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chokeword
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New Garden - HELP!

I am super excited, and absolutely terrified. This is the first time in 5 years that I actually have space for a garden. I've been stuck in tiny boxy apartment buildings for a while now, and before that I lived with my mother who can look at a plant and make it grow. So I'm quite intimidated by my new backyard (yay!) at my new house (double yay!)

 

The previous owners had put in a bunch of perrenials around the fence, but then they got impossibly old and let everything get overgrown. I tore down the ridiculous grape vine that took up a full quarter of the backyard, as well as a bunch of dead bamboo. I wanted to wait until everything started to come up before pulling anything else for fear of killing something really nice. 

 

I've discovered some really nice irises, daffodils, bleeding hearts, roses, and periwinkle, as well as a gajillion hostas. Those are really the only things I can identify right now, although I see a ton more interesting green stuff (and I think some berry bushes!)

 

I still don't want to pull too much stuff out, because there's still a bunch that I can't identify. But some of it is starting to choke out the nice stuff. 

 

Any suggestions on where to go from here? 

 

I've only been able to find field guides for wildflowers and native plants, so other than dragging my mother out here, I'm not sure where to turn. 

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KathyS
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


chokeword wrote:

I am super excited, and absolutely terrified. This is the first time in 5 years that I actually have space for a garden. I've been stuck in tiny boxy apartment buildings for a while now, and before that I lived with my mother who can look at a plant and make it grow. So I'm quite intimidated by my new backyard (yay!) at my new house (double yay!)

 

The previous owners had put in a bunch of perrenials around the fence, but then they got impossibly old and let everything get overgrown. I tore down the ridiculous grape vine that took up a full quarter of the backyard, as well as a bunch of dead bamboo. I wanted to wait until everything started to come up before pulling anything else for fear of killing something really nice. 

 

I've discovered some really nice irises, daffodils, bleeding hearts, roses, and periwinkle, as well as a gajillion hostas. Those are really the only things I can identify right now, although I see a ton more interesting green stuff (and I think some berry bushes!)

 

I still don't want to pull too much stuff out, because there's still a bunch that I can't identify. But some of it is starting to choke out the nice stuff. 

 

Any suggestions on where to go from here? 

 

I've only been able to find field guides for wildflowers and native plants, so other than dragging my mother out here, I'm not sure where to turn. 


Wow!  Sounds like you've been busy!  Don't be terrified, just be excited.  Nothing to be terrified of, and it looks like you're going about it the right way.  Taking out the things that you see, you don't want, or is old and woody, or dying, and making room for new growth.

 

May I ask where do you live....what state?

 

Stand back for a while, and survey what you have (look and watch).  Don't be in too big of a hurry.  Look at the ground you want covered: in flowers, bushes, trees.   Ask, things like, will they provide shade, or crowd out something else.

 

I'm usually prone to drawing out the picture I have in front of me, both in my head, and on paper.  Look through books, and see how something grows...big, little, bushy, tall, flowery, colors, perfumes.  Visualize how they all fit into what your planting area offers.

 

You can landscape what you already have, and incorporate plants within and around exisiting structures.  Or create somethng totally new and different.  It's always harder to start with something that already exists, than creating from scratch...with a blank canvass.

 

Create small gardens within gardens, is a lot of fun, even if you have small yards.  Sitting areas, and sculptures, are wonderful resting and reading places.  Plants don't just have to find themselves up against a brick/wooden/chain link fence.  Landscapes can be an adventure, visually, sensually, and physically.  Have fun with it!

 

Can't wait to hear what you're going to do with all of this...keep us informed?  Becke is great with every kind of garden question and problem that you might have.  Just ask away!

 

Kathy

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chokeword
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

Now that a few things have started to bloom, it's gotten a little easier. I still would like to have a spot for vegetables, but that may have to wait until next year when I can map out a spot for a raised bed.

 

I already have my boy working on building a brick firepit/oven, so hopefully that will give me a sort of anchor to work around.

 

I'm trying to be patient here, but I don't want to waste too much time. The summers can be short up here (upstate NY)  

 

Thanks for the advice. Keep it coming! It's nice to know I'm not totally stranded! 

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becke_davis
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

My advice for a new garden is usually to focus on the hardscapes and trees (which take longer to establish) and fill in with colorful annuals.  Then next year, when you have a better feel for what's out there, you can tackle the perennial plantings.  But it sounds like you're off to a good start, so just keep doing what you're doing.  That's the great things about garden plants -- almost all of them can be rearranged!
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KathyS
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


chokeword wrote:

Now that a few things have started to bloom, it's gotten a little easier. I still would like to have a spot for vegetables, but that may have to wait until next year when I can map out a spot for a raised bed.

 

I already have my boy working on building a brick firepit/oven, so hopefully that will give me a sort of anchor to work around.

 

I'm trying to be patient here, but I don't want to waste too much time. The summers can be short up here (upstate NY)  

 

Thanks for the advice. Keep it coming! It's nice to know I'm not totally stranded! 


 

No, you'll never be stranded, here!  I was thinking, as you mentioned raised beds for your vegetables.  I think that's a great idea. And as I was thinking, I wondered if you were in the city, or country...and how much space you had to plant and build things.

 

If critters are a problem, I'v'e heard of raised beds that have a wire screening attached to the bottoms of each tier, so the roots aren't accessable to those pesky critters that live underground.  Just a thought, before building.

 

I live in So. Ca., and pretty much hills and country surrounds me, but I don't have much problem, except for a stray bunny or squirrel nibbling on something.  But a friend of mine's house backs up to a wildlife preserve, and she has every imaginable critter walking into her backyard and stealing her vegetables.  Her garden feeds the outdoor population!

 

She is a wonderful gardener.  She plants all kinds of flowers and vegetables, but she curses daily, when the new little plant goes missing.  She's always trying to figure out a way to keep this from happening.  She used to have a dog, half wolf and half German sheppard, and he would keep EVERYTHING out of the yard, but since he died, she's encountering problems she never had before.  She loves all animals, and doesn't want to hurt them.  She often stands at her back patio, throwing fruits and vegetables to the bunnies, and whatever else wanders in.   New thought!  Maybe she thinks if she feeds them, they'll stay away from her garden? Ha!  I doubt it, but one can only hope!

 

Best wishes, also, on your new home.  Lots to think about!  Have fun!

 

Kathy

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becke_davis
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

Chokeword (is there a story behind that name?) - You're in good hands with this group.  Maybe your questions will bring some people out of lurkdom, too, to share their experiences with you.
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KathyS
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


becke_davis wrote:
Chokeword (is there a story behind that name?) - You're in good hands with this group.  Maybe your questions will bring some people out of lurkdom, too, to share their experiences with you.

 

I, also, was wondering about the pen name.  B&N employee...all choked up with words??? Don't think so, but no real clue.  Interesting the names people choose.  Hey, I'm Kathy..that's my name.  You're Becke, doesn't say much about us, does it?
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Choisya
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

My advice is to aim for colour in the garden all the year round and one of the best ways of achieving this is to plant a number of evergreen shrubs with yellow foliage as well as perennials with yellow foliage.  This means you have colour even when there are no flowers.  My suggestions are:-

 

Choisya ternata 'Sundance' (my favourite:smileyhappy:) - plant in the sun where it shines like gold doubloons. Fragrant foliage and fragrant flowers.

Aucuba japonica crotonifolia (spotted laurel) - will grow anywhere; sun, shade, roadside.

Bamboo (Arundinaria) murieliae - glows in the sun but tolerates part shade.  (Plant in a pierced piece of pond liner to create a bog and to prevent roots from spreading).

 

Aquilegia vulgaris 'Woodside Gold' (flowers very early spring) 

Bowles Golden Grass

Vinca minor Variegata

 

Also, these winter flowering plants give extra colour:- 

 

Jasminum nudiflorum - winter flowering jasmine (sun or shade).

Viburnum tinus 'Eve Price' - evergreen, winter flowering (sun).

Viburnum bodnantes 'Dawn' - winter flowering and fragrant (sun).    

Mahonia 'Charity' - winter flowering (part shade)

Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles'  evergreen, winter flowerring (part shade).

Clematis armandii - evergreen, winter flowering (sun).

 

A few tips:- 

 

Instead of pansies, plant winter flowering Violas which I find weather the cold better (and they seed profusely).   

 

Plant the more spectacular late tulip bulbs (eg: Angelique, Black Hero, Carnival de Nice) in deep window boxes so that you can move them out of the way to allow the foliage to die. To deter rabbits/deer you can cover the boxes with chicken wire. 

 

If you are planting a vegetable garden remember that there are varieties with more colourful foliage and flowers - like the 'Painted Lady' runner bean,  or yellow courgettes, striped tomatoes and chard. Use alpine strawberries, cut-and-come-again spinach and tumbling tomatoes in hanging baskets, together with a marigold to deter aphids. Use companion planting to deter pests and enhance flavour.

 

Above all, Good Luck and suitable weather! 

 

 

 

       

 

 

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chokeword
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

Thanks! I've been wondering what were some good types of foliage to plant that are interesting but easy. These are some great tips!

 

I'm lucky to have pretty much a blank slate. My yard is completely flat, and the soil is super rich and easy to work it. I live about a block away from the Hudson River, so I get a lot of nice deposits from there that have worked their way up. I'm not directly in the city, but I'm butted right up against it, so there really is no wildlife here. The closest thing I've seen is an otter that wanders up from the river sometimes. I do have a lot of birds (very pretty!) but really not many squirrels.  

 

My yard is an awkward L shape. The backyard is (if I remember correctly) 25'x75', and the side yard is 35'x85'. I also have a little lip in front of my porch with a frantically growing smoketree, and a patch about 5'x15' in front of the driveway that has a couple really nice rose bushes and some type of climbing flower. I'm not sure if that climber is still active underground, but when we moved there were about 4 giant armloads of dead vines and flower buds to pull off the fence so it wouldn't topple over. Hopefully whatever it was grows back. 

 

One of my biggest problems is that my yard butts right up against the neighbors yard, with only a short wire fence between the two. I like my neighbors, I just don't want to look at them all the time. What are some good tall plants I can put up to kind of block the view a bit. I don't want something that will grow too much, though, and take over everything. I've had enough of that with the grapevines from he**.  

 

I really like the idea of color all year round too!

 

Thanks again for all the great suggestions! 

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chokeword
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

Oh, and honestly, I'm not quite sure where the name comes from... It's something I've had since I was young, and I really just like the way it sounds. If I remember the actual origin, I'll let you know!
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becke_davis
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


KathyS wrote:

becke_davis wrote:
Chokeword (is there a story behind that name?) - You're in good hands with this group.  Maybe your questions will bring some people out of lurkdom, too, to share their experiences with you.

 

I, also, was wondering about the pen name.  B&N employee...all choked up with words??? Don't think so, but no real clue.  Interesting the names people choose.  Hey, I'm Kathy..that's my name.  You're Becke, doesn't say much about us, does it?
I guess we're just dull and boring, Kathy.  Actually, I don't think I got to pick.  When they did the transition from Online University to Book Clubs, my registration just got rolled over.

 

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becke_davis
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


chokeword wrote:

Thanks! I've been wondering what were some good types of foliage to plant that are interesting but easy. These are some great tips!

 

I'm lucky to have pretty much a blank slate. My yard is completely flat, and the soil is super rich and easy to work it. I live about a block away from the Hudson River, so I get a lot of nice deposits from there that have worked their way up. I'm not directly in the city, but I'm butted right up against it, so there really is no wildlife here. The closest thing I've seen is an otter that wanders up from the river sometimes. I do have a lot of birds (very pretty!) but really not many squirrels.  

 

My yard is an awkward L shape. The backyard is (if I remember correctly) 25'x75', and the side yard is 35'x85'. I also have a little lip in front of my porch with a frantically growing smoketree, and a patch about 5'x15' in front of the driveway that has a couple really nice rose bushes and some type of climbing flower. I'm not sure if that climber is still active underground, but when we moved there were about 4 giant armloads of dead vines and flower buds to pull off the fence so it wouldn't topple over. Hopefully whatever it was grows back. 

 

One of my biggest problems is that my yard butts right up against the neighbors yard, with only a short wire fence between the two. I like my neighbors, I just don't want to look at them all the time. What are some good tall plants I can put up to kind of block the view a bit. I don't want something that will grow too much, though, and take over everything. I've had enough of that with the grapevines from he**.  

 

I really like the idea of color all year round too!

 

Thanks again for all the great suggestions! 


Ah ha!  Then vines and climbers are what you want for that fence.  Try an annual vine that will grow quickly but, since it will die after the first frost, it won't take over.  Morning glories, hyacinth bean, scarlet runner bean are all favorites of mine, and you can mix them up.  For perennial vines, you might try kiwi vine or, if you want heavier foliage coverage, possibly Boston ivy.

 

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Par4course
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Registered: ‎05-08-2009
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

Is this a good thread to ask for help?  I, too, have moved from small space to a house in the last 2 years.  I've spent my time re-doing the front yard, changing it from grass and overgrown bushes to xeroscape with kangaroo paws, mexican sage, society garlic, creeping rosemary and lots of succulents.  (By the way, I live in Southern California).

In the backyard,I've found my happy space for vegetables.... BUT I have this area ....

 

It's along a fence that runs mostly east to west.  Half of it is shared with a neighbor who grows oleander bushes near it (so I keep running into their roots) and half of it has a neighbor with a dog (and so, my dogs feel the need to be over there a lot, too.)

 

The biggest problem, though, is that in the winter and early spring it is in shadow almost continuously.  Now, and through the summer, it will get full sun almost all the day.  Everything I've tried to plant for winter shade, dies in the summer; everything I've tried to plant for summer sun dies in the winter.  Any ideas?

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becke_davis
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


Par4course wrote:

Is this a good thread to ask for help?  I, too, have moved from small space to a house in the last 2 years.  I've spent my time re-doing the front yard, changing it from grass and overgrown bushes to xeroscape with kangaroo paws, mexican sage, society garlic, creeping rosemary and lots of succulents.  (By the way, I live in Southern California).

In the backyard,I've found my happy space for vegetables.... BUT I have this area ....

 

It's along a fence that runs mostly east to west.  Half of it is shared with a neighbor who grows oleander bushes near it (so I keep running into their roots) and half of it has a neighbor with a dog (and so, my dogs feel the need to be over there a lot, too.)

 

The biggest problem, though, is that in the winter and early spring it is in shadow almost continuously.  Now, and through the summer, it will get full sun almost all the day.  Everything I've tried to plant for winter shade, dies in the summer; everything I've tried to plant for summer sun dies in the winter.  Any ideas?


Kathy - You are in Southern California, too, so maybe you can offer some specific plant advice here.  I can offer some plant suggestions, but since I'm in the Midwest, I can't speak from experience about what will survive a Southern California summer.

 

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Choisya
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

[ Edited ]

One of my biggest problems is that my yard butts right up against the neighbors yard, with only a short wire fence between the two. I like my neighbors, I just don't want to look at them all the time. What are some good tall plants I can put up to kind of block the view a bit. I don't want something that will grow too much, though, and take over everything. I've had enough of that with the grapevines from he**.  

 

The dwarf green stripe Bamboowith evergreen foliage makes an excellent, quick-growing screen. (You do not need to cut it back in the winter.)  Thuja occidentalis Aurea Nana is a golden, hardy, slow growing conifer with a nice aroma, which makes a good subject for boundaries. If planted fairly close together they can be clipped to form a dense aromatic hedge.  (I have just planted 3 of these in large pots outside my front door.)

 

Here is a link to two photos of my 10 year old bamboo 'thicket'. (Password Choisya. View as a slideshow, full screen.)The first photo shows the dwarf bamboo Pl. viridistriatus on the left and the second photo is of the stems of the murielliae, the leaves of which I strip at the bottom to reveal the glowing stems.  They are both in part shade and have been planted in a pierced pond liner which has prevented root spread and created a bog for them.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


chokeword wrote:

Thanks! I've been wondering what were some good types of foliage to plant that are interesting but easy. These are some great tips!

 

I'm lucky to have pretty much a blank slate. My yard is completely flat, and the soil is super rich and easy to work it. I live about a block away from the Hudson River, so I get a lot of nice deposits from there that have worked their way up. I'm not directly in the city, but I'm butted right up against it, so there really is no wildlife here. The closest thing I've seen is an otter that wanders up from the river sometimes. I do have a lot of birds (very pretty!) but really not many squirrels.  

 

My yard is an awkward L shape. The backyard is (if I remember correctly) 25'x75', and the side yard is 35'x85'. I also have a little lip in front of my porch with a frantically growing smoketree, and a patch about 5'x15' in front of the driveway that has a couple really nice rose bushes and some type of climbing flower. I'm not sure if that climber is still active underground, but when we moved there were about 4 giant armloads of dead vines and flower buds to pull off the fence so it wouldn't topple over. Hopefully whatever it was grows back. 

 

One of my biggest problems is that my yard butts right up against the neighbors yard, with only a short wire fence between the two. I like my neighbors, I just don't want to look at them all the time. What are some good tall plants I can put up to kind of block the view a bit. I don't want something that will grow too much, though, and take over everything. I've had enough of that with the grapevines from he**.  

 

I really like the idea of color all year round too!

 

Thanks again for all the great suggestions! 


 

Message Edited by Choisya on 05-14-2009 05:26 AM
Message Edited by Choisya on 05-14-2009 05:30 AM
Contributor
chokeword
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


Choisya wrote:  

The dwarf green stripe Bamboowith evergreen foliage makes an excellent, quick-growing screen. (You do not need to cut it back in the winter.)  Thuja occidentalis Aurea Nana is a golden, hardy, slow growing conifer with a nice aroma, which makes a good subject for boundaries. If planted fairly close together they can be clipped to form a dense aromatic hedge.  (I have just planted 3 of these in large pots outside my front door.)

 


 
I love those conifers! Should I buy them small and grow them in pots until they're large? I could move them around in the backyard for a while that way to find the perfect spot for them... How quickly do they grow, and do they stop at a certain height?
This is so exciting! 

 

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chokeword
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎05-08-2009
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


Choisya wrote: 

Here is a link to two photos of my 10 year old bamboo 'thicket'. (Password Choisya. View as a slideshow, full screen.)The first photo shows the dwarf bamboo Pl. viridistriatus on the left and the second photo is of the stems of the murielliae, the leaves of which I strip at the bottom to reveal the glowing stems.  They are both in part shade and have been planted in a pierced pond liner which has prevented root spread and created a bog for them.


 
I know I don't know you very well, so I hope this isn't out of line but... You have a lovely thicket! :smileytongue:

 

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becke_davis
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

You have a lovely thicket! :smileytongue:

 

(I'm choking back laughter.) 

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KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: New Garden - HELP!


becke_davis wrote:

You have a lovely thicket! :smileytongue:

 

(I'm choking back laughter.) 


 

I'm LMAO!  I'm sure Choisya is too!  Becke, you  made a 'slight' pun, goes perfect with the innuendo!  Choke....Chokeword.....at least no one mentioned the B word...cough, cough, sputter, sputter!!!  Still LMAO!
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Choisya
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Re: New Garden - HELP!

Sorry - I don't understand the joke?:smileysurprised:   (I'm a Brit you know:smileyvery-happy:). 

 


becke_davis wrote:

You have a lovely thicket! :smileytongue:

 

(I'm choking back laughter.)