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Around The Yard | Early Summer

Oh yes, I'm so thankful for this space.

We've lived in this house for just about two years now. Last year I did just a bit in the yard - mainly with the raised beds in the summer and planting some shade perennials in a bed between the house and the patio. Take a look back at early spring, mid-spring and mid-summer 2011. Especially crazy to see the difference between April 2011 and now (bare trees vs. the green of now).

Part of my manifesto this summer is to spend an hour outside everyday. That might be playing, reading, working, eating, resting, entertaining, dreaming or puttering.

Click on any image to view it larger.

Right now a lot of my outside time has been planting and a bit of moving things around.

I love perennials so a lot of what I've been doing is planting those and in the process digging up some things that were here before we moved in that I don't love.

Those chairs and tables (three of them put together) are from Costco.

This yard has three main sections. (1) An area with a shed and raised beds (and a whole other side along the house where the AC is located that is just dirt right now), (2) an area directly behind the house where the patio sits (the photo above is in this area), and then (3) a large grass area off to the right (what you see through the pergola in the photo above) with a couple trees at the far edge.

This is in the second area just behind the house. This is what I see when I look out my kitchen window.

These are my beloved peonies. I've cut most of them and brought them inside. They smell amazing.

This is also in that area directly behind the house, farther down from the peonies, that needs a bit more love and attention.

For me, working in the yard like this is an exercise in patience. It's remembering that that small hydrangea I just planted won't be so small next year or the year after or the year after. Sometimes it's hard to wait - I want it to all be established and full and lush right now. I can tell, though, that I'm getting better at the waiting. It's all a learning process, every last step of the way.

To the left of the patio area are the raised beds and the shed (and an area you can't see that's currently a no-man's land of just dirt). I have plans for this area - I'm still thinking pea gravel around the beds. Around the corner, over by the shed, there's a pretty big blank space. I need some new dirt over there and then I'll plant the pumpkins and corn and see how that goes (I haven't done either before).

Another place that needs some new dirt (and a new lattice on top of the fence) is along one of the edges of the grass area in the left yard. There's some really big (giant) trees in the neighbors and roots all throughout that soil that you see here.

I've got three blueberry plants that are totally thriving in the spot they were planted last summer.

Those strawberries were here when we moved in - they did pretty good last year.

Once the rain stops again we'll be working on some sort of a fort for the kids back in this area behind the fern.

Looking back towards the house from the far end of the grassy area.

There's a lot to learn and right now I'm really relishing getting my hands dirty and joyfully doing the work.

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83 thoughts

  1. amberca says…
    06/06/2012

    Love looking at all these yard photos! Me too about loving being in the yard right now. I bought my new home about the same time you did (2 years ago this month) and I love digging around in the yard. I just planted a nectarine tree and an apricot tree. Also put in some raised beds with tomatoes and zucchini and peppers. Happy gardening!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Neelu says…
    06/06/2012

    I live in a 2BR apartment in a crowded town... My dream is to move into a villa with a backyard and a pool.. I hope and pray it happens soon :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Janie says…
    06/06/2012

    I wish I had a green thumb. Maybe just taking a chance would help. Seeing your yard makes me want to get some books and learn! Thanks for sharing and inspiring me to maybe "just try it"

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. kate says…
    06/06/2012

    i love to look back at the photos from the previous years also and notice all the change... not just of the plants but the change in my heart as i spent time nurturing them...

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Amy says…
    06/06/2012

    Lovely. the only thing I have to mention is that pea gravel is REALLY hard to walk in. I would choose another type of gravel. We put a bunch in underneath a second story deck and had to take it all out.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Marge Froese says…
    06/06/2012

    Love seeing your yard, Ali! Wish I could help you with some stuff -we run a landscaping business, but you're in the USA, and we're in Northern Canada! And, yes, we have very beautifully landscaped yards here in the far north! We just need to pick hardier plants. Keep up your gardening spirit - your yard will look even more beautiful, and you will certainly enjoy it!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Trina says…
    06/06/2012

    Your yard is so lovely Ali, it looks like a little piece of heaven out there. I can't imagine ever wanting to go inside! We have a huge blank slate in our yard (we pulled out everything from previous owners and are starting all over with things we like), but I have never really done any gardening or planting. Where do you find most of your gardening information? What is your best resource for planting information? Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      06/06/2012

      My parents :). I also love Sunset magazine and website and talking to people at the plant stores/nurseries. The internet is awesome for looking up specific questions. County extension agents in your state are also a great resource -

  8. Colleen says…
    06/06/2012

    Such a great space. Thought of something you might enjoy. We went to a restaurant in Washington recently that has their own raised beds out back. Instead of gravel around their raised beds they had a combination of bark mulch and hazelnut shells. It was really amazing and a cool tactile experience underfoot. They get them delivered from Oregon (which outside of Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world). Thought you may enjoy that for your garden. Have a great day!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      06/06/2012

      Now that's a super cool and different idea - definitely lots of hazelnut orchards around here.

  9. Judy Webb says…
    06/06/2012

    LOL....watch the basil, if you do not use a lot or keep it severly trimmed, it will take over your raised bed. Everything is so pretty. You get rain. I live in TX. Happy Summer. A fan.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Kelli W says…
    06/06/2012

    your yard is beautiful! We are slowly working on ours, but living in central TX means having to find plants that can take the abuse of crazy high temps and very little rain :) I'm going to live vicariously thru you and your gardening!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Carrie Alexander says…
    06/06/2012

    Totally silly non-gardening question...what font did you use on the photos? I love that it's thick enough to be clear on the photos, but simple enough to work for many situations!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      06/06/2012

      It's one of my favorites - Avenir.

  12. Paula says…
    06/06/2012

    Beautiful and inspiring me to "do a little something" too! Here in Florida, our yard is mostly comprised of swimming pool! But we have some pretty assorted palms, a bird of paradise and a couple of banana trees back there that make me feel like it's my tropical hideaway (ok the little tiki bar helps too!) Out front I really enjoy several wonderful rose bushes, some sable palm plants, 2 crepe myrtles trees coming into bloom (these are my favorites), a wonderful magnolia tree and a fragrant gardenia bush.
    Thanks Ali for making me stop and savor for a moment today these beautiful parts of nature that add so much to life!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. jen in pa says…
    06/06/2012

    i love how everything is document so you'll be able to see the changes year after year. great idea! what font did you use for the text on the photos?

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      06/06/2012

      It's called Avenir. One of my favorites.

  14. Michele H says…
    06/06/2012

    this is such an awesome living space for you and the kids ali! i love the idea of bringing the inside living to the outside. i see lots of picnics/dinners out here and your idea of movie nights on the lawn is perfection.

    oh yeah...and a fort is going to be so awesome for all the dramatic play adventures the kids will have:)

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Kimberly says…
    06/06/2012

    So awesome. These are the images that when you grow older you want to look back on. Where you grew up, and the little spaces you remember you played. A fort is going to be so special for your children. Great inspiration for me to add a kid space in my back yard!

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  16. Nancy says…
    06/06/2012

    Lovely yard. I share your love of peonies. We have a vase in our office full of peonies and I stop to smell them several times a day!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Martha Thomas says…
    06/06/2012

    Oh Ali, Your backyard is amazing!! I live in central Texas and last summer we have about 30+ days of over 100 degree weather and NO rain and you posted pics of your yard, or of your kiddos outside in one of your posts and I'll never forget that I actually audibly GASPED at your pictures and the green lushness. My heart was SO dry and just plain sweaty that those pictures were like cold water to the desert of my heart. You have a gift of sharing your life and this post is just as life giving as the rest. Please be blessed as your hope grows (I can kinda hear your hope growing in your writing) and life continues to be full and grow for you. You really don't know the impact you have on my little heart. Thank you for that. Thank you Ali.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Christine says…
    06/06/2012

    Love your outside space!! Living in Arizona makes it impossible to grow some of those beautiful plants you have planted! I can't wait to see the Hydragenda bush in full bloom!

    Beautiful space thanks for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. susan garner says…
    06/06/2012

    You say when the rain stops... you will do more. I say here in the desert when the sun goes down.... I will do more. LOL

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Mary-Lou says…
    06/06/2012

    Gardening is such great joy. I have 6 scrapbook albums devoted to my garden over the last 23 years years - it is fun to look back and see the changes. I visit these albums many times in winter. Mint - watch it can get a big bossy in the garden and take over. I have planted it and lemon balm but leaving them in a 2 gallon pot set in the ground.

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Candy says…
    06/06/2012

    Thanks for sharing these photos. Your yard is amazing. I envy your peonies. I've tried planting them, but no success. You're doing a terrific job, Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Sue W says…
    06/06/2012

    fabulous to see the changes in your garden since last year and will be lovely to see it again next year! Our garden is only 3 years old and I am taking lots of photos of the progress with plans to scrap many pics. I will have to find out if peonies will grow here. I will be retiring at the end of the year and am planning to have an hour in the garden each morning.....before I get on this computer....lol!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Susanne says…
    06/06/2012

    What a beautiful garden!
    Love the writing on your photos, will try that, too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Jamie says…
    06/06/2012

    Beautiful yard!! I am enjoying a flower garden for the first time... my 6yr. old daughter was blessed with the green thumb I never got, so it is amazing to watch her decide what she wants where and her color choices are just amazing!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. kat-in-texas says…
    06/06/2012

    Ali, you have a great party patio and yard!! I can just see lots of friends hanging out admiring the view!

    Are peonies hard to keep (and would they grow well in Texas)? I love them soooo!!

    Reply 0 Replies

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