Monday, April 19, 2010

Making progress

Still not time to plant, but there's plenty to do in the meantime. Trying to work my way around the house cleaning up the existing beds. All of which appear to have been ignored for years.

This weekend I decided to focus on cleaning up the south side of the house. This is the sloped area with the retaining wall and planted primarily in hostas with a touch of pachysandra, lamium and lily of the valley. In summer this area is in full shade.

As of Friday it was also full of Garlic Mustard. Inspiring me to do some research and even write a post about it. Spent most of Saturday attacking the weeds.

In addition to the retaining wall one of the primary features of the space is a planting bed around a large black walnut tree.  This bed is an approximately  6' by 15' oval. Will be a shade perennials mixed border. One corner gets a few hours of sun, so plain on sneaking in a Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey' there. 

After clearing the weeds, I wanted to amend the soil a bit to prep for planting. There was already a nice coating of chopped partially composted leaves, so added a couple of 50# bags of alfalfa pellets (one of my very special secret garden ingredients), and a few bags of cow manure, and tilled it all up. Ok, I admit, I just wanted to play with some power tools, but the bed needed the work!

Here in Wisconsin, we don't have just any old cow manure, we have Dairy Cow Manure.......

Now this is much better. Kinda a blank slate. But one thing I do know is that Mother Nature abhors a vaccum and as evidenced by the garlic mustard will fill the space if I don't. So next weekend will probably involve many yards of mulch. But also some planning.

The scariest part of all this is in many ways it is new territory. I just don't have the mental palatte of shade plants.  In the past, I always knew where I was going with a bed. I might name it by colors and design from there - I had blue and yellow beds, peaches and berries beds. Or design around a favorite plant or combo. But those were all sun plants. I've never had a true shade garden. I can't just start mentally ticking off plants to fill the space. 

But wait, I always like a "grape and lemonade" bed. And there's some great gold leaved hostas, and dark leaved heucheras. Maybe a few dark leaved astilbes. And I saw this incredible tiarella with chartreuse leaves and wine colored veining. Always wanted to grow Aceta simplex 'Brunette'. And hakonachloa, oh I love hakonechloa.......

Yes, there may be hope for this garden.

And for me......


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