From Spring rains -

We've experienced an unbelievably wet spring this year, weeks of rainy, cold, damp weather.  It hasn't rained lightly, the skies have raged with thunderstorms.  Day after day of grey, rainy darkness that dampen spirits. The moist, cool air sinks into your bones. Miserable.  The slate colored, billowing clouds poured over half of our annual rainfall during March.  The ground boggy, the heavens dreary... The Grey Dove Cottage - truly grey.  From the deluge of wet arose Spring - 

It seemed overnight the Japanese Maple leafed out in crimson. 

The Knock Out  roses burst into bloom.  

The Hosta felt they too were ready to blossom.

The cherished Native Texas Lilies quietly and gracefully presented their bright fuchsia flowers as well. The tall slender stalks swaying in the wind. 

WAIT SPRING, I'm not ready!  Working as much as I could through the winter to clear the flowerbeds and organize the plants, there was still much to do.  I hoped to move the red roses to the corner of the yard, layering them in front of an evergreen hedgerow.  

But, there were some rather tenacious ants.  I've tried various methods to banish the stingy little devils. With each day of rainfall the soggy ground has forced them from their underground homes fleeing for the surface, where they've favored the corner flowerbed.  Taunting me, they build their architectural pyramids in front of the evergreen shrub row, where I longed to relocate the red Knock Out Roses..."Whatever" - next spring. 

Whilst most people were collecting toilet paper, we've collected mulch - 40 bags that the garden somehow absorbed.

We went to our beloved Home Depot several times stock piling Geraniums, Spanish Lavender and gallons of exterior, I love my toys!   I made a mulch calculating error, we need more...  Though the scheme is not complete I thought I'd share our progress.  To appreciate progress we must remember the beginning - the ivy covered cottage accented by an overgrown garden.

It was a difficult choice to remove the ivy from the walls.  I thought it had a storybook charm to it. Ivy is a loose term, it was a combination of Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, even Sumac - I suppose we'd won the "ivy" lottery? Unfortunately, the ivy was breaking the brick, burrowing through the mortar and coming inside, it was also home to an array of spiders and snakes.  The garden was so overgrown it was difficult to understand the original design.   At one time there had been 7 oak trees shading our lot, for some reason they died, leaving shade plants in full sun.  We had two tree stumps, dead shrubs, dead ornamental trees and Asian Jasmine running amuck! We also inherited treasures; beds full of Boxwood, Knock Out Roses, a single surviving Japanese Maple and bulbs, lots of bulbs. We probably could have trimmed things up. There was the question, where to begin. Trimming was challenging, because the original design had disappeared beneath the overgrowth. After disturbing several snakes making homes beneath the Asian Jasmine - we began clearing it all.  

Clearing the flowerbed left it looking desolate, pitiful, sad. We've been relocating the boxwood shrubs from this bed to the foundation.

The design for this bed will feature a center "island"  of grass as a seating area, surrounded by the pink Knock Out roses.  At the back of the seating area we plan an arbor for the white climbing rose.  We are undecided on the stump, embellish or remove? I'd also like to include some evergreen shrubbery for winter interest.   I'm looking forward to planting this bed.  It will make an enormous different in the cottage facade. 

During removal of the ivy the Buford Holy foundation plantings had to be removed. The roots of the ivy were so intertwined, we couldn't save them. Stepping in the -  Boxwoods. 

A flowerbed at a time we are tackling the overgrowth and clearing it. Recently we focused on the bed below: 

We narrowed the bed, adding sod  along one side to give it more of an arc. Then extended it to mimic the flowerbed at the back of the house (photo below).  I felt having the flowerbeds relate to one another would create a cohesive landscape design.  Mr. GDC regularly comments that I decorate with plants, he's correct. I  tend to apply interior design guide lines to gardens. It's what I understand.  

Unable to relocate the red roses,  I flanked them with Spanish Lavender. The gorgeous tufts of green spotted with sweet lavender will accent the red, while working to keep insects at away.  Maybe I should sprinkle lavender on the ants? (I'm bitter, I can't help it.) Next to the lavender I relocated a few inherited Daylily. 

Since the trees died there is no height on this side of the yard, it's wide open lawn.  I thought ornamental trees at either end of the bed would present a bit of interest.  Since there are Crepe Myrtle flanking the patio, we chose to repeat Crepe Myrtle again here, repeating elements for a cohesive garden design.


We cleared the fireplace bed. We moved more of the boxwood as foundation planting here. 

We've been working on the patio as well. Clearing those beds and repairing the fountain.  I've relocated the shade loving plants here, Hydrangea are now along the brick wall, Hosta in the back bed.  

I decided to move the remainder of the Daylily to the fountain as foundation plants.  The center of the patio receives filtered light most of the day, followed with a burst of sun late afternoon.  For color I added a row of bright Fuschia Geranium to accent the rich pink blooms of the Crepe Myrtle already along one side of the patio. 

We mulched most of the beds...forty bags wasn't enough.  

When the rain finally stops, we plan to begin painting the exterior. It's taking great restraint to not white wash the entire cottage.  The clay colored brick is Corsicana brick, made here years ago. It's historic.  I'm going to experiment with black for the Cedar Shake shingles, garage door and siding.  The metal windows will be black, the trim around them along with the front door possibly white. I'm pondering adding Cedar Z shutters for some of the windows, along with Cedar brackets for the front door canopy. The painted posts that hold the canopy up seem awkward to me. I think brackets would give a bit more English flare to the facade, maybe another someday scheme?

It's difficult to know if I've made the correct choice. For now the cottage is stark, the skies still greyish - but the flowers are blossoming!  Implementing the design plan for the front bed will bring charm to the cottage once again. 

As for paint, well it's paint, I'll try black and if it doesn't make my heart sing, there's always white. I'll keep digging and scheming.  

Until next time, wishing you all the best - 


  1. Goodness, you had a jungle out there! It is coming together beautifully. Paint color choices are so difficult, especially, outside ones. That might be why so many stick to white. I'm looking forward to what you decide on. I know it will be perfect. Good work!

    1. Thank you. I'm nervous about the paint. I painted the last two homes white, I'm going to try to be brave and do something different. I can always paint over it-


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