It'd have been difficult to show you the dip in the backyard path even if I'd thought to take photographs before I got started. The ground had sunk in one area of perhaps 10 feet in length and 3 feet in width. Because water tended to pool in that area, the creeping thyme that surrounded the stepping stones grew exceptionally thick, creating a dense green mat. Lovely but not particularly easy to traverse. Unfortunately, raising the soil underneath the flagstone meant first removing all the thyme, which was a tedious task.
|With most of the surrounding thyme removed, maybe you can see the dip between the uncovered stones and those beyond them|
|We originally thought we could get away with moving 8 stones but we ended up moving 10|
Fortunately, we had plenty of topsoil left from the batch we'd hauled in when I renovated the succulent bed in front of our garage. There was still a pile left in our driveway, which my husband was more than happy to see gone so he helped out and did the heavy lifting removing the stones, adding soil, and then leveling and repositioning the stones.
I picked things back up there, filling in with more soil and planting 2 flats of thyme (Thymus serphyllum 'Elfin') around the repositioned stones and the area beyond the pathway dip where the thyme had died back.
|The plugs look small now but I hope they'll fill in quickly. Rain would help but we've seen little of that thus far this season.|
|The pathway area in the foreground looks a little spare by comparison to the area in the distance but at least it's once again walkable|
One project generally leads to another and this one was no exception. While pulling some of the dried out thyme, I got carried away and began cutting some of what was encroaching on the succulents planted along the east side of the patio.
My first pass at cleaning up the back slope took about 3 hours. There's still more to do there - cutting back ivy encroaching on paths and pruning the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) among other things - but I cut back the scraggly and sprawling plants and lightly pruned the shrubs and perennials on the lower level of the slope.
|I focused on the area to the left of the cement stairway but didn't touch the upper section of the slope, which is too too steep for me to work on safely. It remains a messy mass of ivy, honeysuckle and weeds.|
|Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' dies out in sections each year but spreads to create new plants. Cleaning it up and cutting it back was the most time-consuming chore in this area.|
I also added amended topsoil to the lower planting bed and planted artichoke plugs. Against all odds, the artichoke I planted there 3 or 4 years ago has come back each year. Last year's crop of artichokes was especially good, perhaps due to our heavier-than-usual winter rains. Dare I hope for the same this year?
While I haven't done anything at all with the upper portion of the slope (mainly because working in that area is too treacherous for me with one bad knee), at least the overall area looks a bit neater. I'm still thinking of bringing in help next year to clean out the ivy and honeysuckle on the upper slope. Terracing the area to support ornamental grasses or more succulents remains a dream.
|View looking up the slope from next to the lemon tree|
The back slope usually peaks in late spring when the Centranthus, Ribes and Oenothera bloom. However, the calla lilies there usually bloom in late winter and, even with our extended heat spells, they're already making an appearance.
|The calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) die down completely and disappear during the summer but healthy foliage is now popping up all around the lemon tree.|
Meanwhile, work on my long awaited lath (shade) house continues. It's now spilling out of my husband's workshop and the garage into the driveway. I'm so excited!
|The structural supports occupy the driveway. In the recesses of the garage you can just make out the lath pieces.|
Have a great weekend, whether you're spending it in the garden or otherwise!
All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party