As a city girl, I grew up in the concrete jungle; no yard, no decorative landscaping, no lush greenery and certainly no abundance of flowers. One of the very best parts about dwelling in the suburbs is the opportunity and potential for outdoor living! It’s great to have a nice, big back yard; which, for us, was perfect for our kid’s when they were little. We had a swing set with a fort that provided hours and hours of safe, wholesome play in the fresh air and sunshine. Amanda would lay out a blanket, wear costumes, have picnics and play with her dolls. Nick and his buddies completely wore out our grass playing baseball; they would set up the bases, with the very worst of the wear and tear from the pitcher’s mound to home plate, and from home plate to first base. There were actually crocodile tears the summer we removed our fence (Nick was equally as perturbed when we finished our basement when he realized that he would no longer be able to rollerblade…that’s where he learned the necessity of the front cross over, lest he constantly run in to the foundation of our home); Nick was devastated about the fence because he maintained that they would never know if the ball had gone yard if it didn’t go over the fence onto our imaginary Waveland Avenue (he is a stickler for authenticity…..just like mom). I kid you not when I say that Nick begged us to grow ivy on the back wall! He was so funny that he would actually insist that the kids sing the National Anthem before he called, “Play ball!”(He would never permit fewer than nine innings of play…..EVER.).
Nicholas, Amanda and our friend Rosebud.
Nick, in all of his hockey glory, in our un-finished basement.
One of the very best parts about the beginning of summer (other than simply ditching the cold, grey winter) is planting flowers! We feather the nest in our homes all year long, but there is little as exciting as creating outdoor spaces that beckon friends and family, relaxation and entertaining, connections to the people in our lives. There is nothing like eating lunch, reading a book or sipping (gulping or chugging) a cocktail out on the deck. That’s why it is so important to create an oasis for you and your family to enjoy together.
This week I have busied myself with selecting colorful and pleasing combinations of flowers for my pots. Over the years I have learned a lot about the process of creating pretty arrangements.
I am always drawn to interesting textures and hues. The best place to start is with a plan that offers a variety of height, color and a lush quality. I like for my arrangements to be symmetrical, so I plan for an equal number of each plant that I intend to incorporate into identical displays. For instance, these flowers are for the stone urns that flank my front door.
Fresh potting soil is a good place to begin. I like to pack it fairly close to the lip of the pot, but a loose amount to allow for a little bit of elbow room.
Always a sucker for a tall center to set the tone, I love the drama of the dracaena spikes. Because the mouth of my urn is generous, I placed two spikes at the center of each display.
Low maintenance is my idea of the perfect summer plant, so I am partial to geraniums (dead heading is involved, but the blooms are huge and easy to manage. Unlike petunias, which are pretty, but you could spend the better part of your day plucking out each and every petal. Flowers are meant to be a joy, not a burden.) and impatiens (which have like seven lives! Should you get behind on your watering, and the poor stems are all tuckered out, all they need is a good sprinkle and they spring right back to life! Isn’t nature grand?).
My philosophy is that the largest budding blooms should go in first. I chose these beautiful salmon colored geraniums, and planted four, evenly spaced around the spikes.
As a compliment to the geraniums, I selected hot pink impatiens and placed them in between. I like how the combination of color and size offers an interesting and dimensional point of view.
My Wrigley likes to be a part of everything, and planting flowers is no exception. Being with Wrigley is like going on a Bear Hunt; can’t go through him, too much work to go around him, must step over him (please tell me your kids loved the Going on a Bear Hunt book as much as mine did!).
I think there is nothing as generous as an arrangement that showcases cascading and trailing greens. This time around I chose a vinca vine, but the varieties are simply endless. I placed three individual plantings, evenly spaced around my arrangement.
Now we just need a little filler. The purple and green hearty leaves of the coleus plant are a lovely compliment to the salmon color of the geraniums, the hot pink impatiens and the gorgeous green in the trailing vines. Plus, I love that the stems are small enough to nestle gently in between the other plantings, filling in the nooks and crannies.
Watering is always an adventure….Wrigley makes it his business to keep our yard safe from the threatening and terrifying hose by wrestling it to the ground.
After a busy day on patrol, Wrigley likes to cool off by quenching his thirst with a nice cold drink from the afore mentioned offending hose.
As the More is More Mom® it is nearly impossible for me to resist jam packing my urns with blooms from the very beginning (because more is more), but when it comes to flowers one must learn to be patient (for me a nearly impossible task). They need to be nurtured and fed. They need a little room to grow in order to reach their fullest potential. I suppose tending a garden is similar to tending a family…..only with a lot less yelling.