I cannot stop staring at this gorgeous small garden Nicole posted today. What I wouldn’t give to have a balcony view that looked over that patio through some cherry blossoms. And since our still chilly and very thunderstorm-y weather prevents me from getting my hands dirty, I’ve just been pinning garden images all over the place (you’ll find the links for these on my pinterest board). I see small paths with lush plantings (maybe in the side yards?) in our future. And adding one or two small patios using simple concrete squares. That should give me a good arm workout. What are your garden plans this year?
Emmeth and I wandered into West Elm this weekend (looking at their curtains, I’m still undecided) and she was captivated by their terrariums. We had still had rocks, lichen and soil at home from her birthday party last year, so I let her pick out a container and some plants to make a larger terrarium together. She didn’t really need my assistance though, so I served as documentarian. I even made a little Vine film of the process, although it seems to be sideways. Have you jumped on the vine app? This was my first video and it was really fun.
In case you’ve been living under a rock during the current terrarium craze, Emm and I put together a little tutorial for you. Truthfully, we left out some steps, but I’ve found that for open terraria like we’ve made, the charcoal and sand aren’t vital. If you want a true tutorial though, complete with video, Nicole has a great post on making a terrarium.
Place a layer of rocks on the bottom of the vessel. Cover them with a layer of sand or other appropriate medium. Ours is a very dry potting medium suitable for succulents. Carefully place your plants in the soil or sand. Succulents are fragile, so be careful not to lose any leaves.
Tuck additional soil and rocks around the plants to stabilize and create your landscape. Finish the terrarium with lichen, small figurines or pebbles. Lichen is traditionally used in wet terrariums (ours is dry) that are planted with ferns and such, but if left dry it will do fine here. Emmeth liked the textural contrast with the spikey succulents she choose.
And there you go. A simple indoor gardening project that looks fabulous. She’s super proud of it and was even more pleased that we’ll be keeping it out where she can show it off to any and all guests.
On another note, one of you lovely people nominated me for a Homie, Apartment Therapy’s annual award for blogs. Several more of you seem to have voted for me. I am beyond flattered, thank you! And if you’re so inclined, head over and vote for Designing Around, either for best home design and inspiration blog (seriously?) or best home project and diy blog (or, you know, both).
And in line with that, check out the brand new DIY Projects and Recipes pages I’ve created. All the projects are easier to find and sort through now. I’m still working on making it prettier. Baby blogging steps.
I spent all day today (Sunday) working in the garden. When we put in the front garden, I deliberately crowded together the shrubs, planning to separate them as they grew. Most of them outgrew the space a couple of years ago, so today was spent doing a lot of digging and heavy lifting. I began the process of clearing out the side yards and relocated seven good size shrubs. While it’s still nowhere near the inspiration pictures, little things are starting to come together.
The north side yard, which I would like to have a bit of a secret garden quality eventually, got an arch and climbing roses, relocated from the front entry where they looked ridiculous. A couple of rhododendrons and a butterfly bush were moved from other parts of the yard. A few more plants are needed on the side of the house, but as the roses grow it should look much better.
The south sideyard is just getting started. I moved an overgrown red twig dogwood from the front and a hydrangea that’s just never grown. Perhaps it will like its new home better. Finn and I made plans today to improve upon the improvised patio space with a small retaining wall and a more structured patio, so I’ll be bringing the flagstones currently in front to this side space as well. The sidewalk next to the house is very narrow, so the flagstones should make the pass through space much more functional. A couple of rocks and perhaps some hostas will finish that space.
Here is the front garden after today’s work. A boxwood border is going in, which we think we’ll continue around the front of the garden as well. The shrubs have been rearranged for their current size and space needs. Where the table and patio are now, we’re hoping to put in square pavers similar to this.
So, some progress. And a gorgeous day outside. I need to go take some Advil now though, so I can move in the morning. That was a lot of work.
While I still very much need to get my current garden under control, I’ve been dreaming about transforming other areas. We have two tiny, sad little side yards. One is a pass through, the other just a no man’s land between two houses. Generally both are completely overgrown with weeds, although when I went out to take pics someone had mowed one side down.
Here’s the no man’s land.
And the pass through.
I’ve been pinning garden ideas. They all have a secret garden quality to them, with paths, sculptures, shade plants, found objects. Things I’d never in a million years put inside I’m drawn to for a garden space. I’d like to make each of these spaces feel intentional and I’d love to create some kind of secret garden in the no man’s land. I think some rocks and varying heights could make the pass through weed patch charming.
Is your garden style different from your decorating style? Anyone have a beautiful urban side yard I should check out?
Remember when I said I only liked to garden in the spring? Yeah, I wasn’t kidding. My garden is a hot mess. It doesn’t help that its been ridiculously hot and humid here, but seriously. I need to get out there. I can no longer get to my back door. Considering how overgrown it is, you’d think I’d have gotten more than four measly zucchini and two lackluster cucumbers out of the thing.
Oh, would you like to come over and have a drink on my relaxing, shaded patio? Careful, if the wisteria doesn’t absorb you, the mint and lemon grass just might.
Are the plants repelling mosquitos as advertised? Who knows. It’s certainly repelling guests however. And perhaps I could get around to removing the tag from the table.
And let’s not forget the willow dome. Such potential.
Well, you can sit there and enjoy the dome. Just watch out for the alyssum, it’s already claimed the poor gnomes and fairies. And occasionally pears (or in the case of extreme storms, entire pear tree limbs) drop right out of the sky.
And finally, the grass. Despite the drought, its managed to stay quite green. With weeds. Look at all the dandelions and spiky plants. So pretty.
How’s your summer garden grow? Are you keeping up appearances? Here’s hoping for some time and cooler weather to whip mine into shape. And the reappearance of my motivation, which seems to be having quite the summer vacation.
This weekend was the fourth anniversary of our backyard renovation, a moment I celebrate annually. In the midst of being thankful for our personal freedoms and grateful for those who made and continue to make that possible, we also quietly mark a major achievement for our home. This was one of the moments that made us realize we really could turn this hideous house around. Think I’m exaggerating? Wait till you see the before shots. You’ve seen the front of the house when we bought it. It’s not fabulous, but it doesn’t make you want to run the other direction screaming. This my friends, was our backyard view.
Finn built this lovely bamboo pergola last summer to provide better support to my wildly overgrown wisteria and shade the small patio he’d built the summer before. The wisteria had to be cut off its previous support, but is coming back nicely this spring. Our little yard faces west and has no trees (it was paved over completely when we moved in) so this little spot is our one patch of shade for diners al fresco and general relaxing. It had one major drawback. Mosquitoes tended to make the evening hours unbearable. I stumbled upon this site listing mosquito repellent plants and thought I’d try stocking the planter boxes that surround the space with them this year. The weather last weekend was lovely and my garden has been neglected, so I pulled out all the baby trees from the planter boxes and went shopping. I had to go to a couple garden centers to find them all, although if I’d started here I wouldn’t have had to try so many places.
First I laid out my plants.
Lemongrass, mint and marigolds. A random carnation I’d been given for Mother’s Day. It was looking a little too sparse, so off I went again, this time looking for rosemary, more mint and something that trailed for interest.
We harvested our first crop of vegi’s today from our tiny garden for dinner. I have a 4 foot by 6 foot patch that we use as an experimental garden, working to show my urban kids what the food they eat looks like before it hits the grocery store. Today’s choice was kale, which I cooked up for this lovely dish from Jules. I used quinoa instead of rice, as the small one doesn’t eat eggs much lately and could use the protein. Everyone voted it delish and the tall one has requested it for her birthday dinner. High praise indeed.
The tall one’s birthday is Friday which means we have a party coming up next weekend. I mean Partay – cause if a house full of 10-year-old girls doesn’t equal a rocking good time I don’t know what does. Am I right? (I am probably not right. Not right at all. But they are considerably more self-sufficient than a house full of 5-year-old girls, so that’s a bonus). I asked said tall one what she would like to do for her party and she replied “Just ask all my friends to bring their handwork over and we’ll hang out and have cake.” That’s right, for her birthday my almost 10-year-old would like to sit around and knit with her friends. And eat cake. Man I love that kid. I totally don’t understand her, but I really, really love her.
There is a spot in our backyard, right next to the house, which has housed an elaborate weed patch for the past several years while I tried to figure out what to put there. It used to store the kiddie pool and sandbox when my children were small, but at almost 10 and 6 they’ve outgrown those now. It calls out for something with height, but is too close to the house for a tree. Both children are still ardent pretenders and I wanted to create something that nurtured that but would grow with them. This winter I found an image of a living willow structure and decided it would be the perfect upgrade for the space, adding both height and shade as well as endless play possibilities.
First we cleared and measured the space.
Then Finn began creating the structure, inserting whips 6″ into the ground at one foot intervals. Once most of those were placed, he began carefully bending over the whips to create arcs.
We used waxed twine to join each arc.
Once all the whips were joined it was time to create the diagonal supports. Again, each whip was inserted about 6″ into the ground, this time at a diagonal.
Once all the diagonals were placed, the finished structure was ready. Took about 90 minutes from the start and used 44 eight foot willow whips. The remaining six have been put to good use fighting goblin wars. Here’s the finished structure.
In a year or two the growth should cover it completely, creating a nice nook for reading and relaxing. I’ll be putting an outdoor rug inside to help with weeds and comfort as well. Even as just a skeleton, its still lovely to look up from inside.