Category Archives: landscaping

Our Yard’s Blue + White Theme

It’s starting to look like Fall in our yard,

as some of our + our neighbors’ trees are dropping their leaves

Speaking of  leaves, check out these, on one of our Oak Leaf hydrangeas:



 If only I’d taken this photo a couple days ago,

when those red leaves were so vivid + gorgeous!


They already pop nicely against our neighbor’s light wood fence,

so imagine how stunning they will be when all the leaves turn scarlet!

They’ll eventually grow to 8′ – 10′ tall + will provide lots of privacy.

I blogged about them last August when we were planting them.

hydrangeas with chairs

They were only about a foot tall.

hydrangea border new looking ssouth

They’re now almost 4′ tall.


This first season, we had only about 6 or 7 total blooms,

but fingers crossed they will look more like this next summer:

hydrangea oak leaf

While I was outside this morning,

I decided to snap a few more photos of my groovies.

There’s my very pretty blue gazing ball on an old hollow stump,

 a vintage Dachshund statue,

+ some velvety Pulmonaria (a.k.a. Lungwort) plants:


That bit of a fern belongs to our large Boston fern (below),

+ those cobalt blue glass stars are from my favorite garden center,

Blumen Gardens in Sycamore, IL.


Here’s a better look,

with some companion globe thistle plants, in our last house’s yard:

blue glass stars

So pretty!

And wouldn’t you know it — I got the globe thistle plants at Blumen Gardens, too!

Anyway, it’s easy to see that our yard has a bit of a blue + white theme.


Some pretty blue Endless Summer hydrangeas

are growing just across the yard from our Oak Leaves.

hydrangea endless summer

We even painted our garden shed blue.

That’s our bee garden that we planted this summer.

The pretty white Coneflowers are the stars right now,

+ yes, we attracted bees!


That bird bath on a stand is also from Blumen Gardens,

+ how much do I love that mosaic blue + white transferware plate!


Oops.  I should have tidied it up before taking a photo!

Finally — in closing — next spring

we’ll have all sorts of pretty blue + white spring flowers.

We planted lots of bulbs, about which you can read more, here.

That’s really going to be a much-needed morale boost

when everything’s gloomy + muddy in March

+ I’m so cold I can’t feel my toes.


Our Pretty Stone Pathway

Since I last blogged about the Dutch colonial,

there’s been unbelievable progress, out front!

Let’s remember the sad before, a few weeks after we bought the house:

dutch colonial -- front 'before

Here’s a look at the midway:


And as it looks today, the ‘almost’ after:



I think I’ll just share bits of it at a time, in small doses.

Let’s start with our new stone pathway

which transitions between the new brick sidewalk + our side yard.

Here’s a glimpse of it, as one approaches the house:


We went shopping at a nearby landscaping place + looked at stone,

+ we bought 3 large slabs of limestone.

G.O. brought out his trusty 4″ angle grinder with a masonry blade, as one does,

+ cut the slabs into smaller, stepping stone friendly pieces:


IMG_1660 (1)

We had scooped out a shallow trough for the stones.

Once we decided we liked their arrangement,

we put a layer of ordinary play sand underneath each stone:

IMG_1662 (1)

Funny story.

He grabbed some bags of said play sand at the garden center,

not realizing until he got home that one of the bags contained purple sand!

Who knew?  Crayola makes colored play sand!

IMG_1664 (1)

In his defense, he said he thought the bag was purple!  HA!

IMG_1671 (2)


Look!  It’s Chloe the Dachshund!


I’m love the gentle curve of the stones,

because I think curves in the landscaping are beautiful + visually pleasing.

Now it’s time to discuss all those beautiful plants!

After weeks + weeks of indecision,

I knew this side of the porch needed a topiary


I remembered seeing some blue spruce topiaries at Home Depot,

+ since I am a huge fan of the blue spruce any-thing, off we went.

Over G.O.’s very strong objections.  Of course.

cats fighting

But people.  COME ON.


Nailed it!!!



Those spiky, grassy plants underneath are ‘Lucerne’ Blue-Eyed Grass,

which have small, bright purple-blue flowers in Spring through early Summer.

plant blue eyed grass

Nearby, we planted some silvery-white Artemisia,

as I wanted to repeat the silvery blue needles of our topiary.


Those are going to look great, once they fill in.

Since white flowers also complement silvery foliage,

we planted these cuties along the curve of the stone pathway.

Rapido White Bellflowers:



We repeated these sweet small rose plants on both sides of the pathway,

as I wanted to visually tie that area together.


The green + burgundy Purple Palace Coral Bells

are repeated from the opposite side of the porch,

to once again, tie the whole front foundation plantings together,

from 1 side of the house to the other.

The Coral Bells were planted to accent the 2 curves in this bed —

both the stone pathway . . .


. . . + the curve where this bed meets the lawn (+ the new grass!), out front:


Disclaimer:  everything is going to look so much better with dark brown mulch!

I ordered nearly $80 worth of Spring-flowering bulbs

a couple weeks ago, + I want to plant them before the mulch goes in.


Stay tuned!



Finally! Porch Steps!

It’s August already!

What am I doing, still thinking of new plants + containers to buy?

I’m obsessing about these topiaries!



How sweet would they look inside a pair of these urns?

urn and pedestal charcoal

So what’s with all this landscaping dreaming,

so close to the end of summer?

Here’s what:

We’re finally getting stairs for our front porch!

This means we can now safely plant things next to them,

+ let’s be real.

Is that not the most up front + important spot in our entire yard?



Calm down — back to those porch steps.

Here they are, in progress, just a few days ago:


A few days later, they’re still unfinished

but are sporting their new lattice “skirts” on each side.


So cute! — + matching the skirts underneath the rest of our porch:

G.O. started painting the new stair treads yesterday.


It was a challenge, as it always is, coming up with the perfect color.

Yes, I chose gray, but not just any gray.

It has to “play nicely with” (a.k.a. complement) all the other grays of our house,

most especially those near the new steps,

on the foundation’s stones + the lattice.


By no means do I mean that I want all the grays to match.

No way!

In my world, contrast is often more important than matching.

Since I really want the stair treads + porch floor to “pop” (a.k.a. contrast),

 I decided they needed to be fairly dark.

Here’s the paint color I chose:

Knight’s Armor from Pittsburgh Paints.


Whoa.  That’s DARK! — isn’t it?

Disclaimer:  I really feared that it was too dark.  Yikes.

My instinct was to forge ahead, though.

In the past, I’ve had remorse when I settled on a safer, lighter color

because I’d been too timid to go really dark.

Not this time!

Let’s see how those treads look, in place:


People.  I have only envisioned this bit of happiness for years!

It’s like I’m dreaming!


Notice the porch ceiling.


G.O. has started stripping the old paint off the existing bead board,

+ we’ll repaint it a pale blue.


I like that light fixture (something discontinued from Pottery Barn),

but we’re thinking of replacing it with an outdoor ceiling fan.

Dunno yet.

Next, we’ll need some stair railings + posts + stuff.

Here’s what we have, at left, + here’s what I want, at right.

Stay tuned for a cool transformation (I hope!)

This concludes my porch musings, but wait.

Remember the pair of urns + topiaries that I want to get?


My plans are to place one on either side of our bottom step.



Maybe we’ll go shopping tomorrow — stay tuned!


Happily Fertilizing In The Garden

My friend in Florida suggested I use SUPERthrive vitamin plant brew,

. . . so I just fed it to everything in our garden . . .


. . . one watering can at a time!


It was quite a job, since we have lots of new plants in our yard,

but I love gardening so much, it’s not work for me!

Anything for my plants!

The instructions say that SUPERthrive can be used

in addition to other types of fertilizer.

That’s a good thing, considering all the “brews” that I add to my plants!

When anything new gets planted, we always add root stimulator,

a.k.a. Quick Start, by Miracle Grow.

root stimulator

As the season progresses, about once a week, I add fertilizer,

each one formulated for different sorts of plants.

My ferns + hydrangeas apparently grow best in acid soil,


so they are fed with this:

hydrangea food

 Fun fact:

Endless Summer hydrangea flowers turn blue if their soil is acidic,

which means they’ll coordinate nicely with all my blue garden accesories.

Here’s one of three** we just planted, with my beloved bird bath,

made with a blue + white transfer ware plate:


The birdbath is resting on an old hollow tree stump,

+ the silvery green plants in the background are pulmonaria,

more commonly known as lungwort.


My pretty blue gazing ball usually rests nearby on a white iron stand.

This morning I was moving stuff around, so I just snapped its photo on the lawn:


Here is one of my most favorite garden accessories —

my cobalt blue glass star!

We have three** of them hanging from a branch of a tree,

where they manage to catch the sun in both morning + late afternoon.


** Why groups of three, you ask?

Design professionals insist that odd numbers

are more pleasing to the eye than even.

I do this in my interiors, too.

  • * * *

Finally, in my quest for beautiful flowers + lots of ’em,

I add Bloom Booster to my flowering plants:

bloom boost

We planted an informal hedge of oak leaf hydrangeas last fall,

+ most of them are flowering already:


You may notice that the oak leaf hydrangea’s flowers are elongated

+ consist of hundreds of tiny, white petals . . .


. . . whereas the Endless Summers’ flowers are round-ish,

with larger petals.


What the hey — I have never met a hydrangea that I didn’t love!

We’ll probably add more to our garden as the summer progresses.

Stay tuned!

(If you’re interested in my post

about the front foundation bed of our Dutch colonial, go here.)


Finally! Landscaping!

Somehow, during this spring’s canned ham makeover,

we’ve managed to do some landscaping for the Dutch colonial.


Here’s what’s happening out front:


Needle scratch.

Wait.  Where are the plants?

How disappointed was I that the mulch + plants blend too much!?

surprised baby

Buzz kill!

We’ll just have to fix it!

I’m mulling over some possible remedies, so stay tuned.

For now, let’s get back to the landscaping happiness!


We planted 7 barberry shrubs to accentuate our front bay

+ to complement the brick red in our beautiful stone foundation.


Of course, these will make more of a statement

when they mature at around 3′ tall.

In the meantime, for height, we added my beloved pedestal + urn combo.

Doesn’t the lavender look great against our white siding?


In front, we planted a row of pretty coral bells.

Their green + brick red color coordinates nicely with the barberries,

while their larger leaves add contrast, which is visually more interesting.


Now it’s time for some flowers!

Something spiky at either end could provide fun exclamation points,

so we chose red-blooming astilbes.

Ours are a tad lackluster right now,

but fingers crossed — here’s what we’ll have:


Aren’t those pretty?

Speaking of pretty, we planted one accent Knock Out rose at the far left side.

It will grow to about 4′ tall.



Our plans are to add at least one more of this same rose

on the opposite side of the front of our house.

We are going to repeat the coral bells over there, too,

which should add some much-needed balance

to our asymmetrical house.


Sooner than later — I hope — we’ll finally tackle + finish that porch of ours.

Notice how we painted the blocks black to add depth

+ make the lattice pop:


Our front yard looks like there’s been an explosion, but no worries!

Our nice neighbor recently helped us remove the original sidewalks.


We’ve already been shopping for bricks,

because my sidewalk hopes + dreams look a little something like these:


Front Yard Pinspiration

People.  Are we all suffering from Spring fever?

I know I AM, + in fact, just a few days ago,

I went online shopping for something to hang on our front door.

This is what I want, from this etsy shop:


OMiGosh, though.  It’s still only February,

+ yet, I am beyond ready to get outside + plant something!

It’s past time for us to ramp up our houses’s curb appeal!

Right now it’s so plain Jane + incomplete,

+ I fear that the neighbors are grumbling,

“When will they ever finish that house?”


It may be a bit of a blank slate right now,

but here’s how the front of our house looked on the realtor listing:


I think we can all agree that those overgrown shrubs had to go,

as did the errant enclosed front porch:




But I just can’t come up with a design!  The humanity!

I swear, it’s got to be that off-center porch that’s throwing me off.

How on earth am I going to be able to tie each side together?

Then this happened.

A beautiful front yard of a house with a porch on one side:


I’m sorry — I found this on Pinterest but didn’t get the source.

Thank goodness for Pinterest, is all I can say.

I don’t know how we would have managed our re-do without it.

So.  What makes my new favorite front yard so swoon-worthy?

 Let’s break it down:

First up, they’ve added a bit of symmetry

by flanking the front steps with a pair*of my absolute faves,

lollipop shrubs (as they say in the UK), a.k.a. topiaries*.

*Pairs = good.  *Topiaries = good


Notice how they’ve tied everything together

by repeating the same plants from one side to the other.

And who doesn’t love that sweeping curve* of the edges of the beds?

*Curves = good.

+ + + + +

Now, then.  All I have to do is decide what plants to buy,

get that porch all tricked out,

 see about installing a brick sidewalk,

+ maybe get 3 window boxes for our bay!

Stay tuned!



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