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Design-a-Go-Go is now Gone Gone

The month of May brought many projects to me. An unexpected bathroom remodel due to a water leak, a huge deadline at work that had me working crazy hours, and 3 water leaks in the sprinkler system. (This house has water karma, I’m just sayin’.)

But all of those challenges were eclipsed by the fun I had hosting our monthly Design a Go Go for Austin Garden Bloggers yesterday! What an amazing group of people make up the Austin gardening clan. Fun, friendly, and generous with knowledge, ideas and passalong plants. I wish I could show you what it looked like with 16 gardeners running around, but of course in my excitement I didn’t take a single photo. So use your imagination, and I’ll bet even that won’t be as great as it really was.

The garden at least looked polished from the new mulch I discovered that has a lovely black color and fine texture. Let’s don’t mention that I was out there the night before the party putting it in because of my crazy schedule. (No wonder it looked so fresh and clean, right?)

The most wonderful part of the day, besides the great friends and the cool metal grasshopper from Bob at Draco, was knowing that my challenging areas are not uncommon to other gardeners. I always consider myself to be rather inept when it comes to plants (I know how many I’ve killed over the years, and put them where they didn’t want to be, and moved them from place to place trying to find a solution, and kicking myself for buying tender delicate plants that are oh,so,pretty and on and on)…so it felt good to know that areas that get afternoon sun only are challenging for many Austin gardeners.

My thanks goes out to all of you who came, and I hope to see ya’ll next month! This is an enjoyable social event with benefits for everyone to share knowledge, enjoy a gardening gathering, and gain inspiration from everyone else’s ideas. Austin Bloggers rule!

Update on LAHRGHDT Day

Last fall, I posted a plea for help with redecorating my deck, Let’s All Help Robin Get Her Deck Together Day. Many of you offered great ideas, and though it has taken me a few months to pull it together, I think I”m done for now.

Here’s what it looked like when I first asked for your help:

RobinBackyard_Nov2008_25

I needed the gazebo to feel more incorporated into the space, and I needed it to be more cozy.

First, I added curtains, which helped a lot. I painted a small table white, added white impatiens in a container that was my color inspiration, and found a rattan covered chair at the goodwill that I turned into a white footstool. I stuck with those changes for a while, sitting in it mornings and evenings to feel what else it needed. I soon realized it needed a space-defining rug to help connect all the different legs from gazebo, chairs, table and footstool.

I priced outdoor rugs in the size I needed, and determined that wasn’t in my budget right now. With the unexpected surprise of Colorado Summertime weather this past week, I took advantage of the cool air to paint a faux rug onto the deck.

First, I removed everything and taped off the area.

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In keeping with my beach theme, I decided to paint beachy-stripes. That was also the easiest design – to just follow the deck strips. I had outdoor paint colors in my storage closet already, from past projects. (I’m a project queen; I always have to have a project going on or I’m bored out of my head).¬† Here’s where I started:

20090519_stripes-closeup1801

Okay, I liked it so far. When I removed the tape, though, I realized it needed an edge to define it. I opted for “faux fringe”. It’s my first attempt and it looks okay. Not great, but I can live with it. If I had had some stencils¬† on hand, I think a stencil-patterned edge would look better. Here’s what I had done after about three hours:

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A closer look at the fringe:

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I decided, as long as I had the paint out and I was covered in it, to paint a few pots to tie in throughout the yard with my color scheme:

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So here’s the final product. Since the chairs are a bit too big for the space, I either need new chairs or I need to use a stencil to extend a pattern beyond the stripes so that the chairs’ back legs will all fit onto the “rug”.

20090520_finished1821

And from the other side:

20090520_finished-closeup1825

This entire gazebo project was very low budget, and I’m quite happy with it right now. I used regular indoor polyester curtains from KMart that were $5 each. We’ll see how they stand up to the summer heat and sun. If they last a year, then I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

It’s calm, serene and I love sitting out there with my morning coffee and watching the sunset. Flash the Wonder Cat approves, since he considers it to be his anyway.

Thanks, everyone, for your ideas.

Deck makeover; LAHRGHDT day in Austin

LAHRGHDT day has arrived! “Let’s All Help Robin Get Her Deck Together” day is hopefully not going to be an annual holiday; more like a once in a decade occasion.

I wish I could say that I had a covered porch, I covet those who have that. (Yes, covet, okay?) Or, to tell the truth, actually I covet those who have a screened porch with a ceiling fan. But since I don’t currently have that, I want my existing deck to be as pretty as possible. And while I’m in the truth-telling mode, I admit that I love the pictures in all the decorating books, and on HGTV and DIY and all those other ridiculous stations that I watch too much of. I want a fantasy deck!

While I normally get a vision for what I want indoors and create it, I just can’t seem to accomplish that with the deck. I have a moderate-sized deck space, but a majority of it is pass-through or pathway areas. I have a grill that must be there (I use it easily 3-4 times a week), and my outdoor “closet” that contains all my gardening supplies.

The grill against the house

The grill against the house

tall, light blue storage closet opposite the french doors from the grill

tall, light blue storage closet opposite the french doors from the grill

For my birthday, I got this gorgeous gazebo from Breed’s Hardware that I had been jonesin’ for. I hung a chandelier in the top that is gorgeous at night. I like the gazebo’s small coziness, and a larger one would have encroached on the walking areas of the deck. Last spring, I added the new cobalt blue cushions to my existing patio chairs to replace the tattered ugly ones that were there for years. Woohoo! (By the way, it is not really teetering at an angle like this picture shows. I took the pics before I had solidly stabilized it to the deck.)

view from side nearest deck edge

view from side nearest deck edge

Chandelier in top of gazebo

Chandelier in top of gazebo

My vision is to create a shabby chic, beach cottagey, southern-style inviting deck. A place that seduces you into sitting out there for no reason at all but to sit. But my brain is spitting sparks, rather than getting new ideas. So far, here is what I have considered:

1. paint the metal on the outdoor chairs off-white
2. add sheer off-white curtains to the support poles on the gazebo
3. put hanging baskets (of what?) on 2 or 3 of the sides of the 7 sided gazebo
4. I considered painting subtle blue stripes (two boards wide per stripe) on the off-white deck
5. I considered stenciling a “rug” pattern on the deck where the chairs are (though that sounds more ambitious than I usually might undertake!)

I can’t go crazy with too many potted plants, because they just die in our heat.

view from opposite side, house is to the right from this angle

view from opposite side

I need your suggestions and ideas, please! I can’t seem to pull this project together so that it seems cohesive with the house. And it needs to be VERY budget friendly, as I’m about to embark on a kitchen remodel (I’ll blog that story during the process, complete with pictures and kvetching, I’m sure.) I want coziness, as this patio from last fall’s Austin Garden Tour exhibits:

Mine if I had more talent!

Mine if I had more talent!


I know that you gardeners out there are very creative, and many of you have an excellent eye for design. Throw those suggestions into the mix! Don’t hold back, there are no bad ideas in this forum. (I’m a writer, I’m used to being edited. You aren’t going to hurt my feelings if you need to critique something you see or don’t see). I promise to post before and after pics, so you can see just how much you helped create my fantasy.

Silver Lining

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I can’t remember ever seeing autumn color like we have had this year in Central Texas, especially in the city limits. This is a Sumac tree directly across the street from me, and I watched it change from a brilliant gold to this incredible combo display of orange and yellow. I suppose the drought and heat must have created this phenomenon, so I’m taking pictures of it because I really don’t want to go through what we went through ever again, even it means this kind of autumn colors. It has been a stunning display, though.

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And I completely forgot to put this into my blog previously. I received an awesome birthday present from my SO in October! This is a gazebo I had my eye on all summer long at Breed and Co. Hardware, and was hoping for an end of season sale. At last, I was rewarded with a sale price (not a huge one), and a fabulous birthday gift. Its hexagonal shape fits my space perfectly, as does the diminutive size. I put a chandelier in the peak of the beautiful arch (which you can’t see in this picture) and we’ve had some lovely dinners out there, as well as a glass of wine as the sun set. It really made a big difference to have a shaded area to sit in, even if it is after dark. It creates a coziness that just wasn’t happening before.

gazebo_nov2008_24

I had this indoor chandelier that I immediately decided was really an outdoor chandelier, it just didn’t know it yet. It looks fabulous inside the little gazebo, and the low watt bulbs at night are just outrageously sweet. The tenting of the top of the gazebo glows, and underneath, a warm inviting dim light beckons. Once it warms up again, I’ll get a nighttime shot of my yard for you. With this chandelier on, and the lights on my waterfall and in the oak trees, it’s really pretty.

2008chandelier-gazebo

And lastly, look at this treasure! I asked my dad, before he came to town for Thanksgiving, if he had any old horse feeders or water troughs that he no longer needed on his farm. He thought he might, and when he and his wife arrived on Turkey Day, this was the primary thing in the back of the vehicle! Isn’t it gorgeous? He kept suggesting ways that I could paint it, or straighten it out and make it look new again, and I kept having to insist that I wanted it exactly as is. I don’t think he really understood that, but he was happy that I was happy.

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Right now it is in a pretty shady spot; even though it looks good against the fence there (I’m adding a bed along that fence line and it would be inside the bed), I may need to move it so I can fill it with plants that like a little bit of sun. What can you envision in it?

By the way, I know Pam/Digging mentions Callahan Hardware for her troughs; I’ve also seen them at Zinger Hardware on Anderson Lane for a place a bit closer to drive to than Callahans.