I'm not sure why spring brings so many tasks and projects along with it, but every year it seems we have come up with new ideas for changing the appearance of our house and its landscape. I take that back. I do know why, at least in the case of our projects for this year.
Project #1: The concrete area surrounding our pool has settled since it was first poured 19 years ago. That which goes for three feet all around the pool has not, because it was poured with rebar in it and connected to the pool frame itself. But the extra that we had put down for lounge chairs and our table, has dropped two to three inches below the rest of it. This is not only unattractive, but unsafe.
Last summer, when we had a family pool party, our niece, Jennifer, fell. She suffered a nasty scrape on her shin and immediate bruising, but luckily no broken bones. Our other niece, Sarah, broke Jennifer's fall, but even though there were no serious injuries, we don't want anyone to stumble over it at all.
So the plan is to build decking which will sit on top of the concrete where our table and chairs sit. This will be level with the rest of the concrete, eliminating the offset. There is one little glitch in our plan, however. The concrete at the end of the pool where the diving board is has crack and it now slopes slightly downward and ends up even with the aforementioned settled concrete slab. Are you following this?
What this means is we have an area approximately 4' by 6' where we can't put the decking, so what I want is to break away that section and lay paving brick. With that, we can slope it to match the other concrete. Also, it will match the bricked walk that enters the pool house and the one that leads away from that area.
In addition, while I was laying in bed one night, I came up with the idea of connecting the pool area deck-to-be with an existing octagonal deck around a large oak tree nearby. And that is where we are on this project at the moment. I insisted that this part be done first so that I could get the area surrounding it planted early enough for things to get established well before hot summer sets in. Also, if this part is done, I can be working on the planting while Romie is working on the other part of the decking.
Project #2: This one was not planned, nor even wanted, as happens so many times. Due to our wacky winter and silly spring, the Vinca (Vinca minor) that we've had planted in our front porch planter for years just didn't have it in itself to fight to live any longer. And the beautiful Pink Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa) we planted there last spring didn't make it either. First we had an extra warm December and January, and many plants put on new growth. Then BAM! Icy cold winter decided to make its appearance. Stress factor one.
Spring came in like summer and what had survived the first calamity started putting on new spring growth. Then BAM! Icy cold winter decided to make its appearance AGAIN and this time out of season. Sure, we can have a frost or two at that time, but the prolonged freeze was just too much, and many plants couldn't handle the stress a second time.
So now we have to figure out what to do with this space. I planted the Fothergilla (Fothergilla major 'Mt. Airy') that I got at the Cincinnati Flower Show where the Flowering Almond used to be, but I've got about 6-7 feet left to fill up with something. I don't think I want to go with anything as low-growing as the vinca this time, but I'm not sure what to put there. It faces west and gets lots of hot sun and wind, so whatever goes in there had better be able to take it.
Since I have two planter boxes that I fill and hang on the railing just above this area, I don't want to plant too much of a variety, or things will look too busy. I already have a lot going on to the left of the sidewalk, across from this planter, with several varieties of Sedum, a Weeping Japanese Cherry (Prunus 'Snow Fountain'), Columbine (Aquilegia), German Catchfly (Lychnis viscaria), and a Wiegela (Weigela florida 'Wine & Roses').
Time to get out the gardening magazines. Suggestions from readers are welcome, too!