Spring is Here!

I’m pretty sure that the universe really wants me to post some photos of flowers today.  Why, you ask?  Three reasons, primarily.  First, Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge is FLOWERS.  Second, the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is SPRING.  And third (and most importantly of all), my yard is in full bloom!!!  Look at the beautiful spectacle I was greeted with upon arriving home from work today.  Spring is really here!!!

Cherry Blossom-lined street

In addition to the blossoming pink cherry trees that line the street in front of our house we also have weeping cherry, pear, and crabapple trees that are all blooming.  Combine those with my daffodils, viburnum, vinca, and potted dahlias and that makes for a pretty amazing Spring scene!

Unfortunately the deer have also realized that Spring has arrived and they are doing their best to gobble up the tasty tulips and azaleas as quickly as they can grow.  This was never a problem in the past because Bailey patrolled the yard like it was her job, but it has now become clear that the deer have learned that their german shorthaired nemesis is no longer around to harass them.

Here’s an example of deer destruction in my tulip bed.  Photo 1 is from last summer, 2 is what the baby tulips looked like in late March before we went to California, and 3 is what they look like now.  Ack!!  I have since pushed several pointy sticks into the flower bed (photo 4) to try to prevent the deer from wedging their heads in to snack… it’s not pretty but so far it has worked!

All deer issues aside, after the long, cold winter we had it is really wonderful to finally experience Spring.  I’m going to try to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying the weather this weekend, starting off with a 5K trail race tomorrow morning.  Wish me luck!

Springtime at our house

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: WHITE

White Crabapple Tree

I don’t usually participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, but I follow a few bloggers who do and I was inspired by how Pami from Pa-BLAM! handled this week’s topic, the color white.  Here in Southeastern PA snow has been covering the ground for 6+ weeks so you might think that ‘snow’ would be the first thing that comes to mind for a white photo challenge, but Pami defied old man winter and focused on spring instead.  It’s so much nicer to think about crocuses, daffodils and cherry blossoms, don’t you think?

So, without further ado, here are my cheerful, non-wintery entries for this week’s Foto Challenge:
White Crocuses... they'll be blooming in just a few weeks!!!!

White Shasta Daisy

And remember, despite this cold winter weather, Spring really isn’t that far away.  Here are the dates that the above photos were taken.  I wonder if this year will be an early Spring like 2012 (trees in full bloom by mid-April) or a later Spring like we had in 2013 (same trees blooming in early May).  I vote early Spring!!  🙂

Wedding Flowers!

It’s time for another wedding-related post and this week I’d like to share some photos of the gorgeous flower arrangements that our florist, Toni Ogborn, put together for our wedding a few months ago.  Aren’t the pinks, oranges, greens and succulents beautiful together?

Wedding Bouquet - bright pink dahlias, pale garden roses and peach roses with a blue ribbon

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember that back in April I posted about painting my own blue mason jars for our wedding.  That’s one of my jars in the photo above… it looks pretty real, right?  🙂  If you take a look at that older post you’ll also see my wedding flower inspiration photo.  I knew that I wanted my wedding flowers to look just like the bouquet in that photo so I gave a copy of the photo to Toni and asked her to make something similar.  I think she did a perfect job!!

I loved my bouquet!

I liked my bouquet so much that I brought it home the day after the wedding and used it as the centerpiece on our kitchen table until we left for our honeymoon.  Here’s a closer look at the flowers and colors in my bouquet:

Wedding Bouquet Flowers_2

My bridesmaids each had bouquets that were wrapped in blue ribbon to match their dresses.  I love how bright and bold the flowers were!

Wedding Bouquets - pinks, peaches, succulents with aqua dresses

Our reception was in a barn so we opted for long tables with burlap runners and lots of small floral arrangements in blue mason jars and quilted jelly jars.  These arrangements were simpler, more rustic versions of our bouquets and featured soft garden roses, crazy snap dragons, peach-colored roses and hot pink dahlias.

Wedding Flower Centerpiece - Colorful Flowers in Blue Mason JarWedding Flower Arrangements in Mason Jars on Long Tables

If you’re getting married in the western Philadelphia suburbs and you are interested in talking to Toni Ogborn about doing your wedding flowers please feel free to send me an e-mail at anne.elizabeth.mcmanus (at) gmail.com and I will be happy to put you in touch with her.  I loved the flowers that Toni put together for my wedding and I highly recommend her work!  🙂


Please note:  All photos in the post with the exception of the “closer look” at my bouquet were taken by Melissa Hassey of Melissa Hassey Photography.  The closer look photo was taken by me with my iPhone the morning after the wedding.

Related Posts:
Wedding Photo of the Week #2 – the Perks of a Winery Wedding
Wedding Photo of the Week #1
We’re Married!

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!  Our yard has made a beautiful transformation from Winter to Spring in just two short weeks.  Our trees are blooming, the tulips are coming up, and the garlic that I planted last Fall is looking great.  Here are some photos from April 19th:

That beautiful spinach patch is actually leftover from spinach that I planted in October.  It never really took off at the time (probably because I planted it too late) but as soon as the weather warmed up in April it started growing like crazy.  I harvested it today and I can’t wait to enjoy with some cucumber, feta, and toasted almonds tonight!

If you’re interested to see how this year’s growth compares to the same time last year, check out my Garden Update from April 17, 2012.  Thanks for stopping by!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

I haven’t been very good about doing the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges every week, but I like this week’s topic so I thought I would jump back in and participate! Here’s my red-hued take on Color:

Looking at all of those beautiful red veggies and flowers is really making me want to plant my vegetable garden! 🙂 Just a few weeks to go…

August Cheer for a Rainy Day

As predicted, Hurricane Sandy is slowly turning into the New Jersey coast and we have already experienced 40 mph wind gusts, almost 2 inches of rain, and a short power outage.  We’ve also found a leaky spot in our roof by the chimney… eek!  Other than that everything is fine so I thought I’d share something completely unrelated to the storm: photos from my garden in August!

This pink zinnia plant was at its peak in early August but, believe it or not, it STILL has a few blooms on it today! We’ll see how they look after the storm…

These Gladioli bloomed in August and did a nice job of covering up the big propane tank that powers a little stove in our living room. That stove might come in handy if the power goes out tonight!

Vine-ripening tomatoes in early August… yum!

These “Dinnerplate” Dahlias bloomed outside of our front door for most of the summer.

I picked all of these vegetables during my lunch break one day in August. Pretty good harvest, right?

And, last but not least, an isolated Orange Cosmo. You might recognize this plant from my August post “The Bee’s Knees.” I’m definitely planting more of these flowers next year!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and good luck to everyone in the storm’s path!

The Many Colors of July

Matt and I bought our house in the Winter of 2011 and when our first Spring rolled around I was disappointed to discover that there were very few flowers planted around the house.  I decided that I wanted this Spring and Summer to be much more colorful so we’ve been hard at work digging new flower beds, planting dozens of bulbs, making our own compost, and starting flowers from seed.  We’ve been rewarded with some gorgeous blooms so far this year and I’m excited to see how everything will continue to grow!  Here are some photos that I took on Tuesday:

This lovely bright pink zinnia is growing in the new bed that we dug outside of  our front door. I’m especially proud of it because it is one of the plants that we started from seed back in February.

We also started these painted daisies from seed. The bee landed on the flower as I was taking the photo.

These colorful little “superbells” are growing in a lime green container along with some pink blanket flowers and white Asiatic lilies.

I bought a few bags of Dahlia bulbs at Home Depot in the spring and about half of the flowers are this rich, deep red color. The other half are “peppermint” Dahlias… keep reading to see what they look like!

We planted this small purple-flowered tree in a container last Summer and, although it was supposed to be an annual, we kept it inside over the winter and it’s blooming again. I can’t remember the exact name of the plant but I think it might be in the Solanum family.

This clematis was one of the only flowering plants that came up in Spring 2011. It is planted under an overhang in a very shady spot and it’s “dirt” is a bed of river rocks… I don’t know how it survives without any water, sun, or soil but it seems to be doing well!

Last but not least, here’s a peppermint dahlia!

Oh… and on another note, I ate my first Red Tomato today!!  It was delicious!

Gardening Update – One Month Later!

You may remember that back on St. Patrick’s Day I prepared my little garden plot for the new year and planted spinach and beans.  I posted several photos of the signs of Spring at that time (crocuses, our first daffodil, cherry buds, etc.) and, as one would expect, everything has continued to bloom, bud, and grow since then.  I figured since a full month has gone by it’s time for a new garden/yard update so here goes!

Last Fall Matt and I planted close to 200 daffodil, tulip and crocus bulbs. Since the first daffodil sighting in mid-March we’ve had dozens of these cheery flowers blooming at any given time. I think the key was to buy a mixed variety pack because as one type of daffodil starts to wilt there always seems to be a new type of flower coming up to replace it!  You can also see one of our tulips blooming in the background here.  (Photo from 3/30/12)

The beautiful weeping cherry tree in our front yard surprised us this year by blooming about a month earlier than last year.  This photo is from about 2 weeks ago so by now the blooms have already been replaced by tiny green leaves.  (Photo from 3/30/12)

Even our vinca is blooming!  This groundcover vine literally holds our front yard together — we have had some major erosion and the water has cut paths in our front lawn.   Luckily this vinca is the last line of defense before the road and it seems to withstand the gushing currents of rainwater pretty well.  We’re going to try to divide it so that it covers more of the front yard.  (Photo from 3/30/12)

We have two flowering bushes near our patio that smell absolutely wonderful.  I did some searching on the internet and I’ve concluded that they are most likely Viburnum Carlesii (but if you think otherwise please let me know!!).  The bushes have clusters of sweet-smelling flowers that start out as dark pink buds and then open up to pale pinkish-white blooms.  We may try to find and plant more of these fragrant bushes around the yard.  (Photo from 4/7/12)

OK, OK, I know that this is not technically a photo of the garden and I know that Bailey’s face is completely out of focus here, but I think that this photo captures the feeling of Spring at our house very well.  The grass is getting greener, the sky is nice and blue, the trees are budding, and Bailey is spending most afternoons lounging in the sun.  When we’re outside (and she’s not busy hunting squirrels) Bailey loves to play catch.  In this photo she was scooting towards me in the grass on her side.  By this point she had pushed about 10 feet and she REALLY wanted me to throw that tennis ball!  (Photo from 4/7/12)

Last Saturday we braved the crowds at the Home Depot Garden Center in Glen Mills, PA and picked out several container plants including these two mint plants.  The one on the left is “Chocolate Mint” (so named for its chocolate-brown stems) and the one on the right is “Sweet Mint.”  (Photo from 4/15/12)

While at Home Depot we picked up a flat of Marigolds and I planted them in a large container with a Day Lily, Onion Chives, and Sweet Marjoram.  On our drive home a huge bag of potting soil fell on the Marigolds but they seemed to have recovered from this traumatic experience and are doing quite well now.  (Photo from 4/15/12)

And here’s my garden!  My spinach is coming up nicely and we were even able to use some of the thinned spinach shoots in our Sausage-Corn Scramble on Sunday morning.  The bean plants were much slower to sprout (I guess they don’t like to be planted in March??) but now they are above ground and growing fairly quickly.  I just planted moonflowers and morning glories in the bare strip in the back there so hopefully they’ll be working their way up the trellis soon!  (Photo from 4/15/12)

Last but not least, here’s a photo of our front yard.  We have cherry, crab apple, and dog wood trees and they were all in full bloom this weekend.  Beautiful!  I think mid-April is quickly becoming my favorite time of year simply because of these gorgeous trees.  🙂  (Photo from 4/15/12)

Gardening… on Saint Patrick’s Day!

Last year I planted a little vegetable garden in a square-ish plot next to our back patio. I didn’t really know what I was doing at that time (not that I know that much more now, but I’d like to think that I have learned a little bit from last year’s garden..) but I still managed to harvest a healthy crop of basil, jalapeño peppers, mint, rosemary, and heirloom tomatoes. This year I am expanding the garden slightly and I hope to add thyme, parsley, bell peppers, and maybe even container strawberries to the mix.

A blurry photo of last year's garden

As I’ve mentioned before, we have had gorgeous weather in PA the last few weeks. Yesterday was Saint Patrick’s Day and it was 70 degrees outside!! This is unheard of and the mild temperatures are really making me want to get moving on my garden. I know that it’s too early to plan my “warm weather” veggies like tomato and basil, so I checked online to see what kind of plants could withstand a potential early-Spring frost. It turns out there are all sorts of veggies that love to be planted at this time of year including lettuce, spinach, arugula, peas, and beans. (There’s even a tradition of planting peas on St. Patty’s Day, perfect!)

We headed over to our local Home Depot and I found packets of beans and spinach seeds that boasted a mere 41-50 days to maturity. I figure that this timing should work out well so that I can harvest the spinach and pull out the bean plants just in time to plant my normal veggies at the end of April.

Back at our house, I removed the layer of shredded leaves that has been covering my garden since last fall and I turned/loosened up the soil with a shovel and a hoe. I mixed in about half a 40 lb. bag of “garden vegetable soil” and leveled the bed with my hands. I carefully planted my bean seeds (it is “bean seeds” or just ‘”beans” ? The “seeds” are just beans, after all) in the back half of the garden and then I planted my spinach seeds in four little row in the front half. I left the section of the garden next to our new trellises empty because I hope to plant moonflower and morning glory (two sun-loving, flowering vines) there very soon.

After my seeds were safely in the ground, I inserted my newly painted bright green fencing around the garden. This fence should hopefully keep Bailey out of my garden — she usually assumes that any freshly loosened soil has been created just for her digging pleasure. I learned this the hard way last year when she completely dug up my newly planted tomato and basil plants about an hour after I finished planting them! Although Bailey can easily step over my little green picket fence, it will hopefully make it less convenient for her to dig there. (After nearly 24 hours the fence is still standing and Bailey hasn’t touched the dirt yet!!)

I’m very excited to officially start gardening this year. I really had fun with my garden last summer (the constant supply of fresh basil was awesome!) and Matt and I worked hard in the Fall planting bulbs and composting fruits and veggies in a “spin bin.” (The compost isn’t really yet but it should be fully “cooked” in time for my late April veggie planting!) Below are a few photos of our plants as of today — can’t wait to see what they look like in the coming weeks!!

Garlic "Ramps" enjoying the afternoon sun

A pair of pale yellow Crocuses blooming in the back yard

We planted 150+ daffodil bulbs last Fall. The first one is blooming today!

Our beautiful pink weeping cherry tree is budding!

Crocus in the front yard