The Project that Never Ends

I was getting my daily dose of blogs and Donna from Funky Junk Interiors asked her readers (that’s me) what was their favorite outdoor project from 2011.  Being new to blogland, I didn’t have many posts to share….  5 to be exact.  Well, 6 as soon as I publish this one.

2011 was a big year for me.  There would have been lots to blog about had I discovered this amazing world of bloggers before December.  So I’m just going to tell you now what 2011 had in store for me and somewhere in that list will be my favorite project.

  • In January I ended my 180 mile a day commute to work when I transferred to a different office.  I now only have a 90 mile a day commute. I could have written about Adventures in Commuting.
  • On the Fourth of July I gave birth to my 3rd (the family’s 4th) child, a baby girl we call our little Firecracker.  Now there’s a whole slew of things I could write about…..  pregnancy, cravings, bed rest, labor, etc.  But I am sooooo not one of those “I love being pregnant” women whom I consider to be CRAZY!  I’m more of a “get this thing out of me” kinda girl.  So it’s probably best that I leave that subject alone.
  • If you’ve read my page on becoming a blended family you will know that the summer of 2011 was quite an emotional roller coaster for the Murphy Family.  We had the high of the Firecracker’s birth and the low of being alienated from Hollywood.  I’m sure I’ll write more on our struggle to maintain a relationship with her later, as it unfolds and my emotions settle.
  • I married the love of my life on our 8 year anniversary in September.  So not only was it a year of crazy pregnancy hormones, but The Year of the Wedding.  There were more projects than I can count.  And I must say that I have some kick a$$ negotiating skills. Who knew?!

Even with all that, my favorite project in 2011 was the pond.  The pond is an ongoing project we started in 2010.  We continued to work hard on it in 2011 and we’ll be adding some more touches in 2012.  I can’t say the Hubs loves that it’s the project that never ends, but I love to add to it and watch the plants fill in the spaces around the pond.  It will only get better as the garden matures.

This is what the pond looked like in 2009 when we bought our home:

Yeah, I know… There’s no pond.  (And what is up with those tree-like weed looking things?)  Those shrubs (and weeds) completely encompassed my entire house and I needed to add some interest.  So the Hubs got to work pulling out all of the shrubs (and weeds).  I begged him to save the azalea, but the shrubs (and weeds) had taken over and already begun to kill it.  He tried, but wasn’t able to salvage it.

I wanted two levels in our pond and water fountains flowing to each of them.  So the Hubs dug two holes to fit our preformed tubs, one bought from Lowe’s and the other given to me by my dear phriend T.R.  Everyday on his way home from work, the Hubs would bring home giant rocks he found on the side of the road.  He would work his way around the preformed pond tubs adding rocks and building the sides of the pond.

Of course I totally would have helped but those rocks weighed a ton.  Literally, I’m pretty sure they weighed a ton!  Even his super manly truck was begging for mercy.  Instead I stood on the sidelines and gladly supervised while sipping on a glass of wine.  The Hubs just loves it when I sip on wine and “supervise.”  (I hope you’re getting my sarcasm ‘cause I’m laying it on pretty thick.)

Eventually enough rocks were in place and I could start planting some flowers and putting down mulch.  I wanted a variety of perennials that would eventually mature and make a relaxing oasis.  Right now it looks kinda bare, but it will fill-in over time.  I am not a fan of white lattice, but there was already lattice on the side of my back porch.  So I planted a clematis and let it go wild.  It’s a beautiful showing of purple flowers.  I love it.  I’m going to expand the lattice and clematis next year to cover the entire side of the porch and make a privacy wall.  I also added white twinkle lights to the lattice.  It emits a wonderful sparkle at night. It’s incredibly romantic.


While I was busy planting flowers and mulching, the Hubs worked on getting the water fountains just right.  He got the upper fountain to flow perfectly, but the lower fountain never did work until it was time to put the pumps and hoses away for winter.

The Hubs used 2 different pumps in the pond.  He placed a 550 gallons/hour pump into the upper pond to push the water through a hose from the upper pond into the lower pond.  Then he placed a 1,000 gallons/hour pump into the lower pond to push the water through a hose that ran out of the lower pond, around and behind the upper pond to then create the upper water fountain that recycled the water back into the upper pond.  We kept losing water and could not figure out where there was a leak.  I told the Hubs that the leak was between the two tubs.  Of course he’s the man and knows how to do all things manly, so I must be wrong.  He insisted the water was leaking from underneath the rocks in the upper fountain.  So he took a black plastic liner and lined the edge of the tub underneath the rocks that formed the upper water fountain and down into the pond.  It still leaked…

Finally, after much nagging he agreed to line the gap between the two tubs.  The Hubs had placed a flat rock between the two tubs.  The water was supposed to pump from the upper pond, through the hose, over the flat rock and fall into the lower tub.  It did not.  Well, it did a little, but it mostly just leaked out over the flat rock and down between the two tubs.  So the Hubs took another black plastic liner and adhered it to both the upper and lower ponds, eliminating the gap between the two.  Voila!  Leak gone!  I know I shouldn’t say it, but….. I totally told him so!  Of course now he denies that I ever told him.  Go figure. 

Now that we have the pond in, the fountains flowing and some plants planted, we can add a few touches.  The Hubs put in stepping-stones.  Then I added an old little bistro table where we can enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning and listen to the relaxing sound of flowing water.  The Hubs says the sound mostly makes him have to pee.

The pond is now closed up for the winter, but we have lots of plans for additions in 2012.  This summer I’ll be planting more perennials.  I’m also hoping to add lighting both inside the pond and behind the fountains.  I want to hang or grow something on the side of my house behind the pond.  If I were to do this again, I would leave room between the pond and my house for tall grasses.  I need to break up the vertical space in the background.  I’d love to hear if you have any ideas for that space.  I’d also like to add water plants and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be ready for that next step… fish.



Bird Bath Garden

I love outdoor projects as much as I love indoor.  I know it’s not the time of year to focus on the garden, but I want to share my recent transformation with you.  It’s the first garden I tackled in my new home.  When we moved in, our landscaping was a bunch of overgrown shrubs.  Even the hostas were killing each other!  How does that happen, right?!  So I tackled a small garden in front of my back porch (the porch is a whole project in itself). 

This little garden near my porch had clearly been neglected for a long time.  It’s right there next to the place my family gathers for barbeques and dinners so I wanted to beautify it right away!  And it was definite need of a serious makeover.

First thing is first….get rid of all those weeds!  We pulled everything from this garden and only left the hostas.  At first I tried to leave the trumpet vine that was growing up the trellis, but 1) I am not a fan of white plastic lattice and 2) the trumpet vine looks dead 90% of the time.  When its in full bloom it’s gorgeous, but it doesn’t bloom often or long enough for me.  And it was taking over the neighborhood.  I mean this sucker was not only popping up in the middle of my yard, but it was also popping up in my neighbor’s yard!

Once the weeds were pulled Chris aerated the dirt and then laid some flat rocks to look like stepping-stones.  I knew I wanted to use the bird bath in the middle of this garden so he used the stones as a small path to the bird bath. 

My mother had an over abundance of japanese irises, enough for this small garden and then some.  I donated the extra to my church.  Then I slowly began to fill the empty spaces with impatiens and man did they love the soil!  Here’s my baby plants at the beginning of spring.

And here they are at the end of summer.  I told you they love the soil!

The shrub didn’t make it thanks to my dog, Killian, who thought it was his personal restroom.  I tried to replace it with a dwarf sunflower which was beautiful when I bought it, but did not like this garden as it’s home.  The poor thing just wouldn’t stay healthy for me.  I’m thinking about replacing it with mums to give some fall color.  Not sure yet, but certainly an idea.  Of course we moved the garbage can where I planted cone flowers given to me by a dear friend.  I removed the trellis and trumpet vine (or witches fingers as my husband calls them) to make room for holly hocks.  The giant weed was removed and replaced with a tiny lilac starter bought from the local garden club’s annual plant sale. 

Can’t wait to tackle the other bare garden by my porch!  I just have so many ideas…box woods, hydrangeas…..which direction do I go?!