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When we last left our intrepid heroes they had a bunch of big gaping holes no plan, less money, and few plants from around the place had been moved.

But not knowing what we're doing has never stopped us before.

Although admittedly, I'm a girl who likes a plan. Heck I can PLAN faster than any human being alive, it's my 'Super Skill'. Not having a plan takes me into uncomfortable territory, so the plan was .. put plants in. Try and get a few perennials - which are more expensive, less showy the first year, but are more long term investment, and a few annuals for some bright colour 'right now', and fill in the gaps with some shrubbery type flowers/colours. Admittedly it wasn't much of a plan - but it was a starting point.

Last fall when we'd dug everything up, I'd moved a few of the more annoyingly placed plants/bushes with the devil may care attitude of "well if they take they take, if not.. no real loss." So we moved the big hydrangea from the corner by the back deck to the front side bed.

Where it does indeed seem to be making a recovery.

We removed the 3 peonies from the side of the driveway - where they just looked goofy and put em under the front window where we'd pulled out the hideous juniper bush

We pulled the enormous rose bush that was smack dab in the middle of the yard and broke it up along the edge of the forest. All the spring bulbs that got dug up in the redigging the beds got tossed into the loosely dug forest bed. The one saving grace in everything has been the columbine. As the landscaper said - don't know if it's a weed or they planted it there intentionally. I don't care. The darned thing is unstoppable. Invasive and pervasive as hell. I love its bright cheery little purple blue flowers. I love that the ones that bloom the most are the little scraps just tugged out of somewhere and tossed into the heap.

(Oddly enough, the plants left well enough alone ... haven't bloomed as quickly)
But mostly I love that it is the most self replicating plant I ever met. If I let it, it'll gladly over run the front beds again. Mostly I just keep pulling out shoots and roots and tossing them in empty holes and let it fill it up. So last fall I pulled a fair bit of bunches and reset them along the walls of both front beds. Lastly the hostas I'd tried so hard to get rid of the fall prior were making a come back, so despite that I really don't LIKE hostas I salvaged them and moved them to the corner with the hydrangea for the sake of filling in the bed with as much cheap salvaged planting as I could.

That finally brought me up to spring. Four empty, dug up planting beds, with a few scavenged bits and pieces; a great giant gaping wound on the landscape and really not much of a clue. I ordered in two truck loads of 'screened top soil with peat moss, for garden and vegetable planting'. I'd have been better off buying topsoil by the 25 litre bag (4/$10) from Dominions. The two loads cost me $100 each, and there's almost as much rock in it as there was in the soil I dug OUT out the beds. Still mixed with the composted horse manure from the back of the stables it'll improve the soil quality of the beds. Still, live and learn I guess.

From there there really wasn't much rhyme or reason to what I bought or how. I bought things I liked, that were cheap, that might fill up the space. Too early for planting I picked up two small hydrangeas and tucked them safely away from the cats in the Feychild's currently unused bedroom. They got forgotten and died. I planted them anyway, just in case there's some breath of life left in a cell or two of the rootstock. I bought 10 small heathers - because they're so pretty and I thought they might fill out a nice ground cover quickly and heather is hearty. I was planning on putting them in the front beds, but in the end, saved back only four for the beds and decided to put the rest down the area we pulled all the tree stumps. I like flowering bushes for 'lots of colour and space filled for your buck', so I got a few weigelas at $15 each to run along the edge of the forest. The original notion (per my hand drawn plan) was to put a rhododendron garden in there, maybe with some lovely ornamental grasses, but money and time just weren't going to see that happen. I think the weigelas and the heather is a decent scaled back plan. The rest; I'll just toss in more columbine scraps and grass seed, some wild meadow flower seeds and my hoard of lupin seeds; once we've rented the digger again and smoothed it out a bit. Hope for the best.

The heathers had started looking a bit peaked - all the flowers having turned brown, and the leaves a bit brittle - when they went in.

However, they're mostly starting to recover nicely, I only lost two, one at the forest, and one in the front bed. I live in hope they might make it back next year. They're back to being pretty green and I'm starting to see colour in the flowers again. Of the weigela the one planted in the front side bed came along quicker than the others, but the forest ones are getting there.

That brought me to tackling the two main front beds

A rose, a few dafs, one of the lilies, and of course the columbine all survived the winter in the front bed. I started with adding a couple cheap small begonias - small but cheery colour. I put in another small bushy annual - the name of which I've completely forgotten - but I bought of them in differing shades of pink blue and purple.

They're doing OK... not flourishing, but they're holding their own. The begonias, well two are doing very well, the other two I suspect the slugs got. And it would seem that stuff just does better on the door end of the front bed than the corner end. I do detest the slugs, even more than the rocks. Rocks I'll forgive and even use, the slugs... that's WAR (and the only good use for Molson Canadian Light).

From there I filled in large patches with "English Cottage Garden Seeds", in a felt mat, they were inexpensive, and we'll see what comes up. The mat pieces filled in some big holes, and the seed mix will be an unstructured look I'm hoping for. Honestly, I can't help it, when I'm planting I'm far too balanced and even and one here and one there about it. Very patterned and not at all the wild unstructured look I want for my 'gardens in the forest'. Things were still looking pretty empty what with having to wait for seeds to sprout. So I picked up a few perennials (which really won't do much till next year I suspect).
Some yarrow, and garden sage - they don't look like much just yet

What I do love is the way the dianthus - although still small and unassuming, looks planted next to the rocks.

Whatever else I get right or wrong in this garden, those make me very happy, and feel very right.

I added a few more annuals for some (hopefully) quick colour. A couple of geraniums

a few 'Beth Violet' garden mums, and some 'Castle Orange' celosias (to break up all that pink and purple and blue).

So far I haven't lost any of these. Some are doing better than others, I suspect that the slugs are largely to blame, but we'll see how it goes.

I did get lucky and Home Depot had a decent sale on rhododendrons and I was able to get a decent sized already blooming one for under $40. It fits the space by the driveway and the garage well, and even as I'd have preferred a red one to a pink, the pink does make the enormous one further up the drive make more 'sense' where it once looked badly out of place. (Now it only looks a bit incongruous).

I haven't done much with the day lily bed out back. Which really is kinda sad. The bed is BIG now (and should be bigger), but the 8 original day lilies look a little dwarfed. Really it needs about 25 more of em. However, my planting budget is spent now. I did add a small clematis, (I couldn't find any of the wild cucumber I was looking for). However, again, I think it's really crying out for 'more than 1'.

The mulch was in interesting find. Typically of me, I always seem to manage to find the most pita stuff one can use. It's a coconut coir. It's vacuum packed in very tight little blocks, add water and magically expands (like those magic towel pills). Sounds easy in theory. In practice there's a lot of banging stirring and raking the stuff to get it to break up and absorb the water.

But ya know the stuff just looks great! It really does suit my 'wild garden in the forest' theme I think. Another thing I think I got 'right'.

(Now I just gotta get James to clean the gutters so the rain will quit washing it away!)

After all that I managed to get the two raspberry bushes (twigs?) planted - I don't know about these, they were cheap, but I don't hold out much hope for em. Maybe I shoulda spent more and bought potted bushes instead of twigs in plastic bags, but they were a pure impulse item.

Non of it looks like much yet, heck they may never look like much - but a lot of work went into it I'll just keep my fingers crossed that they fill out at least some, and the natural colours and flowers from the forest gives me great cheer.



There's still a fair bit of work to do. I need to at least finish building the forest bed, even if I'm not planting it and put the planks across the boulders to make a garden seat. The yard needs clean up, the new front door we installed needs painting, the steps need to be recovered in 'Stone Effects', need to get the septic guy in and figure out what the hole that suddenly appeared in the yard is gonna cost us, and I still have two lilacs waiting to be planted out at the front gate (tried digging that by hand - gonna need the excavator), James needs to finish the drainage ditch out at the horse yards, and some trees need trimming........

Yeah it's still a long list.


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July 2011

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