Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lesson Learned and a Little Rearranging

Last year, when my (now former) voice teacher and his wife gave us lots of pass-along plants to fill in my bare flower beds, I just plunked everything in the ground and hoped for the best. I didn't do any research, and I didn't really consider how they would fill in, what things would look like during the winter (bare) or how far they should be from the house.

During a conversation a couple months ago with my great aunt, I heard the term "foundation plant" for the first time. As she explained it, a foundation plant is one that is okay to plant near the foundation of a house because its roots are not invasive (aka: the roots won't grow into the foundation of the house, thereby ruining the foundation).  It also usually has a more compact growth habit, rather than something flowy or fountain-like. The other cool thing about this conversation: my 90-year-old great aunt walked around the house at the farm with my parents (the one that my grandfather built) and identified every bush and flower, making note of which were foundation plants and which were not.

This conversation made me wonder if the forsythia bushes I planted at the back of the flower beds (near the house) were foundation plants (if you squint, you can see the small leafy bushes in the back row).

I hopped on Google and started searching away, and, of course, forsythia are most definitely not foundation plants. Fortunately, they hadn't been there all that long, so I don't think any damage was done.

Around the same time I dug up that tidbit of information, my friend Patrick (who is a master gardener) mentioned to me that the red bud (in the pic above, it's on the far right with the heart shaped leaves) needed to be moved soon. See, when I planted it, I thought it was a shrub. WRONG. It's definitely a tree. Pat's comment was " know that seven foot tall tree by our driveway? That's a red bud."

So I started brainstorming places to put four-five forsythia and a small-ish tree. Fortunately, it didn't take long. I decided to put the red bud in the opposite corner from the hybuscus at the front of the yard. Here she blows, a little peeked looking, but otherwise none the worse for wear. Please ignore the downed mailbox in the background. That is a story for another day.

As for the forsythia, on the other side of our driveway, is a narrow strip of grass that is constantly forgotten. It always seems like a waste to restart the lawnmower just to mow the 3 foot wide section of grass, but it has to be done. I decided to forgo the issue and plant a forsythia hedge.

Once these fill in, I don't think we'll have to mow over here any more, but I am considering putting down weed cloth and mulch, just to be sure.

Once I got everything moved, I was left with this...and a similar situation in the other front flower bed.

Needing ideas, I took this picture, along with a few others, up to Bates Nursery (they are a local, family-owned nursery about 10 minutes away). One of the employees tossed out a couple of ideas once he'd seed the pictures and heard the description of sun, but told me that before I made any decisions, I should go home, measure the beds and the window heights above them, and come back with a rough sketch of what I'm working with. Here's what I came up with. Obviously my musical talents don't translate to the visual arts.

Armed with the sketches, I went back to Bates, where a second (and very helpful) employee helped me choose plants, figure out how many I needed, and helped me figure out a layout for both front beds. I only left with shrubs for the left bed that day...partially for budgetary reasons (three shrubs were $100) and partially to break up the work for myself.

Since there is a gardenia to the right of the front stairs, I decided to mirror that on the left. Bates didn't have exactly the same kind of gardenia, but they helped me pick out one that has similar foliage (Kleim's Hardy). The only noticeable difference is that the flowers on the new one are single, instead of double flowers.

To contrast the gardenia in the left bed, I also picked out a Georgia Petite Indian Hawthorn. It has lovely blue green leaves that look a little bit waxy, and it blooms small white flowers in the spring.

Has anyone else been rearranging their garden? Planting shrubs? Digging holes is hard work! Oh well, hopefully I'll get lovely toned arms out of it.

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