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We have been busy here at the soapHOUSE! I am finding that life with 2 little ones, homeschooling and expecting our 3rd is busy and super fun! We have been having a great time in the garden. The backyard-work-in-progress is coming along and we are able to see some things reaching their potential this year. Despite our HUGE infestation of box elder bugs around the veggie beds:
We are still managing to get some great progress with the veggies. Most notable this week are the fresh strawberries:
In celebration of good news over bad news recently, I headed to the nursery for some goodies:
Purple Palace Heucheras were planted among the sum and substance hostas:
I also picked up a couple of Scotch Moss plants:
And some elfin thyme to put in around the stepping stone path.
Hubby has been so sweet lately helping out the preggers in the garden. He helped me dig up and move some of the pitiful fruit trees in the back yesterday. They were infested with spider mites their first year and although they are still alive, we are going on year 4 with no action....so the plums went by the creek and the apricot went in a pot. The peach remains as it is the only one that has not suffered.
I was also given some great divisions from my mom's garden lately. Hellebores, Solomon's Seal, Turk's Cap Lilies, Asters, Day Lilies, Peacock fern and Fennel....to name a few. Hubby planted all of them for me!
And, to top it off, today he is restaining the deck:
What a man!
This past week at soapHOUSE, I was on a mission! Our sweet neighbor has gotten a wild hair recently and has started clearing out his yard - which until recently was nothing but privet and grape vine that I used to just keep shooting down with roundup to prevent it from coming to my yard. Well, since he has been doing such a good job, our view has changed! We no longer have the wall of privacy that we used to have! Its now WIDE open. So - I began to ponder what would be the best thing to plant: cost effective, fast grower, contrasting foliage to the hydrangeas, evergreen....etc.... After several wanderings of the nursery, i decided on loropetalums. I don't have full sun in this spot, but I have a loro in another spot that gets part sun and its doing great - even bloomed this year. So, that was the decision. And I promptly purchased, dug and planted. I found 1 variety at the nursery, "Carolina Midnight" and another one at WalMart, "Burgundy." They look the same, so it will be fun to see how they mature.
Here is what it looked like 3 years ago:
And now the more current BEFORE:
I know - doesn't look a whole lot different. But, it will! I had to move the cast iron plants to make room for the loro on the left. I love the contrast already with the foliage on the right!
Then, I decided I should cut back all the tattered winter foliage from the cast iron plants:
Now it really doesn't look like anything!
All that digging got me motivated, so I decided to plant all the hostas that hubby bought me a few weeks back. They went in the bed with the rest of the hostas, in front of the azaleas, where a failed astillbe attempt was made. They "astilbe" dead! I think the hostas will fill in nicely:
didn't all have tags. The varieties that were labeled are: "August Moon," "Wide Brim," and my favorite - "St. Elmo's fire:"
Our local farmers market opened this weekend and there was a wonderful stand there with nothing but hostas of all varieties. He had some wonderful miniatures. I was so tempted! Then, I reminded myself that I should let these fill in first!
The replacement tree peony arrived this past week. I had to ponder where to put it - finally decided on the obvious and stuck it with the other peonies, even though this one will get bigger as it is a "tree" - "kamata nishiki" Should look like this when it blooms:
I ordered this 2 years ago and found out this year that they sent the wrong one when it bloomed pink.
Yet another thing in my "crock-pot" garden that doesn't yet look like anything, but will one day!
The peonies to the left of he new tree variety under the iron support started blooming today:
They are always worth the wait! I won't go into detail about all the mail-order plant shopping that I got suckered into this week while I was virtually gardening inside - due to all the wonderful rain we were having outside! I will wait till the goodies come to chat about that :)
I am an impatient gardener!
So much is happening in the garden, it is SO exciting! I took another trip to the nursery today. I was going to pick up my veggie plants to have ready to put in the ground next week, but i forgot my list...so I just picked up a purple bougainvilla. I have always wanted to try one of these up the front porch railing...but have never been willing to spend the money on something that won't come back, but I decided to go for it this year. It will go in next week. We are forecasted for another freeze on monday, so I still have to be patient! When I got home, I took a nice stroll around the garden to admire all the spring happenings and take some picks. Here is a sampling:
The Viburnum is blooming and looking so pretty:
Those Iris in front of it are starting to bud out, the mystery oxalis bulbs that came free with my order from direct gardening are coming up, the peonies are up and have buds on them, the small allium bulbs have formed their buds, the hellebores look amazing, the pineapple lily is coming up. And, the miscanthus that I have been experimenting with lately is looking good. I have some that I always wish didn't grow so tall, so I decided to keep cutting them back in spring to stunt their growth. So far, so good.
The coral bark maple is all leafed out:
The hostas are coming up very nicely. There are some that didn't seem to survive the drought though. I spent some time last night cutting back the ivy so that the hostas can breathe.
The Solomon's Seal clump that I dug up from mom's is looking great and I know I will just love having this in the garden. The cannas are also coming up, the crepe myrtles are leafing out, the euphorbia that i got for $1 b/c it was half dead looks great:
Also, the fig tree is leafing out and so is the wisteria (although I have yet to get blooms off this vine).
I think one of my favorite parts of the garden right now is all the autumn fern fronds that are emerging:
The 60 tulips that I planted are up and the purple are blooming. Its funny how short they are, but the other ones aren't...
The honeysuckle on the side of the house that is supposed to like sun, but is in shade...looks good:
Another exciting thing is that the birdhouse we put in last year now has a nest in it. We weren't sure b/c we did not design it with housing birds in mind...it was more of an art piece. so, its cool that the birdies are liking it!
The trumpet trees are coming up and the Daturas as well. The daturas made TONS of babies:
I am wondering if some of those seedlings are poppies. I did scatter some seeds out there in the winter. Will have to wait and see, I guess.
Another exciting thing is the deciduous honey suckle start that mom gave me is coming back. I thought for sure it was dead! And last but not least, the Elephant ears are all coming up.
e are some broad shots of the garden as of today:
Well, I have had a few very fun nursery shopping trips over the last few days. Somehow the blow to the wallet hurts less when smaller, but multiple trips are made HAH!
Anyway, each time, I came home with quite a few goodies! I found some 1 gallon azaleas for $2 each, so I got 4 of them to complete and fill in some empty spots in the existing azalea bed.
They were all labeled "assorted azalea" I have learned that there are SO many varieties of azaleas that identifying what I currently have may be more difficult than initially thought. So, for now...its "assorted".
I also got a cool looking plant that I had never heard of. "Acanthus Mollis 'Oak Leaf'" (Grecian Pattern Plant) The plant label says that it is extremely fast growing to a hight of 4 feet tall and wide. It also says that it is semi evergreen and somewhat invasive when happy. Oh, and it likes shade too...so I thought, isn't that PERFECT for the creek bank! The guy at the nursery agreed :). So, in it went and I have great expectations...
Right after that pict was taken, I got up there with the weed eater and trimmed everything back to our property line. I had been struggling as to how to control all the growth back there...with roundup, by hand, or with the weed eater. I had been hesitant about the use of roundup...I really don't like to make a habit out of using that stuff and especially being on a creek bank. Plus, I am planting a lot of plants that are said to naturalize well and if I continually spray roundup that certainly will not help things. Then, I saw a gardening show about a lady who had a huge moss garden and she said the best thing to do to help it along is keep it free of debris, so I set out with my weed eater and did notice that once I got everything trimmed, there is a layer of moss under that...so I hope to help it along.
Also, while I was weedeating, the tornado sirens started going off!!! Its such a chore climbing up the creek bank with weed eater in hand (and at 9 mo preggers) that since I was already back there, I just wanted to get it done, so I went super fast and was able to make it inside before the storm hit!!!
I also picked up some other things at the nursery that will stay in my studio until the last frost date here (April 15th). Even though they are all perennial, all their nice spring growth would get zapped should we have another late freeze. Here is a breakdown of the goodies waiting for their homes:
10 Annual Mexican Heathers (These will get dotted around the front and back yard. They are so drought tolerant and always perform well for me. Last year, when I waited until after the frost date to purchase things, I had to drive to 3 different nurseries to find these, so I went ahead and got what I wanted.)
2 Sum and Substance Hostas (I really wanted 6, but the budget wouldn't allow, so I got 2 that looked like they could be divided and i will break them down into 6 total. They will look puny this year, but in years to come will be awesome. 3 will go in the shade bed in progress with the azaleas and the other 3 will go under the saucer magnolia in the front yard.
1 Minuteman Hosta - Nice variegated variety. I will divide this one as well. Not sure how many divisions I will get, but they will all go in the azalea shade bed.
2 Blue Cups Hostas - Very cool cup like leaves in a nice cool blue. Will also divide these ...hopefully into 4 total and will put 2 with the azaleas and 2 under the saucer magnolia.
1 Ostrich Fern - I wanted 3 of these to put under the saucer magnolia with the hostas, but once again the budget prevailed. This one can not be divided, but I will plant it by the creek and if it lives up to its reputation as a fast growing clumping spreader, I should be able to take some clumps in the next couple of years to dot around the garden.
1 Robust Male Fern - Never heard of this one...funny name, semi-evergreen, glossy fronds, fast growing to 4 feet tall...so, it will be another plant to find a home by the creek.
Whew...and imagine, when I set out to write this entry, I didn't think I had that much to say. HAH!
I have been slowly working away at getting all of my ornamental grasses cut back and ready for spring. Its quite a chore when you have a decent number of them. Well, today I finished cutting all of them back and mulching them. I have 11 or so Variagated Miscanthus, and 2 Zebra Grasses. It feels great to have this chore done - and it looks so nice and tidy. My little girl also helped me with some more clean up....
We Dug up 2 cast Iron Plants that were planted in the azalea bed but were somewhat hidden and not doing too well, so I divided them and moved them to the Hydrangea/ Hosta Bed:
Once I had them in the ground, I top dressed each one with a shovel full of compost. Hopefully that will help green them up a bit.
Also pruned back the artemesia, transplanted a mahonia that was in a bad spot, cut back the clematis jackmanii, cut back the liriope seeds, and deadheaded the camellia. Once the little one went down for her nap, I worked on getting more brush to the curb. I also noticed that a lot of things are starting to come out of dormancy and get ready for spring!
The daffodils in the front are starting to emerge, a couple of the things I bought on clearance in the late summer are showing signs of coming back (the butterfly weed and some hydrangeas most noteabley) The creeping phlox and veronica are also starting to bloom :) The roses I purchased from the Antique Rose Website are showing new growth, all the trees and shrubs have their buds, EVEN the weeds are coming out of dormancy! HAH! So fun watching it all unfold!
Here is what the front of the house looks like today:
My view from the front porch today:
I really am enjoying getting the yard all tidy and ready for spring...very gratifiying!
Well, yesterday we had snow all day...with accumulation, which is very unusual for us here! Of course b/c of snow...I am sure you can all imagine that it was quite cold! This means my plans for more creek clean up were put to a rest for this weekend at least. But, it did give me a good chance to get some things done inside the house. I worked on painting the nursery for the little one to come and I spent some time tootling around on various gardening websites. But, most exciting of all is that I got all of my past blog entries printed out and put in a 3 ring binder. I had NO idea how much I had written! I have enjoyed and found it very helpful in the past to look over my old entries. Now that they are all on paper...I have a great essay of the garden for most of last season and I can write notes in the margins and highlight and it will be just a great resource for future garden planning. It ended up being over 300 pages of blog entries! Now, I will try to maintain the discipline of printing out my blog on a monthly basis so that I always have it up to date.
One thing that I have found most helpful with it right now is looking back on the creek project and the progress. I am really starting to plan what to plant in that area as it is almost cleared out....but, since everything is dormant right now, looking back at old entries has really helped me notice where I still need to clean out and areas of sun and shade.
I have also been making a lot of mental to do lists for future garden projects. I think I ought to get them down on "paper":
Whew....now that I got that out of my system!
It will be great to look back on this and see what ends up getting done! LOL
I had another great weekend in the garden. Got LOTS done as I am taking advantage of the warm daytime temps we have been having lately. I spent so much time on the front yard this past growing season, that now I am excited to get more work done in the back. I have been doing things such as defining the beds and putting in paths. I ordered another load of the free woodchips from the city and got busy spreading it:
I laid down a path in between the beds leading to the back. The bed to the left contains hydrangeas and hostas. I just transplanted all the hydrangeas to a better layout and added 2 variegated hydrangeas on either side of the sweet gum tree - I am looking forward to seeing how it looks come spring.
Here is the same path, from the back view:
My husband cut down the remainder of the trunk of the tree we took out last weekend. He was excited, because this meant he got to buy an electric chain saw. He always loves getting new toys...as you can see it definately did the trick:
I also transplanted the nandinas that were in the front of this tree over to another space so that now I have room to put in a nice conifer garden :) I also finished spreading all the pine straw (this helped to define the beds and create some new planting areas in the back yard. Here is a good shot of the back yard as of today:
The creek area even got some attention this weekend. Once I finish dragging the brush to the curb, it will be all cleared and ready to plant up with ground covers and ferns. I also plan to put an arbor at the gate with a nice vine on it and an outdoor hammock so that the area can be fully enjoyed!
I am interested to see what survived out of my bargain fern purchases that I planted back here in late summer. Once the drought hit, they began to suffer...so we will see. The creeping euonymous is doing well, however :)
On the list for this week: finish spreading wood chip pile and dragging creek brush to curb!
This week we are finally supposed to have a break from the over 100 heat. Back into the 90's, so that means...back to the garden! I have missed it!!!! I am really looking forward to fall and thinking of all my projects and plantings. I just took a part time job so I will have less time, but I'm sure I will manage as I tend not to sit still well :)
They were talking on the radio this morning about how the heat and drought might affect the fall color we get here. They said the leaves may just start dropping instead of changing colors :( I hadn't even considered that would happen!
Projects for Fall:
I think I'll be busy!!!!!