Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wide Shots: Progress

Yesterday I all but finished the last of the large new garden areas. There are still a few plants to add here and there, and the inevitable edits as things fill in, die, or don't look or grow as expected. And there are some smaller areas that still need work. But it no longer feels like such a massive undertaking and now feels like a good time to share some updated wide shots. I'll go into more detail about each area individually in later posts.

We'll start off on the patio at the back of the house, facing east(ish). This area is entirely planted with drought-adapted plants, except for right along the dry creek bed to the right of the weeping blue Atlas cedar. That area gets sufficient moisture to plant things that tolerate or even prefer a bit of winter sogginess but still aren't too terribly thirsty in an average summer. The slope of this part of the garden, and the Douglas firs at the back, make this area very dry in summer. Morning light is blocked by the firs, but it's completely exposed to the hot western sun. It's a difficult area, much like a hell strip in a suburban or urban garden, so I've decided to call this the "Hell Garden." The bed off the patio is perhaps even more hellish, with compacted clay that drains poorly and even more baking heat in summer. Still, I'm finding quite a few things that grow well.

Panning south, to the right, you see broad green paths (at least this time of year) curving between other large garden beds. Previously, this view was marred by the presence of small beds jutting out at the edges of the larger beds. These beds were from before I had planned the larger beds and were eliminated, their plants redistributed into the larger areas. Grass seed was sown in these areas to return them to lawn. Now you can see the clean curves of the beds.

Zooming in a little closer. Cotinus 'Grace', currently in its fall finery, provides a good reference point on the right. It's a little funny that my planting is intended to eventually block the view of that white house across the road when it kind of adds to this view. But between the screen planting along the fence and the garden areas before you, the view of the road and that house will eventually be blocked. I'm referring to this area as "The Park", after numerous comments comparing it to one, even before it was planted so extensively.

Now we've moved across the dry creek bed to the lawn area just beyond it. Now you can see a couple of the smaller beds I mentioned, with new grass filling in.

Yesterday morning was sunny, and I caught this image of the deodar cedar glittering with dew and spider webs. The small tree to the right is one of the seedling persimmons from my foliage follow-up post, just moved to this new location, and the taller orange tree on the far right is a staghorn sumac I planted years ago.

Looking to the left and a little back at the Hell Garden. I liked this view partly for the curve of the lawn strip between the garden areas.

If you walk to the end of that curve, you'll come to an open area of grass with two very young Garry oaks, towering at a little over a foot tall each. Since that isn't very exciting yet I didn't bother taking a picture of it. So, here's the view looking back down that curve from the opposite end, looking west.

Walking west to a point off the southern end of the house and looking back:

A slightly closer view to appreciate the grasses, redbud, and Cotinus 'Grace'.

Here I've hopped over the dry creek bed that runs around the house to a spot near one end of the creek bed, looking back east.

Turning around and walking west again, I've skipped photographing all the beds in favor of showing just this one at the edge of the driveway. The red tree at the back is the second persimmon seedling, transplanted to its new home. I took a few plants out of this bed and then added the Cornus sericea 'Hedgerows Gold' and a Hamamelis 'Jelena'. I still need to move some Carex comans to complete the ground cover at the back of the bed, though I've found that the arching form of this sedge makes for perfect cover for rabbits. I think I'll have to space them out further so they don't make a solid cover, as I have at the front of this bed.

Now I've walked a little ways north from the other bed and I'm looking southwest at the last major area to be completed. The tasteful pink bucket is covering a mole trap. This was also one of the first areas we planted when we moved into this house, with a simple rhododendron border to block some of the view of the neighbor's junk-riddled woods. Now the woods are gone, the neighbor having clear-cut his entire property. The increased light and wind were a little stressful on the plants this summer, as they had adapted to heavy shade on that side, but in the long-run it will be beneficial. The improved sunset views aren't bad, either. I will be happy, though, when things I've planted in this area and along the fence behind it grow up to block the view of the neighbors.

Coming in closer, you can see some of the plants. Much of the plant palette here is very typical Pacific Northwest: rhododendrons, Japanese maples, Japanese forest grass, bergenia, a few winter-flowering heaths, and some western sword fern thrown in for good measure. But I've mixed in a few surprises, and hopefully planted everything in such a way as to elevate even the cliche plants above the stereotype. It's all very messy right now and key plants are small and will take years to produce the desired impact, but I think it's off to a good start.

And that's what I've been doing for the last month. Like I said, there are still a few more plants to add to these spaces, and some smaller areas that need work, but I feel so good getting all this done. Now I can take it a little slower, with a little more balance instead of working frenetically on just the garden. It's time to step back a bit and just let things grow. There are other things I've been neglecting while I've been devoting all this effort to the garden, like paid work, and studying. Now I can turn my mind to those without quite so many distractions from the garden.

11 comments:

  1. You've accomplished SO much, Evan! It's an incredible achievement. I hope you'll share wide shot progress reports at periodic intervals. I laughed at your decision to call the one area "The Park." That's how locals refer to the garden of a neighbor 2 doors down; however, my neighbor's property is sterile - a broad expanse of lawn with some boring foundation plants scattered along the edges. By comparison, your garden is more like an arboretum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People kept saying that area looked like a park when I posted pictures of it, so it's stuck in my head.

      Delete
  2. You started ahead of me, before the rain really came on strong. I decided to wait till I was sure the rain was back consistently, which makes for much slower going, since I don't like working in the downpour. I still have more work to do. I love the garden at this stage, when it's still full of promise and you can see your vision in your mind, and things haven't started dying and ruining that vision. I hope everything thrives for you, and nothing grows too fast and overtakes everything around it. Hope you have a productive fall and winter from now on, pursuing other things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did a little planting in September, but the majority of this was done in the last two weeks, after my garden got enough rain to get a little moisture in the ground. For me, it made things go a lot faster. When I started in September I was filling the planting holes with water and letting it drain, two or three times, to make sure there was enough moisture, but that was so slow. I ended up waiting for more rain. I'm looking forward to seeing the changes in your garden!

      Delete
  3. Your garden looks so good. Just really awesome to see it all in one tour like this. The main work is done now you can watch your plants grow and wait for the inevitable tweaks. It would take me about five years to dig and plant that much garden!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Shirley! I did leave a few areas out. I'll have to do a real, 100% complete tour one of these days. The biggest lesson planting all of this at once has taught me is to never try this again. Smaller bites.

      Delete
  4. Impressive, and it looks fantastic! I agree with Kris - I hope you keep posting wide shots as things fill in. It will be fun to watch it grow. Well done, Evan!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll do my best to share regular wide shot updates. Next time I'll include the whole garden, not just the new areas.

      Delete
  5. Yes! This is the tour I was waiting for. Everything looks so good. It must be uplifting to walk out on the patio and gaze at the marvelous vista spread out in front of you. I'm sure you explained the mound behind the deodar cedar the seedling persimmon, but I can't seem to remember it's purpose. How will you keep the grass area from encroaching into your planting beds?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The mound is a bit of foolishness made by a contractor my parents hired to regrade the soil around the house, among other things. He piled some of the soil into that mound and stuck a couple rhododendrons on it that had been on the south end of the house (which used to be shaded by Douglas firs, not in full sun). Moron clearly had no concept of right plant, right place, putting rhododendrons on a huge mound in full sun, hundreds of feet from the closest water source. We moved the rhododendrons last spring to better locations and now I have Arbutus menziesii seeds on the mound, under small cages to protect them. My parents recently purchased a gas-powered edger to maintain the bed edges.

      Delete
    2. Good luck with the Arbutus menziesii seeds. I love those trees!

      Delete

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I love hearing what readers think and answering questions. I also welcome suggestions for improvement!