D’Ann’s Garden—Raised beds with brick borders to grow perennials

My friend D’Ann loves gardening. She is good at it too, and she doesn’t mind getting a little dirt under her fingernails. I had built some raised beds for her back yard a few years ago and was impressed with the way in which she planted them and kept them up. Her front yard needed help, though.

Before--D'Ann wanted a rose and perennial flower bed but the project needed definition

Before–D’Ann wanted a rose and perennial flower bed but the project needed definition

When D’Ann asked me to build some distinctive yet workable planting beds in her front yard I knew that I would have to be rather particular and produce something that looked right and that would give her a base for growing some healthy and vigorous perennials. I started a drawing and things just didn’t work out that way, so we removed and saved the collection of plants and I took a roll of twine, some stakes, and my paint gun to do a careful layout. ( I love using orange marking paint on a layout)

It pays to take the time to lay out the job with string, stakes, and marking paint

It pays to take the time to lay out the job with string, stakes, and marking paint

I think raised compost beds with brick borders are really classy but the big thing about these beds is that they really work. I also like the look and workability of brick borders and pea gravel pathways so that’s where I was going. (By the way, if you go to buy bricks for something like this, ask for ‘pavers’ because they don’t have holes in them). I had spent a lot of time getting the twine in just the right place and that helped the job to get off to a good start.

Bricks laid carefully for garden border

Bricks laid carefully for garden border

Mike Hutchins produces certified compost up in Menlo, Georgia and he brings it to me in ten cubic yard loads. I stockpile it at my stockpiling place and then haul it to the job with a pickup truck. Sometimes we can dump a load on the job but in an uptown city yard like this one I don’t want the clean up job that would go with that. We wheelbarrow the compost into the beds and rake it out carefully. When the job is finished the compost and pea gravel will team up to hold the bricks firmly in place.

A raised compost flower bed provides for the best plants ever.

A raised compost flower bed provides for the best plants ever.

To get ready for the gravel walkways, I used a flat shovel to turn the existing walkway into an efficient border.

Using a flat shovel to create a border. The proper tools make a difference

Using a flat shovel to create a border. The proper tools make a difference

We raked out the compost, spread pine straw for mulch, and raked all of the trash out of the walkway beds before moving in the pea gravel. This was a job performed carefully with a wheelbarrow and a rake.

Pea gravel makes a wonderful pathway and it never gets muddy.

Pea gravel makes a wonderful pathway and it never gets muddy.

Here’s a picture of the finished beds ready to plant.

This garden should add joy and beauty to a distinctive home.

This garden should add joy and beauty to a distinctive home.

As the planting proceeds the plan is to put climbing roses on portions of he fence and to use such perennials as lantanas, daisies, yarrow, and others for accents. Lots of bulbs, from daffodils to amaryllis and a few paint strokes of annual flowers will keep things interesting. And remember, there will be no grass to cut in this front yard.

Thanks for visiting John the Plant Man. Remember the next time you want a good read you need to try “REQUIEM FOR A REDNECK”, a kindle ebook from Amazon that features John the plant man with his Georgia mountain friends. It’s quite the adventure.

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Prepare for weed management—A rustic perennial bed in the country

When setting out to manage flower bed weeds in a rural area, one must always think ahead. Lots of surrounding pasture land makes for lots of weeds and weed seeds. Here in the southeast U.S. (Rome, Georgia) I think the most difficult weed is Bermuda grass which creeps on underground stems and cannot be controlled by pulling.  I always say, “the more you pull the more you get.”

It was not stated in any exact words but I was hired by one of my clients to make sense of a large yard for a wonderful couple who dearly love growing all kinds of plants. I have been working on the project one or two days a week for almost a year now.  Things are beginning to work out.

One of the projects I was asked to deal with was a large bed with over a thousand day lily and iris plants that were totally hidden by weeds and would not perform. Last year it looked something like this:

Day lilies planted without regard to weed control perform poorly.

Day lilies planted without regard to weed control perform poorly.

I watched the bed and thought about it. Every time I went to the farm I walked up and down the bed thinking about it. As the year progressed into winter most of the weeds and day lilies died back for a spell.

The first part of February I said, “It is time.” The weeds were dead and the day lilies were poking their heads out of the soil enough for us to find them. It took some time but we dug up a lot of the day lily and iris plants carefully removing all of the weeds and dirt from the roots. I had a truck load of my favorite compost delivered by Mike the dirt man. Over the years I have gathered a small mountain of flower pots—well, at least a foot hill worth of them—so we took a truck load of pots and used the compost to plant the carefully cleaned iris and day lilies.

We laid the plants out on black plastic and I spread a granular pre-emergent herbicide to stop seeds from germinating. The pots looked like this in May:

day lily and iris plants cleaned and ready to plant in the garden

day lily and iris plants cleaned and ready to plant in the garden

The vegetable garden on the property is rather large and has a fence all the way around it. I decided to install a part of the new flower bed along the fence. This would give us a background for the flower bed and would also end the necessity for weed-eating the garden border. I marked the flower bed with my paint gun, put down a pre-emergent, and started spraying.

The weeds were about gone in April but the Bermuda grass was just beginning to grow. I knew better than to plant the garden until I had dealt with that problem. Bermuda grass loves heat and the season was slow to heat up. It was probably about the middle of June before I was satisfied that I had the dreaded Bermuda grass under control. The weed-free dirt looked like this:

The weeds and especially the Bermuda grass are under control and the bed is ready to be planted.

The weeds and especially the Bermuda grass are under control and the bed is ready to be planted.

As far as the dirt in this garden is concerned, I believe that it is alluvial topsoil deposited a million years ago by the CoosaRiver and it is very nice to dig and plant in. In March we installed a very simple irrigation system along the fence line.

I decided that since the plants were potted in compost, all I had to do was add some time release fertilizer as we planted. I laid the plants out carefully so that they were spaced just right.

The plants are arranged carefully and ready to be planted exactly where they sit.

The plants are arranged carefully and ready to be planted exactly where they sit.

After a few hours of cheerful work, the plants were in the ground. All we have to do now is pick up the pots and mulch the bed with wood chips which I will hopefully obtain from my tree surgeon friend. I will then have to keep the border of the bed sprayed to keep the Bermuda grass from creeping in and check regularly for new weeds, getting them out before they get a good start.

 

iris and day lilies planted in a weed-free flower bed.

iris and day lilies planted in a weed-free flower bed.

I think next year we will intersperse a planting of oriental lilies in the bed. That will be nice.

Another project on this same property is the “country formal” cutting garden that is designed for easy maintenance—especially weed control. To see it, click on Country formal cutting garden

An update on the “country formal” cutting garden is here

Planting tulips in the “country formal” garden click here

Thanks for visiting johntheplantman.

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?

An intimate meditation garden in a gated community

An intimate meditation garden in a gated community.

Sylvia sent me a picture via email the other day. The picture conveyed a message, “you need to come see this.” I grinned and decided that I should take Dekie and the trusty camera to get a look at her yard.  Here’s the picture she sent:

I was summoned by the picture

I was summoned by the picture

Julie Windler had called me about a year  ago and said that she wanted to give a John Schulz garden design as a gift for some special clients.  I was honored and took the job. Due to construction issues we weren’t able to start on the garden until last August.

I met Randy and Sylvia Eidson who had moved to a small gated community on Pear Street here in Rome, Ga.  Randy and Sylvia are gardeners of the first order and had left a rather large yard in Atlanta after retiring.  We started work on their new garden in August 2009 and had a good time with it.  I also made some wonderful new friends.

The open gate and garden pathway invited me in

The open gate and garden pathway invited me in

The design that we came up with began with a small flagstone patio that was suitable for four seats and a couple of tables.  The planting areas were to be raised beds with fieldstone borders that would grace each side of a walkway of flagstone stepping stones. Sylvia asked for a perennial border and was a great help with picking out the varieties of plants that we used.  I told her that it would take at least a year for the garden to mature.  That’s why I was so excited about the picture that she sent. I walked through the gate and saw this:

raised beds, perennials, stepping stones leading back to a small flagstone patio

raised beds, perennials, stepping stones leading back to a small flagstone patio

The plants seem to have really taken to the compost beds.  I enjoyed this mixture of dwarf snapdragons, perennial salvia, and silver mound.  In a couple of weeks, this bed will also show the flowers of purple coneflower, blue salvia, and yarrow.

raised bed with perennials, rock border.

raised bed with perennials, rock border.

I stood on the patio and took a shot back toward the entrance.  Then I let the people in and we sat and talked.  The patio is nice in that it is large enough for four people to sit and talk and small enough for the conversation to be quiet and personal.

view from the patio, raised beds with perennials, natural stepping stones

view from the patio, raised beds with perennials, natural stepping stones

We had a nice visit talking about the garden and goings on in the community.

Red and white Encore azaleas never stopped blooming, a nice fragrance from dianthus tucked into a corner.

Red and white Encore azaleas never stopped blooming, a nice fragrance from dianthus tucked into a corner.

One of the topics of discussion was the ”bottle tree” which was made by Stephanie Dwyer of Jackson, Mississippi.  I really enjoyed browsing through Stephanie’s website.  I get to meet her today at Arts in the Garden at Berry College.

bottle tree by Stephanie Dwyer

bottle tree by Stephanie Dwyer

A statement about the bottle tree from Stephanie’s website gives us a bit of information:

“The bottle tree tradition rooted itself in the South in the 1700s, arriving from Africa and flourishing in the fertile ground of the Mississippi Delta even today. Placing colorful bottles on the ends of broken limbs is said to keep evil spirits (or maybe just nosy neighbors) away from the home. As the story goes, the sun’s glimmer through the glass mesmerizes the spirits and traps them in the bottles.”  Randy and Sylvia have made a project of collecting just the right bottles and each one has a story. http://www.missmetaldesign.com/

Sylvia enjoys collecting shade perennial wildflowers.  Two of her prizes are the ‘celandine poppy’ and the ‘foam flower’.

The celandine poppy works well in shaded areas

The celandine poppy works well in shaded areas

Sylvia's 'foam flower'  I love the foliage.  Does anyone know the botanical name?

Sylvia’s ‘foam flower’ I love the foliage. Does anyone know the botanical name?

May 3–The botanical name of  ‘foam flower’  is Tiarella cordifolia.  Thanks, Marion and Karen.

A collection of hydrangeas has been planted in carefully chosen spots.  I made a note that I will have to make another visit when these blooms mature.

I'll have to return to the garden when the hydrangeas bloom.

I’ll have to return to the garden when the hydrangeas bloom.

The part of the planting that took the most consideration was figuring out just where the sun would be.  The location involves dealing with full and partial sun as well as with full shade.  Looking at the rear entrance from the patio, we can see a large pot of coleus, ferns, and a dwarf oak leaf hydrangea.  The figure to the back of the garden is one of Sylvia’s prized possessions from Japan.  Its name is Tanuki.  The Tanuki is a traditional Japanese figure which symbolizes fertility, rascality, and jolliness.  He is often represented with a bottle of saki in one hand and a promissory note in the other—what does that tell you?

coleus, dwarf hydrangea, and Tanuki.

coleus, dwarf hydrangea, and Tanuki.

I love attention to detail in the garden.  I will leave you with a picture of variegated Solomon’s seal showing off under a table that seems to have been made just for this location.

This looks like something my brother would paint

This looks like something my brother would paint

To see some work by Tom Schulz, roll around in his blogspot here:

http://empathinc.blogspot.com/2010/04/reality-check-please.html

I try to put up a new article every Sunday. Stay in touch.  Share it with your friends.

If you live in or around the northwest Georgia area and would like to have a consultation with johntheplantman, you may contact John Schulz by email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net .  Do not send pictures or attachments as they will be deleted.

These articles are brought to you by John P. Schulz, author of the novel, Requiem for a Redneck .  You can read more of the adventures of John the Plant man here:

ebook edition: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FOAJCGO

or the print edition:

http://www.amazon.com/Requiem-Redneck-John-P-Schulz/dp/0981825206/

Try “see inside the book”

 

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