|My new garden, a work in progress|
The first thing I had to do in preparation for planting this area was to remove the absolutely awful plants that the developer had put in. This included a bunch of sickly nondescript rhododendrons, 3 large maples that would have gotten huge and shaded everything (I don't want shade), and 3 (also sickly) deodor cedars, which, by the way, become huge trees. It seems as if every single house in our subdivision has multiple deodor cedars, so perhaps I am breaking some unwritten rule by taking these out!
After removing the existing vegetation, I had to decide what to do about the soil--it is terrible! The reason all the existing plants were so sickly is that the soil was so poor. They had all been there for over 5 years, yet they had not put on any noticeable growth, and they were all very yellow. Based on my experience at Froggy Bottom, I knew that any soil can eventually be improved by the addition of compost. I also knew that it was not necessary to dig it in--all one has to do is mound it on top of the soil, and given enough time, the soil creatures will do the work for you. So that is what I did. I bought 10 yards of compost and put it on top of the bed.
My planting plan for this area is to create a drought tolerant, deer resistant (we have deer and lots of other wildlife here) fairly natural looking border. I intend to use yuccas, dasylirions , and, hopefully, nolinas to provide winter interest, along with Rhodocoma capensis. I have planted three Rhus 'Tiger Eyes' at regular intervals to provide shrubby height--I don't want any tall trees, but the Rhus will give some height, and I think their foliage fits in very well with the look I am going for.
Other plants I have put into this area include lots of eremurus from my old garden, Eryngium alpinum and Eryngium 'Blue Jackpot", Amaryllis belladonna, Dictamnus albus var. purpureas, Echium russicum, Verbascum bombyciferum, Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy', Anenome coronaria, California poppies, and Eriogonum umbellatum 'Shasta Sulphur". The latter is a plant I got last year from Annie's Annuals and it did well over the winter and is now producing very pleasing citrus yellow flowers. Eriogonums are plants found all over the western United States which are recently being discovered by gardeners to be good garden plants for drought tolerant, wildlife friendly gardens. I am also going to try to get self sowers going in this bed, and I intend to try out lots of more unusual western natives here.
I have discovered that there is almost no full shade at this new garden, and that is how I want it. I am so over all those weedy looking woodland plants!