Gloria’s Glass Garden by Barb
Tell me a little about yourself…
Hi…I’m a Design teacher at a local high school. While I teach everything that’s art, and I love it all, glass is my favorite–cutting it, soldering it, fusing it, weaving it, and soon I’ll be learning how to electroform it!
How did you get involved with gardening?
I used to help my father with gardening when I was a little girl. I loved all the different stages of blooming flowers, and of course the scents! So when I bought a house about 10 years ago, I started a flower garden in front by planting some perennials and supplementing with some annuals. It was pretty expensive that year!
Do you have any advice for others interested in starting a garden?
On the internet I found a lot of advice…plant taller flowers at the rear…keep adding perennials every year as you can afford them…for instant color, fill in with annuals–all great advice and easy to do! Now I have so many perennials that my garden is practically self-sustaining! I only buy annuals now, and spend less than $50 each season.
What do you get out of gardening and creating gardening products?
One day I saw a butterfly feeder in a catalog, and thought I could make my own with stained glass. I was getting a lot of birds and butterflies by this time…So I made a mold, cut out some glass, and slumped it in a kiln. My next challenge was to design some way of securing it and raising it in the garden. After 4 prototypes, I hit on the perfect beautiful design, which is what I use now for the feeders.
I can only fuse them one at a time, since each brand of glass and even each color within a brand has its own ideal time to be in the kiln.
I placed several in my garden, filling the butterfly feeders with overripe banana bits, or moist sand. The hummingbird feeders I filled with a tiny sponge and some nectar. The great thing about the feeders is that they hold about a day’s supply of nectar, so it can always be fresh, and the glass can be flushed out with water and a Q-tip to be cleaned without ever removing it. This was great, since with traditional hummingbird feeders it was such a chore to remove and clean them, and on very hot days, I had to throw away nectar because it goes bad so quickly.
Pretty soon I started moving them around…if I had a bare spot, where the flowers hadn’t bloomed yet, I would relocate a feeder there. And then my neighbors and friends noticed and asked me to make some for them.
Long story short…I had a business! Then my customers started asking for bird baths, so I began making them also.
What’s your most favorite feature of your garden or product? What’s the best aspect of your garden to you?
My garden is just outside my kitchen window, so I sit there at various times during the day. You wouldn’t believe how much you can learn about the bird species and butterflies when you watch them day after day! I bought a bird watching book, too. Even in the winter, with snow on the ground, they come. It’s free entertainment!
What’s your favorite plant and why?
My favorite flower is definitely milkweed. I was in a garden show a few years ago that was held outdoors. I was walking around, taking a break, when I noticed this most wonderful perfume scent in the air. I looked around and no one was anywhere near me. So I went up to the nearest flower, which happened to be a milkweed, and that was it! I promptly purchased one.
The first year I had just that one. The second year, there were three. The third year, there were nine…and so on. Now I have to pull them so they don’t take over. But what I like best about this plant, other than the fact that it smells gorgeous it attracts Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds, is the surprising flower! It’s on a single stem that is 4-5 ft. tall, and the bloom is a sphere about 4 inches in diameter composed of lots of tiny mini-flowers that radiate from the center! It’s very pale lavender in color, and fades to white eventually, but each one lasts several weeks.
Why do others need to get involved with gardening aside from replenishing the earth, saving and providing an environment to foster insect and animal life and beautification of the Earth?
When I first put in my garden, I saw lots of different butterflies and hummingbirds. I still have lots of hummingbirds, finches, and the occasional oriole, but butterflies have become exceedingly scarce. I worry about that…however, my customers who live in more rural areas are still getting butterflies, so I have hope!