Monday, August 12, 2013

The porch garden - containers!

At the start of summer, I bought some long planters from Home Depot, and tucked some cute little plants into them.  And they looked cute.

From top to bottom: 
coleus, verbena, petunia and 
a sweet potato vine. 

From top left to bottom right: 
Bumblebee petunia, cinnamon basil, 
ornamental millet, black velvet petunia.

 Same planter box, but here you can see how 
small the cinnamon basil is, and that there's another 
sweet potato vine in the upper right corner.

One more view, from the top.

 And from the side.

 As of late July, these had changed drastically.

Believe it or not, they've grown even more.  I'll have to append some pictures from this week!  The coleus is as tall as the railing now.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Online Garden Resources

Well, hidey-ho, there, good neighbors!  (Anyone remember Wilson, the faceless neighbor from Home Improvement? Just me?  Oh, ok...)  I'm keeping a running list of garden resources, from blogs to online nurseries.  If I've ordered from a nursery, I'll note that and add a brief review.  If not, I'll note that too!

A Garden for the House - Let's just say I'm completely jealous of Kevin Lee Jacobs' stunning garden - and acreage, though it sounds like it's been a labor of love, since part of his garden used to be a parking lot!  Lots of great tips, and lots of garden eye candy.

Tending My Garden - Theresa has been gardening in Virginia for over 35 years.  She grows organically, and with minimal-to-no extra watering!  I believe Virginia grows most of her own food, which is just awesome.  She's a big proponent of soil health, and it's a fascinating read.

Garden Harvest Supply - I've ordered from GHS multiple times.  The first time I ordered, I ordered a Black Velvet petunia.  They'd run out and shipping a Phantom petunia in its stead.  When I emailed them asking about it, they offered to send me a free plant for my trouble.  Now that's good customer service!  I ordered a golden cherry tomato, and although it got off to a slow start - thanks to chipmunk thieves - I ended up harvesting cherry tomatoes into October of last year.  I also have ordered sweet potato vines from them.  They started out looking sort of small and sad, but in no time, they were ready to take over the world.  Just how I like my sweet potato vines!  They definitely grew better than the sweet potato vines I got from Lowe's this year, and equal to those I got from my favorite local nursery (whose plants are the best I've bought).   Great selection of petunias, and they appear to have a good selection of mums - if you can get them before they've sold out.  :(  I have yet to be able to purchase any mums from them, much to my extreme disappointment.  Their prices are generally quite reasonable.  They carry mostly live plants, though they do have a few seeds.

Marguerite sweet potato vine from GHS.  This one started out in a 3" pot. 

 Pinstripe petunia from GHS.

 Phantom petunia from GHS

Sweet potato vine, ornamental peppers and coleus from GHS.

Pinetree Garden Seeds - I've ordered seeds from Pinetree for the first time this year.  I have yet to plant them, but I will say their shipping was prompt and although their website's search function is a little painful (really?  I can't just hit enter to search after I've typed my search term?  But I'm lazy....), the website is easy to navigate and they have a great selection of lettuces, ornamental kales/cabbages and herbs - particularly any variety of basil you could imagine!  Decent prices, as well.  And I have a thing for basil.  I'll update with how things have germinated once I plant my fall crops.  Largely seeds, rather than plants.

Johnny's Selected Seeds - Seeds, not plants, as you might guess.  Have not yet ordered from them, but I plan to.  Veggies, fruits, flowers, herbs.

Swallowtail Garden Seeds - Again, seeds. Haven't ordered, but I plan to.

High Mowing Organic Seeds - Seeds, but organic.  I can't wait to try some of their tomatoes next year!

Summerhill Seeds - Seeds.  Haven't ordered yet, but I plan to.

Michigan Bulb Company - Unsurprisingly, bulbs!  Also some perennials.  Not a great selection of live plants, but holy irises, Batman!  I've ordered from them, and I'm waiting for my order to arrive.

The Cook's Garden - Lots of unique vegetable seeds.  Some plants.  I haven't ordered yet, but I am dying to try some of their Kaleidoscope Carrot Mix

Wayside Gardens - Not cheap, but an amazing selection of hydrangeas and other shrubs.  

Great Garden Plants - Great prices, but I suspect the shrubs and perennials start out on the small side.  Lots of hydrangeas!

Bluestone Perennials - Great selection of daylilies, I've noticed!  Prices seem reasonable.

Old House Gardens - Heirloom bulbs.  I can't wait to order some!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pippin's Garden

The infrequent updates continue... hopefully I can motivate to post a little more frequently, since we've been doing lots around the yard and house to keep making it a home.  

This spring, we redid the landscaping in front of our house.  One of my new, favorite little spots is what I've come to think of as Pippin's Garden.  I chose a single plant - a Rose of Sharon - in his memory, and built the little spot around it.

This is earlier this spring, before the Rose of Sharon blossomed.

And it is, in bloom.  Stunning!

And here it is, with the Rose of Sharon in full bloom.

If you're curious, I picked the Rose of Sharon for Pippin because of a song called Rose of Sharyn.  Don't look it up if you don't like heavy metal. ;)  But these lyrics are why I chose a Rose of Sharon for him.

What would I give 
to behold the smile, 
the face of love?  
You never left me;
the rising sun 
will always 
speak your name.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Landscape Overhaul - Front Porch Garden

At the start of the spring, Mr. Handyverger and I decided that we were very tired of the dated, overgrown shrubs that surrounded our house.  Here are some views of the front porch that's near the front entrance to the house.

Holy bushes, Batman!  These yew were way overgrown. This is what you used to pass after walking up the steps from the driveway and around to the front door.

And when you rounded the corner to the house, a giant, Christmas-tree shaped yew blocked all sun and joy from the right side of the porch.

And this was the view off of the porch.  Youch.

And now?

An amazing improvement, isn't it?

I'm loving the cheerful pops of yellow, red and turquoise.  Of course I've added some more plants to the porch.  I'll share those pictures soon.

To give you an idea of how much of the front yard our bushes took up, check out the artemesia in the picture below.  The bushes very nearly overgrew it.
She's the largest artemisia in the new garden - the one right in front of the rock.  The one that's just a little left of center.  Everything to the left of that was huge yew bushes!

That's the very same artemisia, not moved an inch, with lots of room to breathe!

This is what used to grow in that triangular area between the walkways.  Lots of wildflowers gone, well, wild!

Now, some simple, colorful plantings: Coralbells 'Caramel,' a hosta (might be 'Golden Prayers'), some Silver Mound artemesia (added to the one I've had growing there for five years), some coleus and celosia.

There's Walker's Low catmint in there, as well as another coralbell 'Huckaberry.'

And this oregano patch that's taking over the world?

It's like something out of Little Shop of Horrors.  Feed me, Seymour!

It's a neatly manicured oregano plant once again.  

Unfortunately, we lost the catnip that was growing next to it to an aphid infestation.  I'm terribly sad!  (And for reference, the silver mound artemisia that's just to the left of center in this picture?  That's the very same one that was encroached upon by bushes I showed you above.

Some quickies of some of the plants we used...

My beautiful, original Silver Mound artemisia.  I have babied this plant for five years, and at long last she has room to grow.  

 Another view of the coralbells (Heuchera 'Huckaberry')

A nice shot of the green foliage veined in purple.  Stunning!  I love that the green has a slight silver undertone.  It complements the artemisia nicely.

Itty bitty dwarf mugo pine!  This is planted at the very tip of the triangle between our walkways.    He's so cute!

 Celosia, AKA Cockscomb. Insert juvenile tittering.

Coleus, Stained Glassworks 'Copper.'  Fiery!

So, that's the transformation of the front porch garden!  We had a fantastic landscaper helping us.  We worked together to come up with plants that were both low maintenance and that we loved.  He really managed to bring my vision to life, and since then, I've tucked a few more little plants in to fill things out, mostly annuals.

Next up?  The newly created garden for my beloved angel-kitty Pippin.

Mrs. H.

Linking up at:

DIY by Design's Swing into Spring

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stop being a pansy!

Actually, wait, don't.  I like pansies!

I may have gotten a bit carried away when I went to Lowe's the other day - I loaded up on pansies, and finally, yesterday, I got them all planted in various containers.

This is the view looking out the front door.  

And looking back up the other way - you can see that we need to power-wash our slate steps!

These are the front steps leading to the sunroom, seldom used.  Previously, there were hugely overgrown rhododendrons to the right of the stairs, and other rampantly wild bushes on the left.  Gone!  We're working on figuring out lovelies to tuck on either side of the stairs.  I'm considering Little Lamb hydrangeas.

You can probably see that I'm working on prepping the railings for their new paint job.  I can hardly wait to get the railings done - they're going to coordinate with the landscape lighting that I dressed up.

I used these lights from Lowe's, along with a little Martha Stewart craft paint (in Rust), to make something more custom-looking.

 They look fantastic lit-up at night!

Before we had all the bushes removed, the front porch was blocked by an overgrown arborvitae and shaggy yew bushes.  The porch looks so much more lovely without them!  (And note, there are more railings to be cleaned, sanded and repainted... I've got my work cut out for me!)

Have you been doing any spring planting?  Are you lucky enough to live further south than I do, and have all your planting complete?

Mrs. H.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Clawing my way back up for air

Whew!  It's been a rocky ride, and I've been terribly absent, but I'm happy to say that the Handyverger kitty with cancer is in remission!   Turns out chemo for cats isn't nearly as rough as chemo for people.  Thank goodness.  We couldn't have put Sir Lancelot through that.  We're so happy, and although we don't know how long it will last, we're thrilled he's still with us - and he's absolutely thriving.

I mean, really - lookit that face!

That being said, I've been able accomplish a lot around the house and in the yard.  The biggest thing we've accomplished is paying someone else to rip out the overgrown, terribly dated shrubs in our front yard.  It's amazing how much bigger our little ranch house looks!  We need to figure out what we're replacing them with, but since it's safer to start planting after the first week of May, here in New England, we're working on it.

In the meanwhile, I found some pansies and gave them a new home, and I added some landscape lighting.  I chose solar lights for ease of installation, but I made some customizations to fancy them up. Pictures to follow! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

2013 Plans

I've been pretty absent; it's funny what frequent trips to an oncologist will do for your motivation to blog.  It's a veterinary oncologist, for little Lancelot, our newest cat, and he's doing quite well with the chemo - but it does mean that blogging and home improvement are on the back burner, here.

But, that being said, here are a few things I'd like to get done... sometime this year, or not.  It's an extensive list!


1.  Replace the kitchen sink and faucet.   We currently have a 2-basin stainless sink that's ancient.  I'd like to replace it with a single-basin, hammered copper sink.

I'd like to keep the counters the same, for the time being.  I'm not up for the full kitchen overhaul!  Our counters are white corian.

I think I'd pick an oil-rubbed bronze faucet.

2.  I'd like to repaint the kitchen cabinets.  Currently, they're a shade of off-white that is way pinker than I had expected.  The rest of our kitchen is a rich, deep red.  So, I think this is what I'd like to do.

Perhaps we could add some molding to our very plain doors.  And while we're at it, I'd love to put up some hardware.  We've only been procrastinating for 7 years!

4.  Do something about the floors.  Not sure yet... This is a longer term project, but I sure do hate the linoleum.

Master bath
1.  Repaint vanity.  Perhaps I'll practice the French gray/stain technique there!
2.  Replace the faucet.
3.  Remove wallpaper & paint.  Long term project.
4.  Replace the pink toilet.  Oh, my.
5.  Pick a new shower curtain.  I'd like to find extra long ones, and hang them from the ceiling.  A pair, even, to open in the middle. Ooh, how luxe.

I adore these curtains.

Guest bathroom:
1.  Repaint the vanity in the guest bath.
2.  Replace the faucet in the guest bath.
3.  Replace the toilet in the guest bathroom.
4.  Retile the guest bathroom.  It's bubblegum pink, and the shower in particular needs redone.
5.  Repaint the guest bathroom.  We'd have to remove wallpaper first. Ugh.

Living Room
1.  Repaint living room ceiling.  We had some water damage, and our pathetic attempts to replaster it failed miserably.  Now we have sad, chipped paint in our living room. :(
2.  Refurbish the kitty castle.  Really.  It's a castle.  For the cats.

1.  Find a storage bench for the entryway.  I'd love someplace better to stash kitty litter. :P  This is the one I'm liking right now:

2. Find a cabinet/chest of some sort for the hallway - it'd be great to have extra storage space for guest linens, among other things..

Whole house:
1.  Do something with the door handles.  They're a mishmash of different metal finishes.  ORB, anyone?

1. Finish repainting the metal railings.  I started in back, to test my ideas.

2.  Rip out vines/poison ivy that occupy the back hill in our yard.  In fairness, I think we'll pay someone to do this.  I'm all for DIY, but sometimes, it just isn't worth it!

I'll probably edit this and add things as I think of them.  Wow, just looking at this makes me tired!