I am a sucker for make overs. A TV show, magazine layout or even a friend’s photos, I love to see transformations. This time of year when it is dreary out, I like to take a look back at the prior year’s projects and remind myself that indeed, this season will transform to spring in due time.
I put together some photographs from one of the projects completed in 2008-2009 to share with you. If you click on the image below, a larger version will be pulled up.
In the first series of photos showing the front entrance gardens, the top left photo is of the garden before any work was completed. The photo to the right shows the same area after the existing plants were removed and the beds shaped. Many of the existing plants were salvaged and stored in a nursery bed. The bottom left photo shows the completed space with the new creek bed to accomodate seasonal run off, platform bridge and surrounding gardens. The final picture on the bottom right shows a close up of the bridge and creek.
In the next series of photos showing a path through the back gardens, the top photo on the left shows the space when I first saw it - the client just had some soil spread. The fresh soil provided a wonderful clean slate for me to “draw” the lines of the garden. The photo on the bottom left shows these lines. The final photo to the right shows the completed garden in late summer.
The next set of photos from the same garden shows several stages – I was lucky to have taken a photo from the same vantage point at various times during the project. While I always promise myself I will do this, in the heat of things, it often does not happen. However this time, I was lucky to be paying attention. In this series, the drainpipe to the left, the neighboring house, pines and bay laurel all provide a constant to orient yourself photo to photo. The first photo in the top left corner shows the space when I first saw it and the photo to the right of this shows the lines. Same as the prior series, soil had been spread which gave me a chance to draw onsite. Usually this is done with spray paint, but working in the soil with the rake was much more fluid. The photo in the bottom left corner shows the space with beds built and the “pocket” lawn base prepped. This picture also shows a new set of stairs from the upper deck to the patio. The photo to the right of this shows the plant layout, and the corner of the flagstone patio and stairs that had just been constructed. Since the grade difference between the upper patio and lower lawn and gardens was subtle, a series of three low rise, long tread stone stairs were added to divide the space. The final picture on the far right shows the garden and lawn filled in, and pots added to the finished patio.
Well I am ready to begin my next garden transformation! Now where is that spring….
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Well it is finally here – the cold weather. The next week is currently forecast as the first hard freeze for the Seattle area – with drops into the 20s and teens possible. I have been busy composting my beds for added warmth and covering tender plants with Reemay.
While we are spared from the really low digit weather that other parts of the country enjoy, we still can take some precautions for the best results in our gardens. Some reminders for the folks here in Western Washington:
1. For new plantings – take a walk around the garden before the cold weather and check if there are any plants where the compost/soil has settled too much at the crown. If any roots are exposed, rough up compost to add coverage or buy a bag of compost at the nursery to supplement. If the plant is mounded up too high in the soil – lower the plant so the crown is at grade or pile up the compost around the mound for now. Plants can be popped out of the soil with frost heave. I have seen it – it’s ugly. Nothing worse than trying to replant into frozen ground.
2. Since we are done with the watering – disconnect hoses and consider the protective covers for your bibs.
3. Empty any glazed pots or containers that have collected rainwater – remember that drilled ones sometimes get clogged and can collect water.
4. Make sure your planted pots are watered. It is often the lack of water in frozen soil, not frozen foliage, that causes frost damage. Having them go into the freeze dry does not help.
5. Don’t be so fast to remove those fallen leaves…definitely shake them off the evergreen plants, but on the ground around plants or over herbaceous dormant plants provides some frost protection. For sanitation/disease reasons, I generally remove all my leaves over the late fall/winter, but I only complete small areas at a time so I can replenish the compost at the same time to provide added frost protection. In the meantime, the leaves can add some warmth.
6. If needed – protect plants that are not cold hardy. A good option for protection is Reemay cloth, available at most nurseries. This lightweight, breathable fabric provides just enough protection without weighing down the plant. Never use plastic to protect plants.
7. If you have any homeless plants (I always do!) hanging around in plastic pots, make sure they are watered, group them together and if possible, store in a protected area (near house, under over hang etc).
8. Walk your gardens after a hard freeze and check for frost heave. It is not as prevalent here since freezes are not deep into the soil, however I have noticed that saturated soil (very common this time of year) freezes much deeper and plants can heave out of it. I call it the “ice spike” effect. Sometimes it’s just the top layer of compost heaving up, so check the plant crown for exposure. If you see a problem area, replant the plants if possible, or if the ground is too hard, mulch with whatever is available until you can replant (leaves, compost etc).
9. Don’t forget the birds – when we have a hard freeze or snow here, the birds have a tough time finding food. If you have feeders, don’t forget to keep them full during the cold weather.
Bundle up and stay warm!
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