Category Archives: garden

I dream of summer- outdoor showers

Winter. She’s still looking pretty good at my house in the mountains but I’ve had to venture down into the winter inversion filled Salt Lake valley (nicknamed the “dirty dirty” this time of year by Park City locals) frequently and for boring reasons like taxes and the like. Record breaking bad air quality, smushy brownish melting piles of snow and accounting has made me reflect on warmer, greener climes and a simpler schedule those places bring.
Adding to my angst and worry- my 16 year old is leaving on Thursday for a 6 month foreign exchange in Costa Rica (more about that later), I’m trying to figure out how to fit into her suitcase.

If there’s one fantastic thing about summer and warm places  it’s the water and more specifically outdoor showers on a hot summer day is what I long for… again.
Years ago we had an outdoor shower, at the first house house we owned. The house was over 100 years old and had capped off hot and cold water pipes coming right out of the back of the house to what once was perhaps a laundry room but was gone before we arrived. With minimal expenditure, we built a cedar fence enclosure, put down gravel then bricks (no drain) for the floor, extended the pipes and added a shower head for what became the envy of all our friends- not necessarily the neighbors- I think they assumed we were weirdos. We used it from April until October, then turned it off so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. When we sold the house, I think it was the first thing they tore out- who’s the weirdo now? I’ve always wanted another outdoor shower, even if the water is heated with one of those solar shower camping device. Washing that soap right out of your hair under a bright blue sky, sun rays beating down on you- euphoria.

outdoor-shower6source Very similar to the shower we once had, fenced in, with a changing area and bench.

outdoor showerThere are plenty of fancy outdoor showers out there, I’m going for beautiful simplicity.

simple swimming poolsource And maybe a pool someday, not too fancy, tiny or narrow and long for swimming laps.

outdoor shower1source From a hotel on Mykonos, Greece, an island we visited a few years back on a most excellent sailing adventure, I wish we’d visited this exact spot.

outdoor shower2source This is more like my climate, flora and fauna and what I’ll end up with someday, but seriously, loose the roof.

simple outdoor showersource I or you could totally make one of these. I’m planning it out in my head… it looks portable or moveable too.

outdoorshower3source Our old shower looked similar to this, but even less fancy.

outdoorshower4source

4-outdoor-bathroomsource Taking it to the next level. See what you can do with a recycled toilet, some rocks and cement? I’m all over it.

outdoor-shower-5source Ok, you might need to be doing a little house remodeling for this one, but still fairly simple.

outdoor shower7source See how easy Martha makes it look?

making a succulent planter

succulent planterI’ve been meaning to put together a succulent planter for a few months now. I got the fairy accessories- mushrooms, pavers, bench, ‘tip-toe please’ sign from Plum Scrumptious at Beehive Bazaar in early December, I’ve been waiting for the crazy of Christmas to slow down so the kids and I could finally put something together.

packing peanuts in plantersSince it’s 3 degrees outside, the finished product must fit indoors for at least part of the year. I’ve been picturing it on a table so after quite a bit of searching around I found a lightweight plastic pot that looks ceramic, but isn’t too tall or too big for a tabletop.

To keep the whole project under 10 lbs. and easy to lift, I filled the bottom half of the pot with packing peanuts, leaving 6 or so inches for dirt and the plants.
**Packing peanuts in the bottom of a large container is a great idea for outdoor planters you want to keep moveable.

cut up a t-shirtI cut up an old t-shirt to create a layer between the packing peanuts and dirt. Probably not essential but it might keep things tidy if I decide to change it up later.

cover with fabric in planterCover the packing peanuts with the fabric.

use packing peanuts in potsLayer the dirt right on top of the fabric. I live in a very dry climate so I’m not worried about the water seeping down into the packing peanuts and growing moldy. In a more humid, moist climate this might be a problem to be aware of.

succulent gardenWith gloves on the hands, we started putting in the plants, adding and packing dirt as we went.

succulent fairy gardenAll the accessories and plants barely fit, but somehow we pulled it off. As you can see, there is definitely a back and a front side – there just wasn’t anywhere else the tiny bench would fit.

succulentsThe kids carefully arranged the walkway, mushrooms, fairy bench and signage, watching them was like watching a game of Operation (where you try to remove the game pieces without touching the sides and getting buzzed). Still, there was the occasional, “Ouch!”

cactus planterThen it was time to find a few visitors- the Polly Pockets were dressed in their best fairy dresses and invited in.

When the 14 year old walked by and saw a fairy laying on the bench he said, “What is she, homeless?!”

And that’s the best part… creative interpretation. I have no doubt the Legos will be invited to the garden- they can appreciate a slightly dangerous adventure.

bringing geraniums in for the winter

This pot full of geraniums has been brighten up my front porch all summer and fall and I’m not ready to say goodbye to colorful flowers even though the first frost is upon us. It’s my tradition to haul the geraniums inside for long, snowy winter here in the Utah mountains- this is an easy enough task with a few simple guidelines and a couple of tricks.

20121008-095451.jpgI split my four geranium plants from the giant outdoor container into their own personal pot, each small enough to sit on the window sill. Geraniums are very forgiving and don’t mind being moved too much, they should handle the upheaval well. With a small spade, dig out a good sized root ball (at least the size of a very large grapefruit) and place it into the new pot, adding extra potting soil as needed and packing it all down.

20121008-095510.jpgThe trick to keeping geraniums blooming while indoors is placing them in a very sunny place, with direct sunlight. If they don’t have at least 4 hours of direct sunlight they will act like any other houseplant- be green but not blooming. Also, to keep the plant from getting leggy (increasing in size but not necessarily looking very good) you must pinch off the new growth leaves (the light colored tiny leaves pictured above). This goes against all of my gardening/mothering instincts but it must be done to keep the plants fairly compact and forces the plant to put all of its energy into produce flowers, not getting bigger.

20121008-095530.jpgPinch back the flowers as they begin to wilt and die to encourage new flower growth.  Water with miracle gro or other plant food every time you water- regular water isn’t enough. Water about every 4 days or whenever the soil look and feels dry.

As the snow piles up, and the cold wind blows in January and February, you can cuddle up near the sunny window full of flowers with a cup of tea and soak in the bright, cheerful colors. Flowering geraniums in the dead of winter always help chase away the seasonal blues and look forward to the return of warmer days.