Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Garden Page 1 of 4

What is Coming to Our Garden in 2019

We have been having dusting of snow and gray days since New Year. I cannot help but craving color, sunshine, and warmer temperatures so I can work in my garden again.

Fortunately planning for next year’s garden can take place inside. New to gardening, it is easy to just pile plants into the landscape. I thought long and hard about how I want the backyard to look eventually, and what I want to get out of the garden besides the view.

To be honest, I started gardening for the edibles. The first things we planted on our property were fruit trees, and our second project was a vegetable garden. Enjoying fresh produce during the summer months I was impressed by how juicy and tasty every was. Right off the vine, our vegetables were cooked with only a dash of salt and still tasted great. We have already decided to expand the vegetable garden next summer. But for long-term, we would like to add more edible and perennial shrubs and trees to our yard.

After discussing with Slav I decided to focus on berry bushes and nut trees for 2019. And here are what’re coming to our garden next Spring:

Raspberry collection

Raspberry Plants Collection

Raspberry Plants Collection

Raspberry Plants Collection

Raspberry is an easy choice for us. We love fresh berries. During warmer months I drink berry smoothie daily, and in winter we make berry pancakes a lot. Berries are expensive and perishable which make them the best candidate for organic home growing. I chose to get a rainbow of raspberries of gold, red and purple fruit, that matures at different time of the summer, so we can enjoy fresh raspberries from summer to fall. The collection I ordered includes 15 plants, 5 each of Prelude—an early red; Anne—a sweet and golden everbearing; and Royalty— a summer bearing type that can be enjoyed at the red or later, purple stage.

Blackberry

In addition to raspberries I also ordered a type pf blackberry called Prime-Ark Freedom. It is thornless and produces blackberries on its first year of growth. It also offers high disease resistance to rust and strong cold-hardiness, which are perfect for our climate. I ordered 5 blackberry bushes, which will be planted with the raspberries in our backyard and protected from birds and squirrels.

Seascape Strawberry Plants

Seascape Strawberry Plants

We planted 6 strawberries in 2018 in our veggie garden, without knowing anything about the growth habit of strawberries. I did not even know that they are perennials in our climate! It was a nice surprise when I saw them spreading vigorously like mints. By the end of the growing season the 6 strawberry plants multiplied into 20 plants and occupied 4 x 8 sqft space. I decided to add another 25 in the next Spring so we can have enough fresh strawberries for summer.

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts

Gardening is my task in this house, but I make sure to include Slav’s favorite into the garden as well. So far he seems to be interested in plants/trees growing in his childhood home, including hazelnuts. Hazelnut needs cross pollination so you need at least two varieties to produce, especially since there is no other hazelnut trees in our neighborhood. I ordered two bare root dwarf hazelnuts trees and they will be added to our backyard.

Hellebore

The last category of plants I ordered was hellebore, namely Christmas rose. I did not know about them until a few years ago, when I got a cutting from a friend. I planted the cutting in the most unfriendly soil and shade spot under a big pine tree, but the cutting multiplied and gave out the most beautiful flower at the most unexpected time – early January. Being in Zone 5 I am dying to add some winter color and interest, and Hellebore makes the perfect candidate.  Another rare trait of hellebore is that it grows in full shade, which allows me to plant it in more protected area such as under our crabapple tree.

I prefer white, pink, purple to red flowers, so here are the ones I ordered:

Picotee Pearl

Plant-Picotee Pearl Hellebore

Fire & Ice

Plant-Fire & Ice Hellebore

Blue Diamond

Plant-Blue Diamond Hellebore

Phoenix

Hellebore, Phoenix , , large

Painted Doubles

Hellebore, Painted Doubles, , large

Wedding Party Confetti Cake

Hellebore, Wedding Party Confetti Cake , , large

Wedding Party Bridesmaid

Hellebore, Wedding Party Bridesmaid , , large

Wedding Party Dark and Handsome

Hellebore, Wedding Party Dark and Handsome, , large

Aren’t they pretty? To stay within budget I ordered only one for each variety. Hopefully they all survive the curiosity of the dogs and bloom next Christmas.

Among two nut trees, twenty berry bushes, eight winter blooming flowers, and a regular veggie garden, I think I have plenty of work cut out for myself in the new year. Expanding the edible garden and having a steady streams of cut flowers is my garden goal for 2019. Are you thinking about gardening already? What is your gardening goal for 2019?

Front Yard Video Tour – A Year Long Transformation of Our Curb Appeal

IMG_4518

Thank you for all your kind support through our front yard overhaul. We could not be happier with the newly mulched flower bed in front of our house. It is such an improvement of our curb appeal, and many neighbors stopped by to tell us how much they love and appreciate what we did. 🙂

IMG_4488

Adding curb appeal has been a goal of ours from day one. It is not just about changing the appearance, but also to improve the function. The unsightly are often not maintained, which means they do not perform well or even cause issues to the house.

When we moved into our ranch last summer, the front of our house looked like this:

Ranch house - 1

Immediately we could see three water issues: the flower bed right against the foundation, the sinking patio that directs rain water towards the house, and several rusty window wells failing to protect basement windows.

So, soon after we moved in, the foundation planting bed was removed. Last fall, we replaced old window wells, and graded around the foundation with drainage rocks.

IMG_6815

IMG_8730

To address the sinking patio issue, we had to remove the front patio completely. The rusty awning went with it, which might be our biggest curb appeal improvement yet!

IMG_7165

IMG_7180

Before winter hits, we also replaced the leaky roof and gutter, painted the soffit and fascia, and restored the front doors (1, 2, 3)

IMG_9088

IMG_0283

All these actions not only made the house water-tight, but also improved its appearance from the street. We went into out first winter with the front of the house looking like this:

IMG_9098

And this is what the front entry looks like today. The glass storm door has been the pups’ favorite spot to look out:

IMG_4546

Not too shabby, especially when compared to the Before:

Ranch house - 1

This summer, we decided to give our front yard a large overhaul, consisting of the removal of >600 sqft turf, planting a privacy hedge, and adding a retaining wall and a dry creek.

IMG_4004

IMG_4026

IMG_4088

IMG_4167

And today, our front yard look like this:

IMG_4467

Instead of this:

IMG_7859

We packed 64 perennials in this 600 sqft space during the last 6 weeks. It is nice to see all of them started taking roots and showing growth. Here is a short video walk-through of the garden area:

The mulched flower beds and evergreens not only improve the curb appeal, but also save irrigation water and are more inviting to native wild life. We want our house to be a safe haven not only for us and our two dogs, but also for native insects, birds, and small mammals that need a home they deserve.

IMG_4528

These arborvitaes were planted at the peak of the summer in 95 degree heat. They definitely struggled a bit during the first a few weeks. But most of them bounced back nicely and have put on an inch or more new growth.

The mock orange we planted last weekend:

IMG_4531

The winter berries were planted a month ago. They did not grow taller, but are definitely getting denser around the base.

IMG_4525

This dwarf pine was also planted in the middle of summer, but has been growing fiercely.

IMG_4498

This sandcherry was the last one planted, just five days ago. It is still recovering but I have high hopes for some delicious berries next Summer.

IMG_4510

Of course we had to have Colorado’s state grass – the Blue Grama grass – in our yard:

IMG_4496

And the Shenandoah switch grasses have already started coloring up for Fall. So pretty.

IMG_4505

These larkspur and bubblemint hyssop were planted last weekend. And guess what – they bloomed!

IMG_4493

IMG_4495

More hyssop – they bloom red and have a more low-mount form.

IMG_4507

Isn’t this silver brocade sage gorgeous?

IMG_4509

Penstemon, butterfly weed, and sedums. Love the colors!

IMG_4502

IMG_4522

IMG_4513

So GORG:

IMG_4518

We also planted lots ground covers, including prairie winecups, creeping phlox, and veronica:

IMG_4534

To make the garden more inviting to wild life, we put in a bird feeders and bird bath. We also installed drip irrigation and a new hose reel to make watering easier.

IMG_4481

This area under the mailbox did not get as much attention this year, but the plants we put in have done very well.

IMG_4554

Here we have two rosemary plants, one lavender, a red hot poker, and a rose bush:

IMG_4555

Here is another short video in which I talk you though the additional upgrades in the front yard, including the under-the-mailbox planting:

I hope you enjoy to see our “new” front yard in these videos. They are filmed just yesterday so this is truly what our yard looks like now. We are proud of this little corner garden in the making, and hope you like it too. Please consider to start a pollinator garden, put out a bird feeder, or add a bee house too! I just learned that native pollinators feed up to three-story high, so even you are living in an apartment, they can benefit from your flowers too!

Planting It Up!

After overhauling our front yard for months, it is finally planted!

IMG_4467

Landscaping the front yard was never on our 2018 to-do list. But summer rolled around and our front lawn started to look really, really bad. We booked a landscape consultation to get some ideas on how to rejuvenate the front yard, which led to the decision to replace 600-sqft of tuft with a perennial garden. Once we had the idea, we just couldn’t shake it off and had to put it in action right away.

IMG_4063

Following professional advice, we removed the turf of the northwest corner of our front yard and amended the soil. We also built a retaining wall and a dry creek to help to keep the topsoil and precious water in our yard. We are new to landscaping and needless to say, there was a lot uncertainty and self-doubt. Did we add enough compost? What about PH? Is the retaining wall tall enough? What curvature should the dry creek have? Which color of mulch looks the best? And most importantly, what plants should we get for the front yard?

The last question probably took the longest time to research. We wanted flowering perennials that look good but low-maintenance, pollinator friendly and diverse, strong yet xeriscape, and we want as many native and edible plants as possible. There is a high bar to meet.

IMG_4042

Fortunately, Colorado has a long tradition of urban permaculture and lots of helpful resources. We have been attending water-wise seminars and visiting garden centers/exhibitions full of native plants. The “bee heaven” garden-in-a-box kit we have been growing since Spring boosted our confidence. And the free (!) landscaping consultation we received from Resource Central provided a long list of plants we could choose from in order to assemble a successful high country garden.

IMG_4399

Most of the plants arrived last Saturday and we got busy at planting.

IMG_4376

IMG_4385

IMG_4403

In total we packed 64 perennials into this 600 sqft space, including evergreens, large flowering shrubs, berry-bearing shrubs, grasses, flowering perennials, ground covers, and irises.

Six evergreens (North Pole Arborvitae) functions as windbreakers along the north edge of the front yard. They should grow into a 10~15 feet tall privacy hedge between our yard and our neighbor’s driveway.

IMG_4406

In addition to the arborvitaes, we planted a dwarf mugo pine in the middle of the landscaping. I love the color and the low mount growing habit of this pine. Colorado has long winters and most of the trees in our yard are deciduous. We could always use more evergreens for winter interest.

IMG_4436

Speaking of winter interest, I want more color on top of evergreens. So we chose to plant 4 Berry Poppins (one being male). The three female shrubs should bear bright red berries next winter once they put on more growth, which not only look great against snow, but also provide food for hungry birds in winter.

IMG_4443

Another fruit-bearing shrub we planted here is a western native Pawnee Buttes Sand Cherry. This shrub produces edible berries in summer which are delicious. It also has a mahogany-red foliage in the fall.

To create a mixed and soft-looking hedge, we planted a mock orange tree called “Snow White Sensation” at the northwest corner of our yard. It should grow to be 6’~8′ tall and mask the street light pole behind. It will carry some height to the corner, provide some shade and privacy, without being too tall while being right next the sidewalk. It also has a softer look compared to the arborvitaes – it has multi-stems that arch gracefully and will bloom white flowers in Spring and early summer.

Mock orange, at the lower left corner:

IMG_4458

Little dog sign hopefully prohibits neighbor’s dogs to poop in our yard…

IMG_4456

I used 14 irises (white and purple) to align the dry creek, and ground covers along the retaining wall.

IMG_4431

IMG_4435

IMG_4434

On the slope, in between the house and the street, we planted xeriscape perennial grasses and flowers. These plants came from another garden-in-a-box kit called “Cool Connection” from Resource Central, which has a color palette of pink, white, purple, and burgundy which I adore. I am really happy with the quality of the plants from our last garden-in-a-box purchase, and I think the selection of native, drought-resistant plants really sets the garden for success. All the perennials included are either native to Colorado or have been shown to do well with little water in our weather.

IMG_4450

IMG_4437

IMG_4439

IMG_4441

IMG_4427

This is how the garden-in-a-box plants supposed to look like on their third year – with our experience with the Spring garden, I expect most of the plants to reach their mature sizes in their second summer!

Before we put down mulch, Slav and I put in drip irrigation for the entire garden bed. We divided the whole planting bed into two zones according to the water need – one for the arborvitaes, and the other one for all the other perennials.

IMG_4383

IMG_4384

We then put down 4″ of wood chips to cover every inch of the bare soil. (We get our mulch for free from our city park service), then top dressed the planting bed with additional 1″ of black mulch. Slav and I both love the look of green plants again black mulch. However, we want to use as little dye as possible, even though it is advertised as a natural, non-toxic high quality dye . So top dressing is the best solution for us.

IMG_4461

With >4″ of mulch, we only need to water once a week to keep the soil damp and cool. Mulch also allows everything in this flower bed to naturalize and spread. We only used landscape fabric under the arborvitaes and at the bottom of the dry creek, since we do not want anything (else) to grow there.

Here is our finished flower bed. 🙂

IMG_4466

Cherry on top, I made a fall wreath for the front door and Slav replaced the rusty and old hose hanger with a brand new Eley hose reel.

IMG_4388

IMG_4481

Remember the sad before?

IMG_7859

And this is the happy “after” after we replace the 600-sqft of tired grass and weeds…

IMG_4466

We. Love. It! We will be keeping an close eye on all the tiny plants and baby them over their first winter. I think it might be time for another video walkthrough of the yard, don’t you think?

Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén