May Day

Family traditions are big in my family. I’m still mourning all of the traditions we lost when my grandma died, but there are a few we’ve managed to keep intact with some modifications.

Every year when I was growing up, my grandma, mom, and I would go to a local greenhouse that opens on May 1st and closes whenever they run out of plants. I missed the trip on the years when May 1st fell on a weekday. But once I was done with school I took the day off work to go. Now that grandma is gone, mom and I go. Sometimes we invite my dad.

This year was one of the cooler days for the greenhouse trip. As someone who hates hot weather, I was very happy. When it’s already 75 degrees out, it becomes unbearable inside the greenhouse.

We actually visited three different greenhouses and a couple of markets. It was a long but really enjoyable day and a great way to celebrate May Day!

This year I decided to take some photos of the plants that caught my eye. I didn’t bring my big digitals SLR and lenses, but I am quite pleased with the photos I took with my Nexus 5 and I think it did quite well for a phone camera.

You can click on each photo to make it larger and see more detail.

My parents got some flowers to give as gifts, other to keep, and some vegetables for the garden. I helped pick out some herbs. I already used some of the herbs to make lamb patties with a cucumber salad and mint sauce (SO GOOD). And I am looking forward to making mojitos this summer.

IMG_20160501_112740

I also picked up a succulent for myself. They’re trendy right now, but I’m not complaining. I’ve always found them interesting and it’s nice to see a bigger selection available. This one is a bit of a mystery. It was in with the jade plants and looks very similar to them. Unlike a jade, it is fuzzy. I checked with the people at the greenhouse and they didn’t have an exact variety name for me. It’s in the Crassula family (Jades are too) but there are over 1400 varieties of Crassula so I’ll probably never figure out exactly what type it is. I’m going to treat it like a jade and hope for the best!

IMG_20160501_114427

Personal Photography – Mid-Summer

I am trying to get caught up on all of my backlogged photos.  These are from mid-July when I was at my parents’ house for my cousin’s baby shower.  My parents have a beautiful yard and I always make sure I take at least 15-20 minutes to wander around their yard with my camera.

(Don’t forget you can click on any image to see it larger!)

They have a pretty little pond on one side of the house that my dad built.  It’s been up for about five years but it’s still a little bit of a work in progress. He can never quite get the waterfall set to his satisfaction, but I think it’s gorgeous!  The water lilies have been doing beautifully and every frog in the area seems to have moved into that pond.  The pond is maybe 10 feet long and 7 wide, but we counted at least six or seven frogs in the ten minutes we stood by it.  If I had a bigger yard (and more time) I’d love to build one.  The frogs are just so cute!  And I love the sound of running water.  Someday, I plan to build a little indoor fountain to put in my office so I can listen to it while I write.

Landscaping

I am several months behind on posting this one *ahem* but in May my husband and I finally tackled the massive project of landscaping the front yard.  When we moved into the house eight years ago, the yard looked pretty awful.  The bushes out front were long overdue for pruning and were scraggly and uninteresting.  The awning was hideous.  And the rose bushes along the west side of the house were overgrown.  That first year, we took down the awning, pruned the rose bushes and did enough work on the flowerbed that we could plant tomatoes between the rose bushes.  We also ripped out the overgrown bushes in the front because the house looked better without anything at all, even if it was very bland.

Ever since that first year we’ve been eager to improve the front of the house.  In a neighborhood filled with beautiful old homes and incredible landscaping, we felt like ours was out of place.  We’ve been dreaming and planning what we’d do, but it was never a top priority.

After the horrible ice storm last winter the city had more tree branches than they knew what to do with.  They chipped it up into mulch and offered it for free to any city resident.  It got us thinking about the spring yard work we planned to do.  When we went to the home improvement store to get supplies, we checked out their landscaping blocks and found them on sale.  While they weren’t the fancy-shmancy ones we’d been drooling over for years, they were very nice and within our budget.  Like many of our house projects, landscaping the front of the house was a rather impulsive decision.  We’d been planning what we wanted to do for years, but hadn’t planned to do it right then.  However, we knew we’d never find the supplies at a better price, so we jumped at the chance.  On a Friday night we bought the blocks and set them up and the following day my husband and a co-worker picked up mulch.  On Sunday we got a load of topsoil and Monday (Memorial Day) my parents came up to help.  Originally, they’d just planned to help us do some weeding, plant tomatoes, and fill a few hanging baskets with annuals but they were happy to help us get some major work done.

It was exhausting, but by the end of the day we had two half-moon raised flowerbeds in front of the house filled  with well-fertilized soil, landscaping felt, mulch, and some flowers.  We planted hostas, astilbe, a rosebush, and a dwarf hydrangea.  We added the landscaping items we’d collected over the years.  We filled hanging baskets with annuals and a couple of containers with pansies, herbs, kale, and lettuce.  We planted tomatoes in the west bed between the roses, peonies, and bleeding heart.  And then we collapsed.

There is plenty more we need to do.  That obelisk trellis will have clematis climbing up it someday.  The bronze ceramic sculpture (actually a garden stool) will be turned into a fountain.  And there will be a lot more flowers.

The next major project for the house is going to be having a new roof put on.  *groans* It’s the one project we aren’t going to do ourselves.  We just got an estimate for what it will cost and while we do plan to get a few others to be on the safe side, it’s right in line with what we expected.  Painfully expensive.  But a roof isn’t something we can mess around with and it will make a huge difference in the curb appeal of the house.  We’re going to get rid of the hunter green and go with a dark charcoal shingles.  After it’s done, we’ll paint the shutters and front door black.  I think it’ll look nice against the siding, and make the landscaping take center stage.  Oh, and we HAVE to replace that ugly, rusted railing off the front steps.  I’ve been eager to do that since we moved in.  The new one will have cleaner lines and be a nice glossy black.

What projects have you been waiting to do since you moved into the place you live?