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

Friday, August 2, 2013

End-of-the-Month View of the Gravel Garden -- Warts and All

I've been debating with myself for a couple of days now whether I wanted to do an end-of-the-month view of my garden. I originally thought I might do the entire garden, but quickly came to the conclusion that it would be too overwhelming, for both me and my readers. I also tried, somewhat half-heartedly, to cut back and deadhead stuff so that it would look at its best, but also quickly realized that would take me forever, and I would never get around to actually posting any pictures. Which explains why this end-of-the-month view is actually a beginning-of-the-month view.

The gravel garden was installed last year in late winter. Work began right after the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. When we first moved into this house four years ago, the area that now contains the gravel garden was just a gravel-covered parking area next to the driveway, meant for extra cars, a boat, or a camper/trailer. We have none of those (we're a one-car family). What we do have in this house is one garden- and plant-crazed woman, and one very indulgent husband. If you're interested in reading about the evolution of the gravel garden, you can read posts here, here and here.

When you drive up to the house, the first thing you see is the gravel garden on the left, right beside the driveway.

It might look like there are only three gabions, but there are actually 5. Two sets of two, and one set of one in the center. And two culvert planters.

Each set of culvert plus gabions is surrounded by pots. That first shrub there on the left is an Arbutus unedo compacta.

I've been warned that the Arbutus sheds leaves, and it does.

Near it are two Eryngium agavifolium. I love the foliage, but I'm undecided about the flowers.

Behind the Arbutus is a pair of artichokes, now flowering in this eye-popping electric blue-purple.

The bees love them.

As the artichoke flowers fade, they get a bit of a mohawk.

The hummers love these Agastaches in the gravel garden, next to the artichokes.

I've left dried flowers from Alliums in the culvert planters. It would tidy the garden up some if I just pulled them out, but I like them.

This Ceanothus has gotten huge since I planted it, just completely overtaking everything planted under and around it.

You can now barely see the gabion globes that I made last year when the gravel garden was new.

This area to the right of the Ceanothus is a tangled mess of plants, including this enormous Kniphofia caulescens, which has never flowered.

An 'Ann Folkard' Geranium planted nearby twines throughout the Ceanothus and through all the other plants as well.

Below the Ceanothus a Salvia of some kind with spoon-shaped leaves is also flowering.

My plan is to limb up the Ceanothus as it grows, leaving space for the plants underneath.

It isn't obvious at first glance, but there is a path down the center of the gravel garden.

Some of the plants have seeded babies into the path, like these two golden feverfew. I need to rescue them and pot them up.

The gravel garden has four Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy,' planted in pairs.

All four are flowering beautifully

Last year Loree of danger garden sent me a couple of rooted Opuntia pads, and they have produced new growth. The new pads, however, all have these odd markings on them. Does anyone know if that's normal?

Eryngium 'Big Blue' is growing in the gravel garden as well.

The striking blue of the flowers has faded to brown. I hope I can get viable seeds from them.

Near the Eryngium is one of three 'Bright Star' Yuccas, all doing well, although this one is the most vigorous and unblemished.

And there are two clumps of Stipa gigantea, which have produced a couple of seedheads like this. I hope to have even more next year.

A favorite of mine in the gravel garden is ornamental oregano.

I think this is Origanum libanoticum.

Here's a look back towards the street from about halfway down the gravel garden.

The gravel garden to the right of the cluster of pots with the single gabion. I need more plants here to screen the neighbor's weedy gravel parking area.

The Rubus lineatus behind the last set of gabions is doing well.

There's a couple of Agaves, as well as an enormous glass "Agave" made by Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens Northwest, in that last culvert planter, as well as several flowering Hens and chicks (no longer looking much like Hens and dicks, unless your dick is wearing a French tickler)

At the end of last winter my 'Whale's Tongue' Agave, planted in the second culvert, had to lose several mushy arms. It seems to have bounced back well.

This unlabeled Agave, undoubtedly not hardy, is sitting in an upended lighting fixture.

A similar fixture in the culvert contains an Echevaria with a red edge.

There's another large gap in the screen between me and the neighbor's back yard.

As we get closer to the gate into the back garden, the plants are more dry shade-tolerant. This combo is Epimedium, golden Carex and Hellebore.

The fence contains a couple of cutout wrought iron windows, that you can look through into the back.

The gate has a small stained glass window.

When you look through the open gate, the stream is the first thing you see. But that's a future post.

Here endeth the garden tour. What a long, tedious post! Did you actually read it all? Brave soul.

The End-of-the-Month View is a garden bloggers meme hosted by Helen Johnstone of The Patient Gardener's Weblog, who I met at the Garden Bloggers Fling back in June. You can read her post here, and be sure and check out all the links people have left in the comments to their own posts.