DIY: Kokedama String Garden

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Image via Pinterest

kokedama via string gardens

Image via String Gardens

kokedama

Design by Fedor Van Der Valk

kokedama.jpg via pinterest 2

Image via Pinterest

kokedama 1

Image via Pinterest

kokedama via pinterest

Image via Pinterest

kokedama image via slowpoke

Image via Slowpoke

The Japanese string gardens, called kokedama are a unique and beautiful way to display and enjoy your plants in a natural setting.

The kokedama literally means “moss ball” and is a ball of soil, covered with moss, on which an ornamental plant grows. The idea has its origins in Japan, where it is a combination of both Nearai and Kusamono Bonsai styles. Today, Kokedama is very popular in Japanese gardens.

Kokedama is also called poor man’s bonsai. It’s made of wet soil and peat moss and formed into a ball. The plant is set into the ball and the moss is wrapped around. Aluminium wire or nylon wire fixes the whole bundle, and is sometimes used to suspend the kokedama in the air.

Care of: Kokedama must be watered regularly. When the ball feels light, it can be submerged in water. The best plants for kokedama making are ones that require medium to full shade, since direct sunlight will likely burn and ultimately turning your kokedama a shade of brown.

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Japanese Fairy House

japanese fairy house via weefolk studio

image via weefolk studio

japanese fairy house via moss and stone gardens dot com

image via mossandstonegardens.com

japanese fairy house via pinterest

image via pinterest

japanese fairy house via amazing beautiful world.net

image via amazing beautiful world

japanese fairy house via etsy

image via etsy

When my girls were little we loved making fairy houses. After visiting the local nursery for all of our supplies, we would find a pot big enough for all the pebbles, small rocks, plants, and ornaments. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of our fairy houses from those days (hello old school camera) but I can vividly remember Olivia setting out a small bowl of milk and honey to entice the fairies to visit. It was a magical time! Here are some very fun, Japanese inspired fairy houses.

Domo Arigatou!

 

Craft: Kawaii flower planter

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After cleaning with soap, I just cut the top off

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Next, I draw the design

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Prime and Paint

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Meow!

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Add “kawaii” features

Kawaii planter

After visiting the nursery, we added our flowers

kawaii planter 2

Kitty planter gets some wild, spiky grass

kawaii planter 1

Little bear and pig

kawaii planter 3

All three done!

This was a fun craft! The best part was getting to reuse something I would normally just toss in the recycle bin. We used old Silk Almond Milk and Horizon Half and Half half gallon cartons (water tight, no leaking). First, I cut off the tops and washed out with soap and set aside to let dry.

Next, we primed them using Premium Gesso Canvas Primer. It absorbs well to accept oil and acrylic colors, pastels, charcoal, pencil, and crayon. You can use it on a wide variety of surfaces besides just canvas. This acrylic Gesso primer is non-toxic as well. I would highly recommend using a primer. If you don’t, your paint may not stick to the material. We used two thin coats of primer before painting.

After the paint was dry we took a trip to our local Armstrong Nursery and picked out some colorful flowers and wild, spiky grass. You could also fill the planters with potting soil and plant seeds (wheat grass or catnip) or herbs.

 

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DIY Japanese Garden

Backyard before November 2013

Backyard before November 2013

Grass and concrete removed

Grass and concrete removed

Mapping out

Mapping out

Lumber staining

Lumber staining

Heavy lifting done by Philip, Tony and Brandon

Heavy lifting done by Philip, Tony and Brandon

The work has just begun!

The work has just begun!

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Getting ready to lay the decking

Getting ready to lay the decking

Decking installed

Decking installed

Decking done!

Decking done!

Lattice work

Lattice work

Landscaping begins

Landscaping begins

My little helpers!

My little helpers!

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

The mound

The mound

Ready!

Ready!

Last summer, my husband and I were debating what to do with our backyard. When we moved in nearly three years ago we knew we didn’t want to tackle the backyard right away. I spent many nights, up late at night, scouring Pinterest (addicting I tell you!) for fresh ideas for our future space.

We decided that we would take out all the grass (big water save) and remove a lot of the existing concrete-it was just a giant sea of concrete that really had no purpose. We wanted to create a back yard that reflected the simple character that our Craftsman style home has. Having a love for the simple, Japanese aesthetic, we followed our hearts and decided on a traditional Japanese garden.Truthfully, we modified our plans over and over again. Did you know how many different kinds of gravel there are? Choosing one plant over another. Researching which bamboo is not going to be invasive…and so on and so on. My handy husband built the wooden pergola, installed the decking, and built the fire pit/seating area. I was in charge of the landscaping design and finishing touches. After 6 looooooong months of working on our project (literally every weekend) it’s completed! We are so pleased with how it has turned out. We just hosted a baby shower with 40 people over and it is a wonderful place to have a party! Now that it’s finally Summer, were hosting a movie night with friends!

A year in pictures

Weekend in Palm Springs

Weekend in Palm Springs

Blissful weekend with friends at Big Bear Lake

Blissful weekend with friends at Big Bear Lake

tether ball fun

tether ball fun

Lots of beautiful music everyday

Lots of beautiful music everyday

Fun homeschooling!

Fun homeschooling!

Fresh beets from our garden

Fresh beets from our garden

Took Olivia snowboarding for the first time

Took Olivia snowboarding for the first time

Aerial Tram up San Jacinto Mountain- view of Palm Springs

Aerial Tram up San Jacinto Mountain- view of Palm Springs

Planted my first Japanese Maple (love this tree!)

Planted my first Japanese Maple (love this tree!)

Watched Olivia become a really great ice skater

Watched Olivia become a really great ice skater

Saw this sweet girl write her first book about a little panda

Natalie wrote her first book about a little panda

Spent lots of time creating art

Spent lots of time creating art

My best friend had her baby- Welcome Farra!

My best friend had her baby- Welcome Farra!

Good times with good friends!

Good times with good friends!

Did my first tea ceremony for others to see

Did my first tea ceremony for others to see

Many hikes in wilderness

Many hikes in wilderness

Has had the best year getting to know this great lady-good times at the blueberry farm

Has had the best year getting to know this great lady-good times at the blueberry farm

Training in Hombu Dojo, Tokyo Japan for the first time- amazing experience!

Training in Hombu Dojo, Tokyo Japan for the first time- amazing experience!

Awesome traveling companions to Japan

Awesome traveling companions to Japan

Had my first onsen (traditional Japanese bath) experience

Had my first onsen (traditional Japanese bath) experience

The people who make my world complete

The people who make my world complete

Aikido has really challenged me and has been a year of growth for me

Aikido has really challenged me and has been a year of growth for me

A fun trip to Disneyland

A fun trip to Disneyland

These girls are inseparable

Besties performing in their first play

Spending lots of time here makes me happy

Spending lots of time here makes me happy

Going through this last years pictures, I became quite emotional. As I clicked through which ones to highlight for this blog post I completely lost it- I was in tears. So many pictures, so many stories told. For me, there is something about seeing your kids growing up so fast, catching them as they become more independent, confident and watching them become their own person is pretty powerful to see as a parent. I am just so happy to be Olivia and Natalie’s Mom. I’m so lucky to have Philip as my husband and life partner. I could not ask for any more. My world is complete, and rich beyond my wildest dreams because of them.

What an amazing year~ So many fun, exciting, wonderful times and memories I had, shared, and lived with those I love and care about. Those experiences will forever live on as long as I keep snapping away on my camera.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year full of wonder, excitement and joy.

Until next year…

Fall To Do List

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Pick a pumpkin at Peltzer Farms in Temecula

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Ginkyo’s beautiful Fall leaves- at The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

Apple picking at Riley's Farm in Oak Glen

Apple picking at Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen

There’s nothing quite like Fall. It’s always been a favorite season of mine. Cooler weather means sweaters and boots, changing colors in nature, good books with tea, pumpkins, delicious soups, movie nights and Halloween! Here’s a list of things were planning this Fall:

1. A visit to the local pumpkin farm is always a must. Our favorite is Peltzer Farms in Temecula to play, pick out pumpkins and watch pig races!

2. I’ve always wanted to host an Oktoberfest Celebration (chock full of sausage and beer) with friends and neighbors. My inspiration is here

3. Make this and use up the last of the cherry tomatoes in the garden

4. How fun does this giant DIY Jenga game look?

5. Visit the Whaley House Museum in San Diego for a spooky good time- a real haunted house!

6. Riley’s Farm for apple picking. Super fun for families. A yearly tradition for us

I would love to know-what’s on your Fall to do list?

Japanese Gardens 101

Karesansui Garden in Pasadena, California at Huntington Library and Botanical Garden

Karesansui Garden in San Diego, California at Japanese Friendship Garden

Raked design

Rock textures in Pasadena, California

Pathway- notice the different shapes, sizes, textures. This is the designers way of controlling the visitor’s experience.

Common feature in Japanese Gardens: bridges

Pond stocked with koi. Notice the asymmetry of the rocks in the pond

This water basin is for visitors to wash their hands and refresh before entering the tea house.

Courtyard garden in Toyama, Japan

Gorgeous Japanese Maple with red foliage

Often large ponds like these will include an island.

One of my favorite aesthetics of Japanese design is in the garden. In a traditional Japanese garden, design emphasis is placed on the balance of yin/yang, harmony, mystery, and meaning. Here are some of the fundamentals in Japanese landscape design:

1 Gravel or sand- “Karesansui”-which in Japanese, translates as “dry mountain water”. This style of landscape is meant to be viewed but never entered- except for raking and maintenance purposes.

2 Rocks- Each selected as a work of art and it’s shape, color, texture, and character are carefully considered.

3 Plants- The seasons dictate which plants to use. Each plant is selected for its leaf colors, bark, stems- even branch pattern. Asymmetry is the goal.

4 Water- Represents change. It represents impermanence: it flows. A stream, pond, lake or even just a simple granite water basin creates ambient sound that’s conductive to meditation.

5 Paths- Paths are meant to guide you through the garden and are constructed in such a way that a visitor must move carefully and slowly through the garden.