(This posting originally posted at My 1929 Charmer on May 25th)

We have worked our butts off!
Truly....and we still have much to do...just a little slower than most people!
I love gardening and a few years ago discovered flowers.  I know....just a few years
ago?  Yes, I always planted herbs...every herb imaginable it seemed and now
I plant herbs, flowers, and vegetables!  I love to make new additions to all
the types every year and wait with bated breath for the old flowers to
raise their sleepy heads and bloom!
The photos I'm going to show you today are of a large portion of our
front perennial & herb garden which we've been working hard at
cleaning up for Spring Blooms.  Keep in mind that many of the flowers
have not yet bloomed and still have a few weeks before they do here in Southern
Ontario.  The second portion which you may have seen in rough form in
my Greenhouse Hell posting, is about halfway complete, including a move
for the Greenhouse to a shadier spot.  Keep an eye out for my posting on this secondary section of our front yard to come out soon!

I have quite a few photos, so please bear with me!
One of the most important things ( I believe) you can do for your perennial
garden bed is to spread mulch.  It definitely keeps the weeds to about one third of
what they'd normally be.  We started about a month ago working the flower
beds we should have cleaned in the fall last year.  UGH!  I will for sure this year!
Check out these Before & After Pics!
Desolate, weed-ridden mess
Happy, refreshed & ready to start blooming!

Calm & Serene

Nooo...that's not a big white Eastern Milk Snake!
Note the missing Greenhouse in this photo...that's another story like I said!
At the end of it all, when you end up with a lovely entryway to your
front door winding through lush colourful (soon!) gardens, the
feeling of accomplishment is fantastic!
Here's a few more peeks at our peaceful place....
Front Entry...garden you've just seen winds around to the right of this photo.
Facing out from the front doorway
Dan found this piece of driftwood down at our dock a couple years ago!
Love this birdfeeder my youngest daughter Megan gave me for my birthday a few years back.
Thanks so much for visiting my happy place with me!

Like so many amateur seasoned gardeners before me, I always
wanted to have my very own greenhouse.
"Oh Hon, won't it look so pretty in the garden?"
Don't you tell me you don't think the same thing!

So, TWO YEARS AGO (that's right....TWO) in the fall, we ordered a little
polyurethane windowed 8x6 ft greenhouse for a "steal" online at Home Depot.
Half Price no less.

My hubby, Dan, took time away from his laborous, daily chores last spring to
set a base for it.  It started out being patio stones the neighbour gave us,
embedded in a gravel base on a slight mound in the front unfinished side of the garden.
Then, when Dan was attempting (with my feeble help and a bit of the neighbour's)
to set up the greenhouse, he realized that he needed a wooden base to attach it to
properly.  We thought the 18x24" patio slabs would do the trick and drain into
the gravel beneath, however, he couldn't seem to get it square onto that
platform, so off to the lumber yard and back with a wee deck platform to build!

He spent DAYS building this silly greenhouse structure and lots of cursing!
Probably would have been easier for him to make it from old windows!  Eek!

Enter....the first windstorm!
Well, to be honest, he'd been having a problem getting the one window in on one side
and it wasn't very firmly in there, soooo.....almost half the windows blew out.
A very dangerous thing to happen as one of them actually billowed out over
the fence and flew over the highway to the yard on the other side of the street.
We are so lucky it didn't land on someone's vehicle!

Some of the slats for holding the windows in were bent out of shape and as
a result, we got on the phone to Home Depot to order more and get this....
We had to wait almost 2 months for them to be delivered from (Are you ready for this?)

So now, it's too late to start stuff inside the greenhouse at this point last year.
It sat barren and unused throughout the summer and still broken since it
really wasn't a priority anymore right?

He fixed the windows near the end of last summer, but low and behold, over the
winter another windstorm set a couple of the panels sailing around our yard.

Yesterday.....he fixed it up once and for all!

Can you see the look of intense concentration going on here?
And then there's me...."Can I hold the ladder for you?", "Do you want me to go inside
the greenhouse and push against the slats?", "Are you okay?".
Then....forget it...I'll just do a photo shoot!  hahaha!
Right above Dan's head, above the empty spot he's about to put a window into...is
a swing up window for ventilation.  He moved that over yesterday from the other
side of the shed after we realized the wind comes mostly from the other side and
might catch it and rip it off.  That would be shocking...NOT!

Try not to look at the actual yard here....this side of our garden is a work in progress and has had all the plants ripped out of it, so is now a mess of weeds and muck.
I'll get to the hole in the fence in just a moment.
This is the only photo I had yesterday of these low tables outside the greenhouse.
Last year, Dan made these by putting chickenwire on frames and painting the frames.
They go inside my greenhouse to hold and allow drainage of plants.
See how nicely they fit inside the greenhouse?
Here we are!  The greenhouse of my dreams!
Oh no!  It's way too hot inside!
Dilemma one:  How to cool it down so that the temperature stays around 81F for
germinating plants?
Well....first, we opened the roof vent window and the door.
That brought it down from 118.04F to about 114.44F.
Do I want to burn my plants out?

Good thing I purchased that Greenhouse Shade.
Photo taken later in afternoon.
When we ordered this shade blanket...I had been thinking...ahhh...a nice roll down
shade to easily use inside the greenhouse at my whim.
Nope again.
There was no way to attach it at the top of the peak inside other than to undo
the screws and install it permanently onto the inner peak.  So fine.  We do that.
Then, although they give you these little "twist and attach to the inside strip" things, that are fairly easy to use, there's nothing to hold it onto the ends of the inner greenhouse. Think, Wendy, think!
Aha!  I used two-way No More Nails tape and velcro.  I attached a piece at
the framing on each end and one to the actual blanket.
(yes, I know there's more shading at the front than at the rear, but I truly didn't
want to ask Dan to straighten it out for me again just because I like everything
perfectly symmetrical.)
The great thing about this shade is I can put it to the other side of the greenhouse in
the morning and switch it over to this side again in the afternoon.
I just have to roll it up to the center if I want full heat...which shouldn't be a problem,
but will be I'm sure.

Did I mention this was a SAGA!
The temperature came down to about 105F with this blanket installed.
Not good enough.
Big Old Floor Fan from the Dungeon is dragged out and turned on.
About an hour later the temperature dropped to about 84F, however, the sun was gone
now and it's obviously going to keep dropping as the evening wears on.

My issue is now....I have to get my temperature regulated before I start any plants going in this new home.  I wanted to see how low the temperature would drop inside at night and it went down to 46F...UGH!  Tonight I'm going to put a heater inside that is temperature regulated and see if that does the trick for overnight.
(Not that I'm stupid enough to not know the temperature would drop overnight, I just wanted to see how low it would go after all that heat inside during the day.)

As you can see there are bins on the tables inside the
greenhouse.  I've filled them with potting soil  on the top 4" and rich loam we had
unused from last year on the bottom...in keeping with my "things grow better in
deeper containers" theory, but won't be planting anything until I get the
temperature on track.
Speaking with "Someone in the Know, who shall not be named", he told me that he doesn't even use his greenhouse because it's such a pain in the @#% and that for my little greenhouse, I might as well forget it because I need double thermal windows or
I'll be lost and nothing will work out.
So, my Greenhouse Hell has begun and I hope you'll enjoy laughing at my ridiculous
theories being incorporated into a cheap greenhouse.

Oh yah....the hole in the fence....
The last windstorm also blew down this section of our fence so now
people are really dying to live next door so they can gawk in at our greenhouse!
Only at night though.....heehee.

The Greenhouse Saga is to be continued.....
(Guest Blog at Eleventh House March 20/12)

For years now, I have grown herbs. It started with little herbs in pots on window sills and funnily enough, I found out that when you grow herbs in little pots...you get little herbs, so I started growing them in bigger pots...and then very large pots! My training has all been trial and error over the years. SO LISTEN UP....then you’ll avoid years of mistakes! The larger the pot, the lusher the herbs grown is what I've found. I still like to grow most of my culinary herbs in pots rather than in the ground, only because they smell great when you walk past them, you can move them if you feel they're getting too much sun or shade and I actually do find that I tend to water them more frequently when they're in pots instead of relying only on the rain. A few I grow here in the veggie garden....
And, I do grow many herbs in my flower garden out front....
Flowering herbs such as echinacea, lavender, oregano, garlic chives are grown in my flower garden adding beauty as well as insect repellent capabilities when they are interspersed with flowers.
But, the culinary herbs are mostly grown in pots like this basil plant.
This pot is about 18" deep and as wide across.

Herbs are kind of a finicky breed that must be regularly trimmed for harvesting.  The more you trim, the more they grow lush! I regularly pinch off the flowers from the top to thicken the plant up on basil, as well as coriander and other flowering herbs. This particular basil plant would have been originally five plants purchased as barely sprouts and planted in a circle with one in the middle.
I keep it by my front door, rather than in the backyard because I own dogs. Dog hair is a wicked thing to herbs...it seems to actually stick to the plant and you have a heck of a time washing the dog hair off your herbs for use!

My advise to you is to start with one or two large pots....the plastic ones that look like ceramic or clay are great...just a little lighter to move around.
Who am I kidding...alot lighter! Plant some culinary herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, chives, tarragon, dill and cilantro and just go for it! The rosemary you'll be able to bring in, in the fall. It's a tender perennial, but should last if used regularly and in a bright window, throughout the winter.
Each year, here in Southern Ontario, I have chives, cilantro and tarragon sprout backup out of the pots in the spring as they are perennials.
Lastly...my biggest tip for you....grow anything from the mint family in a large pot for sure! Otherwise it will be all over your garden in places you didn't even think a plant could grow!
Lemon Balm falls into this category too.
The most wonderful part of herb gardening is it's such a versatile art! You can cook with herbs, craft beautiful wreaths and arrangements out of them, produce healing balms & poultices, cosmetics or just simply have a cup of herbal tea. So soothing.
xo Wendy
Have you ever wanted to make your own lip balm?
Just so you know exactly what's in it?
What you are moisturizing your lips with?

I made this Honey Vanilla Lip Balm in very little time!
It's so easy, although, we all know what an idiot I can be sometimes and
I made a really stupid mistake when I attempted to make this a couple weeks ago....
You'll see what I did wrong shortly...and learn from it!  Hahahaha!
I aim to please (or make you laugh at me)!


These are the ingredients assembled beforehand...
Can you see something different in this picture from the one on my home page?
(like...find Waldo!  Hahaha!)
You got it...my mistake is...
the jars!
I bought these little jars shown here at the dollar store for cheap,cheap,cheap!
Brought 'em home and thought...hmmm....I'm sure these are
hard enough to sterilize in boiling water.
They melted, so I jarred up my measured-out ingredients and shelved them for a week!
Browsed the internet and found some 1oz jars (a 1/2 oz larger than I wanted, but they
were glass, so I'm not complaining!)
They came a couple days ago, so now I was back on track!

Okay...onward again...

Ingredients as shown above

(I multiplied by 5 to get three to four 1oz jars, but this recipe makes one 1/2oz jar)

1/2 oz Calendula Infused Oil
(you could use jojoba oil as a substitute)

1/2 Tbsp Grated Beeswax
5 drops Vanilla Essential Oil
1 Tbsp Honey

1/2 oz glass ointment jar

How To

Gently boil the jar in a saucepan filled with water for 5 minutes
to sterilize it.

Place Calendula Infused Oil and Beeswax
in a heatproof glass measuring cup, and set cup in a shallow pan of
simmering water.  Heat stirring constantly, until the two ingredients are melted and clear.
Remove from heat, add vanilla essential oil and honey.
Stir until combined and pour into jars/jar.
Place in refrigerator to set.

The Jars

I wanted to give my jars a little bit of "Bling"!
Just so they'd be a pretty gift or for my viewing pleasure.
So, while at the Dollar Store, I picked up these sticky-backed ribbons...

I picked out some matching Bling Jewels from my little cache....
Plastic jewels shown are 4x actual size
I wrapped the self-sticking ribbon around the caps of the jars and cut it.
(I know...tough huh?)
Then, got out my trusty glue gun and embellished (love that word..haha)
the tops of the jars and Voila!
I've even tried it out already and it's quite nice!
I think the calendula infused oil makes it, because it's a healing flower and
is soothing to your lips.
To read more about the benefits of Calendula (Marigold)
go HERE (in Herbs, Flowers & Such)

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed making it!
Now....you do it!

*Original recipe from "Pure Skin Organic Beauty Basics, by Barbara Close"
shabby creek cottage
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Funky Junk's Sat Nite Special
Oh, yes you can make this yourself!
And, I'm going to show you how!
It's so easy and looks so pretty when it's finished.

Is there anything more calming than a luxurious soak in a hot tub?
With the fragrance of lavender or roses wafting around you
as you relax in serene bliss?
No there isn't!

Let's get started then!


Find a pretty bottle or jar to fill with your
Bath Salt concoction!
I had several to choose from because for years I've been buying up
glass decanters from flea markets, garage sales and Value Village.
You can get them from "for free" to around $10.00 or you can pay an exorbitant
price for them, but I prefer cheap, cheap, cheap!

Aren't they so beautiful?!


Collect your ingredients together.
(I just happened to have all of them....I know...herb junky!)

1/4 cup Sea Salts
1 cup Epsom Salts
2 Tbsp Borax
(or you can just use one of these ingredients @1-1/4cups if you don't have all three)

Essential Oil of Choice
(I used Rose, Lavender and Vanilla)

Food Colouring

Dried Herbs of Choice
(I used Rose and Lavender)

2 Tbsp Powdered Milk



(note:  You won't have this much if you follow the above amounts because I tripled it)

Lavender Vanilla Bath Salts
Add your salts and Borax to a large bowl.
Add the essential oil one drop at a time until you reach your desired fragrance.
(I used Lavender/Vanilla above in a ratio of 2/1)
Tint the mixture at this point.
If you are blending two colours (like I did with red/blue to achieve purple),
do them first in a separate bowl as shown here.
I found that you really have to smoosh the salts with the back of a spoon to mix
the colours in...as they tend to clump up a bit in the salt.
So, smoosh, smoosh, smoosh til colour is right for you!
Add in your dried herbs and powdered milk and stir.
The powdered milk will help moisturize your skin.

Rose Lavender Bath Salts
With the Rose Bath Salts, I used
Rose/Lavender in a ratio of 1/1.
My reason for that is I find the Rose rather strong myself and it just kind of tones it down.

Okay!  The Bath Salts are done!
We just need to bottle them!


Here's where I had some more fun!

When you are bottling the Bath Salts, you have to remember
that if you are putting dried herbs in, you need to have a wee bag on hand to
put a few spoonfuls of the salts into.
This way, the herbs won't go down your drain!

So I decided to make decorate up some bags with a
"Graphics Fairy" image which was a garden frame that I put in the words
"HerBallistic Garden Bath Salts"

I'm so proud of these!
And, it only took me two tries...hahahaha!
This was the first time I'd tried this
"Citrasolve Method"
that my friend Maureen over at It's All Connected
gave a tutorial on how to do the transfers!

My bottles of beautiful Bath Salts are complete now!
A lovely Gift for someone special
Keep it for Yourself!

(note: Basis of this recipe came from Creative Home Magazine, Spring 2009,
Written by Laura Holtorf Collins)

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Sunday's Best Linky Party!

My Calendula Oil and Rose Oil have been prepared!
See how it was done HERE
Read all about Calendula (Marigold) HERE

Make sure your "coloured glass bottles" are very clean before
pouring the oils into them.
They should be coloured because oils are light sensitive, and this helps the oil to not go rancid.

Here, you can see I have put labels on that have been
stamped and coloured in the center.
Yellow for calendula & pink for rose!
I also like to add a few drops of essential oil to my homemade oils.
Although, my rose oil smells of course like a beautiful rose, I find that
adding just a few drops into the bottle makes it a fuller aroma!

This box was homemade for me by my stepson Duncan
when he was around 13-14yrs old.
It is my favourite box.
If you'll look at the bottom of it....you'll see why!

I store all of my essential oils in this box and have for years!


We're ready to make handcream now!  Or, just to add some
luxurious oil to our bath!

Keep an eye out for the handcream lesson!

            Is this a gross spider or what?  Yup!  Found it in my basil a week or two ago and had to take a photo.  It was HUGE!  It's also known as a black & yellow garden spider.

            The females are larger than the males and this one was almost full grown I think....it was about 1-1/2" big!  After reading up on them a bit I found out that the male spider will be somewhere close...and he was....he was about a foot away in another part of the basil, but he's just a brown spider and alot smaller...about 3/4" long.  I thought this was unusual because isn't it usually the female (birds anyway) that are the plain looking ones and the males are gorgeous colours?

            Both of them were spinning cone-like webs and the news I found out next freaked me out slightly.  The female lays about one thousand eggs and they hatch in the fall!  At this point I turned to Dan and said "Get that outta my garden!" or I'll be overrun with them next year and I know they don't bite and they're awesome because they eat all those nasty aphids and mosquitos, but really...do I want to be brushing up against them in every plant?  Unfortunately (well, depending on which way you look at it)  the female spider dies after laying her eggs into a sac.  The sac hatches with all the offspring in the fall, but they stay inside the sac until Spring!  That gives Dan a few months to take it to the river side of the house!  Hahaha!

            I'm really not a big spider fan, and not only are these precious little things out front, but down at the river we have giant dock spiders...even worse....they bite!  I'll try to catch a photo of one soon, but they are pretty quick!  They can swim too! 

            City girl meets country bugs......ew, ew, ew!

             Next to Lavender, basil is my absolute most favoured fragranced herb.  Whether I cut it from my crop or buy it in the grocery store, for the first 1/2 hr, I swear, all I do is try to take the very essence out of the leaves, holding them up to my nose and inhaling like a crazy beast!  I know...pretty visual huh?

          Each year, I plant about 5-6 small plants into a very deep planter like the one shown here.  It's important to have a deep planter for the roots.  I've found if I plant in a shallow planter, the plant is sparse and just doesn't have that volume one gets from a large planter.  Now, I've always pruned the flowers off when it starts to bloom, just by nipping them with your fingers at the base of the vertical flower and that seems to thicken it up.  But, recently, someone told me that they read you should lop off about 6" down the branch of leaves?  If anyone has any input about this, please comment or contact me.  Other than watering and getting rid of those hideous japanese beetles, basil is very easy to care for.

          The best thing to do with basil, in my world, is to make Pesto out of it!  Pesto is a wondrous food that I personally like to make a huge batch of every year and freeze.  The secret to freezing pesto is to not add the parmesan cheese into the recipe and after you load into small 4oz jars, put a layer of olive oil on top.  The olive oil helps the pesto to retain it's colour.  The drawback of basil is that it goes brown very quickly and the olive oil acts as a protective coating on it. 

          Basil is primarily a fabulous additive to food, however in Italy was used to symbolize courting.  A man would give a woman  he was interested in a sprig of basil to show his intentions.  We all know how much Italians use basil in their foods...I think they found the secret of cooking with this herb!

          You can also use basil leaves and rub them on insect bites to reduce inflammation and itchiness.  If you pour boiling water onto the leaves in a pot and inhale, it will help the common cold because basil fights infection and clears mucus.  It can aid digestion, help expel gas, prevent constipation and relieve stomach upset.  The only precaution given for basil is not to use if pregnant because it can stimulate menstrual flow and has actually been used to assist with expulsion of the placenta after birth, so definitely, don't use in tinctures, teas, etc if you are pregnant!

          If you do nothing else with it, just pick up a bunch at the beginning of your cruise around the grocery store next time and inhale as you push the buggy....I guarantee by the time you get to the checkout, you'll feel so rejuvenated....it actually will clear your head, make your concentration better and give you an all round sense of well-being.

             I can't believe it's Thursday again (Herb day on my blog) so soon!  In our house, garlic is a staple used in so many recipes brought to our table.  How can you not love garlic?  My favourite way to have garlic is to just roast it in the oven with olive oil drizzled over it (tops cut off the whole head) in a small covered casserole dish.  If you serve up the roasted garlic to be smeared on french bread toasts with melted brie and a jam or jelly of your choice...you will think you're in heaven!   I first had this mouthwatering dish at the Rude Native when it was in Hamilton and Dan & I rushed home to recreate this for friends! 

            Garlic is an amazing medicinal food in that it acts as an antibiotic, reduces blood pressure, it's an anticoagulant, lowers cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels and also can be an antihistamine.  As a decongestant, garlic is extremely effective in treating bronchitis.  If you eat raw cloves daily it can assist with digestion disorders and infections, while still maintaining beneficial flora in the intestines.  Some pharmaceutical antibiotics used for stomach disorders can kill off the beneficial flora.   My Aunt Linda drinks tomato juice with minced fresh garlic in it daily!  I tried it and it's not for me....something about garlic in the morning just doesn't go over well with my senses...but perhaps I should start drinking it at dinnertime?!

            You can buy garlic in capsule form and by taking this daily, it's been proven to prevent further heart attacks in people who have already had a heart attack...as well as fight infections in the body.  Using garlic topically (directly rubbing on the skin)  on acne will help clear your complexion, but I'd suggest using the garlic "pearls" which can be broken up like Vitamin E and don't have the smell associated with garlic.   You could also use it mashed up on warts or corns.  Digesting it in it's raw form (as my Aunt does) is best, but you will notice that your breath may be horrid the next morning or you smell bad!  This is because it travels through your system so quickly.  If you rubbed garlic on your feet, you'd be able to taste it 10 minutes later!  To get rid of that sharp taste in your mouth the next morning, regardless of how you ingest it, you can eat some parsley which should nullify it.

             Planting garlic in your garden among your other plants, rather than just in a row, acts as a natural insecticide, much as the marigolds I spoke of last week in my blog.  And, there's nothing like pulling fresh garlic out of your garden just before a meal....talk about fresh!

            Don't forget about how great it is for warding off Vampires!  Enjoy your "bite" of garlic today!

            Recently I bought this beautiful Japanese Willow plant at The Potting Shed in Dunnville!  I had seen it at a relative's home and tried to start it from a cutting, but I'm pretty sure the cutting has had the biscuit...although, I'll just wait a little longer to make sure.  This will grow up to 18 feet high apparently.  This one in the photo is in bloom right now (that was July).  They bloom for approximately 6 weeks and it's actually the variegated leaves that change to a beautiful powder pink colour during that time period...not an actual flower!  If you trim them in spring or fall, you can train them to stay as small bushes.  Breathtaking!

    Aunt Ethel's Gardening Hands. Isn't Life perfect?


            Years ago I took a distance learning course (in my not so free time) and received a certificate as a Natural Health Consultant.  I've always had a love of herbs, growing and using them and recently I've delved more into flower gardening.  If you have anything to add to my posts, please comment so others can gain your knowledge too!


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