COVID-19 = Boredom = Projects, Swing and Ferns

Do you remember those LARGE and empty urns sitting on the newly refinished front porch?

Yeah, in theory they were the right height and width to add to the front entry… then I thought, what am I going to use to fill those things???? I crafted a plan (doomed to failure) based on my knowledge of Victorian homes and landscaping. Most Victorian homes are more formal than their modern counterparts, and so are their gardens. Masses of single color plants arranged in patterns, perfect edged lawns, beautiful topiary’s, and manicured hedges are typical for this era. Tropical plants with differing texture made the garden feel as though it was an outdoor room, and since Major Good built this home, on an acre of land, as a summer home for his family, I am sure they spent many days outside avoiding the oppressive Philadelphia summer.

One day, before I die, I will return the landscape into a more lush Victorian Garden Room, but that will take time. For now, I have purchased several gardeners books and planners to assist me in realizing my utopian dreams. I digress, back to those large black holes on the porch.

I settled on the idea of a fern for the urn (hey, that rhymes!), but needed to find an urn-fern that would thrive in shade because this area of the porch receives little to no sunlight, so it would need to be a fern crossed with a mushroom. The eastern hay-scented fern is best grown in moist, rich, soil in part to full shade. It is called a hay-scented fern because the fronds release a fragrance reminiscent of fresh mown hay when brushed. It is native to open woods and wooded banks in the eastern United States. PERFECT!!!!

With the urns being so LARGE, I saved milk cartons for several weeks and stuffed them in the bottom of each urn, saving the amount of soil I would need to add. I purchased several hay-scented fern rhizomes from a lovely lady on Etsy, Aurora Rose Events, and planted them in each urn, and within a week or so, I had the beginnings of a fabulous urn-fern… or so I thought.

As I watched the ferns wither and die, I had no idea what I was doing wrong… I tried more water, less water, and finally threw my hands up. My ever supportive husband, told me it was a fools errand and the ferns would never grow without sunlight (but would they grow on his grave is the real question). One morning, I stepped out onto the porch to find my little calico cat peeing in one of the planters. (Insert defeated emoji here) While I mourned the loss of the ferns, I felt vindicated that it wasn’t me who killed them. PLAN B!

Amazon… the savior of the apocalypse! I purchased the Nearly Natural 6051-S2 48″ Boston Fern (Set of 2) and the Nearly Natural 6032-S2 40” Boston Fern (Set of 2). I had some styrofoam and faux ivy from another project gone wrong in the basement and combined them into this (cat proof) urn-fern! Standing next to it, yes you can tell it is faux, but the only person knocking on my door is the Amazon delivery person, and I don’t think they care. Overall I am pleased with the look, and from the street, they provide a balance around the typical Queen Anne asymmetrical front door.

Notice the cauldron of skulls for Halloween!

While all of the urn-fern drama was going on, I was also restoring the porch swing that was removed (remember that husband…) and placed for safe keeping convenience behind the garage for a year. The poor thing didn’t weather well, but I had hopes and dreams for it.

As always, my hopes of removing the varnish and staining were dashed, several of the staples holding the back pieces were visible, and required some wood putty to cover. While the swing is old, it is not original so I had little reservations abut painting it. For the better part of a month, I would sand, fill, and repeat until the little thing was less pitiful. Most, if not all was taken down to the raw wood, so I used a spray primer (hello Amazon!) to provide protection and durability. Finally, in late September, I chose a navy blue (one, if not, my favorite color) for the swing and also gave the hardware a little love in a coat of black matte paint. My doubting Thomas of a husband was on hand to help hang the swing back on the porch.

If you have an older home (or maybe it is just me) you know that nothing goes right the first time, so of course late in the evening when we hung the swing, we installed the mounting brackets wrong. It was the four year old who made this evidently clear when he tried to Tarzan on the swing and it flipped…he is a tank, and received no injuries. But mommy was tired (heart attacks do that to a lady of my age) and weary, so I left the swing to sit on the porch until I could re-group. I spent the evening combing through my phone for a picture of the original swing. The next day, emboldened by sleep and coffee, we were able to correct the bracket placement and now the swing is back and safe, Tarzan tested it.

Next time, I will share my last 2020 project, one of the french doors from the porch to the living room. Stay safe!

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