Summer yard update

Well, we fell behind with updates because we were so busy doing them, there wasn’t time to write. Or we were tired. This stuff is exhausting!

It turns out summer in the country is very green and hot. Luckily, up on the ridge there is a constant breeze.

So, we moved some of the bulbs and plants we found near the front of the house. Those were moved to a carved out space in the back, which quickly sprouted the most clover I had ever seen in one spot. And then the plants took off as well as the weeds.

One weekend I went around with the weed whacker and the next weekend looked like I had never even tried. So many of the established bigger bushes are so overgrown and crowded it is going to take multiple years to get it sorted out. For now, we are in clean up and maintenance mode, cataloguing what we have and deciding what to do with it all.

Below is a gallery of flower pictures taken over the summer. Included are, in no particular order:

– six varieties of peony
– bleeding hearts
– two kinds of Astilbe, pink and white
– two or 3 different orange Asiatic lilies
– irises
– three kinds of lilacs
– violets
– forget me nots
– William & Mary
– bee balm
– hosta, which the deer keep eating

Not included are some that didn’t flower, like the horribly overgrown daffodil bunches, a lone tulip, some potential day lilies (the smaller yellow ones), and the larger rose bush that we moved, which hasn’t fared well. There’s also at least three flowering bushes I haven’t been able to identify yet.

Also our white hydrangea tree has recently bloomed. I call it a tree because that’s how large it is.

In addition there are 5 or 6 kinds of overgrown apple trees near the house, including a flowering crab, and we recently found a pear tree hiding. While small and somewhat malformed, it does has actual fruit. We also found some commercial strawberry plants that the animals got to before we could, and some raspberry & gooseberry plants we were able to harvest.

One of the biggest issues with all the overgrowth is disease, since the crowding keeps some of them damp and dark enough for all kinds of things to happen. This fall there will be a lot more cleanup and next spring, a LOT more heavy pruning.

Landscaping prep

Now that the snow is mostly gone and the days aren’t too chilly, we could look around the yard again to see what was growing. The first time we saw the yard was in the dying overgrowth of fall. Now, we could stomp around the yard and try and take the lay of the land while all the grasses were knocked over.

We walked over to the side of the house, around the front field and kept going uphill towards the back. That was when we noticed there were humps in the grass in one spot. A gentle kick and a bit of a push revealed very old and decomposing bales of hay. A further bit of poking around revealed a low rock wall. Since the hay was near the wall, and the ground very dark, we supposed it was part of an old barn.

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That same evening our neighbour to the left of us hailed us both from his yard and came over to introduce himself. Turns out he grew up in our house and I think it was owned by his grandparents. He confirmed we’d found the old manure pile next to the old barn.

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Great! One of the things we decided to do was level out the ground a bit, moving the hay bales, and form a nursery bed for all the perennials we’d found. In one afternoon, Ron was able to use the tractor to level out a spot of dirt for future temporary beds. The ground is rich and dark, full of very well composted manure.

The reason for moving the plants we found is twofold: one, to find what we have and propagate some of the horribly overgrown plants into healthier ones, and two, move the ones near the house so we can excavate the old basement walls.

During our wet & windy walk about the grounds, we discovered a long bed in the front lawn, full of quite huge hostas and some lilies. There was also a smallish rose bush in the shadow of the huge lilac tree out front. The lilac has also had some dead branches removed by Ron. Some of the branches are huge, and some covered in moss, so it is well overdue for pruning.
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Right up in front of the house, under the picture window facing the road, is signs of a garden bed, but not much showing. The invasive bamboo had extended this far, so we suspected to not find much.

I did find a lone peony there and was pretty excited.

Moving on from the front of the house, we went around to the side where the front door is located and the remains of the foundations of the front porch. We were simultaneously delighted and annoyed to find a whole flower bed under building material waste. Here we thought it was just a pile of garbage we needed to move, but no – green was poking around the sides. A quick and careful move of old sheets of metal roofing, and we discovered an obvious long bed of something we didn’t recognize, some struggling Sedum, and a pile of bulbs poking through – probably narcissus. We gleefully cleared those out so they could enjoy the sun again.

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The bulbs will be moved when they are done flowering, since any work in that area won’t start until then anyway.

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Now, on to the area near the back door, which had an obvious garden area with some struggling plants and yet another pile of building materials that were just dumped on top. (Have I mentioned how much this practise ticked me off?)

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We had already identified a couple of large bunches of irises next to the back door, along the foundation. There were also a couple of ferns, a small maple tree in a pot (it might have just grown through the pot), and we were happy to find a quite tall rose bush. There were also some struggling bulbs that had poked up that Ron had found under garbage, so those were cleared out best we could without moving the whole pile.

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While we were trimming back dead growth and moving some garbage to take inventory of what was growing, I was absolutely beside myself to start finding more peony bushes. They are all over the place and possibly quite large. Peonies are picky, so we did a lot of research online abut moving them and worked out a plan. There are at least half a dozen large root systems, and eventually will need to be divided, so we will not want for peonies.

Ron had found a red maple in this side garden and had moved it over to a stand of trees on the other side of the driveway. The small grove has lots of flowering shrubs and a couple of downed trees that we were still clearing up. So the red maple will make a nice replacement here.

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Ron also removed the pile of bricks that was at the end of the walkway to the mud room door. Mostly because it made it hard to turn around in the driveway. The rickety post with the bird feeder also came down.

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When we started to move some plants, we found a cluster of some sort of bulb completely under one of the ferns. I rescued those and placed then in a pot I’d found in the yard. Once the bulbs are spent I can move them to a bed, store them, or place in their final home.
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The new nursery bed to the side of the house now contains two ferns, two rose bushes with dead growth removed & pruned, and a thick row of irises which will be divided whenever I put them back. For now,everything in this side area will stay here for at least a year. We can grow some happy, healthy, tended plants while we work on the old basement foundation and clean up the front garden, taking our time to do it right.

Coming up soon: we’ll rent a dumpster and finally start clearing out all the building material garbage and old sheet metal roofing. That stuff has sharp edges.

Finding the edges of the driveway

So one of the things about our new house is that the yard is terribly overgrown. Since winter is pretty much here and there’s building supplies all over the small from garden, there’s not much to do.

Walking in the shed door one day, I noticed the ground felt a little firmer. Turns out there were pavers under the “grass”.

Next time I went to the house for the afternoon, I made sure to grab a shovel and start finding out where the pavers where for the path out the shed door.

somewhere in here is a pathway

We’re calling it a shed right now because back door doesn’t seem right. It’s less than twenty feet from the front door, which is on the side of the house, facing the driveway but not the road. The shed can also be reached by a door off the kitchen, so we could call it a mudroom, but right now it’s full of junk and building supplies. Plus a new window. So shed it is.

After some careful scraping and figuring out where I could run the edge of the shovel, I found a few pavers and a whole pathway.

a pathway!

It doesn’t reach the driveway yet. I was stalled by a pile of bricks left in the way from when the old chimney was removed.

This weekend I again picked up the shovel and worked on clearing out the encroaching weeds and vine plants and dead leaves that were spilling over the backing up space. It’s a handy spot to leave my car so I can just drive out and not back down the entire drive.

So here’s today’s work, tho I haven’t shown the other side of the car. This space is wide enough for two cars, but was so overgrown on the edges, as a driver you just weren’t sure where it dropped off onto lawn.

somewhere to park

Now you can park here just fine. Even though I took up all the space today and parked in the middle.

Further on down the driveway there is less work to clear off because it is raised a bit off the field. It’s mostly overgrown by the house itself.