A View of My Garden in a Mirror 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

#4 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order


You may be thinking lighting? That's odd. Of course we all like lighting, but do we love it? We certainly need it in our lives to perform tasks, light a room, to read and for security . We may even take it for granted until the power goes out.  The type of lights that I love are not just to light an area, it's the type of light that transforms an area. Here are some examples:

Landscape and Patio Lighting: Instead of just flood lights for security it is using light to create an ambient environment. Yard and patio areas become three dimensional at night by highlighting walls, plants, water features, and outdoor dining areas. Using string lights creates charm and adds a festive atmosphere. All these lights together make me feel like I am on vacation without going anywhere but home. This is the kind of lighting I love!

Dining Room Lighting: The typical dining fixture that points down at the table can be harsh on the eyes, but we still want to be able to see what we are eating so it is the most practical. A nice environment to entertain is having lighting that is layered and on dimmers. Wall sconces or floor lamps work well to create dimension. Picture and artwork lighting adds to the ambiance and makes you feel like you have a private room in a nice restaurant. I want our guests to sit back enjoy the food, wine, have great discussions and enjoy their surroundings in a comfortable environment. Placing the lights in layers opens up the room so you don't have to rely on one center dining fixture for all of the light. Do you ever notice when you go to a restaurant if the lighting is harsh you probably don't linger long after dinner? But if there is great ambiance and lighting it is more of an experience than just eating your food and leaving. So you slowly enjoy your meal and linger and take it all in. I love that kind of lighitng!

Light Fixtures or Art?
I love architectural lighting that doubles as artwork. Like a giant stained glass pendant in the lobby of a hotel. Or the massive crystal chandeliers that lights a concert hall or department store.  Then there is the type of lighting that highlights architectural features on a building. Most people don't even notice this type of lighting, but we certainly would notice if it wasn't there and probably consider the building not very inviting. Two years ago a new convenience store was built in my neighborhood and I drive by it often. What? Convenience store lighting? What's to love about that! Well, the side of the building has a dark brick wall with several wall lights that create a wonderful pattern of light up and down the building at night. I admit I have never been in the store, but I do appreciate the way the lighting makes it look classy in the neighborhood instead of an eyesore with harsh lighting. That is the kind of lighting I love and appreciate.

I admit I am more obsessed with lighting than your average person. We have dimmers on every single light in our house except the garage and closets. Even the bathrooms have dimmers. I would like to say it is because we are trying to save energy, but it is mostly because when I get up at 5:30 in the morning I don't like 100 watt light bulbs glaring at me. I want to ease into the day, so why not? The energy savings is just an added bonus.

Lighting is very difficult to photograph, but here are a few images I will share since most of us are very visual.

This is a picture from Butchart Gardens last summer. The area light in front is nice, but the uplight on the rock in the background gives it a wonderful layered look. I love that!

 This is also at Butchart Gardens. 
They placed a red uplight on a japanese maple. 
It looked amazing like it was on fire. 
The picture does not do it justice but you get the idea.

If you look close you can make out the lights on each side of the window and behind the two trellises on the wall with the wisteria. I have the uplights grazing the walls and giving back lighting to the plants in our front flower bed area. 
My favorite part is that this window is in the dining room and at night it has the feeling of extending the room outside. See the picture below.

 Here is our dining room at night. 
It is a little hard to see, but if you look close you can see the landscape lights outside the window giving the small room a feeling of being larger.

Happy New Year Everyone!
Spring is getting closer! Yippee!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#3 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order

Friends, friends and more friends!

This has been a great year for meeting new friends. At the beginning of 2010 I had the opportunity to take a series of classes to become a Master Gardener and graduated in November.  One of the requirements to graduate is completing our volunteer hours by working at the local extension office answering gardening questions. We also have other volunteer opportunities throughout the year. By far my favorite is working alongside some fantastic people at the Linn County Demo Garden. But let me start at the beginning.

I have always wanted to go through the Master Gardener Course. I have been attending Garden Tours for years that MG's had sponsored and I kept telling myself that someday I would take the classes and join this special group. I always thought I would have to wait many years until I was retired because the classes are during the day in the middle of the week when I'm working. Then along came the Housing Market crash and the bad economy. The construction business I work for slowed down drastically. Why not make lemonade out of lemons? So I volunteered to cut my hours at work so I could attend classes one day a week! Yes!
Over the last year I have met so many wonderful people through the Master Gardener Program.  A few have become good friends and people I hope to have as friends for a very long time.

My fellow classmate and partner in crime Connie and I decided to adopt a raised bed a the Linn County Demo Garden. It was and still is a wonderful experience.  Here is a link if you want to read more about our experience The Making of a Flower Fiesta, we wrote this for the Master Gardener Newsletter. She has become more than just a "gardening" friend and I feel very fortunate to have met her. She also started a business making baby shoes! And as soon as she has her blog up I will post a link. They are adorable.

This is a picture of our raised bed at the Demo Garden
The Amaranth "Love Lies Bleeding" was amazing. 
It looked like a big bird getting ready to fly away.

Next is Grace! She is such a sweetie and I am so glad to have met her this year. She is a gardening guru and more! Her garden is amazing, check it out! She is also the one who inspired me to jump into the blogging world, read more here.  It is such a fun way to express yourself and share don't you think? I hope to see much more of Grace in 2011.

Then there is Cate, another fellow Master Gardener that is a gem. She gave me some great advice about doing yoga and it will be on my list of 2011 resolutions to do on a regular basis. Stretch, stretch, stretch!

Erica is an unexpected new friend that I met through work. I went to her house to help her make some decisions for new light fixtures. She just moved to town over the summer and we have so many common interests. She is a wonderful artist and an inspiration for me to improve on my projects in 2011. She and her husband Gary have been a fun couple for Keith and I to get together with for dinner, antiquing, etc. We hope to see much more of them in the coming year.

Another person who I met through work and also happens to be a Master Gardener is Vickie. I am very lucky to have her as my Mentor in the program. She is the one who started the amazing amaranth from seed in her greenhouse for our raised bed. Vickie gets a lot done and does it really well. She is the new President for the Linn Master Gardener's in 2011! Go Vickie!

And last but not least all those new blogging friends that are so fun to connect with and share our pictures, stories, families, dogs, gardens and more. Thank you for sharing your lives with me and letting me share mine with you!

Here's to friendship in 2011!

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one”

                                                                  C.S. Lewis



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#2 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order

I apologize for the delay in posting. I have had a very busy couple of months and unfortunately it has taken me away from the computer. I will try to catch up and make several posts the rest of this month so I can get back to "gardening" talk.

Peaches with one of her goofy looks

#2 on my list of 10 things I love: Dogs, dogs and more dogs!
My "soul mate" dog Slab was 14 when we had to put him down last year. My heart was (still is) broken. He was one of those dogs that was a puppy but behaved like an adult dog. He fit in the palm of my hand yet his tiny little body would sit by the door waiting to go out. He never needed potty training, he just figured it out. At 2 months old and a Heartland Humane Society rescue he was a gem.  When we picked him out of the litter he was too busy taking a nap to open his yes. Our friend Josh said "name him Slab, half Sloth, half Lab.  At first it was a joke and we planned to change it but it just stuck. Slab's body quickly grew to 75 lbs, though his head never quite caught up. (Genetic testing later determined he had some pug ancestry, go figure) Since he was a mutt he must have taken all the best genes from the pot because he was such a good boy. He was so mellow he would eat out of the same bowl as a cat. He never trampled my flower beds and loved to stick his head through the sun roof when he went for a ride in the car.  He was obsessed with his ball and would do the most humorous things while he was playing with it. If you would put the ball up to his face he would give you this "James Cagney" lip thing and pretend to growl at it like he was tough until you threw it for him. He loved to play chase through the house and wanted me to catch him so we could roll around on the floor and play. In his later years his arthritis started to get the best of him and he no longer wanted to play ball or chase. He was satisfied to sit at my feet and look at me adoringly. I will miss that dog forever.

Slab as a puppy with his buddy "ball"
Slab playing with "ball"

Slab "sneering" at the ball

Slab at Age 13 sunbathing

Slab taking a ride behind my bike when he was too old to run. 
He still loved to tag along for a ride.

When Slab was 13 we were toying with the idea of getting another dog after visiting with a boxer owned by one of Keith's co-workers. This is when I became addicted to petfinder.com in the "possible" search for a companion for Slab. We wanted a mellow dog that would keep him company while we were at work. After a couple months of searching we saw a boxer named "Red" that looked perfect. To make a long story short, Red and Slab did not hit it off. Red's style of playing could have injured poor old Slab so he was not going to go home with us. However, the woman from Save the Pets in Eugene told us about an event that day at Pet Smart and suggested we stop and look at the dogs that were up for adoption. 

This is when we met Peaches. Her whole body moved when she wagged her tail. She gave Keith sloppy wet kisses on the face and he was smitten. Then she licked Slab's face and proceeded to fall asleep with him on a big pillow. Perfect! She also happens to be a pitbull. What? A pitbull? We never in a million years thought we would own a  pitbull. But she turned out to be a wonderful dog and not like the pictures painted by the media about this breed. She is a big goofy girl who loves to do tricks, loves to cuddle on the couch, snores big time and cracks us up with her antics. She greets people at the door, and if they aren't careful will give them a big sloppy kiss on the face. She loves children though it may be because their faces taste good when she licks them. She pulls Keith on an adult tricycle around the neighborhood for exercise which could be why her body could compete with a Mack Truck. She sleeps with the best of them and we usually have to convince her it's time to get up in the morning so she can move to another spot to sleep for the day while we are at work. She is a good girl and was a good companion to Slab in his last year. 

Slab and Peaches taking in an afternoon nap

 Peaches wearing her "doggles" so she can go for a ride in the car

Slab started to show signs that he was in pain constantly and then he stopped eating. We did what any best friend would do. It was by the far the most difficult thing I have ever done. I didn't want to let my baby go but I knew it was the right thing to do for him. He will always be missed.


In trying to replace the "irreplaceable" I went to Safehaven, a local animal shelter "just to visit". At the time I had been volunteering and working with the dogs (Keith still does). The weekend before I had comforted a one year old dog named "Freckles" and I couldn't get her out of my mind. She was was scared to death and needed someone to rescue her.  She crawled on my lap and looked at me with those big eyes saying "take me home, I don't belong here". Not only did she need to be taken away from the noisy shelter but she needed to be rescued  from a lifetime with the name Freckles! Egad! We introduced her to Peaches and it was love at first sight. Unlike the introduction with Slab, this time Peaches and "Freckles" did what looked like a choreographed dance of play. Peaches jumped and turned in the air and dove in and out of her soft doggy condo rolling around, enticing her new friend to play with her while "Freckles" gladly obliged. It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen and I kick myself for not having a video camera to film it. I did manage to get this funny shot. This is how mellow Peaches is, the new dog came home and humped her head and she just stood there in shock and let her do it. Luckily this did not become a habit, it must have been her way of greeting Peaches and saying "I love you!"

Peaches in shock from the new dog's "Greeting"
The name Freckles was way too cutsie for our new dog. (Like Peaches isn't cutsie? Hey, she's a pitbull and needs a cutsie name). We were told she was a red heeler mix, but she looks more like the dogs we used to see living on the streets in Mexico. Sort of like a 36 pound Chihuahua. She probably has everything in the mix which resulted in a curly tail and pointy ears. We kept thinking she could be one of the dogs out of National Geographic. Why, that's it, she looks like a skinny Dingo! So that is why we changed her name to Dinga. 

The shy scared girl at the shelter opened up when we got her home and started sharing with us all her "issues". Dinga adored Peaches, but when she was on a leash and saw another dog she would start barking, growling and jumping around humiliating whomever was trying to take her for a walk. She also became obsessed with shadows and light to the point where she couldn't relax. Her obsession with "getting" the light and shadows resulted in holes in the walls, floors and carpet. Yes, we had adopted a dog with major issues. Given that we are dog lovers and volunteer at an animal shelter, we were not going to be one of those people that returned a dog like it was a purse. She was ours now and we would just have to figure out a way to "fix" her. So, after doing some research we took her to the vet and started her on Prozac. Yes, she is now a happy Prozac Dog.

The Prozac worked wonderfully for the obsessive compulsive behavior. She calmed down and no longer had to chase shadows and light constantly. However, it did nothing for her leash reactivity. We read dozens of books and articles and knew we needed outside intervention. This is when we found Best Friends in Corvallis. I took her to be evaluated by owner and trainer Dana Stillinger. She told me Dinga was afraid of other dogs and needed to be "desensitized". So once a week for seven weeks I took her to Best Friends and we watched the other dogs being picked up by their owners from doggy daycare while I fed Dinga Velveeta cheese. The idea was to associate something good like cheese with other dogs. To make a long story short (too late now) she eventually calmed down enough to be enrolled in an Obedience Class. Thank you Dana! Given her history she couldn't go into the class like the other dogs so with the help of Teresa Hall who is absolutely fabulous, she was gradually brought in with the other dogs by the 3rd class. Teresa was a huge help and we eventually graduated! 

Dinga now goes to Doggy Daycare at Best Friends once a week and they call her a "party girl" because she is up all day hanging out with the other dogs with NO issues. Whew, it is amazing and I still get the chills and want to tear up whenever I take her there and she behaves herself. Don't get me wrong there are still times when she reverts slightly to her old habits, but between the Prozac and the training it is quite the miracle. 

She now follows me wherever I go and looks up at me adoringly. Isn't that the greatest thing about dogs? They look at us and don't see all the flaws. Or maybe they do and just don't care. They love us unconditionally. That is why dogs are on the list of 10 things I love.

 Dinga the "Prozac Dog"

"Little Big Ears"  I wonder if she will grow into them?

 Don't look, this last part is totally humiliating!

It's a good thing I'm on Prozac

You're next Peaches
You know I'm a pitbull right?

Monday, November 15, 2010

1 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order

There is a fun little game going around Blogland called "10 things I love". I was invited by two wonderful blogs, The Ark Cottage Garden  and  The Whimsical Gardener. (Check them out!)

Here are the rules:
1) Inform who invited you
2) List 10 things you like to do (or love)
3) Invite another 10 other bloggers to do the same.

I am going to do this just a bit different and post each of the ten items one at a time. This way I can be long winded and show lots of pictures of each! I will try to keep it garden related to stick with the theme of my blog.

So here goes.....#1: Fall
The air turns crisp. The leaves transform into beautiful colors. And gardeners can relax, enjoy the show and start to plan for next year.  

 October Glory living up to the name.

This is a trumpet vine that seemed 
to turn almost iridescent this fall.

More October Glory Foliage

Time for the aster to bloom. This one has become massive and has amazed me by not drooping this year. I bought a metal support at the Dollar Store and it did an incredible job of holding it up. 
Well worth a buck!
Ok, so I'm milking the October Glory. 
I can't help it. I love it!

Speaking of "love", this Colocasia had me at "hello and how much!" It doesn't matter, even though it was a great deal at Fry Road Nursery I would have paid much more! (Shhh...don't tell them that!)

One last shot of the October Glory.

Feel free to join in the "10 Things I love Game." 
It's fun!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The REAL "Before" and "After" Pictures

I had been unable to find these pictures before I started my blog so the "before" pictures from my post in July were just before I started a new flower bed project. When I found these photos from 2003 I was amazed at how stark the yard was when we bought this house. These are the REAL "before" as my husband would say, "I made the yard all cluttered."

This is 2003 when we just moved into our house. We thought the deck looked like a stage and maybe we should be starting a band or something. Unfortunately neither one of us was born with the musical or rhythm gene. However we both have the "shopping gene" so we were able to figure out a way to fill it up.

The shed 2003. I started by trying to cover it up with plants to hide it. This was before I saw a feature in the paper about decorative sheds. After that we painted it, decorated it, and embraced it as part of the garden.

Backyard 2003. Unfortunately that power pole is a bit difficult to embrace. We hardly notice it now but wish there was a way to disguise it.

The front yard right after we moved in 2003.  This is the color of the house before we chose the "clown colors".

Here are a few more "After Photos" from 2010.

 Patio 2010

The shed 2010.

2010 the front of the "Clown House"

The Front Corner 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Visiting with Grace in My Garden

Grace arrived at my house bearing a gift of these beautiful flowers from her garden. They are now sitting right next to my computer and the smell of the honeysuckle is heavenly! She is a gem and I am so glad to have met her and look forward to seeing her garden very soon! 

I also look forward to reading her memoirs. If you haven't noticed look at the top of her blog and click on the link that says "Memoir Excerpt" and then ask her to post more for us to enjoy! Or else, just click here http://www.gracepete.com/p/normal-0-false-false-false.html

Peaches Goes Swimming!!

We took our dog Peaches to the Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis for the annual end of season "Dog Day". She had a blast along with the other 500 dogs who took over the pool! Poor baby, she cried when it was time to go home.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Put the Tarps Away!! Grace is Coming Over!!

I found Grace's blog on a rainy Oregon day in January of 2010. The holidays were over and I was having gardening withdrawals and needed to find a web site with some "eye candy."

I googled something like "gardening in Oregon" and when I clicked on Grace's web site I hit the mother lode! 

There it was in all it's glory, pictures of her fabulous garden with paths leading to who knows where but we all want to find out.

And her "lust for rust" garden art is so creative. I have a feeling that Grace can spot a bargain a mile away at a garage sale. 

I would see a trellis missing a rung and think, "Oh darn, too bad that trellis is missing a rung". And Grace would be thinking "I can hang a lantern right where that rung is missing." And she painted it red and it looks gorgeous!

Even better, I could not believe it when I realized that she lives in the same town as me. I instantly bookmarked her web site, shared it with my gardening friends and returned every day for three months looking for an update.

I had never visited a blog before but I was willing to join the blogging network so I could post a message to Grace to try to get her back to posting and sharing pictures. 

My first comment said something like "Grace, where are you? Where are all your wonderful pictures and witty posts? We miss you! Come back!" 

She must have thought I was absolutely nuts because she had been in blogland posting all along. But in my blogging ignorance I had book marked the post from that fateful day in January and not the main page. 

I must have read that post 100 times, enjoying it every time. I finally realized my error when I clicked on something by accident and found her current post. Yes! She and her garden were still there for my viewing pleasure!

After working in my garden in the spring it was time to start taking some pictures so I could remember what I had done for next year. 

Inspired by Grace's blog I decided to start my own blog this summer. After all she made it look like so much fun! 

Guess who left me my first comment?! Grace! I was thrilled, she is like the Meryl Streep of garden blogging and she made a comment on my blog! 

I think I wrote her and said some stupid starstruck comment about her being a celebrity and how I loved her blog. Again, she must have thought I was either a stalker or nuts! But her blog is great and to me she is a celebrity! Move over Meryl! Grace and her wheel barrel of succulents is taking your place!

The summer is over and fall is here. Most of the pictures from my garden are during the summer when it was in it's peak. Now my plants are looking rather sad and either overgrown, bug eaten, or just plain ready to curl up for the winter. 

So....guess who wants to come over to see my garden? Grace!!!! 

I am sure as fellow gardeners you have felt that surge of panic when you realize you are having company and your garden just isn't up to snuff. If your visitor isn't into gardening as much as you then it's no big deal. But this is Grace Peterson for pete's sake!! I can't say no because I would love to meet her and hope to get a chance to see that spot in paradise she calls her garden. So I immediately say yes, of course!! 

Panic attack! Maybe she will leave her camera at home. Yah right.  Asking Grace to leave her camera at home is probably like asking her to leave her left leg at home. "Grace, please only bring your right leg, the left one I would prefer stayed at home, is that alright with you?" I don't think so. She is going to want to bring her left leg and her camera! 

My second thought was "Oh no, can I paint the house by Saturday?" 

A bit of history here. Last fall we re-sided our house and it was finally my big opportunity to pick a new color. We wanted a color that would be cheerful and bright to get us through the long dark winters in Oregon. 

Ok, so we went a bit overboard. It's cheerful alright. For the first month my husband and I called it "the clown house".  Surrounded by houses in different tones of beige our house is a bit shocking. But it definitely makes it easy to find when we give directions.

Anyway, all I could think about was Grace's post when she took a picture of a house painted in a horrible pink color and labeled it "pepto bismol!" I am so in trouble. Maybe it will be cloudy Saturday and it won't stand out so much.

After writing Grace and sharing my reservations about having her see my garden in this condition, she was her usual sweet self and reassured me that we are all human and it's alright if it's not perfect. 

Whew, that was a huge relief and I am so excited to finally meet her and her friend Carol if she can make it too.

My third thought was, "what a great excuse to go plant shopping!" Today I bought two hanging baskets as replacements for my patio as well as three flowering cabbages for who knows where, a mixed color pot of mums and 2 cool little ornamental pepper pots! I feel so much better now! 

I will see you on Saturday Grace!!!!

Visit Grace's blog at: http://www.gracepete.com/

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Tropical Patio and the Oregonian with Kym Pokorny

Hey look! Our patio picture made the Home and Garden section of the Oregonian with Kym Pokorny! She is my idol! If you have time browse through her articles and blog.  She is great!


If I had known the picture I sent would actually be published I would have straightened out the cushions a bit and taken the coleus that I was trying to root off the table! Oops!  Here are some more pictures!

Most of the trinkets on the wall are from our trips to Mexico. I am sure when we are traveling through the marketplace with our arms full of our "loot" for the day, they are thinking "those crazy Americans, what are they going to do with all of that junk". Stick it on the walls of course, so we can remember the great time we had! We love Mexico, especially the people, they are always so happy.

See the coleus on the table? That is the top off the coleus from the window box above. It grew like mad this summer and kept blocking our view out the window. So I lopped off the top several times and once it grew roots I stuck it in a pot and it did amazingly well. Kind of like cut flowers that grow after you cut them, pretty cool!

Yes, that is an authentic lantern from "Off Mosquito Repellant." Hey I like them and they keep the bugs away. Well, sort of. The elephant on the ground in the back is a fountain that my husband gave me for Christmas a few years ago. We had it on the deck but it sounded like someone was peeing in a toilet when the water landed in the pot, so we decided to use it as a decoration for now. And maybe some day down the road it will be in a pond in the yard so the neighbors can enjoy the sound. (Just kidding) I love it, thanks honey!

An amazing fuschia in the foreground from Fry Road Nusery.

Ok, so the Oriental Lamp doesn't exactly go with the "Mexicana" theme, but I saw it in a shop in Port Townsend and had to have it.

And, this isn't the patio, but it is the view from the patio, does that count?

The concrete was acid stained a few years ago and I have applied at least 8 coats of sealer to that puppy. The dirt doesn't have a chance!

Here is Keith enjoying the patio pretending that I am not taking a picture. He is the one in the back not the one on the stick, that is me in spirit!

  And this is my hubby Keith's favorite place to relax with a dog or two joining him.

 Allright, so the Totem Pole really isn't Mexicana either, but I saw it at Big Lots and you know "I had to have it". 

And yes Tim, it is VERY busy!!