December 28, 2008 Puttering in Helen’s Haven

None of my puttering today was actually in the garden.  With 20 cu. yards of composted leaf mulch arriving at 7:30 Monday morning, I figured I have plenty of time to do what needs to be done during this spreading process.  There is some leaf racking that needs to be done.  I’ll just rack these into  the beds…didn’t want to do it today in case it just blew around again.

Also, I have a high school kid to help me.  While one is loading and wheeling, the other will rack, cut back and spread.  We’ll trade off.  With my hill and lack of open space to spread, it usually takes about an hour per cubic yard.  We’ll see how long it actually takes.

This Sunday’s focus was on the design of the steps in the Mixed Border.  Not just the steps, but also, around the steps themselves and to the left (the north side of the steps) I want to add more year round interest.  I currently have a Henry Lauder’s  Walking Stick in a prime location.  This is a great plant in the winter, but really ratty looking for the summer. I had hoped to grow salvia through it during the summer, but I was never able to achieve that effect, certainly not the one I imagined.   It needs something better there to carry it through the summer, but also be a great winter interest plant.

First thing I will do is try to move the Walking Stick, but where?  My gardens are packed.  But it is big and valuable.  I will find a place.  With a kid to help, maybe two, we need to make hay while the sun shines.  I’ll move it while I have the help.

I will probably not replant  in the exact location.  I’ll play around with location depending on the selection.  A Japanese Maple comes to mind.  I do love them.  I’m also thinking a Viburnum would work well.  Maybe a grass even.  This is my transitional zone, so I have a good range for plant selections.

I could really use an evergreen…not a one in the entire bed.  But what?  I’m in love with conifers and can see a dwarf Hemlock – weeping, perhaps.  Actually, that would look awesome around the rock.  Mugo pines would be nice.  I have one that I just transplanted there, so we’ll see how it looks once the steps are in.

I also need some ground cover.  I think it needs to be evergreen  Maybe Rubus or Veronica ‘Georgia’.

Correction, there is an evergreen in the bed, or rather an ever burgundy – a semi-dwarf Loropedulum.  Plus, the top of this bed is edged with Korean box.

Ihave always been a fan of European design, I guess you could say I’m a Europhile, if there is such a word.  Helen’s Haven back gardens are  a classic English design – straight edges lined in box.  It is also a very formal design, but I keep it playful with non formal elements and plantings behind the box with an open area of grass in the center.  So I guess you could say, my grass is “inside the box”, but my plantings are  “outside the box.”

The weather is too pretty today to stay inside to peruse plant books looking for inspiration.  But I must; perhaps, I’ll just take my books outside and sit out on the chase on the back porch and read, dream, read, sigh…



  1. tina said

    You will be busy tomorrow for sure. You might try a Chamecyparis like ‘Nana Gracilis’ in place of the Walking stick. I did have a suggestion for the walking stick, I’ve had good luck with clematis growing through trees-would this help give your walking stick some interest? The only drawback would be the clematis might not perpetually bloom, yet many are rebloomers now it seems. Anyhow, have fun tomorrow with all your new ‘gold’!

  2. I’ll look into the Chamecyparis ‘Nana Gracilis’..I love Chamecyparis in general. In 2007, Brian Simet’s garden was open for me for the Garden Conservancy. His entire 1/3 acre lot was full of conifers with a heavy emphasis on Chamecyparis. A wonderful garden.

    I should amend my post today since I did end working 2.5 hours. While I was out there, the thought did cross my mind to add a vine to the Walking Stick…great minds think alike! I will give that some more thought as well. I will need to add several plants and that still may be a good choice. While I was out today, I picked up a yellow stemmed dogwood ‘Buds Yellow” for my woodland garden, Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’, Nest Spruce, and Pygmy Hinoki Cypress for somewhere in the Mixed border. These should help to “mix it up”

  3. Hey you! I got my new puter and I’m back on track. I enjoyed having a think session with you about your walking stick. They are so unattractive in the summer, I agree. Their leaves don’t look alive..kinda like they are always on the verge of drying up. Don’t you think?

    It was so nice here today. I have my AC on for crying out loud. I have some new dwarf cryptomeria that I just love. Put them on your think list?

  4. Thinking is good. I need to pull out my photos, b/c when it bare like it is now, it is hard to remember how vibrant it is when peaking.

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