This is a pic to remind you what the house looked like when we bought it:
Lots of big ugly bushes and some weedy grass. On a big hill. Dumb. So the first summer we had it (can you believe it's been almost two years?) we sawzall'ed (great word) the bushes to open up the yard. Last year, I started removing the sod from the hill and planted a few herbs. You can read about it here in this post. The herbs did magnificently and now look like this:
Oddly enough, the soil in the front yard is pretty decent. The mint, thyme, and oregano took off like wildfire too. And, I had thrown in about 50 red tulip bulbs last fall that I bought from the kids. They were gorgeous (stupid me, I didn't take a picture). You can see in this picture that I'd stripped the sod all off and had started to plant. I've planted 8 thyme plants, 3 oregano, 2 mint, 8 different types of basil, 6 different types of peppers, 4 more lavender, tansy, tarragon, parsley, chives, chamomile, curry (weird plant and smells funny but pleasant), and a tomato. It is difficult to photograph, but here's my attempt:
So here is what it looked like last year:
And what it looks like today:
Big difference, right? Better, right? And those lavender!
I have pretty closely stuck to the "free or food" rule in the landscaping. I bought my plants exclusively from local sources. Maymont's Herbs Galore plant sale, City Garden's plant sale, and LDHS's plant sale.
In the "free" category, a friend gave me a bunch of red hot pokers (kniphofia) and they have bloomed beautifully:
Where I broke the rule was in purchasing some hydrangeas from a lady in the neighborhood. She had lost a couple of trees in her back yard changing her shady ground to sunny and her shrubs were burning. So, I picked up three hydrangeas from her and planted them in the back yard.
From the LDHS plant sale, I picked up that flat of impatiens in lovely red and white. Given that the bird bath is simply a breeding ground for West Nile, I decided it needed a new raison d'être. I moved it to the corner and planted a bunch of the red and whites in there. I think it looks pretty dang good. I know I need to pinch them back, but I wanted them to establish themselves for a few days first. No need to shock them unnecessarily to quickly.
I also picked up a Japanese maple from a vendor at the South of the James farmer's market on Saturday. I believe it's a Hisaka Yama. Where I want to plant is unfortunately obstructed by the "sidewalk to nowhere" which I really hate. So, Saturday, I pulled out my trusty sledge hammer and started to whack at it, much to P's consternation. In an hour, I had this:
I think I'm going to continue the break up job over the summer. I'm going to use the big chunks to build the fire pit in the middle of the yard. Reduce, reuse, and recycle!
This is a close up of the maple. I love the variegation.