Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

June 6, 2012

Around The Yard | Early Summer

Oh yes, I’m so thankful for this space.

We’ve lived in this house for just about two years now. Last year I did just a bit in the yard – mainly with the raised beds in the summer and planting some shade perennials in a bed between the house and the patio. Take a look back at early spring, mid-spring and mid-summer 2011. Especially crazy to see the difference between April 2011 and now (bare trees vs. the green of now).

Part of my manifesto this summer is to spend an hour outside everyday. That might be playing, reading, working, eating, resting, entertaining, dreaming or puttering.

Click on any image to view it larger.

Right now a lot of my outside time has been planting and a bit of moving things around.

I love perennials so a lot of what I’ve been doing is planting those and in the process digging up some things that were here before we moved in that I don’t love.

Those chairs and tables (three of them put together) are from Costco.

This yard has three main sections. (1) An area with a shed and raised beds (and a whole other side along the house where the AC is located that is just dirt right now), (2) an area directly behind the house where the patio sits (the photo above is in this area), and then (3) a large grass area off to the right (what you see through the pergola in the photo above) with a couple trees at the far edge.

This is in the second area just behind the house. This is what I see when I look out my kitchen window.

These are my beloved peonies. I’ve cut most of them and brought them inside. They smell amazing.

This is also in that area directly behind the house, farther down from the peonies, that needs a bit more love and attention.

For me, working in the yard like this is an exercise in patience. It’s remembering that that small hydrangea I just planted won’t be so small next year or the year after or the year after. Sometimes it’s hard to wait – I want it to all be established and full and lush right now. I can tell, though, that I’m getting better at the waiting. It’s all a learning process, every last step of the way.

To the left of the patio area are the raised beds and the shed (and an area you can’t see that’s currently a no-man’s land of just dirt). I have plans for this area – I’m still thinking pea gravel around the beds. Around the corner, over by the shed, there’s a pretty big blank space. I need some new dirt over there and then I’ll plant the pumpkins and corn and see how that goes (I haven’t done either before).

Another place that needs some new dirt (and a new lattice on top of the fence) is along one of the edges of the grass area in the left yard. There’s some really big (giant) trees in the neighbors and roots all throughout that soil that you see here.

I’ve got three blueberry plants that are totally thriving in the spot they were planted last summer.

Those strawberries were here when we moved in – they did pretty good last year.

Once the rain stops again we’ll be working on some sort of a fort for the kids back in this area behind the fern.

Looking back towards the house from the far end of the grassy area.

There’s a lot to learn and right now I’m really relishing getting my hands dirty and joyfully doing the work.


  • 1.
    Kristine S said…

    Your outside space is so lovely

  • 2.
    Toni From said…

    Looking really good Ali. It is a beautiful space already and I am sure when you are done puttering it will be spectacular.

  • 3.
    Ainslie H said…

    Ali, your yard is just beautiful!!! I could imagine spending some wonderful summer hours out there. I especially love all your different trees and plants, almost makes me want to do more gardening!!!

  • 4.
    Ilona said…

    Your garden is very beautiful! And I love your white Adirondack chair! :-)

  • 5.
    Kimberly said…

    Love the patio space you have for outdoor living. Perfect.

  • 6.
    Ilona said…

    And I have to add: I like the idea of writing the details onto the picutres! I will do that for my garden pictures too, last year we designed our new garden and we started planting and planting and planting. This is great to keep in mind which plants are where and how it looks from year to year / season to season!
    Thanks for sharing Ali!

  • 7.
    Marie said…

    I agree with you when you say that you want to spend one hour a day in your yard, it’s so lovely!

  • 8.
    MonicaB said…

    I don’t have the patience for gardening. I love the flowers that come back every year without me doing anything. But I do love a beautiful garden and yours is definitely one of those.

  • 9.
    Lisa W. said…

    WOW…it looks beautiful Ali. You do good work:) I SO so so get what you mean with the waiting. I just planted my first hydrangea this year. Everyone says they wont do good here (in Michigan) well I so LOVE them and I am gonna try. Thanks so much for sharing your yard it truly is lovely!!!

  • 10.
    Kayla said…

    Love, love, love your outdoor spaces – your yard is charming. I love seeing another aspect to your creativity. Creativity in the yard feeds the soul – I never was much of a yard person until a few years ago and now I can’t imagine life without planting/improving/enjoying something – there’s just something one gets from gardening that can’t be found elsewhere. Thanks for this post!

  • 11.
    Alida said…

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful yard. We’ve lived in a few places, in some we did a bit of intensive gardening. Now we have a small but established garden and my test of patience is to wait for a place of our own again where I can garden as I like:).Enjoy!

  • 12.
    Naomi said…


  • 13.
    Marsaille said…

    I would fall in love with this place too! Thanks for the tour. I am an outside girl, and always wondered about your layout. Well done Ali.

  • 14.
    Marilyn Johnson said…

    Beautiful. We have a garden every year. Pumpkins are one a the few things I can grow. My husband has the real green thumb. We plant zuchinni in a few hills on the edge of our pumpkins to help with bores and bugs.

  • 15.
    kelsey said…

    You have a beautiful yard! I love that you labeled Lilly!

  • 16.
    kelsey said…

    OOPS! I meant Lily. My daughter is named Lilly and she spells it with two L’s.

  • 17.
    Michelle L said…

    This is impressive! I love what you’ve done with the yard. I have a huge side and backyard and have never really done anything with it. It’s clean but very blah. Must start doing something with it soon. =)

  • 18.
    Tina J. said…

    Looks like so much fun! I hope you enjoy it!

  • 19.
    J3SS1C4 said…

    You have such an amazing looking yard! I’m super envious over here in my 3rd floor apartment! I can’t wait until me and my partner find a place to buy and I get to make my own gardens!! I love how you wrote on the photos and did all of the arrows. Are the arrows something you just made for these photos, or can you buy them somewhere digitally?

  • 20.
    Kitty Whitlow said…

    Very inspiring. I have never been into yard work. I am struggeling along with an unwanted divorce and have surprisingly found myself out in the yard and flower beds twice in the past month. I want to do more and you inspire me to do just that.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I find it therapeutic.

  • 21.
    amy said…

    lovely yard – i like how you labeled the lily in the last picture. cute.

  • 22.
    amy said…

    lol sorry i mean “lily the dog” :)

  • 23.
    Patti L said…

    Wow, really nice! Looks so peaceful.

  • 24.
    Alexandra said…

    everything looks beautiful.
    I can see why you want to make sure you spend an hour a day outside – you’ve got a great spot – a little sanctuary. And a fabulous yard for the kids!!

    I love perennials too – if you have any shady areas you might want to try hostas and/or ferns. We have a pathway of flagstone through our grass and beds of hostas and ferns on either side. it’s lovely, lush and low maintenance.

    thanks for this post… you inspired me to go out and snap a few pics of our yard : )

  • 25.
    wendy said…

    You have such a great yard! So many of your plants are already established. We just bought our first home last September so we’ve been doing a ton of outdoor work too. The back yard for us was basically a blank slate – as in all the only things out there were two trees, arbortivaes, and two blueberry bushes. All the plants we put in are babies and I know how it feels to want them all bigger!

  • 26.
    amberca said…

    Love looking at all these yard photos! Me too about loving being in the yard right now. I bought my new home about the same time you did (2 years ago this month) and I love digging around in the yard. I just planted a nectarine tree and an apricot tree. Also put in some raised beds with tomatoes and zucchini and peppers. Happy gardening!

  • 27.
    Neelu said…

    I live in a 2BR apartment in a crowded town… My dream is to move into a villa with a backyard and a pool.. I hope and pray it happens soon :)

  • 28.
    Janie said…

    I wish I had a green thumb. Maybe just taking a chance would help. Seeing your yard makes me want to get some books and learn! Thanks for sharing and inspiring me to maybe “just try it”

  • 29.
    kate said…

    i love to look back at the photos from the previous years also and notice all the change… not just of the plants but the change in my heart as i spent time nurturing them…

  • 30.
    Amy said…

    Lovely. the only thing I have to mention is that pea gravel is REALLY hard to walk in. I would choose another type of gravel. We put a bunch in underneath a second story deck and had to take it all out.

  • 31.
    Marge Froese said…

    Love seeing your yard, Ali! Wish I could help you with some stuff -we run a landscaping business, but you’re in the USA, and we’re in Northern Canada! And, yes, we have very beautifully landscaped yards here in the far north! We just need to pick hardier plants. Keep up your gardening spirit – your yard will look even more beautiful, and you will certainly enjoy it!

  • 32.
    Trina said…

    Your yard is so lovely Ali, it looks like a little piece of heaven out there. I can’t imagine ever wanting to go inside! We have a huge blank slate in our yard (we pulled out everything from previous owners and are starting all over with things we like), but I have never really done any gardening or planting. Where do you find most of your gardening information? What is your best resource for planting information? Thanks for the inspiration!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      My parents :) . I also love Sunset magazine and website and talking to people at the plant stores/nurseries. The internet is awesome for looking up specific questions. County extension agents in your state are also a great resource -

  • 33.
    Colleen said…

    Such a great space. Thought of something you might enjoy. We went to a restaurant in Washington recently that has their own raised beds out back. Instead of gravel around their raised beds they had a combination of bark mulch and hazelnut shells. It was really amazing and a cool tactile experience underfoot. They get them delivered from Oregon (which outside of Turkey is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the world). Thought you may enjoy that for your garden. Have a great day!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Now that’s a super cool and different idea – definitely lots of hazelnut orchards around here.

  • 34.
    Judy Webb said…

    LOL….watch the basil, if you do not use a lot or keep it severly trimmed, it will take over your raised bed. Everything is so pretty. You get rain. I live in TX. Happy Summer. A fan.

  • 35.
    Kelli W said…

    your yard is beautiful! We are slowly working on ours, but living in central TX means having to find plants that can take the abuse of crazy high temps and very little rain :) I’m going to live vicariously thru you and your gardening!

  • 36.
    Carrie Alexander said…

    Totally silly non-gardening question…what font did you use on the photos? I love that it’s thick enough to be clear on the photos, but simple enough to work for many situations!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      It’s one of my favorites – Avenir.

  • 37.
    Paula said…

    Beautiful and inspiring me to “do a little something” too! Here in Florida, our yard is mostly comprised of swimming pool! But we have some pretty assorted palms, a bird of paradise and a couple of banana trees back there that make me feel like it’s my tropical hideaway (ok the little tiki bar helps too!) Out front I really enjoy several wonderful rose bushes, some sable palm plants, 2 crepe myrtles trees coming into bloom (these are my favorites), a wonderful magnolia tree and a fragrant gardenia bush.
    Thanks Ali for making me stop and savor for a moment today these beautiful parts of nature that add so much to life!

  • 38.
    jen in pa said…

    i love how everything is document so you’ll be able to see the changes year after year. great idea! what font did you use for the text on the photos?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      It’s called Avenir. One of my favorites.

  • 39.
    Michele H said…

    this is such an awesome living space for you and the kids ali! i love the idea of bringing the inside living to the outside. i see lots of picnics/dinners out here and your idea of movie nights on the lawn is perfection.

    oh yeah…and a fort is going to be so awesome for all the dramatic play adventures the kids will have:)

  • 40.
    Kimberly said…

    So awesome. These are the images that when you grow older you want to look back on. Where you grew up, and the little spaces you remember you played. A fort is going to be so special for your children. Great inspiration for me to add a kid space in my back yard!

  • 41.
    Nancy said…

    Lovely yard. I share your love of peonies. We have a vase in our office full of peonies and I stop to smell them several times a day!

  • 42.
    Martha Thomas said…

    Oh Ali, Your backyard is amazing!! I live in central Texas and last summer we have about 30+ days of over 100 degree weather and NO rain and you posted pics of your yard, or of your kiddos outside in one of your posts and I’ll never forget that I actually audibly GASPED at your pictures and the green lushness. My heart was SO dry and just plain sweaty that those pictures were like cold water to the desert of my heart. You have a gift of sharing your life and this post is just as life giving as the rest. Please be blessed as your hope grows (I can kinda hear your hope growing in your writing) and life continues to be full and grow for you. You really don’t know the impact you have on my little heart. Thank you for that. Thank you Ali.

  • 43.
    Christine said…

    Love your outside space!! Living in Arizona makes it impossible to grow some of those beautiful plants you have planted! I can’t wait to see the Hydragenda bush in full bloom!

    Beautiful space thanks for sharing!

  • 44.
    susan garner said…

    You say when the rain stops… you will do more. I say here in the desert when the sun goes down…. I will do more. LOL

  • 45.
    Mary-Lou said…

    Gardening is such great joy. I have 6 scrapbook albums devoted to my garden over the last 23 years years – it is fun to look back and see the changes. I visit these albums many times in winter. Mint – watch it can get a big bossy in the garden and take over. I have planted it and lemon balm but leaving them in a 2 gallon pot set in the ground.

  • 46.
    Candy said…

    Thanks for sharing these photos. Your yard is amazing. I envy your peonies. I’ve tried planting them, but no success. You’re doing a terrific job, Ali!

  • 47.
    Sue W said…

    fabulous to see the changes in your garden since last year and will be lovely to see it again next year! Our garden is only 3 years old and I am taking lots of photos of the progress with plans to scrap many pics. I will have to find out if peonies will grow here. I will be retiring at the end of the year and am planning to have an hour in the garden each morning…..before I get on this computer….lol!

  • 48.
    Susanne said…

    What a beautiful garden!
    Love the writing on your photos, will try that, too.

  • 49.
    Jamie said…

    Beautiful yard!! I am enjoying a flower garden for the first time… my 6yr. old daughter was blessed with the green thumb I never got, so it is amazing to watch her decide what she wants where and her color choices are just amazing!!

  • 50.
    kat-in-texas said…

    Ali, you have a great party patio and yard!! I can just see lots of friends hanging out admiring the view!

    Are peonies hard to keep (and would they grow well in Texas)? I love them soooo!!

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