Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Planning My Garden

We have an acre here that is pretty much all lawn. OK lawn sounds better than weed patch decorated with mole trails. The picture was taken in late June 2004. I have put down grub control out front so now they have just moved to the back. I’ll have to buy twice as much and do both front and back so that maybe they’ll move on to the neighbors’ yards or ideally out in the woods. Then there are the nasty biting ants all over the place. I didn’t know that there were any biting ants in NY until I sat on an anthill here one day. (Picture me hoping around, hitting my legs and trying to get up and run around back where I stripped off my shorts.) There are several roots sticking up in places from long gone trees that reek havoc with the lawn mower. In the side yard (just out of the picture) is an old willow stump just at ground level that resprouted last year, surrounded by an area of wood chips. The snakes have made their home here so I really don’t look forward to working this area. I know they are harmless but after having spent time in NC I really do not like snakes!

We started with just some sad evergreen shrubs out front that F ripped out for me. You can see them in the picture. Because the front of the house faces north and is in deep shade almost all day I am trying to start a shade garden across the entire front. S donated a large hosta that I divided into four plants. I picked up a couple of Stella Doro lilies and another yellow lily. I have one astilbe and hope to pick up some more on sale. I found some foxglove growing at the edge of the woods and moved it. I also found two clumps of a tall grass like plant that I used to anchor each end. I figure free is free and I can always plant something else later. As you can see that is not very many plants for a 40’ x 4’ area. Hopefully they will all come back up. The rest of the area is filled in with 3 -4 layers of newspaper and cedar mulch. I’m hoping to add some more lilies this year several and more hostas (I have my heart set on a Spilt Milk and a trip to Rawlings Nursery in Ellisburg is definately in my future.) I’m also going to try some bellflower from seed. Maybe a hydrangea at the corner where there is a little more sun. I know I need to add some more height but I'm not quite sure what to add. Any ideas would be welcomed.

My solution for the lawn and side yard is to plant a butterfly garden. I’ve done some research so I know I have to have both host plants and nectar plants. The neat thing here is that several of the host plants that I need are WEEDS!!!! I know I can grow weeds! I've been growing weeds for years! I need some milkweed, butterfly weed, thistle and clover to start. I want some wild violets too. I’m hoping to plant clover over all the areas that have roots sticking up so we won’t have to mow those areas at all. The nectar plants will be sunflowers (won’t the grandkids love helping me grow them!), zinnia, blanket flower, crimson sage, coneflowers, marigolds and whatever other perennials I can get donated or start from seed. Hollyhocks would look great by the shed. I hope to start everything from seed except I do plan to buy a butterfly bush. It will fill in a lot of space and hopefully act as a windscreen. They are rated to zone 5 so I am a little nervous as I try to stick with zone 4 plants but if I cut it back in November and mulch it good it should be OK here. If it comes back next year I will add a couple more then. Willow is also good for some varieties of butterflies so I will leave the mess growing in the side yard, maybe just try to keep it trimmed up a bit.

Right now I’m planning on planting the side yard out as far as the willow, along the side of the house and another group of plantings back by the shed. This will leave me with a large area between the house and the fence that I can add to in the future. Planting this much in one year and mostly from seed is scary for me and my brown thumb but I’m certainly willing to give it a try. I can’t make it look any worse than it does now!

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