Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pizza Party Prep

We're having my daughter's preschool class over tomorrow morning for a field trip. They are going to learn about our earth oven and make their own pizzas. I have spent way too much time weeding and cleaning up the yard since, in a matter of hours, 18 five-year-olds are going to have their way with my garden.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring Fever

These days after I wake up and throw on some clothes, it's time to grab the dog and head out to the garden to see what new exciting things have popped up overnight.

I arrive at school to pick up my children late with catkins and inchworms stuck in my hair and mud patches on my jeans. My hands are always dirty.

I wander the patio before bed to get one last sniff of the lilacs before I sleep and I'm up by 6:30am to see if more blooms have emerged since sunrise.

I have big and little jars of flowers all over the house and everything is covered with yellow pollen dust since I refuse to close the windows. The heat will be here before we know it and I want to enjoy the air while it is pleasant.

I love spring.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Dog Whisperer I Am Not

When last we left my fine canine friend, she was learning a new way of interacting with the garden. Learning how to play nice with the plants. Learning about boundaries. Learning about bitter apple spray.

And now? Well. Luna is still a rambunctious teenager. But after an excellent beginner obedience class and almost the entire first season of The Dog Whisperer, we may have made some progress. There are conditions however. (My dog trainer says that the behavior is not truly learned until the dog can perform the task under any situation. Bah.)

The conditions are these: If there are no dogs or humans in the alley, if there are no trash trucks, if there are no threatening squirrels, bouncing balls, taunting cats, or cheeky robins, she does a fine job of staying out of the garden beds. She seems to respect the ugly white wire fencing most of the time. Oh yeah, I forgot chipmunks -- she'll forget every durn bit of training for a chipmunk chase.

Unfortunately, we've had to change our fence line a bit (pictures to come soon) since she jumped the fence three times to chase after dogs in the alley. I also orchestrated some "training time" by asking neighbors with dogs to walk down the alley while she is on the leash so that I can correct her (don't worry, my correction is just saying "settle" and getting her to sit or lie down). I may bump it up to the apple spray if her ugliness continues, but it's difficult since I don't want to ignore her natural protectiveness, I just want her to relax more.

Luna and I are both in process on this one, but I feel as though we're making headway since my tender spring plants are doing well.

And the grass?

I took these photos last Thursday -- a week after installation. It's getting greener! Our constant rain has helped. Now we need warmth. Thanks to Nancy's positive comment about Bermuda withstanding dogs and children, I'm feeling much more positive about how it will weather our abuse!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Front Yard

This picture was taken 3 years ago.
It looks much the same today (minus the houseplants, box, and beautiful painting).

Every year since we've lived in this house (we're approaching 8 years) I've wanted to rip out the front yard and put in a garden. We have a two-story brick colonial built in 1945. Smallish, but big enough for us. The neighborhood, our block in particular, is the real attraction (that plus the full-sun in the backyard -- a rarity in this neighborhood filled with large pin oaks). My friends live on my block. We hang out together, share plants, watch each other's children, run races together, and cheer each other on.

I designed a front yard brick courtyard with a small-scale knot garden (Colonial Williamsburg-esque without being too rigid) where I could sit on a bench chatting with neighbors while the kids rode bikes or jumped rope.

I've always had great reasons not to implement any plans: we were told our sewer line needed to be replaced; we don't have the money for the new hardscape; we don't have the money or time for the plantings ...

But maybe I can do a little bit at a time. Start ripping up the sod while saving for the brick courtyard. Get a 2nd opinion on our sewer line and start amending the soil. I think this fall is the time. I've waited long enough!

Do you have a front yard garden? Plans for one? Do you need inspiration? Those clever, talented folks over at Gardening Gone Wild are hosting a Garden Bloggers Design Workshop on Front Yard Gardens. Check it out!