It took me a few years to figure out that there were such things as "shade" plants and "sun" plants. After unsuccessfully planting some of both in the wrong spot I finally figured it out. So while I freely admit that the gardening gene is sadly lacking in me, there must be a glimmer of it buried way deep down inside me that has been surfacing lately.
Now in this first picture on the left I cannot take credit for the robustness of the top plant with the tomato, basil, cilantro and little yellow flowers (whatever they are). That was a birthday gift from my co-worker buddy, Dana. I take great pride in saying that it has not withered away and died. It has actually grown...AND I have enjoyed to basil on salads I take to work. Now the sad little plant at the bottom (which I can't remember whether it is a petunia or a geranium) was viciously attacked by cutworms. This I found out after taking it to the local nursery when it looked like a stick plant and asked "What is doing this?" and found out I needed not just slug bait (which I had previously purchased thinking they were the culprits) but a special, more expensive slug bait that included cutworms. The little stick plant has made a remarkable recovery and is slowly budding new leaves. Stupid cutworms...like I don't already have enough plant problems without them getting involved!
These plants on the right are an ode to Velma. In fact I believe both pots were originally hers. And yes, when I inherited them they had some beautiful geraniums or petunias (I always get the two mixed up) in them, lovingly grown and nurtured by Velma. Determined to do right by the originals I read up on how to "winter" geraniums and successfully kept them going into the next summer. Sheepishly I have to admit that the 2nd time I "wintered" them I forgot they were in my basement and didn't remember them until summer was almost over. Needless to say there were no survivors. But since technically geraniums (or petunias) are really meant to be annuals and get a little leggy over time, I plant them each year now in memory of Velma.
This is a successful corner of the brick garden box that lines the front of my three living room windows and around the corner to the fireplace. I say successful corner because the whole rest of the way to the left is just dirt and the plants around the corner look a little sad right now. But we take successes where we get them. Right? The planter box is a little hard to know what to put in it because it is under the eave and gets hardly any water at all so is it pretty dry.
I don't recall at all what this plant is, but I remember that the flowers turn blue or pink depending on how acidic or full of iron your soil is. Naturally I wanted one that would turn blue and ended up with pink (which I think means my soil is acidic). One year I buried some nails around the base of the plant hoping to boost the iron content and for a few years some of the blooms turned a brilliant purple color. The big fern next to it got a "haircut" this spring and looked a little sad for awhile but is really coming in now. It is the 2nd time I have given it a "haircut" and I think it is the trick to keeping them looking nice because the branches or leaves (not sure what you should call them - fronds?) die off each year.
So this little corner of my yard was recently mostly covered in grass. In one of my weeding marathons, which is how I tend to weed (one big day devoted to weeding no matter how much it kills me) I dug out all the grass, relined it with the bricks which were buried under grass and dirt and worked until my hands were shaking and I could hardly move. Oddly enough the pain did not last into the next day or even the next. I expected not to be able to get out of bed the next day but was actually fine...go figure.
This was another area that was part of the marathon weeding Saturday. There used to be two tall evergreen bushes here that I absolutely hated. There was all this beautiful area but nothing could be planted in it because of the evergreen needles. Dennis finally had them both cut down for me (that's why I love him...he will pretty much do what I want...it might take a little time, but we get there). As you can see I have staged some plants for planting.
The next picture is of another garden box that sits between the two sets of stairs that go up to the front doors. You can see that I have quite a bunch of day lilies. A friend recommended those years ago as something quite hardy and easy to keep alive. Boy was she right! They have thrived though I guess you are supposed to thin them now and again. I have only done it once. Probably should do it again soon. Now the bleeding heart plant (yes, that IS one I remember) I have had for a few years. I did at one point have two, but I think I accidentally dug up the roots one year because they die down to nothing every year. Now the impatiens (another plant I know the name of) are one of my favorites, though Spencer questioned the usefulness of annual plants when we went to purchase them stating why would you buy a plant that you have to plant every year?? Why indeed? Because they are cute and colorful and they grow in shade, which I have alot of on the front of my house!
Speaking of impatiens this is one of my favorite places to plant them. Though I haven't done it for a few years. These big rocks are at the bottom and between my my two sets of stairs that go up to the house. There is alot of shade on the planter box in front and then of course the pesky pine needles from the evergreen above, but the impatiens seem to get along fine here.
Now this leggy, bushy thing which might be some form of azalea (I haven't the slightest idea for sure) has to be cut back every year and grows like crazy (that's why I love it) with these brilliant red flowers. I always forget how big it gets each year so sadly those impatiens I planted in front may get a little grown over before the summer is over. Oh well.
So the big news of the year is that we had a "rain garden" put in last fall. This is something the city of Seattle is encouraging people in our particular neighborhood to do to help reduce run-off going into the city drains. The idea is to capture water from your gutters before it gets to the streets and into the city drains. And being the big "green, environmentalists" that we are (NOT) we signed up. We also got this lovely cistern that Dennis absolutely loves. Personally while not necessarily attractive, I think it is kind of cool looking and it has generated lots of positive comments from people walking by (almost always when Dennis is out there which is poetic justice I suppose). Anyway, during the winter months the majority of our gutter water is diverted to this lovely cistern and flows from there to "Miste's pond" which is part of the rain garden and the next picture. From April 15 to about October 15 you shut the valve off so the water doesn't go to the pond and you can use the stored water to freely water your plants! Which I think is pretty awesome though since the water is gravity driven it takes a long, long time to get everything watered!
This is one corner of Miste's pond. You can see the red pipe on the right which is where the water from the cistern goes into the pond. A contractor built the rain garden and did all the plants, which are native, hardy and low maintenance which was what I requested. The city basically paid for us to put this all in. I think it cost us a couple hundred when all was said and done. You put in the rain garden and the city reimburses you for the cost.
So these are a couple of plants I am going to put in the area where I dug out all the grass. I kind of ran out of steam today so I only got part of the planting done.
This is a shot of the whole rain garden. You may recall that we had probably a 10 foot or so hedge right there next to the laurel bush you can now see. It was between the laurel bush and the flag pole basically. Obviously it is gone and the two evergreens that were south of the laurel bushes...gone as well. It certainly exposes the house more but over time some of the stuff will grow taller and fill in a little. Just today I put up the Great Wall of Miste with the bricks. Originally the fence that went around our other side yard (a cement slab) was built with brick support "posts"--needless to say, when we took it down we were left with alot of bricks! Oma even made a whole brick path across the front of her house with bricks she got from us. I set up the second row of bricks because I still had alot more and didn't know where to put them. I thought it would be a temporary solution, but I like the way it looks so I will probably leave it.
Since the post is getting a bit long winded (and my internet connection is not working so great tonight for some reason) I will just finish with another picture of my favorite little flowers. I hope that mom is smiling down on my attempts at gardening and maybe sending a few positive vibes my way (for the survival of the new plants I hope so). This is two weekends already this year, close together I might add, that I have spent gardening. Maybe the gardening gene does exist in me and it just need a little kickstart to blossom (no Dennis pun intended).
PS - I remembered the name of the plant with the pink flowers from above - hydrangeas!