Welcome to the least thriftiest month of the year for us. :) Other than December that is. Now that the weather is nice the wallet is emptying because I want to buy ALL THE FLOWERS. I do my best to use perennials in my garden and beds but sometimes you want some beautiful, flowing petunias, you know?
Our temps here went from the mid-50’s to the mid-80’s in a week, so I’ve been working outside every day for the past week. I like to try to get the clean up and most of the planting done for the season before the heat of the summer hits.
It seems we’re surprised every year when fall happens and we have an enormous amount of leaves to rake up, especially in the back. And every fall we say “we’ll do it this weekend” and then that weekend happens to be the first snow or first frigid weekend of the fall and then it never happens. It’s only gotten worse as we plant more trees in the back too.
So EVERY spring I spend a ton of time cleaning the leaves out of the flower beds and it takes EONS. So. many. leaves.
Thankfully I enjoy working outside -- I find it really rewarding. Sweating my butt off in early May, not as much.
While I was cleaning out the beds I worked on some pruning and other clean up as well so I thought I’d take you along for a spring tour of the garden and some of the latest additions. I’ll share it again this summer when everything is really blooming, but it’s fun to see the before and afters as the season goes on.
I have a few knock out bushes and they are so easy to take care of – you don’t really need to prune them but it helps to keep them pretty. You can see on the left that they get scraggily looking:
I was so late pruning this year – it should really be done earlier if you want to manage the shape of them more, but I don’t care too much about that thankfully. :) You can see on the right that I just cut down the dead parts of the stems, careful not to cut off any blooms. (No big deal if you do though.)
I planted the lamb’s ears last summer (I think it was last summer) and the dead foliage needed to be cleaned up:
I find doing this (and clearing away the leaves at the base of the plants) does more than just make them look better – they can breathe better too. After doing this every year I swear the plants shoot up within days. You can even tell with this one – the photo on the right is just a couple days after I cleaned all that up.
I want to add some more evergreen bushes to our landscaping – so far these two small bushes and two boxwoods around the corner are all we have:
They are fairly new as well. I’d love to have more green during the winter months so eventually I’ll add more. We have new mulch coming next week – as you can see, it’s impossible to remove all the leaves!
I’m so excited about the lilac bush I planted last year – this variety is supposed to bloom all summer long:
I adore lilacs and am hoping one day this little guy is huge. So far it looks like there’s zero to little maintenance on this one – no pruning needed so far. Ignore the wasp spray by the way – we get a TON of nests every year on and around our deck and I’m constantly watching for them. Those stings are no fun.
The blooms smell delicious already and I can’t wait to cut a few and bring them inside!:
Around the corner from the new lilac are a couple peonies. I talked about my love of them and the care last year. They are unbelievably gorgeous. You can cut them all the way down to the ground in the fall, but again…I tend to forget. Or it gets cold. Or I find something else to do.
No worries though, because they will come back again just fine:
I just cut down the old stalks to make them look better. These varieties are a darker pink and they didn’t start blooming till last year. There are already a TON of blooms on them so I’m hopeful for a bigger crop:
The bush in the back is a butterfly bush – I’m attempting to create a small butterfly garden in that area. It’s slow going. ;)
I went to my favorite nursery the other day and avoided buying another hydrangea plant (I now have 11 of them). I did come home with this beautiful hanging basket:
So pretty! These blooms will help tide me over for another month or so.
Years ago when we were apartment dwellers I dreamed of a house with one plant in the yard – the clematis. I researched it online and drooled over photos. I don’t know why it took me so long but I finally planted one last year. It was late in the season and it didn’t do great, but I have high hopes for it this year:
It’s already bigger now than it got last summer! Can’t wait!
Another climbing plant I’ve tried is the climbing hydrangea:
See all the leaves in the mulch?? This is after I cleaned out the beds. Four lawn bags later!
I wanted something to trail up the back of the fireplace and tried ivy at first, but many of you warned me against that because it can be so invasive. I gave the ivy to my Dad and tried this climbing hydrangea instead. It is a bugger though. It will NOT bloom. I think this will be the fourth summer I’ve had it and it’s never produced one bloom. I hear that it takes them a few years, but dangit, this better be the year!
Thankfully it’s still pretty just as it is, but some flowers would be real nice. :)
Last week I added some more hanging flowers – someday these beds will be full of flowering plants, but until I figure out exactly how I want to fill them, I add in color with hanging baskets:
You can see one of my beloved pee gee trees there as well. Another plant that doesn’t need much care at all and it produces TONS of big, beautiful blooms.
Around the other side of the deck I have a few more hydrangeas and then my prized peony. Peonies like full sun but I’ve determined from my plants that they love morning sun best. This one gets absolutely HUGE every year and now produces a ton of blooms:
Peony watch 2015 has started:
One of my other favorite plants is this limelight hydrangea. This one is zero maintenance as well:
Well, I take that back. I did remove the old blooms from last year, but it grows fine even if you don’t do that. I just snap them right off:
This one took a year or so to start blooming as well, but now it’s absolutely covered in blooms every year. It’s getting HUGE too. The limelight produces beautiful, white cone-shaped blooms.
While I wait on the plants to start blooming, I went ahead and planted in some urns by the fireplace:
That’s coleus in the middle and then petunias around it. As you can see, I use a lot of purple and red back here – it goes well with the outdoor furniture and cushions. :)
Our urns from last year absolutely fell apart – it was a mess. I grabbed some more at Lowe’s after looking everywhere (even though they were more than I wanted to spend). Thankfully the sweetest woman stopped me in the garden section and told me about the urns she had just picked up at Target on sale. I went and got these instead and they are a little shorter but well worth it for $30-something cheaper! Thank you friendly woman at Lowe’s! ;)
In a month or so the pee gee trees behind the planters will start blooming and this view will get even prettier!:
Goodness, we LOVE our backyard! We had the patio and fireplace added four years ago – it was our first big purchase after we paid off our debt. I have so much I still want to do out here but it is an absolute dream come true to have this space!
It’s a ton of work to keep up with the landscaping, not gonna lie. But I love this work. It’s good get your hands in the ground and get dirty. :) And I love taking care of the plants – looking after them, watering them – that’s my “me” time in the summer. I find it to be very relaxing.
I’ll share these spaces again later this summer for my annual garden tour. Until then you can check out last year’s here. Have you tried any of these plants at your house? Any advice for me on my newbies – the clematis and the lilac? And I welcome thoughts on the climbing hydrangea if any of you have had success with it!
Here’s to cleaning up the leaves this fall! Sure.