August 12, 2017

Before and After Kitchen Remodel and Dining Room Addition

Our down-to-the-studs kitchen remodel and dining room addition were completed after nine months of work (including seven weeks without a kitchen, during which time we hosted family for Christmas!) instead of the promised two and a half months.  And yes, it was over budget as well, but we're happy with the results.  The photo above shows the view of the back of the house with the new dining room addition, patio and patio cover in place.

Here is a photo of the house before construction.

We had to have the old patio demolished and remove part of a flower bed to make space for the new patio.  The kids and I have been spending a lot of time eating, reading, chatting, or just sitting on the new back patio.  We can usually spot butterflies, dragonflies, many types of bees, hummingbirds and many other birds in the garden.  I was excited to add another dogwood tree after the project (middle of photo).  'Starlight' is a Rutgers hybrid and is known for its vigorous growth, columnar shape, and beautiful white flowers in spring.  I also planted a climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolara) by the post at left that will eventually climb up and across the entire front of the patio cover.

The kitchen expanded during the remodel to take over the space where the dining area used to be.  I've been loving the new bar that seats the whole family, as it makes mealtimes much easier.  Unfortunately, in the months since it was finished I am the only member of the family who has demonstrated the ability to clean the mirror-like granite of all streaks.  But the Blue Pearl granite is so pretty that I don't mind too much.

We were blessed to have our neighbor, Nicki, design the layout and cabinets while she was working for Canyon Creek Cabinets.  I am sensitive to offgassing chemicals, and I was relieved that these high quality cabinets did not make me sick.

This is the same view of the old kitchen.  It wasn't bad before, but the new arrangement offers a lot more storage and room for all the growing bodies in this house.

The new dining room has windows on three walls so we can enjoy garden views and air conditioning while dining.  With all the windows and the off-white cabinets, the kitchen feels much lighter.

This was the old dining space.  We often host extended family gatherings, and we made it work with folding tables extending into the living room.  Now we can fit fourteen at the new dining table (if we squeeze kids onto benches) plus six more at the bar.  We've already used the table at max capacity and it was a fun meal (come visit with your families anytime, Melissa and Ashley).

Here's the view while standing in the new pocket door opening.  This year my three kids in piano lessons are supposed to practice for two and a quarter hours each day in total, and their teacher says they only need to practice on the days that they eat!  Sometimes it's really, really nice to close the pocket door and reduce the sound level while I'm cooking dinner.  This shows a good view of the Montagna Rustic Bay ceramic tile flooring that looks like wood.

This is nearly the same angle from before construction.  What a relief it is to have finished this big project!  Of course other projects are still in progress . . . we had three floods in the basement this spring and had to replace moldy carpet and drywall, and after switching the trim on the main level from wood to white, we are slowly planning to replace trim on the other levels as well.  Honestly, it would have been less stressful to move to a different home, but the garden wouldn't move well and we love our location.  We're looking forward to enjoying this nice space with our family for many years to come.

August 2, 2017

Wild Midsummer Vase

I usually create floral arrangements around roses or peonies, but for this midsummer vase I didn't have those big flowers available.  Instead I put together a wilder than normal vase with many types of smaller flowers and interesting textures.

Dahlias, 'Fama' pincushion flowers (Scabiosa), 'Maggie Dayley' astilbe, Astrantia major, 'Amethyst Falls' oregano, meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebrunianum) and both 'Annabelle' and 'Little Lime' hydrangeas made up the floral offering.

I also used drumstick allium, 'Fama' seedpods, and 'Ritro' globe thistle.  Don't forget a few stems of Russian sage (Peroskvia), German statice (Limonium), and 'Sunny Border Blue' veronica.

Plain old parsley seedheads and blooming culinary oregano added texture and airiness.

Hosta buds and clematis seedpods mixed with scented geranium and apple mint leaves.

I didn't have a lot of any one flower type, so I used a little of everything blooming in the pink/violet/cream color range.  Plus curly willow, fennel, lime licorice vine (Helichrysum), and 'Chocoholic' cimicfuga leaves.

Curving stems of 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' clematis and contorted filbert (Corylus avellana) draped down to the table.  Turns out it is possible to create a fun vase without the usual ingredients.

July 15, 2017

July GBBD - What's Blooming Now

It's definitely feeling like summer now with hot temperatures and clear, blue skies most days.  Even though the big June burst of bloom is over, I've still got quite a few flowers in the garden.  Above the Russian sage (Peroskvia) is coloring up while the 'Blue Chip' butterfly bushes (Buddleia, at front) have yet to start blooming.

This angle of the main sunny backyard bed shows a 'Miss Molly' butterfly bush starting to bloom (the hummingbirds are cheering) at right and a few 'Blue Paradise' phlox at center.  The blue leaves of 'Eola Sapphire' hostas and 'Ritro' globe thistle (Echinops), golden 'Dicksen's Gold' bellflower (Campanula), and maroon 'Chocoholic' snakeroot (Cimicifuga), 'Obsidian' heuchera and 'Royal Purple' smoke bush (Cotinus) ensure there is contrast even without a lot of flowers.

A cluster of 'Thumbelina Leigh' lavender shrubs are in full bloom behind a 'Lavender Stardust' daylily (Hemerocallis).  I thought I was done transplanting in the corner pictured, but I was wrong.  I'm still digging things up and moving them around, despite the hot temperatures.

This shot shows the same cluster of lavender shrubs from the other direction.  'Abbey Road' astrantia is blooming heavily across the path, and a few 'Ambassador' allium heads are still hanging around for interest.


A columnar apple tree in front echoes the shape of my new 'Starlight' columnar dogwood at center.  'Shaggy' white astrantia and a 'Sunday Gloves' daylily bloom at bottom left while buds of white liatris (L. 'Alba') are ready to open.

Two 'Big Smile' daylilies flank the swing set alongside lavender 'Rozanne' hardy geraniums.

In the white garden 'Bridal Veil' astilbe is finishing up in front while Astrantia major is going strong at center.  My 'Claire Austin' English rose is still getting established, so it's stems are falling all over from the weight of the flowers.

In the front yard 'Frances Joiner' double daylilies are blooming heavily next to a 'Walker's Low' catmint that needs to be deadheaded soon.  I like the peachy color of the daylilies, but last night I realized that I'd like lilac-pink 'Lavender Stardust' daylilies even better here.  More transplanting lies ahead . . .

The west garden is colorful as usual with several types of lilies in bloom as well as 'Golden Sunrise' tickseed (Coreopsis) that has seeded itself around the area.  Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day each month.