Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Garage Office and Vintage Etsy Shop Interior Renovation Complete

Our little garage at night.
Looking back over the last 6 months of constant building seems like an impossible dream. I'm really not sure how we managed to finish the interior our garage ourselves for the exception of hiring an electrician and spray foam insulator. Basically I've had to shut out the world during this extreme build phase, receiving more than one phone call from Mom asking if we're alive. Bad, bad daughter! On the rare occasion when friends or family came to visit, I put them to work! Not one person passes through the front door without hauling furniture or boxes into the garage!

Sheds Unlimited builders putting up garage.
This construction effort began in order to Make room for Mom. In October of last year we purchased a prefab 2-story garage from Sheds Unlimited to house an office and warehouse upstairs for my online vintage shop. I designed the garage wall space just wide enough to place furniture and storage racks along the perimeter to hold my shipping boxes, glassware and moms excess when she moves in. We do intend to park a car in the garage so have to keep it reasonably clear.

Installing batt insulation to the upstairs walls.
It's been about a month since my husband and I finished the space by hanging gutters, insulating, running electrical wires, hooking up fixtures, hanging sheetrock, finishing walls, installing trim and flooring, painting, installing a mini-split, and installing a garage door opener. Not to mention adding barn boards from my family's farm (which are very special to me) to the exterior and interior. The final detail is to add barn board shutters to the garage and house to tie them together.

I forgot about painting, thought it would never end!
I am a lucky, lucky girl to have married a man that has extensive building experience. Ladies, if you're single, do not marry a man that can't throw a hammer down in a BIG WAY. Anthony is awesome. I did get pretty excited about electrical work and spent most evenings watching youtube videos so as to not burn the garage down from my tinkering. Anthony has a full-time job so while he was at work I was running electrical wires and installing outlets.

Based on the advice of my father-in-law, we did hire an electrician to hook up a huge wire (that Anthony and I ran) from our main box to the garage. Talk about a beast this was a challenge due to the size and weight of the wire. Somehow we got it done and it passed code! The electrical work was the most tedious part of the project. Anthony knew enough to keep me in line but this was not his field of expertise.

Rigged up scaffold with wood extenders to ceiling.
Anthony's smartest purchase was a scaffold and he rigged it up so we could lift heavy sheetrock together up to the ceiling without having to hire out this job. It worked amazingly well. I now use the scaffold in the garage to hold all my shipping boxes for my online business.

Wonderful handcrafted barn board window ledges.
Anthony is an expert at hanging and finishing sheetrock and he did such a good job that we could not find any stud seams when it came time to install shelves and brackets for my office / shop. Anthony did a beautiful job creating a barn board bookcase and window ledges. I also love the exterior barn board over the garage door that he installed. I found a 1930's Gas Station green light fixture on Etsy and he also installed this on the front of the garage.

Spray foam ceiling R30.
I did decide to hire spray foam insulators to shoot around the garage perimeter ceiling and coat the entire upstairs ceiling. It would have been a crazy insulation install if we hung batts. Too complicated to even explain. The foam guys were done in about 3 hours. A relief to have some part of it DONE FAST.

Oak / barn board look flooring.
We love the oak laminate flooring which is holding up really well. Not one scratch yet and we've moved a lot of items around on it! Very pleased. It was easy to install and Anthony rigged it up as trim around the stairwell and on the stair landing. Another interesting install was our DIY Mr. Cool Mini Split system. At one point I yelled to Mr Cool, "you ain't cool Mr. Cool" - it was not easy but it is effective and one of the few systems you can buy without having to hire a heat and air guy to install it. We have not even noticed a change in our utility bill - very efficient. Love it!

Online Business Vintage Book and Designer Shoe nook.
If I was to do one thing differently it would be to make the garage ceiling 2" higher. Anthony did have to engineer the garage door by sawing the metal runners down an inch to allow for the garage door opener to fit and work. The ceiling height upstairs is perfect as is high enough for me to have storage racks toward the ceiling. I have a rack over my shipping station which holds bubble wrap, packing paper, and a few boxes.

Online Etsy Business Shipping Station.
Over the next 3 months we'll be trying to hammer out the basement apartment where mom will live. Anthony is going to have to do the majority of the work as my body is wearing out. Warning to visitors -- you will be put to WORK if you step a toe on the premises!


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Spring Flower Gardening Event Calendar 2019 in Charlottesville Virginia

My front flower bed earlier in the season.
Instead of finishing my taxes, I'll divert my attention to SPRING. It's such a wonderfully lovely time of year, I had to sneak this blog post in. My garden has transformed from the yellow's of Daffodils and Forsythia to the pink's of Crab Apple and Redbud. With each passing Spring day my view from my back deck develops. Shades of green darken and dots of white and red trees appear. I never tire of the seasons.

Love this sweet garden view on Rugby Road.
I try to reserve April and May for Gardening Events. These months are super busy and it's my time to be selfish and take time out to explore gardens and reunite with plants. I've even invited the local Facebook plant group over to my house this year for a morning coffee and plant swap. The pressure is on to tidy up the yard, not to mention finish my taxes. YIKES! I hope the gang is not expecting a manicured yard, I'm more of a plant collector than a landscaper. Should be fun meeting like minded garden lovers that I've gotten to know from posting comments online.

My front flower bed, it's Daffodil season!
The first main local gardening event of the season will be kicked off this weekend on April 13. Hosted by The Piedmont Master Gardeners, Through the Garden Gate is held the second Saturday of each month during gardening season from 9 - 12 for the exception of August.

The annual Jefferson chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society will have its sale at the Ivy Creek Nature Center on Saturday, April 27, 1 - 3. It's a wonderful sale with tons of plants and tons of buyers! Come early if you really want to be selective. Native plants benefit our local insect population!

Maybe Trisha will motivate me to go HGW VA.
Historic Garden Week in Virginia also kicks off on April 27 and continues until the following weekend on May 4. I've yet to decide on a garden location to visit. This is the first year that I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with finishing our garage and getting started on renovating the basement so my mother can move in. I might take a breather this year (the first in probably 8 years) and skip this main event.

The Piedmont Master Gardeners will also have their  main event on Saturday May 4th, 10 - 2 under the Stonefield Shopping Plaza tent (this is a new location). Their annual plant sale is awesomely amazing. Another great place to pick up a special and unique plant from many different local plant expert groups.

Sweet Daffodils in my garden.
This week I'll be heading out at 6 am to take a stroll through the Sarah P. Duke Gardens before my annual doctor trip to Duke. Might as well make the visit interesting! Can't wait to finally see these gardens. I conveniently booked an appointment mid April.

HAPPY SPRING and get out and smell not only the roses but all the flowers!


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Yellow Blooming Spring Shrubs, the difference between Winter Jasmine and Forsythia

Very appropriate setting for Forsythia hedge, open spaced area
One of the most common garden plant identification errors is confusing the Winter Jasmine for Forsythia. Spring after Spring people excitedly claim how beautiful the Forsythia is, when in reality, it's Winter Jasmine. Differences between Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) and Forsythia vary between bloom time, height, and flower shape. It's an easy mistake to make, especially when we're all so thrilled to see anything blooming! Forsythia and Winter Jasmine can both bloom when it's snowing and most varieties have yellow flowers. They are both grouped in the olive family genus, Oleaceae and most varieties originated in Asia.

Looks like a yellow magic marker hit this shrub border!
Forsythia is the more familiar plant and every old roadside farmhouse had a Forsythia shrub or two. This is probably why any yellow Spring blooming shrub is referred to as Forsythia. It's very common in Virginia and many consider it a pest because it's a non-native, fairly aggressive rooting shrub. It's probably the most dastardly hacked shrub known to man! How many bad Forsythia hair jobs have we all seen! DON'T SHAPE UP THE FORSYTHIA. A random shortening of extra long branches is often warranted, but DON'T SHAPE THE FORSYTHIA!

Clump of Forsythia near my garden gate.
For these reasons I've never thought about planting Forsythia but it's interesting that I ended up buying a home with a view of Forsythia from every single window and door in the house! I've grown to appreciate the ability of big clumps to provide shelter for birds, deer, and foxes and of course the Spring cheer that it brings. I wanted to name my property and business after a plant and Forsythia Hill was a perfect fit.

Small and cheery, Winter Jasmine bloom.
Winter Jasmine is a more difficult shrub to acquire as it's not as common. It took me 10 years to track down a free start of this shrub. I've not looked very hard, but one came to me at a plant swap last Spring. I was thrilled to finally have this shrub. It too is fairly aggressive but if planted in the right spot allowed to do its thing, it can make quite a splash. It also is a non-native and should be planted with care. I would like to think my gardening acquisitions would be limited to only natives but I've not been able to control myself. Even natives can be aggressive so care should be given for any planting decision. There is a good FB page that identifies invasive plants which is very informative and there are some horribly destructive plants that we each should never plant.

Forsythia shrub bud when in full bloom. 
There are several ways to determine the difference between these similar Spring blooming plants. The first is bloom time. It's very slight and can overlap but the Winter Jasmine will begin blooming before any other Spring plant. Possibly crocus will peep up at the same moment, but it will show color while everything is gray and asleep. Winter Jasmine is also typically a shorter (2' - 3' tall) arching shrub. Forsythia is straighter and taller. Stems eventually arc over and root but the standard Forsythia is much taller (5 - 6'). There are shorter dwarf Forsythia shrubs which cause extra identification difficulty. Forsythia also has been bred in a white form but is quite uncommon.

Forsythia bud, just before it begins to open
The blooms on the plants are also quite different if you look closeup. In general the Forsythia has a longer tighter pointed petal bloom and the Winter Jasmine has a flat faced rounded petal tip bloom. Of course things become more complicated depending upon where you live and the variety. But I hope these few general differences will help you better identify these common Spring blooming plants.

For local identification in Charlottesville Virginia, there are appropriate uses of Winter Jasmine on Earlysville Rd. near Ivy Creek Nature Center and downtown on McIntire Rd. under the overpass. It's mid-March and the Winter Jasmine is fading and the Forsythia is showing a nice bit of color.


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