A plethora of planters

Well, ok, only 3 1/2, but it felt like a lot when I was lugging soil and rocks to the car!

My story begins one fateful day one day when my mom asked me if I wanted some used planters from their garage. Since they are eager to get rid of junk stuff and I have no budget to speak of, I jumped at the chance for free planters! Especially since I’d been into Rona the week before to price out new planters and came away completely indignant at the inflated cost of plastic receptacles.

The only catch? They looked like this:


Hm. Not exactly the matchy-matchy magazine picture I envisioned. (And in case you’re wondering why they are pictured upside down, it is because it was about to rain and I am too lazy to pass up a free wash.)

So after several wasted hours a quick search of pinterest, I decided to spray paint those babies.

Enter helpful Rona lady, who directed me to Rust-oleum’s hammered metal finish spray paint. Visions of charcoal grey hammered metal planters danced in my head!I bought my can for a mere $10 (or so), and strolled out with a certain amount of spring in my step.


The can told me to lightly sand any glossy surfaces before spraying, so I did that on the first two planters. I was annoyed that on the second planter this step left scratches in the plastic, so I decided to go out on a limb and not sand the third planter. Surprise! It worked! The world did not stop rotating and the paint most definitely stuck.

And here is a picture demonstrating the importance of reading instructions carefully. Students: take note!


Don’t you just love my outfit? I like to think of it as spray-paint-gumboot chic. All the range on L’Ile Perrot.

And here they are after! *Cue sounds of angels singing*


SO much better! Bless you, kind Rona lady with your excellent suggestions!

Fast forward to Mother’s Day, when my lovely mother, Linda, was visiting from Ottawa. While my dad and Erick went fishing, she was kind enough to lend her knowledge of plants to my project.

We went round to the local garden centres, finally ending up at Maxi. They carry all the President’s Choice products, so for about $55, I bought a bunch of plants and flowers to fill up my newly spray-painted planters.





I’ll include a run-down of exactly what plants went where in the final reveal.

The first step was to put a layer of small rocks at the bottom of each pot, to enhance drainage.



Then I put down a fairly thick layer of newsprint, to stop the soil from seeping into the rock layer.


After putting in my soil on top of the newsprint, I divided up the plants amongst the planters and sorted out their placement.



I had purchased some bell pepper and tomato plants, which is why I said that I ended up with 3 1/2 planters. Not wanting to over-crowd them, the peppers ended up in their own pot:


Once I’d placed and re-planted everything, I gave them a good drink of water from my cheerful yellow watering can (thanks, Aunt Sheila!).


And now for the big reveal… Drum roll, please! ………………………..






I feel pretty pleased with the whole project, and the best part is that I got to create them with the help of my mom.

So here’s a run-down of what I used.


planter 3

planter 2

I love to read your comments! If you have a tip or a trick for planters, or just to tell me about your own garden projects, please drop me a line in the comments section.

Have a great Victoria Day weekend, flourishers!

Subscribe to Knotty News!
Sign up to receive the latest Flourish & Knot posts, as well as monthly newsletters full of subscriber-only goodies.
Flourish & Knot respects your privacy. Your email will never be shared. You may unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

The one with all the dandelions

I hate dandelions. That is all.

Just kidding, that’s not all! But I DO hate dandelions with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.

Today’s post was supposed to be about my planters, but a series of unfortunate events forced me to write about dandelions instead. (Mainly due to my $%#@ camera battery needing to charge for FOREVER just to afford me the privilege of retrieving pictures.) Stay tuned for a planterrific post on Saturday. (I hate myself a little for that last.)

So on my way home from school today, I had the brilliant idea to try weeding my garden for the first time. (As you read this, bear in mind that I had spent the entire day coaching beginner violinists, as the spring concert date loomed ever closer.) Let me just say that having a big garden seemed like a good idea at the time.

Since our lawn and garden are the shame of our street right now, I felt it would be wise to tackle at least the front and cull the herd, so to speak. I was feeling pretty chipper as I donned my new gardening gloves and got out my trowel. “This won’t be too bad” I thought brightly as I surveyed my territory.


Thus began the seven trials of Sarah Burnell my inauspicious first gardening experience. I started out with this forky thing that I thought was for pulling weeds, but only succeeded in desiccating the leaves (yet, maddeningly, left the roots firmly in the ground so that they might continue to entertain me for weeks to come). After two or three completely unsuccessful tries, I switched to my trowel, which was a lot more useful. I really got on a roll at that point, almost as though I had some kind of dandelion-homing device installed. Whoosh! went the dandelions as they flew over my shoulders and onto the lawn! Plop! went the little clumps of earth as I shook them from the roots.

After more time than I care to mention quite some time, I stood up in victory to admire my handiwork… only to realize that there were still some dandelions sitting there, mocking me.


I prevailed, but let me tell you, it was not without some fairly un-ladylike language.   At this point, the garden wasn’t looking too bad. No more ugly yellow blotches and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.


So then I needed to collect the debris into one of our large garden refuse bags. Except it started to rain. Hard. I threw down the bag and, reaching my arms up to the heavens, cried out (actually out loud) “WHY, GOD, WHY?!?!”

And that’s when the neighbour’s kids rounded the corner. Fixing them with my best “who you looking at” face, I picked up my bag and pronounced the whole thing an unfortunate contretemps which only a glass of wine would fix.

No, it is most definitely NOT dandelion wine.


Think you need therapy? You need a choir.

Every Thursday, I drag my work-weary body downtown to Marianopolis College, where I have the privilege to conduct the Siamsa Singers. The Siamsa Singers are a truly unique group within the local choral world: they are a choir that sings almost exclusively Celtic and folk music. And the choir happens to be my baby!

I started the group completely unknowingly in 2007. I was newly arrived in Montreal and studying at McGill University in music education when a woman I’d met at the Montreal Highland Games a few years earlier called me up to teach an Irish singing class. Thursday nights, church hall, seven or eight singers, decent pay, and I didn’t have to actually know any Gaelic. Sounded pretty good! I had no idea then that I was starting one of the most defining activities of my young adult life.

The first few weeks of classes went pretty well. I was working on a few Irish pieces, mostly things that I knew from my band or from singing in choirs. It helped that it was all women, so I knew plenty of soprano-soprano-alto music. I’d met some very nice ladies and we’d begun to bond. And then I learned a valuable, if heartbreaking lesson: you can never please everyone in life. I received some pretty nasty emails from four of the women, telling me that I wasn’t like their previous teacher and that they didn’t like what I was doing and that they were quitting the class. I was completely devastated. “Am I a bad teacher?” “Should I have changed to please them?” The three remaining singers convinced me that the answer to these questions was an emphatic “NO”, and we passed a lovely rest of the term together.



Seven years later, the group has become a mixed voice choir of 35 singers, and we are heading off on our first concert tour to Newfoundland this summer! Hard work, musicality, dedication, and a strong sense of community are the cornerstones of the choir. The Siamsa Singers are non-auditioned and we welcome singers from all musical and life backgrounds. Over the years we have gained and lost singers, finally arriving at a core group that inspires each other to challenge themselves and to constantly improve, vocally and as an organization.




Siamsa Christmas 09-10




By the way, the handsome one to the far right became my husband!




Oh and we really love to cook (and eat)! Our retreat day potlucks are the stuff of legends. Come, and eat with us in the hallowed halls of Choirhalla!


Tonight we perform our spring concert, “Bound Away”. For anyone in the Montreal area, the concert is at 7:00 pm at the Church of St John the Evangelist, 137 President-Kennedy Ave. I’d love to see you there! The concert is going to be fantastic, and features new and old favourites from the choir’s repertoire, like “Frobisher Bay”, “Loch Lomond”, and several sea shanties. I cannot wait!

IMG_7395_poster 600 ppi-1


I firmly believe that with enough whip-cracking perseverance, anyone is capable of learning to sing in a choir. The people you meet in choir are the salt of the earth. (And sometimes you end up marrying them!) I arrive every Thursday completely exhausted from my teaching week, and leave exhilarated and inspired for the week ahead.

Life is just better with choir in it.