Plants, plants, plants

We’ve had quite the eventful week. With temperatures hovering around 70 in the day and 50 at night we determined last weekend would be the weekend to go plant shopping. Initially we anticipated going Saturday, but knowing how busy our favorite nursery (Growers Outlet in Loganville) gets we decided to skip out of work a little early (that’s like crazy talk for us!) and go on the mini road trip on Friday afternoon instead. Can you tell we’re spoiled intown people who consider anything further than 10 miles away a road trip? Haha. So we made the one hour ride up there. I was so excited I had butterflies – how dorky am I! I’ve been trying to come up with a good garden plan for the area next to the shed for a little while. Since our back yard gets pretty shady in the summer when all the trees are grown in, and since the bed I was planning was on the north side of the shed I had to make sure the plants were shade loving. Plus we want to keep as many plants perennials as we can.

So some hours and $97 later we ended up with around 60 plants. (More if you count the fact that some plants came in six packs.)

Plants from Growers Outlet

Plus our friend from West End gave us a whole bunch of hostas! Thanks Debbie!

Hosta present

So of course it was night and we wouldn’t get to planting until Saturday, but at least we could plant all day instead of spending half of it at the nursery. Which was clearly needed time with all those plants! So we finished dinner and I was in the process of pre-rinsing the dishes and…”Oh crap!” (me)…”What happened?!” (Patrick)…”I cut myself with the steak knife” (me – staring in shock at my cut between the index and middle finger with flesh just floppin’ around under the running water). Well that didn’t really fit in with my plans of planting. *big sigh* Such an inconvenient spot too where you can’t really put a bandaid or anything. Interestingly enough it didn’t hurt at all. Well, I guess I shouldn’t say “at all” because it obviously wasn’t comfortable, but the pain was less than the three days I always suffer from an ant bite! Needless to say I was more of a planting assistant the next day…

One of the things we finally were able to plant was the raised garden bed that we built a few weeks earlier. It looks like this year we’ll have a garden bed with only tomatoes and bell peppers. From left to right we’ve got the bell peppers, “Sweet Million” tomatoes, “Roma” tomatoes, and “Celebrity” tomatoes.

Raised garden bed

So like I mentioned, my big project was the north side of the shed. In previous years I think we’ve done bad planting, not being conscious of the requirements for the plants we were putting there. (I’ll use the “I’m a newbie gardener” excuse.) So we tore out the dead rose we bought our first spring and transplanted the other living rose to the southern side of the house. Then we planted three Cast Iron plants, two McKana’s Columbines, two Tiger Stripe Foamflowers, four Chocolate Chip Bugleweeds, and one Lungwort Opal.

Plants by shed

In the space by the back steps we dug up the Weigela Carnaval we planted the first spring and transplanted it in a pot for the time being. In place we put another Cast Iron plant and Debbie’s Hostas. I’m not sure which kind they are. Same scenario as the north side of the shed, this area seems to get a lot of shade in the summer with all the trees, so I think between the shade and the fact that the area floods during rain the Weigela wasn’t happy in that spot. Hopefully these plants should fare better in this location. I’m liking it in any case!

Plants by back steps

On the other side of the steps we’ve planted Purple Fountain Grass the past two years (annuals). This year we thought we’d try three little Fiber Optic Grass. The ivy that we’ve moved around for years in that spot seems to be following the rule of “the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps”. It’s been rather contained up until this point, but this spring it’s really exploded and is growing up the side of the stairs. I know I’ve been cursing the English Ivy growing all over our property, but as long as we can contain this one I like the idea of it clinging onto the ugly cement stairs.

Patrick planting

In the front step pots (the ones that have the Confederate Jasmine) we planted a Verbena, a Creeping Jenny, and a Potato Vine (left to right).

Front porch potted jasmin

We planted three more of Debbie’s Hostas in our “woodland garden” behind the shed. Then our neighbor decided to cut the tree off his shed one evening this week. Back in November a neighbor’s tree fell, landing on their shed and partially ours. Back then the neighbor cut the tree on our property off, but had left the trunk lying on his shed until now. To our dismay we found the trunk on our fence and woodland garden the next morning. Not sure what he was trying to achieve by rolling the trunk off the shed’s roof and onto our fence? I know the fence was only crappy chicken wire and I want to get rid of it real bad, but that didn’t mean I wanted it crushed by the tree in the meanwhile! Although our bigger worry was probably our poor little plants getting crushed! All things considered if it had to crush any plants, the plants it fell on were the best option. It smashed one new Hosta, which happened to be the smallest of all the ones we planted, and one Fern. Who knows, maybe the Fern will recover and the Hosta come back next year?

Fallen tree

I missed taking photos of a few other things that were planted so I’ll post about them next time. In the meanwhile my fingers are still wrapped up from my cut. I’m eager for it to heal now! A week of wrapped together fingers is getting annoying.

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General Updates

Alright, so we’ve worked on a few projects over the last couple of weeks. And with this rollercoaster weather it gave us a nice variety of things to do.

Two weeks ago when it was snowing we stripped some more paint. Patrick worked on the last bit of dining room base molding and I worked on some detail by the kitchen door. I think with Patrick finishing the base molding the only large surface painted areas remaining are the fire place mantle and the coffered ceilings. All the other work will be the painstaking detail pieces.

Dining room paint stripping

Then last weekend we had outstanding weather topping off at somewhere around 80F that made it ideal for some outside projects. For that matter it was almost getting too hot to work! I was finally able to tackle some of the leaves remaining from fall. Some people are really good about removing those as soon as they hit the ground. I’m the lazy one that waits to make sure that every last leaf has fallen before I bother removing any of them. One of my excuses is that they act as a protective winter blanket like mulch does, which is why I wasn’t removing them before. ;-) So now I’ve been able to put seven brown bags by the curb, fill up the compost with a ton of leaves, and still have about three quarters of the yard left to go.

So while I was busy raking leaves Patrick decided to tackle the remaining fence posts in the middle of our yard. When we bought the house there was a fence going through the yard– perhaps because of a dog? Back in November 2006 we tore out the wire portions. I love how my comment at the time was “Next up: the poles gotta go” – that was over two years ago, haha. So as you can see it’s taken us a while to get back to this one. Patrick pretty much struggled with it the majority of the workday. Oh how rewarding to get rid of that fence door!

Tearing out fence gate

Those little buggers sure were cemented deep into the ground.

Fence hole

So once I was done raking the front lawn and parts of the back yard I decided to take on a piece of the garden being swallowed up by English Ivy. (I’m surprised its leaves don’t come with devil horns.) I guess this portion of the end of the driveway has been overlooked since it’s been hidden behind our pile of garbage that we have yet to get rid of. My excuse is that in the winter it’s too cold to work on this and in the summer you get eaten alive by the mosquitos and uhmmm, I don’t have an excuse for spring or fall, except that I’m tackling it now!

Covered driveway

*gasp* There is a wall hidden behind all that English Ivy! So after ripping out all the English Ivy I found about half a trash can full of junk – old beer bottles, old liquor bottles, clothes, rusty metal parts, Styrofoam, you name it. But underneath that was some wonderfully brown earth! I guess all those leaves that lay there for who knows how long composted themselves. The earth came in handy too to fill in the fence post holes.

Uncovering driveway

Man we really need a dumpster.

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Composting for Newbies

We did it. We finally joined the composting culture.

Growing up in Germany composting was always such a natural thing. Just about everyone I knew had a little vegetable plot in their yard and a compost hidden somewhere in the corner of the garden. My parents always had a compost. Actually they must have been pretty serious because they had the three bin compost going on. I’m not sure what sparked my interest in wanting to do a compost here, but I told Patrick I thought it would be cool to start composting so we can have our own healthy earth for the garden. The space behind the garden shed seemed perfect because it will be pretty hidden back there. Patrick was game and ready to start. For that matter he was ready quicker than I was because he said “let’s just start a pile.” Being the German that I am I needed order…I needed a box to contain the pile in. So even though we didn’t have a box yet we added scraps to a pile. But the compost didn’t really become official in my eyes until we built the box today!

After some internet research we determined the easiest way would be the stacking method. You put the legs an inch lower than the boards so that one can be stacked on top of the other:

Compost Diagram

Patrick determined that even though it won’t be the cheapest method we should build it with cedar so it won’t weather as quickly. So off we went to the big box store and bought some 1″ x 6″ x 8′ cedar boards for the walls and 1″ x 2″ x 8′ for the supporting legs. Thankfully the big box store offers cutting, so we went ahead and got them cut in half (1″ x 6″ x 4′) so we wouldn’t have the extra work ourselves. The store had the super saw and was able to cut all eight boards in one go!

So here’s our pile of materials all ready to go!

Cedar wood for compost

Step 1: Nail/screw together your boards to make a box.

Step 2: Cut the supporting legs into 7 inch pieces (1 inch larger than the boards to allow air flow). Attach legs to interior box walls.

Building cedar compost

Step 3: Stack your boxes on top of one another over the started compost pile hidden behind the shed.

Step 4: Throw in some leaves that you haven’t cleaned since fall for good measure.

Composting leaves

Step 5: Mix up the pile of kitchen waste and leaves.

Step 6: Keep adding to pile and repeat steps 3 through 6 until your waste turns into earth. (Or so we’re told.)

Raking compost

Since we’re composting virgins we’re obviously curious what our mess will turn out to be. I understand not too much will probably happen until the temperature goes up a bit more. We also bought one of those earth test kits. I haven’t actually used it yet. That way we’ll hopefully be able to find out what our compost pile will need most of to neutralize the existing earth in the garden. Wish us luck in our new venture!

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Brick Path

We’ve been working on a pretty exciting project lately…our front path! Although we still have a ways to go as far as the exterior of the house goes I think the path has been one aesthetically unpleasing sight that really pulled the rest of the house down in curb appeal. The path seemed to consist of more grass/weed patches than concrete! It has really been quite an embarrassment. Well thankfully we finally got started on changing that!

Back in May we posted about luck coming our way when we ran into acquaintances who were participating in the Inman Park Tour of Homes where they had built a wine cellar out of old bricks (from an early 1900s building that was torn down somewhere along Peachtree Street) and were generous enough to give us their leftovers. Just what we had been hoping for!! They had been sitting in our back yard since then and we had been waiting for the street and sidewalk construction to be done before we’d get started on our walkway. (Because we knew they were going to raise the sidewalks to put in curbs so there was no point in guessing how high to build our walkway until the new sidewalk would be done.) We were debating about hiring the same guys that repointed our brick to build the path, but then ended up deciding that we’d give it a try ourselves.

Since half of the path was already in crumbles it wasn’t too hard to pull it up. When we talked to our brick repointing guy he was determined to use cement in some way or another. We were determined not to. So we got some metal edging pieces to hold the bricks in place instead. Here are some photos of how far we’ve made it. We’re not done all the way, but I wanted to share how far we’ve gotten because I think it looks 100 times better already (even not being done, haha).

Our “lovely” crumbled path:

Front path before

Front path before

Tearing out the concrete:

Tearing out front path

Tearing out front path

Putting down gravel so there will be good drainage:

Laying out front path

Gravel path

Landscaping fabric to (hopefully) prevent weeds from growing:

Front path landscape fabric

Putting down sand:

Front path sand

We’ve laid out some of the bricks and are sweeping sand between the cracks to keep the bricks from shifting around:

Front path brick and sand

Our progress up until now:

Front path brick

Front path brick

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Holly Stump

One of my big bothers has been the giant holly stump in front of our house. First of all I don’t like holly’s because they’re prickly, but secondly I don’t think having a holly stump the width of a medium sized tree in the front yard is very aesthetically pleasing. The other day we finally got out the chainsaw and cut it down, woohoo!


Holly stump


Holly stump

So the stump is still there, but at least not as tall as it was before. I think I’ve read of some chemicals that can help break it down? I think I’d be scared to get a stump grinder so close to the house. In any case, I’m glad it’s not so prominent anymore. The live one on the other side of the steps it still there, but I suppose that’ll wait until another time.

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