Restoring an Old Farmhouse – Porch Garden

Fixing up this old farmhouse has taken energy, time, and a bit of money; however, it has been rewarding. One of the areas in which we worked early on was the porch garden. We had taken recycled bricks from the chimney we took out in the kitchen and reused it in the area. Later on, when we created a small garden around the house using existing plants, potted plants, and white marble chips, we realized that we needed to make the area blend with the rest. The garden around the house is completed now. We moved around and relocated some potted plants. We positioned the concrete bench that was on the porch to the left side of the garden, just to match the right side of the garden. It worked out well. One more project off the long list.

A bit of background for readers new to this blog. The old farmhouse was in very bad shape when we bought it. It had been abandoned for many years and weather/time/renters/squatters had been rough on it. The value was on the land. By just looking at the derelict home we knew that anything we were to do from that point on would be an improvement. That has been a goal, to improve and add value over time.

BEFORE

A very scary view of the porch when we bought the farmhouse. There was no garden area, and everything had to be fixed up, everything. With much love and patience, my husband and I have been doing all the work. I have been writing about the quest on this blog. To read on the progress so far, you can visit my blog posts under Restoring a farmhouse or Restoring a garden.

AFTER

The brick area before.

We reused some of the bricks on the latest garden area we created that is located next to the faerie garden. We will be reusing the chimney bricks on another project.

I hope you enjoy the post.

Love and light.

In all Her Glory

One of the most pleasing sights around here is when this rescued climbing rose blooms. It is the beauty that we almost missed because it was buried under overgrown grass and weeds. I just adore it. Sometimes, beauty is hidden deep; however, it is always there.

Love and light.

Garden of Dreams

Everybody needs … places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength …

John Muir

When we purchased this derelict farmhouse, there was no garden, only a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and weeds, some of them inside the siding, covering the house, and even inside it. Little by little, we uncovered the place, and one step at a time, we set out to create a garden. As we uncovered areas, we found a hidden driveway, some existing plants that we kept and revived, and other areas of interest, such as a sitting area delineated by a cemented circle shape. One area at a time, we set out to clean, separate, and plan what we could do using existing or recycled materials, and some new.

Eventually, it started to feel and look like a garden. We added a few new plants and propagated other existing plants. Today, we are at a point where the place feels manageable, and we plan to create new garden areas. Our goal is to create at least one new area every year or add new plants to an existing area. So far, we have created a garden around the perimeter of the house, a veggie garden, a faerie garden where there is a large section covered with moss, a small front garden at the entrance, which is still in the works, two small areas next to the house, a sitting area, and recently, a small garden next to it. We have added four new trees which we obtained for free (a small $10 donation) through the Arbor Foundation, and these are doing very well. We planted five but one did not make it. Originally, they sent 10 dormant trees (these look like brown sticks); we planted five and gave the rest to my sister.

I’ve loved gardens since I can remember. I especially loved my grandmother’s garden, and as a little girl I enjoyed it. Although it was a small garden, at that age, to me it felt as a huge garden, my own world. Sadly, this garden does not exist anymore. It was replaced by hideous cement. My favorite garden style is an English garden, and I would love to recreate that style on this property. My husband favors more symmetrical and delineated gardens, which I dislike, so we compromise a bit. He also dislikes climbers, which I love. I have a list of dreamy plants that I would like to see growing in the garden. Some are already part of it. The list is in no particular planting or planning order; just what I love.

  • Iris – There was an existing light purple variety growing here, which we uncovered and propagated. I brought a deeper shade of purple from my garden in Jersey.
  • Gladiolas – My sister gave me some from her garden, and these are doing very well.
  • Hen and chicks – These have propagated well, and I brought them from my garden in Jersey.
  • Weeping blue spruce – wish list
  • Holy tree – We uncovered two existing varieties, one in the new garden area, which we uncovered amongst overgrown bushes, and another one in the wooded area at the back of the house.
  • Jasmine – wish list
  • Camelia – wish list
  • Magnolia – wish list, but it tends to grow very large, so I am not too sure about adding it.
  • Snapdragon – planted some from seed.
  • Gardenia – wish list
  • Clematis – wish list
  • Wisteria – wish list
  • Butterfly bush – wish list
  • Tulips – wish list
  • Giant Hosta – We added a few hostas and three blue hostas.
  • Sunflowers – We added them from seed, but did not come back, as the birds ate all the seeds.
  • Yarrow – Found in property.
  • Daphodils – wish list
  • Poppy – wish list. Planted seeds but did not grow.
  • Black Eye Susan – wish list
  • Forget me nots – wish list
  • Hyacinth – wish list
  • Crocus – wish list
  • Roses – Planted a small bush that died. Just bought two mini rose bushes that will go in the front porch area when we redo that area.
  • Ferns – found in property along with wild violet and I potted it.
  • Clover – Tons of clover grow here. I would rather have Clover than grass.
  • Lavender – wish list, have proven hard to grow, but I have a small English Lavender plant in a pot, but it has been a challenge to grow elsewhere.
  • English Ivy – I have three plants growing in pots by the faerie garden and side entrance.
  • Bleeding heart – wish list
  • Daisy – wish list
  • Lillies – Existing near the porch, some of which we propagated in the faerie garden. I planted a Tiger Lilly by the side entrance.
  • Calla lilies – My sister gave me a few from her garden. We have them in pots for now, and they come up every year; eventually, we will propagate these.
  • Zinnias and Foxglove – By seed
  • Forsythia – We have a small existing bush that we revived and trimmed. It tends to flower in December for some reason, and by the time Spring arrives, it is done with its flowers.
  • Peony – wish list
  • Dwarf Boxwood – Existing, and we uncovered and revived these two bushes by the porch steps. At one point, I thought these would not make it because these were in very bad shape.
  • Hydrangea – Existing. We have a lovely Blue Hydrangea that we trimmed and is doing beautifully.
  • Climbing rose – We uncovered a tiny rose bush, and it has grown beautifully. It was covered by overgrown vegetation, and we almost missed it.
  • Morning Glory – Just started growing two + plants (by seed) in pots by the side entrance steps. My goal is for them to climb and wrap themselves around the banister and handrail.

There are many cedars, pine, and oak varieties around here, and some lovely trees that I have no idea what they are. I am sure that I can come up with more dreamy plants, but for now, these are the ones that I would love to see growing in the garden. I enjoyed many of these plants in my previous garden and I truly miss them. I would like to add the plants on this list throughout the years, and at least a small water feature. I will share some of these projects on this blog.

To view some of the before and after pictures of the garden you can visit my posts under Restoring a Garden or Fixing an Old Farmhouse. Here are a few pictures.

Existing lovely very fragrant plant that I have no idea what it is.
The lovely blue hydrangea, our inspiration for the paint color.
Iris
Tiger lily
Calla lily
Pink Calla lily, Hosta, and Boxwood.
Once upon a time, there was a derelict farmhouse without a garden … to be continued.

Keeping a Garden Journal

Photo by M.A.D.

One practice that I did not think I would take on was keeping a journal for gardening. I did not think I needed to keep track of plants or make notations about it. The practice started out of necessity. The first year I started a veggie garden, many things did not take or survive. I was puzzled because I never had a problem growing flowers and had a healthy garden in Jersey near the beach, a challenging soil. I assumed growing veggies from seed was challenging, but also found out that the crazy changing on and off weather here in Southern Virginia had a lot to do with it. I decided to start a journal to track what I did, and the results. By doing this I identified many things I could do differently and others that did not work, but also, things I could improve on. The second year was much better. I was pleased and decided to keep the practice for a few more years.

This little garden journal has evolved quite a bit from where it started. Today it serves more than one purpose. It helps me plan the next year garden, holds sketches for garden projects, and other things garden related. I carry checklists that represent garden goals for the year, materials needed, and the goals that were not accomplished by the end of the gardening season will go on next year’s list. Something so simple ended up being an important resource for me. It has also become a very enjoyable pastime.

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:11

Simple Beauty

The simple and pure beauty of flowers. A few pictures of what’s in bloom right now.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D. I have no clue what this plant is, but I like it. If anyone knows please let me know in the comments. It started as one and it keeps fanning out.
Photo by M.A.D.
Even the recently trimmed old tree is starting to show signs of life. It was trimmed about a month ago. (Photo by M.A.D.)
The grape vine is growing beautifully. The idea is for it to wrap around the veggie garden. (Photo by M.A.D.)
My favorite shade of blue (Photo by M.A.D.)

Love and Light.

Garden Bliss

I love this time of the year. The beginning of Spring, when bugs are still half asleep, and the garden is awakening. The temperatures are a bit cool enough to enjoy preparing the garden for the rest of the year. That is what we have been working on, setting up the garden. Cleaning up winter’s memories and hoping for a good gardening year. Last year we had a drought, and everything looked sad and dry. I am hoping for plenty of rain.

We cleaned up around the garden and added a new flag. Heavy winds and ice destroyed the other one. The first blooms are here.

We cleaned up the veggie garden. Had to discard one of the large boxes; it broke on the sides. A layer of fresh mulch was applied, and containers were moved around to make room for new planting boxes. My husband made veggie markers, and I am hoping to plant much more. Despite the ice and crazy weather, lettuce came back from last year. Two full containers, so I will not have to plant lettuce this year. It survived the frost.

I started two new areas in the garden this year. These are a work in progress right now. One is at the very front of the property, and the other area is next to the faerie garden. This area is covered by lush green moss in the spring, which I love, and the only thing I have been able to plant here are hostas; it is a shady area. We try to add to the garden something new every year. Little by little this garden has been transformed from the original mess of weeds and overgrown bushes to something more delightful. You can see the progress on the Restoring a Farmhouse series of posts.

The garden as it was. This was the entrance to the property.
What we started with when we purchased the old farmhouse. First time working on the garden. What a lovely mess!

I am very happy because a small garden center opened in our area, and now we will not have to drive that far to purchase plants or gardening material. After all that hard work, our reward was my delicious version of Fiesta Rice.

I hope you enjoy this post. Love and light.

Farmhouse Project – The Large Tree

In a previous post – Twelve Future Farmhouse Projects – I mentioned the need to tackle the very old and large tree that is dangerously close to the side entrance of the house. I loved this tree, but it was not looking good (sick), and with the strong winds and storms that sometimes make their way around here, it posed a risk, so we decided to eliminate the danger. I was sad to see most of it gone, and truly felt sorry for it; I guess I had developed an attachment to the tree, “feelings” for it. Due to the cost of cutting down a very large tree, we decided to go for a complete trim of the branches. It looks like at one-point, previous owners might have done the same. The company we hired (Southside Stump Grinding, with the crew of Cut It Rite), did a great job and left everything clean. We will be calling them back for the next tree project. It was nice to experience again good old customer service. They were punctual, fair in pricing, neat, careful, friendly, respectful of property, did what they promised, and had excellent communication throughout the process. Caleb Milam, owner, was on top of everything from the beginning. But going back to the old tree, I have to say that I miss it. One of the crew members said that it was a very old tree. The trunk is very thick, maybe like two and a half of me, and it remains, along with very thick branches, that eventually, we will cut down. For now, we have peace of mind, and that was the goal. I will enjoy what is left of this old giant, and who knows, maybe will cover it in pretty solar lights. It looks like a giant hand coming out of the ground.

The tree before. These branches did not look so thin once they were on the ground. The crew arrived at around 9 am. and worked straight through until around past 2 pm. It was a lot of work, especially because they had to be mindful of the house, the well, and the electricity cables on two sides.
You can actually peel off the bark, and there is moss growing in many areas.
Many branches starting to rot and break in some areas. Here you can see where the previous cuts were done on this tree.
This area at the bottom of the trunk (left) was what let me know it was now the time to do something. I have been watching that part of the tree separate more and more until it broke off. I guess it is part of a root.
And now it doesn’t pose any risk. I can see ivy fairy lights adorning it.

Another project crossed off the list. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Ladies in the Garden

I have been in awe over the last couple of days admiring these ladies (and gentlemen) in my garden. I had been telling my husband that this year I have not seen as many butterflies as other years past. It must be that everything has been so dry from the lack of rain, only a few showers here and there, but no significant amount. Other areas close by have enjoyed more showers. The flowers have withered, some that were ready to bloom as well, and the veggies are growing slow – no tomatoes yet; only four cucumbers made it to the table along with a few leaves of lettuce. If anything, we will have a late harvest. We have been watering every other day, but it does not seem to be enough. Just when my gardening enthusiasm was fading a bit, we were blessed with a couple of short heavy showers overnight, and also the butterflies have been visiting the only source of nectar that has been doing good around here during the season.

Absolutely gorgeous in her lovely attire.
Perfect color combinations and patterns.
Another one of God’s lovely creatures.
This one is similar to the other one but with one less row of color on the wings; a bit of a different pattern.
Thanks to this bush, they’ll have plenty to eat until early fall.

I am grateful that I can enjoy watching them, their beauty, and share it with you here. I hope you enjoy this post.

A Few Garden Projects

Sometimes, ideas come to mind unexpectedly, and that is how a project is born. I saw a few pieces of wood that my husband had destined for the garbage and I decided to do something with those pieces. I had all the necessary materials at hand, so why not? One thing that came to mind was the UPS/FedEx truck passing our house, and turning back, and sometimes, back and forth, trying to find the address. For some reason, the navigation system does not point to the exact location; always further away. The house is set far back, so it is easy to miss. So I decided to help them a bit by making a house number sign with the leftover wood. I wanted a bit of a yesteryear look. This is what I came up with.

Materials – leftover wood, nails, and paint. The horse is one of my husband’s rejects ( he makes wooden toys …), and I thought it was the perfect thing to add.
I decided to spruce up the veggie garden. I made a cross with the rest of the wood, and added a homemade banner made from vintage fabrics and antique clothespins.

In the meantime, my husband was reconsidering his previous trail sign, scrapping it, and making another sign.

He likes this style better, and so do I.

What happened to the other sign? I placed it on the veggie garden. Unfortunately, the plants are not growing as fast this year because of the heat and lack of rain, even when alternating watering. Even the lettuce is not producing as well as last year. The peas dried up and died.

The red box is in need of painting already; probably next year.
This onion plant is like a piece of art – a sculpture.

These projects gave me the time to reminisce, and enjoy the work.

BEFORE – Sometimes one has to look way beyond the scrapping wood.
AFTER – We have come a long way from when we started; small steps make a difference.

I hope you enjoy this farmhouse project. Next project will be the rebellious hydrant. Parts are on order; who knew that Universal fit is not really Universal?

Of Critters and Paint

Nature never disappoints. I was able to capture a few images of some visitors. It has been hot and dry around here, the garden is growing slowly, even lettuce is taking its time. I do what I can to provide these visitors with some comfort, a birdbath always filled, small plates of water for ground critters, and areas in the garden for them to enjoy shade. Here are a few of the visitors.

I am not sure what kind of bird it is, but the colors are beautiful, and it is a larger size, larger than a Robin. The first time I see this bird around.
Bunnies have not been around as much as other years, neither do turtles, or snakes. I am not sure why.
Crows, Ravens, are a plenty around here.
BEFORE -The wood around the garden was in need of painting. I had leftover paint, so it was a quick an easy job, under an hour. We have been painting what needs to be, keeping up with time.
AFTER – The wood is shiny and bright again, at least for a couple of years. $$$Tip – If you want to save on garden wood/logs look at discounted wood, usually found on pallets around the garden section in home improvement stores, or the rough cuts in mills. This is how we did the entire perimeter of the house. Once you paint or stain it, the wood will look great and will last long.

Next project will have to be one that just popped up – fixing the hydrant, which has been leaking, unbeknownst to us. It requires digging, so it will be a learn as you go project. Hope you enjoyed this post.

Happy 4th of July to all who celebrate it!

Pledge of Allegiance