Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring Projects

Yay! These opened on the 17th -- a lovely St. Patrick's Day gift!

Well, spring is officially here now, even though it has been so warm for the past month that it has felt like spring for some time now. I've been spending some time outside working in the gardens getting a few jobs done, like cutting back last year's foliage and raking out leaves. These jobs always feel like such progress and are satisfying to get done.

Last weekend I also got a start on one of my several spring projects that I have planned for this year. I got three pickup truck loads of leaf compost from the local landfill and put most of it on my new North Border front section -- the one I will plant with flowers mostly transplanted from the old North Border back section (which will be planted with evergreen trees and shrubs for winter interest).

Then I started moving a few plants from the old part to the new. I started with the 24 Allium 'Globemaster' bulbs that I planted in 2014. I know it's better to move them in fall, but the foliage was up and I need them to be out of the back section by mid-April, when we need to spray the numerous perennial weeds there like Creeping Charlie (ground ivy) and then plant the trees and shrubs before it gets hot.

(While I was working outside last Saturday, it actually started to snow, first tiny sleet and then big, floppy flakes. It became quite cold and unpleasant, and I was really wet and muddy and chilled by the time I was done moving all 24 alliums. But the snow was gone by noon the next day. I guess in March we take what we get, weatherwise, and don't complain.)

The new North Border: I put a layer of compost on the new front curvy bed that I removed the grass from last year and had my husband till up, and it was good to go. I started transplanting perennials and bulbs from the back section. Still many to go.

I also got started on moving some of the other perennials that are growing in the back section: achillea, phlox, peonies, mums, Shasta daisies and others. And I also moved about 50 Asiatic and Orienpet lily bulbs, marked with sticks where I planted them (again, I know this is better done in fall, but needs must).

There are so many plants in this large border that it will probably take weeks to move them all -- which is why it's good to get started as early as possible. I had trouble identifying everything, since I apparently didn't make a map of what was growing there, and it can be hard to identify plants when their leaves are tiny and only an inch out of the ground. We'll see how things turn out as the summer approaches...

There are a few other projects I'm hoping to do this year. Here's a short overview:


The Peony Border: I'm planning to slightly enlarge this border that is right next to the North Border. I made it smaller last year by grassing over the back part that can be seen tilled up and seeded in this photo from last May. I plan to remove some grass in a curved area at the bottom of this photo, and plant it with irises that I will divide from other beds, as well as alliums, poppies and other mid-spring perennials and bulbs that I will add this spring and fall. I want this to be a May-blooming border, perhaps with a few lilies for summer time. I'm inspired by photos of the Schreiner's Iris Gardens, with their crescendo of irises and other May-blooming companion plants.


The Rainbow Border: I'm thinking about shortening the length and changing the focus of this border, pictured a couple years ago from an upstairs window to capture the entire length of it. The Rainbow Border has been challenging for me, both because it is planted in a progression through the colors of the rainbow (white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and back to white at the far end), and also because of the sheer size of it. I am considering removing both ends of it and mixing up the colors.
I would remove the white sections from both ends (transplanting the plants to other borders), and perhaps remove parts of the pink and purple sections too, leaving it roughly the length between where the two protruding points are. I know it looks better to make a border the length of the backdrop (in this case, our East Windbreak), but it's just too big to maintain, and I hope it might look OK if I match the length to the edges of our driveway instead. What do you think?


The north side of our house: I'm trying to figure out what to do to make the back side of our house less unattractive. I'll post more about this problem in my next post.


A new West Terrace Bed: I've been thinking of planting something under this silver maple tree for years, but I've been intimidated because of the roots. I once tried to plant a few bulbs under it when the ground was dry and I think I would have needed a pickax to penetrate the ground. However, I think small bulbs could be planted on both the south front side and the north shady side, if a shallow layer of compost was spread on the area, and the whole area was well-watered before attempting to plant. I'm thinking of making a half-circle shaped bed around the tree to the retaining wall. Planting would be mostly early small bulbs -- sunny bulbs on the south side and shady bulbs and plants (like snowdrops) on the shady north side. Perhaps followed by perennials and annuals from seed that don't mind dry conditions, both dry sun and dry shade.

Anyway, these are the projects I'm thinking about these days as we enjoy warmer days. The last few days have been chilly and rainy, and last night we had a heavy frost, down to the low 20s -- the daffodils in the first photo are looking a bit droopy, but I hope they will recover and that our other tiny flowers will be OK too. The next several days are predicted to be warmer, so maybe I will get a bit more time in the gardens working on these projects.

I trust you are full of ideas for changes in your own gardens -- we gardeners aren't happy unless we're always planning for an even more beautiful future (which is why gardeners are happier than average folk, and why I love gardening, which is full of hope). Thanks for reading! -Beth

16 comments:

  1. What fun! So many wonderful plans, I love them all. Your rainbow border is just lovely, but I like the idea of mixing up the colors too. You have so many beautiful backdrops to plant in front of, I'm envious. Enjoy your spring...I'll be looking forward to seeing your gardens in bloom. _Janice

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    1. Thanks so much, Janice -- you're so kind. I look farward to seeing all your lovely flowers this spring too! -Beth

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  2. Hi Beth, I really love the rainbow border as is, but understand when you say it is too big to manage - I totally get that. You could take the white flowers and create a moon garden; if you do, be sure to place it where you can see it in the evening from a window. We have been doing garden clean up and will be doing a pond clean out and adding some more to our flagstone path soon. I would love to see your garden this summer; and invite you and your family to come visit us as well! I don't monitor the gmail e-mail very often but I am going to give you my e-mail that I look at several times a day and my phone number as well.
    Blessings, Beth

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    1. Hi Beth, How very kind to invite us to see your lovely gardens this year, and of course you are welcome to visit mine any time you might be n the area. And yes, I plan to use those white flowers near my white garden if I can -- always room for more! Thanks for reading, and Easter Blessings for your family! -Beth

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  3. Looks like you're not planning on taking it easy in the gardens anytime soon Beth.... we are nowhere near ready for any transplanting here but our big snow is dissipating in the sun very quickly today! Good luck with all your projects!! Larry

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    1. Hi Larry, I'm glad your snow is melting -- I'm sure it won't be long before the work starts for you in your gardens too. Thanks, and Happy Easter! -Beth

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  4. I think I told you before I love your large garden with different borders and especially the wide view over your peony border to the land. It's already a long time ago now, but I started my garden here with a long rainbow border. Over the years it changed by selfseeders in a mixed border and I'm satisfied with it. Tastes and times are always changing and that keeps us busy in the garden.

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    1. Thanks, Janneke. I remember you telling me in a comment once that you had a rainbow border long ago -- I have hardly ever run across that type of garden besides my own. I might keep some of the rainbow-ness of it, but you're right: gardens change and our interests do too. Thanks and Happy Easter! -Beth

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  5. It looks like you're well on your way. Those chilly winds and snow, no wonder you were cold! I'm glad you got the alliums moved though. Your gardens have such lovely shapes and structure. Can't wait to see it in summer.~~Dee

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    1. Thanks, Dee! I'm glad you stopped by. -Beth

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  6. Good luck with it all! You have so much garden that making a few beds smaller would make it easier to maintain. But no matter what you do, it will be beautiful!

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    1. Thanks for your vote of confidence and kind words -- I'm so glad you visited! -Beth

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  7. My goodness you have lots planned. I am just putting together my long and short list. My post will be up Monday outlining a few.

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    1. Hi Donna, I look forward to reading your post about your planned tasks -- thanks for reading! -Beth

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  8. Took me a little while to get over here Beth - so sorry. I had company and I am just now catching up. I always love visiting your blog because you are always so enthusiastic and filled with plans and I really get that! As gardeners we are always planning for the future but enjoying the process too. I just love the wonderful vistas from your garden. It must be such a joy being out there and enjoying those wonderful views. The peony border is just beautiful as is the rainbow border and, of course, the new North border. You have worked so hard on all this - I can only imagine how incredible this is going to look in full flower! I rather like the way the rainbow border matches the backdrop behind, but I totally understand how overwhelming it must be to maintain such a space. Whatever you decide it is all going to look stunning!

    Hope the weather stays nice so you can work on all your plans!

    - Kate xx

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  9. I just realised I have been missing your posts Beth. I don' t know why I haven' t been getting them. It is good to catch up and read about your plans.

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