Our Landscaping – 1 Month Later

It turns out that having new landscaping is a lot like having 50 more mouths to feed and each mouth has a craving for something different.  To add to that, I don’t know what I’m doing and have been attempting to figure it out as I go – faking it until I make it in the green thumb department.  We are a month in with our new plants, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy sailing.  I’m barely keeping my head above water (no pun intended) with trying to figure out exactly what I should be doing.

We were religiously watering everyday in the evening.  Then we found out that plants prefered to be watered in the morning.  So, we started making time for watering in the morning.  Some plants seemed to not be getting enough water.  Some seemed to be getting too much.  According to Google, the signs of over watering and under watering are eerily similar.  We then found out that we should only be watering every few days if it hasn’t rained.  Lately, we’ve been holding back a bit with the ol’ watering hose.

Fertilizing has also been another thorn in my side.  Again, no pun intended.  When we planted everything, we used a garden soil that had fertilizer mixed in.  We also added rose food to our miniature roses when they were planted.  I was also told, by an ‘expert’ at Lowe’s, to use Miracle Grow once a week for a while.  I did it twice before I realized that my poor plants were being over fertilized.  My roses started growing yellow leaves from too much fertilization.  The weeping cherry tree also has some yellow leaves.  I’m assuming it’s from being over fertilized.  I’m dialing it back and putting a hold on the Miracle Grow until further notice.

The biggest issue is that I’m not familiar with how the plant should look at different times of its life cycle.  I don’t know what’s normal and what isn’t.  I’ve been doing my best to ask anyone who will listen and Google everything.  Thank God I don’t have to worry about pruning for a bit. My head might explode (different plants need to be pruned at different times of the year and in different ways – I need to make a spreadsheet).

My azaleas were amazingly beautiful with huge blooms for about two weeks.  Then I noticed the blooms turning brown and wilting away.  I was worried, but have since been reassured that they are fine.  The blooms die away, shouldn’t be cut off (deadheading), and next years blooms are set.  The brown is fine, we have new leaf growth, and the bushes look hearty.  For now, I think the azaleas are doing well.

The creeping phlox seemed to be wilting away and the flowers all fell off.  From what I can tell it was time for the flowers to go, but the phlox are looking better after a really good watering session.  I’ve also been told it’s hard to kill phlox, so I’m hanging onto that as a good omen.  Our daylilies are growing like crazy, but are looking a little yellow at the base.  I thought they were getting enough water, but I was told to water them more.  They get more sun than the other plants, so that makes sense. We are working on bringing those back.  We did lose one of our clematis vines by our mailbox.  Honestly, I have no idea what happened to him.  Shortly after being planted, it was completely gone.  May he rest in peace.

Overall, everything is growing.  It’s actually quite surprising to look at pictures from when they were planted to now.  (see below) After trimming the yellow leaves from the roses and deadheading spent blooms, they have taken off.  We have a TON of blooms and newly forming buds.  My roses might be my favorite at this point.  They are making me look good in the gardening front.  The weeping cheery seems to be growing well with new branches and lots of leaves.  The hydrangeas (dwarf bush, bush, and tree) have doubled in size and really filled in.  I’m anxiously awaiting the day they bloom.  The butterfly bushes are also looking good – filling in with lots of leaves and growth.  The abelia and astilbe are also holding their own.  The abelia has new growth, but no visible signs of blooms at this point.  The astilbe has sprouted stalks for the buds to grow from.  I’m excited to see those in bloom.  The lamium that lines our sidewalk has quadrupled in size and has the prettiest purple flowers peeking out.  You almost can’t see any mulch between the plants.  We’ll have to trim it back in the next month or so.  The dianthus ground cover that we put in has spread a bit and is budding with breathtaking pink starburst flowers.

When I was growing up, I constantly made fun of my mother when she would make comments about how her plants looked or how pretty some flower she saw was.  We have an inside joke about looking at begonias.  Sadly, traveling down this landscaping road has made me realize that I’m doing the same things that I always made fun of her for.  It’s was a ‘you’re turning into your mother’ moment.  And you know what?  I’m cool with it.  Because, I’m growing shit.  And, that’s pretty badass.

4-27-13 – abelia, astilbe, hydrangea tree, butterfly bush, azaleas, hostas, boxwood, pig squeak

5-27-13

4-27-13 Azaleas, pig squeak, hostas, boxwoods, lamium

5-27-13

4-27-13 wheeping cherry, miniature roses, little lime hydrangea, dianthus

5-27-13

4-27-13 clematis and daylilies

5-27-13

4-27-13 hydrangea bush, creeping phlox

5-27-13

Our Landscaping is in There Like Swimwear

I wrote all about getting ready for our big landscaping project – we put in landscaping walls, researched the types of plants we wanted, enlisted some serious help, came up with a plan, picked and tagged our plants, set a weekend for planting, and enrolled help for the kids.  Everything was completely planned.  And, it turns out that even yours truly can’t control the weather.

The forecast for our day of planting… Screw you Mother Nature.

Regardless of the weather, the show must go on.  The plants were delivered as scheduled on Friday.

Look at my sweet, sweet babies!

Our first step was to lay everything out where we thought it should go.  It was a long process.  One of our sweet neighbors even came over to help.  I would put plants where they were suppose to go and then step back to take a look.  Then I would go back and move things around and step back again.  Eventually every little plant had their own little spot.  It was also determined that we needed more plants.  When in doubt, add more plants…  We made a quick run to Lowe’s to pick up a few last-minute supplies.

All my little babies, in their spots.

The gang’s all here!

Anna actually did all the plant placement. My gig’s up.

Saturday morning arrived, and we were outside as soon as the sun came up and the kids were situated with their grandma (Martha – we owe you big time!). We started by mixing up our soil and getting our tools ready.  The dirt around these parts has a high clay content, which is really acidic.  To neutralize the clay, we were told to use a mixture of garden soil, peat moss, and cow manure.  Yes, cow shit. We were elbow deep in it all day long.

Yep, that middle bag is full of cow shit.

And then the rain rolled in.  We took a slight rain delay, hoping it would blow over.  We made a run to the nursery to pick up the rest of the plants that we needed.

At least the plants liked the weather condition.

Since the rain didn’t have any intention of stopping, we had to bite the bullet and push through.  Several neighbors dropped by to visit and tell us how hardcore we were for gardening in the rain.

Those are the feet of a hardcore gardener.

We didn’t let the rain stop us.  And, you know what?  It eventually let up to a slight drizzle.  We got three beds finished before we took a break for lunch.

Ladies, marry a man who will plant your roses.

The kids had been inside all day because of the rain.  They were going a bit stir crazy and chomping at the bit to come outside and ‘help’.

Hey mom, what are you doing out there?

After we ate lunch, Alex and I were moving a bit slower.  We had already been at it for 5 hours – we were tired and sore.  But, we still had about 50% of our plants left to put in.  We were coming to the realization that we weren’t going to get everything finished in one day when something amazing happened.  One of our neighbors came bouncing out of his garage with shovels and a bucket asking if he could help us.  Another neighbor popped over with his gear offering to help.  Obviously we didn’t turn them away! Can I just take a second to let you know that we live in the best neighborhood?  Seriously.  Our neighbors are incredible.  You may of thought that your hood and neighbors were the best.  You were wrong.

Pete and Dennis – expect some thank you treats from The Parsons!

Our helpers were fresh on their feet and ready to tackle the mud.  They came dressed to get dirty and they worked their rears off.  About two and a half hours later, all of our plants were nestled into their holes.  Our landscaping was completed!

It’s amazing how different the front of our house looks now.

I really can’t get over the transformation.

Now I can drink sweet tea on my front porch with my azaleas!

In a few years, these beds will look like something from ‘Better Homes and Gardens’

Please, step through my gardens to come inside.

Fingers crossed that the hydrangea grows large enough to cover that water drain.

Clematis and dayliles around the mailbox. Have to figure out a better solution for the clematis to climb with – thinking of doing a wire.

Next to the driveway – hydrangea and creeping phlox.

All-in-all, we are thrilled with the results.  The house looks completely different (in a great way) and it has the Southern feel I was going for. As a bonus, we are now no longer the slackers on our street without landscaping.  I wish that the beds looked a bit fuller, but our friends at Frisella Nursery keep telling us to have patience.  The plants will grow with time and completely fill the beds.  Patience is a virtue that I missed out on, so this is hard for me.  Also, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous about possibly killing all of my plants before they have a chance to make it (or the possibility of none of them returning next Spring).  I’m not a green thumb, so I’m praying that I can keep these puppies alive.  I’m actually kind of freaking out about it.  I really don’t want to kill any plants, and I’m faking it until I make it.  I’ve read that the typical reason that plants die is because they are watered too much.  I’m trying to figure out how to know how much water they need, when to feed them, and when to not water them. What I really need is the name of a plant interpreter.  I have a strange connection with my plants – almost like they are another set of tiny humans that I have to mother.  Tiny humans that only need their heads watered, but not too often.  I know it sounds odd.  Maybe it’s all the exposure I’ve had to the ‘elements’ from this project…

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For all those of you that may be interested in knowing what plants we put in, see below and knock yourself out:

1 – Limelight Hydrangea Bush
2 – Creeping Phlox

1 – Clematis
2 – Daylilies

1 – Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry
2 – Little Lime Hydrangea
3 – Miniature Roses
4 – Dianthus

1 – Pig Squeak Bergenia
2 – Azaleas
3 – Green Mountain Boxwood
4 – June Hosta
5 – Lamium
6 – Pig Squeak Bergenia

1 – Limelight Hydrangea Tree
2 – Abelia
3 – Astilbe
4 – Azalea
5 – June Hosta
6 – Lo & Behold Butterfly Bush
7 – Green Mountain Boxwood
8 – Pig Squeak Bergenia