Staying Alive (in my yard)

The weather has been a-mazing, so we’ve been attempting some yardwork.  Full confession: we’ve been paying for yard help, and let me tell you, it is a world o’ difference.  Our awesome yard guy is a friend of Chris’s who needs some extra work, and we’ve got plenty to give him.  And it saves me the agony of trying to deal with weeds, and the resulting spiral of anger (“curse you weeds, go back to the abyss from whence you came!”) and despair (“I’ve been out here for 2 hours and it looks the same!  whimper”).

But here is my small contribution.  Last fall, this patch of what you might call a flower bed looked like this:

Where does the grass end and the bed begin?  Hard to say.  And one of the rosebushes was nothing more than angry spikes of extremely thorny wood sticking out of the ground.  Here it is after being tilled and the roses are getting leafy and not so angry.

Yeah, mostly dirt, but it freed up a clean space to put in some more lambs ear!  I love this stuff.  We inherited a patch in front of the porch, and it has been very happy in the moderate rainy weather.  Its so happy that it has been spreading out of the patch and launching brand new plants in nearby spots in the yard.  I popped these out of the random places they were growing apart from the bed, and stuck them in the ground hoping they will flourish and continue to make babies.  Right now they are looking a little squashed, but I’ve been watering them and they perk up in the morning and evenings.  Here’s hoping they survive.  Here’s the happy thriving bed that spawned these other big guys I transplanted:

Its so soft, I like to sit there and just pet it.  Ok, I don’t really spend much time doing that, but if these survived in a pot I would keep one at my desk and pet it throughout the day.  When I tried putting a little bit in a pot once it didn’t last long. Hang in there buddy!

Another set of  survivors, are my window box mums.  Here is what they looked like in the fall:

For a while this winter they looked like a pile of dead sticks.  No green.  I took some scissors and snipped down the dead parts to give new green growth some space.  And now:

Ta-da!  Green!  Wait, what’s up with the lil guy on the left?

Tiny Tim here is lagging behind.  All of them looked like this in the winter, but this one is way behind on the new leaf production.  Not sure why since I treat them all the same.  But then DLF Christie noticed something about one of the big fat mums:

BUGS.  Little black bugs coating the stems.  Ewwww.  I googled and somebody recommended mixing dish soap and water and spraying it all over the plants.  It will get rid of the bugs and not hurt the plants.

It isn’t green cleaner, I just re-used the bottle.  I thoroughly sprayed all three mums, just to be safe, every which way.  The bugs did not seem disturbed by the soaking in soapy water.  They didn’t move, actually.  Maybe they died silent little deaths, or will leave later.  I sure hope so.

Hang in there everybody… except for the bugs, you need to vacate or die asap.  Thanks.


Mums and Dragons

Apparently I missed mums season, because when I stopped by a Home Depot the other night I only found pansies. “But I just bought some mums a couple weeks ago!” I cried in despair. Well, it was probably a month ago, but you know how time flies. I have a charming little window box with 3 containers, and I’ve enjoyed looking out and seeing these purple mums in the box. But its neighboring boxes were still empty.


I found some battered mums in front of Kroger, marked down to $1 each.  They’ve seen better days, but hey for the price I hoped that I could rescue these lil guys and maybe they would spruce up and be beautiful, just like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.


Its hard to find something with some color that is not yellow, because let’s face it, there’s enough yellow going on here.  I like that my sad $1 mums have a little purple hint to them to coordinate with the fat healthy plant in the middle.


Isn’t the little box so charming?  I hope the flowers stay alive.  This is the third time I’ve put flowers in there.  Pansies are meant to die anyway, but they never really thrived.  I also tried moss roses, but I forgot to water them too.


I picked up 3 mums and 2 snapdragons, not knowing how much it would take to fill the window boxes.  I put the extra mum and snapdragons in the ground.


See the nice mulch I put down too?  The green guy on the left and the little dead guy are some ground covers that I bought last year.  Then I decided that they needed to be moved, because in their current location I couldn’t even see them and they were going to be covered by a very vicious ivy.  However, I transplanted them right before going on vacation in August and most of them died.  The little brown one is actually slightly alive, so I carefully mulched around it hoping that it will continue to resuscitate.  I’m not sure, but I believe this is what it is that survived so well. I’m not good at remembering what plant is what.

That’s what it looks like when it is alive, healthy, and blooming in the summer.  Here’s hoping.  I planted some other summer plants back in August too (the pink and purple things below) and I’m happy to see they managed to survive as well.


And now I’ve got a bunch of little tiny weeds invading.  This is what started my quest for good ground covers… a quest that is still in its infancy.


I’ve been reluctant to post about yard stuff because before and afters seem so feeble.  And I have A Lot of work to do on the yard.  I can work for a couple hours and feel like I’ve barely made a dent.  Then I wonder how the people who lived here before me did all this.  This must have been their one and only hobby.  But putting things in the ground and getting lucky enough to see them live, even grow, is much more satisfying than pulling things out of the ground.  Like this mess.