Friday, December 30, 2011

The Fairy House Roof Takes Shape

Although the walls of the Fairy House (Part 1 of the Fairy House story here) were allowed to stand until they were well cured and sturdy, I worried that trying to top them with a concrete roof would be difficult and too heavy for me to manage. As it was, each wall was difficult to carry and get into position; I couldn't imagine moving something weighing twice as much. Therefore the decision was made to make the roof from hypertufa. My friend Frances from Fairegarden is an expert at hypertufa so I knew I could rely on her assistance, long distance, in the event of any complications. I gathered the necessary ingredients and mixed up my first batch of hypertufa! I had chosen a box that, tipped on its edge, would make the right size roof. It was at this point that the idea of the Fairy Castle changed into the Fairy House. Inspiration/desperation provided this roof idea and not one more castle-like.

The box was cut, tipped up, nestled into pea gravel in a large galvanized tub, lined with plastic, and filled with hypertufa mix. 

It was allowed to set for about a week. Although it was warm outside, the roof was large and quite solid. I did not want to risk unmolding it too soon. However, on the day I was going to find out if my experiment worked, I called in back-up help.

The problem turned out not to be with the sturdiness of the structure. The problem was that someone chose to use the plastic from a package of Costco toilet paper as the liner. Just one more step in my education!

The ink from the plastic transferred quite well into the hypertufa. My able assistant tried to calm my worries...

I did indeed try sanding the "stain" off but realized fairly quickly that it was going to take way longer to do than I could stand. Inspiration/desperation once again came to my rescue. The roof was set on the walls and  mortared in place. Green dyed mortar was mixed and applied over the entire top of the roof and brown dyed mortar was used for the gable area of the end walls.

The advantage to using the mortar here is that I was able to texture it in a decorative way that I liked. The roof was given a bit of a thatched look and the gables were textured to look somewhat shingled.

The house was coming together, step by step. The next thing needed was a front door. And I already had a plan for that. 

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Christmas

It was a great Christmas for me...good family Rock Band and Trivial Pursuit fun, decent food, great cocktails (thanks Melissa!).  Now that the horrible rip-off-the-bandaid moment of departures has passed I find I may survive. Today the washing machine is going nonstop as guest beds are changed and table cloths and napkins are washed. 

Time to check back in with the garden and see what needs to be done. Sophie and I decided that the Fairy House needs a well, so that is on the list for today. Hypertufa mix is ready for water to be added. The correct form is being pondered.

The rocks that Sophie painted (with help from Leanne) have been placed in the Fairy House yard, just in case any fairies are unsure of their welcome! 

The freezes of last week convinced me that it was more than time to pull out the last cherry tomato plant. The few remaining tomatoes might not be wonderful by midsummer standards but at least they are local!

 After all the Christmas treats a salad for lunch sounds like just the thing. 

 And just in case all that red in the other photos was getting to be too much, here is Rosa Flawless from the Cutflower Collection of Roses getting ready for the New Year.  I picked this up about 2 years ago at an event at UC Davis. It was in a 4 inch pot and has been a good rose for me...very disease resistant, a compact plant, and it keeps blooming. Just the thing to lift the spirit suffering from post-Christmas blahs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Garden Blogger Bloom Day December 2011

The roses are blooming nicely despite night time temperatures that keep hovering at or just below the 32 degree mark. Not lots and lots of bloom but pink Flawless, above,  Flower Girl, below, and miniature rose Demitasse all have several blooms each.

Osmanthus heterophyllus, holly leaf osmanthus, has just begun blooming. Planted as a possibly useful plant for holiday decorating, the disappointing reality is that many of the leaves are not holly-like at all. Still, it is a nice border shrub and smells delightful when in bloom.

Plumbago auriculata has grown up into the arbor that supports two Banksia roses. The evergreen roses protect the more fragile plumbago and for now it is still blooming. It should eventually go dormant for a couple of months although the cold nights we've had this month haven't made that happen yet.

Anisodontea is in full bloom, the cold nights are of no apparent concern.

 Abutilon Souvenir de Bonne has several blooms and buds.

Workhorse Argyranthemum frutescens blooms much of the year and is useful for little bouquets. It is actually happier now than it was a couple of months ago in the heat.

Allysum blooms here and there, adding a bit of color to the sunny winter days, which should be rainy winter days. Hopefully we will be getting rain for Christmas, with delivery scheduled for the beginning of January.

Camellia sasanqua Kanjiro is still blooming...this is the best year it has ever had. I have been keeping my coffee grounds out of the compost and putting them directly on several of the acid lovers in the yard. They have all responded with vigorous growth and increased bloom. For those dealing with alkaline soil I highly recommend this trick.

There are also a few pelargoniums blooming, wax begonias, solanum jasminoides, a few salvias, pansies, and good old dwarf carnation Evermore. As I write this there are clouds moving in...will Garden Blogger Bloom Day bring us rain? I sure hope so!

To see other blooms from near and far please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and check out what is happening around the world as the year winds to an end. Just because the year is ending doesn't mean the blooms have stopped!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Fairy House Opens for Guests

Just in time for the holidays, The Fairy House has opened for guests. Construction has been slow at times due to the lack of complete-or any-building plans. Instead the Fairy House has progressed as inspiration or desperation provided ideas. The opening has taken place because the handles on the front door are at last in place, but finish work will continue for some time to come, if not forever.

The first concrete was poured last July. These blocks, made in sideways milk cartons doubled to make them longer, were thought to be the beginnings of walls. River rock was added to the wet concrete for decoration and one special rose rock, a gift from friend Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings, was added over what was intended to be the door.

A tower was built, using an oatmeal carton and funnel. At that time the idea was still to build a Fairy Castle.

At the beginning of August castle building slowed. A break was needed to work with my husband, downsizing his mother's possessions after she moved into assisted living. In one of many boxes I found small metal decorative pieces. They looked like castle windows to me so construction plans shifted gears. Much larger walls were designed using a form made from two nursery plant trays. The metal pieces were embedded in the wet concrete and tiny glass stones were added to mimic stained glass.

Four walls were made, one at a time, with decorative rock added just because it was so much fun. When the walls were all sufficiently hardened they were put in place, sunk into the ground a few inches, and mortared together. Concrete chunks provided interior stability and the original walls provided exterior support.

A second tower piece was made to compensate for the taller walls. Once you start making concrete things it is hard not to see the possibilities for forms and structures! Luckily, concrete is inexpensive.

The walls were up! Now inspiration for a roof must appear. And, luckily, before long it did.

To be continued...