Monday, April 13, 2015

Reclamation.

Spring has definitely arrived.  Garden work has become Job One, as I weed and prune and mulch.  It feels wonderful to have my hands in the earth again, after what seemed like a never-ending winter trapped indoors.


Waterlogue image of a clump of heirloom daffodils our the front yard rose border.


The Rose Border in our front yard is the first rose garden that I designed and built after we moved here in 2007.  It contains about forty roses, a mix of Noisettes, Chinas, Hybrid Musks, Hybrid Perpetuals, and a few shrubs thrown in for good measure.  It has never been right, as weeds took over quickly, roses outgrew their spots, and deferred maintenance let little problems turn into big ones.  I tell folks that I have learned a lot about gardening in this old farm soil since I did this garden.


This is an early photo that I took with the roses in full bloom, young and still looking nice.  It wasn't this way for long.


I don't have any true 'Before' photos, before I started this renovation last week.  I was more interested in getting things done, instead of documenting the horror to blog about it.   The best I can do is to show you the mat of weeds and the stumps of seedling trees (that were taller than I am).  The weeds are now pulled, and the tree stumps have been dealt with.  Multiply this by ten or more, and you have an idea of how awful it was.


It was SO much worse than this, as the roses were suffocating with weeds that were taller than they were.


Most of the weeds are pulled at this point.


Just a little clump of crawly weeds left to go in this section.


Much better!


Originally, the front edging of this garden was a single row of bricks laid on the ground, and there was no barrier at the fence line between the garden and the pasture beyond, which let Bermuda Grass and all sorts of other creepy weeds in.  The new front edging is made of concrete paver stones, and I laid the curve of the bed a bit wider than it was before.  The back of the bed is defined with 4x4 timbers from our stash of salvaged fence posts.





Landscape fabric is next.  Landscape fabric underneath the mulch has been VERY successful at keeping weeds at bay in the other places where I have used it.  (See the installation in the front Hybrid Tea garden HERE and the English Garden HERE.)


It takes a while to mark and cut holes for the existing roses and clumps of daffodils.


There are 75 pieces of edging at the front of this garden.  It's going to take a while to trench and set all of them.


With the landscape fabric going down,  the blank background made it easy to see the solution to the problem of the rose spacing.  I am moving the front few roses forward about two feet, and it's looking a lot better already.


The arrows show the patched holes where the roses were, and the dotted lines lead to where the roses are now.


I also see where there are a few places in the back of the garden where I can fill in with some roses out of my pot ghetto.


I'm running new irrigation line, too, because the old one was damaged in too many places.


Even though I still have a long way to go before I can say that I'm finished with this, it feels really good to step back and see the amazing improvement that has already been accomplished.


My husband helped for most of the day on Saturday, clearing weeds and vines and trees to free this Crape Myrtle, on the left.  He also limbed up the oak tree, on the right, to give the garden underneath of it more sunshine.


This is the part that's finished except for mulch.


This shows that's there's still more left to be done ... but it's looking amazing so far!


I took those last two photos before supper this evening, while standing in the yard admiring my work (with a glass of wine in my hand).  I can't wait till May and June ... THAT'S when the real reward will come!

33 comments:

  1. I was wandering around looking at my roses, aka your roses, tonight and feeling slightly overwhelmed by the weeds, but this post has me feeling much better about it all! Your hard work always produces beautiful results!

    xo Kat

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    1. Kat, Sounds like you are where I was last year. Wait till after it's rained so the soil is soft and you can make serious progress on those weeds. Edging on the beds helps a lot, too.

      Next time you're at Lowes, get one of the tools that I show in this post:
      http://hartwoodroses.blogspot.com/2014/04/turning-my-attention-to-another-garden.html
      It will be the best $7.98 you EVER spend!

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  2. Seriously! How were you even standing after all of that :) Lookin' good!

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    1. Some evenings after I quit work for the day, Aleve was my best friend. I'm seven days into this so far, with at least three or four more to go.

      Thanks!

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  3. Wow- That looks so good now! You did a great job and it will be well worth it every time you look at it this summer. Now...when did you say you were coming here? xo Diana

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    1. I'll be up to work on your place as soon as I'm finished with mine, Diana. :)

      I got the biggest kick out of driving into the driveway the other day, seeing the new curve on this bed ... makes me happy.

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  4. I know you are thrilled with your progress, Connie! Looking good! The enormous amount of work required in your gardens is mind boggling to me! You do all this work by yourself and your husband is amazing! ♥

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    1. Remember this, Martha. I don't have a 9 - 5 job that I have to leave home for, I have a cleaning lady who makes my house sparkle every two weeks, and I have a VERY understanding, supportive husband who helps me when he can.

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  5. I'm so looking forward to following your garden in the coming months. You've made such a wonderful start. Talk about labor of love.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. I look forward to documenting it for you as things leaf out and make flowers! I love this property and the gardens that I have created on it. This front garden was a disgrace. With spring’s rains and soft soil, now is the perfect time to attack weeds before they sprout up high again, making the job so much harder than it is right now.

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  6. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I wish I had an ounce of your knowledge and energy!

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    1. My energy and motivation to do things ebbs and flows. Right now, the end of winter and the arrival of spring has fueled me to finally make something happen in this garden. Do I want to stop in the middle of it and move on to something else (or take a nap)? Of course! My recent change of attitude, where I actually finish things that I start, is to blame. I talk to myself a lot as I push through difficult moods, but I'm enjoying the rewards that completion brings.

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  7. Oh my goodness, you've been busy and it looks wonderful! What a lot of work, but the rewards will be GREAT, (they already are in that it looks neat and tidy, unlike my little cottage gardens). I look forward to seeing pictures when the roses are in full bloom.

    Thank you for sharing and for being the inspiration that you are.

    Happy Spring ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Thank you!! This rose border has been like my full-time job for the past week. Get up, make coffee and feed the critters, answer email and read some blogs, get dressed, work outside. Today is a day off, because it’s raining … rain loosens the weeds and tomorrow’s work will be even easier and more rewarding.

      I had cottage gardens at other houses, and my shade gardens are very much a cottage-y style. This place seemed to need more order, especially in the front yard, and that’s what I’m giving it.

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  8. Hi Connie - I completely agree: so good to be back in the garden. I spent part of the weekend weeding (already!). The dandelions are already back :( Your rose garden looks so pretty. I love those stone pillars. Cheers

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    1. Now is the perfect time to be weeding! Lots of satisfaction to be had from pulling weeds and making the garden look tidy again.

      The pillars are poured concrete fence posts that were built in the 1950s. They are another project that I hope to complete this spring. They need to be repaired and painted, and have new fence boards installed. That will be a perfect backdrop for the roses as they recover and (hopefully) thrive.

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  9. OMG! That is gorgeous and it's not done! I too am reclaiming my rose gardens from the weeds. I have too many perennials planted to put ground cloth down...and I totally get your old house dirt...mine eats mulch...so many worms, but oh so very rich, everything planted takes off like on steroids! I am going to have to visit when roses are in bloom.

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    1. You are one of the few people I know that understand what old house soil is like. I tried to avoid using the landscape fabric in the rose beds, but I relented and it’s been easier. As you said, can’t use it where there are perennials … my shade garden by the pavilion is like that.

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    2. These gardens will either keep us young, or kill us! ;)

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    3. Bury me with my [garden] boots on!

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  10. It looks stunning Connie!! I know it's a lot of hard work, but I hope the weather was nice and you could enjoy being outside. I can't wait to see it in bloom :)

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    1. The weather has been perfect for this kind of work, Emily. Sunny and warm, makes it a delight to be outside (with a thorough coating of sunblock, of course). Today is raining, so the rest of the week will be perfect for the final push to get rid of those weeds and make this garden look its best.

      The roses are pretty sad now, since they're been competing with awful invasive weeds for years. They'll bounce back ... fingers crossed.

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  11. Love the way there is often so much to learn from your posts.
    Those fence posts.....divine.

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    1. Those fence posts are another one of this spring's projects. Caulk and/or glue with straps (depending on how damaged each one is), then a coat or two of paint. Fence posts, too, if I can. One day, I will have to dig out the photos of this area from when we bought this place ... imagine a Forsythia hedge that's twelve feet high ... just picturing that gives me nightmares.

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  12. Yay spring!!! Everything is looking so nice! I've only just begun...

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    1. Spring is the time when we work out all the pent up energy that we accumulated over the winter. It feels so good to be physically tired at the end of a work day!

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  13. God Bless you with all that gardening... it looks absolutely beautiful, and absolutely like a lot of work...lol. You are better than I.

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    1. Not better, sweetheart … different. We all have the same 24 hours, for the most part, and it’s all about how we allocate them. I don’t have a job to answer to, or school-age children to attend to. The only critters I have are cats and dogs in the house, not farmyard animals that need attention multiple times per day. Working hard in the garden in springtime is my recreation. I hope is that all this work on the front end will lead to less work later and a better garden to enjoy throughout the summer.

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  14. This is so timely! I am getting ready to rip out my hilltop garden. It was taken over by wild chamomile, Bermuda grass and underground roots last year. It is so bad I am having my husband cultivate it with the tractor. I had not thought about using landscape fabric. I am so glad you posted this!

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    1. You're welcome, Debbie! To slow down the Bermuda grass and other weeds that run and creep, it's essential to try to maintain a good barrier in the form of edging. In the beds themselves, landscape fabric has proven to be good for me, mostly because my rose gardens don't have perennials and other companion plants mixed in. I would never use landscape fabric in a garden where I had spreading perennials and/or plants that I count on reseeding (like my shade gardens that are full of baby Hellebore, Hosta, and Arum seedlings).

      In this garden, the only other thing in there besides the roses are the daffodil bulbs in clumps. I cut a hole in the landscape fabric for each clump, leaving a good margin for the bulbs to spread. Over time, as that margin shrinks as the clumps get larger, I can brush back the mulch and enlarge the hole. Same goes for the roses. There is a small section of this garden with roses that I allow to spread via suckers. This will be covered with cardboard and newspaper instead of landscape fabric underneath the mulch.

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  15. Quite a job, but you have done the biggest part and it looks already beautiful. That landscape fabric is also often used here. So nice you and we too, have great spring weather now, I've been busy all day in the garden and have stiff muscles, I'm getting old......haha.

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    1. Once spring finally arrived (she took her time and made us wait longer than usual), the weather has been glorious. Sunny, warm days, or cloudy warm days are good for working outdoors. Rainy days like today soften the soil so the remaining weeds are very easy to remove. It’s also good to have a rainy day to help the four roses I moved settle into their new spots.

      I find that I am the stiffest in areas of my body that need some work … shoulders, upper arms, and thighs especially! An Aleve at dinnertime soothes the soreness so I can sleep well, then I’m ready to get up and get back at it in the morning. It feels so good to look out at gardens that are on their way to being beautiful again.

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  16. Oh WOW! You really got so much accomplished!
    It looks great, I spent time after work, working on my dreaded "Hill".
    Weird 5 ft tall dead weeds are all over it. I'm going to put up a fence but haven't decided where or what materials I will be using.
    A long time ago I used to have a few beautiful red climbing rose bushes but killed them by moving them so many times I suppose.
    I think I might use some sort of wire netting framed in by wood as a fence instead of a solid wall of pickets and then grow roses and morning glories and some sunflowers and zinnias to block the view....
    Still trying to figure it out but I a lot of work ahead of me before I get to that point!
    I know how you feel, sore but it's satisfying too.
    Great post!
    :D

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