While Steve works away madly on the inside of the house, I have kept busy outside. This is partially because there’s work to do out there, and partially because the interior is so dirty (drywall dust, etc.) that it’s best for me to leave if I can’t clean yet.
Step 1: Find some better porch furniture. We had some green plastic adirondack chairs (practically brand-new) that Steve found at the city dump on one of our many plaster removal trips last winter. They are nice, but not really up to my style standards for the front porch. Solution: Craigslist! A few weeks ago I rented a Ziptruck and busted out to Centreville, Virginia, on a Friday night to buy this lovely set of two chairs and a table. I already had the comfy red cushions. Voila: porch becomes instantly classier!
Quick Flashback: Here’s what our yard looked like when we first started our makeover (April 24, 2011)
Step 2: Remove the waning impatiens — that bloomed so bravely all summer — and replace with fall flora. Here’s a photo of our front “yard’ in full bloom this summer (End of August, 2011). Isn’t it pretty?
But in the last few weeks, the impatiens got leggy, pale and sickly looking. I made a trip to Johnson’s Garden Center (Wisconsin Ave.; can be pricey, but offers great selection in the city, and wonderful service) and picked out dozens of pansies, three cabbages and a yellow mum. (Plus one small pumpkin that is being eaten by squirrels, in spite of my homemade super-hot pepper spray!) (Oct. 6, 2011)
Many of the pansies were already a bit leggy, so I cut them way back; it looks like I just planted non-flowering greenery, but the nursery guy assured me they’d come back even better in the next few weeks. I just hope they’re up for Halloween weekend! I’ll post more photos when they’ve started filling in. This is what I hope they look like:
Step 3: Prepare for spring! That’s right, spring. I have been wanting to plant bulbs for years but never had a patch of ground for it. When Steve and I went to Amsterdam last year, I was devastated to find out that the bulbs weren’t certified that time of year (April) and I couldn’t [legally] bring them home. So, I’ve waited patiently until NOW! It’s time to plant bulbs! Today, I planted 115 bulbs in my small 60-square-foot garden, in less than two hours. We took a trip to the Lowe’s in Alexandria on Sunday; it’s a well known fact that the suburban big-box stores are so much better than our sad urban Home Depot, which only offered massive bags of tulips in a variety of colors. No, no, that would not work, because of course I want to choose very particular colors. To my delight, the Lowe’s offered exactly what I wanted, so I purchased:
60 crocuses (yellow, pale purple, dark purple and white). They are very small bulbs (each one smaller than a clove of garlic) and bloom very early in spring.
20 yellow tulips (yellow tulips are my absolute favorite. If I could have 300 at once, I would. Maybe each year I’ll add 100 more. With propogation, that could be awesome…)
35 purple tulips (all shades of purple and some near-white varieties). The tulips are larger bulbs (nearly as large as a small head of garlic) and therefore take more digging to get them in the ground.
(Can you tell I’m into purple and yellow right now? I like to think it looks lovely with my red door.)
So, we should have radigan gardenias, an azalea and some helleborus as evergreens all winter long, with pansies and cabbages for color. Then, in early spring, the crocuses will come up (the crocuses will be hidden quickly by the lily of the valley, then by the hostas.) Then the tulips will come up, and then it will be time to plant more impatiens!
My gardening philosophy is: bold statements of color, grouped together for the largest impact; plenty of textural variety; and extremely low-maintenance installations (i.e., perennials and self-propogating bulbs). I’ll post a diagrammed photo of the yard at some point with all the plant names.
Step 4: Fertilize, water and wait! I love waiting for flowers to appear.