April Showers Bring May Flowers

Shortly after we finished building a massive deck, hauling and spreading truckloads of rock, I set out to lush up the blank slate.  Before getting to the fun part of buying and planting, I created a simple landscape plan to serve as a guideline.


Even with that loose plan, I’ve made some changes based on plant availability and other things that caught my eye.  I started out as a complete novice, simply wanting to add some greenery and color.  As time went on, I realized I really liked researching, looking at, shopping, and caring for plants.  It’s so relaxing to wander through the plants, noticing the changes and getting excited by new blooms.  Growth can be such a slow process (just check out this post to see how dramatically different a year looks), it’s hard to remember just how small everything started out.  Because of this, I’ve decided to make more frequent garden updates, just to track progress.

Okay, I’ve chatted long enough, let’s look at the plants.  Out front, these smoke trees make me stupidly happy.  Dark burgundy leaves are a great contrast against all the green.  I also adore the way it looks with the siding and decks.


Those smoke like flower plumes are so pretty and delicate.


The row of nest spruce are absolutely covered in bright green new growth.


Near the front walkway, tucked under our balcony, is a hydrangea that looks healthy and happy.  Along the street side of the beams, I replaced the dead boxwood (poor choice on my part as they need more water) with a row of Karl Foerster reed grasses.  Closest to the door, you see a trio of catmint peeking out.


Just a warning about catmint: It gets huuuuge, so be careful where you plant.  Both here and in the back, each plant has spread to about two feet across, so leave ample space between to not overcrowd neighboring plants.  I happen to like a full, thick garden, so it’s good, but just something to keep in mind.


At the end of the front walk, there’s a rock planter filled with peonies and coneflower.  These Costco plants have done so well, with about 25 buds on each plant in only two years.


A lone coneflower bloom is starting up.


To the left side of the front steps, there’s a trio of day lilies and Russian sage.  Russian sage also gets big quickly, so I cut these back to the ground this spring.  This should help create a thicker plant, rather than a thin, spindly one.


For whatever reason, adding plants in the front hasn’t been as fun as the back.  Maybe because we have more hardscaping to work around?  There’s also an even more steep slope that’s almost impossible to add plants to.  Sure the back has some steep areas, but overall, it’s pretty workable.  Here’s a view from the driveway, showing off nearly every part of the back yard.


Over to the right of the steps coming up from the driveway, there’s a full sun flower grouping.  At the base of the hillside, a row of Karl Foerster grasses softens the edges and adds height.

Also taken from the driveway, but angled toward the house to show the little bed bordering the house.


This area includes two catmint, four coreopsis, two day lilies, an Icelandic poppy, and a butterfly bush.


In our zone, the butterfly bush dies completely back, starting from the ground up each year.  It’s on the tiny side right now, but I’m hoping it’ll come back with a vengeance.


It seems most full sun, drought tolerant plants come in purples.  To offset all the purple, a yellow Icelandic poppy at the center of this grouping adds a different splash of color.


As with the butterfly bush, the coreoposis die back, but are making their comeback.


With the way our house is situated, there’s very little shade.  Between the back walkway and house, there’s an eight foot wide by twenty or so feet long garden strip.  Of that space, about five feet from the house is shaded and that’s it.  Closest to the house, I’ve planted hostas, coral bells, Ajuga, and a hydrangea.  At the corner of the house is a beautiful Snowball Viburnum, a great alternative to Hydrangea.  Planted only last spring, it has doubled in size and is now covered in fist sized blooms.


Much like hydrangea, the blooms are clusters of tiny flowers.


With seemingly hundreds of hosta varieties, I’ve tried to add a mix.  After all, variety is the spice of life.


With so many single plants that kind of keep to themselves, I wanted to add a lower ground cover type plant to the mix.  Ajuga is the perfect addition, spreading out greenery and blooming purple flower stems.


Not quite as fast growing as the viburnum, the hydrangea has dozens of tiny cauliflower like buds emerging.


Filling up the three-foot full sun area next to this is an alternating mix of catmint and salvia.


Up on the hillside, we have low growing, spreading Buffalo junipers to add as much greener as possible.  Between the evergreens are a variety of plants.  Seen here are a smoke tree, three Hameln grasses, Stonecrop Angelina, and native Yucca.



Toward the bottom of the rocks, I’ve dotted Artemisia, lavender, and day lilies around.


Everyone likes touching the Artemisia.  It’s this soft, silver-green mound of fluff.  It’s crazy to see just how much this has grown in less than a year.


Once this lavender blooms, it’s going to smell amazing in the back.  In the house, too since it’s a great cut and dried flower.


To liven up the patio, I picked up three five dollar arborvitae trees to fill in the planters.


Looking from the house toward the waterfall, things are filling in nicely.


These stonecrop Angelina are perfect to tuck between the cracks of the waterfall.  It’s as simple as plucking the offshoots, nestling each in dirt, keeping watered until rooted, and enjoying.  The plant that keeps on giving.


Since getting hooked on gardening, I’ve added over 200 assorted plants throughout our property.  I’m far from an expert, but through trial and error, I’m figuring out what works, what doesn’t, and enjoying the progress along the way.

8 thoughts on “April Showers Bring May Flowers

  1. Totally random question but I’ve been wondering for awhile. What is the plan for the indoor pool/pool room?? It is the room that intrigues me the most about your house!

    1. Hi Tim!

      Ha, good question! The plan is to keep the pool, but it needs a new liner. As far as the room goes, we’ll gut it and start from scratch. It needs a new ceiling, walls, floors, the works. Hopefully that will happen soon, but we do have another HUGE project on deck so we’ll see which one needs to happen first.


      1. Thanks for answering! I’m really into unique home features and this one is going to be an awesome transformation I feel!

        1. Hi Tim!

          Oh, I completely understand. Even our friends/family/neighbors ask about it; plans, when it will be done, why we haven’t made it a priority, etc. It’s a unique feature that gets everyone talking. 🙂 Whenever it does happen, I know a lot of people will be excited. Haha.


  2. BRAVO! I live in Billings too. You should add some iris to your mix! Very addicting. Also Gaillardia, yarrow, Echinacea, and monarda (bee balm). All will do fine in your low water scheme.

  3. Your yard is looking absolutely stunning Amanda! Your photography makes me feel like I’m there, and wish I were ;).

  4. Great job, thanks for the update. I remember your plans and plantings and am excited to see how well everything is doing. Yes!!!! to more gardening updates.

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