Tuesday, March 15, 2011

House Tour, Part 3

You've seen the downstairs and the upstairs.  Now let's take a walk around outside, shall we?  First of all, here is our little abode.  I realized I hadn't shown you our actual house yet!

On to the gardens.  You guys, I am so not a gardener.  My mom, yes.  My step-dad, absolutely.  Me, not so much.  We have a houseplant that probably would've died by now if Matt wasn' wattering it regularly.  I'm awful.  So when I invited my parents down to help us garden, I said, "I need hearty plants that I can't kill."  In the front, we have a huge old oak tree.  It's one of things I love about the house.  Except that the yard is a bumpy, patchy mess because of the roots.  But that's a whole other issue.  The tree is beautiful.  The previous owner built up a little patch around it and filled it with ivy, but in the Spring, it also gets tulips and daylillies.  Pretty.

Behind the tree, right in front of the house, we have some azaleas and a rose bush.  All of this was there when we moved in, and I left it alone.  Though we're thinking of tearing it out.  One of the azaleas is diseased, and the rose bush grows kind of sparsely and not very nicely.  And then there are some huge bushes that we definitely want to tear out.  They're big and they block the view from our front porch, where we have a set of rocking chairs and a small table.

Around the side, we have 2 humongous rhododendron bushes.  They are beautiful, and I wish you could see them better from the street.  Also left by the previous owners.  I planted a Stargazer lily, because it's my favorite flower.  And this is also where we have our vegetable garden.  Our staples are tomatoes, basil, and mint (fresh mojitos, yum!), and last year we very sucessfully grew cucumber and banana peppers, too.  We usually do green peppers, too, and had great results one year, but terrible results last year.  We'll try them again this year, though.
Our first year, we laid the black tarp down to cut down on the weeding.  It was a huge hassle, and since the cucumbers vine, we took it up last year.  Didn't really make a difference.  And I found I kind of liked the weeding.
Our very first pepper! 

Around the back, we have a beautiful Kousa dogwood.

I built that retaining wall myself.  I know, major props!

And then the back garden.  This is where we needed help from my mom and stepdad (Jeff).  First of all, when we bought the house, the garden looked like an overgrown jungle. No, no...really;

Scary, right?  After a weekend of roto-tilling and tearing out weeds and flowers and what-not, Matt and I got it completely cleaned out.  Then came Mom and Jeff and their glorious plants of wonder.  They brought down plants from their own garden and we spent an afternoon transplanting them into ours.  You have to understand, they have an amazing garden.  And they love it.  They actually tried to buy 2 lots in their neighborhood - one for the house and one for the garden.  [The lots aren't "zoned" for that, according to the township.  Not zoned to look awesome?!  Whatevs!]  Anywho.  After a full day of planting and tambarking, we ended up with this:
Oh yeah, we have a gnome!  The previous owners left him behind, can you stand it?!

Ok, those photos are from various times througout the year.  But you get the picture.  Canna lilies, calla lilies, irises, black-eye susans, sunflowers, lilies, a butterfly bush, dahlias.  Everything looked incredible.  But, like I said, I need low-maintenence plants.  Cannas and callas are not low-maintenence.  In order for them to survive the winter, you're supposed to dig them up and bring them indoors.  We took a chance and left them there.  The cannas didn't make it, but the callas survived last year.  We're crossing our fingers for a 3rd go around this year.  The sunflowers and dahlias are perennials and need to be planted every year.  We skipped the sunflowers last year, and the dahlias I planted didn't flourish.  We'll try them both again, though.

Oh, but the awesome-est part of our backyard?!  The hidden playhouse!  Tucked away into the big arbevita, the previous owners had built a little playhouse back there!  We painted the walls with chalkboard paint and put a couple of little chairs and box full of chalk and games out there.  Our friends' kids love it, and I can't wait to play with our kids in it!
I'm really proud of our gardens, and I hope that we continue to get better at this whole growing-things-that-live thing. 

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