A new secret garden!

Sitting by the window this afternoon i feel like I'm in a terrarium, all of this rain. It's warmish, a little steamy and you can actually see the new leaves growing on the trees. On Saturday I made a new carnivorous terrarium and took some photos to show the process.
And here is my new killer all done.
These are my specimens, the venus fly trap, pitcher plants and sundews. The fly trap is standard fare, but I hadn't seen these other guys for sale before. I bought them in the garden store of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, not a budget move, but what can you do. I mostly buy my plants at the Union Square Greenmarket or Sprout Home in Williamsburg.

I've been dying to plant up a carnivorous terrarium for years but just couldn't get myself together to do it until this weekend. On Saturday I went to the New York Botanical Garden ( I know I know, I spend a nerdy amount of time at these places) to see the new Darwin exhibit. He was a master botanist which I wasn't aware of and he, too, was fascinated by carnivorous plants because of their obvious adaptation to their surroundings. (side note, sorry......) Anyway, I got home and immediately planted this guy up.
These are my chosen vessels, the bell jar I purchased from Outside NY, which i think has since closed, for $30 something (a steal compared to others and it wasn't even on sale!) and the dish is from the local hardware store. You can buy all different sizes of bell jars at English Creek Gardens for less than I've seen them locally, too.

There are hundreds of ways to plant terrariums, the bell jar type is neat because it allows you to easily access your plants which isn't possible if you plant in say, an old jug with a small neck.
First I laid down a layer of gravel for drainage so if it gets too moist inside your terrarium, your plant's roots won't be sitting in water which would cause them to rot.
Next I gently removed the little buggers from their pots and loosen them from the soil so you can see individual roots. I just used the soil from their plastic pots to mound up in the dish. If you needed a little extra, regular potting soil would do the trick.
Once you decide where everyone is going to go, you just dig a hole and put them in it, taking care not to break the roots. Then you just put a bit more soil around them and gently pat down.
I like to cover my dish with sheet moss, which is a dried decorative moss you can find at most all garden stores. I think it makes the whole terrarium look more natural and wild to me. To cover the top you just break the sheet moss up a bit and tuck it around the plants. For the sides, I cut a long strip of moss and just wrapped it around. To get the moss to stay in place, I tightly tied a piece of matching sewing thread around the dish like a present.

I ended up with an amazing mossy cake shaped terrarium. Before you put your bell jar in place you need to mist mist mist. When the bell jar is in place, you should monitor it's water level every few days. If there are large water droplets on the inside of the the jar, you'll need to take off the cover for an hour or two. A moist environment is how these plants like it, but if its sopping wet, they mold.

TaDa! One more for the dresser.

What a weekend..

Papa Merrick came for a visit this weekend and I am so full of inspiration I can hardly keep from exploding. I have apartment ideas, garden ideas and not enough time to start any of them just yet.
So for the next few days, i have to channel my inspiration into my cork boards until i can get to work. If you've been to my house, you know my office is filled with an ever changing assortment of stuff on my boards. This is a peek at one of many!

Yesterday I made another terrarium ( i wasn't joking, it's an addiction) and I'm going to post some "how to" photos tomorrow.

Williamsburg swan lake.

okay, after much deliberation about how i could get swans outside my window, it dawned on me that I already have them in my kitchen.

I bought this amazing mobile from the children's section of ABC Carpet and Home a few weeks back. It's from a company called skyflight mobiles. I love that i was wishing for some swans and I had them here all along.

And please notice my terrible fluorescent light in the kitchen. My next goal is to take that sucker down! Any ideas where to look locally for cheap old fixtures other than ebay? I don't fancy a bargain attached to a huge shipping cost.

My secret garden.

I, like sweet little Mary Lennox, believe in the healing power of gardening. My father is a beautiful, natural gardener and a constant inspiration for my plant pursuits. Apartment living can be tough on plants, limited sun exposure, an overactive heater, it's enough to make a girl feel like a failure....

I think i've finally gotten a handle of what works in my apartment, i have indirect southern and northern exposure. This is why i adore a good terrarium, I rarely have to water them and i can have all of my favorites that i can barely keep alive outside a jar, ferns, fittonia, moss and baby's tears. Most live atop of my dresser in the bedroom. I love how they look like victorian science experiments.
It's an addiction, i swear. I buy find myself buying things for the jars they come in and those cheesy grandma candy dishes in thrift stores for the glass toppers to put on my old canning jars.
I am completely obsessed with these old illustrations. They are all old "Home & Garden" covers from the late teens. I want to be a beautiful, amazingly dressed gardener in my own flower garden. Someday it'll happen. The power of positive thinking!
I just love this girl. I feel like someone looked into my heart and painting who i want to be these days.
This is my dream summer cottage. I hope to make my home look like it could be inside of this charmer.

Now if only i could wrangle some swans to hover outside my apartment window all day long.

And exactly two weeks later...

The floor is done and my apartment is finally emerging from under a cloud of sawdust.

This is the first coat of paint, its benjamin moore porch and floor paint in "parchment white" or something old timey like that.


Next I made a cardboard template of the size of diamond i wanted for my checkerboard and then traced it off on to the floor, using a yardstick to extend the diagonal lines when needed.


Here is a "rough draft" of the checkerboard. I went back over each line with a small paintbrush to tidy up where paint smudged under the tape. This was such a tease because it took days to finish and I had thought it'd be a quick job. I also repainted my baseboards.


These are some shots of my new floor all dressed up. I love it, but i can't wait until i resign myself to ivory getting dirty. I've been on all fours with a sponge more often than is appropriate for a 23 year old girl.


Okay, okay, so my floor isn't even in this picture but i just found this amazing basket last week and have appropriated it as my new catchall gardening bin. And i painted the little desk black on a whim last night.


My sweet little kitchen feels so much more lovely without vinyl flooring. Why did it take me so long to do this??!

Now, all of you please come over and let me cook you brunch.



Inspiration strikes my floor...

Normally I consider myself to have decent impluse control, i tend to think things through and make informed choices or at least understand what risks i'm taking. Not so last weekend!

I've read Catherine Halley's blog "Scrappy Girl Decorates" for over a year now and think she is stylish, witty, self-deprecating and an all around decent girl. However, she and i tend to dream more about projects than actually start and finish them. So imagine my shock when i see she has ripped up her kitchen floor without even really debating about it first! Me too, Me too!! I want to make apartment progress too!!!!

Within literally 30 seconds I am on all fours in my kitchen prying up my dreaded vinyl flooring, forgetting that.....

1. I do not own my own apartment, i rent a little rent-stabilized 1.5 bedroom in williamsburg.
2. I have no idea what could be lurking under my tile. cement, more tile, plywood?
3. I have not enough money to even consider actually replacing my floor with something that could look nicer.
4. It is 10:30pm on a monday night. I am not endearing myself to my new downstairs neighbors with this late night crow-bar action.
As you can see, my tiles were already damaged i swear, Mr. Slumlord, i mean, Landloard. They were all loose and bubbling.
And cracking.

and yes, i took these pictures not to have good "before" floor shots but as blackmail photos, in case my deposit is held hostage if i ever move.....

So i've done some hard manual labor before, but this took the cake. Those are sheets of metal that were nailed down with 3" nails. Not easy for a girl to pry up one after another for hours!


What a mess, but look at my amazing 100+ year old wood floor. It isn't even badly damaged.

This is what i'm working with now. I've since scraped and sanded and sanded and sanded. and primed and painted. still more painting to go.


I decided to paint a ivory and black diamond checkerboard. A cheeky classic kitchen floor. I've painted the ivory diamonds and 1/2 the blacks. Still a few more days left to go and then i'll post the second half of the project pictures.

and thanks to ginny for the kick in the pants to blog again.