What will she think?

While she’s away

Just as with many of the garden’s major additions, several tons of boulders and new plantings along the southern border of forest were recently undertaken while my wife was traveling, first to Canada and then to France. She says the nearly back-to-back trips were making up for missed vacations the past few years, and I should say how I would’ve liked to have gone along, but I travel enough on business and she knows I’m a hermit at heart, happier at home and in particular when I’ve got some digging to do.

The flowering onions were plugged into a gap in the garden planted earlier in the spring.

At one time, the addition of a pond (below) dug in a weekend while my wife visited relatives (in Pittsburgh) was intended as a surprise. Two ponds were added this way, but after so many years I think now I enjoy the opportunity to work uninterrupted, but also with no checks on my running out to grab a few plants as I’m inspired to fill gaps. I’m quite certain she expects me to mess around in the garden while she’s away, and certainly is never surprised by changes.

While maintaining the garden is a part of what must be done, I’m most excited by setting boulders, transplanting, and planting, so while my wife was admiring French architecture, I was dripping sweat and hosing the mud off before going back indoors to cool off a time or two. (An outdoor mess is acceptable. An indoor mess is big trouble.) By day’s end, I was pretty worn out from lugging soil up the slope to fill behind boulders, and if my wife has any worries at all about leaving me behind it’s that I might keel over dead from some mishap while I’m overdoing it.

She’s back

My wife has returned home. It’s taken a few days to get settled, and then to get back to her job for a day before the weekend. Now, she’s seen the additions to the garden, the area bordering the forest and a small planting beside the greenhouse. The waterfall in the koi pond has been moved, a practical change with rambunctious growth covering the old location and a possible leak after fifteen years without a problem.

Two dwarf ginkgos and a pendulous Ryusen Japanese maple must grow to fill the new space, but transplanted hostas, carex, and big leafed ajuga will quickly grow (in a few years) to make the planting more acceptable.

She offers her general approval, but also a warning that I’ve heard before. “Not one more inch”, she cautions, and with little remaining lawn, and half of that covering our septic field, additions to the garden are now more carefully considered.

The newly planted areas will remain works in progress, but will not be satisfactory for several years until ‘Shaina’ and ‘Ryusen’ Japanese maples grow a bit. Typically, I wait to find larger plants, but this project was a whim, an opportunity to fill the hours while my wife traveled. She loved her trips, I enjoyed my digging, and she’s mostly happy with the garden. It’s been a good month.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Valerie says:

    Now I need to go buy flowering onions!!!

  2. Valerie says:

    Question: do you worry that the ajuga will spread into your grass? Is there an ajuga that does not spread, I wonder? I am so hesitant to plant any ground coverings, because I’ve had a terrible time getting rid of pachysandra and mazus.

    1. Dave says:

      I know ajuga will spread onto the grass, but it is easily controlled and it doesn’t climb over other low plants such as hostas. I transplanted this from beneath shrubs and tall perennials where it had spread tenfold in three years.

      1. Valerie says:

        Ok, thanks. I may try a couple ajuga in my back, border garden.

  3. Carla says:

    Really lovely. I have the flowering onions, but after 3 years, they don’t look as pretty as that. I know they are drought tolerant, that’s why I have them in dry, central oregon. But the green on mine and the flowers are the same height and they do not fan out like yours. A pleasure to view your garden.

    1. Dave says:

      We have turned very dry over the past month, but of course nothing like you experience every summer. While the bulb holds moisture to tolerate dry periods, other perennials grow too vigorously and then fade terribly when it becomes dry. I do not irrigated at all, a luxury not possible for gardens on the west coast.

  4. Marianne Polito says:

    Hi Dave,

    Really enjoy your blog! Beautiful pictures! Please tell me the name of the groundcover in the 2nd picture of Sept.4. Round leaves w. white veins.

    Thank you.

    Marianne Polito

    1. Dave says:

      This is commonly called strawberry begonia, though it is not a begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera). This saxifraga is a low spreader, quite vigorous in slightly moist, part sun and much slower with more shade. Along this stream I must keep it cut back so it doesn’t impede the water flow, but that’s about two minutes a month.

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