Tuesday, May 24, 2022

landscaping progress

Hello friends ~

We're still enjoying mostly good weather here in Illinois. This past week has been cool, maybe a little bit too cool. I've had to turn the heat on in the mornings. Thunderstorms are coming in tomorrow and then rain the next couple of days, but Memorial Day weekend looks to be warm and sunny, which will be perfect for a celebratory BBQ.

In the meantime, it's been wonderful to enjoy the patio and outdoors once again. We've been working hard in the yard, weeding and mulching and planting. No complaints - we both still love yard work.

My peony bush is ripe with buds, so I expect after the next few days of rain and then the returning sunshine and warmth, they should be exploding into bloom. One of my favorite flowers!

The only new perennials we added to our yard this year were lupines. We planted them in the butterfly garden in-between the lamb's ear. The columbine is blooming right now, as you can see in the background. That will fade, then the purple coneflower and bee balm will be blooming to the side and in back of the lupines, so I can't wait to see how this all will look!

Even though Brian and I have always done our own yard work and landscaping, we have realized the past few years that we need some extra help. There's some jobs that are beyond our capability. We had a new front sidewalk put in a few years ago and Brian edged it with the traditional black plastic strips. However, they wouldn't stay in place and kept popping out of the ground, especially on the ends. We had also planted fountain grasses on one side of the sidewalk. Three of the smaller variety died this year, so we dug them out. We were left with a sloppy look.

The other side of the sidewalk butts up against the side of the garage. We had two iron trellises here for height interest and planted Passion Flower vines every spring to entwine around the trellises. I removed the trellises before the landscapers came...

The other part we needed help with was planting bushes and making a rock wall in our small front yard. As you can see from the photo, our front yard slopes down towards a drainage ditch. This ditch area used to be filled with day lilies but we had them dug out (by our village Public Works department) a couple of years ago. They put down grass seed and a straw mat, but the grass never grew in nicely.

To start, the landscapers dug out a path along the sidewalk, lined it with landscaping fabric, and installed metal edging on both sides.

Same with the other side against the garage.

Starting the layout of the rock wall and bed for the bushes...


As you can see, we need to re-seed the slope in front of the bushes. That will be done next week. And the other thing the landscapers did was to dig out the invasive buckthorn that was growing onto our property from the neighbor's property next door. You can see some of that mess on the left side. We have decided our next step is to have privacy fencing installed along this area, starting where the neighbor's fence ends.

Here's a better view of the neighbor's property as seen from our front porch. You can see why a privacy fence would be a good idea! That invasive buckthorn came all the way up into the now-bare spot on our property. We need to seed that area now, too. And yes, our grass has a lot of weeds. We don't put any chemicals on our lawn, so it is what it is.

For those of you in the US, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

fast forward

Just eleven days ago on my blog, I was saying how cold and wet it was here and that spring was late. Guess I'd better be careful what I wish for: this week we fast-forwarded right to summer with temps in the 90's all week! Crazy Illinois...30's and 40's one week with the heat on, and the next week so hot that the AC is cranked.

I am not complaining about the heat, mind you. I love warm weather and sunshine. It's just that it's too early here for it to be so hot (we set some record temps for this time of year) and we totally skipped the 60's and 70's. BUT. We'll get those temps next week, so all is good.

Brian had the day off a couple of days ago and we hit three garden centers; two of which are my all-around favorites that I look forward to going to every spring. We're behind about two weeks because of the weather and now we have a ton of yard work and planting to do.

Aren't these hanging chenille plants cool? I didn't buy one but I'm thinking twice about it. I might go back and get one. I came home with a variety of herbs, daisies, coleus, lupine, and tomato and pepper plants.

At my other favorite garden center, I was hoping they had black and blue salvia. I bought it from the same garden center a couple of years ago, put it in a pot on my front porch, and it grew to be about two feet tall. The black and purple (don't know why it's called blue!) blossoms were so beautiful, almost iridescent. The blossoms attracted the hummingbirds and it was wonderful to be sitting on the porch and have the hummingbirds be right there.

I was in luck. They had my plants! We bought three of them and picked up another two for my friend who wanted some, too.

We worked in the yard for several hours that afternoon and yes, we were soaked with sweat as you can tell by Brian's shirt. You can see one of the salvia plants in a pot on the ground. That sidewalk area is going to be professionally landscaped next week. We desperately need some help! The landscapers will also be putting in yew bushes along the sloped area behind Brian, with small boulders in front of them. The area with the straw blanket had hostas in it, but they looked terrible there. Brian dug them out and seeded the area.

With this heat, everything has now exploded into bloom. Remember how the beginning of the movie, The Wizard of Oz is in sepia tones and then later explodes into color? That's what it's like here. 

I was driving down our street today and marveling at the canopy of green the entire way. When it's been seven months since you've seen that, you don't take it for granted.

Just two years ago, we planted three small ferns that a friend gave to us from his yard. This year, the ferns multiplied and spread wonderfully on the shady side of the house. I'll be planting the coleus in this area for color. Then we'll spread a fresh layer of mulch.

Not kidding, just a few days ago, this peony wasn't even halfway up the metal cage. Today it's towering over the top of the cage and has blossoms on it already. So amazing how fast it grows!


My sweet girl, Clementine loves to join me on the porch in the mornings, but I have to stick right by her or she'll take off. 

She's still hanging in there with her kidney disease and her gums being swollen where she lost an upper fang in early February. The vet dentist had said it would only be a few weeks to a few months until the gums became infected (and then there'd be nothing we could do...and of course, we would not let her suffer, so we would have her euthanized at home)...but, so far so good with just inflammation and no infection. 

I know her health could take a turn for the worse any day now, so I give her all the attention and love I can. I pretty much have always done so, being an animal lover, but I think now I'm  more cognizant of the limited time I have with her.

Have a wonderful weekend! 💖

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

slow spring, books, and framed art

Spring is behind here in Illinois. Most of the month of April was unusually cold and rainy. It felt like an extended March. No drinking our tea on the porch in the mornings, no yard clean up yet, nothing planted except some pansies. This was my view across the street yesterday. Overcast (as usual) and the maple tree just starting to bud. Today is cold with wind-driven rain. One of those days where you just want to stay in bed and read or watch movies all day. I've actually never done that unless I was sick or recovering from surgery.
 Have you?

Taking a walk around my yard yesterday, I did find some beautiful things to photograph. Isn't this blooming leaf exquisite? This is my next door neighbor's maple tree, which borders our property. The leaves are a dark red, almost maroon when they're in full bloom. 

My peony bush coming to life.

Bleeding Heart finally in bloom.

Hostas growing more by the day.

Cheerful daffodils in my butterfly garden. They're late bloomers as they don't get much sun.

Does anyone know what these flowers are ~ are they a variety of tulips? I saw them by a library a couple of weeks ago and was smitten.

Libraries and books

We don't need anymore books, but there are a couple of Chicago suburb libraries that have fantastic sales and sometimes we can't resist. This was the stack I came home with a couple of weekends ago. I recently finished Anne Tyler's, "French Braid" and was disappointed. I'm hoping "Redhead by the Side of the Road" will be better.

Brian's picks.

Framed art

Our hallway bathroom is small and the main wall by the sink holds the towel bar. Otherwise, this wall is blank and boring. I'd been thinking about getting some kind of art work for this area for a long time, but never came across anything that I felt was just right. I bought this double matted frame at Michaels, hung it up and liked it. Funny thing is, the prints in the frame are the ones that came with the frame. I went through my stash of paper art I keep for art journaling plus some photos and nothing worked. So the store prints are staying for now.

I've had these white framed mats for six years. They used to hold Tim's college graduation photos. He's been replaced by cats. 😉

Zippo (who passed away in Nov 2018) and Monkey (who passed almost three months ago) now have a place of honor on the wall of my office/guest room. Photos taken by Tim.

Here's to warmer weather, morning porch sitting, and working in the yard. Have a beautiful week!

"The world's favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May."
~ Edwin Way Teale