Meet Stephie McCarthy!
Meet Stephie, who creates some of the artwork on our website. She has a lovely view of the world and shows us around the garden that reflects that view. I know you’ll love her!
“Hello, Flea Market Gardening lovers. Greetings from our little house I call Coral Belle Cottage in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We’re a hop-skip-and-jump from the Shenandoah River and historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. May I show you around our garden?
“The house is pretty cozy (really small) and cedar-sided in a rich shade of chocolate. It would be a very plain-Jane dwelling indeed, except it turned out to be a great backdrop for a patchwork quilt of gardens and salvaged/repurposed decorations. I’m learning through this hobby that no matter how plain or modern your space may be, flea market decorating is a lovely, rich layer that is fairly easy to add!”
“This is one views you’ll see when you come up the lane. I carried this solid guy home by myself on the wings of inspiration and refinished it on one side with a teal called Laguna blue by Plaid (don’t you love that name?) Accents are cobalt, gold, plus a window box and of course, faded curtain. I think doorways and windows, pretend or not, always have an air of mystery about them, as if they could open to a place in your imagination. I also think prettying up a door or window can welcome luck into your life! At the very least, salvaged doors and windows add a dimensional feeling to an otherwise bland stretch of fence or wall. It’s like making magic, in a way.”
“Note: I sandwiched the colors between layers of decoupage sealant which preserves the cracks and crazing and a little watered-down brown latex stain. I love Plaid products because I don’t have to wear my paint mask with them.”
“Across from the dooryard is this rose arch we made out of ordinary wire fence material, bent and anchored, and “Gandalf Sticks.” We find lots of these curly, knobby branches washed up after storms on the river. Maggie, the tuxedo girl, checks out everything in the garden for cat appeal.”
“Beyond the sentry cat is the “Pocket Meadow” which features roses, lilies, wildflowers, and huckleberries.”
“Here’s another view of the rose arch, showing the top of the antique gate on the left that leads to the “Petit Potager” or kitchen garden. I found this gate leaning on a tree at the Old House. The Old House is another home we are renovating and our main source for salvaged junk—turned treasure.”
“A previous owner of the Old House squirreled away a trove of doors, shutters, and all sorts of lovely, moldy junk in the barn, cellar, and attic. The Old House was a charmer but the antique stash sealed the deal, though it will probably take the rest of my life to sort it out. That, or you will see me on an episode of Hoarders!”
“Who am I besides a junk lover? I’m a home-based artist and designer, and I have always loved folksy and vintage art with a modern touch! I truly love seeing the creations people around the world create to add magic to their spaces. I’ve learned to make hypertufa, sow seeds in winter, and so many wonderful things from gardeners on the Internet. Now, I’m restoring and assembling unique things using my painting and design tricks!”
“I’ve been painting since about age 15, and believe that “Easy is Good.” You’ll find me blogging and sharing project notes on Facebook and Twitter, as I quarry my way through our barn!”
“By the way, have you noticed what intrepid Flea Market Gardeners have … rust is beautiful! Take at look at this aged fireplace cover featuring barefoot Goddess and anchor. It sits on top of the well at the Old House garden and is soon to get a protective coating I’m experimenting with. I’m not sure what the round thing is against the wall, but next to it is the original pump with the word “climax” stamped on the front.”
“Now for an indoor project! No nails, no glue, this new-fashioned orchid case brings the garden inside at Coral Belle Cottage. This is a modern lantern with the light fixture removed and wood stain dabbed on to tone down the shiny brass. The weight of marbles and pebbles hold the case steady in a vintage bowl, a satin tassel marks the hinged door, and a wooden stand rescued from a curb turned out to be the base. Tempted to use that cool Laguna on it too!”
“Here’s the first project I tackled at Coral Belle Cottage. This wicker bench was part of a rickety, four-piece set I bought for just $15.00. My favorite tropical blues and greens made this an inviting spot for “Angel” cat. She claimed this space just minutes after I finished the cushion with a cabbage rose design by Waverly. Luckily, I still had room to photograph my squash blossoms.”
“A little more about me. I grew up in a family of artists who were also gardeners and collectors, so it’s no wonder I followed their lead. Like my grandmother, Ruth, I love to put an original twist on homespun hobbies. Here are two new ideas I came up with for you guys. If you try them, I hope you’ll drop me a line at www.StephieMcCarthy.com and let me know how they came out.”
“This is a Tart pan and Cutlery Plant Marker. I hammered flat a mini-tart pan, (also some some cookie cutters, shown below), and forks. Though any cutlery will work, I chose utensils that were light and flexible, easy to flatten with a tack hammer on concrete floor softened with folded T-shirt fabric.”
“Aluminum metal tape is trimmed and added to make harmonizing labels. The metal tape is easy to engrave with a pen for the plant name. It’s amazing how really seamless it looks, though I wouldn’t be afraid to try a little antiquing stain next time! Sand off a bit for a worn look.”
“A note about using cookie cutters, I snipped and bent the edges with pliers for ease in flattening, and then filed, bent, and hammered the sharp edges smooth. I always follow safety rules when I make things and I hope you do too! The tart pan version is easy enough for children, if you help with the silicon part.”
“This is my design for a Canister Garden Cloche based on pricey antique glass bells. I made this from a rather ordinary, but large glass canister and glue formulated for glass. I attached the lid to the bottom which acts as a handle but also forms a natural display pocket. I put a handful of trinkets and gems in the space before final gluing, so that when the sun shines in the garden, they’ll catch the eye (if you know where to look.) Decorative though this may be, it’s useful for nurturing treats like this 2nd-year artichoke. Use a garden bell only in cooler weather so you don’t cook your plants.”
“Some of the trinkets I put in the lid of the cloche. Be sure not to use anything that will block the light too much.”
“Behind the scenes, meet the chief wizard behind my Fairy Tale Garden, my husband and creative partner who I call the “Greg to my Dharma.” He’s the engineer who brings life to my creations and is also the light of my heart. Here he is recycling a window salvaged from a building near the mall in Washington, DC (Department of Agriculture, as I recall). A carpenter friend rescued it from the dumpster for us and he is turning it into a classic cold frame for winter cucumbers and such.”
How we made the Rustic Rose Arch
Pat pounded 4 metal fence posts for wire fencing into the ground for supports. We put an arch made of the fencing onto the posts and secured it with cable ties.
We temporarily held the shape of the arch using some twine, then we added lots of “Gandalf” sticks, curly vine trimmings and even a bird’s nest onto the frame. When it was stable, we removed the twine which was criss-crossing the path temporarily.
The black cable ties hold everything in place and is very strong but will fade into the background with exposure to weather. This arch is many years old now, and strong having been testing several times by a chubby kitten, and has needed almost no repairs, except to cut back the wildest rose branches in the Spring.
The climbing rose is “Baltimore Belle”.
“I hope you’ll visit our web site to see how it turns out with the dazzling paint job (pink and green?) and new glass to update this garden classic. (Also, wish me luck with my winter cucumbers.)”
“Thank you for visiting, Flea Market Gardening friends, until we meet again! To see what’s new at my home and garden, don’t forget to stop by: www.StephieMcCarthy.com”
A Note from Sue: I was so delighted with these words and pictures from Stephie McCarthy. She is a valued creative member of our Flea Market Gardening group. I so encourage you to visit her website for more gardening tips, artwork, recipes and tips for healthy living! Thanks, Stephie!
More of Stephie’s photos: