Thursday, April 14, 2016

Home Sweet Home

   We have been in our house for a little over two years now!  Time has really flown by, although I keep catching myself saying things like "We just moved in our house," or "I haven't had time yet to finish that/fix that/unpack that..."  I think the jig is up at this point!  I thought I would post a few pictures of the exterior of the house to look at our progress in two years, and because my flowers look so pretty right now!

Circa January 2014
   Here's where we started.  To be fair, this picture was taken in early January.  There's a whole lot of nothing growing/blooming/alive in January.  And here's where we are today:

April 2016

   The main difference in the house exterior has been the addition of the flower bed on the left of the garage, which, frustratingly, you wouldn't even have been able to see in the old photo.  It extends about half the depth of the house and curves around the front corner beside the garage.  I transplanted iris tubers that were original to the house from the backyard into this new flower bed last spring.  They were fine in the spring, but nothing bloomed or grew much, probably because of the shock of transplanting.  I cut them down last fall to about six inches tall on the advice of Chris's grandfather, the iris whisperer.  This spring they have tripled in size and have been covered in the most lovely yellow blooms for about a month now!
   We have also replaced the exterior lights with some nice big non-brass fixtures, replaced the rotting house number plaque (I blurred the numbers so you can't creep on me), and Chris replaced the vent/portal thingie over the garage with an identical one.  The original one was wooden and had warped with time, leaving a gap that birds were using to start nesting in my attic.  No thank you!  So he ordered a new fiberglass one and got it all painted and installed.

   I've planted several things in the mailbox planters over the past two years, and I continue to struggle with finding the right thing to live here.  It gets a tremendous amount of wind in the spring and fall and is in 100% sunlight all summer long.  I started with violas, which didn't fare too badly, but were too short to be seen, and they kept "jumping out" of the planters and popping up in the yard!  I planted mums in the box in the fall, and that was okay, but not amazing.  So this spring I decided to try petunias.  I planted a larger dark pink plant and two smaller light pink ones on each side.  So far they are doing just fine, and are a nice greeting for our mailman.

   As you approach the house, you pass one of the two main flower beds.  This one, too, has housed several different things over the past two years.  I planted the two little azalea bushes in the back when we moved in, and last summer I planted the pink petunias.  I guess somehow they didn't completely die during our mild winter because they're back and bigger than ever this spring!  No work for me!  I have no idea what kind of tree that is, but it's really lovely in the spring!

   My azaleas haven't gotten a ton bigger than when I planted them (maybe they are slow growers?), and haven't bloomed at all for the past two springs, but it looks like this year we are in for a treat!  Both bushes are absolutely covered in buds and a few flowers.  I can't wait!

   I also have a hosta in the pot on the porch that came back from last year.  That's no small miracle either.  When it "died" last fall, I moved the urn into the garage to protect it from the elements.  A couple of months ago, I noticed that a green leaf had popped up in the pot!  It had gone all fall, winter, and early spring in the garage with no sun and no water, but it's back and more beautiful than it was last year!  The geranium basket was a sweet gift from Chris's mom that I have managed to not kill yet.

   On the other side of the sidewalk is the other main flowerbed.  I've struggled knowing what to plant here too.  It's south facing, full sun all the time.  These poor plants really get baked in the summer.  Nearest to the sidewalk is a crepe myrtle that blooms light pink.  I have mixed feelings about crepe myrtles because as lovely as I think they are, I am not a fan of all the bugs that also enjoy them.  Especially so close to my front door.  But it came with the house, and it really is pretty in the summer, so I put up with it.  At the far end is a nice fat butterfly bush that has purple blooms in the late spring and summer.  Both it and the crepe myrtle grow surprising fast (at least to a novice like me) and require a LOT of trimming to keep them looking tidy, but that means lots of cut flowers for the dining room table!
   I planted four tiny phlox plants when we bought the house, all a light pinky-purple.  The two closest to the butterfly bush didn't make it, so I replanted the next year.  They have grown and spread, but nothing like the nearest two!  I tell you, God knew to send indestructible plants to a brown-thumb like me!  They have gone crazy and I have to trim them up so they don't spill out into the yard and get mowed!  They are very early bloomers too.  I often catch a glimpse of tiny purple flowers peeking through ice and snow in February!  Earlier in the spring they had twice as many flowers as they do in these photos from today!  I always deliberate on adding some taller plants at the back of the flower bed, but at the rate the phlox are going, they would choke something else out by next year!

   I am definitely an inexperienced gardener, and I'm learning new things all the time, but I love how pretty everything is right now.  I feel so much pride and pleasure while enjoying the plants and flowers, and I don't even mind doing yard work.  I think the biggest thing I have learned in two years is to choose the right plants.  Even a master gardener can't make a sun-loving flower bloom in the shade, or a delicate flower thrive in the Oklahoma sun.  It's taken me a while to figure out what kinds of things like what kinds of conditions, and to figure out how much time I can realistically devote to my yard.  I know that things that need constant fussing with or multiple waterings a day just aren't a great choice for me.

   Thanks for letting me show off my flowers!  I hope it brought a little springtime to your day.  Feel free to share yours as well!