Friday, March 21, 2014

Garden Therapy

At one time, when I was stressed or upset, I'd engage in retail therapy.  These days I can hardly stand to go shopping (unless it's for plants, of course).  Gardening is my preferred therapeutic outlet.  This week I spent most of my free time in the garden, tidying things up, watering, and planting.  My extended fountain border is 80 percent done.  Because I'm buying my plants in the smallest sizes available to give them the best possible chance of developing healthy root systems in the soil I've provided for them, the bed still looks pretty bare; however, my side yard filled in fairly quickly in 6 months and I'm hoping this new bed does as well.

Hazy morning view of the new bed from the backyard door

View of the new border from the north end

View of the same border from the south end


I was going to include a list of plants here but I realized it would be ridiculously long.  The total currently amounts to over 140 individual plants, falling into 40 different genera (and that doesn't include the seeds I've direct sown or the cuttings I'm in the process of rooting).  A few plants were featured in an earlier post.  The majority of the plants were purchased specifically for this bed but a few were moved from other areas of the garden.  Some of the edging materials came in small 6-packs, saving me a bit of money, which is a good thing as I still have empty spaces to fill.  I've been looking for Coreopsis 'Big Bang Redshift' and Uncina uncinata 'Rubra' but neither are currently available locally.  I know it's early in the year to be looking for the Coreopsis, which the local nurseries usually only offer in flower so I may have to resort to mail order.  I've found a variety of the Uncinia in 3-quart pots but the price is high and it lacks the vibrancy of the variety I used in my other backyard border so I'll wait until Annie's Annuals has more available for mail order.

The feature plants in the new bed are a Japanese maple, a Leucadendron, and a Phormium.

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa,' which in time should grow to about 6 feet tall

Leucadendron 'Rising Sun,' which should also grow to 6 feet in height at maturity

Phormium 'Amazing Red,' a relatively short variety, growing just 2 feet in height



The Phormium pictured above is actually in the side yard but I bought another of the same variety for the new border to help connect the 2 areas.  Two Carex testacea were moved from the side border to the new border for the same purpose.  Two new pots, both planted with Euphorbia and the same mix of succulents, mark the transition from the flagstone path of the side yard to the grass pathway that runs between the new border and the pre-existing backyard border.

Pot containing Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid,' Graptoveria 'Fred Ives,' Portulacaria afra, Rhipsalis ewaldiana, and unknown Echeveria

Pot containing the same mix of plants on the other side of the pathway



In addition to the long border described above, I've planted the bed formerly occupied by our "snorkel spa," which was dismantled in January with plans to use the wood to make a table for the back patio.  The space went from this:

The snorkel spa before it was taken apart



To this:

The bed after the spa was removed and the gravel was cleared


To this:

The bed after planting


This bed, sitting alongside one of our Arbutus 'Marina' trees, has given me a place to put some red-toned plants that clash with plants elsewhere in my garden.  Four of the plants in this bed were moved from other areas: a Loropetalum chinense, the Driyms lanceolata, the largest of the 3 Argyranthemum, and a purple/red Ranunculus.  The Loropetalum, which had been in danger of being consumed by an overly exuberant gray Helichrysum in the side yard, is no more than twigs with a few leaves but I'm hopeful it will fare better here.  My favorite addition to this bed (other than the still tiny Paeonia cambesseddesii in the middle front) is Dianthus barbatus 'Heart Attack.'  A perennial Dianthus, this plant is new to me.  It was advertised as "almost black" in color but the flowers are actually burgundy.

Dianthus barbatus 'Heart Attack'



I feel I've made good progress with my backyard renovation projects, even though there's still a lot to do.  The garden is also a good place to regroup and refocus - and time spent there never results in buyer's remorse.


20 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm loving the colour of that Dianthus Kris - it's wonderful! and of course looks nothing like what I consider a Dianthus.
    You have really worked wonders there with the long border, it just seems to blend in seamlessly with the contours of the surrounding properties. Both trees in the background have amazing trunks. I can't say enough good things about the whole renovation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Angie! The Dianthus, a perennial form, is new to me too - I'm anxious to see how it will perform in the long run.

      Delete
  2. You have done an amazing job getting everything planted and you have clearly had fun planning and planting everything. That Phormium really is an amazing red. I am so jealous of you being able to grow Leucadendron. The bark of your Arbutus is gorgeous. I have Dianthus barbatus 'Sooty' which is very dark red,all most black. I grew it from seed and it seeds around. I love your Heart Attack, but if you want t a darker one that is the one to go for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried 'Sooty' years ago at my old house and it didn't fare well, which caused me to hesitate about picking this one up since it's the same species. Although this house is only 15 miles further south, the conditions are considerably different so I'm hoping 'Heart attack' will do better.

      Delete
  3. Kris, it has a pleasure watching you transform your property. I am amazed at how much you have done this last year. It was a year when garden therapy was much needed, unfortunately. May your plants prosper and may you have some time to sit and gaze in wonder at what you have wrought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Barbara! I keep thinking I should spend more time sitting and enjoying the space but there's still so much to do. My husband has put a moratorium on further grass removal for awhile, though, so that may slow me down a bit.

      Delete
  4. I love the color of that Dianthus 'Heart Attack.' I had Dianthus barbatus 'Sooty' a few years ago that was a dark, almost black burgundy. I took it out when I redid the bed it was in. I should find a spot for it in my front bed. You've done such a good job on this new bed, and it's a smart move to start out with smaller plants that can get well established in the soil there. I love your Arbutus 'Marina' too, what a gorgeous tree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I REALLY think you NEED an Arbutus, Alison!

      Delete
  5. That Japanese Maple is gorgeous. I've never thought of planting the smallest size of a plant I could find so that it could develop a great root system in the soil you put it in, like you said here. It is a great idea, and perhaps I wouldn't have lost as many plants if I'd had the patience to start small. Something to keep in mind. Plus, way cheaper!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, cost is also a major factor when buying so many plants!

      Delete
  6. I love your fountain. What is it made of? It looks almost lile our local stone here, peperino. I would love to have something like that here, I may have to go to visit the local stone mason! Could havebeen an expensice visit to your blog, this time. I really like what you've done in the new bed and you're right to plant small plants so they establish well. I also have to plant in autumn to ensure success.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fountain is actually made of concrete, Christina. I was lucky as we inherited it with the house. Even in concrete, these fountains are pricey as I've seen similar ones in some of the local garden centers.

      Autumn is our best planting time as well but, of course, I couldn't wait that long to plant the new beds so fingers are crossed that the plants survive the hot summer months. especially as it seems summer is getting an early start here.

      Delete
  7. Funny you mentioned about the shopping thing as were both exactly the same, even with food shopping. Most of the time anyway, once in a blue we still get the mood to do other shopping apart from plants. Gardening is indeed a wonderful source of soil nourishing therapy!

    The garden is looking really good and it will just get better and better the more the new plants fill up in the months to come. And loving the planting colour scheme where the wooden pool used to be!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd mail order my groceries too if it wasn't so darn expensive!

      Delete
  8. Wow you have been working VERY hard. It does help to soothe stress, and your results will be more and more impressive. Looking forward to seeing these new plantings of yours mature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Hoover Boo! I'll have to keep a careful watch on the new plantings as summer appears to be just around the corner. I'm hoping we're going to get some more rain next week!

      Delete
  9. I have explained to my husband that plant therapy is cheaper than retail therapy (usually) and much cheaper that psychotherapy! What I love about your new border, other than the amazing variety of plants and the spectacular colors they provide, is the flow of it. The meandering grassy area between your borders is the perfect generous walkway to enjoy it all. Congrats on a job very well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think my husband has accepted that argument as well, Deb. He used to give me pie-charts annually, showing "our" expenditures by category, ostensibly as guidance in determining where "we" could cut expenses. He hasn't done that with my garden purchases so either he accepts their value or he's given up on controlling my behavior...

      Delete
  10. I love the curve and flow of your beds, and all of the different textures and bright colors. What is the pink flowering plant under your arbutus? I briefly had Dianthus 'Heart Attack' but sadly it didn't overwinter. It has such rich color.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pink-flowered plant is an Argyranthemum frutescens - 'Comet Red,' I think. there are 2 smaller varieties of a similar Argyranthemum ('Madeira Red') in front of it.

      Delete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.