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

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Even A Gardener Must Stand Naked

The problem with my front yard garden (the blimp) is a lack of bones. Pam over at Digging says that every garden needs bones. She calls them the ‘underlying framework’. Bones are walls, sidewalks, evergreen plantings and other structural elements in the garden.

My front yard garden hadn't any! In the winter it is brown.

I know I am not alone in this problem.... But while that might comfort me, inviting you into see the mistakes I have made is another entirely different experience. It is scary. I feel like a contestant on the that new TV show "How Do You Look Naked?". Karson wants to put a picture of my naked garden on a billboard. Everyone will point and say, “Look she has no bones! How could she think that is a garden?…it is a vast and empty sea of brown. Why ever did she get rid of the grass? What was she thinking?” Pretty scary.

So Sarah has been helping me get bones into the garden while honoring the fact that it is a Cedar Glade area. So plants need to be able to tolerate shallow soil that is wet in winter and very dry in summer. They must also be able to survive under a canopy of oaks, shagbark hickories, and hackberries. It also means that it isn't going to look like a lush plant filled space. A cedar glade is after all quite bare with few evergreens.

The first thing she did was reshape the garden. I thought it had to include all the trees in the center of the yard which made it really big. Impossibly big and too expensive to fill up. She pulled it away from the burr oak and created a small seating area instead of garden. She suggested that I get 3 Grey Owl Junipers. Grey Owl is a beautiful blue green juniper; a cultivar of Juniperus Virginiana that is known for his shaggy horizontal shape rather than pyramidal like the tree form of Juniperus Virginiana.  See second photo above.

Then she suggested that I transplant some Yucca to one spot. That turned out to be inspired...Who knew that bunching all the Yucca together would work so well. I thought I had one big Yucca plant...it turned out to be 6 or 7 small plants that will eventually fill in nicely. Creating a little Yucca bed.  It's a great plant for catching leaves.  See top photo.

So far so good. I feel like I am on my way to having some bones in the blimp...Now I need to get some boulders moved around!



  1. i like yuccas grouped together too. they are great plants here. i have a friend who hates them so she invites me to dig hers every year. but they come back in her garden. lol

  2. Tina,
    I like them grouped together, too. I was totally surprised by that, but once I saw them together, it was "wow".
    Thanks for visiting my blog...as you can see I am trying to learn all the tricks, but mostly I'm stumbling along in my ignorance...

  3. Gail, I hope my post about bones in the garden didn't cause you any angst. As are most gardeners I know, I'm still working on building structure into my own garden. Great bones are what I aspire to, not what I have achieved, so I often feel "naked" too while blogging about my garden. (Great way to put it, by the way.)

    I think a cedar-glade seating area will be lovely, and grouped yuccas are great. I hadn't thought of yuccas in Tennessee, but it sounds as if they do well there.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson