22 June, 2009

Box House Garden Update: Cherries, Honeysuckle, and an Experiment with Moss

We took a major break from home improvement projects this week, and don't feel the slightest bit guilty about it! Instead, it has been a week of catching up with client work and enjoying the garden. Luckily, I had one project that I could drag outside with me and work on at the table. It's the most time I've spent in the garden all summer, if you don't count the hours of actual gardening.

Few things are more satisfying than watching your yard transform through your own efforts. From mud pit to oasis in one year! Here are a few garden updates:

Just about everything growing to the right of the washing machine is a weed tree; I cut them all out to ground level early spring, but they're coming back. But because there are at least four different kinds growing there, including a lovely purple-leafed something-or-other, I'm letting them stay for contrast and to hide the garbage cans from view. I'll cut them back again in the spring.

Our honeysuckle vine is in bloom; this is one of the few things we had planted last year, and it's doing well. We planted two other vines along the side of the house this year to keep it company.

Just a couple of comfy chairs. The forsythia I planted in the corner is doing well; I can't wait to see it in bloom next spring.

Some random planters; ignore the super long grass in front of them. It's been very cool these last weeks, and raining like crazy, so it's growing faster than my crappy push mower can handle. Mom tried some super-powerful fertilizer that she's been spraying on the foliage of our plants once a week, and I'm not kidding, everything tripled in size in about 10 days. It's the healthiest coleus we've ever had. (Oh crap, I just realized I still have to plant the ferns I bought two weeks ago.)

Front flower bed that I (mostly) planted this year; there aren't many things growing here yet. It's anchored by a dwarf cherry on each end, and another forsythia in the middle. In the background, you can see the overgrown grapevine on the back yard fence. Most of the hostas we have planted throughout the yard came from the base of the grapevine; it's amazing how fast and how big they grew as soon as they were divided and transplanted.

The same grapevine as seen from the back yard; to the left of the chairs is a peach tree. Yeah, I know, peaches in Chicago! How cool is that?

Between the two cherry trees, planted last summer, there were maybe two dozen cherries. This is a first for me, growing fruit. This year, because there were so few, we're letting the birds have them. And my goodness, the robins were out there today, gobbling them down whole! When we start getting substantial crops, then I'll think about covering them in netting.

This is probably my favorite stretch of the garden this year. It makes me smile every time I step out the back door. The limestone fragments were something cheap we picked up from Home Depot; they come in groups of five, backed with a plastic mesh. I plopped them here because this section of the yard gets muddy when it rains. The sandy dirt I packed between has already washed away, but the stones themselves are settling nicely. I dug up some moss that was growing behind the house and transplanted it between the stones; I don't know if they'll take hold because it does get a fair bit of sun in this spot. If not, I'll probably try growing creeping thyme between them instead. The grayish-green patch is grass seed mulch. I've been using it, with great success, to patch the bare spots.

Variegated orange blossom. (Stop looking at the uncut grass. Sheesh. I'll get to it.) We actually planted two of these last year. The other one, in the park way, was peed on every day by neighbor dogs. It is one-fourth the size, and doesn't have blossoms. As all other growing conditions were the same--light, moisture, etc.--this is proof positive that dog urine hinders growth. Grrr. I actually dug the poor one up and moved it closer to the house last week. With luck, it will catch up to this one--already two and a half feet tall!--by next year.

That's about it on the updates. My godmother stopped by today, with a bunch more perennials she divided from her garden. I'm so psyched! Friends and relatives have been kind with their plant donations for our new garden. I know how I'll be spending tomorrow!


Karen Anne said...

Do you get grapes from that grapevine? I've been letting something grow that I thought was a wild Concord grape vine, which we used to have in the fields nearby, but apparently it's something else.

It hasn't had fruit in the 2-3 years it's been growing like a weed, and a tree guy who was here last week said it's not a grape but some sort of invasive, so it's days are numbered, and I'm going to buy one.

What's a variegated orange blossom? Thanks.

Karen Anne said...

p.s. The garden looks great.

Lady Quilter said...

Karen Anne - Yes, we do get grapes. When first moving in the neighbors said the vines get heavy with fruit. I thought "yeah, sure" but wow! Joanne did the grape pie, which was ok but I'm not that much on grape pie never having had it before. She also did grape butter, which was pretty good. I think this year we may just let the birds, etc have them.
I understand fully your having vines and no fruit. When we first moved into our last house the back edge of the lot was covered in vines, took over the world. We had them 10 feet into the trees, crawling across our yard as well as the neighbors. Were told it was part of a wind break the farmer planted years ago. Our sub-division was an old farm. Took several years of hacking and pulling everything out, although occasionally a stubborn vine puts in an appearance. But never a single grape. None, nada! I can only guess at what the vines look like now with renters in the house. I told them not to touch anything in the way of major yard work.

Anonymous said...

Your yard and garden look fabulous! Hard to believe it's the same yard you inherited.

How tall do the dwarf cherry tree's get?? I'm not sure they'd work so well up here, but they really look nice!


Lady Quilter said...

Sandy - the dwarf cherry trees get about 12 to 15 feet. The few cherries we had were all picked by the birds but if we get any substantial cherries next year we will cover with netting.