Patio

Finished a little early, my 45th birthday present from Kevin and Jed, a back patio and new seating! It’s nice that it’s done early, so it can be used during the upcoming party on the 23rd. 🙂 We had this area by the garage that had been originally intended sort of vaguely as a shady flower bed, but our back deck is tiny (big enough for a cafe table and two chairs, plus some plants), and for years we’ve really been wishing for a larger hanging out with family / entertaining space in the backyard. The random leftover condo furniture plopped in the mulch was just not appealing.

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So we designed a little gravel patio, raised a bit to make it feel more like a separate space, with a small stacked stone retaining wall and a little planting bed surrounding it.
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There’s a little more futzing to be done — I want to replace those hanging baskets with metal ones with coconut matting (I think I have those in my garage, actually, left over from our condo days), and add in some shade annuals (caladium, coleus) for brighter color in the bed. We’re planning to add a fire pit and some kind of small bubbling water feature. And Kevin has some scheme in mind for adding bars at the side and across the back to rig up some kind of privacy curtains, which I am a little dubious about, as I think it may make the whole thing too visually bulky, and I wasn’t sure we’d actually use them that much. But I told him I’d think about it. 🙂 If it were up to him, we’d enclose the whole thing in mosquito netting, but while I appreciate his deep hatred of mosquitoes, I think it’d be hard to do that in this space without ending up with visual weirdness.  Will try planting some mosquito-repelling plants; ageratum, marigold, artemisia, lavender, lemon balm. Smelly!

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Thanks to Pam Whitehead for helping coordinate and design the project, Rudy’s Landscaping for installing (including re-doing it when they did it differently that we’d intended the first time), and Kevin and Jed for helping haul furniture around, plant hostas, heucheras, hellebores, etc., especially since I’m on lifting restrictions right now and can’t really move or plant anything. Oh, and thanks to Costco for having the least expensive set of this kind of furniture (their Niko line) in a color and style I liked better than the more expensive versions. 🙂
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Dragon’s blood sedum

Hm. I didn’t *plan* for the dragon’s blood sedum to be growing through the creeping charlie like that, but I have to say, it’s a perfectly fine effect. If they’re happy, I’m happy.

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Achillea / yarrow, with hosta and allium summer beauty behind, both still opening. I haven’t grown achillea before, because I’ve mostly seen it in yellows that fade to brown, not my favorite color scheme. But I love this variety, which I think should fade to light pink. We’ll see!

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Hm. I’m not sure the lavender is situated quite right — it seems a little short to be right next to the coneflower (which is playing beautifully with the tall Russian sage). Do I need to find a medium-height flower to go between them, which might mean moving the lavender out a little bit. Hm. Although the lavender is also new this year, so maybe it just needs to have enough time to grow more? (I wish I remembered what variety it is.)
(You can see the yarrow in the background, blurrily.)

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Three different varieties of white hydrangea — a lace cap (Quickfire), panicle (Oakleaf), and mophead (Annabelle). I know it looks like the mophead is about to swallow Kevin, but I promise you, he survived.

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My black cohosh / black snakeroot / bugbane / fairy candles / cimcifuga / actea racemosa is flopping over oddly — I’m not sure what’s up with it, and I really hope I’m not supposed to divide it, as I’d have no idea where to start with that monster.

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I’m kind of afraid to go look it up. Hopefully I can just stake it up so it doesn’t attack us as we try to cross the path. (The Walker’s Low nepeta is flopping over equally far at knee-height on the other side, so it really is quite an adventure trying to traverse our garden path right now.)

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The shaded path to the backyard is starting to come along nicely, with two different varieties of dwarf hydrangeas (should only get to 3′ feet around or so), hostas, and lamium ground cover.

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I really like the way the light edging on the hostas and the silvery-white leaves of the lamium light up what would otherwise be a pretty dark space.

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Lilies! And with that, we end our tour of ‘what started blooming while Mary Anne was out of town for four days.’ And I, to bed. Tomorrow, writing and weeding, weeding and writing. Also watering. It will be a “w” kind of day.

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Privacy Brainstorming

The garden I’m docent-ing    had this narrow trellis, just inside the fence, which supported a massive wisteria. We’ve been struggling with the lack of privacy in our backyard — as you can see in pictures 2-4, it’s overlooked by an apartment building immediately next door, as well as a set of new townhouses that are being built to the northeast.
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We’ve been talking about what we might do to amend that space. There are some plants there — a hedge rose, a somewhat blighted young cherry tree, but both of those could be moved, along with whatever random perennials and bulbs are there. I’m not sure where I’d put the hammock, but maybe it’d go to sun. But the question is what we could do for shade, given the restrictions on fence height (it’s currently at max).
 
The typical choice there is arborvitae, tall, skinny trees — I had been thinking they would be too wide, and would really crowd the space, but I’ve been looking at it again, after seeing some arborvitae at one of the other garden walk homes, and I think they might work there. The bed is about 4′ wide, I think? I should measure. Do you think a row of them buy kamagra 100mg oral jelly would fit? It would make the yard somewhat darker / shadier, but I think that’d be all right — the other side is still plenty sunny, if we’re in the mood for sun.
 
Alternately, we could build a trellis like the one she put in for the wisteria, but build it even taller? Would that look goofy, to have a two-story trellis? It could run all the way to the garage, in theory, shielding the townhouses from view as well.
 

There are also fence extensions I think you can add to an existing fence (train clematis or some such over it for screening), though I might have to check code and/or check with my neighbor who owns the apartment building. I’m guessing he’d be fine with my adding more screening / privacy, that his tenants would like that at least as well as looking into my yard, but I should check with him.

A combination, maybe?  Arborvitae to anchor the ends and block the worst of the privacy issues, and a trellis or fence extension screens in the middle?  Another option is possibly bamboo (it looks like variety Nuda grows to about 10′ in the Midwest)?

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Garden magic

I went out to water last night, around 8:30 p.m., and was surrounded by lots of fireflies the whole time (and no mosquitoes!), which was magical. I was singing as I watered, Bill Staines’s lovely “Prairie Song,” and feeling both slightly goofy but also very happy. And then a young woman walked by with her dog, and I paused my singing to say hi, and she said hi, and then she said, in intense tones, “You have the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen.”
 
She was a very young woman, and I am guessing she hasn’t actually seen that many gardens yet. But it was still a pretty perfect moment. 🙂
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Garden in June

I tried to add lilies to my garden this year — I’d had a few Stargazer and Starfighter before, but wanted more, so I added a half-dozen in front, and the same in the side and the back — or I meant to! But it turns out the bunnies LOVE my lilies. This is the only one that’s survived in the front; the others are nibbled down to a variety of picturesque stumps. I should take a photo of that to show you. Sigh.

Ah well, from the right angle, this one is still lovely. With bee’s balm, geranium, and hydrangea behind.

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The monarda / bee balm is blooming now; I’d actually like to add the prairie native version of this, monarda fistulosa / wild bergamot, which is lavender-blue — if anyone knows of a local supplier, let me know?

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I totally meant to add supports to my Annabelle native hydrangea this spring, the kind that the plant can grow up through, and I completely forgot. So it looks lovely now, as it comes into bloom, but will likely be dragging on the ground in a month, especially if we get summer thunderstorms (as we usually do). Ah well. Next year!

Pictured with Ellie in front for scale! And Rozanne geranium, bee balm, and oak leaf hydrangea in back.

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A new addition to the garden; I’ve mostly been concentrating on perennials, since with a limited budget, it seemed to make sense to buy plants that would come back year after year. But I decided to try adding one (!) annual this year — ageratum, that fuzzy purple thing in the left corner. It’s recommended for weaving together borders, and I really like it here and the couple other places I planted it; it does well mixed in with other plants. Here, it’s ageratum, then veronica, then Walker’s low nepeta, then another veronica (more purple), then just past that, some sea holly. Lots of different shades of blue-purple, basically. I’d like to add some pops of white and/or pink to that, but it’s a pleasing effect as it is.

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Write and garden, garden and write

Turning off internet again for the day. Plan: write for an hour, finish assembling sandbox and fill with sand, divide some perennials (I know it’s the wrong time of year, but it’s cool and overcast today, and my Walker’s Low should’ve been divided in the spring; it’s making the path hard to walk on) and replant, move a rose and two irises to better locations, plant a different rose and two new irises, write some more, plant some vinca ground cover, fill out the hanging baskets with some verbena and super petunias (replacing spring plants that couldn’t take the summer heat), write some more, pick up the kids @ 3, get them to help me clean out and refill the pool. Also, do weeding. Kavi is a good weeder; Anand, not so much. Finish reading _All the Birds in the Sky_. Writing goal: 4000 words. We’ll see.

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Garden in June

 

That’s *one* Rozanne geranium. Splendid!

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It’s clematis time: I’m afraid I can’t remember what this is called; I like it best in its early stage, as shown here, when it’s a pink; it fades to a very pale purple as it finishes opening.

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Jackmanii has burst into profuse bloom, twining with the white rose, Darlow’s Enigma, on our garden gate.

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I didn’t plan on the Jackmanii clematis growing down to mix with the astilbe, and I’m not going to leave it that way, or the astilbe will get choked, but for the moment, it’s lovely.

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Penstemon Husker Red, sea holly, alyssum with the children’s favorite, artemisia (they love how soft it is when petted), and see how the lamium / dead nettle has burst into happy ground cover bloom, at the foot of our pansy pot.  It really deserves a better common name than dead nettle!

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