Friday, August 01, 2008

Urban Oasis: The Evolution (Updated)

I mentioned yesterday that I should probably do a post on how things have changed here over the years at Casa y Jardín IVG, and several of you expressed interest in seeing such a post, so here's a quick attempt. Actually I'm rather "photo poor" this week, because I've used up most of the stuff I had in the recent archives, and it's been so dangerously hot and humid this week that we've hardly been outside more than we have to and have been neglecting the weeding as well as the photo shoots. And even though it's going to be a brutally hot weekend, we're going to have to get some serious weeding done, even if it's done in small doses ... just as we almost had most of the weeds under control, the weather had to slip back into its hot and rainy pattern for a while. Now it's just plain insufferable!

Anyway, I digress from the purpose of this post, which is the evolution of our garden. This first shot (which came from the County Assessor's website) was taken in February, 1996 (according to the EXIF data). We moved in on September 10, 1998, so this pre-dates us. We closed on the sale of the house on July 22, 2000 (a day I well remember) after renting for two years I'm sure you'll notice how barren it looked at the time. If there were any plants there at that time, it would probably have been the small stand of Iris that are now slowly dying out. There may have been a few other things planted, such as the Lamium we ex-ter-min-ated, the Italian oregano that's worthless for culinary purposes and maybe a couple of hostas. Only the Iris remain, and we plan to dig them up in fall and move them to a sunnier spot than they currently occupy, and augment them a bit with some new ones ....
Flash forward to July 1, 2003, not long after we (and friends) built the front boulder bed. I'm sure readers will recognize several of the plants here (I apologize for the quality of the photo) ... there's the original stand of Prairie Mallow, a bunch of the now-being-ex-ter-min-ated Heliopsis, and of course the Monarda, Clearly, the most established plants here are toward the back, which was where the original garden started. So, we took out more and more of the grass and moved forward planting. As you can see now, that horrible to mow slope (a lot of yards here have impossible slopes, and ours really wasn't bad compared to some I've seen around town) has now disappeared and been replaced with a whole lot of dirt. I can't remember how many trips we made to buy dirt, get dirt from others, but on one excursion I recall the pickup we had at the time (the dearly departed Ranger whose demise has been recounted a while back and its replacement here), groaned and was really telling us what a load we were carrying, which thus led to more frequent trips for less dirt.

In 2003 we planted mostly annuals in the front border due to the time of the year, so we had tons of moss rose, coleus, celosias and such ... We also put in some perennials as well, but I've forgotten which at this point, but if I go to the way back machine of my now defunct gardening website, I can find a lot more from the early days. (I got these first two photos from my archived files). I'll let you readers make the then and now comparison....

Flash forward again to July 4, 2008 for further comparison. I hardly need to call out the plants here, as most of of them have been featured as the subjects of their own posts recently, but I just want to give some updated perspective, so I include these last two shots. I should note, however, that these were taken before the big weeding extravaganza we did on the 4th, and though it's getting bad again (thanks, rain, hehe), it's much improved than before this shot. The Prairie Mallow has lots of seeds I need to collect and I need to chop them back to see if we'll get a later, second show this year. I would have done that sooner during an ordinary year, but this hasn't been an ordinary year...
I had to include this section of the garden, because it's much changed over the course of the month, and most notable is that all that Heliopsis you see to the right has now been ex-ter-min-ated! I keep finding more of it, and as I do, it gets dug or pulled ... I know we won't win the war this year, but if we can get it out of the front beds, we'll be happy.... And you've already seen just how much the Coneflowers have progressed since the beginning of the month ... One of my favorite rocks can be seen in this shot ... the one of our (then neighbor Eric) friends dubbed "butt rock" because it provides a good place to sit down. Hard disagreeing with that moniker, so it joins "finger rock" as the two named rocks in the front boulder bed.

So that's the short version. Now you know why the motto of this blog is "transforming one urban corner, one season at a time...."

A few of you were wondering in the comments what Finger Rock looks like, so here's a post from earlier this year that should answer your questions. If you look closely in a lot of shots across the site you should be able to spot it in that general area toward the corner.


Gail said...

First of all IVG, your house is charming! I love bungalows. Second, third, fourth and so on....your garden evolution is fantastic, beautiful and creative! I am crazy for your boulders. Talk about good bones! What a good architectural addition; it made a huge statement while separating the yard from the hellstrip! You've pointed out butt rock but which is finger rock? I love that you named them!

I see that mallow-love was with you early on! They are lovely! Isn't it amazing that a few years can make such a difference in a garden!

Thanks for posting this, I love seeing the evolution of your garden. More photos please!


Roses and Lilacs said...

Good morning IVG. Wonderful rock wall. That is a really nice feature.

You have the same mallow I do. It has been trying to cover the yard and smother every other living thing for the last 4 years:) In spite of my battles with it, it is very pretty. It looks nice tumbling among the rocks.

Annie in Austin said...

Thank you for this post, IVG - it's good to see the plants in context, and probably good for you to look back as you approach the 10th anniversary of moving in.

Bungalow and boulders are a good combination!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I so enjoyed this post! I love those before & after shots. Your house is wonderful! It's exactly the kind of house I wish mine was. It's funny how the garden starts making its own demands regardless of what we thought it should be. The boulders add so much to the whole scene (can you tell I really like rocks?). You guys have done a great job transforming a blah landscape into a beautiful garden.

FARfetched said...

What Annie and McGregor said… great pull-back and great job on the place!

So: if you have butt rock and finger rock, is that where Gooserock came from?

boran2 said...

IVG, You have a beautiful arts and crafts house. I would guess that is from the teens or twenties? I'm a big fan of these structures.

None of the above should take away from the transformation that you have made. The plants, the boulder wall, everything has enhanced your home.

You have done a great job with this.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
Thanks, and I'm really glad you and others enjoyed this post so much. The step back to the old webpage stuff has been fun and I can see how much I and the whole place have evolved since then.

As for the boulders, they were nearly free but came with a nominal price ... we agreed to plant up the neighbor's terraces (he bought the plants, we did the labor and choosing) which are predominantly, yep ... CLAY. After the first couple of years we gave up and said you're on your own. Some stuff still thrives but... oh well. He's a nice, well-meaning but busy lawyer, so.

LOL about the mallow... that pup showed up the second year we really had a big garden, and pre-dates the boulders!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Thanks, and glad you liked it! Yep that mallow loves to move around, but we just pull them up when they're small and leave the ones who have found a neat spot to grow. You should try planting some rudbeckias with some, that would make a nice color combo and they could duke it out for space! :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there Annie,
You're most welcome ... I like to get the context shots and should do more of them, but with flowers, I'm sooo detail obsessed, lol. Why not do both?

Doesn't feel like 10 years, more like we found our home. We got such a good vibe from the house the first time we saw it (as renters), we had to stay.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi there MMD,
Thanks so much, and glad you liked it. :-) We've been pretty happy here, but I bet you'd find it a bit cramped ... just 3 small bedrooms, 1 small bath and tiny kitchen... it looks bigger outside than it really is, oddly enough.

That's sure true, gardens do have their demands and are a high maintenance relationship! We love the rocks too (as do a few of our other garden bloggers!) ... they create such interesting spaces for certain things to grow, thus my sub-obsession (among many) with the sedums you saw earlier this summer.

Thanks again for the compliments...

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR!
Thanks ... man, that pun was so obscure it made me laugh! Sorry dude, but way wrong state for Gooserock! lol....

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
Well it does have its craftsman aspects but I somehow suspect they may have been added in the teens or 20's. According to the abstract of the property, the original structure was built in 1902, but I've always wondered if the roof lines and porch were added later.

The interior design is very simple à la craftsman, simple lines in the woodwork and the walls, but who knows what it originally looked like? (Remember, there is that old cistern on the N side of our house.)

Another oddity: the upstairs doors are mostly original (though painted), but have the doorknobs at a much lower level, and the upstairs ceilings are very low by modern standards ... says smaller people to me.

Thanks, we appreciate the props. :-)

Shady Gardener said...

IVG, Thanks for making this post. I'm behind on my visiting, but I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am with what you two have done! It is such a distinctive home (craftsman!), and you've definitely made it yours. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Shady,
Thanks, even in its current state of weediness, we're still pretty proud of it. At least I can get out and deal with some of it Sunday, since it's supposed to be cooler... lots to do: stake up hibiscus (again), weeding and more weeding, ACK.

I did pick my first 3 tomatoes today! And the corn has topped out now and is putting on quite a few ears... despite it all recently!