Tag Archives: Garden

Planting Again

Growing up, we had intricate landscaping put in by a previous resident. With black lava rocks and evergreen bushes, it was very dark and retro-70s, like much of the house. My experience with gardening consisted of Mom handing us shoeboxes and telling us to pull weeds on hot summer afternoons. She would pay us a set price per box we filled – usually a dollar or two.

In my apartments during and after college, I started quite a colony of houseplants, sharing cuttings with friends. I abandoned most of them when I got my cat, since it turned out most were poisonous to her.

My last apartment had a great little balcony. I installed planter boxes on the railings and tried to grow a variety of flowers and vegetables. I got a bit of basil out of the experiment, but not much else.

But in the house, my latent green thumb has come to life! From my first stab at zinnia seedlings the first spring to a series of ceramic pots lining the driveway, each boasting a different herb or vegetable, I’m starting to get the hang of it. And this year, I realized that waiting we’re past the danger of frost to plant outside means no blooms until mid-June at the earliest.

In addition to my tulips (now in their third year!) which are starting to come up of their own volition, I started a bunch of seeds in egg cartons out on the front porch. There have been some cold mornings but I think it’s just warm enough to foster life.

And I’ve got my first attempt at lettuce, going gangbusters. The zinnias and nasturtiums are starting, too, as is the basil. I can’t wait to get it in the ground.



Now that there’s a noticeable chill in the air, I finally found the cord that connects my camera to my laptop!

A random lily of sorts, which I never planted. Last summer, a plant sprouted up, but nothing ever bloomed. This August, I had three beautiful blossoms.

The peppermint stick zinnias turned out kind of interesting, though I’m still on the bubble about them. They almost look diseased!

The small front flower bed, overflowing with nasturtiums, which I had never planted until this year. They remind me of water lillies. Supposedly they’re quite tasty, though I haven’t sampled them. You can also see a couple rogue bachelor’s buttons that came back after last year.

Busy, and Thwarted by the Weather

Since starting the new job, I’ve been a tad busy learning everything I can about the new industry and adjusting to the new lifestyle. Plus, since I’m getting home earlier, I’ve been going on as many evening bike rides as possible. (The bike path itself has been fascinating with the ongoing heavy rains – there are places the path is closed entirely due to flooding, and many others where the river water laps up along the edges.)

My fancy new back doors came in a few weeks ago, and after frantic scheduling, my sister came down with her truck and helped me bring them to the house. (It’s cheaper to bribe her with lunch than pay the Depot $59 for delivery!) The doors have been parked in the garage ever since, forcing a very cautious maneuver every time I pull the car in – which is daily now. Every time my dad and I have aligned schedules (thrice, so far), it has rained on our parade. And not gentle-we-can-work-in-this rain. No, we’re talking monsoons. The kind that you can’t even consider working outside in, especially since there will be a gaping hole in the house for a couple (few?) hours. But cross your fingers for Friday…

Meanwhile, all the rain has been great for the living things in my yard! My tomato plant boasts the first few green tomatoes beginning to ripen, and some of the herbs are doing well. In the front flower beds, I did indeed wait too long to plant the zinnia bounty, but they’re starting to grow. Note to self: start them much, much earlier next year – like early May, or even inside in April. The nasturtiums are growing, but no blooms yet.

And in the back yard, the mulberries have taken over. Everything is purple and goopy and gross, and there’s a nice, rancid odor of ranting berries. The poor garage roof is purple, and the squirrels and birds are in heaven. We cut that tree back so far last fall, but it grows like a weed!

The rain has also once again meant a bit of very minor flooding in the basement, reminding me of the urgency of fixing it once and for all. Perhaps that’s a good rainy day project.

Onwards and upwards. Plenty more to do.

Fleeting Flowers

I had a whole herd of gorgeous tulips this spring. They were late to bloom, but when they did, last fall’s frenzied planting made sense. I had about 30 red tulips which looked great against the white house. Then, about a week later, the pink and white swirled blooms I had completely forgotten about appeared one sunny morning. Heck, I had even forgotten about the daffodils!

I kept waiting for the perfect morning to take the perfect spring picture. I wanted the morning light to be just right – which seems to happen about the time I leave for work – and a light breeze to add some loft to the flag. The morning I had an extra minute, my camera’s batteries were uncooperative. Manana, manana, I thought.

Then one morning, they were gone. Strong winds and heavy rains ripped most of the petals from their moorings. Over the next couple days, the remaining petals dropped to the ground and started rotting on the lawn.

Oh, well. The petunias are doing pretty well, and the snapdragons are holding on for the moment. Today, I hit Lowe’s and got tons of seeds (zinnias, nasturtiums and aubrietas) and a few cheater marigolds. I went ahead and planted all but some of the zinnias. Once the stems and leaves of the tulips die, I’ll plant the rest.

But for now, here’s a drooping daffodil next to a growing petunia.

The Outdoors Beckons

Wednesday, it got nice out. I was working from home, and by the time I went out to retrieve the garbage cans just before noon, the sun was shining and it was nearly 70 degrees. I stripped the removeable caulk from the porch windows and opened them wide. The stale winter air started to seep out and though cool, it felt great. I opened all the windows I could (bedroom, kitchen), and Collette went to town investigating the fresh air and singing birds.

The rest of the week, I cracked those same windows and watched the green tulip leaves grow taller and taller. I even slept with the windows cracked and was shocked awake by the birds at 4 AM. We went to a Cubs game one night, and grilled another night. It’s really spring!

I was hosting Bunco Friday night, so all week I was in full spring cleaning mode. Airing everything out helped a bunch, though Friday evening wasn’t warm enough to use the porch as I had optimistically hoped when I offered to host months ago. So things were a bit cozy, but went off without a hitch.

Saturday loomed rainy and the day alternated between sun and showers. I went to Kohl’s and bought a springy new welcome mat and kitchen towels. Then, during a sunny period, I took advantage of hooking the hose up for the season to scrub the cat’s box (note to self: must install utility sink before winter!), then vacuumed out the car and found 93 cents. I even opened up the basement windows to air that out and vacuumed up cobwebs and dust. In full spring mode, I stripped my bed and switched out the fuzzy winter blanket for the lighter summer blanket. Then we invited friends over and grilled again.

I spend most of today outside, potting dianthus (red flowers) for my hanging baskets on the porch, cleaning up more leaves and detritus around the yard, and planting snapdragons and petunias in the front flower beds. The latter may come back to bite me, as it’s still a bit early in the season – a last frost could be looming. But it was good to be outside in the sunshine, and the beds look great – still no tulip flowers, but they’re getting close.

This evening, I decided to de-caulk the rest of the windows and play the great screen-window matching game while putting away the storm windows.

Most of the windows went pretty quickly. At first, I used a flat-head screwdriver to pull up the removeable caulk I couldn’t get with my fingers, but quickly realized I was nicking up the windows. So I switched to a putty knife (genius!) and knocked out the rest of the porch, the office and the back hallway.

The living room window proved far, far more difficult though. It’s very old and leaky, and doesn’t even stay in place when it’s not locked – the top window slips an inch when the bottom is open. But since it’s a nice wood window – with beautiful finish that matches all the downstairs woodwork – I know it will be a more expensive replacement. Since it’s so craptastic, I used a ton of caulk that has proved a bit excessive, as I can’t get it up. The gap was sizable, so I really slathered on the goop which has now taken up permanent residence. I was getting closer after a solid two hours of careful, gentle scraping, but my hand is numb, so I’m taking a break. This is further motivation to replace that window – and if I do it at the same time as ripping out the air conditioner and replacing it with a window, they’ll match.

Overall, it was a very productive weekend.

Happy Housiversary!

It’s my second housiversary today! After last week’s vacation, I had lots to do around the house today. I did some spackling and framed and hung some pictures. Then I moved out the couch and cleaned behind it. Still in full-cleaning mode, I lifted up the heavy (iron?) heat intake grate in the dining room and vacuumed out the gross cobwebs. I found cat toys and crayons in the vent, so it’s obviously been quite awhile since it was cleaned out! I had to fend off Collette, who was circling curiously. I was afraid she would dart down into the vent, which would have been bad news. I dusted, I vacuumed, I laundered.

I also finally did my first outdoor work of the season! I went out with my rake and yard waste bag and started picking up all the leaves and sticks that have accumulated over the long, long winter. It proved too windy to rake, and after all the rain, yesterday’s snow and this morning’s hail, the flower beds were too soft to spend any real time in. But I filled half a bag with detritus and preened over my growing tulips – no buds yet, but soon enough!

This evening, I ran to Menard’s to price out some of my upcoming projects. I am definitely replacing the back door and screen door in the very near future. I priced out fencing, since mine is looking sorrier and sadder now that I’m home before dark. I have a lot of decisions to make on the fence. I want the same basic structure – a 6 foot tall privacy fence – especially since my back yard abuts the neighboring apartment building’s parking lot. I could replaced the rotting, faded, cracked, splintered wood with new wood – involving painting or staining and periodic maintenance. The new composite fencing looks intriguing, though, especially with the lack of maintenance. But I’m not sure how a white fence would look against my white house. Plus, if I stay in this house another five years, how much maintenance would I really need to do?

I also wandered through the bathroom section to look at the looming big project that I’ll tackle just as soon as I get the cash.

But for now, it’s been a happy housiversary.


On my way home this evening, the air was brisk for the first of April, but warm compared to lately. As I came up the driveway, I slowed to glance at the flower beds, as I have for the last several days. To my surprise, there was not one, not two, but at least half a dozen tulip sprouts! They’re not green, but rather a deep burgundy, so they don’t really stand out against the reddish mulch. I can’t recall what I planted. Last year, I had only red tulips, so I’m assuming (hoping?) they’ll come back, but I think I bought a bag of mixed bulbs in October.

I was so excited, I came inside and stripped down the plastic over the glass of the front door and in the bathroom. I’ll wait for the living room and bedroom until the overnight temperatures are above freezing.

Pictures tomorrow…

Gardening Tools

My parents recently visited my Grandma Charlene in North Carolina. She sent them back with a very nice set of gardening tools for me, which I got today. I’ve very excited – it’s a full set of every tool I could need! They all match and can be stored in a nifty case. They’re far better than my current sorry excuse for a set that I cobbled together from Wal-Mart.

The snow is mostly melted, and I should see crocuses or tulips any day now…

Waiting for spring

On this, yet another day below freezing with flurries, I can’t wait to see what pokes up from the ground in just a few weeks. I planted a bunch of relatively-early blooming bulbs – some crocuses and daffodils, plus more tulips. After last year’s toy-soldier tulips lined up precisely 16 inches apart, I purposely planted chaotically last October, so we’ll see what pops up.

I also learned my lesson last year about squirrels and their love of bulbs…