Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meet the Boomerang

I realized this morning that I have talked several times about the boomerang, but have not really shown it to you. So today's the day.

First the history. When we bought the house nine years ago we made an agreement with the builder that he would put in grass seed (as required by law) but no landscaping at all. We wanted to do it ourselves. The front yard is fairly flat with a gentle slope toward the street that ends in a utility ditch at the edge of the street. There were two established trees - a silver maple on the right [as viewed from the street] and an oak on the left next to the driveway. Each was set in about 1/4 of the width of the lot, leaving about 50% open in the middle of the yard. They provided a good bit of shade all day for the house, but left the front of the property quite sunny. There is shade there only in the morning from the trees next door. [There is also a utility easement that requires that all trees be cut to 25 feet tall, or "side-walled" to keep them out of the electrical lines that parallel the street.]

One of the first things that we planted was a weeping cherry at the front right corner. We chose it because it would not exceed 25 feet tall and we thought it would be lovely. Mitchell watered it carefully every week and it died. When we pulled it up in the fall, we found that the heavy clay of our land had basically formed a clay pot around the roots and had filled with water - effectively drowning the tree. We knew we had a problem. Wanting to landscape the front of our yard tho, we bought a load of topsoil and laid out a bed that would mark the corner of the yard, while leaving room between the bed and the lot line to drive the pickup truck to the back. Essentially, we made a raised bed, but without any sides to hold it up. We tilled the existing soil and mixed the better soil into it and formed a bed - which ended up looking like a boomerang!

Instead of another tree, we picked shrubs and perennials that love the sun: plumbago, garden phlox, clematis, sedum, and weigelia 'Wine and Roses'. Initially there was also a beauty berry that was gorgeous, but which quickly got entirely too large, so we removed it about five years ago. The plumbago came from Garland's garden, and the other plants from Big Blue.

The photo above is the view from the house side. From left to right are sedum 'Madrona', a dogwood, garden phlox, cone flower, and the weigelia. The weigelia has grown well, altho you can see how very one-sided it is. We put a clump of sea oats behind it when they both were small. The sea oats became a bully, so I dug it up last fall and found that the weigelia had grown all of it's branches to the front to get out of the way of the sea oats. I did a fairly severe pruning this spring and am now seeing new branches coming on the house side of the plant. In a few years, it should round out for us. It is gorgeous in the early spring, tho, when it is covered with bright pink flowers. Out of the photo on the left end is the plumbago and on the right end more plumbago and some new phlox I planted this spring.

The photo on the right was taken from the street, so you cannot see all of the bed, but this is what passersby see. That huge clump of phlox started as three plants - dark and light pink. I have divided the clumps over the years and they have grown taller and stronger. There is a small clump of monk's hood hidden in the middle that blooms dark purple in the center of all that pink. I have finally learned to cut more phlox to get additional bloom later into the summer. It's so pretty tho, that I do hate to cut it.

There is a dogwood in this planting now. It started life as a volunteer that sprouted right next to the house. Last fall we decided that it could not possible stay where it was and the only chance of saving it was to move it. There was a gap where the beauty berry came out, so we planted it there. Dogwoods can be iffy. Their taproot does not go straight down, so you cannot be sure that you have dug up enough of it, but it appears that we were lucky with this one. It is now nearly five feet tall. You can see it in the both the photos. I think it will be two or three years before it blooms, but it will be lovely. I have been spraying it weekly for powdery mildew, which can be bad for young trees.

You may also have noticed that we have a "garden feature" in this bed. Just left of the phlox (see top photo and look right of the phlox) is a wrought iron support for a clematis that is long gone - needed more water. It is a pyramid with a pretty filial on top. We decided to leave it when the clematis died, because it looks great peaking out above the rest of the flowers.

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