Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My favorite garden

Apart from the famous ones, I mean... My favorite garden is under the oak tree in the back yard. It's very simple: lots of bulbs and shade-loving perennials appear and bloom in spring, then subside into a wave of green leaves in early summer. Not a very original formula, but very satisfying.

It's my only garden without holes (at least, not obvious ones, though I have plans to add plants along one side). It has lots of soft colors, primarily blue, white, yellow and a touch of red. The foliage of the epimedium, Japanese roof iris and hellebore works well with the hostas that take over once the bulbs subside (though I have my eye on some chartreuse hostas to spark up the color a bit). The tulips, in bloom now, add some height (or, as designers would say, spires to complement the mounds).

In fact, I love it so much that I now have my eye on doing something similar under the maple tree in front. Maples have more shallow roots, I think, which should make it a bit more challenging to plant, but I'm sure it can be managed. I'll need to cut back the ivy a bit, too, which is a good thing anyway.

Here's a look at the oak tree garden:

In bloom now: pulmonaria "Spilt Milk," mertensia (white and blue, thanks, Mom), narcissus 'Sun Disc,' English bluebells, bleeding heart, tiarella, sweet woodruff (just coming into bloom), hellebore, and tulips (white Maureen).

The dandelions are just an added bonus, of course.

The English bluebells were inspired by a stunning, unexpected hillside in the Lake District - I came around a curve in the path, and there they were. These are not quite so magnificent, perhaps, but still beautiful.

Bleeding hearts and star of Bethlehem, which self-seeds around the garden

Clearly, this sad little patch - right by the front door, of course! - is in need of a major makeover (apart from the cat, which wanders over from next door and adds a decorative touch). One of the problems is that voles seem to have invaded this space, leaving mounds of earth around the tree. I suspect them of devouring the hostas 'August Moon' that I planted in the front garden last spring.

I've been struggling with how to define the area to turn into a garden, since it's bordered by the sidewalk and driveway, plus a clump of myrtle around the lamppost. As Dad always said, edging a garden makes it look "meant." But I could start small with some bulbs and see what develops.

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