All of this and a card from C. featuring pressed pansies from her garden. Truly, you are too much, all of you. I had written today off after some frustrating issues with the US postal service, but this definitely amends all of that (and to boot, Monday promises to be like Christmas around here).
Before I go, I wanted to share this with you. This is what I see wben I look straight down from my raised front porch. When I moved in, I would see that little evergreen shrub (bottom right corner) and the skeleton of a dead ... something. Looked rather like a rhododendron. And bark dust.
I've rather messed up the bark dust, but I've torn out the skeleton of the dead thing and replaced it with (clockwise from top left - but not top left corner, that's lavender and that was already here): a dark rose astilbe, pink japanese anemone and a galadriel fuschia (they actually kind of blend together in this photo), a dark burgundy heucheria (coral bells), another anemone, another fuschia, another astilbe, bear's breeches, and a "midnight" bugbane (which has leaves and flowers like the astilbe. It's my shade garden!
I have high hopes for it! The bear's breeches should grow 5-6' tall and mask much of the concrete stair to my porch. The others are moderately-sized shrubs (all 2-3' tall when fully grown), with dark foliage or rose-pink flowers of some sort. And the "Galadriel" fuschias just make my inner nerd giggle with glee at the name! I plan to mulch twice a year to gradually improve the soil and enhance the bed's water-retaining potential (because ye gods it's a lot of watering at this point! especially the astilbes!) , and to add some hostas and tuck in some little ferns in the future. I'll add some better photos after things fill in, but isn't it pretty for now? =) I'm so excited!