Thursday, June 02, 2016

Connecting the Dots

Another project that I would put in the "major" category is underway. There is still so much to do, so when David said he was game to rent a sod-cutter, I got excited. That means crossing another item from the big list. But now I'm saying "What the *&%$!!** did we do?"


Before last weekend, we had sod. OK, weed/sod but it was green at least. I have a vision to connect the labyrinth garden (the circle you see in the deep-middle of this photo) with the gravel garden in the main portion of this photo. The vision is to take up the sod in between and create large sweeps of ornamental grasses and possibly low-growing wildflowers.


 Here's a very early before photo from November. That was simply ages ago.


 Give David a power tool and he's off and running. He did all of the sod-cutting; what a guy.



 I rolled it up as I could or raked it into piles as much of it did not roll. It's fairly poor grass so it crumbled into little bits. I was not surprised.


 Here you can just make out the boundary line where the grass has been cut but not yet removed. To the left most of the sod has been removed but the strips of un-sod-cutter cut grass -- grass David missed with the sod-cutter -- David is still removing in a process he terms "mohawking"....so he has been mohawking the final bits all week.


Although difficult to make out (a sea of brown isn't exactly photogenic), this is the area between the two aforementioned garden areas. You can see David mohawking behind the tree. He has plenty mohawks here in the foreground. He loves his shovel.


Dirt to accommodate these: The last of the plant prison inmates. Grasses from the old house, from blogger friends and purchased last year.


I already had an idea how I wanted these to look so this was the fun part, laying it all out.





 David says the rolled sod reminds him of the sausage rolls he enjoyed recently in Australia. (what??)


I have a vision in my head of light shining through these so they are placed at an almost north-south direction so both the morning sun and evening sun can shine through.



 Here is the first bunch planted with morning sunshine. What I have planted here is Amsonia in front, then Anemanthele lessoniana 'Sirocco' (the orange one), then Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'. There are 14 plants in all right here, and the soil was so hard that each one took about 15 minutes. I'm not joking. Plus, there was a layer of river rock about an inch into the soil, so I had to remove that happy fun mess.


Here it is with a cat for scale.


OK two cats sampling the buffet that I planted just for them.


 And Hobbes complaining the lawn is gone. I have a lot more to plant but that's all I have had time for since last weekend. I have a truckload of compost being delivered today, that will help indeed. The only good thing about this soil is believe it or not, it's well-drained so I am hopeful that with the addition of good compost in time it will be better. I still have many other grasses to plant such as Miscanthus 'Little Zebra', Panicum 'Cloud 9', Pennisetum 'Moudry'. I will have to carefully consider where to place them as I only have one or two of each. What to go in between? I have my sights set on Carex pansa or California meadow sedge. I need quite a bit and it will be expensive to fill in, so I think I'll only be able to to chunks at a time but it will be worth it in the end. It is then at this point that I'm saying "What the *&%$!!** did we do?" as we'll have to look at dirt for quite a while. 

So why get rid of the grass at all and why Carex pansa? Carex pansa is native to the West Coast, it has a shaggy look and doesn't need mowing so much. I like the wild look and I feel it connects this land with the surrounding landscape much better. I also wish to eventually remove more lawn beyond what we have done here and begin to grow a meadow at the outer edges of this land. I may also do some modified version of a shorter meadow between some of these ornamental grasses....time will tell.


To keep us all going, we've indulged in the Nepeta or cat mint. Hobbes actually discovered it for the first time this week. I think he likes it, don't you? Now it will be easy to keep tabs on him while we're out digging grass-holes or mohawking grassy strips.

That is what's happening this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and happy gardening!

30 comments :

  1. Interesting to see your progress in the garden. I can imagine how it will look like in this ornamental grass garden within a few years: Wonderful! It is quite a job but you have lots of fun together, comparing rolled sods with sausage rolls and the cats are enjoying themselves too.

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    1. We do have a lot of fun, Janneke. Cats and all...they keep us crazy and entertained.

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  2. That's going to look fab in no time at all!

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    1. Oh, do you really think so? I'm hoping. This is a huge risk taking up all this grass.

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  3. Sun shining through the grasses in one of your photos shows just how good your plan is. I see much progress though I'm sure it seems to go more slowly for you. Compost and mulch over the dirt is just fine until you can get those sedges in place. I've been replacing liriope with sedge at a snail's pace by purchasing a few and dividing as they grow.

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    1. It does seem to go slowly, Shirley. I can never seem to get done what I want to in a day, but then again, I dream big :)

      Sounds like you are in the midst of a similar process. Good luck with your sedge lawn!

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  4. Lots and lots of work but it will be worth it in the end! I've been tempted to grow Nepeta again but the last time I planted it the neighborhood cats, who must have radar for the stuff, showed up and ate 3 plants to the ground within a week, upsetting my poor house-bound Pipig in the process.

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    1. Oh, that's funny. Pipig...what a sweet name! Well, that's not fair to Pipig, is it? When we had the other house Hobbes would go crazy if he saw a neighbor cat outside, of which there were several. It's not fair, is it?

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  5. Going to be magnificent! One word of warning about 'Moudry' if you haven't grown it before: it reseeds like crazy. At least here in St. Louis.

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    1. Ooooh, you really think so? Thanks for the Moudry warning...I'll have to check to see if it's invasive here.

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    2. Yes! Heed what Alan says. And if you're going to go for it, you might plant Redhead instead--it blooms earlier. That is still one of my favorite grasses.

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  6. This is going to be just splendid ! I can't wait to see photos when they start to fill in a bit this summer.I fear if I had that much bare room to deal with I'd be galvanized by indecision.The choices !

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    1. Thank you, KS! I can't wait too...I stare out the window when I'm not outside imagining what it might look like one day :) The choices, I know. I have to stick to some kind of boundaries or I'd go mad.

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  7. So fabulous. I still have 2 Miscanthus s. 'Morning Light'. They're in an Ikea bag with dead tops, but yesterday I checked the roots & they still seem viable. Yours if you want them.

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    1. Sure! Love the 'Morning Light'! Thanks, Patricia! :)

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  8. It's going to be fabulous...and, as always, I'm so jealous of the scale you get to play with now! PS...thanks for the cat shots ;-)

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    1. Oh, I had you in mind when I added the cat pix...hee hee.
      I hope it looks fab, let's hope it survives this upcoming heat wave!

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  9. How exciting to see a new project progressing. I love the idea of the sod cutter. Saves so much time. We grow that amanethele grass. we call it pheasant's tail grass, and it does look amazing with the sun shining through. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. New projects are fun, aren't they? There is a kind of magic momentum that keeps me going when the notion of "Big Project" comes up. We also call that grass pheasant's tail grass, and boy it is pretty! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  10. I'm truly impressed by how much you two have accomplished already. That's a LOT of sod and a lot of space to fill! Like Scott, I'm a bit jealous of all of that space but not of the sore muscles you must have most days! Love those beautiful felines!

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    1. Thank you Peter! That IS a lot of sod, isn't it? And oy the sore muscles. Unreal. I didn't know I could have sore hips from this but....there you go!

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  11. Our visions are similar but I'm nibbling away while you are taking great big bites. I am filled with admiration.

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    1. Aaaw, you are too sweet Ricki. xo

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  12. OMG the work you've done and the work you have ahead of you is staggering! I'm always in awe. Also, I really admire all the planning and compositional arranging you do all in your head.

    I want to pet that kitty belly!!!

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    1. Staggering, good word, Fifi. It's a roller coaster and sometimes paralyzing.

      Come pet that belleh! Hooobes needs some lovin' from Fifi!!

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  13. I've just made sausage rolls ! They do have that rolled sod look , but they taste much better !

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    1. Oh, good...I'll tell David! He's been trying to eat the grass ones.

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  14. Holy cripes. Sod removal is the WORST. But then add in the impossible digging, and the eventual spreading of more compost. Ugh. Maybe I don't want a bunch of land after all. Hahahahahahaha!

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    1. Aaaah....yes...you get it! It's a LOT of hard work. Let's just say we have no social life, or very little for now. BUT in the end we'll have a HUGE social life because we'll have people over all the time to enjoy the garden we've made. Hopefully. That's the plan, anyhoo.

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  15. Tamara--Thanks for sharing the pics and the news! I'm sweating for you just thinking about the monsterous installation and establishment phase, but--also--How exciting!
    See you at JC,
    Alyse
    p.s. We should trade (share) garden work...You are close and it makes it more fun :) .

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