Deck Update

Just a little update since we last posted our progress on the deck – the railing is on and it’s almost done!

Ignore that lack of landscaping please… that’s the next project.

We welded the tubular metal railing (same material as the base) at the shop in sections, and assembled it in place at the house.

The galvanized center panels are “hog fencing” from the local farmer’s supply shop. Very inexpensive, but still looks modern.

The frame for the stairs have been welded up, now all we need to do is add the wooden treads and the gate.

The rest of the house is looking good this summer… it’s nice to see the landscaping finally mature. We can only hope the backyard comes out so well!

Fall/Winter Project Review

Since last fall we’ve done a wide range of projects around the house, and we’ve got a lot planned for this year. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the things we’ve been working on:

Fall Landscaping – we planted cedars, “Prairie Fire” crabapple trees and lots of grass. Hopefully the grass will help with the spring runoff issues, and the Cedar Waxwings seem to love the crabapple fruit. It’s important to keep the native birds happy!

Front Steps – multicolored slate for entryway (with four concrete tiles we are testing for use on the path)

Once there was too much snow to work outside, we headed indoors and did some updates to the office. Since we’re both there all day, we want it to be nice!

Blue Valchromat drawer fronts, with one black piece just for kicks

(Fun fact – the small drawer is exactly the right width for a box of tissues. It just worked out that way.)

We finished off the back wall of the office with cypress paneling and a display shelf for our toys:

Pantry doors in the kitchen – the off-center split lines up with the red strip of Marmoleum. We’re planning to add spice racks on the inside.

Entryway stools, using the same fabric as our sofa (post coming soon), and black Valchromat bases. The bases are hollow for extra storage.

By now the snow is pretty much gone here, so it’ll be time for more outside projects. Good thing, too, because it makes it hard to walk the dog!

Gardening: Peony Bed

With some nice weather this weekend, it was a good time to put in those peonies promised in the previous post! We purchased 3 varieties: ‘Nippon Beauty,’ ‘Doreen’ and ‘Peter Brand’ –  two dark pink, and one light. Our head gardener also brought over some of her own hardy geraniums that will hopefully fill in and create a nice ground cover.

Spreading compost

Shoveling compost

We spread a layer of compost over the top to enrich the soil and keep it from cracking.

Finished garden

Finished peony bed with step gardens

We also topped off the step gardens with some mulch made of cocoa shells, a recycled by-product of the chocolate-making process. It helps conserve water by keeping the moisture in the soil from evaporating too quickly, and gives the garden a nice finished appearance. And makes it smell like chocolate.

Peony bud

We’ve got tomato sign! The first little fruits showed up on our Sungold tomatoes this week. But don’t break out the basil and mozzarella just yet – they’re only the size of a marble.


Garden Update: Soil Prep

It was a bit of a rainy weekend, so there wasn’t too much major gardening going on. Albo installed a new hose reel in the back (got to keep that hose clutter under control), and his mum brought a gift of two tomato plants (Sungold and Pruden’s Purple) and gigantic containers to grow them in. Looking forward to some colorful salads this summer!

every day I'm shoveling

The step gardens are settling in nicely, and I started doing some soil prep on the west side for a future peony border. This involved digging out some very sandy, rocky soil and filling in with 75% topsoil and 25% composted cow manure. That’ll be a much happier environment for our plants!

Gardening: Containers and Step Gardens

Remember when we built these? It’s finally time to fill them in! Inspired by a Japanese house design book, we built these “step gardens” to provide a beautiful view from our downstairs windows. Eventually we’ll be able to enjoy them from our soaking tub, but right now those rooms are our storage and workshop areas. 

First step: get topsoil and moo-doo to fill in the wooden retaining walls! Two days of hard work with the wheelbarrow – topsoil may be the heaviest substance in the universe.

Went shopping for plants with the Garden Designer (aka Albo’s mum – she’s a genius!)… picked up our perennials from Rocky Dale Gardens, and annuals from New Leaf Organics. Also got a few transplants from our folks- a little bit of home.

The west side is very shady – we laid out woodland plants that don’t need much sun:

Dug in everything this morning.

[Click to View plant “Notes” at flickr]

Hostas, thyme, saxifrage and more for the sunnier side:

[Click to View plant “Notes” at flickr]

Containers for the front entry:

And a few for the sunny back garden – calibrachoa, impatiens and coleus.

We can’t wait to do more, but we don’t want to get in the way of building the deck and front steps – so the gardeners will tread carefully for now!