I admit to feeling pretty good about my landscaping this year. I’ve been receiving compliments and relishing each and every one. All that hard work is paying off.
This is kind of our third summer in our new house. The first year, nothing got done outside until early August. Once the landscape was finally installed, we had a lovely long fall and the roots had time grow—but of course you can’t see that. Last summer, the woody plants still mostly sat there. I spent the growing season adding perennials, which was tons of fun, but being new, most of those didn’t grow much either.
Two years ago, our new home was a blank slate. Nothing grew on our lot, not even weeds. We’re located on a hillside, and the summer rains were eroding the subsoil left by the builder. It could have been discouraging, but I couldn’t wait to get started.
Landscaping is so much fun! It’s a chance to be creative and to express one’s personality. While I had some help with the overall design (the builder provided a voucher for a professional designer), the result is exactly what we had in mind. Our little piece of Colorado Springs reflects my love of birds and other aspects of nature, plus my husband’s desire for a place to relax.
We have a lot of snow in our front yard. It may not seem like much to those who live in Minnesota, upstate New York, or Maine, but for us here along the Front Range of the Rockies, it’s a lot of snow. Colorado is dry. Colorado is sunny. We don’t get all that much snow, and what we do get melts the next day. The “real” snow is supposed to stay up on the ski slopes, not in our front yards.
When we picked out a lot for our new house, we were thinking about a longer growing season from our south-facing backyard, the spectacular view of Pikes Peak out the living room picture windows, the warmth of sunshine filling our bedroom. We carefully oriented our house to take advantage of all these.
Why would I want to invite insects into my garden? Don’t most homeowners want to get rid of the bugs? It’s true that some insects cause major problems in a landscape, chewing indiscriminately and leaving behind a trail of devastation. But don’t let a few bad guys ruin it for everyone—there are plenty of insects who can live harmoniously among our plants. Some, such as bees, more than earn their keep. And who doesn’t enjoy a garden full of butterflies?
I sat me down to watch upon a bank With ivy canopied and interwove With flaunting honeysuckle. (John Milton)
Mention honeysuckle, and we think of green hedgerows, sultry summer days, and childhoods spent picking the flowers and putting them in our mouths to suck out the sweet nectar. There are around 180 species in the genus Lonicera. Fast growing and tolerant of inhospitable conditions, honeysuckles have much to recommend them. Many are valuable landscape plants able to withstand Colorado’s challenging conditions while presenting us with beautiful flowers and berries adored by birds.
With the hardscape decided, it’s finally time to consider the plants—my favorite part! Since our home came with a certificate good for a free garden design (e.g., they make you pay for it in the price of the house), I decided to hire a professional. She asked for a scale plan of our property and a list of plants I particularly like. I gave her four pages worth! (Really, I tried to only list my favorites). I also included a shorter list of plants I do not want in my yard—with junipers in the number 1 slot. (See last month’s post.)
Three weeks have now passed since we took ownership of our new house. Three weeks of lugging heavy furniture from room to room until it looks “right”—or ends up in the “to sell” pile. Three weeks of unpacking boxes only to find we need to add shelving to closets before the contents have a place to land. Three weeks of making decisions—picking out new bar stools for the counter in the great room, choosing a table and chairs for the deck, researching what kind of window coverings we might want. Three weeks of spending every spare moment indoors, settling in.