Black Thumb

I love green. It means so many things: eco-friendliness, newness, fresh living plants. It’s my favorite color, and in fact it’s my eye color. What’s not to love about green? Well, for the plants I haven’t had luck with, apparently lots.

When we moved into our house a few years ago, vegetation was the last thing on my mind. I was much more focused on the interior “let’s make it ours” aspect of being a new homeowner. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still concerned about our view around the joint. And, we’ve had two years of quasi-successful (our first year was definitely better) herb and vegetable growth. But, I’m dying to create an exterior space to be proud of – while keeping it, hopefully, relatively low-maintenance. Since, y’know, I’m all about making things easier (a new take on simplification) as life gets a tad more complicated around here.

Last summer, we said a sad goodbye to the honkin’, troublesome, older-than-God tree that made it near impossible to grow much in the front border around our house. Some deep roots are still underground (and, at times, viewable at the surface), but we feel a lot safer when strong storms hit the area.

Let’s just say that I’m pretty ignorant about all this stuff. I’ve discovered that we’ve got plenty of early-season bulb flowers (daffodils, tulips) that pop up this time of year, but the organization of it all is pretty haphazard and not attractive in the least (and half of them don’t bloom – the biggest challenge here is the angle of the house; our east side gets an okay amount of sun (I’d say partial) while our west gets damn near nothin’). I’ve tried adding some annuals each year, getting rid of the hostas (after we had success with one and major failure with two others), putting in some ferns (also haven’t done very well), and a couple of boxwoods and a hydrangea – which I’m clearly not advanced enough to master. *sigh*

So, while it seems that I can handle growing edibles, my green thumb ends there. I’m going to do some more research and find some blogspiration, and ask that anyone reading who may have a bright green thumb (I know some of you must!) for any low-maintenance plantings that work well in Upstate New York, feel free to blurt it out! The biggest challenge, ultimately, is the fact that we don’t have much (or equal) sunshine, so it’s difficult to keep things symmetrical. Here are some pictures from a) FOREVER ago and b) the best the space has ever looked (after I transplanted hostas, added solar lights and mulched)

The ivy below the windows on each side of the foundation has started causing some problems, so I’ve been working on digging it out for good over the past year – ‘cuz goodness knows it keeps coming back. Some opinions that I need:

– Paint the foundation a deep tan (and the shutters glossy black)? The roof is hunter green and I hate it, but hey, it’s a roof…and our front door is a bright, cheery red. The porch needs some paint to let it blend in more, but I’ve gotta have “the men” in the family take a look at its stability first.
– Red cedar or plain ol’ chocolate brown mulch? Or none of the above?
– Ditch the stone border? We’ve got lots of brick floating around (that I’m considering Craigslisting) but I feel that it would probably also look kinda ghetto. So, just go “sans stone” or work with it?
– What plants have you had luck with, or do you think might work for this space? I’d like to add a few different levels for the eye to look at, but of course the ultimate goal is just to have a space that CAN grow. 🙂 I’m up for greenery like bushes or dwarf trees OR a variety of perennials. Any ideas would be great!

On a side note, another “just need the money first” project that I’m dying to take care of before we ever try to sell this place is having the driveway done (it’s been decades), which would include amending our sidewalk situation. Seriously, if you look down the street (a very long street, at that), the only “break” in the sidewalk is where our driveway takes it over. Silliness! It drives me crazy. Plus, the unevenness of our driveway can’t possibly be good for our cars. Every time a visitor comes, I feel ashamed that they have to pull into this crappy “whatchya think of me now?” first impression. So, clearly we won’t be DIYing that undertaking – but, man, will I be a happy camper when it’s done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.