Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Hole in the Ground Part Two, and Progress on the Gravel Garden

Well, the very next day, the plumbers were back, and they sorted out our outflow problem, and then backfilled all the soil, and replanted the shrubs they had dug up. They're not in the same place as they were before, but I was pretty happy with the fact that they got replanted in a speedy fashion, and that the bed didn't look too wrecked.

The two shrubs in the back (a variegated Forsythia and a red Barberry) on the right were originally much further to the left, and the little heather in the middle belongs closer to the front of the bed. Also, the trellis isn't in quite the right spot either, and who knows what kind of state the still dormant Clematis at its base is in. But I wasn't about to ask them to please dig things up and move them 8 inches to the left.

In other news, the day after the plumbers left, work began on my new gravel garden, which I talked about last fall in this post. This project has taken on a scope that I know I am not capable of handling on my own. I've hired a professional, Chris Gilliam, of Gilliam Construction, who I have used in the past. He built my back fence and my wonderful potting bench this time last year (read about it here), and the year before that, he did all the construction on my back garden, which involved installing the beds and hardscape and the beautiful stream and waterfall, (read about that here and here and you can see the water feature construction here).

In this next picture you can see the space where the gravel garden is going. It's a flat-ish (it actually does have a very gradual slope towards the back of the house) parking area beside our driveway, that extends all the way along the left hand side of our house to the back, where a small section of fence with a too-narrow gate separates front and back.

And here is my terrible drawing that shows what I want to do with the area.

The round blobs are boulders. The miniature Eiffel towers are gabions, that will be filled with smaller rocks. I handed Chris this picture that I took of the gabion in Lorene Edwards Forkner's garden, which I toured last summer during the Fling.

Gabion in Lorene's garden

Chris is so brilliant, he knows how to weld, and has already started cutting and putting them together. He's even figured out how to make them tapered at the top, just like Lorene's.

The makings of my gabions, lying in my driveway.

Two gabion sections finished, sitting in my garage.

Behind the rocks will be a raised bed with fast-draining soil, and room for a narrow path. If you look again at my crappy hand-drawn picture, you can see that one of the gabions will be on its own in the center, but the other four will have planters made from culvert pipe between them.

My culvert planters will be similar to these, which I saw at the recent NWFGS.

Then, at the back of the bed, up against the concrete wall, will be two stock tank planters. I first read about stock tank planters on Pam Penick's blog Digging. My stock tank planters will be similar to hers, in this picture, but planted differently.

One of Pam's stock tank planters (picture used with her permission.)
Please check out Digging, especially this great post about how she uses stock tanks. She even has one that she uses as a pond, which is the centerpiece of her back garden.

Another blogger, closer to home, who also uses stock tanks as planters, is Loree of danger garden in Portland, Oregon. In this post, she writes about using her stock tank to restrain bamboo, which she uses as a privacy screen. I'm planning to plant black bamboo in one of my stock tanks, and Tetrapanax in the other, both tall plants that hopefully will fill in the tanks quickly, and make a good screen.

To the right of the badly drawn plan is an area that doesn't get quite as much sun, since it is the north end of the house. The only plant currently growing there is an enormous English laurel, a weedy tree that grows invasively everywhere here in the PNW. My plan is to cut it back quite hard. It suffered from the ice storm that we got back in January, a lot of the branches ended up permanently splayed.

Chris has already trimmed it some, but the plan is to cut it back to about 6 feet. It will recover very quickly.

To the right of the laurel, where a small section of fence and gate used to be. (See the two Trachycarpus still in pots? They're destined for the gravel garden.)

There will be a new fence here, with a beautiful new gate flanked by two stone columns. The gate, and the section of fence to the left of the gate, will have a windows. I'm also thinking I will put some mirrors on the outside wall of the house there on the right, to "mirror" the windows in the fence and gate, and hopefully open up this darker area somewhat.

Have I rambled on too long? I haven't even talked about all the plants I want to grow in the new garden! I've ordered quite a few already. Agastaches, Agaves, a bunch of Sempervivums and Sedums, Salvias, Ornamental Grasses, Kniphofia, a couple of Ornamental Oreganos, and some drought-tolerant-once-established shrubs and small trees that I hope won't fill the space too quickly. I thought the area was huge, but now that work has started on seems so much smaller....