Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In the beginning

These photos were taken on the day I first saw the cottage on 7th street. I can't explain what I saw about this place that I liked. Maybe it was the house crying out in desperation. It was a tenant occupied rental.

I've spent the last year and a half working on reclaiming parts of the yard. I've also removed all the overgrown shrubs from the front and rear of the house. The deck was torn down and replaced with a smaller porch that leads to the back yard. Planting beds have been added along the edges of the property where there is full sun.

The new beds will hold a variety of things. Beside the driveway is the perennial bed. Here I have knockout roses (I don't want to fuss with roses yet), coreopsis 'full moon', Stargazer lilies, verbena, hardy hibiscus, shasta daisies, rudbeckia, and echinacea. All of these plants were either purchased by me, were a gift, or were started from seed in 2007.

The rear beds will have two distinct functions. Against the house will be the moon garden. This bed already contains a couple of gardenias that I grew from cuttings, a variegated gardenia bought at the farmer's market in Greeensboro, a hardy kleim gardenia purchased from a local nursery, and a purple azalea that was hard pruned to the ground and has returned. I've also scattered a few ginger lilies and several Dietes bicolor: African lily.

f. tea olive and gardenias

Two fragrant tea olives were planted in June 2008, osmanthus fragrans. I've already purchased and cut the concrete mesh material I plan to use for trellises on the back of the house. On one, I will plant cuttings that I rooted from a confederate jasmine. On the other, moonvines will grow as an annual. I like the mesh material because it rusts. During the winter, I can remove the dead moonvine and the trellis will blend in with the red brick of the house.

The other rear bed will be part moon garden and part vegetable plants. I'm reading about companion planting now for ideas. This bed was originally overgrown with maples, oaks, and elms. Clearing this out, I uncovered 28 concrete blocks. I used most of them to build a raised bed on the other side of the "hill". That's the base for my PVC cold frame. I'll use it the rest of the winter to protect my rooted cuttings. In the spring, I'll use it to get a jump on the annuals and tender veggies. In summer, my corn/beans/squash trio will be planted here. I installed a soaker hose under the compost. Last year my corn and squash died from thirst.

Along the chainlink fence, I will be planting castor bean to give the back yard a little privacy from the ever prying eyes of "gramma". Her name is Kat, but she's forever telling Sharon (who lives across the street from her) about what I'm doing in my yard. Heaven forbid she ever get a good look in the windows. I'll use the castor beans as a living trellis for moonvines. The base will be planted with datura. Somewhere in all this I have several white Brugmansia (Ecuador White & Kongmansia) that will need to be planted. Thanks John. :)

The north side of the house will be all impatiens and hosta. I've wintersown the hosta already so I doubt that bed will see much action this year. I'll be starting the impatiens from seed in a few months. I'm glad to know they can be propagated from cuttings fairly easily. I've got a lot of space to fill and I don't want to purchase a single plant this year.

I should also note that I didn't do everything by myself. My entire family came up early one Saturday morning to take down a large oak tree that was leaning in the backyard. That gave me a lot more sunlight. My friend John has helped a lot too. He's helped cut down other trees, spread leaf mulch, rebuilt the deck, and pulled up concrete blocks that were covered with English Ivy. Some of the plants I'm propagating will end up in his yard this summer. If I'm really successful, I may even try to have a plant sale in late spring.

So that's where things are right now. The leaf mulch is composting on the ground. I've got the compost bin half full of good brown stuff. There are earthworms tilling away at the soil beneath my new beds. And I'm beat. Too bad I haven't even started gardening yet.

You can see all the photos including some of the flowers from this year at my Photobucket album.

1 comment:

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi John, I'm glad you found me through the garden forum. I have not been there as often as I was, due to my obsession with blogging. I like your house and yard. You'll have fun with it in the spring. Just one thing to consider when planting white, is that some white flowers look dirty when they are fading, and if you don't like that look, you'll want to keep up with the deadheading.