13 July, 2009

Foundations for a Moon Garden

As Bill, one of my college roommates, said recently, gardening is about killing plants as much as it is about growing them. It was with some degree of sadness that we took out these overgrown forsythia earlier this year.

We had thought of taking a master gardening friend's suggestion, and hacking them to ground level to start fresh. Unfortunately, there were so many weed trees growing through them, that we eventually agreed we'd never be able to completely kill those and leave the forsythia. It's hard to see the weed trees growing in here, because they haven't leafed out in these pictures, but we had rogue maples and elms completely twisted through the forsythia.

With the removal of those trees (which would be just off the left edge of this next picture), we were left with nothing growing on this side of the house. On a corner lot, we felt very, very exposed.

And so we decided to plant a moon garden. A moon garden is simply a flower bed that primarily has white flowers, particularly night-blooming ones like moonflowers, datura (angel trumpets), and the like, as well as shrubs with light-colored foliage--think white and green hostas, dappled willows, azaleas with pale-green leaves. Anything that would be illuminated by the light of the moon at night, giving the garden a special glow.

Here is where the forsythia and weed trees once stood. I built a bit of a berm, that rises about eight inches above the rest of the yard. Next year, I plan on placing trellises on the outer edge and growing moonflowers on them. (That's our neighbor's bed of hostas in the back. The trellis will block this view, much as I like our neighbors and their garden, and give the moon garden more of an intimate feel.) Because we have a new saw, I will be building the trellises myself.

For now, there is a white hibiscus in the center, two azaleas, a trio of astilbles (peach and light pink), and two white something-or-others whose name escapes me at the moment. Everything is still quite small, of course, because we're trying to do this as cheaply as possible. (Home Depot started clearancing 1-gallon perennials this week.)

Here's a long view of it.

The smoke tree was a coup. I came across a sign at Home Depot that said "ALL fruit, flowering, and shade trees 50% off (with exception of Japanese maples and evergreens)." Even though they didn't intend to include the smoke trees, it does in fact have flowers (the tag says so), so I asked for and got the discount. Score! Only $25.

Here's a before for the rest of the moon garden (with the crappy old windows we replaced last fall):

And how it's coming along:

Yup, that's a lot of work for one season. Here's the view from the corner of the house:

The bulging bit is mostly filled with freebie hostas we received from friends and family, but we have many bulbs coming up that should flower soon, as well as daturas, daisies, and white echinachias. And in the center, because I missed them, there is a forsythia that we picked up after Home Depot clearanced them. We'll still have our yellow flowers in the spring, before the rest of the garden wakes up.

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline


Jennifer said...

Sometimes you do just ahve to get rid of things. If you keep having problems with the elms growing up (and I know I did, even after cutting them multiple times), take a fine paint brush and carefully paint the cut part with stump killer after you cut it next time. Chemical yes, solves it permanently without killing neighboring plants, yes.

Joanne said...

When we had the gigantic cedar removed from the front foundation, we called in the pros. For an extra few bucks they took out the forsythia and weed elms/maples for us, including the roots. I don't think they're coming back.

But I will try the painted-on stump killer trick for another weed tree I thought I triumphed over; the monster keeps coming back, and I've already planted other stuff in the area.

Lady Quilter said...

I'm glad we have the "before and after" pictures of the yard. Never quite realize just how much has been done until comparing pics side by side. Joanne, as a gardener you Rock!!

Jean Martha said...

It looks awesome! I love the idea of a moon garden...tres romantic!