Friday, May 2, 2008

Flashback Friday - Landscape Look

Never having shed my hippie-like spirit (or tie-dyed apparel) I knew I might not fit into the suburban community where we purchased a house some years ago. The obvious answer, and the easiest (I thought at the time) was to update the landscaping.

Problem was: I didn’t know my annuals from my perennials or my black-eyed susans from my brown-eyed girls. So I sought some gardening advice.

"How do we get rid of those bushes?" I asked one neighbor.
"You mean Yews?"
"Yes, us."
"No, Yews."
"Yes. We’re doing it ourselves."
"No Yews, the bushes, Japanese Yews."
"Oh. You mean those Yews. Yes, Yews."

We bypassed the chain-the-bushes-to-the-back-of-your-van-and-hope-your-bumper-doesn’t-fall-off method one person suggested and decided to do it the old- fashioned way. With a saw and shovel.

The next question was topsoil. How much do we need? I asked around. One friend gave us a formula. To get the cubic footage measure the area, multiply by six, subtract by two and divide by a-third of the amount of deductions you claimed on you 2003 tax return. I decided to call a professional. I found out they could deliver four tones for just over a hundred dollars. I’m no math expert, but I know that four tons is about 8,000 backaches. We settled on 1200 backaches.

Our biggest problem was what to plant in our new backaches.

“Evergreens,” said my neighbor to the right. “They give you color in the winter.”
Well, I didn’t want to be the only one in the neighborhood with no color in the winter. So I bought a few balsam firs.

“Perennials are the way to go,” said another neighbor. Make sure you have something blooming for each season.
I didn’t want to be bloomless this summer, so I bought some daylilies.

“Think Beatrice Potter,” said my friend two doors down. “Think light. Think whimsical. Your house is cottage-like. You need flowering shrubs. Azalea, rhododendron. They say ‘you.’”

How could I not want something to say ‘me’? So I bought some rhododendrons.

“Keep it simple. Keep it clean,” my shrub friend said when she saw the rhododendrons. “Rhodos are too twiggy. You need something substantial against your house. I’m a big boxwood fan myself.”
"But what about blossoms, what about color?” I said in a panic.
“Get your color from hanging baskets,” she replied. “Concentrate on substantial foliage.”

But substantial bushes cost substantial bucks. So I bought a soon-to-be-sometime-in-about-sixty-years-substantial-bush. It was the size of a baseball.

I planted and dug up and planted and rearranged and still, something looked off.

“When in doubt, plant hosta,” said one friend. “They’re hardy and versatile. Try putting some impatiens between them for a lovely effect.” When another neighbor saw the hostas she told me to dig them up. “Hostas are boring,” she said. “They’re common. Look around. This whole neighborhood has been taken hosta.”

I decided then to halt all advice and take matters into my own hands. I drove around the streets and checked out as many landscapes as I could in a thirty-mile radius. What I saw were four distinct styles:

--the bushes the size of Nebraska look

--the perennials out to the curb look

--the small shrubs on cedar mulch look

--the low ground cover so you don’t have to mow the lawn look

“What’s my look?” I asked my Buddhist Friend. “I’m all mixed up! I don’t have a look! I need to have a look!”

And then she gave me the best advice yet: “Gardening takes patience,” she said. “Wait a year or two and see how things grow in.”

Since I definitely needed a break, I took her advice. And some years later, I find I’m pleased with the result, especially in the spring.

So now I ‘m looking at paint swatches so I can redo my kitchen. But please, don’t tell my neighbors.

Want more fun stories from my neighbors? Click Humor-Blogs so my ratings go up, so I get that book deal, so I can pay down the 23% interest on my credit cards, so I can put my kids through the community college of their choice.


Huckdoll said...

Haha, this is why I always have and always will prefer condo living :)

PS. Looks beautiful!

citizen jane said...

And I thought party planning by committee was a challenge -- that's nothing compared to landscape by committee.

However, the final product is lovely indeed.

June said...

Oh joy...another version of the Abbott and Costello routine :-) I agree with the approach you ended up taking. Good advice there! Thanks for visiting Spatter...

Anonymous said...

See, now that's exactly why I don't as for advice. Although, admittedly I'm thinking of taking out some of the horrible shrubbery that the previous owners had put in....

Love the overflowing flower look though. :)

Happy Friday.

Tara R. said...

I know I want to do more landscaping in my yard too, I may just have to take matters into my own hands and just start planting..

Sarabeth said...

Well, the end product is lovely. The process, oh, the process is funny. We live in a neighborhood called the Garden District, where climbing roses taunt me each time I walk the dog. We have no climbing roses. I keep thinking I need to have that look. I'm resisting.

Sandy C. said...

Those look lovely! Landscaping can be so designing and decorating a house :)

Good luck with the kitchen!

Sue said...

That is SO funny. I'm not a plant/flower person either. My husband gets so mad because I keep spending the same $20 over and over on hanging baskets, because I forget to water them.

cathouse teri said...

Gotta say. Love this story.
Makes me wonder... why don't we go to our Buddhist friends first for advice?

(I am totally wearing a tie-dyed skirt today!)

Loved your comment at Chelle B's place. May I quote you mine and link ya?

Maureen said...

Har! That was great! I love gardening, but I don't know what the heck I'm doing...

Blog Hoppin'

ksd said...

Your flowering tree makes hostas and yews look pathetic. You win. Your landscaping is the bomb!

Ty's Dad said...

Hey thanks for stopping by!

Ashlee said...

I have a brand new yard to decorate with flowers. I would have never thought to ask the neighbors, but I'm clueless when it comes to flowers as well. I asked my mommy. She's a pro. :0) I hope....

ML said...

I went out while my husband was trimming a tree with a chain saw. When I came home 3 of 4 large bushes were chopped off at eye level. He asked me if he should do the 4th - Where do you go with that???

Angela: mom2girlsgirlsgirls: said...

Thanks for directing me to this post. I laughed out loud so many times that my family made me read it to them. Hilarious, especially since we just finished our own enormous project.

Tell me--is that an empty flowerbed under the beautiful blooming bush? If it is, it's a sight I am VERY familiar with!