Monday, July 30, 2012

A Few More Hydrangeas...

The north-facing hydrangea bed whose blossoms I highlighted last time does get direct afternoon to early evening sun. During the hottest days, the blossoms will wilt by the end of the day. On these days, I'm sure to give them an extra drink of water and thankfully, they do recover just fine. 

I received a lot of inquiries after the last post regarding which mountain we see in our north view. It is Mt. Adams, which is located just across the Columbia River from us in Washington state (we are in Oregon). The trailheads which lead up the mountain are about two hours drive from our porch. 

The ridges which you see in the middle of the frame are also in Washington state. The state line runs between the farmland in the foreground and those riges, along the deep canyon of the Columbia River Gorge. 

The Little Lamb hydrangea are doing well this year, their third growing season. Their blossoms are very similar in shape as the Limelight, but are much more creamy in hue. Even though they do receive lots of morning to mid-day sun on the east side of the house, they do great. I chose this variety because they are more sun tolerant than a lot of the other hydrangea varieties, who prefer mostly shade. 

So far, I haven't really been able to figure out how to better capture the mountain with my camera. It always seems to end up washed out. 

Bombshell hydrangea are proving to be a good choice for this south-facing bed. They receive full sun and fare very well, even through the hottest days. 

I planted these last spring (five bushes). I look forward to when they grow even taller and create more of a singular-looking hydrangea plume under the dining room windows. 

Friday, July 27, 2012


Our corner hydrangea bed is in full bloom. 

This bed consists of three Endless Summer plants and three Nikko Blue plants (along the chimney and under window).

This little guy is not a hydrangea at all, but he scampered by while I was taking pictures. We call him Peter Rabbit although he is wild so we won't be dressing him up in a cute blue coat.  

The Endless Summer hydrangea are a mix of colors. Some are pink. 

Some are a light lavender. 

Some are a mix of blue and lavender. 

This collage shows the variety in the Endless Summer blossoms. They are in their third growing season (planted as one gallon pots). 

Here is another Endless Summer example. 

And one more. 

The Nikko Blue have a more consistent hue from blossom to blossom.

Their view in the early morning light. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blackberries and Blueberries

Our blackberry bush is bursting with berries this year. 

So far (knock on wood), the deer have restrained from nibbling. 

Last year we had a nice crop that gave us a good week or so worth of pickings. This year will be even better and I'm so excited as there's nothing quite sweeter than fresh picked berries. 

The blueberry bushes are full of green berries as well. When we were out in the yard the other evening, I showed them to the babies as blueberries are one of their favorite foods. Margaret gave a few a little squeeze and determined that we'll have to wait a few more weeks before pickin'. 

Last season they weren't quite ready to eat blueberries, so it will be a special treat when we pick them this year. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wicker furniture...

...for wee ones. 

I saw this little wicker love seat a while ago in one of my favorite antique storesIn a quiet moment several days later, I thought the babies would have so much fun with that.  

Recently, we were back in that neck of the woods and I decided that if the little wicker love seat still happened to be there, we should get it for the babies. And when I say 'we' I mean myself and my other self who supports such ideas. 

The love seat was indeed still there but as I looked more closely, I saw that there was also a matching rocking chair and table to go with it. 

So the little love seat ended up becoming a set.  

After setting up the tiny wicker furniture on our porch, we showed it to the babies. Margaret immediately began re-arranging everything, which made me laugh. And Graham, well he glanced at it for a half second, and then he was off and running (with Mike at his heels). 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Building Our Fence

We gained two extra living spaces with the renovation of our farmhouse. The first of these outdoor 'rooms' is the wraparound porch, which provides a transition between indoors and out. The second is the yard we created around the house with picket fence, which transitions from the house to the rest of our property.

To address some long standing drainage issues, we excavated to slope the ground away from the front of the house. After we excavated this area, there was a transition in elevation up to the rest of the yard. We decided to take advantage of this break in grade to create planter beds, which also disguises the varied ground elevations. Choices we mulled over included lots plantings associated with either a retaining wall or a fence line. We decided on the latter. 

Here, Mike has staked out the proposed fence line. The gravel border to the left of the future fence is a french drain, which we installed to help collect and convey water away from the house (and basement). 

Mike and my Dad dug the holes one weekend, while Mike and his Dad set the posts the next. They are set in concrete so that they remain straight through rain, wind and snow. 

This is an old photo so the file is small. Both being engineers, you can be sure that our fence is strong. 

Here is the yard today. There is of course always more planting to do, but each year the beds get fuller and fuller. 

We have held off on plantings around the porch so far. We can't decide if we prefer it left open, or if a line of low-growing shrubs or flowers may add a nice touch. It is a challenging spot to pick plants for. The area receives direct sun all summer long, and occasional piles of snow coming off the roof in the winter. 

The grass outside of the fence line has started to yellow, as it does around this time every summer. We've opted to only irrigate the yard inside the fence line, and let Mother Nature take care of the rest. 

Here's the side yard just after we completed the fence. 

Here is the side yard today. 

There are a few more posts on the fence here, here and here.


Where's Graham?

Hmm, where could he be? 

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Living Wall

When we initially designed our outdoor dining patio, we knew we wanted the space to be as green and lush as possible. To accomplish that, we opted to not build a formal wall around the patio, but instead created a living wall. 

This is what the area looked like after the patio and stairs (to the dining room) were built. Because the yard slopes away from the house, we built a hardscape patio with a stone-style retaining wall to create the level space. In addition to accommodating the slope of the yard, we also liked the idea of not having to mow around or under the table and chairs during the summer months. 

Here I've propped English boxwood up around the patio to see what the living wall would look like. Although these were the tallest boxwood I had come across, they were still going to be fairly short up against the patio, especially at the end with the largest drop to the ground. 

The patio is the same dimension as our dining room (12x16), which required over twenty plants. 

A year after we planted the smaller boxwood, I came across larger plants that were at least twice the size of the original plants. So we had a dilemma...wait patiently for the already planted but smaller boxwood to grow, or buy the larger ones to enjoy the living wall immediately because of the increased height. 

To resolve this question, I called the lovely Tara Dillard, a landscape designer who helped us plan the foundation plantings in the yard. She recommended switching out the smaller plants for the larger ones because we'd have to wait quite awhile for the smaller boxwood to grow that big. 

So that's what we did and we're so happy, despite the extra cost, the work to transplant the smaller boxwood elsewhere in the yard (in the flower beds) and of course, planting the larger boxwood in their place. 

The boxwood are very loosely shaped. I really do love the classic manicured formality of meticulously pruned boxwood hedges, but that aesthetic just doesn't seem to fit our yard. 

Beyond the fence line the yard is fairly wild. We used the fence to create a separation between areas of the property that are more vs. less managed. We wanted to create a lush yard next to the house, but also wanted to keep it on a manageable scale to minimize the maintenance of plantings, watering, etc. 

Soon the limelight hydrangea, which are on either side of both sets of stairs, will be blooming. I've already started to see little buds and I'm looking forward to seeing how they do this year. They've grown quite big over the past three seasons and although I have yet to cut them back, I will probably do a little pruning this fall just to keep them at an even height.

Monday, July 2, 2012

English Roses

Our early summer weather has consisted of a mix of rain and sun. I ran outside yesterday morning ahead of another approaching rain shower and clipped a small bouquet of roses. These are called Heritage, by David Austin. 

I have four David Austin rose bushes in our garden. They are all English roses, whose full old blossoms and strong heavenly fragrance I love. They deserve much more attention than we give them, I'm afraid. But nonetheless, they grace us with their timeless beauty. 

 David Austin's English Glamis Castle (creamy white) and Heritage (pink) roses. 

You can see more of his English roses here
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