Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Somebody Likes Me!

Thank you, Carolyn over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago for giving me the "E"! Thankfully, I discovered Carolyn's blog very soon after I started gardening and blogging. All the advice she's given me has just been priceless. I'm pretty sure Carolyn takes pity on me because I'm also transplanted from the South to Chicago like her. She's my Southern Soul Sister!

I think I'm supposed to give the bit "E" to some of my favorite blogs and though I've got tons, here are a few that I love...

Garden Punks
My Chicago Garden
Garden Girl
Garden Desk
Notes from a Cottage Garden
Soilman's Allotment Blog
The Compost Bin

I could go on and on!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nonsense About Me


Soilman tagged me to answer a few questions so here goes...

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Living in Memphis working a job I hated. I won't get into it but it was just awful and the people were just awful and I'm pretty sure it scarred me for life. Does anybody have a violin?


My to-do list/What I actually did
Weed the entire back garden and plant a tree. What did I actually do? Weeded about a 3 by 3 foot area. It's bindweed!

Snacks I enjoy
Chocolate, and Chocolate, and anything with Chocolate on it.
Things I would do if I were a billionaire
Eradicate bindweed

3 bad habits
Eating chocolate, swearing, procrastination

5 places I've lived
Jeez this makes me feel like a loser. I've only lived in 3 places. Memphis, TN, Nashville, TN, Chicago, IL

5 jobs I've had
French fry cooker at McD's. Man it was horrible and really did a number on my teenage skin. Plasma processor - ew. Sandwich maker which I hated because I was afraid of the big meat cutter. Secretary at a generic drug company until I was fired so that the owner could hire a skanky girl at the bar where he hung out. Lab technician, lab technician, lab technician...


5 people who have interesting blogs that I'd like to tag (no pressure if you don't wanna)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Magolia Saga - The End

In case you haven't been following the Magnolia Saga, here's a recap.

First I had a really crappy front garden filled with ugly overgrown evergreens. Then, Carolyn took pity on me and did a whole front garden design for me. Carolyn rocks!

In her design was a dwarf Magnolia on the corner. So I drove all over creation trying to find one and finally decided on the Royal Star Magnolia pictured below.

I bought it, brought it home, blogged about it and everybody told me it was way too big for my space, so I took it back.
I finally settled on the Magnolia Ann pictured below. It's just a baby now but I think it will be really pretty one day.
Thank you all for your suggestions. I appreciate you!

Ann was planted today in the spot where Carolyn recommended. It's suppose to get pretty cold over the next couple of days. Ann needs a coat!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sneaky Shopping IS Bad Karma

I'm sad to report that the two Weigela Wine and Roses that I bought (stole) from the HD cart have now been confirmed dead by an actual landscaper. In my defense, there was nobody watching the cart and it was over in the corner loaded with plants and the cashier said I could do it so cut me some slack! The moral of the story is, if you steal plants, they will probably die.

The landscaper, Edgar (I absolutely LOVE that name) says I should take them back since I never removed the tags. I think I paid like 3 bucks for these so I'm not sure it's worth me hauling them back and trying to convince the cashier that I really did buy them from HD even though I have no receipt. The problem is that now I've been dreaming all winter of how fabulous the dark foliage of the Wine and Roses was going to look with all the beautiful chartreuse stuff I'd plant near it them.

Instead of posting pictures of the crusty ole dead Weigelas, here's what I found growing randomly in my backyard today. What is this please?

More Daffodils are open. These were all suppose to be pink. Bad Big Box Store!

First ever blooms on the peach tree I planted last year.

Disclaimer: None of the plants pictured above were stolen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008: Green Is Going Mainstream?

While I was driving all over creation yesterday looking looking for shrubs (wasting gas, destroying the ozone etc...) I was thinking about how, in 2008, it's cool to be green. Leave it to us to commercialize and capitalize on the green movement.

I wonder what the real hippies think of the commercialization of the green movement? We love being trendy in this country. But, isn't being trendy sort of "anti-hippie?" On the one hand the green movement is now reaching the mainstream which makes for a much higher success rate (Al Gore must be a happy camper these days) but on the other hand we are sort of bastardizing the whole movement, aren't we? Discovery Channel is launching a new network called Planet Green that is devoted to, well, being green. But when I looked at the sneak peaks On Demand, I realized that they are planning to run more of those gimicky shows like HGTV already has. Are they really trying to make the world a better place to live or are they just trying to produce a hit TV show. I know, it's a stupid question. All the shows are these fast paced green-me-up-overnight type shows. I don't know why but that just rubs me the wrong way.

With Clorox making green cleaners and HD devoting a fair amount of advertising to "eco friendly options" it seems like the world may REALLY be making a very necessary shift which is awesome for the planet. And maybe this means that affordable solar panels are on the way? Wouldn't that be awesome?

In virtually unrelated news - my new favorite magazine is Mother Earth News and in honor of Earth Day I'm ordering myself a shiny new subscription. It's filled to the rim with good (mostly easy) ways to help the environment including lots of gardening related stuff. I also ordered my nephew a Mother Earth shirt for earth day - on the front it says "40 Years of Oil Left, 5,500,000,000 Years of Sunshine Left, CHOOSE WISELY".

Earth Day Contest: Congratulations to Leslie and Chet for winning the new Brita faucet mount filter system and Filter For Good bottle. For their Earth Day resolutions, Leslie is planning to try worm composting (rock on, Leslie!) and Chet and his wife are growing more of their own food and what they can't grow they'll try to buy locally. Leslie has an in-home daycare and I think it's really great that she's exposing the kiddies to good stuff like gardening and composting. I don't know Chet very well but I see that he lives down the street from me in Evanston. Congrats, guys! If you will kindly email me the address you'd like me to send your Brita filters to, I'll get those in the mail to you right away.

Happy Earth Day, gardening bloggers!

Monday, April 21, 2008

An Earth Day Eve Abomination

Today I drove all over creation looking for foundation shrubs/trees. The absurdity of this is magnified by the fact that gas is like a million dollars a gallon and I don't have a hybrid. Part of the day I was thinking how great it would be to plant all my new stuff on Earth Day tomorrow but at some point I just started thinking THIS IS INSANE! NO TREE I PLANT WILL MAKE UP FOR THE EMISSIONS FROM THIS STUPID SHOPPING TRIP!

The worst part is that I couldn't find what I wanted. I'm in Magnolia hell, people! The lady at big expensive garden center says "oh you don't want a magnolia, the frost gets them in this area...why don't you try this Redbud Forest Pansy? It blooms later and only gets 8-10 feet tall." OK but I need to research this. So I get home and nothing, NOTHING I found on the internet says those things are 8-10 feet tall. They all say like 20-30 feet. WTH? To top it off, some of the other stuff I read says that the Star Magnolia is usually kept to 8-10 feet tall. That's what I wanted in the first place! There are Magnolia Jane's all over creation but for some reason I can't bring myself to buy one. Shopping the dead plant section at the end of the season was so much easier than this! So, here are my options for the front foundation tree...

Magnolia Jane
Magnolia Ann
Magnolia Leonard something or other
Royal Star Magnolia
Redbud Forest Pansy
Other fabulous small flowering tree (make a suggestion)

So, what should I do?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Could Really Use A Tomato Sammich!

Reminder: Don't forget to submit your Earth Day Resolution to be entered in the contest for a Brita faucet mount system and a Filter For Good water bottle. I love mine and I can't wait to share the joy! The drawing will be on Tuesday (Earth Day). You can also pop over to www.filterforgood.com and take the pledge to reduce your use of bottled water.

Now on to the events of Sunday.

I'm exhausted and I need a tomato sandwich immediately! Today had to be the most beautiful day in Chicago so far for 2008. After my failed attempt to garden yesterday I got an earlier start today and other than 2 mini breaks and a quick trip to the hardware store, I was outside from 9:30-4:30. That is a full days work! The 26 hedge roses were still mounded with mulch so I thought it was about time for the unveiling. What a pain in the butt this was. You should see my arms, they are seriously scratched up and yucky looking.

I removed all the mulch from the roses, pulled weeds and trash (for some reason ridiculous amounts of trash flies over my 6 foot privacy fence and into my yard), placed soaker hoses in the beds, the replaced the mulch. I know this sounds crazy but I think I've got too much mulch on the roses. I also cut the roses back more to stimulate new growth. I realize now that I never should have trimmed them before winter. I hope they'll be OK. Here they are all ready for new growth. This took the large part of the day. After that, I WS'd about a million more containers of annuals.
I never made it to the front yard this weekend and now there are weeds growing in the empty beds. I'm hoping to purchase foundation plants Monday or Tuesday before I go back to work.

All day today I kept coming in the house for water and each time I'd think "I need a tomato sandwich!" I think after last summer I started to associate hard gardening with tons of water and tomato sandwiches. Of course it's depressing since it'll be quite some time before I have a home grown tomato but it made me wonder about you bloggers and blog readers. Do you have a particular food that you usually eat after a hard day of gardening? If so, what is it? Of course mine is tomato sandwich, but I also like to eat cold pineapple. I find that after being outside for so long that I really crave fresh fruits veggies and it's gotta be uncooked. How about you?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's Alive! It's Alive!

This my first Daffodil ever. It's the Rhine Wine that I bought from the Chicago Botanic Garden sale last year. I love it! All the plants below are ones that I thought were goners. This first one is the Red Twig Dogwood. You may remember it and the others that follow from last year. They were my Charlie Brown Shrubs. I swear I thought all these were dead.

Fragrant Viburnum
Hydrangea Lime Light. I can't wait to see this one in bloom.

Hydrangea Tardiva planted in the rocks. I'm sure I've complained about it before but I think my house was built on some rock quarry or something. After I found the perfect spot for this, I started digging then hit rocks. I was tired and lazy so I just plopped it in the hole with the rocks thinking it was probably dead anyway. What a survivor! This is also planted in the Coneflower cemetery where all the Purple ones that GB gave me were planted and died.



Japanese Kerria. I love the leaves on this one already. I have never seen one of these so this should be exciting.


Lastly, this is the Clematis that I thought I'd ripped out along with the bastard weed that was growing up the string. Thank goodness Jodi told me not to bother it and that it may come back this year. Thanks, Jodi!

I'm still waiting for some sign of life on the Weigela Wine and Roses from the HD sneaky shopping. They both look very dry and brittle, still. Oddly, those looked very healthy when I planted them but they sure don't right now. Rosemarie thinks it's bad karma. I hope she's wrong!

Backyard Garden Ideas Wrap Up

Thank you all for your suggestions on how to improve the backyard now that the new patio is in place. I appreciate you all. Here is a summary of the suggestions.
Carolyn has done it again with an awesome full blown plan for the backyard. I wish I could look at a space then just whip up a design like this. Thank you, Carolyn! Carolyn's plan involves moving the AC unit down to the end of the house making room for a BBQ area - I love this part!. She also has a big pergola over the patio which I am doing.
Curved beds - the most popular suggestion from you guys made by

Retainer wall around the patio - suggestion made by

Extending the Pergola over the AC unit to shade it - suggestion by

Stay tuned for Weekend Warriors: GB and Pie Guy help build a Pergola. Coming the weekend of May 11th!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Earth Day Contest

The nice folks over at Brita sent a faucet mount filter system and these cool water bottles for me to try just in time for Earth Day. They know I'm already a fan.

I love their new Filter For Good campaign and Mr. W has taken the pledge to reduce his use of bottled water now that Brita has made it so easy. Here's the best part - they sent 2 extra faucet mount system/filter for good water bottle combos for me to give away.

The faucet mount system was really easy to install. Just remove thingy on the faucet and screw in the adapter (you may not need an adapter but if you do, there's already one in the kit)

Attach the bottom of the filter system

Plug in the filter and flush for 5 minutes

Fill your Filter For Good Bottle and you are ready to go.

Contest:

Tell us one thing you'll do starting on Earth Day (April 22, 2008) to reduce, reuse or recycle.

This can be something simple like replacing a light bulb with a CF one, recycling your plastic milk jugs, starting a compost pile, or it can be something huge like installing solar panels on your house.

You can submit your Earth Day resolution here in the comment section of this entry, put it on your own blog and let me know it's there, or email me directly. I'll draw 2 names from all the entries and mail your gift to you. Each winner will receive one faucet mount filter system and one filter for good water bottle.

Here are a few ideas:

Plant more native plants
Try chemical free grass treatments
Take public transportation to work 1 day per week (or bike like Katie)
Buy a Hybrid
Try worm composting (YIKES!)
Bring your sandwich to work in a reusable container instead of plastic bags
Buy more local food

The drawing will be on Earth Day.

Remember this coming Earth Day that any effort you make WILL make a difference.

April Bloom Day: The Almost Bloom

Seriously people, this is all I've got. I was so motivated to keep up with bloom day beginning in April and I thought I'd at least have a crocus or something to show, but this is it. Maybe May.

For Bloom Day details, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Winter Sowing Update

Check out this Poppy! By far it seems like the Poppy (excluding the Himalayan Blue aka "Holy Grail" according to Kylee) and the Aster are doing better than anything else. I WS'd several varieties of Poppy back in January and several varieties of Aster in March.
This is the Verbena that GB gave me. This is more Poppy with 2 different mystery plants. I'm not sure what the heck these 2 bonus seedlings are.

Here's a full list of what is growing so far.

Poppy
Aster
Sweet William
Shasta Daisy
Rudbeckia Goldilocks
Lupine
Calendula
Unknown 1
Unknown 2
Unknown 3

That's right, the damn ink has worn off the milk jugs and now I've got lord knows what growing. How in the heck am I suppose to find the perfect spot when I don't have a clue what the heck is growing?

Winter Sowing lesson learned: The ink will not stay on your jugs - use something more permanent!

Can somebody please tell me what this awesome low growing blue flower is? It is beautiful and I want a lot of it for my own yard but couldnt bring myself to knock on the person's door to ask what it is. I noticed that it seems to be creeping from this yard over to the neighbor's yard so whatever it is I'm assuming it spreads a lot.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ilinois Extension Office Is Getting Hosed


My new friend, neighbor and now garden blogger J informed me yesterday that the Illinois Extension Office is in dire straights. Apparently the money that was budgeted for them is now being withheld and as a result, lots of people are losing their jobs. You can read more about this over at J's new garden blog. She's currently enrolled in their Master Gardener program online so she was notified about this right away as her program could be in jeopardy. As a side note, I'm very pissed that I didn't know they had an online option - I could be an almost Master Gardener right now! GB and I have both been wanting to do this but the only class we knew of was offered on Wednesday's during the day when I am forced to work for "the man".

edited to include the link to the online MG program http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/cook/mgchicago/downloads.html

Now back to the Illinois Extension Office tragedy. I blame Governor Blagojevich , that expletive! I'm still in the process of researching this but I'm virtually certain that he's responsible. As soon as he was sworn in he started doing all sorts of crazy stuff. He hasn't been involved in any sex scandals (that I know of) but he does weird stuff with our tax dollars and every time I turn around he's doing something stupid like this. Why am I so mad? Because guess who voted for him?

Here's what I don't get. This dude is a Democrat and Democrats are suppose to be all enlightened about global warming, right? I mean we are the ones who look upon the other party with that you-poor-thing-you-just-don't-know-any-better attitude when they try to say that global warming is just propaganda, aren't we? So what sense does it make to take steps that will surely eliminate a program that is responsible for educating and sustaining the people who totally get the global warming problem and how to fix it? I mean I suppose I could be making some reaching assumptions to suggest that people who work for, support and are educated by the Illinois Extension Office are nature lovers and therefore automatically do things to reverse or at least not contribute to global warning, but do you disagree? The only reason I make this connection is because of my own personal experience with gardening. I haven't sat down to do a root cause analysis of how it happened, I just know that when I started gardening, I became way more aware of the environment and global warming and how what I do contributes to it as well as how I could make changes that would help the planet. Growing native flowers and veggies, compost, worms it's all connected to saving the planet and the Illinois Extension Office is in the business of teaching us about all that stuff, right? When I first started gardening, I was directed to the Illinois Extension Office by several garden bloggers and I now refer to it regularly for all sorts of crap. Most recently I reached out to them to make sure my new Tamarix wasn't on the invasive plant list in my area. Thank you again for responding so quickly, extension office!

"State Extension personnel are scrambling to come up with a plan by May 1st on how to operate on just half of the matching funds originally appropriated through the state’s agriculture department. Money withheld from the Illinois Extension Service is expected to have a drastic effect.

“We’re going to lose about 450 positions,” said Gary Beaumont, spokesman for University of Illinois Extension Service, in reference to the jobs that are anticipated to be eliminated because of the withheld money.


The Illinois Department of Agriculture broke the news to the Illinois Extension Service last week that Governor Blagojevich won’t release the allocated money, which could result in the loss of 450 local extension office jobs statewide. The biggest chunk of the shortfall is $12.8 million in matching funds in addition to a separate initiative in the amount of $5 million that provides for 96 positions in Cook County alone."

I told my new friend J that she'd be amazed at the power that garden bloggers have. I have seen them mobilize in support of people whose gardens were in jeopardy and their voices were heard and they made things happen. We all know those super hero girls over at Garden Rant are always coming to the rescue of something or somebody and I always remember the role they played in saving Jean's garden. So I ask you, garden bloggers, tell us what to do to help this cause. I'm all for a big ass political movement for something like this but the problem is that I'm clueless what exactly I can do that will actually be effective. If you have some ideas, please share them with us, and if what is happening to this office effects you in any way, please speak up. We need you.

Dear Governer Blagojevich - shame on you!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Meeting Stella

Happy Friday Gardeners, Garden Bloggers and Blog Readers!

This is Stella the Dwarf Cherry tree. Yes I know it's not a good picture - I need photography lessons. Stella was ordered and delivered by GB. Thanks, GB! She got them from Miller's Nursery and I was surprised at what good shape it arrived in. For now, Stella gets to live in a pot. I had planned to keep this on the patio but I'm a little concerned that it'll be too big for it. I actually bought the fancy dirt for Stella. When I opened the bag of Scott's Organic Potting Soil I really did say "wow", out loud. The stuff is so dark and fluffy and I sorta wish I'd never tried it because now that's all I want to use. It costs over twice what the plain potting soil does but it is clearly way fancier. And after less than one week Stella is already showing some growth. I soaked her in a bucket of water for a few hours before I planted it. They didn't tell me to do that but it seems like something that's been shipped and dry for days outta be pretty thirsty and I think Stella liked it. See below

Daffs are coming along nicely however the Weigela behind it that I stole from the cart at HD last fall is not even close to coming back to life. It looked really healthy when I bought it so I'm just hoping it's not time yet.


This weekend I promise the following

Wintersowing update

Backyard Ideas Wrap up

ps I've requested lots of vacation time off and on between mid April and the end of May so if my boss doesn't tell me I'm on crack and shred my vacation requests, lots of greatness will be happening at MSG.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Keeping Up With My (garden blogging) Friends

From time to time I'll run across a garden blog entry on one of my regular reads that talks about how the blogger discovers how people are finding their blog. I've always been too embarrassed to say that I have no clue how to do this. Is it magic?

Because I'm just wandering around the web doing absolutely nothing productive this morning, I decided to google my blog. What I found was that some other bloggers have mentioned me in posts and I didn't even know it. I feel bad! How rude of me not to pop over and at least say hello. But I plead ignorance! I swear I didn't know!

I try really hard to keep up with all my blog reading but with the invention of Blotanical, it's almost impossible for me to read every single blog that I'd like to. Unless I can figure out a way to get paid for sitting on my ass reading gardening blogs, I have to prioritize. Organization is NOT my strong point (shocking, I know) and although it was very helpful when Carol told me about google reader, I still feel like there must be something more I can do.

I really do appreciate anybody who takes the time to read my blog. And I really do feel extremely special when somebody (gasp) mentions me on their blog. I need to find a way to keep up with this so I can thank them properly. Saying "Thank You" is one of the core values in Southern Hospitality (yes, I just made that up but it's my blog!) and I'm falling down on the job.

See, just the fact that I've mentioned Carol's name means she'll stop by and say "thanks for the plug, gina." How do you do it, Carol? Are you magic?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Have Your Way With Me: Backyard Edition

After getting so many great suggestions on what to do around the new patio, I decided to take some pictures that show all my available space in the backyard. This way, all you idea guys can really see what I'm working with. This first picture is the view as I step outside my backdoor looking straight back toward the alley. Moving over to the left you can see where my 2 raised beds are placed. It's right over there between the cedar plant stand (aquarium holder) and the table with the winter sowing containers. Yes, I know it's messy but give me a break! It's been a busy chaotic week at MSG. One thing about the 2 raised beds - they are already filled with dirt so unless you plan to come over and help me unload, move, then reload them with dirt, THEY ARE STAYING RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE!
Now moving all the way to the left we have the nice big ugly AC unit.


Now I'm standing on the basketball court looking at my back door. Over to the left is the row of 26 hedge roses, and of course the new patio.

Remember there are flower beds all along the foundation starting right next to the AC unit and they wrap all the way around the fence and the foundation of the garage. These are established beds (wow I can't believe I just said that) from last year and already have stuff planted there that I'd really hate to move.

I really love that every single one of you would probably do something completely different with this space and I'd love to see/read more of your ideas. I got so many ideas for my front yard garden last year and Carolyn even suggested the exact trees/shrubs that I could plant along my foundation. I'm now shopping for those as we speak.

My only plan so far is that a Pergola will be built the weekend of May 11th by GB, Pie Guy and me. I'm not sure if it should be attached to the house covering the whole patio (or part of it) or if it should be detached off to the side or some other idea that I haven't thought of.

I'd really love to be able to remove all the grass back here and make some "garden rooms" but I'm just having trouble seeing how I can make rooms out of a big ass square. I do have the Tamarisk and the Smoke Tree that I'd thought of planting at the corner of the patio in a partial circular bed so that it would eventually provide a little shade. And I love Arbors that lead you into a special area but I just can't figure out how I can make that happen in this space.

So there you have it. You give me the ideas and I promise to execute them the best I can.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Look Who Finally Showed Up

There are at least 3 patches of these and since I know I only planted one of them, I'm assuming the rest must be left overs from previous owners. One popped up in the section where i removed exactly 65489 day lilies, that little guy must have just been smothered.

It's been a strange weekend for me. I've been fairly productive but all weekend the You-shoulda-went-to-Austin cloud has been following me. I hate making bad decisions. It means for a long time I'll be having these thoughts floating around in my head: you should have gone, what if they never do it again? I don't deal well with thoughts like that. Fortunately I don't need to do it too much because I normally don't make bad decisions. And if I do they tend to be the "i knew that plant would be gone when I came back today!" ones. This will be even worse because come tomorrow all the garden bloggers who didnt make a bad decision will be posting all sorts of fabulous stories that only happen once in a lifetime and I'll have missed it, making me even more angry at myself for not going.

I think I'm cranky...

My Neighbor Is A Tattletale


me: "Hi Mr. Public Works Director, you left a note on my door saying you won't dispose of the shrubs that we removed from the front yard?"

mister: "Yes - your landscaper needs to dispose of them"

me: "I don't understand - you pick up stuff like this every week"

mister: "If we are informed that a landscaper is there working, we won't dispose of the stuff - the landscaper has to do it. And we got a report that a landscaper was working at your house this week.

me: "So somebody called you to tell you a landscaper was working at my house?"

mister: "We got a report that a landscaper was at your house"

me: "But I told him he didn't need to get rid of the stuff otherwise he never would have done this for me."

mister: "No, you need to call him back to dispose of it."

me: "But don't you dispose of huge Christmas trees? And you picked up the big giant ugly Juniper that I removed last year"

mister: "Yes - if you had removed these shrubs yourself we would be glad to pick them up but as I said we received a report that you had a landscaper working at your house"

me: "BUT THIS ISN'T FAIR - I DIDN'T KNOW THE RULES AND NOW HE'S GONE AND I'M LEFT WITH ALL THIS STUFF...."

I'm really kind of amazed that people have enough time to be calling the public works department to report stuff like this. Hell, I am amazed they even know all the "rules" - is there a rule book or something? In the end Mr PBW Director took pity on me and said "let me talk to my boss and see what I can do." I apologized for being a bad homeowner and said I'd never do this again and when I got home all the shrubs were gone. Take that - nosey neighbors!

In other neighbor news, my other neighbor (not the nice morning glory ladies but the one on the other side) came out while I was hauling dirt from the back to the front. She's excited that I had the nerve to remove all the shrubs. "I've been telling my kids that I want to get rid of these for years." I don't know her well at all but she's got grown kids and I'm assuming they make all the landscaping decisions. Maybe once they see how beautiful my front garden turns out, they'll let her remove her poodles too. While I had her attention I tried to explain my idea of planting ornamental grasses along the walkway between our houses. "I'm going to remove the grass on my side and plant ornamental grasses here. I won't bother the grass on your side but the grasses me spill onto your side a little when they mature." She actually gasped and looked at me like I had 3 heads. So much for that idea.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Patio Project Day 2: It's In!

Here's what I came home to after work on day 2. The pavers are in but there are still a few things that need to be finish. One is replacing the sod around the patio. You an see here that it's basically just dirt. You may remember that I said the grass is higher than the patio. The plan is to shave off the dirt and grass and then replace the sod so that it looks more even with the patio. Thomas says that, since it's been so cold for so long, his vendor hasn't been able cut the sod for sale yet. Hopefully in a week or so that'll be done. I've also asked him to adjust the area near the drain (shown in the top picture) because it's just too noticeable.
So the patio is in and it looks incredibly bare to me. I dunno - it looks like it needs a wall around it or something. What do you think?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Patio Project Day 1 Wrapped Up

Here's what the patio looked like at the end of day 1. As you can see, the area has been dug out and the gravel filled in.

Thomas called me at work when the first got started to say that, even though we'd agreed on a 16 x 18 patio, the existing one which I thought was 16 feet wide, is actually 17 feet 6 inches wide. So, I decided to go ahead and make the patio 18 x 18. That night, Thomas called to go over all the challenges they'd run into. Like the one below where the drain was destroyed when they were removing the old concrete.

Also, the walkway is uneven so they are going to need to do some fancy grading so that I won't fall and crack my head open while walking from the patio to the walkway. From what I understand, the patio will need to be slanted slightly toward the drain and the runoff will be directed into the drain. This will allow them to make the two surfaces even.

The other problem was that the grass on the far end of the patio is actually higher than the walkway. To fix that, they'll need to shave off the surface of the grass and then place the sod back on top so that it's even with the patio surface. See what I mean about being glad that I didn't attempt to install this myself? What a pain in the butt!

So, day 1 was extremely productive and all that remains is to come back to install the pavers.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make 1 day into 3. Sorry for dragging this out for so long but I did not want to make the day 1 post into such a long one that even I wouldn't want to read it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Patio Project Day 1: For Carolyn and Carol

BeforeAfter

The more I look at this picture, the more my house starts to look like a double-wide trailer on blocks. Now that the big ugly shrubs are gone, the space under the windows just looks plain awkward. I had planned to build a window box for the center window and although I'm sure that will help some, I don't think it will solve this problem. Anybody got any suggestions?




I don't think my neighbors are going to be too happy about me yanking out these mature shrubs and when they question me about I'm going to tell them that my landscape consultants Carolyn and Carol told me to do it. Still, I am thrilled to have these things gone. Now I have a blank slate to start from.

Thomas called me in the late afternoon after I'd had a chance to get home to take a look. I almost got the feeling he was calling to make sure I wasn't sitting in my front yard crying and regretting my decision to remove these shrubs. He also updated me on the patio situation in the backyard. I will spare you the details for now but after I spoke to him I was very glad that I hadn't decided to install the pavers myself.
Isn't this exciting?

Patio Project Day 1

MSG welcomes Thomas Landscaping!

If you've been following the patio story I'm pleased to finally get this sucker going. I decided NOT to do this work myself because I had a 10 x 16 area of concrete to remove and I could see this turning into a project that takes the entire summer, causing me to need to take sick days off work (back aches and random injuries) and possibly destroying my relationship from the mess of it all. Besides, I felt the price was very fair and since this Thomas is being contracted from HD, this means I can put the project on my HD credit card and I'll have a year to pay it off before they charge me interest. This is a great option for me and one that I've used successfully before.


Thomas, of Thomas Landscaping, was also at the Chicagoland Flower and Garden Show so I was able to meet him and see some of his work before he ever came out to give me the estimate. Very friendly guy, fair price and good communication (this is important to me). I was really surprised to learn that they will finish the project in 1-2 days, weather permitting. Did I mention that they are going to yank out the poodles in the front yard? I know that's going to scare me when I first see it because it'll look totally blank, but I just can't look at those things any longer.


Here's the (very messy) patio before picture. I can't wait to see the after.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Seedling Update

Himalayan Blue Poppy seedlings below. This is NOT an April Fools Joke - I swear they are growing!
Tomato's above started from seeds weeks ago - they look sickly. Somebody call the tomato doctor!

Tomato's below look great and were started much later. If you know how to save these sickly tomatoes, please tell me right away so I can get to savin. If they are perfectly fine and I'm worrying for nothing then tell me that too, so I can quit stressin.

The last 2 photos are purely for cuteness. I just love the lupine seedling in the one below.

This last seeding is Lady's Mantle. I love the way each leaf looks like a cartoon tulip