Moving the Magnolia

March 23, and this Japanese Magnolia in our front entry garden has grown too large for its "britches." It not only blocked the view to our front porch and hid the brickwork on our house, but it also sheltered a tangle of grasses and old flowers that always get out of hand by the end of summer.



We really like the bush (we're calling it a tree, after how difficult it was to move!) and didn't want to get rid of it, so we trimmed it back by half, and after three hard days of digging and loosening roots to no avail, Ken called in my Dad and his pickup. They were able to pull the magnolia out and spare enough roots (we hope) that it should come back nicely at the corner of the house and will serve as a screen there to hide the meters on the side of the house.

Update March 25: The magnolia seems to like its new spot in the yard—it popped some new blooms today! (There's quite a hole where it used to be, but it won't be long before we have it filled in and get that area looking nice again.)

Spring in Kansas...at least for now


This mallard pair has been hanging around, even coming up on our front porch. We suspect they're looking for a place to nest. We wouldn't mind letting them be our guests for a few weeks. I got to watch baby ducks hatch and immediately follow their mother to a nearby lake a few years ago, and it was a delightful thing to witness!

We've been reveling in the blossoming of the Bradford pear tree in our backyard. Such a beautiful time of year here in Kansas (even though we know there could still be snow, ice, and all kinds of "winter" still to come before spring really settles in to stay.

Almost spring?

The last day of February and while we are more than ready for spring and working in the yard, we are also enjoying this beautiful snow while it's here. The photo below was taken long after sunset, yet the snow illumined the entire neighborhood. It's really beautiful to look out on, and I love the patterns the snow has created on the table and in the trees.

Mid-December gloom chasers


The days have grown terribly short, but that makes it all the more comforting to start turning on lights about 5:30 each evening. The Christmas tree lights go on when we get up and stay on until we turn in for the night. Good ways to chase away the gloom of mid-December. Of course, once all our kids and grandkids start arriving next week, there will be no talk of gloom!
Another little day-brightener has been the last begonia blooms from the summer pots we brought in. Such cheery little spots around the house when outside everything is brown and drab. We still have two pots of coleus that we brought in and I hope to baby through until summer.

First snow


I'm a bit behind in posting these photos, but we did have our first official snow November 15. Very pretty with leaves still on the trees. We're hoping for a white Christmas, but not so white the kids can't all get here as planned!



Autumn...here and gone

This was the last glimpse of our autumn color, which didn't last nearly long enough. We've had FREEZING weather for almost a week straight now. There are still leaves on many of the trees, but mostly they are brown and wilted. Snow in the forecast. The brave squirrel below had the audacity to knock on our back door two days in a row. I think he wanted to sit by the fire, but we'll never know. We ignored him (except for taking the usual daily ration of peanuts to him and his buddies at their trees).
And this one did some ice skating on the bird bath the first morning it froze.

Copycat

My mother-in-law has amazing taste and I always love the way she decorates her home. The gorgeous bowl above is something she "threw together" a couple of years ago and I've always wanted to copy it. Found a similar bowl at a garage sale for $2 (minus the birds, alas) and made a similar arrangement inspired by Mom's for our front porch. Hoping to find a wreath like hers when they go on sale after the holidays. 

Saying goodbye to October

Our first freeze of fall is forecast for tonight, Halloween night, so we've been doing some rearranging in the garden, moving flowerpots closer to the house, pulling out some of the coleus that's overgrown or spent, and soaking in every last drop of enjoyment from the garden. The dahlia's in the pot above have been a pleasant surprise. We bought them in a discount package at Walmart Summer 2013 and never got them planted. They sat in their plastic bag in the garage over the winter and instead of throwing them away this spring, I decided to tuck them in a pot of coleus, just to see what would happen. They bloomed late—not until late August—but they've been so pretty. I think I'll plant a much bigger pot of them next year!
We planted a new clematis, Huldine, last night. It's a white flowering variety, so now we have something growing on each of the deck's front poles (assuming this one makes it through the winter).
An autumn wreath on the front door. Sometimes it seems a waste to put up fall decorations when they'll only be replaced by Christmas ones in a few short weeks, but I do love the looks of fall decor.
We found some great solar LED lights for under the deck rail and so far, they work great! Just the perfect amount of light to cast a soft glow over the deck.

More mulch magic

Finished cutting a border along the side of the house and filled it with the wonderful free mulch we've been getting. A boring garden update, but sure gives a nice finished edge to the lawn and avoids the need to weed-eat around the utility outlets. The purple fountain grass was a huge success and we'll likely be putting one in the same spot next year. We've learned to buy the smallest available because it grows BIG in no time, especially in the ground.


Leaves to rake, but oh, so worth it

We'll have lots of leaves to rake when it's all said and done, but oh, how worth it. Fall is fixing to be stunning this year and our interest is piqued for a peek at fall's peak! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
 The Lacebark Elm we planted last year is doing so well. Already it's tall enough to provide privacy and a bit of shade.
This Bradford pear is the star of the show when it comes to fall. It will soon be every shade of red, green, orange, and gold. And the little redbud tree we transplanted from the front yard seems to love its new location in the back yard. Did I mention Fall is our FAVORITE time of year?

In the pink

Cool October weather has brought a new flush of roses. These pink beauties are from one of the bushes we transplanted to underneath the deck last summer and they have outdone themselves this year, providing cut flowers almost all summer long—and now for fall as well. All of our rosebushes were growing here when we bought the house, but we have now moved all but one or two to new locations. 

Getting ready for fall


September 20, and the days are growing noticeably shorter. There's a touch of color in the tops of the trees, the squirrels are getting greedier, and the evenings have a wonderful crispness about them. So it seemed like it was time to replace the fading coleus in the pots on the front steps with some fall mums.
The checkerboard patio is in danger of disappearing into the
lush green grass!
After giving away tons of apples and stocking the fridge
with more, we've finally used the last of them, mostly on
delicious apple crisps.

The indoor plants are taking a rest, too, so I added some
interest with a paper butterfly (to the planter our oldest
daughter gave me for Mother's Day.)






September!

Even though there is plenty of summer left when September rolls around, we love the promise of autumn that turning the calendar page to September brings.

We planted some dahlias early this summer along with the coleus and it's just now blooming.
The clematis is also blooming again!

Favorite views

We love the huge Osage Orange trees (and even the thorny locusts) that grow at the back of our property. They give us such wonderful shade (so much that we can't get grass to grow there.) We planted the little lacebark elm on the right last fall, and it won't be long before it's adding its own nice spot of shade.
The window boxes (or rail rider boxes) have done so well this year, and I hope to add a couple more next year. They add such a bright spot of color planted with zinnias, gerbera daisies and begonias. Plus, they offer a nice "privacy fence" for the deck.
It's quiet and cool under the deck... 
...and I must admit I love this view of my "lawn boy" (aka my husband), especially when my work is done and I'm just relaxin'.