Discovering Maplebrook Cottage

Maplebrook

Today, dear reader, I would like to invited you visit my cottage Maplebrook.  It is actually not a cottage but more like a bungalow. I just call it a cottage because Maplebrook Cottage sounds so much more romantic than Maplebrook Bungalow.  I remember house hunting very well. And I doubt that my husband will ever forget it either. We looked at dozens of houses on the internet.

“This one looks nice. We should go look at it. Its got two bedrooms. Do you like it?” My beloved would ask holding his phone over so I could see the picture.

“No, I don’t like it. There is no beadboard, clapboard, or gingerbread trim. It doesn’t have anything on my list!”

The newly remodeled houses are nice, just not for me. Modern kitchens, neat little hedges around the outside, and freshly painted walls. No, no, no. For two years we lived in my parents basement while I drove my beloved crazy trying to find a house I imagined existed somewhere. And my list was unyielding. I wouldn’t budge from a single item.

My idea of the perfect house:

  • Antique Beadboard
  • Clapboard
  • Gingerbread Trim
  • Crown Molding
  • Antique Hardwood Floors
  • French Doors
  • Fireplaces
  • Original Windows (with wavy glass and sash cords)
  • Large Front Porch
  • Window Seat
  • Glass Doorknobs

My ideas of the NOT so perfect house:

  • Ranch houses because they look like a square cracker box.
  • Open concept. I expect walls in my house, I don’t want to live in a big open warehouse.
  • If there was no porch, I wouldn’t even look at the listing.
  • An attached garage in front of the house. When I pull in my drive, I expect to see the front of my home and not car storage.
  • No housing developments because I expect each house on my street to have its own unique design. No cookie cutter houses.

My grandmother says my love of houses began early. As a child she used to drive me around town. When I was learning to talk, I told her I wanted to see the houses with the shapes. She claims I didn’t like the cookie cutter shaped houses in developments, and that I pointed out different shapes in historic districts.

Finding Maplebrook

I will never forget my first look at Maplebrook, on the real estate website. The listing photo was a brick house with battleship gray siding. The huge front porch went all the way across but it was completely covered in a dark shadow. Such an uninviting photo, the dark brick battleship. Had my husband not driven me by the house, I would never have given it a second thought.

The inside wasn’t much better either. Our real estate agent described it as living on the set of Three’s Company. There was different colored shag carpeting in every room. One fireplace was bricked over. The other fireplace was painted the same color as the wall with a bed pushed in front, as if to hide it. There was gorgeous craftsman style molding in every room, all painted the same color as the walls. The bathroom decor was very 70s. What I assume to be Celotex ceiling tile squares covered each ceiling. The top kitchen cabinets were painted yellow, and the bottom cabinets were brown. My husband promised me that everything on my list was here, just waiting to be discovered underneath the decor. My insides began to churn and I felt sick. As I looked around this house, I wondered what if there wasn’t a historic left underneath the past fifty years of updates?

Maplebrook was built in 1930, and located on a street of historical houses. I thought it was the ugliest house I’d ever seen. My husband told me since there was only a little siding and we could change colors easily. He also promised there was beadboard, just waiting to be uncovered. A little paint and some plaster and we would have my dream home in 6 months to a year at the most.

The Restoration

I can’t believe it has been two years since we bought our house on that rainy January morning and the restoration still isn’t complete. My husband and I have done all the work ourselves without any help from a contractor. In upcoming blog posts, I’m going to share some before and after photos of our projects. If you love old houses, you’ll enjoy getting to know Maplebrook.

Vintage Housewife’s Retro Cherry Blog Background

Today, I’ve created a lovely retro cherry blog background. It reminds me of vintage fabric from a 1950s kitchen. I can just envision a housewife in heels and pearls standing beside her cherry patterned curtains. Maybe she even has a matching cherry tablecloth or a pleated cherry skirt going around her porcelain sink.

This background has been designed to tile or repeat seamlessly. Just upload the small image to your blog or website and set it to tile. It will repeat seamlessly so that there isn’t any of your site’s digital slip showing (the white space when your background isn’t large enough). This will add an instant vintage ambiance to your blog.

This image is free for use on any blog or website. All I ask is that you use it for a background. Please don’t give it away on your blog or sell my image.  I would also appreciate a link back to Call Me Cordelia. Thank you and enjoy! 🙂

To Download: Right click the image and then click save image as.

Free retro cherry blog background from Call Me Cordelia.

Put the Right Plant in the Right Place: 6 Tips Experts Swear By

Put The Right Plant In The Right Place: 6 Tips Experts Swear By

Putting the right plant in the right place is the simplest thing you can do for your garden that will have the biggest impact. So many of our garden troubles and problems could be avoided if we simply put the right plant in the right place. Just because a plant looks pretty doesn’t mean it is a good fit for your garden.

Last week, I visited a big box garden retailer and found that they were selling tropical fruit trees that are not hardy in my zone. What happens when a unknowing customer buys a 15 foot papaya tree only to find out it won’t survive the winter? When I think about how much they paid for such a tree, it makes me wonder if they’ve lost their good sense. I mean what the crap are they going to do with a 15 or 25 foot non-hardy expensive tree once its time for a frost? Dig it up and bring it in the house? Well, hello! It won’t even stand up in a typical room with a 8 foot high ceiling. I guess you could chop off the top and hang Christmas lights on it. Or just leave it in the yard so you can dig up the dead tree next spring.

In all fairness to the garden center, they did label the plant tag with the plant’s eventual height and the hardiness zones. At least the papayas and guvas came with a warning note. All I have to say is this is why you need to put the right plant in the right place. It will help you avoid all sorts of trouble. Like half of a papaya tree in your living room wearing Christmas lights.

Why You Need the Right Plant

How many people stroll down the aisles of their local garden center and select any plant that strikes their fancy based mostly on what it looks like. Sure, it may have breath taking red flowers but do you know what it needs? Does that plant like sun or shade? How much water does it need? How fast will it spread? I’ve planted beautiful plants like Chocolate Mint, only to have it take over my garden like an invasive army.

Plants have basic needs such as soil, water, light, and temperature. If you plant the wrong plant in the wrong place, it can’t grow to its full potential. It won’t be able to flower. Plants that don’t have their requirements met will have to fight just to survive. You will water it and wonder why its struggling to hang on. It can’t live a healthy life unless its basic needs are met. Unhealthy plants are much more susceptible to pests and diseases then healthy plants because of their weakened state.

Each yard has its own micro-climate. Sometimes sections of the same landscape can have different requirements. For example, my backyard will grow only shade loving plants and my front yard gets full sun. Some landscapes have areas that are wetter or drier than other spots. Those areas need the right plant so it can thrive and create a healthy garden.

How to Put the Right Plant in the Right Place

1. Hardiness Zones

The USDA plant hardiness zones can tell you exactly which plants will live in your area. Most garden centers label each plant with its hardiness zone. This allows you to select plants that you know will survive the winter in your landscape. If you don’t know your zone, the USDA website allows you to type in your zip code or select your state to find out exactly which zone your garden is in. Here is a link to their online map.

2.Light

How much light exposure does your garden receive? Different areas get different amounts of sunlight. Lighting is one of the most important things to know to help put the right plant in the right place.

Full Sun is 6 or more hours of direct sun a day.

Partial Sun or Partial Shade is 4 to 6 hours of direct sun a day.

Full Shade is less than 4 hours of direct sun a day.” (Source: Proven Winners)

There are different types of lighting requirements for plants. Full sun plants need 6 to 8 hours of light each day. Partial sun plants need 4 to 6 hours of light. If a plant tag says part sun or part shade, the two terms are interchangeable because they both require the same amount of sunlight. Partial shade plants prefer morning light because it isn’t as strong. There are several different types of shade.

  • Dappled, Partial Shade: 4 to 6 hours of sunlight
  • Light, Filtered Shade: 2 to 3 hours of sunlight
  • Full Shade: 1 hour of sunlight
  • Deep Shade: no direct sunlight all day

 
If a full sun plant is planted in the shade it won’t flower or grow as well. If a shade plant is planted in the sun it will burn. Determine the amount of light in your garden and choose a plant which needs that type of light. The Garden Continuum has a great article on how to determine your garden’s sunlight exposure.

3. Water

Plants have different water needs. Grouping plants together which need the same amount of water will make your gardening easier. If you have an area that stays wet, choose your plants carefully. Some plants will enjoy staying damp. Most plants can’t handle that much water. The average plant will die because its roots need oxygen and they won’t get enough if your soil stays saturated for an extended period of time. However, there are plants that enjoy having wet feet.

Plants for wet boggy gardens:

  • Blue Flag Iris
  • Water Iris
  • Cattail
  • Horsetail
  • Marsh Marigold

 
For areas that stay dry for an extended length of time, try a plant that enjoys being dry. This way you won’t have to water so much and the plant won’t dry up and die. For a dry shady area, Solomon’s Seal never fails to thrive.

Plants for dry sunny gardens:

  • Yarrow
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Lamb’s Ear

 
A great option if you have an area which doesn’t have much rain is to try xeriscaping. This is designing a garden that will thrive on your normal amount of rainfall without needing too much extra irrigation. Since describing xeriscaping goes beyond the scope of this blog post, here is a link with more information: Xeriscape: An Introduction.

4. Size and Spacing

Put the right plant in the right place. Make sure the height and width of the plant suit your garden space. You don’t want your young plant to outgrow your garden when it gets mature. My grandmother planted some daylilies around her azalea cuttings once. Over the years, the azaleas grew and covered up the daylilies. She had to move the smaller plants to a different location.

Tall plants should always be planted in the back of a border with short plants in front. This way the taller plants don’t shade the shorter ones. If you have a round bed in the middle of a lawn put the tall plants in the center and the short ones around the edges.

Another important detail about size is how wide the plant grows. This will tell you how far apart to space your plants when planting. A common mistake beginning gardeners make is planting things too close together. As the plants grow, there isn’t any room for air circulation, which leaves plants vulnerable to fungus and disease.

5. Growth Rate

Different plants grow at different rates. How fast will the plant grow and spread? Is it invasive? My parents have mint growing in their front flower bed and it has choked out all of the other plants. The daylilies couldn’t compete with the rapid and rampant growth of the mint. Certain plants like wisteria can quickly become invasive if not pruned regularly. I’ve seen it almost swallow a small backyard garden before.

This is not to say you shouldn’t grow these plants. Just be careful when planting them so that they don’t get out of hand. I still grow mint in flower pots so it can’t get loose in my garden. Make sure you can meet the needs of the plants and that they won’t overtake a small space.

6. Trouble Spots

Some gardens have trouble areas that are either too wet, too dry, too shady, or other non-ideal growing conditions. Don’t keep putting plants there and watching them struggle. Do a little bit of research first and find a plant that will thrive with your unique growing conditions.

There are plants that thrive in windy locations, salt spray from the ocean, dry shade, drought, wet boggy areas, heavy clay, hot sun, slopes, and rocky areas. Consider creating a rain garden in a soggy, wet area and planting bog plants. If you have a rocky area, create a rock garden with small plants that enjoy rocky slopes. For dense, dry shade try planting Solomon’s Seal.

Whatever your problem area is, there is always a problem solving plant to suit that spot. Don’t try to change your garden’s climate. Instead, save yourself a lot of trouble and put the right plant in the right place.

Questions to consider before selecting your next plant:

  • Does it like sun or shade?
  • Is it hardy in your zone?
  • Is it invasive?
  • How tall does it grow?
  • How much water does it need?
  • Does it meet the requirements of your space?

 

Now What?

Take action and be informed before you purchase your next plant. If you learn nothing else from my blog please always remember to put the right plant in the right place. It will make gardening so much easier and avoid a lot of trouble in your landscape. If I could hammer anything into my reader’s heads it would be to put the right plant in the right place.

So go out there and garden and remember what?

“Put the right plant in the right place!”

Put the Right Plant in the Right Place: 6 Tips Experts Swear By

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