Every garden has a beginning. In this case the garden can be traced to a storm — Sandy, to be specific. A very large Pine Tree came down on our neighbor’s fence line. Leaving a channel of sunshine and a lot of dead roots in the ground. We had also opened space in this area last year when we took out an old and dying Cherry tree (with a stump still remaining). We took the new site as an opportunity and have been considering all year how best to use it. Watching the sunlight in this area it looks like it’s a mix of sun and shade, in other words, part-sun or part-shade depending on the time of day and time of year. But the ground was very hard and covered with roots from the cherry and pine. And I’m pretty sure that the remaining pine and surrounding maple and holly will be sending exploring roots before long. So we decided to make a raised bed, or berm, to guarantee a fertile and friable garden area.
What started out as a small project got larger each day as we brought pickup truckload after truckload of topsoil and mushroom soil from our special store of said components in the far pasture. Because we were concerned about driving truck or tractor over the walkway in the backyard it all had to be hauled from truck to the new garden by garden cart. In the end we decided to tie this new garden into the Peony bed on the one side and the pathway in back of the big American Holly on the other. We added some rocks hauled in from the leftovers at our local rock dealer to build structure and character into the bed. Actually I just like rocks. No other explanation is needed. I thought hard about how to add a burbling brook in the middle but no matter how I conceived it there is no way that a burbling brook looks natural in our yard (and I would have to decimate too many tree roots to bring water and electricity to that spot. So in the end we now have a pretty large new garden space just waiting for plants. This is so unlike me to have the garden space before the plants.
Well, there are a few plants waiting in the wings. There’s a Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’ that is already outgrowing it’s pot and is needing a home. There are two camellias, one fall and one spring, that are perfect for this lighting situation. When we could see the outlines of this garden begining to take shape we went to the local nursery to see what might still be around. We came away with some real finds. Most especially a Mahonia without spiny foliage.
It’s called Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ and unlike any other Mahonia I’ve seen. The leaves are more like a bamboo though the flowers immediately look like classic Mahonia flowers. Others were a tiny Rhododendron, R. Yakushimanum ‘Crete’, a Toad lily still in flower, and a bush Salvia.
And I now foresee a lot of opportunities for planting bulbs this fall …