Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Patio Paradise: My backyard transformation

When I went to college, I moved into a dorm suite which I shared with nine other girls. My second year of college I was blessed to move into a two-bedroom condo which I shared with various roommates for the remaining three years of college. After graduation, I accepted a job in NYC and moved into a beautiful one-bedroom condo on the 20th floor overlooking the NYC skyline. This was the most spectacular place I've ever lived, with the Empire State Building shining into my bedroom window at night, and the inside remodeled to my heart's desire. Unfortunately, I lost my job as the recession began, and was forced to sell the condo. This turned out to be another blessing though, as I had just begun dating David and was toying with the idea of applying to grad. school and moving back to NC to be closer to him. 

Fast forward four years, and I have earned my M.S., gotten engaged, and moved another three times. The first two apartments I lived in were teeny tiny (yes, even compared to my condo in NY) and only had small balconies. Finally fed up with the lack of space and outside noise, I found an amazing two-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse for rent with hardwoods throughout (a must with the dogs!) that was literally a mile down the road. I have lived here since the fall and have thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor space I have. Granted, it's only a small patio, it is so much more than I've ever had, and I've been able to garden it up all summer long! Here is a look at the transformation that has taken place since May.

If you can believe it, this bland space was actually even worse before this photo was taken. This is after I swept up a season's worth of fallen leaves, trimmed back a crazy vine, pulled up a ton of weeds, and mulched everything. The HOA also had everyone's patios power-washed which made a huge difference.

I added these fan trellises for a Sweet Autumn Clematis vine and Wisteria Amethyst Falls (which I later relocated) as well as these solar-powered lanterns from Target (similar) for some lighting.

I was most excited about being able to plant some hydrangea bushes! There's just something so southern and charming about these big round blossom balls. I planted three different kinds: Hydrangea Endless Summer, Hydrangea Bobo, and Hydrangea Little Lime. I later found another Hydrangea Endless Summer on clearance and planted a fourth.

Hydrangea Endless Summer blooms all summer long! Did you know that the color changes depending on the alkalinity and acidity of the soil? Pink blooms in alkaline soils and blue blooms in acidic soil. You can easily change the color of the hydrangea by changing the acidity of the soil.

My Passionflower did not survive the winter this year, so I got a new one at the local Farmer's Market. I decided to pot the Wisteria Amethyst Falls (and train it as a tree) so that I can take it with me when I move, and planted the Passionflower (one of my faves!) in its place. I  eventually had to set up a new trellis system when the Passionflower and Clematis began growing. It is amazing how well things grow in the actual ground.

I discovered the Passionflower vine with my future mother-in-law a few summers ago and have been growing them ever since. There are so many different varieties and they are all so exotic and unique. One of my favorite things about the flower is this amazing story about the passion of Christ.

One of the first things I did this summer was purchase this little striped hammock (similar) and this fun floral umbrella. (Noah and Lamb have also been having a blast on the patio, soaking up the sunshine.)

One of my goals this summer has been to attract hummingbirds. So far I have attracted all kinds of birds, bugs, bees, squirrels, and butterflies...but no hummingbirds. There's still time though, and I haven't given up! I have planted many flowers that are supposed to attract hummingbirds. I have gotten most of my flowers from the clearance section at Lowe's (great deals!), the Farmer's Market, and online retailers.

I am also in love with these Corinthian Bells Wind Chimes in Patina Green. It was definitely worth it to spend a little more on them and get a rich, gorgeous sound.

There's just something about eating outside with your family on a warm summer night. It brings me back to my childhood, eating dinner with my family on our screened-in porch. I finally caved and purchased this super affordable patio set which David helped me set up last night. I relocated this little bistro set I've had for years to make room for the new table. Haven't decided what I'm going to do with it.

And here's the table all lit up at night. This, to me, is the epitome of summer.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my little patio transformation. I've thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and look forward to soaking it up all summer long.

the Bride

PS: Yes, those are pink flamingos, and I'm not ashamed. :) David didn't protest too much since they're tiny and not in the front yard. (They remind me of my grandma, who gave me her green thumb.)


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