Story and Photos by Sam Doss
As an avid gardener and outdoors kind of girl, the winter can seem interminably long. So, when I can no longer wait for spring to arrive, I make my own springtime indoors! I love to decorate with vintage and antiques, and I do it with items I already own, or that I find for a song.
The vintage catalog and seed packets were in my grandmother’s things, but there are various clip-art sites where you could print off vintage seed packets to scatter about. I think they would even be lovely made into a banner.
When I decorate, I simply go through the house and gather items that have the feeling I want to evoke. A tattered book of garden creatures fit the bill. The fake fern resides in an antique kerosene lamp that had lost it workings and was found for a dollar. It makes a unique footed vase.
This little bird house was found in a pile of trash, just waiting to be rescued and nestled into an old nut dish with moss and a mushroom I made out of clay. The tattered little fern, and several others, was found at Goodwill.
Nothing evokes spring to me quite so much as nests. One of the first signs of the changing season here is the sight of birds flitting about, gathering supplies to make a home. Please don’t ever remove a bird nest from the wild. Some birds revamp and reuse their nests year after year. Others use old nests for their materials. However, after big wind storm there are often nests knocked to the ground. These are fine to take. Just be sure to put it in a zip-lock bag and pop it in the freezer for a few days to get rid of any mites or pests that might inhabit it. Then display your nests with some faux flowers and ferns for an uplifting tableau.
Even the simplest of gatherings can bring on the feeling of spring. Here I have an antique children’s book, an ivy that usually resides in the kitchen, a mushroom my father made me, and my great grandfather’s bee smoker. It is the smoker my father used with his bees, and I used with mine, so it has the greatest of sentiment for me.
A fun and economical way to bring a garden look to your home is vintage ephemera. Collecting vintage papers is not only cheap, it takes very little room to store. I seek out old photos of people planting, or in gardens. And I have been collecting postcards since I was five years old and I could get them for 10 cents a piece (Am I showing my age?)! The one below is a favorite, and was actually sent to my great aunt in 1910.
Another thrifty yet beautiful way banish winter blues is to actually grow things indoors. Forcing bulbs is about as easy as it gets. You simply make sure that water just touches the base of the bulb, and it does all the work! This hyacinth was at the end of a grocery store aisle, four dollars for vase and all. Within a week it had this bloom, and a second in the making. The blooms smelled amazing and lasted for weeks. And then you can plant the bulb outside, when the weather allows.
If you don’t have any place outdoors to allow planting of bulbs or gardening, you can plant on a miniature scale inside. After months of tantalizing seed catalogs coming in the mail, I finally couldn’t stand it and needed to plant something. So I created a Wardian Case. It could also be called a terrarium, but to me, wardian case sounds so much nicer! I have three boys, and we have always had an aquarium. Sometimes filled with fish, other times with turtles, toads, or snails. I dragged it out of the well-house and down to the creek.
After filling the bottom with a layer of creek gravel and then dirt, I topped it with moss and a tiny wild fern. Then I added nice rocks and a chunk of bark with lichens. We used to make fairy houses when the boys were small, and so I found the wheelbarrow and tools we once used for them. My youngest son made the wooden arbor long ago for his pet toads to enjoy. The whole project cost me absolutely nothing! Then I plunked my pet land snail, Buckeye, into her new habitat (Can you spot her resting beneath a lichen?). She and I have been enjoying it so much! Psst- I have a post on how I made my wardian case on my blog.
On a smaller scale, you can find fishbowls for around 3 dollars at Goodwill, and miniature orchids for about 4 dollars in garden centers. Place the pot inside and fill with dirt, or stones. Topping it with moss is optional. Cover with a plate (a clear one affords more light) and you have the perfect environment for an orchid!
Here’s wishing that something in these pictures has sparked inspiration, so you can shake off the winter doldrums and bring spring into your home a little early this year!
Sam Doss is a lifestyle blogger at Ms Sam Wears Dresses, where she chronicles her life and inspirations on her family farm that dates back to her great-grandparents. A self-professed “feminine tomboy” that wears dresses daily all while performing household and farm chores as needed such as chasing calves, she loves sharing her baking, home decor, and family life with her husband and grown three sons with her readers. Follow her lovely life at mssamwearsdresses.blogspot.com!