Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Gardens, Walls, and Weeping

I'm feeling better these days. My gardens are beginning to be restored to order, except in the front yard, which will involve heavy equipment. The small backyard beds, that are now completely my own having removed almost everything I inherited from the original owner, are lovely and fragrant.

Out with way too much forsythia; out with too much euonymus, too much privet, too many arbor vitae, too many trees, and too much holly. Out with the ubiquitous suburban blight of juniper.

In with two birdbaths, cranesbill geraniums, russian sage, lavender, culinary sage, basil, dwarf oregano as ground cover, hydrangea, and lots (maybe too many) of purple cone flowers. In with containers of geraniums of all types and shades, in with coleus varieties, and a wonderful rosemary that has now survived three pennsylvania winters. In with pineapple sage, which is my absolute favorite.

Now, onto the front yard. I've been imagining redoing it for years. I've been complaining about it for years. So, after years of listening to me (he listened to me!), last year for Mother's Day my husband hired someone to come and rip out all the landscaping in the front yard. It was a surprise. I almost drove past my own house, so altered was it by this act of love. It looked like a bomb went off.

Gone were the azaleas (They were in the wrong place, in full sun, and I didn't like the washed-out salmon color anyway.) Gone was the beautiful old rhododendron that was planted too deep and needed constant care. Gone was the "miss kim" lilac that made me sneeze, the gigantic smoke tree that smothered everything, the leather-leafed abelia that was messy and made me sneeze, tons of boxwood, burning bush, rose bushes, and poison ivy (for color!) All gone. Except the poison ivy, which withstood the onslaught.

It is still a wasteland over a year later, but I have plans-a-plenty. A circle bed surrounded by a stone wall, with a smooth capstone so I can sit on it while I weed. Inside the bed will be a japanese maple surrounded by liriope. A stone walkway to the sidewalk and mailbox. An espaliered red rose bush on an iron trellis. Confederate jasmine for fragrance, bulbs for spring color, black eyed susans, asters, and mums for summer and fall color, virginia sweetspire for color, plenty of space for annuals, and absolutely nothing for winter interest. I'm still working on that.

The stone wall has been the most interesting. I'm learning that stone walls need "weep holes" to be strong enough to hold back the tons of organic matter I'm trucking in. That feels like a metaphor to me. Maybe I'll explore it in another post. Maybe it's too obvious to belabor. Anyway, I feel better knowing my wall will be stronger if it cries occasionally.


Andrea Rusin said...

OK, the metaphor is perhaps a little obvious. But it's a lovely thought. One I will take to heart.

And PLEASE come here and help me plan the gardens. Getting lawn-mowing help was one of your wisest suggestions EVER. But I have plants every which way, and I don't even know what they all are -much less how to turn the gardens into my own space.

Nina said...

I'd love to. At the sibtrip Ill bring my gardening gloves.