Sunday, October 12, 2008

Landscaping 101

Landscaping 101-our first year

Did I mention before I used to be a “high maintenance girl”? Getting together with old friends I hadn’t seen in over 25 years this weekend reminded me of my former “princess” self. They remembered coiffed hair & impossibly high heels-spandex pants-(remember we’re talking disco-era here!) & the latest fashions & manicured nails….That person didn’t exist anymore. The hair-do was a ponytail under a cotton bandanna. Spiky, high heels, not on your life-can’t dig a hole in those. Manicured nails-sigh-even with garden gloves there’s dirt & chips & breaks and short, stubby ones help strip off those ribbons of wallpaper.

Every room in this house was wallpapered-ceilings, closets, hallways. It must have been beautiful in its day-the paper in the front bedroom was clusters of lilacs. Being paper, it was fairly easy to coax off with remover and a good, solid putty knife. I still can remember all that warm, grey water running down my arm scraping ceilings! We now only have one room papered-we have painted everything else.

Our first year in the house, we spent cleaning up the years of over-growth in the yard. We did some interior cosmetic work, but our focus was outside. We were garden center regulars. I learned annuals, perennials, herbs, bulbs, rhizomes, shrubs, ground cover. I learned which plants worshiped the sun, and which were shade dwellers. I learned ages old garden advice-“if you plant it one place and it doesn’t grow-move it somewhere else”. I learned the hard way not to plant mint unless you contain it or you will have a garden of-(you guessed it) mint! Plus if it is catnip, you will have every cat in the neighborhood in your yard!

I learned how to determine if it is a weed or a flower-(my husband still has problems with this one). One year he cut my white lilac almost to the ground. It took years to come back. Another year he ripped out my newly planted sweet peas. When I went looking for my asters this fall, he ruefully admitted he gave them a toss, thinking they were weeds.

Thankfully after we cut down the “weed trees” that covered the front yard-tore out the back yard of ivy and pruned shrubs that were the size of trees, we found the garden had “good bones”. The two brothers who originally lived in the house were at one point in the gardening business. We had lovely old fashioned roses, peonies, double daylilies, lilacs, hollies, and yucca. I brought iris, bridal wreath, red hot poker, & hosta from my parent’s house. When our friends tore out a row of hydrangeas, I saved them from the trash truck and brought them home.

Being young with lots of energy, we made garlands and wreathes for our front porch from our own evergreens for Christmas. We hosted our family’s annual Christmas Eve party for the first time.

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