Preserve Flowers Using Silica Gel

Dried Flowers using Silica Gel

Who doesn’t love fresh flowers?  What if you could extend their life and enjoy them for a longer period of time… Well it dawned on me earlier this summer I could be drying some of the garden flowers using silica gel.  Have you tried this before?  It’s very easy and something I did when working in floral shops.  That was a long time ago…

The first step is to begin with a good foundation of flowers like, zinnias, roses, hydrangeas, larkspur and the list goes on, seek hardy flowers. My favorite drying flower would be the rose because I’m fascinated how the color change.  What’s your favorite?

I’ve added a mix of things in this tutorial and hope it will inspire you to give drying flowers with silica gel a whirl.

Silica Gel Crystals and Glad Plastic Containers

Where to purchase Silica Gel

Silica gel can be purchased online or at any craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels.  I noticed that shopping online offered larger packages which was nice.   I didn’t plan this project that far ahead and decided to shop local where I found a couple smaller packages that worked perfectly with these plastic glad containers.

Don’t you just love glad? Inexpensive and you can use them repeatedly for what seems like forever.

Silica Gel Drying Process

How to Begin the Drying Process

The drying process is very simple because the gel crystals work as a guide through the entire process.  I’m going to break this down into steps so this is easy to implement.

  1. New Crystals will have blue pieces mixed in, fill the mixture about 1/4 from the bottom of the glad container.
  2. Lay fresh flowers on top, I used zinnias, rose buds, and a few herbs.
  3. Gently cover the flowers with the rest of the gel until all you see is crystals.
  4. Cover with a lid and let sit for about a week.

Once the crystals turn pink or almost lavender the flowers have dried.  The crystals remove the moisture from the flower so they dry without losing their beautiful appearance.  Isn’t that neat?

For faster results repeat this same process using the microwave, this speeds things up but the colors won’t be as vibrant and you have to wait for the crystals to cool before removing the flowers.  This takes about 30 to 45 minutes and microwaving is around 2- 3 minutes.

Crystals can be reused indefinitely by zapping them in the microwave to retain to their shade of blue.  Store in a plastic container or their original packaging and place in a craft cupboard or later.

Silica Gel Zinnias

Beautiful Silica Gel Dried Zinnias

Once the flowers are dry gently remove from the crystals and use tweezers to discard additional crystals.  These flowers are delicate to the touch but sturdy enough to use in a fun craft project like a wreath or centerpiece.

The zinnia on the left is fresh and the opposite is dried, I wanted you to see the difference and notice the bright color is perfection.

Preserving flowers using silica gel is a fun way to enjoy flowers after the blooming seasons ends.  Hope you enjoyed this technique and next week I’ll be sharing what I made with these zinnias in the Fall seasonal challenge.  See you then!

How to Preserve Flowers using Silica Gel

 

 

Reclaimed She Shed Greenhouse

Reclaimed She Shed

This fun shed caught my attention the minute we arrived at Box Ranch RV Park  about  2 weeks ago.  We’re currently staying here while we get our space ready at Quail Grove.  It’s been a nice change of pace and the lake is just down the road.

Across the street you’ll find John’s Creek Lodge; that place is full of charm and where I’ve been admiring this reclaimed she shed. After about the second week I decided to sneak over take a few pictures so I could share this building with y’all because it’s adorable, full of character and I thought it may inspire some of you gardeners.

Every detail surrounding the shed tells a story of its own and the atmosphere is perfect for puttering away an afternoon potting plants.

I made sure Robert was with me because later when life slows down I’d love for him to build something similar for me.

Back side of She Shed with Top open Window

During my picture taking I met the owner, a wonderful lady who seemed taken that I was interested in her shed.  We had a nice visit and appeared delighted I’d be sharing her treasure on the blog.

What’s really neat is she also shared some details that I’ll unfold about this custom build made by her husband, Bobbie.  He used wooden reclaimed windows for the walls and added a tin roof so this shed can also work as a greenhouse.  Simply brilliant!

Reclaimed cedar fence boards were used on the back wall and check out the window up top, it’s perfect for ventilation during the summer months when temperatures are out of control.

Interior of She Shed

Inside is where she has friendly cats that come and go between meal time and add a special character appeal.  It just happened to be feeding time when I arrived and they weren’t too sure about me taking pictures.

I love this counter top and the “Welcome to the Garden” sign is perfection.  Check out the drawer knobs each one is unique and I love those colored bottles.

Interior Potting Table

On the opposite wall, there is another potting table, an area that’s perfect for starting plants by seed.  Oh, and look at the watering can, don’t you love the green stencil?  It’s simple, pretty and every garden shed needs a watering can.

Details of the She Shed

My favorite detail is the rod iron transom window.  The twist and turn details add a level of character that pulls everything together.  They leave it open during the Spring – Fall and in the winter, they cover the back with plexiglass to help keep the space warm.

She also mentioned at times heat lamps are added to keep things warm if it gets below freezing.  Everything about this reclaimed shed is perfection and the best part is it can also be used as a greenhouse.

If you’ve been dreaming of a fun shed with character this piece is here to inspire your effort because I have to say it caught my attention and now I’m on the hunt for some old windows.

If you’re in Texas and Looking for a fun place to get away check out  John’s Creek Lodge here.  Some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet are located in Delta County…

Styled Reclaimed Shed Shed with Greenhouse Perks

 

Quail Grove Property #1 Clearing

Quail Grove Property #1 Clearing

I’m back from an awesome break sharing our progress at Quail Grove, we started clearing property #1.  Establishing additional open space felt like a breakthrough and I can’t believe how energized we are about moving forward.

We’ve been on a bit of a whirl wind with the sale of our farm and we’re finally closing this morning.  After a 15-day set back, expired contract and then an extension I can safely say I will never own a traditional home site ever again and it’s absolutely wonderful to finally be free.

But enough of that because today it’s all about what Robert, Dixie and I have been up to and the progress that surrounds Quail Grove.  Lots of calories were burned as we made our way through property #1 using basic tools, a chain saw, weed eater and lots of fire.  Oh, and lots of water and coca cola were also consumed.

Clearing the Entrance

Clearing Begins at Property #1

After removing stumps and a huge burn pile from our acre Robert moved onto clearing the first property.  It didn’t take long for him to clear a path, light fires and cut down more trees.  I followed him with the machete and weed eater to clear things further.

We have this system, he clears the path and I clean it up….

Clearing out the creek

Clearing in the Creek

The following day I ended up clearing in the creek because sometimes we make more progress working in different areas.  It was a mess, beginning with fallen trees, weeds, poisoned vines and whatever else came in my path, I burned it all and it felt fantastic!

It’s possible I may have been working through some frustration that first week because even I was surprised at my accomplishments.  After a few hours, I was able to reach where Robert was clearing and this is where it gets exciting…

Robert clearing with his new hacker

Robert Clearing with Gusto

Robert works with gusto which is good because we let the land go fallow for a year and now it’s time to clean up. Right now we’re clearing one property at a time and after a week this space is almost weed free.  He’s thrilled with our progress and ready to schedule a survey which is exciting!

We decided to go with 1-acre pads, this means there will be 28 Tiny House homesteads available at Quail Grove.

Robert's clearing

Robert hacked down tall weeds, started burning fallen trees and before long uncovered the original entrance.  I’m going to guess the nearby farmers are thrilled we’re finally cleaning things up around here.  This year we’re surrounded by cotton fields which I love!

Clearing with Gusto

Beyond the Creek

Later I went to the other side of the creek and started burning.  Remember the snake magnet tree?  See Here...  Well it was a bois d arc mess and we burned it down to nothing…  We’re actually still clearing this space because everything was intertwined like a maze.

The smell of smoke is glazed in my sinuses and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to smell anything else.  I’m kidding but after two weeks of burning I need to smell something fresh and clean.

earing land is life changing

Over the Weekend

We plan to spend part of the weekend working so we can finish clearing and finally get our gravel ordered.  Yes, lots of gravel is headed our way but that’s a story for another time.

We’re hoping by the first part of October we’ll be living at Quail Grove full time because right now were kicking back at a nearby RV/Resort.  It’s been fun and relaxing to be someplace new and every time we go into a local business we’re greeted with a kindness that warms my heart. I love Delta County, it’s about as real as it gets.

Dixie is in paradise at Quail Grove

As For Dixie

As for Dixie, she’s been burning up the country side exploring, jumping in a nearby ponds and sniffing her way through Quail Grove. Her inner hunter has been released! She even learned how to swim a couple weeks ago at the lake and has agreed this new lifestyle fits us three perfectly…

Tiny Homestead Clearing at Quail Grove Property #1

 

Fall Woodland Centerpiece

Fall Woodland Centerpiece

Earlier this week we spent time cutting stumps.  During the cleanup, I was distracted by these wood slices with greenery because they presented some really neat details.

The idea of a fall centerpiece surfaced so when we got back to the farm I decided one more post was necessary before taking the next couple of weeks off.

This display was so fun to put together and I hope you enjoy the concept of a fall woodland centerpiece.

Wood Stump Decorations

Supplies Started at Hobby Lobby

A little trip to Hobby Lobby was necessary for a candle and this neat twine, it looks orange and has a bit of a copper twist.  I was crazy about it because there are so many things you can do with it.

Everything else I planned to use came from the farm keeping the idea of simplicity centered.  The end result left an appearance of minimal so you’ll have to visualize this centerpiece placed with some pretty white or cream-colored dishes with pretty linens.

Soaking Wood Stump Pieces

Prepping the Wood Stumps

These stumps had greenery sprouting so I soaked them in a tub of water for about an hour, this was to keep the greens looking fresh.  Then I let them release the excess water for about 15 minutes on the sidewalk.

Using stumps with fresh greens can be tricky because the greenery stays fresh for a period of time, up to 4 or 6 hours. Which means a display like this would be best for a luncheon or dinner party but not long term unless they were placed in a dish or tray of water.

Woodland Centerpiece before Lantana was added

Putting Things Together

This display was placed outside at the picnic table where everything came together in minutes.  The stumps were mixed in with a few rocks, pine cones and I stretched the twine throughout.

Candles add a nice pop of color or votive candles would be a nice touch and offer a layer of elegance. Get creative with it and remember candles are an option.

Fall Woodland Centerpiece from Stumps

Add Fresh Flowers

I needed one more element to make this complete so I used Lantana cuttings because their hardy.  Rose buds would look wonderful and so would zinnia blooms.  Any flower would be nice mixed within.

Keep flowers fresh from wilting by using water picks or soak cotton balls in water covered in clear plastic.

  • Dip the stem in the wet cotton.
  • Cover it with plastic and tie off with a rubber band or string at the base.
  • Then poke them where you like.
  • Cover the base with moss so it looks natural.

Fall Woodland Centerpiece DIY

Finally, we have this Fall Woodland Centerpiece ready to enjoy for a fun afternoon or evening luncheon.  Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be expensive, take a look at what you already have and perhaps see if nature can offer some inspiration.

I hope you enjoyed and I’ll be back to my regular writing schedule September 15th with more fun ideas for fall.

Make Your Own Fall Woodland Centerpiece

Easy Growing Knock Out Roses

Knock Out Roses

Knock out roses are super easy to grow and they’re available everywhere.  This rose is popular in North America and don’t be surprised when you drive into shopping centers or restaurants if they have several mixed in their landscaping.

I ended up with a couple 6-inch starter plants by mistake.  I failed to do my research first and then found myself fascinated with the foliage and quantity of buds each stem produced, the flowers are the size of a quarter.  I went ahead and purchased, having no idea how large the plant would grow.

I failed to read the plant label too – I know sometimes I should really slow down… I discovered very quickly three things:

  1.  They’re easy to grow
  2. A breeze to Transplant
  3. You can propagate year round (Down South)

Planting conditions were very basic and because they’re disease resistant they’re a natural choice for busy gardeners.  I think I may be a busy gardener…

They even have what I call a bloom rotation about every six – eight weeks.  In today’s images mine are at the end of a six week bloom period which means they’re getting ready to rest and then bloom all over again. Oh, and for all the southern gardeners these beauties are very heat tolerant.

Pink Knock Out Roses

They’re Easy to Grow

Let’s check into some of the perks that make the knock out rose an easy to grow plant for any garden space.  I’m not kidding when I say easy because this rose bush is a matter of planting correctly then letting them be.

  • Plant in direct sunlight.
  • Requires fertilized soil with good drainage.
  • Can tolerate Zone 5 winters.
  • Blooms from Spring – through late fall (down south about 8 months out of the year)
  • Fertilize after blooming twice a year.
  • Cover plant base with a good mulch and water from the roots when needed during the Spring/Summer.

large Knock out roses

When to Transplant

I transplanted this huge plant a couple seasons ago, it was originally one of those 6-inch pots I was telling you about and now it’s about 4 ft. high. Transplanting should take place during the fall or early spring when temperatures are steady, between 50 – 70 degrees.  If the plant wilts during the process have no fear because it will revive.

That happened to this rose because I transplanted on a whim off season and as a result lost the original foliage, but then it grew an entire new batch.  I don’t recommend pushing the limits but I can tell you from experience this plant is strong and can overcome my sometimes spur of the moment ideas.

Propagating is a Breeze

Propagating is also a breeze and can take place during pruning season from late winter to early spring.  Once again, I’ve taken cuttings during the summer and was able to root them in a glass of water in addition to fertilized soil.  I know, I’m always pushing those gardening rules…

The Knock roses are not my favorite but I was happy to learn more about them and thrilled they were so easy.  They might be just what you’re looking for if anyone is seeking a pretty show piece next to the front driveway or sidewalk.   A row of these as a hedge would look wonderful even when they’re not blooming.

Easy to grow and care for Knock Out Roses

 

 

Letting Go of Our Homestead

Letting go of a Homestead

When we decided to let go of our homestead we knew it was the right time.  The kids moved on and living here was no longer the same. This chapter was closing even if we weren’t ready for that to happen.  But here’s the thing…. Robert and I were ready…

When we moved to the country almost 8 years ago the goal was to teach our kids how to be self-reliant.  This was always the focus by offering them hands on experience and new skills necessary to survive this crazy world.  We also wanted them to know what it means to work…  I mean really work and leave here with a work ethic…

Laziness was never acceptable and when we worked as a family we could sense the growth and let’s just say it was impossible to keep up with Robert….  I’m still trying….

The home was an element of its own and we eventually finished our remodel but the house was never the center of our lives. Everything was focused on the land and the blessings it provided.   This is when I began to realize that a house is just a place to escape the weather. Fine furnishings and fancy things are nice to collect but the heart of everything is in the land.

We faced many highs, lows and disappointments; it was our faith that reminded us to enjoy each day.  Things like new baby chicks, the birth of a calf, or walking to the field being greeted by a new lamb and proud ewe we’re all blessings.  Sweet vegetables, large crops and pretty flowers growing in the garden were additional gifts and those famous mornings when we noticed the cows were out, we humbled ourselves to deal with the situation.

That’s what we did at our little homestead we unwrapped the blessings by doing more and working the land.

Wasn’t that fun?  Putting those pictures together reminded me how thankful I am for this experience and yes, this place changed our lives forever.  For one it was the foundation of Garden Up Green.  It’s possible this blog would have never surfaced otherwise.

It’s been said to me many times, it will be hard to let go.”  But the real honest answer is this… “No, it won’t because we’re done here.”  Sure, I may wipe away a tear as we leave through the green gates but as I’ve been shutting things down the last 8 months I’ve had time to say good-bye, time to make some big decisions and time to remember everything…

I’ve learned the countryside is where my heart heals, grows and where I attract inspiration.  This experience has taught us so much and now it’s time to move on further into the countryside so that next somebody can create their own stack of memories.

  
Letting go of our little homestead is a matter of making a decision and sticking with it.  It’s also a time to set new goals and take things to a greater level as we approach Quail Grove.  We’re going to do more and move forward each day…

Sometimes letting go can be a little scary and other times exhilarating. For Robert and I it’s very exhilarating and we’re just counting down the days.

Letting go of our little Homestead that inspired