Vertical Herb Garden

Our DIY Vertical Garden Planter

My husband and I have been renting for the last three years. In the past we have struggled with developing and maintaining a garden that both suits our needs and complies with the condo board's rules and regulations. As outlined in our lease, we are not allowed to drill holes into the structure, i.e. the brick walls of the condo or our wood deck. There will be no hanging planters or flower boxes at this house, which is a real drag considering our deck is so tiny and abysmal in appearance. As a result, I have had to get creative with how we approach gardening.

Our initial condo garden attempts involved a series of pots and flower boxes, all of which sat on the floor of the deck as we couldn't hang them anywhere. This created unnecessary clutter and made the deck space look kind of garish and student-y. I swore that this year would be different. I didn't care how we'd do it, all I knew is that I wanted that damn collection of herbs and flowers up off the deck floor and into something more visually appealing and functional. We managed to plant all the flowers into a large planter to match our Fuji shrub, but that left the herb boxes unattended to. We couldn't leave them by the door, it wasn't practical and it wasn't helping our problem with clutter. That's when an idea struck me and the first "Husband & Wife Project" was born!

 How we made our vertical garden planter

The idea for this planter came about when I was out for a walk with my mum. I spotted an old storm door at the curbside with a "free" sign taped to the front of it. I knew at an instant that I had to have it. I figured I'd use it in the garden as a kind of shabby chic decor item but I wasn't sure how I would incorporate my plants. I mulled it over for a few days and I finally figured out a way to combine the herb box and the storm door as one functional piece.

The construction seems simple but it took a lot of trial and error! We screwed up the table at least twice before getting it just right.

We began by repairing any damage done to the door. The moldings had broken in several areas and there were a handful of holes and scratches that needed to be filled with woody putty. We also removed the hardware and the screen frames (but kept them for future use). We removed and threw out the old mesh screen. After allowing the putty to cure for a 24 hour period, I sanded the door using an orbital and detail sander. The small spindles and moldings were sanded by hand.

Next, we focused on creating a custom made half table to attach to the front of the door. The table is not only decorative, it allows the planter to stand upright without it tipping over. This was the most visually appealing and practical way to have the door standing upright, and it utilized the least amount of space. Our first attempts involved screwing the table together, but after trial and error we resorted to using dowels, glue and clamps - it takes longer but it's 100% worth the hassle.

The table is constructed out of a pine plank cut down to size, and two wooden stairway spindles. I had to cut the spindles down a little, and we used a spade drill bit to sink them into the table top. We allowed the table ample drying time and I puttied any dents or scratches that had occurred along the way.

We painted all of the components separately using Behr's all in one paint and primer (exterior/interior) paint, in the colour Roulette. I've used this paint on a dresser and it worked perfectly, but for whatever reason with this project it took THREE coats and it still was too thin. Eventually we gave up and settled for the washed look, in person you can see wood grain and knots but as my husband notes it only adds to the shabby chic aesthetic!

Once we let the paint cure we assembled the planter, first by inserting a cut piece of ½" galvanized garden fencing into the top screen frame. We screwed the locking mechanisms back in place. Then we attached the table to the front of the door, ensuring that it was level. Finally I hung several tin pots from the screen using ball chain (s-hooks would've been preferable but they weren't big enough for the pots' handles).


We are ecstatic with our new vertical garden planter. I'm happy that I'm no longer tripping over the old herb box, we can get to our herbs quickly and easily, and with the addition of a handful of flowers the herb garden is bright and fun! It makes our deck space more inviting.

I want to note that although sites like Pinterest make re-purposing and DIY projects look super cool it's important to remember that by no means are these projects cheap or easy! Our vertical planter has probably cost us in the neighborhood of $200 CAD. We are very fortunate to already own most of the tools, like the drill and bits, scroll saw and wood putty. We did have to purchase a new orbital sander, a set of clamps, and a dowel peg set. The fact that we got the storm door for free was a huge bonus. I hesitate to imagine what it would've cost otherwise. Sometimes it helps to do some budgeting before you endeavor to try something out, otherwise you may have found that you've bitten off more than you can chew!

Best wishes,

Halloween in July

Halloween Decorations are Emerging...

And so are all the little witches and goblins who adore Halloween so much! It's that time of year already, my blog feed is all lit up with new Halloween decor finds. We usually don't see decorations until August but some online retailers have released their 2017 stock early. It's exciting to see and there are a lot of products that I'd love to buy.

I've been feeling really torn about what to do for Halloween this year. Last Halloween was rather disappointing. Despite many houses putting up decor last year, we saw a scant twenty something children trick or treating. By the end of the night I was piling candy into bags just to get it out of my house. It's a far cry from the one hundred kids that we used to get on Halloween night. While I am grateful that we at least had some trick or treaters, it left me questioning what next year would bring, and whether it would be worth the effort to hand out candy again.

I've mulled over various ideas, like handing out candy at my grandmother's house, going to an adult event like a dance party, or travelling to some place interesting, but I still don't know for sure. Most cities will not post events that many months in advance, so I guess I won't know what to do until September comes. For now I get to drool over all the new Halloween inventory coming out.

Clearly I prefer a more Nu Goth inspired colour palette and At Home seems to be channeling that substyle with their signs, coffin boxes and doormats. What a perfect time to be a goth! I also really like that Michaels has used coral as one of their primary colours in their autumn decor schemes, I snapped a shot and posted it to instagram, here. While I probably can't afford to buy any of their fabulous pieces ($100 for a pumpkin?!) I'd love to incorporate their new colour scheme into my own decor. Of course traditional black and orange can't be beat, as Grandin Road yet again proves with their dancing trees and party serving ware.

I'm getting a great deal of inspiration for my Halloween craft and home decor projects. Even if I won't be handing out candy, nothing is going to stop me from celebrating Halloween in my own special way!

Have you seen any great Halloween finds?


Vacation in June

Early Summer Vacation

Warning: Picture heavy post. Those of you who know me through other social media accounts will already know that I've returned from my early summer vacation. I had meant to post about it sooner but I came home to an exhausting list of problems in regards to both family and business. As a result, I didn't get to launch my 150th Canada Day inspired figurines! All I can say is never EVER order from Staples Business Depot. It's laughable that a company that specializes in business supplies can be so disorderly and bad at business. I won't be opening up shop until later now, as my shipping supplies are on back order. Thankfully my Canadiana figurines aren't specific to Canada Day alone, they can still sell as individual pieces, so they will be posted when the shop opens.

I went away on an impromptu vacation for two weeks time. This year I went on vacation by myself. I had planned to go up with my parents but they couldn't get things together, so I packed my things and asked my husband to drive me to the campgrounds. Everyone kept asking me, "won't you be lonely? won't you be bored?" Not in the least! I guess you could say that I'm introverted. I like to be on my own, reading books, taking strolls in the countryside, or fishing. I can do these things with other people, of course, but there's something about alone time that is so necessary. I feel as though we seldom get that kind of opportunity in the Western world, the opportunity to unplug and detach ourselves from everyone. To get real alone time is scarce and I am very fortunate to have that option available to me.

During my vacation I did a number of things. I wrote scripts, doodled, worked on my art, fished a number of times, hiked the back roads, watched movies and terrible TV shows, played video games, and I even tried to bake a gluten free short cake (which ended miserably!). One of my fondest memories from my vacation was when I went out for a stroll in the late evening, a fierce thunderstorm had rolled in. I love thunderstorms! I went back to the trailer where I was staying and I brought out an apple spiced candle. I lit it and set it on the coffee table under the sheltered porch and saddled up with my laptop to work on a short story. There was lightning and heavy rain, and the wind howled through the treetops. It was one of those hot and humid summer nights. It felt amazing. There's nothing like writing with the perfect weather to inspire you.

During the week, on a sunny day, I decided to go for a hike on one of the back roads. There's nothing but country and woods surrounding the campgrounds, so I figured it'd be fun to explore the area. I'm always looking for abandoned houses, don't ask me why, it's just a weird fetish I guess. I got roughly a full city block away from camp, when I stopped in front of an opening in the woods. At least it looked like an opening. It appeared to be a driveway but there were trees down all around it. It looked as though nobody had passed through it in ages. There were also no signs or markers to indicate whether it was a residential property or not. I felt as though I was being sucked into it, so with all my courage I followed the path, and what should I find? An eerie old abandoned hunting cabin!

I assume it was a hunting cabin because it was painted green, like the surrounding fir trees. The roof shingles and the siding were all green. There were marked splashes of red paint in the interior. The roof had caved in and there was nothing of interest inside. My guess is that the former owners took whatever they needed with them. There were a few beer cans scattered around the base, but there was nothing of real interest. I felt compelled to go deeper into the surrounding woods but being on my own it just didn't seem safe. The cabin was only a few minutes in from the road, any further than that and I'd be putting myself at risk of danger with wildlife or hunters. So I snapped a few pictures and happily went on my way. Directly up the road there was another section of old abandoned farm property. I didn't get photos but there were small wooden structures, like old chicken coops or bee hives? They were hidden among some cedar trees. Maybe someone from a rural, farming community might know what I'm talking about.

After the first week away, my husband came up to visit me for a day (to help replenish my groceries). We went to the Falls Reserve Conservation Area, a park with a campground and a handful of hiking trails. When we got there we had noticed that the water was running dangerously high. We've had an unnatural degree of rainfall for this time of year in both Midwestern and Southern Ontario. This has caused the water levels to rise, and everywhere the water is dark and muddy. I noticed this at a small stream by the park where I was staying but I had no idea as to the enormity of the situation until we saw the river. The lady at the front desk where you check into the park had mentioned the longer trail might be flooded out, so she cautioned to leave the trail if we saw water. It was a very nerve-wracking hike. At some points on the trail the water was a mere three feet away and it was rushing rapidly. Eventually we did come to a point in the trail where it had been engulfed by the river and we had to turn back, but not without snapping a few photos along the way.

Below are areas where the trail meets the water, and flood plains. Note the mature trees and grass where you normally would be able to walk, and the white caps in the river.

I saw a variety of mushrooms and butterflies but nothing in the way of wildlife. My husband saw some sort of bird, like a pheasant, and we heard a heron croaking (they sound awful). Sadly there were no river otters or beavers but they probably don't care for the river being so high. We'll have to return again when the water is low and we can hike the full length of the trail. It'd be nice to make a campfire and have a picnic there. It's a wonderful park, if you're in the area I recommend that you check it out.

After that I spent a few more days on my own, crafting and fishing, and finally my folks came up for one last day with me. I went to Bayfield, enjoyed cupcakes and visited their gorgeous art gallery. I only wish that I had more money to spend there! It's a lovely little town full of culture. And equally so, Goderich has some wonderful people. Hubby and I ate at the Irish pub across from the Town Hall, and we had ice cream in the square (or octagon? Their downtown is a weird shape). It was fun to see all the houses decorated for Canada day, it was certainly more patriotism than I've ever seen in preceding years. My hope is that perhaps Canada's 150th may have planted a seed in Canadians minds, to take pride in our heritage and culture, and not wait around for the 200th birthday to make it special again. It seems odd that because we've reached a milestone we should make a greater effort, this has been a tremendous economic boost for us and we should keep it going.

I'm happy to be home with my husband and cats, but I feel a deep longing for the woods, the song birds and the tranquility of the countryside. I always dream of the "some day" that involves us living off the grid; a hobby farm with sheep and an art shack in the back. I suppose like everything we'll have to wait and see.

What are you doing for your summer vacation? See any great sights as of late?