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

Tag: Front Yard Page 1 of 4

Fluffing up the Garden

I wrapped up my garden clean-up last weekend and would like to share my Fall yard with you. I am still fairly new to gardening – only planted my first garden in 2018. But I read a lot about ways of gardening before I started. It is fair to say that I acquired my gardening skills through authority instead of empiricism.

My first garden bed in 2018:

IMG_2882

Vegetable beds , 1st year:

IMG_2885

Over the last three seasons, I gained a lot more experience and my intuition started to grow. I can finally tell whether a plant is happy, what it might need, and I have accepted that each plant has its own personality (e.g. the way they like to grow). It is important, for me at least as a gardener, to stop forcing a plant to grow into something I think it should be like, but letting it grow to what it wants to be.

Below is my 1st flower bed in this Spring. Some annual flowers have gone and now it is a herb garden:

IMG_5287

The vegetable patch this summer:

A fuller garden also means more lives. Pollinators, insects, and resident bunnies!

Bunny No. 1

IMG_5470

Bunny No. 2

IMG_5698

As my knowledge accumulated, my confidence also grew. This season, I started moving plants around – relocating unhappy plants, switching plants within the same flower bed based on their growing habit and desired view. Fine toning the garden beds, or what I call “fluffing” the garden made me felt like a real gardener for the first time.

Moving perennials out of the herb garden

My garden “fluffing” started in the pollinator/herb garden. We used to have an old tree stump here, which was hard to remove. I asked Slav to cut the stump flush with the ground, then planted this garden on top of it. Everything here are native, drought-tolerate plants that are pollinator magnets:

IMG_5227

The saying about perennials “the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, then the third year they leap” could not be more true. By the end of 2020, the whole bed was already too full:

IMG_5263

IMG_6584

A full garden offers many benefits – less weeds, more insects, and almost no need for watering. However, taller plants also shade the ground around them, and I found the English lavenders and lavender cottons started to struggle. Last Fall, I transplanted the trio of English lavender to the patio garden. And this Fall, it is time to save the lavender cottons.

IMG_6659

I dug out all three of them, and transplanted them into the front yard. This spot used to have three larkspur, which are very pretty plants, supposedly. But they did not like this location and I did not like their look. So out they went. The front yard offers better sunlight and drainage. I am sure that the lavender cottons will create a really cute low mound of flowers here in spring. Their silver color and yellow little flowers should look nice next to the green dwarf pine and blue grasses.

Speaking of blue grasses, I also relocated one Blue Grama grass. Blue Grama grass is Colorado’s state grass and I am proud to have three of them. They were planted in a line initially, along the edge of the lawn, but the one on the very right has been competing with other plants for water and is visibly smaller. So I moved it for just a few feet, replanted it in front of other two grasses.

IMG_6658

Dividing plants in the herb garden

The second plant I took care of in the herb garden was the Red Hot Poker. The variety I have is called “flamenco“, which flowers in three colors (yellow, orange and red) in a gradient. The flowers look like candy cones and very cool. This grass was used a lot in the median strip on our local streets, which speaks for their toughness.

IMG_5287

You can see it in the middle of the picture above – this was when they first emerged in May. By mid-summer, the grass became a beast.

IMG_6585

Can you see it behind the catmint “walker’s low”? Being its fourth Spring, it stopped flowering, and started to flop from the center. I cut it back, divided it into many parts, and planted a trio in its original location:

IMG_6653

Another clump went under the transparent apple tree:

IMG_6651

I also planted a big clump behind the ginkgo tree. Ginkgo is famous for its slow-growing habit, so I do not think my ginkgo stick will reach to an appreciable height anytime soon. At the mean time, I want something taller as a backdrop:

IMG_6654

After moving the plants out, I cut back some low-mounding herbs that have spilled out of the flower bed:

IMG_6628

Now we can see the edging and path again! I know that this bed still looks very wild. But I intend to keep it this way for winter. Dead crowns not only protect the roots over the winter, but also provide nesting place for insects/eggs and small mammals. We will cut all the dead and broken back next May, after the danger of hard frost passes.

Cutting back irises

One plant I do cut back every Fall is iris. Their leaves are too unsightly to look at during winter, and having snow sit on the leaves often cause rot. I have most of my iris in the front yard along the dry creek. Cutting the leaves back revealed the shape of dry creek again:

IMG_6660

I planted hens-and-chicks and sedum along the dry creek. After cutting back the tall iris leaves, they finally got some winter sun:

IMG_6669

Season of Fall colors

This year we had the best Fall colors in our yard, probably due to the mild October we had. There has not been any snow, not even strong wind. So all the trees and perennials have had the opportunity to reach their fullest Fall color. It is truly a magnificent view:

Front yard flower bed:

IMG_6668

“Shenandoah” switch grass

IMG_6662

Sedum “Autumn joy”

IMG_6670

Mock orange “Snow White Sensation”

IMG_6663

“Berry Poppins” winterberry

IMG_6665

The honey suckle (second year)

IMG_6667

And here is how my backyard looks now:

Ash trees above the garden shed:

IMG_6609

Peony (all 11 of them!)

IMG_6630

Russian sage plants are still flowering:

IMG_6610

Chinese Snowball Viburnum (second year):

IMG_6612

The ginkgo tree (second year):

IMG_6615

The asparagus patch:

IMG_6623

And last but not the least, our beloved crabapple tree:

IMG_6604

Don’t you just love the colors? We are so fortunate to live in Colorado where we could appreciate all four seasons. Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying the Fall as well!

Spring Garden, 2021

IMG_4771

Spring used to be the season I looked forward to the least because of my love of snow, but gardening has changed that. I now enjoy coming home not in dark, still having an hour of day light to walk around the yard. Watching new life emerge from the soil is confirming and comforting, and nothing beats the excitement of seeing the first flower of the year.

The first wave of blooms are hellebores. I planted them in the Spring of 2019, and they have been establishing themselves for the past two years. I kept reminding myself that hellebores need time to establish. And this Spring, my patience has paid off! All the hellebores were loaded with buds as soon as they peeked out of the snow, and they have been flowering non-stop since March.

Look what a show they’ve put on:

During the months of March and April we had quite a few heavy winter storms. As soon as the snow melted, the herb garden woke up:

IMG_4989

IMG_4995

IMG_4992

IMG_4996

IMG_4997

IMG_4998

IMG_4994

IMG_4990

Last Spring I transplanted some periwinkle from a neighbor’s yard. I did not know if I would like them or not, but there were lots of nasty weeds spreading into my yard from our neighbor’s on the North, so I had to come up with a tough groundcover to plant against the fence as a “weed barrier”. These periwinkles grew quickly and by this Spring, they have already completely covered the strip of land against my neighbor’s fence! And they bloom the cutest dense mat of blue glowers!

IMG_4976

IMG_4974

One big landscape project last year was the patio garden. I love it as a soft border seperating the beautiful lawn space and the more practical raspberry patch. I planted some peonies here last Fall, who have come up and look very healthy:

IMG_4986

Next to the peonies are the patio planter boxes I built last Spring during the lockdown, which houses our strawberry plants:

IMG_4959

Behind the patio garden is the berry patch I planted in 2019.

IMG_4962

Next, the shrubs are all doing well! We inherited a lilac bush, which got a rejuvenation cut a couple years ago when we removed the chain link fence it grew into. It is still on its way of recovery, so we do not have flower this year – but it is OK! The service berry bush was loaded with flowers thanks to all the rain we got recently. And I am looking forward to harvesting service berries for the first time this year!

IMG_4966

We have quite a few trees on our property. The crabapple tree in the middle of the backyard has put on a spectacular show thanks to the trim and deep fertilizing treatment we gave it last year:

IMG_4771

IMG_4770

All our fruit trees but one came back this Spring and started to bud up:

IMG_5000

What we lost was a nectarine tree. It snapped during one of the heavy storms last Spring. We planted a cold-hardy pear tree at its place just a few days ago:

IMG_5002

I also planted a couple ornamental trees. One of them is a Chinese snowball viburnum. It gave us exact one flower last year. 🙂 I am hoping for more this year!

IMG_4982

The most exciting tree I have planted on our property is a gingko tree. I was told that it grows very slowly. However, it has grew 8 inches last year and came back happily:

IMG_5017

I adore the tender gingko leaves. Aren’t they cute?

IMG_5019

We will be planting the vegetable garden in the next a couple weeks and I will surely come back with more detailed update. Here are the garlic and asparagus beds looking lush today:

IMG_5014

That is pretty much the backyard! Moving onto the front yard, the perennial flower beds have a few blooms already:

IMG_5031

The western sandcherry:

IMG_5029

The dwarf pine and sedums:

IMG_5034

The irises by the dry creek showed the first few flower buds:

IMG_5038

IMG_5039

IMG_5036

IMG_5035

IMG_5024

The sedum and honey suckle in the front yard planter:

IMG_5040

Hens and chicks thriving in the tiny cracks between the retaining wall and the sidewalk:

IMG_5025

This is truly the best our garden has ever been. It looks so lush, healthy, and full of life that it literally stops our neighbors on their tracks. I think the labor and sweat we put in during the past three years has finally paid off!

Happy Spring, everyone!

IMG_4772

Home Stay + Spring Garden, 2020!

Hi friends and family! I hope you had a fun Memorial day weekend. For Northern gardeners like me, a successful Memorial day weekend means getting your vegetable garden planted! Being housebound for 10 weeks, I put more hours into the garden that I could ever hope for. This is the Spring I not only stayed on top of basic tasks like planting, watering and weeding, but also made changes to the garden that will improve our landscape in a long run. I cannot think of a better time to show you the garden than today. Are you ready?

The Video Tours

First, here are the garden walk-through videos! You can click the “play” button in the middle of the video, or for better quality, head over to Youtube.

The front yard tour:

The backyard tour part one, which covers the veggie garden and herb garden:

Backyard tour part two: the berry patch and new patio garden.

If you have trouble viewing the video, do not worry! Below are the pictures I took over the last two weeks of different blooms!

I. The Front Yard Perennial Bed

IMG_2092

Here is our front yard flower bed today!  Most of the plants went in during Fall 2018, when they were just babies.

IMG_4466

Boy did they grow up:

IMG_1718

IMG_1967

IMG_1754

Planted along the dry creek are irises. They have been blooming since early May:

IMG_1732

IMG_1730

IMG_1750

IMG_1968

Last Fall I dotted some Hens and Chicks along the dry creek. Apparently they all rooted in and came back this Spring:

IMG_1135

IMG_1734

IMG_1735

The white flowers behind the Hens and Chicks are called “Snow-in-summer”. It is a rather tall groundcover that blooms from early Summer through frost. They are such a fast grower/spreader – this patch was started with two 2-inch cans!

At the end of the dry creek, I cut out this small flower bed last Fall, and planted two peonies and a climbing rose. A trio of grass aligns the fence to add some softness.

IMG_1760

Around the corner of the house is a new honeysuckle, underplanted with stonecrop:

IMG_1758

IMG_1756

Imagine the honeysuckle climbing 8 feet tall and filling the space between the window and the gutter, with the sedum covering and trailing off the entire planter…

IMG_1755

The rest of the flower bed is filled with flowering perennials:

Salvias, pink:

IMG_1939

IMG_1946

Penstemons, Husky red

IMG_2099

Salvias, Purple

IMG_2098

Penstemons, Pineleaf Beardtougue

IMG_1933

Mugo pine and stonecrop “Angelina”

IMG_1716

IMG_1773

English lavender, FlowerKisser “After Midnight”:

IMG_1772

Also planted here are Colorado State flowers and grasses. The Columbines have been putting on lots of foliage growth. They are expected to flower from mid-summer through Fall. The Blue Grama grasses are also getting bigger each day.

IMG_1746

I love this Pawnee Buttes Sand cherry! It grew much bigger this Spring compared to 2019, and we are not even getting to the Summer days yet! This particular Sand cherry variety is a western native and supposed to be a low-mount ground cover, but I’ve seen mature plants about 4 feet tall.

IMG_1949

The Silver brocade sage adds a nice ice-blue color to the flower bed:

IMG_1934

Near the retaining wall are planted groundcovers that flowers in different time of the season. They look like low mounts now but will eventually meet each other to create a nice flowering carpet:

IMG_1958

IMG_1739

I tacked some baby Hens and Chicks last Fall into the small gaps between the retaining wall and the sidewalk. I did not hold too much hope then, but look at them now!

IMG_1970

IMG_1959

How could you not love a plant that is beautiful, always looking like it is flowering, impossible to kill, but not invasive?

IMG_1972

II. The Mailbox Garden

On the other side of the driveway is our mailbox garden:

IMG_1912

This spot is one of the toughest on our property – west facing, beating afternoon sun, water runoff, compact soil, and being pilled onto salt and snow for months during winter. It is my test ground for plants – if a plant can survive here, it will thrive anywhere in my garden without water! And so far everything I threw here passed their entry exam:

IMG_1776

The Red Hot Poker (Torch Lily), Hot and Cold:

IMG_1901

Salvias, Blue

IMG_1907

IMG_1908

Lilies:

IMG_1898

More Stonecrop:

IMG_1784

Creeping Thyme:

IMG_1904

One of the best upgrade we made this Spring, is to automate all the front yard irrigation, not only for the flower beds but also for the trees and the lawn. It saved us so much time and stress, and the plants are much happier too for getting consistent water:

IMG_1780

IMG_1706

III. The Backyard Vegetable Garden

IMG_2089

This is the third season of this vegetable garden. Starting with just a couple beds, we now have five 4′ x 16′ in-ground beds, two of which are planted with perennial vegetables. I am a believer of perennial edibles – “planting once, harvest forever” sounds great!

The strawberries bed has been producing for two years:

IMG_2025

IMG_2035

A chive border was planted in front of the strawberries last Fall by splitting one – yes, just one – chive plant! Gotta love a plant that is beautiful, edible, tough as nails, and attracts pollinators!

IMG_2030

Last year I asked Slav to “pick a vegetable you want me to grow”. And he picked asparagus! The plant ended up loving our soil and intense sun.

IMG_2041

This Spring, I added 25 more crowns around it and dedicated this entire bed to asparagus. All the crowns sprouted nicely. We should be able to start harvesting asparagus next Spring, and many decades ahead!

IMG_2024

I am a big fan of garlic scapes. Growing up, garlic scapes and strawberries were only available for a couple weeks each year, usually around my birthday. Each year I look forward to them as birthday treats. Starting 2018, I plant a whole bed of hardneck garlic every Spring for the scapes.

IMG_2018

The remaining two beds are planted with annual vegetables we love – tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumber, cabbages, radishes, beets, arugula, and salad greens.

IMG_2022

IMG_2108

IMG_2042

IMG_2106

IMG_2114

IMG_2104

IMG_2110

After filming the video tour, I put up some trellises for the climbing beans: This year we are growing Limka and red noodle.

IMG_2111

IV. The New Ginkgo Tree and Helleborus Garden

One of the new addition to my garden this year is a Ginkgo tree. I planted it next to the veggie garden. It is a slow-growing tree, especially during the first a few years, so it would not cast shade on the veggie garden any time soon. But eventually, I would love to have the whole yard covered by canopies of big trees for a forest-type micro-climate.

IMG_2101

Before that happens, this little flower bed under the crabapple tree is my only “shade” garden. I dedicated this whole space to my favorite plants: helleborus.

IMG_2091

Helleborus, or hellebore, is also called Christmas rose or Lenten rose. It flowers in January through April, and offers the most delicate looking flowers that often used for water art.

I planted this garden last year with white, dark purple, and black flowering helleborus, basically what you see in the picture above. They have not flowered this year, but all of them came back from the winter looking much stronger. Without the flowers they still got nice and glossy foliage to look at:

IMG_2012

IMG_2014

IMG_2013

V. The Pollinator/Herb Garden

Besides the veggie garden occupying the south side of the backyard, and fruit trees and climbing roses aligning the east fence, we also densely planted the north side of the backyard. This part of the yard receives full sun and is on a slope. To prevent water run-off, we covered the entire area with wood chip mulch and turned it into an edible garden.

IMG_2052

The flower bed in the front is our pollinator garden. Planted here are all sun-loving perennial herbs and flowers. There are sage, English lavender, mint, tarragon, catmint, lemon balm, oregano, hyssop, walking onion, Black Eye Susan, lavender cotton, sulfur flower buckwheat, and some ground cover.

IMG_1990

IMG_2121

IMG_2118

IMG_1992

IMG_2005

IMG_2004

 

IMG_1995

IMG_2002

IMG_2117

To add more shade trees, I planted a maple tree here in 2019. It will eventually become 40 feet tall and its canopy will meet the canopy of the crabapple tree.

IMG_1996

VI. The Berry Patch!

A big part of our edible garden, besides the vegetable beds, is a berry patch we planted last year. 20 berry plants, including 15 raspberries and 5 black berries, and two hazelnut trees went into this big mulched area:

IMG_2084

The three rows of raspberry are different varieties. You can see the difference between their sprouting time and growing habit. The row on the very left came up first and spreads the most, and the right row has a more of a tight form.

IMG_1997

IMG_1998

VII. The New Patio Garden + Planters

Last is the newest addition to our backyard – the patio garden!

IMG_2122

What I call the “patio garden” includes the patio planters (planted with stawberries), the strip of mulched area in front of the planters and the berry patch (which is mulched with dried grass clippings for now), and the area between the herb garden and the shed.

IMG_2125

Due to the pandemic, we did not manage to get perennial plants to fill the new patio garden. To fill the space, I seeded some annual flower and vine crops. The entire patio garden, from the patio to the shed, is full-sun and get overspray from our grass sprinklers. It will be fun to plan this garden this Fall!

The space closest to the house now have a couple annual herbs, with cosmos seeded in between:

Lemon verbena

IMG_2068

Rosemary

IMG_2069

Cosmos

IMG_2115

IMG_2131

The pink flags are there so Roxie does not get into the flower bed – this girl likes to nap on fresh mulch, which I totally understand. But the new flower seedlings would like to disagree.

I did manage to put in two perennials here, one being a Chinese Snowball Viburnum. It will eventually grow to be a multi-stem tree, 8 feet tall with a 6 feet spread. It will provide some afternoon shade for the snowboard bench and the flower bed below.

20200420_143323

The other perennial is a lingonberry, and it flowered right after being planted!

IMG_2063

IMG_2065

Where the patio garden curves along the berry patch were recently seeded with lettuce and beets. It is treated like an extension of our veggie garden this year, but will be plant with pretty perennials this Fall! I have some leftover cantaloupe seeds that are fairly old, so they all got thrown there too. Maybe one of them will come up!

IMG_2139

Near the newly built shed patio I planted a vine crop patch! All the seedlings of  zucchini, squash, cucumber went in here.

IMG_2137

IMG_1985

The goal is to let them becoming a green mulch for the area, so less weeds can come up:

IMG_2132

I did manage to get one perennial in this area, and it is an apple tree!

IMG_2135

We already planted a honey crisp apple tree a couple years ago, but transparent apple is Slav’s favorite. Although popular in Poland, we could not find this apple sold in stores around us. So let us grow it!

IMG_2133

VIII. The Shed Patio and A New Pollinator House

Remember the shed patio I created a few weeks ago? It is still bare and covered by black plastic…given the current situation of the pandemic, this patio might have to wait until next Spring.

IMG_1986

We did spice it up a bit by setting two faux evergreen trees in front of the shed. One of (many of) Slav’s snowboards serves as a temporary seating.

IMG_1988

Oh, the leave-cutting bee house we DIYed last year reached full occupancy! Totally did not expect it and very encouraged by it. We put up a bigger native pollinator house for native bees and butterflies this Spring, and hope it ill be appreciated.

IMG_1987

So, here you have it, our 2020 Spring gardens! We put lots of hard work into landscaping over the last two years, and I think the garden really shows it. Although many of our trees and perennials are still young and need time to fill in, I’d say that we’ve landscaped 90% of the property already! I especially appreciate the hardscape we put in, such as patios, fence, dry creek, the retaining wall, and the most recent drip irrigation and automation system, which will all serve us well for years to come. I cannot wait for our garden to mature and to support the native ecosystem – the pollinators, birds, and even animals. Grow little garden, grow!

Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén