Arty Fun for My Garden


Creative container projects are found all over the internet, and it’s great to recycle what you can. If you want big effects without huge expenses, try decorating with paint. In this case, I bought the 5 gallon pots above from a garden supplier on Amazon, and the price for five of them was around $30. You’ve seen, I’m sure, how large ceramic pots can cost upwards of $30 for a single one. The treatment I’ve given these, to get the marbleized look, is simple. Use a sanding sponge to prep the surface, and add a base coat of outdoor paint. A dark color gives good depth when you add white on top. Using outdoor craft paints, add a second base layer after the first is dry, and dab on accent colors. The real trick is in the Magic Eraser, a Mr. Clean product. If you buff the paint while damp with the Magic Eraser (paint damp, eraser dry), it blends the paint into these marble patterns, and removes any appearance of brushstrokes.


Here’s another paint project with very cheap materials. These are collected sticks, wired to bamboo stakes (for fixing them in the ground), and painted from some of the half and quarter bottles I’ve accumulated from various projects. The trellis is really optional, I just happened to have it there and wanted to jazz it up a little. But you can teepee the sticks easily. The purpose is to give a colorful and quirky support for flowering vines. I’m going to try Cobaea this year.

Last fall, I got curious about the flower stalks on my heucheras. I’d never heard of starting these from seeds, but I Googled, and “they” said it could be done. The seeds were in a bowl by the back door glass, and stayed tiny for months. Last week I put up my first round of seed flats under lights for the indoor growing season, so I repotted my small heucheras and carried them up to the lights. They’ve been getting sizable and all seem to be a basic type, with round leaves that come out red and turn bronzy. Great for edging a shady border. 

Meanwhile, it is a good time in zone 6b to start perennials. For three reasons: Because they can be slow to germinate, because they can be slower growing to size than annuals, and because if they get overlarge for indoors by April, they can be hardened off and kept outdoors, even planted in the garden, being frost hardy.


I’ve written about my Bradford pear, its stinky flowers, and its being fed on by the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. I had an ash tree snag, as well, the tree killed by the Emerald Ash Borer, that arrived some years ago in Southeastern Ohio and has done a lot of harm in the forest. I got them both cut down last week. I was going to have the pear’s weird branches, that threatened to tear the trunk in half, cut off, but the tree cutter suggested removing it. And the truth is, I don’t know of a good reason not to remove a Bradford pear. Some states are even offering bounties and free replacement trees for the disposal of them. 

Like other invasives, they’re bad because they spread aggressively in nature. Birds eat the fruits, and eliminate the seeds, and the thorny callery pear (the underlying species of the Bradford variety) takes over roadsides and woodland edges.

(You can see, by the way, from the state of the snow, how much animal traffic I get in my yard.)


Nature Keeps On

Photo of violet stems
Photo of two types of moss
Photo of unusual large sleet


The time that plants and animals spend in winter dormancy is much shorter than the season. Here in Southeastern Ohio we have a mid-Atlantic climate, more so than it used to be. Most years we get few, if any, snows having more than a few inches of accumulation. The trees drop their leaves, perennials die to the ground, the grass turns browner. But after a month between December and January, a lot of things began their cycle of return. The birds have been singing territorial call notes, and the daffodils are sending up leaves.

In the first photo above, you can see the strange appearance of violets in an actual phase of their growth, when the rooty aboveground stems start to bud up, and turn progressively greener. In the second photo, some new moss, carpeting up like it might in a northern rain forest. The third photo shows an odd fall of sleet mixed with hail that came down heavily for a time, before the weather turned to snow. Finally, below, a short video of summer things, to help dispel the cloudy, rainy stuff of winter.