As I work my garden much of the joy & satisfaction is in designing and improving as I go. We'll identify this area as the SE Corner of my back garden. In this post I'll continue my before and after series highlighting some gardening renovations/additions I've gotten my hands dirty with since January 2008. Hoe & Shovel revels in the picture perfect weather of Florida winter and now spring.
So back to the SE Corner project.
I had a few goals in mind for this project when it began in 2006:
1) Firstly, was to remove the drake elm (obviously not pictured) that was growing here but was unfairly being crowded out by the oak trees.
2) To create a full-sun area where I could grow some plants that love direct sun. Most of my garden is either shady or partly shady.
3) To create a bit of architectural interest by using the bricks you see in the photo. This would hopefully provide more visual impact and draw the eye and some wandering feet further into the garden. All the bricks used here were formerly edged around a different large bed in a single layer-(they had served their purpose well there, too, but it was time for a change).
4) To add some large boulders/stones for texture and more visual interest.
side note: Florida doesn't harvest natural rock and stone of any interest. It all has to be imported which makes it a bit pricey so we have to go easy on these purchases.
Once the wall was built I hauled in 2 yards of dirt to fill in behind the wall and leveled it at a small existing berm beyond it. I also hauled (with 3 men helping- bless my family & neighbors) the stones placed among the plants that weigh 2 tons all together. Initially my plan was to extend the bed further back but I stopped short when I ran out of dirt and time.
Which brings me to 2007 Phase II of this project.
October 2007 I felt energetic about finishing my original design. The potato vine needed more space to travel freely and I needed more space to plant even more sun-loving perennials (considered annuals in some zones).
Above: Once I sprayed the back side grass with round-up and dug it out I put in a butterfly bush, several lantana, moved the fountain grass back a bit away from the spreading plumbago, added some african iris, dwarf petunias and a border of variegated liriope.
I never mind getting rid of barren, weak, or weed infested grass. But here the grass is quite fine. The problem: I am not fond of the mildew the wall seems to attract AND I wanted to soften the appearance of the stark wall just a smidge. I don't want to use chemicals to keep the wall free of mildew. SO, in February I decided to expand the bed in the front by using the lasagna method of layering newspaper over the grass rather than killing it with round-up. I'd heard about this method but not ever tried it.
To see the full scale 'how-to' on this method take a peek over at Mary Beth's Cultivating Paradise. She did it right. I actually had some dirt left over from my vegetable garden project so I only used dirt to pile over the wet newspaper- I wet mine after I laid it down. This method seems to have worked fine in this small area.
Above is a close-up of the area I created in front of the wall. I purchased three variegated Flax Lily Daniella Tasmanica Variegata and split them into 6. There are three Lavandula behind the lily. I may have to move them to a drier location but I can't tell yet. This soil is so rich it holds water fairly well. Once our nights warm up I will get a better read on the Lavandula's response to this location. And lastly, I sowed a patch of Zinnia seeds to create some height and hopefully help acheive the softening affect while blending into mildewy wall on first glance. Oh and there was the sod I moved to make a nicer 'green' path behind this bed.
Above is a broader view for the overall effect. After a very fine pruning, in just a few short weeks I can expect the Purple Queen and the chartreuse Potato Vine to be trailing happily over the wall. The blue plumbago behind it should be back in bloom. The Nile Lilies (Agapanthus) should be shooting up their tall stalks of blue purple pom-poms and the caladiums will provide variations of color. Beyond the bed the purple of the Princess flower and the red of the Jatropha tree will tower above for more color.
I think I'm finished with the SE Corner bed. I'm finally satisfied with the overall look. Oh, I'm sure I probably shouldn't say that here because before you know it, I could easily be hauling in some more dirt and digging away at more sod.
Isn't it always the way of a gardener?