Sunday sprucing

Since Saturday was a dreary day around here with showers and cold winds, I didn't get outside to do any of the garden spruce-ups that were on the agenda.  We opted to run some errands and stay in to catch up with the DVR a bit.  I caught up on a little laundry and cleaning and we had no plans for the evening.  Then I had a great surprise when our friends drove over from New York to dine and stay the night for an unplanned visit!  I was so pumped to see my girl Jenn and her man, Mike.  We grabbed dinner out at a great Italian place nearby and enjoyed a few drinks at home.  

It was an awesome time.  I thank my lucky stars for good friends!

We didn't have the greatest weather today, but after my lazy Saturday, I knew I HAD to do some work in the gardens out front.  So, I dragged myself off of the couch and bundled up a bit to get down and dirty.  Surveying what I wanted to tackle first, I dug in. (Pun obviously intended.)

On both sides of our front porch, we have symmetrical perennial beds.  There is an evergreen dwarf tree, a purple azaela bush, a yellow mum, daffodils, and tulips. I started in the right bed first and worked my way left.  Here is what I started with... some weed shoots and leaves.  We will put down a fresh layer of mulch to help combat weeds in the next few weeks.

And here it is after a few minutes of weeding, raking and cutting back the unruly mum in the middle.

A small improvement but one that makes a solid difference in the name of curb appeal.  I fertilize these beds with Holly-tone in the spring and fall.  It's an organic fertilizer that is used on acid-loving plants such as my azaelas, evergreens, and hydrangeas.  I got this 27lb bag at Costco for $14 and it will last me for this application and the upcoming fall application as well.  

I normally spread it around the branch line of the plants so that it can absorb into the roots below.  I use a little more than average because I have some mulch down from last spring.  If you spread it straight onto the dirt, you can use a bit less.  For the smaller plants, with a branch spread of under 3 feet, I use 1-2 heaping cups.

Then, I let it fly.  I love the smell of this stuff.  It smells like freshly turned soil mixed with notes of light manure.  Mmmmm.  Matt hates it (as evident by his checking on me with a scrunched nose).  We are expecting a few showers tonight so I'm glad that it will have a chance to soak in a bit before some anticipated sunshine early this week.

With that bed sufficiently tidied, I moved left to the other side of the porch and started in.  The left side was a little messier to start.

And here it is after I weeded a bit, cleared the leaves out of the azaela in the bottom right, cut back the mum in the middle, and applied the Holly-tone fertilizer.  Our tulips have buds and should bloom soon.

I can't wait for the weather to get warmer so i can plant some colorful annuals to fill the bottom corners.  I moved left once more to start in on the biggest garden bed in the front of the house.  I have two nikko blue hydrangeas and some boxwoods.  And a rabbit.  What's a garden without a fake animal, anyway?  I love that little guy.  I plan on adding some perennial color to this spot later this month.  Here's a bunch of befores and afters.  Cue the oohhs and aahhs.  

Aaaad one more...

Here is the final shot of a job well done.  

I walked all of the leaves and weeds to the back woods and dumped them there.  OOoooooweeee!  I love me some neat gardens.  Once the azaelas blossom purple, the hydrangeas bloom blue, the tulips come up red, the mums pop yellow and some fresh hemlock mulch is laid, this baby will be the talk of the street.  

Total time: Under 2 hours  Total Cost: $14 (for the big bag of fertilizer)

How was your weekend?  Anyone get out to do anything in the yard despite the gloomy weather?  Or maybe you had surprise visitors, too?

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