Monday, October 31, 2022

Cottage Landscape: One Year Later

Hey, readers, if you like a good before and after, and/or are a garden enthusiast, today's post is for you. It's a bit detailed, so I understand if it makes some of your eyes glaze over. 

Today I'm taking a look back on where our landscape was when we moved into this cottage home in early October 2021, and recapping the landscape transformation since. Here it is in a nutshell:

Yea, that collage above sums up an entire year of time, money, love, hope, delight, frustration, and renewed hope. An almost 100 year old pin oak tree hovered over our home in a most precarious way when we bought this house in 2021.
Not only that, but overgrown boxwoods were smothering the front entry of the home which, let's face it, wasn't a house big enough for all the landscape surrounding it (and overshadowing it, as the tree did, below). 
So we had the tree taken down, and transplanted the boxwoods as a border on the corner of the property (10-28-21 and 11-8-21, respectively, as pictured in the collage in the lead photo). By May, 2022, we had to remove one transplanted boxwood that suffered winter burn in late March. 

July was a record month of rain for us (over 10"), and I lost another boxwood on that border which, apparently, had its transplant hole dug too deep. The plant suffered root rot by literally sitting in a puddle of water that had run off the slight slope and never drained properly. 

September is a great month to grow grass, right? We had all the boxwoods ripped out and did just that.
I was pretty sure neighbors thought I was nuts, taking pictures of my grass growing. But, as you can see, even from October 12 (the first time the new grass was cut) to October 28 (lead photo), the grass is looking pretty good. Renewed hope.

Those boxwoods and grass on the corner weren't the only changes made in September and October. I had the baptisia dug up from the front area of the house (see collage below), and planted grass there too. They always bothered me by their placement in the landscape, but I loved the plants.
I had the baptisia transplanted to the north side of the garden (previously a shade garden). Below, you can see the transplanted baptisia in the lower frame of the collage where the straight arrows are pointing. The squiggly arrow in the top frame is where two volunteers sprung up (a delight!) in the same location - a crepe myrtle and weigela. The bottom frame shows where the two were divided. Only the weigela was dug up and transplanted; the crepe myrtle stayed where it was. I also pulled out most of the sensitive fern and much of the lily-of-the-valley that had randomly sprung up, as described in my spring update, and later in my mid-summer update. More grass was sown to connect this portion of the garden.
The soil where plants were pulled, transplanted, and grass was sown was amended with a 50/50 mixture of compost and top soil (crappy top soil, I might add, much to my frustration). Rather than rely on the landscapers to provide the grass seed this time, I used Scotts ezseed®. I was not happy with the seed used last fall (falcon fescue), as it had a LOT of weeds, crabgrass, and other junk in it. I highly recommend Scotts ezseed® (no affliation, but it works).

Another frustration endured this past summer with all the rain we received in July was the loss of both of my oak leaf hydrangea which flanked the Hinoki cypress in the north garden bed. In the collage below, you can see the total wilt of the one on the left (top frame). The one on the right was rotting inside also. I was somewhat relieved to read Steve Bender (Southern Living's Grumpy Gardener) write that it was a common occurrence this year in Southern gardens.
Those hydrangea were dug out in late July. In the bottom frame above, that boxwood in the left of the frame is the one that ended up waterlogged and dead by September. 

There were some successes though! My Mexican sunflowers grown from four year old seeds did terrific. They started blooming at the end of July and would still be blooming if I hadn't cleaned them out in September (to transplant a peony in their spot). They are butterfly magnets.
In general, the south, sunny side of the landscape beds did well overall, so much so that I had to trim along the gravel path in early September to keep from ducking each time I passed. Lavender, butterfly bushes, the sunflowers, vinca, celosia and the beautyberry all thrived here.  
My front annuals did really well too. The last week of September was a busy one, cleaning out those  and other beds, transplanting a peony (where the Mexican sunflowers were), basically getting ready for my landscapers to finish. I squeezed between and weeded that nearly 90' stretch of back-to-back fencing between ours and a neighbor's fences that you see below. No before picture, darn it, but the weed piles are there. I really only intended to weed the corner. Two hours later....
My landscaper team helped to cut back what I didn't get to. They also brought in fresh mulch and my pansies.
I planted my grocery store tulip bulbs in front of the cluster of pumpkins you see in the collage below (left side).
Now, one year later, I've got a watchlist of plants I'm seeing a bit stressed. The collage below captures those. First, my Hinoki cypress appears to be somewhat stressed on the left side, though not well seen here. Also, a couple more boxwoods are looking chlorotic, as you can see. One coneflower didn't survive (where the goldfinch is feasting). I really think most of these issues are water related from this past summer, but with so many landscape changes, it's hard to know for certain. I'm on a mission to keep amending the soil to try to preserve the plants that have survived so far.
That tall oak tree you see in the right frame above is my neighbor's, across the street. That was the twin to the one we had taken down last year. When the leaves are off we have a glimpse of the capitol dome above the neighbor's roofline. The photo below is from early spring, 2022.
I've decided to put off having the slate roof cleaned, afraid any cleaning solution might further complicate my landscape concerns. I suppose if all else fails, I'll keep growing grass. 
All I can say is, I'm glad my cottage home doesn't have a landscape any bigger than it is. Mr. P. is just not that into it, except for commenting whether or not he likes something. He does like the grass, and actually wanted that last year. I guess I took the long, stubborn route there. If you have any tips you may want to offer for my watchlist or anything else, I'm open to them (even though I may stubbornly not apply them for another year or two). I can't wait to see what I accomplish next year

Thanks for your visit today. I hope you'll let me know you dropped by with a comment. I do appreciate them, and try to answer each one individually.

30 comments:

  1. It’s a process, isn’t it? We are 14 years in and still working out what we need in the garden!

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  2. You have been busy this year and it shows! I am sorry about your Oakleaf Hydrangeas. That sucks, they're a fave of mine! Part of me feels reluctant to suggest anything due to the zone differences. You probably get a bit more sunny heat temperatures then we do. But if Mexican sunflowers love it, then cone flower would be a good plant for your yard or Rudbeckia too. Coneflower has got some new creamy white coming out next year or warm or cool pinks you may like. Loving your purple beauty berry bush, next time I see one I am going to try again. Think mine wanted less water.

    Your garden is looking more inviting and open now, so you can see the house and the great structure and stone on it. Keep up the good work and kiss hubby for me!

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  3. Good Morning Rita,
    What a beautiful post I woke up to from you this morning! Thank you!! I had already poured my cup of coffee so I was ready for "all of your eye candy!" Oh my, how I miss gardening in northern climates. Great idea to take the tree down I love the openness and how you'll have more sunshine for your plants! What a welcoming walk to your front door with your beautiful Pansies!! As usual, everything is lovely! Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  4. Great tour of the progress you have made, Rita. It's so nice to be able to relocate and reuse older plants in the landscape. This Spring should be more exciting than last Spring as old friends poke their heads above ground and new ones show for the first time. I don't know if you keep a plant journal but I found that a helpful way to organize my winter planning. Seeing everything mapped out is a good visual reminder of what is planted where. Having great photos, like the ones you have taken, helps too. Great job. Lynne, Thrifting Wonderland

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  5. Oh dear Lord, you weeded 90 feet between fencing?! How did you manage that? That’s a post in and of itself. Amazing how you have transplanted so many bushes and plants with remarkable success. Brava my girl!

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    1. Oh yea, you should've seen me squeezing through and handling the pruners, but I had to! There were vines growing on my fence, and weeds taller than my fence! I ended up with issues for 10 days after. Worth it!

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  6. Great before and afters. I am amazed at your energy! I bet you have more light inside your house since the large tree was taken down. I crave more light in my home.
    You have accomplished so much and this post documents all the progress. I love all you did. Wish pansies were planted here as well as my daffodil bulbs. There is always so much to do. I enjoyed your post. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  7. Oh my gosh Rita what a big difference. Your hard work has paid off. It is beautiful. I knew you were meant to be in this home when you sold the condo. You needed to have a pretty yard and outdoor space. Bravo! xoxo Kris

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  8. The grass area looks lovely Rita, I know it was a year of frustration, trying to figure all that out, and anxious for it to look right. It was fun to see the pictures over time~ your gardening energy is admirable!
    Jenna

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  9. We know nothing about gardening. Katie plants stuff, and it comes up. She is really into daffodils...all kinds! We have volunteers that grow all over the place. Right now, we still have some zinnias that are hanging on, and some daffodils that want to grow. We keep telling them to wait until spring!

    That said, it's wonderful seeing your gardens and how they looked over the last year. I appreciate the work you've done, and it looks like you've kept busy. We also have a beauty berry, and the berries are gone already! We also have sunflowers that are growing under the bird feeder. I don't know if they are going to flower, but I have my fingers crossed!

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  10. Each time you update your landscaping photos, I not only enjoy but am amazed at your energy to try and save and transplant as you do. BUT it doesn't surprise me.

    My Secret Garden is no secret anymore, after the hurricane ....as the lush privacy is gone, so I must start over and I am thinking of planting different plants. There is always a blessing in these sorts of trials and the neighbor's Carrotwood tree broke huge limbs and fell into our yard crushing the fence as it fell. (Planting them here in Florida is a no no as they are considered invasive and prolific)The blessing is that the Carrotwood no longer shades half the Secret Garden, allowing me to think of more sun loving plants rather than shade loving...which are not always as colorful as I would like. So I am smiling as I dig out plant catalogs and re-design a garden plan for the Secret Garden. I started with ordering a new "Kari's Secret Garden" sign as the old one was blown/washed away. I have always admired the sweet garden accents you have had (both present and past) in and around your gardens, so you are an inspiration dear friend. Please keep us updated with more collages.

    On another note, the Jayhawks winning streak was short-lived, but then we are known as a basketball college rather than football, but it was nice while it lasted. I was sorry to see WV lose Saturday...perhaps new coaches for the Big 12 might be a good thing? LOL
    Have a wonderful beginning of November....here is to warm and cozy.
    Hugs, Kari

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  11. Rita, I am amazed at how much has been accomplished in one year. You don’t waste any time getting a project up and going. I love how everything looks. It complements the house and its design. I love a great before and after. You have done an excellent job!

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  12. Bravo Rita on a job well done. Taking out that huge tree really opened up your house. The boxwoods were blocking your pretty curb appeal. Sorry you lost some flowers. We need that rain. I think we are getting some tomorrow. You have been a busy little bee. Everything looks fabulous. Love the transition.

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  13. what an amazing year! Your yard and garden looks so much more open and showcases your lovely cottage. I need to hire you to come and rework my mess of a yard. It's too big and way too many trees to deal with, but it would cost us tens of thousands to have them taken out. I admire your knowledge, you should be a garden and landscape designer, my friend!!

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  14. You are like me...I don't let dead grass grow under my feet! We down sized 9yrs ago and everyone says wow, you have accomplished alot. I did alot of work but it is satisfying now.
    Your pretty Cottage can be seen now. But I do love boxwoods. Is that a patio in front right? I would love to have patio in front!

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    1. Yes, that's a patio in front. Had the boxwooda lived, I may have kept them. But once they started dying it was not pretty. We've had 3 homes in 3 yrs (downsized from large house/garden to condo and now this home. It IS a lot of work, but very satisfying now!). Thanks for your visit.

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  15. Wow Rita - you have really accomplished a lot in such a short time! The transformation of the grass is amazing and it looks wonderful. Sorry about the boxwoods, but it really does look fabulous the way it is! And that 90 feet of weeding yikes but such instant gratification! Happy Halloween to you!

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  16. Oh Rita, I am so jealous of your energy and stubbornness for your garden's sake. I love how you've documented your garden's progress with before and after photos. I've studied these and may use them in the future for a few very smaller garden projects. It's amazing how the tree removal opens up the view of cottage. I love the grass and I'm so sorry for all the boxwood loss. I have always said you are so organized and your plan for the garden is no different. My hats off to you Rita. Well done!

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  17. Rita, You did your cottage landscape proud! What a transformation from taking out the tree, overgrown boxwoods and adding your grass areas. I think men in general are fond of grass, my hubby falls in that category too. It’s pretty breaking up the mulched garden bed areas but high maintenance in the watering, mowing, fertilizing department…and then here comes the crabgrass or in our case Bermuda from the neighbor’s yard that you can never fully eradicate. It’s a good thing you’re so trim…you would have never fit between those fences to do all that weeding…90 feet…whew! I bet it was a night for a long soak in the tub and some ibuprofen. 😉 Question, do your remove your Baptisia seed pods? I always wonder as to whether to let them mature or not.

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  18. What a change, Rita! And just terrific. That was a huge (and probably very expensive) job. Well done. I've not heard of that grass seed -- I should try that for up north where nothing grows (which is kind of OK with us, because no maintenance is easy maintenance!). You deserve huge pats on the back and I bet you smile every time you drive up to your home!

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  19. I have to agree with Mr. P: I love grass, and your corner looks so pretty! :D I enjoyed seeing the transformation of your landscaping.

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  20. I love seeing progress and transformation, Rita! You've done an excellent job. I'm very glad that you took down that huge tree which an accident waiting to happen! I'm sorry about your oakleaf hydrangeas. I have one and I love it. It seems that it's the only hydrangea that I can grow. I'm interested in those Mexican sunflowers that you have. I love that they are butterfly magnets. Happy November!

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  21. Beautiful! You've done well... when it fills in by next summer, you will really see the benefit of your work. You seem to know just what to put where. In my mind I'm saying "so much work". My daughter had a neighbor lady that would stand and watch her garden, shake her head and say that to her. It's just stuck with us, in fact it's ridiculous how many sayings we hold on too. Ha. I'm puzzled by the picture with the double fence....it looks like the back of your house but yet I see the wrought iron fence in your pictures. Happy November....now you can take a much needed break!

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  22. WOW! Lots of changes and it looks fabulous! It's a good thing you enjoy gardening (i certainly don't!!). I am intrigued, tho, why two fences side by side in the back?

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  23. What the heck?! Did you put hay or some sort of needles on top of the seed? I can't tell from the photo. I am amazed at how well you can grow grass. We have a spot at the end of the patio that will forever be dirt (or mud when it rains) but I noticed your EZseed bag says it will grow anywhere. I'm going to tell the Mister to give it a try but first want to know if we should cover it (did you?) because we have a lot of birds. Seriously enjoyed your recap and think your entire yard looks amazing! You hard work, money and frustrations are paying off. I on the other hand, leave that up to the hubby. Everything I touch turns black and dies. :/ BTW, it would be fun seeing you out there each week taking photos of your grass. Maybe you should get on the ground and measure it to really make your neighbors giggle?! LOL

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  24. Goodness, you've gone through a lot of hard work and it all looks wonderful now. I enjoyed reading and seeing all the transformations. You had me laughing at "eyes glazing over" and "pictures of grass growing." Thanks for sharing at the Home Matters Party!

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  25. Your landscaping looks beautiful, Rita and I know you've put in a lot of hard work! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

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  26. You've done a tremendous amount of work and it looks great! I just love the plantings along the gravel path.

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  27. I appreciate what you have accomplished so much. Your landscape is really taking shape and will be even more beautiful next year. Great job!!

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  28. So many changes in one year, Rita! Everything looks lovely... and I'm glad you are seeing some blessings from all the work you put into your lovely garden!

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