Marty's Garden, Early fall 2020

Summer is officially behind us and what a hot and dry one it was! It rained to the North and to the South of us, to the East and to the West, but we got precious little rain. Nevertheless, my garden persevered with a little help from me and now autumn colors are starting to reveal themselves. The Dogwood has the first bright red leaves while newly planted Maples in the development are also turning red. The first round of hostas have called it a day, but there are many different types of hostas still going strong, at least until the first hard frost.


The Spouse had been pointing out to me for years that my well-designed back yard lacked room for a she-shed, something I desired ever since I saw the first one at a garden show. Two years ago, when I took a chunk of front/side lawn and turned it into a garden bed, I didn’t realize I also had room for that shed. The penny finally dropped this August and after some measuring of the site, a look at custom sheds from a local builder, approval from both the HOA Board and the Township, I now have the perfect site for my she-shed. Right outside of the back-yard fence, on the left-hand side of the house, is a nice level spot where my 8’ deep and 12’ wide shed will go. With windows on three sides, a dormer with 6 windows and a single door with 9 glass inserts, I should have plenty of light, but just in case, I added the electrical package. It will sit on a crushed stone bed which will be installed within a few weeks.


Now it was time to move plants to make room for the she-shed! But there was “a problem”. I had no room for those dug up plants in the back or other side yard; what is a gardener to do? Well, it didn’t take me too long to come up with a solution. The builder-installed bed in front of the porch was a skimpy 3’ wide, while the opposite bed next to the front door was a generous 9’ deep. I decided to kick out the bed in front of the porch and made it 9’ deep. I incorporated the newly planted Dogwood (part of the landscaping done by the builder last fall) and this bed curves outward to the (large) side bed. Separating this bed from the side bed was a 4’ wide strip of grass as a path from front to back yard. After looking at it for a day, I eliminated this grassy strip as well. Now I have a new garden connecting side and front beds.



Eliminating the grass is easy: cover it up with cardboard or builders’ paper. On top we put 5 to 6 inches of beautifully triple shredded root mulch.  I dug holes down to the cardboard or paper, cut out holes, filled it with topsoil and started planting. As the grass underneath dies and decomposes, it will only add more soil to the bed, while the mulch will also decompose into soil. 


I bought three new shrubs to help anchor the new porch bed: two Double Play Candy Corn Spirea and one Blue Diddley Vitex. The Spirea has yellow leaves with red and orange accents while this Vitex is the smaller cousin of other Vitex already on the property. I dug up a number of my home grown Stipa Tenuissima or Mexican Feathergrass, divided and planted them. I added Veronica, which blooms for months on end with beautiful blue flowers. At the edge of the bed I planted 100 Muscari bulbs or grape hyacinths varying in color from white, light blue to dark blue. Finally, I dug up and divided red hot pokers, although in my case, the “red hot” is actually bright orange. Come spring and through summer, early fall, this new bed will be a vision of yellow, bright orange and blue and should help revive flagging spirits after those winter months!