New House: Garden Evolution

This new house has its own set of yard challenges, although not nearly as many as our house on S. 5th Street in Missoula. Remember this?

Back when we though Chopper was forever. 

The front yard of "the new house" in Staunton (as Ford still calls it), has, on the plus side: lovely maturing boxwood, azaleas and a dogwood. 

On the minus side: a dwarf peach tree that the previous owners planted in a fit of edible landscaping enthusiasm. I'd like to say that we're down with edible landscaping, but not at this stage in our lives. We meant to dig it up and give it away last winter while it was dormant, but had a baby instead. I don't have the heart to just cut it down, so now it's heavy with worm and bug-eaten fruit. Sigh. Maybe it'll go this winter.

The visible-from-space gravel, raggedy petunias and ditch lilies also had to go. We subbed those out for dwarf nandinas, spirea and mulch.

Mature examples:

The backyard was in a really sad state:

We discovered that the back patio sits on an artificial bench made of rubble just dumped there when the pad for the house was being excavated.  On top of that was almost 2 ft (in places) of gravel. Nothing growing except weeds on the slope of the bench and enough built up dirt to prevent the patio from draining after a rain. It was a weedy, slimy mess.

After we cleared away the debris and the wood pile, we had a blank slate:

This is the kind of indoor documentation you do with a newborn. Note the Medela bottle in the foreground.

Then we brought in the professionals to haul away the gravel, scrape the site and level with topsoil. To define this new garden bed and maybe discourage people from tumbling down the slope, we put in a row of Otto Lukeyns laurels at the back edge.

More lazy indoor documentation. 

Then my wonderful mother arrived from Richmond with a carload of "foundational plants" from her garden. The whole bed is pretty shaded during the spring and summer by the big honey locust, so we mostly planted hostas, heucheras, epimedium, and ferns. After much wheedling, she also brought me a hellebore, one of my favorites. (Aside: epimedium is sometimes known by the common names "horny goat weed" and "rowdy lamb herb!" According to Wikipedia, at least.)

Of course, she did this in March and then we had a nasty cold snap and several more inches of snow. The hostas are only now starting to come back. Funny thing about that May 15th frost-free date. 

As of this week, the garden bed is still very much in its earliest stages, but it's come a long way from last summer:
The MM and his did sunk these slate stepping stones and seeded the new grass. It was a big project!

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