Thursday, August 27, 2015

My New Adventure in Color!

My New Adventure in Door Color....

So I know this is a gardening blog, but there's not much going on in my gardens at this time of year so I just had to share a change of another sort that I was finally able to make: After more than seven years living in this house, I finally painted our front door a different color!

I know this is an incredibly easy task that requires only a couple of hours and a small amount of paint, certainly less than $20 worth, or no additional cost in my case, since I already had the paint. And I have painted the walls in every room in our house at least once since moving in, so it's not as though I couldn't physically paint our door. The trouble was, I just couldn't decide what color to paint it.

Over the years, I've spent a lot of time considering this issue, yet I've remained paralyzed by indecision:

  • I've read numerous articles on Houzz about how to choose a color for your front door and what the colors traditionally signify. 
  • I've tried changing the color in pictures of my house using Photoshop and Sherwin-Williams' Color Visualizer software. 
  • I've looked at countless photos of nice-looking house fronts that beckoned me with their curb appeal and their sophisticated door colors.


Now this is curb appeal! I've been saving this photo in my Houzz folder called "Front Doors" for several years, as I liked the blue door against the white wood (I also like the classical, symmetrical entrance area, and the winking eyebrow window too, and, in fact, many things about this very grand house). (Houzz.com)

Or how about this cute house? I considered painting my front door a soft yellow, which I think looks very nice against white siding and trim, and as my door opens into my kitchen which is yellow, I thought it might look good from the inside too. (Houzz.com)

When we moved in, our door was dinged-up white paint over a dented, gray, steel hollow-core door, and as I wanted to paint the door a different color, I put off painting it at all for several years while I tried to decide what color it should be. After a few years I couldn't stand how grungy it looked any more and re-painted it white, so that it was at least clean looking. But I really wanted a more fun door color.

It was impossible to find a photo in which my front door was closed, but here it is last year after I cleaned it up by repainting it white. I know the white looks crisp, but I really wanted something different.


The problem was that my house and every outbuilding on my Iowa acreage is white, as are most older farm houses here in Iowa. My husband, who grew up on a farm not far from here, is highly suspicious of any other color than white for farm houses, or perhaps tan/beige in the case of newer construction. And he's undoubtedly right that our house should remain white -- but I wanted to try a different color, just for the front door.

Recently, my nearly teenage daughter decided that she no longer likes the light purple that I chose for her room when we moved here (too girly!) and chose instead a bold blue called "Mr. Bluebird," and we repainted her walls together.

Since there was leftover paint, and my husband and the kids had left me on my own last weekend while they attended the ComicCon in Chicago (superheroes, comic books, etc.), on the spur of the moment on Sunday afternoon I decided to throw caution to the winds and Just Do It, and I rolled on two coats of "Mr. Bluebird" with a little roller.


This door is a similar color to the "Mr. Bluebird" that I first painted my front door. I decided upon reflection that the color was too dark.
(Houzz.com)

But after I finished the second coat and took a look at it from outside, it looked too dark. Then I remembered that I still had some paint left over from painting our downstairs bathroom seven years ago, called "Walden Pond," that was a few shades lighter, and before "Mr. Bluebird" was even completely dry, I re-painted over it.


Our front door after two coats of "Walden Pond."




Now our front door matches the pots on either side of the door, which I bought to match the light blue on the underside of the porch ceiling. And I think it makes it easier to tell where our front door is for people who visit for the first time.


Our front door is easier to see now. (And my "Welcome" sign with the bluebirds fits in now.)


I think the new door color goes well with the blue porch ceiling, as well as with the blue in the pillows on our porch bench.
And since this is a garden blog, after all, I'll close with a
closeup of the reblooming delphiniums along our front
fence, not incidentally in a color reminiscent of my
new front door.

My husband and children are still not sold on this color, and perhaps I will want to try a different color in the future, but at least I have finally painted it some color other than white. (Now we only have to pay someone to repaint the white exterior of our whole house, the expense of which I've been dreading. I think we'll have to put that off until next year -- it's too bad that job won't be as quick, easy and inexpensive as painting the front door was....)

What do you think of experimenting with front door colors? Have you tried different colors on your own front doors, and did they change the look of your house?

Thanks for reading!  -Beth

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August Malaise

As I walked around my gardens this week, I found myself feeling totally and utterly dissatisfied with nearly every area. I'm currently contemplating redesigning all three of my large borders next spring because when I look at them, all I see are weeds and very few flowers. Hmmpph.

My North Border has a few blooming daisies and phlox, but not much else -- unless you count the grass and weeds that are taking over the back of this border, because little else seems to grow there. Grumph.

I suppose all gardeners must go through times when they feel deeply dissatisfied with their gardens in nearly every respect -- I know I cannot be alone in feeling this way. And I'm not sure what triggers this, but in my case there are probably several factors:

  1. Perhaps the heat of late summer, which makes it unpleasant to spend time outside, is partly responsible. I know that I often feel unenthusiastic in hot weather, when I seek refuge in air conditioning for weeks on end. 
  2. Since many of my favorite flowers bloom in spring and early summer, it can often seem like all the fun and excitement are past by the end of July. I try to include late-flowering plants in my gardens, as well as relying on numerous annuals that are just starting to reach their crescendo at this time: zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, petunias, four o'clocks and the self-seeded snapdragons that seem to go on all summer long. But these still lack the excitement of the glorious times of tulips, peonies, delphiniums and roses. 
  3. The weeds can often get out of control by midsummer if we do not make an effort to stay atop them. This year is even worse than usual in this respect in my situation, as my husband, since his hip surgery, has been unable to do his usual share of weeding, trimming and spraying of hardscape areas such as our driveway.
    Not many flowers here in the Front Border either, but plenty of weeds are growing in our driveway. Hummph.
  4. Maybe I feel that if I am not constantly improving my gardens, that they are of less interest to me, and most of my "projects" and planned improvements are usually finished (or put off until next year) by midsummer. Lack of direction breeds lethargy.
    Not much color in the so-called Rainbow Border. Meh. I think some changes are in order....
  5. Also, I tend to experience annual "seasons" of interest in various activities: 
    • April, May and June are "the gardening season" 
    • July is a month of rest and summer activities 
    • August and September are "back to school" in my homeschooling family
    • October and November are the depressing Autumn months which although beautiful and not unpleasantly hot or cold for planting bulbs and doing other outside tasks, do signal the coming bleakness of winter
    • December is for preparing for "The Holidays" and enjoying the novelty of the first snows 
    • and January, February and March are marked by dreary desperation and attempts to leave Iowa and spend at least a few days in a warm climate while waiting impatiently for spring. 
    • Rinse and repeat yearly. 

Does anyone else have trouble maintaining their interest in their gardens each year after spring and early summer? My malaise is even affecting my desire to write and read garden blogs -- it's been a whole month since I've posted....

I know I shouldn't complain -- perhaps I'm simply expecting too much (who knows what?) from my gardens.

And there are a few areas that do look pretty nice, so to try to be more upbeat I'll conclude by showing a few scenes from the past couple of weeks:

Zinnias are blooming like crazy in the Mint Circle. I started these inside and planted them outside after the tulips in this spot had a chance for their foliage to die back, in early June.

Rose of Sharon has been blooming well in a beautiful shade of blue.

The relative of Rose of Sharon, hardy hibiscus, is at its peak too. I just
planted this one this spring.
Another of my new hibiscus acquisitions. It doesn't seem safe for such a small
plant to have such oversized blooms....
Surprise! The surprise lilies / naked ladies / Lycoris are shooting up and blooming next to my
East Patio. 


My husband's vegetable garden has been productive this year -- perhaps the best year since we've lived here, despite his surgery keeping him from the garden for over a month. I tried to help keep it in order during his absence, but since it's not my garden, I'm never quite sure what to do in his domain. But I do know how to make salsa and pickles. Mmmm!

My husband and I went to St. Louis for his final checkup on his hip surgery last weekend and stopped at a garden center on the way back, where we happened upon just the kind of garden bench I had been looking for to put in my Yellow Garden -- and it was on sale too. It's a light, airy design that doesn't overpower the space, I think.

So maybe things don't look as bad as I've implied -- although I'm still thinking about big changes next spring. And I hope the coming cooler weather will allow me to focus more of my time and attention on gardening and blogging. I look forward to catching up with everyone's posts.

Thanks for reading! -Beth

Thursday, July 16, 2015

MIA During a Floriferous Time of Year

The front border is full of flowers, and the neighboring farm beyond the fence and field provides a picturesque view.


It's official: I should be declared MIA from blogging. It's been nearly three weeks since I have posted or read any blogs, and in fact, I've hardly had time to use the computer at all in these nearly three weeks since my husband had his hip resurfacing surgery.

The great news is that he is recovering well and getting stronger every day, and he can get around the house pretty well using his crutches. Even though he is still sore from the surgery, his hip already functions much better than it did before, and he is able to walk more than a mile now, as long as he stays on level surfaces.

However, I've had to help him quite a bit with meals, getting dressed, going on walks with him, etc., as well as doing all the chores he usually does around the house and gardens in addition to my own. I thought this week would be easier, as our two children have been away at summer camp, but I guess they really aren't much work these days, and in fact I've had to do their chores this week too, like feeding and watering the chickens and gathering the eggs each day.

At any rate, some things have had to go by the wayside, and gardening is one of those things, and blogging is another. The weeds are beyond control in some areas of my gardens, because my husband can't offer his usual help with weeding and I've had little free time these days -- so that's Zero people pulling weeds. Plus it's been so hot and humid this week that even mowing on a riding mower is unbearable work.

However, now that my husband is stronger, I did finally find a little time yesterday evening and this morning, during a cooler spell of rain, to address some of the worst weeds. There's still a lot of work to do, but I feel a bit better having done a little work.

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere!

At any rate, I finally had a chance to snap a few photos of what's looking good in the gardens (strategically keeping the worst of the weeds just out of the shot). It's the time of year when flowers are, figuratively speaking, "coming out of our ears," because while the heat and humidity are hard on us, many plants here thrive on it. Here are a few scenes:


Lilies, phlox, yarrow and snapdragons in front of our porch.


Coneflowers, daylilies, hollyhocks and marigolds.


White coneflowers in the White Garden.

Cimicifuga or now called Actaea racemosa, in the shadier part of the White Garden.


the Yellow Garden is coming into full bloom as the Black-eyed Susans begin flowering.


The North Border.

A candy-striped phlox in the North Border.

Some pretty pink daylilies, also in the North Border.

The phlox in the Pond Gardens looks like cotton candy  when it's in bloom.


Coneflowers, lilies and sedum.

Roses, hollyhocks, petunias, snapdragons and white phlox, around the East Patio.

Basil, German chamomile, dill, borage and potted rosemary in the Herb Garden.

A final scene, looking across the fields of tall Iowa corn. A Grant Wood scene to be sure.

I greatly appreciate all the kind comments that were left on my last post just before we left for my husband's surgery. I can't wait to catch up with what's been happening in your gardens as I read the posts I've missed over the past few weeks, and I hope you are enjoying maximum flowerage in your own gardens during this floriferous time of year.

Thanks for reading! -Beth