Monday, December 17, 2012

garden update - plants!

I followed the plan and waited a full year before I started planting anything of permanence in my yard. I'm glad I waited.  I have wildflowers in unexpected places, and I now know that sunlight is a precious and rare commodity.  Most of my yard is what is considered not just shade, but deep shade. 

As soon as my year was up, I started on the Rock Garden, and Bird Garden.  I had already added edging here, broken up the soil (quite a chore), worked in compost, mulched, and tried a few annuals.(more)  In the process, I've learned a lot about this space. 

May 2012
December 2012

The impatiens did OK, (I think some were diseased) and the basil I planted in the tree stumps was no where near as successful as I'm used to.  Oh well, no more pesto for me this year.  Lesson learned, shade it is.

Deep shade or not, I'm really excited about this garden for next year...I just have to be choosy in my plant selections.  This area gets winter and some spring sun, but is mostly shade by summer.  Since we have already done some legwork here, I was able to start planting this fall. I added Christmas Roses (hellebore) and Hostas in between the hollow tree stumps, and planted Pansies in the stumps.

Look at the plants not the paint. I promise the house is going to be painted soon.

This spring I will replace the Pansies with impatiens.

But aren't they so pretty for now?

I also have some woodland poppies and money plants near my back door that I can't wait to see how they do next year.   This area will eventually become the kitchen garden, but all I have done in this area so far is weed and a little mulching.

Where the Rock Garden turns into the Bird Garden there is a singular spot that gets some morning  sun in the summer.  I planted a butterfly bush in this spot, and it seems to be doing well.  I'm excited to have some color here next summer.  Butterfly bushes can get huge, so I'm hoping that this one will get just enough sun to bloom, but still keep the size under control. 

The back side of my house is the area that I see everyday, as I come and go through the kitchen rather than my front door.  I've also started working on the sideyard, more on that soon :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

garden update - is it spring yet?

We've only had a few days of cold weather, and I'm already looking forward to that bad?  (I do love snow, but cold without snow is just not something I enjoy.)

Maybe it's because I'm really excited about spring at my house, specifically in the yard.  Last year was my first spring in my great grandmother's house.  It was pretty without me having to do anything, but it was very overgrown.  I loved it, but as my mom put it, 'it's a good thing you don't have neighbors who can see your yard.'  Ouch.  Over the past year we've done a lot of cleaning up, and I think spring is going to be fantastic this year. 

Since it's been a while since I've given you an update on my yard and my garden, I decided I would bombard you with garden posts for the next few days.  I hope you don't mind.  This is more for me than for most of you, but I know I'm pretending that you secretly want to know too.

Project # 1 Mulch
The biggest project of late was mulch.  It may not sound like a lot, but I think we unloaded 4 truckloads of mulch.  At some point I stopped counting and just kept shoveling.  The path to the pond was overgrown, and the beds around the house looked like they have been neglected for the past 20-30 years.  The dirt is hard and dry, and not suitable for much of anything without some serious TLC.

Luckily, utility crews were trimming near my parents house, and a neighbor who worked on the crew asked if they wanted mulch.  They said yes, and got over 10 dump truck loads of raw tree mulch...we're talking piles and piles of free mulch.  Accepting this kind of mulch is risky, since it can be a mix of anything and everything, but this looked good enough to use around my house.

The good thing and the bad thing about raw mulch is that it as it decomposes it kills everything underneath it.  This made it perfect for the path to the pond, and near the rock foundation of my house (the ivy is gone, and I want it to stay that way).   It took almost 2 truckloads to do the path to the pond, and the rest has gone around the house.  I protected the existing plants with older mulch, and used the raw mulch to fill in between.  I also put down cardboard in the areas that were weed or ivy prone before I added mulch, just to be safe.

You can see the darker mulch with a thin layer of raw mulch on top.

The plan here is to let the mulch decompose and have mother nature do her thing before I try and really work here. This gives me some time to focus on other areas and feel good knowing that when I'm ready to dig in here, it will be a lot easier. It already looks so much better having the beds defined and the weeds gone!

So much nicer seeing where the beds will be.
I'll be using rocks to define this edge more

While we were working on the mulch, we also took care of some drainage issues.  I'm not sure why the downspout drains were running uphill, (since my house is on top of a hill), but they were, and that was easily corrected.  My house can get a little damp, and this should go a long way towards correcting that problem.

It's always good for the water to flow away from the house.

The mulch has made a world of a difference, without violating my rule of observing for a year before I started planting anything.  

I have been busy, so look for more posts the next few days while I get caught up!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

o christmas tree

I love Christmas.  I love the lights, the decorations, all of it. Since this is only my second Christmas in my new house, and last year I had just moved in, I don't have a lot in the way of decorations, and everything is either a hand me down or homemade.

What I do have are lights and a tree...and they're awesome.

My porch lights are so awesome that they stay up all year and are a feature of my Sunday night porch nights.

My tree is also fairly fantastic.  This year's tree is not quite as epic as last years 'go big or go home tree,'  but with a little help from my friends, I did cut it from the yard, and I love it.  It has a more traditional Christmas tree shape and still reaches the top of my ten foot ceilings.

The comedic value of last year's tree was enhanced by how sparsely it was decorated.  This year I've gone to the other extreme, and most branches have 3 or 4 colorful ornaments each.  Seriously.  It's wonderful.  Plus 75% of the ornaments on the tree are older than I am, which I think is pretty hysterical.  Apparently pink & blue & sparkle was what Christmas in the 70's was all about.
The only question I have left about my tree is whether to go all out and add vintage silver icicles to my know, the tacky, messy kind.  What do you think, too much or perfect?
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