When we first moved into our house, the front yard was entirely grass, with five little evergreen shrubs in a row up against the house. The shrubs are Taxus x Media ‘Densiformis’ more commonly known as Yew — we know this because the tags were still on the plants from where they were bought, indicating that they were put in the ground shortly before the house went up for sale. They’re nice enough shrubs, although by this spring they had gotten to a pretty shaggy-looking state:
The above photo is straight out of my springtime lawn care post — as you can see, the bushes had gotten very overgrown and uneven in the time since we moved in. You can also see how the lawn just extends around them, which makes it a bit of a pain to mow, and ever since we planted those tulip bulbs last fall (which you can see sprouting up in the spaces between the bushes in the above photo) I’ve been wanting to turn this area into more of a proper flower bed.
The supplies needed for this project were pretty minimal: mulch, a digging tool of some sort, and a bit of spare time to work on it. There was already a trowel in the garage, and Aunt Marty kindly donated three large bags of hardwood mulch, so all that was left was to reserve a weekend afternoon to dig into it (pun intended).
Oh, there was also a measuring tape involved — based on the size and placement of the bushes, around four feet seemed like a good width for a flower bed, so all I did was measure it and start digging up green stuff, re-checking the measurement as I went to keep it even. Here’s an in-progress shot showing what it looked like partially dug up:
Overall it was more time-consuming than difficult — I probably spent three or four hours digging away at it while Joe and Lillian hung out inside. Once all the grass and weeds were removed, it was just a matter of spreading out the mulch on the newly cleared ground, although we ended up having to go back for a fourth bag. (In the beginning the three bags of mulch seemed like they would be plenty, but turned out to be not enough to cover the whole area.)
As for how it all turned out, how about a dramatic before-and-after sequence to reveal the end result? First, here are the bushes again, this time shown as they looked when we first moved in:
And here is a shot of the same area, taken from the same angle, showing what it looked like after some much-needed attention:
I think getting rid of the grass has been a big improvement, although trimming the bushes into smaller, tidier, rounder spheroids also helped a lot. And in the future it’d be nice to add a border of brick or stone for a more polished, finished look, although we may not get to that this summer.
Anyway — just for fun, let’s take a closer look at what those tulips turned out to look like after months of suspense since planting them last fall. We had quite a variety pop up, including some traditional-looking tulips in purple and orange:
And then we had some very full double-petaled tulips in a lovely shade of pale pink:
And last but not least were these interesting-looking tulips with fringed edges, the likes of which I’d never even seen before:
They almost look thorny, but when you touch them the edges are really soft, like frayed silk or something. You can read more about fringed tulips here.
Anyway, in the time since taking these pictures and writing this blog post, the tulips have passed their prime and lost all of their petals, though we’re leaving the green plants (with minimal trimming of any dead brown parts) until they die naturally — they may look a little ugly for a little while, but apparently this ensures that the bulbs get the energy and nutrients needed to bloom again next year. (More info on tulip care can be found here.)
But now that spring has passed and the tulips are gone, this area will remain flowerless unless we plant something else, so we’re planning on putting in some annuals just to fill things out — more info on that coming in a future blog post! In the meantime, have you guys been up to any gardening or landscaping lately? Have you seen the fringed tulips and double-petaled tulips before? Do you prefer them to the traditional variety? Feel free to share your thoughts or stories in the comments!