Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pitiful Pearl

I mentioned in my last post that my new little red shrubby replaced a spirea that I probably killed. This spirea:

"What did I do to deserve this?"
 In this picture, you see where I have transplanted my apparently dead little shrub. But maybe it's only mostly dead, which would make it slightly alive! This probably unreasonable optimism has led me to giving it a second chance in a sunnier location, hoping that next spring will see it leafing out anew.

Is this as pointless as appears?  Anyone know?

And then I did THIS!

So after I did all that cleanup in the front yard, I found myself at the garden center.  Of course.  I had a plan for a change: to buy three different evergreens to plant together in the bed by the street. Naturally, I ended up buying those three, plus two other shrubs, three extra junipers, and three perennials.  You'd be surprised what you can fit in a Volkswagen Beetle.

Upon arriving home, I realized that I would have to do some major renovation in order to make space for all my new pals.  In short, all the circled plants would either have to move or go.

Two of the first things I planted at the Little Blue House were these purple
coneflowers and these Shasta daisies. They've gone from two little
singletons to taking over the bed. They had to move.

Last year I thought I was a genius for moving and dividing a bunch of lilies and
yarrow. The bed filled out, yes, but it turned into a real mish-mash, with
everything pretty much overwhelmed by yarrow.  Note to all: never pay money
for yarrow. Come to my house and take some of mine.

So I got out my gloves and Forky and my little trowel, and I dug up all those guys. I confess: some paid with their lives to make my little landscape plan a reality. But I did manage to give away a bunch of lilies and yarrow and even a few peonies. I hate to throw out healthy plants, even if they are taking over the garden.

Then, it was time for the new guys to go in. And after nine hours of digging and planting and transplanting over two days, I ended up with this.

Closeup of new clematis: white, fragrant, and fall-blooming.

Daisies and coneflowers out, tickseed, stonecrop, and clematis in!

New barberry and relocated coneflowers and daisies.

The little red shrubby in the middle is new, replacing a spirea that is
most likely dead. In the background, three new junipers, two still waiting to go in the ground.

So many lilies, I had to relocate some way on the other side of the yard.

Lilies consolidated, yarrow moved and, um, reduced, and new plants!

The original plan was just this: the mugo pine, the goldenthread cypress, and the
juniper. I am so excited that I actually managed to follow through.

I am so happy with how this turned out. How much better will it look with mulch!

"In gratitude for your hard work, we have decided to bloom again!"

Proof of labor. Does everyone else end up this dirty?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Who are you?

During the killing spree, I came across a handful of little plants that I did not plant, but that I couldn't quite bring myself to tear out because I like them. Anyone out there know what these guys are, and whether I'm safe letting them take up permanent residence in my yard?

The little lanterns make it look like a volunteer tomatillo. What is it?

I love the leaves on this. Never saw whether it bloomed.

This had, I believe, tiny little bell-like flowers.

Bloom Day Followup

When I posted for my first Bloom Day, I only posted pictures from the front yard, because...  that's where I was working. This was unfair to the backyard. In the interest of equality, I am therefore posting these pictures of my backyard blooms.

Beauty berry: okay, it's not a bloom, but it's so pretty!

Butterfly bush and charging turtle.

Last gasp of the hydrangeas, beautiful even when spent.

Knockout rose, soldiering on.

September Cleanup: After!

And now, how the front yard looked after the killing spree.

Is this the same yard?  BTW, anyone know why the sweet
woodruff would die out in the middle of the patch like that?

I know it's better this way, but I do miss the spurge.

"We can breath again!"

I guess I taught those black-eyed Susans a lesson.

What a difference a day makes.

September Cleanup: Before

A while back, I posted about my amazing killing spree, where I ended up with a pile of weeds in the road the size of a coffin. Now that I finally got my photos on the computer, I thought I'd share the before and after of this endeavor. First:  Before.

Oh, spurge. Is it wrong that I kind of like you,
even though you are a weed?

Flamingo with propellers is Sneezy.

Not much to be pround of here. But how about that Airstream?

Wow. I should be ashamed. And I am!

Look, black-eyed Susans, you do not own the world.

This was beautiful once, I swear.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My First Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

It's my first Garden Blogger's Bloom Day! My blooms may not be too impressive, but I'm still happy to have them.

Black-eyed Susans

See that tall thing on the right? What is that thing? I kinda like it.

Geranium on its last legs. After 4 years in the front yard, it finally
took off this year and made me proud.

Thanks for the second bloom, sedum.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pop Quiz: How can you tell it's been too long since you last weeded?

If your pile of weeds is this big, consider yourself tipped off.


Weekend Killing Spree

Saturday, spent five hours on my hands in knees in the dirt, weeding the front beds. Felt GREAT. Looks GREAT. Photos to come.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm on Garden Rant!

I'm so excited! My rant was finally published today! Click here to read it. And thank you, Garden Rant, for publishing it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Garden Blogging Galore

Thanks to Susan in the Pink Hat, I've just found this resource at May Dreams Gardens, where Carol provides all kinds of advice on how to meet and mingle with this online gardening community. Thanks, Susan, and Hi, Carol!

High of 83?

That's what the weather forecast is for this weekend here in the DC metro area. If you live here, you know how astonishing and wonderful that is, as you have to be prepared for brutal summer heat and humidity to persist into October around here.

Sounds like the perfect weekend to get outside and reclaim my garden. If you've been following along here, you may have noticed that I appear to have been living in the past, relating my garden experiences of several years ago. That's because it's been a crazy summer at the little blue house, and sadly the yard has fallen victim to many other distractions.

But that is going to change this weekend. There will be weeding. There will be reorganizing. There may be... a trip to the garden center! I guess I need to dig out The Gardening Jeans and find my leather gloves. And then I will post pictures of what Potato Queen and Mulch Boy's yard is now.

Note to self: trim off all fingernails before I break them off clawing up dirt with my bare hands.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Help! When and what is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day?

I've figured out that it's a day when garden bloggers post pictures of blooms from their gardens. But when? How frequently?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Susan Harris on Sedum

I love me some Garden Rant, and Rant regular Susan Harris lives locally in the DC area. I actually hired her as a garden coach last Spring, and she was funny, informative, and just a really neat lady, the kind you want to be your new best friend. If you're in the DC area and need some garden coaching, I highly recommend consulting her.

Susan also has her own blog, Sustainable and Urban Gardening, and she's added this great entry on creeping sedums.  She also has a second article that goes into more detail about creeping sedums--the different kinds, how to make them happy, and the best choices for your little patch of ground.

I love sedums and have even before I started gardening. Before I knew what a succulent was, I was fascinated by Hens and Chicks and their thick, springy leaves. Once I started digging in the dirt and visiting the garden center, I fell in love with all the varieties I saw. In our front yard, I have (I think) four different kinds sharing a bed with black-eyed Susans (from Dad), Shasta daisies, purple coneflowers, zebra grass, and a flowering quince. It's getting a little crowded, though, and my little succulents are getting overshadowed. This Fall I think I'll be relocating a bunch of things so that everyone gets their fare share of attention. And find some new creeping sedums to add to the mix.

Killing, Part 3: This Time, It's Unintentional

What is that quote from A Christmas Story? "Life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters decend upon us."

So while my previous post about my successful garden transformation--in one year!--was truthful, I cannot hide the other, uglier truth.  Which is that a lot of those beautiful plants fell victim to my inexperience.


Undeterred, however, I replaced the dearly departed with new little friends and hoped for the best. Wonder of wonders: the more I planted, the better my survival rate became. And so by my final spring in my townhouse (2006), things looked like this--and all these guys were survivors.


Garden assistant posing behind the crape myrtle.


This also marks the beginning of my rock fetish.

How about that little brick border?

Dad's peonies!

In fact, I became so successful that I ran out of room and was forced to branch out into the median to fuel my new gardening obession.

 The best thing? My neighbor gave me the irises, my parents' neighbor gave me the day lilies, my friend Vera gave me sedum acre from her yard, the grape hyacinths were volunteers, my dad gave me black-eyed Susans, and I recycled all the bricks from my yard (a bunch of them were actually buried in the yard).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Follow me?

If you'd like to follow my blog AND boost my ego, please click the Follow button in the right column. The more followers I get, the more popular I'll look, and maybe they'll let me write more on GardenRant!  (Okay, maybe not, but a girl can dream. Still waiting for my guest rant to be published--maybe tomorrow??)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A New Beginning

The continuing story of my first gardening experiences, way back in 2001 - 2003, as described in Killing, Part 1, and Killing, Part 2.

Having successfully eradicated nearly all signs of life from my overgrown yard, I now faced a new and no less intimidating task: what to do with the blank moonscape I now faced. You will recall it looked like this:

"Houston, we have a problem."
Did I have what it takes to bring life back to my now lifeless landscape? Somehow buoyed by my successful killing spree, I thought, sure! But how to start?

Luckily, my principle gardening mentor (Dad) answered that question for me the first time my parents came to visit my new little home. Among the many housewarming goodies, Dad had brought a big bag of plants for my very first garden.

To be perfectly accurate, he brought me bulbs and roots. Little sacks of crocus bulbs and jonquil bulbs. Best of all, a big bag of dirty knobs and roots: these were black-eyed Susans and beautiful white peonies, dug up from their yard.

So that fall of 2001, I planted my first bulbs and roots in the blank canvas of my yard. And the next spring...

My very first flowers

To passersby, this was simply a hardscrabble, dust bowl landscape in miniature. To me, it was my first garden miracle--and the encouragement I needed to attempt to fill the rest of those dusty blank spaces. Between that Spring of 2002 and the Spring of 2003, I enthusiastically learned the joys of the garden center, of impulse plant shopping, and of mulch. And within the space of that one year, the front yard went from the dust bowl above to this:


Clearly there was no rhyme or reason to my planting choices. My "plan" was "put things in the ground and hope they live." And surprise, many did!

Did it look crazy to others? I honestly don't know. To me, it still looks beautiful, and I still feel proud looking at this picture. I will not lie: not everyone shown here survived. (The ones in the clay pots almost certainly all perished; I am not good with potted plants.) But a good many DID survive, despite my lack of skill and haphazard care. That was enough to give me the confidence to keep trying.

Lesson learned: don't let lack of experience or knowledge or even initial failures prevent you from soldiering on and trying again. This former black thumb is proof that persistence pays off.