Sunday, June 26, 2016

New Garden Report

    After not writing my blog for a long time, I have decided to start again.  The main impetus for this is that I am finally acquiring enough new material in my new garden to have something to write about.  As I may have previously said, we moved from Bainbridge Island to a much smaller house and lot in Port Ludlow, Washington, which is a small resort community on the Olympic Penninsula,  not too far from the Hood Canal Bridge.  This location is somewhat cooler in the summer than Bainbridge Island, but not much colder in the winter.  It may get slightly less rainfall since we have been told that it is partially in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains.  I have seen little evidence of that, though. 
     The new house, being in a resort community, has all sorts of restrictions placed on what we are supposed to do with our landscaping,  so I am trying to work within those restrictions and not offend any of our neighbors.  So far everybody has seemed appreciative of what I have done.  The house was new construction on a half acre lot, although it had sat around empty for about 5 years because of the real estate crash.  There was some landscaping installed, including beds laid out and lawn.  There was also a sprinkler system.  So far I have not changed the layout of the beds and lawn (much), but I have removed almost all of the plants that were here.  There are still a few left, but I am planning to remove all those within the next few years.  So, since moving here about 2 and a half years ago I have spent a lot of time just removing the existing plants and amending the existing soil.  I have been using a mixture of 70% compost and 30% sand.  This mixture seems to be better for drainage than a pure compost, and drainage is important because I am trying to grow lots of drought tolerant plants.  I put this on top of the existing soil.  I found in my old garden that if you do this, instead of digging it in, the creatures in the soil will eventually do the work for you.  So far this has worked quite well in my new garden.  I think I have so far put down about 50 yards of this in the garden.
     This new garden is quite sunny.  I took out all trees which had been planted here--these included several Deodar Cedars, and several large maples, way too many trees for such a small area, anyway. So now there are no trees on the landscaped portion of the lot, except for two embothriums that I have planted, and a small Chief Joseph pine which will never get very large, or so I am told.  I have also planted two crepe myrtles in a bed up against our house.  I am not sure how these will do here, bloomwise, since we don't get much summer heat, and crepe myrtles require a certain amount of heat to bloom well.  So if these fail to perform, out they will go.  I have to keep reminding myself not to plant trees since I want the garden to remain sunny.  I should add that the back portion of our lot is forested and consists of a wetland within that forest, so we are not supposed to do any gardening there.
     The picture you see above is of a small bed in the front of the house that used to contain a weeping birch and many Viburnum davidiis.  Both of these kinds of plants are planted all over Port Ludlow.  I should add that I do not like Viburnum davidii.  It reminds me of freeway plantings.  So out they all came.  I have planted this bed with relatively small plants that I want to intermingle in a natural way.  I have planted a number of Yucca linearifolias and rostratas in the bed to provide some winter structure.  I also have a number of cold hardy opuntias here.  This year I also acquired a number of shrubby native penstemons which I have planted in this bed.  I will have a subsequent blog post about those.  I have planted a number of self sowing plants here also, including the coastal form of California poppy,  Anchusa capensis (the blue flower in the photo), and  Clarkia unguiculata.  I have also planted some lewisias and some gentians.  And I have planted some bulbs, including some alliums, calochortus and Anenome coronaria.  Other plants in the bed include an orange wallflower, Xerophyllum tenax, and Asclepias tuberosa.  As these plants settle in and get bigger I am sure I will have to do some editing.
     When I first started gardening I planted in a 'blocky' style where the plants were arranged in blocks of one type of plant.  I am not doing that in this garden.  I want the garden to look natural like these plants just found their way here and are growing in a wild manner.  I am not trying to color coordinate or even to alternate types of foliage.  I find that this type of gardening is very freeing, and I am enjoying myself, experimenting with all sorts of plants that are new to me.  So in subsequent blog entries I will tell you about how this experiment is going.