Friday, June 4, 2010

No Hurry

Darn storm window.  Darn genetics.  See, the storm window is tall and heavy and I, like my birth mom, am short and not burly.  I can take the storm window off the house by myself.  I can even lean it back up there by myself.  But I'm not quite tall enough or strong enough to hold the window exactly in place with one hand while lining up the screw holes and re-attaching the window to the house.  Another little project for which I could use WTB's help.  So the back of the house looks like this for now:
I really wish I could leave the storm window off.  Storm windows are ugly, but I guess they do provide a little extra protection from the weather.  WTB does not agree.  He has a theory that because my storm windows are aluminum, and motorcycle engines are aluminum to dissipate heat, that my storm windows actually suck heat out of the house in the winter.  Hmm.  So far I've found no supporting evidence.  My house is freaking cold in the winter, storm windows or not.  Anyone else have a storm window theory?

Speaking of WTB, I promised to share his (our) vision for my yard.  First I'll tell you the vision:  cottage garden.  Think roses, hydrangea, lilies, ferns, maybe some herbs here and there, all growing cheek-to-jowl in a very informal garden with grassy paths winding through it.  Sounds pretty, right?  Now I'll show you what's here now.  It helps, as you're looking at these photos, to have a goodly amount of imagination.  And optimism. 

This first photo was taken on the west side of the house looking from the side yard into the back yard. We're looking to the north.  The chain link fence is the neighbor's, so I can't do anything about that other than possibly putting a willow screen up next to it to hide it.  Along that fence Esther (the last previous owner) planted lots and lots of yellow iris (which bloom on stalks taller than that fence!), daffodils and surprise lilies.  All good, although I wish they weren't planted in straight lines.  I will fix that.  Along the house I planted daylilies that my mom gave me and more iris, also from Mom's yard.  I want to put some bushes or bigger plants here and there along both the fence and the side of the house.  Looking into the back yard, the back fence is covered with honeysuckle.  Very cottage-y.  Smells nice, too.  In front of the fence is an old-fashioned rose that my mom hated and dug up out of her yard.  She hated it because it was big and grew wild.  Since that's exactly what I'm looking for, I took it—after we chopped it down to an easily transportable size.  It has pink blooms that Libbi likes to eat.  There's another one just like it on the other side of the back yard, not visible in this photo.  Smack in the middle of this half of the yard is a 6'x6' concrete pad that caps the old cistern.  I put that black archway in front of it and am training passionvine up it.  The eventual plan is to fill the little patio with container plants and either a bench or a couple of chairs and a table.  Right now there's junk piled on it.  This part of the yard needs a lot of work.  A lot.  Not necessarily to be accomplished in the next three months.
The next photo is still the west side of the house, but now looking south, towards the front of the house.  Now here we're seeing some progress.  I planted hosta, columbine, daylilies and hollyhocks along here.  Everything but the hollyhocks came from my mom's yard. 

For years and years Mom's had a gorgeous back yard with several raised beds, but as she's getting older she's moving a lot of the plants out so her gardens require less maintenance.  I am the lucky beneficiary of the stuff she moves out.  Next spring I'll divide some of the hosta and lilies and spread them out all along this side of the house.  Add in a couple of bushes (I'm thinking hydrangea or the Blue Chip butterfly bush I fell in love with at the greenhouse last week) and some annuals to fill in here and there, edge the beds, and it'll look pretty good.  Incidentally, my neighbor has hosta and columbine planted all along her house, so once I get mine established this side yard will be really pretty.

You've all seen the front of the house before, but the yard looks a little bit different this year.  Last fall WTB and I removed the railing (made of pipe) next to the front steps and planted lilies on either side of the steps.

At the time, I was trying to plant 20-some lilies that Mom had given me, and I'm not entirely sure that the lilies are the same color on both sides of the steps.  Bob says it doesn't matter, and I tend to agree.  Along the walkway leading up to the front porch I planted lilies-of-the-valley, which look kinda skimpy now but which I am assured by my mother and my neighbor Gwen will fill in "in no time".  I recently told you of my battle with the vinca...and I don't want to talk about that right now, but I will say that space could use a butterfly bush or two and some hosta and lilies.  I think coral bells would make a really nice border along that flower bed. 

Over on the east side of the house things are looking somewhat barren at the moment.  It's crying out for a couple of bushes and some attention to get rid of all the plaintains and dandelions.  When the Kellys lived here there was a brick walkway from the front sidewalk all the way down the side of the house and back to the alley.  I'm fairly sure it's gone, but additional prodding about with a piece of rebar is needed.  There was also a really pretty wooden fence with an iron gate which I sorely wish had been preserved.  All that remains of it is the stub of one of the gateposts near the back porch steps.  Sigh.

More of those 20-some lilies are planted next to the porch, along with some hollyhocks from seed.  Those ferns under the window are really lush.  I want to divide them and put some on the west side of the house too, but I don't have a clue if that's a good idea or when I should do that.  Anyone know?  Just on the other side of the porch steps I planted tomatoes.  I'm not sure they're getting enough sun there, so I might move them to the back yard.   You can just barely see another climbing rose past the side porch.  The forsythia bush in the foreground of the photo and the apple tree in the background both belong to Floyd and Gwen.  That gives you an idea of how narrow our side yard is. can see that I have a lot of work to do, but I'm in no rush to get it done.  The time and patience needed for gardening is a nice contrast to the tearing hurry that makes up much of the rest of my life.  Half of my week is lived by the clock—chute times, heart rates, dispatch times, the golden hour—so the other half of the week it's good to slow down and take the time to literally smell the flowers. 

Or to sit on my front porch sipping a tall glass of iced tea while reading a good book.  That is exactly how I plan to spend much of the rest of this summer.  Any recommends on good reads?


  1. Love the yard tour & love the vision.

    My first recommendation is going to be find a spot in your yard to start a compost bin.

    Next - the GardenWeb Forum.
    Make sure you have plenty of time because the place is highly addictive.

    Transplanting ferns:

    Next, start winter sowing:

    Lastly, once it all gets going, invite me over to take starts of everything! ;)

  2. Ditto, what Kate said.

    I loved the tour, I think it's already looking like a cottage garden. I don't know if I shared this with you before but here is a link to an awesome blogger on Prince Edward Island. You will be totally inspired by her tours.

    I love your porch furniture! Let me know when you have that block party...I'd like to crash it!

  3. Why not do a little storm window experiment in the winter and see? I had aluminum frame storms added to my old bungalow and they really made it more comfortable, although I also didn't like their covering up the window detail.

  4. House and yard look so beautiful already. I just love the paint and detail on the house.

  5. I have one of those $40 wire compost bins from,34-646RS,default,cp.html

    It's really unobtrusive compared to what a big plastic one would look like, I think.

    I don't turn it or anything, just after awhile shovel out stuff from the bottom. It's amazing how much yard debris it takes to turn into dirt, and how quickly it settles down, so volume isn't a problem.

    I'm thinking in the corner where the chain link fence is.

  6. If you put shrubs in near the house be sure to leave enough room for good airflow between plants when full grown & the house - if they are too close you will get mold & rot problems - not what you want after just making the house so beautiful!

    It all looks so pretty - you are well on your way to achieving your vision.


  7. Jayne, I love reading non-fiction and since you work for 911 these three came to mind.
    1. Mistaken Identity - this is the story about those two Indiana college students whose bodies were mistakenly identified after a fatal crash. One family buried the girl they thought was their daughter while the other family spent several weeks beside a comatose girl they thought was their daughter. This book is REALLY good.
    2. One Second After - a favorite book of mine. It's about a family and community trying to survive after an EMP attack. It's not an end of times book it's more like a post-apocalyptic story. This is not something I normally read but it was REALLY, REALLY good. Very thought provoking and made me look at life differently.
    3. Children of the Storm: The True Story of the Pleasant Hill School Bus Tragedy by Ariana Harner. Before 911 and cell phones, life on the plains was very fragile. This book is the children's account on how they survived an unexpected spring blizzard while watching some of their classmates, siblings and bus driver die.
    These books are not sad but a great testament to the human spirit. They're about overcoming tragedies and moving forward. If you read any I suggested, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  8. Oops, I just mention, One Second After is Fiction.

  9. I like the Molly Murphy mystery series by Rhys Bowen. They're set in the early 1900s in New York City.

    The heroine from a poor family has taken refuge in the US from persecution by a wealthy family in Ireland after she clobbered the son when he was "making advances." She gets involved in solving crimes while trying to keep the financial wolf from the door. It's fascinating reading about what life was like in those times - Emma Goldman, etc.

  10. If you read One Second After be prepared to feel a sudden need to stock up on pet food. :)

    I'm looking forward to seeing your cottage garden develop. It's just what that adorable house needs.

  11. Jayne,

    It just occurred to me that the frames of my aluminum storms may have been vinyl clad or something like that, which presumably would reduce heat/cold conduction.

  12. WOW! Thanks, everyone, for all the links and good suggestions!

    Milah, I'm really interested in reading Mistaken Identity. I remember seeing an interview with the girls' families and being so impressed with their compassion for each other.

  13. I was thinking about you wanting to hide that chain link fence, you could plant tall ornamental grass to hide it. I have some in my back yard and it gets about 5' tall. Then you could plant perenials in front of it or hang flowering baskets from a shepherds hook. Just a thought.

  14. Milah, That's a good idea! Driving to work, I go past a house that has some of that grass and I think it's pretty. I researched the willow screen and found out it only lasts 2-3 years. Kinda pricey to keep replacing it.

  15. I hate Al storm windows...especially triple track ones like our house has. Ugly, a pain to clean...I wish the old wooden ones were still in the basement...I'd put them back up even if it does mean more work.

    I love your ideas for the garden! I have a goodly amount of good that I can go for years envisioning what will be, so that what is doesn't drive me insane. I'm putting up a few pics of our yard today.

  16. Oh, I haven't read "The Help" yet, but I hear it's wonderful...I bought it a few weeks ago, and hope to start it this week.

    And be careful at, wonderful site, but you might never come up for air!