Monday, May 20, 2013

Landscaping our hearts out (thanks Mom!)

Thanks so much, everyone, for sending such warm thoughts about my grandfather. I thought a nice way to honor him here might be to share the love that his daughter - my amazing mom - puts into everything she does and everyone she loves. We've been so lucky to benefit from her green thumb and zeal for gardening here in DC, something for which we have my grandfather to thank.

A refresher, then. When we moved in two years ago, our yard was... a dud. And six months later, it was still a dud. We had the space to do something, but weren't at all sure what to do. And since our efforts were focused on some major projects indoors anyway, we were happy to let it be.

A year and a half ago:

Late last summer, we hosted my parents for a weekend of brainstorming and space-planning. We talked about how to salvage (or not) the ugly yew hedges that border our side yard, how to make our side yard more inviting, and how to maximize the space without making it too linear. They came back in October for a H-U-G-E planting weekend, all under the eye of our visionary commander-in-chief, my mom. We decided to rip out two of the worst yews to create more breathing room in the border, to weed our butts off and mulch the hell out of the side yard (I think we put down 30 bags that weekend), to define true planting beds for the first time, to plant some large, pretty things that would be dormant until spring (lots of peonies and hydrangeas), and add some great fall color, too.

My parents came back in late April to implement Phase 2 of our plan. Thankfully, everything we put in the ground in October lasted through the winter beautifully, and we were starting to see some real growth with the warmer temperatures. This time they pulled up in the BusyBee (nickname for my mom's car - long story) with a few more large plants, spring and summer color, and lots more classic "Mom" yard touches. Our big goals were to refine our space-planning now that our little plants were big plants, define edges, switch out cold-weather color for warm-weather color, and develop a path for the side yard. About a month after their visit, I'm pretty thrilled with our results. And to know that the color out there will just continue to intensify (the peonies are just beginning! the hydrangeas are coming!)... we are giddy.

Our front yard today:

(Hi E!)

Aaand... color! (Only two of our five peony bushes have bloomed so far... I cannot WAIT to see them all!)

(apologies for the ADT photobomb)


Here's our fantastic side yard. Keep in mind that most of these large plants haven't yet bloomed,  so as it gets warmer we'll have color there, too. Because our side yard is so shady we chose hydrangeas - blue, white, pink, green, and ivory lacecaps, too. The stepping stones are sandstone, and we've dotted the pathway with white star creepers, a groundcover that will slowly spread and turn our entire pathway green. As you look at these photos imagine a swath of green cutting through the mulch in between the stones - that'll be our path before too much time has passed!

(looking back to the front of the house)

And that's that! I'll be back with peony and hydrangea updates soon, so stay tuned. My Instagram feed is pretty much going to become a flowerfest for a while, so prepare yourself!

And I really do have to give another HUGE thanks for my parents for being the vision, the brains, and half the muscle. We could NOT have done it without you!


  1. Looks FABULOUS!

    And I do hope the BusyBee is somehow a reference to my favorite Parker Posey character of all time :)

  2. Love it! Can't wait to see that groundcover fill in around the stepping stones.

  3. I love it! The front yard is so colorful and happy and the side yard looks like such a peaceful little hideaway. It's going to be amazing when the hydrangeas bloom! I'm looking forward to the virtual tour via Insagram. :)

  4. It looks gorgeous! Does you mama want to make a detour into East Tennessee to plan my yard?

  5. Gorgeous! I'm totally stealing some of your mom's ideas. I spent hours yesterday excavating rogue daffodil bulbs from our side yard (Eleanor helped.) As a side note, we were sitting on the couch last night and Michael wiped a little yard dirt off my ear that I had missed, and it made me so happy. It's truly amazing how cathartic digging in the dirt can be.

  6. I enjoyed every moment of working in your yard and the time it meant we could enjoy being with you. When I am up to my elbows in dirt, I am one happy momma. This year the yard is going to be very nice. Next year, with ground cover, set in stones, fuller hostas and hydrangeas, (plus of few tweaks I can envision), it is going to be FABULOUS.

  7. Love it! Seeing all these colors reminds me how much we need to add some color to our own yard.


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