Saturday, April 30, 2011

Yard Work

We had a very productive day today. Peter and I both got a pretty good night of sleep which was excellent since we were both feeling crummy last night. We went to Home Depot and Lowes to get some gardening and house remodel supplies. We now have a nice stack of fixtures, sink, lights, etc. in our dining room waiting to be installed in the next few weeks.

We were out this morning for about 4 hours and then came home for lunch. After that, we spent about 3-4 hours working outside bringing out/cleaning off our porch furniture, cutting the grass, weeding, mulching, etc.

I started weeding and it was bothering me how all of the rocks that outlined our garden area were sunken in and being covered by grass. So this prompted me to dig up each rock, clear out the grass from around it and replace them all. It was a tedious job, but produced great results.

After redoing the rocks and weeding all of the areas, I transplanted some of the different perennials. My goal is to have each of the three areas in the front mesh with the same sorts of plants so each year after things spread, I'll transplant small amounts. Works like a charm. Then Peter and I put down a fresh layer of mulch. It was just the facelift that the front needed!

This area used to be the home to a huge holly bush that dropped berries like crazy. This past fall, the tree was removed and all that is left is the stump. Since the stump is technically on our neighbor's side, Peter and I aren't going to worry about digging it up or grinding it down. This area looks kinda crappy now so we're going to plant new grass there. I have to transplant the green ground cover that's still there (upper right of area near the cement right near the grass). This will probably happen in the next week or two.

And we have to clear out some of the junk under the pine tree here. Luckily, the periwinkle has been taking off and covering most of the area so it's really just removing the larger weeds that have come up. We're hoping that the periwinkle and pink phlox will cover some of the rocks there.

With each year, we do more to the house and it looks better and better. Aside from planting grass in a few bare spots and removing the weeds in the above picture, we'd like to put new gravel in our driveway. Peter sprayed the entire driveway yesterday so hopefully that will kill all of the junk that's been growing in our driveway. I think that a fresh layer of gravel will really look nice.

We also plan to remove the rhododendron on the left side of the drive way. It used to be in a heart shaped garden area with 2 pine trees and other plants, but that's all gone now and it is silly just right in the middle of the yard. It's a little too big to transplant which is a bummer because it's a brilliant shade of pink.

The other side of the driveway is looking great and we just need to take care of the area at the end of the yard near the hedges. I swear, the previous owners had so many random places where they planted things! That black trash bag are all of the weeds I pulled today - whew!

There's always something to do with having a house, but I'm so proud of the progress we've made so far. I mean, look at what we started with. I've learned that it's a lot easier to start with a blank canvas of no landscaping than to have to tear down a jungle and then try to landscape!

We also bought a few veggies and herbs to plant again this year. We have red leaf lettuce, bell peppers (3 colors), romaine lettuce, basil, rosemary, and parsley. Yum!

Our deck furniture is back out of the garage and totally cleaned off and ready for Spring/Summer! With all of the craziness of last summer - WWDC, my sister's shower/wedding, random trips to Altoona to help with those, 2 weeks in Italy, etc. we didn't really spend much time outside. This year we plan to be out there much more.

...And then there's the backyard. The bane of my existence. Not really, but I do wish to get this straightened out this year. Maybe not until the fall, though. We wanted to get it done with the inside remodels, but the landscaper has too much going on and couldn't commit to it. We really just to need to spend some dedicated time tearing stuff out like we did in the front.

This area of the back yard isn't bad, but the wall is falling (kind of like the front was before we got the versalok wall) and we need to put a fence up that we got last year. It's just a decorative 3 panel fence, but it helps for border control, if you know what I mean.

And there's the other side of the back hill. Bah! I wish it was just all grass like our neighbor's. Why did the previous owners of our house have to be such crazy planters?!

Our back yard has come a long way, too, though. We've already removed trees, a dog pen, a hot tub, and tons of random shrubbery. It's just still got a lot that needs done...someday it'll get there. Maybe.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Phipps Conservatory

A few months ago there was a groupon for Phipps Conservatory. Peter and I bought one so it worked out to basically be two tickets for the price of one. We've actually never been to Phipps so we thought we'd definitely use it. We were afraid that the weekends would be super crowded so we decided to go tonight after work. There were people there, but nothing crazy so we're glad we did go after work.

As a side note, the weather here in Pittsburgh has been completely up and down. One day it's sunny and warm and the next I'm back in my warm boots. No wonder my allergies are all over the place.

The outside of Phipps:

This is the first room we walked into...

We couldn't believe how many plants and decorations were everywhere!

This room was still being set up for summer. I can't believe how many plants they need to plant!

This room was very lush with greenery and flowers.

Here's my handsome hubby. Too bad he wasn't feel that great this evening, either. I think my allergies have turned into a cold and I passed the germs onto him. :(

I loved the color of this one:

Phipps had many different streams and water features throughout the different rooms. So neat!

We didn't know what to make of these weird human gumby things we kept seeing...?

Some pretty flowers:

The butterfly room was pretty cool, but most of them were on the window ledges far away.

These glass items through Phipps were pretty awesome:

Veggie garden! This reminded me that we still need to plant our lettuce this year, haha.

Another cool room:

Part of the conservatory is outside which is cool. Here's a bleeding heart in bloom. Peter loves bleeding hearts. :)

There was this thing for kids to climb into outside... of course Peter had to try it out!

Another water feature:

Pretty trees:

This is a carved gourd. How amazing is that??

Another stream:

Enjoying our walk through Phipps :)

Peter took a picture of this guy. Kind creepy, haha.

There was even a waterfall!

I'm realizing that since Peter had the camera more that I didn't get many pictures of him. Oops!

I love orchids. I think they're so pretty!

One of our favorite areas was the Japanese garden. So peaceful :)

Somehow we made a turn and ended up in a cactus room...definitely not Japanese! Peter's telling me how prickly everything is in this room. Don't touch!

More cacti:

And a few more...

We both thought that this room was very pretty and "Spring-y".

This was an interactive fountain that you could program to do lights and different things with. Pretty cool!

More beautiful flowers:

This was a room that you could only look at. You couldn't actually walk through it.

After that last room I realized we went everywhere except for the portion of the Japanese garden that we missed when we hit up the room full of cacti. So we headed back around to check out what we missed.

We both loved the Japanese Maple trees and this little bridge.

Bosai trees:


I don't know what the pink tree is with this Japanese Maple, but I liked it, too! It looked sort of like a dogwood of some sort.

More cool shots from the Japanese Garden:

It took a little over an hour for us to see all of the rooms. Had we both been feeling better, we probably would've stayed longer, but it was the end of a long week and neither of us were feeling 100% so we headed home for some dinner. :)