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In the Changing Garden

In converting my yard to a garden, I have been double digging the flower beds and borders as I progressed. After letting the soil settle I would begin adding peatmoss, sand, topsoil, compost to the beds to improve the soil, or make a base for the paths. I would draw up plans and pour over catalogues to find plants I wanted.
From 1988 to 1997 I kept hand written journals of the changes to the garden. From 1999 I began to transfer the gardening information to my computer. I got my first digital camera in 2000 and began to use it more in the garden in 2001. I created my blog in 2005. My blog has been rather like a garden journal. In 2012 I began to keep a garden journal on my computer.

Over the years I have created 'garden rooms' in the back and front yard. Each room has a theme with plants, garden art and paths to define the theme of the room. I have made mistakes in the selection of trees and plants and many have been taken out or replaced, or as is the case with invasive plants: it is an ongoing battle, that is all part of the gardening and learning experience.

The Garden Rooms

  • 1997 to 2009

    The Garden Rooms in the Back

    The Water, Moss and Japanese Garden rooms

    Prior to 1998 I had a 20 inch deep tub dug into the ground with a pump and waterfall. In April of 1998 I discarded the tub, dug the hole larger and deeper. I now have a 30 inch deep pond, that is approximately 8' x 8', lined with EPDM, with a shelf for shallow water plants on two of the sides. I have added a pump and waterfall. The volume is approximately1050 American gallons. See my water garden page for the beginning up to 2006 information and photos on this area in the back garden. The waterfall is on the north east corner of the pond. It is now topped by the mermaid that was on the water feature in the front garden. I am encouraging the moss to grow on the waterfall. There is a globe evergreen, and several hedging cedars that run along the deck on the east side of the pond. On the north side the yews screen the view of the vegetable patch.There is a small globe cedar along this side that allows a glimpse into the vegetable patch. Next to this is a bay laurel that is the at the corner of the vegetable garden. Across the stone path from the laurel is a small bamboo, a lily of the valley shrub, a small Japanese maple, a Harry Lauder's walking stick (corylus avellana), a small spruce shrub, and a rhodo that divide the Japanese garden area from the entry to the back garden. There is moss starting to grow under these shrubs and it continues along this side of the pond, past the Japanese lantern and dry stream to under the deck. In front of the yews there is a small boxwood hedge bordering the flat cement blocks along that side of the pond.
    From 2006 to 2014 as I type this, I have been encouraging the moss to grow in the little Japanese type garden beside the pond, along the dry stream, and under the deck. This blog post in July of 2013 shows the moss garden along the dry stream and under the deck. I have been keeping the moss free of ferns and other plants except for the welsh poppies which are lovely and delicate blooming over the moss. There are stepping stones starting from the primulas, through the hellebore, white azeleya and the rhodo going under the deck (duck your head -- this garden is built for gnomes) and step over the dry stream where there are now board stepping stones through the new moss and ferns. I have an old plastic chair and table set up against the house wall for resting in the shade. This area is a work in progress. The neighbours on the East side of the cedars that screen the deck have beat the hell out of the cedars chasing their hockey pucks under the deck years ago when they were kids. I have been trying to add more screening. A black bamboo has taken hold and is working well. The leaves are slowly growing back on the damaged cedars. The ferns grow up to screen my sitting spot. There will be more bamboo. The pond, water tubs and water fall have numerous changes done over the years.

    The pond had water lilies, at first, before the plum tree caused it to be too shaded. Now, the bog marigold is the star of the show in the Springtime. The water hawthorn blooms almost continually in the summer. In the late summer the water irises add a vertical touch to the design. The pond edges have some saxifragia, wolfenia, campanula that are filling in around the edges of the rock 'necklace'. On the corner opposite the waterfall there is a very nice minateur Lebanon cedar that stretches over the pond. The east side of the pond edges have been taken over by the English bluebells in the Spring. I have to eradicate them. As I type this in October 2014 I am renovating the paths and pond edges, to lower the edging rocks and hopefully let the edging plants fall over the rocks. The waterfall is getting very nicely covered in Moss. The new tiny seating area should tie nicely into the moss/fern garden under the deck.
    A very nice
    Japanese bamboo gate that is on my wish list.

    The Vegetable patch

    I have planted more cedar hedging along the back of the vegetable patch. There is a wisteria in the north east corner. Along the east side in a 3 foot strip there is chives, tall bearded irises, an English Oak tree, a french lilac, an autumn crocus, and at the bottom of this area I have planted a few yews that screen the pond from the vegetable patch. There is also a low globe cedar and a bay laurel along the bottom of this area. By 2012 I found that the vegetable patch had become too shaded and the tree roots use up all the nutrients. I am now using half of the vegetable patch as a cutting garden/butterfly garden. The other side of the veggie patch is in strawberries and a rhubarb that either needs to be replaced to a stronger root, or fed more compost. There are cement blocks that create the paths. See for more on the vegetables and fruits in the back garden. Also see a blog posting of 2009 for a good view of the inner grass area of the back and some of the newly made paths.The album contains photos to show the paths created in the back garden and in the front garden.
    On the west side of the veggie patch I have created a little rockery. There are a few special plants in the little rockery.

    The Woodland

    The woodland began as a five foot border along the back of the lot, and along the west side of the lot. I dug out the sod and added soil amendments. I planted a few hedging cedars, a Japanese cedar, an eucalyptus, fronted by bulbs and some perennials. The area I consider the woodland starts from behind the old garage and wraps around the old garage on the west side. Eventually, I had all of the sod removed and replaced with more perennials. The old sidewalk behind the garage was the first part of the woodland trail and where the old cement ends it becomes a woodchip trail. There is about 15 feet on the west side of the old garage, with a cedar hedge that goes from the back of the garage to the front of the house, along the driveway which is a five foot strip between the driveway and the property line. There are shade perennials along the west side of the garage and around the back there is a rhodo and more perennials, and a pin oak. Across the trail from the rhodo and pin oak, there is a small sumach grove and the tall Japanese cedar. The eucalyptus tree got far too big and had to be taken out in 2009. It was a very nice privacy screen while we had it. I now have a tub water feature sitting on the stump with water iris in it. Across the old sidewalk from the tub there is the old plastic compost bin that is hidden by the lily of the valley shrub and a large evergreen fern. I now have a butterfly bush and a few other smaller shrubs that I moved into the back corner of this woodland area. It is about 15 feet wide at the west side and becomes narrower as it goes to the east side of the back garden, following the old sidewalk. I have a few wild flowers in this area. This part of the woodland is a problem right now (2014). I planted some bulbs that are called bluebells and they are taking over the whole area as well as other parts of the garden, front and back. Very invasive. Next to the old garage between the garage and the old sidewalk, I have about a 6 x 10 foot bed. I had a lovely hydrangea in there. In 2013 this shrub seemed to catch some sort of fungus infection. Its leaves drooped and dried and died. As none of the other plants seem to have been affected, I wonder if it really was fungus or some accidental ( or deliberate - I have some weird neighbors) poisoning by herbicide. I would like to replace it, if possible. This bed has the lily of the valley shrub and the ever green fern, and daylilies in it. I cleaned up the bed and tried to dig out all the bluebells. I planted beans in there (2014) and the beans are not affected by any fungus. Across the old sidewalk from this bed there is about 8 feet of tall bearded iris and germander in front of the yew tree, a couple of cedars and the firethorn. The firethorn is at the end of the old sidewalk where it curves around behind the garage. Across a narrow cement paver path of about 3 feet there is a holly tree. I keep both of these prickly trees pruned back to make this entry way into the grass patch and the apple tree area easy to navigate with the little mower.

    This google search of the woodland on my blog has given me a number of post regarding the plants, trees, shrubs and paths in the woodland, over the years

    Paths and the central area of the back garden

    This post to my blog contains a good over view of the central part of the back garden. As you see this area is divided into two parts. The top or north part contains the golden delicious apple tree surrouned by grass for easy access when picking the apples. The little rockery is on the east side and on the west side there is a border with perennials, and the variagated holly tree. To mow this grass Pat built a ramp for me to run the rechargeable mower up the steps to the old sidewark and into the grass area. As you can see in the photos the stepping stone path at the south or bottom side of the grass area leads over to the veggie patch and into the Japanese/water garden room. I created the stepping stone paths through this lower or southerly part of the central part of the back garden because this area was very soggy in winter and difficult to navigate. This lower area has the fig tree, an arbutus tree, and some perennials and spring bulbs. The bulbs put on their show in the Spring before the fig tree leafs out.
    As I type this in 2014, we are slowly removing the arbutus (strawberry tree) as it is quite messy and is too close to the Fig tree. The curving stepping stone path on the east side of the fig tree is now lined with the lovely fragrant Corsican mint. On the other side of this path are the shrubs that divide this area from the little Japanese/water garden area. I am slowly establishing a few shade perennials by these shrubs. Along the bottom or southerly side of the stepping stones there are a few primulas that seem to be doing well in the soggy winter conditions. There are stepping stones from this path leading over the primulas, through the moss, past an azaleya, some hellebores, and more rhodos that back onto the deck stairs.

    I created the stepping stone path through the lower area of what was grass in this area in 2008. This area was too soggy to walk on, during our winter rains. Leading off the old sidewalk the stepping stone path leads past the rhodos by the deck stairs and curves around the fig tree to meet the other end of the path. This side of the new bed goes along the edge of the small grass area and over to the entry to the veggie patch and then curves around the Japanese Garden area to continue around the pond.

    As you may notice I have divided the back into 'rooms'. Each room has its own theme. The front is divided into rooms in the same way.

  • The Garden Rooms in the Front

    The front Boulevard garden

    I am using about 30 feet of the city property in the front garden. This blog post shows the front boulevard garden The cedar hedge at the street side runs from the neighbors property line to five feet from our driveway, with a small nook created in the hedge for the garden bench on the inside of the hedge. This nook allows for a rectangular bed on each side of it. These rectangular beds and the nook are about 8 ' X 5 '. There is a honeysuck pilea hedge that runs the length of the cedar hedge, across in front of the beds, and nook. In front of this little hedge there is another 5' deep strip that runs across the front garden. In front of this strip there is grass out to the street. In about 3 to 4 feet of the grass I have planted crocuses. These crocuses come up in the Spring and need to be left until they harden off, when I can mow the grass. In the strip behind the crocus field there is a purple plum tree, at the east end and moving westerly there is some pussytoes, some lychnis, a red currant shrub, some black-eyed susans, and other perennials, and in the middle of the strip, is the bridal veil spirea bush. Continuing westerly there are michaelmas daisies, achillea, verbena, a french lavender and a few others under planted with thyme. The hedges, and beds end about five feet from our driveway and the grass continues along this side to add the frame. Just past the cedar hedge of the front boulevard garden the grass frame is interrupted by the bed with the magnolia tree, the bamboo, and other plants in the inner front garden.

    The frame and paths

    There is a five foot grass frame around the front garden. This blog post is a good view of the grass frame along the sides and at the front by the street. The frame on the east side is the neighbor's five feet of grass between our properties. This page from my web page contains views of the curving grass path that makes the top frame to the garden.
    There are stone paths within the inner garden made from flat field stone, laid into a clay and sand base. This page 10 and part of page 11 from my Paths and Art album shows the stone paths from 2009. There have been a few renovations of this stone path over the years since I made it in 1997.

    The Inner Garden

    The area between the Boulevard garden that is bordered by the cedar hedges at the south and east sides and the boxwood hedge along the top or the north side . This blog post shows the inner garden paths and structure
    The first page has this good description of the inner garden: Before 1997 I had double dug and improved the soil in about a 6 foot area around the inner garden. The inner part was grass at first. I had planted the border on the east side with a deodora cedar and a lovely big Austrian pine. Both of these trees were too close to the propery line and I had to take them out when the neighbors complained about them. They were too close to their driveway. After these trees came out I again planted cedar hedging and have the honeysuckle hedging running along the outside of the cedar hedging from the grass path down to the cedar hedge at the boulevard and around the little rectangle to meet the honeysuckle hedge running acoss the front of the lot. This little hedge beside the larger hedge details the "frame" around the front garden. In this east side border there is a star magnolia and a California lilac. There was room for perennials along this border and I had lupines and foxgloves that looked really good one year. I was mowing the grass of this inner garden and the outside borders grass with a push mower. In 1997 Pat was away to Europe with Lloyd and I had about 6 weeks to garden all day and nite if I wanted to. There was more double digging, adding compost, peat moss, sand to this clay. The grass was dug under... probably too deeply, but I did not get any grass growing into the beds in subsequent years. The soil on top needed a lot of improvement and still does. After the whole area was dug over, I started to make the paths and the little rockery with flat field rocks and more sand added to the clay. This made a fairly firm bed for the paths. I bought a few pieces of garden art and established them in the garden. The bench was put into its niche in the bottom cedar hedge. I planted a black bamboo, a magnolia, a smoke bush, two more roses and a few choice little rock plants. While making this inner garden I made a 7 foot diameter circle of thyme. Its a lovely feature of the front garden and is just on the north side of the bench. The bees love the thyme. To the east of the thyme circle there is a smaller circle with stone path around it and the sundial in the center.

    The strip beside the driveway

    There is a five foot strip along the west side of our driveway with the neighbor's driveway on the other side of the strip. This strip has a cedar hedge that is now (2014) house high and is a perfect living fence and privacy screen between our houses. At the street end of the strip I have about 10 - 15 feet of St.John worte. There is a telephone pole with the Virginia Creeper trained to grow up the pole. The St. John's worte extends beyond the pole for a few feet where it meets the Yucca plant. There is heather, and the rose of sharon shrub, under-planted with arabis and grape hyaciths. Next to this shrub there is the Mountain Ash Tree that is surrounded by the Kings Spear, the Torch lily, more arabis and heather. The arabis it a bright white carpet in Spring and evergreeen during the winter. There are Daffodils next to the Mountain Ash tree that have multiplied into big clumps and bloom profusely in Spring. This takes us up to where the Cedar Hedge begins. A blog post, part 1 showing the plants in the driveway strip and part 2 of the blog post showing the plants that grow from the Mountain Ash tree, along in front of the cedar hedge to the front of the old garage at the back. There are tulips in front of the hedge and a few other bulbs and perennials. In the last 10 to 15 feet before the end of the driveway there are perennial geraniums. These are excellent plants for this difficult spot. At the end of the cement from the driveway we go into the woodland area on a chip path. This driveway wraps around the back of the house, between the house and the old garage. I call this area the patio. It goes across the back of the house to the steps that go up to the old sidewalk and to the steps that go up to the deck.

    The garden is ever changing and evolving.

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