Friday, June 3, 2011
A New Broken Concrete Patio Tucked In the Garden-Walk Around Time
What is that way in the distance? Could it be a chaise just waiting for a tired gardener to have a seat? Let's take a closer look. Come walk with me.
As we get closer we can surely see it is indeed a chaise with a few chairs, a lovely table and umbrella and a patio! The patio is tucked into two gardens. Shall I talk about the gardens as we walk? The first garden we come upon is surrounded by rocks lovingly collected by me in Louisville Kentucky from my daughter's subdivision. Boy was that a lot of work~! I need a seat just thinking about it. The Redbud Garden is so named due to the 'Forest Pansy' redbud tree growing in this garden. A funny story about how this garden started. I had an extra load of dirt and no where to put it. This particular area was a difficult area because the grass would not grow here no matter what I did. So, I dropped the dirt in this location and planted the Forest Pansy. The rocks and other perennials came later. Tip: start your gardens with the structure-trees and/or shrubs then fill in with perennials.
Ah, here we go. We can get a close up look at the broken concrete. The iris foliage you see to the right of this small patio is from the irises growing in the Redbud Garden. We shall walk to the left of this patio in a minute and take a look at the Walled Garden. If you have a chance do go back and look at this post on the Walled Garden. It shows the garden NEWLY planted. My, what a change. I will talk more of the changes as we walk around the gardens and patio.
The particular location we are standing in is on the north side of my front yard. It has a great view to the side gardens and backyard. The 10' x 8' patio area is somewhat sloped to the north. As such I had to elevate one side of the patio. Mr. Fix-it and I did this by applying a layer of gravel ranging in depth from 2-6". Under this gravel we applied landscape fabric to prevent weeds from growing. I won't go into detail about building this wonderful patio (because I have already posted on that part) but just let me say it has exceeded my expectations. When we first placed the concrete on the gravel surface the cracks and gaps were so big I was afraid my footing would be shaky when walking on the patio. Not so! After packing in the crushed limestone this patio is as solid as they get. It has worked out wonderfully.
And here we are just waiting to take a seat! That chaise sure looks comfy. My two tulip chairs now have a permanent home out front and don't need to rest on my lawn anymore. A nice thing. Okay, let's move around the Walled Garden now. We will walk to the left (north) and I will talk of the plantings along the way.
This area is sloping to the left (toward the north) of my property. I wanted to level this area and keep soil from washing away so I acquired some old concrete blocks that are made to look natural from a fellow Freecycler in Evansville Indiana. On these I placed flat concrete stones as a cover. My cat Orkin loves walking on this wall. The wall serves to delineate the boundary of the garden and holds in some backfilled soil. Not only that but I think the wall helps to hold in moisture. This is most important because there is a mature oak and mature cedar tree growing in this bed. The soil can be very dry. The outer rim of shrubs is a group of PeeGee Hydrangeas I propagated from cuttings in the year 2007. I hate propagating shrubs. It takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r for them to mature to good sized shrubs. Soon these shrubs will be in full bloom. The first time since I planted them! There are about 10-12 of these shrubs. A tip: when you have a seating area it feels more comfortable and natural to have a backing in place. In my case my backing is actually three walls of shrubs (two rows of the PGs, and in between them directly in the middle of this garden are three 'Nova Zembla' rhododendrons; which are evergreen shrubs. This garden is dark and barely gets any sun so only shade tolerant plants can grow in this location. There are a few perennials in this garden as well. Namely hostas and columbine but they will soon come out so the shrubs can take over and provide the structure and impact I desire.The hypertufa pots are not normally located on this wall. They have been relocated there temporarily while we have some work done on the house.
Okay, we have now reached the lower end (northern side) of the Walled Garden. This picture shows the PG hydrangeas a lot better. They are getting big-finally! Even though I started this garden in 2007 the PGs (big ones) were actually started from cuttings in 2005. Looking straight ahead past this garden we can see parts of the Northside Shrub Border and the Roadside Shrub border. Directly straight ahead on the other side of the shrubs is the road. Let's look at a focal point in this garden. A special treat in the form of a Japanese maple.
This is one of six Japanese maples in the front yard. Most are planted as an understory interest tree. All are under existing mature trees. The shade tends to slow the growth a bit but I think in the long run it will be okay because with slower growth the tree will hopefully put on a good structure and grow nice roots. This tree started as a 2-3' tall seedling. I do not know the cultivar. Last winter it had the most glorious orange fall foliage. It is simply splendid. I tucked it in between two PGs. The hosta growing here will soon be divided and moved. It is a 'Christmas Tree' hosta. I have found this hosta to be one of the very best hostas in my garden. It gets nice and large and looks good all season. It does not tend to fade away like a good many hostas do here in the south.
We are rounding the bend of the U shaped Walled Garden and are now looking up toward the house from the northeast corner of my front yard. You can just make out a 'Nova Zembla' rhododendron between the two PG hydrangeas that are in the foreground. If you look past the rhododendron you'll then see the back side of the new Broken Concrete Patio.
Let's look back to where we just came from in order to round the bend shall we? On the right we can see the Northside Shrub Border. This border follows the outline of the Walled Garden and there is a bump out between the Walled Garden and the Crabapple Garden. I planted an 'Empress of China' evergreen dogwood in that bumpout just this past fall. It is doing wonderfully. Trees and shrubs are my passion here but I am really running out of spots to plant them.
Looking to the south we can now make out the mature cedar tree (Juniperus virginiana). I love my cedar trees for their toughness and food they provide to wildlife. Unfortunately they are very dark underneath. The only thing growing in this area are some Solomon's Seal and a few azaleas. Generally speaking all of my gardens are loaded down with perennials. You usually cannot see the ground because of all the plants. Some areas like this one though are too challenging even for tough perennials. It is here that I prefer only shrubs with a good ground cover under the shrubs. This area is inhospitable to most plants due to the tree roots from the red cedar. Oak tree roots are not as bad as cedar tree roots and I have a lot of oak trees. Tulip poplars and even river birches have very thirsty and very hungry roots that simply clog up the ground and hog all of the soil. No matter what kind of trees you have in your garden just know the ground is normally very tough for perennials to grow in because the perennials simply cannot out compete the trees. In these situations only tough shrubs and mulch will work. As a rule I generally do not water. At least I try not to. If you are a gardener who waters a lot you may have better luck trying to keep perennials alive under mature trees. Good luck.
Looking through to the patio we can see the three rhododendrons. On the other side of the rhodies are more PG hydrangeas. They are smaller than the ones I previously showed since they were only propagated a few years ago and just planted last fall. To the left and where you can see the green water fountain is the start of the Redbud Garden. The Redbud Garden gets a bit more sun and has several perennials growing in it under the redbud.
Just past the water fountain is where the concrete wall will turn to stone and that signifies we are almost back to where we started-at the Redbud Garden. Here you can see several perennials growing in this garden. This garden is viewed prominently from my front porch as you can see in the above picture.
Looking through the gardens we can see not only the patio (remember it is tucked in between these two gardens) but also some of the foundation beds and back toward the Northside Shrub Border and backyard.This is our view looking to the west from our new Broken Concrete Patio.
Finally we are back to where we started the tour and walk around. This large island bed is one of five large island beds in the front yard. So far we have walked around the Front Center Garden and now this combination Walled/Redbud Garden. Soon we'll see the Crabapple Garden, the Mahonia Garden, and the Front Sidewalk Garden.
Shall we have a seat and a spot of lemonade on the patio....
in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden