Monday, May 25, 2009

Eighty Feet: That's a lot of Pedicure.

That long, 80-foot semi-shady planter is all done... and the babies are growing after only a few weeks - they even survived an hour of hail on Monday, sturdy little plants.

But this is the end of the saga before it even begins...  before planting, there was:

...3 hours of weeding with my son to pull the grass in sheets out of the planter... I call it weeding only because I hate the grass in the planter.  

...Deer proof research AGAIN, because plants are not inexpensive and it really chaps my hide when I spend a lot of time on the yard, only to have it disappear the very same night.

I found everything I needed from my previous post's list at the Tahoe Tree Company, my 2nd favorite log structure in the Tahoe Basin.  Totally bummed they closed their deli and wine bar, though. That used to really top off the gardening purchase experience.   That aside,  if you live in the basin, it is worth the drive to west shore for this horticultural experience.  

The next day, a Friday a couple weeks ago, I was celebrating because my husband had gotten a job and we could keep on living here (YIPEEE)...  and it was too early to start snoggin' the bottle...   so I called my friend Julene, who is also a crazy dirt-digger extraordinaire.   We planted all the plants in about an hour and a half.   Then I made her poached eggs for brunch.

The Pedicure, Accomplished
The Heucheras are great, the leaves variegated with color,  and they are growing like weeds.   By the end of June, we should have a wonderful shrub-lined lawn.

I planted a few new varieties of columbine as well, and some foxglove.  Pictures are so much better than my diatribe...

The Heucheras - Plumb Pudding, Marmalade and green variegated.

I love how the leaves are the same, but the colors are all so different.  This really livens up the planter when around 11am the shade encroaches.. this photo was taken at 9am.

Heucheras:  Hearty to -30 degrees, these babies should keep on coming back every year.

The new Columbines, a pint fluffy type and a tall, elegant purple.
These hearty alpine forest flowers are enchanting, I always wonder when the fairy is going to come flying by.

The other plants I planted years ago, that come back every year are the Lupin, Day Lily, and types of Columbine that sprout up... as well as the new Coriopsis - which returns every year with it's small cheerful yellow flowers.  The shrubs are different types of Spirea.

Lupin & Columbine
Day Lily
Coriopsis Sprouts

There are still a bunch of sprouts in the planter:  Shasta Daisys, the Coriopsis, the Morning Glory vine, the strawberries (which will soon be gone, but I'll put a photo captured before the deer find them!).

I'll do another photo album in July of the planter to showcase the plants at their best!  Until then, I'm on to other projects:  the back deck and my hanging shade pot farming!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pot Farming: The Porch

The spring porch is a welcome, a thoroughfare, a hangout and a place of reflection.  After a winter of entering the house from the garage mud room, it is like seeing an old friend whom you have not seen in 5 months.

On a weekend morning, I like to go sit like a lizard sunning in my PJs on the front steps with a cappuccino, watching the yard wake up.

During the day, it is the expressway of our family, kids running in and out of the house to play, me in and out while plucking weeds, a drop off of toys, baseball paraphanalia and other detritus. 

During the evening, after the kids are bedded down, my husband enjoys his Calvados and cigar while staring at the silvery twilight sky and treetops.

I found my porch plants... sad to say, last year's variety did not grow back... with the exception of my favorite, a strange type of bleeding heart that grows tall and delicate, with tiny leaves and alien looking pale pink florets that cascade down the plant when it is mature.  It's coming back quickly - last week, it was just sprouting up, this week, it looks like a plant!

Finding Color in Green
The philosophy I used when doing shade planting is color... it is already darker on the porch;  it is all logs and stone.   Bright greens, uniquely shaped leaves, and colored leaves were the plants I looked - for both my porch and the 80' planter.  I found them!

I had five pots to fill - my sixth broke apart so I must replace it at some point soon.   I chose the following plants, each deer proof, hearty to -30 degrees and that thrive in the shade:

a forest violet with deeply green leaves, that blooms profusely (although not yet)

a brilliant bushy lime green fern

marmalade huechera, a wonderful amber-colored leafy bush

a low-growing fern whose color gradates from deep green to pale green, with purple veins

my alien bleeding heart
and my colorful fern

The last thing for the porch is four large hanging baskets over the log railing, trailing with ivy and bleeding hearts.  I have yet to get these going, but by June 1st, I will have them up - I'm still hedging my bets on a late frost, and since they hang in the air, I don't want to risk losing them.

I'd also like to add three more pots to the porch, tall ones for visual height, but my budget is small this year, and I may have to simply hollow out some old logs lying around and use those... come to think of it, that would look pretty cool.

This Memorial Day Weekend, we are re-seeding the lawn and barbecuing like crazy!