Tree Stump Bird Bath

Repurpose tree stumps into bird bath pedestals. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Repurpose tree stumps into bird bath pedestals. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tree Stump Bird Bath

Thanks to an infestation of emerald ash borers, I have had to cut down some of the ash trees on my Missouri limestone hillside garden.

Since I have several stumps I continue to trip over, I decided this time I would leave some of the tree stumps as short pedestals. While I considered what I could put on top of them, I have found lizards sunning themselves; squirrels eating nuts and, a couple of times, a hive tool I rested on the stump then forgot where I put it.

This time of year I have a lot of songbirds nesting around my garden so I decided to add a bird bath to one of the stump pedestals. The idea to attach a bird bath to one of these tree stumps was inspired by this make shift bee bar. It’s the green plastic pot bottom that has now sat on this old tree stump for a couple of years while providing nearby honey bee colonies with water.

This make shift bee bar inspired me to try a bird bath on another tree stump. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This make shift bee bar inspired me to try a bird bath on another tree stump. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Since the destination tree stump was much smaller, I took inspiration from another garden item, this very old hanging bird bath.

The hanging birth bath has a wooden base and plastic shallow bowl that sits inside.

These hanging bird baths can easily be repurposed on tree stumps. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

These hanging bird baths can easily be repurposed on tree stumps. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The hanging bird bath cost around $11. I made sure the plastic insert was tied down to the wooden part by wearing galvanized wire through the hanging holes.

Tie down the blue plastic birdbath to the bottom. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tie down the blue plastic birdbath to the bottom. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The galvanized wire was woven through the bottom and into the next plastic insert hole.

After wiring, don’t forget to level the bird bath. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

After wiring, don’t forget to level the bird bath. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The wooden piece was nailed into place before I wove the galvanized wire. Once the blue insert was tied down, the new bird bath was done.

Once weathered, the cedar surround will turn grey. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Once weathered, the cedar surround will turn grey. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Now to find an interesting rock to place in the middle but it has to be small. Not sure birds will want to take a bath in something that takes up space!

Charlotte

Orange Rose Tree

What do these colors remind you of, anything in particular? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

What do these colors remind you of, anything in particular? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Orange Rose Tree

I have to confess, I have had my eye on rose trees for awhile now. Since my garden is basically vertical - I tend to plant so that one plant covers something that is dying back - it was only a matter of time before I brought home an example of a rose tree.

When I first saw these, I kept thinking the color reminded me of something but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I liked the fact that these tree roses had single petals, making it much easier for my bees - both honey bees and native bees - find the nectar and pollen. Flowers produce nectar to entice pollinators, then pollen sticks to them so they move the pollen from one flower to the next, ensuring the plant’s reproduction.

The rose tree color was also striking with the rose buds starting very dark, almost brown around the edges, then lightening up as the rose bud unfolded.

I inadvertently knocked one of the buds off and put it in a vase. The bud was lovely for several days, then today it opened.

This bud finally opened in my kitchen, love the yellow accent. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This bud finally opened in my kitchen, love the yellow accent. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tree roses are easy to grow. I picked up a couple red ones last year on sale and have them staked just in case strong winds sweep through the garden. Short of that, tree roses have the same requirements as regular roses - compost, onion sets to discourage bugs and mulch.

Oh, and my rose recipe: dry coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, cut up dry banana peels with a dash of epson salts.

Rosa “Playboy” (Floribunda) rose tree. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Rosa “Playboy” (Floribunda) rose tree. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

So I was sitting outside on a garden bench at sunset, watching the sun disappear over the Ozark hills, when I remembered why these tree roses were nagging at me. The orange rose color with the yellow accent reminded me of that lovely sunset color as the sun is waning and the sky molts from blue to orange.

That’s probably why I brought these Rosa ‘Playboy” Floribunda tree roses home. Now when I miss my sunsets I can still enjoy them in the color of the flowers.

Charlotte

Tree Stumps Bench

My new tree stumps bench replacing the larger blue bench. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My new tree stumps bench replacing the larger blue bench. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tree Stumps Bench

Who remembers taking a walk in the woods in the spring and settling down on a tree stump to take a break and think about life? That was the inspiration for this make shift tree stumps bench I now have in my Missouri hillside garden at the center of my retaining wall. I like to think it’s a new take on garden decor, too.

Originally I was using a painted blue wood bench but the bench takes up too much space between the retaining wall and the nearby path. I wasn’t sure what to place there in its stead until I found these pre-cut, almost perfectly level tree stumps.

The two smaller stumps were stuck together when I found them but broke apart in the move. No problem, they now form the foundation for the bench and I can use them as little side tables.

I will let the stumps weather for the season and then apply a sealing coat this fall to help slow down their decomposition.

In the meantime, I have tested the tree stumps bench a number of times and it is just the right height and level.

Using the smaller tree stumps for side tables at the bench. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Using the smaller tree stumps for side tables at the bench. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

It also makes a nice set of steps to pop up on the retaining wall when I see something I want to trim.

The side pieces make for nice little resting tables. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The side pieces make for nice little resting tables. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Can’t you just see how surprised a squirrel will be when they see these? And I can more easily jump onto my retaining wall from the center when I see something I want to move!

Charlotte

Apiary Cattle Panel Arbor

This double cattle panel arbor guides me into my north apiary. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This double cattle panel arbor guides me into my north apiary. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Apiary Cattle Panel Arbor

If a bee skep represents beekeeping then cattle panel arbors represent Ozark backyard gardens. Over the years, I have seen many of these either spanning garden beds or forming welcoming arbors in front of farm houses.

When a friend showed me how to bend these metal structures to form the arbor shape, I started to add them to my garden. If you have shopped for garden arbors, you know they can be quite expensive so having an alternative that provides for creativity was right down my alley.

Cattle panels are popular garden arbors in the Ozarks. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Cattle panels are popular garden arbors in the Ozarks. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Once painted black, the cattle panel arbor nicely disappears into the background but I still wasn’t happy with the overall look.

The same friend who showed me how to bend the cattle panels made a lovely gate out of cedar boughs, which inspired me to add cedar boughs to the cattle panels.

Carefully cutting the boughs so I that i can weave them through the metal squares, I started to add cedar limbs from discarded trees from our local recycling center. Setting them two squares apart, they form the skeleton for the overall cedar covering.

Weaving cedar branches into the cattle panel takes time and some creativity. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Weaving cedar branches into the cattle panel takes time and some creativity. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I have the structure in, now to collect, clear and add more cedar boughs.

I already have grapes and blackberries growing over the cattle panels so it will be a matter of time to see who covers the cattle panel first, the plants or me!

Adding cedar branches to the arbor side. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Adding cedar branches to the arbor side. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This is an excellent way to reuse long-lasting cedar while giving the cattle panels a nice texture and finish.

Here is the first apiary cattle panel arbor I made, located at the front and entrance to my garden:

Once seated on the garden bench, the view is to my north apiary. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Once seated on the garden bench, the view is to my north apiary. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I like to have seating areas all around my garden, places where I can sit down and enjoy the view. Some of the areas have arbors, others now have these cattle panel arbors that will provide shade.

Each of the cattle panel arbors have plants already growing over them: blackberries and grapes. Over a couple more arbors rescued clematis vines are being encouraged to grow. Looking forward to seeing these arbors covered in green!

Close up you can see the painted cattle panel under the cedar. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Close up you can see the painted cattle panel under the cedar. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Charlotte

The Beauty of Iris

Several friends have posted that this color iris was also their Mom's favorite. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Several friends have posted that this color iris was also their Mom's favorite. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The Beauty of Iris

I blame Mom for my fascination with Iris. These blue iris were her favorite, a North American version of the orchids that grew wild in our backyard trees in Brazil.

When we lived in southern Illinois in an old farm house, she had several beds of iris off to the side of our driveway. It was our job as kids to keep those beds weeded, something that was hit and miss some years depending on what other activities took up our after school time.

I loved weeding those Iris beds. There was something cathartic about pulling out plants that didn't belong and standing back to see my work. In those days I didn't know what the unwelcome plants were, I just knew Mom would not be happy until all of the funny green tufts of green growth were out of her precious Irises.

It's one of the reasons why I started to carry these Iris throws. The applique fabric iris are lovely against the white cotton back drop and so quickly bring a garden vibe into any room.

When a gardening friend heard about my love of iris, he brought me a few new starts last year. Another gardening friend shared a supply of white ones so now I have more than Mom's iris keeping me company in my garden.

White and yellow iris were added last year courtesy of a couple of friends. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

White and yellow iris were added last year courtesy of a couple of friends. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My peach bearded iris have bloomed in this spot for years. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My peach bearded iris have bloomed in this spot for years. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This iris was a surprise bloom this year, love the color combination. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This iris was a surprise bloom this year, love the color combination. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Over the years, as I moved from one house to the next, Mom's irises were dug up and moved with me. I didn't always plant them in the best conditions so it could take a couple of years before I had them in the right light and soil conditions to bloom.

It doesn't take much. They like sun but will bloom in partial shade. They don't want to be wet and need to be planted so the root rhizomes sit on top of the soil while the roots are covered.

One of Mom's irises bloomed this year along my cedar fence. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One of Mom's irises bloomed this year along my cedar fence. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This spring, Mom's bluish/purple Irises made a lovely showing, giving me the opportunity to mark them so once blooming is over, I can group them back together in one color blocked flower bed.

The best time to move Iris is June through September. The shallow-rooted plants need a little time to settle into their new growing spot. Add a little compost to enrich the soil and mulch after planting.

Mom's irises in another spot blooming along with peonies and columbine. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Mom's irises in another spot blooming along with peonies and columbine. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Mom's irises bloomed this year, along with my peonies, on Mother's Day. Suppose that's a sign?

I like to think that's my mother, who loved my garden, saying from Heaven she approves.

Charlotte

Bird Bath Benches

This is my mother's old garden bench now close to her old garden bird bath.

This is my mother's old garden bench now close to her old garden bird bath.

Bird Bath Benches

We often seem to spend extra time locating the perfect spot for bird baths but do we even consider a nearby seating area?

I was pondering this question as I finished weeding a part of my garden where my mother's garden items are now settled in. One is a bird bath I finally was able to plug up so that it holds water and my returning Robins enjoy using for bathing. Many of the Robins are descendants of the original 12 or so I raised by hand and released; Robins, as many songbirds will do,  return to their fledging spots to raise their young.

My closest bench used to be across the driveway, too far away to quietly sit and watch the birds splashing. Once the bird bath was fixed, I moved my mother's old bench closer so that anyone could settle down and watch the show in the bird bath.

That's one of the great delights of having a certified wildlife garden, there is always something going on if one only takes the time to slow down long enough to observe. Now the bench reminds me to slow down and take it all in.

Charlotte

 

Garden Ornaments Add Interest to Bird Baths

Garden ornaments add interest to bird baths in my garden.

Garden ornaments add interest to bird baths in my garden.

Garden Ornaments Add Interest to Bird Baths

Here's a quick way to turn a mundane cement bird bath into a unique garden focal point; add a favorite garden ornament. Or two.

Now it's not as simple as I make it sound. Finding this little squirrel holding a pinecone took months to find, in part because I could never quite find the place where these were made open when I was driving by. When I finally did, they were out of the more natural wildlife ornaments so I waited to go back in a couple of months.

Good thing because on that same day, I also found the larger than life acorn. Years ago, a very young squirrel I nicknamed "Balboa" ended up in my den. I had left the door open so my cats could go out on the porch and Balboa had decided to take a peek inside. On the coffee table was a small bowl of unshelled peanuts, leftovers from the night before.

By the time I heard the crunching sounds from the den, Balboa had started his own party and was throwing shells all over the room, totally disregarding the disdainful looks from my matronly cat Margaret sitting on the nearby sofa. If Margaret is anything, fastidious is her middle name.

Balboa had several other adventures as a youngster under Margaret's watchful eye so the giant acorn is a tribute to his first discovery of those den peanuts which must have seemed huge to a pup of a squirrel.

The squirrel statue itself is charming but adding it to the bird bath adds a nice touch to that part of the garden and quickly makes it a focal point. I added the real tree twigs to give my bees a safe place to land when they visit to get water.

The giant acorn is sitting on a rock that will soon be covered by nearby greenery. That way the acorn won't be lost when other garden sampler plants grow up around it.

This charming frog keeps another bird bath company in front of my living room window where more bees visit him every day.

This charming frog keeps another bird bath company in front of my living room window where more bees visit him every day.

And the best part?

You can easily customize any bird bath with a garden ornament, making each one into your very own unique story with very little effort. Assuming you can find the right ornament to add to the bird bath!

Charlotte

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Cut Lilacs Fresh

Old-fashioned lilacs are a spring favorite but they don't always cooperate in a vase.

Whether they are hybrids or the old-fashioned variety, lilacs grow on thick, sturdy stems that need a little help. Some recommend hammering the cut end so water can more easily keep the stems hydrated. I have tried but I managed to smash my fingers more than the stems.

As an alternative, I cut the end off with scissors every couple of days. Sometimes I cut straight across, other times I have angled the cut. Not sure it made much of a difference in term of direction but cutting the stems did rehydrate lilac stems I would have otherwise composted.

cutting lilacs

Once refreshed, it will take a short time for the lilacs to plump right back up.

A sprig of old-fashioned lilacs keep a sprig of geraniums company on my den's coffee table.

A sprig of old-fashioned lilacs keep a sprig of geraniums company on my den's coffee table.

So pretty!

Charlotte

Spring Table Top Flowers

This will work for any of the four seasons but I happened to put this arrangement together in spring because I didn't want to mix daffodils with other spring flowers. Daffodils have a toxin that kills other flowers unless the toxin has been drained for a few hours.

A collection of favorite flower vases at different heights makes a nice table top arrangement and keeps toxic daffodils from killing off other spring flowers.

My collection of cut glass flower vases helps flowers get along on my coffee table.

My collection of cut glass flower vases helps flowers get along on my coffee table.

You can also mix other flowers in the vases, just keep daffodils to themselves.

Keep daffodils separate from other flowers in vases so daffodils don't kill other flowers.

Keep daffodils separate from other flowers in vases so daffodils don't kill other flowers.

Any collection of flower bases will work, just keep them at different levels so you can see all of the flowers at one glance.

Charlotte

Hoppy Easter

One of my professional colleagues lives close to our office. Sometimes on my daily walks, I cruise by her garden to see what she has growing.

We had a bad winter 2014-2015. Besides record cold weather, spring was late arriving, which gave us all a good dose of cabin fever and bad moods.

Not at Becky's house. This year, she added two visitors obviously celebrating the advent of spring and warm weather.

Another side view so you can better see the bunny shapes. These look easy to make from painted wood.

Anybody have an extra pair of sunglasses, or two?

Happy Easter!

Charlotte