Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Remaking the Front Garden, Part 6

The crew is finished, the larger plants are planted, the sidewalks swept and washed, and the compost spread. It's starting to look like a garden.

 Here's the view from the street. There's still a lot of areas to plant with perennials, grasses, succulents, and groundcovers. We have some of that on hand, but we know we'll be making more trips to the nurseries we like.

In this view from the mailboxes, the tree on the left is Parrotia persica 'Red Vase' and the conifer is Picea orientalis 'Skylands.' Evergreen and flowering deciduous shrubs will eventually provide some screening from the street.

I'm already thinking of this areas as Kniphofia Knoll. Once these start to offset and flower, this area has the potential to be spectacular. The tree on the right is Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem,' a particularly upright cultivar.

Another shot of the giant Kniphofia northiae jungle-to-be.

We'll be spending a lot of weekends on our knees planting more things over the next couple of months, then installing soaker hoses everywhere.

In the meantime, lots of watering.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Plant Shopping

Now that the front garden hardscaping is nearing completion, it's time to do one of our favorite things: shopping for plants. The top photo shows part of the plants we found at Cistus Nursery, on Portland, Oregon's Sauvie Island. Lots of interesting things!

An assortment of perennials. We have a lot of ground to plant.

 This little cutie is a Pacific Northwest native, Erigeron glaucus, or beach daisy. This is a tough, tough plant that thrives with little attention. We love the flowers.

Monstrous red-hot pokers, Kniphofia northiae, native to South Africa.  These send up enormous flower spikes. The blue-grey foliage in front of them is Melianthus major 'Antanow's Blue.'

 Who wouldn't love this look? Plus, the foliage smells like peanut butter!

Out temporary nursery. Many things to plant…

The grey-green mass of foliage belongs to Zauschneria septentrionalis 'Select Mattole,' the most cold and wet tolerant of the California fuchsias (not true fuchsias). Profuse orange-red flowers will draw in the hummingbirds later this summer.

Clockwise from lower right: Hesperaloe parviflora, Beschorneria albiflora, Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies,' Agave parry var. truncata, Picea orientalis 'Skylands,' Agave harvardiana, and Cryptomeria japonica 'Araucarioides.' The pot in the upper left holds a Callistemon viridiflora.

We're looking forward to playing with placing and planting these (and all the ones not shown here).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Remaking the Front Garden, Part 5

With the hardscaping about 90% complete, we are nearing the end of what we will have the designer/installer do. We'll then start figuring out where plants go, a fun process for us.

One of the things we're looking forward to is softening the overall look of all this rock and paving with green and woody things. We'll start with a few small-to-medium sized trees and a handful of shrubs and work from there. Figuring out plant placement and combinations is one of our favorite aspects of gardening.

A tall pot will go in the middle of that circle, probably with something dramatic in it. I wonder what it will be?

The first plant to be planted is this Parrotia persica 'Red Vase,' a Persian Ironwood tree. As gardeners, it was a real thrill to see the first plant go in! Parrotias have great fall color, and, with age, fascinating bark. In the spring, tiny red flowers appear on the bare stems, revealing its relation to the witch hazels.

The crew assure us it will be just one more day, then they will be finished.

Then the real fun begins…

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Remaking the Front Garden, Part 4

 Larger rocks help define areas of interest around the circle and along the paths. More soil will be mounded in the beds to break the flatness.

The juxtaposition of rock and pavers creates interesting texture.

There will be a wide berm across the front. Once planted, it will form a semi-open screen that provides some privacy, yet allows views into the garden. This is also where all three of the major trees will be planted.

The front steps are now mortared and looking fantastic. We're really happy with these.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Remaking the Front Garden, Part 3

 Now things are happening!

After looking at the size of the front steps as they were taking shape, we decided we wanted the whole thing bigger. This new size will have some mass and make more of a destination, not to mention being more functional.

All of the old plants that we were not keeping have now been hauled off. It is an unpleasant feeling for me as a gardener to watch healthy plants that have some age being destroyed. Unfortunately, most of them were not what we wanted or were not in the right spot. We decided to save the cut-leaf Japanese maple by the head of the new sidewalk, as well as an unknown old rambling rose that is shocking red. We'll probably move the rose next spring, but it's fine where it is for now.

The paved circle makes a statement. The gravel paths through the garden feed off of this as well. It will be further edged with Montana slate in irregular slabs as a transition to the planted areas. I can't wait to have things spilling onto this!

Detail of paver edging
We're liking the edge detail. This will be more colorful once the concrete dust has been washed off.

We're in high plant lust mode now, making lists, planning shopping trips. First up: Cistus Nursery near Portland, Oregon. We're renting a van for that one.

Still to come: large rock placement, dry stream construction, massive amounts of dirt and compost hauled in and contoured, and many other details.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Remaking the Front Garden, Part 2

It's amazing what people with strong backs (and a jackhammer, and a sod cutter) can get done in just two days.

All of the grass is gone, for good. Today, they busted up the sidewalk, the front steps, and a big concrete slab that had been hiding under the front deck. It was loud. Things shook all day in the house!

This state of destruction is both distressing and exhilarating, because it's currently a mess, but will soon start to take shape in its new form.

Next up, I think: digging and potting all the plants. That should be interesting!