Robert Mahar shows you how to paint your own Russian Nesting Dolls. There are a million creative ways to make this project your own, because you use chalkboard paint for the base layer. Erase and re-draw to your heart’s content – faces for your family, friends or even your pets!
Harriet Muller teaches how to paint on mirrors with oils or acrylics using a special technique she developed. Check out her striking image of a man and woman in separate mirrors, both walking in the woods. What a great idea for a customized wedding gift or anniversary present.
Lindsay Weirich, aka The Frugal Crafter, makes it easy with her video tutorial on how to paint bleeding heart flowers on pre-made cards. She provides easy tips like how to scratch in lines with a credit card and how to break down big shapes into smaller shapes until the piece is finished.
Create a one-of-a-kind abstract art piece with Faber-Castell Gelatos crayons. Donna Downey believes “everybody loves a new box of crayons” and she shows you how to melt pieces of the Gelatos together to create beautiful shapes on miniature canvases.
Lisa Fulmer shares paint-stamping techniques on sticky-back canvas to turn a plain glass cube vase into a super cute art piece. This vase would also be great in an office or studio for holding pens, pencils or paint brushes.
Melissa LeGates is a freelance writer and retired Air Force journalist who specializes in features and B2B writing. She is also a colored pencil artist and blogs about it at coloredpencilenthusiast.wordpress.com. You can commission Melissa’s work (either writing or art) by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Happy Earth Day! Creating container gardens is a great way to celebrate — they bring natural color and beauty to your yard, they require less water than full garden beds, and you can get really creative with repurposed and recycled containers. When choosing plants, look for varieties that naturally grow together in nature and that will thrive given your yard’s own sun exposure.
We talked to three expert gardeners about how to build four-season container gardens that will last all year long.
1. Use a variety of low-growing succulents
The great thing about succulents is they can thrive in small spaces for a really long time — you don’t have to replace them each season. Erika Hanson from Anthropek Containers + Gardens recommends using succulents with contrasting shapes and colors to create the most dramatic effect.
Plant succulents in a weather-resistant hypertufa pot, which is not only lightweight and mobile, but it also ages gracefully and promotes proper drainage. You can dig up lots of online tutorials for making your own DIY hypertufa pots, using just about any container as a mold.
As for the soil mix for succulents, Hanson suggests incorporating some good compost and poultry grit. It’s also important to elevate the container to allow water to drain freely.
2. Provide good drainage so plants last longer
Joanna Guzzetta, owner of Four Seasons Container Gardens, says even though container gardens thrive the best when you change the soil and plants each season, you can help your plants last beyond the season by using fillers in the bottom of your container, under the soil, to provide good drainage.She recommends a reusable, long-lasting filler called packing pearls, but never use foam packing peanuts because they are toxic to plants.
You can also place clean plastic pots upside down in the bottom of the container, but as they are prone to becoming brittle and cracking over time, they need to be replaced every so often.
3. Build around a tall evergreen plant or shrub
Kerri Laudig from Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses likes the idea of using an evergreen or a slow-growing shrub like juniper, cypress or dwarf crepe myrtle as a focal point for your container garden. Then you can seasonally change out the flowers surrounding it.Laudig says a juniper will last about three years in a container before it becomes root-bound. You can either transplant it into a bigger container or remove it temporarily to prune the roots and put it back into the original container.
She suggests using a water-soluble fertilizer regularly and adding fresh soil to the top as needed to keep the plants healthy.
Melissa LeGates is a freelance writer and retired Air Force journalist who specializes in features and B2B writing. She is also a colored pencil artist and blogs about it at http://coloredpencilenthusiast.wordpress.com/. You can commission Melissa’s work (either writing or art) by contacting her at email@example.com.