Category Archives: Garden Art

A Mandala Inspired by Art

I grew up watching my mom create beautiful works of art using only a sewing needle and the colorful threads and yarns that she stitched into amazing designs on fabric.

She showed her stitcheries in a few  museum textile art exhibits, but mostly they were an artistic outlet for her and a joy for  friends and family.

 

One hot, slow summer day Jamie mentioned it would be fun to make another Oak Street Garden Shop Mandala (designs using blooms, leaves, and other materials around the shop.).

I agreed and mentioned the pieces of driftwood we’d gotten in reminded me of my mom’s stitcheries. She displayed them hung on pieces of driftwood found at area lakes where I grew up in Michigan and Wisconsin.

So we decided to try to make a mandala  in the same manner as one of my mom’s stitcheries and started out by laying fabric onto a table and positioning a piece of driftwood at the top.

 

 

Jamie began gathering colorful blooms and leaves, and I laid out stones to create the lines and forms we could work from. I remember my mom saying it was the relationship of forms that she enjoyed most.

 

 

I did mention it was a hot summer day, right? Of course that’s why it was a slow day too, perfect for a project like this. However I have to say that it might have been even hotter than normal on this particular afternoon in the greenhouse.

The table was set up up by the front door to take advantage of as much air as possible, but we had to  eventually close one of the doors because it was too breezy and nothing would stay where we placed it.

 

A few people came in looking for things here and there, and it was easy to tell the ones that didn’t really get it. “What is it?” was the usual question. “It’s a design”,  we’d answer, “using leaves and things.” “Ahh…” they’d say uncertainly and slowly walk away.

But one woman and a group of young girls were intrigued and asked what various things were and why we were making it, exclaiming that it was beautiful.

Here then are pictures of our “tapestry project” using my mom’s stitcheries as inspiration. And, whether you “get it” or not, we hope you enjoy the idea! If you like this one and would like to see some others we’ve made, look HERE. You can also click on Blog Posts,  go to Archives and use the Search feature. Just type in mandala.

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

A Place To Sit…

This afternoon, glass of wine in hand, I take my usual late day walk through the garden, observing the landscape in the afternoon light. I can’t help but pull stray weeds – pull them now or pull them later, right? I hear the water rushing below after the recent rains, and decide to sit for awhile on a bench there.

A dear garden friend (now gone) once turned to me after seeing this bench, saying, “I bet you don’t sit here much do you? There’s always something to do.” I think of her comment often, but now is the perfect time of day to sit, listen, and watch. A movement catches my eye and my gaze settles on the tiniest of tiny worms dangling in the air in front of me. It jerks down, then sways. What is it? I watch as it moves down a bit more, with seeming enormous effort, until it hangs in front of me on its invisible thread.

I watch as it slowly, impossibly, begins to rise. I tilt my head up, looking at the branches of the Japanese maple above me, wondering. How would that distance translate for a human? A mile? 5? I watch til it disappears up and away from sight. This is why there are benches in gardens…

By Kris Blevons

A Flag For The Fourth

Last year’s massive “Botanical Fireworks”  Fourth of July project was pretty hard to top. This year we went a little smaller, and had some fun creating this tabletop botanical  “flag”. So far it’s made its way onto Facebook and Instagram, and after this post publishes I’ll put it on Pinterest too. How did we manage years ago without all this social media? They were simpler times, that’s for sure.

Botanical Flag CloseupIngredients for our flag project included blooms cut from the bleeding heart vine  (Clerodendron) growing around our entrance,  kalanchoe, vinca, dipladenia,  euphorbia, and geranium petals, cotton bolls and blueberries (We couldn’t resist eating some!)

Happy Fourth of July!!

By Kris Blevons

Old Windows…Repurposed Into Wall Art

The old window had been kicking around for a few years, and we’d done a beautiful succulent planting in it. Bert had even built a planting box onto it so the plants would have more room to grow. It hung in the greenhouse for a few seasons and gave folks lots of ideas for their own vertical plantings.Old Window Repurposed into Wall Art Close-Up

During a greenhouse spring makeover the window planting was taken down.  It was propped against a wall by the clay pots where  it sat all spring. Finally this summer it was emptied out since the planting looked a bit worse for wear by this point.

Old Window RepurposedSome plants had done better than others. Those were repotted, the frame was completely emptied of soil,  and the bare frame and planting box stored behind the greenhouse.  I eyed it one hot summer day, and, having just seen some beautiful wall art …Was it on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest? I can’t remember now. But the bug had bit me, and I decided to create a wall piece using dried plant material, twigs, fabric, anything textural I could find. I had a summer project!

The first pictures show this first window turned out. It took quite a bit of time, and materials including fabric, dried sunflower seed heads, cotton bolls, birch bark, and much more. Everything is hot glued to a base of fabric and burlap. It was quite the project!Old Half Round Window Repurposed into Wall Art

A few months later my friend from Studio By The Tracks, Ila Faye Miller, mentioned she had some old windows they didn’t want any more. Fresh off my last project, I said we’d love to have them. One in particular caught my eye, a half-round window, called a lunette. I’d had so much fun creating the last window art piece I’d decided I wanted to make another.

Back at the shop, each triangular pane of glass was removed, and a fresh coat of paint was applied to freshen the old window up. Pieces of burlap were stapled to the back, creating a base that the okra pods, cork bark and other textural pieces would be glued to. Many hours later it was finished. The old window had a new purpose.

By Kris Blevons

Head Planters – Planted!

Pinkie's planting in a cast stone head planter...

Pinkie’s planting in a cast stone head planter…

I’ve seen some interesting head planters on Pinterest and other social media sites over the past few years, and decided this spring it was time to get in on the fun. Since these pieces are heavy cast stone, they’re not going to tip over in winds and consequently won’t break easily either. The planting space isn’t terribly roomy though, so extra care needs to be taken to ensure they don’t dry out.

Pinkie planted the one shown in the first pictures here using mostly succulents. They’re the perfect choice for planting in small spaces like this since they tolerate dry soil.  Though the aeonium at the front is a short-term cool season plant,  you can see in the second picture that the peach purslane and yellow  bulbine were happy to take over the show once the aeonium  pooped out in the heat.Head planter

 

 

A sedum ‘Blue Spruce’ is the single plant in the second, smaller head planter. It was planted at the end of June, and this picture was taken the beginning of September. Not bad for a tiny planting space!

For part shade...

For part shade…

We had one head planter left at the end of August, and it looked too empty. Since Pinkie had planted the other two for sun, I decided to try one with something in it for shade or filtered sun. While Pinkie’s head planters really  look like hats, I decide mine would be a bit more bohemian.

One of my favorite plants is Hemigraphis ‘Red Flame’  or waffle plant. In container plantings it will steal the show, spilling out in a silvery purple wave. To it I added a tiny piece  of a blue  carex, a sedge that works very well in dry shade. The final addition was a dried pod for a “hat pin”. Now to find just the right spot…

By Kris Blevons

Group Project – Our “Fireworks” Mandala

Tacca and Liam helping....

Tacca and Liam helping….

Fortunately, none of us took the admonishments  by our parents when we were young  to not play with our food too seriously. The other day we really turned our inner child loose and played with lots of veggies, fruit, flowers, and leaves to create our version of a mandala for the 4th of July holiday.

taking shape...

taking shape…

Truthfully, we hadn’t yet decided what we were going to post on Oak Street Garden Shop’s Facebook page for the 4th and when we thought of doing a big design using all our varieties of food, we knew this would be the perfect thing – our version of botanical fireworks!

Not finished yet...

Not finished yet…

Thankfully the end of June is pretty hot and there isn’t a whole lot going on as far as planting, projects, or customers. This might normally be a bad thing for business, but, on this particular day, it was actually pretty good. To top it off, we’d  come in that morning to a shop with no power since there’d been some pretty hefty storms the night before.

Close-up...

Close-up…

After we came up with the big botanical art idea, Molly grabbed lots of brown Kraft paper and laid it on the floor of one of the display stages, moving furniture out of the way to create a big space to work in.  Jamie grabbed a ladder and set it up on one side so we’d be able to take pictures of it from above when we were finished.

 

 

I began gathering various leaves that I thought would be fun to incorporate with the peaches, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, butterbeans, blueberries, corn, and more that we began to amass. Slowly we started playing, laying out various veggies and fruits in designs that caught our fancy.

 

Angie brought in some big Kong coleus leaves, and I went across the street to cut some dried dill flower heads to add to our mix of food, foliage and flowers.

Close-up...

Close-up…

 

 

From the beginning our shop cats, Tacca and Liam, had to get in on the action. In fact, the very first leaf I placed, a yucca, was immediately a cat toy for Tacca. “Uh-oh”, I thought.  “I wonder if this project is going to get off the ground?!”Vegetable Mandala - Fireworks

 

 

 

Vegetable Mandala - Fireworks

 

Liam came and went, but he was surprisingly calm, simply walking through on his way to lie down under the coffee table we’d moved out of the way.

 

 

For a while at the very start, he and Tacca lounged in open spaces not yet covered with botanicals. Finally, though, they became bored and went off in pursuit of other things…or maybe to take a nap.

Slowly but surely our project became a colorful tapestry of shapes, textures, and design, with items carefully placed just so and moved if we weren’t happy with how it looked from atop the ladder. While this project was taking shape, Pinkie was busy planting two of the cast stone head planters – but that’s for another post….

I love how our project turned out. Playing with food has never been so much fun!

A Sampling of New Planters for Spring, 2015

imageEach January our orders of planters come in for the new year and beyond, beautiful cast stone beauties designed to last longer than a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

Yes, they’re heavy, but they are also the highest quality available, designed to add value and style to any outdoor landscape.

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And, if you’re in the area, remember we deliver too; so no worries about how you’ll get them home.image

 

 

 

 

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This is just a tiny sampling of what we have in stock now, and there’s more to come, including light-weight options. As you can see, there are all sizes and shapes offered to compliment any style home.image

 

 

 

 

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Some are elaborate…or you might want something with clean, classic  lines. If you’ve been thinking about adding some planters to your home landscape, now is the time to peruse some great options.New Planters - Spring 2015

 

New Statuary - Spring 2015In addition to the many planters, there are also statuary pieces of Saint Francis, Saint Fiacre and more. Stay tuned for pictures of those in future posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gardening…One Step at a Time…One Plant at a Time…

Kris' Sunny Border - Planters InterspersedAre you frustrated with your gardening efforts…or lack thereof? Recently a friend and I were discussing work issues we encounter in our respective jobs when this subject came up. “Kris, I see what other people are doing in their gardens, and I look at mine and get so frustrated. Then I waste a bunch of time on Facebook and feel even worse.”

I told her quite quickly that, as smart as she was, she shouldn’t be so self-defeating. “Take one step at a time , one plant at a time,”, I said. I should have added that there is no “right” way to create a garden. “Garden design” is such an intimidating notion for many. Who is the arbiter of good garden design anyway?  It’s your garden; do with it what you like and don’t be afraid of the garden police!Kris' Woodland Garden

Of course, you want to do your homework if you’re planning to plant a tree or a lot of shrubs. No one should put a tree that will eventually grow  50′ tall three feet from their house or sun loving shrubs in the shade. Even if you’re a free gardening spirit, certain things must be thought out!

But choosing to create a path through your garden, deciding whether you’d like a bird bath to attract more feathered friends,  contemplating where to put a piece of garden art you bought on a whim..,This is all part of creating your own garden space that reflects your personality.

A Path Through the Garden...It’s so easy to become paralyzed with indecision before you take a first step, but, once that hurdle is jumped, the next one is easier. Think of it as gardening building blocks. Once you have the path, where does it lead and what can you discover at the end? Sometimes the hardest choices, once made, lead to more discovery.Olive Jar in the Garden...

For others, it’s not so much indecision as lack of time or interest. New parents have young children to take care of; others are empty nesters and may be traveling and away from any garden activities for long stretches of time. For them, the ready-made landscape of a garden home or condo is just right for where they are in their lives.

Art in the Garden - BuddhaBut for so many, like my friend, creating a beautiful outdoor home environment is a somewhat anxious endeavor that eventually simply  immobilizes them. If you’re feeling this way, always remember it only takes one step, one plant, then the next step…small steps at a time. Learn what your plants need and provide that as best you can. Once you’ve been successful at one thing, try another. And you’ll find that, just like those building blocks, eventually something amazing will be your  reward.