Uncommon Garden and Gifts

On Monday, April 14, Living and Giving will open at its new location on the corner of Broad Streetand Fourth Avenue in beautiful downtown Rome, Georgia. Aside from the fact that the plant and gift items are appealing and well-chosen, and not considering the beautiful smiles that accompany the attentive help and service, I just love Living and Giving for the displays. The shop owner, Lisa Landry is a true display artist and the shop is her canvas.

I was delighted when Lisa asked me to help with a couple of projects related to moving the store down the street. I have documented progress that you may see by clicking HERE(March 16)HERE(March 23), and HERE (April 6). I stopped in a couple of days early to check out the progress. There was a sign on the door that nicely said, “Leave me alone, I’m doing my creative thing.” (Those are not the exact words, but that was the perceived meaning). I found Lisa working at the front counter.

Lisa Landry working on some unknown creation at Living and Giving

Lisa Landry working on some unknown creation at Living and Giving

I was greeted warmly and Lisa guided me back to her “plant area” which was developed around the fountain that we had built a couple of weeks before. I was pleased with the transformation.

The water feature looks different with plants around it

The water feature looks different with plants around it

When we first installed the fountain the water falling was too loud. If you look closely at the picture below you can see a piece of brown slate placed so that it will break up the water fall and reduce the sound volume.

Using a rock to fine tune the sound of water falling

Using a rock to fine tune the sound of water falling

Lisa had told me before that customers liked to come in and pick out a plant and then a pot to put it in. There is always someone available at the store to repot a plant in an artistic manner. I found a table of plants basking in the light from a high window with a tray of pots below it.

Pick a pot, pick a plant, walk out with something pretty and different

Pick a pot, pick a plant, walk out with something pretty and different

Lisa was tickled with the logo and artwork on the front window and she took me outside to check it out. I think Monica Sheppard did a wonderful job of conceptualizing and illustrating the store’s message.

A beautiful logo and window dressing by designer Monica Sheppard

A beautiful logo and window dressing by designer Monica Sheppard

A couple of weeks previously we had cut down a large boxwood bush. Lisa had picked out one of the pieces to place inside the store. She researched ways to preserve the leaves. Here is a picture of the ladies guiding the installation and pruning of the tree from the outside in

Lisa standing outside the shop telling me how to prune a tree

Lisa standing outside the shop telling me how to prune a tree

The boxwood display ended up looking like this. And she’s not finished yet.

building a shop display under a tree

building a shop display under a tree

I liked the blue fountain which made a subtle, muted sound.

Decorating with sound and color.

Decorating with sound and color.

I asked Lisa if she needed any help moving things and she said, “I just want to be left alone to do my thing.” I decided it was time for me to leave. I smiled as I passed a sign that was waiting to be hung.

"If we make each other smile then we just can't lose,"

“If we make each other smile then we just can’t lose,”

Living and Giving will be open at its new location starting April 14, 2014 from 10 until 6. Tell them John the Plant Man sent you,

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what? usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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Assignment: Build a Rustic Water Trough Fountain on a Brick Wall

This sign was awaiting placement as the Living and Giving shop was being moved down  the street in Rome, Georgia

This sign was awaiting placement as the Living and Giving shop was being moved down the street in Rome, Georgia

The big event is that of the moving of the wonderful Rome, Georgia shop Living and Giving from its current location on Broad Street to a new location across the street and a block down. The shop owner, Lisa Landry, had asked me to build a rustic water feature that would help showcase her plants. My two previous posts tell of the search for the right idea and the right materials. You will find these articles HERE(March 16) and HERE(March 23). I decided to use the feed trough I had found along with old brick, split-faced, concrete blocks, and an old lion’s head that Lisa had hanging around her house. It took a while to get the materials together but we were ready to start on a Saturday morning,

An old feed trough will be converted to a water feature

An old feed trough will be converted to a water feature

We placed a two-block high row of blocks along the wall and put caps on them to hold the brick and then another row of the split-faced blocks to the front. The fountain is waterproofed with a single piece of Firestone rubber liner. We laid the liner out and spent quite a bit of time thinking and adjusting.

A sheet of Firestone rubber will keep the project from leaking

A sheet of Firestone rubber will keep the project from leaking

I figured out where and how the liner would go. I glued one piece of liner to the wall and installed the plumbing that would take the water from the pump in the trough up and through the lion’s head and retuning it to the trough. We must take great care at this point to see that all water is contained within the system.

Finessing the guts of the water feature

Finessing the guts of the water feature

The rest of the project is to cover up the rubber liner and the pipe, making the fountain look like something that an old farmer had built to water his horses a hundred years ago. We are creating an illusion. I had decided to use a cement mix called Hypertuffa which is made by combining cement and peat moss. Using this material we will get an antique looking texture and a nice patina will develop over time. We mixed peat moss with the Sakrete product pictured here:

Half of the ingredients for hypertuffa. Peat moss is the other half

Half of the ingredients for hypertuffa. Peat moss is the other half

To make sure the hypertuffa stayed in place we cut and fastened chicken wire over the rubber being careful to avoid any punctures. Trial and error finally gave us the proper consistency and we stuck it on by hand, smoothing as we went. If you do this remember that gloves are essential. Here is what it looked like to start with:

Sticking hypertuffa mix with chicken wire

Sticking hypertuffa mix with chicken wire

We proceeded with brick laying and cement mixing for a while. Here is a progress photo:

vprogress with the cover up

progress with the cover up

I took a few days off from the project to allow everything to dry and set up. A few days later we installed the pump, hung the lion’s head and turned that sucker on. We will use some slate to do some fine tuning for sound and splattering. I am looking forward to seeing how Lisa arranges all her plants and goodies around the water feature.

It still needs fine tuning--but it works

It still needs fine tuning–but it works

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what? usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Feed Troughs and Redneck Philosophy

I’ll get to the redneck report in a bit—first a report on the copper trough for the Living and Giving water feature. (click here to see the article) It seems like the copper was not all that difficult to find, but it cost a bit more than the perceived value of the show off effect. I went “back to the drawing board” and came up with some good ideas that I was pondering as I started a spring cleaning project around my junk pile. I had totally forgotten about the feed troughs.

can we turn this rusty feed trough into a water feature?

can we turn this rusty feed trough into a water feature?

Joel had asked me to haul these troughs to recycling, but it snowed that day and they never got further than my junk pile (which I keep well-hidden). So I started thinking about how to build a water feature (it will be against an old brick wall). I decided I could use pond liner for waterproofing and then make it look like an antique horse trough with old bricks and hypertuffa. Hypertuffa is a material made with cement and peat moss. I made a lot of flower pots one time using this process. They look like this:

hypertuffa--a mixture of peat moss and cement

hypertuffa–a mixture of peat moss and cement

I’m going to build the water feature next weekend so I will document the process. Stay tuned.

Did I mention that my junk pile is out in redneck country?  Every now and then you will see a book titled something like. “I Lived Ten Years With The (Indians, natives, pygmies, headhunters, etc.)”—Well I, John the Plant Man, lived ten years among the rednecks. I ate their chitlins and drank their beer (actually, it was more like they drank MY beer). I even wrote a book about the harrowing experience.

Bud and Travis are two of my favorite characters mentioned in the book. As I was pondering the feed troughs Travis rode up on his lawnmower. Here’s a picture of Travis from a couple of summers ago:

Travis loves his riding mower

Travis loves his riding mower

Travis is quite a philosopher. “Hey, John, you stayin’ busy?”

“It’s been slow on account of the weather,” I replied. “We’re getting pretty busy now, though.”

Travis said, “With all the snow and rain I bet you ain’t been making much money.”

“I been getting’ by,” I said.

“I don’t call it getting by,” Travis replied. “I call it ‘floatin.’” He moved his hand in a wave-like motion. “You just kindly float along as best you kin. Sometimes you get to sinking and you got to flay your arms around a bit and grab you some air.”

He took a sip of his Natural Light. “Yeah, I call it floatin.”

I wrote an article about Travis titled, “Pimp Your Lawnmower Redneck Style”

I mentioned my other redneck friend, Bud.  I wrote an article about him, too. Bud is one of the best gardeners I ever met. Click here to read about his garden.

If you want to know something about farming, ask your favorite redneck

If you want to know something about farming, ask your favorite redneck

 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Copper Troughs and Cancer Reports

I’ll start with the trough. My beautiful friend Lisa Landry owns and operates a delightful home décor shop on Broad Street in Rome, Georgia. She called me a couple of weeks ago and told me that she was preparing to move the shop to a location one block down and across the street.

The first thing she asked me about was a tree to go inside. It’s a neat idea and I have that one under control. The second thing was a water feature. We talked about all sorts of looks and then settled on using a water trough. Lisa looked at picture after picture until she found this one

A beautiful aged copper trough for a water feature

A beautiful aged copper trough for a water feature

The problem is that I know what the feature will look like and we have a lion’s head to put on the brick wall for the water to come out of—we just don’t have the trough, Can you help us find one? Email me at wherdepony@bellsouth.net, leave a comment on the blog, or find me on face book—John Paul Schulz (Rome, Georgia). Thanks in advance.

I wrote an article about Living and Giving the Christmas of 2011. CLICK HERE to see it. I’ll do another article on the shop after the move. I’m sure it will be amazing.

And on to the cancer report. For background, I have been fighting cancer for several years. I had a laryngectomy (voice box removal) in September, 2012 A few months later I was fixed up with a button in my throat that I could push when I wanted to talk. It’s pretty cool.

I am writing this on March 16, 2014, and a year ago I was going through radiation and chemo treatments for recurring tumors on my shoulder. Everything was tolerable and I got through it but it takes a long time to get over those treatments. I’m doing well but still recovering a year later.

On January 28 of this year Dekie and I went to Emory in downtown Atlanta for a CT scan. I got the scan and we had a wonderful snow adventure in the form of an eleven hour trip home.  (Click HERE to see the article about the trip).

I didn’t tell anyone at the time, but we got a call that same afternoon from the doctor’s office that there was a lymph node abnormality in the scan and that I would need to get a PET scan the next week. That sort of information is a little bit scary, but my reaction, as always, was “Oh, well. I’ll do whatever has to be done.”  The following week I had the PET scan and got the dreaded call that I would have to schedule for a complicated biopsy.

At this point I just accepted the fact that I would have to go through more chemo. Dekie and I started adjusting our spring plans around possible treatments. Another snow storm in the Atlanta area postponed the biopsy until March 12, and last week I went in for a “trans-tracheal ultra-sound guided biopsy.” It was a bit complicated. They put me out for a while.

The day before the biopsy, my friend at the bank said, “I sure do hope it comes out all right.” I told her that I was mentally prepared for bad results.

She said, “John, that’s not your usual positive approach.” I explained that I figured if I set my mind on good results and they were bad, I had lost something somehow but if I accepted that they would be bad, then either I would be right if they were or totally elated if they weren’t.

After the biopsy I was told that I would be notified in a few days. I had already accepted the possibility of chemo treatments.

And, Friday afternoon the phone rang. It was the doctor’s office.

“Mr. Schulz,” the voice said, “I have some good news. The report came back negative. You are clear of cancer. Congratulations.”

I could barely say, “Thank you.” Tears ran down my face. I am still going through the mental process of accepting the fact that the results were indeed good and that I do not have to take the treatments.

I have almost finished an inspirational book about cancer treatments and accepting them with humor, optimism, and a positive attitude. The proposed title is

Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days

–An inspirational approach to reducing fear by facing cancer treatments with optimism and humor.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Repairing a Leaky Water Feature—part one, Taking it Apart

A very nice fountain--but it leaks

A very nice fountain–but it leaks

I built this water feature for a client quite a number of years ago. I don’t remember if the fountain or the bridge came first but it ended up being a waterfall with a creek under the bridge pouring into a small pond on the other side. The plastic liner in the system started leaking a bit here and there a couple of years ago and I have patched it over and over. This year, we decided that we just needed to change the liner. This article and part two which will follow next week should serve to show you not only how a pond liner is replaced, but also give you a good idea of how it is built in the first place.

To begin with, I drained the fountain and let it dry out. This picture is of the top pool where the water pours in and then cascades to the “creek bed.”

The upper side of the fountain ready to take apart

The upper side of the fountain ready to take apart

After entering the top of the fountain, the water pours over a flat rock, down into a creek bed and then goes under the bridge to a pool on the other side.

The bottom pool holds the pump for recirculation

The bottom pool holds the pump for recirculation

We begin by cleaning out the lower pool. We look for any rocks, sticks, or other high points that will possibly poke a hole in the new liner. I will leave the old liner in the pool to serve as a buffer pad for the new one.

Cleaning out the lower pool of the fountain

Cleaning out the lower pool of the fountain

The rocks are stacked neatly to the side, out of the way of the work area.

fountain rocks set to the side

fountain rocks set to the side

The product was not available when I first built the pool, but this time I will use a Firestone rubber material that is rather thick (40 mil) and very resilient. It is guaranteed for 20 years and if it does, indeed, last that long, I shouldn’t have to fool with it again unless I feel like working on a waterfall when I am 87. We have to measure carefully for the needed dimensions of the liner. It is expensive and I don’t mind having a bit too much, but if I buy too little, it will be totally wasted. We first measure across the pond in two directions.

Measure carefully to determine liner size for water feature

Measure carefully to determine liner size for water feature

After measuring for width and length of the liner, we measure the sides and add them into the calculations. This will give us an overall dimension. I will use two pieces of rubber for the project—one to cover the bottom and sides and another to go from the top of the feature, down through the creek, and then to lap over the bottom piece. One must be very careful with a lap to insure that the water doesn’t escape around it so we will extend the lap into the bottom of the pool making sure that the sides of the lap are higher than the water level.

Measure the sides and add to the overall dimensions for the fountain liner

Measure the sides and add to the overall dimensions for the fountain liner

This is a float valve that was installed to keep the water level to the desired limits. To install the float valve I have modified the hook up of a horse trough filler that I purchased at the local Tractor Supply.

float valve installed to maintain water level in the fountain

float valve installed to maintain water level in the fountain

We have carefully taken the top part of the fountain apart. I will have to adjust and level the concrete blocks which hold the liner above the water line and also give a base for decorative rocks to cover the liner.

Under structure of the fountain

Under structure of the fountain

Now it is time to go shopping. Even though there are modern alternatives, I eschew them and use cement instead. When we put the fall rocks back together, we will mortar the joints to insure that water will only go over the desired rocks and not under or beside them. I have tried pre mixed mortar formulations but I have found that they don’t hold up as well as I would like. Over many years of building projects like this, I have found that I get much better results using Portland cement and adding sand. It is more trouble but worth it in the long run. Here it is on the rack at Lowe’s. Brand name doesn’t matter, just make sure that you are purchasing Portland cement and not a mix.

Portland cement mixed with sand is more durable than ready mixes

Portland cement mixed with sand is more durable than ready mixes

The project is not big enough to order a load of sand, so I will purchase a bagged all purpose sand. The formula for mixing thePortlandis 9 large shovels of sand to a half a bag of cement. We worked on it and figured that we would use two-50 lb bags of sand to a half a bag ofPortland.

all purpose sand to mix with Portland cement. Two bags sand to 1/2 bag of cement

all purpose sand to mix with Portland cement. Two bags sand to 1/2 bag of cement

My next shopping stop was at Willow Creek Nursery which is way on the other side of town. Willow Creek carries large rolls of pond liner in several widths. They will cut the liner to my specifications. This is where I must be careful. The guys at the nursery will only make one cut, and once it’s cut, it’s bought. If I make a mistake it will be costly—and I never have been good at numbers. I checked all of the widths, 10’, 15’, 20’ and 24’. I had to think about it a bit, but then I sketched out a diagram and decided that a piece of the 24 foot liner would be my most cost effective choice.

Figuring out the best size for the liner for your water feature

Figuring out the best size for the liner for your water feature

The guys at the nursery measured carefully and then measured both sides to make sure they were getting a square cut. The liner was mine.

purchasing water feature liner at the nursery

purchasing water feature liner at the nursery

We took the large piece of liner to the jobsite and laid it out in the parking area, measured carefully, and cut off an 8X12 piece for the top fall, leaving just the right amount to cover the bottom pool.

carefully cutting the pond liner

carefully cutting the pond liner–One piece for the pond and one for the waterfall

Next week I will have an account of the re-building of the water feature. In the meantime I will be working on pictures and ideas to continue my series on shade gardens

And a Word from Our Sponsor:

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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