Let’s talk green things.
Last year I shared some inspiration photos for the garden part of the garden here, and now it’s time to start getting some of these things ordered for the spring. Even though this is a pretty small space, I know that landscaping can add up quickly, so I’m setting some reasonable expectations (for myself) for how long this will really take to get going. I know a garden isn’t a static thing, and so it’s never really complete, but I think that the structure of it can be installed and established over two-three years.
I’m also well aware that this pebble mosaic idea is a massive undertaking. Even if I figure this thing out and can get supplies in hand and the process is pretty straightforward, once the compacted base is complete (one weekend of fairly significant labor effort), I’m still guessing the pebble sorting and setting will take a long time. If you divide the mosaic into eight “wedges”, I’m guessing each wedge could take a solid weekend of work to put in place. The days and weather will get longer / better as spring moves along, but that’s still a significant amount of work. Ideally, we’d get a nice February weekend where we could get the base laid and the outer brick edging in place, and then I could find 6-8 weekends in March, April and May to get the mosaic done. I’m really hoping to throw an outdoor graduation party in early June, and the front yard would be a fun spot for it. That will make for a busy, busy spring!
Adjacent to that work will be laying the brick sidewalk and finishing up the stonework too. So maybe I’m being overly optimistic. But that’s what spring is for, right? Optimism.
In the meantime, I’m going to get some green things ordered this weekend to take advantage of some early bird sales, knowing they will ship for planting in mid- to late March. Let’s look at some pictures, shall we?
I’ll admit that I find the process of planning the actual garden part of this garden to be a little overwhelming – mostly because I worry about spending a lot of money on things that can DIE. But I’ve convinced myself that I can do this, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, and anything is better than staring at a yard of leaf mulch for the rest of my life. I just need a plan!
I figured that since I already had a pretty great house and garden model in Sketchup that I could just use that structure and somehow map out what I want to plant. Sketchup is great for built items, but not as great for adding in realistic plants. You can search for already modeled items – like a dogwood tree – but the findings are hit-or-miss, and the decent components are really large and they bog down the model and make it hard to work in. Instead of trying to locate fifty different plant types, I decided that I’d create a more abstract diagram that would work just as well for planning purposes.
I started by thinking about six basic components of the garden:
Hedge: a nod to a more formal Victorian garden structure, but one that breaks the rules a bit, shown green here. They won’t be as formal and square as they are in this diagram, and I don’t want to block the basement windows, but these will provide a nice backdrop to flowers when sitting in the garden, and they will frame the opening at the stair. Remember the fourth corner of the garden has an existing dogwood tree which anchors that corner. I’ve turned the tree layer off in most of these diagrams, but you can see the trunk in brown.
I’m going to use Otto Luyken Cherry Laurel for this hedge – it’s a dwarf form of the cherry laurel, and it’s easy to grow and maintain, fills in quickly, is evergreen, has these lovely glossy leaves and produces upright spikes of fragrant flowers in the spring. Loves shady corners too, which is a key component of this garden on the north side of a tall house! I’m going to order these this week.
Flowering Bushes: I would also like to add some larger scale bushes in a few places in this garden – particularly peonies. I have my eyes on a few tree peonies (spring planting) for the upper part of the garden, and some other peonies added later that will flank the sidewalk just inside the fence. We have so many peonies planted along fences in our neighborhood, and I want some of that action here. I might consider some hydrangea as well, but I’ll start with peonies.
Shade Garden Plantings: I’ve got two basic shade gardens that I’m going to start with this spring. I’ll see what I like, how it fills in, and then add onto these as we go. I also plan to order these this weekend for planting later this spring.
This is where I had to get sort of clever in Sketchup because there was no way I was going to find or model three dozen different plants. Instead, I took the fourteen plants for the area under the dogwood tree and the twenty-two shade happy plants in and around the garden, and I made simple circles that represented the average diameter of each plant, and extruded them up to the average height of said plant. I imported an photograph of each one to “color” the cylinders, so even though it looks a little funny with the circles, it makes a good plan for planning and planting. Each one is labeled with a letter to correspond with my own notes.
Here are the plants for under the dogwood tree:
|A Campanula Poscharskyana (1)|
|B Phlox Blue Ridge (1)|
|C Hosta Orange Marmalade (1)|
|D Dianthus Firewitch (1)|
|E Bergenia Winterglow (2)|
|F Heucherella Pink Fizz (1)|
|G Dianthus Greystone (1)|
|H Brunnera Alexander’s Great (1)|
|I Phlox Blue Moon (1)|
|J Geranium Biokovo Karmina (1)|
|K Hosta Color Festival (1)|
|L Lamium Aureum (1)|
|M Astilbe Chinensis (1)|
|N Heuchera Sugar Berry (1)|
And here are the other plantings around the hedges:
|A Aquilegia Dragonfly Hybrids (1)|
|B Astilbe Ostrich Plume (1)|
|C Brunnera Jack Frost (1)|
|D Helleborus Rome in Red (1)|
|E Lamium Pink Pewter (2)|
|F Phlox Home Fires (2)|
|G Filipendula Flore Plena (1)|
|H Viola Etain (1)|
|I Hosta Great Expectations (1)|
|J Hosta Happy Dayz (1)|
|K Hosta Blue Angel (1)|
|L Heucherella Pink Fizz (1)|
|M Chelone Hot Lips (1)|
|N Polemonium Purple Rain (1)|
|O Tricyrtis Dark Beauty (1)|
|P Astilbe Montgomery (1)|
|Q Alchemilla Thriller (1)|
|R Lobelia Cardinalis (1)|
|S Digitalis Mertonensis (1)|
|T Heuchera Autumn Leaves (1)|
|U Helleborus Flower Girl (1)|
|V Helleborus Maid of Honor (1)|
This post has gotten very long, and I’m only halfway through, so that seems like a good stopping place. I’ll post the rest tomorrow – including the other three components of the garden, and how the whole thing will come together. All I know is, after a snowy week here, this color is really lovely to think about!