What four years can do for a garden

When we first moved into our KY home four years ago the landscape was in dire need of some love. The house had been rented for the last three years and there was a LOT of weed overgrowth in the very back borders, barren borders and weedy lawn… the homeowner did have a landscape company come in and trim, weed and mulch next to the house before listing it for sale though so that was something.

So this is what the backyard borders looked like then… they were all lined in ugly pink cement pavers… YUCK! In general I am not a fan of lined borders, there are exceptions to this though like for stacked stone or metal edging.

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One of the first things we did was remove the overgrown shrubs from the corner of the house, expand the border slightly and plant 6 (5 ft. tall) Arborvitae’s “Thuja” for privacy on our patio, you see the neighbors had 3 Great Dane’s that were prone to staring and drooling… (I think he wants to eat my little Chewy)

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We also built this planter box for vines etc. to add additional privacy while the shrubs were growing…

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This is what that area looks like today! Very private and lush and as a bonus I can plant plants in the planter that I can’t plant on the ground because of those rascally rabbits!

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This is the view from the neighbor’s side (taken in Feb.), the Arborvitae’s are about 15 ft tall today!

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By the way I listed the pavers on Craig’s List for free and a guy came and pulled them up and hauled away all of them… man am I so glad that he did the work for me!

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We got rid of the Euonymus, mainly because I hate them but also because the deer eat them which would bring them up to the patio to search out other plants as well. We relocated the Princess Spirea to the end of the border and planted lots of herbs, Lambs Ear, Bleeding Heart, Russian Sage and one of my favorite trees a River Birch.

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We also extended the border and removed the “sandbox” (that square thing with all of the weeds in it) and we relocated the rock from the “firepit” (the round thing with all of the weeds in it) to the backside and shaded area of the property.

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The border extension was just done 2 years ago so most of the plants in this area are only a year or two old, except for the Princess Spirea of course.

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They’re Butterfly bushes at the very tip along with Grey Owl Junipers in the background which helps disguise manhole cover.

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We are very proud of what we accomplished in our garden in four years! We love seeing the plants grow and thrive especially as a lot of our plants were started from seed… So now we have to start all over in a new home, with a lot of empty borders… Hubby installed 16 yards of mulch all by himself last Saturday!

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So glad I was not there to help, which sounds awful of me I know, but I also know what a job this was!

Our new borders will eventually be full of plants, the fuller they are the less mulch we will need because I’m sure I won’t be let off the hook next time we need to mulch!

Thanks so much as always for stopping by…

Until next time!

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Gardening with Pests

Our home in Louisville, KY sits on 1.25 unfenced acres and I can tell you that there have been numerous times I wished it was fenced like my neighbor’s with a 5 ft. tall fence. Now a 5 ft. tall fence is not meant to keep deer out, but the deer have yet to hop their fence to get at any of the “goodies” inside. So even though the fence will not stop the moles, voles or rabbits it does seem to deter the deer which seem to be a bane of my existence here! Now don’t get me wrong I love to look at deer and I love seeing the babies coming through in the spring, but they annoy the sh*t out of the dogs who love to stalk the backyard and bark whine and cry to go get them…

Cute right? Yes, but these are in my yard, I’d much rather see them somewhere else…

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Over the past four years here (we’re in zone 6 by the way) I have found quite a few great plants that no critter seems to want to partake of… most of them are herbs, that’s right just your basic garden herbs!

Mint in the background (kept in check, but you need to be aware that it can spread like wildfire) so maybe don’t do as I do in this case… but I have plenty for my Mojitos all summer long!

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I love my Chives, they are about 14″ tall and the purple blooms stay for weeks… I think people sometimes use the blooms in salads… I just look at them and every once in a while snip off some fresh chives for a recipe. They will go dormant and brown in the winter, but you just remove the dead and they come back beautifully in the Spring.

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I also have a bunch of purple Salvia that I grew from seed and is really starting to take off this year… I think they smell like BAD body odor (or maybe cat urine) when you touch them but they have a very pretty flowing display… and I don’t touch them unless I’m deadheading them.

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One of my all time favorite plants (and super easy to propagate or grow from seed ) is Lamb’s Ear. This particular variety is a Giant Lambs ear, which will clump more than the smaller variety of Lamb’s Ear, I have a smaller variety in the front borders which really fills up the boarder and cuts down dramatically the need for mulch.

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A new favorite of mine is Lemon Balm, it looks similar to mint, but it grows in clumps and as a bonus when the dogs walk through it they pick up a nice lemony scent! This will be a plant I will use over and over again in my landscape plan, below is all new Spring growth as it will get about 24″ or so tall.

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I think the garden pests don’t care for the aroma of the herbs as they do not touch my oregano, rosemary, chives, lavender, mint, catmint or lemon balm all of which come back year after year in our yard. These herbs can be an inexpensive alternative to other perennials and as a bonus you have fresh herbs for cooking or crafting with, I think it’s a win-win to fill your borders up with as many herbs as possible! The critters also never touch my Lamb’s Ear or Russian Sage, but the rabbit nibbles my Phlox down to a nub, he’s such an ass! Sometimes “something” will nibble on my Bleeding Hearts as well, but I’m not sure who the culprit is yet…

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I also want to put a plug in for one of my favorite vines of all time, The Chocolate vine… it has the prettiest foliage and tiny, delicate blooms in spring, this vine has always been a healthy grower for me.

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We planted 2 vines in our patio planter last spring and while they were slow to take off they seem to be growing like crazy now… just in time for their new owners.

It truly is a joy for me to watch all of our plants grow and flourish in spite of the critters!

Thanks as always for stopping by…

Until next time!

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PS My mom turned me onto this product which we both swear by for deterring deer, does nothing for rabbits, but the deer don’t like it and it’s cheap! I apply every few weeks or so, as bonus it’s a natural fertilizer…

Kitchen cabinets and a little R&R

So I have this project I’m working on and I am doing a pretty good job of not letting it stress me out or make it a priority in any way… the project is painting all of the kitchen cabinets, but I’m starting with the buffet / butler’s pantry area just off of the kitchen.

This is what I started with, not too bad, the cabinet color is pleasing, but what the pictures don’t show is quite a bit of damage (one door broken, prior owner’s dog chewed on corners etc.).

Kitchen Cabinets Before

Not only did I want to paint my cabinets white, but I wanted to beef them up a bit. My final color choice was White Dove by Benjamin Moore (in Advance Satin), I saw so many pretty examples of this color and since my countertops are staying the paint tone worked perfectly with them. I removed and labeled all of the door and drawer fronts, lightly sanded (repaired) and cleaned the cabinets and then hand painted the boxes and trim.

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I also added the same trim to the sides as I did on the island and my Hubby made a beautiful set of “feet” for the base which I think makes the piece feel more like a custom piece.

Painting and embellishing kitchen cabinets White Dove

The cabinet doors and drawers are getting all new handle placement so I filled and repaired the original holes and used my Critter sprayer to spray them in the garage so I could have a beautiful streak free finish. And this is where I’m at after 3 weeks of working on them off and on…

Painting and embellishing kitchen cabinets White Dove

As you can see I still have 3 door fronts to finish (and a glass decision to make), my Critter sprayer is being a total B-I-A-T-C-H and keeps spitting chunks of paint onto the cabinet surfaces so I’m waiting for some warmer weather to tryout a new sprayer to see if I can get things working properly again… this is hugely frustrating for me, but I have plenty of other things to work on in the meantime.

So last week I left the work behind and me, my Super Awesome Hubby and the last daughter packed up and went camping at Red River Gorge for her spring break. We had a fabulous 4 day/3 night stay with lots of campfires, Uno, stories told and many beautiful hikes.

We had an awesome camp site right next to the creek… and despite what this picture may indicate we hiked miles and miles of beautiful woodland trails!

Camping in the Red River Gorge

I happen to catch these two enjoying some much needed (no electronics) father daughter time… I just love the fact that at almost 14 she still wants to hold our hands from time to time.

Father and Daughter time

So we’re back home and I’ve got to get back to painting (eventually), I’ve already removed the door and drawer fronts off of the rest of the base cabinets in the kitchen and I will slowly be working my way through them. For me this is not a race to get them done, I have no deadlines so I’m taking my time and making sure that this paint job is done properly so I won’t have to do it again! And while I’m waiting for paint and filler to dry I can enjoy some gardening and planting my new plants! We had a great time at the Starview greenhouses yesterday, I’m sure that this place will be my go-to for all of my garden plants, it was fabulous… just look at all of my lovelies! I’m also growing quite a bit from seed as well…

Plants to plant in the garden

And this little absolutely stunning true black Petunia just stole my heart and it is going to find a prominent place in the garden where I can enjoy looking at it everyday!

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Also there is SO much going on in Louisville now, the Derby may only be a one day affair to some but for this town the celebration starts a month in advance of the races and we have plans to enjoy as much of the festivities as possible!

Thanks as always for stopping by…

Until next time!

K

A Cool Upcycled Iron Stove Base

Hi all! I’m hoping you are all enjoying some Spring weather, it’s just beautiful here in Kentucky, which is great for all of the outdoor events they have here in Louisville. My eldest will be home from college next week so I’m hoping to get out to more local events with her before it gets too hot! But until then I am trying to finish up some projects before our community yard sale next weekend…

So this was a fun project for me, but it took FOR-EV-EH for me to decide what I wanted to do with this vintage iron stove base! I bought it at auction well over a year ago and just couldn’t come up with THE idea to upcycle it that seemed just right to me. Finally it hit me that it would make a great outdoor planter… so I asked my SAH build me an insert for it from the leftover treated lumber we used on our trellis/planter project… and of course he did a perfect job!

Here is the base in it’s original state with the drop in wood insert.

BEFORE

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And here it is after! Isn’t she a beaut!

AFTER

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I painted the wood insert with 2 coats of the same white outdoor deck stain that we used on the trellis and I spray painted the base with Rustoleum’s Aged Copper. I think this piece can be used for lots of things: add glass to the top and it’s a coffee table, add wood and fabric to make it an ottoman, put it at the door for shoes or a place to throw pet toys!

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But I really like the idea of it as a planter, it’s just so pretty. Here it is with one of my coffee table planters sitting inside it…

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I had thought about painting the iron a fun, bright color, because I would have liked that too, but since I’m selling it I thought it was best to keep it pretty neutral. I think the color scheme seems more upscale…

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So if you ever run across one of these stove bases I say snatch it up! There are so many fun things you can do with it, so why not?!

Hope you’re digging this piece as much as I am!

Thanks as always for stopping by!

K

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Making a Hypertufta Trough to Divert Rainwater

This is a post I have been wanting to write for some time, but I just kept forgetting! Hope it helps just one person 😉

Here’s the scoop… four years ago I spent HOURS UPON HOURS looking for an “acceptable” solution to diverting rainwater from the house. When our house was built they installed those black plastic ribbed hoses on the downspout’s in order to divert the water away from the foundation. These 4” black hoses snaked through our front boarders, sunning themselves on top of the mulch! So some of you may be thinking “so what?” and I hear you, but for me I hated looking at those things… they drove me CRAZY (which may have been a short trip)! Like I said, I looked for several month’s for a solution, I thought that there was no way I was the only one that was bothered by this… well apparently I was (which I did’t understand)… I guess I’ll just have to make something work!

During one of my numerous searches I ran across a tutorial for Hypertufta troughs, as I was searching “troughs” at this point, now the trough that they were referring to was for plants, but same concept right? Well the Hubby and I made two of them and I am happy to say that over 4 years later they still work perfectly!

Here is one…

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We had an azalea on the right originally, but it bit the dust last year which is why the newly planted Heather is so small. The picture below is of the Sweet Woodruff we have planted in the back, it can get about 3’” tall and does spread, but slowly… it has very pretty petite white flowers on it in the spring. I’m going to plant some along the sides of the trough which will help disguise it as well.

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Won’t the Sweet Woodruff look pretty in this space?

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There are quite a few recipes and tutorials out there to make the planter versions of what we made… same concept you just need a mold. So if you are interested this is how we did ours.

Hypertufta recipe:

1 part vermiculite

1 part sphagnum peat moss

1 part Portland cement

1 part water (roughly)

1 Sheet of plastic or plastic bag to cover the trough

Bricks or something to weigh down the plastic

Our process…

We scoped out the mulch and dirt in a 8-10” wide 3-4” deep trough making sure to slope the trough away from the house… very important! We ensured that all of the remaining dirt was compacted tightly, using our hands and then we started to make the Hypertufta mix. You will need to work rather quickly with the mix, it dries fast…

Combine the dry materials in a large container (we used our wheelbarrow) and mix thoroughly. Add the water in small increments and mix until the material is the consistency of thick oatmeal.

Use rubber gloves and a shovel to press the mixture into the trough, again ensuring that the trough slopes away from the house. Take the plastic sheeting or bag and place it over the trough, weighting it down, this will allow the trough to dry slowly which will result in a stronger finished product.

Wait at least 24 hours before you remove the plastic. You should now have a ready to use trough!

We did experience some mild chipping of the edges, but that was because we installed the mixture too thin there.  Additionally, we added black concrete colorant to our mix, that HAS faded over the years, so it is up to you if you want to add color. You could also press rocks, marbles etc. along the edges to jazz it up a bit, but we just wanted ours to be camouflaged Winking smile

The trough near the front door is far less noticeable as the plants have matured around it…

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Yes, some mulch gets in the troughs, but I just blow them out with the blower when I blow off the sidewalks… no big deal.

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Making these troughs really was SUPER easy, and took very little time once we gathered all of the ingredients together… maybe an hour max… I know I totally could have cleaned the troughs out to give you better pictures, but I’m just keepin’ it real ya’ll!

OK, now I have to go back to work on furniture…

Until next time!

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New Deck Planters & Plants

I just love plants.. and I especially love interesting planters and pots.. I don’t love watering them everyday, but doing so makes me take time to stop and smell the flowers.. which I do love!

I picked this trio of planters up last Thursday while out thrifting with a friend of mine.. so glad they fit into her car Laughing out loud They happen to all be a similar shade of pale green… score!

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We originally had a vintage table & chair set in this space, but we never really ate on the deck. We do enjoy sitting out there and enjoying a glass of wine before or after dinner though! So we removed the table set (to be listed on CL soon) and added these planters. We are in a very new neighborhood, 4 +/- years old, so privacy is a concern with the lack of mature trees.. so while we wait for the trees to grow, adding these planters as screening should help. As a bonus they also give us something pretty to look at from the Family Room!

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See the neighbor’s houses through the trees.. those are our Birch trees which are growing quickly and will eventually give us lots of screening and shade too! Planted in the metal planter’s (left to right) are Archangel Pink Angelonia, Creeping Jenny, Black Sweet Potato Vine, Little Devil Fire Marigold’s.. funny I didn’t realize until now that I had Angel’s & Devil’s in the planter!

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I only purchased 1 creeping Jenny in order to split it in half when I was ready to plant them. They will brown in the winter but will come back happy in the spring if you cut them back down to the base of the plant… This is one of my all time favorite vines!

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All of the paint and chipping on these planters was there when I bought them.. how lucky am I? I so loved the fact that I didn’t have to do anything to them but plant the plants! For the planter above we just bought six inexpensive clay pots and saucers. Planted in them, from left to right, is Celosia ‘Dark Caracas’, Dill, Basil ‘Genovese’ (x2), Sage and another Celosia.

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The Celosia is SO gorgeous.. and a beautiful shade of fuchsia, I just love looking at it!

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This planter I already had on the deck but I removed the winter plants and planted 3 Caladium and 3 Nasturtium (edible).

This very small change has made a big difference on the deck! I love looking the planters and the beautiful plants we have chosen to grow in them! My sister is coming to house & dog sit when we go on vacation this summer… won’t she be thrilled with all of the watering she will have to do?! Sorry KK Winking smile!

I hope you guys are all enjoying a great planting & growing season as well!

Thanks for stopping by…

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