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Warning, this isn't a hit and run

Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 22, 12 at 16:15

I'm hoping with a fresh start I can streamline the dialogue with this garden/landscape design.

Hopefully this format is easier to read.

My challenges:
1) Striking a balance between plant collecting and creating flowing complimenting beds.
2) I'm focusing on three areas that I'm not quite happy with.
3) Working on an irregular lot that pies out wide at the back but narrows toward the front. Overall a wide lot but not very deep.

Goals:
1) Design a garden, not an outdoor space
2) Create a nestled, private garden (majority of perimeter plantings are screening conifers)
3) Grassy areas serve as an area to A) Space for dog to run around B) Small path like areas for children to run around
4) Create diversity through plant species, texture, color and habit
5) Gardening is my hobby so I have a need to care and maintain plants

What am I hoping to get out of this?
1) I hope you kind folks can get me thinking outside of "my" box
2) Its tough to state all the facts so please ask questions!
3) I love critism and I promise to keep the dialogue going.
4) I'm not looking to redesign this but enhance what I have (see #1 under My challenge).
5) I understand this may not be to some folk's taste so I'm hoping you can think outside "your" box

History:
Here is a little dialogue when I originally started:
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/design/msg0212514224680.html


Updated Plan:
1) The actual lines are much smoother, porportionate and pleasing as this is a hand drawn interpretation.
2) The arrows represent water flow. All areas are either not of concern or have been addressed.
3) I've included multiple views to incorporate the three dimensional perspective of the landscape.

Current:
Photobucket

Potential Changes?
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More pics to follow of the back and side yards.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

I don't understand the new lines on the right side near the driveway. The lines cross each other?

I think instead of a tentacled arm bed on the left reaching in to the grass, you should cut it off. If you have a path (whether grass or not), you could increase the bed size to the property line on that side. I also cut out the driveway bulge on that side. I tried making some edits in my poor graphics ability to show you what I mean.

P1020398-Copy

On the right is the question mark where there is overlapping lines. On the left, the grass runs kind of like a river towards the corner of your house and then skips over to the grass at the back of the house. This gives you even more beds. Probably too much as they'd be awfully deep to maintain but it's the concept I was aiming for. If you do end up using a path through the existing bed, the grass in front could be some other kind of no mow plant that you could walk on. I'm not sure how much use your front yard gets as a play area. I left the back alone although it is still pretty wiggly.


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

You know my opinion on wiggly :-) but it is less wiggly in this version... I think you still need to work on the lines of the grass on the left. To connect the two sides of the yard, I still think the easiest way to begin is to have a grass path that essentially flows smoothly from one side to the other, just interrupted by the driveway. You could perhaps get a similar effect by having a relatively low ornamental fence that runs on either side of the driveway. But that introduces another element that might not be what you want (although something like a cedar rail fence would give you a nice place to grow clematis vines or other ornamental vines if you are interested in such things :-)


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

After reading some other threads, I am not sure what to do here. I think I can only offer clues....and my clue to you...

"Rosebud"


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

I liked Woody's idea that she posted on your other thread. Maybe you could post it here for comparison, Woody?

Two things that I would add as objectives if I lived there, formulated from your other threads as well, would be
a) leave your neighbour enough room to continue to maintain that cotoneaster hedge as well as s/he now does.
b) give the doorway as open a feel as possible.

Karin L


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

I love this part of your statement "5) Gardening is my hobby so I have a need to care and maintain plants. well said!

Plant collecting is great; I am sure most of us do that to a certain extent. What can make that work is a cohesive structure to the garden, which is completely lacking in this situation. If you set up the bones or structure of the landscape with groupings of shrubs or perennials, which repeat throughout however you decide to shape this area, that will provide not only a backdrop for your plant collecting but a sense of direction (particularly direction for a viewers eyes).

Until you set up that structure, the bed shape, wiggles or no wiggles, is irrelevant. You can always tweak that part of the situation later(probably you will be gradually expanding over time to fit in more plants). As a friend of mine once put it - what you have now is a miniature donkey farm, meaning a lot of focal points but no cohesion.

That being said, I think tanowicki's idea is the best for bed lines. And for extra room for lots of plants.


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

You are going to hate me for this answer but here it is anyway:

Before anyone can think outside 'the box' it is necessary to know what's in the box otherwise any creative venture like this will feel like you are trying to reinvent the wheel.The principles of design are what is in the box in there somewhere are the elements you have to work with. This is not a straight-jacket but a launch pad. I think if you looked at your garden with this information in the back of your mind you would see it for yourself and avoid contradictory thinking like "creating flowing complimenting beds (by) focusing on three areas."


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

Are you sure you want the Green Giants there? How much room to the lot line? Here is a 7' tree planted in spring of 2005--Doberman and wiener dog added for scale on width.

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and it's 2 1/2 stories tall

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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

You've mentioned learning to create continuity not through plant repetition but through color or form repetition so that you can continue your collecting. Do you have examples where that particularly works for you? Is it something that requires large amounts of space, whether blank or other?

I think in order for you to begin to achieve "flowing complimenting beds (by) focusing on three areas." you need to define what flowing complimenting beds look like to you.

Ink - I'm going to surmise that the "by focusing on three areas" means that these will be the three areas that get the greatest attention this year not that the three areas will be looked at in isolation and then later tried to be made complimenting (any more).


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 22, 12 at 20:38

Tanowicki,
Thanks for taking the time to download the pic and suggest bed lines. I like the left side bedline extending to the lot line. I'll have to ponder the break in the bed as I'm working with 25' from the corner of house to the lot line. With that said there are sight lines to the neighbor I'm trying to block.
The right side bed represents two versions. The green line represents a suggestion from Yardvark in a previous post. The red is just another alternative. The entire area could also become a bed as I believe Woodyoak had suggested.

Woody,
I'm trying to visualize what you're suggesting regarding the continous path only interrupted by the driveway. If its not too much trouble would you be able to paint a rough sketch over the image? My pics are public. I sure would appreciate it!

Ink,
What can I say, you sure are an interesting individual.
I'm not looking at the box as design principles. Each person has a unique box which may contain a different set of principles depending on their personality, style and taste.

Kevin,
I'm terrible with riddles...please clue me in?lol? I planned to maintain/prune the GGs to size. Although I'm second guessing that strategy and may use a size appropriate plant.

Karin,
Something I should consider with the cotoneaster. I didn't really consider that as she planted them directly on the lotline. I think I left 5-6' between the lotline and GGs.
As for the doorway. Are you just saying to keep a low profile up the middle to ensure there is a clear view to the doorway?

drtygrl,
Regarding the cohesive structure...I've been thinking about that lately. With the screening I did repeat to a point. Most these beds will grow to be layered with drifts. I was then debating whether I was going to start repeating in the middle layer or the border, perhaps both. What do you think?

et al,
As usual I appreciate the feedback. I'm taking all the feedback and pooling it together to help an ever evolving design take shape.


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Follow up

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 22, 12 at 20:59

Tano,

Good point. As of now I feel most of the beds are flowing complimenting beds. Take the side house beds, the flow mimics eachother and therefore guide you on your pathway.

Perhaps it doesn't mean the same for someone else but for me it does. The three areas I've overlayed in green are the areas I don't feel flow or compliment the way I want them to. Your example is getting me there for the front right bed.

My process typically works this way.
1) Determine sight lines.
2) Where do I need shade.
3) Where do I want my prime specimens.
4) Where do I need privacy.
5) Install all the plants to meet 1-4
6) Determine mowing and walking traffic
7) Determine lifesytle activites
8) Design beds to incorporate 1-7
9) Integrate addtional specimans and focal points
10) Repeat plants to further evoke a sense of flow

In my previous home repeating plants litterally meant 5 Strawberry Candy daylilies here and 5 Strawberry Candy daylilies there. Now I'm looking at it from a grouping perspective. So lets say I have green, purple and blue.

One grouping is Pinus strobus 'Nana', Picea pungens 'Sester's Dwarf' and Acer palmutum 'Red Dragon'. A a similar repeating grouping will be Pinus densiflora 'Low Glow', Picea engelmanni 'Blue Magoo' and Sambucus nigra


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

Karin - I think at this point, we need to work with Whaas's drawing... But, Whaas, if you go back and look at that drawning I did, you can see that the line of the grass on one side matches up with the line on the other side. I was trying to use that strong line to emphasize that the two sides are connected, that the driveway is just an interruption, not a separation. It may not be the best way to do it, but I think it'd help a lot. I have tried to show a grass path that might appear to 'flow' across the driveway on the plan you posted above. It's not quite as clear a mechanism because all those crazy (sorry....) lines make my head spin and certainly muddy the clarity of things! (My printer needs a new color tank so this looks a bit odd - plus it's only the relevant piece of your drawing to save on file size...)
Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

Clear as mud, eh? :-)

Ink - I suspect Whaas is one of those people (like me...?) who starts off as a plant collector, gets intrigued by the broader issues, and eventually ends up at a different place than he appears to be heading for at this point. I think he and his garden have lots of potential....


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 22, 12 at 22:18

Woody,
No its perfect. The image is worth a 1000 words. I somewhat got it on your original mark-up but now that I have the actual bed lines it clicked with your latest mark-up.

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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

Yup, much better!


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

Yes, I too have felt my way to the principles of landscape design from gardening through need and a general sense of dissatisfaction with the garden. I think it's quite a nice visual from Ink about the principles being what is inside the box. Maybe the right answer is that you are in a box of a certain type, and need to find your way into a new one.

Not sure if the link below is a great site or not but I find this page a nice primer. The landscape design principles are not prescriptive, but rather enabling... you apply them to the goals you listed above.

Regarding the door, I given a free hand I would probably add more paving to two key areas approaching it; the curve of the sidewalk and right in front of the door - in fact I might alter the shape of the whole walk to be one rectangle/swoosh of concrete/pavers going right to the garage wall. I'll try to draw something. The approach feels constrained. And yes, I'd keep plant material low, but first I'd keep it away!

By the way, on the thread you linked, my perimeteritis reference was to planting all around the house, which I argued against. I totally understand that it is logical to plant up the perimeter of the lot.

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: Principles of landscape design


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 22, 12 at 23:15

Just a couple of thoughts. Repeating some massed plantings throughout the garden definitely helps with giving unity. When placing accent rocks/ boulders, they will always look more natural if the base is slightly buried into the ground. I'd also recommend either larger rocks which won't be overwhelmed by foliage as it grows, or stick with really low growing plants that will remain in scale. Positioning accent plants where colored foliage will get backlit or against contrasting green backgrounds is good to keep in mind. Massing lower growing herbaceous plants as foreground to specimens can also be useful for giving more unity.

Personally I like what you've planted so far, and everything looks well cared for. Given that winter lasts so long at your latitude, I'd also be looking for lots of plants with winter interest via colored stems, berries, early flowers or dramatic form. I can't much comment on specific plants being that zone 9/10 plants aren't an option for you!


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

Whaas--I was just having some fun with the latest threads--I take it you haven't seen "Citizen Kane"? As for pruning GG's to keep them beat back, I'd rethink it. They really are fast growers. You would be pruning....A LOT! I won't comment on design. I collect, and I don't care what it looks like. I am way more interested in what each plant is up to. A path is just a way for me to get to each plant.

bahia--winter interest---highly overrated! It's freakin' cold outside, and snowy. I have a wonderful large Stewartia at my front door and I'll be damned if I am going out to stare at its wonderful bark when it's 0 and windy. The witchhazels are all blooming on my property now--probably 10 of them. I went out and looked, and sniffed, and thought, "You dumbasses, why not wait a couple months to do this!"


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 23, 12 at 2:32

I wouldn't have much enthusiasm to look for winter interest out in the garden, either. Where it works best is where you can easily see it from inside a warm toasty house. Interest needs to be of sufficient size and bulk to be easily seen, not buried under snow or without a contrasting backdrop. And I clearly appreciate that fragrance seldom carries very far when temps are colder; we have the same fragrance inhibiting temps here in coastal California even in summer. On the few days of the year we get actual heat, the 100's of flowers on my tree sized Brugmansia can be intense. Most evenings with 55*F night time temps, nothing to write home about unless I walk right up to it. In fact, I most appreciate
fragrant foliage placed where it gets brushed against rather than fragrant flowers. Some of my favorites include walk-on Corsican Mint and Breath of Heaven/Coleonema pulchellum, two plants which always perform regardless of the weather here.


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

I have a comment, but it may be way too late in the game for whaas to utilize.

It a most broad and general way I see this as combination of connected grass areas bordered by planted areas, with some slope to the terrain. There are scale and proportion of the two types to be considered and beyond that I like to mimic a feature of nature.

Picture if you will a stream, not a big river, nor water crashing down a mountain side. A stream often is a combination of pool areas connected by shoals. The pools are flat, the shoals slope down as the place where the difference in elevation is apparent. And in almost every case the pools are wider than the shoals.

When designing the type landscape considered here, I like to make the wider grass areas a more level plane and make the grade transition at the more narrow connection areas. The difference in slope need only be a small amount, say from a 2% slope on the wide areas to 5% on the narrow. It may not seem important, but consider what it would look like if you put the grade transition in the middle of a wide grass area in the form of a terrace. For me, the former just feels right and the other doesn't.

And like a stream has most of any exposed rock found at the shoals, so too do I put it at the narrow connections in a landscape.


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 24, 12 at 13:54

Hi Karin,
Thanks for the link. As I read through the text, I've found, either from trial and error or from you fine folks that I have instilled though principles in my own sense.
There are few areas that need work so it good to have them at the finger tips.
I guess the box is open to interpretation. Perhaps the box was referenced a tool box per say that we could all work from where as I looked at the box as a mindset.

That would be much appreciated if you could visiualize your suggested. I wasn't all the impressed with the constraint walkway to begin with. But in my hast to plant my budget was better suited towards plant material.
What is to the I can't change it now or in the future.

Bahia,
I hear ya on the boulders. I was lucky to get a few that where broken in half. There are a few others that I need to dig a bit and roll them in.
No worries on the plants. I'm a plant nut like Kevin. My garden is leaning towards a conifer garden so year round interest will dominant!

Kevin,
Dang it, now I have three nice green giants to get rid of. I'm going to have to think about this one as I really don't want more than 10' or so but I like to get it "farily" fast.

Pls8xx,
I'm starting to visualize what you're saying. For the most part the main slope transitions do have the narrowest bands of grass. The more level areas are the widest.
I have to get the other pics posted of the back and sides. It might helps facilitate the slopes visually. It just snowed out 4" so not sure if it will be tougher or easier to see.
I'll try it out eitherway.


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

Cross referencing with your other thread, it seems your walkway is flared at both ends. From your drawing here I thought it wasn't.

OK, so you aren't going to re-pour it, and I wouldn't either. If you were, I would not make that corner a right turn, but rather redraft the whole thing into a more gradually curvy swoosh reaching further down the driveway. You could leave the narrow bed by the garage wide enough for something, but to be honest, I think even with a redo I really would just pave to the wall - fill in the whole bed. Plants don't like growing in that situation anyway.

With what you have I would tend towards a concept that works for me in my narrow beds: Basically a container gallery with plants at their feet. You could fill in the whole bed with pavers and put in a killer container gallery, or make it a container gallery among plants like mine. Your plants can be a single ground cover or a collection like hostas, hellebores, etc. In short, a bed like this only avoids being a plant line-up with a LOT of hardscape (can include wall art).

If you really don't want containers, then study columnar conifers. Say, Taxus media 'Flushing,' Taxus baccata 'Golden Dwarf,' and the other usual suspects. Very structural stuff, including anything smaller you put in and can prune fairly flat (Cephalotaxus might be cool like that, has great foliage up close). But stay as far back from the door as you can with anything tall or wide. I would not do vines here. I would do structure. Structure is really missing from all the plants you have there too. Indeterminate blobs. You need big leaves.

But I'm suggesting containers because to me your yard really needs hardscape. I know you have rocks, but they echo what I think is a bit of a design failing IN your beds (never mind their shape for a moment): kind of a tendency toward... spots? That captures what I don't like in your narrow bed now, what I don't like about the rose bed (and sorry, I hate those plants anyway - more indeterminate blobs with small leaves), and what I don't like about the rocks you've got. Plop. That's kind of the way I see a lot of those placement decisions. Collecting your boulders into groups might be much better. Collecting your plants into groups would too.

I know all this doesn't address overall design, but that narrow bed isn't likely going to be part of any overall design anyway as it doesn't have "line" connection with anything you might do on the property (unless you can apply Woody's idea of running lines across the walkway...).

I still like Woody's drawing but as far as overall design is concerned, I LOVE pls's concept. I wonder what would happen if you erased all the beds you've got and tried to sketch that out. Maybe boulder rearrangement could be guided by this concept at least. And it might enable you to keep some of the house wall clear.

So I'm rambling a bit, sorry. Yes, I see bed shape as a problem here, but I think bed design/planting scheme is also contributing to the whole composition not working. Focal points, structure, hardscape, garden furniture... I think that is where you will need to go once you have bed shape worked out. It is not only plants that contribute balance, unity, repetition, etc. Actually now that I think about it, my plant zoo is actually irrelevant to my yard's design. I could move all my plants into different positions tomorrow, and the overall impression the yard makes would remain the same based on the hardscape alone. I think you are expecting the plants to BE your design, and that is maybe the fatal flaw.

Karin L


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 26, 12 at 10:31

In short, a bed like this only avoids being a plant line-up .

Karin, exactly! I'm still considering the simplistic trellis with a large leaf vine of some sort. I'm going to research the pruning of Hydrangea petiolaris. My challenge with the container plants it that this is western exposure with the sun set at a lower angle and will surely bake the roots.

I too like Pls's concept but I have no idea where to start. It sounds great but I can barely visualize how to translate that into a landscape. Perhaps a bit too ambitious for my skill set.

I have to argue your mention of spots. These plants are very young and just installed last season. They will fill in quite quickly. I also have many plants to add so it may look incomplete. I do agree with your comment on the larger leaves/structure. The bed is "mostly" filled with finer to intermediate leaf sizes. I have a massing of hydrangea in front of the window on the left side in front. Perhaps mimicking that texture over by the walk would be a good call.

My other idea is that I'll plant a tall upright massing of daylily in that bed with the very flat columnar plants you mentioned.

Your last comment is the challenge. As a collector the plants ARE the design and hardscape does little for me. The cost and availability of stone around here is budget inhibiting. The exception is field stone (which is nearly impossible to group unless you're building a wall). Even then is looks very un-natural if you will.
Here is why I struggle.

Do you have any pics of your container garden?


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

I think any vine or taller plants in that narrow bed are going to look messy and be in the way a lot (plus make a mess of that wall....) I'd definitely stick to low plants plus a tall, narrow container with ornamental dried stuff on the porch. That would solve the heat problem re growing anything in a pot. I think bulrushes/cattails would look good and pick up on the nice brown tones in the brick by the door. I'm not keen on daylilies though - I find them messy and in need of a lot of finicky deadheading to keep them looking good by the front door. If that wall is getting lots of afternoon sun and the area is hot and dry, why not try something like ordinary culinary sage? I have that in a hot, dry area along the top of the driveway. The gray-green soft foliage is attractive all year round (it's almost evergreen and you can harvest the freeze-dried leaves for cooking during the winter!) It has very attractive spires of blue flowers in early summer. I cut the plants back each spring to just above the woody bases. The older ones are starting to look a bit like they could be bonsai so I'm going to prune them this spring to emphasize that. Throw in some lemon thyme and orange-scented thyme as groundcover and you'd have an interesting planting. (The bees like the flowers on all those - anybody in the family that would be worried about that...?)


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 26, 12 at 11:32

The bees like the flowers on all those - anybody in the family that would be worried about that...?

Oh boy, the other half hates bees!lol! I like them so I just say oops, I didn't know the bees liked this plant!

Woody, thanks for the suggestions. I'll keep those in the back pocket. I was also thinking a Veronica but they won't get tall enough. Upright and bushy would be important for me in this case.


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run - bee thoughts

The thyme would be the big bee magnet, so you could substitute something else. If bees became an issue on the sage flowers, just deadhead... The sage is quite attractive on its own. This is one of the sage plants that I intend to 'bonsai' this spring (picture taken in January... VERY mild winter here this year - note the green grass in the backgound!!):
Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

Another interesting alternative could be to just fill the space with interesting hens 'n' chicks. That would sort of give the look of the sidewalk extending right to the wall. Plant some things with silvery foliage on the garden bed side of the walkway and it would look like the walk is a lot wider...


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

Re bees: (from beekeeper) does the other 1/2 really dislike bees or is deathly allergic? Does 1/2 spend time in the garden? No self respecting honeybee would interrupt pollen gathering to sting a person without provocation. And you want any pollinators you can get so your flowers will be bigger flower more.
If 1/2 enjoys the garden, and you encourage venturing into it, just don't plant bee attractors right on the paths, or place in a spot 1/2 can easily avoid. So don't line a path 1/2 uses with thyme or sage!

Wasps in old logs or paperwasps will chase one hundreds of yards if you disturb them and those pesky ones in autum that that want your outdoor grilled burger are more dangerous or annoying.

You know this anyway: honey bees, bumbles, the wee wasps, moths, butterflies are garden friends

idabean


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RE: Warning, this isn't a hit and run

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 26, 12 at 13:56

I still think the skinny bed looks good as is. I don't think a trellis or obelisk (my initial suggestion) is needed and would quickly overwhelm the small space. I'd work on filling in empty spots with some thyme, lavender, or maybe sedum.


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