Gardening is a relationship and boy am I getting in deep! I don't know if it is the stage of life I'm in, genetics, or just living in Minnesota but I am falling in love with caring for plants.
During a long Minnesota winter, green life indoors is just so helpful. And when the snow melts and the sun comes out in the spring, I just about die of happiness to see little green sprouts in my garden. The girls and I have started the habit of going out after breakfast to “check on our plants." In the early spring, we would see what was coming up, and now we can see what is blooming! I tell them the name of each plant and we talk about the flowers. And I have two good helpers for watering!
When we re-sided the house in 2009, we tore out all the existing shrubs (they were nothing to speak of) and started fresh. So everything has been done from scratch. Slowly, very slowly, things are filling in. Lots of moving around, trial and error, free plants from family and friends, and a few dead plants (so sad) and I'm finally getting some momentum.
Let me take you on a tour (especially since we just freshened the mulch for the first time in five years)!
Our house is shaped like a brick with no dimension, bump-outs, or anything really architecturally interesting. So I am trying to create interest in the landscaping, but it is slow going!
This section by the garage is mostly shaded and filled with hosta donated from my mom's garden. She has SUCH a green thumb. She also passed along some spiderwort and coral bells that are so pretty for height and color. The hosta have grown so quickly that I probably need to split and spread them out soon.
This might be the first year that I am fairly happy with our front, especially the area by the door. I planted the two dogwood shrubs in 2011, I think, and they are growing in nicely. I love the variegated leaves.
I extended the beds to curve next to the front walkway and filled them in with daylilies. They bloom yellow, which looks nice against the gray house. I brought one of my snake plants out and plunked it in the planter under the mailbox—I will bring it back inside for the winter. The yellow chair was from my in-laws and I think it is so interesting and pretty. You can see I am not very good about putting back the hose. The mailman probably loves me for that.
Our concrete steps and walkway are in pretty sorry shape, and the brick planter is built in so we have to work with it. I painted it white a few years back, and this year, I planted it with sweet potato vine to extend out the front and pink zinnias I started from seed. This spot gets lots of sun and I hope they do well! I am big on pink flowers and I prioritize anything that I can cut and bring inside.
Around the side yard, I have irises, a very nice perennial geranium, and lots of peonies gifted from my cousin-in-law, Crissy.
I also plant my tomatoes right next to the flowers because this is south facing. My friend Gretchen called that a “cottage garden" and I think that sounds lovely!
I started my tomatoes from seed this year (very un-Amy), and planted way too many. I enjoyed giving some away to friends, but I still had lots so I sold them on Craigslist for a buck each. I had some takers and almost covered my costs. It made me feel like a pioneer woman or something! :)
(Obligatory peony shot.)
As far as annuals go, I've learned a few things. First, I love pink. Namely, pink wave petunias.
Second, you can stretch your dollars by buying inexpensive hanging baskets and then replanting the flowers in your own pots. This year, I found a really nice-looking hanging basket of wave petunias at Aldi for $6. It had tons of blooms. The basket was pretty plain but it didn't matter since I just wanted the flowers. For comparison, I also bought a six pack of wave petunias at Bachman's for $10...and I am pretty sure the Aldi basket had more plants in it. So just think outside the box. Or outside the hanging basket. ;)
Here's what I did with the wave petunias.
Some went in this big planter with a pentas (also from Aldi), some white petunias, and another sweet potato vine to spill over the edge. Some went in this hanging planter from IKEA. That's another thing I've learned with annuals—they can get so expensive, so I prioritize putting them where I can see them a lot, even from inside. High visual satisfaction, you know? Plus, seeing them reminds me to water them often. These two planters are right outside the patio door, so we can see them from the kitchen table.
And some went in this cute Crate & Barrel pot my sister gave me. I filled it in with primroses that I also started from seed. They will bloom yellow, I think.
Again, the concrete around our house isn't in the best shape, and that includes the patio. But is is super functional for chalk drawing! And easy to hose down after a meal with kids. Silver lining.
Almost done. Last summer, I cut in this new bed and I just got it planted and mulched this week. I used some daylilies and hosta from the front, but I also bought a new white peony, some English daisies, and a few beautiful pink lupine plants (one is blooming—it looks like a bottle brush). My generous mother-in-law gave me a Bachman's gift card and I put it to good use. And the wind catcher was a birthday gift from my parents! Isn't it cool?
We've made so much progress and it really feels good. Working outside in the dirt is so satisfying! And seeing things grow! But the last thing I have to show you isn't quite so lovely. We've got an exquisite weed garden (not that kind of weed garden) growing next to the patio. I've got an idea for this space but I take forever to pull the trigger. Maybe I'll have an update for you later this summer. It was one of my house goals for 2016, after all!
Thanks for joining me on our garden tour!