Early Spring pics and a possible project

One teeny mini daffodil is showing its face


My willow tree is all fired up for Spring

Flowering plum, first teeny blossom

My last entry was June 2009, which means I pretty much flaked on this blog.  I hope to be more diligent this Spring and Summer, as I’d like to have my own record of how my garden progresses, and I’d like to add some historical pics like maybe a before/after montage.

Speaking of before and after, I have plans to do something with the Northeast corner of our back yard this year.  Here’s how it looks now:

ho hum

The very first step will of course be to get rid of the hideous sight on the left:  an unused woodpile left by the previous owners of our house (we’ve lived here for 8 years) which is currently rotting and housing many, many large spiders.  Our friend who built our deck two summers ago felt bad for our wood and covered it with the tarpish thingy.   We desperately need to get it all OUT of there (Craigslist, perhaps, I’ll include the spiders for no additional charge) and then I’ll have a new garden bed.  On the right is our shed, and a perennial shade bed next to it.  The Hellebores are the only things up in that bed at this point but by June it is all very full and lush (and hides the need for paint on the shed).  The back fence is also a perennial bed I call Rambo’s Garden for our sweet old kitty who “rests” there now.  It is pretty much bare in February, but it fills out more in the Summer.  I never really planned my plantings in this bed, so it’s just a bunch of random plants thrown in together, so this year I hope to unify it all a bit by adding some things and taking things out.  The tree on the left is a Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) which doesn’t really shade the area much so that Rambo’s Garden gets pretty hot and dry.  What you don’t see in the photo is on the left and DOES provide some shade – a mature flowering plum tree.  We have 3 of them and they could probably all use a good pruning, and we’ll definitely have to do that for the one which hangs over this area if I incorporate a fire pit in my plan.  From this view if you were to turn 180 degrees, you’d be facing the kids’ sand box and play structure, with our deck to the left, so this area is sort of tucked away from all the “action” that regularly occurs in the back yard.

In this picture…

peeking around the shed

… you’ll see where the lawn just sort of abruptly ends, and how the area behind the shed is unused and not terribly attractive.  I usually keep our large yard waste bin back here during the seasons we have it, and around the other corner I’ve stacked up some plant stakes and my tomato cages.  The dryer vent and whatever that other thing is need to stay, but that patch of grass there under the dead leaves I scraped off Rambo’s Garden is 90% buttercup, which are REALLY hard to get rid of.  Chad hates when I want to remove lawn/sod, but that spot in particular is just awful, and I think connecting Rambo’s Garden to the shade garden would look great with some bark mulch and maybe even a stepping stone.

Sooooo… I need some design ideas for this space!  I have a portable fire pit I just received as a Christmas gift, and I just got a little kid-sized garden bench off Craigslist, so I would like to make this area a sort of little sanctuary, with places to sit and beautiful flowers to enjoy.   I would like to remove the lawn to do this and just put down some really fine mulch so I wouldn’t have to try and mow around anything like seating or have to move stuff when I mow.  I’m currently reading an awesome garden design book for ideas but I’d also love any suggestions from anyone else who was somehow cajoled into reading this.  I’d love design ideas and even plant ideas if you have favorites that you find particularly “peaceful” or pleasant.  Once I figure out what to do here, I will share progress pictures.  TTFN!


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melissa K. on February 27, 2010 at 12:16 am

    I’ll tell you what I would do, only because you asked– I would dig up all the sod (foodnotlawns.com, Chad!), and for sanctuary style space, plant a scent garden– akebia vine, daphne, a non-invasive variety of honeysuckle, scented iris, dwarf lilac, casablanca lilies. I might add a handmade mosaic wall and/or a solar-powered fountain. An alternative to a fire pit would be a cob earth oven ( http://www.squidoo.com/earth-oven ). I might paint a mural or some unexpected bright color on the shed or fence walls. I might espalier a fruit tree in the shape of a fan on the side of that shed. I might screw in some plant hangers on the wall and grow some upside-down tomatoes or strawberries in planters. I’d plant nasturtiums everywhere.

    I’m suffering from acute garden withdrawal mania– not working on any new projects here, as we’re getting the house ready to sell the Spring.


  2. That sounds awesome, Melissa! I’ve heard mixed reviews on akebia – seems people outside the Pac NW consider it invasive but apparently it “behaves” here and withstands being hacked back quite a lot; have you grown it? Do you know if it grows from seed here or if I need a plant? I do love oriental lilies (stargazer is my fave and I have some in the front yard) but I’ve never tried casablanca. That earth oven is way cool! I have a portable fire pit already like this one — http://img4.southernliving.com/i/2004/10/outdoor-fireplace/fire-pit-m.jpg — which I was hoping to incorporate. Espaliering fruit trees seems WAY scary and difficult, LOL — but that side of the shed faces north and is shaded all day so I’m not sure if anything like that would grow there, but hanging planters on the fence would look GREAT! Some sort of garden art would probably be great on the shed, though, great suggestion.

    Selling your house, wow! My neighbor (and fellow gardener) put their house on the market last year so I adopted a bunch of her plants; woo hoo! (They didn’t end up selling, but she was kind enough to let me keep ’em. ) 🙂 Hopefully you can satisfy your gardening urges with just maintaining your existing stuff. Thanks so much for your ideas!


  3. Posted by raisarobin on February 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    I’m following along and looking for inspiration. I really want/need to do well with my vegetable garden this year — last year’s was kind of blah. We need nets to keep the deer away. Still trying to figure out what grows best here — beets (show up early), green beans (show up late).

    We had a heck of a time with buttercup too — it came in where I let my pumpkin vines trail across the lawn, and I’ve never been able to get rid of it since.


  4. Posted by raisarobin on February 28, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Also Julie, what do you do with/to your soil? We’ve had to build up our sod with raised beds, and I was on a bargain-hunting “dirt is dirt” thing, and after 2 seasons I’m not happy with the way it’s turning out. I want to seriously enrich the soil, add the best stuff I can both top soil and fertizlier/manure whatever.


  5. Posted by Julie Redl on March 1, 2010 at 12:18 am

    I tried the bargain, how-bad-can-it be dirt approach as well, and at least for my veggie garden in a raised bed I figured out quickly that you can’t just get by with plain ol’ dirt. For my borders and beds I add a little compost every year when I remember to and I mulch with bark and that works fine. With my vegetable garden raised bed, I started it with a mix of 1/2 Cedar Grove compost and 1/2 “garden soil” that came in bags. The next year I just dumped on a bunch more compost and mixed it in, like probably 4″ on top prior to mixing it in. Last year I did nothing to the soil and everything grew pretty crappily — you can scroll down my blog listings and see last year’s veg garden, then scroll further down for some older pics where the garden is significantly more lush and thriving.

    My mom always amended her soil with steer manure (bagged) and peat moss, and her stuff always grew amazingly well. I don’t think you need fertilizer for vegetables – the compost or manure provides all the necessary nutrients for them – unless your soil is really depleted or something, and you can get soil tester kits at nurseries (and maybe even big box stores with garden centers) to determine if your soil is low in whatever necessary components there are, though I’ve never done it myself.


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