Fun with Planning: Seed Garden Option 1

So I’ve been having fun playing with this excellent planning program called OmniGraffle.  If you’re the sort of person who gets excited when someone mentions flowcharts, this is the program for you.

Though I typically use this program for creating site maps and wireframes for my work, I learned last year that it also makes an excellent garden planning tool.  I created this scale map of my backyard beds and used photos from seed websites and Google Image searches to put together my idea for the garden.

Though the flowers from seed are the stars of this garden, I did include some hydrangeas and a clematis for some early-start interest since most of the seeds won’t be blooming until June at the earliest.  And I’ll probably use transplants for the tomato and the cucumbers as well just to be sure they have plenty of time for a nice long, productive season.

Click image for full size.

I’m estimating this whole garden could be done for about $350!  Not too bad!

But I’m not entirely happy with this plan yet.  I was trying to stay with a pink-purple pallet here.  Jake pointed out that many flower gardens benefit if each type of flower has a distinct color – it helps they eye distinguish types of flowers by color as well as shape.  I think that’s a great note.  I also want to play with spring blooming bulbs that I would plant this fall and maybe work in some attractive eatables like cabbage, purple kale, maybe even some colorful “bright lights” swiss chard.

I’ll be sure to post Option 2 as soon as I find some time to create it!

Back to the Dirt: Seed Gardening in 2012

I’ve been taking a break from gardening since I found out was pregnant last July.  I’ve missed gardening, but now that the baby is turning 5-months (!) and I’m finally hitting my mommy stride, I am dreaming of Spring planting.

I am very interested in seed gardening, but I am trying to be realistic and I don’t think I’ll have time with the baby to start a bunch of seeds indoors.  So this year, I want to try seeds that I can direct sow.  Jake has requested more flowers than vegetables this year, and I can’t blame him – last year we seemed to put more veggies in the squirrels’ bellies than in our own.  It was an awful lot of work for not so great pay off.

So now I am researching easy-care flowers that will grow from seed in Zone 5.  The helpful editors at Chicagoland Gardening (a publication I highly recommend for those of you who garden in Chicago) are amazingly responsive to questions posed by email via their Q&A section.

Order this Magazine!!

When I asked them for some easy-care flowers from seed I got 2 great responses:

If you want shorter plants, there are a couple new varieties of short
zinnias that could work. I would probably buy transplants next May. These
varieties are mildew resistant and come in white or orange and look like
daisies. If you want to grow from seed, you still won’t be planting until
mid-May because of the possibility of frost, and then you have to wait for
the plants to get big enough to bloom. Another reason to buy a couple flats
of transplants.

If you want something tall,try cosmos. The old-fashioned mix of pink, white
and burgundy grow about 3 feet tall. Sometimes 4. And this you would plant
from seed. Cosmos grow fast and should be able to outpace the pigweed. Once
the seedlings get a couple inches tall, you’ll be able to distinguish them
from the pigweed since the cosmos seedlings have rather fern-like leaves.

You might want to consider adding some perennials like chrysanthemums for
the wider side of the walkway. When you buy them in the spring, they form
good roots and survive winter just fine. It’s the ones that people buy in
September that don’t get established and die over the winter.

Best of luck with this.
Carolyn Ulrich, Editor

And from their Q&A Columnist:

Next spring, or even now line up your seeds to get them in the ground early. Thompson and Morgan has a seed catalog, which you can study over winter.

I only plant flowers that will seed themselves. Once you have them they will come up each year. Cosmos, cleome, bachelor buttons, old fashioned varieties of nicotiana, larkspur, feverfew.and columbine. Once you have these plants let them go to seed and learn to recognize them from where you planted them so you don’t pull them out. All do best in sun.

Enjoy  your garden.
Regards, Adele Kleine Q&A

Embroidered Mother’s Day Photo Frames

I never remember to shop for things like Mother’s Day until the last minute and so I needed to come up with a quick present for Olive’s Grandma and G. Grandma.  I was able to whip up these two embroidered photo mats in less than an hour each.  Some small frames from Walgreens and photos of the world’s cuties baby, and they came out a very nice gifts that got many oohs and ahs at the Mother’s Day brunch.

Embroidered Mother's Day Photos


  • 6″x4″ Frame
  • 6″x4″ Piece of Felt
  • 3″x5″ Photo
  • Transferable Embroidery Patterns
  • Iron
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Embroidery Floss
  • Needle

How to:

  1. Cut felt to frame’s mat size.
  2. Print photos to
  3. Figure out best placement for embroidered embellishments (tracing paper can help)
  4. Iron on embroidery patterns
  5. Stitch the embellishments – most felt will not need a hoop.
  6. Cut out center of mat being careful not to cut too close to stitches.
  7. Put together with frame and photo

I found the straighter edges were harder to get right when framing, but ultimately produced a better final product.  Also if you can find frames where you can just drop in the mat and photos from the back rather than sliding them in from the side, that should also help you produce a better final product.  Good luck!

Dorky is the New Adorable

Being the crafty mama I am, of course I saw “Baby’s First DnD Game” as a perfect opportunity to make a costume for her from my cache of scrap fabric.  I like to call this photo “Olive the Loud.”

Olive The Loud

The horned helm I whipped up using a pink cap we already had for her and just adding some felt horns and some faux fur around the band.  The Unicorn Crest I also made out of felt using a silhouette I found on,  The shoes I made using a Martha Stewart Tutorial.  They were absolutely cute and easy to make, but they did not stay on very long at all. Her “chain mail” was just some sequined fabric I had from an old costume – it works as costume chain mail quite well if you flip it inside out and put a tunic over it.

It was a fun pre-game photo shoot, but I’m afraid Olive did not find the game as interesting as her daddy did:

"And that's what a 'crit' looks like, baby!"

Oh well, it was still a good day of daddy/daughter bonding and a great excuse to get out the sewing machine.

"Monster's dead, baby's asleep, time to call it a day."