Friday, May 25, 2012

May 2012 - Front Yard Reno

Over the past few years, the periwinkle in my front garden had advanced and advanced until it now fully controlled the garden bed. Never having had enough time on weekends to keep the spreader at bay, it just slowly took over.
Well - I have the time now because I am retired. And I am determined, that even though I have lost a few battles so far, I plan to win my front garden back!!
I first assessed the situation:

YIKES!!!! Yup, just as bad as I thought.
So one May morning, I woke up determined to get right out there and start digging it out.
Bad idea.
I wasn't even strong enough to get the shovel in the ground. Dry soil plus a dense plant with lots of roots = no success.
I thought about it and realized that I could ask my Godson Rob for help. Sure enough he was able to come over on the Sunday of Victoria day weekend and give me a hand.
Look what he managed to achieve in 2 hours!!

He piled all the dirt, plants and roots into our little trailer, where it will be hauled away to the dump tomorrow. (We added some pruned shrub branches as well!)

I bought one of those big yellow bags of triple-mix so that I would have plenty of fresh, new soil to work with.

I dug out many wheelbarrows full and filled the area. I knew I had several really nice medium sized rocks that had disappeared beneath said ground cover so I managed to find those and get them to the new area without putting my back out :)

Then I brought my selected plants and placed them to see how they would look: 2 Barberry bushes, Blue Oat grass (I split up a plant that the periwinkle had swallowed in another section) and lots of annuals: petunias, Geraniums, Dusty Miller, Ageratum and allyssum.

Starting to look pretty good! Then I added mulch and was all done. My summer job will be keeping the area watered and keeping the invasive periwinkle at bay.

So, now that the front garden is "finished, let me take you on a tour:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers Part 2

Last week I worked on my deck pots and containers as well as my 2 hanging baskets. Today I finished my front urns.
My favourite plants for the front door urns are Rex begonias and Caladium (which is technically an indoor plant but is fine in Canadian containers). As spillers I raided the garden and added Ajuga and Lysimachia nummuralia. Both urns have the same contents.

The larger urn in the centre of the flagstones features "Red Star Spike", Cordyline, as the thriller, Supertunia Pretty Much Picasso petunias, dark purple petunias and pink impatiens as fillers and
a spiller  - Ajuga - that is once again dug up from the garden.

This one is from a few years ago - I used Heuchera as the Thriller, Rex Begonias as the filler and Lamium (from the garden) as the spiller.

Here is a lovely one we had at work: Kong coleus, dogwood branches and Creeping Jenny as the spiller.

This particular year I used an (overly large) Cordyline spike as the Thriller, red Rex Begonias and Heuchera and Lamium as spillers.

When travelling I once snapped this interesting arrangement around Halloween time. I think all the hotel did was add small pumpkins and hydrangea to a summer container. Looks very good!

Here is an urn within a perennial bed behind a wrought iron fence.

And lastly, sometimes you can add very very simple flowers if the container itself is the star of the show.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers Part 1

Yesterday and today I worked on my containers on the back deck. We have a walk-out onto the deck from the kitchen through big sliding doors. It's always been important to us to see colour close up as we eat our meals or while we sit on our loungers, enjoying the last of the wine after dinner.

Years ago in Fine Gardening magazine I remember reading about the rule of thumb for interesting containers: use thrillers, fillers and spillers. In other words
(a) have a focal point - the thriller (usually tall)
(b) fill the container with medium height plants  - the filler
(c) add trailing plants at the edges - the spiller

Last year I saved the peat moss base of 2 hanging baskets along with the hardware - the rounded metal "bowl", the 4 metal chains and the hook. I bought Geraniums and Asparagus fern as the thrillers, Torenia as the filler and pink and white Verbena as well as spillers. I paid a small fortune for the fully planted hanging baskets last year but this year, by making them myself, I saved well over $50! Each!!

Over the years, I have purchased at least 4 Japanese Golden Grass plants (Hakonechloa macra), which the rabbits happily munched until the grasses disappeared. I still love this plant so much that this year,
I decided to dedicate 2 of the pots to Golden Grass alone.

The other pots have grasses or Potato Vine as the Thrillers,  a gorgeous dark new Picotee petunia called 'Pinstripe', Geraniums and Browallia as fillers and Wave Petunias, trailing Lobelia and Lysimachia nummularia (dug out from a far corner of the garden) as the spillers.

This is Pinstripe:

Some of the smaller pots have just sedum in them which I overwintered from last year. Sedum is very drought tolerant and sometimes those small pots dry out as fast as the hanging baskets.

I'm as messy a gardener as I am a cook so the deck was covered with dirt, empty pots, empty bags of soil, etc. I wonder why I didn't include a picture of the deck before I cleaned it up???

(we still need to take the Christmas lights off the pergola posts - ooops!)

I'm quite pleased with the containers this year. They are colour coordinated, they have plants in them that are new to me and I will make sure they are thoroughly watered if the summer is as hot and dry as they predict.

Tomorrow I hope to do the front yard urns.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15 - Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

Here it is - May 15th! Another Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!!

What's blooming in my garden today? Lots of flowers and shrubs that usually bloom 
2-3 weeks from now. We're early this year. Therefore so many areas are already very beautiful.

Nepeta x fassenii - Catmint - Frankie, my neighbour's cat, just loves it!!

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Crabapple 'Profusion'

Bergenia cordifolia

Ajuga 'Black Scallops'

Red Twig Dogwood

Solomon's Seal

Bleeding Hearts


Ornithogalum - Star of Bethlehem

Viburnum f. plicatum tomentosum 'Mariesii'

Viburnum opulus 'Snowball bush'

Tulip 'Queen of the Night' (looking more burgundy than black!)

Lilacs….mmmmmmm…the fragrance!!

Cerastium tomentosum (Snow-in-summer) Can be a bad spreader but I have it in an isolated spot.

Slender Deutzia - a lovely small bush that usually blooms in late May

One tulip 'Estella Rijnfeld' - there should have been at least 6. I guess the squirrels had 5 for lunch!

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day is a Meme created by May Dreams Gardens
Gardeners post images of what's blooming in their garden on the 15th day of every month. All are welcome to participate.