Archive for April 19th, 2009

The folks over at Gardening Gone Wild are sponsoring a contest.    The idea is to post a picture of the effective use of native plants in landscape design.  The prize is a collection of Agastache (Hummingbird Mint) from High Country Gardens.  My ears pricked up when I heard this, as I have been lusting after those very plants and HCG is one of my favorite places to shop for plants mail order.

This contest is right up my alley.   I have been consciously incorporating native plants in the landscape at The Havens ever since I first started the garden here.   Some of the decisions I made were absolute disasters, like when I decided to put Showy Evening Primrose and goldenrod into my front flower beds.   Both of these plants are so invasive I ended up eradicating them from those beds.   They are beautiful, but so invasive and thuggish that they pretty much crowd out other plants.   In the right places, I still have these plants on the place, notably out by the little pond.

My big problem is finding the best example of using native plants in a landscape.  I contemplated featuring my very untidy bird habitat by the pond, or perhaps the redbud and other native plants in the front gardens.  I just planted a whole section of the Stroll Garden with prairie grasses and flowers, but they are all babies.  I a couple of years that area will be spectacular.  

I finally decided my rain garden is the finest, most photogenic, example of the use of native plants at The Havens right now.   I got it built and rocked in and the flagstones set last June.  This photo was taken last October.


The shrub to the left is Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius).   Just above it you can make out Swamp Milkweed (Asclepius incarnata).  Just to the right of that you can see the leaves of the Prairie False Indigo (Baptista leucantha).   (That plant is getting ready to bloom right now.)  Next is a grouping that has red Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), orange and yellow Sneezeweed  (not a native cultivar), and a nice purple accent of Bristly Aster (Aster linariifolius).  Sort of nestled in front of that group are several Echinacea plants.   Up against the wall of rock that delineates the garden are a couple of Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycroschya)  which had finished their bloom and are not visible in this photo. This grouping also includes some tickseed coreopsis and yarrow not visible in the photo.  

While the above picture is my entry in the contest, I just can’t leave this post without including a picture of the rain garden performing its function of collecting rain from the roof gutter and allowing it to soak into the ground.   Generally the little pond formed by runoff from my roof and the lawn above the rain garden takes about an hour to an hour and half to empty once the rain is over.


So, that’s my entry, and I hope I win.   I sure need the Agastache for the plantings in the new Stroll Garden!

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I was desultorily straightening up my desk the other day when I came across an envelope that contains photos we took of this place the day we closed on it.   There are also a bunch of shots from inside as well, but that hasn’t changed much, not like the outside has.   I am amazed.

We have lived here 13 years, entering our 14th year of residency.   We took possession of this place in the first week of April, 1996.  Below, a series of pairings, sometimes triplings, of views from certain vantage points.  Each series contains a photo that shows the place as it was when we took possession of it.   The following shots were taken today, in the soft rain that is falling.  The same exact angle cannot be used in some cases, since we built the privacy fence around the back yard.   So I have done the best I can to replicate the original shot, with additional views past fences along the same sort of trajectory.     

This series shows what a dedicated pair of people can accomplish (with help from their son when he was available) in thirteen years.  The only thing that we did not build ourselves is the root cellar/storm shelter.   

It shows something else.   Notice how different the stage of development is on all the grass and trees.  The original pictures were taken on April 10.   Today is April 19.   If there were no other developments or eveidence at all, this would make me suspicious that something is happening to our climate.

Without further ado, this is the front, looking north:



If you step back off the driveway into the street, and turn slightly to your right (east), this is the one acre field adjacent to the house where we established the labyrinth, the savanna, the vineyard, and the orchard.



Turn slightly north:



If you walk up the lawn and stand sort of under the power pole that has the transformer on it, this is how the east side of the house looks from there.



Not a great comparison shot until you walk through the gate.


This next shot was taken from the east side of the house looking towards the barn.



Originally there was a decrepit patio where our pergola is now.



Now we walk out to those three tall pines that are in the corner back there.   Turn around and look at the back corner of the house.  



You may have noticed a couple of missing trees.   The big one was a hollow maple that we had removed after we’d lived here 7 or 8 years.   It was getting ready to fall on the house and pergola.   The little forked tree was a struggling apple.   It did not get enough sun and succumbed to borers fairly early on.

Turn around in the same spot and look over the fence towards the barn.


You can not do this now, due to the privacy fence.   The pond and bird garden are just on the other side of it.   So I went out into the wild area and tried to get a shot of how the place looks from there right now.


Take a moment, look at the first view of the barn and gather in that bare grass field between the original three plank fence and the barn.   Imagine you have walked out into the middle of that spot, and now look back where you just came from and there is the pond.


It’s really full today because we have been enjoying steady rain.  By the way, this is the way the pond looked right after it was built and first landscaped in 1997.


Now that’s a great view because it includes the area that now sports the stroll garden, which we began work on in September of 2007.   Notice that back in 1997 that area was just bare lawn.

Now, turn around and walk along that garden fence you can just see behind all the shrubs at the pond, and peek through the gate.


Hey, walk right in there and take a look around.    Things are really starting to grow.


A couple of other additions — the root cellar/storm shelter just to the east of the barn.


Directly to the south of the root cellar is the sauna/dressing room complex.   Note the bonfire circle in the foreground, the compost work area to the right of it.   The back of the garden shed that showed up in the earlier photos looking out towards the barn is in this shot also.


Okay.   That’s enough bragging for now.    

In other news, some of the gift plants that came in a while ago are showing signs of life.   The blueberries that I bought with Christmas money my big sis gave us this year are leafing out.


I particularly like this angle on this part of the Stroll Garden.   There is the row of blueberries stretching away from the foreground towards the fence; behind them is one of the pawpaw trees our niece provided for us.   Unfortunately, these trees are such infants you cannot see them unless you are right on top of them.   Trust me, they are there.   Notice that the skull of the longhorn cow that one of my clients gave me is in the background.   Since this whole row of stuff came from people in Texas, I love the resonance of that little piece of decor.    

Well.   That about does it for today, folks.   Come back again when I plan to feature the beauties of the Stroll Garden and the Vegetable Patch.

Thanks for dropping by.   Hope you enjoyed your walk around the history of the Havens.

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