Hypertufa Workshop – September 10, 2013

Hypertufa Birdbath

Gwinnett Master Gardeners are always learning new skills, and thanks to Workshop Host Carole Teja we now know how to master hypertufa.

To follow our earlier birdhouse workshop, it was natural to add a birdbath to the garden for our fine-feathered friends.  After selecting our favorite Colocasia leaves from Carole’s garden, we got busy mixing a formula of Portland concrete, peat moss, vermiculite, and water.  We mixed the concoction in wheelbarrows until it was the perfect consistency.  Then it was time to get down and dirty forming our water feature using the Colocasia leaf as our mold.   We had to determine how deep we wanted the shape to hold water, then we patted it into shape, carved our signature on the bottom to identify it as our own, and covered it with plastic.  What fun that was . . . more fun than making our childhood mud pies!

Since we had to let the form to dry for a few days, we left our treasures in Carole’s garage and anxiously waited to collect our unique garden art.  Now we are ready for the next step . . . making a trough planter using hypertufa!

Please click on the following picture to view as a slide show.

Birdhouse Workshop – July 20, 2013

Birdhouse Workshop 16  Making a home for our fine-feathered friends was a new experience for many of us.  Under the direction of Jane Burke and Aaron Tulin, our workshop hosts, and thanks to Mary Ann Hindes, Education Chair and workshop coordinator, we had the opportunity to learn many new skills.

At first glance this seemed a simple process — it is a birdhouse, isn’t it?  However, carefully measuring and following instructions turned out to be a challenge for the students and the instructors’ patience!  Plus, most of us had never used a drill press or a miter saw. After a serious safety talk, we don our safety glasses and ear protectors and put the power equipment to work to construct our cedar birdhouses.

After we completed the cutting and scored foot holds for our feathered friends to easily access their home,  there was more measuring, drilling, re-measuring, and checking the fit before we could raise hammers to assemble our projects.   We had many giggles over how confusing it was to make sure the swing door was not glued close and the spacer was in place to provide ventilation.  Finally, it was ready for the roof cap and pictures of our finished houses!

The only step not completed was deciding on where in our garden to place our new home for our chickadee and titmouse friends. Following the workshop, a tour of Jane’s garden gave us many ideas on finding the perfect spot!

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Introduction to Digital Photography Workshop – May 29, 2013

Photo workshop  Many of us have entered pictures in the annual GCMGA photography contest, but knew we could have gotten the photo shot just a little better. Many of us have wanted to enter pictures, but didn’t feel confident that our pictures were contest quality. Thanks to Don Stewart and Mary Bachner, Gwinnett Master Gardeners and talented photographers, we had the opportunity to improve our photography skills.

Don and Mary conducted a very thorough photography workshop that provided a high level overview of digital photography.  We learned many tips for taking great photographs—including rule of thirds, using leading lines, trying different perspectives, and making the most of light and dealing with shadows.  

Don and Mary highlighted the features and benefits of various cameras, so we will be more informed in selecting the right camera for our personal photography goals.  Of course, one of of biggest obstacles in photography is understanding our camera.  We learned about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, quality settings, resolution and size as well as sensors and camera modes.  We were given tips on getting good exposure, ensuring a sharp picture, and how to make our subject stand out—or stop them in motion! 

The next step is to process these wonderful digital pictures to their greatest advantage.  To help us, Dona and Mary provided an overview of available software and a list of references and sources for even more information.  

Armed with this wealth of information and the determination to capture that “perfect” photo moment, there will certainly be even more tough competition in the GCMGA Photo Contest this year!

“Trash to Treasures Yard Art” Workshop – April 29, 2013

Gwinnett Master Gardener Terri Erwin and her husband Allen graciously offered their home, garden, and expertise to show us some ways to create yard art while helping the environment by recycling.

To start the workshop we enjoyed a tour of Terri and Allen’s amazing garden to see examples of recycling and get ideas.  We were wowed by arbors and hand rails made with tree roots from downed trees, concrete from a broken driveway stained to look like natural stones (fooled us), refurbished furniture that had been discarded by someone who could not see it’s potential, and the list goes on and on!

After getting our creative jump start, we put our hands to work to design our own unique stepping stone.  Using cake pans, flower pots, water trays and concrete mix we set the forms for our project.  After a brief setting period for the concrete, we became artists in our own rights.  Using stones, colored glass, plaques, and tiles for decorations our individuality became apparent.  While our stepping stones dried, we were given a special treat — an opportunity to dig  for native ferns and iris from the garden.

Our prized stepping stones and plants are a fond memory of a wonderful time spent with a great group of Gwinnett Master Gardeners and friends!

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