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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Planting party

What a week! On Wednesday, Kevin Newman’s team finished work on my yard. They left me with two new beds filled with beautiful black loam, ready to be planted. On Friday I set out on a shopping binge, and now I’m shuffling the plants around, designing the new plantings. Chances to plant a whole new area come along once in a decade. I’m having a blast! 

Trying out arrangements of new perennials for sun and part shade

    The first stage of the renovation started Monday morning, with the men rapidly scraping away the lawn around the deck. In a couple of hours, the grass was gone. Then they cut down five hemlocks at back corners of the lot (more on this in a future post), dragged the pieces out to the chipper parked in the driveway, and reduced them to wood chips. They returned the chips to the yard, using them to cover two new paths. 

Wood chip path for trundling wheelbarrows

Paths made from our own wood! You can’t get more sustainable than that! [note the presidential punctuation].

     The longest phase involved the heavy work of lifting large bluestone pavers from around the deck and putting in a new stone path leading toward the garden.

    What’s going into the new beds? They’re partly in sun, which means a chance to grow flowers that can’t thrive in most of the garden because it’s too shady. I had so many perennial darlings on my wish list that the problem was to pare it down. One of everything is not a good design principle. 

    I was looking for plants that stay low, so they won’t block the view of the garden from the deck. I thought back to a successful bed that designer Betsy Brown created for us in 1994 for a hot, dry west-facing spot. This time natives were a priority, but I couldn’t bear to leave out a few imports that had been stars of Betsy’s design.

Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) had to be included--photo by Anneli Salo

    So far here are some high points of what I’ve chosen: For the sunniest area, Achillea ‘Coronation Gold,’ a yarrow with gray foliage and flat yellow flower heads in a subtle shade of yellow, 

'Coronation Gold'

an elegant St. John’s wort (Hypericum ‘Magic Universe’) with golden flowers, dark red fruits, and foliage with tones of red and blue, 

St. John's wort fighting off depression

prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heteroleptus), a native grass that will contribute panicles of pinkish-tan flowers in late summer, and a low-growing blue juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’) for winter interest.

     For the partly shaded section, a few I have high hopes for include the red-gold flowers of sneezeweed (Helenium ‘Short ‘n’ Sassy’), 

A similar sneezeweed--photo by Dietzel

a nice goldenrod (Solidago odora), and some blues in the form of Stokes aster (Stokesia laevis ‘Blue Danube’) and Canadian phlox (Phlox divaricata ‘Blue Moon’). Among these I have a chance to intersperse some of my favorite ground covers: bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), and a multi-colored bugleweed (Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’).

Gaultheria procumbens does well in part shade

     This is just the first pass. Stay tuned for the editing process.

1 comment:

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