Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Mo' beds, mo' problems.
Last summer Loree gifted me the retaining blocks she removed from her yard during the great Bishops Weed expurgation. They sat in a pile in various areas of the yard, collecting spiders and looking terrible. My ultimate goal is to replace all of the retaining stones in the backyard with the same stone I used on the new shade bed but I spent way too much on plants last month and it's just not in the budget. I should use the free material I already have, right?
I started out a few weeks ago by dry fitting the blocks into roughly the area I wanted. Seeing that this corner was actually incorporated with the rest of the garden made me so happy. All of a sudden I realized how much this corner has been bugging me. But then I realized that I wanted to bring the line out a ways, so I had to remove some sod. And then I accidentally removed too much sod. I think I'm getting too good at it.
Side note: North Portland soil is much sandier than other parts of the city, where they have thick clay. Every time I get a plant from Scott I realize all over again how lucky I am, soil wise. His soil is sticky and unmovable and when it dries out it's hard as a rock. I've been able to see my soil improve dramatically (and quickly) by adding mulch every spring and compost every fall. My soil was badly compacted but I have almost no clay. I'm very lucky. The downside of North and NE Portland is that it was built atop a giant anthill. I could tell you horror stories of friends discovering ant infestations in their water heaters, so huge that grad students were brought in to study it.
Why am I telling you this? Because I discovered that every ant in Portland is living in this bed. I'll poison them if they come inside the house but out here they can do what they want. But, ugh.
Anyway, this area has been looking really good with all the ferns coming up, so good that I'm thinking about moving them.
I'm thinking about moving them forward and tucking another ninebark between the cedar and the pieris. 'Diabolo' grows insanely well in the northwest, sometimes reaching twenty feet (or so says Dan Hinkley). I don't think it would get that tall in a dry shady spot like this, but some height would be appreciated here. Or will the dark foliage just disappear in this area? I'm also considering a Mahonia 'Soft Caress.' Am I missing another shrub that would be good for this spot? Or should I leave it as is?
I'm badly in need of more plants to fill out this bed but I need to stop for a bit and let my wallet recuperate from April's shopping sprees and my trips to Rare Plant Research and Wind Dancer Garden. I thought creating this bed with donated stones would be thrifty but somehow I need to go shopping again.
Get opinionated on me. You all have such good suggestions.