Sunday, July 25, 2010

Black Thumb

My grandmother Westmoreland was a gifted gardener. She grew beautiful flowers. We used to joke that she could stick a broom handle in the ground, and it would grow. I especially remember her hydrangeas--big thick bushes loaded with giant blue flowers. My mother inherited the gift. She didn't have a specialty per se but grew everything from succulents to roses. She loved nothing better than creating a beautiful flower bed. One of her biggest regrets as she got older was that it was so hard to work in her flower beds. When she downsized to an apartment, she purposely searched for one with a porch, so she could still keep potted flowers to brighten her surroundings. Unfortunately the gardening gene skipped a generation and went to my younger sisters. Diane, had beautiful red hibiscus plants lining her fence until a freeze killed them last year. I have no doubt that she'll soon have new ones blossoming. I bet she could make a broom handle grow, too. My sister-in-law, Lynn, also grows hibiscus--only hers are yellow. My youngest sister, Beverly, is a whiz with indoor plants.

I cannot even begin to count the number of plants I have killed over the years. Tommy teases that I have a black thumb. This is probably due in large part to the fact I hate yard work. My sisters all say it's so relaxing and rewarding. I find it tedious and frustrating. Give me a book and an afternoon to read any day over gardening. Over the years, I've taken out all the flowers in our yard and only maintain one narrow bed. Through a process of trial and error, I've found flowers that I can grow that don't require much work and look nice enough that the neighbors don't run us off. (Especially important if you live next door to someone who spends hours each day working with his flowers. He had 500 tulips at one point. Seriously, he was always very nice but I wondered what he thought of my feeble attempts.)

Here are my flowers. See if you can find the theme.

Allium - these come up in late spring. We started with about five that the previous owners of our house planted. Once they finish flowering and the seeds are gone, I simply pull the stems up and wait for next year's crop.

Hostas - a friend gave me two plants several years ago. They grow in the shade and produce these bell-like flowers in July. Once they die back in the fall, I pull up the leaves and wait for next year's crop.

English ivy - which isn't technically a flower, I suppose. But it makes a great ground cover and keeps weeds out. Tommy trims the tops with a weed eater about once a summer. The deer love it especially in the winter when their usual food is covered in snow.

Snow in summer - a perennial that blooms in June. It covers landscaping rocks near our hot tub and looks like snow has fallen, thus the name. Once the flowers are gone, the plant is a lovely shade of gray green that lasts til winter comes.

Clematis - a sun loving perennial which blooms all summer. It's a climber that grows up the scrub oak in a front bed. It dies back in the winter and comes back in the late spring.

Petunias - the only annual in my yard. I plant shortly after mother's day (you risk a freeze if you plant before then in Utah) and pull them out in the fall when the blooms are all gone. For some reason, my black thumb doesn't affect petunias. They love the afternoon sun, a little water every other day, and fertilizer about every six weeks.

Did you figure out the theme? (1) Everything is purple. Just a color I enjoy which looks good against the green of the yard. (2) Nothing requires much work. The petunias are the only flower I have to plant every year. It takes a couple of hours to get them in and that's about it for the summer.

The trick is to recognize that there is nothing wrong with me because I don't like to garden. God has gifted me in other areas. How boring would it be if we all planted the same flowers!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Worth the Wait

It's finished!!!!! Well, at least phase one is.

We love our home. We have the blessing of living where it feels like we're out in the country but we're only five minutes from town. God literally dropped this house in our lap 20 years ago; and reaffirmed that Utah is where he wanted us to live. Twice we had put our previous house on the market, but it didn't sell either time. Both times we would have moved out of state if the house had sold. The third time we put it on the market, we planned to buy in Utah. We had two offers on the house before the sign was even in the yard! OK, God. Sometimes we're a little dense and you have to use that two-by-four up beside the head.

But, after 20 years, the house needed some updating. We decided to begin with the kitchen. The bones were good but it looked like an oak tree exploded on my main floor. Oak cabinets, oak floors, oak railings, oak table and get the picture. After months of looking at magazine pictures and MANY trips to Lowe's and Home Depot, we had a plan. (Those of you who know us well, will understand just how long this process took.) Paint the cabinets, new hardware, and new counter tops.

After a month of demolition, disaster, and do-overs we're done! Boy, was it worth the wait! I love it! And, we got just the look we were hoping for. (Side note: if any of my Utah readers ever need a painter, we can recommend an excellent worker.) Here are a few before, during, and after shots.

Wonder how long it will be before I can talk Tommy into starting Phase 2?