Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Landscaping slow and steady

 It's Fall!  This Summer really was very different for us, living in our own house!  But we've been working slowly to get our yard looking beautiful.  Here's some of the results of our projects. 

The still-living maple and new shrubs: May 4
Right before our open house in May, we were given a landscape budget to buy some shrubs and trees for our front yard.  Since our house faces North and has a garage that sticks out quite far, our front flower beds don't see much sunlight, so it was kind of a trick finding plants that would go there and thrive.  Not to mention the alkaline soil, clay, and oooooh the rocks!  But anyway, we decided on a couple of spiraea and a pair of hydrangea, and then a dwarf lilac for the corner.  We also purchased two lovely big tooth maples for the yard.  After planting, though, came the hard part: keeping them alive.  The hydrangea looked pretty sick for a while, with black lined leaves and one very weak blossom that quickly shriveled and died.  Our maple trees both thrived for about a month and a half, but then the one in the front yard rapidly lost all its leaves and looked completely dead.  I was heartbroken. :(  I called the greenhouse where we'd purchased the trees and they said they had a 90 day guarantee on their trees, so they would replace the dead one.  We brought home a new maple, just like the first, but upon inspection of the soil and realizing it was mostly clay in that spot that was having a hard time draining, I thought it would be unwise to plant the same type of tree in the same spot.  We turned down the water, but it was too late.  We put the new maple in the back/side yard where it will (someday) shade the West side of the house and it is gorgeous.  I've been cautious to water it just the right amount. 
Laying sod back in June

Meanwhile, we planted a little corner grove of quaking aspens (complete with a barrier to keep them from filling the yard with suckers), and two nice red oaks to frame our back patio (and block our naked neighbors from view LOL).  We do want to give a little shout out to our wonderful grandparents who helped fund the backyard landscaping! 

Now, it is Fall and I have given you all the back story, so I'm ready to reveal the results of our hard work:

 The Hydrangea took a few doses of miracle grow, but it is growing now!  We had one blue flower, and now these two lovely purple ones.  Did you know that Hydrangea is like a living litmus strip? The flowers bloom different colors based on the pH of the soil.  Blue=alkaline, purple=neutral, and pink=acidic.  Cool.  They can even put on different colors on one plant, if you treat half the soil around it. 
These little mini daisies are a perennial ground cover I found at a greenhouse dutch auction for 60% off.  They're just starting to open their little faces.  I knew they were supposed to be late bloomers, but I'm not sure if it was supposed to be THIS late... maybe it's because they're in more shade than they'd really like... who knows.

The oak trees in the back yard; and you can also see that our grass set beautifully and is just wonderful.  All along the back fence, hiding in the morning shade, are plants that we've been collecting from anyone willing to give them away.  Thanks to my mom, grandmother, and uncle, we have rhubarb, oregano, chives, hosta, a golden spiraea, daisies, black eyed Susans, columbine, coral bells, aster, dogwood, ice plant, and a couple more I can't remember the name of.  We had to cut back a lot of it during the transplanting process, so I hope it will survive; but it is very exciting and I'm already antsy for Spring to see it come to life!

The only edible harvest we've had this year: basil.  I made 11 pints of basil pesto that is now happily filling my freezer, but as you can see--I really need to cut it back again, especially before it freezes.  There's also some parsley down under there, and the dead patch was cilantro that we enjoyed in the early Summer.  I think I'll dry this batch and make jars of Italian seasoning to give to friends.  Or maybe I'll make more pesto... ?  No matter how you cut it, it's yummy!

See the poor dead maple?  It's looked that bare since June.  :( :(  but....

Yes.  It is leafing out.  In September.  ...What the?
Apparently that's not incredibly uncommon for a tree to go into shock, but still be alive.  I only hope this little leafing stunt doesn't completely do it in for next Spring.  I'm really glad we didn't rip it out when it started dropping its leaves.  Our neighbor bet us 20 bucks it would survive, and if it makes it next season, looks like we'll have 3 nice maples for the price of 2, minus the 20 bucks we bet on it. :)  And incidentally, isn't the sky stunning in the background?  I totally didn't notice that until I downloaded the picture and realized how pretty it looked.  I love this place.

Maybe some day I'll be as good of a gardener as my mom is... or maybe not (she's incredible).  But until then, it's fun to try new things in my yard, where it is finally an investment in our property, not just a chore that we have to do. And here's hoping everything survives!

1 comment:

Laurie Fifield said...

This just delights me. I'm so glad that you have a yard of your own to play in and plant in. It makes such a huge difference when it actually belongs to you! And those little daisy ground covers? Mine are just now starting to bloom too. They really are a late bloomer.