Thursday, February 20, 2014

Another Before and After: A Winter Project

I don't think anything will top the experience of last week's post about Jimmy the Hummingbird, but in the spirit of gardening I shall carry on!

I wish to to share a winter project that's been rolling around in my head for some months. Winter can be a great time to plan projects and changes in the garden and sometimes actually do them. That is, when the weather cooperates. Luckily, where I live in zone 8b Portland, Oregon, our winters are (supposed to be) mild (just erase the Snowpocalypse from memory and we'll be on the right track here). At every chance I am outside. A few weeks ago in milder weather I started another project, which is to ADD MORE PLANTS in every available nook and cranny. Operation "Just One More" went into overdrive. Haha, I hear my husband sighing off in the distance as I write.

At some point after staring at this view for a couple of years, I imagined a line of ferns along the front of the green fence to soften the hardscaping. When my husband agreed, stating that it would help to absorb runoff from the eco-roof I was elated.


I figured I would simply remove---say---two rows of square pavers and have dirt underneath to work with. Add organic compost, mix in, and voila!


So I went to work removing the pavers. I had compost waiting in the wings so I hastily dumped it in without actually digging below in the trench. So the other day, it was time to plant. Then.....


Du'OH! I dug straight into old brick pavers.
There must be a few we missed when we installed the pavers in 2012. So I dug out a couple.





However, it soon became clear the two odd pavers were just that---just two pavers. There was concrete, too. I could deal with digging out pavers one by one. No...this was a war of Tamara vs. Two-plus Inches of Concrete. Based on the broken tools above, guess who won?


My wonderful husband stepped in. David vs. Concrete = A win for us. He went to work, mind you, after I had to remove all the compost I had so hastily laid down. Nice going, Tamara. "How are you going to do it?" I asked...silly me, like this! Sledge hammer and brute force.



Mission accomplished! Wow. At one point, about 1/4 the way in, David claimed with gusto that I would NOT be planting this any time soon as it seemed to be a two-weekend project. Well, he had it smashed out of there in an hour. What a man! Oh joy, I dashed off to Xera plants to go shopping since this was opening weekend and I clearly had blank dirt to plant in now. Thanks, David!

David Note: Two days later sore hips and arms suggest the Concrete won! : )


Yay! Their new retail space (as of last year) is open for the gardening year! If you haven't gone and are in the Portland area, please GO!


Since this is still only February and Xera's opening weekend, not every space was filled...not yet, anyhow. It will be soon, I imagine. Still, a fabulous selection and such friendly, local gardening advice. Plus, look at that table in the background to the right with all Arctostaphylos.
Plant lust right there. Plant lust!


So I came home with a Cyclamen hederifolium 'Xera's Silver', my first ever Cyclamen...I just love the silver leaves, and I have a dry shady spot to place this little beauty. I also picked up three Primula vulgaris 'Francesca' with green cool flowers...I saw it on the Xera website. Also in the haul a Helleborus x 'White Pearl' and a Pacific Northwest native Tolmiea menziesii 'Taft's Gold' or a golden piggy back plant. All for the new shady area.


I had a few plants in stand-by already for this project, a few native sword ferns, an evergreen huckleberry or Vaccinium ovatum, native kinnikinnick or Arctostaphylos uva-ursi and a couple of native Polypodium scouleri or Scouler's polypody ferns. A jeweled chain fern or Woodwardia unigemmata and Ophiopogon planiscapus or black mondo grass were to replace the rotted contents of a hanging basket.




 Messing around with planting placement.


 Final product.



 There's the evergreen huckleberry. My goal was to have mostly native plants that are evergreen and will fill in. I also have some bare root salal that I ordered from a native plant sale on its way, I plan to include that in between everything. It takes a while to grow, so I will keep the perennials in until the salal fills in then find new homes for the shady plants, which is not difficult to do...lots of shady crannies abound.



 Finished product again. Doesn't look like much now, but I am happy to at least see hints of green! Plus, it's discreet enough that it won't interfere with summertime activities in this well-used area of the garden.



What a sweet little hellebore. This should fill in nicely.




 And finally the newly planted hanging basket in mostly shade. A little black, a little green, a lot of happiness for me. And a huge thank you to my incredible and strong husband. On to the next project!

Happy Gardening! 





27 comments :

  1. Kudos to your husband and his aching body for the help! Good job. The result is fabulous. I may be wrong, but I've been under the impression that salal takes over wherever it's planted. Whenever I see it in a garden, it's a mass of foliage with nothing else growing near it.

    Now, do you have plans for the square pavers that you took out? Or are they just going to sit in a pile somewhere in the yard in a spot you hope will keep them hidden? That's my M.O. LOL

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    1. Hi Alison, thank you for the kudos! You may be right about the salal, perhaps I'll have to re-think that strategy and leave these guys in place. As far as the square pavers...hahah..you are on to me! They will be in a happy pile somewhere in the yard hopefully hidden behind plants, of course :)

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    2. I think he deserves a good back massage. The place looks great! I love the green fence, that wonderful roof and the flooring. What an inviting area, no wonder it it a much used area.

      Have you done a post on maintenance of your planted roof. I've wanted to do one, but think weeding it would be a major task.

      I too wondered about the salal, as it does take over, the huckleberries will probably do ok. Allelopathic interference from salal will impede growth in other plants. However, I've seen Ribes lacustre, and Vaccinium parvifolium be ok with them.

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    3. Hi Debbie! Regarding the back massage, I KNOW, right? I've offered, but....we'll see.

      Thank you for your kind words! As far as maintenance, not much has to be done. I have weeded about twice or so since it went in last summer, but it was all easy and reachable from a ladder, mostly. We did leave some room at the top to be able to walk across if needed, I have done that once. The growing medium we used is specially designed to be "forever dirt" if you will, so no compost needed and it has excellent drainage. So far I'm really impressed.

      As far as salal, well...I think I need to reconsider what to do with it! I had thought a big thick hedge of salal right there would be nice...but...the gardener in me says "variety!"

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  2. Oh! that's going to be so lovely all filled in! I can't wait to see it in person.

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    1. I can't wait for some growth to happen! Spring...where art thou??

      Well...Heather, you are welcome any time, just let me know, you don't have to wait for summer if you are out this way and would like to stop by :)

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  3. This was indeed a very interesting project and very brave project. I would have thought 100 times before trying to remove all those bricks -- that can be such a hard work. Kudos to you and your husband. It's really looking nice and It will look fabulous in years to come. Can you write more about your eco-roof -- it would be interesting to read, learn and see close-up pictures.

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    1. Hello KL, I must say you have a lovely blog! Thank you for reading mine and commenting! As far as the eco roof, I posted about it when it first went in - here's a link:
      http://chickadeegardens.blogspot.com/2013/08/another-before-and-after-eco-roof.html

      I will post more as spring emerges and I get to see the status of the plants. So far it has held up really well. Let me know if you have specific questions, I'll try to answer. There's a plant list on the blog mentioned above. Cheers!

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  4. What a great idea you had, and of course a great husband (go David) for pitching in when needed. The result looks fab and I'm sure as it fills in it will be even better.

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    1. Thanks Danger - I know, David is awesome....as is Andrew! Without such help I find it would be a much different garden. I can't wait to see it grow in a bit too.

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  5. That is going to be such a great transition from fence to pavers, and with all the sweat equity David will surely be climbing aboard the gardening bandwagon.

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    1. Yes Ricki...I think he's aboard already - secretly! He won't admit it, though :)
      I can't wait for it to grow in a bit too.

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  6. fifi lafontaine12:21 PM PST

    David is the best! Whoa, it looks so good already. Good job, T!

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    1. I KNOW! David is the best....love him love him!

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  7. It looks great! I don't find concrete in my garden but I do dig up a lot of rocks that feel like they're made of concrete.

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    1. Aaah, those darned rocks. They are troublesome, aren't they?

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  8. Oooh... for the love of gardening! I'm so anxious to get outside and putter. Your post takes my spring fever up several notches! So cool. I love it. And I must get up to Portland and visit Xera!

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    1. I KNOW, Grace! I have the bug in a bad way. I too am infected with spring fever. Well, do come up to Portland to visit Xera - they're open Thursday - Sundays and although small, a fab selection.

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  9. How nice to have a strong and willing husband in the wings for little hiccups in project implementation. I think this looks wonderful now, and will fill in and look even better by summer. Looking forward to seeing it in person!

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    1. Strong and willing...that's a fab combination, I must say. Here's to the willing gardening husbands!
      Looking forward to having everyone over, even if I'm a little freaked out (in a good way) :)

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  10. My hat's off to your husband! What a kind and generous soul... Your edge-softening efforts will add a wonderful touch to what already seems a lush paradise of a yard. Hope to see it (and Jimmy) in person some time! :)

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    1. He's quite a great sport, and cute too! :) You know you are welcome any time...come before the fling, for sure! Would love to see your bit of paradise too.

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  11. I have a David helper when I really need some assistance too. Yay for Davids! Your new border looks sweet against that green fence.

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    1. Oh, yes, Pam! Hooray for the Davids of the world! Thanks for commenting and reading...the green looks better every day and I'm looking forward to the filling in of this area. By the way, at Cistus last weekend, the new guy there (from Texas) said "Oh, yeah...I know Pam! She's great!" so hopefully the Fling will get to Cistus and you can say hi to your friend (sorry, I have forgotten his name)...cheers!

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  12. Tenacious is all I can say....not one to give in either, I frequently find the easy-peasy projects always bite me in the rear. Great project and once grown in will look great. I adore the green fence

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    1. Hi Donna...well, us gardeners, right? We have a vision, often the tunnel-kind...haha..
      Those projects, yes...you get started and then you're in it all the way like it or not! Thanks for your comments, looking forward to seeing some growth too under the green fence. Cheers!

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  13. I saw that Xera was there last year, but haven't gone yet. My mom is within walking distance, so it will happen sooner than later!

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