Friday, May 31, 2019

Pretties in the Yard

I'm enjoying the flowers this year. The wisteria was beautiful last month, but I didn't post photos. It was stunning, as usual. Our newly planted Columbine seems pretty happy as it's put on another flower. The variety was labeled as Aquilegia 'Swan Mix'.
I'm also enjoying an Oriental Poppy plant in the planter under the apple tree. We didn't plant this. There is an identical flower on the other side of the driveway and it obviously reseeded itself to a more satisfactory location. I'm not sure which variety it is, but it looks like the Prince of Orange Oriental Poppy.
This is in the backyard. Even though we planted this, I'm not sure what it is. It doesn't look like any of the flowers I actually bought. We got a bunch of seeds and cuttings from a neighbor and some of them must have actually managed to survive our neglect. (After a bunch of digging around on the internet, I think it's a columbine,  Aquilegia vulgaris 'Nora Barlow'.)
Our garden is looking a little wilted. We've been watering it, but the plants just don't seem to be reviving. We shall see if they make it.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Another Yard Project

This is what happens to the nearly invisible space behind our garage when we ignore it for two years. LOL
We didn't realize how much the chickens helped keep down the weeds until they were gone. :(

After most of a day, Jeff and Aaron managed to get most of the vegetation out.
We still need to rent a chipper and grind up the wood branches that will fit. We'll probably put a free ad on craigslist for all the wood that is left after that. The goal is to get this area really cleaned up by later this fall so we can plant a variety of shade-loving native plants. We'd like to make this as close to a woodland landscape as we can get in such a small space.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Red Dragon Contorted Hazelnut

We planted this ornamental hazelnut tree in March of 2013. It's fun to see where it's grown in that time.
It's gotten quite tall, much taller than expected, and now stands out prominently in the landscape. But it's leaning way to the side, probably in an attempt to capture more sunlight. The poor thing wants full sun to part shade, but once the rain garden got so overgrown, I think it got inadequate light. Now that we've removed so many shrubs from the rain garden, hopefully it will get better.

We may have to figure out how to prune off some of the furthest reaching branches this winter.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Parking Strip Redux

Back in 2017, I hatched up a plan to remodel our plain front parking strip. I ordered about $100 of  plants and did a blog post. Sadly, by the time the plants came the bed hadn't been prepped and wasn't ready for them. Jeff hastily dug out some spots and planted a few of the plants and we watered them the rest of the summer, but we never saw them the following year.

We finally decided to take on this yard space again. I don't have a recent before photo, but it looked something like this. The path was more overgrown with grass, which was quite a chore to clear.
I approached Jeff a couple of weeks ago and asked if he was willing to take on this project again. He agreed, particularly when we discovered Aaron was back in town and would be available to help.

I was thinking of something along these lines. (Thanks to our lovely Laurelhurst neighbor a couple blocks over for the inspiration photo.)
I was all excited and spent a couple of days making a flower inspiration board with all the beautiful plants I wanted to put there. It was a riot of oranges, yellows and purples.
I ordered the bulbs and some seeds. I was thinking I would start some of the plants myself to save some money.

Then Jeff and Aaron set to work digging out the location and adding mulch. Jeff likes his berms and swales.
However, after spending all day outside we realized the front planting bed gets almost no direct sun this time of year. The huge maple tree across the street shades a lot of our front yard for most of the day. So, at that moment, our plant plan screeched to a halt. That's probably why the flowers we planted earlier didn't survive.

So I hastily started over with plant research. We needed to find plants that would tolerate mostly shade. Since the dirt was ready, I couldn't take my time with this project. My obsessive personality was up to it because by the next morning, I had my plan.
I was not disappointed. I have always loved ferns.

Jeff blogged about the plant selections at his garden blog if anyone wants a more detailed list.

I'm excited we finally got another small project checked off the list.
We're still debating about the side with the Oregon Grape. Jeff likes it. I think it's too big. At the moment we've compromised by Jeff cutting it way back. My hope is that eventually we do at least some plantings around it to resemble this side, but I'm willing to wait until more pressing projects are finished.

Monday, May 13, 2019

At Loose Ends

We've lost our way. We had planned to prepare our house for sale and put it on the market this summer, but after a strong start in January our motivation eventually sputtered out. We've had a few spurts of energy where we worked on some difficult projects—like the day I managed to mostly finish sifting through the boxes in my closet—but invariably we crash back down to our comfy recliners.

It hasn't helped our motivation to read reports that house sales and prices are down in Portland and houses are taking longer to sell, especially given that our house will be near the top of the market price-wise. The thought that we could spend months dealing with real estate agents and potential buyers and still end up pulling the house off the market at the end of the season pretty much erased my motivation. And honestly, once the Prineville house was rented out, it took off quite a bit of financial pressure.

At this point, I think there's a good chance we'll end up staying in this house for another couple of years.
There are worse ways to spend a late-spring afternoon
On the bright side, Jeff has gotten really preoccupied with our diet. We'd gotten pretty bad about eating junk food and we'd both gained too much weight. In April, Jeff joined a nutrition website that has really helped keep him (and therefore us, because he does the cooking) on track. It's been over a month since I've had a soda and my weight is very slowly trending down. Exercise would speed my progress but I've been having some knee problems. Right now, I'm trying to do the best I can with just limiting my intake.

I've also been trying to get back into writing. I thought I'd try and write a cozy mystery, but after a couple of false starts, I decided I should first spend a month reading some mysteries (both cozies and other light mysteries) to get a feel for how they work. After only a week, where I started 14 mystery novels and finished only 9 (I ditched the worst of them) I realized I don't enjoy most of the stories with amateur sleuths. They require too much suspension of disbelief. The books I did manage to finish invariably had a detective or other investigator as the protagonist. So, now I'm exploring some other options. I'm still spending quite a lot of time reading. I subscribed to Kindle Unlimited in March and I'm trying to read as much as I can before I cancel it later this month.