Saturday, November 3, 2012

San Francisco Here I Come

The garden has been cleaned up for winter, so there isn't much going on at this time. So on November 1, I headed off to California to see the sites in San Francisco. One of the top things on my list of things to do was visit the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park. We visited the Garden on November 3 and the weather was fantastic with the temperature in the 70s. 

Here is a slide show of some of the scenes visible in the garden:

Here is a direct link to the Picas Web Album.

Monday, August 13, 2012

So Many Plants, So Little Time

Worked on the area directly behind Buddha today - the Hosta I planted there at the start of the spring (acquired from my brother-in-law) seemed to have been eaten by critters. When we dug them up, very little of the roots were left and the leaves were almost completely gone. 

Early Summer
Late Summer
I have had a problem with this area all summer - chipmunks were living directly under the area and seem to have eaten the roots from underneath. I trapped and relocated many of the chipmunks, but still they destroyed the plants. Interestingly, they didn't touch the plants on the outer edge of the back gate that were identical Hosta. Now I have this large empty space in the corner of the garden that needs some plantings. Problem is that the area is heavily shaded by the Burning Bush Tree just opposite the fence. So, I need to consider a plant that likes shade that won't be eaten by chipmunks. I am actually considering moving one of the Clumping Bamboo plants for the spot - it would fill in the corner, likes shade, and prove less yummy to chipmunks. In order to do this I would most likely have to move the plant from the spot next to the back door on the garage. It is doing well there and I would hate to do damage it during the move.  I considered buying a new plant, but have had no luck finding the variety I am looking for this late in the spring. I may have to wait until next spring.

I also purchased a new plant, a Raspberry Splash Lungwort (Pulmonaria "Raspberry Splash'):

I have grown fond of Lungworts this year because they do well in shade and slugs seem to dislike them. This zone 5 plant should grow to about 12" and bloom in April-May. I also thought its leaf structure added some variety to the existing fern that was nearby (just right of the Buddha). The white spots on the leaves also help to differentiate it. 

In addition, I decided to replant one of the White-Variegrated Japanese Forest Grass plants just behind the Raspberry Splash Lungwort. This plants was moved at the start of the year because it wasn't getting enough light behind Buddha. I'm not sure how it will do in this new area, but it spent most of the summer in a pot, so I am hoping it will prefer this in-ground setting.

I also reworked the plants next to the back gate - they were becoming too crowded and needed to be spaced out. 

The Clumping Bamboo stayed in place while I moved the Hosta Blue Cadet closer to the box next to the garage door. I also removed and potted the Silvermound /Wormwood in an attempt to save it - it was crowded out this summer and did not get enough light. If it makes it in a pot, I might be able to use it elsewhere next spring. I then moved the White-Variegrated Japanese Forest Grass closer to the walkway to give it more growing space to assume a more rounded natural shape. 

Finally, I transplanted a Japanese Painted Fern that was almost completely covered by the Japanese Maple at the other end of the garden to the area just at the edge of the gate post. It might need some thinning out next year, but the spot looks much nicer and should do well for the rest of this year.

I also transplanted another Japanese Painted Fern to the space just next to the S-Shaped bench. 

This spot is very shady, so the fern should do well there and potentially grow larger since it is no longer crowded out they way it was in its original spot next to the back garage door box.

I had a Hens & Chicks in a small pot most of the summer that I decided to plant in-ground. 


It had done well in the pot, and as a result, I was able to split it into three separate plants. I moved an existing Five Star Dianthus from the top level of the north slope of the garden near the granite steps to make room for two of the Hens & Chicks. The third was planted in the space were I had planted the Bitterroot last week. The Bitteroot is now potted in an attempt to save it after it was damaged by a critter. The Five Star Dianthus was moved to where I had planted the Bellflower 'White Clips' Campanula - it too was potted to save it from hungry slugs who like its flowers.

You will also note that I added some small solar powered garden lights - they were only $2.50 each, nice and small, and not too bright. I'm giving them a try before I consider installing an electrical system in the future. There are currently ten spread out in the garden in various locations.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Little Additions, Big Intruders

I spent some time yesterday adding some small plants to the garden - one annual and three perennials. Unfortunately, when I went out to the garden today three plants had been ripped out of the ground by something rather large - probably not a dear, but definately bigger than a squirrel. I replanted two of the plants, but the third is not looking so good.

Here are the new additions:

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans, 'Burgundy Glow')

Has nice purple and blue foliage and likes shade. Unfortunately, this is one of the plants that was dug up and needed to be replanted.

Hens & Chicks (Sempervivum, 'Hardy Mix')

I like the rosette of foliage on these - look sort of Buddhist, like a lotus. Although a sun loving succulent, it was not damaged by the intruder. I have some of these elsewhere in the garden wedged into small rock crevasses.

Zinnia (Profusion White)

I like the flowers on Zinnia - especially the white and brown mixture on this particular plant. As a annual it won't last long, but it does add some nice contrast to the north bank of the garden.

Bitterroot (Lewisia x longipetala hybrid, 'Little Plum')

This plant should develop long purplish-pink flowers, but because it is a type of succulent, it might have been target for eating by the garden intruder. It was damaged and may not make it (sorry, picture above is not from my garden).

Bellflower 'White Clips' Campanula

This plant was not new, but planted last week. For some reason, it appealed to the intruder who ripped it out and deposited it lower in the garden. I replanted it and hope it will survive.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beginning Anew

"On a journey, ill;
my dream goes wandering
over withered fields."


I planted some new plants yesterday. The task was a bit tiring, since I had health trouble in the form of a heart attack back on July 8. However, yesterday I felt well enough to get out into the garden and start anew. 

I included the Japanese death poem above by Basho because it reflected my almost untimely death. I was traveling by train through Chicago when I had my heart attack and at one point was clinically dead for eleven minutes before being revived. During those minutes I experienced nothing - no "out-of-body experience" or "light at the end of a tunnel." It was just darkness - nothing, like "wandering over withered fields." 

So, now that I have had some time to heal and reflect on that experience, I have realized that this world is the one that counts and we need to take advantage of every moment and see the beauty of what we have. For me that's family, friends, and my garden. With that, I decided to add some color to some of the spots that had been damaged by the slugs. 

Bellflower 'White Clips' Campanula

I liked the large white, cup-chaped flower, and although it likes full sun, it might do well in part shade (being on the north side of the garden should help. 

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria)

This plant isn't flowering yet, and may not do so until next summer. I liked the leaf structure - it has silvery, wooly foliage. It should sprout red flowers once established. It too likes sun, but it might take in part shade as well, hence its location on the north edge of the garden.

Ajuga 'Dixie Chip' (Ajuga hybrid)

This plant tolerates sun or shade, so I am giving it a try along the fence on the south side of the garden. I really liked the multicolored small leaves. It is also spouting a purple-blue flower that compliments some of the colors from the nearby host.

Zinnia (Profusion Yellow and Fire)

I have planted these before, only to see them destroyed by slugs. Nevertheless, they are colorful and add some variation to the garden. I especially like the profusion fire.

Zinnia (Swizzle Cherry)

Catherine helped me add the following flowers a few days back - I pointed, she planted. 

The garden is all so beautiful to me, more so now than ever. I am a gardener for life, and with some, hope, it will be a long and fruitful one absent of withered fields.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bamboo Transplant

"The winds may fell the massive oak, but bamboo, bent even to the ground, will spring upright after the passage of the storm."

I thinned out the four bamboo plants that I had originally planted along side the gazebo. They were never spaced far enough apart and were very crowded, especially after a couple years of growth.

First Planted
On Year Later

Two Years Later

I decided to move two of the plants to the opposite side of the back entry way into the garden (along side the house). There was a grass plant located here that was doing very well. 

I decided to split the grass and move it to the end of the walkway between the house and garage. However, the split did not go well. One side seems to be still alive and may fully recover by next year. The other side (left) looks pretty sad and may not do well enough to keep in that location - only time will tell.

I considered splitting the bamboo, but after splitting the grass with such poor results, I opted not to do so. Instead, I moved two of the four plants. Over the next couple of weeks I made sure they got plenty of water and now they seem to be doing very well. In fact, they now have more room to spread out and both sides of the entry way and now look well balanced.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The White Gravel Ocean

In the spirt of using gravel throughout a Zen garden, I decided to remove the landscape timbers I was using to define the original walkway between the house and garage. I also removed the mulch I placed within the defined beds during last years transplant of the Hosta into the walkway. 

Now gravel extends throughout, making the area seem much larger and spacious. 

I also balanced the plantings - 2 Liriope Grasses and one Hosta on each side in the front, and three Hosta and some grass on each side in the back (The grass was a transplanted and split plant I moved from the backyard - it didn't do well as a result of the split. I may have to wait until next year to see if it needs replacing).

I also added a yard of gravel to the original pathway - it sloped considerably. I then toped it off with a thin layer of pea stone (just under a yard). It is now level and solid to walk upon. In the future, I plan on placing some sort of large stepping stones down the center of the path, but for now I plan to leave it just pea stone.

I still need to build doors for the gate, but I won't be able to get to that project until mid to late August (or maybe next year).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finished Gate

"Fortune will call at the smiling gate"

The gate frame is finally finished - well sort of. The basic frame is up and stained, bamboo panels installed and stained as well. I also added copper caps to the support posts and attached flashing to the top posts to protect them from water build up (out of sight, but still need to be painted).

Seeing it in place has made me decide to rework the hardscape of this entire area. My plan is to remove the wooden guides along this path, remove the mulch and replace it with wall-to-wall pea stone. Doing so will make the area seem more spacious. First, I have to add a couple of inches of gravel to the center span of the walkway - it dips and has needed leveling for some time - might as well get it done now.

I am also going to rework the plants - two Hosta in front and six in back. Also some grasses at both ends (to be moved from elsewhere).

Long term I would like to add some stepping stones, but I am not sure what type or pattern - more reading at the public library for next year will help me decide. I also plan on removing the trellises and planters from the garage wall - looks too busy and I never had any luck growing flowing plants there due to the lack of light. The Hosta will do just fine.

I also have to consider doors for the gate. This could be a problem - the gate is not actually straight. I was too cheap to buy a laser guide and paid the price by making some miscalculations. Its not too noticeable but may become more so when I attempt to attach a door. Also the width is too large for a single door. I'm thinking of a 3/4 and 1/4 double door with the smaller section on the left side. It may be a while before I get to this - I need to read up on door construction.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Falling Waters - Next Year

After acquiring a couple more loads of rocks, I started working on a plan for the future rain-chain/water-fall/bridge project. I know I won't get to it this season, but I wanted to lay out a preliminary plan for the location of the chain termination point, path of the water, and bridge span.

The layout looks pretty good, and most of the larger stones will stay in place once I begin. I tossed many of the rocks in back against the wall just to make it look clean. I also planted some Day Lilies and Hosta in the trench as a temporary improvement. I didn't want it to look too barren throughout the year. These plants will be transferred elsewhere when I begin digging the permanent trench next summer.

I also planted a lone 'Lemon Lime' Hosta (small leaf) just outside the rock formation. I acquired this plan from The Fells in Vermont. I am interested in seeing how it grows.