Finally! After two months, the bulk of my shade garden plants have arrived!! When I got home from work on Monday, a box was sitting near my front door. I flew up the stairs to change out of my business attire and put on my garden clothes. Then out the door I ran to grab my tool bucket, the Azomite and worm compostings, and the rest of my plants. Eating would have to wait. My shade garden was going in the ground before sunset!
It was a perfect evening for planting. I had a little over two hours, 75 degree sunshine, and a slight breeze. Before I share with you the process of actually planting, I have to go back several weeks to what this area looked like before the digging commenced.
This is the backyard, near my chimney. This is on the other side of the fence as my L Garden. (See My New Shade Garden Planting Part 1.) The picture was taken ten days after I ordered my plants in the middle of March. (Little did I know then how long I’d have to wait for them. Guess I should’ve figured that when I ordered from a nursery buried under snow in Minnesota!)
This project was too big for me alone, so I had to enlist my strong Garden Wilson to help me. He did all the preparation. I told him the basic shape of what I wanted, and he first marked out the garden with his shovel. (You can see the L garden through the fence; it had been planted a few days before this picture was taken, the end of March.)
He then pulled up all the grass.
Once the grass was dug up, I could see the shape of my shade garden. He dug it a bit larger than what I had on my plan, so I may have to supplement a few more annuals among my perennials…once the perennials grow in.
Next was the hard part. Over the course of several days, he dug up the clay-dirt. As you can see in the grass two pictures above, we had the utility companies mark the lines so he wouldn’t dig those up. Thankfully, they were deeper than the six inches he was digging. However, he did have to maneuver around the roots of my crape myrtle tree.
It took several days during a two-week period for him to dig up the clay-dirt and add the special mix I created: one bag top soil + 1/2 bag compost with manure + 1/2 bag sand. He filled only about 1/3 of the hole with the bags I had left from the L garden. And I thought I had bought enough for both. HA! Back to Lowes we went for more. By the first week of April or so, my shade garden was ready for planting. (See all the leaves on everything at this point.) He also added a large paver and set my mossy bird bath on it. (He found that on the side of the road and thought it’d look great in my shade garden. It does!)
Little did I know then that I wouldn’t get the rest of my plants until May 4. I received my astilbe on March 20, half of which got planted in my L garden. The other plants I put inside a basket in my garage (dark and cool) and prayed they’d stay alive until I got the rest of my plants. I also received my Silver Scrolls heuchera (coral bells) the same day. Thankfully, they were in small pots inside the box, so I just had to keep them watered and happy.
So, Monday evening, I gathered all the plants I wanted to put into my shade garden. The new ones are in the box in the picture below, but you can see how much the Silver Scrolls heuchera have grown in six weeks. The lime green plants are the coleus I bought off the mark down rack at Lowes a few weeks ago. They’re doing well, too. Finally, you can see the pot of ajuga I thought had died but came back, as well as the basket of astilbe (in little bags).
Time for planting! For each plant, I dug a hole (with my hands, the soil was so wonderful) and added a cup of worm castings and 1/4 cup of Azomite rock dust. Yes, even flowers and ornamentals need proper nutrition.
The first thing I planted was the fern my friend Roxy gave me last year. It’d been in a pot near my patio and had dug its roots through the pot into the ground. (That’s what kept it alive through the winter, I guess.) I planted it behind the crape myrtle and the mossy bird bath.
Next, I laid out the white and pink astilbe along my house – five white in the back, four pink in the front (like I did with my L garden). However, I had two extra white astilbe, so I planted them along the fence. I dipped them in a bucket of water before planting. I believe they’re still viable because a couple of the tubers had small shoots starting to grow out of them.
After I planted the astilbe, I opened the box and pulled out my starter plants. Very small plants at that. (Purchasing starter plants saved me about $10-15 a plant! More money or more patience? I opted for patience.) I then laid out the plants the way I had them on the plan. Because the garden area is larger than my plan, I had to move the plants around a bit to get them just right.
First, I planted one of the coleus near the birdbath, to give a little color to that area. Next is a line of three hostas – Vulcan in the middle and Patriot on either side. The next line is four Green Spice heuchera; the leaves will turn bright orange in the fall. The final line is along the edge, and I alternated Silver Scrolls heuchera with Autumn Leaves heuchera. Once I laid out those plants, I placed the remaining two lime green coleus.
After planting everything (and adding the plant tags that came with the plants), I pulled apart my ajuga and planted several pieces in various spots to “fill in” empty spots. Finally, I gave the entire garden a good watering. Now, my shade garden is planted.
The only thing left to do is insert the edging and top dress the area around the crape myrtle tree (we didn’t dig that up due to the roots). Once the plants are a little bigger, I’ll cover the soil with dried grass clippings. Then all I have to do is wait until the plants grow and fill in. Next spring, I’ll have a better idea where I can add annuals to my shade garden.
It took a couple of months, a lot of work and a lot of waiting, but it’s done! I’ll keep you posted on how the plants are doing in my Monday Sanctuary Gardener Update posts.
What big projects do you have planned for your homestead this spring?