Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Little Piece of Paradise

My Little Piece of Paradise

During the last few months I've also been doing quite a lot to beautify and add life to our yard and garden! It’s come a long way since it was just a sun-parched patch of dead grass, and while the it’s taken time to beautify the area, it’s been a very worthwhile project, and one that I've been enjoying quite a lot (even if the upkeep is a bit time-intensive).  The plus side of so much gardening, is that it is likewise encouraging me to keep eating healthy!

The photo on the left is from about two weeks before we took possession of our home. After that point, the yard got worse and worse to the point where it was nearly all dead and brown and full of large dirt-filled areas with no grass. After taking possession, I tended to the lawn 2-3 times a day, including thatching old and dead grass, watering, fertilizing, and planting new grass seed.

From there, my desire to beautify the garden took hold in earnest, and over these last Spring months, it's gone from this:

To this:

My little piece of paradise has all of these, and more:

Albion Strawberries, Aloe, Arugula, Australian Tree Fern, Bee Balm, Birds of Paradise, Bloodgood Japanese Maple, Blue Hibiscus, Blueberries, Bougainvillea, Carmen Sweet Pepper, Catnip, Chef's Choice Rosemary, Cherry Tomatoes, Creeping Myrtle, "Crystal Palace Lobelia," Dahlberg Daisy, Dwarf Lemon Tree, Dwarf Tangelo Tree, Forget-Me-Nots, Garden Sage, Golden Apricot Tree, Gypsy Sweet Peppers, Heritage Glass Gem Corn, Jade, Japanese Aralia, July Elberta Peach Tree, Lavender, Linaria, Lettuce, Marigolds, Miniature Japanese Maple, Orange Bell Sweet Pepper, Orange Thyme, Osteospermum, Pinkerton Avocado Tree, Purple and Green Kale, Rosemary, Sage, Scabiosa "Butterfly Blue," Scarlet Milkweed, Sequoia Strawberries, Serissa Japonica, Serrano Pepper, Snow Princess, “Spin the Bottle” Hibiscus, Sugar Snap Peas, Sunset Hibiscus, Sweet Basil, Sweet Pea Early Multiflora Mix, Telstar Scarlet Dianthus, Thyme, Yellow Cherry Tomatoes (Sun Gold Hybrid), Zucchini, some assorted plants, and three different varieties of milkweeds for the monarchs.

I may not be able to dig up our yard, but I'm darn well going to make the most of the space I have!

The yard has changed and evolved over the last few months, and the photos below showcase a few of my favorite shots (which aren't in chronological order since the garden is ever-changing).

The above section of my garden is one of those that I'm probably the most excited about. It includes the beginnings of some stalks of heritage glass gem corn! Among other residents, I have three hummingbirds who have made nests in my garden!

Peppers! So many peppers!

The Monarchs Arrive

Last year sometime around August, I noticed that some of the plants I’d recently purchased were being attacked by some manner of pest, and after a time I realized that it appeared to be some brightly-colored black, yellow, and white caterpillars that were responsible.


After some Googling, I discovered that these were monarch butterfly caterpillars, and that I had inadvertently invited them in when I’d purchased some milkweed plants. Unbeknownst to me, this initial generation of caterpillars would inspire me to seek out an ever-growing supply of milkweed for these voracious eaters, and it got me very interested in helping to support our local population of monarchs.  I plan to dive into that adventure a bit more deeply in a future blog, but it's related to...

The Plant Shelf Project

After realizing there were monarchs interested in my milkweeds, I started focusing a lot of effort of growing milkweed, and at some point this spring I realized that I really wasn't fond of just having a bunch of plastic-potted plants sitting on my entryway. Thus began the "How about I build some plant shelves?" project.

The cost and time-involvement of this particular project were were... much higher than anticipated, but at long last, they were completed! And over the passing months, this area has come to include and ever-growing assortment of herbs, flowers, and bonsai.

The wood were made from center-cut redwood, which was then sanded and dremeled, and then stained with 2 layers of red oak stain, and 3 layers of oil-based polyurethane. The wood shimmers like giant slabs of tiger's eye gemstone in the sunlight, and it was totally worth all the time and effort I put into laboring over them. The masonry section is red clay stone, and the lion is my two stone Lawn Lions!

The color of the planks is incredible in the sunlight! This shot shows how they looked after just one coat.

I was so happy when this project was complete, but like they say: gardening is a never-ending project, and I’m eager to see how the yard will continue to evolve and grow! For the moment though, it’s my little piece of paradise, and I’m ever-so thankful for that touch of nature outside my front door.

Lions and Other Statues

There's a lot of lion imagery in the stories I'm writing, so I also have two lion statues standing "guard" in my yard.  I'd love to sculpt my own statues, and hopefully one of these days I'll have time to do just that. :)

What things do you do or surround yourself with that bring you a sense of peace and tranquility?

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