The pursuit of perennial curb appeal

It started out so small, my idea. I was just going to carve out a little flower bed to protect our mailbox post from lawnmower damage and add a little color. That’s all. A weekend project, really.

And then I asked for advice.

The Wysongs, our dear friends and neighbors, popped over to consult and my little flowerbed turned into two gigantic planter boxes. Thank you, DAN.

Of course, now that two months (okay, three) have passed and I’m just about done, I’m inordinately pleased with the project. As my really-happy-the-trenches-are-covered-up-finally neighbors say, the front yard has “character” now. See what I mean…

Before. If you could zoom in, you’d see the almost-falling-over mailbox post that inspired this whole thing.
Dan measured and outlined the plot with spray paint for me. I really liked the idea of removing some of the ugly grass. We have a difficult time keeping it green because of our clay soil, weeds and sloping conditions. That and sometimes someone (writing this blog) might forget to turn on the sprinklers for months at a time. Ahem.
And then the digging. I started by removing the sod, and then realized I needed to expose the irrigation so T could reconfigure the sprinklers. You’re staring at solid clay for the record.
So, I started the project in March… Got derailed by rain and a trip to Germany.
Effectively finished digging in April…
Before getting the irrigation cleared in May. I used full-time doctoral work as my excuse although I don’t think my retired neighbors had much sympathy where this eyesore was concerned!
Mr. T and his pop reconfigured the sprinklers.
And I bought dirt. Only 3.5 yards of soil required. Could’ve used four!
Bought a brand-new wheelbarrow… and broke it on the second day!
After the digging and shoveling and wheelbarrowing, I finally got to the best part… choosing fleurs!
I picked flowering perennials, thank you Costco for having such a great selection!
Spent three hours planting until night fell and I couldn’t see anymore. Almost there!
Designing for a slope was challenging, so I incorporated some rock and tree branches to keep the soil from eroding too much.
And check out that monster mailbox post my father-in-law, Ray, made us. He essentially affixed a wooden casing around the old post. Now someone just has to paint it.
Truth be told, Goliath doesn’t quite know what to make of the new walkway. He keeps stepping into the soft soil and coming out with muddy “socks.”
Sacramento decided to have a heatwave during my planting spell, so I put the flowers in in the evening and used B12 to (hopefully) prevent transplant shock.
I transplanted a couple potted flowers to the planter and even did some long-overdue hedge shaping. I even fertilized the lawn!
Incorporated blue fescue (the grass) and a couple potted herbs from the porch. Might throw in some annuals around the bottom.
In case you wonder, my house is now Bee Central. I had to be extremely careful during planting because of all the honeybees, wasps and bumbles buzzing about.
And butterflies! I grinned like a fool to see butterflies flitting around. (You knew I was easily amused by nature, right?)
The bushy green plant whose name escapes me managed to survive seven years on the front porch. Let’s hope it doesn’t kick off in the cushy new digs.
Everything will get bigger over time, but I may add some more herbs for the summer before things fill in. (For the record, it took a lot of strength not to make these veggie planters!)
“Princess Lily” dwarf alstroemerias in three colors.
Next steps: Bark, a few cobble stones for the bottom, and bender board.
Salvia, a type of sage and apparently, a hallucinogen if smoked (although I don’t think they’re selling that varietal at Costco, ahem.) It’s going to really irritate me if I come out one day and all of my plants are smoked!
The center bush with purple cone flowers is a “Coed hebe” which will get 2-3 feet wide and tall. The bees love it!
The spiky grasses are blue fescue. I contemplated incorporating cacti, but the soil will be too wet.
Lantana. It’s fast-growing and apparently weed-like in its ability to spread. Joy!
We’ll see if it survives!
A few giant cactus zinnias that I grew from seeds my sister gave me for my birthday a couple years ago. So far, these are my first successful seed-grown flowers to date!
Drainage is an issue at the bottom of the hill. Maybe water lilies would work better? (ha)
Now I must fill the empty pots on the porch although between you and me, I’m a little tired of playing in the dirt right now.
Et voila. Everything alive, pruned and happy. Fingers crossed it stays this way as the summer progresses!

Any garden projects in your life right now?


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