Archive for Door Decorations

Small Edits for a Big Impact

Hello, my gardening friends! It is June already, and I’m sorry to have been out of touch for so long. Life has a way of doing that here and there. Today I’d like to share some quick edits I have been working on this spring that have made a big impact on our home’s curb appeal.

The first thing I did in my line-up of edits was painting the pediments above the windows and front door. Sometimes just highlighting an existing architectural feature of your home can add just the right amount of emphasis. After running out of good weather last year, I was finally able to get to the repairs needed to the bricks and bluestone on the front porch, then followed with lime washing the stair risers on both front porches. Finally, sanding and painting the iron railings added some needed safety and I love how the glossy black railing stand out in front of the white backdrop. These were the finishing steps in the lime washing of the whole house that I started last year. Getting these done brightens up the front entrance immeasurably, and as much as I had fun, it feels great to check the box “done” on this huge project.

Next up was to add two more window boxes to the front of the house, for a total of four. The two largest ones I’ve had for years — one on the window above the front door and the other at the zig zag of the front walk. I added the two new ones on the front side of the garage. (They were given to me by my sweet daughter of choice! That makes them even more special.) For continuity, I filled each of them with botanicals and flowers in the same color combinations. There are more in pots on each of the front porches. Adding a bright splash of color is one of the quickest and best ways to amp up curb appeal!

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the window box above the front door. I filled it with Boston fern, caladium, and variegated ivy.

The two window boxes on both sides of the garage were each filled with a Boston fern, and caladium. Here’s a photo from further back, so you can see the effect.

Also this year, I spent a week shaping the boxwoods and hollies. It makes a huge difference in the curb appeal to finally give the boxwoods a uniform height and symmetry! They had damage from snow and burn from chemicals (overspray from a roof cleaning) a few years back, both of which took a while to fill back out to a point where they could be shaped again. It’s a long process to get them uniform, but just take your time, and stand back every few minutes to check your work. It is gratifying to see them all uniform again, after seeing them looking sort of like lumpy blobs as they grew out the damage. And while at it, putting a nice edging on the gardens seals the deal.

Above is a close up of the big pots on the front porch. Each were filled with caladium and variegated ivy. You might remember these pots from the last several years. I leave the ivy in them and swap out the flowers in the center each season. This ivy has been with me for at least 20 years or so, it creates the perfect “spiller” in a planter, and it’s easy to divide and transplant if it gets too large.

This window box at the zig zag of the front walk and mud room porch has coordinating flowers and trailing vines of mandevilla and vinca. Below is a better shot of the mud room porch. I know I say this a lot but, it’s amazing what a difference paint can make!

Another quick edit was changing out the wreath on the front door to a summer wreath. Adding a wreath is like adding jewelry. It’s an accessory that can showcase what your interests are. I love this shell wreath. OK — I love anything with shells, LOL!

I hope this leaves you with ideas you might incorporate at your own home. Some time invested a little bit here and a little bit there, and you will have it done! And as always, Happy Gardening!

Time for a Fresh Fall Update

Hello, gardening friends! Are you loving the cooler weather as much as I do? What a change these last couple of weeks have brought. As you probably know by now, I am in love with purple, so I have decided to use lots of it this fall in my decorating.

This fall’s decor has a purple theme: cabbages, pansies, violas, mums, and the star of the show, the hyacinth bean vines!
The front door got a fresh stain makeover, and I filled the wreath form with violas and pansies again this year.

This summer I grew everything from seed. I have to say it was fun but much more labor intensive. This was my pandemic challenge to myself: to see how much I could save by using just what I had. I think the only garden supplies I actually bought this summer was one bag of fertilizer!

I grew lots of vinca and several hyacinth bean vines that I experimented growing in different ways. I’ll share more on that today. I also tried zinnias, which are usually super-easy, yet I failed at that one. I put them outside too soon, and there was a rainstorm which brought on a cold snap, and the whole tray got fungus. Lesson learned to just wait until it’s warmer! Everything else did wonderfully though when I started them a couple of weeks later.

Here’s this years bounty, all from seeds from previous year’s crops!
I trained the vines to look like living garlands on the handrails at the front entry just for fun, and they really look dramatic!
I also trained one up the downspout on the side of the garage. They are very showy, and now getting covered with purple pods which are so pretty. These are annuals though, and do not like it when the temperature starts dropping into the 40’s, so I’m enjoying every last minute with them!
I also grew one on the shepherd’s hook along the front walk, where I have grown them for many years. As you can see they are getting lots of pods, so I’ll have many seeds to share!
Also on this season’s refresh list was this parking strip. It had become almost completely bare from doggie “leave behinds”, which encouraged weeds to sprout with wild abandon. Not good! So I cleared the weeds, raked deeply with a steel rake, spread lawn soil and seeded.
After just a week we had this fabulous green velvet lawn. It has now been 3 weeks and I have to say this is the best seed I’ve ever used! It is by Vigoro, and is 100% perennial seed. The color is fantastic, and so far it has beaten every other kind of seed that I’ve tried. So this will get my “Best of Show” blue ribbon this year. So maybe 2020 isn’t all bad — LOL!
On the turn of the front walk, the wall basket got a makeover, too. Using the same plants as I did on the front porch, I added a big cabbage, mums, pansies, and the trailing vinca from before. I was going to mount this above the front door, like I have before, but this requires daily watering. It’s so much more convenient to the garden hose right here. I may still add another one above the door, but will probably just fill it with pumpkins that don’t require watering. And speaking of hoses, just a reminder to drain them soon, and turn off the spigot inside to prevent freezing when the weather turns cold.
Turning to the bushes in the garden, I want to call your attention to the incredible amount of berries on my cardinal holly! In the past this has been an indication of severity of the winter to come. I’m predicting a fairly cold winter for those of us here in the mid-Atlantic region.
Until then, Happy Fall Gardening!

My Favorite Picks – 2019’s Best Hardy Plants

What a crazy year this has been! Extremes of all kinds, but through it all there were some clear winners. In this year’s picks I want to talk about some of the hardiest plants in the garden.

Boxwoods have gotten some bad press of late, due to the blight that has been going around, but by following some simple, clean gardening practices, they are one of the best and most beautiful of all the plants in my garden.

I’m going to start with one of my all time favorites, the boxwood. The boxwoods in the photo above are about 45-50 years old and are the true stars of the garden. I prune them in early December each year and use the trimmings for Christmas decorating. Beyond that annual pruning, I hardly need to do anything to them. They have weathered every kind of extreme in their lives and continue to look amazing!

For several years, there has been a disease affecting boxwood plants called boxwood blight. The boxwood blight is passed by using infected tools. Just by cleaning your tools thoroughly before pruning or trimming, you will protect the plants from getting the disease. I clean my pruners with rubbing alcohol prior to using them. Another tip would be to have a pair of pruners dedicated strictly for use on these beauties, but I would still recommend swabbing them between cuts with alcohol to be ultra safe.

Here’s another surprise entry in this year’s top plants — grass. In the early season, when this photo was taken, we had just gone through the wettest spring ever! Everything was green beyond measure, and then by the end of June, we entered a severe drought. For four months we didn’t really have any measurable rain. I did not water, except for the trees, and let the grass go dormant all through the summer months. It turned completely brown, and the dirt was like dust. I was truly worried that I’d taken the no–watering thing too far. In September, I started watering, although we were still having 95-100 degree days and no rain, my hopes were to at least save the roots. Nothing greened up at all. Then finally as October started, we had 5 beautiful soft rains, and like a miracle, the grass came back into health again, like nothing ever happened!

Which brings me to the point of this story: there’s nothing like real rain! What comes out of a sprinkler just doesn’t compare. When you water in the triple digit heat of the summer, it encourages weeds. Grass doesn’t grow in extreme heat. I will stand by allowing the grass to go dormant in that kind of condition. It’s much kinder to the roots, than to stress grass into trying to grow — which can kill it. Another giant help to the health of this year’s grass was dethatching the lawn and applying a root stimulating turf builder last fall, which gave us a thicker and virtually weed free yard this year. I highly recommend working your way around your yard using a dethatching rake. It’s very hard work, but pays off in a beautiful way, allowing water and nutrients to easily get to the root system.

Here’s the same area again just last week. You would never know how harsh a summer the grass weathered! It’s hard to not water and to watch it go dormant, but it’s the best thing you can do for the health of the root system. Have faith in Mother Nature, she will bring it back in the fall.

I also want to point out one of my all time tried-and-true flowers: my pansies! After the summer of gorgeous color from the vincas, I wanted to continue with some hardy winter flowers. With any luck they will provide color until the end of April.

This year the pansies in the ground were joined by the pansies I planted in this wreath that my sister gave me! It really brings the whole Fall theme together! Thank you, Tracy!

The beautiful mums have some competition this year. I was so happy when the weather finally cooled down some, I put in 125 pansies across the front. A fresh start to celebrate the season. And gives the frontage some great fall curb appeal. I was thinking ahead to Christmas when I chose the colors — gold, burgundy red, purple, and white — to complement the traditional fruit wreath I’ll be hanging in December.

I know I’ve given props to the knock out roses in the past, but they were really beautiful again this year. We had a swarm of June bugs that came in with the 100 degree heat in the summer, and they did interfere a bit, but I use a granular three in one formula that kept their dirty work to a minimum. It fertilizes, prevents diseases, and for the most part deters bugs- Bio Advanced- worth a try next year, if you have these issues. (I am not paid to endorse, but this is really great stuff in my opinion.)
Another stunner this year were these emerald euonymus. They are incredibly easy to grow and maintain, really no special treatment other than to shape them after the spring growth. This is only two plants! They provide privacy to our back yard from the cul du sac and make a gorgeous living fence, don’t you think? They are beautiful year round, too, and are a favorite nesting place for our flock of cardinals and bluejays.

Before I say good night, I hope that next year’s growing season is not as harsh as this one has been, but just in case it is, here’s hoping that we can all adjust to our changing climate by seeking out the most hardy plants. Let me know what changes you are planning; I’d love to hear!

Happy Fall, everyone!

Happy Easter, Happy Gardening!

Wishing all my readers a joyful Spring-

Wishing all my readers a joyful Spring-

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