An Extraordinary Artist’s Home Just too Good not to Share (and Chock Full of Unique DIY Ideas)

Looking from entrance hall through to kitchen.  Horse’s head from Strange Trader.  Railway light hanging overhead.  Timber and bronze sculptures to the right by David Bromley.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
(Yes, you can paint your walls BLACK! Especially great with the white ceiling and trim. That hand-painted graphic piece on the left looks amazing and is totally doable with some painter’s tape and a steady hand…)

Artwork, magazines, collected ephemera in the entry hall.  A mix of artwork by David Bromley and Heidi Yardley, timber carving by David Bromley, Gypsy girl painting by an unknown artist in the USA.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

(I LOVE the art collections all through this home. Notice most of the paintings are not framed? A collection of fun thrift store paintings could look equally good, especially against the dark walls.)

Master Bedroom 1! (There are two!).  Quilt and wall mural by David Bromley.  Painting above bed – old Russian propaganda painting – find similar Russian paintings at Bromley and Yuge’s shop in Byron, In This Street.  Bottom right – Bernard Buffet lithographs.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

(The hand-painted wall mural is killer. I love that art is EVERYWHERE in this home, even down near the floor.)

Dining and living / TV room.  Incredible hand painted wall mural by David Bromley.  Printed Bonnie and Neil cushions from Ahoy Trader.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

(Man, that half-wall mural is marvelous. Sharp and graphic and at the same time soft because of the simple color scheme. I love it against the dark walls. I may have to steal this one (not the actual mural of course, but something similar…) There is a whole lot going on in this home, but it’s not overwhelming because of the simple, consistent underlying color scheme)

Ok.  I promised you something special today and by GOLLY am I going to deliver on that!  This home is so freaking amazing.  It rendered Toby and me pretty much speechless in person… which always makes for a daunting shoot, in which you’re desperately hoping your shots will capture some of that magic, and that the camera lens will accurately convey the visual feast before your eyes.  I do hope we’ve succeeded in that mission today, and that this story feels like a true and honest documentation of one of the most amazing homes I have ever set foot in!

Clearly, this magical property is the Byron Bay home of artist David Bromley, his wife Yuge, and their gorgeous little baby, Wen.  David and Yuge have lived here just about two years, after relocating from Melbourne.  David was always drawn to the relaxed lifestyle here, and had often travelled here before setting up a more permanent home in Byron with Yuge in 2011.

Ironically though, there doesn’t appear to have been much ‘relaxing’ going on since David and Yuge moved here!  No sooner had they relocated, and David was up to his usual tricks – the property, which Bromley previously held as a weekender, was significantly re-worked, turning it into both a functional living and working space. David soon also acquired the property next door – pulling down the fence to create a dedicated studio and office space, and headquarters for Yuge’s fashion label.  The pair have also created an incredible sculpture garden shared by the two properties, filled with David’s own work and an ever-growing collection of artwork, vehicles and vintage collectables.

Whilst they have worked tirelessly to create a special home here, both David and Yuge have been careful to retain the original charm of this property, with its rambling gardens and out houses.  One of these outdoor pavillions has now been turned into an incredible summer bedroom adjoining the main house (so amazing!), whilst another serves as a painting studio.  Though they’ve made impressive progress in just two years, David and Yuge’s home has evolved very much organically, and changes made have been cosmetic rather than structural.

‘We are big believers in working with the original construct of buildings’ explains Yuge. ‘Renovating, wall removal and subtle reconfiguring is awesome fun and amazing, but building for us is daunting and disruptive. We’re not opposed to painting the walls though – painting a room a new colour is like having a holiday!’.  Indeed, soon after relocating here, Yuge recalls she and David would often end their work days to go and spend early evenings paintings the rooms in their house together.  I can so imagine that.  I hope it involved a glass of wine in one hand, and a paintbrush in the other!

Though it’s clearly a seriously impressive and kind of mind-bloggling space, the charm of this home really rests on its sense of light-heartedness and sponteneity.  It’s clear that this house has come together very intuitively, rather than adhering to a grand master plan. This is evident everywhere you look – in the wide stripes painted freehand on the kitchen walls, and the ad hoc placement of artwork from floor to ceiling, wherever it will fit, underneath windows and above doorways.  Yuge and David see furniture and objects as very much part of the architecture of a home – ‘placing bits and pieces we love around the house is how we build a space’ says Yuge.  Despite it’s devilish good looks, there’s nothing precious about this home – like so many of David’s creative endeavours, the space is ever-changing.

I feel so very lucky to have had the opportunity to document this truly special Australian Home.  MASSIVE thanks to David and Yuge for being so open and generous, and for trusting us to share their private world with you all!

ALSO, a reminder – we have an amazing giveaway running all week, thanks to David and Yuge, and their retail store In This Street!  One lucky reader will win a choice of any piece from Yuge’s beautiful womenswear range, and a stunning linen quilt by David Bromley, valued at $1,100.  Please visit Monday’s post and leave a comment over there before 10.00pm this Friday to be in the running.

 

Amazing TV room!  Incredible hand painted wall mural by David Bromley.   ’Moon rock’ felted cushions from Japan.  Printed Bonnie and Neil cushions from Ahoy Trader.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Loungeroom details – a mix of mid century and African artefacts. Wall mural by David Bromley.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen with amazing monochromatic stripes, painted freehand by David – around the artwork in some areas! Two portraits at top by David Bromley, below – a Russian painting by an unknown artist.  Rug from Loom Rugs.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

(Hand-painted free-hand strips! This took guts and a steady hand, but it looks great. Give it a go! If you mess up you can always paint over it. It’s just paint. The island on wheels clad in old signs. Great idea! And of course, art, art and more art! I admit I’m in love with that wacky cat’s head.)

Kitchen detail.  A painting found in China. Printed pottery on shelf to left by David Bromley.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Looking from dining to kitchen.  Early painting by David Bromley on the kitchen walls, created as studies on the Bloomsbury Group.  Michael Pugh ceramic pot in foreground.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Joe Furlonger painting in dining room. Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Looking in to kitchen from the garden.  ’We love the inside being linked to the outside, and the outside linked to the inside’ says Yuge.  Paths throughout the yard are made from garden stakes.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files. (I would love to open up our kitchen to the back yard, though that may be too much of a DIY for me.)

A long timber shed adjoining the main house has been converted into a summer bedroom, complete with in-room bathtub and private courtyard.  Quilts and painting above bed by David Bromley.  One bed is for David and Yuge – the adjacent bed is for little Wen.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

(How charming! A “Summer Bedroom”, with it’s own bathtub. Great guest room. Who wouldn’t want to stay there? We’ve been seeing lots of hand-painted quilts in these pictures. This is an idea I WILL be stealing. It could be just simple geometric patterns if you don’t want to get all artsy with it. I love that the edges are unfinished, makes life simpler.)

 

 

Summer bedroom, complete with in-room bathtub.  Quilts by David Bromley.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A long timber shed adjoining the main house has been converted into a summer bedroom, complete with in-room bathtub.  Quilts by David Bromley.  One bed is for David and Yuge – the adjacent bed is for little Wen.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Outside bath on back porch, from Reece.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Side door and entrance hall.  Timber carved sculpture by David Bromley.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Amazing gardens.  ’The gardens here grow so well, and with some adventurous planting you can be living in a forest in no time’ says Yuge. ‘Bamboo grows in front of your eyes, and the weather here makes you look like a good gardener, whereas truthfully it just nature doing its thing!’  Enormous painted mesh Giraffe sculpture by Melbourne artist Tom Ripon (Tom has no website but is stocked in Melbourne by The Cool Roomin Balaclava).  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files. (I want that giraffe! Makes me want to try my hand at outdoor sculpture.)

Exterior of David’s favourite backyard studio.  Paths made from garden stakes.  Pizza oven bought from a cooking school. French antique glass vase.  Lights made from Japanese fishing floats.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

(The simple garden paths are marvelous, and could easily be duplicated with treated scrap wood from old deaks or palettes.)

Of course they have an airstream caravan too…!   Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

(An Airstream? OK, now I am SERIOUSLY jealous…)

Bromley’s favourite backyard studio. Butterflies painting on easel by David Bromley.  Rug from Loom Rugs.  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Detail from David’s backyard studio. ‘Sulky Boy’ painting by David Bromley. Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Painted schoolbus by David Bromley.  Elephant sculpture by Melbourne artist Tom Ripon (Tom has no website but is stocked in Melbourne by The Cool Roomin Balaclava).  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

(The Painted Bus! I love it! If only I had a bigger backyard…)

Old Studebaker found in Daylesford, perched in the garden!  Photo – Toby Scott, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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!

Bringing the Tropics to a Denver Backyard…Bromeliads in the Trees, + Painted Birdcage Bonus

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Bringing the Tropics to a Denver Backyard…Bromeliads in the Trees

I was inspired on a recent trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens by this tree full of bromelaids. Such a fun tropical look! Here’s what they did:

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I’ve been cultivating as much of a tropical garden as I can here in arid Denver, (of course I want the opposite of what I have, I’m just crazy like that) and thought this would be a great addition, I just had to figure out how to do it. There are no horizontal branches low enough for this in my backyard, so I went vertical. I bought 3 small bromelaids and one large. I got a great deal as the little ones were less than perfect, but that’s fine with me. I spent a total of $25 on all 4 plants. Watch your local Lowes-type stores for clearance plants! Ask in the garden section. If you have a little bit of green on your thumb, you can make the plants happy again.

Here’s what the tree looked like before the bromelaids. I liked the fern and bird houses where they were, so I worked around them: (I bought the fern last Summer and over-wintered it in the house)

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Here’s how I did it: I created small plant pockets with chicken wire, attached them to the tree with floral wire, lined the pocket with sheet moss, and planted the plant into the pocket. It worked great! I then finished the pockets off with some dangly Spanish moss. Both mosses came from Home Depot at about $3.50 a bag. Here’s the step-by-step:

First, I gathered everything I needed.

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Then I put the sheet moss in the bucket and covered it with water to soak while I cut out and shaped the chicken wire, using the plant as a rough size guide. Do wear gloves. I only wore them part of the time and have the scratches on my hands to prove it.

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Next I ran green floral wire around the tree where the top and bottom of the wire pocket would be, twisted the two floral wires firmly in place (not too tight, you don’t want to harm the tree) and bent the edges of the wire firmly around the floral wire to hold the pocket in place.

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NOTE: I will be removing the wire and plants for the Winter. You do not want to leave the wire wrapped around the tree year-round, as it can harm the tree.

Next step is lining the wire pocket with the sheet moss. I pulled a section big enough to fold over inside the pocket out of the bucket, squeezed out some of the water, and placed it in the pocket to form a nice planting area. Don’t skip the soaking of the moss. It’s far easier to work with when it’s wet. Then I just popped the plant out of it’s plastic container and into the pocket. Easy-peasy! If there is extra room in the pocket, just add some tropical soil mix.

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After doing this for all 4 plants, this is what it looked like:

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The final touch was adding the Spanish moss over the wire and dangling it a bit. I just tucked it into the chicken wire. I love this! It really adds a fun tropical feel to the yard, and the whole project cost less than $35.

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And now for that Painted Birdcage Bonus I mentioned…

I’d been looking for something fun for that dark little corner next to the tree when I found this birdcage at a yard sale for .50 cents. Can’t beat that! I picked a bright lime green gloss spray paint and painted it (I used the whole can) and I dig it! Just the thing to brighten up that dark corner, and it only cost about $4 (cage and $3.50ish for the spray paint)

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Wondering about those big white orbs under the tree? Perhaps the Best Outdoor Garden Lighting Idea Ever…DIY High-End Looking Glowing Orbs for about $3

And that Gazebo pocking out behind the tree? DIY Exotic Asian-Moroccan Gazebo Restyle with Thrift Store Finds

What are you up to in the garden? I’d love to hear! Tell me in the Leave a Reply/Comments section.