Garden reno: work in progress

August 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been meaning to do a post about the slow transformation of our garden. The following photos chronicle the work from early spring through June-ish. We started in the front bed and slowly worked our way over to the overgrown forsythia patch and then to the back side of the house. I’ve mixed in some shots of the same spots taken throughout the spring and into summer. Of course, the most “complete” part of the garden is the front bed because of the lovely Kate MacGillivary of Plant Manager Studio. Kate dug up most of the bed, rescued many old perennials, and then re-planted them in a new cottage-y design. We would be lost without Kate.

First, take a look at the house last summer. The garden was positively feral.

Fast forward to early spring 2012. Here you can see the sad little porch that has now been replaced by our new deck. In the foreground is a weed infested bed of mostly Jerusalem artichokes that eventually had to be dug out to make room for a new rock wall and perennial bed.

Jerusalem artichokes coming in. These grow to about 7 feet and make beautiful yellow flowers that bloom all summer. If you cut back the blooms, the plant will focus its energy on making a tuber that you can dig up in the fall and eat. My neighbors, Carol and Sue, took many of these and re-planted them in their gardens.

It’s late June. The deck is complete and Robert is building a rock wall to hold a new perennial bed around the base of the deck.

And here it is with the new plantings (thanks to Kate). They haven’t fared terribly well, in part because it’s been a dry late summer and I haven’t watered enough. Shame on me. But we’ll see what comes back in the spring and start over if need be.

Back to early spring. Here you can see the rock walkway up to what was once the side door or main entrance. It was almost completely grown over with grass and weeds. I had to dig it out by hand. Lots of elbow grease went into this project.

Here it is almost completely uncovered and with thyme planted between some of the rocks. Most of the thyme has taken root and started to spread. Up the step and to the right is a huge patch of oregano. While I love the oregano because it grows to about 16 inches and blooms all summer–attracting tons of bees–it was in the way of our new walkway off the deck. So it had to go.

A close up of the super happy oregano below.

Here the forsythia is in full bloom and we’re starting to hack away at it. This is probably about 40 years worth of growth. But it’s in the area where we want to put our raised vegetable beds.

The front raised bed was full of weeds and the rock wall was quite damaged along the road side. Robert salvaged a couple of very big rocks from the gully behind our house to shore it up. That’s him maneuvering the biggest one down the street, very slowly.

The front bed a couple of weeks later. You can see the dirt now and some of the old perennials blooming already. Kate put some rocks along the edge of the lower bed to protect the whole from snow plows in the winter. And she replanted irises, salvia, and ajuga along the edge. It all came in very nicely, until Robert “weeded” the ajuga one day while I was gone.

A few shots of the front bed as it started to come together.

Below is a shot of the side of the house that faces the road. This part of the “garden” is still wild, but it looked nice in the spring before it became a jungle. This is where our resident reptile likes to hang out.

The back of the house (the side with the “front” door) has the ugly foundation and lacks a proper porch or deck. We won’t be able to add a porch for a few years, so decided to put some shrubs and perennials in to try to hide the foundation. Here is it before planting.

I need to do a late summer photo shoot. So stay tuned for some follow up pics of the latest progress.

Garden Renovation

May 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

It’s hard to believe that one year ago, we were in Five Islands with Mark and Katy. We were working on the house and staying in a local hotel because there was no toilet yet. We installed the ill-fated mosaic tile floor in the bathroom and painted much of the downstairs. When Mothers’ Day rolled around, we went down to the dock and loaded up on dinner to go. I don’t remember what we ordered, but I do remember the weather was dreadful. The entire week was cold and rainy. I was afraid Mark and Katy would never come back after such a week. But, alas, they came back for Christmas and we had a ball. But they still haven’t experienced Maine in the summertime. It is sublime, and this weekend was just a taste of what we have to look forward to in the months to come. With temperatures in the 70s, we spent yesterday and today working on the garden.

Last year, by the time we moved in it was late June and the garden was already beyond control. Plus there was so much to do inside the house, we simply put up a temporary fence and let everything grow wild. Here’s a picture from last July to give you a sense of how feral the perennials had become.

This year, we have an ambitious plan to get the garden under control. In addition, the temporary porch outside the sliding door has seen better days. So we’ve decided to have a deck put on that side of the house. One day, the deck will be the floor of a screened-in porch. We’re getting some help with renovating the perennial beds from one of our neighbors, Kate MacGillivary. She has taken the unruly mess that was our front bed and brought it under control. It’s definitely a work-in-progress. But here are some shots of what we’ve done so far.

In the photo below you can see the old stone walk that goes up to what was the front porch. This was almost completely covered in grass and weeds. It’s taken me a lot of elbow grease to unearth these stones. Now I’m planting low-growing thyme between the rocks.

I have always loved gardens with stone walls and lots of perennials and herbs. Now we have our own stone wall, not to mention huge pieces of ledge covered in lichen. It’s already beautiful. We just hope to rescue some of the beautiful plants that are being strangled by weeds. Of course, Boogie doesn’t mind the weeds.

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