Backyard

 

 

 

Welcome to our Back Yar
We are the Do-It-Ourselves couple that like nothing better than getting our hands dirty in the backyard and creating something beautiful.  We have many projects that we have featured here, and some that we will be working on in the years to come and are happy to share with you.  So just sit back and scroll down the page.  Hope you enjoy them.  Maybe we might inspire you to do something similar.

Gordon Whann


I’m always happy to be able to actually catch a photograph of a butterfly while it is resting.  Here is a beauty!

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Having fun with the camera.  Our daughter Veronica was capturing shadow photography for her class and that is when we decided to give it a try. 
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Gordon and Julie in Shadow
Just messing around in the backyard.
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May 2015

We updated our herb garden for the year.  We even added some new varieties.  Just click on the ‘Outdoor Garden’ link above.

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It’s so rewarding growing our own herbs and incorporating them into our daily meals.

These are ready for tonight’s meal.

Delicious and Healthy Too!

Julie Gathering Herbs

Our Finished Herb Garden for 2015

Why not take a look?

CLICK HERE

 

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Our Many Herb Varieties
Function as Well as Beauty

Smelling these delicious herbs from my garden.

Herbs are not just for food you know.  They also are delicious in our favorite mint mojitos.
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Mint Mojitos

Me, gathering mint from my herb garden for our mojitos.

Ready for my Blackberry/Raspberry and Mint Mojito

The mint is an herb and a cancer killer.  The berries are loaded with anti-oxidents and very good for you.

CLICK HERE FOR HERB COCKTAILS

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Spring, May 2015
Gordon and I started putting our herb garden together.  Actually this is mainly my project that I work on every year but because we have
been so far behind with our usual garden projects, we are working together on this one.

I did all the prep work in advance so that all we had to do was to plant everything.  I even added some new herbs to our garden this year.  Shopping for everything is the fun part.  🙂


Planting All Our Goodies

I always like a mix of herbs and flowers.

Planting Purple Basil

Whew!  Is it ever HOT!!!
 
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Our “Before” Garden
Not bad!  We managed to keep up with it during the winter and we did cover it up during our cold days to protect it and keep the herbs and flowers alive.  All that we really needed to do right now was to clean it out and replenish some things that we had lost.  We also wanted to add some new herbs to our garden collection.
Every year I always buy new garden equipment.
So many beautiful things that I cannot wait to add to our garden.
 
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The best part of our garden are the lovely neighbors that stop by…..
I See a Butterfly!
Beautiful Butterfly’s
This butterfly is on our key lime tree.
We have the best neighbors.
About 4 Ibis stopped by for a visit.
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Gordon Prepping a Pot for Planting
Here Gordon is preparing this pot for some of our new herbs.
You always need good drainage without having all your soil seep out through the hole in the bottom.  Here Gordon added some broken stone from past projects of ours to the bottom of the pot, then he added some good rich soil.
Viola!  Lemon Thyme is Planted.
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The Finished 2015 Herb Garden Complete
 
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I love to add flowers to my herb garden.
I also think that things grow better in pots in our garden as opposed to planting everything in the ground.  I think they look better and neater as well.
Just Beautiful!
 
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Chives and Italian Parsley

Lemon Thyme

Italian Oregano and well as regular Oregano

Basil Leaves

Purple Basil

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It All Starts Here

The base of a healthy meal.

 

Gathering the Herbs

Washing the Herbs, then Eating them!

 
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July 2014
Backyard Retaining Wall and Path
For the last 6 months Gordon has been working on a grand centerpiece in our backyard.  It first started out as a retaining wall but kept evolving into some bigger and nicer.  We are on the homestretch of the path so I wanted to post some photos.  The write up and the Youtube videos will come later on.  We are busy and we do these things as we have time.  But for now, here are the photos.
The photo at left is what we see as we walk out of our backdoor.  The colors of the wall are beautiful and really stand out. 
Such a nice addition to our backyard.
Foxtail ferns and summer hostas.  Surrounded by wood chips.
A good way to help add to the worth of your home, which is your most important investment.

Progress on the Path

This write up will come after the retaining wall write up but I just wanted to show you the progress.  It is almost finished.  We did add some lights.

We added some lights inside the retaining wall.

We added some lights to the underside of the capstones on the retaining wall.

Let there be LIGHT!!!

Look at how much that alone illuminates the path?

Hope everyone has a happy 4th. of July weekend!

Julie and Gordon

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June 3, 2014
Our Backyard Ginger Plant

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The photo above left is of our ginger plant that we acquired last September from a woman that grows ginger and donated them to our last fundraising dinner for Habitat for Humanity.  She gave Gordon one and he planted it into our garden in it’s own pot.  That is important, that it have it’s own pot.  Now just going on 9 months later it is sprouting new shoots and it produces the prettiest flower.  Almost looks like an orchid.  Can’t wait to see the ginger when it starts to appear.

We cook with ginger quite a bit.  Very healthy for you.  Tough antioxidant that can even prevent the flu and  the common cold.  So eat up!

 
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June 1, 2014

Building the Path Around Our Backyard Retaining Wall

Progress

Gordon Adjusting the Stones

We will be finished up with this project in June and we will be bringing the ‘How-To’ write-up and the Youtube video soon.

The colors of the different stones are beautiful.  This is going to be such a nice addition to our backyard.

We are thinking that next weekend we will finish.  I know, I know, I know.  I’m sure you’ve heard that before.  However, all that is left is to put the pea gravel between all the stones and then cover with this clear cement sealant and then add the lights.

Cake!

Julie

 
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May 2014
May/June Backyard Projects

We started the path around our backyard retaining wall.  I even bought some lovely ferns to plant into it.  I’m awaiting the hostas that arrive here in Florida in early June then I can start to plant everything.  I just wanted everything to be green.

We have been doing some re-landscaping in our backyard.  Tearing up an old path and making a new one.

Next Retaining Wall Project

Once the path around the retaining wall is finished we will be building up this landscape border as well.  It should look grand as we walk out our back door into the garden.  We expect to get these two projects completed by early June.  I hope so.  🙂

My herb garden is thriving!  I’m so proud of it.

Owl and falcon scares the squirrels away.

Believe me when I say that we have tried everything to get rid of these squirrels.  They chew on the plants and flowers.  All the money that we invest into our yard and garden, eaten up by those squirrels.  They do leave the herbs alone.  They don’t like the smell of them.  One way that we have learned that keeps the squirrels at bay are setting out plastic owls and falcons.  But you do have to keep moving them around your yard so that the squirrels don’t get wise to the fact that they are fake.

Notice the stepping stones in the photos above?

We were looking for just a few slate stepping stones for this area of our garden but they didn’t have any at either Home Depot of Lowe’s.  But we did notice these beautiful slate square tiles in the garden section of Lowe’s.  One of the tiles was broken in half so we asked how much they would cost?  If complete it would be over $5.00.  Since it was broken they gave both pieces to us for free.  Ironically, I was going to break the tile myself once we got home because I needed two pieces.  I got what I wanted for free.  🙂  So be sure to ask when you are shopping because you can get things like this at no cost.

Also Lowe’s and Home Depot offer a 10% discount for active and retired military and spouses.  Just ask for the discount at the register when you are paying.

 
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April 22, 2014

Earth Day

Our Backyard Elkhorn

(I added the little fairy doors.)

Today is Earth Day and I thought that I would commemorate the day by posting some recent and past photos from our backyard.  To us everyday is Earth Day around here.  We don’t need a special day to think of our planet.  To me I’m not just a Floridian, or an American, I am a citizen of Earth.  I love my planet and I want to help take care of it.  How I do take care of it is to care about our own little eco-system, our front and backyard.  Here we have so many creatures that live here with us.  Without realizing it we all work together to achieve a goal.  We’re all connected.  What happens to one, effects the other.  Here is how our own little environment works.

I Think Our Elkhorn Looks Magical

(Producing oxygen you know.)

Can You Find the Spider?

Can you at least see the spider web?  This spider has been building it’s web in this very area for years.  Usually with me walking through it every morning when I take the dogs out, my arms flaying in panic because I just walked through a spider web.  But for the first time this year the spider is building it’s web higher.  Now Gordon and I can walk underneath the web without disturbing our backyard neighbor.  Did the spider learn to build it’s web up higher to avoid it being destroyed every morning?  Or is this a different spider who has taken up residence here.  This spider helps to keep our backyard bug problem down.  Bear in mind that we do live in Florida and Florida was formally a swamp.

The little lizards in the photos above we have in our yard by the hundreds.

Backyard_lizard_small

They also keep the bug population down so that we don’t have to worry about getting bitten with disease carrying mosquitoes when we go outside or roaches and other bugs that can infest our home and our property.  We don’t use pesticides thanks to our backyard friends.

See this harmless black snake?  One morning I took the dogs out and we were standing quite close to it without realizing it.  When I did spot it I grabbed the dogs and went into the house.  But you know, it is a non-poisonous snake.  It wasn’t bothering us.  The snake was just existing.  Snakes do play a role in our functioning backyard.  They keep the rodent population down.  I have come to appreciate them and I think they get their bad reputation because of The Bible.  We are all taught to see them as some evil dangerous thing yet they help all of us without our even realizing it.  So I have learned to live with the snakes.

 

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I also thank Steve Irvin for enlightening me about reptiles.  You remember him, The Crocodile Hunter?  He died several years ago and left behind a nice legacy of goodwill towards our less popular species on our planet.  We were one of the first families in our neighborhood in Ewa Beach, Hawaii to watch his show.  Brodie even went as Steve Irwin for Halloween before anyone knew who he was.  We had to keep explaining to people who he was dressed up as.

Steve Irwin

1962 – 2006

I appreciate that you taught me something.  For that I am very grateful.  You made me a better person where our reptile community is concerned.  I am a better friend to snakes than I was before.  Our planet is worse off now that you are gone.

Osprey, or their common name of Sea Hawks

Although they may be kind of hard to see in the photo above, there are two osprey sitting in our trees.   Gordon and I were working in the backyard about a week ago when there was about 3 of them that were stirring up quite a commotion.  The squirrels (whom I tolerate) were sounding their alarms warning the other squirrels that danger was nearby.  Then with one fell swoop one of the sea hawks grabbed a squirrel into it’s great talons and flew off.  If it weren’t for these sea hawks our yard would be overrun with squirrels.  Without realizing it these osprey are helping us.

Tadpoles

Usually every year for a few months at a time I sacrifice my beautiful fountain outside my nook window because the frogs will lay their eggs in the water and I cannot bring myself to get rid of them.  So we nurture them until they are fully grown and leave the fountain.  We give them lettuce so that they will not cannibalize each other.  They gobble it up too!  It’s interesting to see them grow larger and then suddenly legs appear and they start breathing the air and then hop off to become frogs.  Frogs are extremely important to our eco-system.  A low frog population is a bad sign of what is to come.  So I do my part to help bring them into the world.  They help me so I help them.  That’s what neighbors are for.

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So what do you do to help the environment?

Happy Earth Day

Julie

 

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2014
Julie’s Herb Garden

April is National Garden Month
I just finished my herb garden.

 A few years ago Gordon and I started an herb garden in our backyard beside our house.  The sunniest spot to be exact.  At that time we had so many oak trees in our yard, and our neighborhood surrounding yard, that this small patch was our only sunny spot.  (That has since changed with our neighbors removing 3 trees that bordered our property).  The garden area was much smaller when we bought the house.  Gordon did expand it by several meters.  We started out with just a few pots and a few herbs and it just grew from there.  We wanted to incorporate more fresh herbs into our diet as opposed to the dry varieties.  Fresh herbs are healthier and can prevent certain cancers.

Fresh basil to die for!

At first it was trail and error in finding which herbs thrived in this section of the yard.  How the herbs that we grew in pots did so much better than the herbs we planted directly into the ground.  All of our rain plus our sprinkler system were just too much water for the herbs planted into the ground and would drown them.  So now everything is in some sort of pot or planter.

Before

The first step in getting started with your own herb garden is to locate a sunny spot in your yard that won’t be disturbed.  Then create your blank palette.  Above I have cleared out this area of weeds and leaves, placing pots and planters in various spots.  I then decide what herbs I want and how many I want of them.

Julie shopping for herbs.

Our ‘happy cart’ above with everything except our herbs for our garden.  (They come in the next load).  Gordon, at right above, picking out what herbs that he wants for our garden.

Ready to Start the Herb Garden

Working in the Garden

In addition to the fresh herbs you wish to plant you will need some good potting soil as well.  For this big project I used about 3 cu. feet of potting soil.

Julie with the Lavender
I also placed some herbs in hanging planters to add some gradual height to the garden.  I have a lovely shell vine on the trellis to add some nice color to the garden.  The trellis’s on the left are for the lovely bougainvillea. 
In addition to just having herbs I like to also add some fruit and some flora and fauna.  You can see my topiary tree in the photo at top in the background.  Very pretty.  Also in the photo below some mint, pretty statuary that I made into a birdbath, and a pink lemon tree. 
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I incorporated my wine barrel into my garden as well.
I like adding sturdy structure as well as something pretty and edible.  The tree is our key lime tree that is ever producing. 
I planted lovely lavender to the garden as well.  So fragrant!
This photo shows the transition from the herb/flower garden to the rock garden.  There is a black plastic divider that separates the two gardens but I don’t like how it looks.  So I added a row of spider plants to ‘hide’ the plastic.  Like so.
I also added some nice solar lights to this area now that it has been opened up to the sun.
Little Touches in the Garden
A little birdbath, a frog, a sunflower stepping stone, and an upturned urn with cascading succulents. 
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