Monday, September 19, 2016


I always have projects buzzing around in my head. How many get done? Not so many. This week I finished a couple and hope to finish 2 more by the end of the weekend.

The first was a fairly simple one; replacing the silver ponyfoot in the side entry garden with river rock. Earlier on in the season, when the ponyfoot was growing very nicely, I thought I would give it a top dressing of compost. Unfortunately that compost, although sold to me as cold and composted, burnt the life out of the plants. I thought maybe they would recover, and they did somewhat, but whatever was in the mix was clearly detrimental to the soil. The seller came out and said he was sorry and that it had never happened before. Later I found another garden friend shared a similar experience a few years ago and her soil is still not right. So, this week, I ripped out the plants and irrigation system and replaced with New Mexico river rock. David and I went down to the stone yard and hand loaded onto the truck. We seriously underestimated how much we needed and a second trip was necessary. Being a great lover of all things rock I am happy with the result.

On the way back from the stone yard we stopped in at the new Habitat for Humanity Restore which opened in the last year. We had found the brick there that we used in the English Garden. I was greatly disappointed in this new store but did pick up 3 things. A small polystyrene cooler and these two globe lights.The first to make a trough and the globes to make a couple of hypertufa balls. The two pieces of wood are for a third project; a bird feeder.

Today, when it as just too hot to be working outside, I took myself into the garage and made the trough. I had it done in less than an hour  So much easier than the real hypertufa and at little cost. David thought I overpaid for the cooler at $1!The only other tools needed were the wire brush, grill lighter to seal and paints. I had all of these. Even the bunny ears cactus found a new home.

Project number 2 involves cement, which is not a product I like to deal with. The plan is to spray the inside of the globes with oil and then fill with the hypertufa mixture (equal parts of cement, vermiculite and peat moss). I had the peat moss and the vermiculite but needed to buy bag of cement. Why does it come in such heavy bags. In Europe there is a law which says the bags cannot weigh more than 50lb. Clearly to protect backs. Anyway we were able to get a bag on sale at our local stone yard.
First thing Saturday I opened the bag of peat moss that had been sitting around outside for years. Surprise!! A Texas garter snake, Thamnopsis sirtalis,  had taken up residence in there. I know he is a garter snake rather than a ribbon snake because there is no white dot in front of his eye.

With the snake out of the way I measured out the ingredients and mixed with water.

Sprayed the inside of the globes with cooking spray.

And filled with the mixture.

Next day I placed the globes in a plastic bag and carefully tapped the glass until it broke off.

Now the balls need to sit for a time until they dry out and harden throughout. Then they will join the other two globes in the front garden.


  1. Love the globes, and much easier than my method of making them like snowballs. :) Too bad you can't reuse the globes. (I agree on the cement bag weight issue -- they sell Quikrete in "lighter" bags, why not cement?

  2. I've made the exact same complaint about the weight of cement bags, and while this may sound "out there", that 50 lb weight is almost sexist because most women will not be able to pick a bag up easily. I remember one year where I needed a bag of cement loaded into my car because I wanted to return it and I couldn't lift it. It was a Sunday afternoon. I live alone and have no family to help lift so I walked to no less than 5 neighbor's houses, and no one was home to help me pick it up. Frustrating! Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way about those bags.

  3. A few years ago posted about a friend who made cement globes like yours, I think it's one of the most "pinned" (Pinterest) photos from my blog!

    So the compost you added to improve your soil actually ended up damaging it and killing back your plants? I'd say that company owes you more than just an apology.

  4. We've never met a to k we didn't like. Yours look great. Same thing with potting soil. Either the bag only has enogh for a couple of houseplants or I can't lift the bag

  5. You clearly know your snakes! I'd have screamed like a silly schoolgirl but then we're not used to seeing snakes in the garden here (even though rattlesnakes are common in a park a mile away). The hypertufa balls are wonderful. It's too bad about the compost - I worried about the possibility of getting a toxic mix when I brought in topsoil to create berms but I was lucky there.

  6. I am definitely going to try the globe ball idea. What a creative person you are! You posted instructions on how to transform styrofoam box into a trough but I can't find the post. Which month/year was it?

  7. Your projects turned out so wonderfully! That is too bad about the compost. I love the globes! I keep meaning to make some hypertufa containers, but have never gotten around to it. There must be something about peat moss that the critters love. I was once pouring out some peat moss that had been sitting around into a garden bed, and out popped a Momma mouse and her babies. I am not normally one to scream, but I sure was startled! You sound like you handled your snake very calmly, though.

  8. How did you move the snake out of the way? Or did it move itself once its hiding place was exposed?

    1. I just got a stick and got underneath him, lifting him up. He slithered over the top and away. I knew he was not venomous. Would not have done this with a rattler or a cottonmouth. Then I would have just used my camera.