Tag Archives: garden bed

I like digging

Taking pictures of my ornamental grasses is a good time.

Deadheading spent blooms is a nice way to pass the time.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, beats good old fashioned digging in the dirt.

That was my task the other night as I made the decision to expand the size of the garden bed that sits at the end of my driveway and leads to my backyard:    

Very weak, I know. It has been gnawing at me for a year and a half and now was the time to dive in and hopefully improve it.

Out came the shovel and it was time to remove some turf (Any time I am removing grass is a good thing as it cuts down on lawn cutting time). As the sweat dripped into my eyes and a blister started to form on my thumb, I had a big ol smile on my face. I could do this all day and night.

I didn’t get too far along in this new endeavor, but progress was made (including some mulching):        

And two new Baptisia ‘Blueberry Sundae’ were added to boot:

I have a ways to go to complete the job as seen in the outline of the new dimensions of the bed (hence the easy to bend orange extension cord). And please ignore the clover in my lawn because I do: 

A riveting post? No … but I am confident when all is said and done, this new bed will blow your friggin mind.

A personal guarantee.


532 days to go – No changes needed?

Nothing gets my brain firing on all cylinders more than planning out a new garden bed or tweaking an existing one. Out comes the paper and pen, and the imagination (not to mention the credit card) runs wild. This is especially true this time of year when there is little more to do then plan. 
But every once in a while, I find … brace yourself … that maybe things are OK as is. Yes that is blasphemy to a gardener but it CAN happen. It may not last for long but as of right now, I think I am good to go with one of my garden beds.
The bed in question is what I call the “playroom garden” because it sits right under the windows of the kids playroom. My daughter spends most of her time in this room and she will let me know how much she loves looking out the window to see all of the flowers. So as I sit here and analyze this particular garden bed for the need for more winter/early spring interest, I think maybe it doesn’t matter. Let’s keep it as the perennial bed that it is and enjoy the explosion of late spring/summer blooms. To try and balance it with too many conifers/evergreens takes away from it’s great summer vibe.
Sorry, enough writing and analysis, here are the photos:
As of today:
Late winter/early spring: 

Mid summer:

From another angle, current day:

Again, in mid-summer:

Just outside the range of the photos above are a few peonies (‘Bowl of Beauty’) and a bunch of Campanula (Bellflower) ‘Joan Elliot’. They provide the first blooms in this bed in early May and then the rest of the perennials take over:

One last final angle, today:

And again, early summer:

I think I am OK with leaving this garden bed as is this year so I can focus on other areas in dire need of help. In fact, I have to get out of here before I take a closer look at these photos and change my mind.


534 days to go – seeking winter interest

Not so long ago, I vowed to have my garden/property looking fantabulous by June 29th, 2013.

Why put that pressure on myself?
Because NOW is the time to dedicate the time and effort to something I love. Let’s go for broke. Dream big and try to pull this off while I am still physically able to do so. I’m daring myself to accept the challenge and see it to fruition. It will be the opposite of “stop and smell the roses”. More like “bypass the roses, pick up your shovel because we’ve got ten yards of topsoil to spread.”

Why that date?
I need to give myself ample time to do this right and plan it appropriately. I need two springs and one fall to plant my ass off and my absolute favorite time of the year in the garden is late June/early July.

Speaking of planning, I spent this past weekend photographing my garden beds in their current state as a means to capture them at their weakest. My ultimate goal is to have four full seasons of interest throughout my yard and now is the time to assess where that stands. I feel very vulnerable sharing some of these photos with you, but is for the greater good.

Today, I’ll show you what is going on (or not going on) in the bed that surrounds my driveway. I see it more than any other garden bed so I NEED to get it right. Hopefully these photos will inspire me to think “winter interest” throughout the planning process because it can be easy to forget once everything is green and thriving in the spring/summer.

Here is photo #1 as of today:                    

And here it is as of mid-summer:

The dilemma – I love how it looks from early summer through mid Fall. Do I accept that and move on? Maybe the Siberian irises, which bloom in mid-spring, don’t work here because they bloom when the surrounding Miscanthus grasses are still sheared to the ground and the Eupatorium (Joe-Pye weed) have yet to put on any height? Maybe I need to mix in some evergreen shrubs to get the “green” in winter/early spring and some bulbs for some early spring blooms? Problem is this area stays wet for long periods of time.

This shit keeps me up at night.    

Photo #2 as of today:

And in mid-summer:

And in late summer/early fall:

Again, a whole lot of brown and not much else. I don’t think drastic changes are necessary, but I’m hoping I can strategically add some winter color and maybe an inanimate object or two. Oh yeah, I can’t forget the impact the deer have here.

Finally, a quick pat on my own back for inspiration. I planted this section of the bed in summer of ’10:

And have been thrilled with how it has filled in and the mixture of foliage textures and colors:

I’ll continue the theme of “winter interest” over the next few posts and hopefully something will click with all of your wonderful feedback (hint hint).

It has to look better than this in late winter, right?:


Good news or bad news

You know the old question “What do you want first, the good news or bad news?”. Well I am contemplating just that as I type this post.

Tick Tick … well … I’ve always been a “Tell me the bad news first” person so I can get it out of the way. The bad news here is that I’ve finally taken a step back (both figuratively and literally) and started taking photos of my garden beds from a distance. And it has revealed what I always knew … I need more structure and more Winter/Early Spring interest. That season in NJ runs from late November until late April and that is too significant of a time to have things relatively bare.

As you’ve seen in previous posts, I am enthralled with new foliage growth and the forming of flower buds (which by the way will be the “good news” in a very soon to follow post). My gardens look lush and flower filled by early June and usually by then I’ve conveniently forgotten about how things looked in the earlier months. Well by posting the photos below I’m hoping it will be a reminder to focus more on evergeens,  conifers and non plants (stones/birdbaths/art/etc) in order to make my gardens more well-rounded.

Here are the photos from afar … view them at your own risk:

This photo of the front bed actually looks better than most as the Catmint grows quickly in the Spring.  

The smaller bed with the Plum tree surrounded by Korean Boxwoods looks OK but definitely needs more to up the interest.

This photo of the front bed on the other side of the front walk also looks a little bit better since a lot of foliage has started to grow. If I had taken this photo 2 or 3 weeks earlier it would have been real bare. 

This is the side bed facing West and although visitors really don’t see it … I do … and it others me to no end. I did have some Euonymus here but the deer downed them. C+ for effort.

Again, this bed looks better than it did 2 to 3 weeks ago but I wanted to at least capture the photo now for a future “Before and After” comparison.

This one hurts. This bed surrounds my driveway and it is ugly with a capital U. It will look good mid-season with all the ornamental grasses but during the Winter/Spring I turn the other way as I walk into the house.

Ugly view #2

Last view of this same bed to prove there are actual plants in there.

Ahhh … the bad news is out of the way. I feel better. Be prepared for more of my typical photos in a post later today because I need to get these out to feel more whole.