Archives for the month of: April, 2010

Generally this is a blog about making quilts from old clothes, but I promised a follow up to Plant Rescue, and here it is.

Recap:  plants in my city neighbors’ yard were headed for the dumpster per a complete house & yard renovation.  I asked to rescue them.  Permission granted, plant rescue began.

Several agreeably sunny days found me hauling plant after plant out of the yard as well as digging out some of my own underperforming shrubs.  It began to look like a garden center out there:

Spirea, viburnum, Rose of Sharon, rose, Skimmia, Andromeda, and more.

The problem was I did not have room for all.  Then I remembered my NJ neighbors (not the foreclosure neighbors) recently asked for gardening advice.  Actually, they asked me last year and at the time I offered to divide some of my overgrown perennials, but never did.  This opportunity seems to be a perfect match for them.

My very enthusiastic neighbor, I’ll call him Fred, drove to my house bright and early one Saturday. We loaded up his truck and headed for the NJ hills

The big stuff went in Fred's truck. The small stuff went in my sedan's trunk.

with the swag.  While Fred began digging I scooted off to a nearby garden center for enriched potting soil to juice up the dirt.  Fred’s yard had a handful of scattered bulbs, flowers and perennials  from the previous owner.   He and his wife, Dana, were immaculate caretakers of their house and yard, but had done little gardening or landscaping.

The front entry seemed a natural place to start:

What you can't see are the two maniacally barking dogs on the other side of the window.

How I wish my yard got the full sun this spot does all day.  Here the rescued Rose of Sharon and peony, along with hosta and hyacinth from elsewhere in this yard, found a home.  In the intervening week, Fred added a little decor, and now it looks like this:

The peony (in front) will bush out and bloom in a month or so, and the now-spindly Rose of Sharon (at rear) should leaf out and provide August flowers.

Next up viburnum, which can grow to 8 feet.  This corner offers ample room:

Click to see the hosta buds in shadow next to the hyacinth. The hosta was big, and needed to move for the shrub to have room to grow.

Division produced several pieces of hosta

Fred didn't have a saw, so dividing was accomplished by jumping up and down on a flat shovel.

and the viburnum took its place.  Fred, who is loving this BTW, dressed it up with mulch:

By now we were tired and anxious to finish by the time Dana got home.  The remaining big shrubs had to go in; the rest could wait a week. Along another street-facing wall went a spirea, skimmia, and a sand cherry that had been failing to thrive in my NYC backyard for more than 10 years.

Fred plans to replace the grass with mulch around these, and the bed can be filled in with annuals or perennials whenever they are ready.

I have high hopes for the spirea.  These wonderful plants develop a gorgeously sprawling habit when they’re happy.  I have one in my NJ yard that looks like this years after its transfer from NYC:

Is this becoming a long story by now?  Let me finish.  The following weekend, these before-and-afters happened:

Unadorned deck, formerly the housing for a hot tub.

From left, Manhattan euonymous , skimmia, and rose. The euonymous and rose will climb.

This part of the yard is fenced in for the dogs, but I'm hoping the combination of full sun, new enriched dirt, and the offsetting railroad ties will minimize the dog effect.

Spirea, skimmia and iris are in from the Plant Rescue, the rest, black-eyed Susan, lamb's ears and creeping geranium, were divided out from my NJ yard.

That was then.

This past week was focused on the tedious and visually uninteresting task of cutting enough triangles for that queen-sized quilt I claim to be making:

I could do the math but don't really want to know how many triangles are here.

Back to the lab again.  MFC is for my mother-in-law, who asked me for a bedspread to match the color in her bedroom curtains.  She gave me a swatch of her curtains, which remains my steady guide.  A little later she  gave me a page from a LL Bean catalog with a picture of a quilt.

Here are some colors/fabrics I'm starting with, matched to the Forest Swatch near the center of the pic.

The catalog quilt was based on triangles, giving me the notion she might like something along those lines.  I looked back at some other quilts I’ve made for ideas.  This one came to mind:

Flying Geese variation, made 2008 or so, 30 x 30. At least two fabrics are former shirts from my boys, the rest thrift store p.j.'s and shirts.

I am thinking of using this as the basic block.   I started cutting and placing triangles, ending up with this:

Hmm … the green floral in two of the center squares and along the borders (a William Morris print from an old skirt of mine) takes the place of the dark brown from the finished quilt above.  But I don’t have enough of this fabric for a larger quilt which would require many more blocks.  A trip to Salvation Army produces a teal wool skirt, which is cut on the bias.  Note to self:  if you want to proceed relatively quickly, stay with fabric cut on the warp and weft.

Fabrics are woven with threads that interweave at a 90 degree angle. You cut vertically or horizontally to keep the fabric strong. If you cut at at 45 degree angle-bisecting the "warp and weft," this is "the bias," and it results in a stretchier, flouncier feel to the fabric.

I cut up enough to swap them for the floral and do like the resulting contrast around the perimeter:

How about if I completely replace the florals with the solid….

Hmm again.  Makes a good contrast, but the green is a little flat to have so much.  Either way I slice it, I will need a lot more than this skirt will provide.  Another swing by the thrift shop yields these:

These are all cotton Liz Clairborne, a courser fabric than the wool, but will provide, I hope, enough triangles.

In an earlier post I referred to “stripping the carcass.”  Here’s an illustration:

Why does this picture make me want to jump on a horse?

Now I’ve got enough greens.  My plan is to repeat this “block” 12 times, resulting in a quilt top close to the size of a queen-sized blanket.  This means a lot of cutting.  I use a rotary cutter, which makes the process a little faster, but it is still a bit tedious, and, if one is not completely careful, can result in injury.  But that’s a story for another day.

Let me finish with a reward to those of  you who’ve made it to the end:

Here's the maple transplant, settling in nicely. Now if I just had a little more sun in this yard.

This is a blog about making quilts from recycled clothes, as some of you who have already read it will attest.  Perhaps a few curious souls have checked and seen no activity lately.  Sorry!  I’ve felt more than a little guilt about this as I truly like blogging.  I also have a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has told me in person, by email or via Facebook that you enjoy the blog.

So why the pause and what is so completely different?  Well, depending on where you live, you may have noticed much nicer weather lately.  Though not conducive to quilting, it has been just right for a Plant Rescue.

A neighbor moved away, selling the house next door.  The new owner is completely renovating the property, including the rear yard.  After 14 years of admiring my neighbor’s garden (particularly a lovely dwarf red maple), I was horrified to hear it would be gutted.  So began Plant Rescue.

The new owners gave me permission, via their construction foreman, to rescue the plants.  Here’s what the yard looked like, from my house, in mid March

Plants are dormant but you can see some evergreens on the left. Click photo for a better view. The red maple is to the right of the grill.

One fine warm weekend, I got permission to enter, and dug up the first round of plants.  Then I had a stack of stuff in my yard

I dug until I ran out of containers and burlap to temporarily house and swaddle them.  Careful readers of Patwig’s Blog will recall my determined preference to reuse materials, so I used all the empty plastic containers I could find.  I do confess to buying two rolls of burlap at a local hardware store because I had none.

Funny how from my window the plants appeared smaller than they turned out to be.  Here you see what looks like three shrubs

But once I dug in I yielded five plants, the lighter-leaved plant on the left, which I resettled in my yard

Andromeda (Pieris japonica) is ill from a lace bug infestation, which apparently hit NYC hard last year (who knew?) but I'm taking a chance because it is perfect for this spot.

The smaller plant in the middle was actually two Skimmia.  Once they were out I saw the delightful buds of another specimen I have long admired, a blue “Big Daddy” hosta, and lastly the rhododendron on the right.  All of these I had to dig out another day due to lack of burlap.

A gardening friend (GF) dropped some extra burlap over my fence one day, enabling the quest.  Out came two Rose of Sharon, a verbena, two climbing roses, a Montauk daisy (which my GF tells me can be wildly propagated), too many astilbe to count, bunches of iris, a Cotoneaster (one of my all-time-favorite plants) and, of course, the Big Guy himself, the red maple.

Can anyone explain that trunk? Click for a closer look at it.

I  pruned the Maple.  I dug around the dripline of the Maple.  But there was no way I was going to move the Maple.  Enter the very lovely construction foreman and my nicest asking and voila,  Friday before Easter, an opening was made in the fence

A hole was dug by Patwig

I knew there was a reason I wrote "ditch digger" under my high school yearbook photo.

And three workers, with a rope and a two-by-four, carried the Maple to its new home.

Words cannot begin to express how grateful I was to these men, but luckily, there’s cash.

I’m glad you’ve made it this far, but I think it’s time to stop.  Some readers may have unanswered questions, such as what was in the place where I dug the deep hole?   What about that long list of other plants?  Do I have room in my yard for them?  Unfortunately, I do not.  This is just Part One of Plant Rescue.  Part Two will appear after the plants are installed in their new home.  In the meantime, the long-awaited My First Commission (MFC) will return.

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