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We’ve been working for the past week or so, cleaning out an old border I’ve had for years at the edge of the woods across from the house. This flower bed isn’t visible from the front or from the yard, so I’ve been calling it the “secret garden”. It’s more visible now than it was though — we’ve cleaned out a ton of stuff in the past week. The hostas, ferns, and tiger lilies (and weeds) had taken it over. I’ve cleaned out much of that, and DH cut back some overgrown shrubs in there and moved some other stuff out.
We cleaned out the rock borders and made pathways out of creek rocks. We laid down landscaping fabric, lined the edges with rounded creek stones, and then dumped and spread the small stones. I was surprised at how much I like the look of it… and living in the mountains near a creek and a lake, stones are something we have an ample supply of. :) The path goes farther than the photos show, as the bed isn’t finished. The photos show less than a third of it, just the end we’ve been working on this past week. We piled a few stones at the end of one of the paths, with a sundial on top of it, for now. Once we get the other parts of the border cleaned out, we’ll remove the stone pile and continue the pathway to the end of the border.
There’s a small creek that runs alongside the length of this border. Well, it used to be a creek. It’s mostly dry right now though due to the severe drought this year and the below normal rainfall levels we’ve had for the past two and a half years. I’m hoping someday the small stream will return, but for now, there’s only water flowing in it when it rains. We lined the ditch with rounded creek stones and pebbles. We also added a large stone to walk across, as a “bridge” over the creek. We thought about getting some liner material and a pump and actually circulating water through this small section of stream along the edge of this bed, but decided that probably wouldn’t be a good idea since it is a natural drainage ditch from the woods and when we get normal spring rains, water would wash soil down over the liner anyway.
Across the bridge, we have an old park bench sitting on a small area covered with thick green moss. The bench sits beside a large poplar tree that keeps the entire area shaded. This border continues on past the bench, curving around the edge of the woods, and opens out into a small grassy area with a stone firepit and picnic table. The photos don’t show this section of the border, since we haven’t finished clearing it out yet. :) We’re going to continue working on it this fall, and hopefully can have the entire thing finished by spring of next year — just in time for planting. I’ve already ordered some new shade perennials for fall planting, including two yellow trout lilies, a bleeding heart, pink astilbe, and some dwarf blue scabiosa for the outer edges that gets morning sun and dappled sunlight the rest of the day. I also planted a new bi-color butterfly bush on the outside edge in one of the few sunny spots of the bed. The flowers are supposed to be a raspberry and golden color, and it will help to screen the border even more from the house and yard.
The entire area is shaded by many trees and the mountain above it, and we have plantings within the border itself. We have an existing hemlock tree, a white pine, four spicebush trees that make a nice canopy over the border, a cedar at the end of the border on the outside edge, two mock orange, three dogwoods, two forsythia bushes, and two different kinds of evergreen euonymous – a large leaved green and white and a golden leaved. There’s also an old flowering quince bush in there and a small native tree called “Hearts’a Burstin”. This little evergreen tree is very open and airy and has interesting strawberry-like seed pods in the fall, that burst open. The entire seed pod looks like a heart, hence the name.
I planted several new small evergreen shrubs in there this week, including three Japanese Hollies, a Green Velvet boxwood, an Alberta Spruce, and a white flowered Cavatine (pieris japonica). All of these shrubs are very slow growing dwarf varieties, and will leave lots of open planting areas around them. I’ll add some shade annuals throughout the border in the spring, and maybe a few more perennials. Right now, the only color in there is from the pink and white impatiens, a few patches of purple flowered green and variegated lilyturf, and some white and pink caladiums. I left patches of hostas throughout and tigerlilies along the edges, and they’ll bloom in summer, along with the yellowbell bushes and the quince in the springtime. There’s also an old crabapple tree across from one end that blooms in early spring. Click any of the photos to enlarge.
Hubby put in a new underground electric line for me and we added a fountain over there. I also moved a couple of the mushroom chimes over there :), and placed a few other accessories in the beds, and a few interesting shaped stones, including a heart shape and some round stones. The mosquitos are terrible here in the south, especially in this hot humid weather so I bought two new torches. They’re very pretty glass mosaic. Hubby shortened the black iron pipes for me and we put them at the entrance to this bed, away from the bench but still close enough to keep the bugs away. I also have a rounded, columnar trellis for over there, and a new brass gallileo sundial, a new birdfeeder and a glass hummingbird feeder, and a butterfly windchime that I haven’t used yet — these things will be spaced out throughout the border.
I really have enjoyed working on this secret garden, and hubby and I have had a lot of fun re-doing everything over there, and picking out new stuff for it. It’s a work-in-progress though and even though we are nowhere near finished with it, it’s already so much better than the tangled, weedy, tree filled border it was a couple of weeks ago. We still have to finish the drainage ditch and the waterfall near the firepit, and the rock edgings and the wall, and we need a ton more bark to fill in the planting areas and around the trees, and I think I’m going to need a few more small shrubs to fill in areas where we will be removing overgrown plants, and I want to add more moss along the creek, and we need to dig out and move a bunch more hostas and lilies.. lots more work to do, but it’s already a place I enjoy being in again.
Click any photo to enlarge.