Brightening up the stairs

You have to admit that the ugly black wrought iron railing by our front door is a bit depressing. It was green before I painted it black and I think that might have been even more depressing. Maybe someday we'll change that railing out for something more attractive (although how you'd do that  I have no idea), but it does a pretty good job of just sort of disappearing, especially now that this clematis has grown up through it.

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The seagull came with the house and even though he (I think he's a he ... sometimes I call him Fred) is a bit kitschy, I just think he belongs here. Between the clematis and Fred, I think even the ugly railing is redeemable.

Garden tours

'Tis the season for garden walks and garden tours, and last week our master gardener group did a progressive dinner and garden tour of three members' gardens. I love getting a peek at other people's gardens. There is nothing like experiencing a garden firsthand to get great ideas to take home to your own garden. Pretty garden books are great, but save those for winter, and get into real gardens when you can!

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Echinacea might not be the flashiest of flowers, but they are dependable and invariably happy and proud. How can you not love them?

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I think this is butterfly weed, but I'm not positive. Does anyone know for sure?

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This large swath of gooseneck loosestrife was a nice statement and I thought it walked a nice line between structural and a little wild.

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Um, yeah, that's a basketball court. In the back yard.


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House No. 2 started with this totally charming arbor that the homeowner built himself.



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With these amazing climbers growing on it.

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Off the patio there is a beautiful pond.

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With a waterfall, koi and cute frogs!

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This frog was pretty cute too.



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And this, this folks, is maybe the most amazing hydrangea bloom in all of Wisconsin. I know there are far more beautiful hydrangeas in Washington state and New Zealand a whole bunch of other places, but it takes some doing to get a blue bloom in these parts. If you've been reading the blog for a while you know I'm a lover of hydrangeas and if I could I'd have these all over my yard.

A great garden combination

Pairing plants in the garden is one of the things I struggle with. I take heart in the fact that I think it takes a lot of gardeners a long time to get the knack of what looks best with what, and that the beauty of gardening is that you can (almost) always move plants around when things don't work out the way you want them to.

Mother Nature often seems to know more about combinations than many gardeners do. On occasion a plant will pop up in a place you never intended but look great with its neighbors. And then, every once in a while, I actually do something right.

I've been very happy with my purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple') because it's one of the few different foliage colors in the "main" garden. One thing I've been noticing this summer is that I need to work on getting more texture in the garden in the form of foliage color, shape and size. The purple smoke bush is a nice break from all that midtone green.



It's growing in part sun vs. full sun, so I doubt it will ever "smoke," that is, develop the fluffy blossoms. That's actually OK with me because I don't think they are all that great looking, especially when they start to fade. But wouldn't it be great of purple smoke bushes had small, bright pink flowers?



Guess what? Mine does. Well, it doesn't really, but I planted  clematis 'Princess Diana' next to it to wrangle up the purple foliage of the shrub (this is one of my favorite ways to grow clematis). She's doing a great job of showing off this year (and it would be even more beautiful if the stupid anemones would stop acting like they are on speed) and I love how the elongated pink flowers really look like they are part of the smoke bush.



Change is a'comin'

Some changes are underway here at The Impatient Gardener. I decided to invest a bit in shaping things up here, making it easier to read and navigate and hopefully a more pleasurable place to be around. I'm also working on some other ways for you to connect with the blog (social media and all that jazz).

Frankly I have no idea what's all involved in changing things over, so I will do my best to not disturb things too much and try to keep posting as much as possible.

For those of you who read the blog faithfully, thank you so much. I appreciate your support. I hope you like what's coming.

Here's a sneak peak!

A Fourth of July bouquet ... a week too late



We had a big rain last night, and I'm a poor staker, so my beloved (and sparse) delphiniums all flopped. There is a good side to this, which is that I was free to cut them and bring them inside (I'm normally too tight to cut too many flowers). The rain also made a few of the Annabelle hydrangeas that had escaped the cage I put around them flop a bit. Since delphiniums and hydrangeas rank right up there with my favorite flowers I was excited about a chance to put them together.




Then I spotted one of the amazing double red poppies I grew from seeds scattered in February and cut a few of those too.



Still needed some height though. A ha! The papyrus grass (King Tut) thriving in the big container. There are so many coming up that I could spare a few for inside.



And there were still a few holes to fill, so I went to my go-to filler: Lady's Mantle. Everyone should grow Lady's Mantle for a lot of reasons including that it's incredibly easy to grow and it's small long-lasting chartreuse flowers work in almost any bouquet.

The result was the perfect Fourth of July bouquet: red, white and blue with a few fireworks!



And because I don't have cute kids to pose with these things, I did what any self-respecting dog owner would do: bribed her for the photo.

I love it when a plan comes together

 One of the inspiration photos I've collected from Houzz. I liked the white (but not too white) walls and the slim band of accent tile that goes all the way around the room. I especially like the one vertical band, which I think helps add some height to the room.


Sometimes I wonder if I have some sort of problem that involves me coming up with an unrealistic or even impossible goal to torture myself with for months until I settle for something else. This happens all the time with design decisions and even when I'm looking for the perfect plant for the garden.

So I expected nothing less than frustration when I went on a tile shopping expedition last week. Although we still haven't signed the official papers (a contract with the general contractor or the loan from the bank), it's looking like this house renovation is going to happen in late summer/early fall. I do not do well making decision under pressure so I wanted to make some of the decor decisions as soon as possible.

My tile success started with talking to my tile guy, who happens to be the husband of one of my best friends. He told me where to shop and a few ideas of what to keep in mind.

The next good move I made was to go to the tile store on a weekday. I had been there on a scouting mission a few months ago on a weekend and it was a madhouse. That was fine for an initial look around but it wouldn't do for serious shopping. And the final smart thing I did was to walk in and immediately look for a consultant to help me out and get on with it.

We started with the field tile for the walls, which I already knew I wanted to be porcelain (I didn't want any tile I would have to worry about sealing like a natural stone), large scale (I have a fear of lots of grout lines in the shower) and light in color. We pulled out about 10 options (this is where the tile consultant really helped because she knew where things I might like would be located) and narrowed it down to two. I ended up choosing one over the other because I liked it slightly better and it also was $1 cheaper per square foot. How often does that happen?

Next we looked for an accent tile. I had my heart set on a blue glass tile. I was open to considering any shade of blue and any size and shape of tile. Things got a bit more difficult here but the tile consultant really went to work here. After about 15 minutes of looking I realized that I really detested one-inch square tiles. I'm not sure why, but all of a sudden it became apparent that I didn't want that. Then I saw some 1-inch by 2-inch rectangles and asked to see them in other colors. The consultant brought over a board with several shades of blue tiles on it, some in that shape. But there was another shape: an ellipsis. The color is difficult to describe (and it's name—Queen Jewel—certainly doesn't help) but I think of it as Caribbean blue. It wasn't what I expected to like but I kept coming back to it so I put it on the short list and moved onto floor tile.

 The winning tile combination fell together easier than most things seem to. The majority of the wall tile will be this off-white polished porcelain tile in a 12x24 size. The floor will be the gray tile, which has a honed finish and is very similar in color to the Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter color I recently painted the kitchen. The glass accent tile will be the "Caribbean blue" ovals which I'll use for a thin horizontal and vertical stripe.


This was the easiest of all the selections. I knew I didn't want a white floor, but I didn't want anything too dark. I also wanted to stick with porcelain for the floor. We pulled out about three tiles, including one I liked quite a bit. We were making a final pass through the store and I picked up a tile called "Urban Grigio" and put it back because I thought it was too late. Two minutes later the tile consultant grabbed it and I knew right away it was the one.

I brought home samples of all the tiles and my husband liked them so that's one decision all done. And boy it feels great!

If I still had my summers off I'd ....

Go to the beach all the time.


Hudson would be OK with that.


Walk the dogs every single day.

Hudson and Rita would be OK with that too.


Give my dogs a lot more baths than I do.


Have a garden that wasn't a hot mess.

Finish all the projects that have been lurking.

 See that big, bare wall in the kitchen? I have plans for it but they better get in line behind all the other projects.


Probably be even more obsessed with what the new bathroom will look like.


My bathroom inspiration ideabook on Houzz.


Not feel guilty about sailing as much as I do.

 That's me, sailing. Cindy Cady photo


Lunch with my friends who were smart enough to become teachers so they actually do have the summer off.

Have a really great, and not at all dermatologist-approved tan.
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Have a much cleaner closet.

Spend more time blogging.

Drink gin and tonics at 3 p.m. and the occasional bloody Mary at noon.

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So what would you be doing this summer if your responsibilities disappeared?

Check out this blog

The gang over at Young House Love featured this blog the other day so you might have already found it, but I can almost guarantee it will be the funniest thing you read today.

Check out Catalog Living and get ready to laugh.