Admittedly, waiting a week between blog posts is unacceptable, and for this I apologize.
You see, I’ve been a bit busy over the past week. For one… I changed jobs, which has been wonderfully exhilarating but very time consuming. And for another, we have been wrapped up in a major yard rejuvenation. My garden guru (mom) has been staying with us for the past week to help us install a custom landscaping plan she designed for our front and back yard. She and Heath have been waking up at 7 am every morning to put the plan into action. I wouldn’t believe the transformation if I wasn’t part of the process.
I squeal with glee at the end result. What all did the plan entail, you ask?
1.) Weeding the existing flower bed
2.) Cleaning the succulent planter and adding gravel to cover the dirt
3.) Pruning the trees
4.) Marking a curvature for the bed
5.) Leveling and installing paver borders
6.) Scrapping grass from the walkway and landing
7.) Installing and leveling the paver walkway
8.) Shopping endlessly at various nurseries for the perfect plants and pavers
9.) Installing the plants
Already we are at step 12 and I can’t begin to describe the lengths they’ve gone to to make sure the new plan is not only installed but also poised for success. Every paver was perfectly placed and leveled and every plant was meticulously chosen, taking into consideration its water needs, soil needs, future growth, and cohesion with other plants. Nothing was selected on a whim. As good as it looks now, I know it will look even more marvelous once the plants mature.
Of course, the front is only half the story. The back is still in the works, but already we’re making progress to turn that from a wonky and weed-laden war zone to polished and pristine courtyard.
There’s more to tackle in the rear, as most of the projects taking place back there this week have been less the stuff of glamorous makeovers and more maintenance (taking care of some of the things we let slide during the school year). We removed a large brush pile we had long been ignoring, chopped down a dying tree, pruned up a tenacious Pecan and cleaned and reorganized the shed. And of course, there was a bit of harvesting.
Tomorrow is dear mom’s last day gardening at the old doodle house, but at this rate I wouldn’t put it past her to install a swimming pool back there just to prove she could. The woman’s a landscaping machine. I can’t wait for our next back yard bbq to show off the fancy new digs.
Today marks two years of blogging from the doodle house!
Documenting our lives and sharing the things that have entertained and inspired us has been tremendously rewarding. The blog has been a place where I can be creative and goofy and honest, and I’m so happy to have found such joy in this little hobby.
Some highlights of what we’ve done and seen in the last two years…
It’s been a thoroughly eventful two years. There’s no telling what the next two will hold.
Heath and I have been spending a lot of time in Denton lately, which for us means spending a lot of time in my mom’s garden. It’s not a bad place to be. Over the past few weeks, her front yard has really started to burst with color.
She is so creative with her use of color and texture. I can’t wait for her to come makeover our space. Happy gardening!
I can’t figure out what the heck is wrong with my Silver Cassia.
When I planted it back in January, she looked a-like-a-this.
She’s not a bad looking gal. Fast forward to today, and this is what we’re dealing with.
I don’t want to say it’s the saddest thing ever, but it sure is breaking my heart. I just don’t get it. We water her daily. She gets plenty of sun. We used top notch soil during the potting process. It just doesn’t make a lick of sense. I thought maybe we were watering her too much, but she’s dry as a bone. I’m flummoxed. If anyone has any tips on what to do with this once majestic beauty, I’m willing to try anything.
Fortunately, all is not lost on the backyard gardening front. This Sunday we harvested our first carrot.
So maybe we won’t have beautiful patio shrubs to gaze out at this summer, but at least we won’t go hungry.
Usually it’s fall that has the reputation for being harvest time, but we’ve been chomping down on home grown goodies for a few weeks now. Here are updates on what’s happening in the back yard:
- Lettuce season is pretty much over.There are a few stragglers, but for the most part we’ve accepted its demise. It’s partly due to heat and partly due to some free-range chickens who developed a taste for romaine. I’m sad to see the fresh lettuce go, but I’m thrilled to have had as much quality time with it as I did. RIP lettuce season. Your memory will live on forever.
- The squash plant has started blooming. T-minus 3 weeks (?) until flower turns fruit.
- Sugar snap peas are ripe for the picking! Not only ripe but the most delicious little green thing ever to be eaten in the history of ever.
- Peppers are fruiting. They are growing slow but hopefully in two weeks we will be able to spice up a dinner or two.
- Tomatoes. Also happening.
- Onions & carrots: not close to bloomsville, but on track for harvesting by early June.
We’re pretty jazzed.
“It” being the grand plan for the backyard. My genius landscaping mother (who I blogged about here) created quite the master plan for our backyard, and we have just now implemented step one…
This funky little space, before we moved in, housed a shed built by the previous owners, but it was demolished before we came into the picture, and we were left with rocky soil and lots o’ shade. We gave an herb garden a shot in the old space, but it didn’t quite work out. There was just too much shade from both the back patio and heath’s horizontal fence.
Yes, nothing says “zen” quite like empty wine bottles and a whiskey barrel. Perhaps “The Alcoholic’s Garden” would have been more appropriate. (To be fair, we had help collecting the wine bottles for the border and the whiskey barrel planter was purchased elsewhere, though it still smelled of whiskey once we got our hands on it.) The new set up is perfect for the space. The rockiest parts were transformed into a mulch-covered path, and once the bay tree gets a little larger, we will have a spectacular shade tree paradise.
Fun fact: The bay tree has origins in Greek mythology. Legend has it, the roof of the temple of Apollo was covered entirely with bay leaves to protect the Gods from disease, witchcraft and lightening. The leaves of a bay tree are also the predominate leaf used in the laurels of olympians and poets. So…we’re in good shape when it comes to poetry and witchcraft and being Gods.
Things is starting to look real fine.
Seeing as how spring is in full force, the trees have budded and beautiful blooms are taking over the city, Heath and I have really started to kick gardening into high gear. After all, we don’t have much time until our current pleasant weather patterns of moderate temperatures and weekend showers turns into 100-degree heat and harsh drought the Texas summers are famous for. Better get that garden in top condition ASAP.
And while I like to scour the net for design inspiration for both the indoors and out, my favorite source for backyard ideas to emulate is my mom’s garden. The woman has not only got a green thumb, but a remarkable sense of space, color and texture. She is gifted in creating colorful bursts of life in unexpected places and pairing native plants together in exuberant bouquets that stimulate the senses. What’s more, is she creates outdoor rooms and social spaces in areas that, before she gets to them, seemed void of any real function or purpose. She’s a force to be reckoned with when it comes to gardening, and every visit home reveals some fantastic new discovery in landscape design.
Not only does she practice fastidious attention to detail and preparation on her garden, but she has set her sights on ours as well. Over the past few weeks she has spent hours upon hours crafting a master landscaping plan for the gardens at the doodle house. And yesterday, we began work on phase one. I foresee big and beautiful changes in our garden future…inspired by our favorite garden guru.
Enough with this internet googling business.
When I need ideas for landscaping and home design why am I not drawing more inspiration from the other homes in my neighborhood? After all, most are from roughly the same time period (1950s-1960s), the neighbors are all dealing with the same soil and vegetation issues, and I would assume our budgets for creating a gorgeous front garden and entryway are probably in the same neighborhood (literally). So armed with Heath, the doodles and my Nikon, I decided to capture some of my favorite neighborhood images to stash away in my idea bank.
Idea Two—The natural privacy fence.
Obviously building a fence or some other permanent structure is one way to create separation between you and your neighbor, but getting creative with plants is appealing as well (and probably cheaper). The only drawback is it takes patience for the plants to grow to appropriate privacy height…and patience is not one of my virtues. Still, I can admire the patience of others and appreciate what they have done to create privacy with plants.
Idea Three— The unconventional details.
I’ve already implemented this in my backyard with wine bottles and a repurposed pallet, but having an unconventional element in the front garden has it’s bonuses, too. It generates interest and sets your house apart from some of the others in the hood.
Idea Four—The curbside garden.
In the past, I tended to think of frontyard landscaping and gardens as existing closer to the house, hiding the foundation and framing the structure. But dozens of our neighbors have built their gardens all the way out to the street and I love it. It’s less lawn to deal with and its visually appealing too.
One of the deciding factors that led us to choose our house over others we were looking at, was the neighborhood. The streets are wide and wonderfully walkable. The trees are towering and mature, and each house has its own unique features. We adore our hood and hope to draw dozens of more inspirations from it in the future.
This weekend was one for lots of little projects, but my favorite may have been creating a planter for an empty galvanized tank we have long been ignoring.
For a while we debated whether to turn our tank into a fish pond water feature or to use it as a colorful entry planter. Some of these inspiration photos really pushed me over the edge when it came to deciding its fate.
Both options were appealing and had their pros and cons, but at the end of the day, a planter seemed more low maintenance. So we we went to work to make it happen.
Step 2: Layer with peat moss and potting soil. A lot of potting soil. We underestimated just how much at first, but those tanks don’t mess around and can hold a healthy amount. We ended up needing to make a few return trips to Home Depot for more. I think we ended up using something like 5 bags.
Step 3: Once the soil is in, choose your plants and stage your area to figure out where everything will live before you get to digging.
We knew we wanted a variety of texture, height and color in the planter to keep things interesting, and we knew we needed things that could do well in the heat and sun. Our final selections included:
- Heat tolerant pink geraniums (for color)
- Fortnight lily (for height)
- Ice plant (For drooping over the side and giving it a waterfall-ish look. We have had incredible luck with our ice plants, it’s one of the few that seems impossible to kill, even in Texas heat.)
- Sedum (for ground cover)
Step 4: Put them in the planter and you’re done! I love the end result.
- Galvanized Planter: Free (It was a gift, thanks Mom)
- Plants: $30
- Packing Peanuts: $21 (3 bags at $7 a piece)
- Soil and Peat Moss: $21 (5 bags of potting soil, 1 of peat moss)
- Total: $72.
The whole project took less than an hour to put together, including travel time to and from the Home Depot to get materials, and it cost less than $100 to implement. I’m embarrassed we let it sit empty for so long. Now we have a beautiful planter that makes a huge statement to our backyard visitors. I can’t wait to see how it changes and grows over time.
I like a little formality outdoors. It’s odd, for sure. Especially when you consider that the rest of my house and design tastes are anything but fancy pantsy formal. Nevertheless. That’s the design I keep going back to as we continue to build our garden plan.
Maybe I like it because formal gardens remind me of the garden where we got married…
Or maybe I just like socking it to nature. “Haha, plants! You will grow how I tell you to grow!” But whatever the reason, when it comes to my yard, I am prone to design outdoor spaces that appear clean and controlled but still creative and colorful.
The contrast of being in a natural space but retaining a sense of order is extremely appealing, and, for me, the straight edges and streamlined design help the different colors and contrasting textures appear more vivid.
I am not exactly sure how we will navigate our yard so that it appears formal and orderly, what with chickens and labradoodles romping around everywhere, but it’s certainly a challenge that has my wheels turning.