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Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Full Monty

UPDATE: I've made quite a few changes to my garden since this was originally posted. You can see them in my posts Nearly Naked and Clueless at the Casa: How Star Trek Saved My Garden. Part of the front garden and the Yuck side have also been redesigned/enlarged. I'll post pictures of those in Spring 2013.

I decided the other day to post exactly what my garden looks like today. It's not perfect and I'm still in the process of mulching a few bare spots and replacing plants that didn't make it through the winter. We've had a very stormy spring but on the upside, my garden is well watered. This is a long post. You might want to go grab a snack and settle in!

It's very overcast today and my camera battery is about to die, but come on in!

The Front Garden

 Most of the shrubs in my front yard are deciduous. A giant American Cranberry bush (viburnum triloba) underplanted with dwarf barberry anchors one corner.  A zelkova tree, which has proven to be extremely tough as well as beautiful, graces the middle of the yard. 

The cranberry bush has lacecap flowers remininscent of some hydrangeas. When this shrub first bloomed several years ago, I kept waiting for the rest of the flower to open. :o) Its red fall berries are always devoured by the birds.

Endless Summer hydrangeas fill the space under the bay window. I used to have red rhododendrons here but a severe ice storm many years ago killed them. Pink obedient plants and phlox grow near the rain barrel and serve as an excellent disguise, attracting pollinators and hummingbirds.

Mardi Gras glossy abelia has lime green new growth but develop beautiful varigation as the season warms.

Mardi Gras abelia is covered with white tubular flowers in early summer and again in the fall. The front of my house faces east and on warm, sunny mornings, I can usually find hummers and bees busy in the abelia.

A big blue 'President' clematis blooms every spring. One bloom has already started to open. By the time the entire vine is in full bloom, it will have climbed to the top of the trellis.

I stopped using this metal birdbath several years ago when I realized it turned the water into a hot tub, most likely resulting in a few singed songbirds. I dug it out of storage recently and filled it with decorative rocks and flat glass marbles. A 'Little Princess' dwarf spirea along with daffodils and daylillies grows at the base. The clematis in the background will be enormous and covered with blue flowers by late May.

Helleri hollies and daylillies grow along the walkway. The daylillies help disguise fading tulip and daffodil foliage. The pot along the steps has a big Four O'Clocks tuber in it. I wonder how prompt they'll be? :o)

Several years ago an online nursery was cleaning out its peony inventory and selling them in bags marked Pink, Red, and White. I loved the idea of not knowing what the flowers would look like and bought several bags. The flowers are beautiful, of course! I've never met an unattractive peony! The clumps of grass are headed to the back to fill in any holes dug by the dogs.

The Yuck Side

I actually really like my yuck side! I just call it that since so often the side of a house that holds the air conditioning units and utility meters is either unlandscaped or covered in giant boxy shrubs that restrict air flow to the A/C units, resulting in higher bills. Lilacs, sweetbox, wood anemones, and a massive bleeding heart help fill in my Yuck side. We were draining the rain barrel as I took these pictures.

I need to cut back the bleeding heart a bit to keep it from suffocating the heuchera.

'Miss Kim' lilacs grow along side the cranberry bush. Rainbow leucothoe, a fussy shrub that tests my patience every year, grows in front. I recently cut a few branches back almost to the ground and they've put out new growth. If I didn't love their foliage so much, I would have yanked them years ago.

The Back Garden

This gate leads you from the Yuck Side to the Back Garden. Come on in!

A native clematis crispa has unique bell shaped flowers with thick petals that curve outward. It grows well along the fence between the Yuck Side and the Back Garden.

Peach 'Minnie Pearl' daylilles, white mist flower, and a red clematis fill this corner of the garden bed. Painters Palette (persicaria virginica) grows on the other side of the fence in front of the Big Daddy rain barrel.

'Pink a Boo' fuzzy deutzia and pink lamium bloom in the spring. The bees cover the flowers so thickly the whole corner seems to hum. I'm planning on filling the urn with purple gomphrena, one of my favorite annuals.

The Rose of Sharon Garden

The Rose of Sharon have just started leafing out. This small bed serves as Grand Central Station in the summer for a variety of birds and pollinators. I hung the roosting pouches over the winter, but I'm not sure if any birds roosted in them. 

A beautiful blue Roguchi clematis climbs up the railing, assisted by a swath of bird netting. Chrysoganum 'Quinn's Gold' as well as white heart leaf aster and blue plumbago fill this bed. Showy tick trefoil is planted in the back but it's so small you can't see it in this photo. The back of this bed is extremely dry and shady. If the tick trefoil doesn't make it, I may have to stick silk tulips in the ground!

A pink 'Sceptre d'Isle' rose, a pink clematis I can't remember the name of, chives, phlox 'Laura', scabiosa, and geraniums complete the bed.

A recently shorn rue, lavender, and anntenaria diocia (pussy toes) fill assorted pots by the rain barrel.

The Dry Side

If you go back to the gate and look straight ahead, you'll see the Dry Side. This is the driest, sunniest part of the garden. It's full of coneflowers, agastache, perennial snapdragons, nepeta, salvias, milkweed, liatris, rose campion, echinops, and a few others. Last fall I transplanted a beautiful Westmoreland rose into this bed near the fence. It had been languishing in a death grip of clematis 'Etoille Violet' near the shade of a crepe myrtle that had grown much quicker than I expected. It had spent most of the last few summers desperately trying to escape my garden and into the sunshine of my neighbors open yard. I made sure I wrapped the soaker hoses close to its roots to kee it happy this summer. It's covered in buds. The platform feeder is a favorite of birds and squirrels.

A massive trumpet creeper has been pruned into temporary submission. My neighbors and I, as well as the hummingbirds, love its orange flowers, but it requires constant vigilance or it will take over the garden, robbing the surrounding plants of nutrients and sunshine. 

The Dog Run Garden

The Dog Run Garden starts at the top of the hill. It includes many large native trees left by the builder and is stuffed with monarda, phlox, rudbeckia, daylillies, asters, diervilla, joe pye weed, blue mist flower, blue stem solidago, toadflax, tick trefoil, ruellia, kanutia, amsonia, veronica, and many others.

I took this picture while standing in the dog run. Heavy rains have created lush, full growth. 

 Joe Pye Weed grows along the fence that separates the dog run from the garden. Robert Poore phlox and monarda grow well here. This area is full of birds and squirrels. 


Soaker hoses keep this area watered. Nepeta, daylillies, white dracocephalum, and wine cups grow along the front. A large swath of monarda fills in the back.

Blue amsonia about to bloom

Pink armeria, which the dogs love to pee on! Grr!!!

This picture is taken from the other end of the Dog Run. Some of the plants are too small to see, having just broken dormancy. Chives and corepsis grow near the black dog run fence.

The Crepe Myrtle Garden

I have three huge crepe myrtles with beautiful lavender flowers that bloom in mid-summer. This garden starts to the left of the Dog Run and ends near the river birch.

This bed borders a wonderful neighbor who loves to joke that he has the best view on the street ~ all the beauty, none of the work. I think he's right! This bed is full of bluebird asters, dwarf solidago, 'rotkugel' oregano, coneflowers, agastache, phlox, winecups, sedum, and several others.

Ceanothus grows in the shade of a huge laurel oak. Pink clematis, bluebird asters, daylillies, rudbeckia hirta, knautia, dianthus, sedum, and geraniums fill in this corner.

Doronicum 'Little Leo', golden alexanders, eupatorium 'Chocolate', blackberries, and asiatic lillies grow near one of the crepe myrtles.

Rounding the corner to the other side of the garden.... Spigellia, persian cornflower, 'Chester Thornless' blackberries, and lots of tradescanita grow here.

Pink geraniums, helianthus, a  red 'William Shakespeare' David Austin rose, white gooseneck loosestrife, a purple stachys hummelo, tradescantia, daylillies, and more phlox grow under the bird house. Bluebirds nest here every year. Last year, a pair of chickadees tried to evict the bluebirds but eventually lost. This year, they won. I love chickadees but was sad to see the bluebirds go.

The River Birch Garden 

This garden bed is full of dry shade, thanks to a moisture sucking river birch. I love the river birch, though. It solved a huge water problem left for us by the bozo who installed our patio. A gorgeous variegated brunnera that grew here for many years but went dormant each summer didn't come back. It was a diva but I miss it already! Epimediums, anenome, amsonia, purple euphorbia, thalictrum, bowman's root, tiarella (some of those didn't come back, either), and violets grow here.

  One of the few tiarella that survived the drought.

I love this hosta!!

Thalictrum and bowman's root
The bowman's root has dainty white spring flowers. I cut it back by half after it blooms and am rewarded with beautifully refined foliage all summer.

The Dogwood Garden

A Rutger's Hybrid Stellar Pink dogwood grows near my patio. It's currently fighting a dogwood borer invasion, but I think we're winning. :o) Sweetspire 'Little Henry', coneflowers, Johnson's Blue geraniums, yarrow, 'Rotkugel' oregano, silene regia, salvia, columbine, lillies, mountain mint, phlox, a Night Owl climbing rose, pink milkweed, New York Ironweed, daylillies,caryopteris, monarda, kalimeris, stokesia, and a few others fill this moist, sunny spot.

Pink clematis climb around a decorative bird house snubbed by the birds. They'd all rather move into the little house by the crepe myrtles!

I think this might be 'Pink Champagne'.

 Yellow columbine

My goal for next summer is to replace this heavy concrete birdbath with something that weighs about 100 lbs less and doesn't need to be painted but is just as colorful. I dropped the top on a clump of daylillies when I was trying to clean it the other day. Oy!

One last peek at the dogwood, which is covered in blooms. These bloom later than the native dogwoods and will develop a rosy pink color as they age.

Out the garden gate we go....

past the Prague viburnums and my bags of mulch. See ya next time! Thanks for coming!!


  1. Dein Garten ist riesig und sehr schön angelegt. Ein wunderbarer Spaziergang!
    Gruß Anette

  2. What a wonderful thorough, comprehensive tour! Loved it. You have such great, distinct spaces, each with its own personality and plant palette. This will be a wonderful record of your garden at a point in time... be sure to refer back to it! I like your Yuck Side; I have one of those too.

  3. Thank you for the tour. Almost as good as being there. I love visiting other gardens and you have so many plants we don't get to see here.

  4. Wow! What a great tour and beautiful gardens :) I love spring when everything is green and fresh!

  5. Thank you for showing us the garden as it is - it takes courage! Your garden is beautiful, I love the gorgeous viburnum in bloom. You have such a wide variety of plants and so many different garden spaces - it was really interesting to go on this virtual tour. Even your yuck side is better than lots of people's best side!

  6. I enjoyed touring your garden! You have so many lovely plants and I liked hearing about all the wildlife that visits your garden too!

  7. Your plants all look so healthy and happy, even if you're not completely satisfied. I've got the European cranberry - looks quite similar - easy to propagate babies by layering.

  8. You must be pleased to see so much growth happening, it is a rejuvenating feeling. Your many gardens look wonderful and I look forward to seeing them in full blossom.

  9. Wonderful wonderful tour. I love seeing people's whole gardens and getting a sense of the layout. There's so much going on there that I hadn't even suspected! Really liked seeing your mature highbush cranberry. I planted two of these last year with no knowledge of them except they were native. Also really like the stones in the old birdbath. Wanted to run my hands through the pretty stones.

  10. Beautiful! I loved the full tour of your gardens. They look as though they will bring you, your family and neighbors much joy this season.

  11. I'm going straight away to put stones in my little metal decorative birdbath. I usually just tip the water out and let it sit empty. That looks so much better.

  12. Wow, that's a lot of plants to document! Thanks for the tour though, and it inspires me to do the same with my garden this year.

    Have you considered creating panoramic shots of your entire yard using image stitching software? It's *the best* way to see how everything fits together. Like in this post of mine:

  13. Thank you for the tour. Your house and gardens are lovely. I love your Cranberry Viburnum and Clematis crispa, among many other things! You've done a great artistic job of taming the Trumpet Vine.

    Sounds like the wildlife loves your garden as much as you do!

  14. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    Can we trade houses? I'll gladly give you my fixer-upper in exchange. Seriously, you have a charming house! I enjoyed strolling around the yard with you and getting a sense of the layout. I always wondered about the dog run- I couldn't quite visualize it- now I "see". It was a great idea to disguise it with garden beds. I bet your dogs love running along the fence and barking at the neighbours (I know my three would). Your plantings are all so well arranged! Even the yuck side is really nice.

  15. You have too many fabulous plant combinations to comment on, but I must say you make me want a Mardi Gras abelia! I will be on the search for one soon. You really have done an excellent job - your garden is lush and gorgeous!

  16. I appreciate you clematis the most...your garden reminds me of mine in that I have alot of onesy's and twosey's.

  17. Great idea with the birdbath! No need to be coy--your garden is amazing! Show me more!

  18. Spectacular!!! Your garden is lovely. I love your peonies, rain barrels, and birdbaths. It was so nice of you to give us a complete tour. Even what you say are the yuck sides are nice. Happy gardening!

  19. Your yard is GORGEOUS. But clearly *people* live, play, work and make messes in it. I can practically hear dogs barking in the background as they dash around and get into things! I love that about your garden; and I salute you for capturing that aspect of gardening in your pictures and sharing it with us.

    So much of what I want to do with my own blog is fight against the "cosmetic perfection" aesthetic that is stamped all over home and garden magazines. You have inspired me!


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