Last summer was the season of curb appeal for us. After the worst winter of all time in 2013 (well, we think so anyway), our manageable, short to-do for 2014 quickly spiraled, and like most Chicagoans, we were eager to make the most of the warm summer months. We poured new concrete, built new stairs, painted and stained the front porch, furnished the front porch, gave the door a new color, made a doggie pee pit and started a garden! When it became cold again, we turned towards hibernation – or kitchen mode, your call – and we’ve only recently began peeking our heads outdoors once again.
We still have a few things we didn’t finish last year – painting the new stairs comes to mind – but we’ve been the most excited about turning our attention back to the garden. Last year, we started small with a trio of boxwoods, two trees and a row of blue fescue and lavender. Our intention has always been to come back for Round Two, gather ideas for what else we like, and fill in the bare areas this year – a suggestion by the staff at a local nursery. In early April, we trimmed back the dead fescue and lavender, and as a result, our garden looked like this:
The fluffy fescue has been growing back fiercely and easily, but I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous about the lavender! You can barely see that baby stumps remain, although there is some bright green poking through. Fellow lavender lovers, is this normal? (Hi, we’re new to the garden club.)
We took a few photos of our garden before heading to Christy Webber, a nursery we frequent often and cannot recommend highly enough! We must have looked confused (guilty), because we were immediately scooped up by Friendly Guy. He inspected our photos, listened to what we like and what we don’t, and we began our tour around the nursery. As we explained that this is year two for our garden and we were omg so worried about the lavender!, he promised us that we were on the right path and pointed us towards these plants: Dianthus “Firewitch” (grassy), Catmint (leafy) and a climbing Hydrangea (branchy).
Both the Dianthus and Catmint have a blue-green tint (which we love), and they’ll sprout purple and pink flowers throughout the summer season, growing taller but mostly wider. When Friendly Guy noticed the lattice behind our garden, he suggested we try something vine-like to grow upwards, which, of course! The hydrangea was our wedding flower, so it was an easy decision for us to go with that, although the blooms on the climbing hydrangea look slightly different than the traditional flower (but still very, very beautiful!). As soon as we got home, we dived right in, digging holes, fertilizing and planting!
Although it looks super twiggy right now, FG assured us that the hydrangea will take hold easily, and within a few years, we’ll be stunned at the results. In his words (or as they say?), first it sleeps, then it creeps, then it leaps. He encouraged us by explaining that our Round One garden will be stronger next year, and a couple years from now, we should see substantial improvement overall. As the least patient person in the world, I do appreciate the slow gardening game, but come on, is it 2018 yet?
To finish, we spread a fresh layer of mulch over the entire garden bed and re-seeded the parts of our lawn that are more stubborn than the rest.
Our starting point doesn’t look terribly different than where we are now, but it does feel good knowing that we’re making strides in the right direction!
It’s so heartwarming when our neighbors stop by and take the time to point out our growing grass and our fuller garden; they ask us what projects are next on the agenda or what we’ve just finished up. If it weren’t strange to kiss our friendly neighbors or every fellow dog-walker on the street, I’d totally do it. Being able to live in this house, on this street and in our favorite part of Chicago will often times hit us like a wave of gratitude. You guys, is that what gardening does to people?
Garden therapy; I’ll take it!