Landscaping Mania!

This is probably one of my most favorite projects to date. Landscaping! Not that I know what I am doing or have a green thumb, but I have dreamed about pretty flowers in the front yard forever.  Over the past two years, I have looked into full sun plants and different varieties that grow in Louisiana. Last year for mothers day, I think, my husband bought me a book called Louisiana Gardener’s Guide. This book has been my go to when laying out the new flower beds. It shows many plants that thrive in our hot weather, as well as when to plant them and how to care for them.

Another great resource was a video entitled “How to design a garden.”   Some of the questions it asks is: What is your purpose? What kind of plants do you need to buy? Focal point in your yard? Everything should be visually balanced.  This video made me make a list.  Far too often I see yards that have all of these plants haphazardly placed and it just looks weird.  I didn’t want my yard to look that way. We pulled up, to the consternation of our neighbors, some of the different shrubs that were scattered across the yard in different places.  I really wanted the front yard to make sense and to be visually pleasing.

20140423-191850.jpg
The azaleas above we kept. They are on the left of the entry stairway. they are beautiful and did not have much ivy growing in their bed. The bed to the right of the stairwell had poison ivy ropes bigger than my thumb!!! We were always battling “the jungle” over there and decided to just level it and start over. The only thing kept were the two dwarf palmettos. I was looking at the pictures of the house when it was built and I am almost positive I can make out a grainy dwarf palmetto where these two sit. So, it is possible that they are original to the house.

Here is another video about laying out plants and flowers:

Here is a video about: Landscape design basics. This is a simpler design than the previous video.

Another great tip was that amateur gardeners (such as myself), tend to go and buy a bunch of plants and expect them to get along. Sometimes too many plants are bought and not given enough room to grow. These were all things I took in to consideration when sketching my plan.

So, after figuring out what plants would thrive, the next thing I did was visit a few local places to see what they had. I am sad to report that the big box home improvement stores had very little to choose from and that most varieties of plants were not very hearty in our weather.  So, I skipped those and went to Fads and Frames, a local hobby/craft/nursery here in town.  WOW!  Not only did they have an amazing selection of plants, most of them were sourced from area nurseries in Forest Hill and the staff was very knowledgable.  One awesome man saved me from buying three plant looking shrub things that can grow up to ten feet tall!!!  So glad he pointed that out!  I wanted something tall in the back of the bed, but not THAT tall! haha.

20140423-191820.jpg

My sketched plan!!!!

I loaded up my car a couple times and brought my plants home. According to the advice above, experts say when starting out, pick three colors and bring them all the way down and around the full length of the bed so your eye will follow it and it will be pleasing to look at. I thought this was great advice!  I chose red, white and purple.  The left side of my bed gets partial sun and allll the way to the left, in the summer, it gets mostly shade.  The bed that curves around the house and is on the right side of the house gets full sun. At least 6-8 hours a day.  So, I knew that I needed to pick different flowers for either side. But, I still wanted to keep to my red, purple and white. I poked around a couple days and went back and forth, took pictures, sketched it out and then found enough plants within my color scheme that would work and that were not too fussy or hard to take care of.  This is how it went:

20140423-191719.jpg

20140423-191740.jpg

Forgive my photography and my finger in the frame above. I had the sun in my eye and did not know, until right now, that I managed to get my finger. Oops! The first thing we did was lay out black thick trash bags, contractor grade, over the grass that we wanted to kill so we would not have it coming up or taking over our flower beds. We left it like this while the brick work was going on and due to it getting moved accidentally and the high winds, we had a couple spots that got uncovered and the grass never fully died. That, combined with it not really getting very hot and staying cool, it did not kill the grass as well as we hoped. Going back and reading, it is better when you do it and the area has full sun and gets hot. I already bought the flowers, so I really did not want to wait.  I also used round up “everything” killer to spray along the bricks in the back of the bed and also in the front of the bed.  We have a very aggressive variety of St. Augustine grass and I wanted to make sure that it was knocked out in the back and front of the bed. It also helped when we laid the brick border that the grass was already dead.  Our grass has been known to take over stepping stones and bricks. We have had to dig them out.  I will most likely spray round up around the border once or twice a year, just to keep it at bay and out of the flower bed.

On to plan B which was laying kraft paper over the half dead grass and shoveling the new topsoil on top.  You can also use newspaper or cardboard.  Using paper, cardboard or kraft paper is more natural than using landscape fabric. I was reading that landscape fabric is petroleum based and does not really “return to the soil”.  I really wanted whatever we laid out to disintegrate that, and the worms like cardboard and paper. When they eat it, they basically compost it and keep your flower beds rich with microorganisms that flowers like.  So, kraft paper it was. I happened to have a roll left over from another project and interestingly enough, it was exactly how much I needed.

The topsoil I had delivered and pictures of laying the kraft paper.

20140423-191918.jpg

20140423-192031.jpg

20140423-192107.jpg

20140423-192132.jpg

I used an old hose to map out where I wanted to set up the brick border for the flower bed. We have piles of bricks in the back yard. After the brick mason used all the bricks he needed, that left the rest up for grabs to be used for the flowerbeds. Most of the bricks are from the chimneys that were taken out, plus there are street pavers and old “Rapides” bricks. We did not even take a small dent out the huge pile. Geez! I guess that means I have plenty of bricks for backyard landscaping too!!!

20140423-191956.jpg

After doing all that. I laid out on the porch with my tongue hanging out telling myself that I was getting too old for manual labor! 🙂 It was then that I noticed that the porch light is hung crooked…..sheesh…another thing to add to the “fix it” list.

20140423-192151.jpg

We wheeled around the topsoil and mixed in Black Kow manure compost. My kids were absolutely fascinated that we were putting “cow poop” in our flower bed. It was really fun trying to explain. It was even more fun listening to the silly songs they made up about “cow poop”. hehe

20140423-192220.jpg

20140423-192542.jpg

20140423-192600.jpg

20140423-192634.jpg

20140423-192654.jpg

20140423-192720.jpg

Goodness, there is that finger again!  Time to bring the flowers around and to lay them all out according to the plan I sketched to see if everything is going to work out.  The kids helped us with misc. chores as you can see. They had a lot of fun and were excited about it. (Now, even two weeks later, they ask how “their” plants are doing and help me water them. I am happy that they take pride and ownership in this project).

20140423-193903.jpg

20140423-192744.jpg

20140423-192802.jpg

20140423-192822.jpg

I quickly learned that saying “put the caladiums over here, put the Dianella over there” meant absolutely nothing to anyone but me. So, instead, I just handed them the plant tag and said “go find this plant and put it there”. That worked!

20140423-192843.jpg

20140423-192905.jpg

Here it is all laid out. I was pleased to see that I bought enough plants and that everything worked out nicely. I left a lot of space in between the flowers to give them room to grow and spread out this summer. A couple varieties, like the shasta daisies, like to have lots of room.

20140423-192920.jpg

20140423-192935.jpg

20140423-193009.jpg

In the picture above, you can see a very old yellow iris bed. We had an old pecan cut down last year right in front of the bed. It was getting brittle and dropping limbs. Now that it is gone, this bed gets a lot of sun. In the eight years we have been here, I have never seen these irises grow like that!!!!  I was reading that irises need to be culled every 2-3 years and redistributed. I have never done that. I guess, now that I know, I will do that this fall.  I also learned that irises will not bloom unless you cull them and they have enough room to grow and get enough water. They are very compacted, several layers deep. Sounds like a good fall project!!!!

We did have one lonely iris bloom on the edge of the bed. He must be new and got enough water.

20140423-194411.jpg

20140423-193926.jpg

After we got them all planted into the ground, we put black mulch on top to keep the weeds out and to make it look purty. 🙂 (There is that dang finger again….sigh…my photography skills are seriously lacking).

20140423-193939.jpg

20140423-193953.jpg

20140423-194012.jpg

20140423-194031.jpg

20140423-194052.jpg

20140423-194107.jpg

20140423-194126.jpg

20140423-194141.jpg

20140423-194203.jpg

20140423-194217.jpg

20140423-194235.jpg

Ewwww yuck! We got the job done though!

20140423-194258.jpg

20140423-194316.jpg

20140423-194339.jpg

20140423-194358.jpg

Dirt pile before, dirt pile after! That is a LOT of dirt…ouch my back!!!!

20140423-194435.jpg

Anyone need some starter pots for square foot gardening or misc projects? Shoot me an email! Reduce, reuse, recycle!!
20140423-194930.jpg

Some things you don’t see: the tiny dwarf palmetto we planted all the way to the right of the bed so that we would have a third palmetto. We found it close to one of the other established palmettos and moved him. Rule of thirds. Also, we planted about 3 dozen gladioli bulbs along the back edge of the far right corner by the steps. I have not had very good luck with bulbs. They should start coming up soon as the ground gets warmer. According to the package, April is the time you plant them in Louisiana!

So, there you have it. Amateur gardening. Not sure what will happen, what will die, what will thrive, etc., but I will keep you posted this summer.  If anything bites the dust, I will make a note of it and try something different.  Right after I planted it all and mulched it, I watered the beds thoroughly. The next day we had lots and lots of rain, so that made them even happier. I have tried to go out and water them every other day (they have been in the ground for two weeks now), to make sure they get good and established. There are couple of them that do not like to stay drenched, so I made myself a binder with all of the tags showing the watering schedule.  I am hoping this helps keep them alive a little longer. I am always amazed that there are some plants that do not like too much water. That is almost like bears not liking honey. Its just not right. Haha.

A list of what I planted starting from left to right:

Caladiums (red. white and purple-part shade)

Laguna (purple- part sun)

Coleus varieties (red, purple – part to full sun depending on the kind)

Dianella or wax lily (white spiky grass thing in the back – full sun)

Geraniums (red – full sun)

Shasta daisies (white – full sun)

Senorita rosalita (purple – full sun)

Salvia (purple – part to full sun)

Thanks for stopping by.  I plan on taking pictures throughout the summer to see what happens.

Andrea

Advertisements

Snow in Louisiana

20140124-130208.jpg

This is crazy stuff! I am kind of shocked because I really did not believe the predictions of snow.

20140124-130408.jpg

20140124-130416.jpg

20140124-130422.jpg

20140124-130428.jpg

20140124-130434.jpg

20140124-130442.jpg

Here is my neighbors’ house:

20140124-130516.jpg

20140124-130522.jpg

We probably won’t see snow like this again for many years to come.

****update: 1/28/14. ^^^Apparently I was wrong. It wasn’t years but only a couple days before we got it again! Lol.

20140129-170357.jpg

20140129-170405.jpg

20140129-170413.jpg

20140129-170420.jpg

20140129-170430.jpg

Porch Planters and Kitchen Cabinets

So, the upper kitchen cabinets are planned. I sketched what I wanted and measured the wall and Steven took that and measured again and calculated the amount of materials needed. Hopefully Thursday we will make our (weekly) trip to the home improvement store. To see my inspiration pics scroll down two posts for all the kitchen talk.

I found this book recently. I have had it for a while. I thought it was time to get it out and dust it off.

20130604-175401.jpg
I want to take all of this:

20130604-175506.jpg

20130604-175516.jpg

And make something like this:

20130604-175551.jpg

20130604-175600.jpg

20130604-175607.jpg

I want to put them:

20130604-175640.jpg

20130604-175657.jpg

Instead of plain wood, I have pulled some different color stains and semi transparent wood paint from other projects. I am trying to use what I have instead of it going in to a landfill somewhere. My idea is to stain or paint each piece of wood a different color.

***UPDATE: To see how they turned out, click here.

Here are my inspiration pics:

I hope to start them this weekend. If I do, I will post some updated pics on how it turned out. Wish me luck!

20130604-180459.jpg

20130604-180505.jpg

20130604-180512.jpg

20130604-180518.jpg

20130604-180525.jpg

RIP Thompson-Hargis Mansion

Last night was very sad for Preservationists in Cenla. The Thompson-Hargis home was irreparably destroyed by fire. At this time we know that it started in the back of the house and according to KALB, the cause was arson perpetuated by a 13 year old girl.  An arrest has been made.

A security guard has been posted at the house remains to deter vandalism until a future disposition of the house can be determined by the family. Built in 1907 (some documents I have say 1902) without the benefit of a house plan by B.F. Thompson, a Canadian, the Thompson-Hargis mansion survived a total of 105 years until its historic reign was brought to an untimely end on September 9, 2012. Rivaling the beautiful and well preserved mansions on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, this mansion was the last one of its kind in Alexandria.

Mansion Row, as it is locally named, will not be the same. RIP grand lady.

20120910-221448.jpg

20120910-221500.jpg

20120910-221521.jpg

20120910-221530.jpg

The above pictures were taken via iPhone as it was unfolding.  For pictures taken this morning, click here to be redirected to the WeSawThat blog.

P.S. I wrote a short post spotlighting this property in 2008 and made the comment that it would not last much longer in the state that it was presently in.  It has been a top post for the past two days, understandably so.  I am sad that this was a fulfilled prophecy. 😦

Work to begin again….

So, my blog has been dormant for several months.  Yes, I know.  Instead of plying you with excuses and listing everything that has happened between now and then, I will spare you (because I hate reading other people’s excuses when they pick up their blog again) and just inform you that work is going to start up on our house August 29th!

In a nutshell, I filed to receive Louisiana Rehabilitation Tax Credits.  We have been approved and most of our work is lined up to commence and be finished by the end of the year.  August 29th, I have a foundation repair service coming to remove the rotted sill on the front corner of the house and back corner of the porch in the back.  Having these sills repaired will be the catalyst to our other rehab projects.  We could not repair the porch, columns, paint, etc., until the foundation was repaired. 

After the foundation repair, you shall see a new roof, paint and other small projects coming to fruition.  Needless to say, I am very excited!  So, forthcoming will be a post on Louisiana Rehabilitation Tax Credits how to apply and who is eligible and after that, I will be blogging and posting pictures of our progress.

Stay tuned….

Alexandria’s Natural Wonder!

I bet none of you knew about one of the greatest natural wonders in Alexandria!  This natural phenomenon occurs about 3 times a year and is quite consistent.  What am I talking about?  A water geyser!  Of course!

Geyser

Friday I arrived home and received a knock on my door from the mailman who told me I had water in my yard.  So, I went out to the side of the house and noted a small, sprinkler type spray coming from the ground.  So, I walked over (not too close) to see what it was and to make sure it was not sewer.  We have had sewer blockage problems lately and have had the city out to clean out the block twice this past month.  I smelled chlorine, so I knew it was clean water.  I stuck my hand in the grass and there was a big hole in the ground.  Sticking my hand in the ground changed it from small sprinkle to a shooting geyser.  I went from getting my grass watered to a free pressure wash for my house!

I had to laugh while calling the plumber.  With old houses its one thing or another.  So, one of our friends came out and looked at it.  The old cast iron pipe cracked.  After 100 years it just finally gave out.  In under an hour it was fixed and everything was back to normal.  One side of my house looks really clean.

This phenomenon is quite predictable.  If you drive by next week, you might catch another geyser…albeit in another area of the lawn.  Check back and don’t miss it!

Andrea