Marty's Garden, September 2016

Spring was cool and perennials took a while to wake up from winter's slumber. One by one I dug up my favorite hellebores and many of my fancy hostas. Some pulmonaria were potted up and my favorite turkscap lilies were also dug up.  Two varieties of daylilies made the cut as well and they were divided into smaller plants. By the time all was said and done about two hundred plants were in pots ready to be moved. There were also two 5 foot Japanese maples (Bloodgood) which I had raised from seedlings from my original tree and two tall curly willows in large pots. When the new house was completed and we received the keys The Spouse and I made a quick trip to the house in a car filled top to bottom with plants. We left them in the garage, which luckily has windows which let in a decent amount of light. The temperatures were still cool and they managed just fine for two weeks until we were ready to move. An additional trip with a small moving van brought more plants to our new home and finally on the day of the official move I filled up my car one more time with all the remaining plants. The moving van took the four trees and off we went. The plants in the garage were moved off to the side of the house to make room for "stuff" to be put in the garage and the next couple of days we were busy unpacking and getting our house in order.

moving day plants


Meanwhile the sale of the old house took a little longer. All of the open houses were a great success, but the gardens around the house were too much for most people. Luckily there was one couple who took a look at the house, put in a bid and specified all the plants had to stay. Good thing my favorites were already gone although there were still plenty of plants left. I specified in the contract that the fish were moving with us and about a month later the house was officially sold. Phew, what a relief.


By mid June the temeratures finally warmed up; we turned the heat off in the house and not much later turned the AC on. It has been on ever since. Just like when we moved to our previous house in 1997, this summer has been exceedingly hot and very, very dry. In the summer of 1997 we were officially in a drought and watering was severely restricted. This summer we have had about four inches of rain in the last four months, which wouldn't be so bad if only three of those inches hadn't fallen in 48 hours. I ended up putting cardboard down on the driveway (from all those empty boxes) and massed all of the plants together. On either side I put two baker's racks with sheets draped over the plants for shade. Each evening I took the sheets down and watered the plants; each morning I put the sheets back in place. Early mornings I watered the "lawn" which took a while to green up and consisted mostly of crabgrass and weeds. And then the work on the pond in the back yard started...


First we needed additional soil to level out the slope in the backyard. Then a retaining wall was built to hold the soil in place. Finally there was enough level backyard to start digging and the large equipment moved in. Luckily we don't have any neighbors yet and the empty lot next door was used for holding all of the equipment and the boulders and rocks to be used for the pond. There was quite a crew working in the back and slowly but surely the empty canvas turned into an amazing water feature with a large waterfall, a bridge near the waterfall, a main pond five feet deep and a bog which meanwhile has become home to a number of frogs. As the pond was being built, my fish stayed for few weeks at a local vet but finally the day arrived when they came home. They swam around their new digs and two hours later they started spawning. At first the baby fish were hard to spot but within weeks I could tell there were quite a few of them. And the fish kept spawning! By late August there were probably about 150 plus babies of varying sizes in the pond and since they congregated in the bog I managed to catch about a hundred. These were given away and I intend to catch most of the remaining ones and keep just a few fancy colored ones that have caught my fancy. Time will tell how successful I will be.


new pond PA




new pond




When the pond was completed I could finally start planting all those plants that sat in pots for months in the driveway. It wasn't easy to find room for all these shade loving plants and some are in spots a bit too sunny for their taste. Only judicial amounts of water keep these plants from curling up their toes to die. Most of the hostas have found a spot on the north side of the house and they are fairing well while most of the hellebores are also doing well in slightly brighter spots. Then it was time to start mulching. We started out with 20 cubic yards of mulch, then I added another 10 cubic yards. Finally I had an additional 30 cubic  yards delivered. There were mulch piles all around the house and each time after planting I mulched an area. I probably moved the first 20 cubic yards of mulch by myself and The Spouse and I tackled the remainder in the following weeks. We used our cardboard boxes cut in pieces to cover up an area and mulched over it.  When we ran out of boxes we bougth rolls of contractor paper and used those instead. Yes, there are large mulched areas in the back and on the side of the house but eventually most of these areas will be planted and there will only be mulched paths and lots of plants. By now most of the backyeard has been mulched but there is one area left. I guess I will be getting another 10 cubic yards of mulch delivered soon. Who knew we would end up using 70 (!!) cubic yards of mulch for the backyards and the sides.


When I ran out of plants from my previous garden to be planted I started buying some small shrubs on sale and they will provide shade in years to come. Now that Labor day has come and gone most nurseries are putting their shrubs and trees on sale so they don't have to hold them over for the winter. On a roadtrip to one nursery I came across a second nursery which blew me away. Some many plants, so many choices... I picked up two good size Viburnum (variety Winterthur) and three small trees; a fringe tree, a chocolate mimosa and a Carolina silverbell. The Viburnums were planted today as a back drop for the pond. Tomorrow we will plant the three trees; two in the backyard and one on the side of the house in the front. Slowly but surely this garden is getting off the ground. To say that I am enjoying myself trememdously would be an understatement!