Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Back Garden Renovation

We're in a drought, since spring.  Minimal snow in the winter didn't help.  It's made life difficult because I decided to renovate the back garden, my very first garden.

My initial idea ten years ago was to have roses for bouquets and hydrangeas for beautiful blue color.  There was no design or thought given to the overall landscape.  I am now obsessed with landscape design, although still find it extremely difficult to execute well.  There are so many elements to consider - color, shape, soil type, light conditions, availability and appropriateness of plant material.

So now I feel like I did everything wrong.  It's an odd space, with the main garden atop a stone wall that gets higher as you head farther back.  I might have planted a row of arborvitae in that "alleyway" to block the neighbors and provide a backdrop for the garden.  I don't know.  That might have messed with light conditions and seemed too dark and closed in.  Instead I made it a shrub border using plants from my mother's former cottage garden.  Here it is with the spirea and hydrangea in bloom.  Ignore the plastic bags filled with leaves, please.  And the neighbor's dog cage, which they don't use.

So I've planted four Winter Gem boxwood behind the row of roses to the right of the clematis tuteur.  (Who knew what a tuteur was until Martha Stewart?)

They're soooo tiny. 

Then I decided that the back garden didn't have enough all-season interest so I transplanted beebalm and phlox and relocated some daisies to the end of the boxwood row near the pink azalea.  That necessitated moving hostas and a peach daylily.  That worked out well because (1) I'm determined to get all my poor hostas out of the blazing sun and (2) the peach daylily is an odd color that doesn't really go with my predominant color scheme of purple, pink and bright yellow.  I put it near the bright orange butterfly weed and it looks great.

I also thought I should repeat the yellow coreopsis on the other side of the garden for balance.  And I moved the dark pink peony to be near the other ones because I suspect it doesn't get enough sun (it gets much fewer blooms than the others).  Unfortunately I mangled it in the process and it may take awhile for it to recover.

The color issue really befuddled me for quite awhile.  I thought the pale pink Fairy rose clashed with the marigold yellow Stella D'Oro daylily.  I bought a red beebalm for stronger color to coordinate with the dark purple butterfly bush.  I thought I'd work with the marigold yellow heliopsis that I had in that area, but apparently I got sick of the aphids that attacked it nearly every year and must have ripped it out.  Oh well, no aphids.  Instead I bought an extremely fragrant Hansa rugosa rose.  It will produce large hips for fall interest as well.

I've wanted to proceed with one of my last dream projects for awhile - stairs for the back deck.  However I've come to realize that (1) decks are usually ugly, (2) two-story stairs are particularly ugly, and (3) they would take up a lot of real estate in the backyard.

So I'm toying with the idea of hiring a landscape company whose work I admire to give me some ideas.  I could no longer stand the overgrown, 12-foot barberry that grew next to the deck so I cut it down.  It self-seeds everywhere.  This monstrosity was really five bushes in one.

Started cutting on the left but a catbird was roosting in a nest.
Underneath all that mass of branches was a cute area with a stone wall next to the patio.  I'm envisioning a small ornamental tree at the top with perennials underneath.  The existing hostas and pachysandra are already starting to fry in the sun.

There's a shed under the deck, with lattice I found in the shed, and a thermometer.

I still have to shuffle plants around - some hostas that are getting burnt, a baptisia not getting enough sun, maybe move some daisies to the new planting area.  I'd like to transplant two wisteria seedlings from the front somewhere.  I had to kill the two large wisteria due to the front porch rebuild but found a couple seedlings.

I've gone a little hosta-crazy.  I bought Jimmy Crack Corn, Old Glory, Francee, Frances Williams, and Dream Weaver.  I've started landscaping the wooded area with hostas.  Next year I'll get a Little Honey oakleaf hydrangea and maybe some other larger ones.  Plus I have more "baby" hydrangeas to cut off the mother plant.  Gardening is so darn much fun!

I finally reinstalled the arbor from the front.  It's been two years!  I think I procrastinated thinking it was a big deal.  I had to reattach all the vertical and horizontal slats, none of which had been lost, miraculously.  I did this during the awful heat of the July 4th weekend.  I called my brother-in-law at the last minute because I was unable to balance the arbor over the holes and straighten it at the same time.  It took him practically no time to pour the concrete, which is good because he was called into work during the process.  He told me I didn't have enough bags of concrete (thanks, Home Depot) and filled it in with some rocks.  Then he simply dumped out the bags and poured water in it.  Voila!

It's a little crooked from having the wisteria on it, but like my brother-in-law said, I'll have so much stuff on it no one will notice.

One last thing - this beauty showed up without being planted!

Also, I got rid of all the iris except some by the butterfly weed and right side of the arbor.  I miss it but it's high maintenance.

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