My blank slate (pics)

deanna_in_nh(5a/4b)May 31, 2010

I thought I'd share my "blank slate" for gardening. I'm pretty excited! All of the people on GW forums have made such a difference in my gardening. What this garden becomes will be a testimony to the helpfulness of people on GW. I didn't take any "before" pictures, and I sure wish I had. Probably over half of the plants currently in the picture I added, and it's still got lots of room! We moved here in July of 2008. It was a huge weed bed with a few perennials sticking their heads up. Most of the perennials seemed to be tiger/ditch lilies. I had remembered peonies when we saw the house, but they were done blooming when we moved in. It was seriously neglected, but the owner had clearly put a lot of time, effort, and thought into the original design. I inherited a diamond in the rough in my opinion. Given my limited gardening experience I don't think I could have designed a nicer blank slate for me to start! It was time to roll up the shirt sleeves and do some serious hard work.

Just to give you an idea of weeds, this walkways which leads to the front door was only 3 feet wide. It is now 6 feet wide. The rest of the walkway was covered in mature irises and thick grass.

I went out to get rid of the tall grass and weeds growing between the stones and found this beautiful wide walk underneath. Once cleaned it looked fabulous!

There was a nice wood trunk trellis covered in 3 types of honeysuckle. It seemed strange that there was no walkway to the trellis, leaving it hanging in the middle of the lawn/garden where it wouldn't be used. The irises, mint, and grass/weeds were so mature, though, that I thought there was no way a path existed. Lo and behold, as I got to weeding that part of the walkway a stone path emerged!

These irises had roots two to three inches thick extending to the other side of the trellis walk.

Last half of 2008 and all last year I spent a huge amount of time killing weeds. To give you an idea, this is supposed to be spiderwort. Last year I put down weed tarp, and this is the weeds growing through the opening.

You can't even see the spiderwort! This is what the entire garden looked like. Also, these irises have weeds and mint growing atop their concrete roots that I can't even touch.

I barerooted the spiderwort and a couple of other perennials earlier this year. It was the only way to get rid of the weeds. There's no telling how many non-weed plants I pulled out of the ground, but if they weren't blooming I couldn't tell weed from plant. I don't know if I could have done the weeding without being able to lay a big swath of tarp down anyway.

So now I have a mostly "blank slate" to begin. The house foundation was nicely surrounded by hostas. This bed already had a peony, weigala, spiderwort, purple irises (many of which have been removed) and the sedums.

This bed had two peonies, a shasta daisy, mint (OH NO!!!), a holly, more purple irises and a white iris, a historic iris, way way too many tiger lilies (all of which have been removed now, including the ones in the picture) and another non-flowering shrub.

This side bed hasn't been fiddled with much except to remove weeds. It is covered in yellow daylilies and has a hydrangea, rhododendron, a pyracantha stuck in the middle (can't figure out how to use that one), and more purple irises. I did move some bearded irises from a side bed into here. They only had one bloom last year, and I hope to rejuvenate them.

At first this place was basically full of purple irises and tiger lilies gone commando. They were everywhere. I given away so many of both that it's hard to believe how many are left. Because of that I did NOT like purple irises last year (never liked tiger lilies before, anyway). But, now that the irises are under control and not everywhere, they are truly beautiful. I LOVE THEM!!

Life got very stressful for the previous owner, and I know she didn't want to leave the house. Clearly she didn't relieve stress by gardening, but I doubt I could have had the gumption to garden with everything that she had to deal with. She put beautiful bones in this garden and I hope to bring it up to the potential with which she started.

But now I am thrilled that I have a beautiful house to walk up to. I've filled these beds up with WS things and some other plants. I have a beautiful garden to welcome me to my front door

and I am enjoying the fruits of her hard work and vision.

and I get to enjoy the fruits of her hard labor.

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thanks for the tour and background. What a lot of work! I love your gardens and how they surround your home. What great stone pathways and beds, very cottagy! :) love your window boxes. Your home and gardens are charming.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 6:38PM
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How beautiful your garden is! I adore the beautiful stone walk. I know there has to has been a lot of work, but what a beautiful result.

The pyracantha will be loved by berry eating birds. The only time I ever saw a flock of cedar waxwings, they were landed on a pyracantha eating the berries.

The flowers are lovely, they really are. You've done a wonderful job.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 6:55PM
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It doesn't look like a blank slate, but like a lovely canvas waiting to be freshened and finished up! That path is lovely, and it sounds as if there are lots of hidden gems to discover.

My yard has been a blank slate in the ultimate sense, I killed the weeds and tilled it under. Of all the things that were here when I moved in, only some weeds and one single tree remains the same. The hidden gems I found were an infestation of two types of bulb weeds, not a gem in your veggie garden.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 8:21PM
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gardengranny2(6 CT)

Gardening is as labor of love, to be sure.

It starts with hope and vision to create something pleasing to the eye and a comfort when in its presence.

We learn as we go. Horrible mistakes, happy accidents and always looking forward to the next year when things will be closer to our vision.

You have done a lot of work for which you are already being rewarded.

For example, the pathway to your front door is absolutely charming and extremely welcoming.

Just think about how great your garden is going to be next year.

I know I will look forward to seeing it.

Please continue to post photos of your progress.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 8:37PM
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Yes, deanna, please do continue to post your progress.

I want to mention how kind and thoughtful it is that you honor the woman who started this heaven. You are a very special person. I love your gardens and house. You are very lucky, but you seem to know that.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 9:12PM
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What a treasure to find that wonderful path. I did much the same here, I had to just remove overgrown thugs and huge masses of weeds. Sometimes you have to just chop to get to an open slate and then let the beauty emerge. It's FUN at this point.

You have a wonderful property - can't wait to watch it progress.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 9:17PM
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You are a very lucky gal! The pathway is so beautiful, I'm so jealous! The bed layout has been done for you and a wonderful layout it is! The previous owner must indeed have really loved her gardens and how sad she must have been when her life got to a point to where she could no longer keep it up.

I love what you have already done with the place and I can't wait to see how you improve it! Enjoy it! ~Meghan

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 9:00AM
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What a beautiful diamond in the rough - you are doing an amazing reclamation job of what looks like was at one time a beautiful garden. The path is beautiful - discovering that would have thrilled me to no end - I too am jealous of that. Please continue to post pictures as the gardens fall back into place and become the focal point once again. House looks lovely also - TFS ......


    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 9:45AM
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Thanks so much for the encouragement and comments. I noticed yesterday that one purple Siberian iris clump is deeper in color than the others. I wonder if I have two different types or if it is a nutritional difference in the soil.

I'll post pictures as things happen. Since the thing is mostly WS, I won't have much color to show until next year!

I love gardening now!

Thank you all again!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:02AM
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