i missed earth day but…

It has been a crazy few weeks here at casa de restoration (it sounds good but I didn’t take Spanish so that is probably wrong…) and I can’t wait to share with you the recent crazy!

Last week, The Man turned 31  so I took off Monday and Tuesday to celebrate. And by celebrate, I mean he had drill on Saturday and Sunday and we didn’t get to do anything, and we spent Monday and Tuesday attacking the gardens! I would say that he was disappointed, but after a weekend at drill, he seemed happy that we went out for a birthday sushi lunch pre-gardening.

The amount of gardening refuse we accumulate whenever I decide I’m going to garden “just for a little bit” (which invariably turns into 4 hours or so) has been amazing.  I think the Man wanted to kill me last week when we had to take it to the curb. (And I think the garbage men may kill me if I continue on this trend…)

alllllllll from the garden

alllllllll from the garden

What pisses me off most is that my little yellow collapsible gardening bag was taken by the garbage men. And by taken, I mean they threw it out.  So while I am in mourning for my favorite gardening garbage receptacle, I soldiered on.

I meant to share these pics with you for Earth Day, and I missed the boat, but better late than never!  If you remember, a few weeks ago I began attacking the front of the house by removing some bushes. While the Man was at drill, the attack continued! This time, I drafted some friends.

Meet Kat.

hi Kat!

hi Kat!

Kat is my very tall friend who can reach things that I can’t. He is also has INFINITELY cooler power tools than I do.  While he originally came over to use my driveway with my painting friend, Julie, I innocently asked him for his opinion on removing the columns and he either a. decided I couldn’t be trusted with tools or b. figured I was just pretending to be clueless and he was going to get roped into helping anyway.

2013-04-14 17.35.18Kat was able to unscrew everything holding the columns together and find the seams to split the columns apart in about half the time it took me to get the ladder and find the battery to my drill. We already knew that the columns were not supporting anything so we were surprised to find a giant wooden 4×4 inside each of them.

4x4 brought to you by Kat and Julie

4×4 brought to you by Kat and Julie

Once the columns were off, we found a surprise:

2013-04-14 17.42.42A bazillion anchors that fell THROUGH the columns when the Man and I tried to attach a flag holder to it. After the third time the flag holder came loose on a windy day, my hatred of the columns was confirmed, and the columns’ death note was signed, sealed, and delivered. I cannot tell you the squeals of joy that erupted from me as the beams came down. And the transformation is truly amazing.

Before:

before

AFTER:

tada!

tada!

Rest assured, there is a master plan to this transformation, albeit a slow going plan. However, I’m already in love with how the front of the house is opened up. The columns just don’t go with the period of our house, and now we had room to put our bench on the front steps, which I’ve wanted to do since we scored it at an estate sale the summer we moved in.

bench love

bench love

Monday and Tuesday moved to tackling the ivy in the backyard. And by tackling, I mean I have a vendetta against the ivy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we moved in the house, we had no idea that the pavers along the back of our property existed. Why? BECAUSE THEY WERE EATEN BY IVY. One of the reasons I hate the ivy so much is because we have gorgeous day lilies and yucca plants that were so overgrown you could barely see them.  While I made a lot of progress last year, it truly is a battle to get to the ivy roots and remove them without damaging the other plants. Over the fall the ivy started creeping back over the pavers, but after a few hours of work, I think it came out pretty good!

clean again!

clean again!

I have to say that removing the ivy is backbreaking, but the satisfaction afterwards is immeasurable.

post ivy-pulling glow

post ivy-pulling glow

All in all, the 4 day gardening extravaganza was a success.  AND I’m very excited because I finally get to use our rehabbed wheelbarrow (a $5 score at an estate sale!).

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And when all was said and done, I finally sat back and relaxed.  As the two year anniversary of being in the house looms, I can’t wait to show you the continuing projects, inside and out. If you had told me a few years ago that this is what I would be getting joy from, I would have told you that you were crazy.  But here I am, and I couldn’t be happier with the house, and myself.  Happy belated Earth Day!

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cheaper than therapy

I had a function for work today. On a Sunday. Now usually having to go to work on the weekend would bother me, but today was great.  It was an acceptance day for our new students, and they really seemed to gel. Typically, work stresses me out, drives me crazy, and occasionally makes me cry because I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. But the weather the past few days has been gorgeous and today was no exception. So with my 4 inch heels and new dress on, I went to work looking forward to seeing, in a way, the fruits of my labor. I screened these applications. I interviewed some of these people. I have talked to some of them on the phone more than a dozen times as they have navigated the application process. And now they are here, and real, and I helped that.

But on any given normal week, work stresses me out the same way it does half of my friends. This time of year, though, I have an outlet for my stress: the house, and particularly, the garden. So even though today went great, and it was utterly blissful to see all the students engage in conversation and share how excited they were, I decided to take out some leftover aggression on the front yard.

I’ve got a plan for the yard, you see. And part of it involved dealing with the two Alberta spruce bush/tree/monstrosities that are on either side of our front stairs. They didn’t do well last summer – the stress of a dry, hot season had browned out what are supposed to be evergreens. And as much as I had been hoping, the green is not coming back, and Alberta is like a crazy woman dropping her needles all over the place.

before, with tools of destruction at the ready

I’m tired of Alberta 1 & 2.  Alberta 1 (on the left) was all bushy and pretty and full in the front, but had caused the bush next to it to grow REALLY strange. And Alberta 2 (on the right) decided to die in the midsection. On top of that, they both have an unwieldy shape, the needles are quite prickly, and they don’t fit into my plan. Solution?

after... time elapsed approximately 2 hours

after… time elapsed approximately 2 hours

Me + handsaw + determination = AWESOME.

Please refrain from making fun of my lopsided daffodils – only half decided to bloom. And as a bonus I found a yucca plant growing underneath Alberta 1. So no daffodils yet, but an extra plant for no cost! Score!

So while some people run, or drink, or take a warm bath, chances are on a day when I’m stressed you’ll find me in the garden. Hacking something to pieces or pulling ivy.

I can’t wait to show everyone when the whole transformation is done.

I think I saw a U.G.O….

I would say that it is our first full Spring in our house, but with the way that the weather has been, I think both the plants and myself are confused.  It has been so deliciously warm the past few weeks that, as I’m sure you know, all the Spring flowers, that typically are only beginning to peak their heads out to see the sun in the coming weeks, have begun to bloom now.

Because we moved in mid-May of last year, we missed many of the typical Spring flowers and were bewildered by what was in our garden beds.  The only thing I knew for sure was that we had some daffodils in the front.

I spent most of the warm weather last year ripping out lots and lots of English and Boston ivy as well as honeysuckle off the side of the house, where it covered the dining room window, and out of the garden beds where it was trying to strangle our plants and trees.

The past few weeks have been a joyful discover of color. However, I still didn’t know what half the trees were in our yard.  We contacted a wonderful landscaper to come over and get some opinions on what to do with our yard, as well as to identify the U.G.Os – unidentified growing objects.

What we found out was that we had a whole lot of orphan trees and seedlings all over that should be removed.  And I had my own personal tutorial in what lives in my garden.

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We have a young Crape Myrtle next to our weeping cherry, common lilac, and Star of Bethlehem.  There was a dogwood tree hiding under a see of ivy, and a flowering quince that I felt bad for hard pruning the previous summer (when we didn’t know what it was and I was avenging wrath for the holes in my gardening gloves and fingers that it had caused). Finding the Grape Hyacinth all over the beds was a delight, and we have more Rose of Sharon than we know what to do with. Perhaps most exciting to me was that the tree right by our back door is a double flowering cherry tree. I can’t wait until it sets its blooms.

The front of our house was very plain and very symmetrical when we bought it, and only has a few rhododendrons, azaleas, and a whole lot of weeds. The trees are beautiful, if not a little close to the front of my house for my taste, but the azaleas were hugely overgrown, and the parts that you could see from inside the house were largely dead or thinning.

Unfortunately (for the azaleas) I hated how big they were and how close to the stairs they were. So the obvious solution was to rip them out.  With a tow rope and a Ford Ranger.

Removing large bushes is always a challenge. And very heavy. But the man did so admirably. After reversing down the driveway with the azalea in tow, he had to drag it to behind the garagCan you see a truck? Nope, no truck here!e. We learned the hard way with the first azalea we removed the our garbage men are not a big fan of actually taking the garbage with them, even when we had hacked it into itty bitty pieces. So instead, the area behind the back of our garage has become a bush graveyard.

After the azalea was safely behind the garage, the man and I walked across the street to get a good view of the change. I cannot tell you the joy!

Now you can SEE the house!

So now with a lot of raking, grass seed, and new plants, we will begin the restoration of the gardens, front and back.

One of the biggest frustrations prior to buying a house was that I wanted to be able to sit in my own backyard and read a book or plant some vegetables, or simply enjoy the sun (while slathered in 70SPF). The past few weeks, I have pulled into the driveway, gotten out of the car, dropped my work bag on the patio, pulled out a book, and sat myself down to read for an hour.  How can you not love that?

Most nights during the spring and summer, the man will turn on the grill, cook dinner, and I spend the time either reading or chatting with him. Being outside and simply enjoying the colors of our yard is beautiful, relaxing, and even joyful. And now that we no longer have any UGOs, I feel at one with my gardens.  I know what lives there now, and can’t wait to tend to it.