halloween.

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The far end of the porch got a nice dried flower arrangement. Dried flowers are a great choice for a covered outdoor area, just make sure they don’t get wet. During the year I dry all my old flowers from indoor arrangements so I can do a few of these outside in the Fall. These dried flowers are just stuck right in the dirt in one of the pots from the garden. The old magnolia wreath laying under the pot has seen better days (I’ve had it for about 5 years) and is no longer suitable to hang on the door, but it works great here on the table. Drying your older fresh flowers is easy. Just put a few together, use a rubber band or twist tie around the bottoms of the stems, and hang them upside down in a dry, out of the way spot. Most flowers will dry well, especially those with woody stems like roses and hydrangea. Flowers like carnations and mums, not so much.

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And that’s it! A sweet and simple Fall decor design for the front yard that cost zippedy-do-dah dollars. Now I get to relax for a couple weeks, before getting all loco again for Xmas/Hanukkah/New Year’s…

 

How I Made a Tropical Backyard Oasis in Denver on a Cheap-Ass Budget

The air is cooling, (I actually had to put on a sweater last night). Fall is upon us, and all too soon I’ll be putting the garden to bed and hauling out the snow shovel. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my yard with you before the first frost hits and I’m crying over shriveled leaves.

The backyard is ever a work-in-progress. A constant battle to create something that feels tropical in dry-as-a-rattlesnake-fart Denver. (OK, MOST of the time it is dry here, the recent crazy rains not withstanding) I think this year is the best yet for my little tropical oasis. Ready for the tour? Here we go…

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This is the view coming out our backdoor. That “L” shaped thing is the pond. It was a planting bed until 3 years ago when we had a wee stinky sewer line leak. I bribed the diggers to dig out the pond, too. (It’s amazing what men will do for homemade chocolate chip cookies.) The lotus mural on the garage wall I painted to cover up a bad repair job, and I wanted some color back there in the Winter when all is plain and dark. The vines running across the garden are Virginia Creeper that has been growing on the far North side of the yard for years, trained on strings of white lights that run from the gazebo to the big tree. They just keep getting thicker every year. I tucked a little hanging Spanish Moss on them to enhance the tropical look.

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To the left of the pond is this oddly leaning tree that I dolled up with bromelaids this year. (You can see the how-to on that one by clicking “Bromelaids”) And of course the coolest cheap garden lighting ever is at the base of the tree.

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Our poor Ganesha fountain here has seen better days. He is the victim of an unfortunate freezing incident in which he lost 3 of his four arms and most of his legs, though his face remains intact. I think it makes him look like an ancient relic. I especially like the ball of moss growing on the tip of his trunk. We’ve found the glass flowers at various yard sales for a couple bucks a piece. I love my little pond. The water iris with it’s leaves overflowing the pond started as divisions given to us by a neighbor are now completely taking over (anyone want some Water Iris? Seriously…) We have a hardy water lily that has somehow survived 3 Colorado winters and seems quite happy. There are 2 big koi, “Ghost” and “Spot”, a big fat fancy goldfish (named “Fatty”, I don’t have much imagination for names), and what was once a mere feeder goldfish, “Tiny”, who is now quite pretty and not so tiny anymore. They are rather camera-shy, but I did manage to snap a picture of Spot, who is now over 10″ long. (He was under 4″ when we got him) All our fish came from Petsmart.

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The area along the fence is dark and dank and it’s nearly impossible to grow anything there, so all the plants are in pots. That monster tree philodendron was purchased at a yard sale for $10 when he had only 5 leaves. The thing has gone crazy this summer. I have no idea how I’ll get it back in the house for Winter. Almost all the ceramic pots were alley finds, a few from the thrift store. I bring all the houseplants out into the yard in the Spring. The plants are happy and really help to fill in the yard. I scored 5 more houseplants from a nice guy on Craigslist for free this Summer as well. The dwarf bananas in the big pots I bought last year, and they were super-easy to overwinter. You just pull them out of the pot, hack off the leaves and stick them in a box or bag, leave them in the basement and forget about them till the next Spring. I did buy a few sweet potato vines and coleus this year, but everything else I over-wintered from last year. The metal pedestals were surprisingly cheap. I bought them about 4 years ago, all three were about $60. (OK I admit I got them wholesale) And you’ll note two more of those awesome cheap garden lights on the ground.

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The iron and wood seats were here when I moved in, I just painted them white. The table was another fab alley find, as were the ceramic pieces on top. One of my neighbors is a potter. She sometimes puts “off” pieces in the alley. Love that! She came to a party here and loved what I did with these. The big wood candlesticks were found dumpster diving as well. I’ve had the white candles forever, purchased years ago at Big Lots.

What makes these plants look so good? Levels! The secret to a great display. Nothing fancy here, the pots in the back are up on top of other pots turned upside down.

Here’s a view looking back at the house, and Emma, my little pug-ham, getting in on the action.

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The North side of the garden is our ever-popular Gazebo (click for more details). It was easier than it looks, and everything in it came from yard sales and thrift stores.

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Looking out of the gazebo into the yard…

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And lastly, the Golden Duck, sitting on the edge of the pond, hidden in the Water Iris. Another great alley find.

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This concludes our little Backyard Oasis Tour. I hope you enjoyed it!

An Industrial Found-Object Garden Delights! More Fun Ideas to Steal for Your Garden…

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Deep in the Heart of the industrial Rino Arts District lurks a little Secret Garden full of recycled wonder. The immensely talented artist duo Sabin Aell and Randy Rushton took a run-down industrial factory space and transformed it into something Ultra-Cool. The building now houses not only Sabin and Randy, but the art gallery Hinterland, assorted artist work spaces, and a very large wood and metal shop where Randy creates beautiful furniture and fixtures from recycled and reclaimed materials. (Custom by Rushton) The inside of the space is killer, but I will make you wait to see it until another time. This post is all about the funky little garden they have created out behind the building…

It should come as no surprise that this little garden, carved out of what was a dirt parking area, is all about recycled and found objects. Everything here was reclaimed. Watch for clever use of materials…

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Just outside Randy’s shop area is this interesting assortment of metal bits and funky odds and ends, lovingly curated and placed. When in doubt, let it rust! I do dig the patina…Note the gorgeous planter on the left. One of Randy’s creations of course.

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Moving on to the main garden area, we find hidden creatures, interesting pots from tree stumps (great idea!), old metal containers as pedestals, driftwood and other fascinating found objects.

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Love the half-doll, going head first down the planed stump. Very Alice-in-Wonderland.

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The little robot under the table is delightful.

Almost everything in the seating area was found or salvaged. A no-cost garden is possible!

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Probably my favorite thing in the garden. Old fry baskets as planters.

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And last but not least, another one of Randy’s lovely planters.

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I had a blast exploring Randy and Sabin’s garden, I hope you did too. I promise to blog about the inside of their amazing space soon.

Thank you Sabin and Randy!

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Part 3! Big Crazy Bohemian Garden…it’s Not Mine, it’s Tiffany’s. (Lots of Fun Ideas Here!)

Like all good things, this series must come to an end…

Part 3 of the Big Crazy Bohemian Garden.

(Part 2 HERE)

(Part 1 HERE)

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The greenhouse. It’s pretty killer. It has an ingenious self-watering system, and a deep koi pond on the North side that functions as a heat sink in the Winter. The Koi are crazy huge, sorry it was too dark to get any pictures of them. You know I wanted to snatch that Japanese eggplant right off the vine…

What garden is complete without a couple Pink Flamingos?

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Another great recycling idea, old plastic Halloween “Witch’s cauldrons” painted blue and used as planters…

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And of course, there are chickens. 5 feathery friends, providing breakfast for all. I especially like the art and fancy glass hanging light in the chicken coop.

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And now, on to the Front Yard. No lawns here at the Smyth Abode. Hardy strawberries take the place of grass beautifully, and provide delicious berries!

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I love the mannequin on the front porch, no doubt reclaimed from the ArtSmyth Mask Shop.

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There’s an amazing Wisteria on the front gate. (We’ll have to get a shot of it in bloom next year) Great Idea Alert: She has strung wire from the fence to the second story balcony on which the vines are growing. Natural shade!

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The fence on the North side of the house is covered in blackberries and roses, a beautiful combination.

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And last but not least, a large mirror in the front side yard reflects a pair of plant-covered deer. Charming!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this delightful garden tour as much as I have. Until next time, Happy Planting!

Part 2! Big Crazy Bohemian Garden…it’s Not Mine, it’s Tiffany’s. (Lots of Fun Ideas Here!)

Part 2 of our 3-Part series on the amazing bohemian garden of mask-maker extraordinaire Tiffany Smyth

See Part 1 Here: Big Crazy Bohemian Garden

Let’s just dig right in shall we?

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The first thing you’ll notice is the blue heads. I love the blue heads. What a creative edging! The heads were leftover from a failed project. They were intended to be display pieces for Tiffany’s masks, but they turned out a bit too heavy and a tad too small. No matter, they are marvelous garden accessories!

Next, note the shelves on the fence. I love this idea, and I will be stealing it…a great way to add vertical gardening to the yard and add visual interest to an otherwise boring wood fence.

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What a fun spot for hanging plants. I like the found object embellishments…check out the old Victorian shoe 😉 Spray paint the fence? Sure, why not. And the blue color accents the heads nicely. More old windows on the fence. It’s a good thing.

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Old metal bed frames. (Where is she finding all these?? I’ll have to ask…) Great for delineating space and providing climbing surfaces for vines. More fun found objects decorate the fence. Nice bunny. Elevating him on the pedestal makes him look ultra-special, which of course he is.

And finally, one of my favorite areas it the garden. Skulls may not be your cup of tea, but I love them. Great use of old Halloween decorations…skulls as planters! Love it. I like how she pulled together unusual elements and made them work as one by painting them the same way. Note the continual use of the blue. There is a ton going on in this garden, but the consistent blue ties it all together.

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Part 3, with chickens! Coming Friday. Stay tuned!

Big Crazy Bohemian Garden…it’s Not Mine, it’s Tiffany’s. (Lots of Fun Ideas Here!)

This week we’ll be wandering around someone else’s garden. This wacky & wonderful garden is chock full of fun and unusual ideas using found objects, leftovers, chickens and more. This creative space belongs to mask-maker Tiffany Smyth of Denver. If you don’t know Tiffany’s masks, you need to http://www.artsmyths.com Once you see the masks, you’ll understand the garden. I’ll be covering this garden in 3 blog posts this week.

Without further ado, here is post #1:

Fairy Garden & Porch

The yard is gently divided into different zones with creative fencing and edging. The Fairy Garden is on the North side of the house, with the entry marked by a curved arbor.

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The Fairy Garden is a charming little space. I love “Secret Garden” areas like this. Some ideas to steal here are the metal headboard as a trellis, the old windows hung on the fence, and the old metal chair, painted blue and used as a plant stand.

The Back Porch

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The big Idea to Steal on the porch is the seating made from an old headboard. The feet were cut off and became the front legs, a thick piece of wood was added for the seat, as was foam. The seat is covered in leopard print vinyl and attached with a staple gun. Decorative wall shelves have been added to the headboard. Love this one.

And last but not least, the Deadly Nightshade Garden, marked appropriately with a shiny-eyed skull…

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Wednesday we’ll explore the backyard further, stay tuned!