I’m sitting here with seed and plant catalogs scattered around—Plant Delights, Botanical Interests, Baker Creek, Cook’s Garden, John Scheepers…My Lee Valley 10-Year Garden Journal is open to February. My Excel spread sheet plant inventory is open on my computer screen. The collection I affectionately refer to as my Seed Vault is on the floor under my desk, threatening to overflow into Seed Vault Two.
I’m bundled in a bulky sweater, fingerless gloves and my warmest Ugg shoes. I hardly remember what summer looked like last year.
Potager in June
I know it was green. I’m pretty sure it was green. I remember picking tomatoes, cucumbers, tiny mar des bois strawberries, Bright Lights Swiss chard. My husband and I spent many evenings under the stars finishing dinner and drinking wine, listening to the crickets and watching the bats dart across the night sky. I can remember the smell of freshly mown grass and basil pinched between my fingernails.
Gosh, my feet are cold. I should to make some hot tea.
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
Oh yes, we had lots of butterflies last year. Monarchs, zebra swallowtails, eastern tiger swallowtails, red admirals. I didn’t know the name of some of the butterflies and moths but loved them just the same. I remember wondering why the monarchs seemed so skittish and the eastern tiger swallowtails would almost let me touch them.
Oh, that’s right. All those celeste figs! So many I hardly knew what to do with them all. I stood next to the tree and popped them right into my mouth.
Maybe another pair of socks would help warm my feet.
Oh, the birds! That’s right. Our hummingbird feeder had a lot of business last summer.
I should bundle up and go top off the bird feeders now. That birdbath could use some hot water to melt the ice too.
Lemon grass in the foreground
So much lemon grass! I remember I was glad I only planted one since it nearly crowded out the cone flowers.
And the asparagus was filling in nicely. I think we can pick some more this year.
Ah yes. There was color too. Purples and blues and oranges and yellows.
It’s awfully cold in here. Maybe I should just turn up the heat for a little while.
Oh, that’s right. It’ll be better soon.
(Click on the photos to embiggen.)
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most people’s garages aren’t all that attractive. Unless you’re one of the 1% who has a warehouse garage with sparkling stainless steel cabinets and shiny painted floors or are one of those weirdly disciplined people who don’t ever let clutter get out of hand, you probably have a garage corner or two that wouldn’t qualify for an Architectural Digest spread.
Our garage is no exception. We have a two-car garage where we actually do park two cars. We don’t have a shed because my family has a very bad track record with sheds. In my family, once you get a shed, you soon have to have a shed for your shed. Then your shed’s shed needs a shed. I figure I have that crazy shed-junk-hoarding-gene that would kick in if we had a shed. So, no shed.
I tell you this so you will understand that our garage must also serve as storage for all my garden paraphernalia, chicken supplies, bird food bins, recycling bins, lawn mower, power washer—well, you get the idea. It’s not even a roomy two-car garage. But we just can’t go down that shed path.
As part of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas “Address the Mess” challenge, I decided to give one of those corners a makeover. Just like on TV!
So, here’s the before.
Not pretty. We do a lot of outdoor exercise, so there is always an impressive collection of running shoes by the garage door. The towels are for washing cars or drying off wet dogs and husbands. All that mess on top of the frig is for the chickens. I buy canned corn from Walmart at $.67 a can, which goes a long way toward explaining why they follow me around like puppies and come when I call. And, as you can see, I save egg shells. They get crushed up and added to the garden once that bucket is full. (Yes, I know it’s full.)
I decided to paint this section of the garage wall as a chalkboard and do a bit of moving around. Using supplies from Lowe’s, here’s what I came up with.
Better, huh? With a new shelf I was able to relocate other frequently-used items near the door. The open-wire shelving means less mess collects on the shelves from our running shoes. Bulletin board squares provide a handy place to post my Good Bugs/Bad Bugs cheat sheet and also any other lists or magazine articles I want to keep handy.
But the coolest part, in my opinion, is the chalkboard wall. I can use it to write seasonal messages, to-do lists, welcome messages or just to draw new artwork as the mood strikes.
This was my first experience using chalkboard paint. I found that it went on amazingly well, requiring only a single coat with a roller. I had to be careful not to go over the painted areas too much because once the paint was down it was easy to pick it back up by rolling over it too much. This wall took just a little more than a quart.
Once you paint your wall, wait at least three days before writing on it. If you cover the whole chalkboard area with chalk and erase it, it will have more of that chalkboard look and less of a black wall look.
What did all this cost? Here are the numbers:
Black wire shelving — $79.97
2 quarts chalkboard black paint — $25.96
5-piece paint roller kit — $12.98
Bulletin board squares — $8.99
Decorative wood molding — $25.17
White trim paint — mine
SUBTOTAL — $153.07
Lowe’s 10% military discount — $15.31
PROJECT TOTAL — $137.76
I think it’s a great investment! Of course, now the other three corners of the garage are crying out for their own makeover. What do you think? Isn’t this a great way to address the mess?