Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Garden Bliss

I am in the mood to share with you some pictures I took this evening of one of my favorite gardens. This particular planting area was created using recycled concrete--most of which came from an old driveway that we demolished some years ago. The idea to use the concrete was not mine but rather originated with my good friend Laurie. Laurie is a Master Gardener and a first-rate landscape designer. And she is the most creative and hardest working woman I have ever known.

About 4 years ago Laurie began the process of laying out the structure of the garden, which at the time was just a large expanse of grass under a huge old oak tree. I envisioned a lush shade garden densely planted with hostas and Laurie with the help of my husband Larry set about making this a reality. Over the course of 2 summers, they took up the sod, graded, installed French drain, moved wheelbarrows full of broken concrete and set the pieces in place.

Are you laughing at this moment because I told you it took 2 summers? Well let's just say we operate on island time up here.

Anyway, as I've said before, gardening is a process of 'trowel and error'. This garden has presented so many challenges that a few times I was ready to abandon my plan in favor of something less stressful.

I won't go on and on about all of the mistakes I've made, but I do need to tell you that this spring I had to dig up all of my hostas and move them to a new location. You see, last fall we severely pruned the oak tree and my full shade garden became a mostly sunny spot. I know that now there are hosta varieties that will tolerate sun but mine will not; they began to turn yellow. I was really, really upset and disappointed. I so wanted a huge hosta garden beneath the tree. I had envisioned it and it had happened--almost. And then once again I had to rethink and rework.

As is often the case, great things grew from my little calamity. Out of necessity I moved the hostas to the only truly shady spot available--a previously neglected and unsightly slope which I had dreaded tackling. They are now happily thriving beneath a canopy of juniper and a once eyesore is now quite an eye catcher. I had expected this slope to be very hard to work and I had for the most part just stopped looking at it. Now I feel rather silly considering that Larry and I had it plant-ready in fairly short order.

So you're probably asking, "why is there no picture of the hostas?" The answer is, I don't have the mulch spread around them yet and I want the garden to look just right before you see it.

The best was yet to come! Now the mostly-sunny-garden-beneath-the-oak looks even better. I have an array of astilbe that have grown by leaps and bounds this year and a wide variety of amazing volunteers-such as coral bells lady's mantle and lacy Scotch moss-which truly delight me. I installed some stepping stones and a little ornamentation and I feel a sense of joy every time I pass by.

I plan to position a chair someplace in the garden, and maybe even a footrest. One of these days, when the weather warms, I will dust off my copy of The Secret Garden and head for this happy place of repose. I'll let you know when... maybe you can meet me there.

Astilbes and Coral Bells

I love to plant between the steps!

Turning Over A New Leaf

Wild Ginger--Isn't this pretty?

A volunteer lady's mantle in such a perfect spot!

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