January 26, 2012

The Corrections - 2nd Installment


This is the second installment in a list of corrective actions that I must take in 2012 in my gardens.  It's starting to overwhelm me.  All the work. 


A Correction: I must do something about the front walk.

I liked it a couple years ago when the green buns of chamaecyparis and the little shrub itea and the pretty winter-flowering heath all worked together, and there were tulips and flowering onions in spring.  But even then the horizontal overwhelmed the vertical in this strip and I knew it.

In 2010 a family of voles came to the same conclusion, and helped me out by removing every single shrub and bulb, from the roots up.  They destroyed all living plants in this strip.  In 2011 I had to start over.
Originally there were tulips . . .
. . .  followed by globe onions and rosy garlic and yellow allium moly to welcome you along the walk. . . .
. . .and originally I liked the fall colors and textures.  But the voles and I agreed it was all too horizontal.



In 2011 almost everything was removed.  I stuck in zinnias and irises and gaura from other parts of the garden and it looked chaotic.  I was not happy with it.  In 2012 I must make changes.
Not happy with this last summer.
  • The Correction: dig it all up and start over.
  • Degree of Difficulty: not too bad, the soil is loose and crumbly and the space is small.  But what to plant?


Another Project:  I must prepare for a garden tour.

On July 15, 2012 visitors from the New England Wildflower Society are coming to my garden, to study it during a two hour guided tour conducted by Ellen Sousa, who will be demonstrating how to create wildlife habitat even if you live in a development in the suburbs with covenants and homeowner restrictions.

I am a little stunned I said yes.

Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple' (St. Johnswort) in my garden. Not native. Invasive in fact.

I must mulch, edge, remove non-performers, add color, move the struggling plants and re-plant in the gaps.  Widen, amend and prune.  Find abandoned tools and put them away.  Fertilize.  Chop back as much of the bittersweet as I can reach.

I must decide what to do about the most egregious non-natives (hypericum, should I keep it?)  Get everything in the newer gardens to grow two seasons' worth of foliage.  Replant all of the tree saplings I lost on the back hill, or at least a dozen of them.  Remove dead things.

Weed.  Thin out the bunchy stuff.  Plant up the bare places.  Redecorate the compost dump.  Water everything since it will be hot and dry and 100 degrees then.

  • The Correction: hide until the visitors go away. 
  • Degree of Difficulty: daunting.

19 comments:

  1. Nothing like a garden tour to get one into gear. It will all come together and you will be proud of your garden. Of course you will need a vacation after all the work. :)

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    1. Lisa, I'm looking forward to that "vacation" after the garden tour : )

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  2. This *does* sound daunting. And fun. And that hypericum is too pretty to remove!

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    1. Heather, the hypericum stays, I think. I really like it, and it has beautiful maroon foliage in spring too. But I do have to pull up lots of aggressive seedlings.

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  3. In spite of the pressure you feel to make your garden 'perfect' remember gardens are a work in progress. Do what you must to please yourself then have your to-do list available so your visitors understand the ongoing work you have planned. I'll bet they all will feel at home since this is how most gardeners work ... there's ALWAYS more to do and fix.

    I have no doubt you will make it all work.

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    1. Thanks, Joene. I need to remember these visitors are coming to see the messy, open wildlife habitat, and not my pristine tightly edged neat foundation beds!

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  4. Isn't it fun that a garden is never done! Good luck with the garden tour! It sounds like a great honor, and I am sure it will be a special treat for your visitors. You can even point out that your garden has been an especially good habitat for the voles!

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    1. Deborah, not only can I claim a vole-rich habitat, but the ugly little critters attract hawks and our resident bobcat, a feral housecat, and other predators. It's wonderful to see the whole web of nature. Just wish the voles would stay out in the meadow and leave my expensive plants alone.

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  5. A well deserved honor Laurrie! It's easy to say, but try to relax and enjoy your visitors - in all likelihood their gardens aren't perfect, and they'll want to know how you made such a wonderful space. You've made a garden attractive to wildlife that also has a pleasing structure holding it all together, not often are the two combined :)I can't wait to see what you do along the front path - it's definitely an opportunity to do something bold and interesting...

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    1. Cyndy, thanks for the encouragement. I do want to do something bold and interesting in the front walk, but boldness in design is a stretch for me. I wish I had your artistic eye . . . it's such a small area, though, that I could get outside my comfort zone and not do too much aesthetic damage!!

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  6. Your front walk is almost identical to mine! On one side I have helleri hollies that the builder put in that are happy and green. On the other side I have a bed that I always fill with annuals that I am in the process of widening. I think the bed by the brick wall needs something tallish and billowy, such as a nepeta which will love any reflected heat off the bricks. It will tumble onto the concrete and soften it a bit. Or you could put in 'White Ball' dwarf butterfly bush. It gets about 3 ft tall. Tallish asters would be pretty, too. What about some beautiful ornamental grasses like pennisetum or miscanthus? Maybe a golden hued grass would be striking.

    As for the second job, just tackle it a bit everyday and focus on the satisfaction you'll have when it's over. Congrats on the honor!!

    I pulled out ALL of my hypericum when it started to take over. It's cons outweighed its pro's and it had to go.

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    1. Tammy, as always you have thoughtful plant suggestions. I definitely need taller things in there, and I like the nepeta if I could keep it from billowing all the way across the walk : )

      A dwarf butterly bush would love the dry sunny site, and a white one against the brick would be sharp. Thinking, thinking, hmmm.

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    2. Caryopteris would be great, too. Nepeta grows best with an early summer chop to keep it thick and to control its sprawl. Blue mist flower would be pretty, too as would a tall sedum. Or you could clear the entire area and put in cool containers of various heights to add a bit of punch. If all the containers were the same material, just different forms, it would make a really distinctive container garden. You could add mulch or creeping jenny at the bottom to fill in the spots between the containers. It might sound weird in words, but in my head it looks great! LOL! :o)

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    3. OK, now you have me. Containers of various heights, not the putzy little ones I have, and not just three of them, but if I invested in several striking large containers of different sizes but consistent material/ color as you suggest . . .

      That might get me to Cyndy's advice to go bold, and it would give me color and more formal structure if I cleared all the blowsy jumbled foliage out and made this a container garden.

      Must go on Pinterest and find ideas for staggering heights of containers and for container gardens in general. I do love a research project!

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    4. Do you have a Home Goods store near you? We have one close that always has incredible ceramic containers significantly cheaper than our garden center. It's worth checking out!!

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  7. A tour!! congratulations and best of luck? ;-) I joke, your garden always looks wonderful in your photos and you've done a huge amount of work there. I'm sure visitors will be thrilled to get a look at it. Perhaps some vertical grasses in the strip next to the house?

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    1. Marguerite, thanks for the vote of confidence. I keep reminding myself the visitors will want to see the weedy meadow, full of wildlife habitat. Not so much my exquisite (in my mind) garden designs or perfect plant combos : )

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  8. I like the second photo of your walk with the alliums; I agree the taller plants really do look better. This sounds like a fun project, allowing you to try some new plant combinations. The garden tour, however, does sound daunting, and I would be stressed out, too. But your garden always looks lovely, and I'm sure your visitors will think so, too!

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    1. Rose, thanks so much. I am having fun thinking what to do with the front strip, working on plant combos and ideas!

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