I’ve talked a little bit about my old garden and I would like to do a post about several of my old gardens or gardens I have designed but that will have to wait a bit. Tomorrow is my trip and I should really be packing and getting ready. I still have a lot to do.
But I was looking at some old pictures and I also asked for some current ones to be sent to compare (a task that took my seventy two year old father three days to complete; first he accidentally sent me black and white photos, then video, and finally after an email and an explanation on the phone on how to operate his Droid the color photos were sent).
It is always fun to see what has held up over the course of six years and the results of long distance or intermittent direction in the care of the garden. The first few years after I left the garden was just neglected and quickly fell into ruin. Then my father hired a part time handy man to help with other jobs around the house and my friend and classmate Emily who runs an estate in Connecticut came a few times to do some work, make some suggestions, and teach the handy man the difference between perennials and weeds. Of course I visit once or twice a year and give whatever guidance I can from three thousand miles away.
The front garden is not very big. It is a suburban lot and probably about a third of an acre. My father has a home office so much of the front yard has been converted into a parking lot. There is a perennial border along the driveway, several mixed shrub and perennial borders that run the length of the sidewalk, then a small strip of lawn separating the final long border that flanks the neighbors property to the north.
The driveway border used to belong to my fathers wife but when he divorced her in 2004 I saw it as the perfect opportunity to pull everything out and start over. The plan was to create a mostly late summer border with lots of native coneflowers and grasses and the like and a few other large specimen plantings of plants that interest me. My favorite thing about this garden was mid to late May when it is full of Alliums to bridge the spring and summer flowers.
The garden was renovated in 2004 and this is how it looked in May of 2005.
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Some of the perennials in the border include a large Persicaria polymorpha which had been transplanted from the backyard, a big clump of Eupatorium, a huge specimen of Echinops ritro and Rudbeckia maxima that I salvaged from the old bed, and some oriental poppies, Echinacea, Veronicastrum, Amsonia, Achillea and Baptisia.
Six years and much neglect later it is fun to see what remains and what has changed. The same area in 2011 in late May.
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To the right you can see some of the plants that are climbing the house. They are a bit unruly because when I was home in March it snowed the day I planned on cutting them back. But in the center you can see how huge the Persicaria polymorpha. The Eupatorium has spread but the Echinops is gone. The Amsonia and a Limonium still remain but the Echinacea and Veronicastrum are gone. The Purple Sensation Alliums are still there though this picture was taken a bit later so they are fading but you can see on the right behind the Persicaria where I added some more A. ‘Gladiator’ and to the left I added some A. ‘Mount Everest’ because I felt like I needed some white spheres to go along with all the purple ones. The big clump of A. ‘Globemaster’ in the middle bed is still looking pretty impressive as well.
The red mulch (shudder) was a huge weedy grass that I had pulled in March before it got too tall. I’m not even sure exactly what it was but I know it wasn’t ornamental and had to come out before it took over any more of the garden. It wiped out a bunch of perennials that were in that area. The poor handy man thought it was supposed to be there so it just got bigger and bigger.
I’m hoping to visit again in the fall and maybe do a little work on this border. Since it flanks the parking lot it is important that it looks nice or at least presentable.
This garden was far from perfect but I do miss it a little bit so it is nice that I still get to see it even though I have moved away. I’m hoping I’ll have something even more impressive here in California some day. I just wish I could grow all those Alliums here.