Thursday, September 11, 2008

Under the Wisteria Arbor

I posted about how my wisteria arbor came into being yesterday, this is part two of some postings on the wisteria arbor. Our backyard slopes a wee bit down to the west. I gently stepped down the wisteria arbor in the building of it, but also had to deal with the slope of the ground and under the arbor. It was an eyesore-what to do?

I am not the biggest fan of castle rock, but it serves a purpose. Mr. Fix-it and I got a bunch of the large castle rock and built a small wall at the base of the arbor. I backfilled behind the wall with a load of soil and planted a bed of mophead hydrangeas here. This garden is on the north side of the arbor but since it is aligned east to west, it does get a bit of direct sun. It is an ideal situation for mopheads, and ideal for me because it is easily accessible to the watering hose. This is one garden I practiced restraint and decided ONLY mophead hydrangeas, and ONLY hydrangeas. Well okay, a few 'Sum and Substance' hostas and columbines found there way in there. And oh yeah, I think some daffys. Sigh. Mainly hydrangeas anyhow.

I planted a few different varieties of mopheads in here. My goal was to maintain ONLY mopheads, and to make a pleasing picture. All hydrangeas are Hydrangea macrophylla, but with a few neat varieties. Who has heard of 'Mme Emile Mouillie'?
It is the first hydrangea and blooms with the blue hydrangeas but is pure white. It is a joy. Also growing in this bed is: Nikko Blue, Endless Summer, Pink Beauty, Glowing Embers, and a newly planted unknown cultivar that appears to be a florist type hydrangea. Pink Beauty is a real beauty. Its spent flower is really red and pictured below. Endless Summer is a water hog, and the other hydrangeas in this garden have been a bit unremarkable, but they have been growing only two seasons here and after last year's terrible weather, it is a miracle anything still grows. The fence in front of the hydrangeas keeps the dogs out and protects the plants. The wall also serves to provide a barrier for the silly dogs. One thing I should note for people new to wall building on a slope, it is important to keep all castle rocks level! They should not slope downhill with the slope. This is not difficult to do if you step down the wall and ensure each and every block is level when building the wall. You can probably see a better picture of stepping down in yesterday's post.

in the garden....


  1. Tina, I love hydrangeas. I have them all over the garden. Lately, I have been planting white lacecaps along one edge of our property line. I can hardly wait for them to grow larger. Your first photo's hydrangea is a great color.

    Always Growing

  2. Hi Tina, wow, how did you keep the block level? I have never heard it called that, but we have used it in various places like under the deck and the veggie stretch. It is cheap, easy to work with and does the job of holding back the slope. Of course it is not gorgeous like real stone but since we are all not independently wealthy, or we're not anyway ;->, the block works. Your hydrangeas are wonderful. If and when they ever are all loaded with blooms, what a vision that would be! I have moved all of my scattered ones to the ferngully area of good dirt, some shade and easy to water all together, a big plus. They look good, but did not bloom since there was no last year's wood. Now next year I am expecting big things from them, or else!
    ps, thanks for switching me over to my wordpress blog!

  3. Always love a rock wall no matter how high or how long! The hydrangea looks great!

  4. The hydrangeas' name pretty much says it all: water vessel. They soak it up like it's going out of style. Mine do okay without any fussing. We don't have any gutters (don't really need them with the sandy soil here in Florida), and they are planted close to the house so they are able to grab all that precious rainwater and store it up until the next shower. So you have silly dogs too? When we were keeping the granddog for a while, he would dig holes everywhere he could find a soft spot in the yard to keep cool. Somehow I was always losing my cool when I would discover new craters almost every day. I promised myself after that I would never have another dog unless it could fit in the palm of my hand.

  5. I have some hydrangeas that never bloom. Do you have to fertilize every year?

  6. I used castle rock at my parents house when we built a circular garden bed. They go together pretty good and you're right about keeping them even! You have quite a few varieties of hydrangeas there.

  7. I had never heard the name castle rocks. They have kind of a red clay color like brick. Are they made locally?

  8. Good morning all!

    Jan, We have something very much in common-our love of hydrangeas! As much work as they are (water!), they are worth it.

    Frances, Of course I would switch you over. I can't believe how many bloggers are switching. I had to check all blogs on my sidebar last night. Seems you, PGL, and Nancy have switched. I am staying but I hope you all enjoy your new home! I don't know the real name of these stones. Yes, the same kind you have but yours are so much larger. I was surprised any hydrangea bloomed this year after last year. I am looking for good things. We need to keep hydrangeas together for ease of care like you know, that seems to help.

    Hi Dawn, The wall at its highest is about 2 feet, it steps down to stay fairly consistent. You can see it good on yesterday's post. It is about 38 feet long to completely enclose the arbor. Makes a tidy area and nice shade garden. The soil was trucked in and is not the best, but all are doing okay.

    W2W, Now a dog that can fit in the palm of your hands is not really dog, more like a DAT!:) A combination of a dog and cat (that is what I call my daughter's little dog). Digging holes is was a major cause of stress for me too when mine were young, now they only do it occasionally and it still drives me nuts! But I get over it. Dogs are fun in the garden! I think planting hydrangeas by the house is a great way to go. You would need that hose accessible for sure and that works!

    Mother Nature, Can I call you Donna on here? Oftentimes down here the mopheads begin growing their buds in spring, of course they bloom on old wood (most mopheads), then comes a late freeze and guess what? That poor flower bud has been killed. It will not bloom that year. I really hate this about mopheads. Up north it is not as much of a problem since it generally stays cold consistently and does not warm up then freeze like here. I do occasionally fertilize the hydrangeas. Generally in late Feb-March I add about 1 tablespoon of acid loving fertilizer. But if you have good soil and mulch you don't really need this. I suspect your problem is the freeze and fertilizer won't help. Sometimes planting hydrangeas on the north side of a building where they consistently stay cold will help with the blooms. Hope this helps.

    Dave, A common problem with these stones. People put them in slanted and it really looks dumb. 14 varieties of mopheads, all types of hydrangeas with several cultivars but no climbing hydrangea. I just love the hydrangeas. Can you tell? I share cuttings too-not the plants. So anytime!

    Marnie, These are the standard wall rocks you get in any big box store. Not sure the name for them, maybe landscape block wall? Very common. I don't care for them but they did the job. I actually have them on two gardens but no more.

  9. I hadn't heard of castle rock, either, Tina; thanks for explaining them. I do love hydrangeas--they must be beautiful when they're all in bloom.

  10. Hi Tina ~ That's a lovely mostly hydrangea bed you have under your arbor. And I like how your fence, though functional, really isn't so noticable - blends right in!

  11. Great idea to plant mostly hydrangeas in this bed that are easily accessible to the hose. Mopheads are such water gluttons. :) I like the fence to keep the dogs out. Until you mentioned it I didn't even notice it at first. I might have to do that with my Pecan bed to keep Spaz from stepping on the shade perennials. :)

  12. Cee Cee is on garden patrol! Good doggie... I have some of those border stones as well. I picked up some to replace the old fashioned clay brick planters I made a while back. I needed the brick to use as borders to the pathway so I stole the brick from the planters. I wanted planters in the same place so I picked up some of the border stones to replace the planters. I think they turned out okay. I will show them some day....

    I am sooooo Happy Today! We had over 2 inches of rain in the gauge this morning! Good steady rain and a bit heavy at times during the night. On a sad note, the butterfly bushes are all leaning to the sides. arggg. If they dont straighten up, we will assist them with twine and stakes. Hum, seems I have already written that line today.. lol...

  13. CC looks like she is enjoying looking at the flowers, cute.

  14. I also like the rock wall. I think it makes a really nice border. And your dog looks like she's having a fun time just strolling along, lol.

  15. It makes sense to put all the mopheads together...they have the same growing conditions and it's a one stop visit to water when it's dry here!~ Rocks, bricks, wood, block whatever works is my motto. If you are bothered by the edging, a few spiller plants would work nicely.


  16. I love what you did with the divider, and like it much better green over the white it originally was.

    What you did with the old window panes is a great idea, too, as it adds depth and character.

    I'm always bringing home random sized rocks from places I visit, and have made an interesting run-off extending from our gutter in order to help prevent Yasso-Man from playing in the mud after a rain storm.


  17. Rose, Hopefully next year we'll get a full bloom!

    Cindy, Oh yes, this fence blends in well and protects the plants. Those dogs! Just yesterday they tore up a bed trying to get to a neighbor's cat! I am very mad at BJ right now as he went thru the fence!

    PGL, I follow your postings on your hydrangeas closely and realize just how much water hogs these guys are and which ones not to plant from you! Thanks!

    Skeeter, Those dogs are always in the way I tell you. Especially her! I am SO glad you got so much rain. None here:( The butterfly bushes will perk up, I wouldn't even worry about them. Lucky you!

    Mom, Good morning! CeCe is a booger always in the gardens. Can't get rid of that gal and I noticed she gets into more pics than even BJ. Funny how we never see the stinky dog. Wonder how Bella will do?

    DP, Thanks! I enjoy this border for sure.

    Gail, Funny you should mention the cascaders. I took a TON of candytuft cuttings and have rooted them. That is what is going here. I love this plant since it tolerates drought AND shade and is reliable. I hope it helps to make the bricks recede. My creeping jenny I planted died. I just can't get it to grow like Frances does! I have tried!

    Sohpie, You ARE SO FUNNY on your blog! I know you must have a ton of readers even if many don't always comment. You know I am always reading as I need a dose of laughter and you are so great with it. I enjoy your antics and even Mr. Fix-it does too. And the Jimster! He likes Yasso's name and the fast way to say it. Just wanted to tell you. Green for the lattice is the way to go. I am going to let Mr. Fix-it know he is so in the minority. Nice talking with you. Glad you made it back safely from Big Foot!

  18. I love the hydrangeas! Yours look very nice and I am glad they survided the draught last year.

  19. Love what you did with the hydrangeas. It all looks as though it's been there forever. So natural. I too didn't notice the little fence, neat. You come up with some of the best ideas. You must stay up half the night thinking of new, different things to incorporate into your garden. I know I can't sleep if I have a situation that I need to solve. I really love how you've put it all together, & I haven't even seen it in person either.

  20. Love what you did with the hydrangeas. It all looks as though it's been there forever. So natural. I too didn't notice the little fence, neat. You come up with some of the best ideas. You must stay up half the night thinking of new, different things to incorporate into your garden. I know I can't sleep if I have a situation that I need to solve. I really love how you've put it all together, & I haven't even seen it in person either.

  21. Wow, how beautiful is that? I love the hydrangeas. The variety of plants is wonderful. I once tried to have a garden with only one type of plant, but it looked too boring so I had to add more variety.

  22. Mom-Wasn't really on here before today, but in reading all I am going to warn you...Bella DIGS. Not often and always the same place for her to lie in but she is very naughty in that area. I will be very, very sorry if she ruins any of your work. She only does it is she is really bored or wants to lay outside and cool off. A pool helps some, but she has had the same hole at my apartment since I moved in. Right near the walk and she re-digs it every time I make an attempt to fill it. Best if you don't want the yard dug to not leave her outside for to long if you are not out with her, if your out there she is less likely to dig. Plus the other dogs being around should help.
    Looked like Cece was carrying that PVC pipe, has to enlarge the picture to get a closer look!

  23. Gisele, Thanks!

    Lola, Sometimes ideas wake me up at night. lol Dreaming about the gardens is what got me through Desert Storm, so dreaming is good. Someday if you get up here, you come over to see it all!

    Cinj, Glad you like my hydrangeas. They need so much water! The bad part.

    Christine, Don't worry. Bella and I will work it out. CeCe is the culprit here. She too thinks she needs to dig holes to rest. I don't mind they dig under the trampoline where it is cool, but sometimes it happens to be by the gate under a hydrangea when I am out front. Urrr! Any plants damaged if it comes up, can be repaired and will grow back. The PVC pipe is part of a project I have not gotten around too yet. Wonder where the time all goes?

  24. I know what you mean about the dreams Tina. I too have been woken up with an idea concerning a problem I was trying to solve. Now I'm in the process of figuring out the replacement of dwarf azaleas. I have it in my mind if I can just work it out. Will have to wait a bit as one of the azalea is in my Canna bed & I don't want to mess them up. So will have to wait till it cools off a bit. And the cannas stop blooming.

  25. Mom, I still think it looks like Cece is carrying the PVC pipe. It's funny. Bella will most likely dig under the trampoline for the fact that the dirt is there without grass and it will be cool. Mimi's did bloom this year and if memory serves has pink and blue blooms, on the same plant BTW. Was really nice.

  26. Lola, Dreaming of gardening is a good thing! Do wait until the cannas have gone by to do some renovation.

    Christine, I remember now that it had bloomed. Bella will be okay, don't you worry.

  27. That hydrangera has never failed to bloom in the 25 years it has been there and yes, Christy, it did have both pink and blue flowers this year for the first time ever and was quite stunning.