Monday, June 23, 2008

Anatomy of a New Garden

I made a new garden at the corner of our street and driveway this past weekend. We had a landscape construction crew in for over a week that (among other things) created a stone retaining wall using huge granite blast rock boulders.

They found an interesting rock that they thought I might like to use at the entrance to our driveway. It turned out to be a perfect "Heaven" rock when installed vertically. I was able to find corresponding "Earth" and "Man" rocks as well, and our back hoe operator Elliott slung them into place. The Heaven, Earth and Man rocks illustrate the principle of the three forces, oshakei, which is a classical aesthetic tool in Japanese garden design.

The rocks were dug in approximately 1/3 of their height. This is a view of the back side of the rocks. I began with a stake in the centre, and dug a 5' radius to make a perfect circle. The Heaven rock was installed in the very centre. The Earth and Man rocks were installed to complete the triad. I removed the sod and added garden soil.

I'm beginning to install the black plastic edging. I've dug a vertical line with a spade. I use a small stone to brace the beginning of the roll, and place the edging so the top rolled edge is level with the top of the soil (not the top of the grass).

You can see the level of the edging.

I've completed the edging and added many wheelbarrow loads of garden soil!

Holes are dug for the plants, and bonemeal scratched into the bottom of the holes.

This ornamental grass is a transplant, so I plop the plant into the hole, add a bit of soil, then fill the hole with water. I wait until the water drains away, then I fill in the rest of the soil.

The garden is planted. I've used: 1 x Miscanthus 'Malepartus', 1 x Blue Rug Juniper, 1 x Filipendula rubra, 3 x 'Frosty Beauty' Daylily and 3 x Heuchera 'Lime Rickey'

Landscape cloth installed around the juniper at the front of the garden. I used the cloth here because the juniper is permanent, and I won't need to dig in this area.

Newspapers! This is my old Master Gardener's trick. I use 5-7 sheets thick around perennials, where I will have to plant bulbs and eventually split the plants. The newspaper is a wonderful weed suppressor, takes about 3 years to break down, and keeps the underlying soil moist.

I am beginning to pile shredded natural colour cedar mulch over the landscape cloth and newspaper. I never never never use coloured mulch. It looks awful. And don't even get me going about white or pink quartz as a mulch, unless you want your garden to scream "tacky". That's my garden designer rant for the day.

The garden is mulched about 3" thick, including over the side of the plastic edging. Now you can't see the plastic, and I've graded the edge of the garden so the lawn mower wheels can run on the mulch and cut the grass without a trimmer being required.

The front of the garden. The "Man" rock is on the left, "Heaven" is in the centre, and "Earth" is on the right.

I'm working on the front of the house now. In between rain storms, which never seem to end.



Janet - can you come and 'do' my gardent too!!! I'd even give you break time for kyaking!

Cindy R said...

gorgeous rock garden !
About the third photo in, I started to wonder if you were creating a natural free standing sundial. Always a pleasure to view your work !


Christine Baker said...

Hi Janet - Happy Canada Day!!Your garden looks great, and I have a "professional" question for you. Could I use newspapers around my strawberry plants?? My husband and I are kinda forgetful about weeding and this year I can't even find the strawberries for the weeds, so I'm going to move the row, but I want to put some sort of weed barrier in. Do you have any suggestions?