Plants, Always

Saturday was cold and rainy, but Sunday was glorious. I planned on finally potting my cacti this week (eighteen months and two plant-deaths later), but the garden center at Home Depot proved irresistible. I bought one or two or 30 or so items that weren’t on my list.

I’m not the only one obsessed with planting this week. John and Sherry worked on their patio, and The Nester published a micro-series on how to decorate with plants. As for me, I have had a longtime love affair with plants. At one point, I had almost 20 houseplants scattered around the house. Over time, that number dwindled to 4 sad, root-bound cacti. I grabbed one of the lavender pots from IKEA, bought a few succulents, and gave my remaining green friends a new home on the dining table.

The pot is a bit crowded, but I’m hoping everything will grow large enough for me to split and replant.

Next, I did something I’ve been talking about for well over two years, probably three. I bought a fiddle leaf fig tree (Ficus lyrata).

He has a commanding presence.

I’m a little nervous taking care of such a large tree, but I have it in front of two windows where it should get enough light (eastern and northern exposure).

I’m very happy with my new houseplants. I want to buy more.

Moving outside is just depressing, but I have no choice but to show you the before.

I present to you seven years of gardening failure. The planter in the first two pictures receives northern exposure. The three year-old asparagus fern gets plenty of light and because that planter suffers from poor drainage and receives the bulk of the water runoff from the back yard, I water it only during the summer. The planter in the second picture is much larger (twice what you see here) and receives both northern and western exposure. The soil is dryer, more compact. The asparagus fern in this planter doesn’t fair as well from my neglect. Everything I have ever planted over the course of seven years has died.

Gardening is one of the few physical activities, aside from tennis, where I enjoy myself so much that I lose track of time. I don’t have any pictures of me clearing out the planters, but I did. I do have a picture of the asparagus fern root system. I decided to transplant them to the backyard. I split the roots and planted those, as well. I’ll have several more ferns next year if all goes as planned.

I’ve always planted for western exposure in the past, mainly because in my area we have light and heat. This time, I picked shade plants like impatiens, ornamental grasses, and calla lilies. The bird, which reminds me of the Mockingjay from The Hunger Games, is all Nicholas.

I don’t like the xanadu philodendrons the guy at Home Depot convinced me to buy. They look leggy and odd. I might transplant them to the backyard and replace them with Kimberly ferns. I’ve had ferns for three years now, and really wanted something different…but not these giant green tarantulas. The impatiens and calla lilies on the left, where the drainage is poor and the soil swims, are thrilled. They’re out there and loving every minute of it. The lilies and impatiens that receive just a touch of western exposure are not amused.

Come on! What a bunch of wimps. The high this week hit mid 70s. Mid 70s! Just wait until September, sweetheart. I gave everything a good soak at around 4:00pm. I went out shortly after 10:00 pm the same night and the calla lily almost looked normal. I can see this summer will be spent watering the planter on the right.

Not that I’m complaining (too much). I spent six hours gardening, received two spider bites, and annihilated my manicure, but it sure was fun.

This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.

Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:

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  1. I actually like the philodendron there…although I guess it does look a little leggy. Probably because it has more volume than the fern did. But you did a nice job of covering up a yucky pipe…and the other flowers added in there look nice as well. It was worth the ruined manicure πŸ™‚ Hopefully everything will grow and flourish for you now!

    Thanks for hosting — I’m really enjoying finding a reason to clean things up in my house and share about it every week!

    • Ugh. There are pipes, vents, spouts…too much. I have some plans to add something higher, but maybe in a tall planter of some sort. I still need to work it out in my head and figure out will grow.

  2. It looks great! And I must say, even your ‘before’ picture was a thing of beauty. Mine, at the moment, are those of nightmares. As a matter of fact, I drove in the driveway yesterday, glanced at a side bed, and thought, “There’s a William Morris project if ever I saw one . . . ” One of these days the rain/snow/gusts of wind are bound to let up so I can get it done . . .

    • The entire backyard is a William Morris project. I forgot to take pictures of the beds around the perimeter and under the tree. I was going to ask for advice. I’ll do it next week.

  3. I love how those succulents look in the purple ikea planter. Nice. I love what you did outside. Seeing plants, freshly planted, in dark soil with water droplets still on the leaves makes me want to run outside and do something! I am trying to figure out if I can get away with planting hydrangeas along the front of my north facing house.

    • I’m trying to figure out if hydrangeas will grow in my entirely shaded backyard (eastern facing). That’s actually black bark you see in the picture. It’s what stained my hands in the last one.

  4. I guess everyone is officially in spring mode. We, too, left the kitchen and headed into the yard this week, determined to clean up and control our weeds. I’ve never broken up a plant ball before but we have plans to do so soon, so we’d appreciate any pointers!

    Your succulents look great in that IKEA planter. Do you know the name of the little guy with round bits hanging over the edge?

  5. Great job! Love the indoor plants – I just bought succulents the other day to have inside. I love all the shapes and textures – not to mention the thrive-on-neglect factor. My cat eats anything inside that has leaves (and then throws up) so I can’t have others in the house but I do love the way that tree looks. I don’t like working outside here – too hot (it was in the high 80’s already this past week) and I leave it to my husband. I do plant herbs in pots (working inside) and then keep them outside.

    • In the 80s…are you in southern Florida? Our dogs used to eat everything, but they are elderly now and don’t bother. Thank goodness, because for a while there we were always taking them to the vet for their indiscriminate chomping.

  6. Your plantings look so nice, Jules! We are blessed and cursed with a pretty big yard completely bordered by planting beds. They are filled with perennials and shrubs, but some are too crowded, and most I don’t really know how to care for. And our yard is going to need the services of a serious landscaper to deal with the drainage problems. I did manage to do some raking and a little spring clean up in the beds this week, so at least they’re not covered in last year’s dead foliage. I’m getting inspired to stop at Home Depot and get a few flowers for the porch planter, though!

    • That sounds like how our backyard could look in my dreams. Large yard, surrounded by planting beds…except ours are completely bone dry. It’s my plan to plant them this spring and summer!

  7. Ooooh! I have had that same fiddle leaf fig on my list for at least a year too. I never seem to find them though when I am actually plant shopping. I think it looks perfect in that corner.
    The front flower bed in our new yard has such bad drainage that there is a permanent mud puddle there. I have yet to brave planting anything out there, it gets full sun too which is weird. I’ll have to do some research… I also really love those Philodendrons. I have a weakness for them, ever since I read the Secret Life of Plants.
    Thanks for the gardening inspiration!

    • Alice! A picture of you! I was expecting to see your bird pic. You’re pretty.

      What did the Secret Life of Plants say about philodendrons? Consider planting impatiens–though I bet the sun will burn them. I planted them in a mud puddle (planter on the left) and the next day they were practically double in size.

      • That’s a good idea. The chances of the sun burning anything in the NW is pretty slim. {about the picture, Thank you! It took me a while to put one up that was a real life photo, and current at that!;) }

        • Oh, and The Secret Life of Plants ‘documents’ a whole bunch of crazy experiments that were done primarily on philodendrons, where they were hooked up to some sort of lie-detector type of machine that read their reactions to things. The things they reacted to were people setting them on fire, or singing to them, harming or helping them. It was a little unnerving. I guess there is some skepticism regarding the viability of those experiments, or in other words, if hearing about it on Art Bell in the first place should have been an indicator of the books reliability…

          I still loved it.

  8. my garage project last week wore me out, I have nothing to contribute this week.

    I wish I had a green thumb, but I kill everything I plant, usually from benign neglect. Where did you get the fiddle leaf fig tree? They aren’t carrying those at Ikea now, are they?

    • I know the feeling. Big projects like that usually wear me out for a week or so, too. I got the fiddle leaf fig tree at Home Depot! I try to buy all my plants there (or Lowes) since they have that 1 year guarantee.

  9. I almost couldn’t read the whole post because I’m so excited by the fiddle head. Ack. I’ve wanted one for so long, and saw one at the plant store this last weekend and spent an hour humming and ha-ing about whether I could afford it, and then left without it upon realizing the answer is no. So jealous, it is beautiful.
    Your garden looks lovely. Yay, for getting lost in the act of gardening. It is amazing that something like the smell of manure can be forgotten while in the moment. Happy gardening to you!

    • Okay – manure=manicure….uhm yay, that’s where my mind is. Gees. A manicure can be forgotten in the depths of gardening bliss too πŸ™‚

      • Hah! Too funny. πŸ™‚

        I first saw the fiddle leaf on Sunday and debated for an hour if I should buy it. I didn’t. By Wednesday, I was back. I figured if it was still there, it was meant to be. It’s over 6ft tall and was $59. I thought that was a fair price, since last year I saw a 2 ft one for $40 at a nursery.

        • $59 is a fantastic price! The one I was looking at was 2ft smaller and $30 more…Oh Canada, we’re just so much more expensive than the US. πŸ™

  10. I completely didn’t realize that yesterday was Thursday. Your fiddle leaf tree is absolutely gorgeous. Love the string of pearls too. Aside from a few orchids and Christmas cacti my house is devoid of houseplants. I really don’t have the space or rather the right space.
    I love that you are getting out into your garden and am looking forward to more pictures. Calla lilies, philodendron and asparagus are strictly houseplants here. Always interesting to see what goes into a differently zoned garden.

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