iceberg roses white and burgundy

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Spring is arriving in full force in Atlanta. For this house, that also means COLOR.

I have an early spring habit. Every year, I tell myself that I need to be patient and wait out the month of March. Because in Atlanta, March will get blissfully warm for several weeks, starting near the end of February. But it’s a trick. A stealthy, mean trick.

Just when I put full faith in the weather that spring has finally arrived, that I should be prepping for spring gardening — that’s when the last freezing bit of weather comes around and threatens to ruin everything.

But do I actually listen? Noooooope. Every year, I get so excited about adding COLOR to the yard that I skip ahead. This time though, I let the purple phlox I planted several springs ago to give me the go-ahead:

creeping phlox are easy mailbox flowers

And just as I wanted the creeping phlox to do, it’s been spreading and filling in, practically blanketing the entire bed!

(P.S. I decided I’ll be adding photo cards like the one above for my plants throughout the year so you can pin them and save them for garden ideas. I have had so much trial and error in certain parts of the house that these will be handy for new gardeners who are looking for easy-care ideas.)

After eight years of practice, I guess I’m getting pretty decent at keeping plants alive. But I’m not going to stop there. Of course not, right? Gotta up the ante and challenge myself. This year, I want more than hydrangeas and phlox and shrubs. I want roses.

The side garden: finally figuring things out

One of the things I’m most anxious to get in the ground are these gorgeous multi-colored roses (“shrub trees”) that will go along the side of the house.

iceberg white and iceberg burgundy - duet roses - most gorgeous roses

Those of you who have followed for a while will recall this area, but probably only after seeing another picture of it:

garage side of the house options

The garden area next to my house has been one of those long-term, dangling projects I just haven’t been able to figure out. I’ve given it a number of attempts, tried with some discount plants, but never a proper “plan” for what to do. It’s long, and narrow, and it runs along the pathway that separates me from the neighbor’s fence and goes to the backyard gate. It also gets full sun, which gives me a lot of options. Too many, maybe? Perhaps that was the cause of my indecision all along.

pouring concrete slab

Last spring, I made a practical upgrade by inserting a cement slab for the trash can and recycling bin. As of this year and with K moving in, the recycling got to a point where I needed a second full-size bin rather than a small container. The slab was the perfect size!

DIY concrete slab for trash bins

But obviously, this isn’t exactly charming to see at the front of the house (you can actually see the first section of this side garden from the street. I chose this spot, though, for other reasons that I covered back in this post). So, the only real “plan” I had in place began a couple of years ago when I made a frame for a wooden screen (intending on using it to hide the bins once the slab was in).

digging the wood screen into the ground

I finally finished it and installed it in the front, which perfectly hides the slab and two full-size bins. This is one GIANT leap in the right direction for this garden.

wood screen for trash bins

front of wood screen next to garage

And wouldn’t ya know it? I figured out one of the biggest obstacles the yard has had for years, and boom: the very next week, my side garden got the burst of inspiration it was desperately needing.

The other day, I saw these beautiful roses at Lowe’s. They are two different varieties, but they have grown together in a single pot, producing “white iceberg” and “burgundy iceberg” flowers simultaneously. They are fragrant and full of buds and ready to be planted. Gorgeous, right? I got so excited, I bought all I could find at the store.

new roses for the side of the house

Over the weekend, I planted all that I bought, but I underestimated how many I’d need. I’ll have the full before & after of the garden when I gather up a few more and get them in the ground.

Starting a veggie garden!

Another first: K has been insisting we start a veggie garden (for over a year, actually). So, we bought the seeds, the starter stuff, and are going to build a couple of garden beds for the backyard, near to where the shed is going in. I’ve never grown my own food before (my parents had a small garden but I didn’t really work on it with them), so I’m pretty much letting K take the reins until things start to grow. I’ll admit, I’ve already had a lot of fun watching the little starter pods expand and putting in all the seeds (I’ll go through the whole process once they’re ready to transplant… a few look like they’ve already started to seed so that should be just a couple weeks!).

So, I guess that’s 2 projects down, which were immediately replaced with 2 more. That’s the way it goes, I guess. There are several other projects that are also in various completion stages too (even if you’ve seen some of the posts on Instagram, you’re in for a treat on Wednesday with the Murphy bed update for Dueling DIY!). Are you anxious for spring, too? I feel like I’ve been stir-crazy all winter, so I’m hopping from project to project just as fast as I can. Are you getting a chance to plant anything yet?

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  1. Great work, Sarah! When I saw the first photo on this page I tho’t you planned to plant the roses all the way along the side of the house but I saw all that shade toward the middle and the back and was afraid you didn’t know how much sun roses need. But now I see that the sunny area you refer to is mostly in the front of that strip. And since you put up the wooden screen I see that the sun really does hit that crescent-shaped bed in front of it. The roses should do really well there. And are they ever unique and beautiful! I must find some.

    Also, I am really in awe of you building that slab and the screen. I wish you lived next door and I could bake you cookies or sew you something and you would be my handy-girl! I have never learned to use power tools and now have arthritis in my hands so I don’t have the strength I’d need to to use them now. So I really NEED a handy-girl! I love all your projects and I know you would do a fabulous job at my house! Where is it you live, again? Could you commute? Ha, ha!

    1. Ha, I have plenty enough to do around here that even if you lived next door, it would be YEARS before I could be finished enough to look outside of my own house! But as far as the roses, I actually AM planting the roses all along that side. Don’t worry, though. Now that you point it out, I realize that I didn’t show well enough in this update how much sun this side of the house gets (it actually gets the most… the sun rises in my back yard and then sets in the front of the house at an angle, where the sun travels all along this side for the entire day). The shadows you see are basically because I took all of these photos around the same time of day: in the evenings, when a lot of the work for the day was ending, and I realized I hadn’t yet taken pictures to show the progress I’d made. I’ll keep that in mind for taking final reveal shots when I finish planting (and I’ll try to find a few more of this side of the house from archives to better illustrate this too). Thanks for pointing that out… I don’t think I ever would have noticed that on my own!

  2. I planted hybrid tea roses a couple years ago. I have to say the first year they were planted I was really disappointed. Especially some roses I thought were going to be red turned out more a dark pink. They also didn’t seem to bloom very fully that first year BUT last summer they were so much better, so full and the colors were better. Only thing is staying on top of various rose diseases like black spot and rose rosette (we might lose some roses to this one). I love them and we do a ton of clippings all summer and it’s so nice to have roses in the house. I actually just bought some more small vases to have more fun things to put them in.

    1. Great tips! I’m planning on doing some companion planting with plants that are known to help keep disease and pests away; did you do any companion planting? I hear ornamental plants that are in the onion/garlic family are ideal.

      1. I haven’t tried that. For black spot when I water I pull off any affected leaves so it doesn’t spread. Also watering when there is more sun and not spraying the whole plant, just near the base. Black spot is a fungus and it likes a more wet environment so watering with more light will dry the leaves off better. I thought these would be pretty easy plants, and in a way they are but still need some upkeep on them.