Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The cottage garden of my dreams

Well, it's still mainly in my dreams since it's going to take me a while to fix it up. AND I'm not a gardener. I don't know anything but what I've read online and in a few magazines. And I don't even enjoy the process, I'm not one of those people who like digging in the dirt while enjoying the outdoors etc etc. But I really, really enjoy the results so I'm trying it out just the same. I've given myself A LOT of work, I can tell you.

I just can't stand having a front and backyard completely barren except for lawn which isn't even a real lawn everywhere but has mounds of clover and other things mixed with ant palaces. Not my idea of a nice place to hang out. I don't really mind the clover but I don't want to sink my feet into ant palaces. And there's no coze-factor if you know what I mean. And the coze-factor is what I'm after. I didn't get any good before pics of the backyard but here's what our front yard looked like when we moved in last year.

The house is cute but the yard only has potential at this point, there's nothing between the house and the street and people cut across the yard (we're the last house on the street). So I have wild and big plans for this. Wild as in wildflowers and vines, big as in removing a lot of the lawn to make flower beds and putting up a white split rail fence around the front. Don't know if it'll all happen this summer, we'll see.

You know, I don't even know if our house qualifies as a cottage but that's what I've dubbed it since it doesn't seem to be anything else either. It's small at least :) And it'll look a lot more like a cottage when I'm done with it.

Since this is supposed to be a shoestring project I've bought a lot of seed to try to save money. While doing some online research about gardening and stuff I came across this website called Wintersown which gave me ideas on how to make the most of my seeds. You basically use recycled containers from food and stuff and turn them into mini green houses, plant your seeds during winter and put them out to come up on their own just like they would in nature. I used milk jugs (we go through a lot of milk).

Since I'm running behind on a lot of stuff lately it sort of turned into spring sowing for me, I only planted the first jugs a couple of weeks ago. It works though, a lot of stuff has come up already.
So far I've planted Pennyroyal (a kind of mint), English lavender, Morning glory, Butterfly bush and Clematis. And I have a lot of other things waiting to get into the ground. Luckily the spring planting season here it pretty long, I should have another month or so to go before it gets too hot.

I love vines and fragrant flowers so that's mainly what I have, and then wildflowers for color and ease, they basically take care of themselves.

While at the thrift store last week I happened to come across a few items that I thought would be great in our backyard. This former message board turned garden art was one of them.

It's already got a nice shabby chic patina and I imagine it'll get more of that hanging out in the yard. I just nailed it up on the fence. Mom suggested I put a Bible verse on there and maybe I will. For now it's good the way it is. There will be a bench underneath it eventually (see the tree trunk pieces? They'll be the supports, half-way buried in the ground with a plank across the top). And there will be wildflower beds on each side.

My husband can tell you I have this thing for dragging home cut up trees lately :) I found some pieces in a park a few months ago and made my husband stuff them in the trunk of the car. And then with the snow storm about a month ago one of my in-laws' trees bit the dust and provided me with some more trunk pieces. I'm not sure what to do with all of them yet, but they look garden-y to me :)

Our backyard has a lot of unused shady corners that collect old leaves, some rainfall mud and grows little or no grass or other things. I.e. nasty corners. So I've determined to turn them into little garden rooms with seating and hangout paraphernalia. One of those corners was this one, on three sides walled in by the garage, the workshop and the kid's playhouse and also shaded by a tree. Since our part of Texas can get scorching hot shade is a good thing, if you know how to use it. I thought this particular corner would be perfect for our hammock.

Ideally I would like to get concrete step stones to put on the ground to turn it into a real mini courtyard. It'll have to wait, though. In the mean time I found another pretty thing at the thrift store, this window mirror (I saw the exact same one at Hobby Lobby for $35 and I got it for $5) and it goes perfectly in our hammock corner.

I can report that it's very relaxing to lay in the hammock and see nothing of the world but what is reflected in the mirror (top of the backyard fence and tree tops) and the sky and trees above :) I know because I spent a couple of hours reading House Beautiful out there the other day :) A rare luxury. Here's the view from the hammock.

No leaves as of yet but it'll only be a couple more days from the look of it. Yea, spring is here!

I also got some step stones a few weeks ago at Lowe's to make a little garden path. Our roof is orange so I thought brick color would be fine, I quite like it actually. I'll bury them as soon as I can get to it. That whole area where my mini greenhouses are will become a fragrant lavender flower bed and honeysuckle and moon flower vines will climb the patio wall.

That shadow in the pic is of my mom, the sun worshiping Swede :) She's been visiting for a month but is going back to Sweden tomorrow. Swedes do this sun worshiping thing as soon as the first warming sun rays appear in the spring. All over Sweden you find Swedes perched on park benches, stair steps or whatever they can find with their eyes closed and their faces turned toward the sun. I guess that's what those long, dark winters do to you.

That broken door is an interior door the former owners just put there so it's peeling now. We haven't bothered with it yet since the whole work shop behind the door is taking in water and we have to fix the whole thing eventually. We plan to turn it into a workout room for my husband, mainly. The hunk wants to keep looking hunky :) I'll try to get a work out in as well, I guess... Hate working out.. But I must.. I guess.

This round thing, which I think is one side of one of those huge "spools" they have piping on when building roads or houses or whatnot, is going to be a low-slung garden table. I found it on the empty lot next to ours in a spot where junk seems to collect. It's a good thing it was close to home since it is h-e-a-v-y, but I was able to roll it home on my own. It's positioned on top of four cinder blocks in a square and I'm hoping to fashion some low seating looking something like the seating in this post (the first couple of pics) sometime this summer. It should be a nice lounging spot overlooking the backyard. Out of sight on the left hand side will be a flower bed with some kind of vegetation and over in the far corner of the yard (at the top of the pic) will be wildflower beds following the fence and softening the corner.

This round flower bed is something I did last summer. Previous owners left this concrete rectangle in the middle of the yard, I suspect it held the pump for the huge above ground pool they used to have (we have a huge indentation in the backyard to show for it, looks like we've had aliens visiting).

So I figured I could hide it in the middle of a flowerbed. I planted some wildflower seed found at the Dollar tree store in the midst of summer last year and they still came up. This year I have a few perennials coming up, like this one.

Don't know what it is but I'm sure it'll be beautiful. Last fall I had a ton of tall pink wildflowers in this bed, I think they're called Cosmos. They set a ton of seeds which I made sure to have land in the flower bed and I think that's what's coming up all over the bed now, just tiny seedlings as of now.
Even have some in here.

This tree trunk won't stay here permanently. I intend to put some kind of statuary or bird bath in the middle of this concrete slab whenever I find one for the right price.

I realize our garden won't be a traditional cottage garden. If I had a gardener to do the work for me I wouldn't mind it, but when it's only yours truly - the less work needed the better. Hence the wildflowers. The vines and the fragrant flowers will be more work as far as pruning and watering goes but I'll give it a try this summer and see how I cope. The watering is really the worst, it's a daily, sometimes twice daily chore around here in the middle of summer. We're also keeping a good chunk of lawn in the backyard for the kids to run around on and some out front as well so we won't upset the city with a wildflower meadow but more like wildflower beds in the front yard. Apparently that's more accepted :)

So this is what I've been up to in the last month or so. I'm not looking forward to having to clear out the lawn to make all those flowerbeds but it has to be done now. Sigh. Hopefully it'll be all worth it when I'm done :) I'll keep you updated as I go along.

Ps. Linking up with Posh Pieces.
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  1. Oh I just love how your yard is coming along. Starting with nothing is always hard, because it seems like forever to get things going. I am glad that you linked up to my Bring in the spring party, and that you shared something from outdoors. Spring is here!

  2. Love your ideas. I too like making things from "Free" or recycled things. My husband and I just made a 8x10 greenhouse from all recycled things--so fun. We are fortunate to have a roofing/solar company so we get tons of stuff left over from jobs. I used roofing tiles as a border to make long walk ways through our yard also for garden box trim--too cute. Now we have about 20 really nice pallets, think I will try the garden recliners next. Best wishes on your garden, and keep sharing--Love it! Pam


I really appreciate you taking the time to comment because I know you didn't have to. Additional ideas or related techniques are always welcome, the more we brainstorm the better all of our end products will be.
While I try to answer all comments I sometimes don't make it or have your contact info. If you don't hear back from me it doesn't mean I hate you, I just ran out of time (or simply had no way of contacting you).
I wish you a great day!

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