Tag Archive for Winter Curb Appeal

My Gardening Goals and Dreams for 2017

A new year is starting- time for some new gardening goals!

A new year is starting — time for some new gardening goals!

Hi there! It’s been a hard few months for me, trying to not worry too much about the future, but I’m doing my best to re-focus on what I can do. I urge all to stay aware of clean gardening practices and what we can do for the environment: not using chemicals, recycling/composting, participating in clean-up efforts in our communities, and last but not least, sending your Senators and Representatives a call or an email asking them to keep as many environmental protections in place as they can. You can reach them all at (202) 224-3121. The Capitol operators can help you find your Senators or Representatives, even if you don’t know their names.

We have a lot of work ahead of us! I don’t mean to rant on, but really, who doesn’t want a clean and healthy world? I think we can all agree on that! I think that is my biggest dream. I hope we can curb our losses at the EPA. Climate change is real!

Here in my little corner of the world, I managed to get quite a lot finished up in 2016, but I still have so much to do. This year’s main focus is on improving the areas under and around the deck.

It was time for an edit in this garden. With more shade from a tree, it was out with the sedum and in with a transplanted rhododedron.

It was time for an edit in this garden. With more shade from a tree, it was out with the sedum and in with a transplanted rhododedron.

Here are my goals: I’ll make an designated area to place the trash can and recycling bins that is both out of sight, but still easy to roll out to the curb. This also will improve the area where I store my flower pots, extra hoses, etc.  And, there is one area I couldn’t work on last fall because I ran out of time — I need to lift some of the bricks on the back walkway and level them. After sixteen years, the ground has sunk around the plexi pipe that carries the runoff water from the downspout — should be an easy fix! Third, I will use my brick saw to cleanup the edge of the walkway where it connects to the driveway.

All the cosmetic work will boost the curb appeal, too — always a plus. When spring arrives, the garden around the base of the deck will get some annuals to really fill out the space and give some added color.  Looking at the winter garden, when most everything is bare or died back to the ground for the season, things look bleak, so I will post a  picture when everything has sprung back to beautiful life and show some before and after shots in a few months.

Here's a photo of my re make of the old planters into privacy screens. I removed the rotted supports and replaced with posts I had saved from an old job. These are buried 3 feet into the ground, no cement, so they can be re-positioned later if I want.

Here’s a photo of my re-make of the old planters into privacy screens. I removed the rotted supports and replaced them with posts I had saved. These are buried 3 feet into the ground, with no cement, so they can be re-positioned later if I want. I’ll be sure to post again when everything is in leaf and bloom, but while the bushes are bare you can see the screen more clearly.

When I manage to finish all of that, the upper trim around the house and gutter system needs a complete cleaning and painting. Lots of the basics — weeding, mulching, trimming, mowing and edging — go on pretty much year round. Here’s a winter tip to make quick work of a messy, windswept yard: We find that it is much easier to run the mower over the grassy areas every month or so even in winter to pick up the leaves that blow in and smooth out the clumps of grass than it is to rake the whole yard over and over.

Here is another area that I edited. It had become crowded and one of the bushes had died. I balanced out the azalea bushes on either side of the Holly tree and divided and replanted the hosta in a wave. An edit every few years it helps to keep things fresh.

Here is another area that I edited. It had become crowded and one of the bushes had died. I balanced out the azalea bushes on either side of the Holly tree and divided and replanted the hosta in a wave. An edit every few years it helps to keep things fresh.

Last fall I did manage to finish re-making the planters and arbors and reinstall them. Using the leftover lumber from other jobs that I had stored in the garage, I added extra posts so that the planters could be used as privacy panels (hiding the less-than-pretty necessities that are stored under the deck). Then I planted the rose bushes, which had been in pots before, and divided and replanted the liriope to fill out the garden. Also, five other areas of the garden were edited and simplified. Plants had grown so out of bounds over the years, and it was time to selectively remove and transplant many to new locations. Now there is some breathing room, with nothing crowded. I added another three cubic yards of mulch to spruce up the beds, and then the cold weather set in.

This fun garden ornament has so much personality. It spins and bobs in the wind! I would love to incorporate a few more interesting things throughout the gardens like this.

This fun garden ornament that I was gifted has so much personality. It spins and bobs in the wind! I would love to incorporate a few more interesting things throughout the gardens like this.

On the creative side of things, I’m looking forward to making some stepping stones to access some of the deeper garden beds more easily.

Lastly, I received a really fun garden ornament from my sister, and it adds so much personality to the garden. Thank you, Tracy! It makes me want to incorporate a few more special things to spice things up! More on that later…

What are your goals for 2017 out in the garden? I’d love to hear!

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Countdown to Christmas

It seems that this Christmas season I have been playing a little too much catch up with the leaf raking. I feel like taking a moment to relax and sharing a few photos of Christmas this year at our home. Much like years past, I used lots of fruit in the Williamsburg style. There are candles and wreaths in each window, and garlands with cranberry chains around the door, stair railings and candle post. It is simple, but fitting to the history of the colonial style of architecture in this area of the east coast. And of course, I love it!

I hope each and everyone of my cherished readers has a warm and happy Christmas, and a healthy new year!  I’m looking forward to next year’s gardening, and planning for some interesting new plants to try. May you enjoy each and every new day in 2016!

The front door at night, with a Williamsburg style this year.

The front door at night, with a Williamsburg style this year. Lots of fruit and cranberry chains.

The living room tree all aglow!

The living room tree all aglow!

Here it is in a daytime shot so you can see the ornaments a little better. And this year my tree is celebrating it's 21st birthday!

Here is the tree in a daytime shot so you can see the ornaments a little better. And this year my tree is celebrating its 21st birthday!

The entry foyer with amaryllis flowers and my favorite Santa and angel chimes.

The entry foyer with amaryllis flowers,  my favorite Santa and angel chimes.

And to me the crowning touch is always Christmas bows!

And — to me — the crowning touch is always Christmas bows!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

 

Happy Thanksgiving to All

This was the view of autumn leaves from my deck this year. They were so beautiful, but now a mountain of fallen leaves are in need of raking.

This was the view of autumn leaves from my deck this year. They were so beautiful! Now I have a lot of raking in my future.

Now that the mums have finished blooming, I have filled in the pots with boxwood trimmings from my yard. They make beautiful "plants" all winter long.

Now that the mums have finished blooming, I have filled in the pots with boxwood trimmings from my yard. They make beautiful “plants” all winter long.

I’m finishing the last of the winterizing and want to share a few tips that will add polish to the holiday curb appeal, and make the perfect backdrop for seasonal decorations. These will make a big difference for just a weekend’s worth of effort. And as an added bonus, it’s also a great way to work off some of that turkey with all the trimmings that we love so much!

First up is finishing the leaf raking and weed removal. Reach in and pick out all the leaves that have gotten stuck in the bushes and then do a final pass in the mulched areas of the garden and your lawn. This alone will make a huge difference in the appearance, but we aren’t going to stop there! Next, give the mulch a rake to loosen it up, and add extra if needed. Winter mulch tip: As you are stirring up the mulch, make sure to leave a space of a few inches between the mulch and the wall of your home. This will discourage the unwanted “guests” (mice!) from burrowing there.

Fill in gaps in the garden by creating "instant plants," just push small branches into the soil- simple as that.

Fill in gaps in the garden by creating “instant plants,” just push small branches into the soil. Simple as that!

Here is a row of "instant juniper" plants, where I removed the summer annuals. You'd never know they aren't actually growing!

Here is a row of “instant juniper” plants, where I removed the summer annuals. You’d never know they aren’t actually growing!

Perfect time of the year to give the clay pots a good cleaning before storing them away for the winter months.

Perfect time of the year to give the clay pots a good cleaning before storing them away for the winter months.

Not all of the "instant" plants are used outside- the extra ivy is in a bucket of water and will root over the winter. Ivy is a really good air filter indoors, so I love to have some inside!

Not all of the “instant” plants are used outside. This extra ivy is in a bucket of water and will root over the winter. Ivy is also a good air filter, so I love to have some inside!

Now that you have pulled out the spent summer flowers and have areas that might be looking a bit too spare, here’s one of my favorite tricks of the trade: I trim the bushes in the yard and use those trimmings to create “instant plants.” Just take the branches and push them into the soil about 6 to 8 inches. I use about a dozen small branches to create each “plant.” On either side of the driveway where I grow vinca in the summer, there are now juniper. They look great, you’d never know they weren’t actually growing. I also do this in the pots and window boxes to create small boxwood “plants.” This trick lasts for months, usually into February, and since I trimmed the branches from my own yard, its free!

Speaking of planters and pots, this is the perfect time to give the clay pots a scrub and dry them in the sun before putting them away for the winter months. I like to use a scrub brush or a kitchen scrubbie with regular dish soap for this job. They easily get rid of the grime on the pots and make quick work of the job. Find a good place for winter storage where they won’t freeze. The clay can be very susceptible to cracking apart when it freezes. The same scrub is perfect for all the yard tools as well. A tip for the shovels and rakes: Once they have been cleaned, a light coating of cooking oil or spray will help guard against rust over the winter.

The final crowning jewel to get your home ready is clean windows. Now that your yard looks so nice you will want to have fresh, sparkling windows to view all your hard work!

Enjoy!

Time for a nice hot cider…

Winter Curb Appeal – A Fun Project to Enjoy All Season

I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year! It has been a busy couple of months. Please check out the new page I have posted on the 2011 Christmas Tour in which I participated. This was sponsored by The Wyndham Garden Club in central Virginia as a fundraiser for their projects. It was well attended, and they will be making it an annual event.

The house looks so festive at Christmas time, but when the decorations come down it's nice to have something to replace them with to cheer things up for the rest of the winter.

I am always looking for ways to cheer up the deck and doorways in the winter months. Things can be so drab after the summer flowers are gone, and the Christmas decorations have all been put away. I have a remedy sure to bring a smile, and brighten things up for not only the winter but the early spring as well.

Once the annuals have bitten the dust and been discarded, empty the old potting soil from your pots into your garden bed. It will help to improve the soil there, and each season of flowers should receive fresh soil when in pots. Next, with a 5 to 1 solution of water to bleach, scrub out your pots and let them dry in the sun. This will keep diseases from getting started or passed on from reusing the pots.

Closeup of a pot filled with daffodil bulbs, then topped with boxwood branches. It will look fresh through the winter, then beautiful with bulbs in the spring.

Now we are ready for the fun to begin. Using a deep pot with drainage holes, fill with potting soil up to 6″ below the rim. (If you live in a cold climate it’s best to use a resin pot for this project because of freezing issues.) Flatten out the soil and add a layer of daffodil bulbs. These can be placed closer together than you would ordinarily place them if you were to put them in the garden. I usually leave only about 2″ of space between. Try to fit in a dozen or more depending on the size of your pot. Next, fill the pot the rest of the way with additional potting soil, and water really well. These are going to sprout next spring for a beautiful show, but in the meantime (from now through March), I like to create what I call “instant plants” on top. To do this I trim boughs from my boxwoods and junipers, then simply fill the pot with the trimmings. I like mine to look realistic, like miniature boxwood bushes, or juniper bushes using single types of foliage in the pots, but a mix of greens looks gorgeous, too. Simply push the stems of the boughs into the damp soil. The soil will hold them in place and they will last for months outside. If you haven’t gotten rain, give them a watering each week.

I like to place a really large pot next to each of the doorways and smaller versions on the iron baker’s rack, plant stands, the patio table, and even the window boxes get filled with these “instant plants”.

When the winter starts to break, you will notice the bulbs pushing their new growth to surface. This is when you need to pull out the boughs and discard (carefully so you won’t disturb the new growth), and then you will be rewarded with a second season of beauty as the bulbs bloom!

I hope you will try this project, it can be done with crocuses or tulips as well. Enjoy!