Saturday, July 13, 2019

Ready for Paint

I spent two very long days stripping paint off the vintage white patio set.
As usual, I was pretty obsessive about the prep work. I watched several Youtube videos about prepping outdoor furniture for painting and most of those folks just took a quick wire brush to flaky paint before their repainting, but I'm way too picky for that. When I bought this set, I could actually see outlines of old paint below the top coat. I would not have been happy with that long term. I'd rather do it right the first time. Besides I'm not someone who needs to change the color of my patio set every season.

It was kind of nice to find a use for the leftover paint stripping supplies. We still have two opened containers of KleanStrip and Jasco and had quite a few wire brushes that had been useless on the wood, but they were perfect for the metal.
Waiting for the paint stripper chemical to do its work.
It is funny to look at the photos of the set. To my eye, the bright metal color almost makes it look like it's still white, but I can assure you, I stripped the decorative parts down to bare metal.
I'm actually a little perplexed about the metal. When I first found the bright silvery metal, I thought the set was aluminum, but it's magnetic. I've never seen iron sets that are silver like this. It glimmers very pretty in the sun.
Now, I'm actually wondering if it's galvanized iron but I doubt I'll ever know.
Anyway, after a quick wash, the set will be ready for priming and painting. Now I just need to figure out where I can do it and not get overspray all over the house.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Month of Painting

Somehow I managed to maneuver myself into a whole bunch of painting projects this summer. We have the obvious shed project. I'm embarrassed we still have not finished painting it; we finished building it in 2017. The siding is primed, but the door desperately needs to be painted before the rainy season. I'm hoping we'll finish painting it before Fall.
Looking almost good as new. A few tweaks left to fix the low spots.
Jeff was cleaning up the back patio because there were some pavers along the edge which had sunk down at least half an inch and were below the level of the wood edging, creating a trip hazard. He wanted to fix those. As he was looking at the state of the patio, there was quite a lot of vegetation growing between pavers, which he didn't like. So, he decided to pressure wash out the sand, readjust the sunken pavers, then re-sand it all.

I also decided I wanted to fix up my grandparent's old redwood patio table. This set is probably 50 years old. They lovingly cared for it and put it in the garage each winter. Sadly, we put it outside year round and didn't even bother to cover it during the winter. I was ashamed of how it looked when my father came to visit last month.
I have since cleaned it and it looks much better. But while I was cleaning, I realized it was just nailed together, so I pulled off the tabletop boards and I've sanded all four sides. Despite the appearance, the wood is still in good condition. I'm planning to pressure wash the legs and benches, then I'll stain all the boards with a rust-colored opaque stain. Then we'll reassemble with deck screws. However, once it's finished, I am not going to put it back out on the patio. We're going to store it at the house in Prineville and use it on the covered back porch.

For Portland, I decided I wanted chairs for the patio. We've been eating outside most mornings, and it would be nice to have comfortable seating outside. Last Saturday, we bought this set off craigslist.
I got it home and started prepping it to repaint, then this set became available.
I thought it was pretty, and decided I liked it more than the other set I had purchased. So, now I need to prep and paint both sets and resell the top one.

Finally, as we were buying the white set, the guy mentioned he was having a garage sale and I noticed some green wicker chairs in a stack. I asked if those were for sale, and he said yes and named a really low price. So, we brought them home too. They are not in awesome condition, but we really needed additional seating on our porch. We had to bring out dining room chairs when my father visited. Obviously, they need to be cleaned and painted too. (Our pressure washer is going to get lots of use this summer.)
I spent over 8 hours sanding the white patio set yesterday. I'm hoping by the end of the weekend, I'll have it ready to paint. I want to finish all these sets by the end of the month.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Santa Rosa Gardens Order

After the Wholesale Nursery debacle, I had pretty much sworn off of buying plants from online nurseries. But this year, when I wanted very specific plants for my particular color scheme, I began thinking it would probably be okay to order from nurseries in Oregon because at least the plants wouldn't have to travel as far.

While I was poking around doing searches for the heuchera in the specific colors I wanted, I found all of them on clearance for $5.99 and $2.99 at the Santa Rosa Gardens website. Then I found some columbines in good colors for $2.99; those would be perfect for the backyard rain garden. And the more I looked, the more I found that I had to have. Honestly, I got a little shopping cart happy when I was perusing their clearance plants. Even though I was reluctant to order from them, I had a moment of weakness and clicked the order button.

At the time, I thought they were located in California, which seemed not so much further than Oregon. At least it's on the west coast. But I learned after I placed the order that they're actually in Florida! Oops.

Anyway, my order arrived today, just three days after I placed it. This time, my result was MUCH different.
Wow, each plant was individually wrapped
The boxes come with these neat little trays designed to hold the pots perfectly
When you pick the pots up you can feel a little of the dirt has been knocked out of the pot. If you support the netting, you can shake most of the loose dirt back into the pot.
Each plant has this little net thing on it to hold the dirt.
They recommend you cut off the netting from the bottom and pull it off from the top so you don't bust stems/branches.

The columbines were looking a little parched, and there were a few broken stems here and there, but they're looking pretty good—and alive—which is a nice change.
Here they are! A little bedraggled, but mostly looking healthy.
Some of these plants were ordered for the backyard Hidden Garden, which isn't ready yet. So, those will get repotted into gallon pots and we'll keep them on the back patio until we're ready to plant them in a month or two.

Update: They just sent me a 50% off coupon for the holiday if anyone is interested. The discount is off the clearance prices.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Reimagining the Rain Garden

Now that Jeff and I have been spending so much time in the yard, I'm starting to reconsider some of my earlier plant choices. I think I'm ready for some more flowers. :)

We planted two small thimbleberry plants in the backyard rain garden and it obviously loved that spot because it has been a chore to control it in the backyard.
Here was the rain garden at the beginning, Oct 2011
Before Jeff realized he could literally chop it to the ground and it would come back, this is what the thimbleberry looked like. It felt like an impenetrable wall splitting our backyard.
After a severe pruning, it got better by Aug 2016. Also, in summer 2016, a friend of ours brought over two large garbage bags of ferns and quite a few of them ended up in this large rain garden.
Here is the yard tidied up in Aug 2016
Here is where the rain garden is at this summer.
Maybe there are too many ferns. LOL
I think I'm ready to remove the thimbleberry. It's a fine plant if you have a huge yard, but we don't. This plant is occupying one of the few sunny spots in our backyard and I would prefer to plant some flowers there. I think we'll also dig and relocate some of the ferns. I predict quite a few will be moving down to our soon-to-be installed Hidden Garden.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Parking Strip Part 2

Aaron and Jeff finished double digging the second side of the parking strip. The planting isn't complete as we still need to buy ferns and maybe a columbine, but we found more of the Forever Purple Heuchera. The next time we feel like driving out to Echo Valley Natives, we'll pick up the rest of the plants.
Almost finished. There is still a shocking lack of ferns.
This is the before photo
We can't do nearly as much planting on this side of the parking strip because there are two utility access covers taking up quite a lot of space on the side and back.

The garden is looking quite nice now. It's time to start harvesting lettuce for salads.
And the Oceanspray is in flower. I think we put this native shrub in when we installed the rain gardens in 2012.
Now we REALLY need to turn our attention to cleaning house. Sharon's father is coming for a visit in two weeks! Our house still hasn't recovered from our aborted attempt to move.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Butchered the Wisteria

We actually did this last week, but I'm just getting around to showing the photos. The wisteria had quite overgrown the porch entry. We really should have cut it back over the winter, but it wasn't high enough on our priority list. This wisteria has been pretty indestructible, so it will surely recover.
This poor daylily plant was barely peeking out from under the wisteria branches.
Many of the stalks were practically laying on the ground trying to find sun.
I think it might be a Tawny Daylily. It was planted by a prior resident.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Rented Monster Chipper

We had a bunch of brush piles sitting around in the yard. I suggested we take it all into a place that accepts yard waste, but Jeff wanted the wood chips for the yard. Today we rented a chipper to get rid of all of them. I may have been silly and rented a 6-inch chipper; I had forgotten how big a 6-inch chipper is. LOL
This area also had a bunch of rotted firewood left by the prior owner. Everything small enough went into the chipper.
Aaron showing off the big wood chip pile
Now all we need to do is get rid of the old lumber and we'll be ready to fix up this part of the yard in fall.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Yard Transformed

I was digging through old photos trying to find some pictures of the plants in our rain gardens and I was struck by the transformation in the yard. I have to admit, I didn't entirely remember what it looked like when we bought this house. It was a pretty standard suburban yard: lawn with somewhat neglected flower beds.
I'm pretty sure quite a few of you think the before photos are better, but we don't like to mow grass. Frankly, we've always considered lawns to be a waste. They suck up resources and give you nothing back unless you have little kids who play on them. We do not.
I probably should have tidied up for the photos.
The reason we originally put in the rain gardens is because we decided to disconnect from the storm sewer system. When we moved here, Portland offered a gutter disconnect program that offered a good discount if residents could manage their stormwater runoff on their own properties. The rain gardens have worked great. (That program ended in 2011, but I think residents can still save 35% off their sewer bill to disconnect by applying at the Clean River Rewards site.) I believe the discount is about $25 off each bill. Over the last nine years, the savings have really added up.

If I had to do it over, I might select more groundcovers and fewer shrubs for the front yard, but we chose plants that were supposed to be good for the native wildlife. And honestly, it is nice to listen to all the birds when we sit on the porch.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Pretties in the Yard

I'm enjoying the flowers this year. The wisteria was beautiful last month, but I didn't post photos. It was stunning, as usual. Our newly planted Columbine seems pretty happy as it's put on another flower. The variety was labeled as Aquilegia 'Swan Mix'.
I'm also enjoying an Oriental Poppy plant in the planter under the apple tree. We didn't plant this. There is an identical flower on the other side of the driveway and it obviously reseeded itself to a more satisfactory location. I'm not sure which variety it is, but it looks like the Prince of Orange Oriental Poppy.
This is in the backyard. Even though we planted this, I'm not sure what it is. It doesn't look like any of the flowers I actually bought. We got a bunch of seeds and cuttings from a neighbor and some of them must have actually managed to survive our neglect. (After a bunch of digging around on the internet, I think it's a columbine,  Aquilegia vulgaris 'Nora Barlow'.)
Our garden is looking a little wilted. We've been watering it, but the plants just don't seem to be reviving. We shall see if they make it.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Another Yard Project

This is what happens to the nearly invisible space behind our garage when we ignore it for two years. LOL
We didn't realize how much the chickens helped keep down the weeds until they were gone. :(

After most of a day, Jeff and Aaron managed to get most of the vegetation out.
We still need to rent a chipper and grind up the wood branches that will fit. We'll probably put a free ad on craigslist for all the wood that is left after that. The goal is to get this area really cleaned up by later this fall so we can plant a variety of shade-loving native plants. We'd like to make this as close to a woodland landscape as we can get in such a small space.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Red Dragon Contorted Hazelnut

We planted this ornamental hazelnut tree in March of 2013. It's fun to see where it's grown in that time.
It's gotten quite tall, much taller than expected, and now stands out prominently in the landscape. But it's leaning way to the side, probably in an attempt to capture more sunlight. The poor thing wants full sun to part shade, but once the rain garden got so overgrown, I think it got inadequate light. Now that we've removed so many shrubs from the rain garden, hopefully it will get better.

We may have to figure out how to prune off some of the furthest reaching branches this winter.