Due to Hurricane Sandy, I had the opportunity to create a brand new garden. Yes, that was almost 2 years ago. Two, maybe 30foot Spruces came down leaving a blank kidney shaped island on the far side corner of my front yard. It was not a space I ever payed any attention to, being far from any paths or having any interest other than blocking utility boxes and delineating the corner of my property. But what to do?(this is how I arrived at the title of this blog).
So many options, so many choices, it was overwhelming and it was only basically a 9′ x 18′ space. I spent a lot of time thinking. Way too much. Then I began to feel very guilty because of the weed infestation, it is far from my front door and view but it is a mere 5′ from my neighbors driveway entrance. They had to look at it every time they arrived, left their home, or collected mail.
Just make a decision, come up with a plan, do something I kept telling myself. So one day with camera, pad and paper and tape measure, I developed a rough site plan measuring the distance to the street, driveway, utility boxes, noting sun and shade through out the day and noting views from the street and neighbors property etc. Just doing that allowed me to come up with some viable options. It was a huge relief. The project all of the sudden became fun.
At first I thought of creating a small conifer garden, but while at my garden center I stumbled across a Cotinus coggygria, Smoke tree. I love this plant, why had I not considered this before, didn’t have one, and no one in my neighborhood had one (was trying to add plant diversity). Great, I had a starting point with my Smoke tree, She was my foundation. I was so excited, I had made a decision out of many other good options. This was a good lesson. Now I could proceed with all of the other plantings.
You know when you see a garden photo and think, I would love to have that look or combination and someday I’m going to do that, well I did it. A while ago I had marked a photo in a garden book, a grouping of
- Verbena bonariensis, Tall verbena
- Amsonia hubrechtii, Narrow-leaf blue star
- Miscanthus sinensis, Maiden grass
- Cotinus coggygria, Smoke tree had made my heart jump. With further research on companion plants I discovered light pale pastel colors and grasses work very well with smoke trees. So I added along with the plants listed above
- Nepeta racemosa ‘Walkers Low’ Catmint – light soft purply blue
- Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ Lungwort – low fuzzy spotted lance like leaves
- Microbiota decussata Russian Cypress – will turn burgundy in the winter
- Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ Fountain Grass – very cute
- Pinus mugo ‘Pumilio’ Dwarf Mugo Pine – small scale and winter interest
- Rosa floribunda ‘Julia Child’ – beautiful peachy pink flower, plus I have Julia Child in my garden!
- transplanted from other gardens, Stonecrop, Lambs ears, and peach colored Daylilies.
As for not paying attention to this spot due to lack of interest and distance I find myself visiting it throughout the day. Anytime I take the dogs out we visit ‘Julia’, to admire her lovely flowers, see how tall leggy Verbena is intermingling with fern like Amsonia, and to notice how ‘Little bunny’ is growing next to the catmint. There is so much to look at, it has become a new destination spot. I find when driving down the street I slow down the car and admire this tiny little garden and have noticed something new, a visual link to my next project…. The Side Garden.