OK! Garden happy again (pics)

karin_mt(4 MT)July 1, 2014

It took a couple of weekends, but I have finally realigned myself with the proper seasons. I am re-energized for the garden now, phew!

I had my handy snowboard colleagues over for a path-making marathon and that went great. Now the backyard reminds me of a garden center, with its fresh, bright woodchips. They are a little glaring right now but they'll soften to an easy grey. I have a few more areas to finish up, but its been too buggy to work back there for any length of time.

Yesterday DH and I put up our new deer fence. It's become impossible to grow veggies without one. I put a lot of flagging tape on it because I fear the sudden appearance of the fence might trip up the baby birds.

Now that the urgent infrastructure work is done, the rest of the garden can shine. And best of all, this energizes me for further work, which is the fun part.


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Connie K

Absolutely beautiful!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 11:30AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

That sure looks great! I'm glad you found your garden enthusiasm again.... :-) My front garden is a total mess at the moment - unfinished projects, weeds, empty spaces waiting for plants, etc., etc.... The weather has turned VERY hot and humid and I can't work in those conditions! The backyard looks not too bad - from a distance! Endless quantities of tree seedlings lurking out there but it's too hot and buggy to deal with them.

Ahhh... summer....!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 12:45PM
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greenhearted(5a IL)

Stunning! Love the purples and pinks with the blue spruce and your lovely stone walls/borders.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 3:13PM
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You have a beautiful garden :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 3:16PM
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I see someone else likes pink and purples....my favs

Just Beautiful....and your veggies are so neat and orderly.

Very nice and glad you are re-energized!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 4:04PM
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catkin(UDSA Zone 8)

It looks very pretty, healthy and orderly! While you were doing all that work, the plants have been doing their thing! It's great to sit back and enjoy your efforts!

I especially like your stone edging. May I ask where you got it?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 4:18PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Thanks all!

Woody, I know exactly what you mean... thankfully for us this year we are not yet at the hot stage, so I'm still game to get out in the dirt. If the mosquitoes would all go to someone else's house I'd be all set. But yeah, there comes a point in the summer where things grind to a slowdown because the heat takes your energy away.

Yes, pinks and purples! Funny how the specific plants have changed a lot over the years but the color balance has stayed about the same. I'm still keen to pick up more pink when I can. This time of year is mostly purple though. At the moment, it's Rocky Mountain penstemon doing a lot of the purple show (and lupine and catmint).

I just love the blue spruces, they add so much. I am scheming for a few more dwarf spruces this year, this is a direction that I find intriguing. (and zero maintenance, yeah!) Gosh they are expensive though. But I'm game to get some anyway, stay tuned!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 4:20PM
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gmatx zone 6

Karin, your place is absolutely beautiful. I am terribly jealous of your lupines. They are our state flower and I have only been able to grow them once about 20 years ago. Your spruce are so pretty and their color enhances everything around them. Yes, pink and purple are my favorite flower colors. I can just close my eyes and smell your peonies.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 4:29PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Looks great! That hot pink peony is fantastic!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:50PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Catkin, we must have been posting at the same time. Yeah for orderly! That's high praise! My theme for the year is 'tidy.' We'll see.

The rocks are all from around here, and I collected them with a pickup truck. You can buy similar 'field stone' at some rock yards. It sort of depends where you live and what the local rock types are.

Mary, what state are you from with the lupine as your state flower? The lupine seed around casually, so I leave most to grow where they are. But more exciting, some wild lupine have settled in from a nearby unmowed lot. Those get special treatment. They are much more delicate than the garden types with fine, silvery leaves. They are "going off" (to use the skier's parlance) in the woods and mountains right now. What kind of lupine are native to your area?

Yeah for peonies too. I am getting more into those as well. Yanking out self-seeding floppers and replacing with well-mannered plants like spruce and peonies.

If, if, IF I build my next stone feature in this back garden, I have already picked out the most amazing creeping blue spruce to plant with it. That's a long way off, but it's fun to have something to envision.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:50PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Hooray!! Glad to hear you've got your mojo back! It looks beautiful!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 8:59PM
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amna(6 (MA))

Your gardens are beautiful! Makes me happy to just look at the pics. Even your veg gardens look inviting. Congrats on the great job.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 10:05PM
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Beautiful as always! Love those lupines, veggies and pink poppies! Glad you're reinvigorated with gardening. It has been a slow-go this year!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 10:16PM
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    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 10:18PM
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I would very much love to see your gardens in person 'karin'.
It is clear there is so much to see.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 11:50PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Looks great, your garden has such a nice layout and I love the veggie patch, so nice and organized.
I always wondered what snowboarders did in the off season.....
You should have an open garden now!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:38AM
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catkin(UDSA Zone 8)

LOL Karin--yep, you nailed orderly!

Thanks for the scoop on the rock, I'll have to check out my local suppliers.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 3:04PM
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myrmayde(5b Western Montana)

Hi, karin_mt,
Your flower beds are gorgeous! I have some questions for you. How do you keep the weeds down? What kind of mulch do you use in your flower beds? Do you have newspaper, cardboard, or landscape fabric underneath it? Do you use Preen or corn gluten meal to prevent weed seeds from sprouting? Do you direct sow seeds in your flower beds? When did you start your garden? How many square feet of flower beds do you take care of?

I started a big project in 2011 to turn half of the back yard into gardens, and this year the weeds have suddenly gotten way out of hand. I had great success getting lupines seeds to sprout and grow in 2012, but terrible luck with the 1.5 million (mostly perennial native wildflower) seeds I sowed in 2013, some in May, some December 1. So it looks like 3,660 square feet of lupines, black medic, dandelions, prickly lettuce, and 20 or so assorted other weeds. At least I don't have some of the worst weeds, like bindweed, leafy spurge, or thistles (I don't think). I realize now that I should have started earlier and spent more time every day.

I went on the Missoula garden tour recently, and three of the gardeners use about an inch of soil pep for a mulch to keep down weeds (with no weed barrier underneath). I've tried half an inch, but that evidently wasn't enough. I'm thinking of trying that in the beds, and I've got small pine bark chips for the paths. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Nancy

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 5:41PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Top garden there, Karin. Nifty psychological trick of getting the ground sorted (I love new gravel!) and a lovely poised and elegant feel. I enjoy the blue spruces and suspect conifers are due for a huge revival not seen since the 70's.....but used in a very different way....

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 6:18PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Wow, thanks for the favorable responses, I'm flattered. Ah Kato, no open garden this year thank you! Last year's garden tour was a bit much for me so now I'm enjoying the freedom to mess things up again. That said, Rouge and others here are always welcome. Was it last summer that folks were planning the fantasy GW bus tour? Love that idea.

Campanula, I've been following your posts this year since we've shared a sense of being overwhelmed. It's hard to gather one's self up to tackle a large, wild, uncooperative yard and you've got so much more than I do! But I agree about the conifers. Especially ones with personality, texture, color, form or some other trait that makes them equally interesting to something with flowers.

Nancy, holy lupines! That is gorgeous. Lupine sure do like it out here. Your questions are very apropos, as I battled all those same things. The weeds are super tough. I've gotten here just via hand digging and pulling. In the first 5 or so years I used a bit of Roundup, but now it's very rare. Now I am pretty vigilant and can more or less manage it by hand (except for that one patch that I still haven't reached this year that is dripping with weed seeds ready to drop.)

Mulch is key, and an inch doesn't even sound like enough. So I'd definitely recommend that - whatever you can do to keep the soil covered. I have heard great things about cardboard or newspaper under the mulch and I am going to try that on my next do-over area where I remove old perennials. Some local tree trimming companies will deliver trimmings for a lot less than 'official' mulch so that might be worth calling around.

Our yard is about an acre and approx half of that is garden of some sort. These photos only show the back garden which is the largest chunk. One piece of key advice I wish I could have told myself in the beginning was to use more shrubs and fewer perennials. Now (14 years into it) I am going back and taking out perennials and adding in shrubs. I'm going for like 75% shrubs and trees and 25% perennials.

If I had only done that in the beginning, everything would be perfect now. Ha! :)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:35PM
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myrmayde(5b Western Montana)

Thanks for the advice and for answering my questions, karin_mt. I thought my garden was huge, but yours is about six times bigger. My admiration is only increased. I did plant five fruit trees last year, with deer cages around them. This year I put newspaper down and about three inches of wood chips around the trees. I've bought but haven't yet planted: a crabapple tree, a gooseberry bush, two currant bushes, a snowberry, a serviceberry, and three blueberries. These won't need cages, and I'll put a thick layer of soil pep mulch around them. On the areas I've gotten weed-free, I'll starting putting compost mixed with peat moss, and then a layer of soil pep on top. One of the tricks I've heard is to dump a spadeful of soil pep (or other mulch) over where a weed has been pulled, to cover that little bit of bare ground. Here's a close-up of what most of my non-lupine areas look like.

This post was edited by myrmayde on Thu, Jul 3, 14 at 11:44

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:43AM
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greenhearted(5a IL)

Karin, your piece of advice about 75% shrubs caught my attention. We bought a house on an acre last summer with expanses of mulch dotted with a few perennials and shrubs. We looked at the house in early spring while everything was asleep and by the time we moved in July, the gardens were swallowed by weeds almost as tall as me! (Previous owners were elderly and probably not able to care for the gardens anymore) I am slowly renovating the gardens but it so much, I feel overwhelmed. I keep telling myself "Rome wasn't built in a day."

I've been using a lot of spreading groundcovers (pachysandra, lamium, ajuga, sedum, sweet woodruff). I've shied away from woody shrubs because they almost always overtake a space, and often get larger than their listed mature sizes. We have some gorgeous lilacs as "foundation" plantings in the front of our house. They are too big for the space but so lovely I can't bring myself to take them out.

Sorry for the long-winded backstory; I would love to know what shrubs you recommend.

myrmayde, I have used cardboard and newspaper with mulch with great success in my previous and current gardens; highly recommend it.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 11:33AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Good advice re shrubs. I've been adding more to the front garden and an ultimate 75/25 shrub/perennial mix sounds good to me. I prefer deciduous shrubs though, other than the big, old cedar that anchors the main front bed on its north side. I've been adding clematises to the shrubs for a second bloom period.

I'm wildly jealous of your ability with rock walls! :-). I have one pathetic jumble of rocks that help stop erosion in the small bed on a steep slope on the south side of the driveway. Every time I look at it, I think 'I'd be embarrassed for Karin the see that mess!' :-).

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 6:14PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Ah Nancy, a flourishing patch of black meddic, I see! That is a relatively new weed for us, but it really got established in areas that I left unmulched last summer. The difference between mulched and not was astonishing and I got the weeds out and the mulch down and hopefully I won't have such a battle on my hands from here out.

The trees and shrubs you've got sound excellent. The serviceberry will need deer protection, but it's a favorite of mine. Sounds like you are doing all the right things - but that still doesn't make it easy!

Greenhearted, it sounds like you have a rough go this year with the weeds getting a giant head start. I bet it will be much easier in future years. Agreed that so many shrubs get bigger than advertised, which really ruined my credibility with DH after so many of our foundation plants became unruly! My current quest is for shrubs in the 3' by 3' range. There are some options and I've been scouring the nurseries and the web. I think that would make a great thread so we can compile a list of garden-worthy shrubs.

Woody, you're funny with your unkempt rocks! I'm sure I'd be delighted with all the treats your garden has to offer - no need to worry about imaginary embarrassment. (but it's very sweet, nonetheless)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 12:46AM
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Beautiful garden pics! Love the lupines. I've never had luck growing those. after seeing your pics, i'll have to given them another try.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 3:34AM
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greenhearted(5a IL)

Thanks for the advice, Karin! I did plant a few Caryopteris 'Snow Fairy' in that size range but i think they die back to the ground in my zone. I also love dwarf conifers and will work on incorporating more of those. Agreed that a thread of these modest sized shrubs would be a great resource.

Woodyoak, I love the idea of using clematis and shrubs together!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 12:29PM
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