our own garden

April 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been tackling the front yard little by little each day, despite snow & a bout of what I believe might be strep throat this weekend. It’s been a long time since anyone had cleaned up all of the weeds, so it’s taken a lot longer to clear the space than I thought. In fact, I’d love to know who planted the honeysuckle that has spread and taken over everything.  I have a few choice words for them.

Despite all that it’s been good to get outside and to start seeing the front yard transform little by little. I enjoy gardening but I’m also learning how expensive it can get. We probably only have another year renting this house, so I decided it might be better to invest more in a garden that can go with us when we move.

We have a wonderful porch off the second floor of the house we’re renting and I’ve been inspired by a lot of the gorgeous urban rooftop gardens out there. They’re like a private oasis.

I like the idea of creating an Italian inspired potager garden up on our porch with potted trees, roses and tomato plants. We have a vacation coming up in Italy in a few weeks and I’m hoping my husband & I can get inspired by what we find.

Until then, I will continue my battle with the honeysuckle little by little. I’ll be anxiously awaiting my husband’s return to help me finally start the planting. He’s the designer, so I wouldn’t really want to plant our garden without him anyway.

getting my xeriscaping on

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

A week ago I knew little about gardening much less about xeriscaping, but as a resident of Colorado it’s pretty important to learn about as you plan a garden. Xeriscaping was a term that was coined by the Denver water department and refers to landscape design that minimizes water use. It’s pretty important living in an area that’s as dry as it is here.

When I always used to think about dry climates, I would always think of muted barren desert plants, but when we lived in LA I was introduced to a whole new world of succelents that had a wide range of colors & textures. My husband planted a garden for us off our back balcony looking out over Palos Verdes & Catalina Island (and power lines).

To learn more about the xeric plants I could get locally, I paid a visit to a local nursery called Sturtz & Copeland where Todd showed me around, pointing out everything from hearty groundcover to beautiful flowering shrubs. They also offer a range of classes at the nursery that teach you how to create your own xeric garden.

Beyond the hens & chicks (2nd from the right) which are great for rocky terraces, flax, Spanish Gold Broom and Sage (left to right) are great water-saving choices that still yield beautiful flowers. On High Country Gardens’ website they have a xeric garden package you can buy for $124 that includes 22 plants that are not only beautiful to look at but smell amazing as well (except to deer and rabbits apparently). They include lavender, flowering oregano, licorice mint and lemon thyme (left to right below). The agastache rupestris (licorice mint) also has the benefit of attracting hummingbirds. Who doesn’t love those little guys?

I feel the same way about gardens as I do about furnishing a house. I like when it looks natural and lived in vs perfectly manicured & stuffy. The woman whose garden is pictured at the top of this post writes in her blog: “the scent of the garden in the morning feels like vacation”.  I love the idea of creating a natural garden half as beautiful as hers that I could enjoy walking out to in the morning.

With a xeric garden I’ll be able to do just that vs slaving away everyday watering & I’ll also find myself with a much lower water bill each month.

Oh Colorado

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

After a month of no snow, little rain and 60+ degree temperatures I thought it was safe to do gardening week. I guess the bad weather yesterday and today is ultimately a good thing because it has gotten me to slow down and realize I may need to do a little more planning vs just doing when it comes to gardening. My husband will be saying “I told you so” right about now as he reads this…

The expense can add up quickly, so I’ve spent yesterday and today thinking about what I want to accomplish with the garden. In the front of the house I’d like to do a xeric + local wildflower garden and then on our deck off the second floor I want to do a potager with a mixture of tomatoes, herbs, roses and small potted trees. I’ll be covering both of these projects in separate posts to come.

starting small

April 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

I lived in Boston for 6 years and one of my favorite things was seeing all of the window boxes fill up with flowers after the long winters were coming to an end. Especially in Beacon Hill, where gardens are scarce, people really went to town.

We’ve had a sad, smelly window box that’s been empty for a year now other than in its use as a litter box for one of the local cats. Just what you want when you walk out your front door. In my attempt to become a gardener this week I figured it would be a good spot to tackle first.

In doing a little research on window boxes, I really liked one I found on a blog called Brooklyn Roof garden. I love the Spring tulips combined with the natural looking ivy hanging down.

Alas, I live in Boulder and flowers are not so easy to come by just yet. I get it, Mother’s Day really is when I need to plant and when plants become more readily available. I went to McGuckin Hardware, Sturtz & Copeland and finally Home Depot, where I did find some bright, cheery narcissus and a few white tulips. The English Ivy will have a ways to grow, but all in all it’s a huge improvement. I also planted some cerastium to cover up the concrete wall by the front door.

After the Spring flowers are done, I will likely replant the bulbs in the front and turn the window box into an herb garden. There were a couple of natural looking herb gardens I liked from Smith & Hawken whose products are now being sold through Target. I’ll also be better about remembering to water it if it’s right by the front door.

If you don’t want to take on a whole landscaping project, window boxes really are pretty rewarding and not too hard to do.

getting out in the garden

April 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

That’s me when I was 4 with my grandmother standing out by one of her wildflower beds that was holding onto Summer despite the leaves falling all around. I’ve always loved this picture & how our outfits were matching the flowers. Very 70s.

Springtime always make me think of her garden. Every year, she would say she was done trying to battle all of the weeds and done with the headaches of gardening, but you’d always find her out there with her Black-eyed Susans and whatever else struck her fancy that year. Her garden was the pathway to the pool where my sisters & I spent a good bit of our summers as kids in Pennsylvania.

My Mom then carried the torch when we moved down to SC. There was a community garden she would work in each summer trying her damnedest to grow roses despite all that often worked against her. A good bit of the time she prevailed and the house would be filled with sweet smelling roses. When I was home I liked to go over with her in the evenings to help water. My favorite was watering the wild mint growing around because it smelled so good.

This past Saturday was one of those first perfect Spring days and just about everyone in the neighborhood was outside planting something. We are only renting our house and are supposed to have landscapers that take care of everything, but for some reason they always “forget” the front part of our house which is the part we see the most of. I like to joke there’s probably a dead body buried in there.

Needless to say, it’s not a pretty site to look at, so my husband and I finally decided to take matters into our own hands. He was a big help in starting to clear everything out, waging war against the honeysuckle vines that had taken over pretty much everything. I was wrong about the dead body, but we did find a cow skull in the part we’ve cleared away thus far.

We went & picked out some bulbs and seeds together but still need to figure out what all we want to plant. I joked with him that gardening is a great test of marriage because he and I come at gardening from completely different standpoints. He wanted me to draw out a schematic first, including color coordinating everything, whereas I just want plant some of the flowers I like best making sure I plant them where they’ll grow.

I think we’ll find a happy medium and it is good to have someone who knows more about gardening than I do. I know a few other people who read my blog that do as well. This week I’m definitely looking for some good suggestions! I know I have a lot to learn but it will just be nice after the hectic pitch last week to be outside getting my hands dirty.

We made some headway already but there’s lots more to do. I’ll have to figure out a prominent place for the cow skull.

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