Sunday, May 8, 2016

Redoing the garage bed. Again. Part 2

Happy mother's day to me! Today we worked on finishing up the garage bed. 

Since my ankle was still sore and stiff, H went and rototilled out all the old vegetation. It already looks a million times better.
Then we went to our local garden center to get the plants.

After lunch, H ran to the hardware store to get more leveling sand and I got to work putting the plants in, leveling the spot for the rain barrel, and mulching the bed.

A couple hours later and voila:

Items planted: 3 daylilies "White Temptation", 3 boxwood "Green Velvet", 3 siberian irises "Kaboom" and "Caesar's Brother", 3 Shasta Daisies "Real Charmer", 2 raspberry bushes "Heritage", and 2 blueberry bushes "Patriot" and "Peach Sorbet".

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Redoing the garage bed. Again

The awesome thing about gardening is you can just Etch-a-Sketch erase things when you want. This photo may look familiar, as we'd redone the bed back in 2009 after Eric dug up all the hollyhocks (still hasn't lived that down).

Well, for better or worse, the bed needed to be re-done again. We wanted to expand the landing and then re-create the outline to what was drawn up on the backyard plan. So up came all the bricks.
The above was where we left things before heading off to G's soccer game. When we came back, I went to go look at the naked stoop and found this.

Some digging out and here's the rotted board.

So H was sent to the hardware store to buy a new footer to support the garage door step and then G and I installed it, adding gravel beneath it so that it wasn't touching raw dirt.

While waiting for H to get back, I edged out the new bed line and dug up the sod.

Once H was back I went about tamping down the gravel, added a couple layers of weed block, and then put down sand and then the bricks. Unfortunately we ran out of sand, so we couldn't completely finish it up.

Additionally, I managed to injure my ankle while using the manual edger. So it was time to put my feet up anyway, literally and figuratively.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My new tulips!

I purchased a large bag last fall and planted a few just to see how they look. Yay!

Friday, April 8, 2016

April in WI

My daffodils are pissed.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Minor curb appeal

Every now and then I like tackling an outside project not related to gardening.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

More home improvements

Master Bathroom

Back in January I re-did our bathroom. As I stated in that post, I wanted to put a shelf or two above the towel bar over the toilet.
10 months later, I finally did. Voila!
I knew I wanted to move my makeup and stuff out onto the shelf - both to have it accessible and to move it out of the way of little hands. But the top drawer of the 3 drawer set was previously home to kid medicine.
I'm a big believer in repurposing existing items. So I did some re-arranging, cleaning out of old supplies that I no longer use (Velcro curlers? Adios!). I had another mostly empty bin that I moved our first aid supplies into, then moved the kids' medication into where the first aid supplies were. This actually works better because it makes our first aid kit mobile. It also completely freed up the top shelf in our closet.

Kids' Bathroom

Several years ago, I re-did our "guest" bathroom. Took down a bulky, largely useless medicine cabinet and put up a train shelf and a glass display shelf. And for the past 6 or 7 years, it's worked well.
But the kids have gotten bigger, accumulated more stuff, etc. It had ceased to really function well. We were storing towels in G's room, other towels in C's room, lotions in another spot, etc..
So! In went a new shelf where the train shelf was for towel storage. I purchased a tank basket for bath and grooming supplies. Then I moved the train shelf up.
Again, repurposing the existing shelves. I could go and spent lots of money on brand new shelves, but why? 
I'm not sure what will go up on the 2nd shelf yet. Maybe extra bath toy storage. But now at least we have it..
The glass shelf got moved to the wall next to the door. Or will when C wakes up from his nap.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

New books

When not actively gardening, I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Primarily to continue to evolve our landscape plan. In addition to the backyard, we now have two beds out front that need to be addressed.
Here's a quick run down of my latest reads.
  • Landscaping Ideas that Work by Julie Moir Messervy
  • Landscaping with Native Plants of Wisconsin by Lynn M. Steiner
  • The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals and Bulbs by Tracy DiSabato-Aust
  • Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place and Spirit by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden
  • The New American Landscape: Leading Voices on the Future of Sustainable Gardening by Various Authors
  • Outside the Not So Big House: Creating the Landscape of Home by Julie Moir Messervy and Sarah Susanka
  • Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love by Julie Moir Messervy
My favorite book of the bunch is Plant-Driven Design. It really resonated with my thinking and approach to what I want to create - not just a nice space to live and play, but something that also takes into consideration the plants I want to put in. The whole focus of the book is to ditch the "outdoor room" paradigm and to treat the landscape as a living thing. Which sounds a bit self-evident, but if you spend any time watching HGTV or DIY Network, you see what they mean.

The other thing I really liked about this book is the approach they bring to the "native" vs. "exotic" debate. The thinking being that, yes, priority can and should be given to so-called native plants. But that we should be realistic about what "native" actually means in most North American regions - especially in northern states like Wisconsin. And that, if a naturalized plant or exotic can serve just as well or better than a native specimen, then it should not be excluded just because it does not qualify as a native plant.

I still have a fair amount of homework to do, especially with regards to the front yard. I think I have reached a design for the west side of our backyard that I like - that expands upon what we've already done and adds in new ideas we've had. Out front, though, I'm really not sure where to start.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The importance of light

One of the things I learned early on when designing our yard is the importance of light when making plant and location choices. A shady area can be made brighter by the right plant - even without flowers. And lovely plants can look dull and scraggly if exposed to the wrong type and angle of light. Here's a few examples

This white phlox is pretty enough, but when hit by the afternoon sun it positively glows.
Feather reed grass seed heads in the sun create a more striking display than those I have in the shade
Already a bright yellow, black-eyed susans exposed to afternoon light look like they're on fire.
In shady areas I use evergreen plants in a bright yellow color to create the illusion of light and create a focal point in a planting bed.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

More photos from July

With guest appearance by C.
I purchased two new Adirondack chairs for the yard. I tucked them into the curve of the bean bed.
Also blooming now: coneflower, almost black eyed Susan and some of my phlox
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