Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Flagstone walkway inspiration

My previous post shows the flagstone walkway we just put in around our new vegetable area. You may have noticed a green pot sitting in the middle of the walkway. That wasn't a mistake (although the actual green pot may not be what we use in the end).

My inspiration for this walkway with the vase came from the Herb Gardens at the Janesville, WI Rotary Gardens. I visited these with my mom and the kids over the summer and was taken with the 3 small Herb Gardens that were flagstone walkways flanked with low lying herbs. The walkways expanded out and in the center was a vase filled with plants, or a statue. It was a lovely focal point and I wanted to emulate that look.

Here are some of the photos.

Backyard Garden: Vegetable Garden flagstone patio

Our September project was building the hardscape of the vegetable garden.  In April, I posted the plan for the vegetable garden per our landscape designer and it's problems. We had all summer to think about the vegetable area with not much initiative, so what got our butts in action in September?

Free flagstone.

The garden PLAN

Our neighbors were going to tear out their flagstone patio and wanted to get rid of it all.  Never one to turn down some free flagstone - even if the plan ddn't call for it - we decided to take it and that helped kick star us into figuring out how this area was going to look.

The area BEFORE

In the end we didn't detract from the overall "idea" of the landscape designer. We just had to tweak it to fit A) flagstone (not square 4x4 pads) and B) the attached shed which we decided to keep (and the plan doesn't have).

Pulling up the old pavers, leveling out the sand

We made the garden beds more rounded, keeping with the flow of the other garden beds (as opposed to the square beds in the design), although the placement of them still causes concern for te types of vegetable we are going to plant.

Laying the new flagstone

Against the house, I hesitate to plant veggies because I don't want to water close to the foundation. And the other bed, I hesitate to plant anything that gets messy looking because it's out in the open. So the vegetable aspect is still a work in progress.

Adding extra topsoil, compost and sand between the stones

On the other hand, this area is very hot and sunny so I can play with different plants that I can't otherwise have in my backyard garden beds.

Adding the mulch

To be continued next Spring ...

Larry, Darryl, & Darryl: The Judd Viburnums

That was my affectionate name for the 3 Judd Viburnum in our front yard, planted by previous owners.  Larry stands alone at the front, while Darryl & Darryl stay behind like guardsmen on either side of the walkway.

July 13, 2013
 October 5, 2013

I've tended to Larry, Darryl & Darryl for the last 8 years and I love(d) them for their fragrance in the springtime, their gorgeous velvet foliage, and their lovely fall color.

What I didn't love was having to prune them about 3 times during the summer. As you can clearly see from the photo, these shrubs are large - Judd Viburnum (Viburnum x juddii) reach 6'-8' tall and wide and the previous owners planted Darryl & Darryl only 2 feet from the walkway. I was constantly pruning them back so we could walk to our front door. They were becoming a nuisance.

"Sighted poorly" is often a reason good shrubs get removed and this is what had to happen in our case. After 8 years, we decided that Darryl & Darryl had to go and it was a sad departure. We left Larry, although he seems pretty lonesome. We won't give any new friends until next Spring after we get a new walkway put in. For now, we're enjoying how open the space looks and that you can enjoy seeing the front door & the Oakleaf Hydrangea (both previously hidden away!).

RIP Darryl & Darryl 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

In bloom: Sweet Autumn Clematis

You enter my backyard through an arbor -- that is, until August and then you have to enter my backyard by hacking through Jumanji, the killer Clematis and her henchmen: a swarm of killer bees.

I first wrote about Jumanji in 2006 when I was such a newbie gardener, I didn't even know what it was. Sometimes it's way funnier being in the dark.

Now I know it's a Sweet Autumn Clematis and that this Sweet Clematis killed the other Clematis I had growing here (probably a Nelly Moser which I liked a whole lot better). I didn't plant either of these, I inherited them when we bought the Money Pit 8 years ago.

I swear that this Clematis only started looking like a sheepdog after we lived in the house for 2 years, so either I'm doing something right or doing something wrong. In the Spring, I hack it down. And I mean HACK. I'm not gentle or caring when it comes to the Beast. Then it slowly grows to magnanimous size -- should I be shearing it back again?

Anyway, let's just say you know it's August around here when you can no longer get to my backyard through the side entrance. Although it's not successful at keeping the meter readers away.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

In bloom: Allium 'millennium'

This is another perennial I purchased this Spring from the Arboretum Sale for my new butterfly garden. I've never planted Allium before so I may be jumping the gun here saying that they are in bloom because ... looking at pictures online, they seem to have a globe shape flower and as you can see from my pictures, these guys look like they are just starting off.

 Oh well, I still like the way they look mid-bloom.

I waited another week or so and now the blooms look fully open. Still gorgeous.

Allium Millennium so far is a petit flower and does very well against my patio and partnered with the Lesser Catmint. I have yet to see a butterfly in my butterfly garden however ...

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Backyard: The Kitchen Window Garden in July

This PicStitch is just so much fun ... I had to do aother one for July to see how this garden has grown.
This is a more dramatic change than June was:
  • The white impatiens have filled in finally!
  • I added some ground cover geranium between the boxwood and impatiens. 
  • And I transplanted the Pinky Winky Hydrangea that was in the Vegetable Garden for added height against the attached shed (that was supposed to get removed but we decided against).
  • The sedum on the left hand side have grown almost taller than the boxwoods!
The only thing ... I ended up digging out all the tulip bulbls to plant Pinky Winky so they need a new home...

Friday, August 02, 2013

Front yard: from garden bed to grass ... sacre bleu!

The front yard is a work in progress. We have 2 different landscape plans and have not decided what we are doing but... we did know that the large garden bed closest to the street would have to be converted to grass.

I know ... "Make landscape not lawn," right? 

The beautiful curbside garden in 2006
In this case, we had to make a sensible decision and that was with two little kids (now age 3 & 1) the front area was tipping the scale to "unbearable." I can't have a garden I call "My Neglected Garden" -- and if I do, it probably shouldn't be the garden closest to the curb.

Once the trees came down the garden grew wild (2012)
I tended to it up until our son was born in 2010 and then things just got out of hand -- ground cover wars, weed trees, our beautiful Plum tree finally succombed to the Black Knot, and then the Blue Spruce became sickly. What was once a pretty area with solidago, goatsbeard, and peonies became a garden nightmare.

And let's not forget it's about 15' x 30'!

Everything got ripped out (2013)

So we finally called in a landscaping company to rip everything out, regrade the area, and install sod... ugh. More grass to maintain is not my first choice but in this case, it will have to do.

And grassed up (2013)
And it's not as if my house is lacking in any plants, trees, or shrubs!

Monday, July 29, 2013

In bloom: lesser catmint (calaminth nepeta)

I just purchased this small catmint at the Arboretum sale in the spring and planted it early May 2013. At 12-18" with a mounding habit, it seemed a good fit for my small butterfly garden next to the patio.

Of course it was a tiny sprite when I planted it. Not anymore.

Compact perennials was what I was looking for and I'm pleased with this perennial so far. It has a pretty shape and the short strands of delicate light pink flowers edge the patio nicely. I'm eager to see how this plant grows and fills in.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The backyard garden: Tour of the newly planted yard

By the end of May, we accomplished a major task which was to order and plant all of our shrubs and trees for the backyard garden. Since then, we have been tending, pampering, watering, weeding, and watching them grow. In some cases, the 'watching them grow' bit is an understatement (I'm alluding to my mail order shrubs which I talked about previously).

In many cases I filled in spaces with large perennials that I had around my yard, since most of the shrubs are not even close to full size yet, and it already has a nice lived-in look.

Here is a quick tour around the backyard. (These pictures were taken the middle of June).

Welcome to the Garden (from the side entrance)
After you enter the gate, looking east across the yard (tiny yard)

Standing on the patio looking west

View from patio of more of the fence shrub border

Looking head on at the fence shrub border (1/2 way)

Fence shrub border (2nd 1/2)

View of the patio and the new fence and gate we installed

 My small new butterfly garden off the patio

 The garden along the house/ kitchen window

Saturday, July 06, 2013

In Bloom: Monarda didyma 'Purple Rooster'

Oh my god. What an incredible plant.
I purchased this Bee Balm -- monarda didyma 'purple rooster' -- in Spring 2011 through the Arboretum's Plant Sale. I had never grown Bee Balm before, but I knew it attracted butterflies and was successful in my neighbor's yard (maybe too successful - I think she thins it out regularly), so I wanted to give it a try.**

Planted by the sunny vegetable garden, it sits in a bed of ajuga.

In late 2012, I moved it to the sunny vegetable garden area (facing south-west) because it was in the way of the patio and I didn't want it getting trampled on. Well... it loves it's new home. Almost too much because it shot up 42" tall and 2-1/2 ' wide with blooms all over.  

They are a spectacular purple: deep, rich, magenta.  

I think placing this where it's height and color will be appreciated (i.e. with other green plants) is the best option.  It also has a lovely "romantic" cottage garden feel to it, as well.

The flower heads are large too.
**I think this is what separates gardeners from landscapers -- as a true lover of plants, gardeners want to experience growing and tending to plants and study their quirks. We don't want to limit our plants to "3 of those" and "5 of those" just because it looks more pleasing. I love to grow plants, and when I see something I haven't tried I want to experience it and share my knowledge. If for nothing else, I can enjoy their lovely blooms.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

In Bloom: Hydrangea 'Twist n Shout'

Our three 'Twist n Shout' Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla 'PIIHM-I' (PPAF)) are in full bloom at the start of July.

Planted in Fall 2012 along the back fence as per our landscape plan. At 3-5' tall & wide, they are a nice small shrub for my small backyard.  The original plan called for six (6) shrubs, but cost limited me to three (3) -- and now I am sorry for that because they are beautiful! (And thriving, so far).

When we planted these, we filled them in with our homemade compost and I'm assuming that something in the compost altered the pH because one of the shrubs has very blue flowers!  We normally don't see blue flowers because our soil is not very acidic.

The blue on this hydrangea is dreamy blue!

These are considered "lace-cap" hydrangeas, which look like flat-top blooms. And what I love about this specific hydrangea is how large the bloom heads are. I find the lace-cap hydrangeas to be very romantic - if I could call a plant that!

They are planted along the back fence so I can see them from the patio and my kitchen window. They receive more shade than sun, but seem to like it that way.  These should be blooming all summer long - they probably would have started sooner in June, but its been a cloudy summer so far.