Exterior & Garden The Victorian House

Getting Outside to Explore in the Garden

This is what the garden looked like on the day we bought the house, in late August of last year. Almost no grass (there’s a small patch out front), but plenty of greenery.

The Garden, When We Moved In

Aside from the snow we had last week, spring is pretty much here (yay!). Trees don’t start getting their buds until now in Chicago though, and the earliest spring flowers and plants are just starting to push their way up through the soil. After we raked our yard, we were left with a few patches of green shoots and a whole lot of dirt.

Garden Exploration

Oh, and antique objects, likely collected from flea markets. A spinning stone wheel, upon which we can sharpen our broadsword? Check. Antique washing machines? Yep, we’ve got a couple. Old street signs, spotlights, and various child impaling artifacts? Check, check, and check!

Antique Garden Objects

Some of it is cool. Some is dangerous. We’ll have to pare down.

We were out there all weekend, cleaning up the front and back yards. The kids loved to help, which basically consisted of them digging holes. (Great job, guys!) We got good and dirty playing and exploring outside, and then the kids fell asleep.

Shhh… They're "Sleeping"

Ha! I wish we still got naps out of them sometimes. Nah, we finished up outside and then went in to wash our hands and get cleaned up before dinner. Lemon Verbena is our usual soap, but when I switched to Basil, Eleanor actually commented on it (“something smells yummy!“).

Washing Up

Switching gears to talk about that sink for a second… Have you lived with double taps before? Some people can’t stand using them, but I don’t mind at all. You just have to get used to using a stopper, and then it’s no big deal. And the antique sink here is my favorite because not only is it adorable, it’s an inch or two lower than usual and the height feels really good. Maybe it’s not so great for taller folk, but I love it and the kids can wash their hands without needing a step stool.

Washing Up

But back to the garden. We’ve heard from neighbors that the previous owners spent a lot of time outside, tending to the garden. There are mature boxwood hedges, peonies, roses, hydrangeas, various hostas, several trees and bushes, and at least three types of vines. I know enough to recognize some of it, but the rest will be a surprise. It will be interesting to see what pops up throughout the spring and summer!

One more shot from last year…

The Garden, Last Year

hr 644

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  • kristine
    April 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

    i think we have settled on the basil as well. i tried the lemon first, then the lavender and next up is basil. sometimes i find the first two quite strong. your garden looks lovely and perfect for exploring. good luck with the bookshelves and thanks for sharing.

  • Nicole L
    April 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Oh my that garden! That’s very much along the lines of what we plan for our front yard… but very low maintenance and drought resistant.

    I lived with double taps once, but was not a fan… can’t recall though if we had a stopper or not?!

    • Making it Lovely
      April 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Time will tell if it’s low-maintenance or not. Very little mowing (we sold our electric mower and just use a push-mower now), but there may be a lot of weeding and pruning to do!

  • Laura
    April 22, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Oh wow – can that garden be transplanted to my backyard please?! Beautiful!

  • Katie B.
    April 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    We moved into our house almost two years ago and I LOVED that first spring! So fun to see what colors the flowers on our bushes were, to discover the PINK dogwood tree and to see the sprouts of bulbs poking out of the earth. It was like a season-long treasure hunt. Enjoy! Your yard looks lovely!

    • Making it Lovely
      April 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      I’m looking forward to the surprises!

  • Kayli Schattner
    April 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Such a beautiful outdoor space!! I currently have a small balcony garden + love it. Though, I long for a huge backyard where I can get to work!

  • Amelia
    April 22, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    That first spring in a house with well-established gardens is so fun! Surprises every day. Enjoy!

  • Asia
    April 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Your yard is so amazing! I love the texture, it’s lovely.

  • Lisa
    April 22, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Ooh, is that a mangle? TOO COOL!

    • Making it Lovely
      April 23, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      I had to look that up! I would have called it a wringer, but yes, that’s what it is.

  • Traci
    April 22, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Well, that does look like a comfortable place to nap! I love the height of your lower sink, by the way. I think I’d be a fan, and how great for kids.

  • Rebecca | Seven2Seven8
    April 22, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I do love the smell of MM’s Geranium, alas, as I’m moving away from products with SLS, fragrance, etc., so, once what I have is gone, I’m letting it go.

    I love your sink. I had two-faucet sinks during my summers abroad (they are common in London), and would often get frustrated that I had to choose between hot and cold. Ah, the stopper! I hadn’t thought of it purely as a “mix-the-temps” solution before. As an invitation to slow down a bit (and, since your sink is lower, for small people to do for themselves), I really like it.

  • Anu
    April 23, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Where did you buy the huge half egg like chair from?
    it looks cozy!

    • Making it Lovely
      April 23, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Brandon and his family got it for me as a group birthday gift years back! It was from Pottery Barn, but they no longer carry it.

  • chris
    April 23, 2014 at 11:40 am

    The yard looks like it will be magical in the summer! You could have all kinds of fairy/zombie garden-type adventures there.
    Just a question about the sink – do your kids use warm water? We always just use the cold water tap (not a double tap but double handle) to wash hands since it takes a while for the hot water to reach the bathroom and we don’t let it run in order to conserve water. Now I am wondering if this is not normal? :)

    • Making it Lovely
      April 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      That’s actually another nice thing about using the stopper. If you just turn on the hot water, the initial cold water will mix with the hot (when it arrives), and you get a nice temperature with no waste. The kids like it a little colder though, so that’s why you see both running in the photo.

  • georgia
    April 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Oh, the garden has a lot of character! There will be a fair bit of pruning, weeding, feeding, but I actually like that the green is spared for plants rather than grass. Side note: can’t believe that your blog has been on my most visited sites for at least 6 years… that’s a long time.. Take care, Gx

  • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
    April 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Such a pretty backyard! Looking forward to surprises come spring and (when-when??) summer. So chilly today in Chicago. Our lilac bushes have buds! Things are finally happening in our yard. Butterfly bush needs warmth and sunshine to grow nice and fluffy. Patience everyone. Kiddos look very happy in their comfort zone! A nice place for napping.