Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In the Snow..........

The most frequently asked question is, "How do they hold up in the water?" After shoppers find that paper is one of the ingredients in the recipe of our product I find that it is a fair question. The paper is just a fiber source that is encased by portland cement and along with the filler perlite make up the product we call papercrete. I cannot say how long the product will hold up but we have had some of the pots in ground contact for several years without any deterioration. What we build each year once dry gets placed outside on pallets to suffer whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Containers built in the Fall are built for sale the following year so they are subjected to rain, snow, sleet, hail, and ice throughout the Winter. How do they hold up? About the same as the sidewalk in front of the house!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Fresh Batch.........

A fresh batch of containers with ready made patios just out of the studio. What began as an experiment was in short supply as soon as we offered them to gardeners. Made in our signature papercrete pots they are the perfect start to a fairy garden or miniature landscape. With the addition of a feature plant, a ground cover, and a couple of accessories even a beginner can create a professional looking arrangement. 

We like to infect as many as possible with the 'mini garden virus' and this is a great avenue to get someone started. Whether they are beginners or well versed in the art we advise our customers to create multiple containers, group them together, and connect them all with small bridges, sets of steps, or ladders. If you catch us at an event I will tell you how to build the patios.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Small Succulent Gardens...........

Winter time is a hard time for us when we need gardens for shows. Most of our plant material has gone dormant so we resort to using small succulents for the green in our gardens. While these small gardens are not among our favorites we seldom bring one home from a show. 

I vote for enjoying the holidays then telling Mother Nature to bring on Spring and warmer weather!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ahead of Schedule..........

It is November 30 and the weather is beautiful in Southwest Missouri. We normally wait until the cold blustery days of Winter to begin building our inventory of papercrete containers for the Spring/Summer show season but the demand for our containers has been great all Fall. I was suffering with a sore back so Peggy began to sell on the craft show circuit and has been well received. Increased sales has caused us to concentrate on working ahead of our usual schedule to maintain an inventory.

Show exposure with a unique craft item results in lots of invitations to additional events. Our 2014 event schedule is filling rapidly. Between the new events and finding groups to host our papercrete classes it seems that the coming season will be hectic yet fun. We had a goal of completing 1000 pieces to be ready for the '13 season. That goal was met and we expect to double that for '14.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Things We Like........

It was the middle of February and the weather was unsettled as they say in the Ozarks. Peggy and I had driven to the Portland area on a buying trip and had not experienced any bad weather or driving conditions on the way West. Portland was experiencing a week of rain yet well above freezing so it was tolerable. On our way out I had asked if there was anyplace special we should see since we had the weekend to kill before business on Monday morning. Peggy’s only request was to see the ocean.

Oregon 26, the road between the Portland area and the coast would turn out to be a smorgasbord of weather and driving conditions. It was touch and go as we experienced rain, sleet, snow, hail, and road conditions to match. Slow and steady we made our way to Seaside, Oregon the end of the Lewis and Clark trail. It was traveler’s luck that as we approached the last few miles to the coast the skies opened the sun bore down and we had a wonderful day exploring the quaint town of Seaside and then traveled South to Cannon Beach State Park. The scene was almost surreal as I captured a picture of my lovely bride doing the Hillbilly Strut down the beach with shoes in hand.

Absolutely fascinating is what I call the interaction of flora and fauna in nature. Sixty plus years has not dampened my desire to see just how ingrained we are with everything that surrounds us. I remember once hearing a quote that said, “man owes his existence to six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains”. That illustrates the fact that we survive in an environment that is both fragile and resilient, It also provides those who seek to understand its’ mysteries a world of entertainment.
Thousands and thousands of symbiotic relationships occur in nature every day. It does not matter if it is hot or cold, wet or dry, dark or light, nature continues on. The environment is open seven days a week twenty fours a day. Feel free to go out and see what interaction you might find.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekend Fun..............

Growing season is almost over so it is time to transition into some weekend fun! Vending events will be in order until the holiday season! We will have the opportunity to offer folks something beyond the standard flower pots plus introduce customers to "Fairy Gardening & Miniature Landscapes". Watch our Schedule Page to see the events we will be participating in as they are confirmed!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cat Tested & Approved............

" I love this one"

" Maybe"

 "A little tight"

"Works for me"

"Catnap Time"

After our pots are removed from the molds, allowed to dry, sanded and finished, we set them out on pallets to weather and season a little before we take them to sell. About dusk each evening all the farm cats gather and for some reason move from pot to pot and put their seal of approval on our work. I do not know what their fascination with the pots might be but it has been an almost nightly job for them as long as there are pots on the mat to test. 

This all began when my wife determined to make a papercrete bird bath. We have the top of an old BBQ grill that is used as a mold to make a large shallow bowl. A bowl was made with no drain holes and after it was dry was filled with water. The papercrete composition being somewhat porous did not hold water long. It soon became a favorite place for the cats to curl up in. Now it's "First Come-First Served".....

August Rebound.......

The Spring/Summer festivals, vending events, and conventions had completely eliminated our papercrete pot inventory. We had scheduled the month of August to relax and gather ourselves for the Fall season. Our usual venue is to change hats and vend for another company through the Fall and into the Winter months but due to an unscheduled back injury we had to change our normal routine. Peggy and I spent the first three weeks of the month building an inventory to allow us to vend at a few select craft shows this Fall. 

When I was young I abused my joints and muscles and they accepted it begrudgingly! Now that I'm 65 years old the same abuse results in a serious revolt by said muscles and joints and they issue a reminder at every opportunity! All that said, I'm enjoying my days more and more. I can sit in the shade, play in the mud, listen to all the sounds of nature, and turn today's trash into tomorrow's treasures!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Newest Design in Papercrete.......

First we build them!

Then we fill them up!

Found a clam shell bowl that we thought suitable for a mold and was pleased with the results.

Monday, July 8, 2013

New Items in Papercrete.........

We have add several new shapes and colors to our inventory. Molds that were gathered in the past are now being put to use. Unusual shapes and colors are always in demand and it is our aim to serve our customers. This ten sided container is the result of using a wooden tub built like an old wooden barrel. The mold has to be soaked in water every few days to keep it from "fallin' to staves" when the wood dries out and shrinks allowing the metal bands that hold it together to become loose.

An enlarged version of our regular rectangle trough is becoming very popular with our customers. They have been purchased almost as fast as they dry and get displayed at the farmer's market. We make these troughs in natural grey, buff, and terra cotta in color. The mold was made from old pallet wood and a piece of wooden siding. Looks like I will need to make an additional mold or two of the same size to keep ahead of customer demand.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mini Gardens and Succulents.................

Mini gardens, succulents, and papercrete containers are a natural match but it is a combination I seldom use. That may change as I did enjoy putting this combination together today.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summertime Mini Gardens............

The gardens we make in the Summertime allow us to install plant material and let it get established and mature a little before we add other elements and accessories to the garden. Trees, shrubs, and ground covers recognize that they suddenly have added soil to grow in and respond by rapidly expanding to fit the area. The same happens in almost any sized garden. Allowing the plant material to establish a little makes the placement of other elements a lot easier. Try growing your plants for a month before adding extra material and see of your finished gardens don't look a lot better. You will find you will need a lot less accessories to make your gardens seem full also. Sometimes "Less is More" in the making of miniature gardens.............

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Special People...........

In the course of my travels I run into people I consider special. Though unknown to them they inspire me to try new things, spark ideas, and make my travels an exciting adventure. I just returned from a whirlwind shopping trip to Portland, Oregon and beyond during which I received at least special to me an Acer Palmatum "Beni Kosode". The tree is tiny in every respect and perfect for the fairy gardens I put together. 

Driving an average of 700 miles a day through snow, sleet, rain, over hills, mountains, and vast expanses of flat may be brutal at times but returning with special plant material for my customers and something special for myself......priceless!

Today I gathered some of my favorite fairy garden accessories and put together a garden which will remain in my collection since it is filled with treasures from special people. Like an heirloom or picture album it can be enjoyed for the memories attached to it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Warmer Weather.......

The weatherman keeps saying that warmer weather is on the way......Yeah it has to happen sooner or later but here it is May the second and the forecast is warning of a few snowflakes over the next couple of days. If I lived well North of Southwest Missouri I might brace for such a forecast but give me a break.......snow in May!!! 

Oh well..... I cannot wait until Summer arrives to begin my gardening so snow or no I put a couple together today! They will be placed in the coldframe until warmer weather returns.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

And the fun begins.............

Spring is always a welcome arrival here at the farm! Plant material starts breaking dormancy, new growth begins, a resurrection of sorts. The Lonicera "Lemon Beauty" in the little garden is sporting some tiny buds of new growth and the Lindernia is beginning to bloom which causes the little fairy to kick up her heels at in fine Ozark's fashion to sing "Yeehaw it's Spring" 

The next month will be a frantic one between traveling, vending, speaking, and building gardens. While it seems somewhat overwhelming at the moment it is what we wait and wish for all Winter! I will surround myself with all the flea market finds, newly acquired accessories, and a grand assortment of plant material to pick and piece things together in combinations that I hope will appeal to my customers. I find that some customers just like to have a few gardens displayed to give them ideas on how to put their own gardens together.

Gardening in a small scale while not a new concept is enjoying a rebirth of sorts. Miniature gardens have been a fascination of mine for quite some time and supplying the plant material and accessories has become a good portion of our business.  As a vendor it is a pleasure to see a mother and daughter picking parts and pieces which will allow them to spend some special time together. Many times it is a grandmother who will gather items in anticipation of a special visit from grandchildren so they can garden together. Whether we recognize it or not we are inseparable from our connection to the soil. We all rely on soil for our existence but in this case it is an avenue to a time of recreation. A time of creation, a time of whimsy, a time of fantasy, a time of just plain fun, especially when shared by more than one generation!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hosta College Vending.......

The third weekend of March each year the Great Lakes Region Hosta Society hosts an event called "Hosta College" in Piqua, Ohio. Five to six hundred avid gardeners gather at the event to socialize, attend a hosta auction, eat, and to listen to volunteer teachers share their area of expertise. One of the main gathering spots during the event is the "Vending Area". This year we had a bumper crop of papercrete containers to sell and sell we did. You can see the results of our sales in the before picture above and the nearly finished picture below. 

 A special thanks to all our customers! We will see you all at the next hosta event somewhere this Summer or next Spring at the 2014 "Hosta College".

Monday, March 18, 2013

A customers Project..........

One of the most satisfying parts of our business is to see or hear about our students or customers experiences with their papercrete creations. This is a picture from Beth & Dave in Northeast Ohio who purchased a tub planter in early Spring 2012 and created this miniature landscape using their plant material and treasures. A nice design using a wide variety of shapes and textures, tasteful accessories, all the while maintaining a standard of scale. I would consider this an absolute success!   It looks like there is a golden retriever lover in both real life and garden accessories.
Beth took the papercrete class this year at the Hosta College in Piqua, Ohio so I expect to see a bevy of 2013 projects to develop as warmer weather arrives.............

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wintertime Gardens...........

Building miniature gardens in the off season (February) is always a struggle for me. The gardens always seemed incomplete or barren since we have little in suitable material here at the nursery for groundcover or a grass substitute. Today I walked by a bucket full of moss chunks my wife had gathered and decided to use the moss as a grass substitute. It will work until I have some perennial plant material breaking dormancy and available for use. The garden was built for a client that needed an eye catcher to add to their Lawn & Garden Show booth. I was truly pleased with the final product built in one of my signature papercrete containers.

Another garden built after the fact!  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mini Garden Starters........

At almost every event I vend at I hear someone say, "I would love to build a fairy garden but I don't know where to start". It doesn't matter how much advice you can offer some folks just cannot picture the final product. In an attempt to help folks get started I have decided to create what I am going to call "Mini-Garden Starters". These will consist of a container with pre installed rock patios/walkways, trellises, or other hardscape items which will allow first time mini gardeners to be successful. With the addition of some small plants, a bench or other furniture, and a fairy or two a pleasing garden can be created by a complete novice.


A simple papercrete container ready for planting!