Home improvement
Comments 12

What I’ve Been Up To…

Blackadder ITC A 2 photo A Blackadder ITC 2.jpgbout 2010, I had a really good yard going. I’d be out working in the yard in the evenings and neighbors would walk by and tell me how good my yard looked which is amazing because I had no clue what I was doing. My sister and I attended the Alabama Hydrangea Society’s tour of homes; I began hanging out at various botanical gardens in the area. I was in a gardening zone, baby. I was rooting hydrangeas, I had amassed a collection of about 75 hosta. I could show friends and family my fern collection and call out the botanical name for each one.

Last year, my yard looked like hell. I bought zero plants (well almost zero); barely even put weed and feed on my yard. The only thing I did was cut the weeds and what little grass that grew beneath them.

So what happened? In 2010, we had a drought of historic proportions and the next year was almost as bad. My mostly shade yard had become home to a herd of voles which tunnelled beneath my yard and began munching the roots of my plants. I had planted hydrangeas that seemed to need watering multiple times a day, so getting water to them was a daily chore. All that work, all that care, all the attention to plant location and which plants work best together – it all seemed to be a big let down when I began to see them die. I couldn’t get ahead of keeping them alive. So I gave up. I had a collection of about 30 hydrangeas. I dug many of them up; gave them to family and friends. Kept a few of each and returned to woodworking as a hobby.

The good news is the few plants I still have are now much more mature. They are becoming the basis of a renewed effort to whip my yard into shape. That is what I have been doing for the past month or so – moving a few existing plants (dividing some of these), buying many new plants and spreading pine straw throughout the large shade area in my yard. By the way, one reason we bought our house was the wooded nature of the lot. We have many trees of which I love. Our yard was originally all grass, but as these trees have matured, at least 1/3 of the front yard is now without grass.

Here are some pics from this morning. I’ll post some more in a month or so to show my hydrangeas in full bloom…

I’ll need to buy at least an additional ten bales of pine straw (for a total of 30) to finish what I want to do; but that will be about all for now. The plant budget is running low. I’ll continue adding some plants in the fall and a major fall project – re-sodding the front yard since it is now mostly weeds.

I’ll be back to woodworking soon…

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Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).

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During the week, I sell flooring products for The Dixie Group. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.


  1. Nice. I’m a fan gardening/horticulture, but unfortunately I have the opposite of a “green thumb”. I admire those that do.

    • Well, I am far from someone with a green thumb. But I am slowly learning and learning what plants work for my yard.

  2. Weather to the gardener is like grain to the woodworker, sometimes it wins and you have to rework a piece.

  3. Paul says

    I like it. I love plants too! I finally found some hydrangeas that didn’t grow from last years wood and they grow from new wood and now I have blooms.. Yea!! I plant stuff and what doesn’t live or look good I get rid of and try something new. It seems to be something new every year. I think it’s more fun than squaring a fence to a tablesaw sled but I love woodworking too. Thanks for the post Jeff. πŸ™‚

    • Paul, I am a big hydrangea fan – they are easy to propagate and oakleaf hydrangeas are native here, so they don’t wilt as quickly as mop heads do. I like your attitude about plants which don’t work. I just got back from the home center – time to get back out in the yard. πŸ‘

  4. That’s looking really nice!
    I for one, would rather take a beating than do yard work. I think it stems from forced servitude as a kid. LOL

    • Hey Greg, I sort of feel like you do. Mosquitos are out and I have to coat myself in bug spray when I do yard work. But the weather today is fabulous, so right now yard work is fun.

  5. Hal brown says

    Jeff I enjoy your blog: I like you writing style and wish I could master sketch-up as you have.
    My two passions in life are gardening and woodworking hope become masters at both during this life time.

    • Hey Hal, thanks for the compliment. Keep at SketchUp, there are some good tutorials at Fine Woodworking.com. If I can help let me know. πŸ™‚

  6. Bill Rehberg says

    I enjoy your gardening posts as well as woodworking. thanks.

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