Friday, July 18, 2014

From Dump to Dharma

Now that the garden is renovated and planted for this season, it seemed like a good time to take on the task of doing something more permanent with the back side of the garage - the old camper parking area and dumping ground. 

I was initially inspired by a visit to the Smith College rock garden. It's many rocks and linear layout was something I liked. I also began looking more closely at some of the more famous Japanese Zen gardens. The rectangular shape of gardens such as Ryōan-ji  and the small islands of moss with a singular rock looked like something I could use as a model.

To begin, I have to name the area. Old Camper/Dumping Ground just doesn't work. East Gate isn't bad. After all, the back gate is east of the house. So for lack of a better name, I will refer to this area as the East Gate (at east until I come up with a more appropriate name).

Looking at the East Gate area before I started renovation, it was clearly a large rectangular area covered by a sea of peastone. The side along the garage wall only gets morning sunlight. Most of the day it is heavily shaded. The side along the neighbors white fence gets sun for much of the day. For many years now, there have been Hosta planted long this fence line. This year I noticed that some were not doing so well. It could be that they are getting to much light. This problem will be one of the last issues I address, choosing instead to start work on the garage side.

First, I removed the 4x4 timbers that were being used as edging. Instead, I decided to curve this edge with some plastic edging. Not a very natural material to use, but it helps to keep the peastone out of the new mulch bed and its an edging that allows one to easily create curves.

The edge curves around the existing Hosta near the gate, curves in closer to the garage wall, and then back out into a curving arch towards the driveway. The side along the fence line will remain straight for the meantime.

I chose the arching curve near the driveway because I wanted to plant a shrub I obtained last year (and left in bucket far too long) near the corner of the garage. This shrub, a type of Cyprus will eventually grow to about 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall. 

As a result, I planted it a good distance out from the garage edge to give it space to grow. Hence, the wide curing arch. In time is should help to obscure the garage wall from direct view in the street.

I then used the variety of plants that I had sitting around in buckets (the result of splits, transplants, or thinning out elsewhere in the garden) to fill in the mulch bed along the garage.

Three Ostrich Fern (Matteuccias struthiopteris)
and a Raspberry Splash Lungwart
(Pulmonaria 'Raspberry Splash')

Hosta (‘Miss Linda Smith’) 
and two Tiger Lilly

Shade Fanfare Plantain Lily (Hosta 'Shade Fanfare'
and The Lungwart (Pulmonaria 'High Contrast')
and the old grass plant I moved to
the dumping ground last year.

The final appearance is good and will get better in time as the plants grow and fill in the mulch bed. Keep in mind, all of these plants I had sitting around - I spent no money to add plants.

Overall, its a good start for the East Gate renovation. Next, I will begin work on the islands, stones, and fence line.

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