Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wedding Wednesday #6 - growing your own

Source: via Dream on Pinterest

Welcome to week six of my daughter's wedding countdown…. Only 10 weeks and a couple of days to go until the big day…. 72 days or so that is.

This past weekend I spent most of it working in the gardens here at Red Gate Farm.  Planting hundreds of my little zinnia seedlings for the wedding.  Green “Envy”, pure white with green centers and even purple with green centers.  The wedding colors of course.

Two entire rows of just these 3 colors.  Believe it or not but you’re looking at about 250 zinnias here…. Now I just need to keep them alive and growing for the next 72 days…

Because this is what we want to see… in white milk glass vases of course… on every table at the dinner/reception…
Source: via Jackie on Pinterest

As well as in mason jars along the aisle like this….

And see these little pots of impatiens?  I grew them from seed as well.  I planted over 400 impatien seeds back in March… started them inside and just recently moved them out to the greenhouse.  Most have made their way into my flower beds but I saved a few to plant in these 6 white IKEA pots.  We’ll spread them around at the wedding...

And those IKEA pots?  Cheap, cheap and they come in a variety of sizes.  The larger size will house 4 of these white shrub roses…. aptly named Gourmet Popcorn… little buds are already forming…

And perhaps the larger IKEA pots for these two Limelight Hydrangea “trees” that I picked up this weekend?  For the altar area.  The thought was originally to use plain hydrangea bushes but when I saw these I couldn’t resist.  One of my favorite hydrangeas in a tree or topiary form!!  The owner of the nursery told me these would be big, beautiful and bushy in 72 days….

And this cute little iron item?

Or this one?  Well they are vintage iron pieces that would have held railroad bells… at a station perhaps?  The green one was from my mom and the black one from a local antique store… and what will they hold come the wedding?

These wire baskets full of cascading purple flowers of course!

Just need to keep everything growing and growing for the next 72 days,

linking to

Cottage Garden Party

Thursday, May 24, 2012

rhododendrons and azaleas....

My "mother's day" rhododendron put on it's annual show over the last few weeks... sadly, the petals are now sprinkling the ground.  The old azalea is also finishing up it's bloom cycle... the salmon-y orange is almost florescent, the colors so vibrant. 

Here the show was just beginning....

When in bloom, the rhodie takes up the entire window in the living room... I must say it is a gorgeous, and imposing, view for a few weeks each year...

And from my cozy, south facing porch... well again the rhodie... but that azalea certainly doesn't let you ignore it either!

It always amazes me how this rhodie blooms right at mother's day each year...

And has been doing so for over 60 years now...

Each year I come to appreciate the rhododendron a bit more... a plant that I really didn't care for before we moved to Red Gate Farm.

I love how the blooms start out pink.... and open to white...

But I still don't like the sticky, messy bits that drop all over the ground... and stick to the dogs feet... or mine.

I guess there is a reason why the rhododendron is the Washington state flower... it's certainly made a convert out of me.

The sun is shining... and I hear we're going to have blue skies and sunshine for the long weekend,

linking up to

Cottage Garden Party

Wedding Wednesday #5 - Chalkboards

Knowing that we were going to have lots and lots of chalkboards at the wedding I began collecting thrift store and garage sale frames.  So far for my six frames I've spent a whole $23.00... and the largest frame already had a board in it ready for the chalkboard paint... and it's pretty big.

Originally I planned to use pure white Annie Sloan Chalk Paint along with a sample of Paris Gray to accent all of the detailing on most of the frames... however once I got going I decided the Pure White was just too white and ended up mixing it 50/50 with Old White...

One frame still has it's glass and since we are planning to use chalkboard markers instead of chalk, we can actually just paint the cardboard backing, leave the glass and write directly on the glass...

This big one set me back $4.50 and the oval just $3.00

I love the ornate details of the oval frame and it is actually the only one that isn't wood... it's some sort of foam/plastic and is very lightweight.  That could really come in handy depending on how we decide to use it.

I painted multiple coats of Pure White, then Paris Gray, then the mixture of Pure White and Old White...

I think the Paris Gray was a good idea since all of this detail would have disappeared.  For the flat frames I just dry brushed some here and there....

And I must admit... I just couldn't bring myself to paint over this picture...

Olga went to a lot of trouble back in '61 to make this beauty... it probably hung on the paneled wall above the fake rock fireplace... shag carpet... perhaps avocado green or orange... a fabulous plaid couch...

But really, I didn't want to black chalkboard paint over this so what to do, what to do?  Well I used the non-artwork side instead... not wanting in wandering guests to see the backside of this when it is at the wedding I figured I would cover it with something.  We found this fabulous wrapping paper at Paper Source for half price... PERFECT!

In fact I got two rolls and we'll be using it on the backs of all of the boards...

Now I just need to find a few more vintage, real slate boards like this one to mix into the DIY boards.  I'll be stalking etsy and eBay for a while...

And when I'm not?  Well I'll be out in the gardens... hopefully enjoying another sunny evening and weekend,

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I have a confession... I didn't even know what a peony was until the spring of 1996.  I didn't have a peony in my garden until 2005, our first spring here at Red Gate Farm.  My white, Festiva Maxima peony was my first addition.  I'm not sure how I wasn't aware of this beautiful flower before then... like a David Austin Rose or a Ranunculus; I just love how the petals form so tightly on peonies.

With my first peony, the initial few years were pretty dismal, bloom wise.  My son had built me a peony "cage" out of copper pipe and fittings... planning it to be all pretty and verdigris over time...overflowing with my beautiful blooms... well let's just say there was no need for the cage so quickly since there were no blooms to hold up.  For a number of years the buds formed and then dried up to look like little pepper corns.  Not sure what was going on, what I was doing wrong, but no blooms.  Sigh.

Last spring this peony exploded with blooms, I even made the ultimate gardener's sacrifice and cut a couple to bring inside!  Maybe it just needed the first 6 or 7 years to get into the swing of things... because I certainly did not do anything different. Currently the buds are growing larger every day.  It amazes me how a peony bud starts so small and then overnight is seems to be the size of a ping pong ball.

My second peony acquisition, my unnamed dark-pink-almost-red peony, came from a local homeowner that sells cuttings every year.  It was a teeny tiny plant with one huge bud when I purchase it back in 2007.

Every year it grows a bit and gets more and more blooms... and yet overall  it is still a much smaller plant than the white Maxima peony... it blooms first of the two and is covered in flowers, show off!

A couple of years ago I picked up a bag of two peony "starts" from Costco.  I planted them in large plastic nursery type pots to grow them up a bit before putting them in the garden... at least that was the plan.  Both are pale pink but I only noted the name of one... Sarah Bernhardt.  I do however think I planted them too deep.  In multiple spring seasons, lots of foliage, no buds.  Peonies have "eyes" that can't be buried or they won't get blooms.  Apparently I don't know what this "eye" looks like because I must have buried it.  This year I finally planted one of them in my gardens...

Sarah is still in her pot and I plan to free her and add her to my vegetable/cutting garden soon.  When replanting I plan to try to remove some soil and expose her "eye" so she will bloom like I have done for the other unnamed pink Costco peony.  Maybe some blooms next year?

A couple of weeks ago while at my favorite local nursery I picked up a red peony... the foliage is a reddish color and the blooms are supposed to be red as well.  It has many tiny buds so hopefully that will mean lots of beautiful blooms!

Did you know that ants on your peonies is a good thing?  Well at least they don't hurt the buds... peonies secrete a sticky sugar that attracts the ants.  Did you also know that if you cut peony buds when they are big and soft as a marshmallow you can store them for several weeks in a refrigerator... pull them out and voila... peonies long after they are gone from the garden!

My dream would actually be to have my very OWN peony cutting garden, a la Martha Stewart that is.  Then I could have cut peonies for weeks on end... In my dream, my cutting garden would line my soon to be in place, fancy wire garden fence... wouldn't that be fabulous?

I could even host an annual peony party like Martha...after all, I already have a vintage metal tray with what else... peonies!

But for now I'll settle for just Sarah in the cutting garden.  If I'd like that large cut bouquet I guess I'll have to head to Pike Place Market in Seattle or perhaps I'd be lucky enough to find one locally at Trader Joe's.

So how about you... are you a peony lover?  Do you have a favorite?

Ready to enjoy another beautiful weekend in the garden, at home,

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