Under the Magnolia Tree

Since we purchased our house last May, we never really got to see our magnolia tree during its bloom, so watching the transformation over the past few weeks has been really lovely. The flowering season has come and gone over a short amount of time, leaving our grass sprinkled with pink pedals (which are so slippery, I’ve almost fallen on them a handful of times).

Our yard looked like it was straight out of a Monet painting for a while there, so I snapped some shots of the flowers during their full bloom. Pete even encouraged me to make a flower angel one Sunday afternoon, and I obliged (scroll to the very end to mock me in all my flower angel glory).


At the end of the day, it was a bit of a flower angel fail, but I’m fine with it. Next up, our dogwood tree will be blooming come mid-May. I’ll be sure to share photos of that as well since I’m not-so-secretly a sucker for all things pink and pretty.

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Gardening 101: Weeding, Pruning and Advil Taking

It’s been a while since I’ve shared the progress we’ve made on the outside of our house. Unfortunately, up until this week, I hadn’t lifted a finger to help with the exterior of our home. Last you saw, Pete had removed the trees and hedges from the front yard, which he and his mom have been trying to break down into Lowe’s bags for weeks. I had been attacking interior work—painting and more wallpaper removal mostly—so I had my blinders on when it came to the great outdoors.

Here is the house a few weeks ago after having the trees and hedges recently removed.

This is a shot of the exterior of the house from today—the grass has already started to grow back where the trees and hedges once lived. A few weekends ago, my dad spent an entire day pressure washing the bricks, concrete patio and sides of the house and shed. The bricks are more vibrant now, but we still have to weed the cracks and fill them with sand. Yesterday I made a pathetic attempt to purchase 4×8 lattice for covering the giant gaps underneath our house, but I failed miserably when trying to lug it around Lowe’s by my lonesome. It was definitely an entertaining sight for the red vest-wearing employees, I’m sure. Anyway, please note the addition of Harold the Gnome, who I have grown up with since I was a wee little thing. Yes, I know he could use a paint job, but I still love him like a brother from another mother.

Pete’s parents found this old spoon on the road in front of our house when they were helping us on moving day. I decided to keep it to display in the flower pot, which reminded me of these spoon garden markers I gifted my friend a while back.

You might have noticed we decided to keep the bunny statue we inherited from the previous owner (Elva). We think it suits our love for all things bunnies. Pete’s mom had the idea to surround basil with marigolds in pots on the porch in an attempt to deter the real life bunnies from the basil. This little guy sure doesn’t mind the marigolds, but hopefully the real critters won’t be eating any caprese salad anytime soon. In other news, we bought a bird house and so far I haven’t seen a single bird munching on the bird suets. Hmph.

Here’s a view of the front of the house, where Pete’s mom and I planted deep purple petunias. Keep in mind I have never weeded or gardened a day in my life, so this is all a learning experience for me.

We planted the petunias around the front of the house and righthand side, where I hope to add some more flowers to plant underneath the hedges. Any ideas on what might look good and flourish this time of year?

Pete’s mom thought these might be a sign of chrysanthemums…any advice if we should just weed them or if these might turn into something purty in the fall?

I spent my entire afternoon trimming the hedges on the side of the yard, which take up a pretty hefty amount of space near our driveway. Sorry I don’t have any decent “before” photos to give you an idea of how overgrown and unhealthy they were. I have no idea if I did a good job or not, but I mostly got rid of the massive amount of dead branches and raised them from the ground to make room for mulch and flowers. Just call me Shannon Scissorhands…no seriously, don’t do that. We’ve lucked out because our township offers a composting facility for residents, where they provide endless mounds of free wood mulch and leaf mulch. For those local readers out there, be sure to check out more information on the Abington Township’s compost page.

I probably spent four or five hours grunting, snapping thick branches and weeding. At one point, I was sitting in dirt with giant earthworms crawling across my pants and plenty of millipedes, centipedes and spiders in sight. Let’s not forget that I spotted a wee garden snake nearing the end of my adventures in pruning, but I just kept weeding and cleaning up buried candy wrappers in a state of pure delusion. For those of you who don’t know me very well, I am absolutely terrified of snakes and centipedes and anything that is creepy crawly, so today was a great success in bravery! I’m pretty sure I have never been so sweaty and gross in my life. This seems to be a recurring theme during our house revamping, but it’s nothing a cold shower, lots of water and a few Advil can’t help.

During this sweaty gardening time, I got a surprise visit from the uber adorable Stephanie, who introduced herself through my blog a while back while Pete and I were in the house hunting process. It turns out she lives right down our street…it’s a crazy, small world! Anyway, my apologies to Stephanie for the grossest first impression of me ever, I hope she’ll still want to be my neighborhood pal.

This is a normal week’s worth of Lowe’s bags for us as of lately. Hopefully the garbage men don’t hate us too much yet.

Here’s a glimpse at the progress Pete and his mom have made with cleaning up the trees and hedges from the front yard. Pardon the dead grass, I’m telling myself it will come back to life soon.

Pete and his mom also cleaned up the entire fenced in garden area, which had been filled to the brim with weeds and all sorts of not-so-pretty garbage. For now, it is home to our new tomato plants, but one day we will hopefully have beds with all sorts of delicious herbs and vegetables.

Pete discovered that the pieces of slate in the backyard were a lot bigger than we had thought since they were covered up with weeds and grass. He did his best to clear them all off, but now that they are all revealed, we aren’t sure what to do about them. Do you think we should use our spare slate pieces to make a more cohesive area (minus the random path probably) where we could have some additional outdoor seating? Or should we scrap it and grow grass back into those areas? Most of the slate pieces we’ve inherited with the yard are quite large and parallelogram-shaped, so it makes it a bit more difficult to make an interesting slate pathway like you may have seen on Young House Love.

Pete also got his pressure washin’ on when my dad came to help rescue our dirty exterior. We were really surprised by how much of a difference the pressure washer made, especially on the fire pit/stone grill thingy in the back.

Speaking of the fire pit thingy, what the heck is this and what do you think we should do with it? It is completely falling apart, so we should probably dispose of it, but part of me wishes we could fix it up in some way and turn it into a functioning fire pit.

That just about sums up this week’s house happenings so far. I’ve also been making some progress with the last of the wallpaper removal on our first floor, in addition to trying to repair cracked (and majorly leaking) shower grout. When I’m not surrounding myself with earthworms and caulk, I’m applying to jobs, writing cover letters and freelance blogging. Oh, and finding owners of lost dogs, so I’ll share more about all of this soon!