Some people are just born clever and handy.  These are the people who don’t fear the sound of power tools or those long, scary aisles of bits and pieces in the hardware store. They have DIY in their DNA.

Others of us need a little hand-holding, a kindly pep talk and a wee bit of a kick in the pants to convince us to put down the mail order catalogs and light a fire to get our creative juices flowing.

If you’re in the second category, there is no better garden DIY guru to get you started on a handmade life outdoors than Lorene Edwards Forkner, author of the newly released book Handmade Garden Projects.

Bold and beautiful author Lorene Edwards Forkner

Lorene is one of these people who just bubbles with enthusiasm. This is a woman who doesn’t fear the color orange, who hauls an old Airstream trailer into her back yard to use as a grown-up playhouse and calls it her “canned ham” and who has turned some old bedsprings into an amazingly artistic rusted outdoor statement—in the front of her home!

Several garden bloggers had the chance to visit Lorene’s garden last summer when she was putting the finishing touches on her book. We saw first-hand the results of her craftiness in her own garden. Now the book is released and everyone can see a bit of Lorene’s garden—and some clever and easy ideas for a handmade life outdoors.

Bamboo Edging - Photo by Allan Mandell

Handmade Garden Projects is as much an inspiration book  as a DIY recipe book. Before launching into the how-to portion of the book, Lorene lights the creative fire with a quick jaunt through three gardens heavy on the handmade. My only complaint is that she only gives you a peek at her “canned ham.”  (Since it’s so adorable, I’ll share you a couple of photos I took when I visited last year.)

Each project is carefully described with a list of materials, tools and other supplies needed. But the introductions don’t read like your usual how-to manual—many of which read like they were written by engineers. (Sorry, not all engineers. You know who you are.)

Featherweight Troughs - Photo by Allan Mandell

For example, when talking about her materials used to make her rugged steel trellis, she writes, “Incredibly strong, virtually indestructible, and beautiful besides, rock screen scrap is my favorite heavy metal.”

But she’s not just clever. She’s helpful too. She goes on to explain what rock screen is, sizes you can expect to find, where to look and the friendly reminder that “Unless your salvage yard can custom cut pieces to size, it’s best to keep an open mind, scouting for interesting pieces and suitable weights.”

Lorene's Airstream - Her "canned ham"

Projects in Handmade Garden Projects include pathways, stepping stone and edging ideas, trellises and supports, decorative accents, containers and finishing touches. None of them appear very difficult and most can be accomplished in an afternoon or a weekend, depending on how many times you stop for beer.

Interior detail of Lorene's grown-up playhouse "canned ham"

It’s a fun and useful book to set you on your path to a handmade life in the great outdoors. You can thank Lorene. She’ll be the one wearing orange, having fun and reveling in her own clever handmade garden.

Want to win this copy of the book? Leave me a comment by Wednesday, May 23, and I’ll select a winner through a random drawing!

Want to see other blog posts about Lorene’s book on the virtual book tour? You can visit them here where there are more giveaways.


Timber Press, publisher of Handmade Garden Projects, provided a free copy of this book for review.

UPDATE: The winner of Handmade Garden Projects is Mary Davis. Mary, I’m emailing you. Come on down! (Well, send me your mailing address anyway.)


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