🌻Sunflowers🌻

Sunflowers have always been a favorite of mine. They are strong, but delicate. Bold and beautiful. Tall or short. Big or small. The beautiful hues of yellow and orange against the green leaves and stems has always been so attractive. They light up a room, dress up a mantle and still have a rustic feel. They are the perfect summer and fall flower. They go with everything!

Thanks to COVID wrecking havoc on normalcy this year, I decided to turn two planting beds at our house into sunflower beds this year. I had time to water them and care for them…not that much was needed. Early May (the 3rd to be precise), I weeded, raked and mixed compost into a triangular planting bed next to the driveway. I added ~75 sunflower seeds to it, covered with compost and cedar mulch and began watering every day. About a week and a half later, I planted another ~25 sunflowers ina bed out back, around a rock and near the vegetable garden. I was worried at the beginning, day 6 of the first bed being planted brought a freak snow squall to us in May, and I so worried my seeds wouldn’t come to life.

First bed of sunflower seeds planted in 2020

Every morning, I wake up and the first thing I do is water these two beds, along with a bed of dahlias and the vegetables. It didn’t take long for the sunflower seeds to germinate and start growing. As they grew, I continued to water the, weed the beds and cut off dead leaves from the stems. Early August treated CT with a Tropical Storm and some crazy winds. In prepping the property, I dealt with the vegetables first and almost ran out of string. As a last minute attempt to try and protect the sunflowers by the driveway, which happen to be about 4’ above the driveway at the top of a retaining wall, I looped my last bit of string around every other stem and lashed them all together hoping they’d be strong enough as one unit to survive the storm. Once the storm passed and the winds died down, I went out to check on them, and the rest of my plants. The storm only took out ~10 sunflowers, so I consider us lucky to have survived with power, most plants surviving and the only tree damage being a few tree tops falling on the edge of the property.

Many of the early blooms from 2020

Tropical Storm Isasis also brought the first sunflower bloom of he season. On August 8th I cut the first yellow sunflower to bloom from the bed by the driveway, along with a dahlia and allowed them to be the centerpiece of the mantle. Since then I’ve harvested about 15 more sunflowers and have a few more ready for harvesting in the morning.

I have learned a few important things this year growing my own cut flowers…

  1. Plant more than you think you need. You will loose some and deer will eat some. There’s always room for a base in another room and no one says no to a bouquet of fresh cut, home grown flowers.
  2. If you plant out back, do it inside a fence. Just because you don’t see the deer doesn’t mean you don’t have them. I know they moved out of the backyard when we moved in, but they have come back. Maybe I didn’t notice because I wasn’t always home. Or maybe it’s because they only seem to be out back in the dark, but they are here and sunflowers with no fencing are a nice snack for them. Next year the vegetable garden will be expanded to include room for more flowers.
  3. You don’t get privacy from a sunflower bed alone. Sunflowers by the driveway are pretty, but don’t provide the privacy you hoped they would. It’s also to open and winds can be damaging. Next year I’ll be building a lattice fence on the 2 back sides to offer privacy from the street to the yard, and to provide a wind shelter for the sunflowers.
  4. No matter how hard we try, getting a 4 year old cat to pose for pictures with flowers is much harder than when they were kittens…

Charlie ‘posing’ with some sunflowers

{Creative Palette} Cheese Tray & Crate Planter

Kelly at 2nd Chance Restoration was back at her DIY Creative Palette classes in April – this month we made a cheese tray and a planter! I was super excited for the planter since spring has been long awaited and spring flowers always make everything more cheerful.

Like always, we started by sanding our first project – the planter. we started with an unfinished wooden crate, like this one you can find at Michael’s. We then stained it with a Fusion’s Satin & Finishing Oil – that would allow us to put the planters outside. Because the inside would be lined later, we only needed to stain the outside. Kelly offered a grey and a brown – I chose to do the grey. While we let those dry, we started on our cheese trays – sanding and then staining. The tray itself can be made from any piece of wood, ours were circular, though other shaped would work too! For the circle, any hardware or craft store should carry tabletops, a small one is perfect for this project. For the tray, I did brown since it’s going to be a gift, otherwise I would have done grey to match my tray I made last year!

While we continued to let everything dry, we started on the cheese cutting board itself – and made them just like the ones from the Cricut 101 class I did with Shauna back at Kelly’s in February. Since these for for cheese trays, we had sayings that played on the names of cheese to pick from. Kelly had premade the vinyl cutouts, and we applied them to the back of cutting boards from the dollar store – I did a square cutting board, but she also had circular ones available.

Once the cutting board was done, our planters were relatively dry – so it was time to add wheels to the bottom 4 corners. Most used a drill to make it easier to screw them on, but you know me, I had to do something differently, so I used a regular old crew driver, but it worked out just fine! Then we took black plastic garbage bags which were cut open to be one large piece of plastic, and lined the inside of the painter, stapling the plastic to the inside of the crate; this will protect our crates from the water for the flowers we will put in them. (It’s the perfect size to put two medium size plants in their plastic planters inside the crate, just make sure to poke a few holes in the plastic before watering so the water doesn’t pool in the bottom.)

The final touch for the planter was to apply the vinyl “welcome” to the mini chalk board and then apply some Velcro to the back of the chalkboard to use that to adhere it to the outside of the crate. The best part here is you could make multiple chalkboards and change the saying for various occasions!

Once our planters were down, we needed to drill holes for the handles at each side. There really is no exact place the handles needed to be, so I put them in 1″ from the “edge” of the platter to the middle of the handle. And just as every other handle installation for me goes at Kelly’s, I needed to make a few minor adjustments to get the handles attached 😊

Then, with handles installed and the tray dry, we set the cutting board in the middle and our trays and planters were complete!