Sunday, November 14, 2010

Transforming the Church Building

After planning and researching most of the summer a dream of mine came true. The south side of our church building looked really nice in the early spring when the bulbs were blooming, but the rest of the year didn't look like much. I realized that it really needed some bushes. This was phase one of our landscaping project. We purchased 5 dwarf Alberta spruce and 3 dwarf hibiscus on sale. The iris in the picture were already in place so we left them there.
The Facilities Management group (the FM group) of the church purchased the rest of the plants and delivered them to our back yard for safe keeping until planting day: rose bushes, spirea, two kinds of boxwoods and a Japanese maple.
And here is Jim working on phase two. We actually had 14 people helping us that day, but I didn't get permission from anyone else to post pictures.
While Jim and the other men were digging holes they found about 40 feet of heavy steel edging that had been put in place before the concrete edging was built. Removing it was quite a job.
In between the windows we planted "Alberta Blue Dwarf Alberta Spruce" by Monrovia. They are slow growing, and have a tight, formal, conical habit, 5 to 7 feet tall, and 1 1/2 to 2 feet wide. Once established they need only occasional water. They are evergreen, so we planted "Little Princess" spirea, which are deciduous, on either side. The spirea will have pink flowers from May to October, and will eventually be 2-3 tall and 3-4 feet wide.
Centered under each window is a "Luna White" dwarf hibiscus. They will grow two to three feet high and two feet wide. In mid summer they will have white 8" flowers. They are bushy, and well branched without pinching, and once established they are drought tolerant. Because they die back in the winter we planted an evergreen boxwood on each side.
And here is most of the completed window section, mulch and all. For the whole project we amended the soil with 8 bags of composted manure, and put root stimulator on each plant. Preen, which stops weeds from germinating, was put down prior to mulching everything. We dare any weeds to grow!
And here's how it looks from the street.
The Japanese maple is now in the space between the windows and the big planter. Years ago there was a sidewalk there and a door to the building.
Before anything was done with the planter, the FM group sent someone out to give the stonework a good power washing. It really sparkled
The completed planter. Centered in front of the stone work is a dwarf blue Alberta spruce with boxwoods (a tall variety) and "Little Princess" spirea on each side. Next to that are 4 "Macy's Pride" rose bushes with 3 little boxwoods in front.
Some of the roses were blooming when we planted them. It's going to be really pretty next year.
After it was all said and done it didn't feel finished to me. We ended up adding a "Cherokee Princess" dogwood tree. It's a small tree, but has larger flowers and bigger leaves than other dogwoods. Also the flowers are in clusters and are yellowish in color. It should be gorgeous.
Here's the planter from the rose bush side, after adding the dogwood tree.
We're having a drought right now but drought conditions or not, we're determined to have these plants do well. Jim attached this connector hose from the water spigot to a series of soaker hoses that are buried under the mulch.
From the big planter there is another connector hose leading down to the ground where it meets up with another soaker. We've never been able to grow anything in that shady part of the planter because it was too dry. Now with the soaker hoses I'm itching to try impatiens there next year. ^-^
Here's a close-up of the connector hose. Jim couldn't hide it completely, but I think he did a good job of getting it out of the way.

The Other Side of the Building

In the spring we planted flowers along other parts of the building. Our good friends Betsy DeBorde and Kathy Morgan did much of the planting. Coming around to the west side of the Primary wing we planted impatiens, coleus and gerbera daisies. Coleus did really well in some places, but not in others.
Here is a gerbera daisy nestled among impatiens on the north side of the Primary wing. We found that gerberas seem to prefer cool weather, and needed lots of fertilizer in order to bloom. We don't plan to include them next year.
Impatiens were spectacular and didn't require extra work. This picture just doesn't do them justice. We'll definitely use impatiens next year. The iris should bloom next spring.
Over by the Bishop's office were several kinds of marigolds, coleus, cone flowers, iris and a few impatiens. We were surprised that the impatiens did well in that spot because they were in full sun. The marigolds were also spectacular, but required deadheading (picking off the old blooms in order to keep them producing fresh flowers) all summer long. We won't include as many marigolds next year because of all the work, but really liked this particular variety. The petals were bigger, the plants larger, and they were healthier longer than the others.
Here's a close-up. I hope we can find this variety next year. They were worth the deadheading. We finally pulled up the last of them on November 13. They lasted really well.
Fortunately that variety also came in orange. The flowers were dark orange when they opened and became lighter causing the plants to show several shades at the same time. We hope we can find these next year also.
It's fun to get ideas from other places. This last picture was taken at the Columbus, Ohio LDS temple. I was intrigued by their mixture of plants. They had begonias and impatiens planted together with a smattering of geraniums and an occasional marigold.
Nice possibilities for next spring…


Anonymous said...

What a fantastic job you did Kathey! You bring love and beauty wherever you go. Love you! -Jennifer Lyon

Barbie said...

Yay! I'm glad you were able to get the whole project done! It looks great. I think your plant choices will do very well, and the soaker hoses were a really good idea. That side is super dry.

I'm glad you got everything posted too--that is a big job as well! Thanks for sharing.

Li said...

"thank you dear you did such a great job! everything is neat and beautiful, thank you so much. 谢谢你。(thank you)"

Carla Wood said...

Sister Ahlstrom,
Thank you for sharing your pictures! Everything is so beautiful!


Jeri Gill said...

"I just looked at your blog. . . what a wonderful project for you to undertake! It looks beautiful!"

Cheryl Hively said...

Thanks for sharing the pictures of all your work. It looks beautiful!! I also enjoyed the pictures of your kids and grandbabies - also beautiful!!

Jill said...

Oooh, so pretty! I'm excited to see how it all looks in a year or so. I love japanese maples! I haven't seen any in FL, though. Tyler misses the one that he planted at our home in OH. :(

Becky McEwen said...

Thanks so much Ahlstroms!

Helena said...

That is a lot of work! It looks wonderful! Soooo much better.

Connie Compton said...

You are so good at keeping your blog up...and I always love your pictures...a lot of work went into the new landscaping...kudos!

Love you TONS, Connie

Jim Connell said...

Brother and Sister Ahlstrom:

Thank you so much for your thoughtful watchcare of the meetinghouse. I do not go around the outside of the building...maybe I should...but I will go look at the work. It looks terrific in the photos. I can tell you, the few members we sent were definitely blessed and feel very good about the work that was done.

Pres. Connell

Sarah Zetterlind said...

The church landscaping looks really nice.


Grant Duffin said...

I enjoyed reading through your blog link, about all you have done with the landscaping. I learned some. What is deadheading? I'm assuming it means picking off dead blooms. Enjoyed focusing on Peter and Karen and their two, Elizabeth Anne and Bridget. Thanks for including us in your extended family! Love, Grant

Cousin Patricia said...

Your blog spot is impressive. I saved it for planting ideas. I can no longer get down on my knees and John has a hard time. Building flowers etc are lovely. My sister has a green thumb.

Love and prayers to you all dear cousin.

Kerry Costelloe said...

I found your blog to be very entertaining and well done!

Sherilyn Johns said...

You do a fantastic job on your blog- wow. I didn't even know the south side was planted. Looks really nice

Jenny Harvey said...

Kathey, the church grounds look great. this must have taken many hours of planning as well as carrying out. I was at the church Monday. I did notice how nice it looked. Great job!