Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Transformation of a Garden and a Self

For those of you who have visited this blog before, you'll know that my husband and I have worked hard on our gardens this spring.  Over time, the flower beds in our yard became unruly and overgrown, uninteresting, and unloved.

The front bed, transformed this spring.

When we first bought this house 17 years ago, my desire for gardening grew.  I had always grown little pots of things on the balcony of the apartment where we had lived prior, and was eager to finally fully immerse myself in 'real' gardening.

Can you see the pink hydrangea on the side of the porch?

Our new old house needed lots of love and remodeling.  The yard was overgrown, filled with too many trees in awkward locations for this small property.  We set about ripping out many things, keeping others, and planting things that made my heart sing.

Calamintha, close-up.  Three of these surround the Japanese Stewartiia tree in the front bed.

I felt like a true gardener at last, and it became my 'release' after the work day was over.  I'd lose myself in the soil, the bulbs, the flowers, the sounds and smells of nature.  It brought me such peace and satisfaction.

The pink hydrangea is so beautiful.  I can see it while seated on the porch.

Fast forward a few years, to when I became pregnant with my first child.  As my spring due date approached, I never dreamed my gardening routine would change.  I pictured the baby, happily cooing in a little carrier near me, while I trimmed plants and deadheaded spent flowers.

Reality set in very fast, once my daughter was born.  I barely had time to eat and shower, let alone garden.  She was an infant who preferred to be held much of the time and slept very little during the day -- unless it was on ME.

A view of the porch, with my grandmother's antique wicker set.  
Salmon begonias in pot.
The gardening I once enjoyed so much became a chore, and nothing more.  I spent even less time outside as baby #2 came along.  Any planting, weeding or trimming was a challenge, as the kids needed tending instead.  When they were toddlers, the priority was to keep an eye on them.  As the girls grew slightly older,  I could, at last, turn my back on them to do a bit of gardening.  Only then, every time I turned toward soil and plants, I'd hear, "Mom, watch me do this! Watch me do it again!"

Lavender torenia, in one of the pots on the porch.
My garden was no longer receiving prompt attention from me, and my heart was very sad.  I gave up on it.

Purple torenia lives in another pot on the opposite side of the porch.
The kids grew older still, and now there was more time to garden, but the desire was no longer there.

Sweet potato vine (ipomoea), geraniums, ivy and Gerbera daisies by the stairs.
My husband grew impatient with me, because plants had just taken over, throwing seeds anywhere, and new plants sprang up in unwelcome places.  Weeds happily set up residence, too.

In the back yard, a glimpse of a peony, iris leaves, and true geranium (cranesbill).
Last year, our family dealt with big issues, as our daughter became sick with anorexia, and I had a hysterectomy.  Gardening was the furthest thing from my mind, as card-making had replaced it as my form of meditation and therapy in the previous couple of years.

Lavender by the dining room window.  It is one of my favorite plants.
In the winter, my husband strongly urged me to come up with new ideas for the flower beds, and gave me free rein at the garden center.  I spoke to a nursery expert, and she helped guide me to the right plants for our needs.

Thunbergia vine, in a patio pot out back.
The hard work began more than a month ago, as we once again ripped out plants we no longer favored, dug up sod, and created new shapes and textures in the garden.  

Thyme, sharing space in a patio pot with thunbergia.
This past weekend, I spent many hours shopping and planting annual flowers, both in the front yard and the back.  As they grow and fill in, I would love to share pictures of them with you.

My beloved blue hydrangeas, for which this blog is named.
 With all the hard work we've done, the way the garden is shaping up again, I feel a renewed interest in spending more time outside with my plants.

Lady's mantle, transplanted around a hydrangea.
As I watered everything this afternoon, in the quiet hours that the kids were in school, I had time to reflect on things.  

Lavender in the afternoon light.
My gardening tale mirrors my life.  When the girls came along, I devoted all of my time to raising them.  I neglected the garden, and I neglected myself.  My weight crept up, my health declined in some ways, and I didn't do enough things to make ME happy.

Love the way the sunlight illuminates this.
After years of neglect, both the flowers and I are enjoying a resurgence of health and positivity.  I have lost 22 pounds since early February this year, I try to do yoga at least twice a week, and I feel stronger all the time. The clothes I've worn no longer fit me, and I'll soon need to get new ones (but not too many; I have many more pounds to shed!).  I take more pride in my own appearance, and certainly that of my yard, considering all the effort put into it.

When I realized this connection today, it made me humbly grateful for all that I have.  I count my blessings in the thousands, from a roof over my head and a loving, tightly-knit family that I am proud of, to the sun that shines and the rain that falls.

I also count my blogging friends among these blessings.  I treasure the relationships I've developed with you, and thank you for them.

Peace and blessings to you,


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Blooms

It's definitely Spring here in the Northeast, and flowers are surrounding my house.  With the warm winter we had, Mother Nature is a little "off", and some flowers that used to bloom all together harmoniously have followed their own schedules instead.  My favorite bed of irises, peonies and geranium (cranesbill) didn't look quite as spectacular as it has in earlier years.  Some of the best pix I have of that bed date back to when we didn't even own a computer or a digital camera, so I can't easily show you.  ;o)

A rose from my garden, in a bouquet I arranged for the dining room table.  This one is very fragrant.

Bouquets of roses, peonies and irises, elevated on a crystal cake pedestal.

This container is an old soap dispenser I had used in the bathroom.
The pump stopped working, but the vessel is in fabulous, shiny condition.

I like the way the crystal pattern is reflected in the chrome vase.

Taken with a telephoto lens, I'm surprised at the clarity of this pic.  This bunny sat directly
in the center beneath our trampoline for hours.  Couldn't get the reflection of his eye to go away.

I have several clusters of chives in the garden, grown mostly for the flowers.
We always forget to use them in our cooking!

Our azaleas have never looked better.  They've just really taken off this year.

My favorite iris, so sweet is its perfume.

Yes, this is my clothesline.  ;o)  I thought the two clothespins looked neat against the blue sky.

The clematis that came with the house.  I got 7 blooms out of it this year - whoo hoo, banner year!
Thanks so much for dropping by!

Peace and blessings to you,


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Our Garden

Hello friends!  Last weekend, my husband and I transformed the front garden bed.  It's been needing work for years.  The "before" pictures show a blah-blah-blah front yard, with a straight garden bed and ripped-out bushes.
The bushes we had planted there more than a decade ago didn't do well.  The azaleas were relocated about two years ago, and seem to like where they are now.

Not my photo (photo credit). I can only wish my euonymus bushes looked this good!
The euonymus bushes got infested with scale and shed leaves continually, looking spindly and weak.  (A woman who works at the plant nursery where I bought our new things said, "I always steer people away from euonymus bushes.  Just say that word out loud, real slow:  'you-wanna-mess'" - LOL, and it's true!)

I know it's not all that exciting to see, but I am THRILLED that we have a new shape to the bed, and bushes, and a tree, and some perennials.  We need mulch, and some annual flowers, too.  This was enough work for one day, let me tell you!  My big strong husband cut out the sod with just a shovel, God bless him. He didn't need to go to the gym that day. ;)

Here are some flowers from the back yard:

We inherited a patch of these irises when we moved here.  These have the sweetest perfume.
Another inherited beauty, though no perfume.  
A viburnum hangs over my fence from my neighbor's yard.  So pretty!

Lilies of the Valley from our yard, another inherited plant.  We don't have too many,
but these few gave me pleasure on my kitchen windowsill.
More inheritance.  These irises never grow above a foot high, and are very fleeting.

Thank you SO much for visiting today!

Peace and blessings to you,

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