Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our Mini Mt. Vernon

After my Dad's funeral last year we stayed an extra couple of days in the Northern Virginia area to visit with relatives. Brian and I decided to take the kids (and my mom) over to Mt. Vernon because we had never been there. It was absolutely beautiful, but as I was on my "garden kick" and trying to develop this new habit I was focused more on the grounds than the house (like I would have a few years ago). Mt. Vernon seemed to motivate Brian to focus more on the idea of gardens and garden rooms, so this is why I refer to our founding father's home. We needed that kick in the pants to get moving on some projects. We have gotten a couple of comments, and emails about our property, so I think a tour is in order - along with the list of plans..... all my plans, not necessarily Brian's --- but they will be his plans too he just doesn't know it yet.

The top picture is the view from the back deck. We do live on a giant pond - although a few in the neighborhood call it the smaller lake - it is still a pond. It has turtles and fish, and I'm sure things that slither, but in 7 years of living here I've only heard about 1 snake, I didn't actually see it. We live in the middle of an older subdivision, and we have a shopping center nearby, with all of the amenities.

As, in Mt. Vernon- just a much smaller scale -our backyard is divided into areas. The upper part of the yard right under the deck is a small grassy yard that kids play ball in, or dogs run around on, the right hand side of the yard will hopefully one day just be a beautiful garden of flowers and green, the left middle section is the girls playground, and right behind that is the butterfly garden and the vegetable garden. At the bottom is the soft area of grass by the pond where children can play, just not ball games as the pond is apparently magnetic when it comes to balls. Every ball they play with down there dips in for a swim AT LEAST once, which is why the canoe is housed there too. We do canoe on the pond, but two years ago we noticed that when the little girls got out of the pond they had a rash on them - so I think the chemicals the neighborhood association uses on the pond are definitely NOT natural, which is why we choose not to use that as a source of water to sprinkle on our yard.

Plans - Move the butterfly garden over to the right side of the yard. Yes its pretty, but it is also low and won't obstruct our view. This would leave me with an area for at LEAST four more rasied beds for veggies, etc. With the veggie beds I'm still trying to get rid of those ants - boiling water doesn't seem to work on indestructable fire ants in SC, so now I'm trying white vinegar suggested by another person whose blog I read. The biggest plans are to take down about 12 pine trees - I will rake pine straw or leaves, but I'm tired of doing both, and since the pines are more likely to fall into my house then they must go - along with the Hickory Nut trees that keep Blondie from being totally safe in the backyard.

I'm still debating about joining the growing challenge, but I may just start a garden blog to keep up with what I'm doing in that area.... hmmmm .... that's what I need... another blog.... another committment... I'll have to think on that a little more.


Natalie said...

Hey Kelly,

You may want to check into companion planting for your garden. French marigolds are famous for being a strong, natural pest repellent. Their roots put natural and very strong chemicals into the soil that keep away all manner of pests, but they won't affect your food (they're supposed to be great around tomatoes). You may also want to plant some nasturtiums. They're very pretty, the flowers are edible in salads, easy to grow, and they're good for keeping away aphids. Aphids and ants often show up together.

Peppermint and spearmint keep ants away, but mints are invasive in our climate and will take over your whole planter.

Kelly said...

Thanks for the idea, actually something I've been reading about lately too... I went and checked on my enemy ant colony - this morning I dug down deep to add the hot water and then as they swarmed I was spraying the vinegar. When I checked the hole I found a large red pile (I'm guessing dead ants) at the bottom of my hole, so maybe the vinegar will work. I'm curious if the living ants put them all there, or what...