FRIDAY FINDS + A HOE WINNER

Happy Friday, dear readers! It is a glorious summer day and a great weekend is forecast so let's not waste any time and get to the good stuff happening on the Internet this week.

Summer is here: the roses are starting to bloom!


How much do interior designers charge? I'm sure this varies a ton by location and other factors but I appreciate people who share rough numbers. How in the world is anyone supposed to know if they could even consider such a service.

I'm barely capable of dressing myself with a wardrobe full of solids (mostly black and gray), so I could never figure out a so-called capsule wardrobe. But I enjoy reading articles about them and pretending that some day I might figure out how to dress properly.

I talked all about my garden containers at the beginning of the week and Linda did the same, except when she talks about containers, she's really talking about the vessels themselves, not the planting. They are true art pieces and of course perfect for her gorgeous garden. It's amazing what a statement a beautiful empty pot can make.

Readers here will know that I quite enjoy Lauren Liess' blog and I was surprised to read that they plan to sell their house that they just moved to months ago. Her post is called "To each his own" and when I saw the first photo I thought I knew where the title came from (I was wrong). It's a photo of spent garlic mustard weed in a beautiful vase. If I didn't hate the stuff so much, I think I would find this quite creative and beautiful. Still, I appreciate the simplicity of it.


Good news here! The bathroom counter is FINALLY finished. Hopefully we'll have time to mount it this weekend we can actually declare that room finished.

And lastly, thank you all for entering the Royal Dutch Hand Hoe giveaway from Garden Tool Company. We have a lucky winner: Monica from Massachusetts. Monica, you'll be getting an email from me soon!

It's my last opportunity for a major gardening weekend before travel and other activities take over so some serious work needs to get done. What's on your agenda for the weekend?


BAD GARDENER CONFESSIONS: WONKY WATERING

It is stacking up to be one of those summers where it feels like the hose is another bodily appendage. Already we've had periods of heavy rain followed but long stretches of windy, hot weather that dries out the ground quickly. It's been years since we've had a summer where I never wanted to see the hose again and it's amazing how quickly I forgot about proper watering.


Plants are starting to show signs of stress and that's no good when it's just officially become summer. Just last night I looked at the deck planters that I just planted (the ones that I'm not at all happy with), and the creeping Jenny looked like it had one root in the grave.

Fortunately, plants are more forgiving than not, and I gave the planter a proper watering this morning and I'm sure all will be well by the end of the day. Most plants are like that. The impatiens I planted in various places looked fully dead the other day but all perked up nicely.


Of course I can't continue this horrible gardener behavior. Plants can only take so much stress before they completely give up the ghost. I'm just at a horrible place in the garden right now where I feel like nothing is done to my satisfaction. I really need to take two or three days off of work to just pound it out. I bet I said that last year too. Also, that's not at all in the cards at this time.

So I have been making the best of it, and fine-tuning my one-handed watering (while the other hand holds a glass of wine, of course). I think I'll revisit some of my favorite watering tools on the blog soon because I have a feeling it's going to be that kind of year. But tell me, do you have any great watering tool finds for me? I'm always looking for the next new great thing.

Don't forget: Tomorrow is the last day to enter to win the super cool Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hand Hoe from Garden Tool Company.

2016 CONTAINERS

It's high time I tell you a little about the containers I planted this year. I like to show you them early in the summer if only to prove that no container looks great when it's first planted (and some look positively pathetic), unless you start with enormous plants, which few people do. It takes time for them to grow in and look their best.


This year I tried to be a little more cohesive in my plan and as always, it started with the window box. This looks positively pathetic right now but I have hopes that it will fill in nicely without getting totally overgrown and blocking the entire view out the kitchen window.

I used a palette that was at least partly dictated by the 'Autumn Sunset' climbing rose that grows on the trellis on the front of the house. Its flowers vary from yellow to apricot to peach and I wanted something that complimented that. My first thought it always blues, which is by far the color I turn to most often in the garden. I used a coral flower for the center, blue petunias, a bit of lime green and even some pink.

Here's what's planted in it (some affiliate links used):
Verbena bonariensis 'Meteor Shower'
Coleus 'Lemon Twist' (currently very small and not even really visible)
Superbells 'Coralina'
Surfina 'Heavenly Blue'
Oranmental Oregano 'Kent Beauty'
Helichrysum petiolare 'Lemon Licorice'


I repeated this color theme in the big box by the front door. I saw Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather' in a garden for the first time last year and knew I had to have it. I found it at a local nursery I'd not been to before, but the landscaper who planted it at the place I originally spotted it called it a "Dr. Suess plant." It does have a tendency to follow the sun around. Around it I planted three purple-leafed dahlias ('Roxy', I believe), which I expect will do as much with their flowers as the dark, broad, foliage will do against the fine-textured Elegant Feather. I also repeated the blue petunia, added in a purple sweet potato vine for some drape, and a new striped Superbells in a coral-type color.

Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather'
Superbells 'Tropical Sunrise' (A trial plant from Proven Winners available next year)
Surfina 'Heavenly Blue'
Ipomonea 'Sweet Caroline Raven'


There was more repetition in the urn in the middle of the patio garden, which makes sense as these three containers form a triangle. Again I used an Elegant Feather here and then kept it simple with just more 'Coralina' Superbells and blue lobelia.

Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather'
Superbells 'Coralina'
Lobelia 'Laguna Sky Blue'




I did go away from the theme a little for the smaller blue pots I like to stack on the stairs to the front door. I quite like this particular geranium and I found it for a great price so it made the cut, along with the need little oxalis I found. The two square pots also got a metal rings for a little interest (scavenged from a rotted out wagon wheel on a neighbor's property).

Pelargonium 'Vancouver Centennial'
Oxalis 'Molten Lava'


Over by the garage, the boxwood planter (which spent its second winter in the unheated garage and did well) again got a skirt of white impatiens and I love how it's looking a little unkempt with it's new growth right now. It will get a trim in a couple weeks.


That planter moved between the garage doors to make room for a new planter this year, a metal trough style. The lack of interest on the garage and the pergola has been bothering me, so this bigger planter helps fill a blank space. I've also planted two clematis in it, ones that get quite tall, in hopes that they will flop over onto the pergola at some point.

The clematis are a bit of an experiment, as this west-facing wall gets a lot of bright light but almost no direct sun. Both of the clematis—'Perle d'Azur' and 'Alba Luxurians'—are supposed to be able to tolerate a bit of shade, but I am always wary of those reports. I had hoped to have Mr. Much More Patient build a trellis for the wall to help the clematis make the leap to the pergola, but that's on hold until later in summer when everyone has more time. For now, a couple of bamboo poles will suffice. Both of these clematis are group 3, meaning they can be cut back in late winter/early spring, which will help keep the pergola (should they ever reach it) looking tidy.

In a rather remarkable show of restraint (I have a bad habit of putting too much in a container), I keep the color palette very simple, just using white impatiens, variegated ivy and Plectranthus argentatus. Maybe there's something to this whole "keep it simple" strategy as I'm loving how this container is looking.

Clematis 'Perle d'Azur
Clematis 'Alba Luxurians'
Plectranthus argentatus
Impatiens New Guinea 'Infinity White'
Variegated English ivy

We haven't mowed the lawn in almost two weeks because, well, life. Fortunately we have patient neighbors who haven't asked what we're up to.

This doesn't count as much of a container, but the tree stump that we "planted" in the garden by the garden got a dose of hot pink this year in the form of New Guinea impatiens and I love the effect of it over there.


The final containers in my garden are the white fiberglass containers on the deck which I almost don't want to show you. I first planted these this weekend and they look pathetic. I have been desperately trying to wrap up the major work in the garden and they became just one more thing on the to-do list and they look like it. Let's hope they grow in, but I almost feel bad about what an afterthought they were this year.

Pink mandevilla vine (I don't remember exactly which one)
Euphorbia 'Diamond Delight'
Creeping Jenny
Superbells 'Hollywood Star'
Zinnia grown from seed that I lost the tag on



I have just a couple more containers to show you that I'm happy with. A neighbor down the road asked me if I could do his containers for him this year as he had been trucking them to a nearby nursery every year to plant them. The project consisted of six 6-inch terracotta pots that sit in a holder under the windowsill and two 18-inch pots at the entrance to the small entry deck. The terracotta pots had to have red geraniums in there because for the last 32 years, that's what's been there. I'm not thrilled with planting anything in a 6-inch terracotta pot that I know will dry out very, very quickly, but I'm also not going to mess with tradition. So red geraniums it was.

I took the cues for the larger planters from those geraniums and put in 'Fireworks' grass, purple sweet potato vine, Euphorbia and a red calibrachoa.

Pennisetum 'Fireworks'
Euphorbia 'Diamond Delight'
Superbells 'Pomegranate Punch'


P.S. Thank you all for your kind words and understanding about the loss of our dog Rita. It's very comforting and I'm happy we live in a world where so many other people understand the sadness of losing a beloved pet.

P.P.S. Don't forget to check out the giveaway for a Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hand Hoe and enter to win this great tool.

P.P.P.S. As part of my Saturday6 gig with Troy-Bilt I'm taking over their Instagram account this week, so make sure to check me out over there. As a disclaimer, I get paid to work with Troy-Bilt in their Saturday6 program.

A HAND HOE TO LOVE: A REVIEW + A GIVEAWAY

I've not been quiet about my relatively recently discovered love for Dutch-made Sneeboer tools. After years of buying less expensive gardening tools at the local hardware store or garden center, I broke down and bought a Sneeboer Ladies Garden Spade (my mom is about 5'5" and she likes the Border Spade which has the same size head but a slightly longer handle) after talking with the owners of Garden Tool Company, Blake and Anne Schrek. At the time I couldn't believe I would spend so much on a garden tool, but when it came I was in love. Because I had a took that was correctly sized and impeccably designed, gardening was a true pleasure. And the spade was a thing of beauty. It felt right and it looked good and I loved using it. 

On a warm day in late February I pulled out all my Sneeboer tools for a good cleaning and sharpening.

My collection of Sneeboer tools grew from there as a I added a garden fork and the Royal Dutch Hoe. The latter is currently the most frequently used tool in my arsenal as I've discovered the art and benefit of hoeing (especially this time of year when chickweed tries to eat my garden). I love that thing because it obliterates weeds on both the push and the push and the long handle allows me to reach far into the garden. I can quickly clean up large areas of the garden.
When I found out that Sneeboer and Garden Tool Company was now offering a handheld version of the Royal Dutch Hoe I was thrilled and even more so when Garden Tool Company asked me to test it out.

The Royal Dutch Hand Hoe is about half the width of the original Royal Dutch Hoe blade and 12 inches long, which makes it perfect for raised beds, containers and tight areas. I took it out for a spin first in the raised vegetable garden. It took literally about a minute to snip off the small weeds rearing their ugly heads in the bed. The hand hoe, like its big sister, glides just under the surface the soil, nips off even weeds that haven't emerged yet.

As you can see, some tiny weeds were taking hold in one of the raised vegetable gardens.
The Royal Dutch Hand Hoe works on both the push and the pull and easily glides just under the surface of the soil to cut those buggers down low.
It was perfect for getting into tight areas of the bed in between the rapidly growing kale.

And here's what it looked like just a few minutes later.
I found myself reaching for this new hoe again later when it came to deal with the dreaded creeping bellflower in the latest part of the garden where it has taken hold (hoeing and pulling it won't make it go away, but I can at least keep it under control using those methods). I was able to use it right next to the truck of a small tree, where the larger hoe couldn't maneuver. And while I was down there I also used it under the leaves of larger hostas where more weeds where lurking.

Like all of my Sneeboer tools, it has a beautifully shaped handle. It's available in ash and cherry and I chose the ash because it matches the rest of my tools, and a gorgeous finish on the blade. One of the things I like about the Sneeboer tools is that they are incredibly finely crafted but you can tell when you look at them that they are hand made. I love knowing that a person made my tools, not a machine.

So here's the best news: Garden Tool Company sent me a second Royal Dutch Hand Hoe to give to one lucky reader. This one has the beautiful cherry handle and I guarantee it will become one of your favorite tools. 

Just use the widget below to enter to win. I'll pick a winner next Friday so you have lots of time to use it in the garden this year. But who knows, when the weeds see you coming with a tool this good looking they might leave on their own.

Disclaimer: Garden Tool Company provided me with two Royal Dutch Hand Hoes. This allowed me to test it out so I can tell you what I really think and to give one away to a lucky reader. As always, all opinions are my own. No other compensation was provided.



Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hand Hoe giveaway