Farmhouse Garden Project

I know that there are things on our To Do List that should have priority, but sometimes, we cannot help it and an idea just hits one of us and we both run with it. This little garden project was born in my head while sitting on the porch as my husband was talking about things he would like to do around the future rain garden. He liked the proposed change and we went with it. One of the front bushes was looking sad despite many attempts to make it become more full. It wasn’t working. It was one of the original bushes we uncovered and tried to make healthier. Here is a picture of it.

It is the bush on the far left.

After trimming it very low to the ground to force it to fill up a bit, it did not do that, so we decided this year to remove it and move one of the stone benches on the porch to that area. Here is the result. We like it better that way. We thought it would be a difficult task to removed it, but to our surprise, it was very loose and came out easily. Maybe this was the reason for it to look a bit unhealthy.

The small boxwood by the bird fountain is still recovering from the large branch that fell on top of it during the ice storm.

Once you start you just keep moving, so my husband decided that he wanted to try something – moving the porch hanging solar light to one of the entrances that he is cleaning up to continue a few short trails. I had thought about moving the solar light somewhere else but was not sure where, so that worked out.

Here is my other half working on his idea.
The solar lights are hanging from the branch he attached between two young trees.
We had to wait until twilight to see the result. The mason jar lights twinkle so it was hard to take a picture. I can see them through the kitchen window as I do dishes. Eventually all three entrances will have solar lights.

From there it was natural to move to something else, so I decided to make a little habitat for garden critters at the Faerie garden. I repurposed an old table stand and used it as a small trellis for an ivy, and under it I placed one of the chimney halves I had found before. As the ivy grows and becomes fuller it will turn into a cozy retreat for critters.

The idea is for the ivy to cover the entire structure and for garden critters to use it as a home.

As the garden wakes up, we keep helping it look better every year. This section is looking better after tending it with hope, working with the existing area, and adding a few things.

More irises have grown. Once the irises die, pink flowers come up, and after those, white ones, followed by tiny yellow ones. There is something blooming always. Originally, this area was an old trunk under grass and overgrown bushes. It has come a long way.

All seeds have been planted on the veggie garden area, and they are coming up. The seeds for the flower circle are planted as well, and hopefully, we will be able to clear an area in the back for planting cantaloupe, corn, and pumpkins, and sunflowers. That part requires a bit more work. As the garden grows and changes we also grow and change with it.

Impromptu Farmhouse Project

This project was not in our radar, but we spotted a lovely tree with gorgeous white flowers, which seemed to be thriving in the back area of the house. My husband decided to try and free it from the bushes, grass, and other small trees that were suffocating it. That was all it took for us to continue the effort along a small area, working on freeing other evergreens, mostly cedar that are growing close together. So we did. Some smaller trees that were growing next to one another had to be eliminated, but this freed up growing space for the ones we kept. It was a joint effort; while my husband cut the trees, I removed the debris and piled it up with the rest of the dead branches that need removing, and I cleared the area with a rake. The area looks much better now. We are planning on hanging solar lights on the two entrances. We also think that it would be nice to add a bench and some flower pots in the future. For now, we will continue to work on the remainder part of the area. Here are some pictures of this unscheduled project.

One of the little cedars we decided to save. The back area is full of overgrown vegetation.
Most of it looks like this, one tree on top of another.
The white-flower tree has been freed, and a few cedars as well.
Other cedars and another white-flower tree are asking for help, and we’ll freed them too.

After that, we have been preparing the garden for planting, and cleaning up winter’s vestige. As soon as the weather permits and the temperature remains a bit warmer, work on the veggie garden will begin. We are still having some nights in the low 30F.

The veggie garden got a refresh, and the pots/boxes were filled with extra soil. It is ready for planting.
I worked on setting up this area last year, and I am seeing the results now; unfortunately, this is one of the giant cedars that will have to be cut down, after the ice storm damage.
Spring Moth Worms are starting to show up.
The shed got a light layer of mulch as well. Because we use pine needles from the property in the winter, it cuts down on how much mulch we need to use when it needs it. The plants in the pots keep coming back every year, so this area is almost effortless now. Eventually, much of the area will become almost effortless.
While cleaning up the back area we found part of a chimney top that was split in two parts. I decided to place these in the faerie garden as shelter for critters, whether frogs or whatever decides to visit.

Despite our ongoing project list, we never know what new project will show up on the side. It is always fun and never boring. Our goal is to get to a point were most areas are set up and become almost effortless to maintain, that is, considering the mess we started with when we bought the place (see Restoring an Old Farmhouse series of posts). I hope that you enjoyed reading about this project.

A Day of Farmhouse Chores

My latest post was about The Christmas Tree Project which we did last Saturday. While we were waiting for the moment it lighted up we had many autumn chores to do, and it translated on time going so fast that we hardly noticed the long wait until sunset. Around here, autumn means tons of cleaning up before winter or the first snow, prepping certain areas, and getting ready for future chores during early spring, so I figured I would share some of those.

Cutting the grass and blowing out leaves usually takes my husband the whole day. Once he is done, he sees another thin layer of fresh leaves that has just fallen. It is the never ending autumn story, but they look gorgeous when the entire grass is covered and one sees the many colors of the leaves on the ground, like a multicolor carpet.

Blowing out leaves and cutting the grass for the last time before winter takes priority. This is the fifth time for leaf blowing.
While Eddie took care of the grass and leaves, I took care of cleaning up the veggie garden, and collecting pine needles. I do this after I pick the last of the veggies and before the first snow.
Leaves are picked up, broken things go in the garbage, pots are emptied, collected and stacked in one area, large containers are cleaned up by removing dead and dried up plants, stakes are collected and placed in one area, and the remainder thin layer of mulch gets a refresher by using the collected pine needles. It prevents the cover underneath from breaking off. Overall, it gets a good cleaning.
After everything is done it looks like this.
After the veggie garden is done, the remainder of the pine needles is used as mulch for some trees. It protects them in the winter, and also looks neat. We are lucky to have cinnamon color pine needles from two pine trees in the property. They do put out a ton of them. Also it saves us money as we don’t have to buy too many bags of mulch. Bagged cinnamon pine needles are expensive, so I am very grateful to have them available here. A box of pine needles that might cover 240 sf will cost about $135 dollars.
While cleaning up the rest of the garden and removing a few weeds, I find expected seasonal gifts, such as the changing of the leaves on this shrub and the beautiful berries it puts out every year. This is one of the trees we uncovered and saved when we first started bringing life back into this garden. It will become an orange-red color. During the spring, it turns back to green and instead of berries it puts out cluster of sprigs with tiny flowers.
While cleaning up the garden, I also found the unseasonably unexpected – new flowers on the forsythia bush and a few buds. Is this a sign of a mild winter ahead? Last year, we had a mild winter and this bush flourished very early.

By the time we had our lunch break, and finally, we were both done with our chores, it had become dark and our reward was awaiting to be enjoyed.

The Long Lost Garden

I love flowers and all kinds of plants. Maybe because I have strong memories of my grandmother’s garden when I was a kid. The garden was not large, but it seemed huge to a 4 year old. I felt at ease in it, lost in time in it. Eventually, the garden was eliminated and concrete took its place. The magic was gone.

My favorite style of garden is the English garden. It is wild and free, and at the same time contained by itself. I always thought that an English garden had soul. I dislike manicured gardens that are too planned, symmetrical, and rigid. Where’s the life in that? When we purchased this old house, it had been abandoned for 3-4 years, neglected by previous renters, and the owners where out of state, the heirs to a woman who loved her garden. People who grew up in the neighborhood and knew her, tell me about her love for flowers and plants, and how she used to walk through her garden, admiring it. I am told she was a very tall woman, and neighbors were used to seeing her walk regal amongst her plants. Unfortunately, she fell on an icy day, and never quite recovered. Her beloved home became a rental, and no one took care of her garden the way she did. Eventually, the house fell in disrepair and ended up a dilapidated farmhouse waiting to be demolished, either by time or by people. That is, until we found it and resurrected its soul. This post is about its garden, and about uncovering and working with existing areas in an effort to use the not so obvious/the hard to see potential, and saving money in the process.

The house and premises were covered in overgrown vegetation, and the preexisting garden, if any at that point, was gone. There were a few plantings in bad shape. Unable to move right away, we took short trips to start clearing up the overgrown vegetation, and once under control, hired someone to cut the grass regularly so it wouldn’t grow too wild again. The house sat for another five years until we moved, for a total of eight years. As we cleared the morass of bushes and trees, we got an idea of what could be salvaged and what had to be removed. It was a long process that continues until today, mostly because we are doing it ourselves. Three very large trees remain, two dead trees and one very large near the house. It is diseased and requires professional handling as well as the other two. That will be next on the agenda.

Few plants remained of the original garden. An overgrown hydrangea in bad shape, a tiny rose bush buried in weeds, two dwarf boxwoods that we thought were gone for good but made it. A Rose of Sharon bush that we were able to save, a large bush of ornamental grass, and existing pine trees. We were able to free a forsythia that was growing wild under the siding and spread out high over the porch. Remnants of irises and other small plants were found thriving under bushes and all kinds of weeds. We transplanted those to other areas, hoping for the best. They took to their new area beautifully, almost as if grateful for being freed. Little by little we found bits and pieces of what once was a woman’s beloved garden.

When I think about it, it was a lot of work, hard work. Our neighbors cannot believe the transformation. One neighbor told us that he thought the house was eventually going to be torn down or fall on its foundation. Many people have come to see the house, a house they lived in at one point, played in, or visited. They all approve of the respectful changes, and they all agree that the woman who loved her garden so much would approve of it as well. I am glad they feel that way. It means that we are accomplishing what we set out to do. On this post, I will share some before and after pictures.

Entrance to the house then, and entrance today.

 

One of our latest projects was to add marble chips around the house to prevent weeds from growing. This area was covered in weeds and bushes. All the plantings were existing or transplanted from another area when found. The rose bush has grown healthy and has required a trellis.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Here you can see the forsythia that we cut to shape and trimmed. It seems happy now. All the potted plants have been added or transplanted.

These are the same areas before. On first arrival and after clearing some of the vegetation.

 

The foundation to the house is an original rock foundation, which has been supported with cinder blocks over time. We cleared out the weeds, painted, fixed the crawl space doors, and placed marble chips and potted plants around it. We also added solar lights, and rocks that we collected around the property.

This is a before picture, when we cleared out some of the weeds and grass.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

This is the same area now. Here you can see the trimmed Hydrangea bush and existing irises. The pine tree in this picture was found as a tiny (2 inches) planting that I thought looked interesting enough, and I potted it. It turned out to be this beautiful pine (cedar) tree. Eventually, we will cover the exposed cinder blocks with cement and repaint the area. On this picture you can see the original stone foundation. One thing we made sure to do before buying the place was to hire an inspector to make sure the foundation and structure were in good shape. Those were fine.

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Photo by M.A.D.

The marble chips were placed all around the house. Here you can see two existing bushes that we were able to save, after trimming them, and also one of the dwarf boxwood trees behind the bird bath. This boxwood was almost dead and it has come back slowly. The lily is also an existing plant. We added all the large stones found around the property. The Hostas and Hen and chicks plants are new, and added to the area. These were brought from my garden in Jersey. All the statues are recycled from my previous home in Jersey, and so is the bird bath.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Here you can see the other dwarf boxwood and other recycled plants.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Here are some pictures of the same areas before. The dwarf boxwood looks brown and dying.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

A before view of the same steps where you can see the boxwood better.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

This is the side entrance area. There were no plantings, only weeds. This area was challenging to work with.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Same area as it is today. New plantings have been added to the area, as well as recycled. All pots in the garden are recycled.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

We worked with some existing areas by keeping some of the plantings, and adding stones and new or transplanted plants. Here is one of those areas before.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Same area as it is today. The only existing planting was the bush in the center, The rest was transplanted from other areas of the property. This area blooms throughout the year. In early spring the irises bloom first, followed by the lambs ear, and later in the summer other plantings bloom. A solar light and a couple of statues and rocks dogged around the property were added.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

This area is directly under the giant cedar tree. It is one of the oldest trees around the house, and possibly older than the house, as I am told. We cleared/cleaned the area and added existing plantings around the tree. Red mulch was added as well.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

The giant cedar before. Today, it looks healthier.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Other existing areas that we were able to save. Before, after clearing the area a bit and cutting the grass.

Same area as it is today.

 

I have mentioned the faerie garden on a separate blog post, and it is one area in which we added much to it while working with existing elements. The area before and after.

 

There are a few new areas, and that includes the veggie garden which was not there, and what I call the circle of flowers. Pictures of this area before. Today, the circle of flowers is where the overgrown bushes are, and the veggie garden a few feet right behind.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

The veggie garden

 

I created the circle of flowers because I wanted an area full of color, where I could pick some flowers to bring inside. It started with clearing out a circle where old stumps remained, and placing some stones we collected around the property. We planted some seeds, and many of them continue to grow and bloom today. Next to it, we created another circle (still needs the stones around) where we planted sunflowers. They have not bloom yet, but soon they will. As of today, they are a lot taller.

 

This concludes the outdoor changes so far,  although there are many other plans. We created areas around the home, and separate, individual new areas. Instead of tearing everything down, we worked with existing areas that had potential, by first uncovering them, salvaging some plants, and adding to these areas.

Little me in my grandmother’s garden. Hope you enjoyed this post.

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Photo by M.A.D.