warm front

We’ve had some really gorgeous days lately, though the temps are getting so high now that it’s almost too hot. It was almost ninety on Sunday and we’ve been in the eighties almost every day lately. It’s summer, I guess.

Dames Rocket and Shasta Daisies in the front garden

This is one of my favorite areas of the garden right now. The Dame’s Rocket shows up really nicely against the Shasta Daisies. You can see the chicory in the background – it is getting insane! I have mixed feelings about it – it’s a good green and has some cute little flowers, but the foliage is so reminiscent of dandelions that it ends up on the weedy side of wildflower. We’ll see. For now I am still filling in the empty areas using sod delivery in Orlando so I’m not inclined to create another one.

poppy anemone in the front garden

The Poppy Anemones haven’t stopped blooming yet!

lavender mountain lily (?) in the front garden

This is, I think, Lavender Mountain Lily. It’s striking against the Artemisia and I love the delicate blooms. I am a bit bummed, though, because I had a ton of it and only two have come up so far. Squirrels may have eaten the bulbs?

in the front garden

Here’s the view to the front door. The white salvia is coming in, and the Verbena is still a beautiful lilac. The Iris by the door are almost done blooming.

foxglove buds in the front garden

Foxglove budding.

new hose storage in the front garden

Hooray! We bought this hose holder thingie a few years ago and never got around to mounting it. Awesome K did it for me on Sunday while I was working. It’s so much better than leaving the hose in a heap on the ground, and it even has a little tilt-out drawer thingie I can use to store the nozzle.

white salvia coming in next to the purple in the front garden

This might be my absolute favorite view in the garden right now. The different colors of salvia make such a nice contrast and the pincushion flower is really starting to come into bloom.


spring has sprung

Like just about everywhere else, spring has come very early to this neck of the woods. Our winter was extremely mild and most of March we’ve had temperatures in the 70s and 80s. It’s ridiculous! Kind of nice, but I miss the transitional weather. I’m a fan of temps in the mid-50s to mid-60s and while we had quite a few days in that range during the so-called winter, I hope next year we have a more traditional spring season.

The first week of March, all my Crocus came up and most of them bloomed almost immediately.

crocus in the front garden

Eventually I would like this entire front border of the garden/yard to be filled with early bloomers. It’s still a little sparse, but they do multiply every year, so I’ll get there eventually.

crocus in the front garden

There was an ant crawling around inside this bloom:

crocus in the front garden

Early onset BUGS is definitely a side effect of this weird-ass weather. There were HUGE swarms of gnats out the other night as I was taking photographs. They were everywhere! Ewwwwww.

By the second week of March, all the Crocus were up and blooming:

early blooms in the front garden

as were other early bloomers like Reticulated Iris:

early blooms in the front garden

and Siberian Squill (which wasn’t quite blooming yet as of this photo):

early blooms in the front garden

Even though the winter was mild, it was wintery enough to destroy the mini gargoyles I accidentally left out.

what remains of the gargoyle I left out all winter

OOPS. I have a little bit of clean-up left to get all the tiny pieces picked up. That’s what I get from leaving a dollar store item out in the elements, I suppose! As an aside, the chopstick I accidentally left out (used for helping Blythe stand up) was completely unblemished.

The second week of March I started picking up leaf mulch from the garden. It’s really early to do this, but I couldn’t help but want to be out in the garden, and I thought it seemed worth risking. Some of the early bloomers were having trouble poking through all the leaves (I put them on a little too heavy in some spots) and I wanted to free them.

There were also a number of plants starting to sprout under the leaves and it was so neat to see them all green (or in some cases all white due to lack of exposure to the sun – even neater! I love science.) when I unburied them.

Here are some Lamb’s Ears ‘Helene Von Stein’ in the process of being uncovered:

front garden second week of March

and a week or so later:

front garden

By this, the third week of March, the Purple Wintercreeper is going crazy-go-nuts! It budded out earlier in the month and now it’s been growing super fast. It’s really filling in under the red maple tree this year:

under the red maple

The Poppy Anemones are starting to almost bloom now, too.

poppy anemone

The Sedum is sprouting, too. I just adore the way this stuff looks at all stages.

Stonecrop 'Munstead Red'

Even with last year’s now-not-so-gorgeous growth sticking out, I still like it.

Stonecrop 'Munstead Red'

The Artemisia is coming back, too:

Artemisia 'Powis Castle'

I have a few different varieties in the front garden. That one is ‘Powis Castle’ and it’s one of my favorite plants. The ‘Silver Mound’ is also coming up all over (I have it throughout the front garden):

front garden

(That Lavender needs a haircut!)

The Vinca is blooming, too:

Periwinkle Vinca

The blossoms on this plant may be tiny, but they are stunning! I feel like these photos look ‘shopped for color enhancement, but they aren’t. The flower color is just that intense!

Periwinkle Vinca

The Russian Sage is also sprouting teeny tiny leaves!

Russian Sage 'Filigran'

Are those not adorable?

It doesn’t look like a whole lot at this stage, but the garden is really coming along.

front garden

I think that this year I will have more fully or near-fully developed plants than babies, for the first time. I’m really excited to see how it progresses through the next few months!



I went to our local Lowe’s this weekend and found some total steals on perennials. I actually ended up going to both the local Lowe’s stores and getting different things at each. They had gallon perennials on clearance for $1 each, and groundcover for $1.50 a six-pack. I picked up over $200 worth of plants for $25! What a deal! Some of them aren’t looking spectacular, but they’re all healthy enough that they’ll survive and thrive in future years if not this season.

I found a few things that work with my front-yard color scheme, including Munstead English Lavender. I was planning to add lavender to this area anyway (I ordered some which will arrive in the fall), so that worked out well.

front yard

Munstead English Lavender

I also found some Butterfly Blue Pincushion Flower, which will hopefully grow somewhat quickly and add some height interest.

front yard

butterfly blue pincushion flower

Finally for the front yard, I found some Periwinkle Vinca. Not the most exciting plant ever, but it goes with my plan and should thrive and fill in relatively quickly.

front yard

The shrubs I planted between our house and the neighbor’s driveway have not thrived (probably due to the neighbor’s child ripping them out of the ground repeatedly), so I found another option: ornamental grass. I picked up some Adagio Grass and Maiden Grass and put them in. I am not completely giving up on the shrubs until next year – I hold out the tiniest shred of hope that something underground will survive and sprout in the spring. We shall see. The grasses should hopefully fill in over time, and as you can see, the grapes that sprouted there (one good thing the neighbors have done for us is leave bits of them there) are growing like crazygonuts.

between house and neighbor's driveway

between house and neighbor's driveway

I also found some plants for the bed beside the driveway: Petite Delight Bee Balm, Petite Wonder Bee Balm, and Red Fox Speedwell.

petite delight bee balm

petite wonder bee balm

red fox speedwell

I also found some groundcover for the corridor between the garage and the (other) neighbor’s fence. It’s Moneywort, which has a striking light green foliage and will theoretically flower in yellow.

between fence and garage


I feel really good about getting such great deals! Even if I lose a percentage of these plants, I still come out ahead money-wise, and hopefully I’ll learn more about a bunch of new-to-me types of plants and gain experience, too. If anyone has any tips or advice about any of these plants, I’m all ears!

More photos on Flickr.



I finished edging the front yard today. Woot!

edged front yard

The mulch and newspaper had spread out quite a bit onto the sidewalk over the last year, and the composted grass underneath with it. I spent a few hours out there today (hooray for NPR podcasts on the iPod!) and got things looking pretty tidy.

edged front yard

The first plants I ordered also arrived this week. The first plants are officially in the ground up front!

dalmation bellflower

This is dalmation bellflower, which will have purple flowers when it is in bloom (and more established). I got two of these tiny little plantings, which should spread over time. I’d been hoping that more of the plants I ordered would already be here, but hopefully most of them will arrive shortly. A few of them won’t be here until fall, since that’s when they should be planted. I think this weekend I’ll plant the seeds for the edibles I ordered for the front, and I’m going to look at the farmers market tomorrow morning to see if any of the vendors have  small berry bushes.

more photos at Flickr



We’ve had quite a bit of rain lately, but interspersed with some nice, warm sun. Perfect weather for the garden! Things are sprouting up all over. Well, not really, but they’re sprouting.

Calabrese Green Sprouting Broccoli

Calabrese Green Sprouting Broccoli

Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg Lettuce

The tulips out front have also been benefiting from the good weather.

black tulips

Finally, we’ve had a few people out to give us estimates on tilling the front yard. I still see value in doing that, but I’ve been reading up on a few websites that recommend not tilling – just leaving the mulch in place and digging holes to plant things and letting the mulch keep out the weeds until the perennials fill in. I took a peek and the grass is totally composted/smothered/gone underneath the mulch! I was sort of afraid that there would be a bunch of matted grass under there, but hooray, there’s totally not! Which means that tilling may be much less important than I previously anticipated. It would definitely be nice to save that money for other purposes. Most of the plants I’ve ordered for the front yard haven’t arrived yet, but my Seed Savers order for the front yard came today.

Seed Savers stuff for the front yard

I can’t wait to start planting, but I will, because I want to be able to really see the whole big picture when I’m placing things.


tall plants

And finally, the tall plants, things that are four or more feet high. With the plants I’ve been looking at (of all heights), I am going to have to make some choices – not all of them will go in, at least not at first. I’m sure that along the years I’ll also find new things to add.

Purple : Black Knight Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) : 6-10′ : full sun to part shade : shrub : blooms midsummer to fall
Black Knight Butterfly Bush
from Michigan Bulb, Spring Hill Nursery

Black : Black Beauty Sambucus, Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) : 8-12′ : full sun to part shade : shrub : blooms midsummer
Black Beauty Sambucus, Elderberry
from Dutch Gardens, Jung Seed

Black with white flowers : Currant Consort Black (Ribes nigrum ‘Consort’) : 3-6′ : part sun
Currant Consort Black
from Burpee, Nature Hills Nursery

Black : Black Magic Hollyhock : 4-6′ : full sun : blooms June-August
Black Magic Hollyhock
from Gurney’s, Michigan Bulb

Purple : Helmond Pillar Barberry (Berberis thunbergii Helmond Pillar) : 4-6′ : shrub : full sun
Helmond Pillar Barberry
from Jung Seed, Spring Hill Nursery

Purple (white flowers) : Purple Leaf Plum Hedge (Prunus x cistena) : 6-8′ : part sun : shrub : flowers early spring
purple leaf plum hedge
from Four Seasons Nurseries, Spring Hill Nursery, Direct Gardening


medium plants

And we’re on to the medium plants, things that grow to be between one and four feet tall. I’m also still just going for perennials – annuals and bulbs will wait for me to figure out the rest of the primary plan.

Purple and white : Purple snakeroot : (Actaea simplex) Atropurpurea Group : up to 4′ : part shade : clumps : blooms late summer
from ??

Purple and white : Spiny bear’s breeches (Acanthus spinosus) : 2-4′ : full sun to part shade : clumps : blooms mid-summer
Acanthus spinosus
from ??

White : astilbe (Astilbe japonica) : 2-3′ : part sun to full shade : clumps : blooms early to mid-summer
Astilbe Snowcap
from Burpee, Bluestone Perennials, Michigan Bulb, Spring Hill Nursery

Silver : Money Plant : 24-30″ : sun to part shade : clumps : blooms in spring
Honesty Money Plant Lunaria
from Burpee

Silver :  Blue Girl hybrid tea rose : 3-4′ : full sun to part shade : blooms summer to fall
Blue Girl rose
from Michigan Bulb, Direct Gardening

Silver : Blue Sea Holly (Eryngium alpinum) : 24-30″ : full sun : blooms mid to late summer
Blue Sea Holly
from Michigan Bulb, Breck’s, Spring Hill Nursery

purple : Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) : 18-24″ : full sun : mounds : blooms summer
from Michigan Bulb, Spring Hill Nursery

Black : Green Wizard Coneflower (Rudbeckia, Echinacea) : 24-36″ : full sun : blooms mid-summer to mid-fall
Green Wizard Coneflower
from Breck’s

Purple : Salvia Caradonna (Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’) : 20″ : full sun : mound-shaped : blooms early summer to early fall
Salvia Caradonna
from Park Seed

Purple : Black Barlow Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) : 24-28″ : full to part sun : clumps : blooms late spring to early summer
Black Barlow Columbine
from Dutch Gardens, Spring Hill Nursery

Black : Classic German Iris Sambuca : 35-37″ : full sun to part shade : blooms mid-spring
Classic German Iris Sambuca
from Henry Field’s

Black (white flowers) : Ebony King Blackberry (Rubus ‘Ebony King’): 3-4′ : full sun : flowers early summer
Ebony King Blackberry
from Michigan Bulb, Nature Hills Nursery

Silver/Purple : Burgundy Lace Fern (Athyrium n. var. pictum ) : 12-18″ : part to full shade
burgundy lace fern
from Jung Seed, Dutch Gardens

Purple : Amethyst Myst Heuchera (Heuchera) : 10″ with 20-26″ flower stems : part sun to full shade : blooms late spring to early summer
amyethyst myst heuchera
from Jung Seed, Dutch Gardens


front yard plan


front yard plan

This is my rough outline so far for the front yard. Obviously there aren’t any plants listed yet, but these are the shapes of the beds I’m thinking about. I’m sure it’ll be too much to do the whole yard in one year, so I’m thinking of starting around the edges and working my way in over time. The spaces I don’t get to this year with actual long-term plants will be filled with thyme or some other herb that doesn’t get too tall (and can be mowed over if absolutely needed).

I’m absolutely up for suggestions!


2009 Burpee catalog

We’ve had several inches of snow in the last couple of days and more is theoretically on the way. I’m still drowning my sorrows in gardening catalogs.

Iresine Purple Lady is a new plant to me.
Iresine Purple Lady
D’oh! I just noticed that it’s an annual. Boo!

I believe that astilbe is a perennial. Can anyone verify?
Astilbe Snowcap
This snowcap astilbe is strikingly white.

I think my grandma might have had a Money Plant.
Honesty Money Plant Lunaria
I could be mis-remembering, but either way this seems a cool addition to the silver/white end of my color palette. It’s listed as a biennial – what does that mean?

This run through this catalog was only for front yard potential. I’ll probably head back through it for veggies later.