The State Of The Backyard: An End-Of-Summer Update

Earlier this year, between about April and July, we were making some pretty good headway on the backyard. (You can check out the original “State Of The Backyard” post here, and the various progress-related posts in this category.) But then for the latter half of summer, the backyard efforts went completely off the rails — partially due to some busy work-related stuff going on (as explained in this post), but let’s face it, there was also some laziness involved.

The result was that, by the time October rolled around, those pretty Petunia-filled flower boxes we’d added on the garage were looking pretty dead:

Window Box With Dead Flowers

But if you look closely at the photo above, you may notice something interesting — the petunias actually escaped from the window box, and started growing amongst the weeds on the ground below it. And as sad as it was that we let them go so badly that they all died, I thought this was kind of funny and impressive. Like they said on Jurassic Park, life will find a way!

Here’s a closeup of those brave petunias that would not be contained by an inhospitable flower box, all pretty in their red and white splendor:

The Escaped Petunias

Meanwhile, on the other side of the yard, there’s that flower bed that we weeded in preparation for some partially-thought-out plan of eventually planting something there. (Details on that can be found here, including how we had the assistance of a certain little garden helper who learned to say “diwt” in the process.) Two updates on this little patch of the yard are in order:

  1. That bush I trimmed back so severely that I feared I killed it came back just fine, covered with its little yellow flowers just like before.
  2. We never did end up planting anything else there.

And due to not mulching the area or keeping it weeded, by the end of summer it looked like this:

Overgrown Flowerbed

Interestingly, though, some of the plants that showed up there looked suspiciously like flowers. I have no idea what these are, or where they came from (especially considering that we dug up this patch of dirt pretty well and sifted out a lot of roots and whatnot), but they look like the type of plant that could make you say, “yep, these are totally here on purpose.”

White Flowers

So in conclusion, we’ve been neglecting the backyard pretty badly and it’s been growing flowery things in unexpected places anyway.

It’s pretty much winter now — we’ve had our first dusting of snow already here in Chicago — so no more progress on the backyard will be happening until next spring at the earliest. And as much fun as it was planting flowers and such, for next year it would be really nice to focus on improvements that would make it easier and more comfortable to enjoy our outdoor space. Like a patio and some outdoor furniture, rather than just setting up a couple of folding chairs in the middle of the lawn.

It sounds like a major expense and undertaking, but we were able to swing one big serious improvement this year when we had the new privacy fence installed in back, so it may not be completely out of the question. We’ll just have to see what’s in the cards (and the budget) for next year!

Pumpkin Patch Trip: Our Visit To County Line Orchard

Last year, we took our first trip to a pumpkin patch with Lillian, who was almost exactly one year old at the time — for a trip down memory lane, you can check out that post here. This year, we continued the pumpkin patch tradition, though we picked a different one than last time just for the sake of trying something new. This year’s destination was County Line Orchard in Hobart, Indiana, about an hour away from us.

County Line Orchard Barn

That main barn-looking building had lots of goodies for sale inside, and on a whole County Line Orchard is definitely more of an apple orchard than a pumpkin patch (despite what the title of this post may suggest). There were huge fields of apple trees to go apple picking in, and they had about 20 varieties of apples to choose from, though we didn’t end up picking any — we were mainly there to check out the pumpkin patch and petting zoo.

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Autumn Adventures

There are a few weeks in autumn that seem to go by in a whirlwind of things to do — Lillian’s birthday, Halloween, gorgeous fall colors to see, pumpkin patches to visit. It was the same feeling last year (which I wrote about here), and this year it was even more chaotic after some problems came up at the new job that had me working overtime in the code mines for the better part of two weeks.

Happily, things have settled back down again — and in between we even managed to get out and partake in that laundry list of autumn adventurey things! So for today’s post, here is a photo-filled recap of some of the highlights.

Red Autumn Leaves

We drove around to our local forest preserves to check out the changing colors of the leaves (or as Lillian put it, “bye-bye green”), and the lovely red of the tree shown above is probably one of the most stunning examples we found. It’s all so fleeting though — a week goes by, it seems, and all the trees are bare.

Lillian’s second birthday rolled around on October 24th, and after last year’s cupcakes (which were perfect for a one-year-old to smash and eat) I actually attempted to bake a proper birthday cake this time. It was pretty simple, just a round cake with sprinkles and a big “2” written in frosting along with some birthday candles. Here’s what it looked like all lit up as we were singing “Happy Birthday”:  Continue reading