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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Around the Yard

Friday was a cloudy day... perfect to get out and about in the yard and do some weeding.  Also perfect to take some photos!  No bright sunlight/shade making the pics appear dappled, and also the colors are better to photograph on a cloudy day. Wanna take a walk around my yard today?

I had my two helpers....
Binney and Finney

I have a couple of plastic rain barrels that I painted up with stencils and Kryon paint for plastics, and Steve added a little spigot to the bottom for filling my watering cans.  I like fresh rainwater for my plants, rather than the chlorinated city water. It looks a little crooked in this pic, perhaps next time I have it drained down a ways, we should shore it up a bit?

 I stenciled my metal watering cans to match too...

Our yard is just COVERED with these little "helicopter" seed pods from the soft maples in the neighborhood.  About this time of year they are coming down almost like snowfalls, and cover the ground and sidewalks and our flowerbeds.  ARGGHHHH

I want to put down my pretty black colored mulch but it's too early yet.  Last year when I spread my black mulch, it looked so neat and nice and trim, contrasting against the green plants and bright blooms.  As soon as I spread it in late may, the helicopters came down and it looked like wood shavings all over that didn't go away.  They just dry up and lay there... obliterating the nice work I did on the flower beds!   They stick up all over the lawns and look like an invasion of dead dragonflies--- LOL

So this year I will wait to spread my mulch 
until the helicopter invasion is over! 

In front of the garage on both sides I put these pagoda shaped planters. They are standing on guard! I found them at a rummage sale last year for a buck a piece. This year I planted some "cathedral bells" climbing vines that are taking off like gangbusters.  I found out they are poisonous to pets and children, so we are making sure that nobody messes with them or pulls off the leaves.  Soon they will bloom with big huge purple blossoms shaped like bells.   Anxious to see them in bloom.....

 (see all those helicopters on the driveway too?) 

I was in the garden center at Walmart yesterday and kept walking past this plant.  It's called Hens and Chicks.  I passed it by twice, each time wondering if I should get it or not?  I have never had any Hens and Chicks, but my daughter Erin bought some and they were kinda neat.  The leaves are hard and firm and waxy, like spikes. 

Well, the third time I walked back past them, I grabbed it!  It is arranged so nicely in the planter for $11.88.   Hmmmmm

I thought they were pretty funky cool!  
(or are they ugly?) 

I read up on them and they only grow for three years, sending out shoots of chicks that you keep replanting or let them spread in a flowerbed.  They are a succulent (cactus) type of plant and can handle drought.  Well, on the third year, it sends up a big spike that blooms over the top, and then the plant dies off!!!  I would imagine it's only the top clump that sent up the spike, and all the sides and babies are new plants to grow for 3 years themselves.  

I cut off about 10 of the babies and stuck them in soil in smaller pots, but I have to get some good cactus soil to replant them once they take root.

About 20 years ago or so, I got these coleus plants from my friend Connie.  Each year I dig a bunch up, and bring them in the house to winter over.  I cut the straggly snips off and re-root them in water and keep making more and more plants.  I have given away countless numbers to friends and family.  My friend Juanita winters them over for me too, in case mine ever accidentally die off.  These are the two newest clumps I started from slips a few weeks ago.  The rest are already in the ground around the house.  I will be able to plant these sometime this week and let them take hold.  By fall, all the clumps are huge lush magenta and fuschia colored plants, with bits of soft green and pink in their centers.  They shoot up tall stalks with tiny lilac colored flowers that don't seem to match the plant at all!

Around the side of the garage, facing west, is my row of tomato cages.  I have 18 plants in this year, with some heirloom varieties and some good Early Girl and Best Boy for eating as soon as they ripen.  Yummmm MATERS!  I do some canning and we enjoy the fresh taste of tomatoes all winter long too. I have another rain barrel coming just off the garage roof downspout to water these in the backyard.  They take a lot of watering because the garage eave overhangs and protects them from any straight down rainfall.

Around the back yard are a lot of perennials, 
planted from over the years of the family who lived here before us. 
Lilacs and peonies ....  traditional old fashioned blooms!

Right before we first bought the house, a huge box elder tree was rotting in the far backyard, and a big branch had fallen off (right where we would be parking the motorhome!)  Once we bought the house, we cut down the rest of the rotting tree so it would not fall and damage anything else. Turns out the other big one next to it was all rotten and hollow inside too. The area was all torn up from cutting them both down.  Instead of digging up the huge 3 foot wide stumps, we buried them in mulch and made a big connecting flowerbed between the two stumps!  It kinda borders the end of our backyard, without having a fence there.  (we have such nice neighbors, we don't need a fence)

 (I need to do some weeding and spread mulch back here too) 

The previous owners had a nice clump of tiger lilies to make a corner area with some more peonies and ferns that come up each year.   This is where we put the intricate cut out camp fire ring that was a Christmas present from our daughter Heather and soninlaw Jesse (he makes these!)

Tucked away behind the tiger lilies are the two sweet grave markers
and the "Ducky Statue".. 
which has wrapped around it's neck the collars of both 
our beloved Duke and Ducky.  
 After pausing a bit back to there to remember those two loveable goofy hounds, 
I wandered up into the front yard to start watering plants that direction.

Here is a big pot of impatiens that are just taking off. Hope they soon become bountiful clumps of pretty red and white blooms!   And my five barberry bushes from Mother's Day should be taking off, and I want to cover the ground around them with black mulch (once those helicopters stop falling and I can rake off the ones around the bushes)

Up alongside the house, it is kinda "messy" yet.  A couple weeks ago this was all a flurry of bright yellow and red tulips and daffodils.  I have to wait for all the tulip stalks and leaves to die off before tidying up this area.  If you cut them off too soon, they don't put the energy back into the bulb for next year.  They need to die off naturally.  I have about five or six clumps of straggly coleus planted along the house.  Soon they will be lush and full and pretty.   Up near the porch is a super duper clematis vine on a trellis.  It will be huge purple velvety blooms all summer long.  Growing like gangbusters, and surrounded by lily of the valley plants.  I love the cut out fretwork of the lattice around the bottom of our porch.

I had to stop to take a pic of the American Flag... we put it out each morning and take it in each night.  The red, white and blue, go well with the red geraniums and white bridal's wreath bush alongside of the front stoop.  I painted the alternating squares of hunter green last spring to spruce up the plain appearance of the front of the house.  Just beige and white was boring to me, so a bit of hunter green here and there made the house look better, in my opinion.

My front flower bed used to be a row of thick old heavy cedar shrubs.  Two broke off the previous winter, so we cut them all out.  Now all the pretty fret work lattice can show towards the street!  I put in rows of hostas and some coleus clumps, plus a row of those red and white impatiens.  Along the far right on the corner i added clumps of hydrangea (my FAVORITE plant!)  that were transplanted from my friend and old neighbor Charlotte up in Oconto.   We added the little cement scallops that I coated with concrete stain so they don't chip and peel like paint would.

In the front yard, we put in a weeping cherry tree two years ago as my Mother's Day present.  I added more scallops around the base and stuck in more impatiens there too.  Hope they are soon big clumps of blooms! The weeping cherry tree is already done blooming this spring and will soon have bright red cherries growing on the branches for the birds to enjoy.

On the other side of the porch, facing north, I put in another trellis and a beautiful clematis vine that Steve got for me last year. It makes the most delicate white blooms, with fringes of burgundy and tiny center streaks of pink. Amazing how lovely these clematis flowers bloom in the evening or early morning, then curl up during the heat of the day.

I added a few clumps of ferns that are not doing so well, and a hunk of hosta.  Got more hostas to shift over here, maybe later today Steve will help with that.

Well, that was a tour of our yard, the last side of the house is just some big cedar shrubs and our doggie potty yard! Guess it's time to take them out for a walk around the block.....



  1. Our house in in the Santa Cruz Mountains was surrounded by big maples. We didn't much like the little helicopters either.

  2. Thanks for the tour around your yard. Very nice!!

  3. Crikey ...... how exciting was that?? Mum really enjoyed the walk around your yard. She LOVES your garden and do you know what else she LOVES. Your flag!! She loves the patriotism you show. We don't fly our flag so much in Australia. We should!! Mum's going to do something about that. Looks like we'll have a flag flying soon, aye??
    That hen and chicken plant IS funky cool. It's not ugly ..... not even a little bit ...... its pretty. We have those coleus growing at our house. We don't have to bring them inside in winter. They grow all year here.
    G'day Binney and Finney. You look great in your bandannas!!

  4. What a beautiful garden you have. Can't grow a thing here but cacti and Love flowers


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