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

Friday, October 4, 2013

End of the Month View -- The Stream and the Bed Around It

Yes, I know I'm really late with this. It's really a Beginning of the Month View. Last time I did one of these was back at the beginning of August, when I showed a lot of pictures of my gravel garden, ending with a glimpse of the stream and the back garden through the gate.

So I thought I'd continue on through the gate, and show the bed and some of the plantings around my stream, in the northeast corner of my back garden. I thought this would be a good time to show the stream, because I cleaned a boatload of string algae out of it recently, so right now it's looking pretty good. That won't last, but nothing does in a garden, right?

Here's the view through the gate that leads from the gravel garden into the back

I took these photos earlier this week, right after the remnants of a Japanese typhoon had blown through Washington and Oregon.

This is the view of the patio and the stream from the back porch. Some day I'll put something in those two big Chinese dragon pots

Some of the fence decor that you can see when you come through the gate and look to the left.

The storm filled the stream to overflowing and blew plenty of debris into it.

The raccoons like to play in the stream, constantly knocking over my metal duck (a gift from a Facebook friend) and chewing up the plants.

I despair of the raccoons ever letting this poor Canna flower, so I'm going to take it out of the stream next spring and put it in the front garden.

There are changes I'd like to make to this area this fall and winter, such as ripping out grasses planted too close, that flop and hang in the water.  The soil is so rocky, it was impossible to pound the stakes for my glass ornaments (from Glass Gardens Northwest) far into the ground. I need to rectify that. The Cannas in the ground aren't making the best progress either. I'm going to dig and move them into the front garden in the spring, where they'll maybe get more sun and more water.

That's not dyed red mulch, it's a covering of Douglas fir buds that have been blown off the trees. They're everywhere.

The enormous red twig dogwood on the right needs to be pruned this winter, after it loses its leaves. It'll be easier to see which branches are the reddest then.

This poor Gunnera needs to be moved, it has declined every year since I planted it 4 years ago. It doesn't get enough water or sun in this spot.

Another Canna in the stream on the left that gets repeatedly tortured by the raccoons

Hopefully some day these four shrubs will be tall and full enough for an effective screen. Left to right: Viburnum trilobum 'Red Wing,' a native Euonymus, Hamamelis (I forget the variety), and native Oemleria cerasiformis/Indian Plum.

I've left space at the back of the stream to access the plants. I don't know what I was thinking, planting these clumps of short Carex 'Ice Dance' near the fence, and the very tall Panicums and Pennisetums right beside the stream.

Leycesteria formosa/Himalayan Honeysuckle grows at the back near the waterfall. The leaves are looking a bit crispy. That bed in back of the stream doesn't get watered enough in the summer.

In front of the stream, near the patio, are two large clumps of very floppy Shasta daisies. I'm going to take them out soon and replace them with White Swan Echinaceas that I sowed last winter.

This narrow bed in front of the stream is a low spot and collects moisture when it rains, making it perfect for plants that like wet feet, like this Darmera peltata at the lower left.
Well, there's plenty more to my back garden, but this is enough for today. There's a little gravel path just beyond the red twig dogwood that leads up behind the waterfall, where I've planted lots of native plants and spring ephemerals. Right now in fall it's quite bare.

Would you like to see some Before shots that show the area before the stream was there, when we first moved in?

When we first moved into the house in 2009, there was a swingset where the stream is now. This is the same view from the back porch as the one above that shows the stream and patio with lawn chairs.

Digging a trench for the irrigation system

The beginning of the stream

Laying out the liner

Pump and rocks now in place

Finally the water starts running.

The waterfall with no plants around it (almost the same shot as the one above showing the red twig dogwood in need of pruning)

Stream installation finished -- time to start planting!

Behind the stream -- a nice blank slate, all ready for me to make mistakes

The End of the Month View is a meme hosted by Helen at The Patient Gardener's Weblog, which you can find here. I'm a few days late with my post, hope she doesn't mind.


  1. Gorgeous. I'm amazed at how much bigger the area feels with the stream and plantings, compared to the view with the swingset!

  2. Your backyard is amazingly beautiful... I absolutely love the stream and falls!!! Larry

  3. It is fabulous, I love your stream I thought it was natural. I like the fence art, it's not common here in the UK but I saw lots when I went to San Francisco and was rather take on with the idea

  4. Great transformation, before and after! Water adds so much to the garden!
    I love the first two shots especially: you don't know yet what is ahead, but you feel that it's something special! Thank you, Alison!
    I've been to the Far Reaches Farm today and saw your and Peter's shadows there...

  5. How splendid to have a stream Alison ! Yours is beautiful and fits so nicely into the space. I like it way better than the swingset ..

    You and me both on floppy Shastas--you would think someone somewhere could come up with a hybrid that is flop-free.

  6. Alison - if I had a garden like yours, I don't think I'd ever leave. Such a paradise, mistakes and all..

  7. Wonderful...must make a lovely sound , as well

  8. Wow wow wow!!! I was going to ask if it was a real or artificial stream, till I got to the before photos. Very inspirational. I like the way it looks like it comes from beyond the garden. Is the area flat otherwise? You have made a great job of the waterfall looking natural. I do so much want to find time/money to do something like that! Love the glass flowers, too, and all the decorative touches.

  9. WOW! Your garden is stunning. that looks like something from a botanical garden or major city park. AMAZING!

  10. Love the shots of your stream ... current and construction. Thanks. It's delightful. Jeannie

  11. Love the shots of your stream ... current and construction. Thanks. It's delightful. Jeannie

  12. What a major project and what beautiful results! The raccoons probably didn't fit into the original plan, did they? They do like water!

  13. Wow, what a gorgeous water feature! Fascinating to see how it came together.

  14. Now that is an impressive before and after! I don't think you made any mistakes at all. The stream, the waterfalls, and all the plants. I agree with Louis's assessment. Very impressive!

  15. I am seriously in awe of your gardening skills. I love the stream so much! You have completely created another world in your backyard. It's just breath taking.

  16. I loved the stream when I first saw the pictures but I love it even more now that I see what you went through to get it in there! The scale is wonderful and it must be such a pleasure when you sit outside. But I hear your frustration with those plants that just won't thrive!!

  17. What an incredible transformation from park like to lush

  18. Wow. I really liked seeing the construction phases, and the end result is wonderful!

  19. Yowsa! I didn't realize that you'd done so much! Don't you miss playing on the swing set?


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