Friday, February 13, 2009

What's in a name?

As I've worked to reclaim parts of the yard that were lost over time to overgrown shrubs and self planted trees, I've given names to almost every section of the yard. I haven't been very original with the names. Instead, they are utilitarian in regards to either location or purpose.

So far, I have:

The Perennial Garden - runs North to South along the driveway. Mostly perennial plants, some shrubs, and ornamental grasses. The birdbath is located here as well as an arbor for climbing roses. This area receives some morning sun in summer with direct, hot afternoon sun. In winter, it receives dappled sunlight all day.

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The Front Bed - runs from the front steps to the basement door. A very dry garden with poor soil and horrible moisture retention. This bed was filled with azaleas and boxwoods when I moved in. It was the first bed I cleared. A few foundation plantings have been installed. A Japanese Maple was planted here in 2008. Long blooming perennials such as coreopsis and salvia will be installed this spring. When the front stoop roof is rebuilt, a climbing rose will be incorporated into the design to grace the front entry and hide the broken, cracked bricks of the steps. Ideally, I would like to rebuild the steps, but the cost involved makes me think hiding the problem is more realistic. Structurally, only the roof needs to be replaced. Mostly full sun regardless of season, the area under the living room window receives the most sun.

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The Daylily Bed - runs along both retaining walls parallel to the driveway. Ditch lilies and spider lilies were transplanted last year. Wintersown daylilies will be placed here once they germinate. The area receives early morning and late afternoon sun all year.

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The Rear Bed - runs along the back of the house. This bed contains strawberries, gardenias, ginger lilies, African lilies, and a few dwarf ornamental grasses. From the a/c unit to the Northeast corner, this portion of the bed will be planted with white flowering plants to coordinate with the moon garden. A patio will eventually be installed to span what currently almost resembles a lawn between the rear bed and the moon garden. It will be a nice place to sit in the evenings after the mosquitoes have gone to bed. Receives full sun until midday.

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The Moon Garden - A triangular piece of ground to the rear of the house. This bed was filled with dying azaleas and overgrown boxwoods. Cleared of everything, I have installed mock orange, buddelia 'White Profusion', two common gardenias, and scabiosa. Shasta daisies and other white blooming plants will be placed here as the wintersown sprouts are ready. I have nicotiana, brugmansia, datura inoxia, petunias, and others planned for this area. In summer, this bed receives some morning and afternoon sun.

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The Potager - runs from the lower corner of the moon garden along the edge of the "woods" to the hammock. This area will be for food production this summer. I've cleared out more overgrown shrubs, some small trees, lots of ivy and periwinkle. I tilled the soil to a depth of 8" and added 4-6" of leaf mulch this winter. The paths between the planting beds are covered with wood mulch. Very acidic, the soil needs another application of lime this spring. I chose this area for the veggies because it receives the most sun of any part of the yard. For about 2 hours each day, the large oak across the driveway blocks only a small portion of sunlight.

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The North Bed - runs along the north side of the house. This is one of my two most neglected beds. I currently have hosta bulbs planted. Along the wall that borders this space, I placed Leyland Cypress trees on 8' centers. Although the bed is long and narrow already, I hope these will grow upright and provide a natural visual and physical barrier. Anything to block that chain link fence will be an improvement. This area receives only morning sunlight. Plants will have to be tolerant of extremely heavy shade conditions. Finding shrubs for this bed has been a challenge.

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The Shade Garden - directly beneath the dining room window beside the front steps. This bed was also filled with overgrown shrubs. Everything was removed and the soil was tilled to about 8". Shredded leaves were incorporated into the soil. A single small camellia still exists in this bed. Nothing else has managed to grow well here. I would like to plant gardenias here, but the soil is far too acidic. I'm planning to plant this area with impatiens this summer. I may need to amend the soil further. We'll consider it a test run. This bed receives minimal sunlight in summer and dappled afternoon sun in winter.

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The Back Border - runs from the hammock to the edge of the gully. This area is the hardest to visualize. I've planted a few forsythia and buddelia so far. Existing plants include mock orange, a lavender crepe myrtle, lots of periwinkle, and nandinas. A few boxwoods continue to regrow from the roots regardless of how many times I try to get rid of them. Daffodils sprout each spring at the base of some trees. Just beyond the edge of the border, an Eastern Redbud provides a little spring color. This area receives some morning sun, but more afternoon sun especially in summer.

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The Gully - runs along the property line to the from the back border to the street. By far, this is the area in most need to serious work. Over the years, it became a dumping ground for stumps and tree limbs and broken bricks/concrete. I've planted a couple redtwig dogwoods, small privet transplants, and have lots of pussywillow that I plan to install in a few weeks once the cuttings are better rooted. During rain storms, this area is saturated. I would like to create a rain garden in this area, but the cleanup necessary would be too much for me to handle without serious landscaping machinery. Instead, I've chosen to hide the gully and allow it to revert to a more natural state. It's full of wildlife including a variety of birds, squirrels, and snakes. Lots of snakes. The ground is covered with English Ivy. Privet grows uncontrolled here. The area receives sun until noon in every season. A large magnolia is the only positive aspect of this area. I have yet to see it bloom.

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The Azalea Bed - between the concrete slab of the driveway and the perennial bed. In 2008, I planted 50 azaleas along the edge of the gully. Due to taking out several large trees and opening up more of the backyard, the azaleas were taking a beating from the late afternoon sun. I moved them in the fall to this area. In the center of the bed is the large oak tree. In the fall, thousands upon thousands of acorns litter the ground. There are 4 camellias regrowing from their roots. Only two were visible when I purchased the property. Two are red bloomers with the other two unknown. Obviously a very acidic area, the azaleas should appreciate the woodland settings. Spider lilies and trumpet vine have naturalized along the ground. English Ivy is slowly creeping back in. The azaleas will have mature sizes of 4-10' tall and wide. The area receives dappled sunlight in all seasons. The end closest to the street receives some late afternoon sun in summer. Rose of Sharon is planted as an edge separating the bed from the perennial garden.

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The Slope - runs from the front walkway steps along the top of the retaining wall, turns north and runs parallel to the street to the stone wall. This area was "grass" when I moved in. Full of weeds and a pain to mow, I killed the vegetation here and planted periwinkle last February. This year, I'm trying to finish the project along the street edge. In the corner is another large oak tree. Daffodils and tulips ring the base of the tree in spring. In summer, violet queen regrows from the roots. A self-sown petunia sprouted here last spring. I scattered seeds all summer hoping more will grow this year. The periwinkle seems to be adept at handling the hot, dry soil better than the "lawn" did. This area receives full sun on the walkway end and dappled sun on the street edge.

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My greatest challenge has been trying to create a cohesive plan that ties all these different areas together. One thing is certain, with all the wintersown perennials, annuals, shrubs, and trees, I should make a large dent in the plans I've made for all these areas. I just hope it looks like there was a plan when I'm finished. I also expect it to take 3-5 years to mature.

I've also got to start thinking about repairs to the house itself. Around the roof, there is wooden trim that has lots of peeling paint and some rotting wood. The gutters were replaced when the new shingles were installed before closing. The previous owner paid for this work as a condition of the sale contract. The front porch cover also needs to be removed and rebuilt. I would like to incorporate an arched design here as well. Handrails need to be built. A few bricks need to be replaced. All the walls need some sort of stone or brick cap. The kitchen door needs to be replaced to match the other two. The side porch needs to be painted. I want to install some sort of roof over that door as well. I want to add a full glass storm door to the front of the house. The list goes on and on.

There are lots of plans are in my head, many of them expensive to carry out. I have to remember that everything takes time. Patience is not something I have a lot of.

5 comments:

Sue said...

You have a great area and it looks like you can grow a wide variety of plants. I'm looking forward to seeing updates.

Tom said...

Me too Sue. I wanted to start with almost a clean slate. It took me two years to define the yard. And I'm still working on parts of that. Wintersowing and propagating through cuttings is really making it inexpensive. Trading on GardenWeb helps a lot too.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

No wonder you've done so much winter sowing. You have a huge yard. I was just wondering the other day if people name parts of their yard like I do.

Tom said...

Yes, it is a large yard. The entire lot is just over 1/2 acre. The perennial bed is about 40' long and 12-18' wide depending on where you measure. The path takes a lot of space, but you have to walk somewhere. All the beds take up more grass that I don't have to mow. I can barely get grass to grow on top of the packed clay "soil" I have here. I really need to invest in some topsoil for the backyard. Maybe once I get all the plants in I'll worry about what grows underfoot. Right now I just call it an eco-lawn. Lots of clover, ornamental strawberries, moss, bermuda grass, and violets.

Lindab said...

Hi - just found your blog. What a lovely big garden to develop - I'll enjoy returning and watching it progress. It's always nice to sit back and see someone else's work!