Sunday, April 22, 2012

The South Side

The South Side: The south side of the house gets the most sun and has the most varieties of plants. This is also the side of the house that has the water spigot, so it is a little easier to care for the plants on this side of the house. The flower beds run the entire length of the house and the only divider is a fence that marks the separation of the back yard from the side yard.

As I have stated before, we (mostly my husband) planted outside the existing beds because it was so late and we couldn’t tell what plants/weeds were where. Additionally, the boy really wanted to put in a garden walk so he started digging a big spot were he later laid down some bricks. This wasn’t the best path and I have since removed it, but since the grass here was gone I decided that I would plant some annuals there and just make it part of the flower garden.

Now back to the existing discussion on edging. I probably will say this a million times in my lifetime, but I really do like to define my spaces! So I tossed a question out to my Facebook friends and family about what I should use for an edging. Some people made suggestions, but not many. So I figured it was time to get creative (and frugal). To mark the newly defined edge, the boy and I gathered all the random bricks from around the house (some ours and some the landlords). We used the bricks to mark where we wanted the edge of the expanded garden bed. Well…. Turns out, I really like the random bricks as the edge of the space! The bricks are mostly red in color – some are pavers, some are building bricks, and some I am not sure about (some with 3 hole and some with 8 holes). We placed the bricks in a random pattern and built a curved garden edge.

One of the neighbors walked by last week and commented on all the work we had been doing in the past month. She complimented the way things were starting to come together. Since I had her attention, I asked her about the ‘artsy’ look of the brick edging. She thought it looked great and loved the recycled aspect of it as well! So, with one neighbor’s approval, I think I will keep the edging as it is. I still need to get my hands on a dozen or two more bricks, but I think I can manage.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The West Side

The West Side: The back of the house faces west. I actually have three different areas on the back side of the house. One is right behind the house, the second actually faces north, but I still include it in the back of the house because it is behind the garage, and the third area faces west and runs the length of the garage.

Area One: There isn’t a whole lot planted back here (YET). Prior to us moving in, the landlady planted two blueberry bushes and some chives, but I don’t see much else coming up yet. We planted our raspberry bush between the blueberry bushes. So this might end up being defined as our Fruit Garden; however, I have since learned raspberries like a lot of sun and preferably not late day sun… so depending on how the blueberries and raspberries do this year, they might end up transplanted to the south side of the house (somewhere??). Yipes. I may have to consider creating another bed along the fence that divides the side and back yards. Hmmm, now that is something to consider! Otherwise if they do well enough where they are, I will add some strawberry plants to the Fruit Garden next year! In addition to the fruit bushes, we planted some tulips and iris back here. The tulips were planted in front of the fruit bushes (mostly because it was very, very late in the season and my husband was not sure where things were planted – weeds and plants look a lot alike after a hard freeze in the fall). Since the tulips were planted in front of the bushes the garden bed has been reshaped – going from a parallel line along the house to an undefined geometric shape… I like to define edges even if I don’t know what the official shape is supposed to be, so I grabbed a bunch of broken bricks (from under the back deck) and set them where I thought the edge of the bed should be. Now I know where to weed and where to mow! As a bonus, I actually like the look of the broken bricks, so I might try and make that a more permanent edge for this space.

Area Two: The only thing I have seen growing here are some ground cover and weeds. I have no idea what I would plant here and have little interest in this area since we spend such little time on this side of the yard (and I have no interest in increasing the time we spend here).

Area Three: I think this was only a bed of rocks last year. It is a very narrow bed that sits between the back of the garage and a sidewalk that wraps around the house. The sidewalk has to be accessible for the neighbors (their mailbox is at the front of our garage), so if anything gets planted here it will have to be something that stays small and doesn’t creep too much. We did plant a fern, a couple of hosta and some iris just to get them in the ground, but I am not sure these plants will stay here forever. Just like Area Two, we don’t spend anytime back here, so I have no burning desire to put a lot of time into these flower beds this year.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The North Side

The North Side: On the north side of the house there is a narrow flower bed between the garage and a sidewalk, so I simply re-defined the existing edge along the sidewalk. The north side was probably the easiest to edge and will be the least amount of work going forward. The only thing that is growing there are Lily’s of the Valley (which I love!!). There is also a window box with four spots for flower pots…. I will be adding some impatiens when they are available at the garden centers.

I wonder if adding impatiens is enough to make it look amazing or if I need to mix things up a bit. It has been several years since I have had a shady place to plant flowers. Thoughts?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The East Side

The East Side: The front of the house faces east. The south-east side of the front door should get sun most of the morning, while the north-side of the front door will probably get only early morning sun. We have two bushes that flank the front door.
On the north-east side (and wrapping around to the north side of the sun porch) the flower bed is filled with Lily’s of the Valley (which I love!!). Much like the north side of the house, I think this area will be very low maintenance and little effort!

On the south-east side we have tulips (two different colors – red and white) and several hosta plants (I think there are three different kinds, but not sure since we planted some and some were already planted). The south-east corner of the house is anchored with a bunch of my favorite rocks (yes, we have moved these rocks each time we move *about 3-4 different moves over the past 10 years*). In between these rocks are some Lily’s of the Valley (which I love!!) and in front of the rocks is my giant leafed hosta plant.

We planted around 70 tulip bulbs last year (in different spots around the house). I think I will add another 70 or so this fall and maybe some daffodils too. Now that I have seen the beds in the spring, I have a better idea of where we can plant them and not disturb existing plants.

The dilemma is in defining the edge of the garden space. The north-east side is edged with a sidewalk, so there is nothing to consider with that; however, the south-east side is not defined. I like symmetry and would like the house to look balanced. That being said, when you stand in front of the house the garage is on your right and is attached to the house (so it isn’t symmetrical if you consider the addition of the garage). But, I don’t consider the garage and then the house is perfectly beautifully symmetrical (no I have not measure per se, but it looks symmetrical to me and I would like to keep it that way). I don’t have the same plants on both sides of the front door, which I am okay with, but I would like the appearance of balance and symmetry when one looks at the house from the road. So back to the dilemma, do I add an edging to the flower bed on the south-east side of the front of the house or not?

My thoughts – I actually think I will wrap the edging from the south side of the house around to the front and see if that works for me. I will post more about the south side of the house in a couple of days after I share about the north and west sides of the house…

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting everything ready... Defining the space(s)

As I posted earlier, we moved in September of last year. The house we moved into already had a bunch of perennials and some wonderful window boxes (I will be filling these with annuals in May). We also moved a bunch of our own flowers, so the flower gardens should be exciting to watch as they come alive all summer long!

Since we didn’t know exactly what was planted where and we didn’t want to disturb the existing flowers, we made several sections of the beds bigger to accommodate the flowers we moved last October. This has made for an interesting spring thus far – full of fun surprises and interesting challenges.

The first challenge was setting up the 4x4 garden boxes. We share a backyard with our neighbors, so we wanted to minimize the impact the garden squares would have on all of our yard usage. We knew approximately where the boxes would go, but without knowing the sun/shade patterns for the summer we had to make some educated guesses as to the best location. Ultimately we decided to stager them in a mini-checkerboard pattern on the east side of the back yard (see photo). This should give us room to mow around the boxes and allow for easy access to garden square, without taking up too much of the yard.

The second challenge was to re-define the edges of the flower beds. There are indications that the beds were straight and ran parallel to the house (beds on all four sides which is nice), but the edge between garden and lawn was natural with no defined edges. As I mentioned earlier, we kind of added to the size of the flower beds instead of trying to plant in the existing space. Details on what we did to each side of the house will be posted over the next few days!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It is SPRING and I am eager to get things moving in the garden!

So eager in fact, that a few weeks ago when the temperatures were continuously in the 70’s I might have gotten a little over zealous; but, no more so than Mother Nature herself.

About two weekends ago, we got our three little raised beds ready for planting. We mixed a bunch of 'Mel’s Mix' and filled the tall (12 inches tall) 4x4 raised bed. Then went and purchased the ingredients to fill the two shorter 4x4 beds (each 6 inches tall).

Later that weekend, we planted our peas, onion sets, and seed potatoes (some in the 12inch box and some in a special potato planter I picked up at the big box store). Since the weather was STILL warm later that week, I planted 4 romaine lettuce plants, 4 bibb lettuce plants, 4 broccoli plants, 4 brussel spout plants, and 1 rosemary plant. (see diagrams below for locations). I also have spinach growing in a pot on the front steps.

Well, now the temperature has dropped and is below average! The past two nights the low temperatures have fallen below freezing! I covered all the plants the past two nights and will cover them again tonight (there is a frost warning, but it should only get down to 32°). Hopefully everything I planted and everything Mother Nature has nudged to grow earlier than usual will survive this week’s low temperatures.

I have faith that Mother Nature would not allow plants to grow and get flower buds if she was only going to kill those buds with a hard freeze. But who knows – time will tell.