Have I bitten off more than I can chew?
The fact that I used typed in the word "workload" is telling. Gardening is work, but it should be also be fun. Relaxing even. This summer gardening has felt too much like drudgery.
Something has to change to bring gardening back into the realm of enjoyable.
I began to consider eliminating a few flowerbeds, even though the thought of that was heartbreaking.
But when I really started to pause and examine what was demanding the most labor, I realized the garden itself wasn't the thing dragging me down. It is the network of pathways in the garden. This summer I swear I have spent more time weeding the paths than I spent weeding the flowerbeds!
Lets step back in time and see what has got me into this mess.
The very back part of the garden as it was when we moved in.
This view shows only half the full length of the backyard.
When we moved in there were perennial gardens down the sides of the long, narrow lot and a circular herb garden at the back (which was more weeds than herbs).
It was really nice, but when you stood on the porch and looked down the long stretch of grass, the backyard as a whole, looked somewhat like a bowling alley.
Four years ago
To foreshorten the perspective and make the lot feel wider than it was, I designed a partial fence to obscure the view of the herb garden. In the centre of the fence, I created a doorway in the form of an arbor.
Through the new arbor there was a view of a traditional urn and a glimpse of the herb garden beyond. The area surrounding the herb garden became a gravel courtyard with an underlay of landscape cloth. When the instillation was complete, it was amazing how much wider the property looked.
Two years ago
In front and to the the right of the raised beds we created an area where we plan to build a little gazebo in the future.
Again, we created a little courtyard by laying landscape cloth and covering it with pea gravel.
Very rough garden plan before and after
Present day in late August.
Cimicifuga 'James Compton' has deep eggplant colored leaves, which my camera does not do justice.
The flower (seen below) smells like honey.
Hydrangea 'Little Lime'
A tall native plant called Ironweed. You can see it just behind the white bench.
Wild Bergamont or Monarda fistulosa
Agastache 'Blue Fortune'
Lobelia x speciosa 'Dark Crusader'
Phlox 'David's Lavender' in the afternoon sunshine.
The view from the back looking toward the house.
As you can imagine, we began to learn quite a lot about laying landscape cloth along the way.
Too late, we began to realize its pitfalls....
I hate to do this, but I think I am going to have to send the rest into a Part 3,
but I promise not to make you wait a full week to read it.