They take work. They take sweat, pain, and time. So much time.
Sometimes, I feel as if I am running against a ticking clock. How long will my body last working this hard? I push it, harder than I should, and hope desperately that it is enough.
I imagine the day when I can finally, finally sit down and relax. Just a little bit.
Meanwhile, my dreams fill my mind with visions of secret places where flowers bloom, paths take you in unexpected directions, and my patch of urban life is filled with beautiful blooms and sun-dappled corners.
Walk with me, let me show you where we are at and where we hope to go…
On our lower back porch sits a little cast iron table and chairs. I want to paint this with a bright glossy enamel paint. Possibly cherry red, or maybe grass green. Not this year, though. Too many other things to do! I would love to put it in a special, private spot, on top of some pavers. A place where we could have coffee and cake and enjoy our beautiful garden.
Our “dog yard” – it might not look like much, but I spent a good deal of time on it today, clearing brush, digging up unwanted volunteer trees, and pulling weeds. Eventually I imagine a brick footpath from the gate (it’s hard to see, but it’s near the top of the photo, to the left of the greenery) around to the back door.
A few of the trees are too big to dig out. We will need to cut them out. And the fence, how I hope to re-do the pickets on the fence this year. That is AFTER we build the front fence, however. The front fence takes precedence.
A view from the lower back deck looking west. Our property ends at the far edge, just beyond the large cottonwood tree.
The current rendition of the path that goes down from the front alongside the west of the house to the firepit. We will be re-doing it in a herringbone pattern. In the distance you can see Cottage West and beyond that Crazy Dale’s house.
A delicate pink tulip hiding among the iris and daylily plants along with some lovely alliums. I really love alliums, I want to collect a bunch of different varieties.
My eldest made this sign. You can’t see the Est. 2013, but that was when we first bought the house. Even though I’m not keeping the blog, I hesitate at the thought of getting rid of the sign. I love it so!
This beauty made me smile when I saw it. I adore irises. In the coming years, I plan to expand my iris collection to include many different varieties as we expand the flower plantings and shrink the areas to mow.
The plantings along the front path to Cottage West and doing quite well and I am delighted to see what had been a weed-covered, poison-ivy infested jungle become a colorful focal point. It will continue to be improved over the next few years.
I look forward to the day when I’m able to take the board off of the beautiful front door of Cottage West. It is beveled glass. A beautiful, solid door that is original to the house. One contractor is putting the finishing touches on the HVAC and plumbing and then we will have the insulation and drywall guys in. Here I am, crossing my fingers it will all be done this month. Then we begin painting, hanging cabinets in the kitchen, putting in the finishing touches, and making it available on Airbnb, VRBO, and other short-term rental places!
That red trailer there – it might look small in the picture, but that is an all-steel, 5×12 foot trailer that will be used for hauling wood to the Compost Connection, trash to the dump, and eventually we will take the lathe and plaster out in Cottage East, one load at a time and save ourselves a ton of money hauling it in this trailer. Eventually we hope to put in a driveway from the street to at least halfway back into the property here. It would be nice to have some off-street parking.
This is one of our three Asian pear trees. It is still relatively small, they grow slowly, so we will pinch off most of the fruits this year so that it doesn’t get too overloaded. I have begun adding plants to the bases of all of our trees. Eventually I will also train clematis plants into each tree for added visual effect.
It isn’t super-easy to see, but there are approximately six trees here in our mini-orchard. Three Asian pears, two heirloom apples, and a cherry and an apricot. Eventually I hope to increase the plantings so that there will be paths, and plants, and little or nothing to mow in and around the trees. A few more years…!
In the foreground is our asparagus bed. I say this tongue -in-cheek because mostly it is just a mass of wild violets with a few shoots of asparagus! I have been considering doing high raised beds (at least 2-3 feet off of the ground). I will eventually take this bed apart, transplant the wild violets, dig up the asparagus (and plant a crap-ton more) and put it all in the high raised bed. The height will make it easier to weed and I will be able to put good composted dirt into it that will be far richer than the current sandy fill soil we have.
One of the heirloom apple trees. The fruit off of this tree was AMAZING last year! However, it is also still young, so it looks like I need to reduce some of these to a far reduced number or risk the heavy fruit damaging the tree.
These gorgeous little flowers pop up every year in the yard. I love them! I look for them, dig them up, and relocate them to different areas where they won’t be mowed down. I imagine I will be doing this for many years, because there are a lot of them!
At the back of Cottage West are some stairs I put in. We will need to replace these with something different when we install the retaining wall. Dave keeps talking about the retaining wall, which interests him far more than building a front fence, but the retaining wall will wait until this fall, or possibly next year. I recently weeded this patch, but it will soon be full of iris and daylily blooms.
Here is a close-up of one of the columbine. Behind it is the enclosed back porch for Cottage West. We will be installing an a/c unit underneath the porch and then enclosing it with some of the vinyl lattice we purchased. It will be a nice improvement over the current view!
If you look near the tires you can see more of those lovely white flowers. There’s tons of them! They are hardy bulbs, so I’m not particularly worried that the trailer is on them. Bulbs will return year after year.
My “woodland shade garden” – I plan on adding plenty of easy perennials with bright colors – Mexican blanket flower, lupines, and so much more!
Look at this tree. I want a treehouse built in this so bad! The husband is unwilling, however, to tackle it. I fear I must insist. Children need treehouses. So do adult, middle-aged women for that matter.
I know, I know, I said the pond would happen this year. But then there was a fence to build, and an Airbnb to finish prepping, and…and…and…and so it waits.
I believe this is a cherry tree. We have two or three other cherry trees on the property. We planted this one last spring and it is doing well. I hope to overcome the nasty Bermuda grass with a hardy phlox or other more aggressive groundcover. Heck, if I have to, I’ll plant mint. That would do the trick.
I am aggressively planting this area and expanding it each year. In the center of all of those daylilies was the remains of a cottonwood tree we removed a few years ago. The stump had finally disintegrated enough that I was able to add dirt to the middle of it and plant a serviceberry. They are small to medium trees that produce edible berries. It grows slow, but eventually it will be around 15 feet tall.
The west wall of our home. I have been transplanting garlic, catmint, spearmint, iris and daylilies to the base of the wall. The garlic and mint varieties will dissuade ants and mice from entering our house. They actually are repelled by the smell!
This cherry tree is about five years old now and it means business. We will get at least one pie’s worth of berries out of it this year!
Taken from the front sidewalk…this is my canvas. I will fill it with flowers!
The front of our home. I love it. I love living here. I really do!
We have a few more bricks to lay on the front path. And the maple tree is sending down an avalanche of seedlings. I’ll probably end up picking 10,000 maple treelings out of my yard this year! We need to paint these stairs…soon. I hope it will happen this year. But that is what I’ve said for the past two years.
When we first moved in, there was nothing but grass and mud. I can honestly say that I planted every single plant you see here (except for the tree). This now serves as my inventory as I move the bigger plants, the irises, daylilies, columbine and more to various sections of the yard. Now I can dig plenty of these up, divide them, and begin creating layers of flowers that will bloom in every season, and in varying heights.
This old maple tree apparently thinks it is the end times and is determined to cover the world in maple tree seedlings. As I left for the store today I had to turn on my wipers, just to get the six inch deep layer off of my windshield! You can see the Cottage East with its lovely new green skin peeking out behind the tree. In the distance is our neighbors lovely project. I love the blue siding she chose!
There is a path here, although you can barely see it beneath the maple seedlings. It circles the maple tree and winds its way to the gate that goes into the dog yard.
This delicate beauty was the first iris to bloom. It looks white at first glance, but is actually a delicate pale lilac color.
The horseradish is in bloom along the sidewalk that leads towards Cottage East. At Christmas, we dig some up, peel it, and put it in the food processor along with some sour cream, salt and pepper. It is better than anything you can buy in the store!
The walking onion in the background has spread quite well. This area is mainly occupied by my herbs – onions, chives, oregano, comfrey – as well as lamb’s ear, horseradish, and wild violets
Cottage East – we need to replace the front, back and basement doors. When we do, they will be white, steel, and the front door will have a keyless entry that recognizes our fingerprints and allows visitors access via a code we can reprogram whenever we want. We still need to re-do the columns on the front porch and paint the foundation white (it’s currently painted red), and I will continue planting in the side yard. Once we have gutted it down to the studs, I’ll finish out the front yard with a ton of plants that evoke images of English country cottages.
The east wall of Cottage East. We have plenty of brick to move, and the brick pathway will need to be re-done with better weedblock. I hope to see that happen this year. The bricks are where our property ends to the east. Our neighbors plan on installing a vinyl privacy fence. I’m really looking forward to that!
And then there is this big mess. Plenty of broken bricks, and a ton of weeds and invasive plants that need to be dug out. I think that if we double the weekends in this year, work our children like rented mules, and damn near kill ourselves, we might get this all cleaned up this year!
Ignore all that crap and look at the circular bit near the bottom of the picture. If I clear the weeds and the loose bricks, I’ll actually uncover brick stairs going down. This is so cool!
Along the entire back, we need to build a fence to connect with the gate that is there and being walked AROUND by the local n’er do wells. The same ones who tried to kick in the basement door multiple times. This fence we really hope to do this year.
The back porch of Cottage East. So many bricks to move! And lumber, and stuff. The work never ends. The back porch rebuild will not be for a while.
I’m so glad the worker did not get hurt when the newer portion of the porch collapsed. That was scary to come home to. Eventually, we will fix this, but finances will not allow for that for at least another year, possibly two.
This old light was mounted on the old porch. I know it doesn’t look like much, but I really REALLY like it! I am determined to find a place for it. I know it’s silly, but it just looks cool!
A view from my front porch with the turn in the pathway going west underway.
The lamb’s ear, columbine, iris, and hosta plants are all doing well here. As we re-do this section of bricks, I may back them up a bit in order to gain more area for planting around the base of the tree.
A view of a shady part of my side yard. I’ve planted a small tree (invisible, but its there!), along with a few daylily plants to go with the wisteria. Vinca covers the ground well here. I plan to add quite a few more shade-loving plants, and possibly a Japanese maple (they are delicate and small).
A columbine in the base of the old maple tree.
A view of my herb garden in the background.
I hope you have enjoyed a visual recap of our property. We have around an acre in total with three houses and their respective yards. We have been so lucky to be in the right place at the right time and get each of the properties to form a contiguous patch of land.
I look forward to showing you progress as we finish the work on Cottage West and officially open it this year for use as an Airbnb.
I hope that our visitors will enjoy the beauty of our land along with the Cottage West and spread the word far and wide. Historic Northeast Kansas City has its challenges, but it is home. I love living here!