Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Spring is in full swing at the McCaffrey house. The tree in our front yard has sprouted beautiful pinkish purple flowers, and our lawn (or should I say our weeds) is growing like crazy thanks to the rain lately.

Today, I spent 2 hours weeding the flower bed in the front yard to get it ready for planting some flowers next weekend. I've never planted a garden before. My husband says I have a black thumb, and I (unfortunately) have to agree with him on this one. I have slaughtered at least 3 orchids that he's given me (can I blame it on the lack of tropical weather in the house?) and the poor little potted tree in my front window is in serious need of some H2O. It's dropped so many leaves that I have to do constant "leaf checks" on the floor because I keep finding Haley gnawing on fallen leaves. I suppose while I'm doing my leaf patrol I could stand to water the plant, right?

The previous owners that lived in this house did absolutely nothing with the garden. We have several overgrown yellow-green shrubs in front of the house (which Google just informed me are called "Golden Euonymus" and are able to grow in poor soil and are "easy to grow" which translates to "Jen can grow these without killing them.") There is also a lovely selection of dandelions, clovers, and other random weeds that snake from the front flowerbeds and back into the alcove between the garage and the front wall of the house. For the record, I don't know why this little alcove exists, other than to be a varitable "weed wonderland" because it's not like you can see it well from the front of the house, and it's so shadowed that nothing could ever grow there. Except weeds. And lots of them. Hence the 2-hour long weeding session.

I never knew how stubborn weeds were before today. These suckers had some amazing root systems that were several feet long and grew all along the length of the alcove. I have a new hatred for weeds after all the digging and grubbing around that I did earlier, but never have I been so proud of a plot of dirt in my life. I think I'm ready for some planting next weekend!

For those of you with green thumbs, do you have any tips, words of wisdom, or prayers for me as I go to choose flowers? I have no idea what grows best. I know I don't particularly like roses, and I like a lot of color. That narrows it down to a few


  1. Well, I don't really have a green thumb either, but its not totally black, LOL!
    I am actually trying to plant this year as well, so maybe we can check with each other to see what's growing best. Starting seeds out for marigolds, black eyed susans, impatiens and, good grief, I bought one of those Topsy Turvy Tomato Plants. I'll take pics and get them on Facebook until I get my blog started. I have heard the flowers I picked are "easy"....we will see

  2. Ooh, I love black eyed susans, maybe I'll try some of those. I want to get some veggies too, but I have to hack out part of my backyard first :) I think I'm going to try to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and maybe some strawberries. Maybe I should see how it goes with the flowers first, lol

  3. Oh Jen. First of all, Orchids are SO difficult to grow and keep alive that people actually take classes just to learn how to maintain them. You may want to hold off on the orchids for a while until you know what you are doing. lol.

    Secondly, try some succulents (cacti). Stick em in a window and they'll grow like crazy. And if you forget to water them.. it's okay. They live in deserts, remember? ALSO, tropical plants (potted inside) are pretty easy as well because they don't need a lot of sun and they are pretty resilient when it comes to overwatering or underwatering.

    As far as outside is concerned... I have a book that I'm going to get for you guys. It's SUPER helpful!

  4. Good to know it's not totally my fault, lol. I thought they were supposed to be easy - you put a few ice cubes in the pot, and that's it. I think the problem is that the temperature in our house isn't very "orchid-friendly." We keep it a lot colder than orchids like.

    Lol, I would be afraid to get a cactus for fear that your sneaky little niece would find it and think it's a chew toy.

    As for the book, awesome, thank you!

  5. Jen, I have a a black thumb tooooooo!!! Over the past several years of having a little garden space, I've made a bunch of mistakes and figured out what works for me. Here is my hard-won advice:

    1) First, I plant evergreens (small ones). They're around and looking good all year long, of course, so they kinda anchor the garden space aesthetically, and best of all, they don't need any help from me. I like golden euonymous too (it does need some pruning, but that's about it, and it IS hard to kill), but golden thread cypress is also gorgeous for color. I also like sky pencils because they're so sculptural and you can plant around them in a kind of architectural way. These are all plants that pretty much just sit there and look green without any help from you.

    2) Second, I plant a few perennials. I don't go overboard with these because I don't like how they look when they're not blooming, but I pick a few that I enjoy and plant them where I won't mind them looking all scraggly in the off season. If you pay careful attention to when different things bloom in your area, you can kinda get a year-round garden going where something always looks good. (Having planted a ton of perennials in a very unplanned way over the years, if I had to do it again I'd wait a year and watch how things bloom before spacing these out). My favorites are lilies, by the way. They're hard to kill.

    3) Finally, I plant bulbs. A LOT of them. I love them because they come out just when I'm in a total February funk and keep on blooming, one type after another, till the end of April. And they come back year after year and I don't have to do anything to them except snap off the dead flowers. They bloom in this order: snowdrops and crocuses (they come out here in February), paperwhites (March), daffodils (March/early April), tulips and hyacinths/grape hyacinths (mid April). You need to plant these in the fall so they can freeze over to get started.

    4) If all of this is overwhelming, you can just sock in a few evergreens and then plant the rest of the space full of a ground cover like periwinkle or hosta or loriope (sp?). Once they get established, they will kinda keep the weeds from going nuts. Some are more invasive than others though (i.e. ivy, winter jasmine, most ornamental grasses), so choose with caution.

    Finally, if I were to do everything again, I'd go to a nursery or landscape place and talk to some local people who know what they're doing. Most of my plants came from Hope Depot or Lowe's. Their plants are okay but not fabulous, and there's no one to get advice from there. Some nurseries will even help plan your garden for you!

    Hope all that helps ... Good luck with the garden!! :)

    --Ashley Fellers

    Oh, and P.S. Your pink tree is an Eastern Redbud. Isn't it fantastic? :)

  6. Wow, thanks Ashley!! That's VERY helpful!! Wow, you sound like you know a ton about plants. I love that you are able to name the type of tree that we have, lol

    I think part of my problem is that I want instant results. I want to say that I'd have the patience to plant bulbs and wait for them to grow, but I think I'd be lying to myself :) And yes, I am going to Lowe's to pick out plants, but only because we have a $50 gift card. Hopefully they have some flowers that will be perfect for me!

  7. Oh, Jen, you will be awesome! :) If you want instant results, there's seriously a PERFECT solution: go to the annuals tables and buy whatever happens to make you happy. Those things are dirt-cheap and made for instant, temporary awesomeness. Just stick them in the ground and when they die or stop blooming, rip them out and go back to Lowe's for more. With 50 bucks you can get like three or four waves of blooms!! I don't use them only because I HATE digging in the dirt -- hence my garden is planned to involve as little digging as possible, ha.

    Seriously, the Annuals Section at Lowe's is the Forever 21 of gardening. No real investment required, totally disposable, and always cute & in season. You're gonna love it. :)


  8. hahaha I love your description of the Annuals Section!! I think I will have to do that....thanks again!!


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