Wednesday, July 7, 2010

With a little help from our friends (part III)

A final update on what we accomplished with my parents' help in May.  It's a long time coming, but at least you get really good "after" pics.

If you don't already think that we're abusing our guests, you will after hearing this next one.

It wasn't enough for my parents to completely transform two rooms with paint in the two and a half days they were here.  I decided we also needed to do a complete makeover of the exterior, as well.

I don't have any good "before" pictures here, since I was busy trying to disguise the sad state of our landscaping.  Our house has the standard long, narrow foundation beds extending along the entire front of the house.  The weeds there were getting out of control--one particularly notable one was taller than me!  The previous owners had planted azaleas in these beds.  For some reason, most of the azaleas in the west bed were doing well, but the ones in the east bed were on their last legs.

You can get a hint of what we were dealing with in the background of this cute picture of my nephew.  He's enjoying that moving day means furniture is on the lawn--who needs playground equipment when you have bookcases!  But back to what we were supposed to be focusing on: the azaleas have more dead sticks than leaves, and the weeds are taking over.

While my mother and I painted, my father went out and dug up the dead and dying azaleas (and the massive weeds, while he was at it).  Then Mom and I came in, and planted some herbs she'd been kind enough to pick up for me, plus some other herbs and cosmos I had started from seed.  And three pepper plants for good measure.  I'm totally a function over form person, plus I think a pepper plant, with nice ripening fruit, looks lovely in its own right.

Here's the bed about a week after planting:

And here it is today:

Our landscaping is a little lopsided right now--to the east of the front door, there are all these nice small annuals and herbs, and to the west, a few monstrous azaleas.  I'm okay with that for this summer.  I think I'll wait until fall to even it out, when the weather is better for both gardeners and for young plants.  Maybe remove a few shrubs from the west, and add a few to the east.  Or maybe just get rid of the azaleas altogether.

We also have a long, narrow bed bordering our driveway (no before pics here).  The last 10' or so of the bed was completely full of weeds--no plants at all.  It also gets as much sun as anywhere else in the yard, so I decided this was the perfect place for our tomatoes and the rest of our pepper plants.  Again, Dad pulled all the weeds and tilled the impenetrable soil, and then Mom and I swooped in and took all the glory by planting the plants.

Here they are a week after installation:

And again today:

Between the poor soil and the mushroom compost we mulched with (and the great prep work Dad did), I hardly have to do any weeding back here.  Except where the weeds trail through the fence from the neighbor's yard.  My father removed some old, crumbling pieces of plastic border fencing from the property line--I'm thinking I might need to put something like that back in.

I'm not quite sure why the pepper plants are so short.  I think it's some combination of: 1. late planting and too long spent in cells may have stunted their growth, 2. the soil is not very good, and 3. our neighborhood deer came by a few weeks back, and had to taste each plant to realize he didn't like them, and clipped off all the leaders.  Perhaps this pruning explains why they're so full!  They're starting to bloom now (the plants in the front have peppers that are coming along nicely), and our summers are nice and long here, so they should have plenty of time to recover and have nice full yields.

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