Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reclaiming a garden, part I

On Monday, I did a step-by-step prep and planting of a small semi-shade garden for a colleague of mine who has recently bought a house in a neighborhood near mine. What we did has been thoroughly documented in the form of two videos that will soon appear on the Troy-Bilt website. I’ll talk about the whole video process in another post—it really deserves its own story.

In the meantime, I have been looking at my pictures of the small bed, and I like it, as far as it goes. The previous owner built some raised beds edged with natural stone, which have become overgrown with violas, vincas, and just-plain-weeds. Kevin (shown above) cleared one of them and then on Monday I dumped some compost on the bed and worked it up as best as I could with the TB cultivator. Kevin’s house, like mine, is surrounded by Norway maples. I had always wondered if a cultivator might help get through root-choked beds, and it does, pretty much. I don't think I've ever seen tree roots as tough and ubiquitous as Norways. And I don't think you can hurt the tree by attacking the roots either. I think it encourages them.

Then we dug and planted. I chose some plants that I think will stand up to shade and root competition—they do on my, very similar property. We planted hakonechloa grass, maroon heucheras, some hellebores, a pieris, tiarella, brunnera, cimifuga, and some annuals for extra color. It was a hot day, so we mulched and watered well.

Though the plants will look much better when they fill out, and provide dramatic foliage interest for this very green space, I can’t help but admire the previous violas (above), now in their flowering season. They’re lush and full even if they are self-spreading semi-weeds left to take over. I’ll be back to check up on the garden periodically to see how things are doing. They’ll need to water often—now that it seems mid-80 daily temps are the late spring norm around here. What's up with that?


Lisa at Greenbow said...

The flower bed looks quite nice. We have been having July weather here. Record heat the past two days. UGH.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing you like the violas, because they will come back from seeds left in the soil.