Tuesday, July 26, 2016


It has been so hot here...


so hot that even the squirrel 
needs to give up his 
quest for nuts...

...and just 
chill out!

We chilled out in San Francisco 
to celebrate with Tami and the family,
 for her 13th year 
as a walker in the 
Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
 and her 13th year 
as a breast cancer survivor.

We are all 
so proud of you, 
my girl!

 for the rest 
of the story.

 tells the
 whole story...

...so find a leafy spot,
 and while the cooling breeze
 stirs the wind chimes...

...grab a glass of lemonade 
and listen to
 how something old
 can be made
 new again.

You might remember 
the Secret Garden.

 It was a place
 of peace, 
a place of pride, 
and a place where we could escape 
and enjoy the serenity
 of nature 
around us...

 it was a place to enjoy 
a good meal and a cool drink.

 The ultimate space 
for relaxation 
they moved in!

I won't go into full detail
 on my thoughts about birds 
and I apologize to bird lovers everywhere, 
but suffice is to say...
I love to hear them sing 
and I love them in a ceramic state 
or any other inanimate objects 
(as you will notice), 
but I do not love 
to share my personal space 
with the real thing.

They came two years in a row 
and their visits,
 while cute at a distance,
 were not conducive 
to a relaxed 
state of mind...

was sacred 

...and can you imagine,
 just because a bird house is there,
 they would have
 to use it??

the Secret Garden,
 once again, 
was locked behind
 the ivy covered gate...

...that is,
 until the Captain and his apprentice, 
who has now been promoted 
to journeyman, 
took on the job 
of bringing the Secret Garden
 back to life.

 It has been 
a long labor of love,
 done on a strict budget
 and has used almost all
 of what we 
already had.

We did go for a quote
to have screens made for the porch...
plus all the wood that was needed,
 possibly an additional $150.00.

 We ended up at Home Depot
and purchased screening 
for a total of around $50.00. 
 With a staple gun 
it was actually
 pretty easy
 to install.

Instead of using redwood,
 which is super expensive, 
we opted for pressure treated wood...
you know the kind 
that looks like a telephone pole 
that has seen one too many 
garage sale signs...

...then covered it with 
redwood lath strips
 to hide all the ugliness 
and the stapled screening.

 we can eat and relax 
in solitude again 
and we don't have to share 
with anyone, or anything,
 we don't want to!

There is still 
a pretty little garden spot 
under the gazebo
 that is seen from the screened porch
 where the birds may come 
and sip from,
 and bathe in,
 the fountain 
and mingle with the memories of 
Mary Lennox, Colin, and Dickins
 and all their mystical woodland creatures, 
along with a few hot squirrels...

...and a mother 
who still needs to feed
 her baby 
even though it 
is trying to 
leave the nest.

many years she lived, 
Mary always felt 
that she should never forget
 the first morning 
when her garden 
began to grow."

Frances Hodgson Burnett, "The Secret Garden"

Side view of the gazebo with the orb hanging in the center

You will remember seeing these objects used elsewhere in past posts

An old porch post that came from a neighbor when we moved here almost 30 years ago. The medicine chest we have had in storage for quite some time and I am debating on painting it green

This is the vent from the gas stove in our bedroom on the other side of the wall. It is quite an eye sore so I made a blackboard out of the door of an old wall cupboard to hide it.  Since we turn the pilot light off in the summer I can hang it here but when winter comes it will have to be removed because, as it says, it gets pretty hot. 

A twilight picture taken through the screen

Top of the potting bench. I stenciled the GPS coordinates for Grass Valley on the back of an old board

My great-grandmother's old steamer trunk that I'm sure came over from England in the 1800's

The only new objects that were used in this space are the back pillows that I got from K-Mart for $9 each. I stenciled a bird on them just to make them stand out. I painted the seat cushions with General Finishes Halcyon Blue milk paint and then waxed them with a clear wax...

...it covered in one coat

The perfect spot for my Mother's Day gift from the kids

A pretty evening view

A pair of pressed back chairs that we replaced the cane seats with pierced boards which I am looking for cushions to sit on and an old drop leaf table that has sat out in the weather for 30 years. There is just a little of the chipped green paint left and we decided not to repaint. I really like the rustic look of it

A bunch of alstroemeria from the grocery store, three bunches for $12, makes a beautiful and long lasting bouquet.

A mixture from The Dollar Store, Pier One and Home Goods set a pretty table 

One corner 

Another corner with the potting bench/drink station

Up close and personal with the potting bench/drink station

The door leading into the master bedroom off the porch. This side of the house used to be an alcove between the master bath on the right side and one of the sun porches which is now my storage room on the left. We added the roof and the porch decking and the door into the bedroom was a window. We wanted to be able to enjoy the porch this summer so we didn't paint the walls. That will be a project for next spring. We are also going to be adding pea gravel to the Secret Garden. There is some there now but it needs to be refreshed and we will cover the gazebo floor with it also.

For all of you dear friends, 
who still are holding true 
to the myth that I am a gardener:

 It was really late in the season
to put in my flowers
 and there wasn't much still available 
at the nursery.

I knew that I wanted 
to plant some impatience in the pots.
  I knew that because 
we won't get too much sun
 in the Secret Garden
 that they would do well there.

 I had been wanting to have 
a white garden 
as it would look so pretty 
in the moonlight,
 but as I said, 
it was late in the season 
and not too many flowers were available.

  I did spot one flat of impatience
 that looked pretty healthy, 
even though it was of assorted colors,
 so that was my choice.

 As some of you 
might have already surmised, 
what I actually got was vinca,
 which thrive in the hot and dry sun.

 if you have been hanging onto
 that impossible myth, 
you may now let go 
and I won't ever
 hold it
 against you!

I am, however,
 a little proud 
of the topiaries 
that I trimmed up 
from some blobs
 of heavenly bamboo!

Thanks for sticking with me.
  It has turned out to be
 a pretty long post 
and I hope you enjoyed 
the new "old" Secret Garden.

 It is a "rustic, rusty, radically refined" little nest;
 a bird and bug free zone, 
that is just cozy enough
 for the three of us.


Sharing this week at:


  1. What a charming make over - and all screened in. Those pesky birds can just make their nest someplace else - although that baby Stellar Jay was awfully cute. I love all your signs and the flowers and the doo dads that you have - such a sweet touch you have when decorating. I'm sure you will doubly enjoy the Secret Garden now that you've made it new again.

  2. Screen is a great idea. I don't want to sit with the birds as for some reason I start itching when they get to close. Love watching from afar though. I love all of your decorations on your porch and that lovely weathered table and those beautiful vintage chairs alongside. You sure have some wonderful things to put on display and use.
    So good to hear about Tami and her 13 years cancer surivivor!

    You will be able to enjoy meals in the late afternoon from mosquitos and other bugs.
    Can't venture outside here as it is so darn muggy. Virginia is like that in the summer.
    Low lying, muggy and so darned HOT.

  3. Judy, it is absolutely beautiful! I can imagine that it is a lovely place to sit morning, noon and evening. You've put so much thought into everything - so many interesting touches and pretty corners. I'd love to sit in the shade with you to chat over a glass of lemonade.

  4. Judy,
    Thanks so much for sharing this incredibly tranquil place with us!! I can understand how you felt about the bird invasion of your Secret Garden. I too love the birds but not when they are making a mess of where I want to sit and enjoy the cottage Garden that I created.
    I wish I could have a screened in covered porch. Love yours and how you have it decorated!
    Enjoy your lovely space and know that i am so green with envy!! LOL!!

  5. Hi Judy! I am glad you were able to reclaim your beautiful space - it's fabulous. I love all of your pretty touches - and even your bird decor, lol.I adore a screen porch and yours is perfection. Enjoy! Jane

  6. Hi Judy, I am so happy you're claim your porch and have nice place to enjoy your tea and coffe
    Have a blessing day

  7. Judy, It's heaven, pure heaven to have a screened in porch. That is what I want very much. We had a small one in town and I loved it. Maybe some big fake owls would run the birds away. I like them too...but not poo-ing everywhere. :) Blessings, xoxo, Susie

  8. We screened in our porch a few years ago and it has become one of our favorite places to sit! Yours looks fabulous! Enjoy!

  9. Judy, so happy for you. you have your secret garden back to yourselves. Sometimes we need to make changes....LOL The birds and squirrels have all of the woods. I know you are loving your space. Thanks so much for sharing your Secret Garden at DI&DI.

  10. I totally 'love' it all.

    Very inspiring too.

    Thanks for sharing ~ FlowerLady

  11. May I move in, please? You and the Captain have made your secret garden a wonderful place. I loved every single photo. We have debated screening our porch in...the birds, the wasps, the mess from the crepe myrtles, etc. You have inspired me! I'm going to show Magoo and maybe he'll take on the task in the fall. Don't hold your breath! You know how he is. ;)
    xo, T.

  12. Hi Judy, congrats to Tami on her walk this year and 13 years as a cancer survivor. What a blessing. I love your charming screened in porch. What a wonderful spot to enjoy without fighting the bugs and more. You sure decorated it beautifully in a garden style cottage. Thanks for sharing and the inspiration. I would love to screen in our back porch but it has a weird roof line and hubby says it isn't going to happen. But I can dream!!
    Have a great rest of the week. xo

  13. This is awesome Judy. What a great screened in porch. Love all the decor too. What a charming place to relax and not be pestered by bugs or birds. That is great you could save so much money to screen it yourselves too. Great job.

  14. Judy I just love your secret garden and your screen in porch! They are so beautifully decorated with vintage items. I'm like you I like birds at a distance. lol Have a wonderful evening. xx Jo

  15. What a delight to see your wonderful Secret Garden and private porch! It is so beautiful and cozy, and love all of your knick knacks and rustic things and signs and wood pieces. I've always wanted a screened in porch too... maybe someday it will happen.Right now am trying to get some semblance of a "patio" area in our back side yard that was just gravel full of weeds when we moved in last October. It is nice but very hot in the afternoons... a gazebo would be so nice, and a water feature so I can hear the watering trickling down... I love watching the birds play in a fountain but don't want them bothering me while I'm relaxing.... your porch that you did yourselves is just wonderful. I can just imagine you sitting out there in the evenings. great job! Take care.. Marilyn in Oregon

  16. Oh Judy, what a wonderful post. I love your Secret Garden and the screened in porch. All of your beautiful items WOW. Everything is perfect. Sorry to be so late in commenting on your post, but I was up in Los Gatos at my son's house for my Birthday, just turned 81 and I am still kicking LOL.

    I will certainly be glad when it COOLS off, way to HOT for me. It seems that it is never going to let up.

    Have a great Sunday.

  17. Your photos are simply gorgeous! And that chilling squirrel is so cute ♥


  18. I like bug and bird free. What kind of birds were those? Our birds that moved in were the barn swallows and they's swoop down at us and make such a mess invite the entire colony of swallows when the babies were born and again when they were ready to fly. I think we finally got rid of them. Sorta.


Your comments are so special to me...Judy