Monday, September 24, 2007

Fence Garden: Season end review

In May, I planted my first garden, which I call the "Fence Garden" because it's against the fence (how original, I know). This was the first area that I planted from scratch, as opposed to taking care of the previous owner's plants, or adding here and there.

I know already that I made some mistakes -- mistakes that can be easily fixed next year -- but I was really excited at seeing how this area developed in it's first year, what worked, and what didn't.

For more photos -- click here.

I pretty much had to replace everything on the west end of this garden, which I deliriously thought got more sun than it does. So out went the geraniums, bellflowers, and coneflower that constantly fell over, and in went some ferns and pulmonaria.

I also realize that I should have thought more about "foundation" plants: shrubs and evergreens that would give this more of a footprint. After being reminded by Carolyn to add these, I put in a boxwood and eunymous as an afterthought. Had I thought about this better, I could/should have chosen a lovely shrub which would have given me some nice foliage, flowers, and autumn interest.

In addition, the grass I have is sad ( it was from my grandpa's yard). Another tall grass I think would give this garden some needed height. I also think some more plantings in the front would be good, since I've learned that plants in shade tend to grow slower.

I should have also listened to Carolyn when she suggested adding in some annuals to cover the many bare areas; but I was spending so much money on plants by that time I couldn't do anymore. But I think that I will be more attentive to the bare areas in my garden as a general rule; and I realize that such thing like impatiens really spread as the season goes so a little goes a long way.

But all in all, I feel like I was very successful because last year I was told that I was on the wrong side of the fence, and that nothing would grow here.

NIMG (Not in My Garden)

A while back, Blackswamp Girl, talked about the idea of NIMG -- Not in My Garden. These are things that won't ever happen in your garden -- for whatever reason: you don't like them, you don't have the climate/soil/sun, you don't have the time/patience, or basically, it's just not going to happen.

After a weekend in Lake Geneva with Matt's parents, I found some things that I would call NIMG, so I thought I'd join in on the meme, albeit late.
A Gazebo: I love these, and they make me think of Victorian houses. But in my 70's split level with no backyard, where would I put one that wouldn't look ridiculous. I think they definitely need the right spot, like this one up on a small hill that is overlooking the Lake.

A perfectly manicured, landscaped lawn: I think you can tell when someone has hired a landscaper. Things tend to look neat -- 3 of those, 5 of those, and so on. I tend to just plant what I want, where I want so I'll never achieve this look. And that's okay with me. (Although in this case, I like how the shrubs are more wild and not all Edward Scissor-hands).

Freddy Kreuger edging: That's what I call this razor sharp piercing in the ground. I can't believe a human can actually do this. Matt and I have tried umpteenth times, and what we get is not fit to post. I like this and I don't like this, but either way it's a NIMG cause I can't do it.

Now, this I love. It's just like me: neat, but all wild at the same time. It doesn't have the "appearance" of a neatly manicured lawn, but things are in order; that's kind of my style. The ivy on the house is just perfect with the style of house, and the boxwoods are cute like soldiers holding back the ground cover from taking over (and loose, not rounded). I dunno, I think this is quaint. I'd like it, but I don't know how to get it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - September

I wrote this post early, but then got sidetracked with the house renovation!

Most of what I have in bloom have been around all summer ... they just keep going and going... much like the Energizer Bunny.

My Roses are still blooming strong well into September. I thank the previous owners for these because I'm scared to plant roses. But for some reason I like roses too much to kill them. These roses did wonderful this year, but my climbing roses didn't bloom at all.
Pink Impatiens -- This might be on a lot of lists as something people hate (or NIMG), but c'mon, what's not to love?! And my cute edger that they pop through ... I love this look. Go ahead, call me names behind my back...
Fringed bleeding heart -- do you see a pink theme here? I read in a book and the author called this a high maintenance plant and she didn't like them. Pshaw. I love everything about this plant (except that it's hard to nearly impossible to transplant); especially the color of the greens. This isn't a good picture of it, it's nestled between some heuchera and hostas, with some black eyed susans in the background.

Grasses -- These are 2 grasses that are in "bloom" I guess. I'm not what they are off-hand.

Here's a wild sunflower that I came theees close to pulling out because I didn't know what it was. I got this at the Native Plant sale last year, but I didn't realize it gets tall and flops over. He's happy sort of laying on this rock.

Other plants: black eyed susans, garden phlox...

Almost ... but not quite there yet...

I say not quite there on the sedum because some are in bloom and some aren't and most of them are half-way there. Here's some sedum under a variagated grass and next to some lungwarts. It doesn't get that much sun here, but they managed to bloom.

And finally ... My giant Home Depot Mum that was not supposed to come back. I bought this for fall color my first year here and literally threw it in the ground not thinking it would come back, triple it's size. Now it's back for year 3, although I trimmed it back throughout the season thanks to advice I got last year (see, I remember). It's still a behemoth, but better. And it's just about to bloom, but alas no cigar.

Bulbs planted

For the first time ever, I planted bulbs. And guess what? It's supposed to get to 40 degrees tonight. Whenever I plant something I always say, "If it grow, it'll be a miracle!" Well this is no exception. The only thing to do is wait until next Spring and see what comes up through the ground.

Stay Tuned!

So I don't forget, here's where I planted the bulbs:

1) along the fence (tulips mid-late spring bloomers)

2)Various areas in the southwest garden bed (3 varieties: early tulips, late tulips, and hyacinths)

Here I also experimented with layering, so I put the early and late tulips together in the same row, so I'll see if that works with the 2 bloom times.
3) Front yard by the front door (early tulips by heucheras, late tulips by hydrangea)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Irises and Tulips

The other day, braving the mosquitoes that have taken over my backyard, I divided this clump of crimson irises. These are such gorgeous flowers, the deep red color is such a contract so all the green in my yard. As with most of the plants in my yard, I inherited these from the previous owners. After division, I ended up with about 50 rhizomes; I replanted about 20+ around the yard, gave 10 to my mom, and have about 20 more to give away or find homes for.

For my own documentation, I placed the rhizomes:
- 10 in the original spot
- clump of 3 next to original spot
- 3 mixed with the purple irises in kitchen garden
- 2 mixed with purple irises in triangle garden
- 2 clumps of 3 along new path in southwest garden
- clump of 3 between coral bell/oakleaf hydrangea in front sun area

I also went to Home Depot today and bought bulbs. I'm sure the big 'ol HD is not the best place for this, but since I'm experimenting, I didn't feel the need to go all fancy. My idea is to have a tulip garden ...somewhere where another plant will grow larger in summer to cover the dying greens.

This may sound crazy, but I'm actually thinking of planting some along the fence. As my neighbors 'annabelle' hydrangeas get big, they spill over into my yard. But in the early-mid-late spring stages, they aren't that big yet. Wouldn't it be quaint and cottag-y to have tulips along the picket fence?

This photo is in July, when the annabelles are at their prime.

The other idea is to incorporate a tulip garden into my southwest garden.

This is the area that I completely demolished this summer, slowly trying to eradicate the ground cover, weeds, and overgrown ferns. I called it "taking back my garden" job. It was the area that just had a life of it's own and I hated walking back there for sheer fear of my life. Next spring, I'll plant the area, but I can always put the tulips in the 1/2 circle area around the tree that I formed by the stone path.

I still have some extraneous ground cover lurching about, but I'm going to leave them. I just wanted to "tame" the wild beast.

It's only early Sept so I have time to think about it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


So this is not really garden-related ... but our 4th anniversary was the other day and my mom picked us up this cute vase.
Not too long ago we stopped into this re-sale shop that specializes in mid-century modern funiture and fixtures and we loved the "spaceship" designs of the 1950's. My mom said this reminded her of that (and could possible even be an antique). It had holes on the top so each flower stem goes in individually.

And speaking of non-garden related (except that almost every gardener has cats), here's a picture of our new kitten Guiness getting caught in the couch.

He's such a doll except that he likes to jump on Mini's (our older cat) back and attack her. But then she bites his "unmentionables" (is this a family friendly blog?), so I guess all's fair in love and war.

Two Apple Trees

When we bought our house, I was amazed at the sheer number of trees squeezed on this 50 x 135 lot.
  • 2 in the back (a serviceberry and a "unknown" as of yet)
  • 1 on the side (Apple)
  • 5 in the front (plum, 2 colorado blue spruce, another apple, and a crabapple) -- not counting the 2 huge trees (maples?) that sit on our lot line but "technically" belong to our neighbors. Since all their leaves fall on our lot, I count those too.
So let's see...10. 10 trees. No wonder I have a shade garden.

Try and find the house

But I'm not complaining, I love the trees and I love the cool shade. Our house on our block looks like those farm houses -- you know those that have all the trees surrounding them to shelter the house from the tornado when everything else around is flat and treeless. It's kind of cool, like our house is a secret-secluded cottage (read: split level) smacked in suburbia.

But this leads me to the purpose of this entry: The 2 apple trees. If I say I don't like them, will I be forever banished? But I don't. If I had an acre, I would LOVE to have fruit trees -- but away from my house. One of our trees is right by our garage so every apple falls into our driveway, immediately get squashed, and becomes a haven for bees and flies from the three neighboring counties.I like attracting important insects (bees, not flies) to my yard, but that's why I have flowers. I don't want to attract them this way. I opened my car door today and 5 flies flew in. When I try and sweep the apples, I'm waiting to get stung by a bee.

I don't even want to eat the apples (not after they fall onto
the driveway that's for sure). So Matt and I decided to just cut them down.

Here's the two trees:

The one on the side of house isn't as big of a nuisence, but it's hard to garden on that side because of so many insects flying around. I like a tree there so I'm hoping to replace it with a smaller tree -- maybe a Japanese Maple variety (I don't have one of those).

Friday, September 07, 2007


I have been finding all these baby hostas and baby heucheras growing between my paving stones. Just like any baby, they are so cute.
I can't bring myself to pull them out and throw them away because all that's going through my mind is: FREE PLANTS! FREE PLANTS!

Here's one I planted earlier in the summer and so far it's pretty big. I just hope big enough to make it through the summer.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Garden Bloggers Muse Day

The garden in August
Fallen purple flowers
Dead and dying ‘susans
everywhere I look.

Fallen apples, eaten
half-way by the squirrels
Bees and flies abundance
everywhere I walk.

Lazy, dazy evenings
under the purple moonlight
Legs up on the table
staring overhead.

End of summer fading
as so are the bloomings
nights still warm and breezy

Just the way I like it.

Note: Totally irrelevant photo taken last yr in Sugutuck, MI

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Fence Garden

2005 - photo May 05

2006 - Photo May 06

2007 -- New Garden Bed made May 07
Photo Sept 07
  • Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra 'Luxurient')
  • Euonymous 'Emereld Gaity'
  • Heuchura (2 Coral Bells, 2 Purple Unknown)
  • Boxwood 'Green Mountain' (Buxus Microphylla 'Green Mountain')
  • Wild Geranium (planted 2005)
  • 2 Hostas (kind?)
  • Pulmonaria
  • Ornamental grass

2008 - photo July 08

Photo Sept 08

  • Removed the grass (not enough sun)
  • Added carmel heuchera
  • Added Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost
  • Added astilbes
Want to add 2 shrubs -- PeeWee Oakleaf hydrangea (bought, will arrive April 09) & dwarf fothergilla

Porch Garden

We have a screened porch off the back of the house, and this is the garden that is against the porch.

2005: It must not have even been that nice when we moved in because I have no photo of it.

2006: "This area is looking worse and worse!"

Plants: Tall grass, sedum, vinca, coneflower. In late summer, added more sedum and lungworts.

June 2006

2007, I vowed not to neglect it anymore. I added:

--Added more sedum along both edges
--Some purple coneflowers reseeded here too.
--I barricaded the sedum and Lungwarts with stones I found in my garden.
--I cleaned out the vinca except for in 1 area in the back where it looks good.

--I added a small astilbe, columbine, and small hosta I found elsewhere in the garden

September 2007

2008: This area continues to look good. It really comes into it's own later in the season when the grass is big.

--This year I added pink impatiens and it really looked cute.

July 2008

August in Review

I seemed to have done a lot more this month than it would seem ... (I apologize for the messiness of this blog entry!)

1. I planted some new plants -- I was hoping to snag some super deals, but I must not have the insider information. I got some plants "cheaper" but not like a steal.

Earlier this month I got these 3 1-year old plants for like a buck (okay, maybe I did get a steal). They are: oriental poppy, white yarrow, and potentilla (I think it's a marsh cinquefoil). I put them in the front of the house to get established, we'll see how they do. I have to remember not to pull out the poppy, it's awfully reminiscent of a WEED!

I also got 2 purple palace heucheras, an astilbe with red flowers (I have the name somewhere!), and another japanese painted fern.

Against the walkway are existing daylillies (stella d'oro) and a japanese barberry. Flanking the barberry the PO (previous owners) put 2 wintercreepers. But I moved one of them (too symmetrical) and I was left with a whole to fill. I put these plants there but I'm not loving it. I think they'll outgrow this space too soon, I like the purples together against the barberry but it looks hodge-podgy. I'll move them next year.

I also got to more lady's mantle. I just fell in love with their satin soft chartreuse leaves.

2. I bought garden schtuff too.

I couldn't resist. Our beloved cat passed away in january and I always meant to get a memorial statue for her. So I finally did. It's called "Philospher" cat. Although this stance I refer to as "cat staring into space." I also picked up more edgers for my "english" garden area and it really completes this.

Finally -- another pot. I can't pass up a good 50% sale on large pots.

3. Some gardening took place -- well, hardscapes...

I've been wanting to put a path between the walkway and the driveway/garage, because Matt and I always cut through the garden. We're lazy. We admit it. So in digging up the side yard (see next point), I found --what luck! --a few flagstone. And large ones to boot. I also dug up about 20 more bricks (what is the deal?!) So I started the pathway, now I either have to buy (heaven forbid) more flagstone, or maybe I'll luck out and find more buried beneath.

This is the walkway between us and our neighbors. I have here: pulmonaria, hostas, irises, heucheras, a very large Astilbe, and lily of the valley. If I give the LOTV full reign, they would take over the world. So I added this plastic edger to give the space dome defintion and keep the LOTV at bay. I'm not in for plastic, but I needed something plyable and it's just the side. My neighbor likes it, and so does Matt. I do too, it just doesn't look super professional.

That's all for now -- oh wait, I'm still clearing out the southwest garden (will be ready to plant for next year), and I'm slowly getting those bricks in the front in. So much to do, so little time!