The dreaded before pictures

When ever I take on a new project I tend to get a vision pretty quickly of what I want. Which means pretty quickly I get sick of looking at the “before”. Bj and I have had plans drawn up to tackle the last remaining bit of cottage work, and it’s a big part—the yard. People our yard is not looking good. When I bought the house it looked like this in the front:
(you can see the whole place here—time warp!) Then I chopped everything down (yes, I was called  a tree hater). Now it looks like this (well, in September it did):
The tree had to come down, not just for the porch, but because the roots were growing into the foundation, I did not want to cut it. The bushes were old crusty things so those went… leaving a very bare front yard. One that, as you can see is mostly dandelions. But my friends, that is just to keep up appearances. The backyard is truly scary:
oh, it’s going to get worse:
the ghetto shame of it all:
Yes there is garbage, and weeds, weeds, more weeds.
I took all these pictures last year hoping HGTV would come transform it, but no dice. Now that we have a plan in place I keep clicking my heels and hoping it will magically be done already. But everything in due course. Right now we are the pick pretty plants phase, which is fun, and a little overwhelming. I know what I want: cute, modern, country, cottage, good-smelling, veggie-producing, eco-friendly, semi-native, low-water, awesomeness. I just am not sure exactly what plants those are. So we’ve been walking around the neighborhood snapping pictures, going through my magazine tear out file and checking out books. I have a list going: lilacs, clematis, roses, alums, maybe a coral bark maple? I would LOVE to know some of your favorite plants. The landscape designer (yes, a professional. If there is one thing my professional interior designer mother has taught me, it’s that a professional will think of about a million things you never will) Tina will let us know if the plants won’t work in our area, or certain parts of our yard (like under our black walnut maple that I like, thank you very much). So please let me know. Oh and if you do want to go to my mother’s blog, she’s looking for help picking out a new tree—Tex are you out there?

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  1. I think a garden party will be needed once it’s done 😉 it’s going to look so great!
    plants: yes to lilacs + clematis. also our family has a tradition of always having a daphne near the front walk. I also love hydrangeas. and dogwood trees. there’s a couple more I can’t think of the name of…I’ll let you know if I think of them!

  2. Holy backyard, Batman!! Just think…with these “before” pictures, your “after” ones will just be so rewarding! I love love love hydrangeas. They are relatively low maintanance and have big, beautiful flowers.

  3. I also vote for hydrangeas. There are so many beautiful color variations as well. I have a few oak leaf hydrangeas and they are beautiful.
    I’ve always heard roses are hard to take care of, so I’ve never tackled them. I only know about plants that grow well in the south, so I may not be much help. Forsythia is beautiful right now. For bedding plants you can’t beat dianthus because it comes back every year and is very hardy. In some garden centers it isn’t sold as a perennial but I’ve always had good luck with it. Dogwood trees are great too.
    My biggest advice – don’t plant monkey grass because it spreads way beyond where you intended it to grow (the variegated type doesn’t, but the plain dark green type does). Oh, and hostas are beautiful and get bigger each year, but they can be divided. How about a crepe myrtle for color? I love those as well.
    My great grandmother used to grow a plant called thrift, I think. It would hang over the edges of her raised flower bed. Whenever I see it I am always reminded of her cottage.
    After you finish all this work then you will be ready for a sweet puppy for Miss Tuesday!
    Have fun, and good luck with your project. Look forward to more photos!

  4. It looks like you have a “clean” slate to work from! I always loved the wine grapes my parents have growing on their arbor…they taste amazing and are gorgeous! I also vote for a nice big patio…..less grass and more living space. For shade bleeding hearts work well up here. It looks like you have some nice weather down there, Jelous!

  5. I love japanese maples! I bet they thrive in Oregon! Coral barks are beautiful–butterfly and bloodgoods are nice too. Euonomys is a favorite shrub of mine and of course azaleas for color. Don’t know if these fit the cottage theme, but just throwing a few faves out there. Can’t wait to see the “After”!

  6. I wish I knew more about landscaping plants, but I like tulips, crocuses, rhodies, bleeding hearts, hostas and strawberries. We have a flowering currant bush in our yard that is nice.

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