I have always had an overall vision for the design of my garden and to my plan's credit, I have stuck pretty close to it over the years- never changing my mind or the design direction the garden is headed.
This is not to say that I have never second-guessed myself. I have done that many times! But at the end of the day, my gut instincts usually serve me best and my first ideas are most often the ones that I end up carrying through to completion.
There are a few design challenges. For one, our backyard is like a bowling alley: long and narrow. The previous homeowner put flowerbeds down the outside perimeter and had a circular herb garden at the end of the expanse of green grass that ran down the centre of the property.
It was a fine enough garden, but the yard felt really narrow and much smaller than the 150 feet that it was in reality. I kept many of the original features and have made lots of changes-perhaps a subject best kept for another post- with the addition of a place to relax and unwind being our latest project.
So here it is!
Midway down the yard and off to the right- a small circular courtyard of pea gravel (in its present form). A narrow border of plantings enclose it like a cocoon.
One of our biggest challenges in creating any backyard retreat was going to be the mosquitoes. Living this close to the Credit River we have tons of mosquitoes- even in the middle of the day. Who wants to be batting away at mosquitoes while trying relax and sip a drink?
We decided me needed to make a mosquito proof enclosure. Our house is late Victorian and so our plans are to eventually build something traditional in keeping with the house- our own take on a standard gazebo.
Umbrella Loblaw's Superstore $50 (approximately). The folding wooden Adirondack chairs were also purchased at Loblaw's late last summer (just under $50 each).
If time and money were no object we would have built the gazebo this summer, but that's not the case. So for now, we have mapped out the space with our little pea gravel courtyard. (Eventually we will build the gazebo overtop of this foundation layer of fine gravel.)
There isn't a lot of sun in this part of the yard, but the umbrella is not just for show. It serves several functions including protecting our heads from falling walnuts! At this time of year, the black walnut tree overhead drops a steady shower of golf-ball-sized walnuts that are as hard as rocks.
The umbrella also holds up the oversized mosquito net that we purchased on clearance (not installed at the time I took these pictures).
The surrounding plantings still need a bit of finessing. Here are a few early favourites:
Phlox paniculata 'Creme de Menthe'- many of my phlox are finished, but this one is just coming into its glory. Love, love the variegated leaves!
Sunflowers self-seeded themselves into the planting scheme.
Coleus, 'Vino' and Hydrangea 'Little Lime'
Sedum 'Matrona' Height 40-50 cm Spread: 45-60 cm Full sun is best, but I have mine in part shade. The flowers are big and heavy so pinch the plant back in June to prevent it from flopping when in flower.
Agastache 'Blue Fortune' Height: 60-75 cm, Spread: 60 cm. Full sun or part shade. I am amazed at how big this plant has gotten in its first year. It is a blooming machine!
White Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium altissimum 'Prairie Jewel' Height: 90 cm, Spread: 40 cm.
Moist soil (or afternoon shade).
Brilliance Autumn Fern, Dryopteris erythrosora 'Brilliance' Height: 45-60 cm, Spread: 45-60 cm. Part Shade and moist soil.
Another project almost complete are these plants supports. We made two 5' plant supports for diagonally opposite sides of my four raised beds. (The other two raised boxes have lilac standards in the centre of each bed.)
One of these 5' supports sits in my raised herb bed and so I have elected not to finish it any way (the last thing I want is flakes of chipping paint falling in among the plants we eat!).
The supports are made of inexpensive spruce and I used a fence post finial to decorate the top (about $15-20 in raw materials). With the exception of angled saw cuts, they are fairly easy to make. (I wasn't sure if there would be enough interest to do a how-to post. If it turns out that there is interest, I will do one.)
We also made two 6' plant supports for the circle garden at the back of the yard. (You can just see it in the distance through the arbor.)
Turtlehead, Chelone obliqua Height 60-90 cm Spread: 60-75 cm Full sun or part shade. Mine is in part shade. The clump is at least 5 years old and is quite sizeable.
Just before we take a closer look at the taller plant supports, let's pause to admire the Turtlehead flowers blooming just to the right of the arbor we will pass through. It is really amusing to watch bumblebees try to sandwich their little round bodies into these tight-lipped flowers.
I elected to paint these plant supports burgundy, which is the color of the shutters on our white house. Scrambling up the sides is a small bell-shaped clematis that bloomed a little over a month ago:
A few other recent additions to this area of the garden:
I got this Rhododendron at a 50% off sale in late June. In a garden that tends to the messy, I love the compact shape and neat, glossy leaves. Rhododendron 'P.J. M.' Height: 150 cm, Spread: 150 cm. Full sun to part shade.
On the right a great foliage plant Caryopteris divaricata, 'Snow Fairy'. It has insignificant blue flowers and beautiful variegated foliage. Height: 60 cm and Spread: 60cm (very similar in size and shape to a small Spirea) Full sun to half shade.
This is a perennial Goldenrod new to the garden this year. I misplaced the plant tag, but feel pretty confident that it is Stiff Golden Rod, Solidago rigida.
This is a skyscraper of a plant that is almost as tall as I am (120 cm)! Until I find it the perfect home, I have it in half-shade, but it would much prefer to be in full sun. As you can see, it tends to flop and requires staking.
Stiff Golden Rod, Solidago rigida
I hope your enjoying these first few days of fall.
I am going to link this post to May Dreams Gardens Garden Bloggers Bloom Day meme on the 15th of this month and also to Fishtail Cottage's Garden Party on Thursday. To see other pretty gardens, please click the links.