Friday, June 28, 2013

Lowe's Creative Ideas: Making Watering Easier

Our Little Acre acre, but the configuration of that acre is such that our property is somewhat narrow and deep.  The lion's share of our gardens are located at the back of the yard and the spigots for hoses are at the house and at the pool house.  That means we have to drag hoses to and from the back gardens and that is, plain and simple, a pain in the behind.

The theme for this month's Lowe's Creative Ideas project is irrigation, so we took this opportunity to remedy our watering issues.  After the last three summers of being hot and dry, we took on this project with great enthusiasm.  Last summer's drought just about did us (and the gardens) in.

Without getting into sophisticated irrigation systems, which would be complicated in the case of our crazily-configured gardens, our solution was to run PVC pipe from the spigot on the pool house to newly-installed spigots at the chicken coop and all the way out to the garden at the back, where there would be two more spigots - one on the west side and one on the east side.  That way we didn't have to drag a hose across the garden itself.

Romie used our Troy-Bilt edger to cut a shallow trench for the PVC pipe and I followed and deepened it with the Cobrahead tool, which shows yet another great use for it besides weeding.

Since we have to blow out the water lines for the pool every fall in preparation for winter, that's what we'll have to do with these too, so they don't freeze and crack.  They're about 4-5 inches deep - not the 30-36" depth needed to be below the frost line.

With an assortment of Ts and elbows and straight  ¾-inch PVC pipe, Romie ran it where he needed it, using cleaner and adhesive to connect them all together.

e used treated 4x4 posts for mounting the spigots, and drilled holes through the posts for the pipe so it didn't stick out from the posts so much.  That also stabilized the spigots.

We attached heavy duty hose holders to store our Dramm hoses at the spigots.  The project was easily completed over two-and-a-half days and probably could have been done in even less time, but with temperatures in the mid-90s and high humidity, we had to take a lot of breaks.

I started watering with our new system immediately and all went well, with no leaks!  I'm so glad to not have to drag the hoses all the way back there to water the gardens and it's nice to have a spigot right there at the back of the greenhouse by the chicken coop, too.

Check out other Lowe's Creative Ideas for your home and garden here.  And for more blogger's projects and ideas, visit the Lowe's Creative Ideas Blogger Network page.

As a Lowe's Creative Ideas team member, I am provided with Lowe's gift cards to cover the cost of myprojects.  The Troy-Bilt edger was provided to me last year free of charge as part of my participation as a Saturday 6 team member.  Dramm provided the hoses and watering nozzles and wands.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ahhh...Pots: A Review and Giveaway!

I love it when I'm made aware of cottage businesses and the products they make are both practical and attractive.  The Seed Keeper Company is one such company that I loved from the start and now I've found another one.

In nearby Tiffin, Ohio, René Clinger makes container pots - called Ahhh...Pots - in her home, from fabric.  An avid plumeria and tuberose grower, she came up with the pattern for the pots after a discussion with her fellow growers. The result was an assortment of pots made from UV resistant fabric that can be used either as cache pots or by planting directly in them.

René sent a few pots my way for me to try and that's what I'm doing now.  I'm using two of them as cache pots and the third one I've planted directly with Caladium bulbs.  Only recently have we had warm enough weather for the bulbs to even think about growing, so I'm waiting on those to make an appearance.

As cache pots, the ones I have are a little on the large side for what I put in them, but that was easy enough for me to remedy by putting air-filled packing pillows in between the plant pot and the Ahhh...Pot.  At the time that René sent the pots to me, I wasn't sure which of my plants I was going to put in them, so she sent the sizes we thought I could use.

Her pots come in a large assortment of sizes and she's always available to discuss which one would be suitable for your use. Pots are listed by capacity, in gallons, and it can be hard to figure out which size would be appropriate, especially if you're using them as cache pots.  Just contact René with the size of your pot in inches, and she'll tell you which size would work. 

The pot on the right is planted directly with Caladium bulbs that aren't up yet.

But the beauty of these pots is really that they can be planted directly.  They're made of landscape fabric, and as I said, UV resistant. They're also porous, so water can drain through. Seams are reinforced and they have handles for ease in moving them around. I think I'll try growing potatoes in the largest one next year!

There are 13 different designs, in both black and brown with contrasting trim, and the sizes range from one gallon through 65 gallons (now THAT'S a big pot!).  There's even a portable garden and flower pouches. The pots are easy to store over the winter by just hosing them off and folding them flat for storage.  I think you'll be pleased with the quality of  Ahhh...Pots and you'll get many years of use out of these.

You'll notice on her website that shipping is free for orders over $50 and wholesale pricing is available on request. If you don't see a size you like, René takes custom orders. AND first-time buyers get a free pot with their order!

Now for the giveaway!  René has generously offered to let me give away a 3-gallon Ahhh...Pot in a fabric design of the winner's choice.  All you need to do to enter is:

  • Leave a comment here, telling me which fabric you'd choose if you win.  (See the assortment of designs here.)

  • Fill out the Rafflecopter form (below), which will provide your contact information so I can let you know you're the winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Entries will be accepted until midnight EDT on Wednesday, July 3, 2013.  Only residents from the lower 48 United States will be eligible to win.  Value of the prize is $12.95.

I received Ahhh...Pots free of charge for the purpose of reviewing them for this blog. All opinions expressed here - as always - are my own.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Divine Appointment With a Daylily

Once upon a time, I bought a daylily seedling from local hybridizer Lana Wolfe.  Mom and I had visited her daylily gardens in Ft. Wayne - Hidden Acres - back in 2006.  We both bought several other daylilies and mine have all done very well for me.

July 28, 2007
Last summer, I contacted Lana to see if she ever named and registered the seedling she sold to me. I'd labeled it 'Lovely Lana' in the meantime, but I wondered if it ever got an official name.  It turns out that Lana, who has 22 registered daylilies to her name, had sold me the only seedling she had of this particular cross.

She explained to me that when a hybridizer sells a seedling, it becomes the property of the new owner who then has the right to name and register it.  I got a little excited about the possibility of doing this, but by all rights (in my mind), it was Lana who put all the work into it, so she should have the opportunity to name it and register it.

Lana gave me a gift when she sold me this gorgeous daylily. It's a beautiful flower, but as a gardener, I don't take lightly that she also allowed me to name it and register it.  So I began the process.  There is a form to fill out at the American Hemerocallis Society page, on which all known information about the cultivar is given.  Lana gave me all the pertinent information needed, I paid the fee ($20), submitted the form with photos, and then waited.

I first submitted the form on July 9, 2012, and I received acknowledgement that my form and photo had been received.  It was stated that even if they accepted my registration, it wouldn't be listed in the database until they updated sometime in 2013.

I named this gorgeous daylily 'God Winked', based on the title of a book that I bought my grandma many years ago.  When GOD Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life by Squire Rushnell is a wonderful little book with essays telling about how small things that happen in our lives can change them in surprising ways.

I'm also a big believer in divine appointments.  It was Chuck Swindoll who first introduced me to this concept, or at least put a name to it for me.  Some things are purely coincidental, but coincidences happen so often that I refuse to believe they're all attributed to chance.  

In any case, I believe that meeting Lana, purchasing that daylily seedling, and contacting her years later to inquire about it didn't all "just happen."  If you think that our God doesn't have time to be bothered with things that are incidental in the grand scheme of things, you really do underestimate Him.

So here we have it - 'God Winked' - a beautiful daylily, with thanks and gratitude to Lana for growing it, selling it to me, and allowing me to experience some geeky garden fun.

July 1, 2009

***When I submitted the registration form, Lana Wolfe was listed as the hybridizer. This is not shown on the registry listing, but be assured that I gave Lana credit for creating this daylily.

How Do You Preserve Your Wood Items?

Recently, I  purchased a new twig chair for the garden, because the one I bought five years ago deteriorated so much that it was rotting and breaking.  We had to burn it, but I wanted another one like it.

Freshly sealed with Olympic Wood Protector

Thanks to the recommendation of one of my Facebook readers, I was able to find one near Toledo (East Swanton), at Oak Park Garden Center (and a matching side table, too). I wanted to do something to help preserve them, so I coated them with a wood sealer.  I recently did the same to a wooden trellis and when I went to Lowe's to get the wood sealer, I asked for Thompson's.  That's what we've used in the past and it's the best stuff, right?

The associate in the paint department recommended a different product.  She said Thompson's is wax-based and it breaks down in hot sunny weather.  She recommended Olympic Wood Protector.

The Olympic product cost nearly twice as much as the Thompson's, but you only have to apply it every two years, as opposed to yearly for the Thompson's.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather do that unpleasant job half as often, even if I have to pay more up front.

What are your thoughts on the two products?  Care to share your experiences with either?  Or maybe you use a different product altogether. Dish it to me!

Though my purchase of the Olympic Wood Protector was not directly involved with my participation as a Lowe's Creative Ideas Team Member, I did use a gift card they provided to me as a part of that program to purchase this product.  However, I would have purchased it regardless of whether I had a gift card or not.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Good Year for Roses

June is National Rose Month and we're celebrating in style here at Our Little Acre.  As anyone who grows roses knows, some years are better than others and more times that not, the good years are when we get plenty of spring rain.  This year was like that.

Last year wasn't good at all and I wondered how the roses would fare through a summer of drought, but they seem to have survived and look none the worse for wear.  In fact, they're outdoing themselves in their first flush of blooms.

'Nearly Wild'

'Memorial Day'

'Princess Anne'
(David Austin Rose)

'Ebb Tide'

'Glamis Castle'
(David Austin Rose)

'Topsy Turvy'


'Cinco de Mayo'



'Hot Cocoa'

(David Austin Rose)


'Christopher Marlowe'
(David Austin Rose)

'Jubilee Celebration'
(David Austin Rose)

'Diana, Princess of Wales'

'Crown Princess Margareta'
(David Austin Rose)


'About Face'

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Garden Appreciation Society: Week 5

I haven't kept up with each week of cutting selections from the garden to enjoy inside, mainly because I haven't spent much time inside in the last few weeks!  We were preparing for a garden club's visit to Our Little Acre (more on that later) and if anyone was going to appreciate the flowers, the garden was the best place to do it.

But I promised Erin when it was over I would share something.  Here it is - an unlikely bouquet of:

  • Rosa 'Lavaglut' (a.k.a. 'Intrigue' and 'Lava Glow'), which is a bouquet on a stem all by itself!  Introduced by Kordes in 1978, this florabunda rose has the deepest, richest, darkest shade of red, which can be very difficult to photograph acurately.  Hardy in Zones 5-10.

  • Tanacetum vulgare 'Isla's Gold', a brilliantly colored tansy.  This herb is non-edible (all parts of the plant are toxic), with highly fragrant foliage, hardy in Zones 3-9.  It has small white daisy-like blooms about mid-summer, and while they're nice, I grow this one for its stunning foliage.

  • Physocarpus opulifolium 'Coppertina™' (a.k.a. 'Mindia').  There are several cultivars of ninebark that I like, but none as well as this one.  It was introduced in 2006 and it took me several years before I found it in a garden center.  I only have one, but ohhhhhh, what a one it is!  New foliage in the spring goes through several color changes, then it blooms, and then its whitish flowers turn blood red!  One of my very favorite shrubs EVER.

To see other appreciative efforts, visit The Impatient Gardener.  Thanks to Erin for hosting and for inspiring me to enjoy my garden's flowers in the house.  In spite of being the author of Indoor Plant Décor:  The Design Stylebook for Houseplants,  houses aren't just for houseplants.  Flowers can make a statement, too.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How to Prepare For a Derecho (or Other Such Storms)

Here we go again.

If you were a reader of this blog a year ago, you know that we  were smack in the middle of a weird storm in which we temporarily lost our patio table and a few other things and we were without power for six long, very hot days.

Seconds before the derecho hit.

It was a Friday, June 29th, mid-afternoon and a wall of wind seemingly came out of nowhere and wreaked havoc over the upper Midwest all the way to the east coast. They told us this was a relatively unusual type of storm and up to that point, most of us had never even heard of a derecho.

June 29, 2012

Derecho, when used as an adverb, is Spanish for "in a straight line."  In meteorologic terms, a derecho is widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.  Winds are 60+ mph, but can typically be as high as 100-125 mph, and are sustained for at least six hours. 

Though we had damage, we were more fortunate than a lot of people. You can read about last year's derecho and the effect it had here at Our Little Acre here and here.

Last year, we had very little to no warning as to what was coming.  Today, they've given us plenty of time to prepare for what could be a similar storm later this evening. Based on what we experienced last year, this is what we recommend to minimize possible damage:

  • Just look around your yard and outside your house to see what might get blown around.  If it's not very heavy or isn't secured, you never know where it's going to end up after a storm like this.

  • Take down hanging plants, bird feeders, bird houses, wind chimes, hammocks, porch swings, and other lightweight hangers.  We just laid ours on the ground near their original location.  If they're too lightweight, take them in.

  • Turn your patio table upside down if possible, to reduce the surface area to the wind.  Do the same with benches and chairs.  Take down patio umbrellas.

  • Move potted plants and planters inside or close to the leeward side of the house (the side protected from prevailing winds).  In our case, which is probably true for you too, this means we put them close to the house on the east side.

  • If you have awkward or somewhat heavy planters that can't be moved, water them well to give them added weight to help hold them in place better.

  • Tie trellises, arbors and tuteurs down so that they don't get knocked over and possibly uproot the climbers on them. (Yes, we learned this from experience.)

  • Lilies and alliums are either blooming or close to it, and a derecho could knock those flat.  If you have a way to stake tall plants like these, do it.

  • Unplug outdoor electrical items such as fountains or lighting.

  • If you have a pile of mulch in your driveway (like we do) either wet it down well, or get it put on your garden and then wet it down.  Dry mulch will disappear in a storm like this.

  • Bring outside pets inside, if possible.  This is a scary thing for them, too.

  • Fill containers with drinking water just in case you lose power and be sure you have fresh batteries for flashlights and matches for candles.  If you do lose power, do NOT open your refrigerator or freezer so that they can stay as cold as possible for as long as possible until power is restored. 

    Of course, six days without power last year for us meant that we lost those things that we couldn't transfer to our daughter and son-in-law's freezer.  With food, if in doubt, throw it out.

The best scenario would be that we get some rain and no wind. But this year, we have a Troy-bilt generator, so hopefully, if we do lose power, we can still run necessary things like the refrigerator/freezer.  And my laptop.

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