My shade garden is in process! I was planning to work on my entire shade garden all at one time (then share it all with you), but one of my nursery orders has yet to arrive. It seems that the weather is still too cold in Minnesota to ship to me – the plants might die enroute! The plants that I’m waiting on are all for the main shade garden on the back yard side of the house. Because I had all the plants for the front side of the shade garden – dubbed the “L Garden” – I decided to go ahead and work on that part now.
Here’s what the front yard portion of the side of my house looked like before I put in the L Garden. I have two white hydrangea planted in the bed along the fence and nothing on the other side of the fence gate.
First, I had to dig out all the topsoil six inches down. It has too much clay. I must admit, this is the first time I’ve ever dug a trench, so to speak. I got as far as the fence and had to solicit help from my Garden Wilson. He finished the side where the hydrangea are (without digging them up!) and the far side of the fence gate in half the time it took me to do the house side. But he dug a full shovel’s worth and filled the wheelbarrow to the top each time…unlike my skimpy shovels and half-filled wheelbarrows. Regardless, I woke up the next morning wondering who had beaten me up in my sleep!
I had cypress mulch laid down around the hydrangeas, which had to be moved to dig out the old dirt there. I decided to place it in the bottom of the “trenches” for organic matter and better drainage. Then it was time to fill everything in with new dirt. I thought this pile would be enough for the L Garden and the full shade garden. What a laugh! I used two thirds of this pile just for the L Garden! (Time for another trip to Lowes.)
We used the wheelbarrow as a mixer for the new soil. I combined a full bag of plain top soil, a half bag of cow manure compost, and a half bag of sand.
Look how pretty the soil looks, all ready for planting.
After the new soil was in place, I edged the L Garden and the new bed on the far side of the fence gate with bricks. Then I pulled out the annuals I bought at Lowes and opened the boxes I received from two nurseries. (It’s the third order I’m still waiting on.)
I bought pink and white astilbes to line the house on both sides of the fence. (The astilbes destined for the full shade garden are still in their packages in a basket in my garage where, I hope, they’ll remain dormant for a few more days.) They arrived similar to a bare root plant, packed in peat.
I bought red beauty fern (similar to Japanese fern) for the fence side of the L Garden. They came packed in soil. It looked like the nursery removed the plants from the pots and tied plastic baggies around them. They arrived just fine.
I know that petunias are not shade-loving plants. However, the L Garden does receive some morning sun. So, I’m hoping they’ll do fine there.
The first thing I did was pull out my garden plan to see where I planned to place what. I then laid out the astilbe and fern. The white astilbe are along the house with the pink astilbe staggered in front of the white. The ferns alternate with the hydrangea, with an additional fern in the new bed on the far side of the fence gate. There will be a pink astilbe flanking each side of the gate, too.
By placing my plants where I wanted to plant them, the planting was so easy. To each hole, I added a half cup of worm castings and a quarter cup of Azomite. I did that for both the perennials and the annuals.
After the perennials were planted, I laid out the annuals, alternating the Dusty Miller and pink petunias. (When I actually planted them, I staggered them so they wouldn’t be in a straight line.)
Here is the house side of the L Garden. You can’t see the astibles (yet), but the annuals are looking pretty.
Now here’s a funny story. While preparing this article last night, I realized that I never took “after” photos of the other side of the L Garden! Know what this crazy gardener-writer did? Oh, yes. I went outside and took a couple of pictures….in the dark….with my cell phone…just for you. 😉 Even though it’s night, you can see how the fern is starting to grow!
This “night-time” photo shows the fern and annuals between the hydrangea on the fence side of the L Garden.
This is the bed on the far side of the fence gate. I wanted to create an entrance that was flanked on both sides with astilbe and fern.
I was going to save these next pictures for my weekly garden update, but I think I owe you the sneak peak because of the night time shots.
I have a couple of white astilbe that are growing leaves already.
All the fern are growing very well. When I first planted them, they barely had stems. I think they’re happy there!
Now, my L Garden is complete. We’ve begun digging out the area for the full shade garden, but I haven’t received notification that my plants have been shipped yet. Once the shade garden is done, I’ll share those pictures with you, too.
What are you doing on your homestead this week?