This month in the yard: August

What a difference a month makes! As we were welcoming in July, our plants and trees looked so weary (and/or dead). Most of them are now thriving! (A couple trees still look dead, but the trunks and limbs are still pliable so I am hopeful they’ll bounce back in the Spring.) OK, now to begin our tour… First up, the new wreath I made this week and a view of the front flowerbeds.

The Lantana, Hostas and Crepe Myrtle are doing great! The Azaleas, Day Lillies and Asiatic Lillies aren’t blooming (much) but they look healthy.

The Cana Lillies just keep growing! I am so happy with these!

The Monkey Grass sprouted these little purple flowers and I have decided that maybe I don’t hate Monkey Grass after all.

The Hosta Lillies under my Burning Bush are so beautiful this year! Oddly, they get some afternoon sun and don’t seem to mind it.

This is either a very healthy weed (probably) or the one sunflower to emerge from all the seeds I planted in this corner weeks and weeks ago (possibly).

The Confederate Jasmine is creeping along. If it can survive the winter, it should really fill out next Summer.

I’m racking my brain and can’t remember what these shrubs are called but they have silvery green leaves and grow like CRAZY. I have to trim them 3-4 times a year. The small one was cut down to the ground – nothing but a wooden nub – at Easter and it’s already back. They make a great screen but probably were a poor choice (by the builder) for screening the AC because they can potentially block air flow. They require regular attention.

The new flowerbed is doing great. The Crepe Myrtle has been nothing but happy in its new home…

…and these have been the easiest and prettiest little flowers to grow! They’re annuals but they are thriving with zero attention. I don’t even have to dead-head them!

My new Maple is doing really well. (It’s twin across the driveway is dead as a door nail.) The big Birch tree in the background has looked distressed all summer. It’s continuing to drop leaves as though it’s mid-Fall.

The Redbud trees are all doing great.

My Hydrangeas still have not bloomed and they’re beginning to look droopy. I decided to water them and see what happens. I haven’t watered them at all in recent years – rain is usually enough. Who knows.

The Angel Trumpet plant will not grow. It’s twin finally died after dragging along for a couple months. My father-in-law gave these to me and his transplants have grown like crazy in Tennessee. Mysteries abound!

I am loving our side patio and having the playset in this part of the yard! I’ll love it all more when we add a door and pergola or porch! In the meantime, the lemongrass in this pot is growing reeeeally slowly. I need to put it in the ground.

This Maple tree got diseased and “died” several years ago. Before we could remove it, a windstorm knocked it down, leaving a little rotten stump full of bugs. That Spring (2012) it sprouted new growth. Last year, it grew like a little shrub – fluffy with green leaves. This year, it took off and is now just as tall as the other Maple trees we originally planted! But… the trunk grew back forked. And new growth swelled up around the old rotted area. So very strange!

My little Magnolia tree has bloomed all Summer! It’s so sweet! So little… so slow growing…

These Lillies in the back yard are doing nothing.

Bryan’s Blueberry bushes are continuing to fill out and produced a few handfuls of berries. They’ll be pretty (red) this Fall.

The Lemongrass in this bed is growing like crazy! It’s supposed to ward off mosquitoes, so it’s conveniently located next to my new hammock!

The Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) and Blue Night Salvia are doing well.

The new hammock!!!

The new Dynamite Crepe Myrtle we planted earlier this summer is doing so well – and is mostly neglected! Maybe that’s the trick?

Hope you enjoyed the tour!


Garage Makeover

A lot of people think I’m organized, but the truth is a mixed bag of really organized and really not at all organized. My brother Steve noted that recently: the pantry is sorted and my closet is color-coded but the laundry room looks like a bomb went off. Organization feels like a lot of effort – but – gosh, I am so happy when it all comes together. It’s hard for me to function when things are messy. Even in college, I could never study – I couldn’t even think – until the apartment was clean.

Anyway, the garage had become a truly frightening place where you’d imagine someone might catch typhoid or just go missing entirely. We had so many bicycles, scooters and half-completed craft project strewn about that Bryan had to navigate an obstacle course to get from his car into the house. He did not find this amusing. Picky picky. Now, it never got so bad that we had to park in the driveway, so technically it could have been worse.

I bought that bike rack on for the re-organization project so we could stop piling bikes at the back door.

We had stuff just all over the place and quite a lot that needed to be thrown away or donated.

I know – yikes! We clean the garage about once a year and it goes right back to this mess. This time, I hauled everything into the driveway and started over. I thought this project would take a few hours… try all day! About 4 hours in, Dad came by and was freaking out at the mess and work to be done. He called Steve and they helped me until dark. (Yay!)

Dad’s managerial skills in action! Haha! Steve put a hook up high on the wall to hang our sleds.

Pinterest (sweet, beloved Pinterest) gave me this idea to create a designated “mud room” at the entry. So I decided to make it all purdy by spray painting the door. I usually spray paint outside which had given me a false sense of security about the overspray. Do not spray paint in your garage! The cleanup was a mess… I bet you knew that without having to spray any paint, huh?

Thank goodness my brother keeps a can of Kilz in his Jeep at all times!!!! He did the touch-ups.

At this point, I really thought we would have to replace the door. The first coat was a disaster. Unfortunately, this is when Dad showed up. No wonder he was concerned! This looked like something you do to a tree fort, not a house!

After using up a can of bright orange paint as a base coat, I switched to the darker orange and it began to look a teeny bit better. But I was still nervous. I ended up needing 4 cans to evenly cover the door. This picture was taken during can #1.

Everything started coming together by late afternoon. I spray painted Leah’s old kitty cat hooks gold to make them “fancy”. Now the kids have a designated place for their helmets which were always getting lost.

As we put things back into the garage, I grouped it by type: paint with paint, tools with tools, etc.

After sweeping and clearing out the cobwebs, I put together new heavy duty shelves to replace the wonky metal ones – and my parents gave me a little wood bookcase that was in my room in college.

Don’t get me wrong: we still have garage junk in the garage – stuff we use or plan to use – but it’s so much more tidy now!

I mounted a curtain rod to the wall with some hooks I found. We can use carabiners to hang pool bags and sports gear. The bench stores all the hats and mittens for winter. The pets still have their bowls in plain sight so we remember to feed them!!! And… Bryan has plenty of wide open space to get in and out of his car! (Please ignore that everything needs to be repainted. Not a priority!)

Ta da! This is my favorite part. My neighbor Kristina was throwing away this rug from her back porch. It’s perfect for our “mud room” space – note the grimy little footprints we’ve added in less than a week!!! Better out there than inside!!!

The bench used to be inside, but I like it best out here beside the shoe basket. I found a whiteboard to [mostly] hide the electrical boxes and give us another place to capture notes, etc.

The door just makes me happy.

Guess what else? I completely organized and cleared out the play room, too! [GASP!!!!!]