Welcome to the 6th Metamorphosis Monday!
My Metamorphosis for this Met Monday is a perennial garden I “built” many years ago. I want to apologize in advance for the quality of these pics. They were taken many years ago, long before I’d ever heard of this thing called blogging. Plus, I had to take pictures of pictures to show you this transformation…but I think you will still be able to appreciate the big change.
This post starts with a fair amount of “wording” to give you some needed background info. So, if you’ll just humor me for a few paragraphs, the pics will make a lot more sense.
I had always wanted a perennial garden full of sun-loving perennials. My yard has a lot of trees so the one area where I felt a garden might work was the long stretch of grass running along my driveway, between my neighbor’s home and mine. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pic showing the area when it was still just grass.
The first step for the garden was removing the sod. My DH and I tilled the area where we wanted the garden, removing the sod and mixing in lots of good soil amendments like sand, peat moss, top soil, etc… I was going for what many of the garden books used to call “double digging.” Don’t know if that term is still being used, but it used to refer to digging twice as deep as necessary to create this incredible growing environment for the plant.
Next, I ordered and had delivered this incredibly rich and fertile soil mix, designed just for growing perennials. The store from which it was purchased, Earth Products, actually called it something like “perennial soil.”
I also ordered the rock I would need from a local landscaping store that carried those type materials. It wasn’t until much later (after seeing lovely pallets of nice flat rocks elsewhere) that I realized the landscaping store must have filled my order with all their “scrap” rock. I had very few nice, flat, stacking-type rocks to work with, even though I had described to the store employee how I had planned to use them. So the lesson here is…if you plan on building a small rock wall border, be sure you buy from some place that actually listens to you and delivers quality rock with which to work. It would have made this job A LOT easier.
I had read in Southern Living you could build a rock “wall” up to around 12 inches high without using mortar or cement in-between the rock. If you have nice flat rocks to work with, I’m sure this is true. My little rock border wall is around 9-10 inches high and has held up fairly well, despite not having the best rock with which to work. I did not use any mortar/cement. I put the nicer rocks on the front side facing my driveway and used more of the “scrap” rocks on the back side where it wasn’t as visible.
Just as I started on this project, my next door neighbor came out of his home, let out a hardy laugh, and told me there was NO WAY I would ever use all that rock and dirt. I could tell he thought I was nuts with this mountain of rock and dirt piled on the end of my driveway. That did it! Now, I was really determined! I’d show him!
My DH was out of town the weekend I decided to do this project, so I did all the work myself. This project took two full days (Saturday and Sunday) I drew out the shape and created the low rock wall, leaving myself a little gap/entrance. Next, I wheel-barrowed all the perennial mix I had delivered, into the garden area through the gap I left. My DH arrived home on Sunday just as I was finishing and helped close off the little gap after the dirt was all in.
Advil was my BEST friend that weekend! I also, took lots of short breaks to drink and eat…this helped keep up my energy. Because I was working with such broken odd shaped rocks, building this wall was like putting together a puzzle with 10-pound puzzle pieces. Oh, my aching back!!! I was sooooo happy when it was done!
For months prior to building this perennial garden, I poured through the gardening magazines, picking out all the plants I wanted for my garden. I wanted way more than this garden could ever hold…it was hard picking and choosing.
After I had my list, I faxed the list up to a nursery called Goodness Grows near Athens, Georgia. Back then, they mostly sold to nurseries, I think…but they would also sell to the public.
I asked them to put a check beside all the plants on my list that they had, and to make suggestions of others I should consider. They faxed the list back and to my delight, they had almost all the ones I wanted. My DH and I drove to Goodness Grows to buy all the flowers. In hindsight, I bought way toooo many flowers, but as a novice gardener, I didn’t know how many to buy…just knew I wanted the garden to be nice and full.
Planting the flowers was the easy part. The dirt was soft and wonderful…black gold. I needed nothing more than a hand shovel to dig and plant. The following pic shows the garden right after the perennials were in the ground. This is actually two photos pieced together to show a larger view…
Here’s another shot of the newly planted perennial bed. The bed is approximately 40 feet long by 10 feet deep.
The plants are beginning to grow…I put around 25 different types of perennials in this bed, putting 3-5 plants of each. Whew…that’s a lot of plants! I know I should have put in fewer, but I just couldn’t resist buying all the ones I’d read about and wanted in the garden.
Another pic from the other end of the bed…
It’s getting fuller…
This bed leaped a year early…it was quite full by the second year, probably because I had so well prepared the soil and had planted sooooo many plants. Please click on the pic below…it will enlarge for a good view of the garden filled out. I tried to design the garden where different flowers are blooming at different times throughout the spring and summer.
In this section, some of the plants you see are: Rudbeckia–Herbstonne, Echinacea purpurea or Purple Coneflowers, Rudbeckia fulgida– Goldsturm or Black-eyed Susans, Sedum-Autumn Joy, Yarrow-Oretel’s Rose, Dianthus-Bath’s Pink, and several varieties of iris.
A couple of years ago, I moved the bird feeder above to another location and replaced it with a Lazy Hill Dove Cote, shown below. I had bluebirds nest in the dove cote three times last spring and summer. Click here to view a post showing the sweet bluebirds feeding their babies in the dovecote: Bluebirds Nesting in a Lazy HIll Dovecote
The white daisy flower you see blooming is a Shasta Daisy called ‘Ryan’s Daisy’. It was one of the perennials I had multiples of in the beginning…I’m down to this one large plant now. The purple flower is a tall Phlox, ‘Common Purple.’ It was one of the ones recommended by Goodness Grows and I love it! It has the most intoxicating scent! The next two pics are more recent, hence the better quality photos.
When I bought this daisy from Goodness Grows, it was called ‘Ryan’s Daisy’. It was named after Ryan Gainey, a very talented Georgia gardener who has written several books, been interviewed for many magazines and had his own t.v show for several years. Goodness Grows named it ‘Ryan’s Daisy’ because Ryan Gainey passed this plant along to them. It is also sold under the name, ‘Becky’ and was awarded 2003 Perennial Plant of the Year. You can read more about this Shasta daisy by clicking HERE.
In the early years, when my perennial garden was really at it’s peak, folks would stop on their walks in the neighborhood and walk up and down the driveway, admiring the garden. I would come home sometimes to find folks parked in front of the house, looking at the garden. Once my husband and I backed out of the garage, into the “turnaround” and found a car parked in the driveway with a couple walking up and down beside the garden, looking at all the flowers. Over the years, seeing so many of my neighbors and their friends enjoying the garden, made all the work so worth while.
It is still pretty today, but many of the more aggressive plants have overtaken some of the others. I’ve had to transplant some of them to other areas of my yard because they were being devoured by the aggressive plants. Maybe this spring, I’ll get out there and do some major overhauling…I think it’s time. (Click on photo below for a larger view.)
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