A New Room

Have I mentioned rocks? Digging them? My garden was a serious rock pile before I began excavating. To give you an example, today I planted 2 new plants, an alstromeria & a ‘Silver Mound’ wormwood in a section I haven’t conquered yet. We’re keeping it open to get our truck in & out but I’ve wanted to ‘decorate’, so started filling in the edges. See the pile of rocks in front of the plants? All those rocks came out of the 2 holes I dug for these (count ‘em) 2 new plants. Notice the rock wall with a built in lily bed behind the new plants? All those rocks were also removed from my soil. By me. One at a time. Over a seriously long time! I think I’m winning the battle at this point, which is a good thing because I’m too old to wrestle rocks anymore!!

The cement birdbath on the left is one I made several years ago and you’ll probably see other garden art I’ve done as we go along. You’ll also see a variety of birdbaths, the better to entice more birds who will eat bad bugs so I don’t have to use chemical sprays. I was surprised at the bravery of these two Siskins enjoying a bath so close to me while I photographed my morning’s work!

Last fall and this spring I’ve been reworking another area, that formerly housed all my herbs. It was also my ‘holding bed’ because I would store new plants there that I didn’t know exactly where to plant. To get them into the ground somewhere, I’d plant them here until I could figure it out; and in no particular order so it was quite wild.

A well respected & award winning garden designer, Marion McNew of Mount Hood Gardens agreed to visit my garden for a consult but there was a long waiting list. When it was finally my turn in her busy schedule, she focused on this particular area that was overun with herbs, orphan plants and weeds with a suggestion of tall grasses to close off a ‘garden room’ including a seating area. The grasses would be great wind protection and would provide a closed intimate setting. I liked the idea & began the chore of moving all the plants out of my way so I’d have a clean canvas to work with. It took all summer and into the fall. What to do with all those plants. I was finally forced into deciding where to put those I truly loved, potted up those I wasn’t sure about and overwintered; and the rest I stoicly dumped into the compost. I hate throwing away plants, but you reach a point past obsession & have to clear them away.

Since this area had already been planted, I didn’t have to do much for soil prep. In fact, it was really fun to design the area as a clean slate without having to dig any rocks! I started with the grasses Marion suggested then chose what I wanted to see behind them ~ peonies with daylilies and Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) anchoring the corners. Peonies are also interspersed along the sides of this new ‘garden room’ with a couple varieties of red hot poker (Kniphofia), maltese cross (Lychnis), and a few other perennials that have a tropical feel in my NW garden. I love tropical plants, but am a couple zones too cold to have any. Next to the Joe Pye corners, I placed a Cornus mas varigata on one side and a Cercis canadensis on the other, which will eventually form the structure when they mature. Repeating the grassy shapes I added some Crocosmia, ‘Lucifer’. Daffodils, crocus, and grape hyacinths are the spring bloomers and I have some miniature bearded iris yet to plant. Oh, and the little blue flowers that reseed everywhere for me are Love in a Mist (Nigella). Oops I left the flags in from last fall to mark where the grasses were planted so I'd know if I lost any. A habit I began a few years back when I couldn't remember what I planted or where it was!

My husband built & painted the andirondack chairs in his shop you can see just behind this new area; & I am still in the process of making the glass pavers leading into it. You can see the first few pavers I made as a test to be sure they’d turn out as desired. An inch thick & 8” square. I can only make four at a time, so it’ll take me awhile to make the entire path as they take a couple days to cool down (anneal) in my kilns. You can read more about them here if you'd like.

And of course, you’ll note the rocks outlining all my paths. Guess where they came from! Thanks for stopping by! Next time I’ll tell you about my long-running feud with deer.


  1. LOVE the garden and those blue chairs! I wish I had a garden like that...I need to get out of L.A. lol

  2. Omigosh, that area where you have the adirondacks is so beautiful; I would be sitting there all the time with either a book or glass of wine or both. And your husband did a wonderful job on them--I absolutely love adirondacks, I don't know what it is about them but they are so picturesque.

    You are one hardcore gardener--that is a lot of work, a labor of love, I'm sure, but you get to reap what you sow as you sit in that lovely little area.

  3. Thanks my friends! My garden is my sanctuary & I take great pleasure in the serenity I've created. I do need to find a little table to go with those chairs where I can 'rest' that book or glass of wine.

    And, is there a reason you couldn't have your own oasis in LA?

  4. I love garden art and the way you show them! gardening is one of my biggest passions. Beth www.iflorist.co.uk


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