Wednesday Wide Shots

It's been awhile since I showed any wide shots of the garden. Close-ups are easier, and generally prettier to look at, since most of the garden is still too young to have filled in. Actually, I wanted to do a lot more than just wide shots in this post but, after copying over 100 photos into my "current post" folder, I realized I should probably break things up a bit. So this post will cover broader views, and I'll try to cover the individual areas in a timely fashion. The timing is, of course, odd, as I'm missing both Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-up, but what can I say? I was inspired to share wide shots instead of cataloging flowers or featuring foliage. You can see both in these photos.

I struggled to sort these into some semblance of a logical order. Garden areas wrap around the house starting on the northwest side with the greenhouse and Stump St. Helens (which I didn't get a wide shot of. Bad blogger.) and go around to the south to the east side of the house. So we're starting with the Driveway Island on the west side of the house. It's doing fairly well after I redesigned it in Fall of 2015. Just a few areas that need attention, like the overgrown Calluna vulgaris (brown spot in the foreground below the Acer palmatum haystack. I cut it back a bit harder than I should have. It will grow back, but it will take a few years to look good. Better to just replace it with a rooted section from one of my other orange heathers.

In the photo above you can just make out the garden area in the background to the right. That's where we're going next.

The next photo shows the Rhododendron border and a newer bed in front of it. The original border in the back was one of the first garden areas we made, and I don't remember how old it is. It's original purpose was to help block the view of the neighbor's junk-filled woods. Now the woods are gone, replaced by slag piles. I'm not looking forward to those being burned. Sadly, the largest rhododendron, which did most of the screening, had a large section of alder fall on it over the winter and took it mostly down to the trunk. You may be able to just see it to the right of 'Nancy Evans', the yellow rhododendron. Behind and to the left of 'Nancy Evans', you may be able to make out the dip in the fence where a top out of the alder next to it fell. Still waiting for that fence guy to make repairs...

The rhododendron will grow back. It's a very rapid grower that we had cut back hard before to move to its current location. Fast growth is floppy growth, and it took several years to develop a good structure and fullness. Back to square one.

The bed in the foreground, as well as the path that splits it from the original border, were both made last year. You can see Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold' and sword ferns unfurling their leaves. These will be the dominant plants in this bed until the Japanese maple, Camellia seedlings, Fatsia japonica, Ribes x gordonianum, and Mahonia gracilipes grow up. The sword ferns and Macleaya microcarpa will help to counteract the radioactive glow of the Hakonechloa, but I think it's going to be rather unbalanced until those dark evergreen shrubs fill in. It will be interesting to see how this bed performs with the increased afternoon light now that the dense woods to the west are gone. At least it still has some overhead protection from the hottest sun. I've planted various things along the fence to eventually block the view.

Here I've walked a little ways south from that point on the driveway and turned east to look at the garden areas to the southwest of the house. Much of this area stays moist well into the summer. Most of the grass that is left stays green all summer. The closest bed on the left is one of the exceptions, being a bit drier. On the right edge of the photo, past the vine maple, is a long bed of severely dry shade that I'm experimenting with this year. I think I've already mentioned that and promised a post detailing those experiments, which I still haven't written. A loose grove of Douglas firs stands just out of frame on the right, and beyond that is the road.

 Now we've walked back up to the southwest corner of the house. You can see the end of the ramp in the photo above, also visible in the lower left of this photo. Here we're looking across the dry creek bed to the area almost directly south of the house.

The dry creek bed is my favorite, and one of the only, hardscape features in the garden. Comptonia peregrina in the lower right is leafing out. Beyond that is a mix of evergreen Carex comans, Juncus effusus, and Daboecia cantabrica interspersed with Siberian and variegated Japanese irises and Mimulus cardinalis. This mix changes further along the creek bed.

A vignette of Siberian iris flower stalks rising above bronze Carex comans and Podocarpus lawrencei 'Blue Gem', among other plants, on the opposite side of the creek from the silver Carex comans.

Now we've crossed the dry creek bed and are looking back to where we just were, near the end of the ramp. The big Juncus effusus at the bottom of the photo, right of center, marks the end of the previous mix of plants.

I created this border along the creek bed in sections, thus the varying plant palettes. I used what I had at the time. The next section features more Mimulus cardinalis, with Juncus patens, Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire', and Podocarpus 'County Park Fire'. There are more plants mixed in, but those are the main components of this section. Note the freshly dug edge. One of my primary goals this year is to establish definite edges to the beds, and then to keep them maintained!

Turning south a bit to look out toward the Acer griseum bed and beyond.

Turning back to the west. Note the bed with the yellow flowers on the left.

These are Primula bulleyana that I grew from seed sown directly into this bed two or three years ago. Most were still too young to bloom last year, but an extra year, and a lot of extra rain, have brought them into a blooming frenzy. It's nice in such a large garden to finally have some plants making an impact even from a distance.

Rotating to the south, the next bed is the snakebark maple bed, named because of the Acer metcalfii planted there (burgundy foliage in the back). The maple has a couple worrisome black patches at the base of the trunk that could be Pseudomonas syringae or possibly verticillium wilt. It might recover from the former. The latter means almost certain death. Both diseases would have been promoted by the cool, wet spring. I'm currently debating whether I want to remove it now or risk watching a slow death. I've become rather obsessed with bamboos, and this would be a good spot for a special clumping bamboo...

Moving on. Looking west again from the east end of the dry shade bed I mentioned earlier, pictured on the left here. You can make out the possibly-doomed snakebark maple against the pump house (small brown building). Just peaking in on the right edge of the photo is the big leaf bed.

Now I've walked north from where I was, back toward the house, and I'm standing at the NW corner of the big leaf bed. You can see one of the reasons for the moniker on the right side of the frame, a Rhododendron rex, one of the big leaf species. Water doesn't stand here in winter (at least not for long) but this area retains the most moisture into summer. This makes it easier to keep plants like big leaved rhododendron happy. It gets a little more sun than some of these plants are really happy with, but does get shade by about 2pm, protecting them from the hottest summer sun. This is also where I have 3 clumping bamboos, two of my three Embothrium coccineum, a Crinodendron hookerianum, Schefflera taiwaniana, and Cunninghamia lanceolata 'Glauca'. It's a bit overplanted, but I wanted a dense, jungle-like look once things mature. As you can see, it has a lot of growing up to do. The rocks mark the paperbark maple bed, a raised bed with (you might have guessed) an Acer griseum in the center. Well, center-ish.

Moving around to the north side of the big leaf bed.

A vignette of the north side of the paperbark maple bed, or the AG bed (Acer griseum), from the near the NW corner of that bed. Alchemilla mollis almost obscures a large rotting log that forms part of the wall around the bed. I missed peak bloom on the Rhododendron impeditum (purple flowers).

I've jumped to a spot off the SW corner of the AG bed. From here you can see it has a lot of filling in to do, too. I've had trouble deciding what to do with this bed. The soil is rich, loose, and deep. I've become so accustomed to looking for plants that grow in problem areas that I don't know what to do with this area where such things would grow too well. Mimulus cardinalis attains heights around 5 feet in this bed. I've come up with combinations I like for the NW quarter, but I'm still struggling with the south side.

Now I've jumped over to The Mound, where the contractors who graded the yard to improve drainage away from the house dumped excess soil. I just planted two young madrones atop it and am crossing my fingers that they survive.

At the west end of the mound, at the right side of the previous photo, there's a bit of a mess, which includes three Aesculus californica and a Eucalyptus perriniana that I just cut back. The stem it developed at the nursery stubbornly flopped to one side. Hopefully the leader that grows up from where I cut it will be more upright.

I've walked back toward the house from The Mound and turned around to look back at it.

To the left is a bed that blends from a more southern hemisphere influence on the right to a more southwestern theme on the left. (The answer to the question in your mind is no, I didn't really plan that so much as it just sort of happened because of the plants I had.)

Swinging back to the right to look at the AG bed. Brilliant blue Lithodora diffusa flowers create a pool along one edge of it. It was a bit windy that day, as you can see looking at the windswept Heptacodium miconioides in the center of the photo.

Panning further to the right to look west along the dry creek bed and the shade garden. In the foreground is a third section of the creek bed border, featuring Molinia caerulea 'Variegata' and Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'. I've started adding more Juncus to the creek side of the border to give this section more green in the winter.

A different view of the creek.

I've gone a bit further east here to look northwest across the Hell Garden. Not living in an urban area, I couldn't have a hell strip, so I turned this west-facing, extremely dry triangle into a whole Hell Garden. It's full of plants like Arctostaphylos and Ceanothus that will (hopefully) thrive in this area that is shaded from the east but gets full sun most of the day, in clay loam that is sucked dry by the Douglas firs on the eastern edge of it.


 Standing on the western edge of the Hell Garden, looking east. As you can see, there's a lot of growing (and weeding) to do in this part of the garden.

Turning around to look west toward the house. This is the back side of the "rock garden" off the patio. I don't think I've shown this bed from this view often. It's a rock garden merely by token of having a few rocks that the contractor placed in it. The conditions in this bed would be inimical to most traditional rock garden plants.

This bed has been a significant challenge to plant. The underlying soil is clay that was piled up, as The Mound was, from the regrading. The contractors mulched it with a thick layer of some sort of very fine bark, almost like a cheap potting soil without any perlite. Useless as mulch, so we put a more coarse mulch over that.

It's been hard to find plants that would grow satisfactorily, if not well, in this soil and this location which gets very hot in summer. A less lazy gardener would have dug out the bad mulch and clay and amended copiously to improve the soil. I went the way of trial and error to find things that would handle the conditions, and I've managed to find a fair amount of plants that are perfectly fine here. Smaller members of the myrtle family, like Callistemon pityoides Mt. Kosciuszko form, Callistemon viridiflora 'Xera Compact', and a prostrate form of Leptospermum humifusum are well-adapted to horrible soil. Dwarf conifers consisting of Abies balsamifera 'Nana', Cedrus deodara 'Feelin Blue', and Podocarpus lawrencei 'Blue Gem' have done well here, though the dwarf balsam fir shades a bit toward yellow in summer. Penstemon pinifolius has done surprisingly well here, though my oldest plant is looking rather past its prime. The native Iris tenax has seeded into the bed, but I had to rescue a Pacific Coast iris from this bed before it completely failed.

One more pan from the northern tip of the Hell Garden,

moving south to look out across most of the Hell Garden and the rock garden to the park.

And finally a look directly south to the AG bed.

I realized as I was writing this post that I neglected to include four areas in this post, the bed along the south end of the house, which was the first bed I planted with the intention of not watering it in the summer, the bed along the front of the house which I replanted this spring, a small bed on the NE corner of the house, and Stump St. Helens. I'll just have to cover them in more detailed posts later.

All the big development projects are done. I won't be making any more new beds in this garden. I only have a handful of plants to put in, mostly to replace things that were lost over the winter. Now I'm rushing to catch up on with the weeds and other maintenance tasks, so that maybe we can spend a little more time simply enjoying the garden and watching things grow.

Comments

  1. Wow! You've got so much glorious space to fill with plants and you've done it beautifully. Love the wide shots. Wide shots of my garden at this time of year would include lots of empty black plastic pots and new plants sitting where they need to be planted, not a pretty sight. I'm impressed that you've done so much work in this cold wet spring.

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    1. It's up to the plants, now, to fill all that space. I started planting as soon as I could. Luckily my drainage is good enough that only the wettest areas are truly unworkable.

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  2. The slag piles in the background of the first photo is disturbing. Does the neighbor have a plan other then clear cutting? Having said that, the rest of your photos helped me forget... For me too, anything with the dry creek bed is a favorite and simply breath taking, as it is the most established area. Edging the beds in a permanent way is a going to be "a job" since you have so much area to cover, but after that you are home free... except of the maintenance of your giant park :-)

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    1. Those piles are hard to look at. I couldn't begin to know what that neighbor has planned. I hope he plans to move. I'm already falling behind on the edging. Not a good sign.

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  3. That is a big assed garden. Strong feelings of envy.

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    1. As I tell others, when you feel envious of the space, just keep in mind all the time, effort, plants, and money that go into it. ;-)

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  4. Your photos make it clear just how BIG your garden is and how much WORK you've done. I love the dry creek area. I'm sure you're going to appreciate the wide shots as time goes on. I still go back to mine quite often to evaluate progress - in some ways the photos are more valuable than daily oversight. Over time, I've tried to systematize my approach to collecting my wide shots to facilitate comparisons but unfortunately I didn't do that from the beginning.

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    1. I've been looking through some photos from last year and the year before and the differences are striking. I have a few views that I've repeated somewhat reliably. I could certainly do better.

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  5. Great to see those wide shits, and how much progress you have archived since you're started doing those beds.

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    1. Haha! Oh, I'm sorry for laughing, but I didn't notice the typo before I published your comment. I hope you don't mind.

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    2. Haha - I like those wide shits too! No, seriously - your garden looks fantastic - like fine expanses of carefully crafted embroidery. It will fill out beautifully, and I'm looking forward to following the process. Even Hell will be beautiful! I can't believe you have THREE Embothriums... wow, what a spectacular show THAT will be, one day...

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    3. I pretty much just want echo what everyone else has said (yes, even the shits) but add a question... when are you having us all up to see it in person?

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    4. Oh, gosh. Thank you, Anna. I do hope you're right on it filling out well. Yes, I bought 3 Embothrium from Far Reaches, not expecting them all to survive, but they did!

      Loree, good question. The answer is: when I get the worst of the weeds under control and things have had a chance to grow a bit. I'm thinking sometime this summer. I just need to decide on a date.

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  6. It is easier to take photos of individual plants or little groupings, but this post really gives an idea of the scale of the garden. Phew, what a lot of love and effort went into creating that. Looking forward to see it evolving.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. It was quite a lot of effort creating it, and more to maintain it. Hopefully one day the wide shots will look as good as the close-ups.

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  7. Gosh, you have a lot of space! I love the dry creekbed. I want to do one of those but not sure where exactly to incorporate it. I am researching edging ideas as well. Michael weeded some for me the past two days and has threatened divorce if I don't do something about the enroaching grass into the borders. I would like to use the metal edging I saw in some gardens on the tours last year but I am guessing they are probalby god awful expensive.

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    1. Grass encroaching on the beds is one of my least favorite things. I'd love metal edging, too, but my yard is so uneven I imagine installing it and making it look good would be a nightmare. Metal edging ranges from $2.50 to $6.50 per foot. Way too expensive for a large garden like mine. Maybe not for a smaller one? You might try to see what you can find at ReStores and scrap yards. You'd have to cobble something together, but it would be totally unique. I have a lot of old but mostly sturdy cedar fence railings I'm thinking of cutting into short sections to use as edging, maybe with landscape fabric along one side to keep grass from growing in between.

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  8. Wonderful. Thank you for the tour. You've done an incredible amount of work. In a few years when everything has grown substantially this post will be something fun to look back on. Edging, I need that too. You have an acre, or two? That's a lot of garden to manage, and a lawn as well. Quite natural to fall a bit behind on the weeding!

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    1. Blogger is weird. Your comment didn't show up for a week! Thank you! Yes, I am really looking forward to everything growing substantially, especially the trees. The gardens are spread out over about 2 acres.

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