Favorite Astilbe 2
Nice maneuver! This has been one dilly of a thread. None of the astilbe here are ready to bloom. My new fall additions all survived just fine and I'm looking forward to their first season here.
While I love astilbes in full bloom there's something wonderful about watching them go from just greenery to the first spikes and then how they color up and open so gradually.
It really is. The Bridal Veil has this pale green cast and others look like a very tiny light strawberry color. Keep them watered if you have unseasonably warm weather. They won't complain about an extra quart of water each day.
One of my white varieties is blooming now. I don't know the difference between 'Bridal Veil' and 'Deutschland' but one follows the other. 'Peach Blossom' is also starting to bloom. In another day or so, it will smell wonderful. The reds usually bloom later for me. I do see a nice showing of buds on 'Key Biscayne' (new last fall) so I'm thinking it will be in bloom next week. 'Key West' looks like it will be a little later since it's in more shade.
Snapple - Interested in hearing about your big project.
The big project is in !!!!!. 6000 sq. ft. The mulching was finished today. There are some piles of leftover mulch waiting to be hauled off and then I will post pics. It was the project from heck. Got the grass and weeds killed and then got the bed rotitilled and dressed with Preen. Began planting and ran into a buried ( 14" deep) 16 x 21 concrete building footer 2' wide and 18" thick. We had to hire a contractor to come in with heavy equipment, dig it up and haul it away. The previous owners of the property (both deceased or I would sue) did not disclose this at the sale. We had to have top soil hauled in to fill in the area.
Were it not for the 300+ plants, shrubs and trees I had sitting on my back deck waiting to go in the ground I would have cancelled the whole thing. At one end of the bed I unexpectedly ran into a "vein" of heavy clay. Now I know what you folks with clay soil complain about. In some cases It took 1/2 hour just to get one small plant in. I never worked so hard in my life at a garden project. On the other side of the bed the previous owners had buried heaps of refuse and one "burn barrel" after another. I found shoes, nylon carpet, enough car parts to build one, lots and lots of broken glass, large animal bones, and plastic bag shreds. There was a lot of buried bricks, broken concrete chunks and asphalt chunks. This had been a private residence since 1926. We have no idea how so much rubble came to buried there. I just wish that they were alive today. I'd love to hear them explain it.
Anyway. It is done. It looks sparse. All the plants are so small. There was a lot of space to fill and I spaced them appropriately. It will take two growing seasons for everything to attain some size. I'll water this year on a regular basis, but next year it should be well enough established to be drought resistant during our dry July and August. The mulch is heavy enough to keep weeding to bare minimum. There are actually 326 plants - 46 species. Fifty percent of the species are native plants, but they dont make up 50% of the total number of plants. A plant could be native, hybrid or introduced as long as it was able to grow in full sun, in our climate, and without supplemental water or fertilizer once established. I've not fertilized anything and I dont plan on fertilizing anything. I had originally chosen plants suited for the soil conditions as they were described in the soil testing report I had done by U Mass. That kind of went out the window when we had to have top soil hauled in for part of the area and the heavy clay that I never discovered until it was too late. The bed is "V" shaped ( as is the lot) with the base of the V widened considerably. The soil changes from one end to the other. You name a soil type and I think I have it.
This will be very interesting. I'm exhausted.
WOW Thats a huge project.
1927 is before my time by about 10 years but the municipalities didnt haul away anything in my memory. My grandparents lived on a farm,Talk about recycling! everything was,even nails and the keys and bands of metal that were used to open coffee cans.They had a dairy and didnt want the cows to injest anything like that.
House waste was put where we put ours,those of us who compost.There was no garbage collection ,they burned paper stuff.I Imagine thats pretty much how things were done on your place Snapple.
Good luck with clay.I amend every hole I dig.
ge you're correct about the no garbage hauling in the "early" years. I forgot to mention that we found a complete section of railroad rail. That was hauled off for free on a flat bed truck by the local municipality that was siting a railroad caboose car in a histoical park. They needed a set of rails, of which we were more than happy to donate one half!
On amending the clay. I did - sort of in a round about way. The dead sod from the grass/weeds that we killed was heavy and very deeply rooted, over a foot down in many places. It did provide a lot of organic matter. It was in clods that had to be broken up by hand, even though we rototilled twice. I broke the sod up by hand for every planting hole. This included areas 4' wide for trees. Planting was a slow arduous process, made even more difficult by record setting heat the whole week. It hit 90 degrees most afternoons. I would start at daybreak and work until about 4:00 pm. Long days.
There has been some good luck however. Mother Nature has provided timely rain. I have had minimal hand watering to do thus far. We have to haul water to the site in 30 gal plastic barrels in the back of our van ( full size).
One note about plant selection. NO invasives of any genus or species made the final selection list. I was extra careful not to introduce any invasives. I had the selection list vetted by the local horticultural extension agent and the nearby botanical garden horticulturalist staff. Of the 326, two plants have said they rather die than grow there. Both were the same species. Might be a site/soil plant mismatch. Their 10 identical companions are doing OK so we'll see. At this point all the other stuff looks to be doing from just fine to great.
This is how it looked last September and just this morning. I am amazed at how sturdy plants are .There were a few that didnt like clay.Agastaches didnt make it and monardas didnt like compost. This is all clay with glacial rocks.I am done with making new gardens. I have to take into account weeding and transplants etc for the next years.
You've put a lot of hard work into your gardens, snapple, and the rewards will be worth it even though the heat/aches/pains now may make it seem far away.
Great job, ge! It's so lovely now!
Snapple has a lot to be proud of. 6ooo sq.ft. is no small garden.
Snapple - so sorry that it turned out to be a major physical abuse project. I can't imagine how you kept at the soil prep part - the hardest part - with all of those obstacles. Will this end up being more of a public garden? Can't wait to hear more about the plants you selected. Hope you can now relax a bit and watch the plants grow.
ge - I'm with you on creating more planting beds. I think I've reached my limit on what I can really take care of. Amazing results with that lasagna layering.
Its so easy.Glad I found out about it when I did.
Yes Snapple keep us posted.
The east bed - 70 X 30, with a lonely Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'. The mangled oak belongs to the neighbor behind. He has since put up a fence across the back just in front of the oak. It was at the far end of the east bed that I struck concrete when I went to plant a Cotinus obovatus. I had some good luck there. At least I hadn't planted anything in the way of the contractor's equipment.
Its obvious your lot was a city dump.Good grief I had no idea the concrete was that big.
You wont regret removing all of that.I remember when The Victory Garden started in Boston on PBS.They made the first garden in the back lot of the studio and took out all kinds of trash.
I guess the railroad ties should have been my first clue on your lot. Thats uncommon household debris.
Definitely a huge undertaking!
ge - I don't think I ever saw the very first episodes of TVG although I've watched it for years. Too bad it died out. It wasn't heading in a good direction the past couple of years.
Too much competition from other garden program knock-offs that came after.The original narrater was old and when he died it just wasnt the same.
Its sad when the innovater gets knocked down. PBS has had problems from cable for years. I dont know why they dont get smart.
Our local station still has Lawerance Welk on Sat.night.
Its the 21'st century for kraps sake.LW has been dead for ages.
I really haven't found any cable gardening programs that measure up to TVG (imho).
I couldn't relate to the program during the last couple of years which was kinda sad. I was a huge fan of "Ground Force" on BBCA and would willingly watch reruns as well. Sadly, the program doesn't exist anymore.
OK - one cable gardening show I did like. He did a thing once on something akin to lasagna gardening. And Mike McGrath, the bug guy - he has his own podcast and I do like listening to him sometimes. What is Paul James doing besides the Rose Parade these days?
I have no idea.He must be on when I am watching something else.
I don't think he's on the current Comcast lineup unless it's old reruns. Had Tivo set up to record (still) but nothing's showing up.
I'm loving 'Milk and Honey' this year! I got them tiny last year and they are already huge! They should be blooming soon.
Songs your Milk and Honey is lovely.Thanks for the context pix.Its easier to gat a sence of the size.Wonderful spot.
Songs - wonderful garden spaces. 'M&H' looks huge!
I'm currently liking the brightly colored new foliage on 'Key Biscayne' - the new leaves are kind of orangey. Saw this in it last year but it was new at the end of the season and I thought it had just gotten more sun at the nursery. But it's exhibiting the same coloring in my shady bed. Adds a new dimension to traditional Astilbe foliage.
ge - Heard Paul James today on a Ken Druse podcast. He's the official spokesperson for nationalpublicgardens.org these days.