Two Years ago my wife noted with increasing emphasis that the Norway Maple was shading out and dominating our front yard. After my normal reluctance to change anything (particularly a tree which we had grown from a little stick) I succumbed to the literature which describes this as an invasive species. I was concerned about the lack of privacy and the length of time it would take to grow anything else in its stead. However, once persuaded to the idea we began to plan the conversion of this spot to a new front-yard perennial garden with SUN (an increasing rarity in the yard around the house).
We hired a local fellow handy with a chain saw and by early spring we had a level playing field with only the problem of what to do with the remaining stump.
The initial idea was to just cover it with earth and hope for the best. But we do have the advantage of a good sized tractor and a posthole digger. When I applied the posthole digger to the area around the stump I was able to get pretty close with only a modest number of roots getting in the way. So before we applied topsoil over the area we were able to dig down 24″, creating a whole new approach to the English concept of “double-digging”.
We then ordered in some beautiful topsoil and used the tractor to spread it over the area. And we used the garden tiller to mix the hell out of it with lots of good peat as well.
Now the next step was to take this from just a circular perennial garden to something with more of a rock garden feel to it (but still with mostly perennials to give some splash from a distance). So we went prospecting for rocks. Since I once had the experience of picking up a rock beside the road and discovering that I could lift more than I could hold (nothing like seeing a hole in your leg with the bone peeking out), I am acutely conscious of the weight of rocks. We looked around the property and couldn’t seen anything attractive that was movable without a stick of dynamite. That led us to the local rock store where they bring nice rocks down from Pennsylvania by the truckload. We looked at getting a big pallet of great big rocks but decided that we might have some trouble moving them around at our end. Finally we compromised on one really pretty rock to sit over the stump and some supporting cast members.
Then the fun part began! Starting from scratch with a sunny well-tilled spot and choosing/planting a host of little plants. Some from mail order and some local.
By mid-June the garden had already taken on a very pleasing form and we were checking it every time we walked outside. The hose was never far away so I think this planting benefited from a lot of extra water.
The Gaura, Liatris, and Sage were very quick to strut their stuff.
And by mid-summer the Black-eyed Susans, Shasta Daisies, Yarrow, and Gaillardia were the main show. Altogether this was a lot more rewarding that the Norway Maple had been. Congrats to Beth for pushing me in this direction.