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?