After an uncommonly wet Spring, we welcomed the heat of summer. It has been over 90 degrees (32 celsius) for the past two weeks. Despite of daily thunder, there was very little rain. Our garden immediately reacted – all the cool weather veggies lost their cool, and the lawn started to turn yellow. Without the leisure of natural precipitation, we started to spend our evenings dragging around hoses and watering different parts of our yard.
Backyard bee garden – the 2nd year:
I had every intention of giving you a garden update before leaving for summer vacation, at which time the lawn was still green and the new growth on perennials were tender. But several unexpected incidents kept my up to my neck. First, our basement renovation hit some major road block, which we are still clearing away till this day. Shortly after, several wishful attempts at my day job did not work out as I hoped. Around the same time, my mom fell and broke her ankle back in Beijing.
Awakening climbing rose, the 2nd year:
This might have been the first time I lost so much control of my life and in almost every aspect of it. To make peace I walked out to the garden. Chinese proverb says “谁非过客，花是主人”, which literally means “we are just trespasser on the land owned by flowers”. There is some truth to it, right? I am pretty sure that bindweed is the real owner of our property. Jokes aside, watching life rise and fall in nature did give me a fresh perspective on accomplishments. Not everything will work out, and too much attention might in fact stunt the growth.
The Mailbox Underplanting
Have I shown you the small flower bed under the mailbox this year? It was a little dirt patch filled with weeds when we moved in two years ago.
Last summer, we got rid of the weeds and created a mowing strip with brick pavers.
And this is the same space today:
Salvia, lily bulbs and grasses were planted this Spring to hold down the fort at this possibly the toughest spot of the whole property. The red rose are the only thing we kept from previous owner’s flower bed.
Creeping Stonecrop ground cover
Creating a New Flower Bed
Since returning from our summer trip, I’ve been slowly working on a new flower bed in our front yard:
This area is around 12 ft x 4 ft, and located right in front of our DIY horizontal fence on the north side.
See the dry creek in the picture above? The new flower bed is located to its right and in front of the fence.
We decided to replace the lawn with flower bed here for two reasons. First, it is hard to maintain this patch of the lawn. It is so close to the house that we had to water it by hand. It is also on a steep slope and hard to cut with our lawn mower. Second, we would like to soften the fence with some plants.
I started by removing the grass and moving the edging separating the lawn and the old flower bed forward. Three blue avena grasses (helictotrichon sempervirens) were planted in a row a few feet from the fence. They are supposed to get 4 feet tall in a few years and will provide some soft texture in front of the fence. Along also planted was an iceberg climbing rose. We are lucky to have nurseries selling plants that have adopted our high country climate.
We have pretty bad bindweed issue in this area, so I covered the area with my favorite landscape fabric. We have used it in our front yard flower bed and under the southern fence with success. It is worth the initial investment.
I found the edge of the landscape fabric along the dry creek, and continued the fabric to cover the entire new flower bed. I use this landscape staple to secure the fabric.
The next step is to run drip irrigation, which we installed in all the perennial flower beds. It does not only water more effectively, but also avoids hard water deposits on the foliage of the plants from overhead watering.
Running drip irrigation is easy and fun, like lego for adults. With the existing drip tubing nearby, I simply T-off the existing tubing and added emitters close to the root balls of the new plants:
I also added two mist emitters to water the lawn immediately adjacent to the new flower bed:
Fresh mulch makes everything look better:
New plants in their happy home:
Now when your walk around the corner, the view of this new flower bed replaced yellow and overgrown grass:
The two emitters linked to the drip irrigation tubing will give plenty of water to the lawn between the dry creek and the evergreen pine. Our current lawn sprinkle does not reach this corner.
We still have plenty of room for plants in this flower bed. I am taking my time to find plants I truly love. I am considering Arctic Fire dogwood for some red winter color, however a close contender is Chinese peony, if they can handle the beating afternoon sun and strong wind in this area. What do you think?
How do you like a new flower bed? As I finished spreading the last bag of mulch, I realized how much creating a new flower bed meant to me. It is a new start. It is a new opportunity to succeed, a new battle to win. It is something I may start taking back the control I had been losing since the beginning of this year. I still might not succeed, but at least I am giving another shot. And this time, I need to let go all the expectations and just enjoy every inch of growth it gives, however small it might be. At the end, I am just trespassing on this land of, hopefully not bindweeds, but flowers.