Where would the world be without imagination? Actually, I can’t even imagine it! Would people have accomplished anything without it? My mother gave me perhaps one of the best gifts of all by sharing a love of reading with me. Books are really the perfect tool for fostering imagination, “The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” – Matilda by Roald Dahl.
Some of my favorite places to travel via the turn of a page are whimsical and magical lands like that in which a fairy might reside. And so, when I saw a picture of a fairy garden a couple of years back, my heart soared. I had to have one but for some reason or another it has taken me until now to make it happen. Though my ten and a half year old science boy son did not take to the idea as much as I had hoped my Bella girl is in it with me. Nina is more like the giant that all of the fairies fear as she attempts to walk the tiny gravel path and lift the tiny houses for inspection. We have only just begun but now is when we can really call upon our imaginations. That acorn cap? How about making it a little bucket for a wishing well? Used popsicle sticks from summer time treats? The perfect fence! This project makes me feel like a kid again and one that I hope keeps my children kids just a little bit longer.
Strawberry Cupcakes via Cooking Classy
You know how certain smells just remind you of a person? Whether this is a compliment or not, the garden shed smell always reminds me of my Grandmother. I walk in and think, “Hey Grandma, what’s happening?” Tomato sauce smell always makes me think of my Poppop. The man loves spaghetti and makes a badass meatball. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to visit him and the smell of sauce greets me at the door. I cannot smell tomato sauce without thinking of Poppop. Jelly beans and leggings, on the other hand, remind me of his partner in crime (my Mommom) but we’ll save that for another story. So why am I thinking of tomato sauce before a tomato has even appeared on my plants? It’s because I have buckets! Buckets that were once used to hold tomato sauce from one of my very favorite restaurants. Allow me to put in a quick plug for them…Genova’s To Go…locations in both Maryland and Pennsylvania…family run by real live Italians…pizza and subs that will knock your socks off…and also where I happened to meet my lovely husband. Check them out! Pick up a pizza and possibly a husband too. You will not regret it! We will now return to our regularly scheduled bucket discussion…
After perusing You Tube videos and Pinterest finds on how to increase planting space in small yards, I got it into my head that I should try planting in 5 gallon buckets. They can be moved all around the yard to follow the sun and quite a few things can be grown in them. You can even get really fancy and rig up a self watering system with the buckets, some hosing, and various doodads. The self watering bit is intriguing to me, but I wanted to test out bucket planting before throwing myself into a technical undertaking. Just about every video and article suggested asking local restaurants and bakeries for cast away food grade buckets rather than buying new ones. Supposing you don’t want to run around town begging for buckets from your favorite eateries, Home Depot does sell packs of food grade buckets. I, however, enjoy asking for strange favors from my old restaurant friends. A quick correspondence with my buddy D via carrier pigeon and used buckets are now in my possession. They once carried sauce so guess who they smell like!? Maybe no carrier pigeons were actually involved but the thought did make the story more interesting, right?
Sometimes you have to make things work with what you have available. This is good for a number of reasons in my opinion. The first reason that comes to mind and the one reflected in this blog’s title is money. Blah. Let’s not talk about it because I think you get the idea. The next reason is dear Mother Earth. Maybe it’s just us but we get a kick out of reusing things in a new and clever way. Not only do we reduce waste but we force ourselves to be creative. When we succeed we also have a nice talking point when guests visit. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve begun a conversation with, “This used to be _______.” True, owning a construction company gives us more access to “waste” building supplies than the average person, but from other blogs that I have read people often find sources on their own. More often than not reusing materials gives the final project a nice rustic appearance. This is another plus if you ask me. That rustic look blends with natural surroundings so much better than something shiny and new. Take a look at some of our creations for ideas and feel free to reproduce them. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery. And what is the best way to garden on a budget? Be creative!
The Garden Structure
The result of another deck tear down and some old pallets for the greens garden. The bricks for the path were salvaged as well.
Tom fashioned our tin man from cans originally destined for the recycling center. The owl was rescued from our neighbor's trash can. The hope is that he helps scare off other birds.
Other Odds & Ends
The blocks were relocated from our front flower beds to a shade garden in our backyard. Sometimes simply moving something from one location to another gives it a fresh new look. The tulips were given to me last Easter. Rather than pitching the pot once the flowers had died, I planted the bulbs in a flower bed. Beautiful! Our woodpile was originally just that - a pile. A big messy looking pile. When the kid's playhouse became rundown and dangerous, we dismantled it and gave the house a new purpose.
Every yard needs an airplane, right? My son sure thought so when he was about 5 years old and lucky for him his Papa had a pile of scrap wood with "airplane" written all over it. Our youngest now uses it for very serious missions.
Our porch was boring and after a "few" ideas found on Pinterest and subtly placed in the husband's head via text and email, he presented me with the perfect solution. It has rustic charming appeal and even gives me another place to pop in some flowers. Thanks dear husband!
Have I mentioned how much I love composting? Our version is nothing fancy but it works. It's made of some pallets and miscellaneous boards. To the right of the bin we have a birdhouse also fashioned out of scrap wood.
The Beloved Dandelion
How else can you save money and help preserve our beautiful planet? Skip the lawn treatments! Dandelions are beautiful and provide endless fun for children.
Meet Tom - the guy who make my ideas happen. He's an all right guy. I guess you could say I'm fond of him. He also happens to be a great Papa and master of fire pit pizza and bread baking. The stone and brick around the fire pit? Salvaged of course!
Time for a little reflection…
Back in March we started with a pile of seed packets from High Mowing Organic Seeds, a few bags of organic seed starting mix, and a bunch of containers. I should mention the folding table and light leftover from a restaurant remodel as well. I had my doubts about the set up but with the aid of aluminum foil for reflective purposes (the husband’s idea) the seeds became plants under their artificial sun. Without fail a seed becoming a plant amazes me every time!
Fast forward to the present and we have a forecast full of warm weather mixed with some rain throughout the week. To prep them for their big move into the garden, the plant babies went through a transitioning process from inside to outside over the past couple of weeks. Cold turkey isn’t recommended so gradual sun and wind exposure it was for my little green friends. And on Sunday, a gorgeous sunny day, they made the big move. In anticipation of this grand event, I had plotted out my garden on graph paper old school style. Following that plan I set out each plant in their designated spots and then gathered some beautiful wormy compost from the bin. I added a bit of compost into the bottom of each hole before placing the plants and packed a little more around them after planting. Congratulations my lovely plant children! Now please don’t die.
Scenes from The Green Brick Road
Back to reflection…
Once all of the plants were tucked into place the kids and I headed over to my Dad’s house. Essentially this is where the Green Brick Road starts because his land is where I grew up and where I had my first little garden bed. For the sake of full disclosure I was a terrible gardener as a child and soon lost interest in tending my plants. Thank you Mom for saving their lives! Watching my children run around in my old stomping grounds always brings back great memories of a happy childhood. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to grow up.
I leave you with an inspiring video. I am in awe of what she has created!
Welcome to The Green Brick Road. My name is Valerie, and I invite you to join me and my family on our gardening adventure. We hope that you will learn with us and grow with us. Pun intended!