You guys, we actually have landscaping in our front yard!
I can’t tell you how excited this makes me. We have been working on these beds for almost 4 years now. 4 long, frustrating years! After numerous failed attempts of adding plants, and way too much time spent thinking about soil and light and color combinations, I finally admitted, “I just want flowers! Pretty flowers that make me smile when I pull into the driveway and walk to the front door.” This revelation came on a Friday, and by Saturday we had a trunk filled with snap dragons, roses, and a few pots of small, white flowers.
We weren’t planning on buying any plants over the weekend, but a local garden center, Red Barn, was hosting a fall fest, so we took the kids and ended up coming home with plants, too. Which I’m sure the marketing team at Red Barn never expected to happen (wink wink). The fall fest was really fun! Right at the gate there was an employee handing out bags with coloring books and candy to the kids. There were also employees walking around with buckets of candy that the kids could “trick or treat”. I was impressed to see that in addition to candy, they had small toys, perfect for families like ours that have dietary restrictions. Needless to say, the kids loved it.
There was face painting, bounce houses, a petting zoo, and multiple pumpkin patches. The petting zoo included kittens that were up for adoption. Eleanor has never encountered an actual kitten (Louie was full grown when she was born), but when see saw them… oh, man. It was a look of pure joy on her face, and it made my heart melt. I could go on about how special it is to witness your children experience firsts like that, but I’ll save that for another post. For now, let’s get back to the flowers!!
While Michael took Emerson and Akira to the fall fest at Akira’s school (Yes! Another one!) and Eleanor was napping, I planted the orange snap dragons in the planter by our front door. I also planted the pink snap dragons and 18 ranunculus bulbs along the border. I picked up the bulbs from Wal–Mart a few years ago and they’ve been sitting in a drawer, so it’s a gamble on if they will actually grow. On Sunday, Michael planted the roses and the white flowers. And ta da!
The small bushes and the blueish green plants along the border are things that we planted a few months ago. We never blogged about it, because honestly, we were waiting to see if they would die. They’re still going strong, so yay! I don’t remember what the small, blueish green ones on the border are called, but the bushes on the side of the roses are dwarf nandina. We picked those as our anchors. They last year-round and are supposed to turn red in the fall.
I’ve walked outside and just looked at our front yard more times than I’d like to admit. It’s such a change from the barren beds we’ve had for the last few years. Our sweet neighbor even came over to admire our new plants with us. We’re not done, however! We still want to carve out and plant a bed that follows the sidewalk like mentioned here. We’d also like to add one more type of anchor plant to the empty spaces in the bed. I don’t know that anchor plant is an actual term, but what I mean by that is: something that last year-round and has some sort of seasonal interest (either blooming or changing colors like the nandina). We also want to add something – maybe upright and trailing – to the empty spot next to the garage wall.
We also have a few spots on the sides of the house that we’d like to dress up with a few plants. We’re not sure what yet, but I’m fascinated by camillas, because they bloom mid-winter through late spring, so I’d really like to a few of those if we can find the right spot for them. I think for right now, though, we’re going to focus on making sure our new plants don’t die. I know I keep mentioning that, and you might be thinking, “Geez! Why are having such a hard time keeping plants alive?!” But the soil here is a beast! It’s hard, dry, and mostly clay and rock. About 2 years ago, we dug up the top layer and added organic garden soil and compost, but it’s only helped a little. We’ve also been adding peat moss to the soil when we plant things. Peat moss doesn’t absorb as much water, so it helps keep some air in the soil and prevent the clay from compacting and killing the roots. (This is also why we tried to pick plants this time around that we saw growing in our neighbors’ yard.) If anyone has any other tips to help us keep our plants alive, please share!
I’ll leave you with is before and after – that I may or may not come back and stare at multiple times today…