Please don't tell the garden police

It's a good thing there is no social services organization that regulates garden care, because I would most certainly be under investigation. I'm really embarassed about it and I'm not sure how things slipped away quite so badly this year, but the current state of my garden is somewhere in the realm of reprehensible.

 For a time, this garden was a nice space. Now it's just a hot mess.

 The weeds are plentiful, to be sure, but not as bad as I would expect. Of course the reason for that is that parts of the garden are now getting so mature that they are doing what I had hoped they would do: cover as much space as possible so as to not give the weeds a place to be. But that brings on its own set of problems. What I call the "main" garden, located right off the patio is now about seven years old. It was the first garden I ever made in my life, and at the time I was more concerned about filling it up with plants as quickly as possible than I was with any sort of design concept. I've remedied a few of the problematic areas over the years, but one large section of it is now in bad shape. The anemones (a late-summer blooming pink variety, but I couldn't tell you what it is) are taking over,  both in height and width. They are running into the black-eyed susans, which, of course, have been running amok for years now (and isn't that just a great color combo ... orangey yellow and pink? eek). Worse yet, the two plants have foliage that is similar in color and size so there's not even an interesting texture thing going on.

The sweet woodruff I spread around has done what I THOUGHT I wanted it to do, but as it turns out, maybe I didn't really want it to do that after all.

It's time to face facts: the garden needs an overhaul. So I have a little something to think about there.

The shade garden I started last year is progressing well, but hasn't even been fully edged yet, much less weeded in the last two weeks. It, too, needs attention.

Along the west side of the house, I've finally purchased something to replace the Kamagata Japanese maple I lost last year, but I've not planted it yet because we're having some work done on the chimney soon and I'm afraid that will be in the firing line.

Another offshoot of the "main" garden is destined to be dismantled later in the summer when we have some work done to the house and they need to use that area. It too will need to be redesigned.

 This is Madam Pierre Oger and she is a beautiful French bourbon rose that smells better than any flower in my garden. She's still in a pot because I'm not entirely sure where she's going, but she's blooming anyway. But back up a little and look at her foliage. It's awful, and unfortunately many of the roses in my garden look like this. I think the culprit is a little green worm.

And then I have oodles of plants sitting in the Pit of Despair that I keep swearing I will get in the ground but they've not gotten there yet. I feel bad planting things (which I consider a "fun" garden job) when I haven't even finished weeding (not a fun garden activity). One of them is a stunning French rose I picked up at the Master Gardeners Heirloom Plant and Herb Sale this year. Unfortunately, like almost every other rose in my year it has been completely defoliated by some kind of little green worm. I don't know what it is, but a gardening friend has the same thing going on in her yard. Still this rose is putting out the most amazing smelling blooms.

So, I have my work cut out for me. The good news is that my garden won't tell on me.

Hello again

Well, the garden has been neglected and the blog moreso.


Been sailing ... but stay tuned, I'll be back soon. Promise!

Finally, a kitchen reveal

I use the word reveal with hesitation because I've seen full on kitchen re-dos and this isn't one of those ... it just took about as much time as one.

It started in October with the hunt for a table, and I found it at the Restoration Hardware outlet last October.



Then came the banquette.


Then came the ugly "Which white paint?" period that is so boring it barely needs mentioning here. Suffice to say, I finally made a decision and got on with painting ... a lot of painting. Oh heck, let's just get to the before and afters! We did everything except build the banquette and sew the seat cushions ourselves.


Except there's just one problem: I didn't take any "real" befores. The main problem with the eating portion of the kitchen (our only eating area in the house) was that the round table extended into the room, so when you walked into the back door, you immediately walked right into the table.

Here's the old table (sans chairs):


And here's the new table and banquette (I used the same chairs from the old set).

Opposite the table was a coat tree (that collected way too many coats and a bookshelf overflowing with cookbooks and anything else I couldn't find a spot to stick somewhere else.



And now it's clutter free (ahhhhh) and still plenty functional. The cookbooks have all gone into all the storage built in to the banquette. If you want to read more about making this mini coat area, click here.

Since buying this house eight years ago, we've been slowly chipping away at kitchen projects, replacing the appliances, lighting and flooring.

Here's a shot of the other side of the kitchen before we put down our "dirt-colored" tile (a must with two huge dogs traipsing in and out all day).

And here it is today (OK, you can't see much of the floor because of the two enormous furballs taking up most of the space, but what a difference a coat of paint makes, don't you think?):

Let's talk about ugly lighting fixtures for a second, shall we? I hated this light fixture from the moment I walked in this house and it's finally gone!

Much better, don't you think?


The worst part of the kitchen project, BY FAR, was painting the ceiling. I had to cut in on each individual board, priming with BIN primer (stinky, awful stuff that's impossible to clean up, but it also seals knots, which you can see we had a lot of), then painting. I had no idea how bad that part of the project would be and I think in the future I'd pay a painter to do the ceiling.


And here's what it looks like painted (along with a close look at the lights over the table. You can see one of the blades of the ugly ceiling fan that was previously on that side of the room in the before picture.)

One of the benefits of taking so long on this project is that I had time to attend to some of the smaller details that I just love. This doormat is one of them. Since this is the primary entrance to our house, a lot of dirt is tracked in. I was putting a fresh rug every few days before. Then I found this cute striped rug that happens to perfectly match with the new colors in the room at Garnet Hill. The best thing about it is that it's an outdoor rug made with polyproplene. Once a week I rinse it off with the garden hose, let it dry, and it's good as new. Plus it doesn't slide around and it lies flat, so it never bunches up under the door like some other rugs tend to do.


Like most rooms, the kitchen isn't really finished. The kitchen cabinets need painting (Benjamin Moore's Mascarpone is the chosen white, in case you were curious. It's the color on the banquette, the table, the ceiling, and the door. I haven't gotten around to changing all the trim over to it yet). I desire new Caesarstone counters, but really, our laminate counters aren't all that bad looking and they are in great shape, so it's difficult to justify that expense, and the room is screaming for a backsplash. I also need some art for the wall behind the banquette. All in due time.

For now, I'm quite satisfied with this:


In coming weeks I'll talk in a little more detail about a few of the projects in this room including moving the lighting, customizing the table and more. If you want to read about parts of the project I've already blogged about, go here, here or here.

Summer's glory


I've been a bit lax in posting lately, but I can't help it: The weather here has been so wonderful it would be criminal to spend any more time inside than necessary. Memorial Day weekend was probably the nicest I remember, maybe ever.

And the plants are just as excited about this amazing spring and early summer as I am. I'm a big fan of clematis, but this one has become my favorite. Even though I changed what it was climbing up this year a bit too late, so it's laying in a heap on the ground, Guernsey Cream is blooming its head off. I just adore these flowers.