Posts Tagged 'garden'

Getting into the Gardening Mood!

oldplanterYep, it’s that time again! It all started when I walked outside to get the mail the other day and stood looking around the front deck in disgust. The build-up of fallen leaves, tracked mud, mis-matched shoes, and other bits and pieces just finally pushed me over the edge. Time to Spring Clean the deck! My two large planters looked so sad with their dead annuals and crusty dirt. So I decided to get pansies and liven up all the pots on the deck, then clean up the mess when all the planting was finished. I nabbed two flats of pansies while doing the bi-monthly grocery shopping, then promptly came down with a raging sore throat, fever, and chills, and the poor plants sat on the front deck for a week with no one to think of them (or water them!). By the time I was up and around again, the pansies looked like a lost cause. But I decided to plan them and just see what happened.

plants

The most promising of the pansies...

I grabbed my potting soil and tackled the dirt in the two large iron planters. The soil was so compacted and tough that it took a while to get the crusty layer out and mix up a nice layer for the plants. But the pansies looked a little happier to be in nice, loose soil and have some water.

planted2

I tackled the next iron planter, then the two large “terra cotta” (plastic) planters:

messydeck2

toplantYou can see the mess of dirt and leaves waiting to be swept. But I wanted to finish planting first, and I’d fallen for some roses while shopping, too! I picked up two Chicago Peace bush roses and two coral-colored climbing roses for $4 each. Naturally, the package said, “place in ground immediately,” but mine sat out with the rest of the flowers while I was sick. They didn’t look the worse for wear when I finally got to them. Roses are tough. I used to be afraid of roses. I thought only master gardeners could care for these wonderful plants. I quickly found out this is a myth! Roses are easier to care for than almost anything you can plant. You only have to be vigilant through Japanese beetle season and watch for black spots on the leaves that can indicate mold — watering  early in the day prevents this, as the sun has a chance to evaporate the water and dry the leaves. What’s most wonderful is that roses positively thrive in a hot, sunny environment like the one in which I happen to live. Serendipity! So I happily picked up new roses to put in front of the deck.

Last year I planted annuals in this spot just to have some color. Now, with more time to plan, I was ready for more substantial, long-lasting plants. My children helped me prep the flower bed by raking out the leaves so we could work the soil and loosen it up a bit. We didn’t get rid of the leaves, since those are wonderful for compost and can also serve as mulch. Here’s a picture of the bed, ready for roses:

preppedbed

Next, I dug the first hole for the climbing rose I wanted to put at the far left edge of the deck:

dighole holedug

Now it was time to put some good soil into the hole and settle the roots of the rose:

addsoil

Then my oldest son and I crumbled the native dirt and filled the hole the rest of the way, leaving the “bud” of the rose about an inch above the soil line (this is where the rose branches out):

crumbledirt

Finally, my daughters grabbed handfuls of leaves to mound around the rose, since we weren’t quite past the danger of a nighttime freeze:

rosemulchclose

emptypotThe girls got into the spirit of gardening and quickly brought me an old pot they’d found behind their playhouse in the back yard. They wanted to have flowers in front of their doorway, too! So we scooped the leftover potting soil into it, and the girls planted the remaining pansies in their little pot:

plantingpot3 plantingpot

sweptcleanWith all our planting done, it was time to clean up the deck. The boys matched up all the outdoor shoes and lined them in a row. The girls gathered the toys and miscellaneous items into a pile to go inside. I swept all the fallen leaves out of the crack between the deck and the house and added them to the growing compost pile. We kept working our way from one end of the deck to the other, the boys stopping to exclaim over a long-lost Lego and my oldest daughter declaring, “This looks like a house now!” Because, of course, a messy deck just can’t look like much of anything, right? 😉

The finished results gave us all a smile. How nice to have flowers nodding from their planters and a clean, swept floor to greet the eye!

finished-deck

With more days of sunshine and water, the panies perked right up and looked fresh, too.  The welcome mat is out, so come on in!

Fall flowers on the front deck!

Last time I showed you my sad-looking front planters (the day I mulched the garden). A week later, they looked even more pathetic, as the summer petunias had almost completely died out. It was time to put some color on the front deck! The first order of the day was to pull out all of the dying plants, making sure I got all the roots. The pot on the right-hand side in this picture is quite deep (about 16″), so I intended to leave some of the original dirt on the bottom third, adding new soil to the top and mixing it with the old before adding plants. The day I did our grocery shopping, organic potting soil was on sale at two 10-pound bags for $5, so I grabbed two bags. Wal-Mart had a good selection of fall annuals on sale (I started rather late, so many of the annuals were half off).

Here’s a picture of the plants I got, along with the two bags of soil:

The fiery orange flowers at the back are snapdragons (a favorite with my children). The deep fuschia flowers did not retain their little identifying tags, and I am not sure what they are, unfortunately! They look like miniature asters. The two pots at the front contained a mixture of trailing plants and one tall, spikey flower that I also cannot identify. Anyone who knows what I have, post a comment! I love to learn!

Here’s a closer shot of the snapdragons and the deep fuschia flowers. I love these!

Here are two of the pots cleaned out and ready for new soil. You can see that one pot is a wire basket with a liner. It used to be a hanging basket, but I don’t have anywhere to hang it. I was tickled when I found two black iron stands for these pots in the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart for $3:

Here are the pots with the new soil mixed in. Rich!

I placed the deep fuschia flowers in the center of each iron basket , then surrounded the edges of the basket with the snapdragons. In this photo, you see the plants still in their plastic containers. I did this just to see how many flowers would fit comfortably. I had some snapdragons left over, so I planted them in my front rose garden. I’ve discovered that snapdragons are actually perennials in my region of the South because of our long growing season. At my old house, they came back yearly, bigger and brighter every year. I can’t wait to see what they do here!

I placed the mixture of flowers into the larger pot all together. They’d have more room for their roots and could stretch out a bit. Here are the two pots finished and full of beautiful fall flowers:

And here are all four of the pots next to the front door. Cheerful!

It’s amazing what a little bit of foliage can do. These should last us through November and even early December, depending on how cold it gets. Then we’ll have a month when everything just dies or goes dormant, and I’ll be back at it again in February when the pansies are out and the daffodils are thinking about popping up. I love a long growing season!

Time to show off the flowers!

I adore a cottage garden, and this is just the perfect place to have one! When we got here, there was a front flower bed with a lone trellis standing in it–just begging for some roses! I obliged by purchasing several “knock-out” (ever-blooming) rose bushes at Lowe’s. The great thing was that I hit Lowe’s when all the summer flowers were marked down 50-75%. I got my roses for half off, and I got some coreopsis and a rose “carpet” plant for 75% off. I also picked up another spikey blue flower that the bees and butterflies love, but I can’t remember what it is (should have saved the little plastic marker!). At left you see the triangle-shaped bed to the left of our front walk and at the corner of the deck. Right up against the deck are day lilies planted years ago by our landlord. They are glorious in mid-summer.

Here’s a close-up of the front bed so you can see the light pink roses in front of the trellis and the deep pink “carpet” rose in the center. I also have three more small roses (deep fuschia). The strange thing is that the one in the front corner is the same size as when I planted it, but its “sister” on the left-hand side next to the yellow coreopsis has tripled in size! Must be some good soil in that spot! I did use some organic dirt when I put these in, as well as rose food, but I guess there’s still a “sweeter” spot in the garden that the plants just like better! In the background of this shot you can see the little border garden along the front edge of the deck. It contains some boxwoods, hosta, and butterfly bushes. The children and I have been tickled pink to see both butterflies and hummingbirds flock to the flowers!

Here are two views of the house with the newly mulched flower beds:

And here’s a whole slew of shots to show off these blooming beauties. How I love the colors and scents!

Deep pink rose "carpet"

Deep pink rose carpet

And a close-up

And a close-up

Light pink knock-out roses

Light pink knock-out roses through the trellis

Closer still...

Closer still...

After a shower...

After a shower...

Gorgeous deep fuschia rose

Gorgeous deep fuschia rose

Looking down from the deck...

Looking down from the deck...

Finally, here’s a view of the garden looking down from the deck. It’s a delight from all angles. Next year the plants will have doubled in size and be even more colorful! I look forward to adding more to our landscaping. We have a lovely shaded bed on the western side of the house that will be perfect for a couple of hydrangeas. I’ll be sure to share pictures once we get to work on that part of our landscaping. We were delighted to get a free load of mulch to do the front flower beds. The front now looks really trim and tidy. Maybe I’ll start thinking about planting some bulbs now that fall is here…. Hmmm….!

Oh, and I do have another short-term project I plan to take care of this weekend. I removed the butterfly bushes I had in my deck planters and put them into the garden near the roses. That leaves some very leggy petunias looking rather spindly. Time to re-do the front planters!


About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

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"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

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