Posts tagged ‘Lawn & Garden’

May 19, 2013

The Garden

I’m a little obsessed with it. I stare at pictures while I’m at work. I peek outside at every opportunity. I love my garden. And now I’m going to obsessively write about it.

Earlier this month, I shared the new garden bed in this post, but I didn’t give you the details on what I planted in it. I did include this colorful, yet cryptic landscape plan to better illustrate my plan for the garden.

Before elaborating on where we are now, though, I’ll have to walk you through how we got here. Last year we dug out the shrubs that blocked the view from the dining room window and planted Miscanthus Adagio (‘A’) ornamental grass and Red Yucca (‘Y’) in their place. That summer, the Adagio grass grew nice and full and the Yucca each gave me a stalk of flowers. It got me so excited that I began thinking about what I wanted to do with my remaining front yard. Knowing full sun, low maintenance, and drought tolerant plants did well for me in this spot, I contemplated forms and colors to incorporate into the design.

I adore ornamental grasses because they are very low maintenance, provide wonderful movement on breezy days, and winter interest in an otherwise forgotten landscape. I had to have more. I chose to add at least one more Miscanthus Adagio and Miscanthus Gracillimus (‘G’), which can reach heights of 5 feet, to anchor the bed.

My favorite color for flowers in the garden is purple. There is just something about the green and purple color combination in a garden that feels both lush and modern to me. I chose my two favorite purple flowering plants, Walker’s Low (‘W’) and Lavender (‘L’), to fill in the garden. Last, but certainly not least, I chose to include Echinacea ‘Julia’ (‘C’ for its nickname of Coneflower) for both its bright orange flowers and the beautiful winter interest it provides when left upright until spring. Next year, I plan on adding a third ornamental grass,  more Walker’s Low, Coneflower, and Red Yucca to the garden.

But enough talk, here are some pretty pictures of my young garden.

To the right of this picture is my now year old Miscanthus Adagio and Red Yucca. Both have grown like crazy on very little water and lots of sun. In the lower left corner of the picture, you can see the new and still tiny Walker’s Low and ‘Julia’ Coneflower. Both will grow wide enough to almost reach the sidewalk.



This is a bit of a better image of the Red Yucca. I love how they lean so gracefully towards the sidewalk.



Red Yucca Flower Stalks



This is the Miscanthus Gracillimus that is only 2 feet tall yet and in a bit of curly-bladed transfer shock. Because of this, it may not get as big as it could this year.



Lavender and its blue foliage.



The Walker’s Low has grown the most of the new plants.



And this Coneflower gives me such a thrill with its vibrant orange petals.

June 15, 2012


Vincent Van Gogh’s Les Iris

June 8, 2012


After being more than pleased with my front bed makeover, I couldn’t wait to start planning the rest of my front yard. I’ve come to realize that planning is a very important step in the process, so I thought I’d share it with you.

But first, let’s take a look at my existing yard.

As frequent readers will know, we’re currently in the “Year of the Exterior” and attempting to finish painting the house by the end of the year, thus the funny old paint color areas. The empty bed in front of the big picture window was filled with Adagio Ornamental Grass and Red Yucca this spring and the teeny tiny red bud tree was planted in 2010.

The three divided areas in front of the two narrow windows has always been a challenge for me. Two of the sections have Day Lillies planted in them, but grass inevitably grows into those areas and I end up weed-wacking the entire thing. Plus mega-ugly watering hose. It’s all just an eyesore. So it has been decided that area will be my next to tackle.

So where to begin? I knew I would have to dig up the grass and create a bed, which I loathe. I did this in the backyard and it was miserable. Granted, that was a 60 foot bed, while this will be a 15 footer. I also new I wanted an evergreen anchoring plant. One that would add permanent architecture to the bed. Unfortunately, I’m just not the evergreen type. I tend to lean towards plants that are either more tropical (Hostas and Ferns) or arid (Yuccas and Ornamental Grasses), go figure. Because I knew I wouldn’t have quite enough shade for tropical plants and since I already swayed my front towards the arid option with the Red Yuccas and Adagio, I figured I’d just stick with it. Plus, although Ornamental Grasses lose their color in winter, they hold their shape until spring (when they should be trimmed back for new growth), providing that consistent architecture I’m looking for.

various ornamental grasses – image courtesy of

So which plants to use? I already favor a handful of plants, most of which are either green or purple in color. With that, I now have my color scheme. Funnily enough, our courtyard at our last house had the same color scheme. It’s probably not a coincidence. The purple plant will either be Russian Sage or Walker’s Low. Both have pretty purplish-blue blooms and I can buy one of each to see which does best in my front yard.

russian sage – image courtesy of

walker’s low – image courtesy of

For the Ornamental Grass, I knew I wanted a show stopper – something tall that would stand out against the green grass of the lawn. After seeing several around town and furiously googling to find it’s common name, I settled on Morning Light.

morning light – image courtesy of

I figure I can decide on the filler plants later, though possibilities include more Red Yuccas.

red yucca – image courtesy of

On to the plan! I put a quick plan together laying out where I’d like each plant to go. As you can see, I have a larger third bed planned, but will wait on that undertaking. The ‘L’ shaped bed was actually designed by a real-life landscape designer as he was inspired by the lines of the house and its new front door.

I’m obviously not a landscape designer and do not draw or render like one, but I thought this plan was fun just the same.

June 3, 2012

Picture Window

One of our better decisions regarding the house on Penny Lane was placing a bird feeder in front of the picture window.

April 18, 2012


Looks like a new plant is celebrating the year of the exterior.

April 9, 2012

Even Some Free Mulch!

In addition to the work that took place in the front bed, some maintenance was done in the back over the weekend. Some mutant weeds were pulled (I’m talking almost as tall as me and freakishly proportioned) and the existing plants were mulched. Last summer was a real scorcher, so I was pleasantly surprised to find 9.5 out of 10 plants that I planted last spring greening up and some even flowering.

Last summer, my fern was a brown, crispy mound, so imagine my surprise to stumble upon this guy:


The Hostas were also a bit wee compared to last year, but obviously doing well.


The Mexican Feather Grass, on the other hand, thrived during the summer heat and even stayed beautiful through the winter. The Azalea is also doing well with some new blooms. The stick with some leaves on it in the upper right corner is what’s left of my hydrangea. As disappointed as I sound, I’m quite happy with it considering it looked an awful lot like the fern (dried to a crisp) last year.


But here’s the show stopper. As soon as the temperatures got into the 50s, the Clematis went wild. I counted several buds in early March and by the end of the month they had opened to reveal why so many people love this vining plant. Needless to say, I plan on planting more this year.


My backyard plants have turned a year older. Their mulch has been refreshed for free from my mom’s aging stock and from my dad’s vigorous yardwork. Now to feed and wait patiently for an even better showing next year.

Oh yeah, here’s the .5 out of 10 that didn’t make it to the new season. The Gardenia never had a chance. It has some green leaves, but I’m fully planning on replacing it with a Clematis.

… Unless some green thumbs out there want to talk me out of it…

April 7, 2012

Mulch, Mulch and More Mulch

This weekend was all about mulch.  What type of mulch? How much mulch? Landscape fabric with mulch? What color of mulch? I’ve finally realized the benefit of it and am willing to shell out some dough every year to maintain.

This year for the the front bed, I answered ‘Wood. 12 cubic feet. No. Black.’ Let’s call the last answer a mishap.

Yes, the mulch has been down for less than 2 hours and I’m already regretting the color choice. My biggest regret is not considering that the black dye may rub off onto shoes and then onto my light colored living room rug.


Thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet, so please friends, I beg of you, don’t make me feel like a bigger jerk than I already do.

Anyway… back to mulching…

With the help of my friend, Nate (whose living room I made-over here) we de-weeded and mulched the back bed. Nate is such a workhorse. Together, we definitely did far more than I expected to. Afterwards, my favorite gardening partner, my mom, came over to help me plant and mulch the front bed.

On to the before and afters…

Waaaaaay Before:

Slightly Before:

And After:

So the plants look a bit smaller in the picture than in person… but you get the idea.

Red Yucca with new bloom

Miscanthus Adagio

Can’t wait til it fills out. Check back for updates on the back garden.

January 7, 2012

The Year of the Exterior

Aside from some light gardening, The house on Penny Lane’s 2011 took place entirely inside. The year 2012, however, seems to have its sights set on the exterior.

So far, we have plans to replace our front door, a few windows and some siding. We’re hoping that will give us a big kick in the butt and encourage us to complete the exterior painting that we started back in 2009.

I’ve already felt a bit of a nudge and on the spur of the moment, decided the front shrubs needed to go. I’ve posted about my attempts to improve them before and I had full intentions to dig up and replant them in the backyard, but things just did not go as planned. They are in my backyard, but in pieces…



Things look a bit dry, but you get idea. I am too excited about all of this.

Just like last year, I’ll be asking for gardening related gifts for my birthday so I can fill the space to suit the house. My idea is low grasses with an occasional vertical element.

Variegated Lirope (image courtesy of casacara)

Mondo Grass (image courtesy of danger garden)

Fountain Grass (image courtesy of fireflyforest)

Red Yucca (image courtesy of dave’s garden)

June 12, 2011

Gardening Progress

I realized I never posted actual pictures of the various ornamental plants that I added to our backyard.

Here’s a quick reminder of how the area looked before:


And here is my progress:

It helps that the grass and trees have come out of dormancy. I planted a Gardenia, Hydrangea and Clematis vine towards the back. I learned after planting that Gardenias are only hardy to zone 8b (I am in zone 7a), so it may not last. I planted an Azalea in front of the meter in hopes that it will grow to block the view of it. In front, I planted shorter growing plants – a Fern, various Hostas and Feather Grass. All have shown growth, I just need to get them through the heat of the summer. This week, the temperature has stayed faithfully in the 90s. Ouch. One thing I can contribute my success to so far is the drip hose I surrounded the plants with. It makes watering super easy. I just need to remember to turn the water off.


A closer shot of the Feather Grass with a couple Hostas, the Hydrangea and the Clematis vine in the background. As you can see, I laid newspaper around the plants then topped it with mulch. I need to finish the installation of the rubber edging by filling the trench I dug with soil.


A Hosta with new growth in the middle.

Another Hosta. I can’t remember which variety I planted where.


The Clematis vine growing from its original wood trellis to its new, taller metal trellis.


Vigorously growing Hydrangea.


Pretty Feather Grass.


The Azalea, no new flowers yet.


The Gardenia. Its first bloom browned out (on the right), but it’s progress!


Lovely Fern.



April 25, 2011

Flowers, etc.

Yes, I am making up for a lack of posts lately, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good content.

How long has it been since I visited the florist? October of last year. That’s a while and a lot has changed since then. I hadn’t realized the many new places I could set arrangements.

You saw the arrangements on the new coffee table:

The vase on the Christmas Console was finally filled:

(If anyone knows anything about growing curly willow in water, please fill me in. Something about changing the water and adding miracle grow?)

This fern leaf broke off after all the Oklahoma wind, so I brought it in for display. My very first “cutting” from the garden.

This palm stem was only $.50, but unless I really dig this arrangement placement, I won’t be buying anymore. Palms are far too tempting for Jin. This is the only place I could keep it away from him (on the mantel):

Hooray for living things!