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Posts Tagged ‘flower bed’


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Is it too late to start dreaming about new projects for the garden in 2013? Of course not; if anything it’s too early. After all, I tend to do my main projects in autumn when the garden slows down and – crucially – when there are fewer guests so it’s all right if I make a big mess of things. For me that’s the time to dig new beds, whereas spring should really be more about maintenance and filling out the beds I dug the previous autumn.

After all, when summer arrives I want the garden to look it’s best – whatever that is. This summer “best” will most likely include debris of pine trees scattered over the lawn as we’re cutting down 10 trees on the property line to the North-East; they are boring on our side, dead on our neighbour’s side and prevents our neighbours from getting any sun on their lawn throughout the afternoon, so they need to go. (And when they go, hopefully the hedge under them will fill out and give us a privacy screen at ground level, rather than from 4-15 meters up in the air!)

Last year I dug out The Puddles in spring, and that was probably a bad decision, because it meant I wore myself out digging there and had little energy for the rest of the garden – as witnessed by the non-existence of a vegetable patch last year – but then I dug out the new lawn bed in autumn and that seemed almost effortless by comparison and is quickly filling up with plants. So autumn is definitely the time to execute new ideas, and that means spring is the ideal time to dream them up!

But… What is to be my dream this year? Well, besides the tree-felling there are some “smallish” projects to tackle, like finishing The Ambitious Border so it runs uninterrupted along the length of the South-Western property line, incorporating The Puddles. That’s perhaps 5 square meters to dig out, which is easily done. (Quoth he, knowing full-well that statement would come back to bite him in the posterior!) I ought also to focus on creating more of a privacy screen towards the road, especially in the Woodland area where the Flâneur Husband had a stroke of genius and suggested planting rhododendrons in front of the Woodland; it would give them semi-shade, moderately acidic soil and all in all good conditions, and they will soon be able to cover that open view under the trees. (I have bought two new rhododendrons and suggested planting them in a position where they’d look good but serve absolutely no practical purpose whatsoever, whereas his suggestion combines aesthetics and our desire for privacy in the garden.)

Taking the rhododendrons out for a pint

Taking the new rhododendrons out for a pint

Anyway, I still haven’t decided what will be the “grand project” for this autumn. Perhaps the twin of the lawn bed should be merged with the rhododendrons to be planted in front of the Woodland? That would be quite a project – and it would begin to tie to two “sides” of the garden together. So far I’ve mainly been focused on the South-Western side of the garden because that’s where we tend to spend the most time due to the sun, but that means I’ve been more or less neglecting the North-Eastern side – except for the apple tree which gets plenty of attention, and NOBODY except me is allowed anywhere near it with pruning shears!!!

So what could happen in a large, prominent bed that continues the line of the lawn bed bud extends backwards to the Woodland? Well, the rhododendrons are decided upon, of course, and with the large over-hanging prunes at the back I think I’d want some tall shade-tolerant plants at the back in general. Preferably shrubs, so perhaps just more and more rhododendrons. (We have some that are still small enough to be moved if necessary, and more could be purchased as and when necessary.)  The first lawn bed has a predominance of shrubs – more by accident than intent – as I’ve used it to house roses, black currants, red currants and gooseberries, with an area in front for perennials which has turned out to be heuchera, Eryngium, phlox and other random plants. So the second lawn bed would need something different; perhaps a raised section for plants that like well-drained soil (something we do not have naturally, which is actually a blessing as it means even the hottest of summers will not leave our garden parched!) or perhaps an actual pond – as opposed to The Puddles.

“A pond“, you say? Well, The Puddles have really excited me, and I’d be thrilled to do something larger along the same lines; wildlife friendly, surrounded by dense planting and with a few aquatic plants in there. After all, I already have too many water lilies for my puddles, and the more natural sort would enjoy more depth and space. And of course the animals probably wouldn’t mind, either. Last year I spotted a newt in puddle 1, last weekend I spotted two newts in puddle 1 and today I’ve spotted 3 newts in puddle 1 and one newt in puddle 3…  That’s 4 newts!!! In The Puddles!!! “If you build it, they will come”, they say… Well, it has proven true so far! Today I also spotted some sort of insect larvae of a size where it can only be damselflies or dragonflies…

And all the initial fears about creating an incubator for the mosquito population have been allayed ages ago, since it seems one day The Puddles will be teeming with mosquito larvae and the next they will all have gone, no doubt thanks to the newts and toads. They are a complete success, so I’m at the same time compelled to and daunted by the idea of creating a larger-scale habitat. What if it isn’t such a rampant success? What if it fails miserably? And what if it turns out to be an absolutely marvellous thing?

Clearly I need to think about this a bit more, but the idea – the dream – has been planted in my brain, so we shall see what happens.

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Recently the Flâneur Husband commented on how he was a bit sad that all flowers were concentrated mainly on the South-Western side of the garden. The Ambitious Border, The Puddles, The Sunny Border; everything seemed to happen to one side, and of course he’s completely right.

Mainly this is because I’ve been afraid to attack the main lawn. First of all, to make any sort of impact, a flower bed in the lawn would have to be of a certain size, and clearing lawn is always a big project. (And at times back-breaking.) Secondly, when we bought the summer house he was rather adamant that we should have a large lawn, so I’ve been chipping away at it at the sides where it wouldn’t make too much difference to the overall lawn space.

Mowed lawn

However, the last time we were in the garden together we were walking around and he mentioned that he’d like some more flowers to the North-East and North, and he would quite like a large flower bed in the lawn in front of the rhododendrons (by the garden bench to the right in the picture above). Hallelujah! I WANT THAT TOO!!!

Once the rhododendrons and the cherry plum has finished blooming there’s really nothing interesting happening on the right side of the house until the patch of goldenrods make their show in August/September, so we need something that will be glorious during the summer months.

Wait a minute… Is the Ambitious Border done yet? No, of course it isn’t; there is still a 3-meter gap between the border-proper and The Puddles, so obviously I need to clear that ground before I start digging in the lawn, but the other day my husband asked me if flaneurgardening.com was dying, and I think that’s just because I’m sort of loosing steam here. And what better way to find something new to write about than, well, PLANNING something new!

So what am I thinking about? Well, the lawn that will remain afterwards needs to have certain proportions. There needs to be room for a long table for an al-fresco lunch for 20 people, and alongside that room enough for a game of croquet, pétanque or Kubb, so basically this means an area around 8 x 12 meters should be kept as lawn. (And no, we’re not using competition standards when setting up lawn games…)

This will give space for a narrow path in front of the rhododendrons and a long flowerbed in front of that, perhaps a few meters wide and 7-8 meters long. To eliminate the need to mow a narrow path, this could probably be made of a weed-blocking material covered with wood chips made from our rather large stock-pile of twigs and small branches that are currently piled up behind the house.

So… Once the ground is cleared of grass, the path is made and everything is ready, what on earth should go into such a large flowerbed? Well, obviously I want everything in the garden to be fully hardy perennials, with few exceptions for special plants like the dahlias and some biannuals, but to begin with it would be easiest – and cheapest – to populate a large space like this with hardy annuals.

After all, I do have a seed stash…

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