A glimpse of my latest undertaking was shared in a recent post with a teaser that more was to come. In today's entry I'll attempt to take you through the process of creating it from beginning to end in a helpful and informative manner. Maybe you'll be inspired to plunge into one of those projects you've had swirling around in your imagination for a while. Often it is one of my fellow-bloggers who puts a spark under me and gets me moving in the right direction.
It is always interesting to pinpoint the inspiration behind any particular gardening project. Sometimes it's a single plant that stirs an idea or causes me to put some imaginations together in my head. Sometimes it's the driving desire to create that spurs me onward. It could be a photo or another garden or a vision that just keeps coming to me. Sometimes it is a matter of discovering a solution to a problem. Truth is, in almost every case, it a combination of any one of these factors that contributes to the spark that motivates me to action.
In every instance I like to conquer the garden in pieces. Over time I gradually take on what I feel is reasonably manageable. I may not have the entire visual when I get started but I make sure I can finish what I start. I always have confidence the pieces will fit together once I get going.
Lawn REMOVAL. The above (Before)photo is the area as I started this latest spring project.
This is looking from North to South across the front gardens over the driveway.
It began in late January and planting it out was completed only a couple of weeks ago. This project got bigger as I went along. Once all the grass on the north side of the driveway (in the foreground)was removed it was decided to go ahead and take out the rest of the lawn on the other side. I never questioned whether I WANTED to take it all out. I questioned whether I SHOULD. More on that later.
The short-story version... the same view with the finished look standing on the north side looking all the way across to the south side just like the BEFORE photo.
The long-story version follows...
This area in my front garden slopes slightly downward toward the street. The conditions are mostly shady with high, shifting-light through the mature oak trees.
The first installment of the Front Lawn Renovation (current view shown above)has been well documented for long time readers. If you haven't followed that project you can read the back story here of how I took out the perimeter lawn on the south side of the driveway in summer 2009.
To continue removing more lawn was inevitable. I was mostly waiting for good timing.
So here we go...
The first step was to measure between the established plantings and the future plantings a 4 foot width, stake poles to mark the new pine straw pathways. Using several layers of newspaper and then pine straw eliminates the grass underneath (eventually~~~ and less digging). It's always kind of fun working in the front gardens because my neighbors get involved. They stop by along and along watching the progress and many of them got involved transferring their used newspapers to me.
Marking out and laying the pathways first gives me better perspective of the space that's left to be designed/planted. In a large area that is void of grass pathways are necessary for maintenance and I like the visual break between planting beds.
Once all the lawn was out on the south side large clumps of Giant Liriope were divided from other places of the garden. A double 'ribbon' of this extremely hardy grass was placed in an asymmetrical curving pattern as my starting point.
By planting 78 of them weaving through the rectangular-shaped bed it softens the harshness of the linear edges giving the eye the illusion of a gentler form. At the same time it creates smaller, curving spaces within the bed for varieties of plants to fit within either side of the 'ribbon'; this makes way for the addition of soft pockets of color or foliage that give way to a more natural appearance even though it is thoughtfully orchestrated.
Florida-Friendly plants along with Florida natives were chosen to fill the entire space. With the goal of each species surviving through every season as well as a low maintenance area(once established) in mind Coontie palms, Apostle's Iris, and 'Red Star' (cordyline) were grouped together on either side of sections of the liriope also in asymmetrical fashion.
Bamboo muhly grass (muhlenbergia dumosa) was one of the plants that inspired this addition. I just had-to-have these planted in more places after siting a few in the back gardens last year. Seven of them are clumped on the farthest side of my property line. They will get taller and serve as a screen between my yard and the neighbor's to the north.
Closer to the driveway crimson pentas were chosen for long-lasting color. Sometimes these can frost to the ground but they always return quickly with the warmth of spring. For the attraction they are to butterflies and the easy way they bloom all year long I take the frost-risk with them planting them all over the garden.
A Chinese fan palm was placed as a specimen to blend with the established saw palmettos in the background. Why not more saw palmettos? They are extremely SLOOOOWWW growing. And I prefer the lighter green of the fan palm for contrast, too.
Holly ferns, blanket flower, bulbine, flax lily, yarrow, and blue-eyed grass finished off the list of plant choices in this planting. Many of them taken from other parts of the garden and transferred by divisions. Caladium bulbs will be added in the next week or so for lush summer foliage.
At least 30 more Agapanthus (lily of the nile)were included in this planting and also on the other side of the driveway. And just in time for them to send up their tall scapes of buds and blooms with their striking blue flowers that remain a favorite of mine.
Every one of these plant choices will remain at medium height with the exception of the fan palm...fortunately it is a slow grower.
Here is the opposite view looking northward from the south side of the driveway. Natural stones line the edge of the street and up to the pathways on both sides of the drive to hold in the soil/mulch.
Moving over to the south side of the driveway the scenario calls for all low-lying varieties. The native groundcover Mimosa Strigillosa was the "must-have plant" in this situation. There are lots of opinions on this one in the gardening world. Me? I just adore that puffy pink bloom.
AND the delicate, "sensitive" foliage that folds up at the touch of human contact. Thus its nickname ... 'sensitive' plant. It will take a bit of time and a good dose of patience for it to fill in and become the thick layer I'm looking for. 39 of them are randomly placed in the center of the center.
This entire area is the ground over our septic drain field. All along planting over the drain field was the factor that caused me hesitation. That's why in the end I chose plants with shallow roots. I decided to take my chances with them while avoiding planting any shrubs or trees in this new section. I think using only low-lying groundcover works here because I want the eye to flow through to the perimeter plants without hindrance.
The very slow spreading and ground-hugging mondo grass was used in a double curving pattern to border the mimosa groundcover. It has a nice deep green contrasting tufted foliage to the lighter green airy mimosa. This provides a boundary for the pathway AND the groundcover.
At the curve that allows the most sunshine for the longest length about mid-afternoon more crimson pentas and a change up of groundcover. Utilizing Florida-Friendly Sedum 'Gold' with the hope it will blend on that edge with the mimosa for a striking contrast. The short gate-barrier was used from the border of 'Super Blue' liriope to the border of the 9 additional purple muhly grasses (Muhlenbergia capillaris)as a boundary of sorts. While everything is filling-in it lends some definition to the border and keeps foot traffic from walking into the new plants.
At the corners of both sides of the driveway larger rocks were placed to anchor everything. Native blue-eyed grass pieces coming up in between play on the idea they've been there longer than they actually have.
In the driest, hottest section next to the street I'm trying out beach sunflower. It will likely be really happy there.
And if you are still hanging around through all of this jibber-jabber an offering of the extended version . Click to watch a couple of short videos I filmed to share a more virtual view of the new plantings.
Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.