Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, April 2, 2010

Month End Views Of The Garden

Thanks to Helen, Patient Gardener for this great meme....

Eric Smithii hellebores in the morning sun recline at the feet of Rusty

Regular readers know that C&L is a suburban garden in the middle of an older neighborhood... The yard is a large rectangle with the L shaped house sitting in the middle with gardens in the front and back. The clay soil is shallow, dry in summers and sticky wet in winters. Plants have to be tough to survive these conditions! Native plants indigenous to cedar glades love these conditions, so they are planted in abundance!

The Susans get most of the attention in the front garden, but, all the gardens are planted with native wildflowers and rugged native friendly exotics. The Garden of Benign Neglect with its princess, Phlox pilosa, the practically perfect pink phlox, are in the back.


Near the street looking up into the garden back to sun

I garden on a slope, enough of one to throw off photos and make chairs sit askew. The position of the rising and setting sun also makes for interesting photo opts! The sun rises behind the house and is hidden by the trees in the wayback backyard, so, the front garden stays shaded until later in the morning....But, when it peaks around the house...there are marvelous back lit flowers....You've got to admit those Eric Smithii hellebores glow.

The Susans' Bed as it is now known as, is the original home of my First Loves~~daylilies (here for that story). When we built the porch on the front of the house this garden bed, with the daylilies, wildflowers and grasses all moved down to a newly created raised sunny bed. The bed sits on top of a limestone bedrock. The Susans love it and after the coneflowers, liatris, baptisias, amsonias, monardas, and other late spring/early summer blooms fade~~ the Susans, along with golden rods, asters, grasses and salvias take over. Almost everything is poking up from beneath the leaf mulch.


Looking left, the Bottle Tree is 'planted' A close up of the Blue Bottle Tree for Helen (ed.)

where I originally planned on placing the stock tank.
The stock tank is destined to be a water lily garden, but needs to be sited in full sun. It's been sitting upside down off to the side and will remain there until I see if the GOBN has enough sun to support
native water lilies.

In the Susan's bed the Little Bluestem Grasses have been cut down, the spring daffs are still blooming, day lilies are greening up and the old fashioned fragrant (grape) iris is standing tall. The small shrub is a Burkii juniper. ...Quite possibly the slowest growing shrub and I appreciate that about it! It's there for structure and it's one plant that can find a crack in the bedrock to send its taproot through.


Walking a bit further up the driveway and pivoting left gives you a great view across the Waiting Bench to Hedge The Unruly, the purple chairs and the Bur Oak tree. Grey Owl (Juniperus virginiana) shrubs flank The Waiting bench and add a much needed evergreen presence to the garden behind them. Finding the right native evergreens~ that can survive in the dry, shallow soil and shade has been tough. I sometimes refer to this area as the plant killer zone. It's killed small redbuds and oakleaf hydrangeas struggle. The trees manage to suck all the water out of the ground and finding the right shrubs to live has been tough! Grey Owl does nicely in the sun, but not the shade. It does need a layer of shrubs to give it depth. and that's my quest this season! In the meantime, Amsonias, yucca, rudbeckia, solomans seal, Rhus aromatica, Phlox pilosa, Phlox paniculata, Viburnum rufidulum, asters, asters and even more asters; including Miss Bessie Aster praealtus, a gift from Sweetbay's garden, round out the planting. It's a beautiful blue haze in the autumn and more then makes up for the missing shrubs!

This week I had 20 small pinestraw bales delivered...and I've begun mulching the grass paths.

The soon to be "former grass path" is getting covered in pine straw!

Pine straw is my favorite mulch. It's easy to apply, weighs practically nothing, looks good in a natural garden setting, smells wonderful, and it does not roll down the hill when it rains (the rain will settle its fluffy look)! Another selling point~~a little goes a long way.

Turning just a little you can see the other grass path that is between the Waiting Bench garden and the shadier wildflower beds. The soil might be better in the garden paths as Mr McGregor's Daughter has noticed, but it looks better mulched!
Before~


After!




And, from the other end....Not bad!


Eric Smithii hellebore's backside back lit in the morning light

Thanks for stopping by! Have a sweet weekend.

Gail

42 comments:

  1. Nice work on those paths! I like the pine needles - now you need some stepping stones. The backlit hellebore is a great picture. I'm just now seeing our Lenten Rose putting out a bud. I need to get more pine needles soon, just too much to mulch!

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  2. Yikes, you have been one busy gardener! I've been so busy travelling lately that many jobs, like layering newspaper and pinestraw as you're doing, have been delayed. I absolutely love your hellebore photo. And I loved the tour through your garden. Things are getting busy these days, aren't they?

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  3. Pinestraw also floats. Lost most of mine (was free from the trees overhead) and now the backyard garden is naked.
    Your pathways look great. Love the Hellebore. Excited I can grow them in SC, my shade here in VA is also in the high tide area.

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  4. Love your gardens...the path is great!

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  5. What is the bottle tree - can only just see it -any chance of a close up. Thanks for joining in this meme

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  6. Gail, be-yoo-ti-ful! I know see you do grow on a hill just like me. My house faces the opposite. Afternoon sun bakes the front of my house (but we have a line of native shade trees to soften some of the blow. My back garden gets morning sun. I know all about those camera angles. Love the straw.~~Dee

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  7. Helen, I've added a close up of the Bottle Tree...It's a metal structure with blue bottles. The folklore is that bad spirits are trapped in the bottles and can't hurt the gardener! Gail

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  8. Gail, Tell me more about pine straw. Are these dried pine needles from the forest floor? If so, this is a natural resource I have in abundance in the pine/hemlock woods that surround my house. I've never thought to rake some of it up and use it as mulch. -Jean

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  9. It's all just lovely, Gail. The pine straw really does make a nice mulch for the paths. I spent several hours picking up, unloading and spreading 2 yards of cedar mulch on Wednesday. Pine straw sounds much less exhausting! I have to say, the bales make a very attractive border around the beds, at least in the picture. I know they're just sitting there waiting to be spread but I like the effect. Don't mind me, I'm weird that way.

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  10. The pine straw was a good choice. I would love to walk around your garden for real and wish I could smell your Irises! [SIGH] But I am glad that I get to see your beautiful space in photos at least.

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  11. Your paths look wonderful, Gail. And you know how I love all your gardens...I could lose myself for hours in the Garden of Benign Neglect! :)

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  12. Jean, Yes that is exactly what they are...only I got them baled from a nursery and paid too much for them! Free would be great! I also mulch some landscape and flower beds...I think it looks great...It is cheaper in the long run and easier to handle then heavy bags of mulch. gail

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  13. Oooh... I (heart) those backlit hellebore photos!!!

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  14. Is here a trick to growing susans? Mine struggle to, or don't, come back--this includes reseeding. I'm about to give up on having any.

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  15. Hi Gail~~ The difference between the before and after is amazing. We don't have pine mulch here so I've never experienced it up close.

    Your Hellebore is just fabulous. I don't think I've seen this peachy pink coloring on a hellebore flower. Nice!

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  16. Hi Gail, I admire your garden so much (and Sweetbay's too). You have used so many natives (and non natives that 'fit' into your climate. They look very natural and right in your setting. I also admire the way you are decreasing the 'lawn'. I'm trying to do that too.

    I am going to look into the pine straw, see if it's available here. I use mostly chopped leaves now but they do not make a good material for paths.

    Have a wonderful Easter!
    Marnie

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  17. Gail, tku so much for a wonderful garden tour. I did so enjoy it, loving the detail and stop off points.
    The hellebore does indeed look beautiful, but then they are one of my absolute passions.

    Your paths are perfect for your gentle woodland setting. Grass paths (of which I have a lot) are a nuisance to say the least. They are without doubt hardwork.

    Have a lovely Easter Gail......

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  18. There's much to like in your beautiful garden. I too garden on a slope, actually a mountainside so I know how difficult it is. I love the hellebore and that's the best bottle tree I have ever seen! Happy Eeaster!

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  19. i love the natural paths you are making and then you don't have to mow those strips of grass anymore...clever you. it is always a process seeing what works in the areas we are given to care for the land. i am glad you are more than finding your way around at clay and limestone. i was just reading about a woman, elspeth thompson who was a garden champion about gardening in hard to garden/or small spaces gardening. interesting stuff.
    i think going native is exactly the right thing to do...you don't have to fight your eco system. i am heading in that direction too.
    hope you have a wonderful spring getting things ready.
    happy easter to you and your family.

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  20. The pine straw paths look wonderful. I miss my pine trees, (pine straw), that I had at my home in Alabama. I had neighbors who would ask for the pine straw that collected outside of the fence because it didn't have leaves in it. I usually had enough to share.

    Love the bottle tree!

    Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend!

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  21. Hi there Gail, thanks so much for the tour, I loved seeing around your plot. Like everyone else I do like your pine needle paths. I love this natural look. It just looks perfect for your garden.

    I love your mature trees too as they give such character to your garden giving it all a sense of place… wonderful. I do hope you join in for future months so we can see your garden change.

    Wishing you a great weekend :-D

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  22. Benjamin, They seem to thrive on neglect...I just let them be. I have seeds that I would be glad to share and also R subtomentosa (Sweet Black Eyed Susans). It like a bit more moisture.

    Gail

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  23. Thanks for the shout out. I know how it is to have big thirsty tree roots sucking all the remaining moisture (on a slope) out of soil. Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) is one of the better performing shrubs for me, but then mine were planted when they were very small. Your Hellebores are stunning.

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  24. Gail,
    I really enjoyed the tour to get the overall perspective of your gardens and the position with the sun, the slope and your garden art.

    Pine straw mulch is no longer allowed in many of the NC towns in my area due to fires spreading through neighborhoods via the mulch. We used it at our previous house and love the look of it.

    It looks like your garden is ready to bloom! Enjoy your Easter weekend!

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  25. Thank you for the tour! I garden on a slope, too. Not a flat spot anywhere.

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  26. The tour was wonderful. I could sit on thebench forever. The sweet peet came today so i'm in the garden also. Nice pics and post. jim

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  27. Those E Smith hellebores are astounding. Wow. I love all the different levels you have. We are very flat here.

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  28. Gail I enjoyed the tour of your yard. It looks beautiful. Love the shot of the Hellebore. The petals look like stained glass.

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  29. What a lovely tour! So, nice to see a garden that's blooming and no snow in site! I was close to a complete melt but then another foot of the white stuff buried my crocus and daffodils. :)

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  30. Hi Gail, I love the hellebores and that angle of the Waiting Bench is wonderful. Of course I'm envious of the pine straw--it's not sold up here in the north but it's a great mulch. My mom rakes up fallen needles from under her red pine for me. :) Happy Easter!

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  31. Hi Gail, nice to see your garden looking so 'springy' - and well prepared for the coming season. Your hellebores are fabulous! Such a lovely shade.
    Happy Easter!

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  32. The pine straw looks great on the paths! Like everyone else, I am wowed by your hellebore photos. It looks like your garden is off to a wonderful start for the season!

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  33. I never tire of 'refreshing my mind' shots of your awesome garden, Gail. Happy Easter, dear friend.

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  34. What a beautiful garden! I would have loved to walk there, and see all the gorgeous flowers! Thanks for sharing

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  35. I love this post! Great tour. I definitely like seeing people's situation and where the garden is in a wide angle at this very moment. It must be the voyeur in me.

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  36. Love the bottle tree :o)

    I just popped by to wish you a very Happy Easter,

    RO xxx

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  37. Dear Gailie,

    I love the new path mulch! I enjoyed this tour around some of your garden beds...your gardens photograph so well...

    My backyard is a construction zone right now...Lee and Daniel are beginning the new deck! So far the only thing I have planted is some eggplant I've started inside :)...

    xxoo Lynn

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  38. What a great garden tour! I like the way you name components. Makes me think of your garden as a community.

    The mulched paths are awesome, but you knew that. We had grass paths in Florida and it was a pain trying to keep the grass out of the beds.

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  39. Goodness Gail ~ you've been crazy busy. Everything is looking phenomenal there. Love the pine straw paths. They add a little zip to your garden. Keep up the good work before it gets to hot to do anything!

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  40. You've been a busy girl, Gail! I love those hellebores, and your mulch looks awesome! I don't know if that's available here.

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  41. I luv the look of your pine straw mulch and I bet it does smell wonderful.

    There are a lot of big trees in our yard also and they are very selfish when it comes to moisture. They want it all!

    I remember The Waiting Bench from other posts and have always liked it. Nice to see it again.

    donna

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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