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    Chris Olsen: Beach decorations and crepe myrtle tips

    6:22 AM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Lifestyle Expert Chris Olsen from Botanica Gardens is here with some great craft ideas and gardening tips.

    Surfs Up

    Burlap Ribbon Framed Starfish

    If you have or will be taking a trip to the beach this summer, remember to gather some favorite large shells or purchase some at a local shop. And if you're not traveling to the beach, no worries! You may find some great starfish at your local craft store. Try framing these shells or starfish and display them in your home! Take any size frame. (We chose a turquoise metal frame reminiscent of the beach!) Remove the glass. Take burlap ribbon found at your local craft store and begin hot gluing pieces directly to the picture frame's back. If your frame's back is not brown, you may use burlap fabric to cover the frame's back as well. Hot glue pieces of burlap ribbon until the entire frame's back is covered. Next, insert the frame's back into the picture frame. Now, take 3 starfish varying in size and begin hot gluing them in a random patter onto the burlap ribbon. You may position a portion of the starfish directly onto the frame to create a more dimensional look. Once all 3 starfish have been glued down, your framed art is ready for display in your home!

    -Picture frame
    -Burlap ribbon
    -3 starfish
    -Hot glue gun/ hot glue

    Another simple idea is to go ahead and take your collection of seashells and place them around your houseplants along the rim of the pots and on top of the soil. Just remember to always wash your shells real good to get rid of any salt that may still remain. Sea salt can burn your plants.

    Crepe Myrtle Power

    Traditional crepe myrtle bushes have often been bypassed by gardeners because of their large size, but dwarf crepe myrtles are a beautiful alternative to the traditional variety. These plants grow just 12-14 inches high during the growing season and die during the winter, compared to the clumsy 15 or so feet of the regular-sized crepe myrtle. They also produce flower blooms for an extended period of time during the summer in a wide range of vibrant colors. To successfully plant and grow a dwarf crepe myrtle bush in your lawn or garden, follow the tips below.

    Nutrient distribution can sometimes be an issue with smaller plants, so be sure to properly mulch and fertilize the area in which you plan to plant your dwarf crepe myrtle. A compost plus blood and bone fertilizer should work well. The compost will reduce surface compaction, therefore improving drainage. The compost may be fine on its own in areas with adequate soil, but the addition of a fertilizer may be a necessity if your soil is poor. Spread the compost and fertilizer components around the entire planting area to ensure your dwarf crepe myrtle receiver proper nutrition.

    Dwarf crepe myrtles thrive in full sunlight and well-drained soil. Thus, make sure you do not choose a planting location that is predisposed to holding water. Again, the compost can aid with drainage. Sometimes I will add pea gravel to the bottom of the hole and berm up the plant if you have severe drainage problems. It is also important to give your crepe myrtle some space. Although the dwarf version grows just about a foot or two high, it tends to sprawl out as it grows, sometimes overtaking other plants. For this reason, the plant is sometimes referred to as the "weeping crepe myrtle."

    You will want to prune your dwarf crepe myrtle during the winter. Cut away dead areas or empty blooms to allow for optimal growth once the growing season returns.

    Capiz Shell" Chandelier

    Research any Capiz Shell Chandelier, and their price tag will be pretty expensive. However, you may achieve this designer look for around $10 by using wax paper! Start with a wired hanging bowl shaped planter. Usually they are green, so spray paint it with a metallic silver. For the rest of this project, you will need: wax paper, parchment paper, circle punch, clear fishing line, and a hot glue gun. Tear three sheets of wax paper about 15 inches in length each and stack them. Then take two sheets of parchment paper and layer one on top of the wax paper stack and then one on the bottom of the stack. Take a warm iron and iron over the parchment paper. This process glues the 3 sheets of wax paper together. Repeat this step several times until you have about 20 sheets of glued wax paper.

    Next, take a circle punch (2" inch diameter found at a craft store) and begin punching out circles of wax paper. This represents the "Capiz Shell." You will end up with approximately 1500 circles. Heat up your hot glue gun for the next step. Lay out 8 circles with a small space in between and glue a dab of hot glue in the center of each circle. Adhere fishing line to the hot glue creating a string of circles. Allow enough fishing line at one end to tie to the planter. (You may find it easer to apply 4 circles at a time to the fishing line.)

    Repeat this step until all circles have been used. Starting at the bottom of the planter, begin tying each string of circles to the planter. Allow 2 inches in between each string of circles as you tie each one onto the metal frame. Dab a bit of hot glue to secure your tied string. A total of five strings will be hanging from the planter once you have reached the top of the planter. Continue this process around the entire metal frame.

    Once the metal planter is completely full of "Capiz Shell" hanging strings, you will have a completed chandelier. Add a hanging lightbulb for that special lighting effect! You won't be breaking the bank with this designer inspired project!

    Supplies:

    -Bowl shaped wired hanging planter
    -Wax paper
    -Parchment paper
    -Circle punch
    -Fishing line
    -Hot glue gun/ hot glue
    -Iron
    -Scissors

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