The Growing Season

Front2Today I thought I’d share how the front flower bed and rain gardens are looking this season.  The perennials from previous plantings have slowly been coming in and I’ve added a few new items as well to get the front beds going for the season, although like most other things around here, it’s a work in progress. (On that note, pretend you don’t see that crazy hose situation going on in the foreground there.  Our expandable hose bit the dust last season and unfortunately we haven’t figured out a good system for storing the long hoses we replaced it with just yet so they stay coiled in this pile for daily use for now.)

The first thing that showed up was this amazing allium, which sprouted and then produced a long stalk with a odd shaped bud at the top.  At first I thought an alien had taken up residence in my flower bed, but thanks to the local garden group I was able to identify it and enjoy watching it blossom.

FrontAllium2

FrontAllium

We moved the rain barrel out of the small corner next to the garage so it can be used in the backyard with a gutter so the space needed a bit of rearranging.  I filled the void from the rain barrel with white iris from my mother-in-law’s garden that I brought back when we picked up Brinley and added some phlox between that and the hosta that has come back much better than it did last year.  The phlox is doing quite well and has doubled in size since I planted it, so I’m pretty sure it’s happy there.  I’m also loving the metal hearts I added on the wall, which will look even better when the plants grow up and fill some of the empty space below them.

None of the previous plantings on the other side of the walkway came back so I took the opportunity to try something new – an anemone and a sea pink armeria.  The armeria reminds me of a Dr. Seuss plant, but hasn’t rebloomed since I deadheaded spent blooms, so I might need to find a better spot for it.

FrontCorner

The anemone is doing very well, although upon closer inspection last night I noticed aphids so I’ll have to address that.  It’s been a horrible season for pests so I’m checking out every DIY remedy available online.

FrontAnenome

I moved our little wooden moose statute into the corner to hide a cable that comes out of the garage wall until the plants grow in and do that on their own.  In the opposite corner next to the porch, I paired this metal sphere and piece of driftwood for a fun little garden vignette.

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There are more spheres on the far end of the bed on the other side of the porch.  This space got several new plants including daisies, lupine, yarrow and day lilies transplanted from my mother-in-law’s garden.

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The daisies got a little wild as they started to grow in so I used some of rusty cement stakes to create a little support system for them.  I’m hoping they go to seed at the end of the season and self-sow an even bigger crop next year.

FrontDaisy

Mr. Frog found a nice little resting spot next to a big piece of driftwood in the back of the bed.  He’s sorely in need of a paint job but I think I’ll let him be this season and address that next year since I love his colors in this spot.

FrontFrog

I filled the whiskey barrels on the stoop with dusty miller and purple alyssum, which has been slowly growing in.  Beyond that there is white alyssum in wire and burlap pots on each side on the first step, with purple daisies in rustic metal pails on the top step.  Those extra pots you spot hanging out on the porch are awaiting new homes in the gifted garden along the side of the house.  Before that can happen I need to weed that bed and make a bit of room for them.

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The rain garden is coming along quite well, and without much effort on my part, which is my kind of garden.  I moved the tall obelisk we got at the Great Junk Hunt last year to this space for some height at the back of the garden and really like it here.  I plan to transplant a lilac in the gifted garden to that same spot at the end of the season so it has more room to spread out, which will hide a large section of the tire wall. 🙂

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The clematis on either side of the garden weren’t growing in to cover the tire wall as I’d hoped so I decided to give them a bit of guidance with temporary tape.  One side is looking fairly lush and seems to have adapted well, but the other side is still a bit sparse.  I may add a third and forth clematis along the back wall next year if I don’t see much growth by then.

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The chives I planted out here at the end of last season when cleaning out the garden box are doing well and have actually bloomed.

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The mint from our herb planter last year is also coming in quickly.

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This mystery plant in the front of the garden is growing quite rapidly, but I haven’t been able to confirm what it is just yet.

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I was surprised to discover the vinca vine I planted when we first did the rain garden had come back in after it showed little signs of life last summer.  Next to it the spikewell is quite lush although it hasn’t shown any buds yet.

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The water iris are slowly growing, but I’m thinking they may not bloom again this year.

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But the large clumps of iris that came from our friend’s yard in Seward have finally started blooming!  In fact almost every plant has several blooms opening on it!

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The other two lilacs that were at the back of the garden have been relocated to either side of the garden so they have room to establish and spread out without crowding each other.  I still need to clean up the areas around them but at least they have their own space now.

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RGLilac

The lambs ear from my mother-in-law’s garden survived the winter after transplant and has grown taller, so I’m hopeful it will continue to grow and create more shoots.

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Here’s the view from the driveway of the whole scene.  The pile of rocks in the foreground are headed for our new rock garden and there are small batches of ground cover along the front that will eventually grow in to cover the slope.

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Between the house and the rain garden lies the raspberry patch, which is coming along nicely.  I pruned back the dead branches to encourage the new branches to produce which worked well since we have lush growth on the stalks and numerous white buds on each plant so we’re on track for a bountiful harvest.

We also added a haskap bush in front of the raspberries.  Haskaps are similar to blue berries, but are better suited for our climate.  Hopefully we’ll harvest those to accompany the raspberries in our summer time desserts.

Raspberries

The hubs also rigged up the big water tank you see in the background to gravity feed the soaker hose in the raspberry patch, which has been super convenient on the occasional hot sunny day.  I’ve decided to let the fireweed that’s encroaching on the raspberry patch be for now since both are fairly dominant and should fight each other out.  Plus it blocks out the ferns and other undergrowth that would like to spread out from the woods just beyond and if something going to spread I’d rather have fireweed than a thorny Nuka Rose!

Hopefully I’ll get the gifted garden in shape soon and can share that as well, along with the finished rock garden around the back deck. Stay tuned for those updates and a few other little projects in between. 🙂

A Little Update Out Front

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Now that summer is here it was time to get the front porch and flower beds in order.  I started with the porch, which just needed a little cleanup and a few accessories.  A citronella candle and a cute little cast iron frog I’ve had for years were a great fit for the milkcan table by the rocker.

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As one of very few shady spots in the yard, the porch was the perfect place for some inpatients.  I used an old ceramic crock that fit in the small spot next to the front door.

FrontPorchImpatients

Since the crock didn’t have any drainage I placed a small disposable pot inside before adding soil.

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I did something similar in the large whiskey barrel planters just off the porch.  The hubs drilled a couple drainage holes in both, but I wanted to reduce how much soil it would take to to fill them so I filled the bottoms with plastic containers from our recycle bin.

FrontWhiskeyBarrelFill

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You’d never know all of that is in there looking at them all planted.

FrontWhiskeyBarrelFinished And they do a great job of attracting butterflies!

FrontButterflyI filled two metal buckets on the steps with dusty miller and lobelia for a little contrast.

FrontBucketI did the same combination for planters in front of the garage, which were used on the porch last season.

FrontSmallPotFinishedI searched for several weeks to find a third green planter to match the ones we already had but could only find a larger version which I placed between the two garage doors.

FrontBigPotFinished

Since it was so large I placed an empty bucket in the bottom to conserve soil once again.

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I also added some pieces of sponge in the top layer of soil to help the plants retain moisture between waterings.

FrontBigPotSpongesI just tucked them down in the soil as I planted.

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The perennials in the front beds were the slowest to return this year and I’m convinced that the landscape fabric we used was the reason, so I tore it all out.  While doing so, I found a couple of plants  that did get trapped under the fabric as they started to grow so hopefully now that they’ve been freed they will come in properly.

FrontFlowerbedSmallAnd to finish it all off I added a few patriotic pieces like this garden flag and fun door hanging.

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There’s still a bit I’d like to do out here, but for now it’s ready for summer!

My Gifted Garden

No, I don’t have a magical super smart garden. I’m just lucky enough to be gifted an entire flower bed of plants, which I’m now calling “my gifted garden.”  Since we purchased a new construction house, we have a LOT of blank space to fill in our yard. I was chatting about this with a co-worker one day a few weeks ago and she asked if I was looking for any perennials to fill my yard. Free plants that will come back bigger and better each year?! You bet I was game! She told me to let her know when I was ready and we’d set a time for me to come to her house and help her “prune” her garden.

I was finally ready to take her up on the offer last week, so we picked an evening after work for me to come by and I showed up with a couple buckets, a shovel and gloves. I was so excited I actually beat her there, but I knew I was at the right house when I drove up and saw this amazing assortment of flowers.

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Just to make sure I rang the doorbell and her husband answered. He was mighty confused when I said I was there for plants! She arrived a few minutes later, changed into yard garb and we set to work with shovels and a stash of plastic bags she brought out to hold the roots.   We chatted about what types of plants grew well and which liked particular exposures as we worked our way up one side of the bed and down the other. She’d ask if I wanted this or that, and I repeated that I’d take whatever she was willing to part with and give it a home to grow.

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By the time we were done the back of my truck was a wall of plants. Both tubs I’d brought were full of bags and I had other bags tucked in between the tubs and on a small tray I had thrown in the truck just in case! And you couldn’t even tell we’d touched her garden!

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Ok, so this IS the same picture as above, but it literally did look exactly the same from the road. It was only if you came in for a closer inspection that you’d see the areas we dug into.

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Once I got everything home, I placed the bags around the flower bed so I could decide final placement for all of them and make sure that I spread things out. I watered everything in the bags since it was getting late and headed for bed. I wasn’t able to get them in the ground for a few more days but I kept watering the roots in the bags and most of the plants seem like they did ok.

Finished

A little fertilizer and some mulch and its done! It will look even better when the hydroseed is done next week and we finally have a lawn too.  I still need to add a line of pea gravel at the back along the house, just like we did out front and add some garden art, but I’m plenty pleased with my gifted garden. I’m anxious to see how it all comes back in next year. I’m hoping most will go to seed, spread a bit and come back even bigger next season. And hopefully, in a few years my gardens will be as established as my co-workers is now and I can ‘gift’ plants to others to continue the chain. 🙂  Here’s a few close ups of the flowers that survived transplant.

Purple

Yarrow

Campanula

Phlox

Daisy

And here we go…

Sorry for “going dark” recently, but we’ve been traveling the AlCan to Portland and back to visit family and bring home my prized 1955 F-100 pick-up. I’ll be posting about the trip soon, but for now I’ll get you caught up on a few projects I didn’t have time to share before our trip.

The biggest was the installation of our first landscaping, two flowerbeds out front! After waiting weeks for the builder to grade our lot without resolution, the plants that had been sitting on my porch in anticipation were in desperate need of a permanent home. So we purchased top soil, mulch and weed fabric and set to work.

Flowerbed1

I marked out the shape I wanted with the hose as a guide. Then the hubs helped me till and level the area.

Flowerbed2

We added a layer of top soil on top of the tilled ground in the area where we planned to plant.

Flowerbed3

Next, we put down the weed fabric and used some large metal staples that came home in a bucket the hubs found for me as pins.

FlowerbedPin

Then we put a section of pea gravel on top of the fabric along the house so when the rain water runs off the roof it doesn’t pool in the bed. Luckily, the hubs was able to get a free supply of gravel that worked out to be just the right amount for this project!

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We also placed large rocks from around the yard along the border.

FlowerbedPrepped

After that, I laid out the plants to decide exactly where I wanted everything. It took a little rearranging to get everything just right, but it was fun trying out different groupings.

FlowerbedFlowers

Once I was happy with the layout, I cut holes in the weed fabric to plant each. The hubs filled in mulch around each plant as I moved on to the next plant.

FlowerbedFinished

We also did a small bed between the porch and the garage, which included a walkway to the hose spigot on the wall. The pavers were a bargain find on a local buy/sell page for just $2/each, so we picked all we could and have a healthy stash for other projects.

FlowerbedSmall

We followed the same process as the larger bed, but included spots for a rain barrel, hose rack and fountain.

FlowerbedSmallFinished

The rain barrel and fountain still need some work, but at least they are in place and prepped. Watch for posts about those and the hose holder soon.

The entire process took about two days – much longer than I estimated, but it was well worth the effort and looks great!  Although the kids played most of the time we were working, they did take a few breaks for naps on the pea gravel which they apparently found quite comfy.

FlowerbedNap

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In retrospect, I probably should have skipped the weed fabric since everything we planted are perennials – hosta, iris, lilies, phlox, dianthus, peony, pincushion flower, lavender and salvia – which will spread with each season, requiring I cut a bigger opening to allow that process. I’ll leave it in place for now and see how it goes. For now, I’m just giddy to have our first plants in the ground.

Iris

Lilly

Lavender

Pincushion

Salvia

Peony

Now I just need to get the rain garden, lawn and veggie garden going! Let the madness of planting begin!