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.


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.)


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'.

Things are getting pretty squirrel-y here

We have four of these little guys who call our yard home, and they certainly have kept us entertained over the seasons. (They are pretty much fearless and sometimes they get a little too close for comfort!)
When the grandkids are here, feeding the birds
and squirrels with Papa is a special treat!

Everything's coming up roses

We thought we'd have to wait until next summer to enjoy the transplanted roses, but they have surprised us and done quite well! We have two more to transplant, and may have lost two, but we've learned, with roses, to not give up too soon!
I've been able to keep little bouquets in our house, as well as take some to my mom in the nursing home, so these rose bushes are definitely earning their keep!
This one has petals that actually look like velvet! Just beautiful!


Our sweet doves failed to hatch their babies this time. We're not sure what caused it, but the eggs never hatched, and eventually, the doves started leaving the nest for longer and longer periods of time, and finally they never came back, leaving the unhatched eggs. We didn't investigate to see whether there were birds in the shells. I just didn't want to know. :(
When the doves hadn't returned for two or three days, we finally removed the nest and eggs and planted a few rooted cuttings in their place. We're sad these almost three weeks didn't result in any hatchlings, but we enjoyed watching the doves care for their eggs until they seemed to sense there was no longer any hope.