Thanks to Longfield Gardens for providing the alliums for this planting in celebration of the Year of the Allium.
This was the impetus to get me moving on this project I have wanted to start for months now!
The gardens I inherited when we bought Stonecrest are fantastic and wild. There is a creek lined with moss and ferns and plenty of woods and grassy area for the kids to play. There are hundreds of daffodils that peek up each spring from their woodland beds and a few small "official" flower beds with peonies and such. However. I miss lilac. ...and hydrangea. ...and sandcherry. I crave easy bulb blooms to cut all season long. I miss the grand parade of spring and summer fragrance. Thus, I decided to tackle THIS beast:
That hedge of weedy bushes sits to the left of the house and if you could look from the sky down, you would see a driveway that goes into a lower level garage. Across the driveway (where that electric line pole is) is another hedge that is similar, but is currently housing a hornet's nest. Once we are able to remove the nest in late winter (the hornets have left us alone and are good pollinators, and will leave the nest empty), I plan to make a similar cutting hedge to mirror this one. Clear as mud? Here is the hedge in relation to the corner of the house:
There was a very large mulberry tree which we had cut out, a host of poison ivy which the sheep ate up and the next step is to have the rest of those trees and bushes cut out. I considered keeping the tree, but I do not want to have to worry about either the power line or the roof once the tree grows to maturity, so everything has to go. Once the area is clear, I will build up the soil with manure and leaf mold and then planting can begin! I am utilizing three sources for this particular planting. Longfield Gardens is providing the alliums, I purchased all of the trees and shrubs as saplings from the Arbor Day Foundation and I will fill in with cuttings from plants I am already growing.
Ready to see the plans? They are hand-drawn, so prepare yourself to squint a bit:
The lines, arrows, circles and stars are all various types of alliums in the Bountiful Blooms Collection. I met Nick McCullough and his wife Allison at the P. Allen Smith event this spring and was excited to see that he put together this collection for Longfield along with a full garden design. My design takes cues from Nick's, but I am using foundation shrubs instead of peonies. You can see his design HERE.
The alliums used in both plants are the same and you might be surprised at a few! My very favorite are the pretty pink drumstick alliums, a break in tradition from the perfectly spherical varieties. I clustered these around the sand cherry near the corner of the house.
Next, the ginormous Gladiators will pop up towards the center of the planting and the Purple Sensations will be sprinkled here and there among the hydrangeas. Last, but not least, I will plant the understated pink Christophi amidst some Guacamole Hosta I have at the bottom of the planting.
The foundation of the planting is a background of beautiful, fragrant cutting shrubs. There are two large traditional lilacs and one Pekin Lilac (a white lilac) along with several white hydrangea and (my favorite!) a sand cherry in the corner, by the house. The sand cherry has one of my very favorite scents in early spring, so I sited it here so I can get the benefit of the scent early in spring from the front porch. All of the Arbor Day trees and shrubs come as 2 year old saplings and will take a few years to get to a good size. However, they are cheap (around $10 or less for each one) and planting the saplings is far easier than planting a mature bush or tree. Planting saplings is also my choice because they seem to adapt easier to the heavy clay soil a bit easier than larger specimens that have been babied with nice soil for years and years. If you are super curious, here are my choices:
Hydrangea, Lilac, Pekin Lilac, Sand Cherry
3 Washigton Hawthornes
2 Sargent Crabapples
3 American Redbuds
4 Flowering Dogwoods
PS: The Arbor Day Foundation offers 10 free trees when you support them with a $10 membership HERE. I do it almost every year. When we lived in Nebraska, we would often go up to the Foundation headquarters and I absolutely love what the Arbor Day Foundation stands for and works towards. ---not sponsored
One last note: I chose varieties that are all shrubs or small trees so that I do not have to worry about that power line or the roof in future years. The tallest trees (dogwoods, maybe crabapple) will be towards the bottom of that slope to give them plenty of room to grow. The alliums will actually go in first this fall, then the trees come dormant in November to be planted out immediately. Filler catmint, lavender and sedum will fill in holes next spring and then I simply have to have patience and wait until the blooms come in!