Bzzzz October 7th, 2012

Later on this evening we’re having a big birthday celebration Chez Bumblebee. It’s my husband’s mmmmm birthday celebration and I want to do it up right. His favorite meal. Favorite wine. Favorite cake. Candles. Flowers. Oh, and those flowers? We have some mums!

This year I have seen some stunning arrangements of mums. So I decided to pull together a mum-featured arrangement for the birthday boy using plants that I could later plant out into the garden. It just so happens that the Lowe’s Creative Ideas  people offered us a mum challenge this month too—with a $50 Lowe’s gift card giveaway. (That’s right. Pay attention, people, because there could be something in all this for you.)


I went to Lowe’s searching for a nice combination of plants that would work both in the arrangement for the table and that I could also reuse in the garden. Here’s what went into this arrangement and the costs:

Two Purple Mums (Chrysanthemum x morifolium) — $13.96

Two Lacey Blue Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Lisslitt’) — $15.96

One Big Twister Rush (Juncus effusus ‘Big Twister’) — $6.98

Three Dianthus — $8.94

Container — Mine

SUBTOTAL — $45.84

Lowe’s 10% Military Discount — $4.58

TOTAL — $41.26

Besides a very nice table arrangement that we can enjoy at the party and for the next few days, I also have several plants that will work right into my garden. Win-win!

Now you can win too. As part of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas program, I can give away a $50 Lowe’s gift certificate to one reader. So, leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, October 17, and you might be the one. You can make your own mum arrangement or pick up supplies for your own next DIY project.

Happy birthday, Harry! I love you.

Posted In: Flower Arranging, Flowers

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Bzzzz May 30th, 2012

I am a fool for heavy pots—I mean containers. Clay pots, iron pots, wooden pots, concrete pots. I like pots that won’t blow away in the wind and that make you think twice about rearranging the garden furniture.

So during this, My DIY Summer*, I vowed to begin my quest with my new-found fascination with concrete to try my hand at making some heavy pots. Thank goodness Lowe’s asked me to join their Lowe’s Creative Ideas bloggers group so I would have a deadline and a Lowe’s gift card as an incentive. You should check back here throughout the next few months, because there are more projects, giveaways and other bloggers’ projects to explore.

This rustic, but decorative, container fits right in with my garden decor. I found all the materials I didn’t already have on-hand at Lowe’s. The actual work time would, I would estimate, be about one hour. And the beauty of this project is that I now have the materials on-hand for other concrete projects. (I already have some started, so stay tuned for that.) Here’s how I did it.

Step 1. Assemble your supplies. Nearly all of these supplies can be purchased at Lowe’s. I give you the prices I paid below. My local Lowe’s gives military families a 10% discount, so bring your ID and make sure to ask.

Materials you will need include:

  • – Plastic storage containers or other containers to serve as inner and outer forms. Make sure there is about 1.5″ – 3″ between all the walls so there is enough concrete for strength. If you’re super-handy, you can build forms. I kept it simple for this maiden voyage into the world of concrete. ($13.72)
  • – Concrete mix (quantity depends on the size of the container) ($4.64)
  • – Oil (on-hand—from the kitchen)
  • – Water
  • – Chicken wire or other wire to reinforce the concrete cut to fit slightly smaller than each of the sides and bottom (on-hand)
  • – Wire cutters (on-hand)
  • – Mixing bucket (purchased previously – on-hand)
  • – Mixing tools (I used an old hoe and hand trowel)
  • – Safety mask ($2.53)
  • – Gloves ($6.80)
  • – Corks or other material to make drainage holes (I made a sacrifice and drank some wine. But only for the corks.)
  • – Decorative rocks ($6.84)
  • – Plants ($11.56)
  • – Potting mix (on-hand)
  • – Twigs (on-hand)
  • – A bit of twine, wire or string (on-hand)

Total cost for out-of-pocket materials I didn’t have on-hand:  $46.09. The real beauty is that I now have some of the materials to make other concrete projects. Stay tuned on that.

Step 2. Don your fetching safety mask and gloves before you even open the bag of concrete mix. Concrete is amazingly dusty and you don’t want to inhale this stuff into your lungs. If you get it on your skin, it is very caustic. Wash immediately and rinse with vinegar. Just wear gloves, okay?

Put the concrete in one area of your mixing container and the minimum amount of water called for on the concrete mix in the other. Gradually pull the dry concrete mix into the water, mixing thoroughly and kneading it with the tool. You want to mix it very thoroughly and not have any dry mix lingering at the bottom of your container or at the edges. Add water, as needed, but do not add more water than necessary to make a soft, clay-like mix. Too much water will make your concrete project susceptible to cracking and breaking.

Step 3. Oil the inside of your outer mold and the outside of your inner mold—the places where the concrete will touch. Start with a bit of concrete on the bottom of the outer container, covering the bottom and tamping down firmly to get good coverage.

Step 4. Add your chicken wire or other reinforcing material. Oil your corks or other drainage hole materials and insert them through the concrete. Make sure you clear the space below so you don’t have a concrete layer obscuring the hole. Add more concrete to cover the reinforcing wire and secure the corks.


 Step 5. Put the inner mold into place. Add the reinforcing wire on all sides and begin adding the concrete mix on both sides. Keep packing it in and packing it down thoroughly.

Step 6. Smooth out the top of the form. If you are adding decorative rocks, wedge them into the concrete mix and secure them in place. Wipe the rocks clean with a wet paper towel.  Once that is done, walk away for two days.

Step 7.   After two days, invert the container forms to remove your brand new planting container. Let is sit for another couple of days, spritzing it with water from time to time so it doesn’t dry out too quickly, making it more prone to cracking. Clean up the decorative rocks again with a moist cloth.

Step 8. Remove the corks and ensure your drainage holes are large and unobscured.

Step 9. Add your plants. I planted a Stars & Stripes Mandevilla vine—which seemed appropriate heading into the Memorial Day weekend—and a few petunias. The Mandeville vine will grow up to cover the tepee, with blooms all summer long.

Step 10. Create a tepee with the twigs, securing it at the top with twine, string or wire. Voila!


Lowe’s has some pretty cool Pinterest boards too. Go check them out.

*My DIY Summer was inspired by three forces: 1) A whole slew of new books about garden projects 2) The fact that my son is in college and tuition is expensive and 3) I still have expensive tastes, despite the fact that I am paying college tuition.



Posted In: Container Gardening, DIY, Gardening

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