Wielding our green thumbs

Saturday we woke up after sleeping through a night of severe thunderstorms, which apparently produced a tornado in east Charlotte. We initially thought it was going to rain all day, and so planned on starting the final coat of paint on the stairs (a project that started in December…) After looking at the radar though, it appeared that the line of storms was going to stay southeast of us, and felt a trip to a nursery down the road was called for. Our front flower beds have been in desperate need of some love, and Saturday turned out to be the perfect day to do some landscaping. At Sugar Creek Garden Center we got three “Sparkling Plum” loropetalum, a dozen “Fancy Knickers” dianthus (that name makes me giggle), and a bag of organic fertilizer. The loropetalum shrubs would be planted in a row in front of our porch, with the dianthus in front of them. That would take care of the front bed, but we still wanted to do something down by the street, where there is one larger shrub already with an empty bed at its base. So at Home Depot we got 5 “Georgia Blue” speedwell, garden soil and mulch. A quick lunch, and we were ready to spend the rest of the day transplanting lilyturf, digging, planting, fertilizing, and mulching. Our front landscaping went from this:

To this:

The coneflowers and sage that we planted at the height of summer seem to be making a remarkable comeback.

Grow baby sage, grow!

Come on, coneflower!

The dark purple of the loropetalum looks great with our shutters, and the dianthus has a spikey-looking light green foliage, which really pops against the darker shrubs. I am also excited about cutting the dianthus once they bloom, so I can have fresh flowers in the house, grown in our very own garden!

*On another note, we now have a nephew! Stephen’s sister and brother-in-law gave birth to baby Beckett Saturday morning. It was kind of a surprise, because she was scheduled for a C-section this Thursday, the 8th. Apparently Beckett did not want to wait any longer. It was an exciting text message to wake up to!*

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How does your garden grow?

Ours grows very well, apparently. We were in Flagstaff, AZ this past weekend for my cousin Nathan’s wedding, which was gorgeous and super fun. Welcome to the family Ashley! And to the exclusive Cousins Club. (I just made that up, there is no club. But there is a table you can sit at now!)

Anyway, S and I arrived home to find all sorts of exciting things happening in our yard. This is a nice surprise, as anything we planted in Orlando never did very well. Probably something to do with the sandy soil and forgetting to water the plants… The soil in our yard now has a fair amount of clay in it, which helps retain water, and we have been getting a good amount of rain on top of that. How ’bout some pretty pictures now?!

We have this bush on one side of our patio that we thought was just a bush. It is a nice green color, needs a little shaping, but nothing too exciting. Just a green bush. WELL, now it looks like this:

Turns out it is an azalea bush! Not just green, but covered in pretty pink flowers! According this site, I believe it is an Autumn Twist Encore Azalea, which blooms in midsummer, long after most azaleas have finished blooming.

Also by our patio are two large pots, one of which has nothing in it but dirt, while the other has this petunia that was there when we moved in and I haven’t touched. Except maybe once. And I might have watered it once too. But other than that, I have done nothing to it. And it seems to like it that way.

Out front we have a few Variegated Lilyturf plants (according to our handy-dandy Southeast Home Landscaping book) that have finally started blooming their pretty purple blooms. They were also there when we moved in.

In the picture above you see the lilyturf, a gap in the flower bed, and then a few flowers farther down, toward the driveway. Down there is another pre-existing lilyturf, and we planted a couple of red coneflowers and sage plants, neither of which has died yet.

Ignore the weed in the corner.

Now it’s time to play “Name that Plant!” But really, I don’t what these are.

I’m pretty sure this is some kind of fountain grass, but it is so much larger than most kinds of fountain grass (taller than me)! JD¬† likes to hide under it and pretend he is a jungle cat.

No idea what this is. It is currently about 3 feet tall. We plan on leaving it and seeing what it turns into.

Ground-cover? Weed? We pulled it out when S’s family was here, but obviously didn’t get all of it. Anybody recognize it?

Oh, in case you were wondering, we are about 300 miles from the coast and not even supposed to get any rain from Hurricane Irene. I was hoping we would at least get some rain.