Archive for the ‘Retail Therapy’ Category

Window box round-up

windowbox by sunface13 on flickr

Windowbox by Sunface13 on Flickr.

I remember the first time I saw window boxes worth coveting. I was 20 years old, backpacking through Europe. Although I wasn’t yet a gardener, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the perpetual, ageless villages with their cheery window boxes spilling over with geraniums. The window boxes were simple, but gorgeous, and I wanted to take them home.

Outside my window by James Jordan on Flickr

Outside my window by James Jordan on Flickr.

In my mind, the best window boxes will always be European, best suited to crumbling brick or stucco apartment buildings. But right now the closest I will ever get to gardening in a European window box is vicariously.

Although I’m not in the market, I was curious to see what was out there in the way of window boxes, so I pulled together a few internet finds to share.

diy windowbox

Sweet DIY succulent windowbox planter (made using an aluminum gutter) by Kalani Kordus on Flickr.

teak wood planter

Simple teak wood planter from Jayson Home and Garden ($64-$115)

zinc rectangular planter

Inexpensive zinc rectangular rail planter from Crate and Barrel ($13.95-$19.95).

terrazzo lite window box

Modern terrazzolite windowbox from Jayson Home and Garden ($78-$160)

galvanized metal planters

Galvanized metal planter box from Pottery Barn ($59).

coir-lined planter

Coir-lined traditional iron window box on ($165.96).


Andrea Bellamy |

Postcarden back

Tag this one Clever and Cute. Postcarden is a fun and simple pop-out postcard that transforms into a mini living garden.

Allotment pop-up

It unfolds into a little diorama, in one of three designs: Allotment (pictured above), Botanical (shown below) or City. The front of each postcarden has a garden scene contributed by a UK artist. (Unfortunately, these cute little gifts/cards are only available for shipping within the EU. Available at!)

Botanical postcarden

As an aside, doesn’t it seem like seeds are the new hot thing in quirky gift giving? (See, for example, Matchstick gardens, Egglings, and lipstick with plantable packaging.)


Felted stone mat
Andrea Bellamy |

felted stone mat

Leave it to VivaTerra to carry this gorgeous felted stone mat by South African textile designer Ronel Jordaan. Made of 100% merino wool, I can just imagine how beautiful this would feel underfoot. Yum.


My first week on the Cure, plus some inspiration from Pad Outdoors

Pad Outdoor POD Aluminium Planters

My husband and I are attempting to (re)decorate our living room. (I’m not sure whether we’re decorating or redecorating. We’ve lived here for almost four years, and the living “room,” which is part of an open plan kitchen/dining/living space, is completely dysfunctional.)

As an attempt to finally wrangle the beast, I’m reading—and following—a book called Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure. It’s written by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, creator of the massively (and deservedly) successful Apartment Therapy blogs. It’s an  inspiring, energizing book that steers you through an eight-week rehab program for your home. (That’s right. I’m having an intervention with my living room.)

My goals?

1. Pull together the jumble of styles (mid-century modern meets what I can only describe as cabin chic… then they both meet toddler.)

2. Acquire some vital missing furnishings, such as the area rug (which we got rid of once we realized the deep, cream, wool shag was not compatible with ground-in bunny crackers), a decent lamp, and some art for the walls.

3. Be able to manage clutter better.

But this is a gardening blog. So why am I talking about home decor? Because I like these  Pod Aluminum Planters by Pad Outdoors and wanted to share them with you.

Pod Aluminum Planter grouping

Despite having no talent for houseplants, I would love to find a place for a really great-looking plant in my new living room. Obviously, choosing the right planter is key. A bit of a splurge at $175 each (and extra for the stands), these spun aluminum planters make me happy.  They’re going in my “style tray,” as the Apartment Therapy book prescribes.

There are so many great options for indoor plants/containers, so I’m going to continue to explore and share my discoveries/living room decor possibilities with you. Check back often this month, and help me create a home I love (please?!). I’ll be eternally grateful.

PS: Yes, I’ll post some “before” photos. Soon.

PSS: Check out my only other online foray into decorating with Lila’s nursery on Flickr.


Best gifts for gardeners 2009

Wait—how did it get to be December already? We just finished the Halloween candy.

Since there are obviously fewer minutes in an hour these days, I give thanks every time I click “add to cart” and check another name off my shopping list without setting foot in a mall. So here’s a little treat for you: a round-up of gifts any gardener would love. And they’re all available online.


The book vase by theshophouse has ferns and foliage tucked into its leaves ($44.00 on


These lovely botanical screenprinted napkins by Bloomsong add a touch of rustic luxury to your table ($17.00 for two, on

acorn necklace

This sweet sterling silver acorn necklace by GurKimel uses real acorns ($60.00 on


The Cobrahead weeder and cultivator is a fantastic all-purpose hand tool that is great for small spaces (it also comes in a long-handled version). ($19.95 on


The Grobal self-watering container lets you go a week between watering. At this price, pick up a few to give as hostess, teacher, or babysitter gifts ($14.30 on


Jane Joss turns fabric into fantastic foliage. I like this houndstooth fabric potted plant ($28.00 on

felco pruners

Felco classic pruners. There’s a reason these hand pruners have “classic” in their name. Felco is the name in secateurs, and you’ll never regret the investment in this quality product. This is another gift that will last a lifetime ($43.18 on

birdhouse stamp

This custom address birdhouse stamp by modernartstamps is a practical gift—yet one that is sure elicit smiles ($10.00 on Etsy).


Atlas gloves. Lightweight, breathable, and durable. What more could you need in an all-purpose glove? Great stocking stuffer. ($5.95 on


Review: Troy Bilt lithium ion battery cordless string trimmer

Meeting the Troy Bilt trimmer

A little while back, Troy Bilt sent me their new TB57 Lithium Ion Battery Cordless String Trimmer to try out. That’s me, above, holding it gingerly and looking like I’m about to stroke its hair. What can I say? I’m not all that familiar with power equipment – I felt it best to approach with caution.

But before I get into my review, I wanted to reassure you that whenever I’m given something – whether it’s a book or a plant or a trimmer – I’m always honest about my experience with that product. I told the folks at Troy Bilt the same thing, and they were happy to hear it. They look for feedback and incorporate it into later models of their products. I like that.

So, without further ado, here’s what I liked about the trimmer (which, in my brain, will always be called a weed whacker):

* Unlike gas trimmers, this trimmer produces zero emissions. And unlike electric trimmers, there’s no cord.

* The rechargeable lithium ion battery really holds its charge – and the machine retains full power along with it. I’ve used it three times for between 10-30 minutes and it’ll still be good for another round. While I haven’t needed to recharge it yet, apparently that process takes just one hour.

*It’s convenient – there’s no cord to wind up or untangle, and no gas to refill. Just pick it up and go.

* At just 7lbs, it’s light for a weed whacker. It’s well balanced, which also helps.

    This is almost the perfect trimmer for small space gardeners or those needing light-duty weed whacking done. It’s awesome for edging lawns, but save nastier tasks such as battling areas overgrown with hardcore weeds for a heavier-duty tool. Gas and electric trimmers still out-perform in terms of sheer power.

    Now you’ll notice that I said *almost* the perfect trimmer. There are a couple of things I’d like to see changed with this model.

    Troy Bilt string trimmer in action

    The first, something that seems to be universally annoying among weed whackers, is that the arm is too short, forcing me to have to stoop over to get at the weeds. Despite the fact that I literally look like a giant in this photo, I’m only 5’10 — tall for certain, but presumably guys are in the target market for this device, too. The arm could easily use another 6-8″.

    Troy Bilt string trimmer line

    My other comment on this product is that its efficiency could be improved with the addition of a double line, which seems like it’d be simple enough to add.

    Fix those couple of things, Troy Bilt, and you’ll have created an ecologically sensitive, powerful little machine. Who knows? If I had a lawn, I’d probably buy one.


    Name that plant
    Andrea Bellamy |

    herb tags

    Nickel herb markers from Nina Gibson Designs. $28 for four.

    There’s nothing worse than a garden littered with nursery plant labels. Where each plant has a little plastic tombstone. Sure, labels might come in handy if you’ve forgotten whether it was Euphorbia ‘Blue Lagoon’ or ‘Blue Haze’ you planted, but does every pansy need to carry its own ID?

    Still, there are some cases where a plant label is entirely appropriate. With perennials, I usually just slightly bury the nursery label at the same time I’m putting the plant in the ground, so if I need to replace the plant or for some reason am just desperate to remember the name, I can poke around in the dirt and (usually) find it.


    Write-and-erase plant tags from Allsop Home and Garden. $16 for six.

    But with vegetables, plant labels are a necessity. They’re a place holder, so that a week after you do your sowing you can distinguish among the nearly-identical little green seedlings. And even though I swear I’ll remember which tomatoes I’m growing, at the end of the summer it’s hard to tell a Purple Calabash from a Purple Brandywine.

    bird plant markers

    Birdie plant markers from The Modern Gardener. About $9 for 10.

    There are a million kinds of plant labels on the market, from the most basic – white plastic tags and wooden tongue depressor types – to the clever, the cute and the Betty Boop.

    So what makes a great plant marker? For me, it’s gotta be one you write on yourself. Although some herb marker sets are lovely, inevitably they don’t include all the herbs you plan on growing, leaving your herb garden haphazardly labelled. The horror!

    hairpin plant markers

    Hairpin-style rose markers from Lee Valley. $16.80 for 25.

    Ask a bunch of gardeners about their favourite labels and the talk turns to permanence and DIY pride. Which type of Sharpie to use, how to clear coat a rock so that your Latin is legible next year – that sort of thing. I’m less concerned with longevity because I buy or make ’em cheap, don’t need that many, and because I’ll be planting something different next year anyway. And if I can make ’em myself? Awesome.

    Herb markers

    Set of metal herb stakes from Spoon Sisters. $22.50 for nine.

    Homemade plant markers range from the utilitarian – such as cut-up Venetian (aka “mini”) blinds, milk cartons and pop cans – to the kitschy cool – such as these Shrinky Dink markers – to the truly artful – such as these quilted plant markers. I still like the old stone plant markers a la Martha, and I’m quite happy with the hand-stamped wooden ones I just whipped up the other day (see below).

    plant labels

    Wooden markers stamped with permanent ink. $1 for 100 extra-large popsicle sticks. $6 for the alphabet stamps. $10 for the ink.

    What’s your take on plant labels? Any favourites I’ve missed?


    Soji solar lighting


    There may be snow on the ground but just thinking about hanging a few of these Soji Modern solar lanterns from Allsop Home and Garden makes me want to plan a summer soiree. Like a Le Klint for the outdoors, these would look right at home on our back patio. And they’re solar. No cords!

    Ikea has also come out with a number of solar lighting options. Solig looks cute. Must gather strength to go check out in person.


    Food Map Design

    Food Map Container.jpgJon and Elizabeth of Food Map Design wrote to tell me about their newly-released Food Map container, a modern garden planter created using green design principles. As Food Map is “committed to reconnecting residential space and food cultivation,” the container was designed for growing edibles, but ornamentals probably wouldn’t complain either. Here’s what Jon and Elizabeth have to say about the form-meets-function planter:

    “We created a product that enables people with limited outdoor space to grow food at home without having to compromise on design. The container is made from nontoxic High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which contains post-industrial reused material. The frame is 40-100% recycled steel. The product is manufactured in Los Angeles County and is 100% recyclable. The container comes in two sizes: the larger raised container allows for gardening while standing; the smaller one is great for kids and smaller scale settings. The container has rubber casters for mobility as weather and sunlight conditions change.”

    I love the mobility the rubber casters add; that would be really handy. I can’t budge my raised beds. At $245-$255, the Food Map container is a bit of a splurge. Feeling flush? Buy yours here.  


    In search of the perfect watering can
    Andrea Bellamy |

    My husband has given me an ultimatum: get rid of my watering can. He’s
    referring to my indoor watering can – an old, ugly mauve plastic job
    that normally sits on the kitchen counter because there’s never any
    room for it under the sink. So I can’t blame him for hating it, really.
    But now I need a replacement. Something that will look good when it is
    inevitably left out on the counter.
    Zack Rocco.jpg So let’s get my fantasy watering cans out of the way first. Like the Zack Rocco Stainless Steel Watering Can, above. It’s $97.88, sure, but so lovely. I could definitely leave that out. Zack makes some other beautiful watering cans, like the Pianto and the Arco.

    rosenthal dumbo.jpgI just adore the Rosenthal ‘Dumbo’ Watering Can, which is porcelain and probably heavy as hell. It’s $93.75.

    blomus.jpgMoving down the price scale, the Blomus ‘Greens’ Watering Can in stainless steel is a sleek modern take on a traditional design. It’s $43.91.
    Rumford Gardener watering can.jpgSpeaking of modern classics, the Rumford Gardener Stainless Steel Watering Can isn’t bad either – and at $24.70 won’t break the bank.
    Good Grips.jpgThe OXO Good Grips Mini Pour and Store Watering Can isn’t for everyone, sure. I don’t know that my husband would want it on the counter, but it sure looks funky, and is ergonomically-designed to boot. It comes in several colours, including gray and white. It’s just $7.38
    Plastek.jpgFinally, there’s the Plastec Turquoise Stack Water Can – simple and cheap ($2.42). How can you lose?


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