Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cattle Panel Landscaping

My husband thinks we are rednecks.  I have no idea what he is talking about!  A couple of summers ago, Sir Knight built beautiful raised planters in front of my sun room.  I decided that I wanted to plant vegetables in the beds, so, in order to support the climbing bean plants, Sir Knight installed cattle panel supports.  It was a stroke of genius!  Not only did the panels look quite nice they provided perfect support as the bean plants grew and climbed, and in turn, the beans blessed us with wonderful, filtered shade in our sun room.

Last summer, in my intense desire to move, I neglected any gardening or beautifying pursuits.  My garden beds sat empty, my flower beds, tangled and overgrown.  In my mind, we had moved already, even though our physical bodies were here.  This spring, although it feels like I am admitting defeat, I am planning new garden beds, sprucing up the flower garden and preparing the chicken coop for a new flock of hens.  As I keep telling my children, we must live where we are, not where we want to be.

After visiting my friend, Lady Day, I was inspired by her lovely gardens and flowers - her manicured lawns and carefully tended shrubs.  I came home with a renewed desire to make the best out of "Little Shouse on the Prairie".  One of the features I have always admired in a home is a lovely little arbor outside the front door, covered in tangled vines.  Once, I made a twig arbor (with the help of Master Hand Grenade), only to have it disintegrate after about three years.  Not wanting to repeat my first experiment, I searched my brain for another alternative.  My visit to Lady Day's, provided the inspiration!  Lady Day's husband built a rose arbor for her out of metal fence posts and a cattle panel.  It is impervious to the weather and provides a perfect platform for Lady Day's climbing roses.  Painted white, it is quite lovely, with a very homespun quality.

Cattle Panel just put in place
Papering the "Shouse" so the paint
doesn't get on the metal
Maid Elizabeth, doing her mother's dirty work
Borrowing Lady Day's ingenuity, Master Hand Grenade, Maid Elizabeth, Miss Calamity and I set about building an arbor of our own.  Master Hand Grenade pounded the fence posts into place, Maid Elizabeth and I held the cattle panel in place as Miss Calamity secured it with industrial tie wraps.  After the arbor was up, Maid Elizabeth taped newspaper to the shouse and began the tedious task of painting a 7 foot tall cattle panel arbor.  It is beautiful!

Cattle panels and planter boxes outside
the sun room
Miss Calamity and I wound an LED light string through the panel (it will be beautiful on long summer nights) and Master Hand Grenade has begun building planting boxes for the base of the arbor.  Rather than roses, I think I will plant Virginia Creeper.  It is less showy than roses, but is not as likely to attract quite so many yellow jackets in the late summer.

As much as I would love to be moved and settled, I will continue to do my best to live where I am, not where I want to be.


  1. Prepared teacherMay 5, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Make do with what God is giving you. There is a reason God had kept your family there!I've learned to just roll with the punches and remember that there is a reason why everything happens! So go begin a garden, make your house comfy and beautiful. When the time comes your garden and flower beds will bring a warm welcome for the next person God brings to your place!

  2. I know envy is a sin, but still.......

  3. Good job. I, too, want to move. It is hard to wait but we have to work where we are. We can't wait for life to be perfect to start living! (I am talking to myself here also.)Last year, although we were renting, I got a half-dozen chickens and planted a raised garden bed. This year, still renting, I planted 2 garden beds. I *hope* to be moving and hauling them with me this fall. We really do have to bloom where we're planted, and not wait for the perfect place. I love your sun room!

  4. I absolutely agree with Prepared Teacher. I would love to have a stable "shouse" to live in. With my husband in the military we are moving about every 2 years right now, and I'm growing very tired of it. I would love nothing more than to have a piece of property and a "shouse" to be able to garden, and stay put! But, I have learned that God has other plans and for now, He wants me to be content with where I am. I know He has a plan for me, and I know He has me right where He wants me! Every time I move from one place, I can look back and see what all God accomplished by using me or my family. There's nothing better than knowing that even though we may not understand or know the plan, God does, and He will take care of us and get us through. So, be patient and content, God will move you if/when He's ready.

  5. what a wonderful idea for the outdoor room! and even more wonderful to have the full participation of the family. i have always had to travel and move over the years and have learned that home is where you hang your hat.

  6. Here's a quote that I have on a sticky note near my computer:
    "The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
    Marcel Proust

  7. I always find your stories & advice more helpful than you could ever know! I struggle with 'living where I am' sometimes myself, and have to remind myself to make the best of situations. I was really going thru this the last few days especially. Stopping into this blog is like meeting a friend for coffee. Thanks so much,

  8. Plant Moonflower. They are night bloomers and smell like heaven. Start from seed. Soak seed over night and plant twice what you want for they are known for poor germination. I start them inside a month or so before i want to plant them outside. If you will wanter well and take the time each day or so to weave the new growth up on your panels you will be well blessed and decide to plant these EVERY YEAR.

  9. I think the arbor looks great. I live in the city but if the landlord would allow it I'd put one up.

  10. Wise decision to make the most of what you've got. I know you want to move closer to your parents, but in the meantime you'll just have to pack up the family and drive to visit them as often as you can.

    Perhaps if you let each child plant something and then they tend to their plants, they will develop a tie to gardening that will live with them for their entire lives. OR, they're resent you forever and hate gardening with all their might. LOL

    Have fun!

    NoCal Gal

  11. Great idea! Although we are longing to move as well (showing our home again tonight), I have been tending my herbal and flower beds. I figure they will lift my spirits while I am still here and possibly add to buyer potential when God sends the right one. I love the arbor made out of cattle panels. My dh cuts panels in half long ways and makes a "tube" out of them for tomato cages....maybe he gets 3 or 4 from a panel, I'm not sure. they are a lot more sturdy than anything you can buy!

  12. Enola,
    I know this is hard, not getting what you so desperately want right now.
    Not having the gift of Patience is my worst sin.
    I pray for it daily. I practice it daily.
    It's absence causes strife with my happiness.

    I am encouraged by your sharing of this account of action you are undertaking to reclaim your physical space, as your own again.

    Always remember, Your home is your own safe haven from the rest of the world's outside chaos. It's the place where when all whom you love are inside your walls, and under your loving care, that they know comfort, sincerity, and are safe.

    Now, your outer shouse, full of colorfully bright flowers will mirror your vining soul.

    It will be beautiful!
    Just like you.

    לַכֹּ֖ל זְמָ֑ן וְעֵ֥ת לְכָל־ חֵ֖פֶץ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ ס

    To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven

    Ecclesiastes 3:1


  13. Perfect example of 'blooming where you are planted"

  14. Oh, I like that, Jules! Enola, what a wonderfully creative (and sturdy!) idea. I'm sure it'll be beautiful whatever you plant, and I can't wait to see how things look later this summer.


  15. Be sure the posts are on the outside of the wire to hold IN the tension. If the ties are holding it bent, they will deteriorate in the weather over time and your arbor may, when you least expect it, spriong free and whap someone. At least that's what happened to me :/