Gardening, Home Decor, Pinterest Challenge

Spruce Up Your Front Porch with Bunting for the 4th of July

Welcome to this month’s fun Patriotic Porch Challenge! Cindy from County Road 407 has knocked it out of the park with this sweet porch’s perfect pooch and patriotic decor!

Love all of Cindy’s graphics!

If you are coming over from Laura at Everyday Edits and this is your first time visiting my site, welcome!! For all of my regular followers, now friends, welcome back!! Laura’s porch looks so good with those star-powered pillows, huh?

Our inspiration

This checked and striped-filled porch comes to us from Better Homes and Gardens’ website. Isn’t this just the prettiest porch and the little West Highland Terrier just adorable?!! I have picked up many a copy of BH&G magazine over the years and always come away with good ideas to decorate with in my home.

So let’s dissect this porch’s pretties…

Porch Ideas I Took Away

  • patriotic bunting swag hangings
  • wicker porch chair with fun RWB cushion and pillow
  • bench also with RWB cushions and pillows in checks and solids
  • nice summery white and blue striped floor rug
  • flowers and flags
  • small table with watermelon
  • perfect pup!

How I Recreated The Look

My front porch is more of a stoop and fairly small at 8′ wide x 8′ deep so I could only put out a few things, but here’s what I’ve picked out:

  • perfect patriotic bunting found at Party City for $15 (the exact one is linked) hung above the front door covering the palladian transom window.
  • metal patio chair, repainted white (this needed a good repaint anyway, so good excuse! Here’s that post…)
  • small pots tucked into the planter filled with RWB flowers to recreate our inspiration photo’s look.
  • little flags tucked into last month’s Pinterest Challenge door hanger! now spread out between the flower pots on the front door.
  • my perfect ceramic pooch, a little Lowe’s cement dog found when we first bought this house three years ago. Lowe’s still carries them!

I tried to get Yoda to sit still on the porch but with doggy Alzheimer’s he just couldn’t… So our cement pup stands in for him today!

Well, that’s my quick rendition of this month’s patriotic porch theme! Simple and easy to recreate and I hope it gives you some fun ideas to use on your own smaller porches.

Up next, we swing back up to Cindy and County Road 407 and her porch is totally ready for the 4th!!!!

Do check out the other ladies’ perfect patriotic decorating ideas on today’s front porch tour. Thank you so much!

Happy decorating, friends!

Barb 🙂

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Gardening

Summer Garden Update

Hello again, dear friends!! Summer started with a bang around here… Memorial Day weekend was the first weekend I was out of school, so I went straight away out to the garden to work on planting…

Garden projects galore

Now mind you, I did take some naps along the way to recover from a long, stressful school year, but after three weeks of extra rest and getting outside, going for long walks and catching up on housework (my least favorite thing, but necessary!), I feel pretty recovered.

One of the first things I did was work on making the little plant stoop on the left side of the shed a bit bigger over by the Big Garden Shed (photograph above). Over these past three years here in our Texas Home, I’ve been moving these square bricks around as needed as plant supports. Now a bunch of them are here under the left shed window. 🙂

I had to pick up a few more bricks from Lowe’s and the new ones are thicker than the previous ones, but they all play nicely with each other!

I “walked” the little Angel over from its previous spot underneath the oak tree to its new spot here with the hydrangeas, lavender and pelargonium. I am really liking this new look, how about you?

Next, we just finished building the new Small Shed, of which I posted about on Father’s Day, just a couple of days ago. You can find that post here. While all of these updates have been going on, I’ve been rototilling, clearing grass and weeds, digging plant holes and removing roots, amending soil with lots of good homemade compost and grit to break up the heaviness off the clay soil, and planting plants along the southern fence.

Early Springtime in the Garden ~ which I began earnestly planting in late March/early April.

I will share a video post soon with the finished bones of the side yard in place so you can see everything at once. It actually looks pretty sparse because the main plants are so young, there aren’t any annuals to help fill the spaces, but in a few years time, these new plants will fill in and take up a lot more space. 🙂

I think the garden is coming along nicely! I wish the panicle hydrangeas hadn’t lost their blooms this year in the little Artic freeze… They are nice and green for you, though! You can just see it behind the iron fence.

One of the butterfly bushes beginning to bloom. It’ll be in the ground soon!

Let’s check out the roses, which are having a banner year…

The Generous Gardener ~ a David Austin English rose

Roses, roses, roses

All of the roses survived the winter like champs! I really covered and wrapped the four new roses with all of the extra freezes we had from late February until sometime in April. I had planted them into two pots and into two spots on the south side of the house; that post can be found here.

A type of peony (?) came up behind the rose so I’ll have to move that peony for next year (or the rose over some!).

Iceberg ~ not a David Austin English rose ~ but one I found at Atwoods, I think, this past winter/early spring. Its twin died before I could get it planted. Not sure what happened there but I am happy this one made it!

Our neighbors said there used to be a gentleman who lived here who loved to garden several homeowners ago… He must have planted the peach tree which grew on this southern side of the house.

I wonder if all these dormant peonies (?) and liriope, which are springing up all over now that the area is getting a lot of water, are some of his? Amazing that they just lay dormant all of this time!

Olivia Austin English rose ~ a rose which begins with a bit of creamy white tinged with yellow but turns all white as it ages. Lovely! This is a climbing rose. Some liriope can be seen around my left thumb… It’s getting ready to bloom now and is grasslike.
Another view of Olivia Austin (I am wondering if this label was switched… Olivia Rose Austin is pink… I just looked it up this morning in an older DAR booklet I have.) here with liriope and St. John’s Wort underneath. The St. John’s I did transplant a few last summer from the front flowerbeds and front lawn. It had been growing up as a wildflower and has lovely blue flowers and was stunning (no photos…) as a backdrop to the roses! Will have to get some good photos!!
Miranda Lambert ~ out front in its large green pot. I’ll have to move it next year to the garden, or pull it out, refresh the soil and shave its roots. Either way, it should do fine.

… A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

spoken by Juliet, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

found on: No Sweat Shakespeare

I am looking at ordering more roses to plant again late next winter and looking at some climbers for the fences. The little Miss Kim lilac I had died last summer/fall. I think ants got its roots, or I didn’t give it enough water?? Anyway, it made it for a couple of years… It was always a bit iffy with Zone 8 and I think it was a Zone 7-max plant picked up in South Dakota. Bummed because I love lilacs and thought it could make it… My MIL didn’t dig any up from her garden, which is a real shame as hers would have done very well here!

Oh, well! Sorry for complaining…

It was to go along this back fence and would have been a nice central feature. 💜

A nice shady spot with just morning sun on it and dappled shade thereafter.

A new garden bed

The next project I am working on is getting all of the plants I collected last fall and winter into the ground. I got the boxwood planted last fall, I think, and it is doing very well in its spot (above right, near the bag of purple Hapi-Grow mulch).

The nursery bed of things to be planted ~ from Early Springtime in the Garden.

A small juniper is bursting out of its small pot and will be going in along the western fence somewhere, along one or two golden arborvitae (the Southern Living brown pots to the upper left). I thought they were only supposed to get about 6′ tall, but I reread the tag this weekend and they can get much larger! About 10-12′ in height).

I wanted to build an arborvitae hedge wall along the western back alleyway fence but I’m not sure what else to plant there which can take a lot of heat and sun. Any suggestions?

A dwarf juniper is planted over in the far left corner with a Jane magnolia to its left, and a climbing rose to the left of Jane. Might have to move the Jane. It’s leaves are scorching a bit.

What’s next?

  • A chair painting project (already underway!)
  • getting new water lines run for the garden to have drip irrigation
  • finishing painting inside the Big Garden Shed
  • finishing building the two rafters inside the shed (Mr. Ethereal’s project)
  • finding and installing a second French iron fence piece for the right side of the garden (to match the left side) ~ maybe a French find in France?! XD!!

Well that’s it for now, folks! I’ll be sharing from inside soon as I deep clean and create summer vignettes. With the heat, I do tend to be indoors more in the afternoons. 😉 But first, a few trips to the doctor’s office and a Texas Dept. of Transportation run with my MIL to get her new Texas driver’s license today. 🙂

Happy beginning of summer,

Barb 🙂

Gardening

Early Springtime in the Garden

Welcome to our springtime garden, friends!!! This has been a really fun post to write and over the course of just a couple of weeks, the blooms have popped out of the ground…

Here is where we began in late March/early April: just a few leaf peepers coming up but I wasn’t sure would these be tulips or daffodils or smaller jonquils???

So fun to see what has popped up in the course of just over a week! Each day there was something to see out in this new south garden.

Here we have daffs fronted by the smaller lamb’s ear, which were a gift from friend Dartagnian from the DFW Costumers Guild. So fun to see these settling in!

Love all the sunny faces of daffodils!

Here you can see the old posts still up from Mr. Ethereal’s and my moving the panels about 3-4 weeks ago. It’s amazing how much the yard has been opened up just by moving the fence panels out 3-4′.

Wind and rain have pummeled some of the tulips.

Here is a good view of the west and south sides and the future brick border along the west side of the French iron fencing.

A creamy white tulip with just a touch of pink along some of the outer petals…

The following weekend after moving the fence panels (maybe it was two weekends later?), I rototilled the yard where I wanted to create a new flower bed. This one matches the one opposite along our home’s south wall.

You can see it’s beginnings here:

Both of these photos were taken just before sunset and I worked into the dark planting the tall juniper (center of the picture) and the bottlebrush bush (next to the big rake.) My camera corrects for lighting so it seems much brighter than it actually was.

The right hand flower bed will be wider overall with more planters towards the back/front fence. I am pleased with how everything is coming along!

The yard itself is still a mess with unfinished projects, hoses dragged here and there, and plants strewn about in their nursery pots, but you know how it is when gardens are under construction! I have about 20 plants which need to get into the ground. I also have the tender perennials which will go into the ground for the season then come right back out again in the fall to overwinter in the shed again.

Two golden arborvitae will hopefully go in along the western fence, along the back alley. These others will probably go in right here.

These other potted perennials will probably go in right here next to the shed.

In the back you can see the taller green holly and I think it will go next to the internet box (that small green cylindrical tube) to hide it.

The Jane magnolia I think I will use in the corners for height and interest in springtime with its twin! I am remembering seeing garden designer P. Allen Smith’s old garden and how he had four trees in corners and they put on such a show!

Well, that’s it for today. Gotta head off to school but wanted to share our springtime garden with y’all!!!

Enjoy your spring,

Barb 🙂

Gardening, Holidays, Home Decor

Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day to y’all! I missed getting this post out so thought I’d share it here a couple of days late. This winter has been crazy busy with my mother-in-law coming to stay with us, helping her find a new home and now helping her unpack.

Between working at school, the craziness there and helping Mom on the weekends, I just haven’t been writing (or photographing) much lately…

a conglomeration of Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter all mushed into one…

It is really nice to have this week off from school to be able to relax a bit, try and get over a head cold (yuck!), and later this weekend I head out to Athens, Texas for an IOOF state assembly meeting. It’s just a one-day event on Monday, so I won’t be back to work until Wednesday ~ which makes our holiday week extend a little longer. 🙂

Our springtime theme of light pinks in the new begonias and pretty pansies out front.

I have been cleaning and redecorating a bit with changes to the china hutch ~ switching it over from Valentine’s (never got a post out…) to a spring/Easter theme. (Might get it out.) It looks nice as I sit here and type!

A little shamrock Gini has had for years… It lives in compacted dirt in this antique pot thrown by her father back in the 1920’s or so.

I had been repotting my mother-in-law’s cuttings from her 57 year old garden in California and a bunch have made it three months now! Two roses have rooted for sure, and several other plants have as well. All had unfortunately sat overnight in hard freezing temps in her car while she and her son (Mr. Ethereal) slept in a hotel on their way here over New Year’s.

When I potted these up in early January, I mixed my own compost and added some Espoma Starter fertilizer. We were rewarded this week with these pretty blooms!

About half of those plants have survived with many of the succulents doing the best. No geraniums made it, though… 🙁 Just too cold for them in that car and here. 🙁

A few of the plants hanging out in the dining room window. They catch the afternoon sunlight here but will move up to better pots here later this spring.

But spring is coming and with a good fertilizer feed, I expect these survivors to begin putting on leaves and to start flourishing.

I’ve just moved my plants out of the greenhouse/potting shed and I’ll get a post out as soon as the yard is swept up and looking tidy. I ordered some bulbs online and got those nepeta and hellebores planted this week from Dutch company K. Van Bourgondien (not sponsored, but would love to be!).

new magnolias!

The dwarf magnolias I bought at Lowe’s last month and sheltered in the shed are bursting into bloom! They made it through the second Arctic overnight 25 degrees just fine, piled with leaves and wrapped against the cold with a garden quilt. I put them back in the shed so their tender open petals wouldn’t be blown off in the 45 mph gusts we had on Thursday and Friday.

I will shoot some more pics for you! They are gorgeous… This type of magnolia only grows to about 12′ tall and wide, which is perfect for our backyard.

Daffodils out front of our veterinarian’s office

St. Patrick’s Day

BY ELIZA COOK

St. Patrick’s Day! St. Patrick’s Day!

Oh! thou tormenting Irish lay—

I’ve got thee buzzing in my brain,

And cannot turn thee out again.

Oh, mercy! music may be bliss

But not in such a shape as this,

When all I do, and all I say,

Begins and ends in Patricks’s Day.

Had it but been in opera shape,

Italian squall, or German scrape,

Fresh from the bow of Paganini,

Or caught from Weber of Rossini,

One would not care so much—but, oh!

The sad plebeian shame to know

An old blind fiddler bore away

My senses with St. Patrick’s Day.

I take up Burke in hopes to chase

The plaguing phantom from its place;

But all in vain—attention wavers

From classic lore to triplet quavers;

An “Essay” on the great “Sublime”

Sounds strangely set in six-eight time.

Down goes the book, read how I may,

The words will flow to Patrick’s Day.”

***found on Poetry Foundation.org

And we’ve begun working on the fence again…

Whoa!!!

St. Paddy’s Day winds swirled around and pulled the east end of the southern fence away from its post. Hubby has since tied it back with a bungie cord. Now the next post towards where I was standing is pulling out… Good thing Hubby put in 10 metal fence posts for the new fence just outside of view!

Must be those rascally Leprechauns…

Cute little guy found on the internet and hailing from Oriental Trading Company.
Garlic, green onions and potatoes are planted and beginning to grow in this planter.

We had swirling winds during the day on Thursday. Dust devils pushed leaves up on the patios out back and in front. Forget about blowing them off!

During the night the rain storm showed up with cool cloud-to-cloud lightning…

The strange reflections on this photograph are off my phone as I shot this picture. This was a lightning streak torn across the sky which left the cloud visible afterward. Very strange and beautiful!

And that’s kinda how our St. Patrick’s Day was ~ super windy and then spotted rain. Made a mess of our cars; got a car wash today while filling the tank (yikes! almost $100…)

More rain and winds are expected this coming week. We sure need the rain! Texas is in its 3rd year of drought, from what I see. So used to drought, coming from California… (roll eyes!)

Well, that’s it for today, friends!! I hope you had a lovely St. Patrick’s Day and might have even eaten some corned beef and cabbage. I forgot to buy some at the store but it sure would have tasted good… ;)’

Happy blessings to you,

Barb 🙂

Gardening

Sunday Sentiments ~ Planting Roses & Late Winter Garden Clean-Up

First up, Happy Sunday evening, dear friends! I totally missed Share Your Style this week due to sheer exhaustion from work. I am sooo sorry! Our kiddos have been really amped up with our main teacher out ill these past couple of weeks, and they have been in extra fight mode, so… SYS should be back this Wednesday for you.

This is going to be a big post, too, since I haven’t posted for a while. House hunting with my mother-in-law and spending most nights being with her at our home, I just haven’t been writing (or photographing). Good news! She found a lovely 1500 sq. foot house and her offer was accepted last week. She closes tomorrow and did her walk-through and inspection today!!

Even though I’ve spent many weekends since January 1st house shopping with my mother-in-law, I have been out gardening. Two weekends ago, I planted three English roses I ordered in April 2021 into pots.

When I went to order them last year, because so many people were seeking solace and peace in their gardens while working from home and staying home with Covid restrictions, there were no more orders available for Texas. I was just too late!

I’d never experienced not being able to order roses like this before (as probably many of us found out this past year), but spent the rest of the year knowing exactly where I would put in climbers along our south wall.

Along our home’s south-facing wall: digging nice big holes!

The second set of English roses arrived the following week so then I was able to outside planting over the Presidents’ holiday weekend. It felt really good to be outdoors, even if it was windy and a bit cold!

The sun was out and it felt warmer than it has all winter. Clouds would often scuttle over the sun, so having a jacket around to take off and put back on was really helpful!

Setting bareroot roses to soak

Digging the holes

A little planting booklet which came with each box of roses shared good rose planting tips. It said to dig the hole 16″ deep and twice as wide, so that’s what I did. Each of the roses came as bare root and had many really large and long roots. I did no trimming and just plunged each plant into water for 2+ hours to soak up a good amount of water before planting them.

For each hole, I used a couple of handfuls of homemade compost in the bottom of each rose’s hole, then mixed a few handfuls of bagged compost plus more of my own fully and semi-composted dirt into the native soil (caliche clay, a very heavy soil). Because North Texas’ clay is really heavy ~ it is one of the main components of cement ~ I also added in a lot of vermiculite and a clay-busting additive that I found two years ago. This made a lovely soil which looks like it will drain well. 🙂

The David Austin planting booklet said to use a stake laid horizontally to use as a guide for where to position the rose crown. I wish I’d had known that information when I planted the other roses I pulled out of pots when I first made the flowerbed underneath our bedroom window three years ago!

Their crowns are several inches above the ground… (uh oh!) After we move the south fence this spring, I’ll be moving those roses out to get more sun and putting in more shade-tolerant plants back in their spots.

Anyway, I tucked in these roses, added the compost mix then gave them a good soak with rain water and hose water (when the former ran out).

Getting ready to dump leaves and acorns after sieving the dirt out by the west fence.
The sieved dirt 🙂

Cleaning and clearing

Next, over this whole month, I’ve cleaned up a ton of leftover leaves which had blown against the south fence and along the new west fencing we installed over by the new shed. They were leftover from this fall’s leaf dump, which was really nice to get cleaned up. (Two full green waste bins full!)

I raked out a lot of oak leaves while I was out planting here in February, too, but since then I’ve had to pack some leaves back around some plants’ root zone and trunks to protect their trunks and early leaves from hard freezes.

Ahhhh! Nice and clean!
Early January getting up leaves from the south garden and compost area.

I’ve been using leaves to protect most of our plants from winter freeze damage here in North Texas ~ something I rarely had to do in Southern California. In So Cal our lowest temps were in the mid-20’s F, but here in North Texas we’ve had temps down to 7 degrees with windchill of -12 degrees Fahrenheit.

This past week with an ice storm, I used plastic bags over newly planted boxwood and these roses with the leaves packed around their trunks and some branches, even. Surprisingly, this inspiration worked great!

The bags kept each plant ice-free and then the water when the ice melted was still able to get into the pots or underneath to each plant to water them. (Sorry, I didn’t get any pictures.)

Wrapping bushes which suffered severely last year during the 2021 Arctic week of hard freezing storms. They came back well but not really until this past fall. Covering them now prevents the ice storm from adding further damage.

We still have a ton of pin oak acorns to clean up out front, but that’ll be another day. 😉

Well, I’ve rambled a lot in this post and I have more to share ~ like the cool sale of plants I found by accident at Lowe’s in late January! (not sponsored)

Hidden gems among the sale plants!

I see other gardeners on YouTube who find these wonderful sales on plants yet I’ve not had that luck… until this day! Lowe’s was clearing out winter damaged plants and plants from last fall. I was more than happy to bring home some larger boxwood and debated really hard about a nice olive.

In the end, I didn’t bring home the olive standard but now wish I would have. Oh, well!

$40 for 4 plants!

I’ve been collecting evergreens and other shrubs to put in along the fences as soon as we get that south fence moved out.

Box and small holly cones found before Christmas

Why isn’t it done, you ask? Well, Mr. Ethereal has been traveling for business since early September and has rarely been home long enough to rest, much less dig post holes. We did manage to get the shed insulated (me!) and clad in beadboard (him!), and painted (me again!), but fence work had to be postponed.

Part of the January clearing and making a new side compost pile.
Planting the potatoes which rooted in the freshly turned compost from the main pile in the chicken wire bin.

Lastly for this long post, I’ve planted up some rooting potatoes I found when mixing up compost for the roses! It was fun to plant them and cover them in a mound.

Did you know that you water potatoes in the side troughs not over their tops?

Planting tulips and daffodils

I also got most of the new tulips I bought late this fall planted in containers as well as daffodils and surprise bulbs given to me by my friend Torrance. These were a gift from her daughter’s garden.

So that’s it for this post, lovely ones! I’ve sure enjoyed reminiscing about what I’ve been up to this winter. My mother-in-law and I have also worked on rooting her rose cuttings and I’ve used a great many of my collected plastic pots to replant the clippings she brought from her Northern California garden of 57 years… It has been a busy gardening winter for me! Let me know what you’ve been up to this winter and if you’ve been doing any wintertime gardening.

Happy almost spring hugs,

Barb 🙂