Archive for June, 2010

I’ve been delaying my update hoping to finish this project but I’ve stalled again. I have included an updated diagram, since most of the plantings are so small as to have little impact at this point – thus the two flats worth of annuals I’ve plugged in to give us – if the sun ever comes out – something to look at.  Details on current dilemma follow pictures…

I moved the path when I realized that it was taking up valuable real estate in the sunniest part of the yard.

To date I’ve invested in some topsoil (though it never seems to be enough) as well as a mock orange, Japanese anenome, two shasta daisies (a fond memory) bee balm and three lavender for the hot spot around the rocks and up against the retaining wall.  

At the cottage I have an abundance of wild geranium, iris, primrose and hosta that I can move over at an appropriate moment.  I also plan to get an old-fashioned (tall) bleeding heart, as was suggested by a GardenWeb contributor. Meanwhile, I am repeating my mantra:  I must be patient.

The bricks in the path are leftover from the patio, and all were donated by generous friends redoing their own patio area.  I decided to use these for now, knowing that I will likely replace them with something a bit less structured ‘in the fullness of time.’

I had planned to fill in around the pavers with bark mulch. But now I am rethinking. I rather like the contrast provided by the grey path, and in light of comments received noting that bark mulch tends to shift around quite a bit, I am considering small rock.  It might look a bit like a dry stream bed, particularly if a few large flat stones replaced the brick stepping stones.  I can’t decide if this would look good, or just a bit twee.  Discuss?

If I was going to use rock, it wouldn’t be much more trouble to shovel it up from the beach, since I don’t need a large amount. I’ll be at the cottage with the kids this weekend and will explore the viability of this idea then. In any event, Cottager is away, riding the Camino de Santiago, and I am loath to move rock without his muscles. I must be patient.

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The hot weather hasn’t come yet, but we live in hope. The last job on my list to get the cottage ready for our summer rental season is getting the watering system and solar shower hooked up. This year we added another run of Lee Valley’s amazingly simple watering system to the deck mounted one we set up a year or two ago. Now the whole front garden is in reach of a sprinkler head.  The new line, which came with 50 ft of hose, thin extension tubes,  180 and 360 degree heads, wands, etc, cost less than $40.  We also invested in a timer. The water comes on every 24 hours – at about 6 in the morning – for half an hour or so. We will likely increase that to an hour during the hottest months.  I really recommend this product, even though Lee Valley has still not seen fit to send me a gift card to acknowledge my frequent plugs of their products.

Test firing the cottage sprinkler system set up

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As you can see from the above “Before” photo, our suburban backyard has been dreadfully neglected over the past few years as we devoted most of our energies to the cottage. Now we are in landscaping mode, and in keeping with our usual M.O., we jumped in to the first stages without thinking through to the last.  We were at that point where anything would be an improvement. So we terraced and bricked, and it has shaped up pretty nicely. 

But God, as they say, is in the details, and having arrived at that point, the details are eluding me.  So here is the question:  How can the central, timber-framed area beyond the brick patio, which measures roughly 15 ‘ wide and 11’ deep, best be landscaped according to the following priorities:  Attractiveness, openness and ease of care?  Here are some current photos and a diagram of the area for your consideration:

looking out from the French doors

a rough diagram of the area under consideration

A few other thoughts:

  • This area gets only about 4 hours direct sun.
  • The large split rock nearest to the patio can’t be moved (and I wouldn’t if I could.)
  • A pathway starting from the brick patio and leading to the back fence at the gap shown on the diagram is essential
  • I’m leaning towards incorporating areas of bark mulch or another medium, and having grouped rocks and plantings arranged in ‘islands’ that are fairly low and easy care, but give a bit of colour through the summer and fall – but feel free to suggest otherwise 
  • Cost is very much an issue, so those lovely big slate slabs that cost $50 / piece are not an option, however I do have a source of smaller rocks in the nearby stream and could use the workout that would be involved in hauling some up. 

So, what do you think?  I’d love your opinion. Weigh in on layout, materials and plants.  Once done, I’ll post the final photos with thanks to all and credit for the ideas I’ve used.

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