Garden Renovation

For more than half of the past year I’ve been observing and writing about my small side yard garden.  I didn’t know when I started the project where it would lead.  Inexperienced house painters, a severe drought and weeks of  intense heat  have brought me to an impasse.  Try and make do or rework.  Since I am a landscape designer, I’ve decided to redesign and renovate my own gardens.

The front garden c. 2008

In the twelve years since I first started gardening here, times have changed.  Winters are warmer but seemingly more intense.  Water restrictions are in place in the summer.  Spring and fall are still cooler, but spring seems shorter and fall longer.

The original side yard garden
The original side yard garden design

The structure and overall layout of the gardens will not change much–the plant selection and some of the details will.  I’m adding a rain barrel to an area of the yard with no spigot and difficult access, but  is adjacent to the house and has a downspout.  I’m going to relocate some plants, trash others and add new ones.  Anything new will have to be tough to be a long term contender.  Here’s some of what I’ve been stockpiling–you’ll see the combinations aren’t for the faint hearted.  I’ve been struggling with how to use yellow foliage for a while, so I’m taking it on in the home garden.

An experimental combination

I want to combine this Rhus thphina ‘Tiger Eyes’ and grow the Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’ up through it.

Cercis canadensis 'The Rising Sun'
All three foliage colors

A new introduction.  This is going in the front yard in a newly enlarged bed.  I live on a corner.  It will stop traffic!

Supporting players

I want to beef up the late season show.  The gardens have a progressive dominant bloom color from early spring to mid summer.  It loosely ranges  from white to yellow to blue to hot pink, so I’m adding indigo and orange to the late summer show with Veronia noveborancensis (an Eastern native) and Helenium x ‘Dancing Flames’.  The Continus coggygria ‘Golden Spirit’ in the background will yellow up more when it gets its new sunny home.  More to follow as the story unfolds–I’d love to hear your thoughts.

9 thoughts on “Garden Renovation

  1. I LOVE that Cercis! That’s going on my list for sure! V. noveboracensis is one of my favorite plants. Love your other choices as well, though I haven’t gotten around to growing any of them.

    I got the last one available until next spring. I haven’t grown Veronia ssp. before so I’m anxious to see how it does. It’s beautiful in our Great Swamp which surrounds the area I live in.–s

  2. I LOVE when designers re-do their own gardens – even though it can take awhile for it to happen, once the creativity spigot is turned on – LOOK OUT. Your color combos are some of my favorites – I’m a huge fan of oranges, yellows and purples. Have you tried Salvia ‘Nuevo Leon’? I’m not sure if it’d do well in your area but the intense purple stops people in their tracks & it would look so great with your yellows & oranges…..I wish ‘Tiger Eyes’ thrived here, but alas it does not. Looking forward to seeing your progress!

    I haven’t worked with these combos before in a big way…they really glow in our filtered light (read high pollen count, humidity and air pollution). I wish we could grow more Salvias here as perennials since they are very deer resistant…alas most are not very cold hardy. I do grow some Veronicas which also have that intense blue without the height. We’ll see how much we get done on this project this week.–s

  3. Hooray, you are back. Redoing the side garden? I will keep checking back. I am redoing the front bed this year and know how hard it is to get to your own property when work takes most of your spring, summer, and fall. And I have a little postage stamp size property.

    Reading the post, your analysis and observation of the seasons reflected back on where I am located. I checked your about page and see you are in New York, but at the other side of the state. I have observed the same weather and seasonal patterns. Winter has been the strangest. Snow late, if at all, or snow en mass and harsh.

    Actually I’m about 30 miles due west of NYC in NJ. Zone 6a-b depending. Winters have been the most bizarre of all the weather patterns no snow or just piles of it. I know, I have 150 ft of sidewalk to shovel! Where you are is probably way worse!–s

  4. A little bit of renaissance never hurt anybody.
    Looking forward to progress reports !

    Love that cercis !

    Now if it will only look the way I see it in my head when it’s done…–s

  5. Oh Susan this sounds FANTASTIC! I just love the bold color play – that is what really gets my motor all revv’d up! That Cercis is bound to be a scene- stealer, and I love the combo of the rhus and the persicaria – so spirited!
    Here in Southern California, our light is so hard and bright that subtlety is washed away – saturated, intense tones read the best. I guess I play with strong color by necessity, still – when I see others do it I go ga-ga! I must just be a clown at heart.
    Climate change is real. I’m pleased that you are addressing that and changing your plantings to respond. Fall can be such a glorious time in the garden – I can’t wait to see the changes you make! It’s bound to be inspiring!

    When I was out it Portland last summer, one of the things that stuck with me–there were many–was the clarity of light. Unfiltered as it were. Bright and clear. Here, the moisture is the filter and it affects color differently. You’re no clown, BTW. LOL!–s

  6. I had to chuckle about your comment on inexperienced painters. My experience is that anytime house painters are around, minor to major fixes or changes will have to happen to the landscape! I’ve never seen that variety of Cercis; will have to check it out. I love the sumac/persicaria proposed combo. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

    Inexperienced was a kind way of saying sloppy and slow! The Cercis is new to the market. It should be much more plentiful next year.–s

  7. That Cercis is a hit with your other commenters and with me too. Redoing is such fun, isn’t it?

    For me it’s as much stress as doing it for a client–exciting but stressful!–s

  8. Like the others, I am thinking it all sounds verty exciting and I look forward to following!
    best Wishes

    Thanks, Robert. Actually it would be more exciting if I felt I could add some hardscape…but I’m a renter so it’s all done with plants and castoffs.–s

  9. A very good friend is a house painter. I did NOT ask him to bid on my house when I needed it repainted. His attitude is “Cut it all down next to the house,” or … “It’ll grow back.” The painters I got weren’t the best, but they didn’t destroy the garden.

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