Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garden, April

I love coming home from work every day and spending a few minutes in the garden. Sometimes it seems like you can almost see the plants growing. Each day there's something new to see. This morning I was really taken with the view from the garden looking across the street. The Sargent cherry tree is literally sagging under the weight of the pink blooms and is contrasted by the bright yellow green of the new maple leaves. It's a scene that's quintessentially spring.
Just as a refresher, my garden was taken from this thin strip of yard that formerly had a handicapped ramped when I bought the house. Under the ramp was an old patio and a sidewalk extended across the front yard.
The ramp was ripped out, the patio and sidewalk were jackhammered out, the foundation was painted, the porch railings were replaced, and a new curved walk and small patio/landing was added as a place for a temporary chair or grill when friends come over for a summer barbeque.
This is that same view as of this morning. The garden seems to be getting a sleepy start and, for some reason, it seems like I lost a lot of plants over the winter. It was a fairly mild winter so I'm a little perplexed why I lost so many plants.
This is the front half of the garden looking toward the street. This has been a real challenge. Along the fence is very shady and dry so I've had a tough time finding plants that will work in this area. The area in the foreground is a sunnier spot it's been kind of a testing ground to see what things like this spot. I've got some stella d'oro day lilies, shasta daisies, montauk daisies (center) that seem to be taking over. I added some baptisia australis (false indigo) up against the house last year and it seems to be doing well. There's some globe thistle next to new the green pot which is a new witch hazel. And the silvery plant in the front right is artemesia,
In this spot last summer I some black and white hollyhocks. When I told my mother I had put hollyhocks in the garden she said "You'll be sorry. You'll have them growing everywhere. They'll be in your front yard. They'll be in your neighbor's yards. They'll be everywhere." Even though I pulled some the seeds out of both hollyhocks and sprinkled them around, they all seem to be gone.
This is the sunny side of the garden as it looked last June. I would like to have a few shrubs on the left for winter interest but the people who live down this alley have to shovel all of the snow by hand and most it, by agreement, ends up in my garden. They don't use any salt on it, so I thought the snow would offer good insulation to the perennials throughout the winter.
And this is what it looked like probably in July. The daisies in the background are pretty clear. Just to the left of the daisies is gaura. This was my second attempt at growing gaura which seems to grow well during the summer. The purple flowers just to the left of the green ceramic planter is pincushion flower (scabiosa) and that's sitting just in front a few clumps of blue sedge. The coneflowers in the front are echinacea pallida which I liked for it's droopy, sagging petals.
I'm not a fan of the black-eyed susan's--don't care for the orangey yellow color--but they are long lasting and bring late summer color to the garden, so I was excited to find this rudbeckia Prairie Sun, or green-eyed susan's as I call them. I bought several plants and added them just in front of the daisies so as they were dying out and getting cut back, these would rise up in their place.
Here's a photo of my gaura plant which nicely spills out over the fence. And down in the lower right-hand corner you can see one of the green-eyed susan's whose flowers stayed all summer long right into the fall.
Here's that same spot today. All of the gaura is dead. This is the second year in a row it's not made it through the winter. I'd supposed to be hardy in my area and know of people that grow it successfully. Pincushion flowers: all dead. They lived through the first winter but not through last winter. Green-eyed susans: There were three next to the gaura and they're all dead.
There were four more green-eyed susan's behind the blue sedge, in front of the irises. They're all dead. So I'm not sure what happened. Since I'm on a spending freeze and I may have to clear out the garden bed up against the house to do the exterior work (if it happens this summer), I think I'm just going to pick from the plants over there to fill in the empty spots.

I'll post updates on the progress of the garden a few times during the summer.


  1. I'm sorry your plants didn't make it. Our garden is pretty much a shade garden. Hostas and flocks do really well in the shade. Also perennial geranium, you can't kill it. I can't get hollyhocks to grow either and I love them. Good luck!

  2. It never ceases to amaze me when farmers plant... and they start with a field of nothing and end with a field full grown with SOMETHING. The wonder in it is astounding. Good luck with more growing!

  3. Hi Steve,

    First off, shady dry is the hardest type of soil for me. Our old house had lots of that and I was very unsuccessful in that area of the garden. Literally everything I tried died.

    Next, how on earth do you handle people shoveling snow into your yard? I think that might drive me crazy. The fact that anything in your garden survives through the winter amazes me.

    And lastly, no roses?


  4. I LOVE what you've done, and even though there were challenges along the way, the beauty is unmistakable (:


  5. This is one of my most favorite before and after transformations of a yard. You did a beautiful job Steve. Trina

  6. Sad that some of your plants did not make it through the winter but how lovely your garden looked in the photos from last year and I am sure that you will get it looking even more so this year... Beautiful. Lavenders? They don't mind dry but am not sure about the shade aspect however, they are very hardy....x