Thursday, April 24, 2014

Garden Planning: Shady Perennials

Spring has finally arrived in Indiana and it makes me so incredibly happy. Tiny buds on the trees, daffodils and hyacinth everywhere, blue skies with puffy clouds. Sunglasses! Iced coffee! Hooray! It's still pretty chilly and we had several inches of snow last week but I'm not letting that faze me. I have been daydreaming about gardening for several months now and I'm ready to dig up our yard.

I've had a little experience in vegetable gardening, but I won't pretend to know much about flower gardening. I'm doing my best to turn that around this spring and summer. I've been reading books, blogs, and perusing the Better Homes and Gardens website for lots of tips (their plant encyclopedia has been incredibly helpful.)

If anything, I know that I want lots of pretty flowers in soft hues and I don't want to work hard for them to thrive. I also don't want to spend a ton of money on landscaping each year, either, and we have a ton of trees, so I'm in the market for perennials that will flower year after year in our shaded yard. Although that limits my options a wee bit, I was surprised to find a lot of beautiful blooms that fit the bill. Here's a selection of what I hope to plant this year..

ALLIUM  These puffballs stole my heart years ago, during a date to the zoo with Chris. Alliums are in the onion family (think chives, green onion, garlic) so you can enjoy them in the garden and in the kitchen. I hope to plant a wide variety to stagger the bloom time throughout the spring and early summer.
BUNCHBERRY  This shade-loving ground cover is my space-saving alternative to a dogwood tree. Although the flowers fade after spring, bright red edible berries are left behind and the leaves turn fiery red in the fall.
ANEMONE  I discovered this beauty back when I was wedding planning (just look at the variety of arrangements on Pinterest!) I love the large loose petals and intricate centers. These flowers grow in dappled light or shade up north, making them perfect for our tree-covered backyard.
DELPHINIUM  The giant stalks of delphinium will bloom in the both spring and again in fall if trimmed. Perfect for adding a little vertical interest. 
VIOLETS  I'm partial to wild violets that are scattered throughout the yard, but this larger variety is lovely and offers cheerful blooms all season long.
CREEPING BUTTERCUP  Unlike many other varieties of ranunculus, creeping buttercup grows in full shade. That yellow is the perfect pop of color for a shaded area.

PEONY  Okay, okay... peonies don't exactly grow in the shade. But I have to have one. I don't need to wax poetic about their beauty. You guys know. You know. I will find the sunniest spot in my yard and make it home to a peony plant.
FORGET-ME-NOT  There was a whole mess of forget-me-nots planted around the water of our first home, and because of that, I plan to plant them at every home Christopher and I share. Nostalgia!
CLEMATIS  Like many other flowers, clematis will always remind me of my mother, who has a beautiful purple variety entwined around a birdhouse. These vine flowers do well in dappled light, and the large Henry's clematis variety blooms all summer long.
GERANIUM  Geraniums are a childhood favorite of mine, but sadly are not annual flowers up north. Enter the perennial geranium: a hardier variety that flowers for months in warmer weather. It thrives in full sun, but can handle part shade as well.
BELLFLOWER These lovely star shaped flowers are a new favorite. They bloom from spring well into summer. Yes please. 
HYDRANGEA  Yet another childhood favorite... how could you not love the fun puffball flowers of the hydrangea? These shade-loving plants bloom from summer to fall.

We're probably a few weeks away from the last frost (it always sneaks in one final chill in May up here) but I'm ready to start incorporating my floral picks into a few layout sketches and start tilling and amending the soil.

Nature in general was always a big part of my childhood... I'm very excited to share the beauty of plants with Amelia and teach her how important the earth is. She just turned eleven months this week and is becoming much more aware of her surroundings. I have a feeling she's going to love the allium and delphinium. Can't wait!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whatever is True

Lately I’ve been thinking about why I have a blog. It happens every now and then.

I’ve been thinking about all the bits and pieces that fill my heart, the things I want to gather up and share with you here. I’ve been thinking about first birthdays and sunshine, fragrant herb gardens and fresh strawberries. Dimpled little hands, floral print dresses, swing sets, long walks through the neighborhood with a squish who tries to catch the wind. How wonderful it is to share my life with those I love. I’ve been dreaming of afternoons spent on the shores of Lake Michigan, the satisfying feeling of making something with my own hands, the way warm asphalt smells after the rain.

As I have written before, I want to focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable – things that are excellent and praiseworthy.

Easier said than done, my friends. As blessed as I am, I find myself dwelling on the negative lately. The way motherhood has changed my body, the bags under my eyes after yet another sleepless night. The worrisome thought that my sweet little girl is sick more often than she is healthy. House expenses, college debit, a winter that will not end. The judgement that I pass on myself and on others when I am feeling inadequate as a wife, mother, designer, human being. It all hangs heavy on my heart and sometimes I just can’t shake it.

So, I’m going to revamp my small slice of the internet and really focus on the things that are true, pure, and lovely. I want to share more of my experiences about the things that make life worth living, to catalogue the pieces of my heart instead of letting my thoughts dwell on the negative. I want to keep things real and honest, and stay grounded. But most of all, I want to live in the present and keep my focus on what is true.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

8/52, 9/52, 10/52, 11/52, 12/52, 13/52

Time for some baby overload... I'm catching up (yet again) on my 52 project photos.

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014.

Amelia: Your newest obsession? Pulling every single shoe I own out of the closet. If I don't remember to shut the doors in the morning after getting dressed, I will inevitably find you here with a pile of flats at your feet. You're so fast at pulling them off the rack, too; five minutes is all you need. Stinker.

Amelia: I can barely look at this photo without tearing up. You have been sick all week with a 103 temperature and a terrible cough. The doctors still don't know what exactly is wrong. Too sick to play with even your favorite toys, you drifted off to sleep a few minutes after I took this photo.

Amelia: Why hello there! You are finally back to your normal energetic self after nearly two weeks of sickness: RSV, viral pnuemonia, and a 48 hour stomach bug (that I also caught.) You have been through so much, little squish, and daddy and I are so glad that you are feeling better!

Amelia: This particular nap went past the two hour mark, which is unheard of in this house. I'm sure you have lots of resting to catch up on after being so sick for so long. I myself have lots of staring at those squishy cheeks and mile-long eyelashes to catch up on, so this arrangement totally works.

Amelia: Sometimes I wonder when I'll stop taking pictures of your naps. 2 years? 20 years? We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, I suppose.

Amelia: I think you may be going through a growth spurt. Today we had dinner a little later than normal (chicken and cheese, your two favorites) and you just couldn't keep your eyes open. It was one of the cutest things ever - we even caught it on video, which will of course be played at your high school graduation open house.