Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Entrance Garden

The final leg of my garden tour ends at the Entrance Garden.  I worked on this bed all summer and, somewhat shamefully, never completed it.

The initial bed when the sod was removed (as seen through dirty window screen)
This garden has been a lesson - do only one task at a time.  Pick a spot, complete it and then move on to the next area.  I didn't do that.  I removed the sod and then wandered away to do other things.  Weeks later I put down compost and then wandered away again.  While I was gone the compost sprouted.   Tomatoes, cilantro and squash took over.  Instead of pulling them out I let them be... why not?  Ummm because they will take over the entire space leaving no room for the plants that I bought!

In the end even the volunteer squash was outdone by the weeds
The result was that by the time August rolled around the weeds were taller than I was and I had lost complete control.  Perennials were languishing in pots and I had a mountain of work ahead of me.

Perennials waiting for planting in the shade of an apple tree

The weeds had begun to take over by August
I confess that I have deliberately waited to finish my virtual garden tour so I could get those weeds in check.  Things look much better now as the weeds have been brought mostly under control and the new plants are all in the ground.

With some of the weeds out of the way the bed is beginning to take shape
Even so there are plenty of chores left me for to do come next spring.  More weeding, compost to be added, edging to be completed, more rocks to be moved, mulch.  Sadly even plants that were just recently put in the ground will need to be moved.  In my haste to be done with them I wasn't too careful about placement.

Good grief, all those chores left to do makes it sound like nothing got done at all!!

Well there is good news (you know I can find some triumph in this fiasco).

Little Lamb hydrangea loved the move from the meadow where it had languished last summer and in it's new home it bloomed all summer long.

My new Rhododendron 'Catawbiense Album' has survived well and even produced some fat flower buds and many new leaf buds for next year.

In fact, many of my new plants have done well.  Sea holly that was barely alive and rescued from the plant sale has bloomed all summer.  Jacob's ladder pulled from the weedy knot garden has flourished.  A very shabby looking red elderberry moved from the base of a maple tree has grown by leaps and bounds.

Flowers growing in my new bed
Despite some floral success there are a number of stragglers as well.  Siberian Iris seems to greatly dislike me and I think I have killed 90% of the plants that I purchased.  Asters were ripped out of the ground during Hurricane Irene.  My Emilia Plater Clematis refused to grow any more than one foot high.  I confess I pulled all the phlox and threw it away when it became coated in powdery mildew.  Rusty hollyhocks may meet the same fate if they don't behave themselves next spring.

Overall this bed has been a huge amount of work but I am excited that it finally took shape.  There's obviously a bit more work to be done but I'm looking forward to seeing it next year when it should be chock full of flowers from tulips and lilacs in spring to hydrangeas and coneflowers in fall. 


  1. Hi Marguerite, I can so identify. I thought it would take a few weeks to get my vegetable garden done, but it took months.
    It is so easy to get distracted by other more pressing matters. Yesterday the furnace just stopped working. We have no heat and no hot water. So what did we do? We dropped everything to find a boiler repair guy. Life is like that. We were supposed to take this week of vacation to renovate the living room. Oh well! What can you do?
    I am next sure all your hard work in the entrance flowerbed will pay off. That hydrangea is already looking impressive.

  2. But... you did like 12x more than most people in your garden this year... you've got to have something to work on next year!

  3. Holy crap can I relate to this! It is so hard not to get distracted or caught up in something else. Looks fantastic and it is a labor of love!

  4. That brought a wry smile, it really is distressing how quickly the weeds take over if you turn your back, and as someone else with a tendency to take on too many things at once I salute your eventual conquering! Its all looking rather smart now, and at least the plants in the wrong place are getting to develop their roots rather than being stuck in pots still. I do the same, rush planting because I have left it too late and then almost instantly realise I need to move things. Sometimes just by inches, which is really annoying...

  5. My garden to do list is never ending! And, I have so many unfinished projects, beds, etc. that I have walked away from to start another project. My goal next year is to start and end a project before beginning another. Whew! The good news is that had you put your plants in the bed they may have been over run with weeds and lost. Love your hydrangea!

  6. Marguerite I love the blue of the veronica and your hydrangea is stunning, the plants probably are doing better with all your lovely compost and more room, I too start too many projects at a time something I have tried to do less this year, did you get any tomatoes and squashes?? there is always more to do it's the cycle of garden life, Frances

  7. Marguerite,
    This Summer I felt like you, running to this garden and that garden but was never really gaining any headway. I never got around to digging out all the Iris's in the holding garden which I'm disappointed about because I really want them gone. Plant sale give-a way's next year. I think you actually accomplished quite a lot this year and the weather didn't help your plans with all the rain days.
    I'm already rethinking our front flower garden and have given away a lot of lily plants.
    I'm so glad your hydrangea survived because we have to move ours and you have given me the inspiration to do it this weekend.

  8. I tend to do as you did, starting too many tasks in the garden. This Autumn I decided to plant up some containers with tulips as I am hoping this will be more manageable in spring. You have some lovely colour and plants in your new bed.

  9. Hi Marguerite! I love the little lamb hydrangea! I planted two of them at my ex-trailer and they thrived; I also planted a climbing hydrangea up against my shed and it grew by leaps and bounds - they sure are hardy plants! I didn't know the little lambs came in different colours!

  10. I will have to look into that Little Lamb hydrangea, beautiful white and pink. I wish my bare spaces would become covered with cilantro, squash and tomatoes. Did you harvest any vegetables? Have you tried mildew resistant phlox cultivars like David, David's Lavender, and Pixie Miracle Grace?

  11. There is no shame in not getting this bed finished in a timely manner - you've done a monumental amount of work this year! And had a hurricane! I think I would have let the veggies grow, too - just wouldn't be able to help myself!

  12. It sounds and looks like you have got a good start on your entrance garden. Planning takes most of the time and of course you won't get it right the first time. You inevitable dig up plants that down have enough room or bloom in colours that clash with other plants. Don't worry about the short height of your clematis, it probably spent this year putting down roots . Most perennials spent the first year growing roots before putting out much top growth. I look forward to seeing photos of this garden next year.

  13. I always forget to do just one project at a time, but it really does make a difference. Maybe if I complete one or two of these projects this fall, I can concentrate on the one (or two) that are left! :) I think you did great - this was a big project, and there are always things to do that seem to get us sidetracked. I hope next year this area of the garden will give you great pleasure.

  14. Jennifer- oh dear can I relate. This past week we had a bad storm and realized the roof was starting to leak. Nothing huge but like you, our attention was quickly diverted from other matters.

    Jess, thanks for the support! I see some of the work other people do and my bed, while large, doesn't seem very difficult in comparison.

    ONG - it really is a labour of love isn't it? I have a picture in my head of this bed in two years time and I can't wait to get there and see if it looks as I picture it.

    Janet - I had the same issue. One plant moved in spring was then moved about a foot more in fall. What do you want to bet that as it grows it will get moved another foot more!

  15. Karin - you have a great point, there were a few plants that went into the ground early and they ended up having to be dug out from the mess of weeds later. Probably damaging some of the roots in the process.

    Frances - I harvested some of the cilantro but that was about it. All my tomatoes, even the volunteer ones, were destroyed by blight. The squash grew but were rather odd and tasteless. I ended up using them as decorations instead.

    Witch - one thing I did when moving the hydrangea was to cut back the branches. I lost a lot of root mass in the move so cutting back the branches seemed to help keep things equal.

    Kentish - this seems to be a problem for everyone! glad I'm not the only one who takes on a number of tasks at once.

  16. Jane - the Little Lamb is the same plant. The flowers were bright white when they opened and slowly turned pink as they aged. They were the bright pink for only a short while, maybe a week? before going brown. I love climbing hydrangea. can't wait to find a spot to put one.

    Carolyn - sadly one of the phlox I had planted was David. I know this is generally thought to be mildew resistant but it sure wasn't in my garden. After two seasons of mildew decimating that plant I had enough.

    Aagaard Farms - volunteer vegetables are pretty hard to turn down aren't they? I'll be a little more careful though next time to thin them if they do appear.

    Melanie - I wondered that about the clematis. I had one before in my previous garden. It was in a pot and the roots were massive but I didn't recall it taking so long to develop on top. I'm planning on extra fertilizer next spring and we'll see how it goes.

    Holley - I have great hope this garden will make me very happy. Already I can see so many flowers growing and that always puts a smile on my face. I just need to remember to finish it properly before I take on something else.

  17. Marguerite girl .. this is a HUGE property to work with, so don't put so much pressure on yourself !
    You are doing an amazing job with it .. slow down and take the time to really enjoy the plants that are thriving .. then stick with different cultivars of those plants that you know do well .. now a days there are so many different kinds of the same basic plant you can have a beautiful variety of garden beds with those same types of plants ..
    That is why I don't do phlox or hollyhocks .. powdery mildew is a problem and "rust" can drive me crazy .. I have eliminated as many of those plants possible .. now for my serviceberry I really have to make sure to apply dormant spray .. it has been almost ruined by rust ! Jeez !
    I spent too many years driving myself into the ground to achieve goals with my garden .. I am now going to start enjoying it more instead ! easy to say .. hard to do ! LOL

  18. Just a quick note to say I love, love, love the photo of the red wagon under the tree - gorgeous!! :)

  19. Nice! Once the front bed got some attention, your late season photo of it looks wonderful, and you certainly had some triumphs.

    You do grow a lovely red wagon : )

    Neglect is only one stage of gardening. It's all an evolution!

  20. I'm guilty of never quite finishing one area before I move on to the next. Every year I swear I'll mend my ways but I never seem too. Oh well, there's always 2012!

  21. Joy, thank you for the great advice. The more I garden here the more I am realizing I need to simplify as much as possible. It's just too much work to be fussy so like you, that was one reason for pulling the phlox. I've also purchased a lot of singles of plants, a terrible landscaping faux pas I know, but am trying to find out what works and what doesn't.

    Ms.S - thank you, I quite liked that photo too. I found the red wagon at an auction this summer and just had to have it. It's useful but it's also a red wagon! I feel like a kid again pulling that around.

    Laurrie - that's a fantastic quote! 'neglect is only one stage of gardening' I guess my issue is that I can't wait for the following stages. After seeing your photo of your new graveled sitting area between the beds I had some amazing ideas for the front of the house and I can't wait to get to that stage. Always ten steps ahead of myself.

    Debbie - it seems this is a common issue with us gardeners. We have so many ideas but only so much man power to complete them.

  22. Marguerite, I always bite off more than I can chew in the garden, and projects that I am planning for one year end up taking two (or more!). Over the years, I have learned not to buy plants until the space they are going into is ready. I do allow myself to plant new flower beds in sections, though. For example, when I created the fence border, I only finished half the first year, so I planted that side at the end of that summer. The next year, I prepared and planted the other side. It did mean that the flower bed looked a bit lop-sided for a couple years until the later-planted plants matured enough to catch up, but that's okay; by year three, you couldn't tell the difference! -Jean

  23. Jean, one of my biggest problems is my inability to stay away from plant nurseries! I buy up all sorts of pretty things and then haven't got a place to put them. I'm planning for next year already and one of my vows is to keep my plant purchases to an absolute minimum. If I hadn't been so worried about planting up the bed this year it would have made things much easier.