May 20, 2018
Vegetable Row Marker: Make a few of these perky garden row markers found in The Decorated Garden by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell. Sweetpea Wigwams: Train your fast-growing plants with a handmade wigwam woven from willow rods.

Outdoor life is upon us, and what a thrill to be back in the garden again. Even though the weather in many parts of the country is crazy -- rain, maybe a little ice and snow, there’s no keeping the hardiest of souls from moving out the patio furniture and cleaning out the garden. And that garden can be located almost anywhere, from the largest plot of land to the smallest apartment balcony. Creating an outdoor oasis is one of my favourite projects. It’s ongoing, as I change my mind annually on what I want to plant and where stuff should be. No matter the overall plan, it’s so satisfying to find or make one or two crafty items that personalize the scene.

Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell would agree. She is an award winning fine artist, and has written over 20 practical craft books, including The Decorated Garden, which is featured here. Deborah chooses simple materials that match the natural landscape, and weather well. Different widths of galvanized wire, aluminum, copper or plastic coated, are woven and shaped into a wire shelf for the garden wall, a wire egg basket and flower pot holders. A garden chandelier twinkles with colourful beads and copper leaves strung on wire. Garden row markers come in all shapes and sizes. Deborah has devised a style using lengths of galvanized wire twisted together and shaped to hold the name sign. The sign is traced and cut from a piece of aluminum. Using a sewer’s tracing wheel, a bumpy line is pressed along the edge of the metal for decoration. The sign is attached to the wire oval by bending the tabs to grip the wire.

The author utilizes willow or hazel rods for creating plant frames and basket handles. Fresh willow is easy to use, but if it has dried out it can be revived by soaking overnight in a bathtub of water. Wigwams are fun to make and are one of the most practical structures you can provide for fast-growing climbing plants. 12 rods are pushed into soft earth to make the circular base for the wigwam. To make the bands, take two pieces of willow and insert them horizontally 14 inches up from the ground. Weave them together around the upright rods crossing them just before they cross each new rod. Continue weaving in this manner until the first band is complete. Move up to the next section and pull together the uprights as you work to make the wigwam shape. Wrap the top rods together with wire and a single strip of willow. To prolong the life of the wigwam you can spray it with a good quality exterior wood paint.

You’ll find many more ideas that include an enchanting birdbath decorated with a mosaic of broken pieces of blue and white china; a galvanized tub rock garden that can be plunked down anywhere; glass jar lanterns, and alphabet pebbles. For the more adventurous you can build your own bentwood gate. And how about a lady scarecrow?

The step by step instructions for each project are clearly illustrated with photographs. Learn a new craft yourself or delight a friend with a garden gift.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to Follow Debbie at,,