Thursday, April 30, 2015

Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for Adults!

Remember that '70s commercial for kids' cereal, "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids"? Well, silly rabbit, tricks are for adults, and I've got just a few more up my sleeve to rid you from my garden, once and for all!
Remember last year when the rabbit nested in the middle of my lawn and the bouncer, Mr. Hawk, ultimately took care of things?
Well, one of the rabbit relatives came back this year, and decided to move in not too far away in my lawn again, not quite in the middle, but close. A little too close to my Asiatic lilies, which I added more of in my flower bed last year after consumption killed them off (just to the right of the umbrella stand pictured below, out of frame). It's been two weeks, and neither Mr. Hawk nor my product seems to be working.
Last year I used a shelf product, Repels-All, that I, incidentally, get no sponsorship for, or anything else I blog about. It's a good thing, because it didn't work, last year or this year. I distributed it over the lawn and landscape areas again this year because I still had some and wanted to get rid of the product along with (hopefully) the rabbit. It's supposed to irritate the sinuses. A lot of things irritate my sinuses, but I keep on going. I should've known better, I guess, because the rabbit kept showing signs of return (the dug up grass).

Latest tricks? Well, I was reading Feathers in the Woods' blog post on the subject, and she's got a list of 8 tricks ways to keep rabbits out of the garden, so I'm onto this one - Irish Spring soap (see photo below).
No, it's not garnish for a salad. Well, maybe it is - for the rabbit clan. I'd like to think of it as washing the rabbit's mouth out with soap, just like moms did back in the day. You take a bar of Irish Spring soap and whittle the flakes, place them in a net bag or hosiery. I have no idea how much I need, but I made four little "bulbs" with a half bar of soap and one knee-high.
I went straight out to the rabbit hole and affected landscape areas, and I "planted" my bulbs". I put one directly in the hole (where I had sprinkled Repels-All just two weeks ago). 
I placed the other three "bulbs" around the area where my asiatic lilies are supposed to be growing.
In the photo above, you can see a few, random lilies coming up (along with a black-eyed Susan and wild violet). I also put the flexible fencing around the area in vain, to try to keep the rabbits out. I think they have a tunnel from the yard hole over to this spot.

I'll let you know how this remedy goes. We may have bubbles all over our lawn when it rains again, hahaha. I've got a few more tricks up my sleeve just in case this one doesn't work. If it does work, I've got more soap.

Did you ever get your mouth washed out with soap? Did it work??

Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fiesta Tent Sale, DC Area and Farm Country

Mr. P.  and I did some traveling in April over two different weekends that made for great little getaways. Mid-April we went to the DC area with an agenda that included shopping, sightseeing, cultural activity, and visiting. The following weekend was for a wedding and barn reception in Casstown, OH (just north of Dayton). It was a good mix of city and country that may be of interest to you in your own future travel planning.

The Fiestaware Factory Tent Sale was going on the Thursday we left for DC (about an hour north, on our way). This tent sale happens twice a year (April, August) in the Flatwoods, West Virginia outlet location, and in Newell, WV retail location (June, October). When we arrived, it sounded like a short-order restaurant, with dishes clanging and banging inside the tent.
Happy Shoppers at the 2015 April Fiesta Tent Sale
I didn't shop the sale, but I wanted to stop long enough to take photos of those shopping it. People camp out and stay in nearby hotels to get a jump on getting in line for this sale. The number of shoppers at one time is limited, no one under 15 is allowed in the tents at all, you're allowed to purchase a max of four milk crates full, and carts are allowed to haul your four crates, but must be narrow (you can rent them on site). Lines were long in the beginning, and it can get hot, but it's a doable venture.

Check out the line of people, where the (white) tent sale is to the right in the top half of the photo below. Those people were standing at the edge of a tractor-trailer truck (there for someone hauling this stuff!), and there were a lot more trucks with smaller trailers on the parking lot. Place settings (4-pc) can be bought for around $9 at these sales, but it's pretty dirty work. The best advice is wearing tube socks on your hands to wipe and feel for blips in manufacture as you make your selections.
April 2015 Fiesta Tent Sale - Flatwoods, WV
Moving on toward DC, we stopped overnight in the Leesburg, VA area, where I planned to visit with my cousin. She had mentioned a couple antiquing places along the way, so I stopped and did a one-hour sweep in two stores in Hagerstown, MD. She is also an antique dealer and lives near Lucketts, so that's where we met the next day (Friday). It was the first day of the first outdoor flea of the season.

Other than seeing displays and marketing policies at each of the locales, nothing intrigued me much at all. I did enjoy seeing where Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed has her huge annual sale on Lucketts' grounds (in May), and the shop where blogger Mary Alice is situated, near Lucketts by a few miles. I don't know if it was my mood, or the impending migraine the next day, or what, but I only found a few textiles to buy and one transferware pitcher - less than $50 worth of items - all in Hagerstown.
Antiquing in Hagerstown and DC areas, April 2015
It has become very frustrating for me, as a picker and dealer, to see vintage inspired items (read: Decor Steals, Antique Farmhouse) being sold in antique stores without full disclosure of the fact that the items are not antiques. That's just not good antiquing business, in my opinion, and a disservice to those new to antiquing. It's okay to mix a few reproductions in with the old, but I think dealers owe it to potential buyers to fully disclose the information to them in order to clarify and/or educate on the differences between the real things and reproductions.

Saturday of this same weekend was Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. Note to self: do NOT go to DC the weekend of the Cherry Blossom Festival events. For us, going a few days before or after the actual weekend would've been best. The place was wall-to-wall people on the weekend of the festival, and traffic was horrendous (more than usual). We had matinee tickets to see the New York City Ballet at the Kennedy Center. And I had a migraine.
2015 DC Cherry Blossom Festival
Some battles are not worth fighting. We blew right through town once we got past the traffic around the Tidal Basin and National Mall areas, and headed home without getting out of the car, without seeing the ballet. The tickets were what Mr. P. refers to as sunk costs (money already spent, can't recover).

The following weekend, we had a family wedding to attend in Casstown, OH (just north of Dayton). We drove up the morning of the wedding, and it was a gorgeous day along Route 35N, through West Virginia and Ohio - farm country!
Traveling Route 35N in WV, OH
These country roads were busy with tractors working the fields, and the smell of ramps wafting in the air. This is also the ramps harvesting time in WV, where cooking with the wild onions is a culinary festival celebration in various locations throughout our "Almost Heaven" state.  The Bob Evans Farms is also along the route we traveled, about halfway to our destination. Rich, river bottom fields are what Route 35 consists of, and it's one farm after another - dairy, grain, and livestock - as you travel through.

I'll be sharing the details of the homemade, barn-style wedding reception we attended in an upcoming post. The decor was really well done, the food fare was terrific, and the backdrop couldn't have been better. The reception lasted from mid-afternoon until late that night in a 100+ year-old barn / farm that's housed three generations of one family. It was a fun, family gathering with seven of my total nine (including myself) siblings and nearly 150 more guests. I hope you'll come back when I share the creative ideas carried out at that reception.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.  Have you been on the road lately? Country, city, or both?

Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring's Start 2015

Spring has been slow to start in my region (zone 7a) in 2015, but it sure doesn't take long for the list of outdoor chores to pile up!

We had our tall trees limbed up on March 30, and Mr. P. completed the first mowing of 2015 on March 31. From this point until late November, the marathon of landscape maintenance is on.
Most of our landscape was trimmed late last fall, so it's just now that I'm needing to start my maintenance in the yard. One of the first things I did was transplant my lemon seedlings again. The photo below is an update on my lemon plant propagation experiment, day 60 (April 4, 2015) that I posted on in March. They're still growing!
Update April 4, 2015: Lemon Plant Propagation Experiment
First blooms in the garden are always my pansies, springing back to life after the snow melts, along with my daffodils and hyacinths.
First blooms: hyacinths, daffodils, and over-wintered pansies
Next up, my PJM rhododendrons put on a show in the front corner of my landscape, this year the first week of April (liriope is barely showing signs in the mulch). As you can see by the photo below, we are gradually replacing eleven year old, leggy plantings with younger plants. At the same time the PJMs are blooming, the very back landscape beds are showing signs of hostas emerging, while clumps of white anemones and candytufts bloom among them. The candytufts were new additions last year, and I planted a total of five, hoping they'll spread far and wide.
Early April blooms: PJM rhododendrons, candytuft, and white anemones
By mid-April, with nearly 4" of rain already in this month so far, things were really greening up throughout the beds: irises, bee balm, spirea, sage, and buttercups (front to back in photo below). The lawn and hostas seem to grow inches overnight, and the grass was cut again. Early in the season is the best time to get out and pull weeds and unwanted plants that grow from horizontal shoots (rhizomes is the technical term). For me, that includes out-of-control bee balm and nandina (heavenly bamboo).
Various degrees of green: (Top) irises, bee balm, spirea, sage & buttercups; (Bottom) lawn, Japanese maple (l), Kousa dogwoods (center). Trees in background are on riverbank property, just across road
The Japanese maple is starting to flesh out, while the Kousa dogwoods are still slow to bud. I placed my little rain gauge in the yard, next to the irises on the 13th, and by the morning of the 14th, another 1.5" of rain had fallen with no signs of it stopping anytime soon.

Elsewhere in the garden, I placed my first hummingbird feeder up on the 13th, but it may be a couple more weeks and several changes to the feed before my first visitor arrives from its migration. I trimmed my butterfly bushes and clematis vine (both of which were already showing new growth, and I trained the new vines on the clematis around the copper swirls on the tripod trellis). I have poppies finally taking root (planted from my sister's cuttings last year) and, fingers crossed, soon to show blooms. 
Hummingbird feeder, clematis on tripod trellis, sassafras volunteer, wall of lavender, poppies, and rabbit hole (center).
Mr. P's sassafras volunteer on the riverbank is about to burst with leaves (3 yrs old now). My lavender seems to have wintered over well in the courtyard and landscape both, much better than winter of 2014. And, just like last year, I have a rabbit nesting in the middle of my landscape, digging a hole in the wide open space. Last year, nature took care of the situation when a hawk swooped down as my bouncer. Rabbits are not the smartest when it comes to selecting real estate.

It looks like I'll be battling wild violets this year. They've seriously encroached on one mulch bed in particular. It's a bed in front of our fence gate, near the road and neighboring property, and has always had liriope in it. A few years ago, though, the liriope was over-thinned (unsupervised help), and the violets took over. I'm trying Preen, which a neighbor swears by, but if any reader has a better suggestion, please put it in a comment or write me an email. I don't want to kill the liriope, just the wild violets, but I may need to start over by Fall if I can't get it under control.
Unwanted wild violets among landscape bed of emerging liriope
Postscript: I simply couldn't help but be dazzled with the explosion of colors in my neighborhood while walking on the morning after this post was published (April 20th). Just one week from when all the other photos in this post were taken, and look at the differences in blooms in the two pictures below! The first photo below is the Japanese maple in my yard (same one as the photo of the lawn, above, as seen on the left).
Landscape Japanese maple (red) and Kousa dogwood (foreground)
And THIS...was my neighborhood that same day! What a difference a week makes in nature!
Neighborhood color explosion, April 20, 2015
I can't wait for my azaleas to bloom, which should be in the next couple weeks (a later blooming variety). It's a whiteout - the only kind I like.

I always find it interesting to read other bloggers' garden progressions in the various zones. What's blooming in your garden right now?

 Want more on gardening? Just type 'landscape' or 'garden' in the search field above my profile picture and more posts should appear. Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply
(A special thanks to Kathy of A Delightsome Life for featuring this post at her Home and Garden party).
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Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Landscape Garden Essentials

I'm strictly a landscape gardener, and if you're thinking about starting a flower bed or two, there are a few essentials you may want to consider. I'm sharing my list of everyday garden essentials, and many of these essentials crossover to vegetable gardeners as well. If you plan on going for a full-scale, landscape garden on your property this year, these will be items that may come in handy after the heavy duty digging and planting is complete.
Last year I prepared a variation on this post in a guest series on my friend Laura's blog, Decor to Adore. I'm expanding a bit on that post, and updating with links to some of my favorite garden essential items. No compensation is being received for any of the items recommended.

My number one garden essential, hands down, is a good pair of gloves.  Although there are plenty of options and price points out there to choose from (the photo below was taken in a small town hardware store), I prefer a good grip kind, such as these, for most of my work in the garden. The rubber palm and breathable, nylon topside are a winning combination, providing good water, chemical and dirt coverage for fingertips, yet flexible enough for handling seedlings. They wash and dry well also. For dealing with tougher jobs such as thorns, I switch to (and recommend) leather or leather-like gloves, a more impenetrable choice.
Garden gloves
Second on my list of garden essentials is a trusty pair of snips, pruners, or plain ole knife or scissors.
Pruning snips
pair of snips takes care of handling most dead-heading in the daily walk through the garden, and these are inexpensively found (less than $15 for a decent pair) at your garden or hardware store. You can tell mine are well-used (and dirty on the blades!). This pair has a safety catch for keeping the blades together when not in use. There's also a more frugal alternative to pruning snips - go to the Dollar Tree and purchase (when in stock, early in season) or a pair of scissors and/or knife!  Yes, they will do the job, and when the blades go dull or the tool(s) get lost in the garden, they're inexpensive to replace!  Knives are especially great for whacking down small grasses.  Alternatively, if you really get into your tools and some serious pruning, you can invest in a good pair of Felco No. 2 pruners.  Felco pruners are the workhorse tool in my arsenal, easily cutting through thick branches of mature plants and even trees, up to 1" in diameter.

Next on my list of garden essentials are good, basic hand tools. By all means, go straight to your nearest estate sale, and make a beeline for the garage. You're likely to find a whole host of hand tools at $1 or less for each! A spade, trowel, weeder, hand cultivator - all of these are good to have for various tasks. And don't worry about the rust - rid the rust with Evapo Rust - available at Advance Auto, Lowe's, or Amazon. Spraying WD-40 and scrubbing with a Scotch-Brite sponge can also work to rid rust on hand tools. Prevention is the best medicine - clean, dry and store your hand tools after each use.
Hand tools scored at an estate sale for $1 or less each
The bonus in finding hand tools at an estate sale is you may even have a little piece of art in the handle (careful, you'll be tempted to use as decor!).
Hand tools as sunroom decor
There are a couple other handy tools for the gardener that I personally consider essential, but one can certainly do without. The first is the hand rake (shown below), which is great for working under shrubs to clean up leaves and trimmings. Not as easy to find at estate or yard sales, it costs just under $10.

The second handy, not so common garden tool is the yard butler (below). This is a great tool for removing weeds, such as dandelions and wild violets. You simply center the bottom prongs over the weed center, push down on the foot pedal, and lift up the handle - your weed comes out, root and all. It runs around $30. 

Now that you're set with tools for the garden, it's time to enjoy it. What's all that work in the garden for if you can't share it and enjoy the show? Focusing on a playground for the birds, I've come to find a low-to-the-ground, sturdy concrete bird bath as a garden essential - a $30 purchase at my local Feed and Seed store. I have several birdbaths throughout my garden, but have found my bird visitors love that first one I ever bought the most.  I always locate the birdbath near a perch (trellis in my garden) and near protection (between thorny rose bushes and tall magnolia).  I store it away during winter months to keep it from cracking during freeze-thaw weather.  A large, clay pot saucer is an alternative to a concrete birdbath, and it's about half the cost.
Pool's open!  Robin in birdbath, early Spring, before hibiscus are full-grown
View of same birdbath, nestled among mid-summer, full-grown hibiscus, rose bushes and magnolia
Essential and critical to attracting the birds consistently is keeping the birdbath clean. I keep a watering can beside my birdbath to top off the loss of water from splashes and evaporation, and I keep an old kitchen scrub brush in the garage just for the task of cleaning. I simply hose the birdbath with the power nozzle, apply elbow grease with the brush, and rinse again with the power nozzle.  If there's a build up of algae (happens overnight with high humidity and/or rain in our region), I will use a drop of bleach to disinfect and scrub the birdbath, but use it sparingly and rinse well!

Lastly, to finish off my list of favorite garden essentials, I'd have to say it's my Poison Ivy Soap. In the long list of protective garden arsenal, I think my poison ivy soap deserves a mention here. That's not to say that sunscreen and hand lotion aren't high on the list, but if you've ever had poison ivy, you can empathize (and my first bout with the stuff was when I was 40). I use this soap, faithfully, immediately after being in the garden, from my hands to elbows and feet to knees.
Poison ivy soap and nail brush, as a preventive approach
Gardening can really be as little or as much as you want it to be, so go, get outside!

Here is a list from this post, recapping the garden items and links to items I consider essential:
Good pair of gloves and/or
Leather or leather-like gloves
Pair of snips and/or 
Felco No. 2 pruners
Estate or Yard Sale hand tools (spade, trowel, hand cultivator) and/or Dollar Tree finds
Hand rake
Yard butler
Low-to-the-ground, sturdy concrete bird bath, watering can, and scrub brush (check local feed and seed store, estate and yard sales)
Poison Ivy Soap
Optional: Evapo Rust

There are certainly other garden items I use regularly and love - my rain gauge to judge watering needs, birdfeeders (hummer in summer, nyjer and/or sunflower in winter), and stakes and ties for tall-stemmed perennials and vines - but I could live without them if I had to. How about you - what do you consider your garden essentials? Are you a landscape gardener and/or vegetable gardener? Have you already started working on your list of yard chores? I'd love for you to spill the dirt with me.

Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply
Here on my blog, I have several more garden-related posts. If you're interested, you can type 'garden' into the search box just above my profile picture on the sidebar, and a list of related posts should come up. I ♥ my garden!

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Spring '15 Pickin', Grinnin', Movin', Shakin'

The start of spring has proven to spark the Panoply sisters' desire for the hunt for vintage and antique finds, along with prepping items to style and sell. With estate sales in full swing, and a road trip to the Cincinnati area under the belt, I'm sharing some of our latest finds and what we're doing with them.

Remember when I shared my Vintage Finds in NE Maine, PA (pictured below)? Well, I just got around to giving the carrier you see in the photo below a good cleaning a couple weeks ago, readying it for a display at home.
Vintage Finds from Maine
Much to my surprise, there was a bonus on the bottom of the crate - original graphics on the wood from which the carrier was made! The A.B. Kuhlman and Co. Publishers were located on 315 Dearborn St., in Chicago, at the turn of the 20th Century, and this wood dates to sometime between 1900-1909. I will be fostering this one for a while.
Circa 1900 - 1909 Original Graphics on Wood Carrier
Next, an item I just recently sourced locally and had to do some major soaking to was this 5 gallon, crated glass jug (below), often referred to as a "penny jug". The wood crate is marked Solutions Lab, and the glass is very thick and heavy. The jug would have previously been used at a local Union Carbide plant (we live in a valley notorious for many chemical plants). It was found in the basement area of a recent estate sale, full of cobwebs and other nasties, inside and out. 
Solutions Lab Graphics on Wood Crate with 5 Gal Glass Bottle
Cleaning it was comparable to what I imagine wrestling an alligator would be like. One gallon of water weighs nearly 8.5 lbs, so you do the math, and then imagine trying to turn it in the laundry tub. Umm, yea, I'm keeping that one for a while. I'm keeping this next one, too (pictured below).
Vintage WWII German Wicker Ammunition Basket
Oh yea, when I spotted this vintage WWII German wicker ammunition basket while on the hunt in the KY/OH area last weekend, I immediately grabbed it. I requested the dealer be called with an offer and, lucky for me, my offer was accepted. It was the end of the month, and dealers are typically more willing to entertain offers then, especially if rent has not been made. I'll fill it with my bread boards that have been sitting in my basement stash for three years, just waiting for the perfect place to be displayed when not in use for other vignettes.

So, those are the finders / keepers.
Finders / Keepers
These next few items are things my sisters and I recently scored. We've already placed these in displays in our antique mall booth spaces.
Spring 2015 Vintage Finds Styled in Panoply Booth Spaces
Starting from the top left corner and going clockwise, a real honey hole of vintage pillowcases were spotted, and sister M scooped them up, washed, ironed and priced them for sale. Next, is a beautiful, small tobacco gathering basket, full of vintage, cross-stitched linens, containing their respectively labeled vintage utensils. On the bottom right is a really nice shaving set with original Acme Corp. milk glass mug and Rubberset brush. Bottom center includes antique and vintage grooming tools: a bakelite manicure set and straight edge razor, Berma Shave glass jar, Waterford crystal razor and shaving brush, and vintage barber bottle with porcelain top. The whisk broom has a sterling handle. Last is a vintage body scale, sad iron and dustpan.

We're also getting ready for Kentucky Derby (May 2, 2015), so we added a few new pieces for vignettes at the store. Mint Julep glasses in a carrier with a vintage recipe (an electric company's advertising pamphlet); a hat, binoculars and gloves, all suitable for race day; and a few equestrian items, including hat, helmet, a great leather horse with glass eyes, as well as trophies and ribbons.
2015 Vintage Equestrian / Derby Finds Styled in Panoply Booth Spaces
I also picked up a few other smalls, a few to keep, a few to sell - at some point, hehe.
Primitive stool, ironstone compote and sugar; bakelite utensils
Ironstone pudding molds: Lion and Lamb
Ironstone rose pudding mold on compote and stool
I already had the lamb ironstone pudding mold at home, and was happy when I found the lion form, but it was after finding the rose mold on this same trip. It seems they were calling out to me. ;-)

Okay, now here's the one that got away on our last shopping trip - the antique, toy terrier that you see pictured in the top portion of the photo below. The bottom portion is a photo of my granddog, a Welsh terrier, trying on his life preserver that my daughter bought for him last summer. Is that not the cutest resemblance you've ever seen?! That little riding toy was priced at nearly $500 so, no, he did not come home with me.
Antique Toy Terrier and Real-Life Terrier
Sister M and I did some major work in our booth spaces in the last couple of weeks at the antique mall. I already wrote a post on our newly expanded space we took possession of the last week of March. The first week of April was spent cleaning and making a few additional big moves as a result of a large painted chest that sold.

The following photos each show the before and after the changes in locations of our displays. Feel free to skip the before and after segment, but for those of you thinking about renting booth space, this will give you a taste of what's to come when you buy / sell big furniture - big sales, potentially big margin, and certainly big moves afterward. Moving and shaking up the booth spaces is a definite plus for keeping customers interested in your stock.

Here's the overall view of one rented booth space prior to the sale that led to five subsequent moves!
Overall view of Panoply booth space affected, before and after sale of blue chest - Spring 2015
The snowball effect started with the blue chest with mirror that sold. Casual linens were then moved against the wall from the corner of the floor space.
Before: blue chest; After: casual linens
The blue bench, which was previously against the far right wall (when viewing the overall booth space), was then positioned where the casual linens stood.
Before: casual linens; After: blue bench
Then, the black stepback (below) was moved to where the blue bench had been (white ironstone is planned for the black stepback). Next to the stepback is a wicker cart and shelving, loaded with hardware, and an inspirational sign upcycled with same, above the cart.
Before: blue bench; After: black stepback, wicker cart, hardware
The hardware was previously at the back of our other space (what we refer to as main booth), on a gateleg table, which was replaced with a small seating area.
Before: gateleg table, hardware; After: small seating area
Now, the gateleg table is fully open, in the center of the floor, as our equestrian / Derby display. The wicker cart previously at center is housing for hardware (as mentioned above). Crates and wooden carriers are scattered.
Before: wicker cart, crates; After: gateleg table (open), equestrian 
Shopping for and styling our booth spaces are two of our very most fun activities at Panoply. The cleaning, pricing and hauling just come with the territory. Here on my blog, I have several more antique mall booth space-related posts. If you're interested, you can type 'booth space' into the search box just above my profile picture on the sidebar, and a list of related posts should come up.

So, have you found some vintage and antique treasures lately? Are they keepers, or are they the ones that got away?

Thanks for your visit!