Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Cottage in Summer

I don't know why I treat this blog like an unloved stepchild (and when I say that I mean in a Grimm's Fairy Tales sense, not that stepchildren are unloved and unlovable). I think I feel guilty that I don't have stuff to blog about all the time so I avoid it a little.

But yesterday, I was drawn back again and surfed around getting caught up on some of my favorite house blogs and I felt that compulsion to blog something. So, after scrolling back through some of my old stuff, I thought an update was in order.

I posted several months back about my bare garden. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, The Viking and I managed to settle on some solutions. We finally found a type of mulch we can agree on, as well as a good place to get it. A landscaper friend of his gave him some tips and told him where to get plants. So here's what the yard looks like now:

Here is the view of the porch off the kitchen, the door we use as the entrance to the house. I couldn't get a better shot than this and it was too dang humid to stay out and try. I've got some begonias, an ageratum and some potted herbs up there (but, alas, the potted herbs are not doing well at all). The old school desk was given to me by a woman The Viking had done some work for this past winter.

This is the flower bed on the left of the stairs to the kitchen door. We planted those hydrangeas the first few weeks after we'd moved in, 9 years ago. The monster shrub on the left blooms very late in the summer and into September. By October the white flowers mellow into a darker cream color with tinges of russet around the edges, just beautiful. And no matter how vigorously we prune them, they just shoot right back up each spring. The other shrub is a mophead hydrangea. They're among my favorites and are always in bloom in time for Red Headed Snippet's birthday. The Viking pruned it back within an inch of its life last fall so it's just exploded with blooms this year. We're planning on adding a few more perennials to this bed to add some color, but probably next year. The Viking just finished the brick wall about a month ago, using old bricks we had saved when we tore down the original chimney.

Here we have one half of the largest flower bed that spreads from the right side of the kitchen stairs to the other set of stairs leading to the front porch (which we rarely use). We've got another monster hydrangea, a wild and crazy Scotch broom, which is considered an invasive weed in other parts of the country but does quite nicely here, if pruned strictly, a dwarf cypress, some lady's mantle and a Korean lilac. There are several hostas and wild violets that have filled the bed in a little, and we did add another small hydrangea this year, but we'd still like to add some perennials that will add some summer color as all the plants we currently have have finished flowering by now.

The other half of that flower bed. We yanked out a few spindly azaleas and added a euonymous, a holly, a campanula, another coreopsis and a few more hydrangeas. Then we threw in a half flat of impatiens for a little immediate gratification. I would really love to put some fox gloves or delphiniums in there, but this area doesn't get enough sun.

A closer view of the window boxes The Viking made for me a few years ago. He picked out the flowers for them this year: ageratum, impatiens and, I think, a few petunias.

This is the street side, and I guess, technically, the front, of the house. This side gets no direct sun because of the oak trees so we've added a few more euonymous, mountain laurels and holly bushes so we'll have some flowers in spring and evergreens in the winter. I'm sure something more excited could be done with this area, but I sure don't know what it is!

And, finally, this is our newest endeavor, the flower bed along the fence in front of the driveway. The Viking started this last spring and is trying to fill it up. The daylilies and black-eyed susans, which are all a-bud, are coming along nicely, but we weren't able to add any other perennials this year. So we just went with the impatiens again. I'm not crazy about impatiens; they don't offend me or anything, I just find them kind of boring. But they do very well in our soil and in our shady yard so we use them again and again. At least they don't smell funky to me, like petunias do.

So there you have a summer view of our yard. Well, the front of it, anyway. We haven't done anything to the back yard for several years. That's the kids' realm so we leave it pretty simple. The Viking usually plants a vegetable garden, but I think he was too focused on the pool to embark on that project this year. He keeps saying someday we'll add a new deck that connects the house and the pool, but I think that project is several years away! He'll have to be content with the river rock and new sod that now surrounds the pool, erasing the not-so-lovely border of sand and brown grass that used to be there.

Well, I used up most of my computer time for the day and have to take Red Headed Snippet to a friend's house to swim before a friend of mine arrives here with a car load of kids to swim (my Snippet is no dummy, getting out before we're invaded). Gotta go dig out my swimsuit!

6 comments: said...

I think your house and garden look beautiful! I had bought a hydrangea for my wife in April and it hasnt done so well since she moved it from a pot to the ground. Is there anything special you do to take care of these? Lots of water? Neighbors all around us have big bushes full of them right now and ours simply wont grow :| Great blog, I hope to keep reading :) -Dave & Anna

VaxGirl said...

Our hydrangeas are exploding right now too. Funny thing, azaleas never did well for us either, but the hydrangeas are amazing.

1916, we put in a new one the year before last and last summer it looked awful. But this year it's really taking off. I don't give them too much water, pretty much only rainfall unless it's over say 2 weeks without rain. I wouldn't give up on it yet, it really seemed to take a year for ours to settle in.

Pippajo said...

You know, now that I think about it, this is the first year our mophead hydrangea has burst forth like this. It was a bit of a slow grower at first and it took us a while to learn its growing and blooming habits. The mopheads grow only on old wood so the first few years when we kept pruning off the "dead" looking canes thinking it would be good for the shrub, we were actually foiling any chances of bloomage. That might have helped it get more large and lush, though, as this year's crazy blooms follow a very severe and purposeful pruning.

We don't really do anything special to ours; just Miracid in the spring and maybe again in the summer. We don't usually water it either, unless the weather gets particularly hot and dry. You should check your soil before adding anything to it as I think hydrangeas are sensitive to ph levels (which is actually what determines the color of the blooms, so I've read).

smilnsigh said...

Love your porches and all your bunting and Red, White & Blue!


Angela (Cottage Magpie) said...

What a lovely garden! I am totally jealous. I think you should try some foxgloves in that bed you mentioned--they are quite shade tolerant, actually. Also, have you thought of astilbe, toad lilies, bugbane or goat's beard? Shade lovers, all. And I don't know if they're hardy in your area, but huckleberries are shade loving, evergreen and produce... huckleberries! And they can be pruned into a hedge. Such an awesome thing. I love your blog, I can't wait to read more! ~A :-)

Meg said...

Your house & gardens are so pretty. I love your exploding hydrangeas! Thanks for sharing all the pix.