Saturday, June 9, 2012

I've been working on the rail road ...

Well, no, actually, I have been digging up our front yard again. It's one of those areas that really has me stumped because while I love the clean and neat look of grass between symmetrically arranged pavers, it's too contemporary - I think - to work with both our house and our neighborhood. My first foray into researching historically appropriate front yards in the early 1900s didn't yield much fun inspiration either (picket fences and grass, anybody?) and so our front yard was laying pretty bare and didn't do much for our curb appeal at the Ugly Duckling.

Big deep sigh.

Just blah.

It's a challenging bit of land cut into 1/3 to 2/3 by the paved walkway to the front porch. The smaller third receives almost all day sun whereas the larger part only catches a few morning rays and spends the rest of the day in either full shade or dappled shade. Choosing plants that can deal with those light settings along with the funky combination of poor soil, drought and occasional torrential downpours adds another layer of excitement.
We also cross through the larger part on our way to the gate to the backyard and the trash.

In the end I threw all fancy pants design plans out the window and decided to follow the spirit of a neighbor of ours: just plant and mulch!

I also got rid of the big unruly bushes of lilies right at the first step to our house; they only served as nursery for too many locusts, needed loads of water and bloomed for a week at best - too little gain for too much work, really. Out they came and were replaced with variegated Liriope and Mexican heather.

Since the smaller third of the front yard has always been earmarked as the "Butterfly Garden" I added plenty of Lantanas along the edge. We already had a butterfly bush, some milkweed and a daisy-like yellow flower from a butterfly garden kit I ordered online last year and so I've been adding a helpful plant here and there. I also tossed in a Plumbago and a red Purslane for some more color.

To top it all off, I mulched with black mulch. Oh boy, that's lovely stuff! The way it makes all other colors pop is just crazy!

 I also tossed in yet another white glass globe (I have plenty of these things, remember) as a yard ornament. Next time I'm over at the blue or orange box I'll pick up some solar lights to go underneath for a lighted effect. That sounds safer to me than using Christmas lights.

[Look! Somebody should scrub her front steps]

That funky tree thing in the center is a Loquat or Chinese Plum, or as we call them "Truffula tree" a la Dr. Seuss. In the spring it grows sweet little peach-like fruit, not much bigger than a very large cherry, that are tart and sweet at the same time (not this spring though; the late frost after weeks of mild warm weather killed most of them). It's a little worse for wear after getting a beating in torrential rains lately (Thanks, Beryl) and needs some help standing straight again.

Anyways, that's the start of my front yard clean-up. Next step: tackle the larger part to the left. This will include a gravel path, more plants and definitely more black mulch! Yum!


  1. I have loved reading your blog! We are in the process of buying a house in Springfield and hope to close at the end of July...fingers crossed! I would love to know what you think of your kitchen cabinets now, and how the installation went, I am looking at going that route. To see I am nervous about taking on a renovation like this is an understatement but we are excited as well. Everyone we've met has been so nice and outgoing, I can't wait to get down there!

    1. Hello Kathy!
      Woo-hooo! I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a successful smooth closing in July!
      Sorry for the late reply; we were on vacation :o)
      Sure, renovations aren't for the weak, but you'll see, the old ladies in Springfield love you back for loving them and there is nothing more rewarding than seen a grand (or not so grand) old house come back to life. We loved our contractors; they held our hands throughout the process and happily shared their historic house knowledge with us. Good luck! I hope you'll let me crash your house one day :o) Which corner of SPR are you going to call your own?

  2. That should read "to say" not see. Darn autocorrect! Btw, I didn't mean to post anonymously but I'm on the iPad and my connection isn't the greatest right now so I didn't want to create a google account. Also, your house has turned out beautifully, you have done an amazing job!

  3. Micha,
    1344 Hubbard St. We are really excited! We were down there yesterday to see if she was under water... thankfully just a few wet spots here and there but nothing serious. This house definitely falls in the "not so grand" category but one day... :) My husband actually talked to Gloria from Glory Homes and she couldn't have been nicer or more encouraging. Some days it feels like we will never get this loan closed but thankfully in the last few days things seem to be picking up. I can't wait!

  4. One day your house will be a a fabulous addition to the home tours :o) It's a gorgeous house with a lot of history, and it rocks the wrap-around porch! The paperwork for a 203k loan is definitely ...'interesting' and for us it also felt like it was taking forever but it's so worth it. Gloria is the best contractor you can find for this kind of project, really.