Getting Re-acquainted, Part II

No long, drawn-out story or explanation this time (you're welcome). We'll get straight back to the tour! This time I wanted to focus on the areas right around the house, which have all been subjected to major changes in the last two years and have very little planted in them yet. But as soon as I can get the rest of the landscape fabric and plastic ripped out, these areas are prime real estate!

The back deck. Not terribly exiting except that it is one of only 3 outdoor spaces I have that is safe from deer.

This 'Kurume Red' azalea appreciates the security of a deer-free deck. 

As a teacher, my mom gets lots of cheap, tacky gifts from her students, but every garden needs at least one fairy, right?

This azalea is NOT growing in one of the deer free zones, thus the cage and netting. It's been with us for a long time, but my dad is tired of the cagey look it keeps giving him, so this is may be the first and last time you see it.

The azalea is planted at the far end of this bed. It was always a bit of an experimental area, not the best use for a bed along the front of the house but I did it anyway.  With the construction of the bay window, most of the plants in this bed were removed and temporarily relocated. This whole area obviously needs a complete redo.

My Dracunculus vulgaris has lots of little babies coming up at the base this year.  Not sure where I'm going to put it, but I don't really like it at the front of the house, nor do my parents' noses.

Pacific Northwest native Sedum spathulifolium (broad-leaved stonecrop) gets chewed on a bit in late summer by thirsty deer, but does well enough that I'll hang on to it. This is a nice glaucous form I found on a hike. 

The area between the azalea and Dracunculus has Liatris spicata, Echinacea, and chives in it. I tried to eradicate the chives because they resead so heavily. Clearly my parents didn't follow through.

To the right of the Dracunculus is another liatris, bits of various sedums, Catananche caerulea, blue Dutch irises, and (still to emerge) some white and orange calla lilies. Oh, and a big orange Calluna vulgaris

In front of the bay window. The wall around the window was bumped out to put it in line with the rest of the house and the bay window took it out further. This area used to be full of Yucca filamentosa, orange lilies (that the deer never touched after putting the yuccas in!), yellow trumpet daffodils, grape hyacinths, various alliums, and assorted other random plants I was experimenting with. Now it's going to receive more soil to slope up from the rocks and hide some of the concrete foundation. This will make an excellent place for some lucky plants.

Another change in the last two years was the replacement of the old, rotting front steps with concrete steps and a ramp for when my parents are old and can't use stairs. (No one can say they don't think ahead.) The slope is covered with Calluna vulgaris, a mugo pine (a mistake, if you ask me), and some Erica as well. The Scotch heathers are mostly sports or seedlings that I found in the bed from Part I after pruning the nursery-bought plants I had planted a couple years before. There are some beautiful forms that I'll be highlighting once they flush out (they were just recently sheared back to keep them bushy.

One end of the new dry creek bed. This was part of a regrading of a large portion of the yard between the house and the road to make the water drain away from the house. That's important, I guess, but what really excites me is the planting possibilities!
Let's take a moment for a bit more parent shaming. This is a Siberian iris. Why are the old leaves STILL there? (That goes for the daylilies planted along the dry creek bed, too. Not pictured.)

Some of the plants from the front of the house were moved here "temporarily" during the construction of the bay window. Now I have to figure out where to actually put them. This area was flooded during the recent heavy rains and overflowed across the path, carrying mulch with it. We'll have to work out a solution to that.

Continuing down the path at the end of the house. On the left are the yuccas from in front of the house. On the right are the daylilies that still have last year's foliage on them. The bed with the yuccas is slated for a xeriscape/Mediterranean theme.

Lobelia laxiflora v. angustifolia. I wasn't confident this would survive the winter as I planted it during Thanksgiving as less-than-healthy bits of stem. Sure looks like it survived!

Look what pretty weeds my parents are growing!

Another pleasant surprise is the survival of this Cistus x hybridus 'Mickie', also planted at Thanksgiving. It's a bit one-sided, but that's easily fixed with a bit of pruning. This has encouraged me to try other Cistus, which I was always worried wouldn't quite make it in my parents' frost pocket of a yard.

Continuing around to the back of the house.

The path leads up to a patio off the dining room. The steps lead up to my parents' room. They need some stepping stones to get to the path and some plants among those rocks, don't you think? This area was also flooded by the heavy rains and will need a drainage solution. I'm thinking a French drain along the bender board running underneath the path to the dry creek bed on the other side. 

The creek bed continues on to the edge of the trees. This bed is still in the process of being planted. It has a clean, simple theme full of dwarf conifers and other evergreens with a few carefully selected perennials.

This ground cover is a volunteer Satureja douglasii, a native mint relative with a wonderful smell. I need to renew it a bit to fill in that dead spot in the middle.

It hasn't pushed out new growth yet, but when it does it will be a beautiful, glossy burgundy. This is a great plant for dry shade or full sun.

The view from the patio out towards the road. The plan is to plant trees and shrubs starting low at the far side of the creek and stepping up the height farther back. (If my dad and I can convince my mom to give up part of the lawn. I don't understand why she opposes reducing the lawn anyway.)

Down the other side of the patio. 

This path is going to have plants along it, whether my mom wants them or not. The area between the heat pump and the hose-box will have the mulch removed and will be filled with gravel, since there is an access to underneath the house so I can't plant there anyway. 

A small bed between the patio and the heat pump is now home to the mini mondo grass I brought back with me from North Carolina. I want to add a small specimen shrub like a summer-blooming daphne, and some small winter and spring-blooming bulbs like galanthus and crocus. 

This area has a layer of black plastic underneath the mulch. The contractor who did this is very much a typical landscaper (very little actual gardening knowledge). I've since started ripping out the plastic and planting the area with things that will hopefully be able to handle the winter-runoff from the gutters that gets trapped by the bender board. 
To Do List for around the house

  • clear out the last of the plants along the front of the house for a clean slate
  • remove landscaping fabric and black plastic (and send bad vibes to the contractor for putting that garbage in!)
  • install drainage on the south end of the house
  • Go uber-crazy with new plants for all these areas!

Lots more to show, with many more horrors to share. Until next time...


  1. Wow, that's a lot of lawn!

    I remember my mom putting down black plastic all over the place and covering it with bark. Augh! I didn't think anyone actually did that anymore.

    1. It is a lot of lawn. My dad and I want to reduce the lawn with INTERESTING plants. My mom is oddly resistant, even though she complains about all the mowing.

      I was annoyed at the over-use of landscape fabric (it does have its uses) and appalled at the use of black plastic. When we first moved to this house 16 or 17 years ago, there were 3 Doug firs surrounded with black plastic. I didn't think anyone did that anymore either, especially in places around downspouts that need to DRAIN! Seriously!

  2. So many fun possibilities! You'll have a blast playing outside in this garden! No Sname, your parents are simply practicing a natural form of passive organic gardening. You see, the old growth insulates the roots of the plant during the winter and as it slowly breaks down, it acts as a water retentive mulch in the summer and adds organic matter to the soil. Being an accomplished procrastinator/garden sloth, I can justify any degree of garden neglect pretty well.

    1. I am so looking forward to planting these areas! As for the old leaves, I'm a bit of a neat freak, though I wouldn't mind as much if those areas weren't so sparsely planted. As they are, those areas stick out like a sore thumb.


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