Inspiration to Plant

Last weekend, Dave and I went to our good friends’, Breelynd and Brandon, house for a surprise-ish birthday party for Bree. While we had a blast eating incredible food, enjoying a local keg, and sucking at a very fun lawn game (what was it, German?), what I left excited about (other than how we somehow are ALWAYS excited and chatty after leaving Bree and Brandon — everyone should have friends like that in their lives) was the inspiration I gleaned from Bree’s extraordinary landscaping.

I didn’t take any pictures, since I thought it might be creepy and more than weird to be snapping shots of her, um, plants, in the midst of such a cool shindig. However, I will show you some of the goodies I was stirred into buying.

Until this point in my life, I have intermittent experience with flowers. As a child, my mother always encouraged us to help her with weeding and planting, so many of the flowers and plants that she bought hold a solid, unwavering place in my heart. I see them and I’m brought back to simplicity and fun and love; it’s wonderful. So, several of these plants elicit similar feelings. As I grew older, I became selfish with my time and my thoughts and wouldn’t consider such things as plants; college, bills, friends, love, jobs all came first. But, now I have Dave, who makes me feel as secure as, somehow, the plants do, and a house that may need a lot more time and energy but that we love, and it deserves some landscaping that shows we love it. And let it be known that I know very little about the plants themselves, beyond the simple task of actually digging and covering and watering.

In a weird way, some of the plants accomplish giving me that wonderful feeling along with a somber clouded feeling. While I love the Silver Mound Artemisia that I recall my grandmother lovingly tending and my young feet always wanting to gently graze, it also reminds me of her last days as, essentially, a shut-in within a sterile assisted living facility, unable to tend a garden or even go to the bathroom on her own. It reminds me that she’s gone, and it hurts. Planting it seemed like saying a prayer, although I’m not a “prayer person” – or perhaps more like acknowledging that I still think of her daily and carry her lessons (and, at times, her attitude and stubbornness) with me.

It looks spiky, but I SWEAR it’s soooo soft!

Similarly, the Dusty Miller brings me great joy paired with serious sadness. Mom used them a lot at the house and, while it’s never been said, I assume they were one of Dad’s favorites. It could have been just a budget that we had or the fact that Mom liked them, but we always used the extras, along with a few geraniums to brighten up his headstone. To see them alive is like seeing his spirit, which I don’t remember much at all, still well and alive around us.

Then there are just the fun ones that were either inspired by Bree’s gardens and foundation plantings and even her hanging planters, or by the heirloom gardens that I see at the Cooperstown Farmers Museum or other living history locales (Gen. Herkimer Home, Upper Canada Village, Orchard House, etc). The romantic timelessness leaves you feeling relaxed and ready to create. Anything. It’s like stepping into Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott’s timeless shoes.

Oh, and we can’t forget the front of the house! Our house is north-facing, so with the addition of a huge old tree right in front of it, it’s hard to grow much around the foundation. When we first arrived, I added a hydrangea plant (‘cuz I loves ’em!) on the opposite side of the tree so that it gets sun, a partial shade bush, and a few chicks-and-hens that my mother gave me. Otherwise, we’ve got a hosta trio which doesn’t work since the East side gets some sun…aaaaand that’s about it. They look like “Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear.”

So, hopefully it works — I transplanted the baby and the mama together to appear to be one larger plant (still not as huge as the papa, but it’s better) with three fern plants in between. When they grow more, it should create a much more pleasing ground cover. I’m excited to see what next year brings!

The east side of the house gets some good morning sun, but a little shade from the porch. Last year, I just threw a few annuals there. THIS time, I decided to FINALLY put in a boxwood bush along with a few dramatic friends.

Mind you, I haven’t finished buying (I know, it’s already July, I’m behind) — I still have some potted planting that I’d like to do. But, for now, I can feel better about some of my surroundings. My goal for next year is to continue this trend, including some more old-fashioned type plants (thinkin’ phlox) to our side of the garage and more planter groupings on/near the porch.

And, while we’re at it, I thought I’d give an update on our garden and my beautiful rose plant. As you can see, the left side of the garden gets the most sun, and clearly the tomatoes are taking over. I staked them not too long ago (they had already gotten naughtily overgrown, or else I’d have used trellises or cages) so that the lettuces could keep going strong. By the way, we haven’t bought bagged lettuce in a couple of weeks, they’ve been doing that well! (We eat salad with pretty much every dinner, so that’s saying something.) The romaine is perfect and incredible, and the mesculin mix is delish! Obviously, the basil has been flowering and I haven’t done a good enough job to keep it short and squat with large leaves, but we’re using it and its taste hasn’t been changed — gotta work on those better next year.

Oh! Here’s a cheesecake shot of some gorgeous bulbous growths (that sounds disgusting) that our pepper and tomato plants are showing. Awesome! I’m just glad we’ve grown ANYTHING since our neighbor insisted that her three attempts failed. 🙂 Whew!

Here’s my yellow rose plant, which I didn’t think would do much of anything this year — but, as you can see, it bloomed! (Actually, we’ve seen a few blooms — this was quite a hot day, so it’s a little wilted, but happy nonetheless.)