This garden is honking and huge and it clocks in right around 4600 square feet. This is more than twice the size of my first house. I wish I could blog with emojis because I feel like an emoji would serve us all better right now.
The right half in the picture above is the East Garden and the bit on the left is… wait for it… the West garden. The bit in the middle is four huge limestone slabs that we had brought in from our local (and favorite) landscape supply to surround a Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn– that bit is then flanked by some columnar yew and (soon) Oregon Boxwood. We chose the Hawthorn because I liked the somewhat horizontal growth pattern of its branches and it gives good year round focus. Loads of white flowers in spring, red fruit in summer, and showy orangey-red foliage in fall. Also, it won’t get too tall so as to dwarf the site or block views. And it looks great with some Christmassy lights on it.
I initially tried to design this space as one whole huge space. I tried this for about two years. First it was a huge long herbaceous border in the English style, then it was a rolling and informal space with organic shapes. Nothing worked and everything felt wrong. So then it became a really elaborate formal garden. Like really, really elaborate. And that didn’t jive with our site or anything else we’d done. Then it got broken up completely (with hedges) into two rooms. But that felt too choppy. So 32 iterations later, I came up with what is two different gardens in plantings, but their layout mirrors each other… all with a central focal area to distinguish between the two.
The beds are all around 6-8′ deep and wrap around the space, leaving 4′ paths throughout. The middle sections felt too large to be one bed but too small to be something fussier. So I settled on the two long beds to help give the feeling of the herbaceous border, but also accentuate the length of the space. I believe they call that “Leaning In”?
But before anyone gets too enamored with a garden this big, please remember that all of this was sod (really weedy sod) and every inch of that 4600 square feet had to get cut, rolled, and dragged out. By us. Just the husband and I. I did the math. THAT IS THREE POINT SIX FREAKING TONS OF SOD.
3.6 tons. Of sod. All moved by hand and hauled with wheelbarrows, our garden tractor, and the station wagon. (Side note, this is by every measure a LOT of sod, but I googled it and apparently that only equates to one half of a T. Rex. So. I’m a bit less impressed with us now.)
We are out of our minds. Clearly, because then we had to level it. It probably goes without saying that the next sod removal project we do will be contracted out to our local excavating guys (who also run our favorite landscape supply business- told you we like to try to keep them in business).
Say hi to Jax. He’s our nephew and we adore him.
See that little yellow cart? We used that and a pair of wheelbarrows to move most of that 3.6 tons of sod. Talk about right tools for the job, am I right?
Here you can see just how big the space is in relation to the rest of the garden. Its a bit bigger than the Dry Garden in the forefront, and about as big as the Veg Garden and Cee Garden combined. At least we had the common sense to tackle the sod removal and site preparation early in the spring before it got too hot out. We waited to do all the gravel moving and tamping for the hottest weather. Another emoji would work well here.
This was easily the most technically challenging garden as the logistics were many and drove which project could be done when. We couldn’t lay the gravel or edge the beds properly until the limestone slabs were in (see the heavy machinery tracks in the background?).
Then we had to landscape fabric everything slated to be pathways. We have an AWFUL quack grass problem and that stuff was created by Lucifer himself on a particularly bad day. It will be right there along with the cockroaches when the world goes up in a fiery, nuclear blaze… still creeping, still growing, still making me swear like a trucker. We dug out as much of it as we could, but I’m 99% sure we didn’t get it all. (Remind me to tell you all the real story about digging out said quack grass.) So the dreaded landscape fabric went in and will hopefully do its job well.
We lined the beds with reclaimed brick from behind our house and laid in the driveway base. This time we mulched with double ground bark and late last summer (and into fall) I FINALLY got to get some plants and bulbs in the ground.
It is going to take a whole lot more plants to fill the spaces in, but that is what I’ll be pottering with this year. We have to figure out a good looking material to edge the perimeter beds with and get that installed. We are also going to have a pergola put up over where you get the two lounge chairs (upper right)- that way we can enjoy the space in the shade during the bulk of the day. I promise to post more pictures this summer when it (hopefully) starts filling out.