Sunday, April 29, 2012

...and make our garden grow...

I've gotten a lot of work done on my garden! I still feel like it's kinda bare--it's hard because it'll take until long after we've moved away for it to fully fill in. BUT I'm very happy with the progress of in-ground perennials. I think I just need to pot up some brighter (but obviously still shade-loving) annuals to add some peeks of color. I've been trying to select plants (and planters) that pop against the dark brick of the building, and this also means they'll show up nicely when they're in shadow.

I'm limited not only by the few shade (and clay soil) loving plants available, but also by the simple fact that we rent, and some of the scrubby ugly bushes we inherited we will just have to work around. If this were our own house, I'd rip all those hideous shrubs out of there and replace them with some nice ground cover, add in taller plants in the back, perhaps plant a small dwarf-type tree (one that reaches about 6 feet or so fully grown), and the go nuts with hostas and the other purple-leaved plants you'll see below. But since I can't rip it all out and start over, there's a healthy dose of "Just deal with it" here. Tis a tough pill to swallow, though.

Anyway. I'm happy with the progress, but not ready to call it done yet. Below are some pics of where things started this spring (the two hostas I put down last year are back but still filling in and opening up). And the sad wispy green leaves you see in the "before" of the end garden shot is a failed tulip bulb. Poor thing just doesn't get enough light to do anything more than sprout leaves and then feebly flop over.

Here you go:

This year's new additions:

Full garden view, before:

Full garden view, as it is now:

Section one, before:

Section one, at present:

Section two, before:

Section two, at present:

End garden, before (see that sad little green clump?):

 End garden, at present (this is my favorite transformation, as it's the most changed):

 And finally, this little guy is the centerpiece on our dining room table!

More to come, but I hope you can appreciate the difference. Look how nice the soil looks in the "afters." I tilled it all up before I put down the new plantings. Ahhh.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Onward and Springward!

Vacation Countdown:

Las Vegas: 86 days
Key West: 117 days
Ireland: 180 days

Also looking forward to the beginning of Princeton summer (aka June 6--Commencement is on the 5), and daytripping to John's and my official beach, Ocean City, NJ. I intend to be nice and bronze by the time we're down in the Keys! Well, bronze for my ghostly pale standards. haha

Also on the docket: My brother graduates from Camden County College with his Associates Degree in Business Management; John's cousin graduates from Virginia Tech; John's brother graduates from Raritan High School and begins preparations to attend William Paterson University. So much to celebrate between our families.

We also, of course, have Baby Boy Branin's arrival to look forward to, so some shopping at Babies R Us is in store.

With 2012 turning out to be such an exciting year, I'm thinking about how flat 2013 looks! haha Hope to get in a trip or two (Monterey Bay Aquarium? Harry Potter World?), and also to start really getting our ducks in a row for house-hunting.

For now, I'm simply looking forward to working on/in my garden this week. We finally had some soaking rain today, which means I can manipulate the soil--plan to put in 3 more hostas in the corner, and will also do some container gardening once caladiums are out and about. John also wants to get in some NJ native plants, and mentioned ferns as a nice ground cover option, so we'll see to add to the landscape bit by bit. I'm also eager to find a nice solar lantern to hand on the other side of my double Shepard's hook. It's currently home to a bird feeder (which keeps Hammy very entertained!), but I'd like something else we can leave out year-round--think of how cute the lantern would look illuminating a snowy yard. : )

As far as indoor gardening, I'm thinking I'd really like a succulent garden to perhaps adorn the dining room table as a centerpiece. Did some reading on their needs, and I think they'll do well. We shall see.

Until next time, stay tuned for more news and more pictures as I begin to work.