In 2013, October was my chance to have the Divas of the Dirt come over and do their magic. No one date was good for everyone... and every Saturday was bad for someone!
We went for the "least-worst" date and I started getting the menu together.
The decomposed granite needed for the October project was delivered to the driveway on Friday morning and some light rain followed.
Would we be rained out? Saturday brought off-on sun and humidity, but no showers. Game on!
Someday I'll figure out how to be hostess while taking photos. By the time I remembered the camera, only the gourd centerpiece remained along with Buffy's plate - she had a schedule conflict, but we hoped we might see her later on.
Unphotographed but pretty darned good were coffee, Paradise juice, Peach Mango juice, a fruit salad of black grapes, pineapple & watermelon, a bowl of sectioned grapefruit, and a Potatoes, Eggs & Swiss Cheese Casserole with Shallots and Sundried Tomatoes. The Pear Bread made from a Smitten Kitchen recipe was a hit - even better with a little blueberry or raspberry preserves.
Mattie's sweet dog Barbie found her favorite place on the back of the sofa (actually, this is the favorite place of every small dog that visits here) and waited patiently until we'd caught up on conversation and were ready to go outside.
A little backstory: our boxwood hedge was quite mature when we bought this house. We clipped it lightly, letting it grow dense, at a level just above the iron porch rail.
The unsheared hedge worked well for years, but the lush life was over once the gutters failed and needed to be redone. In order to get the old gutters down, paint the wood underneath and then install our new Rainhandlers, the poor boxwoods had to be chopped. And once the boxwoods were cut back enough for ladders to fit, the mess under them was revealed and for the first time we could reach the ground underneath.
A previous owner had put down black landscaping fabric, swirling it around the base of the boxwoods. It had ripped and buckled with time, making the area impossible to rake.
What I asked from the Divas was to pull out all the black plastic, rake out all the accumulated leaves, twigs and junk, and then we could add the decomposed granite under the boxwoods.
Diva-Annie charged right in.
The plastic came up pretty easily, revealing an assortment of long-lost, battered children's playthings, sort of like an archaeological dig. Did the dad put the plastic over the toys or did the kids hide the stuff under the edges?
Once the ground was clear under the hedge, we could use the wheelbarrow to transport the granite from the driveway pile to the nearby boxwood hedge.
Mattie decided the best way to get the granite exactly where she wanted it was to fill a bucket, then stand on the veranda to pour the decomposed granite behind the hedge.
Once in place, the granite needed to be smoothed and tamped down. Sugar stepped in.
A second, smaller project was to redo the area with tiles in granite under a big brown pot. Karla and Sophia went after this one - it looks great reset with new granite.
Sophia approves their work!
and Karla shows how she was able to move that pot.
As long as we're up in front, let's see how the woodland garden is doing... the Asters divided by the Divas of the Dirt in 2012 have settled in and are in bloom.
The salvias planted by the Divas in 2012 are also becoming established.
Things now looked not only cleaner, but more grounded, connected, purposeful - whole front yard just looked Better! Let's go inside.
We nibbled on baby carrots, cherry tomatoes & red-pepper hummus while everyone visited and played with Barbie, and the hibiscus-mint tea steeped.
Then to the dining room for Meatballs in red sauce, Spinach with 4 cheeses lasagna, green salad with avocado dressing and Onion/Asiago bread from the Cedar Park Farmers Market.
To celebrate the October birthdays, we enjoyed Henrici Tunnel of Fudge cake with chocolate fudge frosting decorated with pecans.
Another year of our Divas of the Dirt garden projects was done, and I was tired. Does anyone else know this old bricklayers' trick? Tip a wheelbarrow down and you can use it as a temporary chair.
Just a few days after the Divas of the Dirt put down the decomposed granite, the entire system got a test... 5" of rain in one storm!
The Rainhandlers worked great and the granite stayed in place, looking good from inside the veranda...
And also looking good from the front walk.
But the boxwoods? They had finally begun to recover by early spring 2014, full of new growth and covered in flower buds. Then something the local meteorological community called "Thundersleet" hit, followed by a sudden plunge down to 14F.
Most of the new growth froze off. A year later, the boxwoods are alive, but may never fill in again. With sunlight now reaching under the hedge, I've added bulbs of rainlilies and am now trying to get bluebonnets to sprout there, too. I'll let you know if it works!