This month in the yard: July

It’s prime summer time, folks! June was rainy, rainy, rainy and yet¬†sunny, so everything is thriving! (Except my poor burning bush, but it will make it.) Let’s take a tour, shall we?

First of all, and this is important, I read recently that Ferns are the Fiddle Leaf Figs of 2015. ūüôā

Ta da!

I got my first Canna Lilly bloom! I planted 5-6 Cana Lillies from bulbs in April Рsome in pots and some in beds. This one is in a pot is the biggest, which surprises me.

My sunflowers have exploded! I had forgotten how much FUN they are to grow! They grow so fast and so big and so effortlessly!!! Get some. Seriously.

As much as I have always loved this combo, it’s just too much in one spot. Next Spring, I am moving these Hosta Lillies someplace less crowded.

The Firecracker Gladiolus are just about to pop! I grew them from bulbs so this is pretty exciting. And yes, there’s dirt under my fingernail in this photo. <sigh> It’s an occupational hazard.

The Hosta Lillies are all blooming.

I planted Caladiums from bulbs and they are finally popping up. I put some in a pot on the side porch and some in a flowerbed by the driveway.

My Hydrangeas are huge – but they will not bloom! I have a theory that it’s because I¬†haven’t cut them back in a couple years – I read that they will grow larger if you don’t cut them back. Next year: chop!¬†We’ll see what happens.

So, just to clarify, I am completely in love with my Purple Coneflowers. ‚̧

Coneflowers are mounding perennials which means they will spread out from year to year. Photos like this really make me appreciate the colorful gardens I see in Southern Living. My coneflowers have a lot of work to do!

Here’s another Canna Lilly that emerged from a bulb. I am done with bulbs – they require way too much patience!

The last of my little purple Day Lillies…

Claire is demonstrating how soft and lush the lawn is right now from all the rain and sun this summer…

¬†That’s it folks!


The goose with the golden planter…

The spray-paint fairy has struck again! And this time she waved her magical spray-paint wand over a goose that lays golden-hued planters.

My inspiration was this flower pot that I spray-painted gold a couple years ago…

Since my 2015 New Year’s resolution is to organize our entire life, the last thing I want to do is bring more stuff into our house. So, I decided to look around the kitchen for containers I could spray-paint gold.

How many mixing bowls does one family need? ūüôā

I spray-painted the inside of the glass so the paint won’t scratch off with use and cleaning.

I think they look pretty and the plants are happy. #win

The Ancestry Wall

A few years ago, I got the idea of creating a gallery wall with old photos of my kids’ grandparents, great-grandparents and even great-great grandparents. I slowly began collecting old photos and various frames, referencing gallery walls on Pinterest for inspiration. Originally, all of this was going on a blank vertical space at the end of our staircase until I realized… it wouldn’t fit!

Scratch Plan A.

The professionals suggest that you lay it out ahead of time and create a paper template to stick to the wall – and use laser pointers for accurate alignment. I kept shuffling frames in the den floor over the course of a couple of weeks. (Silly, I know.) My son walked in and said, “Mommy, why are you thinking about this so much? Just put them on the wall.”


So I walked over to the Plan B wall – the hallway off the kitchen and hung the picture of my grandfather with his teammates on the cotton mill village men’s baseball team. Then I picked up frames and hung them up one by one, quickly and without over-thinking it.

I love how it turned out!

There’s a story behind every picture and now the kids will have a visual to go along with stories about their great-grandfather Everett who was one of 9 boys, and their great-grandfather Harold who went to work in a cotton mill when he was 9 years old…

The wall also means my great-aunt Mattie and her husband Lonnie will be remembered even though they never had children to pass along their names or DNA.

I am in love with this wall.

This Month in the Yard: June

I was just looking back at the pictures I took around the yard in early May – and – wow! It’s amazing how much everything has grown in 6 weeks! We’ve had a very rainy Spring¬†and Mother Nature has worked her magic…

First, we need to discuss my new “happy place”. I am loving the side porch/pergola! We stained it since cedar otherwise grays over time. The plants are filling in nicely so that the space has a little privacy.

This picture was taken in the morning sun and it’s still pretty shady – it’s all shade by afternoon.

This picture is two weeks old because the Asiatic Lillies came out in¬†mid/late May and did everything they were going to do in two weeks – now they’re gone. Bummer! They were pretty though.

The purple Day Lillies emerged as the Asiatic Lillies went away, which was a nice trade-off. My Gladiolus bulbs are popping up just behind the Day Lillies.

I am amazed every year at how fast these shade loving coleus grow!

The Hydrangea has a bloom! Remember last year it never bloomed at all!

I am really pleased with the flowers off the back patio – they are FINALLY filling in! This is the third summer for what I had envisioned to be Southern Living lushness. Last year was pathetic. This year brings great hope!

The Purple Coneflowers are gigantic! And they’ve spread since last year. I hope they take over!

Purple Coneflowers

More purple Day Lillies back here as well as two varieties of Cana Lillies in pots and in the ground (an experiment with bulbs).

Here’s a close up of a¬†Day Lilly. I love the purple and yellow combo!

Bryan’s Blueberry bushes are loaded up this year!

Quick shot of all the trees which seem to be happy and green this year… Of course, it’s not August!

The Lantana is loving this spot by the creek which gets speckled sunlight.

My sister-in-law, Kathryn, gave me this gorgeous Calla Lilly for my birthday!

The Magnolia has a couple of blooms! It sure is growing s-l-o-w-l-y but gets prettier each year. It still looks more like a shrub than a tree.

Here’s what isn’t growing… The Trumpet Vine (bulb)¬†that I’d intended to scale the playhouse appears to be dead. Some of the¬†bulbs I planted off the back patio, in some pots, and in a side bed haven’t sprouted. I am done with¬†bulbs. The Cana Lillies are slowly, slowly emerging as are the Gladiolus – all bulbs. The Flowering Cherry by the neighbor’s house is still trying to live but it looks rough and the new Burning Bush looks stressed. I’m giving¬†them both time.

All in all – very happy with this year’s garden!!!

Living outside…

The weather has been A M A Z I N G this Spring – sunny and warm on the heels of a really cold winter! We are loving it! Bryan and I keep kicking the kids out of the house so they don’t miss it.

I love it when Bryan joins us for a bike/scooter ride.

This is the perfect time of year to eat outside. Bryan likes the new side porch – and I like having lunch on the back patio. I cooked an Indian yellow curry with chicken and peas that was so spicy but really good!

So, basically life is pretty slow right now – just the way I like it. Our weekends have been freed up for gardening and just playing. Our afternoons are suddenly wide open now that guitar lessons, theater and German classes have all ended.

I am sitting out here on the patio to blog this evening – sweet bliss!!! All I can hear is birds chirping and the neighbors’ air conditioning unit. Ha! Life is never perfect, but I’ll take it.

Yard Crashing at Mom and Dad’s

Mrs. Betty, this post is for you!

My parents have been busy bees this Spring getting their flowerbeds and vegetable garden ready. I have been helping with the flowerbeds and my brothers and sister-in-law helped Dad get a vegetable garden started. Here are a few pictures…


Here’s Mom telling me everything she is growing.

We added Lantana this Spring. It’s an annual here in Zone 7.

These cute Daisies are from last Summer.

Mom picked out lots of Bearded Irises this Spring!

I made them this wreath last year.

Here’s Mom flowering the Daffodils (bulbs) that are peeking out the edges of the bed.

She “accidentally” sprayed Dad. Haha!!!

This is a Redbud that was trained to ‘weep’, It has grown on all of us. Mom has a lot of hydrangeas growing – her favorites!

Dad has his flag out, of course.

Here’s the new vegetable garden! Dad bought this cedar raised garden bed on

Dad has two large tomato plants and a few more small ones.

He is also growing okra, onions and peppers.

That’s the tour, folks! I’ll post an update later in the summer.

This Month in the Yard: May

I’m sharing a lot of pictures for this installment of This Month in the Yard because I finally feel like everything is ‘ready’ for Spring and Summer. We have fresh mulch and I’m done planting¬†– now¬†all I have to do is watch it grow! Here’s a tour…

My Hostas come back loyally every year and are sitting under a big, new Burning Bush to replace one that I killed last year by trying to move it after it was nicely established. Lesson learned.

I tucked in a little Lantana in front for color and it’s doing well.

I love this photo and this spot in the flowerbeds because it captures what I have tried for years to work towards – a balance of color, texture and scale. This is one of those spots where it’s all coming together the way I like it.

The flowerbed at the entry is a work in progress that will [hopefully] continue to improve year upon year. The Crepe Myrtle tree needs to grow. I am so over waiting for that. I gave some giant Hosta Lillies to my mom and replaced them with Cleyera (evergreen shrub) and an Oak Leaf Hydrangea. I also tucked some Firepower Nandina among the Azaleas for more color. The new configuration is more balanced and should look good next year when it all fills in.

The Day Lillies are holding out, but the Asiatic Lillies are on the brink of adding some real color!

This Crepe Myrtle (tree) and Purple Wintercreeper (ground cover) are doing great and the various Loropetulum (purple shurbs) are so cute. All good here. This bed is almost zero maintenance.

The Cardinal Dogwood shrub is new.

You know I love Southern Living magazine. Well, recently they mentioned Heuchera ‘Sweet Tea Foamy Bells’ as a colorful shade-loving plant. I’d never heard of it so when I saw some in the cart of discounted half-dead plants at Lowes, I¬†decided to give it a try.

Petunias are hit or miss for me. This year is a hit. They have been gorgeous since I planted them in this pot in March!

The goofy people who owned our house first¬†actually cut down trees… to improve their view of the neighbor’s AC unit, I guess. So weird. Anyway, we have planted about 10 trees along the creek to bolster our privacy. We are right in the middle of a neighborhood on a lot that is slightly more than half an acre, so a ‘treeline’ feels like a luxury. My little Redbud tree has rallied from near death its first year. It’s a transplant from my father-in-law’s land in Tennessee. #freetrees

This flowerbed is not nice to me. It likes to kill the shrubs I plant here. So this year, I decided to tuck some Day Lilly bulbs between the Hostas and see if they make it and I planted a little Lantana for the kids to enjoy as they swing.

I am loving our new side porch!!! ‚̧

I need to add plants to my bare little pots, but basically I am done!

The pergola is made from cedar and smells really good!! This side of the house is shaded in the afternoon anyway, but the pergola provides nice shade in the mornings, too.

I already had these chairs and pots. The rug is new from

This little Hosta survived the winter in this pot! So happy!

This pot needs a big Boston Fern! I love the crazy pop of color in these throw pillows – from Target, of course.

The one photo I don’t have is of the vine I planted by the playset… but it’s not growing yet at all, so nothing to see.

The hammock has a new home under the oak tree out back.

The back patio looks much better without the hammock.

This center section is unplanted for now because the Nutsedge (also known as ‘nut grass’) was really prolific through here and is hopefully dying as I type now that it’s been treated with three chemicals (*)¬†and deprived of sunlight. Someday, I’d like to add a mini-vegetable garden here by the Blueberry bushes.

(*) I tried Ortho Nutsedge Killer, Sledgehammer, and Roundup (staggered a week apart each time). No verdict yet. It appeared the Nutsedge slurped it back like a milkshake and asked for more. I put down a layer of cardboard over most of it to block the sunlight and then we covered it with mulch.

I have enjoyed having lunch out here lately – so peaceful!

Remember last year when I had visions of creating a lush Southern Living flower garden – and how pathetic it turned out? Well, this year is better. Everything came back in a bit fuller. The May Night Salvia and Purple Coneflower look really healthy. I planted some Daffodil bulbs right by the patio – and I have Cana Lillies just beginning to sprout in the pots!

OK, that’s our tour for May! I am really hopeful it’s going to be a beautiful Spring and Summer here… Check out my Pinterest board “Gardening: What’s in our yard” for more information on the plants we’re growing.

A sneak peek at May…

I am soooooo ready to show you the progress on our yard, but I want the fresh mulch in the beds first. Nothing makes your landscaping pop like fresh mulch! Fingers crossed that’s going be finished tomorrow…

This shot captures what I am loving most about gardening – colors and textures coming together.

Claire followed me around the yard as I was taking pictures and looking at everything.

This is super exciting… rows of sunflowers from seeds my father-in-law harvested two summers ago! I planted some last year in an odd spot and they didn’t sprout. This year, I gave them prime real estate and planted 4-5 rows!!! They’re already popping up!

Happy Mothers Day this weekend!!!

Quick organization: The kitchen desk

Having the desk in the kitchen as a “family command center” was someone’s idea of a great idea. In truth, it seems to be everyone’s official junk pile. If you don’t know where it goes, just stick it here. You can tell by the photo below, that these cabinets were once organized. There are remnants of labels and boxes… circa 2008.

The “MOM ONLY” shelf was all of our family portraits and school/sports pictures from Michael’s arrival in 2007 to now. A tippy-top shelf was packed with some of the kids’ schoolwork that I’ve saved – and get this – a huge collection of pregnancy and infant-care books! Ha!!!

I filled four Target bags with garbage from two tall cabinets and then regrouped everything…

My goal to organize our entire house in 2015 is proving “aspirational” but I will keep trying. I was finally ready to photograph our newly renovated and organized bedroom closets when the pipe burst last week and flooded them. They don’t look great at the moment… I am trying to be cool about the flood mess but it’s getting to me. Reminding myself this is a “first world problem” worked for about 4 days. Now I just reeeeally want to sleep in my own bed and hear my own thoughts over the incessant roar of the dehumidifiers. I am cracking up.


James-the-plumber and I just had a fascinating chat about thermodynamics. #shootme Leaving the garden hose attached to the outside faucet prevents the pipe from draining. Isn’t it amazing that (1) it’s this cold in northern Alabama in the winters, and (2) ice can break copper? 

I think I’m going to make some coffee and go stare at that one really organized cabinet until I feel better. Ha!!!

Green thumbs up!

We have been busy bees! This month, I have planted all kinds of things with a little help from Uncle Stevie:

  • Shrubs: a Burning Bush, several Nandinas and Cleyera, an Oak Leaf Hydrangea and a¬†Cardinal Red Dogwood
  • Flowers: Bearded Irises, Pansies, Begonias, Lantana
  • Bulbs: Day Lillies, Caladiums, Canna Lillies, a Trumpet Vine and Gladiolus
  • Other: three tomato plants

Although I promised myself I wouldn’t buy annuals ever again, I caved. The Canna Lillies, Caladiums and Lantana are easy to grow and add a punch of color – and Steve gave me his leftover Pansies and Begonias so they’re in the mix, too. All the bulbs are experimental for me. It’s hard to imagine something that looks like a clove of garlic is going to turn into anything, but I am hopeful. It will be fun to see the shoots pop up out of the ground! I love that!

My new Bearded Irises.

Michael is growing cantaloupe and watermelon vines from seeds to transplant alongside his daddy’s blueberry bushes…