Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Shade Garden Under Way

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Almost 7:30 PM and Karl the Wonder Dog is getting anxious for his evening walk. I am less than anxious as I have acquired some nasty cold virus and my patience and energy are minimal. The neighbor's cat just went by and that translates to some amount of running-with-dog, one arm outstretched, and I'm not really in the mood.

Another nice day here in Vermont although that will change tonight as a large low pressure mass will move in after midnight with heavy rain for a couple days. We are in serious need of moisture but there are dozens of things that need completing that do better when I'm not dressed in rain gear. One project that won't be completed all too soon is the new hosta and shade garden.

I've mentioned and pictured this garden site since first posting pictures of our new land a couple years back. The garden is finally taking shape although I'm still working on the skeleton phase. The pictures aren't the greatest but see if you can picture this in your mind.

The cultivated part is almost 300 feet long and 100 feet wide in the deepest part. There's a 7.5 foot tall deer fence on the back (right side of cultivated area) the runs about 8 feet higher than the cultivated area. That's because that section was an old road used locally to dump off sand and gravel for the road crews to use fifty years ago.

On the left of the area, I planted seven fast growing maples. These are Glory and Sunset maples which can handle the varying moisture while growing quickly to 25-30 tall and wide. In between each maple I have planted 24 to 36 one gallon pots of daylilies. Each block is a single variety, single color beginning up top left with Tetrina's Daughter, then Red Ribbons, then Wayside King Royale, Lemon Lollypop and ??? ??? boy I am tired. Although the colors will show significant bloom at different times, my plan was that blocks of color would overlap and the mass of color would catch visitors attention both from Route 2 and from our small parking lot. I caught this idea a couple years ago while visiting the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden for the first time. Although planting larger numbers of the same thing is expensive, the eye catching notice is worth it.

There are two sets of flags, orange on the left and red on the right. The orange flags mark a proposed walkway that will curve through the garden. Eventually stone steps and another pathway will lead down from the hilltop astilbe/shade house near the river bank to connect with this path. I have tried to accent the minimal curves with a couple linden trees and three weeping blue cedars. I have plans for maintaining all these trees to less than their natural mature height.

The red flags mark the high water mark during last year's flood. That was the biggest flood I had seen since 1983 so it seemed like a good benchmark to employ. To the right of the red flags will be the plants which are more tolerant of moisture like astilbes and aruncus, darmeras in containers, rodgersias and ferns. Along the bank where it is dry, I'll add astilboides tabularis. The fringe between the two wet-dry areas will accept the hostas, primulas, iris, and pulmonarias. The line flagged in red is already planted with winterberry and long term I have plans for a small pond. I want to try to get about 250 different hostas planted in small groups by the end of June. Some hostas will be planted in waves of 25. I'll be satisfied for this year if we can meet this goal. Some of last year's gardens are already out of control and until we can get those cleaned up, I'm reluctant to move ahead at my typical, Tasmanian Devil speed. Since few thought I'd be this far along, I'm pleased already.

Most gardeners would hardscape first but as I move along with this I'll bring in a friend with a cherry picker to place large stones where I decide I want them. I'll pick the stones to contrast with the way I do the hosta planting, color combinations, need for shadow, etc. and will go from there. Lots of times I ask peoples' opinions but on this garden I am the creator and the plan is in my mind, not on paper or a computer screen.

Karl has now scratched my leg about enough so we're out of here. If you have a chance, stop by the garden and take a look. I'll continue to post pictures now and again so you can see how this is progressing. I wish all of you could have seen the blue ribbon of native forget-me-nots that grew after I rototilled the fence line again this spring. Apparently they were in great abundance there some years back and the light activated germination. Click on the pictures and you should be able to see the wave. It is predominantly blue but also contains white and pink flowers.

Good gardening wishes!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm: A nice offering of common plants that grow well and make good gardeners and their friends smile!

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