Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Garden Bucket List


First off, I have to say I don't have a big Life Bucket List. As much as I would love to move to France, vacation in Tahiti, or dance wildly on a bar, I think I'll be ok if none of those things happen. Actually, I'll be disappointed, but considering I don't speak French, can't afford a trip to Tahiti and would probably fall off the bar, maybe its for the best. But I do have a bucket list for my garden that includes adding funky art pieces, both decorative and functional, to my plantings. While waiting for my dormant garden to pop to life, I've been squirreling away decorative birdhouses and other cool garden art made by American artists.


I've been on the hunt for funky but functional birdhouses all winter.
 I found these on Etsy.


During my birdhouse hunt, I found birdhouses that were hundreds of dollars and impossible to clean out. 
Are you kidding me?


Handmade by California artist Michele McKee-Orsini  her houses are affordable and completely functional.


I love the buttons she uses on many of her houses


as well as the other decorative accents. 


 I wonder if any birds will use this Spanish moss to build a nest?


Clever use of extra frame edges


A small knob on the side opens a door that allows you to clean out the houses with ease. No more pulling entire nests out twig by twig through a teensy hole.  


 My front porch receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Everything I plant here either dies or looks so wretched I pull it out. Tired of all the drama, I planted birdhouses instead.


This hangs from a shepherd's crook stuck into one of the containers on my patio.

72 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! Your garden must be so much fun with all your fabulous whimsical art pieces! Will you come to my garden and help me decorate?! That's one area where I struggle a bit. Those birdhouses are sweet!

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    1. Just wait, Beth! I have some cool pieces that will be featured on future posts. I wish I could pop up to WI to help you!

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  2. AWESOME!!!!!! Great idea to put them in planters!!!! ANd bravo to you for finding birdhouses made by American artists!!! I love this post! You have inspired me to jump on Etsy and do some hunting! Those birdhouses are wonderful!!!

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    1. I resolved not to buy stuff made in China. Etsy has some seriously cool art. It's really addictive!

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  3. They are sweet. Nice pops of color. Funny that your morning sun and afternoon shade are a problem for you ... that is the sweet spot in my garden. Interesting what a zone or two will do!

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    1. I think the reason that spot is so miserable is because the light is so directional. It only comes in from one side so everything leans towards the light and grows weird. The vines that grow up the front columns make the porch even shadier.

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  4. They are the sweetest little birdhouses... love the bright colours! Cheers~

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    1. Thanks! Bright is what I was looking for. :o)

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  5. Tammy, I hope you don't expect the birds will live there? I think they don't, they love their houses high up.
    These birdhouses are nice artifacts, and decorate your garden very well!

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    1. I'm not sure if birds will move in or not. Considering some of the strange places they create nests, it's always a possibility. I'm in the process of redesigning the pots, art, etc on my front porch and these are part of the new design. The porch is dark and shady in the summer and I'm hoping these will brighten it up.

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  6. Lovely bird houses, but I'm also afraid that birds won't appreciate them as much as I do. You have lots of funny ideas to decorate your garden. You garden certainly looks great! Happy week, Tammy!

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    1. I hope the birds appreciate them but I do, even if they don't. If I were a bird, I'd move in! :o)

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  7. They are very funky! What else is on your gardening bucket list? It got me thinking about mine, then I realised that I don't even have a bucket.

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    1. I started a bucket list several years ago that I've been steadily chipping away at. I wanted to redesign the disaster spots in the garden, make it larger, replace cheap, cracked plastic pots with nicer pots, and add birdhouses and birdbaths as well as several art pieces. I want my garden to have a cool, funky/quirky vibe.

      This year (hopefully) will be the year when I will have bought everything on the list together into one cohesive design. Finding pots/garden art that are affordable is the biggest challenge. It seems like a lot of things for the garden are either super cheap and tacky or are so overpriced I'd need a loan to pay for it.

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  8. Funny and colourful birdhouses, even in your frontporch. They look very decorative but I wonder if birds would like to make their nests in these palaces, they may be a bit scared.

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    1. I hope they're not scared! I really want birds to live in them but if they don't and the houses only function as decoration, I'm still happy.

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  9. Wow!!! You know I just love these birdhouses!! I will be checking out Etsy today! So creative to use buttons and other "goodies" to decorate the houses. I also really like the planter shown in the first picture...did you make that? Your porch looks so inviting with it's "planted" birdhouses and I bet the birds do use that moss for nesting material. They take pieces of my coco shell liners all the time. I'm sending a mountain of garden love back to YOU!! Thanks for sharing your birdhouses....love this post!!

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    1. I did make the planter. If you check out the post on my sidebar called Explosion at the China Factory you'll see how easy it was. :o) My porch is dark and boring in the summer so I'm hoping these pots will brighten it up, especially once the vines have filled in. They're part of a larger design scheme that I'm still working on. I really wanted to support American artists in the process of adding unique art pieces to the garden. The fact that these aren't mass produced makes me love them all the more. :o)

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  10. Loved all these well made whimsical birdhouses. I do believe you'll have some birds taking up residence soon.
    My garden Bucket List is long, and every year I try to take care of some of the items on the list, but then guess what? Another item crops up that is added to the already long list...so instead of the list getting shorter, it gets longer........pray for my madness.

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    1. You and I have the same madness disease, so I'll pray for us both. :o)

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  11. I love how well you grow birdhouses in containers! And such cute ones.

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    1. They're very xeric and low maintenance. ;o) I'm redesigning my blah, shady front porch to be more vibrant. The first thought I think every time I see my porch is "ick", except for my colorful mosaic pot. That was the inspiration for a more colorful, funky redesign. It's my way of inserting some color and diversity into my apathetic, beige, cookie cutter neighborhood.

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  12. Maybe you could get birdhouses made by French and Tahitian artists and arrange them on a bar?

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  13. Like you, my bucket list mostly involves my garden! Love the birdhouses! I've seen those that are impossible to clean out, too. These are beautiful and functional! Perfect!

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    1. Pulling out an old nest twig by twig is a pain in the butt. These make life so much easier. :o)

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  14. What a cool Idea! I love the yellow house and the little key accents. I also like garden decor or accents but because I'm in a apartment.. for now I'll have to hold off on future collections..I have a few birdhouses and a Buddha so far.... Gnomes haven't grown on me yet....LOL!

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    1. I'm gnome-free, too! Actually, they give me the creeps a bit.

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  15. I love the button-decorated bird houses! As soon as I saw them, I thought "aha, something I could finally do with all those extra buttons." Over the years I've collected hundreds (maybe thousands) of buttons, mostly replacements attached to purchased garments - the clothes get recycled but the buttons remain behind. Now, if I can just get my husband to build me some bird houses...

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    1. The buttons are one of the things that I found so attractive about these houses. When I was a kid I loved to play with my mom's button box. I thought all the different buttons were so beautiful and unique. Finding a birdhouse decorated with buttons was pure kismet. :o)

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  16. Cute bird houses ! Nice to birds, and to gardener too.

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    1. I hope the birds like them as much as I do. :o)

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  17. Tired of the drama, eh? I can relate. But I do the insanity thing and keep trying. Your idea is much more sane and smart. The birdhouses are adorable. I love the little notions and how each one is unique. Now you can cross this off your bucket list. Nice job.

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    1. Thanks! My front porch had become a true Hall of Horrors and it was time to finally just give up. Plants everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. :o) Plus, I don't have to water a birdhouse.

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  18. Those are so adorable! What wonderful finds and I love how they open easily for cleaning out. Very neato :-)

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    1. Seeing how easy they are to clean out was the final selling point. I also like that they're different from most of the other houses I've seen. :o)

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  19. These birdhouses are brilliant - so creative, colourful and imaginative! I know what you mean about the ridiculously high price of some birdhouses, just crazy. I love the way they brighten up your porch. You must be able to see them from the street, so cheerful and welcoming. I'm going to have to make some of these for myself.

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    1. I saw a birdhouse online that was over a thousand dollars. At first I thought it was a joke. I'm in the middle of a front porch redesign and cheerful is exactly what I'm going for. As soon as I saw these, I knew they'd be perfect. :o)

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  20. Have you tried using just foliage plants in your porch pots? I have good luck with Caladium and lower growing or trailing Coleus on the north side of my house. Low light house plants with colorful foliage would also brighten things up. Great score on the bird houses! I agree that reasonably priced tasteful garden accents are tough to find. Around here Joann Fabrics sells their glazed pottery for 70% in June. Usually I pick up a few from that sale every year.

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    1. Actually, that was my plan last fall after torturing another plant on my porch but by winter, I had decided that unless the plants were silk, they'd probably end up dead, too. The problem is compounded by the fact that two large vines climb up the front columns providing even more areas of shade and the sun this area receives all morning is bright enough to fry a houseplant. It's a weird combination. Not continuing to stick anything living on the porch seemed like the most cost effective solution.

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  21. What great artistic additions these'll make, Tammy. A bucket-list to live for. And, I think *yes*, a bird or a few will use that Spanish moss.

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    1. I hope so! That's half the reason I used it. It reminds me of Easter grass from kids Easter baskets. :o)

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  22. Those birdhouses do have a great look. The top item on my garden bucket list is a really nice water feature. Right now I have a little fountain/birdbath but I want something big enough to attract frogs or at least newts.

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    1. Big sigh.... I'm right there with you about wanting a water feature. I have the world's smallest pond (a deep puddle, really) and am adding a small recirculating water feature to my front porch once it warms up. But I doubt I'll have frogs or newts. I just hope I don't end up with mosquitoes!

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  23. What fun pops of color! You will need to report what your birds thinks of their whimsical abodes. Birds are starting to nest here already. I am all for functional, easy access kind of nesting boxes but it is even better when they look as pretty as yours!

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    1. Even though my front porch make over isn't done and the vines are just now breaking dormancy, I was eager to put these out in hopes that the birds would take up residence. I may even put a tray of seed on the porch rocker to tempt them! :o)

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  24. Love the bright colours and the old key. What a great find these are and glad to see you can clean them out easily. Often decorative birdhouses forget that bit.

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    1. Most decorative birdhouses are a pain to clean out while the functional ones are a bit boring. I love that these are a combination of the two, minus the boring part.

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  25. You planted birdhouse. That is great.
    They are soooo cute too!

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    1. They never need to be watered and don't outgrow their space. :o)

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  26. lol, planted birdhouses, I love it. Very cute too.

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    1. I have two other birdhouses that I've "planted" in pots with vines climbing down the front. But they're located in place where they'll get rained and I don't have to worry about forgetting about them in the winter. It's a great solution for a trouble spot. :o)

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  27. Do any of the birds use these houses? That would be cool :-). If you have some time, you can make these bird houses by yourselves. Buy blank (just wood, no decoration) art-houses. They are pretty cheap to buy. Then, enroll in some community art class; all these art classes provide lots of paint, and they want you to bring your own object to decorate. Then, with the help of your instructor, you decorate them :-).

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    1. I'm not very crafty and would much rather pay someone much more competent than I to do it for me. :o) I made the big mosaic pot in the first picture and it took a year!

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  28. As an artist, I think it is wonderful that you are helping to support a local craftsperson. Who needs flowers when your new birdhouse are blooming nicely. LOL! I have a small collection of birdhouses that I have bought at Michaels, but they are flimsy and never hold up. There is almost no point to hanging them outdoors. Your new decorative additions to the front porch look "cast iron" and made for any weather extremes. I love the small touches like the buttons and the keys.

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    1. They are definitely tough and well made! I love supporting local artists. I want to avoid buying stuff made in factories as much as possible. I have a few other pieces I've purchased and tucked away that will pop up in future posts. :o)

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  29. You appear to have a deft hand at growing bird houses. Very nice!

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    1. It takes a special kind of talent to stick a birdhouse in a pot and surround it with a cheap bag of Spanish moss. :o)

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  30. Keep us posted if your cute birdhouses get move-in residents!

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    1. I had a bird on the front porch checking them out today. Woo-hoo! :o)

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  31. My step father makes birdhouse with door knobs as perches and tin for roofs. I'll have to send you a photo some time.

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    1. They sound great! That's just my kind of thing. :o)

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  32. You've got a great start to an amazing collection...I'm a bird house kind of gardener, love em.

    In fact I have quite a few because my Dad makes them for us...love each and everyone.

    Jen

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    1. I have quite a few birdhouses. I really love them, too. I like art that's functional and birdhouses fit the bill perfectly. :o)

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  33. I do like that idea of growing bird houses in the pots! Is it okay if I steal it? I don't dare to write out a garden bucket list because it would run to pages and just make me feel discontented. Your post title did make me wonder, though, how many pageviews you might get from people googling "garden bucket" because they were wanting to buy some kind of receptacle with a handle!

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    1. Please steal this idea! I hope they grow well for you. :o) They're very easy to transplant and never need to be watered.

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  34. So, you've turned into an avian landlord this year. Well, just be sure to check references and credit ratings. Specify in the lease what you expect : bug hunting, song chirping, colorful displays of courtship, showy flights and, ultimately - lots of baby chicks. Oh sure, they'll expect you to provide free perks like fresh water, a feed station to keep the parents going while they tend to the babies, accommodations safe from predators, safe from the elements (yeah, they can be demanding). Have a good lawyer help draft the leases. Bottom line - those houses ROCK! :-D

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    1. I have no problem playing landlord as long as they move in. :o) My front porch is already more cheerful, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

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  35. Love fun and functional and these definitely are fun!! Your birds will have a ball with these houses.

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  36. Very cool. Check out this piece I did on a local artist who makes art out of junk metal. She is a very talented artist who sort of fell into this a number of years ago. She is a wonderful lady.

    http://reedsgardenramblings.blogspot.com/2012/10/madeline-lord-art-resurrected-from-junk.html

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  37. Love these - so cute. I saw some pretty birdhouses while I was out on a country drive over Easter, and have been kicking myself that I didn't buy one. As you have shown, they are a great way to add interest in a hard-to-grow spot.

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  38. Wow, those look really fun! I wonder if certain styles of bird house will attract certain birds? You could try planting up the planters around each bird house so they would then have a garden - a bird garden in your garden - or something like that!

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