September 03, 2004

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Garden Division

A long time reader recently asked me, "Tom, how are things in your garden?"

Super! Thanks for asking!

As a matter of fact, as I paused to look around last evening after chasing Sauron's Wraith Rabbit off for the umpteenth time, I really was filled with a sense of delight.

For those of you who may be new to this particular aspect of the Butcher's life, my primary gardening activity these days is centered in a bed approximately 140 X 60 feet at the back of my yard. It had been used as a vegetable garden by the former owner. Our first year it pretty much lay fallow. The second year, during which we had a new baby to deal with, the jungle swept in and conquered it. Last year, I beat the weeds back and put in a rectangular gravel walk with grass in the middle. This year really has been the first in which I have been able to go on offense and make the beds look like real flower beds.

Well, much diligence and hard work has really paid off. Starting mostly from seed planted indoors last winter, I now have firmly established clumps of purple and white coneflowers, black-eye susans and joe-pye weed. There is a long row of columbine and another of shasta daisies. There is a group of big, fat-leaved hollyhocks in one corner that are going to bloom like God Almighty next year. There also is some salvia that, if left to itself, would swamp everything. I also have some wonderful orange and white butterfly weed and a big, sloppy blue-flowered butterfly bush. The garden has been full of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds this summer.

In short, I now have in place the backbone of a sturdy, heat and drought-tolerant perennial garden. Other than a little bit of transplanting I need to do this fall, I really like the way it's coming out.

The next phase will be to start bringing in specimen plants. I began that earlier this summer by transplanting some Russian sage and blackberry lily from my godparents' place out in the country. I am now begining to scan the catalogues for other goodies to start under the lights in my workroom and/or maybe plant this fall. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Among the ideas I'm noodling is some coreopsis to define the fronts of the borders a bit better, and maybe some oriental lilies mixed in among my siberian iris which, being the first thing to bloom in the spring, don't have much to say later on in the year. I also need some more red - poppies, perhaps? - scattered lavishly about to liven things up a bit.

Eventually, I'm going to put in a lot of foxglove - one of my favorite of all flowers. But I have to create a new bed for them farther up the hill towards the house. (The topography of my yard tends to focus sun and heat on the main garden. I tried foxglove there the first year and it didn't work out.) Ditto for the lupin and delphinium I'm going to try at some point. I've got a cool, part sun bed picked out for them at the side of the house, but it's full of old pachysandra and weeds at the moment and will need a complete overhaul.

This fall, however, my main task will be to deal with the ditch by the street and the shady western side of the house. The ditch, which is overshadowed by very large trees, is such that little grass grows in it. Also, whenever it rains heavily, water runs off the street and sidewalk down our driveway, forming a small lake by the garage. So this fall I am going to build up a couple of fieldstone retaining beds on either side of the driveway and plant them with, oh, I dunno, ivy or pachysandra or something. (In fact, I might just save a ton of money and kill two birds with one stone by transplanting the pachy from around the side of the house.) I also need to deal with the western side yard by the garage. It's all shade and devoid of any real growth. I plan to put in a hosta border with lily-of-the-valley in front.

When I was a kid, my brother and I had to slave away every weekend doing yardwork for my father. I never wanted to see another garden in my life. I guess you can tell how long that wish lasted.

Posted by Robert at September 3, 2004 04:00 PM | TrackBack
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