I have talked before about how I am trying to tame some of the garden, and I was trying to keep it native and in keeping with the surrounds. I tried the last two years to introduce plants above the dry-stone wall, but it is so dry there and plants have struggled to survive. Last fall I decided that I would find a better location to tame a little area and have a patch to “play” with. Behind the cottage is a bit of a utility area and not the most attractive. I decided that this might be a good location to make a garden and hopefully improve the appearance. We have moved the BBQ to that area, because we found the wind coming off the lake was an issue with getting the BBQ to light, so we thought it might be nice to make an outdoor kitchen area at the back of the cottage where it is more sheltered.
After my discovery that many “wildflowers” are not actually native, I have wandered a little away from my strict native ruling. It is something to work towards, but in the mean time I have allowed Alcazar Red Hot Poker to join the party. Alcazar is native to South America. Hummingbirds and bees love it and it isn’t invasive. It enjoys sandy soil in full sun and is drought tolerant, so it looks like it should perform really well here. Last fall I also planted Peonies, Daffodils, Rudbeckia, Queen of the Prairie, and Helenium.
I missed the flowering of the daffodils, so I won’t bother adding to them. I was happy to see in the spring that the plants made it through the winter and the beginning of a garden had begun. However, the grass around the bed distracted from the appearance, especially as the plants are so small at the moment, so I spent a weekend enlarging the bed, adding to it and then putting some rotten wood around for edging. We have a pile of rotting wood, left from the previous owners. The woodpeckers love it and have been very active, leaving me a lovely pile of wood chips. I gathered up and mulched from that pile and was very pleased at how it transformed the bed.
This year I have added a few more plants; Summer Phlox Junior Dance, Milkweed (Asclepais), Yarrow and Japanese Bottlebrush (Sanguisorba obtuse). My choice of plants was influenced by what are deer and rabbit resistant and not invasive.
My enlarged flowerbed is a little awkward because the bed has grown and started to migrate down the hill. I would like to bring it all the way down the hill eventually, but I need to make sure I allow roots to establish and keep the ground stable, before I go too far.
One last addition I made was to add a couple of tree stumps that we use as stools when hanging out with the person using the BBQ. It makes a lovely little spot to look out over the end of the bay. That view shrinks as the trees fill in, but for now it is lovely to sit and watch the Red-wing Blackbirds as they are busy nesting and flying around in the reeds.
Last weekend I found my Queen of the Prairie plant looking a little crooked. Something had dug next to it, but thankfully the plant looks like it will recover. I adjusted it and hope that it will be left alone in future. My goal this time was to make the area more usable. We brought some paving slabs with us to put behind the bed. I want to keep a little bit of distance between the long grasses and the bed, otherwise the grass with take over. I didn’t want to take the bed too close to the cottage with the rotting wood, so a little path behind, that allows me access to weed seemed like a solution.
The other addition I made was to add a bench. I need to sand and stain it yet, but we got it assembled and usable. Maggie tested it for me before we moved it in place!
The tree stumps now make a nice footrest, as well as extra seating.
I am undecided what to do with the little path and if I should extend it in front of the bench. I think for now I will just ponder, while I sit and enjoy the view.