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.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Back Bed and More

Over the last couple of weeks I have added and moved plants to the garden. In particular, I began to transform the area immediately behind the garage. I began by moving one of the clumping bamboo plants from its original location near the back gate (too cramped) to just at the termination point of the back bed before the back grange door.

I also moved a plant from the front of the house and placed it next to the bamboo (Rheingold Arborvitea, Thuja occidentals 'Rheingold'). This plant was half dead from lack of moisture this winter. I decided to trim off the dead material and then place it with the dead side facing the garage. It is almost unnoticeable and the plant seem to to be doing well - only time will tell.

I also planted an orange Dahlia in the space between for this season. It fills the void and adds some temporary color.

In the original location of the Bamboo, I planted an Irish Diamond Hosta Hosta x 'Allen P. McConnell'. Over time, this plant will fill in this awkward area next to the back gate.

Further along this bed I added a Mossy Rockfoil Saxifraga x arendsii 'Purple Robe' (foreground) and a Pulmonaria (hybrid) dark blue lungwart (background). I acquired the lung wart from The Fells in Vermont in their garden "store" at the main entrance.

Immediately behind them I place the statue of Guanyin, who now faces Buddha and is nestled just behind the Mugo Pine I planted here last year.

All together, the bed looks nice and should fill in over time.

Slugs have also been a major issue this year. I go out every morning with chopsticks and pick them off plants. To help, I purchased two soap stone mushroom ornaments - the removable lids give access to a chamber I fill with beer. Slugs go, but they don't come out. They "mushrooms" also look nice in the garden.


I also added some Salvia farinacea (Cathedral deep blue and sky blue) that my daughter wanted in the garden - she liked the bluish colors.

In addition, I am trying some 'Spring Beauty' Hen and Chicks Sempervivum x hybrid - these like rock gardens and I have plenty of rocks. If they take, I may plant more next year to fill other voids in the garden.

On the opposite side of the back garage door I planted two English Daisy 'Habanera Rose' bellis perennis. These six inch perennials should fill in the box nicely.

Finally, I am trying something different this year with the red planters - Yellow African Daisy

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Fells

I went to visit dartmouth College this weekend and while there took a trip to visit The Fells, the historic site and gardens once owned by John Milton Hay.

The Fells is located in New Hampshire, and is well worth a visit. The Old Garden (1909) was very nice, but the most spectacular site was the Clarence Hay Rock Garden (1930s) which had over 300 species of alpine plants in a variety of microclimates.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gate Progress

I was able to get the gate frame stained and the arbor sections installed during this last week, despite the constant gloomy weather and rain.

I still need to add the top rails, bamboo panels, cooper caps for the support posts, and flashing for the top of the main posts. I also have to start thinking about door design.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Plantings - 2012

I worked on the garden most of last weekend (5/5-5/6). I started by reworking the north-east section of the garden. Originally, it was a long-steep slope of small to medium stones. I was constantly having to rake stones back up the slope. So, I decided to add a second, lower bed and added more supporting rocks.

Original Layout (looking west)
New Layout (looking west)
New Layout (looking east)
I also added an additional layer to the top section just east of the stairs - it sloped to much causing mulch and always drain off with each rain storm. Adding an additional layer of rocks as a retainer should keep he mulch, and water, where it belongs.

Here is a full view - its hard to see these changes, but they are an improvement:

I then moved on to installing a variety of new plants and filled in some of the unused space with Marigolds. Here is a list of the new landings:

Assorted Marigolds

Shade Fanfare Plantain Lily (Hosta 'Shade Fanfare')

I planted two of these zone 3 Hostas in the garden - one just below the Maple, and the other in the newly created bed in the north-east section of the garden. Hosta do great in the garden, so I expect little problems, other than chipmunks.

Winky Red & White Columbine (Aguilegia 'Winky Red & White')

I attempted a set of similar plants last year, only to watch them be eaten by slugs. I am trying again with these Zone 3 plants. They should get to 18" x 18" provided the slugs stay away. If they make it, I'm hoping they attract hummingbirds.

Heavenly Blue Lithodora (Lithodora diffusa 'Heavenly Blue')

I planted two of these creeping perennials - I had one during the first year of the garden and the blue flowers were spectacular. That planted didn't last more than a year, but I am willing to try again. As a zone 6 plant it should do well and grow to about 3-6" in height and spread as much as 6' - no doubt I will trim them back as the grow, an easy task since they grow slowly.

Stonecrop (Sedum 'Rock Garden Blend')

This blend of different sedum should make a nice ground cover along the narrow top edge of the north-west side of the garden. I planted four, but each plant should grow to about 4-6" and fill in this edge. Thy like sun and dry, well-drained soil, so I am hoping these plants will do well.

Rock Cress (Arabis caucasia 'Snowfix')

This zone 4-8 perenial likes full sun, so I planted them on the north side of the garden. I still have one small plant from last year that survived, so I am hoping these will do well, although blooming season is currently in full swing for this plant. I might have to wait until next year to get a nice flowing.

Irish Moss (Sagina subulata)

Most of the moss that had been planted along the stone staircase didn't make it through the dry winter. Last year I had to add some more, but this year I replaced it all. It will look strange for a while until it spreads out.

Melting Fire Coral Bells (Heuchera 'Melting Fire')

This zone 4 plant should grow to about 15" x15" in size. I planted two, one each on either side of the Buddha. As annuals, they should bloom each spring and the red color should add some variety to the mostly green garden.


I planted one of the these annuals directly into the garden (red), but the other two (both white) were potted. I had a couple of potted plants last year and they did well - the potted plants I can move around as need to ensure the get enough light.


I'm not sure how these will do - I planted three at the foot of the Buddha in the Black stone area. They need at least 2-3 hours of sunlight but will do much better with more. It is an annual, so I am just tying it out to see what happens.

Additional Hosta

I also added a large number of Hosta behind and to the right of Buddha. I am moving the day lilies and grasses that had been there - they just were not getting enough light this time around. I will transplant them to other places. Instead, I installed Hosta that were given to me by a relative - they are different then most of the Hosta currently in the garden - they have broad, green leaves. They should do well in this increasingly shady corner.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mulching the Dragon

A put down new mulch today along the Dragon's Spine. It was really getting thin and needed a nice thick layer. Looks good, but the lack of a fence seems odd.

I would like to add a different style fence along the back edge, but for now, the Tiger Lilies I planted on the property line will have to do.

They were given to me by a friend (Joe V.) and they like shade. They should produce some nice orange flowers this year. I also don't mind that they spread - with luck they might eventual fill in the area just off property. I will mulch up the Zen Garden after installing some new plant purchases I picked up last Sunday.