Given our urban location, and that our home sits right on the front sidewalk without a yard of any sort, our opportunity to soften the front of our home with trees, flowers or other natural elements is quite limited. What we have to work with are two cast iron urns and a small area surrounding our newly planted city tree.
Though our plans for the tree box are currently up in the air, we can still get moving on urn beautification since the winter left our urns in a cold weather funk. They were brown, dry, and a little sad. In recent weeks I swear, as I would lay in bed falling asleep at night, I could hear them calling out, "help us, we're pathetic."
After recently seeing a 50% discount for local nursery Merrifield Garden Center come up on Groupon, Alex and I purchased two and mentally earmarked this coupon to purchase the flowers for our urns, vegetables for our garden, and ground cover for the area surrounding our tree.
At Merrifield, we were rather overwhelmed as we walked around the nursery. Annuals, perennials, and vegetables, oh my. This place is absolutely HUGE and has an enormous selection. As gardening novices, I think we both started to feel a little dizzy.
I like to plant something a little different each year, but each year I'm usually confused about what I should do. This year, given the massive selection and very courteous staff, we asked someone for a little assistance. The staffer was incredibly friendly and helped us with the selection of flower and plant type, color, and quantity. We probably spent a good 20 minutes with her. In the end we decided upon sweet potato vines, blackberry punch superbells, white bacopa, and jumbo yellow strawflowers to add to the area surrounding our sky pencils in our urns. (I may sound knowledgeable, but I'm merely retyping the names off the plastic stakes that came with the flowers.) We decided that two of each plant would go in each urn to give it a good sense of balance.
When we arrived home from the store Alex headed out to a Nationals game he couldn't miss (it was bobblehead day) and I immediately got to work planting. My first step was to remove the dead and dying flowers from last year, along with their old knotted roots. Using a small hand trowel, I cleared out the area surrounding the sky pencils until I was left with a clear area around the perimeter.
Next up, I determined the placement of my flowers. I positioned them, still in their plastic containers, around the sky pencils so I could step back to get a good idea how they would look. This way I was confident I would be happy with the final arrangement. I opted to go with a mirror image arrangement between the two urns for visual interest.
Once I was satisfied with the look, I took the plants out and added fertilizer along with a nice base of moisture control soil. Next up, I removed each of the plants from their containers, loosened the roots, and placed them in their new home. Once all of the plants were placed in the dirt, I filled in a bit more of the moisture control soil and watered each urn with two liters of water. And, voila. With about 30 minutes of time and roughly $40 (a 50% savings thanks to my Groupon), the front of our house is already giving off a much more inviting feel.
Now that these urns are happy and colorful, I feel so glad we spent the time last weekend repainting our cast iron stairs and urns. The good coat of fresh black paint makes a huge difference and adds a nice clean backdrop for the new flowers.
Speaking of nice clean backdrops, the new paint seemed to highlight how dirty our french doors had gotten. They were green with pollen and had lovely drool streaks down the lower panes courtesy of Lulu. Nothing kills curb appeal quite like dirt and drool, so I gave them a quick wipe down on the inside and out. Lulu supervised my activity.
I'm looking forward to watching the plants fill in over the coming weeks, and to seeing the sweet potato vines grow in to provide a nice trailing effect on either side of the urns.
Next up? The gross, sad area around the tree, and I'm happy to say we may be making some planning progress on that.
What do you think of our end result? Did I do a good job with the color choices, plant selections, and contrast with the house? Are you doing any planting in your yard (or on your sidewalk)?