Sunday, April 29, 2007

Beautiful Day!

Feels like summer today. High 70's. I took advantage of every minute! Pruned my roses, which I did a little later than usual because of the bad winter. They had a lot of die-back, more so because of heavy frosts this spring just when they were "awakening."

The "Heaven Strips" are stunning right now... tulips have never looked better. People slowly drive by all day to see them and I'm glad they bring as much pleasure to others as they do to me. They will be gone soon with this hot weather and hot afternoon sun, so I'm enjoying them as much as possible.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Perennial Pansy... Viola corcisa

This little purple gem lightens my heart whenever I see it unexpectedly peeking up through the snow. The first time I was introduced to this charming plant, Viola corsica (Corsican Pansy), it sounded like a great xeric addition to my hellstrips. It has proven to be just that. High Country Gardens describes it as "a much sought after but difficult to find perennial (I now see it often in local nurseries) that will not only live year to year...but will bloom most of the time too." It was a 2003 Plant Select Winner. Zones 4-9. The instructions say that it appreciates compost-enriched soil and regular watering. However, it resides in the tough, hard-packed soil that runs along the sidewalk and it is very happy there. It readily reseeds, blooms all summer and seems to relish any harsh condition that nature brings it's way. I love this little plant!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

...and then again!

Well, at least Spring lasted for a few days! Blowing snow all day. Actually, this gives me a chance to draw attention to the micro-climates (or hydro-zones) that I created in an otherwise flat, bare expanse. This area gets sooooo much wind. In order to visually break up the long space and create areas where I could "tuck in" sensitive young plants, I placed upended landscape logs scattered about each strip. You can see how protected the Pasque flower in my previous post is. Moss rocks were placed here and there for the same purpose and to add some hardscape to contrast with the softer texture of the plantings.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Favorite Spring Flower...

Pulsatilla vulgaris (European Pasque Flower). I love this flower! In it's native form it is usually the first flower to bloom in the Spring, usually March. It prefers an east-facing slope to take full advantage of the warm Spring sun. It is a reseeder and a good naturalizer.

The native Pasque Flowers that grow in the foothills of this area are a much lighter color but I have not been able to purchase them anywhere.

Ahhh.... Spring at Last!

Finally... Spring has arrived (well, at least for the last couple of days) and my tulips are beautiful this year, even though some of the leaves are deformed from the late winter blizzards. This is the third year for most of them and I can't get enough of admiring each and every one.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

And Two Years Later . . .

In two years I had the lush, beautiful landscape of my inspiration. AND... most of these tough plants are thriving and enjoy being "dry." I fill in with drought-tolerant annuals that add color throught the growing season and help enrich the soil when they decompose.

Neighbors come from blocks around to see the seasons' progress and stop to chat. Something that didn't happen before. And since we are usually out there working we get a chance to meet them.

One Year Later.....

It was a long, hard hall (I will post the how-to's as a sidebar). This what it looks like only one year later. We are on a suburbon corner lot in a 1950's era subdivision. My goal was to create gardens that would be in harmony with the neighborhood. I decided against a "Southwest" look using grasses, gravel, etc. We are fortunate in that no one usually parks along any of the strips, so I was able to plant pretty much wherever I wanted without having to worry about people trying to get out of their cars. If that changes in the future I will put a narrow flagstone walkway around the curbside.

We received an honorable mention in a Xeriscape competition and were honored to be included in the 2004 Xeriscape Tour.


My Inspiration! One day I happened upon this image in Better Homes & Gardens. Viola!! Lightbulbs went on... aha.... "This is just what I want to do."

A Beginning..... Drought of 2002

This being my first post, I need to start at the beginning.

The drought hit us hard in 2002 and with water restrictions, all of our coveted Kentucky Blue Grass lawns soon began to die in the dry heat. We bought this house in 1997, mainly because my husband enjoyed the large expanse of lawns up and down the street . That began to change as we watched our precious water reserves begin to shrink, while running off the impacted turf and flowing down the gutter, despite our various attempts to stop it. It was time to change what was no longer working. I took classes and researched waterwise methods to live more in harmony with our climate. I was dealing with 1350 sq. ft. of "hellstrips."