Gardendote of the Day 2013-03-25
Here's my problem area:
Because I cut down a tree (see "Stump") all these Zones get excellent sun from about noon onwards. The soil is lousy, because the tree I cut down was a Norway Maple, which sucked all of the moisture out of the soil, and had a very shallow root system. The soil is also rocky. This area was neglected for years. "Nothing will grow there!" Well, that's because nothing grows in the shade of a Norway Maple, the world's most evil tree.
Zone 1: Next to the sidewalk, covered now with horrible dead snow and winter grunge. Basically the last bit of lawn, Zone 1 is also infested with Japanese beetles, whose grubs eat the grass roots, so the grass turns green and can be ripped out in great clumps. I've had success reseeding with white clover -- tough roots? -- and also success with a small patch of wild flowers.
Zone 2: This is a flower garden, almost covered with dead snow, but you can see some of the rocky border poking up (very nice rocks). I put some seafood compost in there every year, and then plant with flats from the hardware store, mostly pansies. There are also violets which appear, spontaneously, and also columbines, which are reseeding themselves in massive quantities. Geraniums go in the pots on the stump.
Zone 3: This is... I don't know what it is. Partially, it's a path between the front porch with mailbox on the left (not visible) and the driveway on the right (also not visible). I tried planting an herb garden between the flower garden and the path, but since it wasn't in my Zone A, I ended up not picking the herbs and everything bolted. (I also got tremendous, glorious thistles in this Zone; I don't know why they like the space, but I believe thistles are good because they remove toxins from the soil.)
Zone 4: The area in the drip zone under the eaves. Some plantings there.
The "problem area" lacks what a real estate agent would call "curb appeal." I see it a bit differently; the problem the space has is that it doesn't give enough pleasure to people who walk. This includes people walking by on the sidewalk; "public diplomacy" is an important part of gardening! But it also includes me, as I walk to the mailbox and back, or down the street past the front yard on an errand. I've been planning to dump a couple of yards of seafood compost onto it, to improve the soil, and make another stone dust path... But so far, a design for the space has eluded me.
Nevertheless, I guess in writing this up I've figured out my goal for the space:
Making the space a pleasure to walk through, both on the sidewalk, and via the path in Zone 3.
(I don't want to sit in the space, because it's too close to the sidewalk for privacy and quiet.)
NOTE As an afterthought, intellectually I'm pleased with the division into zones. But maybe that geometry is too rigid, and I need to make the zones not parallel to the sidewalk, or introduce some curves. However, the path from the driveway to the mailbox must be efficient, or people will trample their own, more efficient path.
NOTE As a second afterthought, there's another patch next to the sidewalk that's out of scope for this project; I need to get up my nerve to cut down another tree. However, in that space, whose Zone 2 is filled with hostas, I have several small animal figurines that I hide under the hosta leaves (see "public diplomacy"). These are not loathesome artifacts, but real family artifacts. That principle, or some other idea to make the space "readable" in a surprising way, might be fun to employ.
UPDATE Rereading this, I'm thinking that I definitely do not want a sheet-mulched area with stand-alone plants. I want something more like masses of color with hidden delights.