Sunday, May 30, 2010


Kim and I have been hard at work transforming a barren weed-filled wasteland at the front of the house into something that better resembles a garden. This has involved a trip to the quarry for rocks and the delivery of a mountainous pile of dirt, plus lots and lots of shoveling, pick-axing, digging, wheelbarrowing, aching and grumbling. We're not done yet, but we've made enough progress I thought it was time for a report. The picture above is the "before" and here is the "after".

We've pretty much finished the area directly in front of the house, plus some of the area across the path. There's still quite a bit to do, but we're really happy with how it looks so far. The difference between our feeling ambivalent about the whole project and feeling like we were on the right track was realizing we needed ferns, lots and lots of ferns, to make these new beds make sense in the bigger forest context. We had already spent as much as we wanted to on new plants, so we went digging for ferns in the forest around the house - there are so many there that a few relocated ones wouldn't be missed. While we were at it, we dug up some Oregon grape, too. We're not sure how well the plants will adjust to being moved, but we thought it was worth a shot.

Kim's stone walls worked out beautifully. The blue coloured stone is the rock we got from the quarry. She also built some stacked stone walls using flat rocks from around the property, and the two types of walls look quite lovely together.

Today we went looking for some red-twigged dogwood, to supplement the two plants we already have. We went to four nurseries and couldn't find any, so we'll save those spots and look again in the fall. We did find three pots of Japanese painted fern, which neither of us had ever seen before. They are quite small now, but will get 2 feet tall, and their name is well deserved. The light wasn't the best for taking a photo - if it was better you would see how much like a watercolour these ferns are. Beautiful.


Mary Lee said...

WOW! What progress. It looks great. I am confused though. If that is the front of your house, is the picture labeled "The house" a view of the back? Thank you for taking the time to write such a nice blog.

Miriam said...

Hello Mary Lee, and welcome to Mucky Boots! Yes, our house has a strange orientation. The official "front" faces the road, with an official fancy "front" door. But no one ever uses it, probably because it is reached by a winding path through perennial beds. Instead, everyone uses the plain and humble "back" door on the verandah, which is the view of the house you are thinking of. It's not a functional design at all - in fact it's so not-functional that the key to the "front" door was lost to history long before we took ownership of the property.

Paula said...

So really, the front door is the back door, and the back door is the front door. I wonder what this all means in Feng Shui terms.

The area leading to the so-called front door looks a LOT better. What else besides ferns did you guys plant in there?

Miriam said...

A couple of pieris japonica, a couple of viburnum, three lovely little chartreuse-coloured draping cypress things, two red-twigged dogwoods, some yugo pines and the transplanted ferns and Oregon grape. You can't see all of these in the picture. We still have five more cypress shrubs and some azaleas to plant, and in the fall we're going to divide some of the gazillion hostas we have growing in other beds and use those to fill in any empty spots. There were many existing sedum, some of which we've moved around a bit, as well as a handful of butterfly bushes along the fence line. But you really notice the ferns in the picture, don't you?

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