Starter Perennial Garden

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Growing up, I was surrounded by gardens. Vegetable gardens at both my home and at my grandmother’s, and a big yard with perennial gardens everywhere. There weren’t any kids in my neighborhood, so when I was in elementary school, I spent my afternoons in my next door neighbors’ front yard, picking weeds and planting flowers and snacking on American cheese.

This past year has been my first opportunity as an adult to actually plant my own garden. Having a garden – a real one, not a New York City balcony herb garden and some succulents in my window – has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Now, after countless Martha Stewart magazines, a few coffee table books, and endless pins, I have a yard with ample space for florals and veggies. Hence including the goal to start and maintain a perennial garden on this year’s summer checklist!

Last year, I planted a few hostas, some daffodils, and a hydrangea – and then basically walked away, because school took over my entire life. This year, I took on the gardening task early.

I started a greenhouse and grew some annuals and perennials from seed – nasturiums, morning glory, geraniums, marigolds (with some very old seeds), and a few other flowers I picked up at the store.

Then I got to work.

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See those grasses in the back of this dirt patch? This WHOLE DIRT PATCH was full of those grasses, and Mike and I got to work digging up those messy grasses and creating a clean slate for an entryway garden.

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Summer Checklist 2018

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Super great news – my first year at my doctorate program is over! While we only had about one month off last summer, we were blessed with 10 days off between the spring semester and the summer session, and we’ll get TWO WHOLE MONTHS off this coming summer.

With wedding planning in full swing and a bunch of projects on my list, the timing couldn’t be better. If you remember, I made a summer checklist last year and managed to finish most of it – but not all. Here’s what I hope to accomplish with my time off this summer:

1. Wedding Lawn Games DIY
This is a biggie. Our wedding is in October, in a huge field behind a gorgeous barn, and the entire setup was designed to accommodate lawn games galore for our guests to enjoy until twilight hits. On the list? Mr. & Mrs. Cornhole, Ring Toss for the kids, Giant Jenga. Stay tuned.

2. Finish our Farmer’s Porch
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Last year, I started painting our farmer’s porch with a haight-style blue on the ceiling, and my grand plans were going just fine until Mike proposed (not a bad distraction!) With a half-painted ceiling and a still-chipping floor, it’s fair to say that NO progress has been made in the last 6 months on this project, especially with summer weather hitting so late here in RI.

Goal for this project – July 4th.

3. Start and Maintain a Perennial Garden
I have always wanted to keep a flower garden, and this was never possible in NYC with my minimal apartment space and non-existent yard. I dug out a small garden last year and planted some hosta and hydrangea, just to test and see if the soil would keep for flowers this year.

IT DID!

This year, I planted a ton of different perennials, and I can’t wait until they bloom – IF they bloom! I’m so excited to share the progress I’ve made with my lillies, roses, and other plants this summer.

4. Refurbish a Found Park Bench
At the start of the summer, our neighborhood associated voted to replace the benches along our walking path. However, the bench at the end of our street, though rusted and a bit worn, was in perfectly good working condition. Mike, our neighbors, and I have taken this bench under our care and have decided to refurbish it to enjoy in our own yard.

It’s going to be beautiful – black metal supports with an early American oak style for the wood slats. We’d love to have this one done by the 4th as well to accommodate our guests for the fireworks.

5. Read 2-3 Books for Pleasure
During the school year, I resent reading a bit. Articles upon articles loaded with statistics and scientific writing have made me lose a bit of my luster for a good book. This summer, there are a few books I’d love to read – in particular, the new Gillian Flynn book that they’re making into the HBO Show, Sharp Objects. Beach reads a-go-go!

6. Master the At-Home Workout Routine
Now that I’m teaching spin classes 4 times a week at a local studio, I barely have time to enjoy the other workouts I love during the school year, like running and TRX. With the wedding coming up I’m feeling the heat when it comes to “bride body,” and I’m hoping this free summer will give me the opportunity to enjoy more of the workouts I love. We also just purchased a new paddleboard, which I’m excited to learn how to use and get some of that core strength I’ve always been lacking!

7. Eat More Protein
Along those same lines, Mike has been totally revamping his diet and has seen a ton of success losing weight and recomposing his figure. I hope to do the same in the coming months before the wedding, and beyond – especially since I’ve just found out I have Celiac Disease (more on that later). Protein has always been a struggle for me, but we’ve found a few ways to inject more protein into every meal that I’m excited to share.

8. Get Organized!
The forever task. There’s SO MUCH STUFF in our house, and the collection keeps on growing. A MAJOR task that we started this winter that I’m hoping to finish is our basement. When I say that it’s literally a pile of tools, surfboards, boat accessories and garden supplies, I’m not exaggerating. Things keep piling up, and there’s a lot of potential with the space. A big goal for Mike this summer is to make that space functional for us to take on more DIY projects – like the homemade bar cart he’s hoping to construct in the fall.

9. Find 3 New Go-To Recipes
A goal I always like to set myself each season is to find go-to recipes that are easy to put together for either me or Mike that we both actually like, that’s healthy and clean, and now that I’ve got this new dietary condition, that’s gluten free. I’ve always eaten gluten free because the diet makes me feel better – even my mood! – but now that it’s more medically necessary, I’m looking at this change as an opportunity to really refine my skills in the kitchen.

10. Redecorate our Bedroom
Last but not least – the bedroom. We recently built our own platform bed from scratch and it really upgraded the look of the room. Between that and the dresser I repurposed to be more “nautical” last year, the room is coming together. It’s a weirdly shaped space, and a lot of it is empty now that we’ve also removed a set of twin bunk beds that used to live there. My mission – make our room a cozy hangout spot for us and Reese Witherspoon the dog to rest in.

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