concrete urn, cast iron cow & cherry trees

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Gardening77 Comments

It has been a lot of hard work, but all of the planting in the front garden is done!

The garden was stripped down to bare dirt early last week and I then worked on improving the soil to help all of the plants grow stronger and healthier.  Jeff and I broke up the soil with a couple of spades and then I raked and hoed in some manure, humus, and garden soil.  It was tough work and I’m pretty sure I got manure on my face in the process.  Let’s just say that I made many visits to the utility sink while working and took a thorough bath that night!

I worked on the planting over two days.  Digging for the bushes took a lot more time than I imagined, since I had to dig the holes much larger than the root ball.  The annuals along the sidewalk a piece of cake, though, and the mulch went down easily.

For the center of the garden, I decided to take a suggestion offered by many readers and add a concrete urn.  I already had one, so it was free to try.  I actually used to have a matching pair, but one of them broke to pieces in the move, sadly.  So, I was left with a single urn that didn’t really have a good home.  It seemed like a fitting piece, appropriately sized, to put in the center.

Right now, it looks a little like Shaquille O’Neal standing in a kindergarten class, but everything around it will grow and it won’t look so head-and-shoulders above everything else.  I have it sitting on a stone paver, but I need to level it out a bit better, so it’s sitting straight.

I planted white wave petunias in the urn, which will spill over, making it a feature a bit more worthy of being the centerpiece.  Right now, it looks a little simple, but growth will take care of that in time.

I don’t know if it’s going to be a long term solution, but I have a soft spot for this urn and I love that I found a place for it.  If you’re wondering about the metal ring around it, it’s actually a strap that was used to repair the cracked urn long before I bought it.  I love that someone loved it enough to repair it.  The repair is so ingenious, too.  To some, it might look like a broken urn.  To me, it’s a one-of-a-kind piece with a story.

The hostas planted around it were actually two larger hostas that I dug up and split.  Their leaves are starting to reach skyward again and I’ve noticed new growth on them after being in the ground for just a few short days.

Jeff and I also worked on the “trellis” for the column.  It took a little bit of creative DIYing to figure out something that would work for such a narrow, tall space.  We ended up using four small garden fences (that were already painted white and made for exterior use) and cut them to size.  Hopefully it will make a good ladder for the Sweet Autumn Clematis.

It has already started climbing and growing at a pretty good rate – I would say about 2″ each day.  I’m not expecting it will cover the whole trellis this year, but it’ll be fun to watch it grow.

In the comments of my last garden post, a few people expressed a concern about Sweet Autumn Clematis and I have found a great dislike for the vine from some in a few of the gardening forums I researched.  It can be very invasive and can drop thousands of seeds throughout a garden, yard, and even a neighborhood.  After reading all of this, I had a pit in my stomach and thought I should go dig it up and find a better alternative.

After further research, though, it’s not as invasive when planted in colder climates and my zone, zone 4, is the coldest climate where this vine will survive.  It seems that the self-propagation is kept in check where it’s colder.  I also read that pruning the flowering part of the vines once the flowers start to fade and before they start to seed can help as well.

So, I’m going to keep it for now, but I’ll definitely keep an eye on it and I hope I won’t regret it!  I have already started to research some climbing white roses to see if any would be a good backup plan.

While looking for a hand spade in my garage, I came across my cast iron cow!  It was in a box for a year and I had entirely forgotten about it.  It has a new home next to the front door.

Would you believe that we just powered washed the porch and I swept it, too?  It’s been windy and we’ve had a lot of strong storms, so the porch keeps getting littered!

I did do some more work on the porch yesterday, changing out lightbulbs and finally turning the lantern fixture, so it isn’t angled.  It feels good to take care of those little details.  I’ll share an official before and after of the garden in another post, but while I’m sharing about my yard, I thought I would share my cherry trees!  Like the peonies, they are a gift from the previous owner.

I am not sure what variety they are and if they are ornamental or sour cherries that I can use for cooking.  Any ideas?

Either way, it makes me happy to see them making a strong showing this year.

More garden updates coming soon…

concrete urn, cast iron cow & cherry trees

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77 Comments on “concrete urn, cast iron cow & cherry trees”

  1. My Grandma had cherries that looked like those growing in a border hedge. They were very sour and the pit was large, so they weren’t good to eat raw, but she made the most delicious jelly from them.

    She died many years ago, but I still remember that as some of the best jelly I ever had.

  2. The urn looks right at home there, and I too love the old cracked things that have been saved and loved. And the trellis is ingenious. I love the cow! And I also love the little urn with white flowers behind her. I’d call this a success…be sure and post again to show us the progress as the plants grow and fill in!

  3. Look like sour pie cherries — jealous of your bummer crop! I highly suggest finding a Leifheit cherry pitter to make quick work.

  4. Hi Marian – call your local agriculture office (State, or the USDA office in Rochester). They probably have field personnel who could stop by and tell you what you have, or ask you to bring in a sample of the leaf and fruit.

  5. Yes, they look like sour cherries to me. We had them in our yard growing up and would eat them but they do have a pit!

  6. With God’s blessing and the right amount of sunshine and rain, your curb appeal garden will be lovely. FYI, I hope that you put spacers between the trellis and your column. From past experience (I attached a wood trellis directly to my wooden garage column) and the moisture from the heavy vine caused severe mildew on my wooden column, peeling paint and the trellis eventually rotted. I now use resin trellises and always place spacers behind them. No more mildew or wood rot problems.

  7. Those tart cherries make an awesome pie, especially when you mix them half-and-half with blueberries!

  8. Definitely sour cherries. It is too cold for sweet cherries to grow and produce there.

    Just want to say about the hostas, from the photos they look like they are planted WAY too close together. Each division will be the size of the original large clump as time goes by. It is easier to leave room from the beginning vs. having to dig it all up in a couple of years to split it. You can fill in with annuals if it looks too spartan at first.

    Also, each boxwood will be 3 to 4 feet across, so if you want them to stay as balls, be sure they are that far apart from center to center. If you want them to merge into a hedge, then plant a foot apart.

    It is always good to double check these things because it is easier to redo something from the beginning than fixing it after the fact!

    1. Yep. I know the hostas will need to be split, but I wanted to fill in the space for now and see how it goes. I had a feeling they were probably too close together.

      Yes, I want to shape those boxwoods into hedges, so I planted them closer together.

  9. Love how you made the trellis for your climbing clematis and the crack in the urn brings so much character! I do agree with Kim’s comment that you may have planted the hostas a little too close together but that’s a easy fix.

  10. Oh and I will agree with others that in a year or 2 you will be wishing those hostas weren’t so close together. You won’t believe how fast and big they grow.

      1. I agree with you Marian, I would have done the same thing in order to accelerate the aesthetic and frame the urn!! Good thinking! You can adjust as things grow and mature. Well done!

  11. I say they look like the tart pie cherries my folks had. Made wonderful pies. Maybe one of the neighbors would know what the previous owners did with them. In any event, your planting looks lovely and the trellis idea is great. If the clematis doesn’t work out what about a white wisteria. They are even beautiful in the winter with their twisty grey bark.

    1. Wisteria needs a very strong support system. Their strong vines have been known to rip down siding and collapse fences. Its usually advises to plant on a beefy arbor or a metal fence.

  12. Cherries are what I miss from our old home. We had two sweet cherry and one sour cherry tree. We were in zone 7, so a lot of stone fruit grew well there. SmittenKitchen has the best sour cherry slab pie recipe. My kids didn’t really like cherries cooked, but they love the slab pie. Cherry clafoutis is another favorite. I second the Leifheit cherry pitter. My boys willingly volunteer to pit cherries with it (something about violently ramming pits through a tube appeals to them). I bought mine at a yard sale years ago and I held on to it when we moved cross country.

    Someone might have mentioned this to you already – clematis like their feet shady. I put a small flat rock at the base of the plant. I don’t know if you’ve seen a clematis in the winter, but they can be pretty messy and unsightly when bare. They’re such a jungle of vines. It’s grown for the lovely flowers. A climbing rose might be a better option. It has a nice structure (if well pruned) even in winter. Since it’s at your entrance, I’d look for a plant that offered interest all throughout the year, especially to get you through the long MN winter. A plant I really like is kerria japonica. It’s not a climber and can get quite large, but it has lovely yellow flowers and it develops a fountain shape. The branches are reddish in winter and quite lovey.

  13. I think you will love the sweet autumn clematis! I have a few and live in Iowa in zone 5, have had them for probably 7/8 years, and they are not overly invasive. The last two years I have gotten a few random starts coming up, but they are super easy to pull-or share with others! I chop mine off at the ground every spring, and it covers 15+ feet and looks amazing when it blooms here at the end of August!

      1. Same here – zone 5 Indiana. I have two, each covering a different trellis and they are gorgeous in the fall when other perrenials are fading. I did have to learn to be bossy with it though! Don’t be afraid to prune here and there during the summer because it can get wild looking. I cut mine down to the ground each Spring as well. It hasn’t been invasive for me. 🙂

        1. Yes, I do plan to keep an eye on it and prune it to keep it where I want. I love the phrase “be bossy with it.” 🙂 Well put!

  14. Looks great! I also have an old concrete planter that was damaged. Propped it up, also used a metal band to hold the sides and now it’s happy as a base for a bird bath. It’s also a hide out for small garden toads! Martha Stewart has an article today on her blog about clematis – worth checking out.

  15. Regarding plant growth….Grandma always said, first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap! I’ve found it so.
    Looks very nice.

    1. Love this phrase from your Grandma! And how true it is. Just thought it was only in my garden. Just said this very thing to my Dad a few hours ago. The third year is always when something really takes off in my yard.

  16. I love you urn. Thought I might suggest a ‘spike’ in the centre. I always put a spike (not really sure what that plant is called other than a spike?) in the centre of all my urns and pots. It gives them height, plus the wind gives it motion. And I usually leave the spike for the winter for the colour and movement.

  17. I am in Michigan and had an autumn clematis pull down a wooden trellis. I now have a metal one. My clematis is not invasive at all. I love it.

    I like the idea of a spike in the urn. A tall feature makes sense with the hanging petunias. It could get bare on top otherwise.

  18. They look like the cherries on our tree and it is a sour cherry. Makes great cherry pie! The garden looks fantastic.

  19. Your and Jeff’s hard work really paid off… I’d love to see “during” photos of your Work on the makeover. You both deserve visual recognition for your exemplary efforts.

    The outcome is perfect. Wonderful job envisioning it and carrying out the plan. Looks like you hired professional landscapers.

    I agree about including a tall center in any potted arrangement, especially a featured one like the urn. The urn’svcracked-and-banded effect gives the garden instant bona fides. How interesting that it was the cracked urn that survived the rigors of the move.

    Did you know that the hostas are too close? (Just trying to be funny)

  20. Hi Marian,
    I remember you making cherry jam/jelly? a year or two ago and saying the recipe was way too sweet and I am pretty sure you used sweet cherries. I remember thinking I bet the recipe was for sour “pie” cherries. That is definitely what you have. Give your recipe a go again and your jam will turn our perfect! =)

  21. The urn is my favorite part of your garden and I’m hoping you will share the growth along the way. (let’s give “Shaq” some competition.) You always have such thoughtful ways of planning something, so I am always appreciative of the knowledge you impart. You are settling in to your new home and have made so much progress this last year. While you enjoy your new surroundings and tackle those last boxes and closets, don’t forget to make time to stop and smell the…..clematis? Have a relaxed and peaceful summer!

  22. The garden looks great. Love the trellis solution–have always wanted clematis but had nowhere for it to climb. Might copy your idea. I think you should paint the urn!!

  23. Marion, you have done your research and have made wise decisions. Don’t second guess yourself based on internet comments that do not provide their zones, growing conditions, gardening experience, plant knowledge etc. Your garden looks lovely already.

    Having said that, in my fertile KC gardens, I have not found SA clematis invasive. In 30 years of growing it, I have discovered maybe a dozen seedlings from it. My neighbor even had to ask for a start even tho I grow it on her fence. It had never invaded her garden, except when I would catch it peeking over the fence looking at her yard. So everyones experience and expectations are different. Your expectation is that this is a fast grower and will grow to cover your porch. It should. Too keep it tidy, you will need to prune once a year like I said in a previous post…. cutting it back to 3-4 ft or so. It is not fussy… don’t worry about covering its feet. Mine are in sun and shade, it don’t matter. They are happy with neglect. And for heavens sake, don’t deadhead it. First, there are too many flowers. Second, you will miss the beauty of the seedheads. And if you are really lucky, maybe some year the Monarchs will spend a night on their migration south and you wake up to a solid orange covered vine instead of white. It is magical.

    Fyi… your trellis is ingenious… but if you want something less intrusive… use a few strands of heavy duty fishing line instead. This clematis only needs a little guidance to grow where you want it. It will do the rest.

    Regarding your cherries, just go taste one! If you don’t pucker, it is sweet!

  24. “Shaquille O’Neal in kindergarten class” !!!!!!! Too funny!!!! That urn must weigh a ton! I am glad someone thought enough about to to repair it. It is a beauty. It all looks great.
    LOVE the photos of the cherries. So pretty.

  25. It looks lovely and I’m sure you’ll get lots of enjoyment watching everything grow! I love the urn too! I had a old thick walled terra cotta pot that I broke the bottom off of and couldn’t bare to get rid of it so I planted it into the ground with hostas surrounding it like your urn and it looks so pretty like that,

  26. Hello. I’m still digging up baby vines from the s.a. clematis I had growing on my picket fence.(removed 4 years ago) Here’s the problem. They come up in the middle of shrubs and you can’t dig them out. It’s beautiful and it can get to be 20 feet, but be forewarned. I live in zone 5.
    Melanie
    p.s. I have given baby vines to a lot of my friends over the years. I always tell them about its habit. I honestly can’t believe garden centers sell it.

  27. I planted Sweet Autumn Clematis in house #6 in northern Indiana zone 5 and had no problems at all. In fact, I was thrilled that I had a clematis that bloomed later in the season. As for the scandalous hosta situation, don’t worry about it. They aren’t that hard to dig and separate. Frankly, gardening isn’t a one-time event. Gardens evolve and change throughout the years. So, in a couple of years, you dig them up, separate them, and pass the extras on to a neighbor or the compost pile. Great job on the prep work. It’s the most important part of gardening. Looks terrific!

  28. I live in Northern Iowa and have a sweet autumn clematis. I love it and have never had any problem with it invading my yard or other plants. Your garden looks great!!

  29. Nice job on the front garden! I have someone in mind that I think you would greatly enjoy. Her name is Laura LeBoutillier, and her business is called Garden Answer. She is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and all of her videos are on YouTube. Almost every day she releases a video about gardening, her yard, planting flower boxes, fairy gardens – you name it. I have received more good advice and information on gardening from her in the last year of watching her videos than I have in a lifetime. Plus, she is adorable, which makes the videos fun to watch. Give her a try. She loves formal gardens, just like you do; in fact, one of the gardens surrounding her house is called the Versailles garden. Check her out. I would love to know what you think.

  30. Marian, Love your little garden. It looks perfect! I always put my plants close together, I prefer them to look full from the start and separate when I need to. What personally works for you and I may not for others.

  31. I live in zone 7a and have a neighbor with autumn clematis which is well under control. They cut it down to the ground each fall. In spring, it grows vigorously (last frost around Mother’s Day here). They just gave it a good haircut – before blooms, which should be in mid-August. Your first year with that should be relatively easy, as long as you prune after the flowering.
    Be careful of your cast iron cow, unless you’re ok with him rusting even more. I did that with a Hubley flower basket doorstop and it was like driving a new car off the lot – devalued the first day. 🙁
    Your garden looks terrific, lots of hard work there, I know. Been there, done, that. I’m sorta glad it’s end of June just so I don’t have to baby the landscape any longer for the season – just weed & feed. Enjoy!

  32. Everything looks so lovely and welcoming. Glad you added some height to your garden with the perfect fix on the urn. I think you’ll love the sweet autumn clematis. I had one in a past garden and as other flowers were winding down at the end of summer/early fall, it was coming into all its glory. I loved how when the fall breezes blew, there would be showers of flowers. How lovely will that be as people enter your home? Enjoy!

  33. Those cherries will make a wonderful subject to paint!!!! The color of them in your picture is stunning!!!!

  34. Hold everything! 😀
    We have have two of these cherry trees for a lot of years now and what you need is a cast iron cherry stoner. Like this:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1917-Primitive-Enterprise-Mfg-No-118-Cherry-Stoner-Cast-Iron-Pitter-Tool/123057790391?hash=item1ca6d0ddb7:g:684AAOSwAtlarBZv:sc:USPSPriority!42234!US!-1

    It makes the fastest order of things, honest!
    Besides a pie…my best advice is HOMEMADE MARASCHINOS omgosh omgosh best tasting everrrrr!

  35. I think everything will be just fine, since your Sweet Autumn Clematis is up front where you can keep an eye on it i bet it will be okay to and will make the whole house smell good when you open the door. Love the cow, so cute.

  36. Hi Marian! As an outsider looking in , may I make a suggestion to you? Your front planting’s will be fantastic. However would you consider painting your front door and bench another color? Perhaps a dark blue violet glosssy color or black. The reddish undertone in the blue might work better with your siding that has that undertone hue. Anyway just a thought. And btw… love love the cow. Where did he come from???

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I had considered navy or black, but I feel like the green compliments the red/pink undertones of the siding, so I’m going to keep the color. At least for a while! 🙂

  37. Great job with your front porch garden bed. If the cherries are tart they’ll make a great pie. I live in Ohio and am outside doing yard work/mowing weather permitting; today however, it has been raining off and on so I pitted cherries from my son and daughter-in-law’s tree that I picked on Monday. I put the cherries in the freezer, always appreciating a pie in the winter when cherries are not available.

  38. Your garden looks great. I love the urn. Ingenious decison. But watch out with the clematis… It may cover your house! ha!! It smeels good tho. I just planted a honeysuckle vine… newer cultivar that isn’t invasive like they are known to be. So far so good. Pretty pink and yellow fragerant blooms. We’ll see how it goes. I love the trellis you constructed. Great idea!!

    1. Yep, I will definitely keep an eye on it and will cut it back as needed to try to keep it under control. If it proves to be too unruly, I’ll pull it out and try something else.

  39. Love how everything looks, that urn is a great focal point. About cherries, the summer I was nine, we lived in a house with a sweet cherry tree in California. I would climb the tree with a book and snack on the cherries! Loved it even after the cherries were gone because my little sister couldn’t bother me there.

  40. Unlike others, I like the hosta as planted. One thing I learned dividing hosta: I found that a reciprocating saw with a long blade can be used to cut the root ball in half…right there in the ground! Then just dig out one of the halves, leaving the other one undisturbed. If you lift the same half of each one…like, always take out the right side…they will stay evenly spaced. Do this in early Spring, before the leaves get large.
    PS…if you trim the sweet autumn clematis, you won’t have your vines for Christmas lights! Use PREEN…

  41. Such hard work, but oh so rewarding. The trellis idea is very clever. A fountain would have been nice in the center too.i’ve learned so much from Garden Answer. Look her up on you tube Marian. I know you would enjoy her gardens. Thank you for always inspiring me.

  42. Love your plantings. Beautiful urn. How about just a little color in that urn with the white. A little color brings just enough spark to make the garden pop.

  43. Your front garden looks great. I also have a pickle urn that was given to my by my father many years ago that has a crack. I put a strand of wire around it to secure and plant climbing morning glories in it for my side entrance. I’m not one to throw away things that have sentimental memories that I can repurpose and keep. I have the same clematis in a couple of spots in my Texas garden. It is invasive in my zone 8 but I just pull it up where I don’t want it to grow. No biggey. I love it when it blooms in the fall. It grows on a wooden arbor in both my back garden and my front yard entry and looks like snow. It’s beautiful site. I have hostas all over my yard in various beds and they are not hard to divide. I have shared with friends and family if I don’t have a place for them. I like it when they touch each other so I don’t plant too far apart. Do what works best for you and what you enjoy. Love that you don’t bend to the naysayers.

  44. Looks very inviting! Well done. I am a huge fan of hostas and they are a great filler. They will flower as well as surround the urn as a centerpiece. It always feels good to dig in the dirt and then watch as your garden transforms. I use many old buckets and other old pieces that I drilled a hole in so I could plant and see nature mixing in with well used piece. Enjoy!

  45. Marian,
    I love, love, love what you’ve done! Yes, you may have put some of the plants too close, but that is part of the beauty of gardening. There is always next year and the opportunity to make changes for renewing a space. I, too like that the metal band is purposeful as well as decorative/attractive on the urn. It certainly adds to the charm. (Maybe I’m saying that because I just used eight tubes of super glue to complete a little reconstructive surgery on a blue/white fishbowl ceramic flower pot that holds my citronella plant!) By far my favorite feature is the cow, though. She is something I truly treasure. I grew up on a dairy farm and raised my children there as well. So, there are times when I miss looking out into the pasture to see the old girls – don’t miss all the work that went along with them, though! Your front garden makes me smile and want to sit on that bench to enjoy it and a glass of iced tea.

  46. It’s pie cherry season here, too! We’ve been picking and having pit parties all week! I pit them and freeze them in quart bags. 4 cups make a pie or a cobbler, which is the easiest go-to for them and especially enjoyed around Christmas time (with the beautiful red color!). I plan on making some jelly and also a cherry pepper salsa this year, too. I don’t like the fancy pitter! Too easy to miss a pit. I like using a plain old bobby pin to pop the seeds out, one at a time. And with a bunch of us sitting around the table visiting or listening to an audio book, we can get a lot done pretty quickly!

    Your front yard is becoming beautiful! My Mom and Dad have a clematis on an archway into their yard. It’s a show stopper summer with foliage and blooms and fall when the blooms turn into the fluffiest wish pods. After all these years they have not had any problem with invasiveness or seeds propagating. Must be our NW climate.

  47. Lovely Landscaping! Just wanted to encourage you about the clematis. When we lived in OH we had Sweet Autumn Clematis and it became one of my very favorite things in the landscape. It grew along the fence in the backyard and it always bloomed a couple days before my birthday 🙂 It was never invasive, messy or ugly. We did trim it back some each late fall. Maybe the cooler climates are better for it. Enjoy!

  48. “Heirloom Roses” out of Oregon might be a good place to look at many types in one place. I ordered a white climber cabbage rose called “Eden” that begins as a pale pink bud and delicate pink tipped new flowers. When they open, they are pure white.. It is stunning. I wasn’t sure about the pink as they open, but they are truly spectacular.

  49. Zoom
    Long John Silver

    Here is another beauty that is adapted to your Zone. It is called Long John Silver.
    “Heirloom Roses” out of Oregon
    Type: Climbing Roses

    Use Coupon Code SUMMERSHIP In Checkout

    Be the first to review this product
    The large, classic, fully double, old-fashioned blooms of crystal white are scented with the fragrance of gardenias or myrrh (I say gardenias, Louise says myrrh.) In any case, it has wonderful perfume. A very beautiful roses for climbing into trees. Once blooming.

  50. Such a lot of hard work but everything is going to look so beautiful in a few weeks! Love the way you have planned your front yard, Marion! Now you can sit back and enjoy!

  51. Your Front porch looks welcoming!
    I’ve known the vine as “fall Clematis” and we’ve had ours for years. Yes, I occasionally find new ones popping up which are easily repotted for friends or just left to create a new refuge for birds. We do cut them all the way back to about 6″ as winter sets in. We also HAD trumpet vines (orange and yellow) and those were the most invasive vines we’ve ever seen. They invaded our in-ground pool walls; never have those again.

  52. We, too, have a cherry tree in our front yard. I would love to have it cut down since we do not eat the cherries but my husband wants to keep it. I literally pull out hundreds of seedlings every spring from birds depositing the seeds in my flower beds. I also have a clematis and have no poblem with it being aggressive.

  53. Looks beautiful, well done ! Love what you did with the trellis and just adore the personality that urn brings to your yard..and of course. Miss Mustard Seed needs a cow welcoming everyone to her lovely home..just perfect ! I love a white and green garden too..my white hydrangeas are finally blooming this year . Spent the weekend making chive garlic butter and harvesting my herbs…dried oregano, thyme, basil and chopping and freezing more chives. I scored and incredible footed ironstone pedestal for $ 12.00 in perfect condition dating back to the late 1800’s off of Facebook Marketplace this morning, thought you would be proud ! You continue to inspire me, thank you !

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