things and places for homes and gardens

Operation eliminate eyesore

Wednesday 19 May 2010 - Filed under Plants

back yard
Up until a couple months ago, I had a major detractor sitting right off the side of my patio. Poor, dry, inhospitable soil had me stumped, and the spot became a dumping ground for garden junk, like my winterizing supplies here, that sit at the ready for frost alerts during the iffy months. Add a falling down makeshift fence that was hastily constructed to stop the dogs from fighting with the neighbors’ pack, and what a mess it was. Suddenly it’s spring again, and I don’t want another year of looking at a big bare patch of ugly. I had planned to settle on hardscaping to eliminate the problem spot, but one day, wandering around with a handful of plants that couldn’t find a home in the rest of the garden, I decided to give it one more try.

back yard
My experiment involves plants that should tolerate some neglect and crummy soil: Hesperaloe, echeveria, eremerus, Agave parassana (not shown yet), sempervivum, sedum, Yucca ‘Bright Star’. They’re also mostly sun lovers, which may doom my little experiment to failure, since plants in my garden have to make do with whatever periods they get where the sun peeks through the branches overhead. For now, I’m watching and waiting for signs of stress, ready to do an emergency transplant if necessary. The hesperaloe and eremerus both have flower stalks that show some promise.

Agave Parassana
In the spirit of experimentation, I found a very crowded pot of Agave Parassana at the HPSO sale, which is new to me, but it was quite a bargain considering how many plants I got out of that one pot. According to Dave’s garden, it should be hardy to zone 8b , and can take part shade. It’s a possible love connection.

Agave parassana and sempervivum
I divided the agaves and interspersed them with a gallon pot of equally crowded semervivums to make a mini drift. They look a little roughed up after what seemed like a barbaric process of ripping them apart, but they should be tough enough to take it, right?

back yard
To throw the poor plants another curve ball, I couldn’t resist a light covering of compost, which is so wrong for these plants. I’ve had this area planted for weeks now, and haven’t been able to show a picture because of the crummy looking soil. At least temporarily though, things are looking up, no more eyesore.

2010-05-19  »  megan

Talkback x 8

  1. Loree / danger garden
    19 May 2010 @ 10:27 am

    Wow…beautiful! With the title and the first picture I thought you meant the neighbors house, but I guess that’s not so easily eliminated is it?

    I absolutely love what you’ve created! The plant choices are fabu (of course I would think that right, so many are my fav’s)…glad to see you’ve got a Hesperaloe (you’re gonna love the hummingbirds that the bloom attracts) and that you kept one of the purple yuccas for your own garden.

    The Sempervivum and Agave drift is simply to-die-for. Did you sustain any injuries separating all those pups? What a score! I will warn you that I planted one of those agaves outside a few years back and it died over the winter, and it wasn’t even a bad one. I did nothing to protect it though, and I don’t think the drainage was great. Being under the trees will no doubt help protect yours. I hope you will post when your Eremerus blooms. Mine has still done absolutely nothing as far as a bloom spike.

    Simply gorgeous!

  2. tina
    19 May 2010 @ 12:04 pm

    It’s an eyesore no more! I hope all the plants make it because they look perfect together!

  3. Karen
    19 May 2010 @ 6:09 pm

    Wow, that’s quite a before/after transformation! Very inspiring. I started working on a neglected area last week but haven’t been back, so it is in that awkward in-between stage. It’s true, the compost makes it look so much fancier. Could you use a gravel mulch instead, would that be better for the plants but still satisfy your tidying urge? I know, gravel is a Danger Garden thing… Nice work!

  4. Grace
    19 May 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    Seriously, it doesn’t even look like the same place, Megan. If it weren’t for the sliver of house and downspout in the photo, I’d think you were lying. [Kidding, but it's that good.]

    That settles it. I’m getting a similar bamboo panel for a section of chain link fence. My neighbor’s compost bin is on the other side and guess what she has covering it, a BLUE TARP. I’ve been wondering how to hide it and now I know. Thanks garden pal. You’ve vaccinated me from an impending case of tarpitis!!

  5. Patricia C, Portland, OR
    20 May 2010 @ 7:00 am

    Nothing like a stone path to provide definition. Damn fine job.

  6. Stone Art's Blog
    21 May 2010 @ 1:49 am

    Nice transformation. Hard work, but very rewarding

  7. Jane/MulchMaid
    22 May 2010 @ 4:47 am

    It’s garden bed makeover week in Portland! Really, really nice work, Megan. I love your drift of agaves and aloes. I know the compost/mulch is wrong for the plants but I hear you about that finished look.

    I have to say I like your neighbor’s house color, but I wouldn’t want it as the background for plants – the bamboo screen is much calmer as a backdrop, not to mention the added privacy factor.

    Now all we need is a little warmth and sun, and your plants will settle in and reward you!

  8. Andrea at Heavy Petal
    3 June 2010 @ 9:46 am

    Wow! I love before-and-afters, and this is a great one! Awesome job.