Assignment: Design and Build An Attractive Mail Box Planter That Is Both Drought Tolerant and Deer Proof.

Nancy has a beautiful home and yard in a very nice subdivision. She had decided that she wanted to maintain the wooded lot and to have a yard that would echo the statement of a lovely home to be crafted with stone and timbers. Years later she decided that it was time to deal with the “ugly mailbox.” She called and said, “This is a job for john the plant man.”

mailbox 1

We need to build a planting bed that will make this look better and that will fit into the landscape concept.

Nancy had given the project a lot of thought. We talked about it. She had bought different varieties of thyme—four varieties, six pots of each—to plant the project with. She had learned some things about living in her house

  • Deer like wooded lots and eat up landscaping plants
  • Deer do not like thyme
  • Thyme, once established, is a hardy, drought resistant ground cover.
  • Thyme prefers a prepared, raised bed in order to thrive.

We decided to build a raised rock-bordered garden. We started laying the rocks to form the enclosure for the bed:

mailbox 2

A row of rocks doesn’t look right. We can do better.

At this point, the job didn’t look quite right. We decided that we didn’t want just a row of rocks around a pile of dirt.

Nancy said, “I don’t know quite how to describe what I’m looking for.”
I smiled and said, “I think we want it to look like God dropped a handful of rocks and they fell in just the right places.”
“Yes, that’s it,” she agreed.

So, we took it all apart and started over. I had been looking at bags of cheap “topsoil” that were being sold in the box stores. Lowe’s had some on sale for a dollar a bag and when I examined it, I found it to be ground and mostly decomposed pine bark. If you add lime to this, it is a rather good growing medium. We looked around the property (which was blessed with stones) and carefully, one at the time, chose the stones to fit the concept. We added the “topsoil.”

mailbox 3

After working on the layout, we got the stones to look purposefully random.

The rock job was now totally different looking. The new design fulfilled the purpose of holding the soil together, and it looked a lot more natural. Nancy looked at it, smiled, and said, “And praise His Name, they all hit the ground without denting the mailbox.”  We spread a mulch of wood bark and started planting.

mailbox 4

This is going to look good. A topping of small pine bark will hold everything in place.

The mailbox garden fit right in with the natural front yard.

mailbox 5

The garden fits right in

We ran a few hundred feet of hose out to the road and watered the plants. The different kinds of thyme looked happy in their new home, and the fragrance was delightful.

mailbox 6

Different varieties of thyme will grow well and safely in this environment

A couple of weeks later, I stopped to check on the project. I found that all was well and the plants were growing as they should. The deer had turned up their noses and moved on to other treats.

 

mailbox 7

A couple of weeks later everything looks happy.

Thank you for visiting Johntheplantman’s blog. There are a lot of helpful articles on this site. WordPress has included a very efficient search engine which you will find at the top of the page. Give it a try—type in the main words for your gardening questions and see where it takes you.

A Second Try for a Deer Proof Hillside Planting.

The driveway to the Hubbard house that I wrote about last week is over a half a mile long and it meanders up a rather steep hill through a minimally well-kept wooded area. The drive is delightful but there is one hill, on the left, right around a bend, that really needed to look nice (that’s a polite way of calling it ugly). I have a funny story about that area, also. Here’s a picture (If you look hard you may be able to make out eight or ten clumps of daylilies, the rest is weeds):

The are waiting for their lunch. What will johnthepantman do?

The are waiting for their lunch. What will johnthepantman do?

Patsy and I had talked about this area about fifteen years ago and we decided that it would look nice planted in daylilies. I found a good source for bare-root daylily divisions of many varieties and we planted 700 of them. Now, in my book, planting 700 daylilies is making quite a statement. We were happy because we all knew that we had done something special. I will never forget what happened.

A couple of days after planting the daylilies the phone rang. It was Patsy. “Where are my plants?” she asked. I hurried up to the house in a panic to find, to my dismay, that the deer had eaten the daylilies, roots and all. There was nothing left but pine straw and deer poop. It reminded me of a quote from The Hobbit, “It does not do to leave a sleeping dragon out of your calculations.”

We have talked about planting the hill again off and on over the years but mostly we have ignored it. After thinking about it for a long time we decided to use a trailing “Blue Pacific” juniper and accent it with a planting of ‘prostate plum yew.’ I found an article about the plum yew that you may enjoy, “beloved conifer” (click here)

plum yew, (cephalotaxus) is a good choice for a garden where there is a deer population

plum yew, (cephalotaxus) is a good choice for a garden where there is a deer population

Before planting the project I studied the possibilities of irrigation. I knew that once these plants were grown in they would be hardy enough to get by on their own and I always try to work in a cost effective manner, so I decided to use micro misters. The drip irrigation pipe is inexpensive in 500 foot rolls and it took almost four of them to get from the water source to the end of the area where the planting would be. We kept digging to a minimum by only making a short run across a grassy area (which we buried) and then ran the rest of the pipe down the hill on the edge of the woods, fastening it with sod staples

drip irrigation line is cheap and efficient.

drip irrigation line is cheap and efficient.

In case you are interested in the mister irrigation system, I wrote an article about it, Click Here for “installing a micro-mister system for your flower beds”. Here is a picture of a misting nozzle in operation. I really like these.

A micro-mister spray head. inexpensive and efficient

A micro-mister spray head. inexpensive and efficient

I went to see my favorite grower and bought a hundred juniper and fifty of the plum yew.

blue pacific junipers and plum yew

blue pacific junipers and plum yew

A week before the planting I sprayed all of the weeds with glyphosphate. On a job like this I like to use some precision for the layout so I used a tape measure, a three foot spacing stick, and my wonderful paint gun to mark the proper planting spots. We decided to use three inverted triangles of the plum yew with the juniper as a border. It should grow out beautifully.

A marking paint gun is invaluable for laying out plantings.

A marking paint gun is invaluable for laying out plantings.

The plants were carefully installed on the hillside using Osmocote in the holes for a time-release fertilizer. We finished it off with 35 bales of pine straw and turned on the water. All was well. The plants were still there the next day.

Blue Pacific juniper and plum yew on a hillside is as close as one can come to deer proof.

Blue Pacific juniper and plum yew on a hillside is as close as one can come to deer proof.

Thank you for visiting John the Plant Man

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Mixed container plantings for summer color-part 3 of a series.

I was telling Russ and Shala Head about the blog series and they offered to send me pictures or their plantings. Russ and Shala own and operate Willow Creek Nursery here in Rome, Georgia. I have another friend, Bobby Mixon, who does very nice mixed planters for our mutual friend, Diane Harbin. I will start the pictures with those from Russ and Shala and then move on to those created by Bobby Mixon.

Russ decided that we can not only include pots, but that we may also add a container built from rocks or other soil raising borders. Here is one from the front of his house which contains a braided Bloodgood Japanese maple, tiramisu herchera, and purple veronica. He maintains that this garden is deer proof.

I think a raised, rock bordered bed qualifies as a container.

I think a raised, rock bordered bed qualifies as a container.

The container is hidden as this combination of elephant ear and trailing sedum grow out of bounds—as planned.

container growing out of bounds with elephant ear and sedum

container growing out of bounds with elephant ear and sedum

A large planting of red pennisetum (upright grass) and sweet potato vine is striking

There are a number of annual ornamental grasses that will work in containers

There are a number of annual ornamental grasses that will work in containers

Russ told me that this is his favorite combination. He wrote the varieties down on a piece of scrap paper for me. Fireworks pennisetum, mozelle lantana, golden pearls bacopa, and Neon purple wave petunia. The variety of bacopa is new to me and I will have to check it out. I dearly love white bacopa.

ornamental grass, petunia, and a trailing plant give a good Ikebana effect.

ornamental grass, petunia, and a trailing plant give a good Ikebana effect.

The picture below looks to me like it is made up of Cleome with a base of one kind of sedum and sitting in a base planting of a lower growing sedum.

Sedums make excellent trailers and ground covers in and under pots.

Sedums make excellent trailers and ground covers in and under pots.

I really like this grouping of geranium containers.

a grouping of containerized geraniums

a grouping of containerized geraniums

That’s all of Russ for now. I stopped to look at one of my own planters that I have had around for years. I enjoy cactus because of the ease of growing. I can keep this planter in the house and neglect it over the winter and then put it out in the sun for the summer and it will bloom over and over.

Cacti make interesting container gardens and may be kept through the winter in a bright location and treated with neglect. They will bloom year after year.

Cacti make interesting container gardens and may be kept through the winter in a bright location and treated with neglect. They will bloom year after year.

Bobby Mixon is a retired public school teacher and he looks at container planting as a religion. He also breaks a lot of the rules, but he seems to get away with it. For instance, I have told him over and over again not to plant impatiens in the sun but every year he gets away with this combo of insence cedar and impatiens right out there in full sun. If I tried it, it would bake and die.

I keep telling Bobby that his impatiens won'd do well in the sun and he always makes a liar out of me. I don't know how he does it.

I keep telling Bobby that his impatiens won’d do well in the sun and he always makes a liar out of me. I don’t know how he does it. note the irrigation tubing.

An asparagus fern does well with geraniums on a retaining wall. Diane keeps the asparagus fern over in her basement all winter and brings it out after the last frost.

Geraniums and Asparagus fern do well together in a container with lots of light.

Geraniums and Asparagus fern do well together in a container with lots of light.

Here’s a tree formed rose with impatiens. I need to tell Bobby it needs pruning for shape maintenance

a tree formed rose with impatiens. The rose needs a bit if pruning, but nice, nevertheless.

a tree formed rose with impatiens. The rose needs a bit if pruning, but nice, nevertheless.

For a shady location we have a hydrangea, impatiens, and variegated ivy. The hydrangea may be planted later in the yard to go through the winter and get big.

hydrangeas, impatiens, and variegated ivy in a mixed container for shade.

hydrangeas, impatiens, and variegated ivy in a mixed container for shade.

Finally, a petunia and verbena combination coupled with a designer pink flamenco. I like the touch of whimsy.

That is one curious looking pink flamenco.

That is one curious looking pink flamenco.

These pictures may be a bit late in the year for now, but I’m going to store them and we’ll look at them again in early spring, next year. There’s always next year, right?

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Blog Stats

  • 266,049 hits

Archives

Now available as an ebook at Amazon–read it on your Kindle

Requiem for a Redneck--A novel by John P. Schulz

Check out more adventures of John the plant man in this hilarious yet sensitive award winning novel

Grown Man Now

Billy Schulz, Grown Man Now

My favorite blog by Dr. Jane Schulz and Billy

April 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
%d bloggers like this: