Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Early Spring Garden Tour

Several of the other blogs I've been reading have posted photos of their gardens now, even the bare in need of something spots. I decided to hop on the bandwagon, went out this morning and snapped a few photos. Maybe someone will have some advice on the many problem areas. Here are the front garden beds. The front gets a lot of shade with the big spruce tree and the beech tree. There is also a very old, lilac hedge of white lilacs. We put these beds in last summer, part of the long term less lawn to mow strategy. There are mostly hostas and astilbes, with sweetfern, mountain laurel, and what now looks to be a dead rhododendron moved from the bad location the previous homeowners chose. We'll replace that with more native shrubs, maybe sheep laurel.

The side beds, next to the house and the driveway. The picket fence section was a wedding gift made by a friend. To the left of the drive is a silver garden, which does well there in the heat and poor soil, and a purple clematis which came with the house, and amazingly does spectacularly well there. On the right is a newly planted low hedge of Russian sage, and between the sage and the picket fence is a buttefly bush "Black Knight" planted last year which did well. They are now cut back waiting for spring growth, and recently mulched with straw.

Our lot is 3/4 of an acre, but long and narrow (72' wide) and the house and drive stretch nearly all the way across the lot at the very front. I like this set up as we have a fairly private back yard. Heading behind the house from the driveway, on the right is a row of arborvitae planted by a previous owner, which gives much needed privacy. I'm not normally a big fan of arborvitae, but in this case, I love it. I've planted a lot of daffodils (with some crocus and scilla) in front of them in the lawn, which I can see from my usual spot in the kitchen dining nook.

Behind the house is a small foundation bed which is filled with tulips in early spring followed by some old fashioned double peonies, anise hyssop, salvia, and some golden glow, a perennial double sunflower which gets over 6' tall (and is really too tall for this space, but gorgeous). There used to be hollyhocks, but we had the evil hollyhock weevil eating them, so I ripped them out, hoping I can re-plant in a few years. A concord grapevine provides shade for the living room picture window in the summer, crawling over the stick trellis. The trellis is due for replacement this summer, and this bed is due for redesign and we hope the addition of a water feature over the next 2 summers. We built a new deck last summer and are still debating over a pergola or shade sail as the deck gets the full afternoon sun. You can see the dead lawn area where lumber and bags of cement killed the lawn. The compost tumbler is still in its winter location but will be moved back to the compost area when the ground firms up.

The back is a vast expanse of lawn we want to be rid of, with a gorgeous old sugar maple, a stunning old flowering crab, an overgrown bartlett pear, and an overgrown, hideous, formerly round bed full of iris, tansy, queen anne's lace and varigated bishops weed plopped willy-nilly in the middle of the lawn, and which we are so daunted by that 5 years on, it is still there, and we (dedicated organic gardeners 99.9999% of the time) are still debating the merits of multiple applications of Round Up and a thick layer of black plastic hidden with bark mulch. Oh, and did I mention the horribly invasive Japanese knotweed (how do you kill that stuff??) marching in from the overgrown boundries on either side of the yard and the multiflora roses? More photos tomorrow.

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