Gardening Baby Steps

I started writing this post last Monday. Now six days later, on Sunday, I’m composing this first sentence. I got only so far as to think of a title for the post. I’ll be inside most of today as the ‘good weather’ of the past week has finally reversed (as so often happens during springtime on the Great Plains). As I look out my home office window, the trees and lawns wax verdant. My mail box flower garden sports a single red Dahlia bloom while the Gazanias sleep in.

Sunday morning view out my home office window (looking southeast down Fawn Valley)

My front yard drama I’ll cover in a separate post that will become a review, possibly scathing, of a local lawn and landscape company. But I will not mar this post with dark brooding thoughts.

Over the past few days, I’ve planted a Dahlia, four Gazanias and sixteen moss roses (also known as Portaluca). I bought a bag of mulch but I had so many moss roses I’m not sure I can squeeze in the mulch between all these plants. All of this in half my flower garden on the south side of my mail box. The north side is still dominated by my two robust day lily plants. I had two on the south side but that bed was damaged sometime in the last year or two and I’ve lost one of the day lilies and the remaining one is small and stressed. At the end of this year, I’ll probably completely redo this flower bed, put in new soil and find some different perennials, leaving some space for annuals to switch out next year.

Click on photo of the Gazania to see my Flowers and Herbs photo album, updated frequently with new photos.
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Revamping Our Mailbox Flowerbed

I am the first to admit that I do not have a green thumb.  Nearly every plant I’ve ever been given as a gift, unless it’s a cactus, has died.  This makes no sense, since I grew up in a farming community and helped my parents maintain a vegetable garden as a child.  Plants and I just don’t get along.

Four years ago, I decided ten years of neglect to the flowerbed hiding under our mailbox was enough.

What a mess! Ten years of accumulated neglect. (May 2009)

I enlisted Rachelle’s assistance (she’ll tell you I drafted her) in removing the weeds and ground covering shrubs.

Rachelle wrestling the shrub.

Eventually, we got down to dirt.  We visited a local nursery, where I bought four pots of already blooming day lilies.  Rachelle dug the holes and got them transplanted to the flowerbed.  We mulched it and I kept my fingers crossed.

Two years later, on Rachelle’s birthday, the day lilies were having a celebration.

Day Lilies Blooming on Rachelle’s Birthday (June 2011)

Three months later, Terry and I decided to have the driveway torn out and completely replaced.   During the winters, it became nearly impossible to shovel it:

Driveway Before Tear-Out (Aug 2011)

During the tear-out, the southern portion of the mailbox flower bed was damaged, hurting one of the day lily bunches.

Driveway Destruction (Aug 2011)

Last year, thanks to the drought, I didn’t do much of anything with landscaping or with our yard.  The grass seed we planted (and which thrived during the Spring of 2012), died and my front yard looked awful.  This year, we replanted grass seed again, over a larger portion of the front and side yards and thankfully we’ve gotten plenty of rain.

Terry tore out the remaining landscape timbers a couple of months ago. We hauled that off to the dump during the city’s annual spring cleaning initiative. My dad provided some used landscaping bricks he wanted to remove from his backyard.

Earlier this week, we were at Home Depot and I saw an orange lily I thought would look great with the almost-ready-to-bloom day lilies.  We bought two of them and planted them Wednesday evening:

Day Lilies BloomingAs you can see from the photo above, I installed the landscaping bricks along the front of the mailbox at the same time.

Yesterday, Terry and I visited a local nursery and picked up two large pots of cone flowers and three flats of moss roses to add to the flowerbed.  I spent an hour or two digging a shallow trench for the landscaping bricks and got them installed before the sun set.

making progeess under the mailboxThis afternoon, Terry dug two large holes to plant the cone flowers and I plugged a few of the moss roses around the front of the bed.

Done Digging
All that’s left is mulch. (click image to view rest of album)

Now, all I can do is pray that they’ll continue to thrive, despite my history with plants.