Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finished Shrub Border

Yay, it's finally done!  This is a strip of land adjacent to my large backyard garden that I call the alleyway. Picture this, if you will: my garden is on top of a stone wall, and the alleyway is below it, but is on the stone wall that separates my property from my neighbor's. It slopes away from the garden. It's about the same size as the garden and I couldn't figure out what to do with it. I didn't really want more perennials down there since it's not the easiest place to access. I needed something low maintenance. I'd say it gets mostly sun all year.  My friend Holly gave me two large hollies several years ago and they went in the alleyway due to space and sun requirements.

When I first moved in, the alleyway was full of invasive Japanese knotweed. I spent a summer digging it out as much as I could. I then laid tarps over the area and sprayed anything that popped up with Roundup. I still get occasional stragglers. That stuff is hard to kill, but I'm no longer terrified of it as I once was. If I see it in my neighbors' yards or another part of my yard, I quickly poison it. You have to be vigilant.

So over the years the alleyway was neglected and became completely overrun with weeds. It's a tough spot to photograph, so you'll have to trust me that it was full of pokeweed and other huge and numerous weeds.
A complete jungle.
This June I started clearing it out and decided to transplant various shrubs from my mother's abandoned cottage garden. Wow, she has a lot of shrubs. But first I planted a deutzia that had self-sown in my front border. I'm not sure it made it because I don't seen any leaves, and it looks like two branches are dead. I placed it in between the hollies, toward the front, facing my neighbor's yard.

Deutzia, on the left, looking dead.
My Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea in the front garden flopped in a most unattractive manner after some horrific rainstorms so I moved it to the alley. (That garden is in the process of undergoing a major renovation due to overcrowding issues).

Invincibelle (brown blob near middle) looking quite vincible.
Then I had that hydrangea and an Endless Summer hydrangea sucker and create new plants, so they got transplanted. I also transplanted a huge hydrangea from my mother's garden. These are all grouped together.
Hydrangeas with spirea in front.
Then I transplanted an Anthony Waterer spirea, azalea, rhododendron and peegee hydrangea tree. The rhody was very heavy (over six feet tall) and didn't even fit in my car. My brother had to help me with some of these plants since they're all mature. While transplanting the rhody, I discovered a holly that had self-sown, but it looks nothing like its parents. Another freebie!
Free holly.
Hydrangea tree between hollies (they got a haircut).
Side view of the rhody, looking a little bedraggled.
  I can't wait to see all these plants in the spring.  There's a common pinky-mauvy rhody, hot pink azalea, and one hydrangea of unknown color.  Also, when the Invincibelle suckered, it seemed that the new plant had white blooms, which is my preferred color.  I don't know how this is biologically possible, but I never was very good at science.

I decided to use hay as mulch since it's so much lighter and easier to lug down there.  In the future I'll probably use wood chips like in my other gardens.  Lucy really enjoys the hay.

As I'm typing this I realize that I designed the garden as if looking at it from my neighbor's yard, instead of from my perennial garden or looking at it head-on, with the narrow part as the front.  Did I mess that up?


An Urban Cottage said...

Japanese knotweed. Can we talk? I had a stand about six feet around at the back corner of my yard that I wanted to get rid of. I read everything I could find on the internet and got all different kinds of advice. I waited until the end of the season, just as it was coming into bloom (apparently when the roots are the weakest) and doused the stumps with Round Up. It seemed to have worked but now there's a new bunch over on my neighbors around three feet away. I find that Round Up doesn't work very well. Are you using the Round Up on the tiniest of shoots? Maybe I should be digging them out more. It's just a nightmare.

Anyway, what a great job you've done. It must be very rewarding, especially the part about using things from mom's garden.

Durf said...

It doesn't die easily. I went to the local Agricultural Station for advice. They said the goal was to deplete the plant's energy so it dies. You can keep cutting or mowing it as soon as it gets a few inches or cover it with tarps or old carpeting. I dug most of it up. Some rhizomes were over a foot long. I do try to spray it as soon as I see it coming up. It's been about five years, I think, and every year there are just a few little sprouts here and there. That stuff is so invasive and nasty.