Sunday, November 1, 2015

Wide Shots - The Dry Garden

This month I'm using my wide shots post to take a closer look at my dry garden, which sits on the northeast side of the house.  Although I hadn't placed a priority on this area, by happenstance it was the first one I tackled after we moved here in late December 2010.  The driving force behind my initial effort was to create a path through the area to enter the hidden slope at the back of the property.  The area was originally half grass, in terrible condition even in winter, and contained a hodge-podge of fruit trees.  I have no "before" photos.  The earliest photo was one taken by my brother in December 2011, after we'd already pulled out the lawn, installed a gravel pathway, removed a few poorly performing (and over-crowded) fruit trees, and begun introducing drought tolerant plants.

The resin solar birdbath shown here was a housewarming gift from my mother-in-law.  It didn't hold up to the weather and has been replaced with a birdbath-style succulent planter.  (Photo courtesy of ericnp.net)


My earliest photos of the area, taken in May 2013, featured the garden at the height of spring bloom.

While the dry garden was also more colorful in spring 2014 and 2015, I don't think it's looked this good since irrigation levels were cut back in early 2014


It wasn't nearly as colorful in July 2013.

There were more evergreen perennials and fewer succulents in 2013 than there are today


My first wide shot post showing the dry garden was published in December 2013.  The view was much more somber than the colorful spring photos but many of the elements of the current garden were already in place.

The photo on the left was taken from the side yard patio and the photo on the right from the backyard lawn area


Photos taken for my November 2014 wide shots post show more mature plants but the thyme groundcover shown in my 2013 photos had died back.

It apparently rained on November 1st last year.  No such luck this year, although there is a slight chance of rain on Monday evening.


Here are the photos of the dry garden today.

Photo taken from side patio

Photo taken from outer edge of the backyard

Photo taken from the end of the gravel path as it extends down the back slope, looking back at the house

Photo from the slope looking back toward the house


I'm not going to show wide shots of the rest of the garden this month.  The backyard is still torn up, although we're almost done clearing the grass roots and sod netting from the former lawn area in preparation for adding topsoil to improve drainage.  It's been a long, slow, painful process (and I haven't even begun work on the former lawn area inside the hedge along the street).  I really underestimated the scope of this project - the area is significantly larger than the front yard area we tackled last year.  The last section of the former lawn area in the backyard nearest to the dry garden has been the most difficult.  Each shovelful of soil is 25-33% rocks, some as large as my fist but most gravel size.  All this rock is being used elsewhere, mostly as gravel mulch.

The former backyard lawn area, photographed from near its terminus looking south


My thanks, as always, to Heather of Xericstyle for starting me off on the process of looking at the bigger picture in my garden.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

16 comments:

  1. I was going to mention that soil prep is an arduous and thankless job, but that is not really correct: The future plants will be quite appreciative of your effort. But...wow! That's a lotta work!

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    1. It made a big difference when we went through this exercise in the front garden last year but I underestimated just how much bigger the back area is. Still, we've got only about 6 square feet left to dig out in the back. We added 3 cubic yards of new topsoil there today (unfortunately only covering about 2/3rds of the area). It still has to be tilled in. And then there's the front area along the street to contend with but I'm trying to ignore that.

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  2. Wow, Kris, lots of tough, tough work. Pace yourself and take your time. Here's hoping for rain!

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    1. I'd really like to get at least the basics done (new soil tilled in, pathway laid, and at least the thyme planted) before El Nino unleashes its fury but that may not be realistic. We moved 3 cubic yards of topsoil from the front driveway and spread it across a portion of the back area today. I'm exhausted...

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  3. We had 30 minutes if rain today. Still, I was happy.

    When you say dry garden, does that mean it doesn't get irrigated at all?

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    1. The sky started spitting at us about half an hour ago but it hasn't even registered on the meter yet. Weather Underground predicts we'll get just 0.06 inches out of this system but they've been wrong before.

      The dry garden does get irrigated, currently once a week. Before my husband installed irrigation there last year, I hand-watered the area on a more sporadic schedule, maybe every 2-3 weeks although I think I watered more deeply than the automated system does.

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    2. Once a week is my schedule as well. But I think you're right. Hand watering does a better job although it's sooooo time consuming.

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  4. Sounds like a terribly tough job! It will be worth it in the end. With every area of lawn you take out, I look at mine and wonder how I can reduce it. It always looks terrible in summer and while mowing it doesn't bother me all that much, it would be nice not to have to do it. I just don't know how I'd redesign the area. You seem to have it all sorted out - did you come up with the layout on your own? It all flows really nicely.

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    1. For better or worse, I've done the design work on my own, Amy. Last year when we took out the main lawn area in the front yard, I had a plan, although I tweaked it based on plant availability (and what struck my fancy when I went plant shopping). Other than a plan to carry the flagstone path and creeping thyme through the backyard, I don't have any plan to speak of for the back garden. Because this new area is surrounded by existing borders, I feel as though I should dig some of the plants in those borders up and move stuff around but I haven't figured all that out yet.

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  5. You are making wonderful progress! Don't despair, it is all worth it, your planting style is perfect for your conditions; your reward is a stunning garden, well done.

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    1. In retrospect, I really wish I'd held off on that front lawn section along the street. The backyard alone is a massive project. Oh well, what's done is done.

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  6. That's amazing progress, Kris. Very soon these newly dug areas will have their gorgeous "after" photos.

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    1. Be prepared to wait, Denise. This project is taking forever - or maybe it just feels that way to me.

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  7. I love that curving gravel path in your dry garden. It makes me want to jump into the photo and walk along that path! :-)

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    1. Ah, the curving path. It was a bone of contention between my husband and me - not the curve but the width. Overall, I'm pleased with the space, even if parts of it threaten to become a jungle.

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  8. I love seeing the progress you and your garden have made over the last few years. It looks as though the rainy season is finally settling in here in the PNW, just in time for my family to (finally) order 5 yards of compost and 6 yards of a mix of course sand and composted, shredded bark for me to use for mulch and soil amendments. Would have been great two or three weeks ago. Oh well, the plants will appreciate it.

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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.