Here We Go Again….

Okay, I will admit it. We are project crazy. We have problems bringing any project to completion because something else urgent always seems to come up. I know that’s typical with homeowners, but we take things to the extreme. 🙂 We finally got everything planted in our back garden, and then we had that awful heat wave. I had been talking about getting rid of all of the grass for a while, but the heat wave made our grass in the front yard look pretty awful. I refuse to drown the darn lawn in tons and tons of water since we are in such a bad drought. I had a plan in mind that was supposed to come later, but it ended up taking priority.

My husband blames one of our neighbors since he asked me when I was going to do the front yard like I did the back yard. I am a Craigslist junkie, and one day last week, I stumbled upon two separate SUV loads full of free landscape succulents. Since my garden design plans for the front included landscape succulents, drought tolerant native flowers, some paths between flower beds and dry river beds, I was pretty ecstatic. Suddenly the front yard makeover got bumped from “when we have a chance” to “NOW”.

When I started planning the back yard makeover, I sketched everything out on paper first, which got translated to a bunch of different versions drawn up to scale on the computer. That was a lot of work but we were trying to make sure we had room to put in all of the structural elements that we wanted. The front yard design was going to be much simpler, and hopefully faster, so I just sketched out the design I had in mind with landscape spray paint.

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Next, my husband rented a sod cutter, then shoveled out all of the grass. He loaded it up in the wheelbarrow, and it all got dumped down into our lower side lot for now. Some of that will be repurposed when we do his rustic man-cave garden down in that area (he wants a bunch of different levels and layers of plants and trees). Next, we started the frantic process of yet again trying to get all of the plants in the ground. I was hoping that we would get more done over the holiday weekend, but since I was fighting off a nasty sore throat and cough, we didn’t get as much planting finished as I had hoped. Hopefully it will all be in the ground shortly!

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Updated Tour Of Our Front Yard Garden

Someone recently wrote to me and asked to see a full tour of my garden, and I have been excited to post this for a while now.  A full tour of the edible garden can be seen here (although that tour is slightly outdated and needs an update soon!).  We have a lot of plans for some changes to the hardscape in our front garden, but I am happy with how it looks for now. 🙂











How To: Support Drooping Foxglove Flowers

Foxgloves are beautiful perennials that can get quite tall after a while.  Once they get toward the end of a blooming period, the top can tend to get a little droopy.  You can see how they looked when I originally planted them here.  After mine started getting a little droopy, I used this technique to prop them up.

I unwound a plain wire hanger (the natural wire colored ones work best for blending in).  I straightened out the hanger as much as possible, and carefully stuck the straighter end into the ground near the base of the plant, being careful to avoid the roots.  I used the curved end of the hanger to wrap around the stem of the flower, providing support.  From this very close view you can see the hanger, but from the edge of the flower bed, the hanger is barely visible!  Once all of the blooms are spent, I will be cutting back the tall stalk to encourage new growth.


Be sure to check out my previous post with additional garden support structures made out of recycled items, seen here!

Patio #1 Updates!

I have been quite busy lately reworking everything in the main patio.  We realized that it was poor planning on our part to mix in the dwarf fruit trees with the flowers in the planters for watering purposes, and that it would be better for both if they were segregated into their own areas.

Since the planters have two levels, there are a few distinct zones now.  The upper level was already primarily roses, and we are leaving it like that (I added in some more flowers between the roses).  The upper level in the area closest to the house was originally overrun with weeds and ivy when we moved in.  We found some roses on sale that were too good of a deal to pass up, and those are placed up there, waiting for us to be ready to plant them.

The lower level by the fire pit now has just the dwarf almond tree, one of our 3 dwarf lemon trees, and a dwarf kumquat tree.  There is also a straggler artichoke that is waiting to be relocated, but I need my husband’s help with removing a large stump in the flower bed area where the artichoke will find its new home. 🙂

The lower level closer to the house is now completely dedicated to flowers.  I dug up and divided some of the shasta daisies.  They don’t look all that great at the moment, but I am hoping that they will be hardy enough to recover being divided  and replanted at a less than ideal time of year (ideally this should be done in early spring, but that wasn’t really an option since we were busy closing escrow at that time!).

When I was reorganizing all of the planter beds, I realized that there were a lot of hidden plants from previous owners!  There were tons of tiny little begonias planted behind and under the shasta daisies, away from sight.  I also found an asparagus fern which was very sad and droopy in nearly full sun.  I relocated the begonias and fern to my partial shade garden in the front, and they are so much happier!  I also found a large spider plant, which I happily divided into plantings for tons of hanging planters around the pergola.  Nothing like finding free plants that you didn’t know that you had!

I also finished out my decorating plan for this space…the theme of this patio is Texas Bohemian!  It is really inspired by a lot of the amazing funky boutiques my husband has taken me to all over Texas.  We have two patios, and decided to go with a “his and hers” decorating style for them.  Since this is the patio where the barbeque is located, this is “his” patio.  I made sure I didn’t use any pink in the decorating here. 🙂  My patio will be a little different…post coming soon!

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Gardening Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Aphids


Most gardening enthusiasts know that aphids have a tendency to attack roses.  I have been fortunate so far in my rose growing experience, both at this house and our previous house, that I have not had to deal with aphids on any of my roses.  I do take preventative steps to keep them away though.  I regularly purchase and release ladybugs into the garden.  I also regularly spray the roses with a soapy water mixture, with phosphate free dish soap.  Lastly, I spray the roses with a seaweed extract and add compost and fertilizer regularly to keep them healthy.

One evening last week, I noticed that my corn was suddenly infested with aphids.  I was a little panicked since I had never had to deal with them up until now.  I had no idea that aphids will also eat corn.  I used my air pressurized water sprayer to spray my soapy water mixture on them, and it killed them all, plus has been preventing new ones from coming around.  I sprayed all of my corn, even the non-affected ones, just to be safe.  My corn is a reasonable distance away from my roses, so I also picked up and relocated a few ladybugs over to the corn area as extra protection.  So far, this simple method has been working amazingly well!

Easy DIY Project: Vintage Lace Decorated Flower Pots

I love vintage lace. 🙂  I have a stash of lace trims that I found at an estate sale, and I love using these trims to decorate everything.  My supply is starting to run a little low so I will have to replenish soon though!  I decided to dress up some plain flower pots for our front “porch” (not actually a porch at all).

I just started with a few plain flower pots, some that were thrift store finds, and some larger ones that I actually found at the 99 Cent store!  I measured off enough lace to go around the rim of each, and glued in place with a glue gun.  I used a different type of lace on each size pot.  I filled the smaller pots with various succulents, and the larger ones with geraniums.  I love the finished result, decorating the area around our front door!

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How To: Plant a Garden Full of Flowers Without Spending a Fortune

I always check the sale racks in the garden sections of the big box stores since occasionally you can find some great deals.  I never buy annuals that are on the sale rack since those are usually on their last leg.  Perennials on the sale rack are usually a great deal.  I check to make sure that they look disease free, and otherwise generally healthy.

I found these flowers on sale recently, and they were an amazing deal.  They were originally around $20, and marked down to just $3.50 for these huge 3.5 gallon containers!  Most did not have flowers on them at the moment, but the descriptive tag on the side told me that they are white roses and pink geraniums…things that were on my shopping list anyway!  Roses and geraniums are so hardy that I should have no trouble with these.  I don’t have the space prepped yet where I am planning to plant these, but they were such a good deal that I just couldn’t pass them up!

I always plant flowers from seed since it is so much cheaper this way, especially for annuals and wildflower mixes.  I usually plant the seeds directly in the garden, but since I had a little trouble with that recently (original post here), I decided that I will start more wildflower seeds in nursery containers, covered with plastic wrap, to create a mini-greenhouse effect.  This should help them get a better start, and will help me make sure that I am actually planting flowers in my garden, and not more weeds.

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Backyard Edible Garden Tour

Here is an overview of my backyard edible garden so far!  There is more yard not shown in the pictures, but that area belongs to my husband and is not for planting. 🙂  One of my goals is to get the area near the greenhouse frame prepped for planting wheat and oats.  Should be a fun experiment!

The greenhouse cover is down now since it is getting pretty warm, but I left the frame up.  I want to try to find a mesh covering for the frame to keep the neighbor’s cat out.  He is developing a bad habit of pillaging my herb garden raised bed at night, particularly the catnip I planted for our cats!

A side note…the grass does not look all that great at the moment since it has been partially covered by various items while this project was in progress.  We didn’t care too much since we were planning to get rid of all of the grass and put down mulch instead, but I am starting to have second thoughts about doing that, even though it is a great idea for saving water.  I may try to do a little work to improve the grass in the weeks to come. 🙂


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Our Front Yard – 3 1/2 Weeks After Moving In

Here are some current pictures of our front yard!  I originally wanted us to find a house to buy in the winter, so I would have plenty of time to get settled and start on my spring planting.  Unfortunately, since things took longer than we expected in every way, I felt like I was on a mad rush to get things planted before the weather starts getting too hot.

It may seem strange to focus on planting the front yard when there is so much work to be done on the inside, but I had a lot of reasons for making the yard a priority. 🙂  For one thing, my severe dust allergies make it really difficult for me to be inside the house when there are things going on like heater repair, fireplace repair, and kitchen demolition.  I woke up a few mornings completely swollen, and my relief is found outside in the fresh air.  A lot of the projects inside the house are going to be more of a team effort between my husband and myself, and for the most part I handle all of the gardening on my own (unless there is something really major that I need his help with – like heavy duty digging).  We don’t want to start too many projects at once until he is eventually finished with the kitchen.  Plus, your front yard is your “face” to the neighborhood!

I will post updated pictures of the backyard soon…It is currently mid-project until the weather clears up a little!

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My Flower Bed Planting Process


This recent garden transformation has been a multi-stage process.  This has been my process so far:

1.  Weed flower bed.  Repeatedly.
2.  Mix rich homemade compost into flower bed soil and aerate the soil, mixing the compost in well.  I also brought in some earthworms so they would start making themselves at home in our soil.
3.  Transplanted my existing perennials that I planted at our old rental house (I think the landlord was sad that I didn’t leave them behind, but I am quite attached to all my flowers!).
4.  Pruned all dead growth that was currently in garden from previous owners, and trim all the hedges.  They were quite unruly.  I also deadheaded the rose bushes where needed.  Unfortunately it appears that someone may have pruned them too hard previously, so they are a little slow at catching up this year.
5.  Start fertilizing the grass and watering regularly.
6.  I had a huge task of removing months of pine needles from the four huge trees.  Pine needles can be good mulch for certain plants, but not for most.  There were so many on the grass that it was a little overwhelming.  I think that removing them and trying to keep up with raking them off on a regular basis has helped everything a lot.
7.  Once the grass actually started growing, I realized I had a huge weed problem on my hands.  I found a handy tool that made much easier work of removing all of the weeds in the lawn.  I am still not finished with all of the areas yet, and will do a blog post on this handy tool soon!
8.  Fertilize the existing (neglected and near dead) grape vines growing on the fence.
9.  Started shopping for new plants!  I love an informal country cottage garden look, so I went with a mix of colors: pinks, purples, yellow, orange, white, silvery grays, with a touch of blue.  I selected a mix of annuals, perennials, and a few bulbs.

I tried to select the bulk of my planting with perennials, with a few of my favorite annuals thrown in for some quick color (mostly snapdraggons, poppies and cosmos).  I also selected some drought tolerant plants that I have seen growing natively in our local hiking trails.

I made sure I planted the appropriate types of plants for each area in our garden.  It varies from full sun, to part sun, to part shade, to full shade.  It was quite a challenge to find appropriate plants for each area!
10.  Fertilized all the new flowers.  We wouldn’t look very good on a diet of only water, and neither do plants!  I use a dry organic fertilizer, and alternate with a liquid seaweed supplement.
11.  Once all the new plantings were set up, I added some of my favorite annual and perennial seeds, as well as a wildflower mix in the empty spaces.  I love a very full garden with continuous color, so I am hoping that staggering the growth like this will help give me a garden that continues to amaze me (and the neighbors!).
12.  Next we reinforced the falling over fence (actually my dad and my husband did this part).  We were originally planning to replace the fence since it is obviously falling apart, but once I was able to get some life out of the grape vines, we decided to postpone that project until they are dormant.  For now the fence is supported so the grapes don’t make the whole thing collapse.
13.  Next up will be finishing my project of freeing the fruit trees in the corner from where the grape vines were smothering them.  I have them mostly freed, but they need a little more work.
14.  The last item on the to-do list will be adding mulch.  I am waiting until my seedlings are big enough, which for now means very regular weeding.  It is important to know what is a weed and what is a seedling though!

To keep everything looking nice, I try to go out every morning (or every other morning), and do a quick round with the clippers and compost bucket to check for any flowers that need to be deadheaded or any petals that have fallen.  I also am trying to get in a regular habit of raking/blowing/sweeping/vacuuming up all of the pine needles.  It is a huge job!