Category Archives: plants

Bulbs are not just for Christmas trees and other things I have learned

As I mentioned before, our first fall in this house I planted a few peonies. They are still going strong so I figured this year I would plant some other bulbs. I’ve bought some bulbs already and am planning on purchasing a few more. I started this yard revitalization project in May so I think I have late spring early summer covered. What I really need are early spring bloomers and things to fill in the blank spots. I’ll also need them for the front, back and side each of which have different shade/sun factors. Of course I’ll just ignore all of this and buy what looks pretty.

What I’ve purchased:

  • Drumstick Allium
  • Gladiator Allium
  • Schubertii Allium
  • What I think I want to purchase:

  • daffodils
  • Hair Allium
  • La Bizar Single Late Tulip
  • It hurts me to type this… Uncle Tom Tulip
  • FYI, I found most of these by browsing Holland Bulb Farms.

    you’re doing a bang up job!


    The other day a friend stopped by to return the mini-muffin pan she borrowed from me. She left it at the front door. We don’t usually use our front door. We just park the car and go in through the kitchen. We open the door and grab the mail but that’s about it. So, it wasn’t until I went to get the pan that I realized just how freaking ugly and uninviting our front yard is (and that my friend probably will never let her kids come over ever again). I also realized that the mail carrier must think the house is abandoned and is probably shocked that the previous day’s mail has mysteriously disappeared when he delivers the mail. Maybe he thinks we’re vampires or ghosts. Something had to be done.

    I think every teenage girl at one time thought she might look fabulous with bangs. So she went into the bathroom on a Sunday night and, channeling Vidal Sassoon, tried to create the perfect bang. Five minutes and ten inches later, she realized with desperation that she really didn’t have the face for bangs. Maybe if she just made them a little shorter. Maybe if she just evened them out a little. Next thing you know, she has a two inch fuzz of hair sticking out of her forehead and because it is Sunday, no way to fix it. It wouldn’t be until the next morning after crying herself to sleep that she would have the idea to go for a side part and forward sweep of hair to cover or at least minimize the bang fiasco. Really, this never happened to you? I’m the only one?

    Why is this relevant, you ask? Because when I started to trim the juniper bushes out front in the hopes of making the house look cute, I ended up with the equivalent of two inches of crooked bangs sticking out of the ground. I swear I was just going to trim them so that you could approach the front door without getting scratched or smacked in the face. Next thing I know–POOF! We are down to one bush and one gnarly stump. Will I ever learn?

    In an effort to make a side part out of a stump, I made a few purchases. First, plants that thrive in the shade like hostas. I also bought some partial sun plants because I’m not really sure how shady the front yard is throughout the day. Next, planters because that bush was taking up a huge amount of space and I don’t know what I want plant. We still have a few huge bare spots but it does look better.

    A word about taking pictures for a gardening blog–don’t try it with your kids around. I love my children but for the love of all that is holy I couldn’t keep my son out of these shots to save my life. He couldn’t believe that I could possibly want a picture without him in it. Pictures will also show you all of the paint you may have missed when you scraped the tacky green fake grass/carpet off of the steps and you’ll also be able to clearly see just how crazy your drainage system is.

    I should state that although I started this project on my own, I did have to get some assistance. I trimmed the tree but couldn’t get the stump out by myself. Yes, once again, I had to call my husband out to the yard because I started a project that I couldn’t finish. And yes, once again he came outside and helped me out of the hole I had literally dug myself into. True love. Anyway, now I just have to figure out a way to discretely inform my friend that our front door is now welcoming. The mail carrier is probably going to think we moved and that the new owners are freaking awesome.

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    No, this isn’t my yard. This is the landscaping around the building where I work. I mean really, how am I supposed to compete with this? We’ve had droughts, earthquakes and hurricanes this summer. This yard still looks gorgeous and mine looks like crap.

    Want to know real reason my yard is neglected? Freaking mosquitos. Do not get me started. Too late. I can’t get from the house to the car without them swarming me. I wonder if there are mosquito repellant plants? Hmm, I just might be onto something.

    hi, hydrangea!

    Wahoo! Things are still growing! This hydrangea is blooming, baby! You may think I’m using too many exclamation marks but I am very excited. You don’t understand! After the self-inflicted drought while we were on vacation, I kind of thought things were over for this year and I’d have to start all over again. Then, the hydrangea blossomed and I was saved! Praise the great gardener in the sky! Ok, I’ll shut up now but I really think this proves that hydrangeas belong on the “Kristi won’t kill it” list.


    hot summer in the inner suburbs

    I feel uncomfortable watering the newly planted grass and flowers. There I said it. We try to be environmentally aware and it just feels wrong. Our recycle bin is always overflowing and we turn the water off when we brush our teeth. We occasionally even remember to take our reusable grocery bags with us when we go shopping. It has been in the high 80s and 90s recently–way too dry for new plants that are still trying to establish themselves. Yet, it feels like I’m wasting water by keeping our yard hydrated. At the same time, I’ll be seriously annoyed if any of my plants die because I spent way too much money on them. I keep telling myself that this is just to get them going this first year. After this, they are on their own. I lie. Kermit was right, it ain’t easy being green.

    terrarium of terror

    Last summer, I read an article about terrariums making a comeback and was inspired to grow something. I even did some research. My experiment in indoor gardening didn’t last. I tried. I really tried. It is the fault of the big monster oak tree in front of our house. While we enjoy the shade (and the much lower electric bills during summer), it means we can only grow light-hating, ugly plants inside. Actually not even those survived and I bought plants that do kind of like light. (They were pretty!) While they looked fine and fancy on day one, they soon were a dead, withered embarrassment. My husband just looked at them day after day and shook his head.

    the corner of evil

    In the far reaches of our yard, we have a corner where three other backyards adjoin ours. Our neighbors are awesome and it isn’t there fault. It is just a crazy corner that is blocked from their view but quite present in ours.

    Along the side, the quince bush is next to it but not quite big enough to cover it. And we let that bush grow out of control and it still doesn’t cover up the axis of evil.

    Along the back fence, we have tiger lillies which aren’t tall enough to hide it from that angle.

    Ugh. I feel like we need a scarecrow or something.

    Annuals = one season stand

    Annuals are the cheap thrills of the gardening world. They are pretty and look good but they don’t last. I used to always get annuals and perennials confused, sort of like tornado watches and warnings. I have since learned that I’m lazy and would rather plant something once and have it reappear for at least a few years. I guess my plan is really to start with the perennials and then occasionally buy an annual for a pop of color. (I totally made that up. We have no plan. I’ve just been watching too much HGTV.)

    And, this is another thing that annoys me, sometimes perennials are not so hearty and then you have to treat them like an annual. (The plant world IS out to get me.)

    peonies are my BFF

    So I kind of lied. There is one plant that I like and it likes me right back: Peonies.

    In the house where I grew up, we had peonies in the side yard. They were beautiful, smelled fantastic, and never needed any maintenance. (They were also held in place by old tires but that’s another story.) They just bloomed and bloomed–a pale, soft pink. They are without a doubt my favorite flower.

    Our first fall after we bought our house, I planted peonies along our driveway. Our driveway doesn’t recieve much sun but must get just enough for these babies to hang in there. While it took a couple of years, they are now in full swing. Obviously, they are hard to kill and yet still pretty. Even once the blooms fade, the dark green leaves stay nice and healthy looking.

    I planted these from bulbs my mom bought for me. I have no idea what kind they are. All I remember is that I had to plant them in the fall and that I had to use manure which is gross. You buy it at the plant store and I mean it isn’t like there is a cow or something standing by doing its business but still–yuck. Circle of life and all that stuff.

    A couple of days ago, I planted one in the back yard that I bought at Behnke’s. According to the label, the blossoms will be all white. The backyard gets much more sun so hopefully this one won’t have to strain so far to find some sunshine. In fact, I would kind of be happy if we had a backyard full of peonies. Maybe if the other stuff doesn’t work out, I’ll dig it all up and just plant peonies along the fence. And yes, that brick work needs some love. I was hoping you would be distracted by the flowers.

    Book Recommendation:

    Peonies by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall.

    Native Plants

    Our local elementary school is having a native plant sale this weekend. The rumor is that native plants require less maintenance. This I like. My only worry is that it will just be a bunch of weed-like things because frankly, that is what seems to be growing natively in our back yard.