Autumn Art- Harvest Tree

A stroll through the woods with my toddler this past weekend resulted in a basket full of sticks, moss, and leaves of blaze and gold. The biggest leaves she wanted to paint but once we got out the craft box we changed our plans. Using a paint stick, baby food jar, jut string, packaging paper, […]

Sage Wreaths

All this crisp autumn air has me taking long walks and lingering outside on these last snowless days, before the cold nips too hard or the animals disappear into their homes. It also has me storing up veggies, herbs, and seeds for next year. So as I shook out seeds from the Black Eyed Susan’s […]

Tomato Cage to Tree DIY

My neighbor’s annoyance this fall was my delight as I found him yanking out a wild grape vine from a cherry tree. Instead of letting him add it to his burn pile I dragged them back to my yard to make these adorable trees to decorate my front porch.

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Here’s how you can make your own for any season of décor.

What you’ll need:

  • Pruning shears
  • Gloves
  • Tomato Cage
  • Extra Wire (optional)
  • About 2 hours

When separating the vines I found it easiest to step on the ends as I pulled free the one I wanted to use next. It’s important to understand the thicker the vine the harder it will be to twist and manipulate into the shape you want. I also prefer using vines that are ‘green’ and not picked too long ago. This prevents the vines from cracking under the bent pressure you will be applying.

TIP: It’s easier to work with shorter sections of vines instead of long ones that can get tangled.

I started with a cheep (.99 cent) tomato cage I had left over from the garden and flipped it upside down. This gives you the basic shape you will be following for your tree. To start I used a thicker piece of vine and weaved it around the cage using the cage wires to keep the vines in place. I continued this process adding more and more sections of vine until I got the fullness I was looking for. You can do more or less or even add Christmas lights to it. Watch out for holes or gaps that will appear in coverage as you go. Walk around the tree to get a clear view of all sides.

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TIP: It was easier to turn the tree base than try to wrangle the vines around in circles.

Some of the vines were still attached to small tree limbs and I took off as many as I could find. I also removed extra leaves but these will dry and fall off over time. Any loose ends I tucked into the sides as I went. Any pieces sticking out that wont bend into place you can snip off.

I hope you found this project fun and helpful. Be careful to only work with vines that you can identify (poison ivy is very common in the US).

Happy Questing!

 

Naturescaping-Making a living Hedgerow

My piece of land lies before me. It is intimidating to say the least, to think that I can alter it to my own design or un-design. This is a scary prospect, indeed, but not so scary as a blank piece of linen watercolor paper. So crisp and white. Would I ruin it with the first splash of paint?

Naturescaping is a lot like a painting, but with living plants and natural elements such as rocks or stones.

The earth becomes my paper.  What I want to do is make an “edge” of a forest with a mix of trees, shrubs and lots of other colorful plants.  I have observed that the edge is always the area of the woods with the largest number of bird, bug and mammal species. I am designing my hedgerow to create a dense barrier to give privacy, reduce sound pollution and protect against winter winds. Hedgerows often help prevent erosion, protect wildlife, and help with snow buildup.

Since a lot of plants are needed I am propagating them myself with cuttings of local species. You can do this to.

 

I am planting some cuttings from redwood dogwood and swamp willows in a planter. It will serve two purposes. First as a early spring time decoration for my porch and the cuttings that root for future transplanting into my living hedgerow.

It is very easy. Just prune off some young shoots from the species of your choice. Spring season is the best time to do this. Trim the stem on the planting end just under a bud. Dip the twig into rooting compound and place it directly into the ground where you want it to grow, or try it in a planter like I am doing here. I added some woodland moss to the top of mine to add interest and help hold in moisture.

Another way to do this is simply place your cuttings in a jar of water, no rooting compound is necessary. Just remember to change the water every few days, within a few weeks they will have enough roots to plant out. In the spring, a lot of native species will just root themselves. Here is a picture of pussy willows I am rooting in a jar. You can see the roots beginning to form.

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Naturescaping (or nature scaping) is a method of landscape design and  landscaping that allows people and nature to coexist. By incorporating certain plants, especially native ones, into one’s yard, one can attract beneficial  insects, birds, and other creatures. -Wikipedia

A list of plants that are easy to propagate: all Ivy species, roses, forsythia, dogwood, all willows, hibiscus, hydrangeas, bamboos, gardenia, blueberry, elderberry, holly, lilac, rhododendron, rose of Sharon.

Arbor Day is the Last Friday in April.

Celebrate Arbor Day this year by teaching a child how to plant a tree or shrub. It would be very satisfying to plant one that you propagated yourself.

  

On Assignment from Costa Rica

A Christmas like no other.

My heart never yearned to spend Christmas Day on a remote beach in the Southern Pacific until I was on assignment in Costa Rica, far from family and friends that I left behind in Michigan. Here, my internal calendar is out of kilter, nonexisitant really, for all the cues from nature are different.  The sun rises and sets at the same time year round and there are two declared seasons, summer and winter (rainy season). To a Michigander I laugh at this. For it is a joyous event to be far from cold and snow when everyone else you know are in the deep of it.

We were pleasantly surprised to find the city of San Jose asleep on Christmas Day, for most Ticos celebrated Christmas the night before and were now sleeping it off. This left the streets eerily devoid of traffic, which made us chuckle as we drove with more speed than ever before meandering through the streets until we were well on our way to the coast.

When we arrived, astonishment gripped my heart, not a soul was there. We were alone in a paradise.

Scarlet Macaws squawking in the sea almond trees on a feeding frenzy looking for the almost-ripe seeds greeted us. A formation of pelicans dove in for a closer look. The tide was out revealing living sea creatures and shells that seemed like gems waiting for me to pick up. As far as I could see, through the hot mist rising off the ocean, not a person in site. I just stood in awe of this and thanked God for this blessing. For it was of the stuff movies are made from. I didn’t feel worthy to receive such a gift on the day we celebrate the Gift of all Gifts, Jesus Christ.

This was indeed a Christmas like no other.