Reclaiming a Garden

I’m embarrassed to admit that in the last couple of years, I could not keep up at the farm, let alone care for the gardens at my home.  In particular, the north deck garden suffered neglect, becoming home to many squirrel-planted walnut seedlings, goldenrod, poison ivy, thistles, bird-planted black-eyed susans, and a runaway, turncoat lysimachia (One of those “I wish I’d never planted that” things!)  So, high on my priority list once I had some time was to reclaim that space.  This is the very sad view from the west.


This time of year, reclaiming a space is much harder than in spring, because the weeds are fully-grown.  Some are ripening seeds, so as one pulls them, they merrily sprinkle next year’s crop of weeds.  I studied the site and developed a plan.  First, I cut off seed heads and dropped them into a paper grocery sack.  The birds will enjoy them this winter when there is snow on the ground, and I can put them in a feeder far away from the gardens.  However, that step didn’t improve the area much.  Here’s the view from the north.


I pulled the biggest weeds, and dug out the tree seedlings, debating whether to relocate them at the edge of the woods, thus encouraging more squirrels (See “What I Learned Today” to learn why that is a burning question) or to add them to the compost.  That debate continues.

As I worked, various perennials were revealed, mostly in a weak and gasping state, making me feel terribly guilty at having abandoned them to weed-thugs for so long.  Of course, the hostas and most of the daylilies had been able to withstand the siege, but some had been overrun in the ensuing onslaught.  In addition, several perennials had been planted in the shade of a pretty little maple tree, which mysteriously died and had been removed, taking its shade with it. The bergenia was definitely not happy living in full-sun, and the primulas had long departed, taking the toad lilies with them, I suspect.  There was still a bit of shade provided by the gazebo and a dwarf lilac that was desperately in need of some pruning, so the variegated brunnera was still alive when rescued, but needing CPR for lack of breathing space.  Here’s the first two wheelbarrow-loads of weeds. Now you can see the hostas, which were totally hidden in the first photo, and they are waist-high!


Once the big weeds and trees were removed, I began the relaxing process of weeding out the little stuff, letting my mind sort through various ideas of what the space could/should become.  Since people look down on this area from the deck, my mind first turned to a knot garden, which was often viewed from atop castle walls.  That idea was quickly discarded.  Knot gardens require lots of work, and are very formal, and are best done on level sites.  You may not be able to discern from the photos that the ground here really slopes.  In fact, I think I need to add some stepping stones to facilitate weeding and deadheading because my gardening stool wants to roll faster than I can weed.


Once the area was weeded, I gave it a thick layer of mulch and a good watering.  You can see the bergenia is much happier, and I found another creamy-leafed hosta.  Unfortunately, the lysimachia (left of the creamy hosta) perked up, too.  Some day when I’m feeling destructive, I’ll dig it all out and toss it (but not in the compost pile!)  I’ve decided to let the project wait for a few days while my mind percolates and filters various ideas.  I’ve found that works best for me, rather than rushing into what seems to be a great idea, and then realizing (after it is planted) that it is fraught with problems.  I’ll look at it from various spots, and maybe review the flats of plant material that I still have at the farm before I make a decision.  At least now I can quit feeling guilty about that pitiful area, and focus on its bright future.


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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