Tag: landscaping

Press Release from the Black Cohosh: “The report of my death was an exaggeration”

It was reported recently on this blog that I “never grew” or, alternatively that I produced “one small leaf or shoot . . . not memorable enough to photograph.” I am here to correct this vicious attack on my character.  As you can see, I 

The Strawberry of Serendipity

I am having a sort of zen relationship with my garden lately.  I try to do a little Frank Lloyd Wright style organic architecture contemplation when I am out in my garden to see if there is any way I can accommodate the natural tendencies 

Garden Transformation

The lovely weedpatch we have cultivated.

There are numerous areas of my garden which require attention. This weekend I tackled one.

Sometimes it helps me stay motivated to break down a complex task into defined steps and track my project in a before and after. So while this post is really for me, I thought it might be helpful to someone else as well.

Step One. Survey the Situation.

Weeds. Check.
Lack of “real” plants. Check.

Step Two. Weed. A lot!

The enormous weed pile.

Step Three. Amend clay soil.

Adding sand and topsoil to the clay.

Clay soil is the bane of most Virginia gardeners. It’s thick and heavy when it’s wet and it dries rock solid. Most things don’t grow in it so you have to add a little sand and some “real” soil or organic matter like manure or compost. I recently met a soil scientist who informed me that, contrary to common belief, you can permanently fix clay soil in your garden by digging it up and amending it with sand and organic materials. It’s just that you have to do it five times(!) before it takes. I have yet to meet someone willing to dig up their entire garden five times so the rest of us just dig it up and amend in spots as we plant.

Step Four. Plant

"Real" plants

I borrowed liriope from the enormous quantity we have in our front flower beds so I got my edging for free. And you know the story now of the rescued Ruby Spice Clethra so that was “free” in a sense too.

Step Five. Mulch

Mulching completes the transformation.

I have learned to like mulching. It is kind of like painting. It finishes off the garden and gives the planting area an organized look.


Plea of the Ruby Spice Clethra . . . “I’m Not Dead Yet!”

Know any funny stories about gardening? No? I didn’t either until this weekend. Gardening seems a sort of meditative, serious type of practice but I have found there is a lot of humor in it too. Take for example, my recent experience with the Ruby 

. . . and You Think You’re Busy?!

Lately around our house we have an abundance of life. We have huge azaleas, rhododenrons and peonies in an overwhelming, almost desperate, bloom. This week, I was taking out the garbage one evening and in the short walk out the back door to the garbage