• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

18 May 2010

landscaping. it's love/hate.

What are your plans for landscaping your yard? Will you try to grow vegetables, or is NoDak's weather too prohibitive (like MT where I live). Do you think you have a green thumb?

First off: yes, I think do have a green thumb -- when I'm not too busy. I used to looooove taking care of plants. I have books and all sorts of knowledge on their delicate nature. But the issue is that I don't have time to devote the proper care to most plants, so the green thumb isn't very green at all sometimes.

Now, I'll break down the landscaping for you.

Gardening
I have planted a few vegetables this year, but only the garlic and green beans are coming up. The basil, cilantro, green onions and carrots have not made any appearances. I just planted them in a little patch in our back yard plot, and I didn't start them first. Next year, I will plan ahead and start the seeds inside, giving them a head start for when the frost danger clears.

Beds & Materials
As actual bed-landscaping, our yard is a little messy. In some places, we have rocks covering the beds. In others, just bare soil. I'm not sure how to proceed. Rocks look nice at first, but with the amount of wind and weather we get here they immediately become covered in leaves and debris. I'm not sure how to get the leaves and debris out of the rock beds either - they really don't rake easily. How do you do that? (We don't own a leaf blower.) And the bare soil is pretty much impossible to keep weed-free. The dandelions and prickles are one thing, but those teeny tiny little weeds - of which there are thousands - are impossible to eradicate. Now, why not mulch? It's normal here to have 25-40 mph winds, year round. Mulch blows away and the neighbors don't really like it all over their driveway. Also, one winter passes and the remaining mulch turns a sickly gray, rotten color.

Flowers and other plants
Thinking about the weather and our plants, we are in Zone 3b or 4a, depending on the year. This means that we're supposed to dig up pretty much everything that isn't a tree or evergreen bush. That includes perennial flowers like tulips. We're supposed to dig them up and store them somewhere where they won't freeze (i.e. the basement). I didn't know that last year, so I now know why my calla lilies never came up this year. Here are some plants I have found that are hardier than the literature seems to think:

  • Tulips

  • Hosta Lilies

  • Bleeding Hearts

  • Those big, purple irises

  • Hydrangea and lilac bushes

  • Some various types of ground cover

  • The plant below

redLilyring1
What is this plant? Do you know? It's beautiful and I want more. I figure it's some kind of lily...We have them in pink and red.

Last year, we found that there were tulips planted randomly around our house. This spring -- as they started to come up -- I dug up the bulbs and moved them to a few specific beds. My disturbance of their growth stunted them, so we only got a few blooms this year (and some are very small). But next year, watch out! Tulips everywhere.

tulips

tulips

tulips

tulips

We also have a 10' long window box attached to our house. When we moved in, it was full of dirt and dead plants. I planted some geraniums in it last year and they really did not do well. It was a combination of poor lighting (geranium is a 'full sun' plant and the box only gets partial sun) and low moisture. Since it's a wooden box, it did not hold moisture at all, so the plants were often too dry (even when watered daily). This year, I hope I've solved the issue by doing a few things differently.
  1. I shoveled the dirt out of the box and instead bought 4 of those long rectangular plastic containers to set inside the box.

  2. I made sure to get flowers that were for 'partial sun' or 'shade'. (I got begonias in 2 colors.)

I have watered them a few times, and I do feel that the soil is staying moist a lot longer because of the plastic boxes (they also have trays on the bottom of them, which help). I only planted them two weeks ago, so there hasn't been much growth. But they aren't dead yet, so that's a start, right?!

I really love the look of flowers around the home (even though I hate bees; but our hydrangea and lilac do NOT help with that issue anyway).

For now though, our yard focus is on getting the back yard in order. I haven't forgotten that project; it just got side-tracked due to school, work, and the ever-expanding sunroom makeover project! More on that in the coming weeks.