That didn’t take long…
You may have noticed in my previous post how tall my Fiddle Leaf Fig has gotten. In the two years that I have had it, it has grown at least a foot. That seems slow, but I haven’t exactly taken the best care of it. Unfortunately, the height increase of the tree hasn’t quite had the affect one would hope. Instead of a full, lush tree, I had a tall, lanky one. The lankiness was further exaggerated by the ‘Y’ shape of the tree: the taller the tree got, the wider the ‘Y’ spread.
I searched for options for how I might make my tree look fuller and less lanky. Could I stake a branch, or somehow bind the branches to lessen the spread? Those options seemed like it could only hurt the plant. So I started doing some research and found that I could prune the tree, actually lop off the top, to force new growth further down the branch.
But taking shears to my (sort of) lovely tree made me nervous. Where exactly should the cut be made? Should the cut be treated with something? Can I fertilize after I cut? So many questions that I couldn’t really find answers to online. I thought, surely there’s someone I can talk to who can walk me through this. On a whim, I called a local company, Calvert’s, which provides plants to commercial facilities and also maintains them. The woman who answered the phone was able to answer all of my questions in a way that made it sound like she had actually done it before. I was filled with confidence. So here’s what I did…
I made sure my shears were clean and sanitized, and then identified where I wanted to make the cut.
One branch was slightly longer than the other, so I wanted to even that out a bit. I could have pruned both branches, but I was nervous about stressing the plant out too much in one go.
Once I lopped off the top, the entire branch bounced back from the lost weight. I should end up with two separate branches extending from this cut. I’ve heard that you can also nick the bark above an existing leaf to encourage additional branching.
What’s fun about this next step is, in the end, I may end up with another tree! I took the piece of branch that I just lopped off, dipped the cut end into rooting hormone, and stuck it in a vase with water. It’s been just about 2 weeks and the beginnings of roots are starting to emerge. I’ll let these babies become a web of roots before I set this propagated plant into soil.
Let’s get back to the tree. A word of caution: when cut, the Fiddle Leaf Fig will leak sap that is mildly caustic, so be prepared to dab it up once you have made your cut. I was caught off-guard by just how quickly the sap came out. Picture me frantically running around my living room looking for a napkin while balancing a teaspoon’s worth of sap on an upside-down Fig branch. Once pruned, the tree side of the cut doesn’t need to be treated anything and will actually heal on its own.
Right after, I fertilized the tree and plan to continue to do so monthly until the end of time. Why? because it seems like every time I fertilize, the plant goes wild. Here’s evidence:
This new leaf didn’t come from the pruned branch, but I’m still excited about it because that means the pruning I did didn’t cause any stress to the plant. I consider that a success!
Have you had any good or bad experiences pruning plants? Have you been able to do any propagating? I’d love to hear about it!
There’s something very exciting coming up for the House on Penny Lane. Are you excited? No? Not yet? Well, I can be excited for the rest of us.
At the end of this year, we’re getting a new sofa! A sectional to be exact…
Our IKEA sofa has served us well during the last seven years. It was our first big purchase together and, for each of us, our first real grown up sofa. But lately, we have begun to outgrow it. We’re hosting more and more get-togethers at our house while also spending more and more time stretched out/cuddled up just the two of us. And we just need more room.
And lucky for us, our living room can handle it. It’s kind of huge. Check out my sweet rendering. It’s like looking at my house through a Simpson’s episode.
And I never miss a chance for a mood board. This thing makes me giddy. Especially because the majority of the items pictured are ones I already own. This, by the way, is an update to a mood board from way back in 2010. We were just young chicks then, so it’s interesting to see how our tastes have grown in the last few years.
1. Our wonderful wood floors. I still dig the high contrast between them and our walls.
2. With the addition of a larger sofa, we will also need a larger area rug. Our current rug is a $170 8’x10′ shag rug we found at Home Depot. Such a steal and hides stains amazingly well. The new rug is actually made up of carpet tiles, so if one gets stained, I can just remove and replace it with a fresh tile. I’ve also heard the tiles are way easier to clean than a regular rug, so let’s hope any stains that do pop up can be taken care of quickly.
3. My $30 a piece Craigslist chairs. I recovered them just last year, so they’re not going anywhere any time soon.
4. Our 70s coffee table. Another awesome Craigslist find.
5. THE SOFA. I am so excited by this. Pretend this picture is of a sectional with a chaise instead of an ‘L’ shaped sofa. I chose a fitted back to avoid the inevitable slouchy back cushions. The fabric will be a microfiber velvet in a very dark, almost black, charcoal.
6. Our sofa table. It came from CB2, but is unfortunately no longer available.
7. Our favorite IKEA Besta media cabinet.
8. Our vintage walnut lamps. I am so glad these are not glass or ceramic. They would have been broken a long time ago. *Cough* cats *cough*
9. My Valentine’s Day Fiddle Leaf Fig.
10. Our current accent pillows, throw, and our Franco Albini Ottoman.
11. With the new sofa, I should be receiving some throw pillows in the fabric of my choosing. So here’s my choosing! Kind of an Ikat print with cream, charcoal, linen, plum, and cranberry colors. It’s super pretty and this pic doesn’t do it justice.
12. Think I can talk Rob into some light colored faux fur throw pillows? I hope so. We’ve got a lot of sofa to cover.
13. I think a nicely colored Persian style rug would be beautiful layered over our future area rug. This will take some obsessing, hunting, and deliberation, so don’t expect to see this placeholder filled for some time.
So what’s been a recent exciting addition to your home? Tell me about it in the comments below!
I’m a little obsessed with it. I stare at pictures while I’m at work. I peek outside at every opportunity. I love my garden. And now I’m going to obsessively write about it.
Earlier this month, I shared the new garden bed in this post, but I didn’t give you the details on what I planted in it. I did include this colorful, yet cryptic landscape plan to better illustrate my plan for the garden.
Before elaborating on where we are now, though, I’ll have to walk you through how we got here. Last year we dug out the shrubs that blocked the view from the dining room window and planted Miscanthus Adagio (‘A’) ornamental grass and Red Yucca (‘Y’) in their place. That summer, the Adagio grass grew nice and full and the Yucca each gave me a stalk of flowers. It got me so excited that I began thinking about what I wanted to do with my remaining front yard. Knowing full sun, low maintenance, and drought tolerant plants did well for me in this spot, I contemplated forms and colors to incorporate into the design.
I adore ornamental grasses because they are very low maintenance, provide wonderful movement on breezy days, and winter interest in an otherwise forgotten landscape. I had to have more. I chose to add at least one more Miscanthus Adagio and Miscanthus Gracillimus (‘G’), which can reach heights of 5 feet, to anchor the bed.
My favorite color for flowers in the garden is purple. There is just something about the green and purple color combination in a garden that feels both lush and modern to me. I chose my two favorite purple flowering plants, Walker’s Low (‘W’) and Lavender (‘L’), to fill in the garden. Last, but certainly not least, I chose to include Echinacea ‘Julia’ (‘C’ for its nickname of Coneflower) for both its bright orange flowers and the beautiful winter interest it provides when left upright until spring. Next year, I plan on adding a third ornamental grass, more Walker’s Low, Coneflower, and Red Yucca to the garden.
But enough talk, here are some pretty pictures of my young garden.
To the right of this picture is my now year old Miscanthus Adagio and Red Yucca. Both have grown like crazy on very little water and lots of sun. In the lower left corner of the picture, you can see the new and still tiny Walker’s Low and ‘Julia’ Coneflower. Both will grow wide enough to almost reach the sidewalk.
This is a bit of a better image of the Red Yucca. I love how they lean so gracefully towards the sidewalk.
Red Yucca Flower Stalks
This is the Miscanthus Gracillimus that is only 2 feet tall yet and in a bit of curly-bladed transfer shock. Because of this, it may not get as big as it could this year.
Lavender and its blue foliage.
The Walker’s Low has grown the most of the new plants.
And this Coneflower gives me such a thrill with its vibrant orange petals.
Did I ever post about my Fiddle Leaf Fig? No? It was probably because I thought even looking in its general direction would kill it.
Rob let me cart it home as a Valentine’s Day gift and I have loved it ever since. It made an informal debut in this post about my newly upholstered living room chairs.
And there is actual visual evidence of why I hesitated to share my new love – a yellow leaf. I had three of those yellow leaves. Not long after they turn yellow, they fall off completely. Talk about devastation. After doing some online research, I came to the conclusion that I was either under-watering or over-watering. Since I have only known myself to successfully grow succulents, which require very little water, I figured it was likely the former. So, at the advice of an online forum, I planted live moss on top of the existing soil to help retain moisture and doubled my watering efforts. And guess what?!
… Only seem to bring more May showers. Supposedly, it’s springtime. But 34 degrees and raining doesn’t really feel like spring. So my week old plants are covered for protection against the freezing wind…
What’s that? A new garden bed? OK, let’s take a few steps back. You may remember this landscape plan that I drew up for my front yard.
I created this plan almost a year ago after ripping out the shrubs in front of our picture window. My main objective with this change was to remove the overgrown grass that was impossible to cut and choking out pretty daylilies. Oh, and, ya know, to look nice.
But once I started really thinking about it, I realized I wanted to go BIGGER. And I came up with this plan.
Yeah. And I wasn’t scared AT ALL. So two weeks and two freezes ago, I started building a new garden in my front yard. The first day I spent laying out the shape of the bed, which took all of 15 minutes, and digging out 5 square feet of grass, which took 2 hours. It was not happening and I was in over my head. Luckily, there are things called Home Depots and they let you rent large pieces of equipment like sod cutters to help in times like these.
Here I am with the sod cutter whipping around my front yard for another pass at ripping out some grass. I look swift, don’t I? I was not, not at all, swift. I am walking at a speed of about .000000025 miles per hour in this picture. This sod cutter was a beast. The next day, and for 3 days after that, I felt like I had been rowing myself around the Atlantic Ocean. But the majority of the grass was out.
That’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears right there. But the fun part was coming…
There was so much fun to be had that Rob even got into the spirit of things.
He rigged up a time lapse session to document the less labor intensive bit of this whole project.
I promised a full post wrapping up my first baby step to improving the kitchen, so here goes. Let’s start with the Befores.
These pictures were taken in 2011, but not all that much had changed before this past November, including my choice of pajamas. At this point, I was unhappy with practically every surface in the kitchen, but I knew I couldn’t afford any upgrades anytime soon… if ever. So, instead, I started thinking about ways I could improve the feel of the space without putting too much money into it. I came up with a plan, starting with addressing the items I disliked the most about the space.
1. The upper cabinets above the peninsula. I despised them. They got in the way of many conversations being had. I wanted to tear them down, but that meant patching the surfaces beyond. I had to be prepared for whatever state they may be in. I’ve had experience patching gypsum and texturing walls, so I felt confident I could fix whatever happened to the ceiling in the process. The wall, not so much. The backsplash tiles were cut around the upper cabinet, so if I took the cabinet off, the raw edges of the tile would be exposed. I do not have experience in tiling, so I did not feel good about that. Luckily, I had an idea. I designed a wood trim piece to cover the cut tiles and had a friend build it for me. I then painted it and liquid nailed it to the wall. You can see the down and dirty pictures here at my previous post on this subject.
2. The dark and creepy window nook. I loved this window space when we first looked at the house. I thought it could be a cheerful space to grow herbs and other plants. Instead, it became a black hole that constantly felt empty, yet overcrowded. After staring at pretty kitchen windows on blogs, then at mine, I realized a curtain was the first step, and I could make it myself. But first, I painted the window frame to match my tile trim. Painting the trim white helped to brighten up the area and made it feel much cleaner than the old, worn stained frame did. I then got to constructing my curtain. I found a pretty simple tutorial here that is so easy I was able to start and finish the project in an evening. I then took the “less is more” approach to accessorizing the nook by removing everything I didn’t love. I was left with a knife block, a couple plants, three glass canisters (which each hold flour sack towels, dish detergent and fresh light bulbs) and a frosted mustard bowl to tie in my accent color.
3. Lack of interesting and cohesive accessories. What accessories I had were merely parts that did not add up to a cohesive look. Accessorizing is not my strong point, so I experimented with my accent color in various patterns. I mixed the geometric curtain with striped tea towels and a southwest style rug. Mustard colored bowls, a print with bits of yellow and produce helped add fresh color to the space.
4. The furniture in the space doesn’t accomodate the activities that take place there. Sure, a dinette table belongs in a dinette, but what if the dinette table only gets used as a mail sorter and a coat rack? The table just took up space and made it difficult to vacuum. What I noticed most was that guests preferred to stand close to the peninsula to watch whatever activities were happening in the kitchen. So how about some stools?
Ok, enough ‘splainin’. Let’s get to the Afters!
Baby step one is done. My plan, now, is to live with this progress a while and decide if anymore steps should be taken. At this point, those steps are painting the upper cabinets or painting all of the cabinets. We’ll see!
This blog may not have been bustling lately, but I sure have!
I’ve been working on lots of small projects, but nothing that seemed complete enough to warrant a blog post. Which is really just unfair. So I’ll compromise. Instead of a full-blown post about this and that, I’ll share little sneak peeks and give you the whole lengthy spiel when things are more complete. Deal? Ok, here goes…
It’s always so satisfying to see new growth on my plants.
A couple months back, I moved Pete out to the front porch to get some sun and rain water. I knew I would start to see some growth from him, but I didn’t expect what I saw today – a whole new arm complete with spines!
I got Pete back in 2008 after wanting him since 2004. Seriously. What sophomore college student dreams of buying a cactus and naming it Pete? At that time, there were two Petes and both were significantly shorter. Pete #1 was lost after I misdiagnosed his corking as rot. True story – the Pete you see today is actually Pete #2.
Back in 2008, Pete (#2, background) was about 18 inches tall and had one arm.
Pete today stands almost 3 feet tall and has seven arms (including his new little nub)!
Weekends’ activity via Instagram.
Last weekend, I helped my mom divide her irises with the agreement that I could take some and plant them in my own garden.
Four years ago, my mom planted ten irises taken from a family garden in Louisiana. Irises typically need to be divided every two to three years and will not bloom if they have become too crowded. So we dug them up.
We methodically divided the irises by snipping off the old, spent rhizomes and dead leaves. We also trimmed the leaves into a chevron to ensure that all leaves receive light and are encouraged to grow.
We were left with 124 divisions. My mom and I were both very surprised. I thought for sure we would have 40 new plants. My mom guess 70.
We wrapped all 124 divisions up with roots in a damp towel and sealed in ziploc bags and rolled in newspaper. My mom kept 20, I took 30 and we gave the rest away to family and friends.
This weekend, my mom joined me in planting my 30 irises. I dug a trench almost the entire width of my backyard and my mom plopped in divisions every 18 inches or so.
I am too excited about the plants. For one reason, they were free! Aside from a little elbow grease and paying it forward, these divisions cost me absolutely nothing. And if all goes well, they’ll continue to produce more plants for me to plop throughout my yard and share with others.
They’re also extremely tough. I won’t need to baby these plants like some others I have *cough*hostas*cough*. They don’t even need mulching.
But best of all, they’re gorgeous. And I’m not even talking about the blooms. I have discovered myself to be a “leaves” person. I don’t mind much if my plants can’t or won’t bloom as long as the leaves are green and healthy. I especially love architectural leaves – those that have uniquely simple shapes and even better if they’re evergreen, which these are!
Here’s what I’m hoping to see next year.