Kristin has been doing some retro renovation – of her garden. She has uncovered lots of shrubs and perennials under years of scrub. She has planted her built-in brick planter with retro style plants. And her neighbor Lee — another RR reader — nabbed this patio set for her off another neighbor’s curb. Dumpster divers unite! Hey, Kristin. You mention that your neighborhood is “newly popular.” Were you being serious? Tell us more….
Kristin and I exchanges several emails, I think it’s fun to read all pieced together. She writes:

So glad you like! One caveat is that the quality is beneath my standards as I took them with my iPhone. Still they are decent! The ones in the front aren’t as detailed as the sun had gone down quite a bit. Perhaps a reader can identify the shrub in the photo titled “unknown shrub”? The utility company lopped the top off a month or do ago as it was near the wires…grrrr. I when left out a number of uncovered gems but I’ll do more next Spring after we have pruned and really fixed things up. The back of the house is up against an alley with a 50’s strip mall and there is a wood privacy fence there and along the neighbors to our west, but the fence is still up all around. We were cutting crap out last weekend and discovered rounds of the original stuff cut at the height to protect beds just as if they had sat there for YEARS! We have a huge backyard…somehow it didn’t rust one round, but the other got a little rusty.

I met a neighbor through Retro Renovation who has become a friend and he just gave us a vintage set of wrought iron patio furniture his neighbor had just put on the curb! Retro Renovation equals Social Networking site! Wait til he sends pix of his ranch interior!!! Holy moley.  I posted about trying to remove my vintage antenna from my chimney and I mentioned we lived in Colonial Acres. Well, Lee is an avid reader and follower of your site (as is evidenced by his time capsule home) and he lives 5 blocks south in the same newly-popular neighborhood! So he posted a response and he invited us to several parties, none that we’ve been able to make yet! But he came to my yard sale and then we became Facebook friends and there ya go! Well, it is just amazing how much stuff in his house was untouched!  He has the original metal cabinets, porcelain sink, formica countertops, linoleum floor, hardwoods, all the doors are the original, unpainted wood including his pocket doors (mine were all painted white–any idea how to get that off?)…plus original crystal chandelier in the dining room, cracked brick tile mosaic add-on floor with brick fireplace….it is just a  little miracle!  Plus he has 1.5 baths all with original tile and the colored fixtures!

Looking around in out neighborhood at the houses for sale, I’d say we were lucky to get what we got as far as it not being chopped and remodeled  to bits.  My only dismay is the Home Depot tile over the lino in the kitchen, the Home Depot stainless sink and ugly replacement faux wood countertops in there and the thick white paint over every door including my fantastic pocket doors on all closets.

Thank you, Kristin! To heck with our houses, all. Let’s get out and garden!

  1. John says:

    Hi Kristin,
    First off nice yard and plantings. I actually like the picture of the patio set taken with the Iphone. It has an ethereal slant to it with the color in the foreground and transition to black and white in the background. Maybe by accident but sometimes the best things come to be by accident.
    Happy Summer,John aka AtomicHipster

  2. sumac sue says:

    Thanks for the photos. Those elephant ears are perfect in the brick planter. I have zucchini and yellow squash growing in a front flower bed, which give the same leafy effect — plus some veggies! A concrete figurine of some sort is necessary, and your painted cardinal is perfect. We have been searching for a banjo-playing frog for the longest time — someday we will find him.

  3. Great start on your mid-century garden Kristin! I love the colocasia in the brick planter. We have a row of ilex crenata (Japanese holly) in ours. Your planters are a little deeper, which is nice so the plants can expand a bit. I love the patio set: what a great score from your neighbor!
    And glad to see you have the sunscreen out. That’s something we didn’t know as much about in the 50s!

  4. Missouri Michael says:

    I don’t know what the unknown shrub is but the photo marked “flowering-vine” is a pink honeysuckle. Looks like I’m on the right track for my backyard with the clematis, hydrangea, and honeysuckle! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Gretchen S says:

    I love the red cardinal that you unearthed, Kristin! Sometimes gardening in an older home feels like an archaeological dig. I found all sorts of interesting and dated artifacts in my old 1920 cottage’s garden, including a Buddha that followed me over to our current home.

  6. kristin says:

    Wow! Thanks everyone and Pam! What a nice surprise for sure to see these pix, my wordy emails and all the great comments–my husband was especially thankful to see the ‘Goooooo Spartans!’ comment. Pomegranate huh? Wow! It blossoms like mad in the Spring and again in late summer. I took these pix about a month ago and the elephant ears are absolutely ridiculous now! I actually think we should not plant as many next year, or plant them somewhere else in the yard because they are getting to be the size of literal elephant’s ears!

  7. kristin says:

    Oh and while we do use sunscreen…this is Memphis and that is a bottle of OFF!

    *Colonial Acres (and Sea Isle…I think we live in Sea Isle and Lee in Colonial Acres proper, but everyone calls all of it Colonial Acres now) IS indeed becoming something, can’t really tell what! It definitely is the up & coming neighborhood for first time homebuyers that are young marrieds and small families. The general mindset of the young & hip, however, is still firmly/stubbornly entrenched in the Midtown area, where I grew up, which was the first suburb of Memphis built in the 1920’s.

    I was very reticent to purchase “out East” but was priced out of Midtown and fell in love with this 978 sq. foot ranch and its comfy yet wide open floor plan and the lean angles and simple grace of the exterior. It was the best decision we made to relocate from a Midtown rental to this neighborhood–it is surprisingly diverse with original 70+ year old homeowners included (though the hip Midtowners think their neighborhoods are the only diverse areas of Memphis!) and it is only 15 minutes from Downtown. It is home to two great parks, situated blocks from numerous restaurants, groceries and shops and home to some wonderful people like Lee, who are equally as in love with the 50’s way of life as we are!

  8. Jeanne says:

    Great patio set to find curb-side! What a treasure! Unfortunately I have to say “go Blue” haha, but I can appreciate seeing the Spartan flag down in Memphis, being from Michigan. 🙂 I love the built-in planter box.

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