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Home and gardens

Marigolds in the scrounger's garden.
Marigolds in the scrounger’s garden.

I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark.  Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon our land.

~ Julie Moir Messervy, The Inward Garden

Moth Mullein., an invasive species that was declared a noxious weed in Colorado.  It grows like crazy here in Maryland.
Moth Mullein., an invasive species that was, according to Wikipedia, declared a noxious weed in Colorado. It grows like crazy here in Maryland.

I am betting that yesterday’s Silent Sunday post was a little confusing.  I thought it might be when I posted it, especially if you haven’t been around for all of the renovations we’ve been doing here on the Wabi-Sabi Ranch.  It has been slow, but sure, work.  (If you’re new here and curious, you can read my first post about the house here.)  This weekend M and I got a start on the guest bath which we often refer to as the Duck Dynasty bathroom due to all the ducks used in decorating it.  Unfortunately, we had already started on the room before I thought to take a few photos so you’re missing out on some of the ducks (such as the duck towel holders).

In the duck dynasty bathroom.
The throne in the duck dynasty bathroom.

You can’t tell from the pictures, but no amount of scrubbing has done much to make this bathroom look clean.  It was pretty disgusting when we bought the place.  For example, after I cleaned the toilet seat, M said (in shocked tones) that he didn’t realize it was supposed to be white.  Yeah, I know.  Makes me shudder, too.

The soon to be gone vanity.
The vanity has been removed.  We took it out this morning.  M is repurposing it, and the sink, for use in the garage.

It is not a large bathroom, but it’s not tiny, either.  There is a lack of storage because the hot water heater is taking up most of the closet space.  There is no tub, just a shower that’s fairly large with a bench to sit on.  It is one of those fitted surrounds made so that one can easily step into it.  I would love to tile it eventually, but suspect that won’t happen since what is currently there is functional, we were able to clean it up, and we still have a lot of other renovations to do.

In case you want a better look at the wallpaper border.
In case you want a better look at the wallpaper border.

Yesterday morning I steamed off the wallpaper (which is what you saw in yesterday’s Silent Sunday photo).  I am becoming an expert at removing wallpaper and wallpaper borders.  I am also almost finished with wallpaper removal, hopefully for the rest of my life.  The foyer of the house will be my last wallpaper removal project.  There is a border in the master bedroom, but we have decided to work around it since neither M nor I find it objectionable.

To be honest, the ducks in the bathroom weren’t so bad, but cleaning them up was impossible so they had to go.  The colors were all wrong, too, since I’ve been going with a cool color palette.

Blueberries in the rain garden.
Blueberries in the rain garden.

I have also spent a little time in the scrounger’s garden this weekend, and since some of you are curious, I took a few photos along the way.

Let's get the mulching finished, shall we?
Let’s get the mulching finished, shall we?

This is my first flower garden.  This is also the first time I have put a lot of time and effort into gardening if you don’t count the asparagus bed I established in Ohio years ago.  I don’t count it because it was easy, and once I learned that the asparagus couldn’t care less about the weeds, it didn’t require much maintenance.

The scrounger's garden area just after we bought the place.
The scrounger’s garden area just after we bought the place.  (April 2013.)

I tried to find a few good “before” pictures.  What you really can’t see in the above photograph is the mess of mint and multi-flora roses that were growing out there.  There was an old truck bed full of trash (and snakes) sitting in the midst of it all, and the usual assortment of trash scattered around in the weeds and filling up the greenhouse.

The sagging pergola, the mint, the multi-flora roses, oh my.  (Two years ago almost to the day.)
The sagging pergola, the mint, the multi-flora roses, oh my. (Two years ago almost to the day.)  There is a yucca buried in that mess, along with irises, tulips, and daffodils.

There was no path, and if there had been organization, I had a difficult time finding it.

May 2015C 054a-001
Yesterday afternoon.

As you can see, a lot of work has been done out there in the past two years.

Art project.  (Old and rusted sieve, painted to resemble a flower.)
Art project. (Rusted sieve, painted to resemble a flower.)

For those wondering, the reason I call it the scrounger’s garden is because most of the items (and some of the plants) have been scrounged up from around here.  I have been wanting to establish a scrounger’s garden of some sort ever since I visited the scrounger’s garden at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.  (Lest you get confused, that link takes you to my old blog, Life in the Bogs.)

Found stone used where the path to the garden starts.
Found stone used where the path to the garden starts.

I am a disorganized gardener.  All of my plans are in my head.  I tried drawing out what I had in mind, but I am not much of a sketch artist (or painter, for that matter, as you can tell from the sieve I painted).  Hopefully things will come together as I envision them, but if they don’t, that’s okay, too.

One of two gnomes.
One of two gnomes.

There are fairies and gnomes in the scrounger’s garden.  There are also butterflies, bees, and toads.  Yesterday I was buzzed by a hummingbird (who whispered a reminder to put up the hummingbird feeder), and saw a baby praying mantis.  There is also a mockingbird who stops by occasionally.  Birdsong and chatter float out from the woods behind the garden, and I often hear the Green Herons squawking near the pond.

A deer fly trap.
A deer fly trap.

I am thinking about building a bottle tree to accommodate the deer fly traps.  To make a deer fly trap, paint a bottle blue, spray it with sticky stuff, and then attach it to something taller than you.  Deer flies are attracted to the color blue and usually go for the head so if you carry it higher than your head, it is likely they will land on it (where they are trapped and die).  The traps work and cut down on our fly population.

Not a good place to sit.
Not a good place to sit.

I have plans to expand the garden, starting with a few more beds.  Do you see the tall grasses over to the left in the above photo?  That’s where the irises are currently located.  There are three beds of them, one under the pergola.  That will be my fall project.  In the meantime, I have a pile of pots and pans I want to paint and stick in the ground, and I have plates and cups we found in the trailer to use as edging for the new beds once I get those dug up.  I also have a pile of rocks and stepping stones to place.

Finally used the cocoa mulch on the path.
Finally used the cocoa mulch on the path.

If you stand on the path, you’ll catch the scent of chocolate from the cocoa mulch.  Mint keeps pushing its way up along the pathway so if you happen to step on that, it changes to chocolate-mint.  Or mint-chocolate.  The pink roses in the background also lend their perfume to the scents in the garden.  I noticed yesterday that the sage, rosemary, and lavender are doing really well.  I will have blooms on the lavender this year.

Maurice and Margaret, the scrounger’s garden rabbits, have been munching on my zinnias so I put up a small fence that is not going to keep them out if they are determined, but I’m hoping they aren’t determined since there are plenty of other things for them to eat.  Clover, which they seem to love, grows like crazy in that area and I leave a patch unmowed just for them.  Last year I planted chili peppers and that kept them out.  If the fencing doesn’t deter Maurice and Margaret, I’ll plant some peppers.

Fire dancer.
Fire dancer.

Well, this has been a LONG post.  Sorry about that.  The next few posts should be short as I will be taking up the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge.  If I work up the nerve to do it, I’m going to try something different and delve into short (very short!) fiction for my stories.  I’ve always said I’m not good at fiction because I don’t think I have the imagination for it, but realized the other day that my mind tells me stories all the time.  Why not channel that talent in a creative way?

Thank you so much for dropping in and visiting the garden (and the loo) with me.

Be good, be kind, be loving.  Just Be.  🙂



Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

31 thoughts on “Home and gardens

  1. Maurice and Margaret are fortunate in their carer! Love the sieve 🙂 My mind gets a bit boggled by the size of your garden – as you know the area of mine can be encompassed by standing in the one spot with arms outstretched and twisting the upper body from side to side – I have lost the ability to visualise how you would care for something the size of a small park and renovate an old house at the same time!


    1. Maurice and Margaret won’t be quite so fortunate if they continue to nibble at my zinnias. Not that I’d do anything cruel to them, but harassment is not out of the realm of possibility. I’m not sure how we manage to do it all, Pauline. I can tell you that after a good day’s work, I sleep well at night. 🙂


  2. Wow you have a lot of space! We do too…and I am so behind on weeding. It’s all overrun with grass. But it’s not nearly the work you’ve had to do to get your place in shape. SO glad you’re going to do the 5 photos challenge!! I’m looking forward to seeing and reading it.

    On another have cats and not dogs..right? I think the cocoa mulch is dangerous for dogs…check it out if you have a dog. It sure is pretty and I imagine it smells great though!


    1. No dogs, Dawn, or I wouldn’t have put down the cocoa mulch. Some brands of cocoa mulch can be dangerous to dogs, but most are not cleansed enough to eliminate the chemicals that are harmful to dogs and cats. Our cats don’t go outside without supervision, and they are never anywhere near the scrounger’s garden since we keep them near the house when we take them out.

      It does smell great and it supposedly keeps away some garden pests, although not rabbits from the looks of things.

      Thanks. 🙂 I’m looking forward to the challenge, too. Might take me a while to figure out exactly what I want to do.


  3. I figured out yesterday’s photo as soon as I saw it. But I try to remain silent on silent post days. 🙂 And I have always loved the name of your scrounger’s garden. Personally I think your painted and repurposed flower is perfect Robin. 🙂


  4. A lovely long post and a terrific glimpse into your yard and all of the work that you’ve done and are doing! Love the stone that you’ve uncovered but feel my blood pressure rising at the thought of snakes in a truck bed.


    1. Thank you, Tammy. 🙂 The snakes in the truck bed are enough to give anyone the willies. We’ve cleaned up most of the areas that made good homes for snakes except for the places left wild. There were a lot of wooden crates, tires, and other things that the snakes liked. Now they have to live like regular snakes.


    1. Thank you, Lisa. 🙂 We still have the truck bed. It’s empty now, and posing as a sculpture in the backyard. If you know who decided to leave it, tell them they’re welcome to come to get it. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A most enjoyable tour. I love your brave sweet william surrounded by grass in your header. There are some that were here when we moved in along the forest edges that come up every year. True vintage varieties that never say ‘die!’
    I see you are ‘back in the (blogosphere) saddle’ again. Most admirable, it’s tough to keep a good woman down. Looking forward to seeing what your 5-day challenge will be, I’ll be joining once I feel a bit better.


    1. Thank you, Eliza. 🙂 I am sort of back in the blogging saddle again. Since I’m still recuperating and not back to my usual dynamo self (and now have yet another complication…gah!!), I have plenty of sitting around time, and figured I might as well use some of it for blogging. It’s worked out well because I finally cleaned out my email and hopefully have things set up now so I can keep up without feeling overwhelmed by it all. I’ve tried so many different methods, and find it funny that I have reverted back to my original way of keeping up (subscribing via email). You might think that would make the email situation worse, but it doesn’t because it means I don’t have to use the WP Reader. The Reader is so slow on my internet connection and having to click around more than once to go to the original post makes it worse. I’d end up spending twice as much time on the Reader, leaving me with no time to clean out email. With email subscriptions, I can visit when I have time or just delete the emails if I don’t.

      Be well, and I hope the antibiotics aren’t too harsh on you (and your gut). I’m half way through my course now, and so far, so good except for something else that cropped up. I may have to take that vow of wellness again. 😀


      1. As Gilda Radner said, “It’s always something!” I think we need to affirm wellness DAILY with thanks and gratitude. Keep your spirits up!
        Luckily, my Reader works fine, but with so many to follow it can get daunting. Those posts I definitely don’t want to miss I put to email and often when time is short, I just go there and so I miss the rest of the posts. When I get really busy, I miss everything! I really dislike that! I think of the work folks put into their posts and want to read and acknowledge them. So much good stuff, so little time! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s okay, Gunta. I know it was confusing and hard to tell which way that wallpaper was going. I have nothing against ducks (in fact, I rather like them), but the wallpaper border was so filthy and ripped in quite a few spots. It’s good to be rid of it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. WordPress was being weird, Beeseeker. 🙂 I didn’t realize it was you, even with the link. I don’t think I knew you had another blog (other than the poetry blog). I should have known since I was following it (doh!). Maybe it’s all that head planning making it difficult for me to remember things and connect the dots.


  6. It appears your energy level is about what ours was when we first moved here. Sadly, it has diminished over the years and my sort-of-carefully-thought-out-not-really-more-seems-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time flower beds are developing too many sections of grass now. I’m working at either getting ambitious and attacking it or learning to live with it. Love your spaces and your thoughts. I figured you were renovating again when I saw your photo of the duck border – won’t it be nice when it’s done?!


    1. It will be wonderful when it’s done, Carol. 🙂 I tell myself that even knowing that when it comes to homes and renovations, it almost never really done. There is always something that needs work. As for the energy level, I work at turtle speed most of the time. Slow and steady. It’s taken me two years to change the area where the scrounger’s garden is from jungle to garden.


  7. Robin, you have made amazing progress on establishing your garden – really, your first? Look forward to seeing it develop. We’re in the middle of a total kitchen reno (as in down to the studs) so the garden here has been somewhat neglected. I’m finding that I can’t juggle two large projects at the same time anymore!


    1. Thank you, Lynn. 🙂 Good luck with the kitchen renovations. I hope it all goes smoothly and well for you. I know what you mean about juggling two large projects. It seems like we always have two, sometimes three, of them going on around here, and it feels so chaotic it is hard to know which one to work on first.


      1. Robin, I returned for another look and laughed all over again at the duck dynasty throne room. We removed the wallpaper in the kitchen and family room a few years ago when we did a cosmetic upgrade to the kitchen. The paper wasn’t so bad but the border looked like Mayan warriors eating hearts – really! And the paper we uncovered in the powder room, underneath a polite beige flower paper, was an early 70’s eye popper of giant (18″ wide!) red and yellow daisies on a royal blue background. I still have photos of it somewhere. The joys of re-decorating 🙂


Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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