Great story, Michelle! I love reading accounts of people recognizing the potential in a place and taking the time (even if it is paycheck to paycheck!) to do the work. Our stories are too open-ended to be used for This Old House and the work is hard, but I always find it entertaining and satisfying to step back from a project and pronounce it finished.
The morning is cloudy here so my vitex doesn't show up as well as it can, but the last photo added today, when compared with the second photo in the set, shows a lot of growth. I saw one of these along a nearby road and drove by slowly many times until I figured out what it was. It's one of those multi-stemmed tall shrubs/small trees that smells wonderful any time you brush against it, and when it is in bloom has a wonderful sweet scent.
Keeping before and after photos helps boost the satisfaction in completing a job. I hope, Bobert, that you're taking some "before" photos so next spring you can stand in the same spots and see the huge difference just a year makes in those gardens and in the house. Get started on this this morning--get out the camera and shoot a roll or two while you're resting up from digging holes and jump-starting tractors.