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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Coming Into The Home Stretch

The front garden is getting close to finished. The big digger is gone, which makes it much easier to take photos and to see and imagine what it will look like as a whole. But it's also harder for me to see it in its almost finished state, because I'm itching to get out there and start planting and tweaking.

Two years ago when we put in the gravel garden, we got three culvert planters from the guy who made them by cutting them to length and welding an edge to the top. The design there only called for two culverts, but the culvert came in a length that made it exactly the right length to be cut into three, so we went ahead and bought all three, with the plan to use the extra one eventually in the front.

The driveway bed with culvert planter

Driveway bed looking back toward the house

A view of the new front garden from the driveway -- it's not as wet as it looks

We had rain recently, so there are still a few wet spots in the area where the grass will go. I wouldn't want to walk on it right now, but we'll see how it is once there's grass, which won't actually be till next spring.

The bed along the street, with the brick edges replaced, and the river rock for parking replenished and tidied.

View from the street

View while standing near the fence in the photo above, looking back toward the street. Picture the copper pipe structure aka Alison's Folly in front, and the greenhouse further on, closer to the wall

Alison's Folly will stand over this spot. The copper pipe sticking up from the area of river rock is where a small water feature will go, taking up one corner of the pergola.

The water feature will be one of Barbara Sanderson's big flower water fountains, which I bought last fall at one of her Open Houses.
 Check out Glass Gardens Northwest's water fountains here.

River rock in front of the broken concrete wall, supposedly to make mowing easier. I'm not convinced, we'll have to wait and see.
I'm a little concerned about the edge between the gravel patio and the area where the grass will grow (and need to be mowed.) Will gravel migrate into the grass, and/or be picked up and flung at the greenhouse walls by the mower?

I think this needs something to separate the gravel from the grass. Does anyone have any suggestions?

The new work has also basically obliterated all the work I did last fall and spring, putting a rock edge/dry creek at the front of the bed that runs along the southern edge of our property. I bet a lot of the rocks are still under there, and I might go excavating. I just think the bed needs something at the front to edge it. And I find it hard to resist the urge to move those pieces of electrical conduit.

Pretend you don't see all those dead plants

There's a pile of extra broken concrete and bricks, which will be used to make a path down the middle of the greenhouse.

The view from the upstairs window, where I sit at the computer

I already have plans for what I want to plant in that bed. From left to right, I'd like to put in a hardy Eucalyptus, a couple of Arctostaphylos, maybe a Paulownia tomentosa/Empress tree (fast-growing and big leaves), and a grove of hardy bananas on the right at the corner of the driveway. And lots of bright flowers as well as plants to hang over and soften the wall. And somewhere in there, at least one clump of Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant.' That layout isn't cast in stone, though, and the only tree I'm not sure of is the Paulownia, because I'm afraid it will get too big and need pruning.

The greenhouse won't be coming till probably mid-January, and will need a foundation. I also prefer hydro-seeding over sod, so I'm going to have to get used to that area being bare (and muddy) till probably next April.

But it's coming along.


  1. Alison, the front garden is going to be absolutely fabulous! I definitely recommend some kind of edging for the river rock. It can and will migrate into grass, has been my experience. What to edge it WITH, I'm not sure. I may have an idea for you but I need to go look for it. You should also keep some horticultural vinegar on hand to zap weeds that will grow in the rock - again, I speak from experience.

  2. In my experience the gravel ("5/8 minus" crushed rock) doesn't migrate into the grass because it packs itself down. But the grass does migrate into the gravel. I guess I need to find out what horticultural vinegar is!

  3. Suddenly I feel like such a slacker.

  4. That's great news Alison, and look at all that planting space, so much potential! No wonder you're itching to get planting!

    Perhaps use cobble setts to separate the lawn from the gravel?

  5. You are sure having a lot of work exciting! I bet your fingers are itching to get at it, you will have so much fun putting it all together. Looking forward to seeing what your plans are. xo

  6. It's going to look great. If you grow Paulownia you can cut it right down each spring to get huge leaves. That way you keep it as a shrub and it will never get too big.

  7. I'm really enjoying the progress pics! Such a change. And a lot more to come, too...

    My .02 about the gravel--I think that 5/8 minus or 1/4 minus would pack down to make a nice mowing strip along your wall. A mowing strip would be useful as otherwise you may find that you need to use an edger or string trimmer along the base of the wall.

    I'd be worried about using the drain rock--it shifts underfoot and I can easily imagine a piece being thrown by the mower.

  8. What a canvas!! You must be thrilled with anticipation of what's to come… Larry

  9. Very exciting! It will look so good when you're finished, just like the rest of your garden! The plants aren't dead, just sleeping!

  10. I think it is going to look elegant and so well thought out!

  11. Can't wait...I too will be redoing parts of the garden....but nothing this major...


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