Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Change is coming

We've decided to overhaul our backyard to be a little more user friendly. We've hired John Miranda to build new steps up and along the garage to the back alley. He's also digging up and leveling the lawn so there's a smoother transition from deck to grass.

I'm terribly excited about the project. It actually wasn't that depressing tearing out several of the plants. I moved some before he arrived and just found places for them in the front garden. They look better there, anyway. They have more room and aren't overgrown with grass. Most of the grasses, shrubs and trees were saved but I lost a few bulbs. Not too bad given the end result.

We'll gain a planting bed against the garage but lose the one along the path. That area will be replace with a wider path and a rock retaining wall. The rocks we're reusing from demoed areas. We're also reusing the slabs of concrete that made up the steps to build a platform along the back of the garage in the alley. That will provide a sturdy, even surface for our recycling, garbage and yardwaste bins.

It's crazy how fast they got that path out. Just two guys and a couple shovels and sledge hammers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hang on summer

It's been almost a month since my last post. Thanks to everyone who continued visiting despite my lack of updates.
That also means I really haven't been in my gardens for quite some time. Now it seems summer has raced to an end and fall is creeping up on us without warning. Our days are still delightfully warm but evenings are turning quite cold.I and a neighbor visited Seattle Tilth's Harvest Fair last weekend and bought a few plants to ward off winter. This Abutilon hybrid "Red Tiger" is one that caught my eye immediately. It seems to be grown successfully indoors, and in areas of northern California and east of the Mississippi. It enjoys full sun to partial shade so fingers crossed that it holds out in our Pacific Northwest climes. I'll keep you updated.

I also picked up a Chilean Wintergreen for the front garden. One of my to-dos is to add more evergreen shrubs or trees, in particularly ones that provide berries for both our family and wildlife. Some information states the plant is toxic but I've plucked and eaten about a handful of the fruit so far without hazard to my health.

Yellow Chrysanthemums are the happy plant of choice for adding pops of color in our garden this year. I've read yellow is the first color the eye sees so I figure why not add more of it to the beds. It plays off the color of our home and brightens the dark spots in the garden.

I've placed two of them in a spacious bed next to the house that has sat mostly empty much of the summer. They're paired with a Japanese Cedar I purchased some time ago and only just got in the grand (bad gardener).
This is one of the areas I cleaned out and sheet mulched earlier this year. The method has been successful here, but just across the lawn grass has vigorously returned. It gives me something to relieve stress I guess.

The spot includes Heathers, Mahonia aquifolium or "Oregon Grape," and a variegated dogwood shrub. My Bride Pearl Bush, Hebes and barberry plants are also clustered to the right of the bed. It's much improved from what it looked like before, but I've got much more work to do.