It Doesn't Look Like Much..Yet.

  Just a few months ago this area along the north fence of my garden was so densely planted little soil was visible. The removal project was almost completely spontaneous-I spent no time pondering and worrying about shovel pruners remorse. It started when I decided to chuck my polyantha rose 'The Fairy' which had been in the ground for at least 20 years. The fairy was not a bad rose-a long bloom period well into fall, disease  free and compact-but I was ready to cycle in something new. Once the rose was gone  a new view opened up before me and I could see no justification to keep plants in this bed that I no longer loved. I just kept digging. Eupatorium Gateway, Sedum Autumn Joy, a reverted Phlox paniculata Nora Leigh, and Miscanthus Rigoletto. All gone. By the way, if you are contemplating digging up a Miscanthus, I recommend a Sawzall-after a few days of working on it off and on I finally had to break out the power tools.


  Miscanthus Rigoletto was a beautiful thing, but by June it was prostrate, flopping over it's neighbors and the blooms when they came in late summer were on the ground. Elaborate staking systems were tried and abandoned -just too intrusive. Here Rigoletto is seen pre-flop with 'The Fairy'.

The staking method involved rebar and soft wire ties. It was all for naught. If the grass wants to flop, by god it flops.

 This phone photo was taken last fall after the rose came out . I cut Rigoletto back hard and had already started working on the removal. On the right is Eupatorium 'Gateway' pre-dig. This plant has fantastic architectural presence and is a great draw for beneficials. However it also loves water. I loved this plant but not enough to provide almost daily supplemental water.  It will be replaced with an artichoke -architecture without wilting.


This is a really bad phone  photo, but is the only one could find of Phlox 'Nora Leigh' and Sedum Autumn Joy. I was actually taking a smoke photo-an all too often occurrence here in summer/fall. Looking through my photo files it was pretty clear that a rarely took images of this area in my garden, and I went back a few years. This really affirmed my impulsive decision to dig it all up.


 I feel good about the new plants that will be installed, and you can see them staged in the first photo and again below.  I often will set a container down in a spot I think I may want it to live and spend a couple of weeks looking and deciding. Just to the right of the bag of compost is Sedum 'Matrona' divided from a plant in another area of the garden. The barely discernible Mangave 'Mission to Mars' in the lower mid-foreground was one of the lone survivors of the dig.


 Some of the new plants thus far...

  Teucrium fruiticans 'Azureum' . This plant has been on my bucket list for years. Finally I have the space.


Geranium maderense 'Alba'. My third go with this. It made it through our 24 degree night in January so I am cautiously optimistic. Since it is biennial it will be a temporary resident. I am doubtful it will reseed, but if I get one bloom I will be happy.


Leucodendron 'Ebony' has been in a pot for months. I truly did not think it would be hardy here, but it sailed though night after night of frost and the aforementioned 24 left it unphased. The little green shoots are my very prolific Nigella volunteers.


  I was thrilled to find Correa 'Ivory Bells' at the Ruth Bancroft Garden nursery when I ventured out in January. Been looking for this a long time.


 I moved this  Hebe 'Red Edge' from my front garden . I have another in front that I think is in too deep shade and I plan to bring it back here as well this spring. I need to think about repeated elements.

  I also liberated Eucalyptus 'Moon Lagoon' from it's container and planted it in this bed . The best thing about this re-do is that I have replaced many herbaceous plants with year round evergreens. This part of my garden has been empty in winter for years. I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops.




  1. Starting from scratch is such a powerful thing! You have a lot to look forward to.

    I know exactly what you mean about removing miscanthus (as well the flopping--the reason I removed all of mine years ago).

    I have many of the same plants - Teucrium fruticans 'Azureum' , Leucadendron 'Jester', Eucalyptus 'Moon Lagoon' - and they've done very well in my garden. They should prove reliable for you as well.

    1. Poor Moon Lagoon was in a pot for two years , I expect to see some nice growth when the weather warms up. One of the plants I bough from UC Davis was a Calamagrostis 'Lightning Strike' -I've grown a couple varieties of Calamagrostis in the past and had great luck with the flopping issues, and they were relatively easy to dig out. We shall see !

  2. I find that some of those impulsive decisions in the garden are the best ones I make, acting before I second guess my inner gardener. You've made great process, Kathy. Now the fun stuff starts! I look forward to seeing the area develop.

    1. I have no regrets Kris-and it will be fun to plant some temporary small stuff while the larger plants fill in.

  3. If you avoid taking photos of an area, you know it needs change. At least I know that about mine! (Though the area looks fabulous in that 2nd photo.) That's a great idea setting the pots out and considering the layout over a few weeks. I will try that, thanks!

    A refresh after 20 is something I'm doing too, here and there. It's more fun than I expected. Refreshing mentally. I'm looking for a good spot here for that beautiful Teucrium as well--almost picked one up last week at Armstrongs. Almost...

    1. Setting out the pots is the only way I am able to visualize-I draw plans on paper but it's just not the same . I've been trying to figure out a spot for that Teucrium for literally years. I find myself agonizing over the perfect spot. I finally told my self if I don't like the position after a full year it will still be easy to dig up and move,


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