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    After a rainy week in Minnesota, we finally got a clear, sunny day. Naturally, the day we left. Puffy, fluffy clouds over last season's burned hills. And yet, still beautiful. #latergram Tagged by @mrsclh for #widn Cleaning up most of today's mess. And admiring the boys' Lego creations. Always busy building. Tagging @iheartorganizing @aquahaus @houseofearnest if you want to play along.

Forecast: Shade Plants

Shade is a hot commodity around our house.  Very few areas are considered full shade because the length of the house faces north/south.  Afternoon shaded areas are usually sunny in the mornings.

Back-of-House-with-Siding-Almost-Finished

So, we have a thin strip near the back of the house (off the edge of the deck) that can grow part shade or full shade plants.  Which is fine with me, because there aren’t as many shade plants to choose from.  I’ve imagined a hosta/bleeding heart/lily of the valley/hydrangea/coral bells garden.  So that was my starting point, but I wanted to find a few more to add more interest.  Here’s my list:

Top-Twelve-Part-to-Full-Shade-Plants

1.  Bleeding Heart is a delicate, arching spring blooming perennial that can grow up to three feet tall.  Prefers cool conditions and is deer resistant.  After blooming, foliage dies off.  To prevent a bare spot, plant near other perennials.

2.  Hostas are the most popular shade perennial in the United States, and for good reason; easy to grow, low maintenance, and striking leaves.  Best in zones 4-8, typical height is 12 inches to 30 inches wide.

Shade-Garden-Beginnings

Thanks to a friend, I’ve already got a few hosta plants in the back.  And one nice hydrangea, but another isn’t looking too hot.  After we wrap up the siding, I can fill in areas closer to the house with more hosta plants, and perhaps a few more from this list.

3.  Hellebore plants bloom in late winter and early spring, making it a fun choice for gardens.  These deer resistant flowers grow in zones 4-8, reaching 24 inches tall and wide.

4.  Creeping Jenny is a low-growing ground cover with round bright green leaves.  This fast grower prefers part sun and grows about 4 inches tall and 24 inches wide in zones 3-9.

Back-Deck-and-Rock-Around

A few Creeping Jenny live in the rock planter.  When the large shrub fills in, the branches give the plants enough shade to thrive in an otherwise full sun area.

5.  Astible has large flower clumps that bloom in the summer.  Can reach 36 inches tall and wide in zones 4-9 and are deer resistant.

6.  Wild Ginger grows, well, wild in the Eastern half of the U.S.  It can be difficult to track down at a nursery, but are easily transplanted from forests.

7.  Ajuga is also tricky to find locally, but plants can be purchased online.  Thrives in part shade and can tolerate full shade and moderately dry areas.  With a mature height of 6 inches, this groundcover attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Great in zones 4-9, and can stay evergreen in areas with mild winters.

8.  Heucherella is a low-growing (8 inches) groundcover, but is also used as spiller in potted arrangements.  Fast growing, and sprouts short spikes of coral flowers in mid-spring in zones 4-9.

9.  Coral Bells are similar to Heucherella, but are easier to find at large home improvement stores.  With a mounding habit, these colorful leaves don’t overtake a garden.  Grow 24 inches wide and tall in zones as cold as 4.  Also have delicate flowers in spring.

10.  Lily of the Valley has dense green foliage with dainty white scallop-edged flowers in the spring.  Spreads rapidly in moist soil, but dry soil can help prevent spreading.  Performs best in zones 4-8.

Shade-Garden-Beginnings-Front

Below the windows, I plan to add some low-growing plants; lily of the valley, coral bells, and creeping Jenny.

11.  Sweet Woodruff is a fast spreading, low growing ground cover.  With shallow roots, it is perfect under shade trees where grass can’t thrive.  Mature height of 8 inches with tiny white flowers in late spring and early summer in zones 4-8.

12.   Epimedium originated in Japan.  This part sun plant has large heart-shaped leaves with spiky flowers in the spring.  Reaches 14 inches tall and is best in zones 4-8.  I have yet to find this locally, but have found great options online.

If you’re looking for full sun plants, here are twelve that are on my radar.  Of course, feel free to add your suggestions and favorites, too.

Master Mood

As I shared Monday, we’ve gotten started revamping our ugly bedroom.

Cedar-Planked-Wall-Finished-Overall

Until now, our room has seen minimal attention in the form of white curtain panels and a coat of grayed green paint.  I didn’t love the color while painting and it still hasn’t grown on me.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay as a color.  For the room?  It doesn’t add anything, but it was better than the electric blue.

New-House-Master-Bedroom-Front-April-13-2012

Before we can get to the fun, big impact stuff, I have some tedious work ahead of me.  The two inside walls have orange peel texture, but the previous owner did a bang up job with some patches:

Master-Bedroom-Texture-and-Patches

So I’ll have to address those areas as well as the popcorn ceiling.  We’ll have guests here this weekend, so I won’t be able to get started as soon as I’d like.  Once the guest room is free, we can move our stuff out of the room and I can get going.  I’m aiming for a mix of sleek and modern with warm and rustic to play off each other.  Here’s what I have in mind:

Master-Bedroom-Mood-Board-2

 

1.  Cedar Planks, we might plank the other window wall, too.  Only after replacing the window with a sliding door.  Then I’ll put on a matte clear coat to seal everything that could be potentially hazardous to have indoors.

2.  Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron in flat finish on the remaining two walls, to tie into the master bathroom.

3.  We want to build a new bed, somewhat similar to CB2’s Dondra Bed.  The basic, open platform base is the part I love.  A light gray painted frame and simple upholstered headboard would off set all the wood going on in the room.  Wood wall + hardwood floors + wood bed frame might be too much for one area.

4.  While discussing replacement night stands, I mentioned floating shelves.  Something like our entry console, but deeper with a drawer.  This Slice Grey Wall Mounted Storage Shelf is close to our idea, though the dimensions would be different.  Also, we’ll use cedar to build the boxes.  That way, we can leave them natural to blend in with the wall.  Or I might paint them to add more contrast.  It depends on how it feels once installed.

5.  Back when I made our curtains, my goal was to create something to close for privacy.  Foolishly, I didn’t sew the panels long enough to raise when we changed the windows and trim.  So, these panels will go in the basement and I’ll sew two new sets.  The linen panels I made for the master bathroom have worked so well, I’m going to sew another set.  This time in white, similar to these White Linen Curtain Panels.

6.  To up the cozy factor, we need a rug.  This Allen + Roth Rectangular Cream Solid Wool Rug looks so plush and soft, and it’s a great price for 100% wool.  Unlike other rooms, our bedroom doesn’t get heavy foot traffic or dirt, so we can get away with a lighter rug.

7.  There are two large mirrors in this house, both in awkward places.  One in the laundry room and another at the end of the hall in the basement.  I’ve wanted to frame one out to lean ever since.  Creating a cedar frame similar to this Salvaged Wood Leaning Mirror is the perfect solution.  It would bring the cedar to another area and add function.

8.  Along either side of our bed, a Faux Sheepskin is nice and soft.

9.  DIY Isosceles Lamps  on the night stands.  ‘Nuff said.

10.  To add in some color, I want a few green accents.  Nothing crazy, but this green wool blanket, the edges of our engineer prints, and a pillow or two.

Across from the bed, we’d like to add a small tv to create a little seating area in the currently unused, open space.  Using the mid-century bench as a small sofa, maybe a chair, and a slim console.  Those elements are still up in the air.  Regardless, I’m excited to get started!

Forecast: Sunny Plants

Last year, creating the hardscaped areas outside was our largest, most time-consuming task.  We created a waterfall with hidden pond, built a reclaimed beam deck, added a bocce court, and spread tons (and tons!) of limestone rock.

Stained-Back-Deck-from-Pool-House

With the major components in place, we are free to start adding plants.  At least in most areas.  We still can’t plant against the house because they’d get trampled while working on the new siding.  Womp, womp.

Front-Yard-by-Deck-Before

 

Can I get a “Finally!” though?  While we think the rock is better to look at than the very patchy dirt and grass of yore, it feels rather desolate and… unfinished.

Bocce-Ball-Court-2

 

I’ve been shopping around town for perennial plants that fit these criteria: 1.  Must tolerate full (6+ hours) sun.  2.  Drought tolerant and/or deer resistant because those four-legged friends show up often around our house.  3.  Can handle the cold weather we get come winter (we’re in zone 4).  4.  I also want a variety of sizes, texture, color, and bloom times.

My stops included several local greenhouses, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the variety both home improvement stores had this year.  In fact, most, if not all, of my top twelve picks are available at the big retailers.  No need to track them down at a special store.

Twelve-Full-Sun-Plants

1.  Spirea is a shrub, growing 1 to 4 feet tall with colorful flowers.  Hearty in zones 4-9.  The green leaves are pretty spring through fall with pink flowers showing up in the summer.  Also somewhat drought tolerant needing weekly waterings once established.

2.  Lupine is a perennial with colorful, showy flowers.  Grows 18 to 24 inches tall in zones 4-9.  Adding colorful flowers to brighten up areas will break up the green.

3.  Nest Spruce, an evergreen can grow 3 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide.  It’s bright color contrasts with darker evergreens.  Good in zones 2-8.  We’ve already added five to the front of the bocce court.  Once mature, these will spread out and hopefully look like a green carpet year round.

Front-Yard-Clean-Up-2014

4.  Blue Fescue is a low growing (6 inches tall) ornamental grass.  Both drought tolerant and deer resistant it adds color along borders in zones 4-8.  I’d love to plant a row of ornamental grasses, including Blue Fescue along the edge of the bocce court.

5.  Yarrow, a flowering groundcover can reach heights of 2 to 3 feet and spreads up to 5 feet wide.  Bright flowers are ideal for cutting.  Grows in zones 3-9.  To add some color along the front walk, I picked up two yarrow.  While small now, they should cover the rock well in a few years.

6.  Lavender  is known for fragrant flowers, but did you know it is also an evergreen?  Growing 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and wide this low water mounding perennial is hearty in zones 4-9.  After we finish the siding, I think a few lavender plants along the house would look and smell amazing.

Boxwood-Row-Along-Front-Walk

7.  Purpleleaf Sand Cherry  A tall shrub, 5 feet wide by 8 feet tall, with deep purple leaves in summer and fall, grown in zones 4-7.  We’re nursing a scraggly Sand Cherry back to life.  The color is just stunning.

8.  Salvia  Pretty and vibrant violet flowers grow on this mounding perennial.  At 18 inches tall to 24 inches wide this plant packs a punch in zones 4-9.  All over our neighborhood, I see Salvia in yards and along borders.  I’m certain it will do well here.

9.  Sedum ‘Angelina’ Stonecrop  This wonderfully bright chartreuse groundcover stays 6-10 inches tall spreading up to 16 inches.  Surprisingly cold hearty, growing in zones 3-11.  The bright color and texture of this plant had me at hello.  The one by the waterfall has already grown about 50% bigger.

Succulent-by-Waterfall-in-Back-Yard

10.  Dwarf Daylily  With bright green leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers, these fast growing plants are ideal for borders.  Only 15 to 24 inches and grow in zones 3-9.  Several lilies would work very well along the back walkway.

11.  Lamb’s Ears  Silvery green fuzzy leaves are an interesting low growing (8 to 10 inches tall) groundcover in zones 4-8.  While the flowers aren’t anything special, the texture of these make me want several.  Perhaps planted on the slope along the driveway?

12.  Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’  Commonly used as a border plant, this fleshy leaf plant grows 18 to 24 inches tall and wide.  Easy care and low water usage when established in zones 4-11.  I’ve deemed the area along the back rock steps my succulent garden and planted several varieties, including this sedum variety.

Succulents-Along-Rock-Steps

Of course there are many (many!) more plants that could work.  These are just the twelve currently on my radar and in my mental shopping cart.

Plants don’t have to cost an arm or a leg either; the most I’ve paid for one plant so far is $20.  Sure, the smaller the plant, the less it’ll cost.  But Home Depot had large Nest Spruce evergreens for about 25 bucks each.  Costco also has good deals on plants in the spring.  For the 45 or so plants I’ve already purchased, I think I’ve spent around $350 total.  Most are in the 5 to 9 dollar range, so they’re affordable.  In a few years, they should fill out more.

Keep your receipts, too as most stores have a one year warranty policy for perennials.  Also, check Craigslist for people looking to get rid of plants they already have.  Friends may also have plants to split and share.  A friend recently gave me 4 hostas, 4 hydrangea plants, several peonies, and a large boxwood.  My mom said she can divide her large hostas to share with us, too.  We have one smaller shade area (along the back of the house), that I’d like to turn into a hosta/fern/lily of the valley garden.

What are your favorite sun plants?  If you like this round-up, I’m working on part sun and shade plants, too.

The Rachael

Nope, not referring to the popular 90’s Jennifer Aniston hair style that took the country by storm.  Meet our new sofa, Rachael by Flexsteel.  She’s slim, clean lined, and slightly vintage styled to play nicely with the MCM bench.

Flexsteel-Rachael-Sofa-in-Living-Room

We sold the old three-piece sectional and put that money toward the new girl.  With nine button tufts along the back, there’s just enough interest on the tight back.

Flexsteel-Rachael-Sofa-in-Living-Room-Toward-Dining

The fabric color, Earth, leans more beige in bright light, but gray in overcast conditions.

Flexsteel-Rachael-Sofa-in-Living-Room-Back-Detail

Ben really wanted leather, but I think this tweed like textured fabric adds a lot of comfort and warmth.  I paired with a faux cow hide pillow for a dash of Western flare.

Flexsteel-Rachael-Sofa-in-Living-Room-Arm-Detail

Flexsteel offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, springs, and cushions, which should hold up to the four Y chromosome people in this house.

Flexsteel-Rachael-Sofa-in-Living-Room-Toward-Entry

Now to find chairs to place perpendicular to the couch.  I’d love to add something leather here, assuming we find something we agree on.  Much easier said than done.

While we were at the furniture store, we noticed another Flexsteel brand sofa, the Dana, in the clearance section.  Priced at $600, we took Frank from American Picker’s trick and bundled to save over three hundred dollars, including a fabric warranty plan on the Rachael.

Flexsteel-Dana-Sofa-in-Family-Room-Toward-Kitchen

The fabric is slightly darker and more on the gray side, but a real upgrade from our old couch.

Flexsteel-Dana-Sofa-in-Family-Room

Slightly rolled arms are more traditional in style than I usually like, but still small enough to fit the space.

Flexsteel-Dana-Sofa-in-Family-Room-Arm-Detail

Taller legs on both couches make vacuuming under a breeze, too.  So far, I’m pleased with the new additions.  Fingers crossed we can say that years from now.

Winner & Etsy Favs: January

Say goodbye to January 2014, because we’re nearing the end.  But, we’ve got some good news for two lucky giveaway winners.

Myssie and Sarah Z, you get to choose your favorite print from The Smitten Collection and one text bubble cut out from me.  Congrats on the new art!  For all you other Etsy lovers, take a look at these great pieces I found this month:

Navy Geo print by Brittany Bass

Hand Stitched Note Card from Sarah K. Benning

Iceberg in Water photograph print at Eye Poetry Photography

Mountain Blossom Furoshiki from The Link Collective

Triangle Throw Pillow Cover by Adidit

Geometric Air Plant Cube from Sea and Asters

Laurel Wreath Necklace at Almanac for June

Leaded Glass Hanging Vase by BeeJayKay

Ampersand Screen Print from Shop Ampersand

Silk Wings Scarf by Shovava

Rose Gold Initial Pendant at Olive Yew Jewels

Black and Copper Large Cylinder Vase from The Object Enthusiast

Trifox Print by Twamies

Orb Shaped Black and White Planter from Half Light Honey Studio

Wishing everyone a happy (and warm) last day of January!

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