August 12, 2017

Before and After Kitchen Remodel and Dining Room Addition

Our down-to-the-studs kitchen remodel and dining room addition were completed after nine months of work (including seven weeks without a kitchen, during which time we hosted family for Christmas!) instead of the promised two and a half months.  And yes, it was over budget as well, but we're happy with the results.  The photo above shows the view of the back of the house with the new dining room addition, patio and patio cover in place.

Here is a photo of the house before construction.

We had to have the old patio demolished and remove part of a flower bed to make space for the new patio.  The kids and I have been spending a lot of time eating, reading, chatting, or just sitting on the new back patio.  We can usually spot butterflies, dragonflies, many types of bees, hummingbirds and many other birds in the garden.  I was excited to add another dogwood tree after the project (middle of photo).  'Starlight' is a Rutgers hybrid and is known for its vigorous growth, columnar shape, and beautiful white flowers in spring.  I also planted a climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolara) by the post at left that will eventually climb up and across the entire front of the patio cover.

The kitchen expanded during the remodel to take over the space where the dining area used to be.  I've been loving the new bar that seats the whole family, as it makes mealtimes much easier.  Unfortunately, in the months since it was finished I am the only member of the family who has demonstrated the ability to clean the mirror-like granite of all streaks.  But the Blue Pearl granite is so pretty that I don't mind too much.

We were blessed to have our neighbor, Nicki, design the layout and cabinets while she was working for Canyon Creek Cabinets.  I am sensitive to offgassing chemicals, and I was relieved that these high quality cabinets did not make me sick.

This is the same view of the old kitchen.  It wasn't bad before, but the new arrangement offers a lot more storage and room for all the growing bodies in this house.

The new dining room has windows on three walls so we can enjoy garden views and air conditioning while dining.  With all the windows and the off-white cabinets, the kitchen feels much lighter.

This was the old dining space.  We often host extended family gatherings, and we made it work with folding tables extending into the living room.  Now we can fit fourteen at the new dining table (if we squeeze kids onto benches) plus six more at the bar.  We've already used the table at max capacity and it was a fun meal (come visit with your families anytime, Melissa and Ashley).

Here's the view while standing in the new pocket door opening.  This year my three kids in piano lessons are supposed to practice for two and a quarter hours each day in total, and their teacher says they only need to practice on the days that they eat!  Sometimes it's really, really nice to close the pocket door and reduce the sound level while I'm cooking dinner.  This shows a good view of the Montagna Rustic Bay ceramic tile flooring that looks like wood.

This is nearly the same angle from before construction.  What a relief it is to have finished this big project!  Of course other projects are still in progress . . . we had three floods in the basement this spring and had to replace moldy carpet and drywall, and after switching the trim on the main level from wood to white, we are slowly planning to replace trim on the other levels as well.  Honestly, it would have been less stressful to move to a different home, but the garden wouldn't move well and we love our location.  We're looking forward to enjoying this nice space with our family for many years to come.

August 2, 2017

Wild Midsummer Vase

I usually create floral arrangements around roses or peonies, but for this midsummer vase I didn't have those big flowers available.  Instead I put together a wilder than normal vase with many types of smaller flowers and interesting textures.

Dahlias, 'Fama' pincushion flowers (Scabiosa), 'Maggie Dayley' astilbe, Astrantia major, 'Amethyst Falls' oregano, meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebrunianum) and both 'Annabelle' and 'Little Lime' hydrangeas made up the floral offering.

I also used drumstick allium, 'Fama' seedpods, and 'Ritro' globe thistle.  Don't forget a few stems of Russian sage (Peroskvia), German statice (Limonium), and 'Sunny Border Blue' veronica.

Plain old parsley seedheads and blooming culinary oregano added texture and airiness.

Hosta buds and clematis seedpods mixed with scented geranium and apple mint leaves.

I didn't have a lot of any one flower type, so I used a little of everything blooming in the pink/violet/cream color range.  Plus curly willow, fennel, lime licorice vine (Helichrysum), and 'Chocoholic' cimicfuga leaves.

Curving stems of 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' clematis and contorted filbert (Corylus avellana) draped down to the table.  Turns out it is possible to create a fun vase without the usual ingredients.

July 15, 2017

July GBBD - What's Blooming Now

It's definitely feeling like summer now with hot temperatures and clear, blue skies most days.  Even though the big June burst of bloom is over, I've still got quite a few flowers in the garden.  Above the Russian sage (Peroskvia) is coloring up while the 'Blue Chip' butterfly bushes (Buddleia, at front) have yet to start blooming.

This angle of the main sunny backyard bed shows a 'Miss Molly' butterfly bush starting to bloom (the hummingbirds are cheering) at right and a few 'Blue Paradise' phlox at center.  The blue leaves of 'Eola Sapphire' hostas and 'Ritro' globe thistle (Echinops), golden 'Dicksen's Gold' bellflower (Campanula), and maroon 'Chocoholic' snakeroot (Cimicifuga), 'Obsidian' heuchera and 'Royal Purple' smoke bush (Cotinus) ensure there is contrast even without a lot of flowers.

A cluster of 'Thumbelina Leigh' lavender shrubs are in full bloom behind a 'Lavender Stardust' daylily (Hemerocallis).  I thought I was done transplanting in the corner pictured, but I was wrong.  I'm still digging things up and moving them around, despite the hot temperatures.

This shot shows the same cluster of lavender shrubs from the other direction.  'Abbey Road' astrantia is blooming heavily across the path, and a few 'Ambassador' allium heads are still hanging around for interest.

A columnar apple tree in front echoes the shape of my new 'Starlight' columnar dogwood at center.  'Shaggy' white astrantia and a 'Sunday Gloves' daylily bloom at bottom left while buds of white liatris (L. 'Alba') are ready to open.

Two 'Big Smile' daylilies flank the swing set alongside lavender 'Rozanne' hardy geraniums.

In the white garden 'Bridal Veil' astilbe is finishing up in front while Astrantia major is going strong at center.  My 'Claire Austin' English rose is still getting established, so it's stems are falling all over from the weight of the flowers.

In the front yard 'Frances Joiner' double daylilies are blooming heavily next to a 'Walker's Low' catmint that needs to be deadheaded soon.  I like the peachy color of the daylilies, but last night I realized that I'd like lilac-pink 'Lavender Stardust' daylilies even better here.  More transplanting lies ahead . . .

The west garden is colorful as usual with several types of lilies in bloom as well as 'Golden Sunrise' tickseed (Coreopsis) that has seeded itself around the area.  Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day each month.

June 21, 2017

June Peonies in a Vase

Last week I created this arrangement of pink peonies for a friend.  I'm still waiting for my darker peonies to mature enough to produce buckets of blooms, but for now I can enjoy plenty of the lighter pinks.

The draping greenery is from one of my contorted filberts (Corylus avellana 'Contorta').  I used astilbe leaves to create a grid to hold other greenery in place, then filled in with Baptisia, variegated Solomon's Seal and hosta leaves.

I used the small flowers of pink 'Roma' and lighter 'Buckland' astrantia (above).  A rosy-tipped stem of snowberry (Symphoricarpos) arches at the left.

 Of course twisting honeysuckle stems were included.  The honeysuckle is blooming right now, filling an entire corner of the backyard with fragrance.

Buds from my 'Eola Sapphire' hostas also added interest.  I don't like the actual flowers enough to use them in arrangements, but the buds are really cool.
The last peonies to bloom are finishing up this week, then it will be another year before peony flowers make their appearance.

June 6, 2017

Early June Scenes 2017


The garden changes daily at this time of year, with many blooms opening overnight to surprise me the next morning.  The photo above, though, highlights dark foliage that lasts longer than flowers.  I've been struggling with this main sunny bed since I created it, but adding six 'Obsisian' heuchera plants has helped it look more finished.  The maroon leaves of the heucheras tie into the similarly colored leaves of the 'Royal Purple' smoke bush (Cotinus) to the left and the 'Royal Purple' crabapple trees (Malus) to the top right.

I love the maroon leaves with ethereal 'Twilight Blues' baptisia and balls of 'Globemaster' allium.

This northeast area of the backyard ties into that northwest main sunny bed with dark leaves from my 'Red Dragon' contorted filbert (Corylus).  A 'Kopper Kettle' Itoh peony blooms at center left.

 A little further along the path, a 'Black Lace' elderberry (Sambucus) continues the dark-leaved theme.  'Early Emperor' alliums are done blooming but the seed heads still provide interest.

I shared photos of the orange poppies last week, but I can't resist another one.

'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris and 'Totally Tangerine' geum are good neighbors.  The geum blooms three or four times as long as the iris, though.

'Ambassador' allium (top)  is my favorite allium for its deep purple color, though I really appreciate 'Early Emperor' (at center, finished blooming) for its early show of color.  Now that the 'Caradonna' salvia and 'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris are blooming, the three shades of violet-purple are really pretty against the orange geum.

 In the backyard garden east of the house, the leaves of a 'June' hosta blend peacefully with chartreuse and green leaves on other hostas, heuchera, and spirea.

Here in the east back garden my pink 'Helsinki University' rhododendrons and more alliums are providing the flower color for now.  Last year I transplanted several 'Jack Frost' and 'King's Ransom' brunnera plants to this area (you can see a blurry one at center), and their silvery leaves provide interest even when the blue flowers aren't visible.

The west path garden is recovering from the trauma of being smashed by heavy equipment during our remodel.  The 'Elfin' creeping thyme is slowly starting to reappear around the stones at the top of the path.  My 'Teasing Georgia' rose (not shown because it's ugly right now) survived, barely, and is starting to leaf out but still looks sad.  Next year it should be pretty again.

In the front yard 'Coral Sunset' peonies demonstrate the reason for their name with many shades of pink and cream on the same plant.  In the front yard I also grow 'Coral Charm,' which blooms a little later and makes a much better cut flower.  I've learned that 'Coral Sunset' starts to turn brown the next day if I cut it fully open, and it doesn't open if I cut it earlier.  'Coral Charm' does better in a vase.

June 1, 2017

Vivid Colors at Spring's End

On the first of June, colorful scenes are cropping up in the garden.  The photo above shows the bird bath on the west side of the home where spikes of violet 'May Night' salvia and lavender 'Walker's Low' catmint mingle with 'Pure as Gold' iris.

The view looking north through the gate shows the back garden looking much more full than it did at the beginning of May.  A month ago the fence panel to the right of the gate was still disassembled after our long kitchen remodel/addition.  It feels really good finally have things back in place inside and outside.

The west side of the backyard path features edgings of pink 'Dusseldorf Pride' armeria and golden orange 'Firestorm' geum with 'Red Charm' peonies blooming at right.  IIf you look closely you'll see little bursts of chartreuse from the leaves of baby 'Diane's Gold' brunnera, 'Dicksen's Gold' campanula and 'Everillo' sedge.

Unknown orange poppies really pop against violet 'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris and 'Buckeye Belle' peonies in the background.

A pink 'Rivida' peony is about to open in front with a rainbow of poppies, allium, Siberian iris, geum, salvia and astrantia in the background.
My favorite camera lens (Canon 50 mm EF f/1.4 USM) is finally repaired and the garden is ready for photographs, so I hope to post more regularly.

Later in the day 'Rivida' opened a little more, leading to this view.  Scrumptious!

May 15, 2017

Mid May Flowers - GBBD 2017

The backyard is slowly starting to show color.  I read in a recent article that Washington is the only state in the nation to have a cooler than average spring.  But the 'Millstream Daphne' creeping phlox and 'Gloria' aubrieta groundcovers are finally in full bloom above.

In this photo one of the 'Royal Raindrops' crabapple trees echoes the blooms of a 'Velvet Lips' hellebore below.

From this angle you can see the almost finished addition on the back of our home.  Eight months into our 2.5 month project, we're nearly done!  And yes, it went over budget as well.  That's just construction, I guess.

This photo shows the three 'Royal Raindrops' crabapple trees with buds fully open.  Green leaves are filling in the garden below.

A shot of the southeast corner of the backyard reveals a 'Spring Snow' crabapple that has dropped most of its petals by this point.  The 'Katherine Havemeyer' lilacs don't have as many blooms this year as last year, but there have been plenty for me to cut and share with neighbors.

The path directly east of the house features chartreuse leaves against mauve and sky blue flowers.  The crabapple petals cover the ground like snow.

Last summer I transplanted several 'Jack Frost' and 'King's Ransom' brunnera plants to this area, and their true blue blooms are a welcome addition to the color palate.  Brunnera is one of my favorite plants for shade with beautiful leaves that sparkle after the flowers fade.  A few 'Negrita' tulips are reblooming this spring after being planted a couple of years ago, and a 'June' hosta is colorful at bottom left.

A final shot of the east path includes 'Lime Rickey' heuchera, 'Red Sensation' aubrieta and a mauve creeping phlox whose name is forgotten.  It's an exciting time of year in the garden, as many more flowers will open in the next few weeks.  Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day to help us document our flowers each month.